This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: ication against Robert de Broc, and Nigel de Sackville, with many others, who either had assisted at the coronation of the prince, or been active in the late persecution of the exiled clergy. This violent measure, by which he, in effect, denounced war against the king himself, is commonly ascribed to the vindictive disposition and imperious character of Becket; but as this prelate was also a man of acknowledged abilities, we are not, in his passions alone, to look for the cause of his conduct, when he proceeded to these extremities against his enemies. His sagacity had led him to discover all Henry’s intentions; and he proposed, by this bold and unexpected assault, to prevent the execution of them. PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 228 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 The king, from his experience of the dispositions of his people, was become sensible, that his enterprize had been too bold, in establishing the constitutions of Clarendon, in defining all the branches of royal power, and in endeavouring to extort from the church of England, as well as from the pope, an express avowal of these disputed prerogatives. Conscious also of his own violence, in attempting to break or subdue the inflexible primate, he was not displeased to undo that measure, which had given his enemies such advantage against him; and he was contented, that the controversy should terminate in that ambiguous manner, which was the utmost that princes, in those ages, could hope to attain in their disputes with the see of Rome. Though he dropped for the present, the prosecution of Becket, he still reserved to himself the right of maintaining, that the constitutions of Clarendon, the original ground of the quarrel, were both the ancient customs and the present law of the realm: And though he knew, that the papal clergy asserted them to be impious in themselves, as well as abrogated by the sentence of the sovereign pontiff, he intended, in spite of their clamours, steadily to put those laws in execution,i and to trust to his own abilities, and to the course of events, for success in that perilous enterprize. He hoped, that Becket’s experience of a six years’ exile would, after his pride was fully gratified by his restoration, be sufficient to teach him more reserve in his opposition: Or if any controversy arose, he expected thenceforth to engage in a more favourable cause, and to maintain with advantage, while the primate was now in his power,k the ancient and undoubted customs of the kingdom against the usurpations of the clergy. But Becket, determined not to betray the ecclesiastical privileges by his connivance, l and apprehensive lest a prince of such profound policy, if allowed to proceed in his own way, might probably in the end prevail, resolved to take all the advantage which his present victory gave him, and to disconcert the cautious measures of the king, by the vehemence and rigour of his own conduct.m Assured of support from Rome, he was little intimidated by dangers, which his courage taught him to despise, and which, even if attended with the most fatal consequences, would serve only to gratify his ambition and thirst of glory.n When the suspended and...
View Full Document
- Spring '08