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daughter of Raymund of Provence, niece of the count of Savoy, and sister of the French queen.' The royal agents, who had been directed to obtain the papal dispensation in Rome for the proposed marriage with Joan, were consequently told to keep their own counsel for the time and not to proceed in the matter. Eleanor was brought to England in the January of 1236 by her uncle William, bishopelect of Valence, and married at once to the king. A few months later the pope, at the request of Joan, the jilted lady, wrote to make it clear to the world, that the reason of the king's rejection of their proposed union was nothing derogatory to her in any way.
Simultaneously with his own marriage Henry arranged for a union between his sister and the emperor Frederick. The match was made" by the advice and arrangement” of the pope with the king and emperor.' And when the contract was fully ratified Henry addressed a letter to the pope explaining all that had been done and thanking him for his part in the matter. “He wished in this and all other matters,” he says, “to carry out humbly and devotedly what you advise to be done according to your good will and pleasure, as becomes one who is the most devoted son of the Holy Roman Church.”. He promises to pay a dower “according to the advice and order of your Holiness," and asks the pope, “in the name of the Holy Roman Church," to be surety to the emperor for its punctual payment, promising to submit to any ecclesiastical punishment if he failed to meet his obligations.
William, bishop-elect of Valence, the queen's uncle, remained in England after the royal marriage and, quickly acquiring supreme influence over Henry, reintroduced the
Rymer, i. 217. ? Ibid., 218. 3 Brit. Mus. Add. MS., 15,353, f. 356. 4 Rymer, i. 220. 5 Ibid., 225. Ibid., 226.
old and burning question about foreigners. Shortly after the marriage and coronation of the queen, a great council of the realm was held at Merton Abbey, and several wise provisions were exacted. In one point, the law of the Church was directly affected and led to some difficulty. According to English common law, children born out of wedlock have always been regarded as illegitimate, and not even the subsequent marriage of the parents has been held to restore them to the rights of legitimate offspring. According to Roman law and to the law of the Church, founded upon it, subsequent marriage was considered to legitimate pre-nuptial offspring. Bishop Grosseteste had been interested in the question in a practical way, since he had been summoned before the king's court for acting upon the view supported by canon law. He had consulted Archbishop St. Edmund as to how far it might be possible for him in conscience to make concession to the law of the land, to which he had been ordered by the king's courts to make the decisions of his episcopal court conform. At Merton an earnest appeal was made by the bishops to have the English law changed. They pointed out that the Roman and canon law was strictly in accordance with the principles of justice, that the change would certainly be to the interest of morality and tend to secure the peace of families. Their arguments, however, were met by a refusal on the part of the barons : they “would not have the laws changed.”
Hardly had the parliament of Merton been dissolved than an alarm was raised that the foreigners had already regained once more their supremacy in the councils of the king. There was indeed some ground for the fear; Henry had chosen twelve sworn councillors presided over by William, the elect of Valence, and had bound himself to do nothing in the State without their consent. The discontent
of the barons reached such a pitch, and their attitude became so menacing, that Henry retired for safety to the Tower, where he made liberal promises of better government. He still, however, retained his foreign council, and even recalled some of the most unpopular of his late officials; and he allowed Bishop Peter de Rupibus to return to his See, although he had but just before told the emperor Frederick to beware of him as an evil counsellor' who was not to be trusted.
Henry was now no doubt in great straits. He stood in urgent need of money; and his attitude to all parties except the foreigners had left him without a friend upon whom to rely. In his difficulties he bethought himself, as usual, of the pope, and directed his agents to beg Gregory IX to send a legate over to England to help him. On the 21st August, 1236, the Holy Father replied to this request, in terms which show that this was not the first time it had been made: “The Roman Church,” he said, looked upon Henry “as a special son and watched over his welfare like a mother, since by so doing it was consulting not any foreign interests, but its very own." The king's messengers had presented the royal request for the mission of a legate in the presence of the cardinals in Curia, but they thought it best to wait awhile before taking any step. Henry must remember that “previously he had urged the same request for a legate, and that when one had actually been appointed, then he had changed his mind and had asked to have the appointment revoked.” Some of the cardinals had expressed a fear that this might happen again, and as also at present there was no one in the Roman Curia proper to send to England, the matter had better be delayed ’ for a time.
? Royal Letters, i. 467. ? Brit. Mus. Add. MS., 15, 353, f. 392.
The year 1236 passed, and the king's needs became still more pressing. He was constrained to summon a parliament to meet in London on 13th January of the new year. William de Raleigh, an official of the king, was deputed to demand an aid for him. The nobles were greatly angered at this fresh demand for money and at his unpopular attitude towards the foreigners. By the advice of some of the nobles the king professed himself ready to make reforms, to dismiss his present councillors, to accept as advisers three nobles elected by the barons, and to allow the sentence of excommunication to be published against all who should impugn the great charters which he had already more than once before confirmed. The money was granted in the form of a tax of a thirtieth on all the movables of ecclesiastics as well as of laymen. Henry, however, had evidently taken precautions to let the pope know the constraints that had been put upon him, and the presence of a legate was once again urged as a matter of pressing necessity. On 13th February, 1237, Pope Gregory writes that his request was granted. As Henry had urged him to do, he has determined to send over Cardinal Otho as legate. The cardinal knew England well, when previously in the country as nuncio, and he would do what the king desired. Otho's presence was indeed very necessary in Rome at the time, but the pope cannot refuse the king's importunity. He hopes that the cardinal will be received in such a way as “to make evident the devotion of a Catholic king, and to prove abundantly indeed the true filial reverence that Henry has for his mother the Roman Church.” ?
i Brit. Mus. Add. MS., 15,353, f. 433.
THE LEGATE OTHO ON 28th January, 1237, Henry received formal absolution from the archbishop for any censures he might have incurred by his frequent violation of the charters, which had been placed under the protection of the Church's anathemas. St. Edmund took this opportunity of obliging the king to renew his oath to respect all the liberties of his subjects secured by these charters. The solemn ceremony of absolution took place in St. Catherine's Chapel, Westminster, in the presence of the suffragans of the Canterbury province. Each bishop held a lighted candle in his hand, and Henry, holding his taper in the left hand, placed his right upon the Book of the Gospels, whilst taking the oath dictated to him by the archbishop. At the conclusion of the king's part, St. Edmund pronounced excommunicate any who should violate the rights secured by these charters, and, says Matthew Paris, whilst all according to custom had cried " Amen,” “Amen” to this sentence, the candles were extinguished and cast smoking upon the floor of the chapel. The archbishop, in conclusion, spoke these solemn words: “Thus, let those who violate or wrongfully interpret these charters, be destroyed and their condemned souls smoke and stink in their place of punishment.” Once more all present cried " Amen," and above all other voices it was noticed, says the chronicler,