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fully carried out his mission, and his representations were undoubtedly prejudicial to the position and authority of Cardinal Langton at the Roman court. The legate's envoy took with him from England to Pope Innocent the final Charter of King John's submission, sealed with its golden “bulla," and he so extolled the king and his virtues to the Roman officials, that the representations of Simon Langton, the archbishop's brother, on the merits of the case, fell upon deaf ears.' In reality, however, the king's Charter and the pope's confirmation of it, assured that freedom of election for ecclesiastics for which the archbishop and his suffragans had contended.
Meantime Langton's determination to force the king to govern his people justly and honestly, was apparently altogether misconstrued by Innocent III and his advisers. As a result of this unfortunate misunderstanding of the real situation in England, and of the true character of King John, the pope in March, 1215, addressed a letter of reproof to the archbishop and his suffragans. “We are astonished," he writes, “and are deeply moved! We regard it as a very grave matter, and one most hurtful, that after peace had been happily restored, to the honour of God and His Church, between you and our beloved son in Christ, John, the illustrious king of England, you should have so far disregarded the settlement, as to aid in the dissensions between him and some of the barons and their accomplices. You have pretended not to recognise their existence, and have not interposed your authority to repress the discord. You cannot be ignorant of what will take place if these dissensions be not allayed by prudent counsel and unremitting care. From them there may easily happen some great scandal to the whole kingdom, which will not be ended
· Matth. Paris, Chron. Maj., ii. 572.
without the expenditure of much money and without great labour. Some even expect and say, that in the dispute with the king, you have given both help and countenance (to his opponents), since these matters were never raised in the reigns of the king's father or brother, nor in his own, indeed, until peace between him and you had been made.”
“We altogether condemn this attitude, if, as is asserted by many, conspiracies and plots are being made against him, or the people irreverently and undutifully are presuming to demand by force, what they should have asked for with humility and submission, if, indeed, there were any occasion at all to request anything.” The pope then orders the English bishops to try and end, if necessary even by means of the spiritual sword of excommunication, all these discords. They are to warn the nobles that they must be reconciled with the king and serve him as faithfully as their ancestors had served his predecessors. On his part, the pope says, he has asked and begged the king to listen to any just demands that may be made to him, and to remedy any real grievance.'
On the same day Pope Innocent III addressed a letter to the barons couched in almost the same terms. This was followed a few days later by a brief epistle likewise directed to the barons, in which he wrote that the king had complained to him that his nobles would not pay the accustomed scutage which he had great need of in order to pay his army. The pope expressed the hope that they would not prevent, by their refusal, this pious intentionpium propositum—of the king to pay his debts; and he “commanded them by his apostolic letters” not to persist in their refusal to satisfy their king in this matter.? Innocent III was evidently quite misinformed as to | Rymer, i. 127.
the real state of affairs in England and completely ignorant of John's true character. By his mock humility in resigning his crown into the pope's hands, when he had come to the last extremity, and by his promise of a yearly tribute to the coffers of St. Peter, the English king had secured the ear of the pope and the important influence of his legate in England, even as against Cardinal Langton and the English bishops. What was to be done? As we ponder over the documents to-day, even in the light of subsequent events, the situation appears difficult enough. What must it have been for true churchmen and loyal patriots like Langton and his suffragans, who knew their king only too well, and who felt that his astute diplomacy had completely hoodwinked Nicholas the legate, the able Pandulph, and through them the great pontiff who ruled the Church?
In the ever memorable year 1215 Easter fell on 19th April, and in that week the barons met at Stamford. In the matters at issue between them and the king there was no room for discussion. The barons were determined to force their sovereign once for all to keep the solemn promises he had so frequently made to confirm the Charter of King Henry II. “They were all leagued together and bound by oath,” writes the chronicler, "and they had Stephen (Langton), archbishop of Canterbury, as their main support.” 2 King John sent for the archbishop and deputed him and the earl of Pembroke to find out from the barons what their exact demands were. These were drawn up and a paper written containing the headings of what they asked, which were mainly taken from the old laws of Edward the Confessor and the Charter of Henry. The king refused to consider what he held to be monstrous restrictions on his regal rights: and both sides prepared for the final stage of the struggle, which ended with John's capitulation at Runnymede a few weeks later and the royal assent to Magna Charta.' It is important to note that throughout the negociations, the bishops with Langton at their head and some few of the nobles, although determined to force King John to grant the long promised liberties to his subjects, were able to maintain throughout friendly relations with him. They were, what Roger de Wendover calls, quasi-partisans of the king (quasi ex parte Regis) and they were thus able in the end to bring him to reason.
1 Roger de Wendover, Flores Historiarum (Rolls ed.), ii. 114. ? Ibid., 115, capitalem consentaneum.
Meantime John was very busy in Rome. Events had moved somewhat more rapidly than was anticipated, or the Roman authorities were too slow in acting, and in the issue the king was for the moment left unprotected by his suzerain, and was forced, as we have seen, to make what terms he could with his long-suffering subjects. But so far as the pope was concerned matters were not allowed to rest where the king's capitulation had left them. In the previous February of the year 1215, “induced,” writes the chronicler, “rather by fear than love," 2 John had taken the cross. His cunning had detected in the privileges accorded by the Church to the person of a Crusader additional security for postponing the evil day. He hoped that his crusading design would be another motive to induce the pope to interpose his supreme authority to save him from the hard necessity of keeping faith with his subjects.
As time went on, and the collapse of John's resistance seemed inevitable, he wrote a piteous letter of appeal to the pope. This was on 29th May, less than three weeks before the sealing of the Great Charter at Runnymede. It could not have reached Rome before that event, but it is most instructive as to the king's real sentiments at the time. After thanking the pope for the letters he had written to him, and in his behalf to the bishops and barons, he says that the papal admonitions had fallen on deaf ears. He complains, too, that the archbishop and his suffragans had omitted to execute the pope's commands to put a stop to the discontent by a few timely excommunications. “For our part," he continues, "we declare to our people that our kingdom is part of the patrimony of St. Peter, and that we hold it of St. Peter, from the Roman Church and you.”
i Copies of the Great Charter were ordered to be deposited in the cathedral churches and monasteries of the realm, but it was not enrolled on the Patent or Charter Rolls. This Dr. Reinhold Pauli regards as “an evident proof of the king's intention that it should never become a law of the realm.”
2 Matth. Paris, ii. 585.
Over and above this, “we tell everyone that we are one of the cruce signati, and claim the benefit and privilege of crusaders, namely: that we be not disturbed in our possessions, so as not to be forced to consume in defending them what we have proposed to expend on an expedition to the Holy Land. For this reason we have appealed through William Marshall, earl of Pembroke, and Earl Warren against the disturbers of the peace of our kingdom. But even because we are a Crusader we have desired to act with all humility and gentleness, and, without prejudice to our appeal, we have offered the barons to abolish 'all bad customs, by whomsoever introduced in our times, and also to eradicate all such evil practices as had come into existence in the reign of our brother Richard. With regard to the customs introduced in the days of our father, we have further promised that we, with the advice of our faithful counsellors, will amend any that can be shown to be injurious. But the barons are not content with these promises nor with others, and have refused them all."
King John then passes on to say that he had requested