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name, and comprehending in general all those who favoured or obeyed the constitutions of Clarendon: these constitutions he abrogated and annulled; he absolved all men from the oaths which they had taken to observe them; and he suspended the spiritual thunder over Henry himself, only that the prince might avoid the blow by a timely repentance.
The situation of Henry was so unhappy, that he could employ no expedient for saving his ministers from this terrible censure, but by appealing to the pope himself, and having recourse to a tribunal whose authority he had himself attempted to abridge in this very article of appeals, and which he knew was so deeply engaged on the side of his adversary. But even this expedient was not likely to be long effectual. Becket had obtained from the pope a legantine commission over England; and in virtue of that authority, which admitted of no appeal, he summoned the bishops of London, Salisbury, and others to attend him, and ordered, under pain of excommunication, the ecclesiastics, sequestered on his account, to be restored in two months to all their benefices. But John of Oxford, the king's agent with the pope, had the address to procure orders for suspending this sentence; and he gave the pontiff such hopes of a speedy reconcilement between the king and Becket, that two legates, William of Pavia and Otho, were sent to Normandy, where the king then resided, and they endeavoured to find expedients for that purpose. But the pretensions of the parties were as yet too opposite to admit of an accommodation: the king required that all the constitutions of Clarendon should be ratified; Becket, that previously to any agreement, he and his adherents should be restored to their possessions: and as the legates had no power to pronounce a definitive sentence on either side, the negotiation soon after came to nothing. The cardinal of Pavia also, being much attached to Henry, took care to protract the negotiation; to mitigate the pope, by the
Fitz-Steph. p. 56. Hist. Quad. p. 93. M. Paris, p. 74. Beaulieu, Vie de St. Thom. p. 213. Epist. St. Thom. p. 149. 229. Hoveden, p. 499.
1166. accounts which he sent of that prince's conduct; and to procure him every possible indulgence from the see of Rome. About this time the king had also the address to obtain a dispensation for the marriage of his third son Geoffrey, with the heiress of Brittany; a concession which, considering Henry's demerits towards the church, gave great scandal both to Becket, and to his zealous patron the king of France.
The intricacies of the feudal law had, in that age, rendered the boundaries of power between the prince and his vassals, and between one prince and another, as uncertain as those between the crown and the mitre; and all wars took their origin from disputes, which, had there been any tribunal possessed of power to enforce their decrees, ought to have been decided only before a court of judicature. Henry, in prosecution of some controversies in which he was involved with the count of Auvergne, a vassal of the duchy of Guienne, had invaded the territories of that nobleman; who had recourse to the king of France, his superior lord, for protection, and thereby kindled a war between the two monarchs. But this war was, as usual, no less feeble in its operations than it was frivolous in its cause and object; and after occasioning some mutual depredations, and some insurrections among the barons of Poictou and Guienne, was terminated by a peace. The terms of this peace were rather disadvantageous to Henry, and prove that that prince had, by reason of his contest with the church, lost the superiority which he had hitherto maintained over the crown of France: an additional motive to him for accommodating those differences.
The pope and the king began at last to perceive that, in the present situation of affairs, neither of them could expect a final and decisive victory over the other, and that they had more to fear than to hope from the duration of the controversy. Though the vigour of Henry's government had confirmed his authority in all his domi
Hoveden, p. 517. M. Paris, p. 75. Diceto, p. 547. Gervase, p. 1402, 1403. Robert de Monte.
nions, his throne might be shaken by a sentence of ex-
1169. church; which, for a like reason, was extremely offensive to the king, and rendered the treaty abortive. A third conference, under the same mediation, was broken off, by Becket's insisting on a like reserve in his submissions; and even in a fourth treaty, when all the terms were adjusted, and when the primate expected to be introduced to the king, and to receive the kiss of peace, which it was usual for princes to grant in those times, and which was regarded as a sure pledge of forgiveness, Henry refused him that honour, under pretence that, during his anger, he had made a rash vow to that purpose. This formality served, among such jealous spirits, to prevent the conclusion of the treaty; and though the difficulty was attempted to be overcome by a dispensation which the pope granted to Henry from his vow, that prince could not be prevailed on to depart from the resolution which he had taken.
In one of these conferences, at which the French king was present, Henry said to that monarch: "There have | been many kings of England, some of greater, some of less authority than myself: there have also been many archbishops of Canterbury, holy and good men, and entitled to every kind of respect: let Becket but act towards me with the same submission which the greatest of his predecessors have paid to the least of mine, and there shall be no controversy between us. Lewis was SO struck with this state of the case, and with an offer which Henry made to submit his cause to the French clergy, that he could not forbear condemning the primate, and withdrawing his friendship from him during some time: but the bigotry of that prince, and their common animosity against Henry, soon produced a renewal of their former good correspondence.
All difficulties were at last adjusted between the parties; 22d July. and the king allowed Becket to return, on conditions
which may be esteemed both honourable and advantageous to that prelate. He was not required to give up any rights of the church, or resign any of those pretensions which had been the original ground of the controversy.
It was agreed, that all these questions should be buried in oblivion; but that Becket and his adherents should, without making farther submission, be restored to all their livings, and that even the possessors of such benefices as depended on the see of Canterbury, and had been filled during the primate's absence, should be expelled, and Becket have liberty to supply the vacancies'. In return for concessions which entrenched so deeply on the honour and dignity of the crown, Henry reaped only the advantage of seeing his ministers absolved from the sentence of excommunication pronounced against them, and of preventing the interdict, which, if these hard conditions had not been complied with, was ready to be laid on all his dominions". It was easy to see how much he dreaded that event, when a prince of so high a spirit could submit to terms so dishonourable, in order to prevent it. So anxious was Henry to accommodate all differences, and to reconcile himself fully with Becket, that he took the most extraordinary steps to flatter his vanity, and even on one occasion humiliated himself so far as to hold the stirrup of that haughty prelate while he mounted".
But the king attained not even that temporary tranquillity which he had hoped to reap from these expedients. During the heat of his quarrel with Becket, while he was every day expecting an interdict to be laid on his kingdom, and a sentence of excommunication to be fulminated against his person, he had thought it prudent to have his son, prince Henry, associated with him in the royalty, and to make him be crowned king, by the hands of Roger, archbishop of York. By this precaution, he both ensured the succession of that prince, which, considering the many past irregularities in that point, could not but be esteemed somewhat precarious; and he preserved at least his family on the throne, if the sentence of excommunication should have the effect which he dreaded, and should make his subjects renounce their allegiance to
Fitz-Steph. p. 68, 69. Hoveden, p. 520. Brompton, p. 1062. Gervase, p. 1408. 792, 793, 794. Benedict. Abbas, p. 70.
m Hist. Quad. p. 104. Epist. St. Thom. 704, 705, 706, 707. Epist. 45. lib. v.