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to them at any time since his coronation. Henry, at the time of receiving the sacred unction, so the pope reminds them, had taken an oath to guard and preserve all the liberties and possessions of his Crown, and for this reason all his subsequent gifts, made under pressure of circumstances, were unlawful, and should be returned to him.'
Considerable difficulty now arose in regard to the archbishop of Canterbury, Boniface of Savoy. This prelate had been appointed to the diocese of Belley, near Chambery, but had not been consecrated bishop, when, through his relationship with the English queen, he was nominated by King Henry to succeed St. Edmund at Canterbury. The monks acquiesced in the royal nomination; but it was not until 1243 that the elect received papal confirmation. Even after this he was still allowed to defer his consecration for some considerable time, and finally received it at Lyons on 15th January, 1245, at the hands of Pope Innocent IV, assisted by Bishop Grosseteste and the bishop of Hereford. The archbishop remained for the Council, and commanded the papal guards during that assembly, obtaining from the pope, as his reward, a gift of the first fruits of all vacant benefices in the province of Canterbury for seven years.
The archiepiscopal See on the accession of Boniface was much impoverished. Not only had his predecessors left considerable debts, but the action of the king during the long vacancy had tended to diminish the revenues. During the year 1244, when Boniface had visited England prior to his consecration, he had rightly gauged the situation and had set about repairing the shattered fortunes of his See. He demanded that the whole province of Canterbury should aid in paying off the debts left to him as a legacy, and he wished to secure the consent of the suffragan
i Registres d'Innocent IV, i. No 1,765.
bishops to this scheme of liquidation. This apparently was resisted; and the grant by papal authority of the first fruits of all benefices in the south province which he desired, was consequently refused to the new archbishop. On 19th April, 1246, however, Innocent IV addressed two letters to the bishop of Hereford, urging that it was the duty of all ecclesiastics in the suffragan Sees of Canterbury to come to their archbishop's assistance, and specifically ordering the bishops to secure to him the fruits of all vacant benefices.'
Bishop Grosseteste, the second of the two bishops who had acted as assistants at the consecration of Archbishop Boniface, also received a copy of the papal grant of first fruits to Canterbury, with directions to publish it. Providence, writes the pope, so disposes the changeable nature of things, as “now to cause superiors to need the help of inferiors, now inferiors to require the support of superiorsthat, so bearing each other's burdens and assisting one another, all may fulfil the law of Christ.” At the present time, he continued, the See of Canterbury is so burdened by debt “ that it can hardly be freed from its difficulties without the intervention of the Apostolic See," and "seeing that the Church of Canterbury is held in honour among all the Churches of the world, and is regarded by the Roman Church as a specially beloved daughter, we have determined at the request of the archbishop to come to its assistance. We have consequently ordered our venerable brother, the bishop of Hereford, to collect for seven years, the first fruits of all benefices in the diocese and province of Canterbury, and the sum of two thousand marks from the revenues of the archbishopric to defray these debts, until the sum of 10,000 marks has been collected.”'
Registres d'Innocent IV, i. Nos. 1,935, 1,936. 2 Matthew Paris, iv. 507.
Archbishop Boniface was not at this time in England. After having, through the pope's intervention, made provision for the payment of his most pressing debts in England, he turned his attention to family business and affairs, and did not come to take possession of his See till towards the close of 1249. Meanwhile, on the publication of Pope Innocent's letter disposing of the first fruits of the Canterbury province in behalf of the archbishop, the king was “first astounded” at the papal action, and “then angry and even greatly incensed” both at the action of Boniface of Savoy, and at the “new and unheard-of extortion of money” ordered by the Roman Curia. “By this measure,” he declared, “all my people, to whom the patronage of churches belong, are defrauded, the country is despoiled of revenue, and other like measures may be feared.” As a consequence of this, Henry sent orders to the bishops not to allow Bulls of provision to be received in their dioceses, and to the various ports to stop all bearers of such letters from entering the country.'
The bishops generally proved themselves most unwilling to direct the collection of first fruits for the purpose of liquidating the Canterbury debts. In their opinion these had been contracted by the rash borrowing of the archbishops at usurious interest. Archbishop Boniface brought this hesitation to an end by a summary suspension of all his suffragans who refused to carry out the papal orders. They gave way, and received absolution together with a further mandate from the pope, addressed to them through the bishop of Hereford, on 5th June, 1247, excommunicating all who should'venture to oppose the order, excepting only the king and queen with Richard of Cornwall.?
Matthew Paris, iv. 510.
In this year, 1247, the creditors of the archbishop became most pressing; and he had again to apply to the pope for relief, especially as the receipts from the first fruits do not appear to have been very considerable. As the result of the new application of the English archbishop, Innocent IV granted him his discharge from all debts, for which the creditors could not give absolute and legal proof that the money had been borrowed and used for purposes of the See. At the same time further mandatory letters through the papal agents in England were addressed to the bishops, to compel them to obey the orders already given as to the payment of first fruits ? in liquidation of the archbishop's obligations. At the same time the dean of Beauvais, then the chief agent of the Curia, was directed to see that the absent archbishop was not pressed unduly by his creditors. A few days later, the same ecclesiastic was ordered to publish a sentence of excommunication against all, who having been recently presented to livings, had not paid the amount of the first year's revenue to the collectors appointed to receive them in behalf of the archbishop ;* and on the same date, the bishops were directed, before instituting to any benefice; to inform the cleric, so presented, of the excommunication so pronounced against him if he did not pay over his first fruits. A month later the archbishop was complaining again to the pope that the limit of ten thousand marks, set by the papal authority, for his claim on the benefices was too narrow, and at his request another two thousand marks was given him from the same source;' fresh efforts were ordered to be made to collect the sums as they became due,' and the excommunication of those who, in spite of all that had been said and done, still neglected to pay what was owing.
i Registres d'Innocent IV, i. No. 3,369.
2 Ibid., No. 3,371.
Ibid., No. 3,397. ? Ibid., No. 3,411.
When this unhappy affair is last heard of, in 1248, the archbishop of Canterbury was still at Lyons, endeavouring through his proctor in England, the dean of Beauvais, to gather in the first fruits from the various workmen in the portions of the Lord's vineyard assigned to their special care. Additional powers had even enabled him, through his agents, to keep benefices vacant for a year. Some one was appointed to take charge of the living at a salary, and the collector took the revenues to assist in the liquidation of the Canterbury debts.' Throughout the province the knowledge that excommunication awaited all who did not assist in this unpopular work, was kept well before the minds of all by the strenuous efforts of the archbishop's proctor, the dean of Beauvais. The sentence was published " in every church in the country,” says Matthew Paris, “and it caused great indignation in the minds of many," not merely because of the extortion itself; but because, since the king had been excepted, he appeared to tolerate the injury."
Before the close of the year 1246 the pope determined upon pushing forward the crusade movement in England. He appointed preachers to urge the necessity of all taking a part in liberating the Holy Land, and in endeavouring, for the sake of the security of Europe, to break the power of the Saracens. To the bishop of Hereford, with whom and with Bishop Grosseteste he chiefly transacted his English business during the absence of the archbishop of Canterbury, he had already given power to commute any crusading vow for a money payment, to be spent on the
? Registres d'Innocent IV, i. No. 3,471. ? Matthew Paris, v. 36. 3 Registres, ut sup., No. 2, 229.