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To the legate he had written two days previously more fully. He sent this letter back by the messengers who had brought Gualo's communication from England, asking the pope's direction on certain urgent matters. He bids him act as one possessing full legatine powers. To further the interests of king or kingdom, he need not hesitate to place districts and churches under an interdict, to excommunicate people, and even to dispossess and degrade prelates and others who remain in disobedience and rebellion. He may fill up vacant sees and abbacies in England, Scotland, and Wales with persons who are known to be faithful to the king and devoted to the Roman Church. As for the ecclesiastics who, in spite of the excommunication passed on Louis, still aid and support him, as he—the pope-does not himself know their names, he gives Gualo full authority to declare them deprived of their benefices, if after thirty days' warning they still continue to celebrate Mass, etc., whilst remaining wholly disobedient. In such cases the legate may appoint to the cures vacant by deprivation.
Then, after allowing his representative in England to suspend the operation of the crusading vows in the case of those who can and will help the king of England, and bidding him declare null and void all oaths and promises taken to Louis, the pope concludes as follows: “It was suggested to us in your behalf, that as King John, when dying, committed the country, his children, and all his affairs to us and the Roman Church, it might be well, if we were pleased carefully to consider the question of a marriage between our beloved son in Christ, Henry, the late king's heir, and some person who might be useful to him and his kingdom.” But as you and those who are faithful to him
i Brit. Mus. Add. MS., 15,351, f. 73.
have better means of knowing what is best in this matter, we leave it “to your watchful care."
Early in the same year, 1217, Gualo and the earl marshal announced the coronation to the Justice of Ireland. From internal evidence, the document appears to have been the work of Gualo, who threw himself most vigorously into the government of the kingdom. Walter de Coventry, speaking of his activity, says: “He supported the king's party with all his might; commanding, warning, beseeching, urging, arguing, chiding, and drawing the sword of Peter against those who gainsaid his orders or disobeyed them; for such were his instructions."
About the same time Pope Honorius writes a second letter to the boy-king. He tells him that he is watching over all his interests, as “the English king is specially subject to the Holy See.” He is glad to hear that he has been crowned, and that he has succeeded his father “in devotion to the Apostolic See.” “I have,” he says, “great confidence in this, since you have dedicated the firstfruits of your life to the Lord your God, in determining to carry out your father's vow of helping the Holy Land, by yourself taking the cross and binding yourself with the consequent obligations. This we have heard with pleasure." I hope, he concludes, that God will ever guide you to prove yourself “faithful to the Roman Church, your mother,” humbly following the advice of “our beloved son Gualo, our legate.” For “whatever the said legate may have done concerning your person, and whatever in the future he may do, we ratify and approve it." 5
Royal Letters of Henry III (Rolls ed.), i. 527. 2 Rymer, T., 145.
3 G. J. Turner, ut sup., 255. 4 Walter de Coventria, Memoriale, ii. 233. 6 Brit. Mus. Add. MS., 15, 351 fol. 81.
The position taken up by the pope and his legate in regard to England does not admit of question. The kingdom “is known to belong specially to the Roman Church,” it forms part of “the patrimony of St. Peter.” These are fair samples of statements to be found in the papal letters of this period; and this position, moreover, appears to have been unquestioned by those who might be expected to raise objections. The protests of Philip of France and of his son Louis against the right of King John to create the extraordinary situation already referred to stand alone or almost alone. So far as the English state papers of the period afford any evidence, the claims of the papacy were admitted to their fullest extent. It was the pope's right and duty, either directly or through his legate, to arrange even for the government of the State, and to take whatever measures might seem expedient to secure the peace of the country.
Cardinal Gualo fully acted up to the part assigned to him by Pope Honorius. In a letter to Philip of France the pope deplores the fact that his son, in still opposing Henry in arms, is fighting “against the Roman Church, the mother of all the faithful.” And in truth Honorius and Gualo are the real sources of government at this period in England. In July, 1217, for example, Gualo is directed “to appoint guardians and instructors for the king." He is, indeed, to obtain the advice of the faithful nobles before making the appointment, but he it is that is to appoint. He is to cause the young king to make a progress through the country, “like a king,” to excite the loyalty of the people; and he is directed to take every precaution for the safe custody of the royal seal. The assertion of Roger de Wendover, that
Royal Letters, etc., i. 529. ? Brit. Mus. Add. MS., 15,351, f. 116.
3 Roger de Wendover, ii. 211.
the king was at this time governed by the earl of Pembroke, but under the advice of the legate and the bishop of Winchester, is only less than the actual truth. It is Gualo who always appears in the forefront during the early years of Henry.
A few examples, beyond what have already been given, will make this position clear. Before the battle known as the Fair of Lincoln, fought in the week of Pentecost, 1217, the legate spoke to the royal soldiers as a man possessing authority. After having celebrated Mass in the presence of the entire army, he exhorted them in vigorous language to manifest courage and a determination to gain the victory. He then publicly excommunicated Prince Louis and all his followers, and in the name of the pope gave a Plenary Indulgence to all Henry's soldiers who had made confession of their sins.' On 8th July, 1217, the pope wrote to his representative in England that he quite agreed with his suggestion that the prelates should give an aid of money to the king. He ordered this to be done, and directed that the tax should be paid to Gualo: “that it may be spent by you on the needs of the king and kingdom,” by the advice of the faithful barons. “But in this,” he added, “ you are to do as you think proper."
The remainder of the letter is even more important, as enabling us to form a correct judgement on the political position of the pope in England at this time. Honorius III had been urged, he says in this letter, to appoint a coadjutor to the earl of Pembroke as regent, on account of his age, and because he was apparently considered somewhat dilatory. The name of the earl of Chester had been submitted to the pope as a proper man to share the regency, but the pontiff was not sure about the expediency of this. Most
Roger de Wendover, ii. 213. ? Royal Letters, etc., i. 532.
people in power, he thought, did not like coadjutors, and such an appointment might lead to friction and do more harm than good. He concluded, therefore, to leave the settlement of this delicate point to Gualo, who knew the condition of affairs in England and could make the appointment if he considered well. Still, if he did think proper to create a co-ordinate authority with the earl, the pope would be well pleased to see Richard Marsh, the chancellor, elected to that position.
On 11th September, 1217, eleven months after John's death, peace was concluded between the king and Louis of France, the terms being signed at Lambeth. We are not concerned here with these arrangements, beyond noting the fact that Gualo, the legate, as representing the pope, signed the document before the pope's vassal, King Henry. Subsequently, too, Louis of France thought it right to seek for and obtain papal confirmation for the terms of peace arranged by the legate. When the peace was concluded, Gualo's most pressing work was to see to the immediate pacification of the country, and he set about it at once. He formally absolved Louis and all who sided with him ;3 but from the benefit of this act of grace those bishops, abbots, and other beneficed clergy were excluded, who had taken part with or given help and encouragement to Louis. Simon Langton, the archbishop's brother, was specially singled out on account of his friendly attitude to the French; and, says Wendover, “many despoiled of their benefices were compelled to go to Rome by the legate. For, after the departure of Louis, Gualo sent officials throughout England, and if any ecclesiastics were found to have given the least encouragement or countenance to the French, no Rymer, i. 148.
Brit. Mus. Add. MS., 15,351, f. 155. 3 Roger de Wendover, ii. 225.