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hardships endured during that long vigil. This experience determined them to seek shelter in other houses of the order, and St. Alban's, Reading, Abingdon, and other monasteries opened their doors to the fugitives. To their brethren at St. Alban's they said: “We deserve our sufferings for fearing man more than God in the making of this election. We have raised to the highest dignity one wholly unworthy. In the place where so many holy and worthy men have ruled, we have received a youth, who is said never to have undergone the discipline of a school. He has never learnt the rudiments of learning or even of grammar: though not a bishop, he dissipates the (revenues of the) episcopate: ignorant of our language, of Scripture and of all other clerical learning, he cannot preach or hear confessions, or indeed minister to God in any spiritual office.”
The king, seeing the desolation of the house at Winchester, brought about by his nominee to the episcopal office, rebuked Aylmer for his treatment of those who, at his royal bidding, had chosen him. The royal remonstrance, however, had no effect, and Alymer filled up the places of those who had fled from his tyranny with lowbred, ignorant, and wholly unworthy men, “to the scandal and lowering,” says the chronicler, “ of the entire monastic order, and of religion itself.” Not content with this, the bishop-elect appointed a prior in place of the one who by law was the superior of the monastery. This latter carried his appeal to the Roman Curia, but being poor he could not at first prevail against the large sums expended by his opponent. Henry warned his half-brother that in order to succeed he must be prepared to expend large sums of money, but he replied that the spring of his wealth should
Matthew Paris, v. 468.
never dry up, so as to prevent the monks getting their way. The intruded prior was confirmed by the Curia, and William de Taunton, the old prior, was given one of the conventual manors and received from Pope Innocent IV the mitre and other pontificalia,' though what use they could be to him under the circumstances does not appear. Subsequently, however, the true prior returned to rule his house, for he received letters of protection from Pope Alexander IV in 1255, to enable him to prosecute his case against Aylmer, and in the following year was allowed to pledge the credit of his monastery to meet the charges in Rome.
In 1256 Pope Alexander IV tired, no doubt, of the endless quarrel between the Winchester monks and their bishop-elect, took the wisest course and appointed the celebrated Franciscan, Adam Marsh, to hear and determine the whole cause in England. The parties met at Winchester, the bishop personally appearing, and the prior, William de Taunton, who was then in the Curia, attending by his proctors. It was agreed that all the complaints and charges made by the convent should be withdrawn, and that the elect should return any property of the convent he held, and that he should likewise see that sufficient provision was made for them in the future, for which the obedientiaries were to render the bishop a sufficient account. This truce was approved by the king on 26th June, 1256.
The rest of the history of Aylmer does not concern us much in this place. He remained a foreigner to the last period of his stay in England. In 1258, when the Poitevins were obliged to leave England, the bishop-elect of Winchester went with them. His request to be allowed to stay in Paris was refused by the French king, St. Louis, who, however, allowed him to pass through France to Poitou. A considerable sum of money belonging to him was intercepted at Dover and confiscated. Meanwhile the question of his title to the See was raised, now that he was in exile. The Winchester monks feeling that the only way to get the royal assent to any election in the lifetime of his halfbrother was to make choice of some one high in the royal favour, met and elected Henry de Wengham, the king's chancellor, as their bishop. Fearing complications and appeals, Henry gave only a conditional assent to this, claiming that if Aylmer could obtain consecration from the pope his election should still be allowed to stand ; if not, then he agreed to the choice of de Wengham. By this time Pope Innocent IV had died, and had been succeeded by Alexander IV; and, in 1258, the English baronage addressed a letter of complaints against the bishop-elect to the pope. They charged him with pledging the property of the See of Winchester, in order to carry out the designs of the foreign party in England, and that rather than meet the accusations made against him he had fled the country. They would not, they declared, feel safe were he allowed to return to England. In fact, they say, “it is the fixed determination and desire of everyone that he, the author of divisions, dissensions, and scandals, be no longer allowed to live amongst us.” They consequently beg the pope to remove him altogether from the administration of the See of Winchester, and thus “to avoid scandal, by force of the plenitude of your power.” Even if the king and his nobles, they add, might wish for the return of the bishop-elect, the people would never tolerate it. And indeed such a thing
1 Ann. Mon., ii. 95 (Winchester Annals). 2 Registres d'Innocent IV, i., No. 835 and No. 1, 109. 3 Mon. Franciscana, i. 609-612.
could not be allowed “ without grave scandal, since he is not a consecrated bishop at all, but one to whom the administration only has been given.”!
The English nobles, fearing lest Aylmer might hurry to Rome and by his promises to the pope and cardinals obtain consecration, and so “have greater power to do harm,” sent four of their number to back up, by personal explanations, the representations contained in their letter. One member of this deputation died in Paris, but the other three reached the Curia, and fully explained the motive of their journey to the Holy Father. They are, indeed, said to have horrified the authorities by their account of the misdeeds of Aylmer and his brothers. In their desire that there should be no mistake on the part of the Curial officials as to the true situation, the barons dispatched a second letter to their agents for presentation to the pope. This communication breathed the true spirit of filial affection : “If the most holy Roman Church,” they say, “would with becoming gratitude recompense the merits of our forefathers, who, inflamed by the love of God's Church and churchmen, and to exalt them, have splendidly founded, built, and richly endowed so many churches, as is clearly shown by the testimony of those marvellous works which have lasted through the ages, it would extend to us specially the favour of a watchful care. It would freely afford us the help of a heart manifesting paternal generosity; it would not disturb onr peace and that of the kingdom of England, but with all sincere affection in the Lord, and by every means in its power, would maintain it; especially, as far as we are able, we desire to be zealous imitators of the faith of our forefathers, and of the devotion which they had
| Additamenta, 395-404; cf. Ann. Mon., i. 170, where the date of the letter appears to be 25th June, 1258.
for the Church and churchmen.” They fear, however, that they may look for this in vain, if what they hear is true ; namely, that Aylmer, "once the elect of the Church of Winchester,” about whom nothing is too bad to say, is to be once more, through his misrepresentations, false suggestions, and manifold suppressions of the truth, sent back into England. “O prince of the Church and shepherd of the sheep of the Lord's flock, to whom in the person of Saint Peter it is said, Feed my sheep, we beg of you,” they plead, “not in your great power, which we fully recognise, but in your zeal for justice, in your manifold mercies and in the spirit of your loving kindness in the ruling your flock, remember that the Lord is not in the fire, nor in the earthquake, nor in the strong wind overturning the mountains, but rather in whisperings of a gentle air." They conclude by making a touching appeal to Alexander IV, to show himself a father and not to do them the great injury, which report says he is contemplating, of letting the unworthy bishop-elect return to the country he has so shocked and injured.
This letter was followed by a third appeal to the pope to prevent the evil of the return of the unworthy elect, which was still spoken of as not improbable. “When the small streams are dried up by the heat,” the English nobles say, “it is necessary for the thirsty to come to the fount of living waters. So do the oppressed have recourse to the clemency of your See when justice is violated by might. God, indeed, has given you to the world in His place, that restraining by His own power the exalted horns of the proud, He may raise the humble who are depressed by the power of the proud." They then proceed to give one instance of the injuries inflicted by the bishop-elect in his
* III. Reg., xix. 11-12. 2 Additamenta, 407-408.