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Unformatted text preview: shment, and occupied his leisure in taking precautions against the consequences, which he so justly apprehended from the murder of the primate. The point of chief importance to Henry was to convince the pope 1171. of his innocence; or rather, to persuade him, that he would reap greater advantages from the submissions of England than from proceeding to extremities against that kingdom. The archbishop of Roüen, the bishops of Worcester and Evreux, with five persons of inferior quality, were immediately dispatched to Rome,t and orders were given them to perform their journey with the utmost expedition. Though the name and authority of the court of Rome were so terrible in the remote countries of Europe, which were sunk in profound ignorance, and were entirely unacquainted with its character and conduct; the pope was so little revered at home that his inveterate enemies surrounded the gates of Rome itself, and even controuled his government in that city; and the ambassadors, who, from a distant extremity of Europe, carried to him the humble, or rather abject submissions of the greatest potentate of the age, found the utmost difficulty to make their way to him, and to throw themselves at his feet. It was at length agreed, that Richard Barre, one of their number, should leave the rest behind, and run all the hazards of the passage,u in order to prevent the fatal consequences which might ensue from any delay in giving satisfaction to his holiness. He found on his arrival, that Alexander was already wrought up to the greatest rage against the king, that Becket’s partizans were daily stimulating him to revenge, that the king of France had exhorted him to fulminate the most dreadful sentence against England, and that the very mention of Henry’s name before the sacred college was received with every expression of horror and execration. The Thursday before Easter was now approaching, when it is customary for the pope to denounce annual curses against all his enemies; and it was expected, that Henry should, with all the preparations peculiar to the discharge of that sacred artillery, be solemnly comprehended in the number. But Barre found means to appease the pontiff, and to deter him from a measure which, if it failed of success, could not afterwards be easily recalled: The anathemas were only levelled in general against all the actors, accomplices, and abettors of Becket’s murder. The abbot of Valasse, and the archdeacons of Salisbury and Lisieux, with others of Henry’s ministers, who soon after arrived, besides asserting their prince’s innocence, made oath before the whole consistory, that he would stand to the pope’s judgment in the PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 231 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 affair, and make every submission, that should be required of him. The terrible blow was thus artfully eluded; the cardinals Albert and Theodin were appointed legates to examine the cause, and were orde...
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- Spring '08