history of england_david hume

The devoted attachment to rome continually encreased

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Unformatted text preview: nity, ecclesiastical, civil, or military. l The king therefore, upon Stigand’s deposition, promoted Lanfranc, a Milanese monk, celebrated for his learning and piety, to the vacant see. This prelate was rigid in defending the prerogatives of his station; and after a long process before the pope, he obliged Thomas, a Norman monk, who had been appointed to the see of York, to acknowledge the primacy of the archbishop of Canterbury. Where ambition can be so happy as to cover its enterprizes, even to the person himself, under the appearance of principle, it is the most incurable and inflexible of all human passions. Hence Lanfranc’s zeal in promoting the interests of the papacy, by which he himself augmented his own authority, was indefatigable; and met with proportionable success. The devoted attachment to Rome continually encreased in England; and being favoured by the sentiments of the conquerors, as well as by the monastic establishments formerly introduced by Edred and by Edgar, it soon reached the same height, at which it had, during some time, stood in France and Italy.m It afterwards went much farther; being favoured by that very remote situation, which had at first obstructed its progress; and being less checked by knowledge and a liberal education, which were still somewhat more common in the southern countries. The prevalence of this superstitious spirit became dangerous to some of William’s successors, and incommodious to most of them: But the arbitrary sway of this king over the English, and his extensive authority over the foreigners, kept him from feeling any immediate inconveniencies from it. He retained the church in great subjection, as well as his lay subjects; and would allow none, of whatever character, to dispute his sovereign will and pleasure. He prohibited his subjects from acknowledging any one for pope whom he himself had not previously received: He required, that all the ecclesiastical canons, voted in any synod, should first be laid before him, and be ratified by his authority: Even bulls or letters from Rome could not legally be produced, till they received the same sanction: And none of his ministers or barons, whatever offences they were guilty of, could be subjected to spiritual censures, till he himself had given his consent to their excommunication.n These regulations were worthy of a sovereign, and kept united the civil and ecclesiastical powers, which the principles, introduced by this prince himself, had an immediate tendency to separate. But the English had the cruel mortification to find, that their king’s authority, however acquired or however extended, was all employed in their oppression; and that the scheme of their subjection, attended with every circumstance of insult and indignity,o was deliberately formed by the prince, and wantonly prosecuted by his followers.p William had even entertained the difficult project of totally abolishing the English language; and, for that purpose, he ordered, that, in all schools throughout the kingdom, the youth should be instructed in the French tongue, a practice which was continued from custom till after the reign of Edward III. an...
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