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Unformatted text preview: v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 222 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 him: And that however terrible the indignation of so great a monarch as Henry, his sword could only kill the body; while that of the church, entrusted into the hands of the primate, could kill the soul, and throw the disobedient into infinite and eternal perdition.n Appeals to the pope, even in ecclesiastical causes, had been abolished by the constitutions of Clarendon, and were become criminal by law; but an appeal in a civil cause, such as the king’s demand upon Becket, was a practice altogether new and unprecedented; tended directly to the subversion of the government; and could receive no colour of excuse, except from the determined resolution, which was but too apparent, in Henry and the great council, to effectuate, without justice, but under colour of law, the total ruin of the inflexible primate. The king, having now obtained a pretext so much more plausible for his violence, would probably have pushed the affair to the utmost extremity against him; but Becket gave him no leisure to conduct the prosecution. He refused so much as to hear the sentence, which the barons, sitting apart from the bishops, and joined to some sheriffs and barons of the second rank,o had given upon the king’s claim: He departed from the palace; asked Henry’s immediate Banishment of permission to leave Northampton; and upon meeting with a Becket. refusal, he withdrew secretly; wandered about in disguise for some time; and at last took shipping and arrived safely at Gravelines. The violent and unjust prosecution of Becket, had a natural tendency to turn the public favour on his side, and to make men overlook his former ingratitude towards the king, and his departure from all oaths and engagements, as well as the enormity of those ecclesiastical privileges, of which he affected to be the champion. There were many other reasons, which procured him countenance and protection in foreign countries. Philip, earl of Planders,p and Lewis, king of France,q jealous of the rising greatness of Henry, were well pleased to give him disturbance in his government; and forgetting that this was the common cause of princes, they affected to pity extremely the condition of the exiled primate; and the latter even honoured him with a visit at Soissons, in which city he had invited him to fix his residence.r The pope, whose interests were more immediately concerned in supporting him, gave a cold reception to a magnificent embassy, which Henry sent to accuse him; while Becket himself, who had come to Sens, in order to justify his cause before the sovereign pontiff, was received with the greatest marks of distinction. The king, in revenge, sequestered the revenues of Canterbury; and by a conduct, which might be esteemed arbitrary, had there been at that time any regular check on royal authority, he banished all the primate’s relations and domestics, to the number of four hundred, whom he obliged to swear, before their departure, that they would instantly join their patron. But this policy, by which Henry endeavoured to reduce Becket sooner to necessity, lost its effect: The pope,...
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