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1174. tion into Normandy, and had laid siege to Rouen'. The place was defended with great vigour by the inhabitants"; and Lewis, despairing of success by open force, tried to gain the town by a stratagem, which, in that superstitious age, was deemed not very honourable. He proclaimed in his own camp a cessation of arms, on pretence of celebrating the festival of St. Laurence; and when the citizens, supposing themselves in safety, were so imprudent as to remit their guard, he purposed to take advantage of their security. Happily, some priests had, from mere curiosity, mounted a steeple, where the alarmbell hung; and observing the French camp in motion, they immediately rang the bell, and gave warning to the inhabitants, who ran to their several stations. The French, who, on hearing the alarm, hurried to the assault, had already mounted the walls in several places; but being repulsed by the enraged citizens, were obliged to retreat with considerable loss". Next day Henry, who had hastened to the defence of his Norman dominions, passed over the bridge in triumph; and entered Rouen in sight of the French army. The city was now in absolute safety; and the king, in order to brave the French monarch, commanded the gates, which had been walled up, to be opened; and he prepared to push his advantages against the enemy. Lewis saved himself from this perilous situation by a new piece of deceit, not so justifiable. He proposed a conference for adjusting the terms of a general peace, which he knew would be greedily embraced by Henry; and while the king of England trusted to the execution of his promise, he made a retreat with his army into France.
There was, however, a necessity on both sides for an accommodation. Henry could no longer bear to see his three sons in the hands of his enemy; and Lewis dreaded lest this great monarch, victorious in all quarters, crowned with glory, and absolute master of his dominions, might take revenge for the many dangers and disquietudes which the arms, and still more the intrigues of France,
n Brompton, p. 1096.
1 Brompton, p. 1096. m Diceto, p. 578. Gul. Neubr. p. 411. W. Heming. p. 503.
had, in his disputes both with Becket and his sons, found means to raise him. After making a cessation of arms, a conference was agreed on near Tours; where Henry granted his sons much less advantageous terms than he had formerly offered; and he received their submissions. The most material of his concessions were some pensions The king's which he stipulated to pay them, and some castles which accommohe granted them for the place of their residence; together his sons. with an indemnity for all their adherents, who were restored to their estates and honours".
Of all those who had embraced the cause of the young princes, William, king of Scotland, was the only considerable loser by that invidious and unjust enterprise. Henry delivered from confinement, without exacting any ransom, about nine hundred knights whom he had taken prisoners; but it cost William the ancient independency of his crown as the price of his liberty. He stipulated to do homage to Henry for Scotland and all his other possessions; he engaged that all the barons and nobility of his kingdom should also do homage; that the bishops should take an oath of fealty; that both should swear to adhere to the king of England against their native prince, if the latter should break his engagements; and that the fortresses of Edinburgh, Stirling, Berwick, Roxborough, and Jedborough should be delivered into Henry's hands, till the performance of articles. This severe and humiliating treaty was executed in its full rigour. William, 10th Aug. being released, brought up all his barons, prelates, and abbots; and they did homage to Henry in the cathedral of York, and acknowledged him and his successors for their superior lord. The English monarch stretched still farther the rigour of the conditions which he exacted. He engaged the king and states of Scotland to make a perpetual cession of the fortresses of Berwick and Roxborough, and to allow the castle of Edinburgh to remain
Rymer, vol. i. p. 35. Benedict. Abbas, p. 88. Hoveden, p. 540. Diceto, p. 583. Brompton, p. 1098. W. Heming. p. 505. Chron. Dunst. p. 36. PM. Paris, p. 91. Chron. Dunst. 36. Hoveden, p. M. West. p. 251. Diceto, p. 584. Brompton, p. 1103. Rymer, vol. i. p. 39. Liber Nig. Scac. P. 36. 4 Benedict. Abbas, p. 113.
Henry having thus, contrary to expectation, extriadministra- cated himself with honour from a situation in which his
in his hands for a limited time. This was the first great ascendant which England obtained over Scotland; and indeed the first important transaction which had passed between the kingdoms. Few princes have been so fortunate as to gain considerable advantages over their weaker neighbours with less violence and injustice than was practised by Henry against the king of Scots, whom he had taken prisoner in battle, and who had wantonly engaged in a war, in which all the neighbours of that prince, and even his own family, were, without provocation, combined against him'.
throne was exposed to great danger, was employed for several years in the administration of justice, in the execution of the laws, and in guarding against those inconveniencies, which either the past convulsions of his state, or the political institutions of that age, unavoidably occasioned. The provisions which he made, show such largeness of thought as qualified him for being a legislator; and they were commonly calculated as well for the future as the present happiness of his kingdom.
He enacted severe penalties against robbery, murder, false coining, arson; and ordained that these crimes should be punished by the amputation of the right hand and right foot. The pecuniary commutation for crimes, which has a false appearance of lenity, had been gradually disused; and seems to have been entirely abolished by the rigour of these statutes. The superstitious trial by water ordeal, though condemned by the church', still subsisted; but Henry ordained, that any man accused of murder, or any heinous felony, by the oath of the legal knights of the county, should, even though acquitted by the ordeal, be obliged to abjure the realm".
r Some Scotch historians pretend, that William paid, besides, one hundred thousand pounds of ransom ; which is quite incredible. The ransom of Richard the first, who, besides England, possessed so many rich territories in France, was only one hundred and fifty thousand marks, and yet was levied with great difficulty. Indeed, two thirds of it only could be paid before his deliverance. Benedict. Abbas, p. 132. Hoveden, p. 549. t Seldeni Spicileg. ad Eadm. p. 204. " Benedict. Abbas, p. 132.
All advances towards reason and good sense are slow and gradual. Henry, though sensible of the great absurdity attending the trial by duel or battle, did not venture to abolish it: he only admitted either of the parties to challenge a trial by an assize or jury of twelve freeholders. This latter method of trial seems to have been very ancient in England, and was fixed by the laws of king Alfred: but the barbarous and violent genius of the age had of late given more credit to the trial by battle, which had become the general method of deciding all important controversies. It was never abolished by law in England; and there is an instance of it so late as the reign of Elizabeth: but the institution revived by this king, being found more reasonable and more suitable to a civilized people, gradually prevailed over it.
The partition of England into four divisions, and the appointment of itinerant justices to go the circuit in each division, and to decide the causes in the counties, was another important ordinance of this prince, which had a direct tendency to curb the oppressive barons, and to protect the inferior gentry and common people in their property. Those justices were either prelates or considerable noblemen; who, besides carrying the authority of the king's commission, were able, by the dignity of their own character, to give weight and credit to the laws.
That there might be fewer obstacles to the execution of justice, the king was vigilant in demolishing all the new-erected castles of the nobility, in England as well as in his foreign dominions; and he permitted no fortress to remain in the custody of those whom he found reason to suspect2.
But lest the kingdom should be weakened by this demolition of the fortresses, the king fixed an assize of arms, by which all his subjects were obliged to put themselves in a situation for defending themselves and the realm. Every man possessed of a knight's fee was ordained to have for each fee, a coat of mail, a helmet, a
y Hoveden, p. 590.
* Glanv. lib. ii. cap. 7. Abbas, p. 202. Diceto, p. 585.
shield, and a lance; every free layman, possessed of
The clergy and the laity were, during that age, in a strange situation with regard to each other, and such as may seem totally incompatible with a civilized, and indeed with any species of government. If a clergyman were guilty of murder, he could be punished by degradation only if he were murdered, the murderer was exposed to nothing but excommunication and ecclesiastical censures; and the crime was atoned for by penances and submission b. Hence the assassins of Thomas à Becket himself, though guilty of the most atrocious wickedness, and the most repugnant to the sentiments of that age, lived securely in their own houses, without being called to account by Henry himself, who was so much concerned, both in honour and interest, to punish that crime, and who professed or affected, on all occasions, the most extreme abhorrence of it. It was not till they found their presence shunned by every one as excommunicated persons, that they were induced to take a journey to Rome, to throw themselves at the feet of the pontiff, and to submit to the penances imposed upon them: after which, they continued to possess without molestation their honours and fortunes, and seem even to have recovered the countenance and good opinion of the public. But as the king, by the constitutions of Clarendon, which he endeavoured still to maintain, had subjected the clergy to a trial by the civil magistrate, it seemed but just to give them the protection of that power, to which they owed
a Benedict. Abbas, p. 305. Annal. Waverl. epist. 73. apud Bibl. Patr. tom. xxiv. p. 992.
b Petri Bles. c Gervase, p. 1433.