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he could make no lasting peace without the consent of the count of La Marche, to whom he and the queen mother, Blanche, were bound under oath not to do so, Gregory IX writes to his legate, Romanus, either to compel the count to release them; or, in the event of his refusal, to declare that such oaths were illicit and consequently not binding.' So anxious was the pope about this matter, that the nuncio, Master Stephen, the pope's chaplain, threatened Henry “with ecclesiastical censures if his commands were not obeyed;" and the king gives this as his reason for not at once proceeding to attempt to recover from the French king the ancient English possessions over the sea .?
In the year 1228 a serious disagreement between Archbishop Langton and the king is recorded by the annalist of Dunstable. It was apparently on a matter which affected the privileges of the See and monastery of Canterbury. Langton produced ancient royal charters in support of his claim, and on the plea that the archbishops had never made use of such rights, Henry objected to recognise these charters, but he afterwards gave way, and allowed the claims advanced by Langton. Before the settlement of the dispute, however, the archbishop became seriously ill and was carried in a litter to Slindon, where he died on 15th July, 1228. 1 Royal Letters, i. 548.
2 Rymer, i. 191.
TROUBLES AT CANTERBURY AND THEIR RESULT On the very day of Langton's death, King Henry once more attempted to reconcile the emperor Frederick with the pope. He made another personal appeal to him ; his only object, he says, being "to bring about the peace of the Church and to wrest a triumph from the enemies of the cross of Christ.” He exhorts the emperor to remember “the honour due to God and Holy Church," and before undertaking his journey to the Holy Land to seek reconciliation with the pope. It would redound, he says, to his honour and glory; and he prophesies that, if the projected crusade were undertaken for God and with the Church's blessing, many would be found to aid him in the work.
About this time the king asked the pope to sanction the removal of his father's body from Worcester to Beaulieu. King John had apparently made a vow to be buried in that monastery, which he had founded; but on account of the troublous times during which he had died, it was thought better that his body should be buried near at hand. Now, however, “kneeling at the foot of your holiness,” Henry says, “ by the bearer of this present letter we beg you lovingly to permit” the proposed removal. The royal agents in Rome at this period also asked the pope to unite the two Sees of Waterford and Lismore, in Ireland. The bishop of 1 Royal Letters, i. 331.
2 Rymer, i. 192.
the latter See was dead and the king suggested that, before a successor was appointed, it would be well for Gregory IX to consider whether the better interests of the Church would not be served by uniting the dioceses. Both were extremely poor, and the works of religion were hampered by want of means, and so Henry desires to submit the proposal for amalgamation “to the holy Apostolic See.”
Whilst the archbishopric of Canterbury was vacant, it became necessary to elect a successor to Bishop Richard Poore, who had been translated to Durham from Salisbury. The letters and documents about this election are interesting and instructive. By the royal licence the electors met in September, 1228, and made choice of Robert de Bingeham, whom they forthwith presented to the king for approval. A few days later, Henry wrote to Rome to ask for the papal confirmation, saying, “that as the See of Canterbury was then vacant, such confirmation of the elect belonged of right immediately” to the pope. The dean and Chapter also wrote at the same time to present the elect formerly for confirmation. “Holy Father,” they say, “in this matter you plainly act in the person of Saint Peter, whose seat you occupy.” They then go on to inform him that the election had been according to the provisions of the Lateran Council and that it had been unanimous. They testify to the elect's qualifications, moral and intellectual, and certify the king's consent. Finally they beg that the pope “by the plentitude of his power, will ratify their election," and having confirmed it, will deign to appoint the bishop of London and other bishops to carry out the consecration.
The Salisbury canons then appointed two of their number to proceed to Rome with these and other letters, in order to expedite the business in the Curia as much as
? Royal Letters, i. 332.
possible. From the Eternal City the delegates wrote to furnish the elect with an account of their mission. They arrived, they say, on 12th December, and the day following visited all the cardinals, in order to interest and instruct them in the business which had brought them to Rome. They found all of them favourable to de Bingeham, the bishop-elect; but they were particularly well received by Otho, the former nuncio in England, who the next day introduced them to the pope. The Holy Father was at the time much occupied by a continuous stream of visitors. and so, on that occasion, they were able merely to give him a brief summary of their petition, and to leave all the documents with him. The following day they were again called to the pope, who asked them what they themselves wanted. When they had begun to say that, “ since it had pleased him to deprive the See (of Salisbury) of a good pastor," etc., the Holy Father“ raised his head, as if congratulating himself on his choice.” When they came to the description of the elect as a “prudent and discreet man of mature age, highly cultivated in letters, skilled in law, in theology the best of doctors, and a celebrated preacher, all the cardinals present applauded.” The delegates were then told to retire, and presently three cardinals came and “very sharply and minutely examined” them on all points connected with the election and the manner of holding it, till, as they say, “we were almost desperate, as it appeared to us to mean that (the election) was to be quashed.” But they were mistaken, for the next day, 16th December, Pope Gregory himself informed them that all was entirely satisfactory, and that he confirmed the election. When they wrote the account of all this to the elect, they were only waiting for the writing of the formal documents.?
1 Reg. S. Osmundi, ii. 110-116.
At the very time, when this business about the Salisbury election was thus so satisfactorily concluded, the question of the appointment to the archiepiscopal See of Canterbury was still in debate at Rome. On the death of Langton, the Christ Church monks, having obtained the royal licence to proceed to the election of a successor, made a choice of their prior, Walter de Eynesham. On being applied to for his approval, the king refused to assent on various grounds; one being that the father of the elect had been hanged as a thief. The suffragans of the province also protested, partly on account of the personal unfitness of the candidate ; but apparently more strongly because the election of an archbishop ought, they contended, to have been held in their presence.
The elect would not, or, in view of the canonical nature of the election, probably could not, give way; and determined to apply for confirmation to the Holy See in spite of the king's opposition. In company with some of his monks he set out for Rome, and, presenting himself to the pope, asked for his decision. The royal agents were already instructed to oppose the confirmation by every means in their power, and they so contrived that nothing should be done in the matter until the arrival of the bishops of Chester and Rochester, who with John, the archdeacon of Bedford, had been selected to support the objections of King Henry and the suffragans of Canterbury. The Crown candidate at this time was apparently Ralph Nevile, bishop of Chichester and royal chancellor. In a letter written somewhere about December, 1228, Bishop Nevile's agent at the Curia, Philip de Arden, describes the situation. He had been received in audience by the pope, he writes, and had been questioned fully concerning the Canterbury election. The Holy Father had first desired to