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received in towns and villages with great ceremony and enthusiasm.
With a view to the more speedy collection of this aid, Roman officials came over into England. Matthew Paris tells us that while they went under the name of simple nuncios, they really possessed the ample powers of Apostolic legates, and by preaching, supplicating, ordering, threatening, excommunicating, not to mention their own fees, obtained under the name of "procurations,” they reduced many of the clergy to practical beggary.'
Sometime in the following year, 1235, Peter de Rupibus was summoned to Rome. Gregory IX was at war with the Romans and desired his assistance. He had experience, gained in the Holy Land, and there was plenty of money in the Winchester diocese which, Matthew Paris hints, the pope was anxious to share with the bishop.?
At the same time many disturbances were caused in England by the oppressions of the foreign usurers, who had come into the country in the train of Stephen of Anagni, and who, by lending the clergy money to pay the papal tenth, had them in their power. The bishop of London first warned these rapacious money-lenders; and finding this of no avail, excommunicated them. Upon this, through their influence at the Curia, they prevailed upon the Roman authorities "peremptorily” to summon abroad the bishop, who was now old and infirm, to answer to injuries done to papal merchants! The bishop, however, unwilling to expose the shame of those connected with Rome, gave way and placed himself under the patronage of St. Paul, who had said, that “even if an angel were to preach the contrary (to the faith) let him be anathema.” 3 Matthew Paris, 279. . Ibid., 331-332.
3 Ibid., 332.
ST. EDMUND AS ARCHBISHOP The episcopate of St. Edmund was one long series of troubles. It is difficult, perhaps, in these days, to apportion the blame for all the quarrels and contentions, which naturally must have interfered with the due working of the See and province of Canterbury during the six years that he was archbishop. But it is not unreasonable to see in St. Edmund's previous career one cause at least conducive to that attitude of mind which led to misunderstandings with those with whom in later life he had to do. He was a student, whose training had not previously brought him much into contact with his fellow men, and a professor whose authority had been rightly accepted without question by his disciples. Because of this mental training it is more than likely that he was unable, or found it difficult, to make allowances for that deviation from strict law and principle, which every practical ruler of men has to admit as a working hypothesis. The word of the superior is not always in practice a law to his subjects, as that of the professor rightly is to his students; and the man who has been buried in books and used to teaching in the schools is apt to expect more of mathematical precision in obedience, from those over whom he may afterwards be placed by Providence, than in real life is usually accorded.
Be the cause what it may, the fact is obvious that the attitude adopted by St. Edmund in the government of his archbishopric involved him in quarrels and contentions which lasted till his death. Almost the first sign of any difficulty, other than that with the king, is to be found in a letter of admonition addressed to him by the pope in February, 1234, less than a year from his consecration. This proves at least that reports, somewhat reflecting on his prudence, had already reached the pope's ears. Gregory had looked, he says, for great things from Edmund's promotion, and had rejoiced to hear that he had been so well received in the Church of Canterbury. For this reason it is all the more needful by prudent action to prove the wisdom of the choice: “Wherefore, although you are, as indeed you should be, a zealous defender of ecclesiastical liberty, and though we wish you to protect and specially to cherish it, we warn your Fraternity, and by our Apostolic letters order you, not to neglect the quality of moderation in your zeal. As becomes the dignity of your office, you should strive in all your acts to manifest a spirit of peace rather than of discord.”
At the same time it must be borne in mind that whilst the course of his public life shows St. Edmund as involved in what seem to be never-ending quarrels, there can be no sort of doubt as to the strict sense of duty which constrained him to embark upon them. As regards the personal sanctity which characterised his life, as well as his upright character and his fearless devotion to all his obligations, there never was any question in his day, nor can there be now, when time has revealed the facts more fully. That he was canonised by the popular voice directly it was known that he was dead, and that this judgement was ratified almost immediately by authority, is sufficient to testify to the personal esteem in which he was held, in spite of all the differences and disputes in which he was engaged in his official capacity.
i Royal Letters, i. 558.
Early in his episcopal rule the archbishop was destined to come into collision with the monks of his cathedral monastery at Christ Church. The difficulty arose out of the consecration of Bishop Grosseteste to the See of Lincoln, which, for some reason or other, the archbishop proposed to confer in Reading Abbey. Being a Berkshire man himself, and Reading being near to his native place, he may have been more at home there than he yet was at Canterbury. The monks of Christ Church, however, claimed that it was their undoubted privilege to have the consecration of any suffragan of Canterbury carried out in the metropolitan cathedral under their charge. The archbishop, however, would not give way in the matter, and determined to disregard the protests of the monks. A short time before, a question about the expenses of the various elections to the archbishopric had been discussed between the convent and himself, and he had applied to Pope Gregory on the subject. He specially asked that the entire cost of the election of John le Blund, which was quashed by the pope, should be borne by the religious, and not by himself; or, as an alternative, that at least they should be compelled to pay half of the six hundred marks which it had cost. The pope ordered an inquiry to be held by the abbots of Westminster and Waltham; and, on their finding, the expenses were, on 31st May, 1235, divided equally, according to the alternative proposal of the archbishop, between the monks and the archbishop.
Before the pope's decision in this matter could have been known in England, the question of the consecration at Reading was already mooted, and had apparently al1 Brit. Mus. Add. MS., 15,353, f. 292. ? Registres de Grég. IX., ii. No. 96.
ready passed beyond the region of concession on either side. To some who have written on this matter, the action of the monks in claiming such privileges appears unreasonable, if not puerile. In justice to them, however, it should be remembered that, where a privilege is denied or threatened, it may become the duty of those possessing it to protect their rights at all costs. Concession which, when privileges are admitted or at any rate not attacked, may be possible, becomes under such hostile circumstances unwise, and indeed generally impossible. This seems to have been exactly the case at Canterbury. From a letter written by Grosseteste himself to the archbishop on the very eve of his consecration, it would appear that the Christ Church monks not only refused their consent, but declared their intention of appealing to the supreme authority of the pope, should their protest be disregarded. The bishopelect, consequently, earnestly implored St. Edmund not to insist, but to give way and allow the ceremony to take place at Canterbury as usual, “unless some reason of which I am not aware makes it impossible” for you to do so without sin. It certainly looks as if the archbishop was determined to carry out his intention for the very purpose of setting aside the privilege, and without other reasons. The existence of the privilege was undoubtedly known to him, as it was granted by St. Thomas in his celebrated Charter of Liberties, which made “the common consent of the whole Chapter of monks of Canterbury” necessary for the consecration of any suffragans elsewhere than in the cathedral church.” What adds strength to the belief that the archbishop was acting more upon a whim than anything else is, that no real reason was apparently known to the Canterbury monks for his action; at least, they left Grossei Grosseteste's Letters, 54. 2 Literae Cantuarienses, i. Int., xlviii.