The History of The Kings of England 34

William of Malmesbury

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His piety towards God was laudable, for he built monasteries in England and in Normandy: but as he has not yet completed them, I, in the meantime, should suspend my judgment, did not my affection for the brotherhood at Reading forbid my silence. He built this monastery between the rivers Kennet and Thames, in a place calculated for the reception of almost all who might have occasion to travel to the more populous cities of England, where he placed monks of the Clugniac order, who are at this day a noble pattern of holiness, and an example of unwearied and delightful hospitality. Here may be seen what is peculiar to this place: for guests arriving every hour, consume more than the inmates themselves. Perhaps, some person may call me overhasty and a flatterer, for so signally celebrating a congregation yet in its infancy; unconscious what future times may produce: but they, as I hope, will endeavour, by the grace of God, to continue in virtue; and I blush not at commending men of holiness, and admiring that excellence in others which I possess not myself. He yielded up the investiture of the churches to God and St. Peter, after much controversy between him and archbishop Anselm, scarcely induced, even at last, to consent, through the manifold grace of God, by an inglorious victory over his brother. The tenor of these disputes Edmer has recorded at great length; I, to give a completer knowledge of the matter, shall subjoin the letters of the so-often-mentioned pope Paschal on the subject “Paschal the bishop to king Henry, health. From your letters, lately transmitted to us by your servant, our beloved son, William the clerk, we have been certified both of the safety of your person, and of those prosperous successes which the divine favour hath granted you in the subjugation of the adversaries of your kingdom. We have heard too, that you have had the male issue you so much desired, by your noble and religious consort. As we have derived pleasure from this, we think it a good opportunity to impress the commands and will of God more strongly upon you, at a time when you perceive yourself indebted to his kindness for such ample favours. We also are desirous of associating our kindness with the benefits of God towards you; but it is distressing, that you should seem to require what we cannot possibly grant. For if we consent, or suffer, that investitures be conferred by your excellence, no doubt it will be to the great detriment both of ourselves, and of you. In this matter we wish you to consider, what you lose by not performing, or gain by performing. For we, by such a prohibition, obtain no increase of influence, or patronage, over the churches; nor do we endeavour to take away any thing from your just power and right; but only that God’s anger may be diminished towards you, and thus every prosperity attend you. God, indeed, hath said, Those that honour me, I will honour; and those that despise me, shall be lightly esteemed. You will say then, ‘It is my right;’ no truly, it is neither an imperial nor royal, but a divine right; it is His only, who has said, ‘I am the door:’ wherefore I entreat for his sake, whose due it is, that you would restore and concede it to him, to whose love you owe what you possess. But why should we oppose your pleasure, or run counter to your good will, unless we were aware, that in consenting to this matter, we should oppose the will of God, and lose his favour ? Why should we deny you any thing, which might be granted to any man living, when we should receive greater favours in return ? Consider, my dearest son, whether it be an honour, or a disgrace that Anselm, the wisest, and most religious of the Gallican bishops, on this account, fears to be familiar with you, or to continue in your kingdom. What will those persons think, who have hitherto had such favourable accounts of you ? What will they say, when this gets noised abroad ? The very people who, before your face, commend your excess, will, when out of your presence, be the first more loudly to vilify the transaction. Return then to your understanding, my dearest son, we entreat you, for the mercy of God, and the love of his Only-begotten Son: recall your pastor, recall your father; and if, what we do not imagine, he hath in anything conducted himself harshly towards you, and hath opposed the investitures, we will mediate according to your pleasure, as far as God permits: but nevertheless, remove from your person and your kingdom the infamy of such an expulsion. If you do this, even although you should ask very difficult matters of us; still if, with God’s permission, we can grant, you shall certainly obtain, them: and we will be careful to entreat the Lord for you, himself assisting, and will grant indulgence and absolution, as well to your sins, as to those of your consort, through the merits of the holy apostles. Moreover, we will, together with you, cherish the son whom you have begotten on your exemplary and noble consort; and who is, as we have heard, named after your excellent father, William, with such anxious care, that whosoever shall injure either you, or him, shall be regarded as having done injury to the church of Rome. Dated at the palace of Lateran, the month before the kalends of December.”

”Paschal to Anselm. We have received those most gratifying letters of your affection, written with the pen of charity. In these we recognise the fervency of your devotion, and considering the strength of your faith, and the earnestness of your pious care, we rejoice; because, by the grace of God, neither promises elevate, nor threats depress you. We lament, however, that after having kindly received our brother bishops, the ambassadors of the king of England, they should, on their return home, report what we never uttered, or even thought of For, we have heard, that they said, if the king conducted himself well in other respects, we should neither prohibit the investiture of the churches, nor anathematize them, when conferred; but that we were unwilling thus to write, lest from this precedent other princes should exclaim. Wherefore we call Jesus, who trieth the hearts and reins, as witness to our soul, if ever such a horrid crime, even entered our imagination, since we assumed the care of this holy see.” And again below. “If, therefore, a lay hand present the staff, the sign of the shepherd’s office, or the ring, the emblem of faith, what have the bishops to do in the church ? Moreover, those bishops who have changed the truth into a lie, that truth, which is God, being the criterion, we separate from the favour of St. Peter and our society, until they have made satisfaction to the church of Rome. Such, therefore, as have received the investiture, or consecration, during the aforesaid truce, we regard as aliens to our communion and to the church.” ”Paschal to Anselm. Since the condescension of Almighty God hath inclined the heart of the king of England to obedience to the papal see, we give thanks to the same God of mercies, in whose hand are situated the hearts of kings. We believe it indeed to have been effected through favour to your charity, and the earnestness of your prayers, that in this respect the heavenly mercy hath regarded the people over whom your watchfulness presides. But whereas we so greatly condescend to the king and those who seem culpable, you must know that this has been done from kindness and compassion, that we may lift up those that are down. And you, also, reverend and dearest brother in Christ, we release from the prohibition or, as you conceive, excommunication, which, you understand, was denounced against investitures or homage by our predecessor of holy memory pope Urban. But do you, by the assistance of God, accept those persons who either receive investitures, or consecrate such as have received them, or do homage on making that satisfaction which we signify to you by our common legates William and Baldwin, faithful and true men, and absolve them by virtue of our authority. These you will either consecrate yourself, or command to be consecrated by such as you choose; unless perchance you should discover somewhat in them on account of which they ought to be deprived of their sacred honours. And if any, hereafter, in addition to the investitures of the churches, shall have accepted prelacies, even though they have done homage to the king, yet let them not, on this account, be denied the office of consecration, until by the grace of Almighty God, the heart of the king may be softened, by the dew of your preaching, to omit this. Moreover, against the bishops who have brought, as you know, a false report from us, our heart is more vehemently moved, because they have not only injured us, but have led astray the minds of many simple people, and impelled the king to want of charity for the papal see. Wherefore, by the help of God, we suffer not their crime to pass unpunished: but since the earnestness of our son the king unceasingly entreats for them, you will not deny, even them, the participation of your communion. Indeed, you will, according to our promise, absolve from their transgressions and from penance the king and his consort, and those nobles who for this business, together with the king, have by our command been under sentence, whose names you will learn from the information of the aforesaid William. We commit the cause of the bishop of Rouen to your consideration, and we grant to him whatsoever you may allow.”

In this manner acted Paschal the supreme pope, anxious for the liberty of the churches of God. The bishops whom he accuses of falsehood, were Girard archbishop of York, and Herbert of Norwich, whose errors were discovered by the more veracious legates, William afterwards bishop of Exeter, and Baldwin monk of Bee. Anselm the archbishop was now again, in the time of this king, an exile at Lyons, resident with Hugh, archbishop of that city, when the first letter which I have inserted was despatched; for he himself possessed no desire to return, nor did the king, through the multitude of sycophants, suffer his animosity to be appeased. He deferred, therefore, for a long time, recalling him or complying with the papal admonition; not from desire of power, but through the advice of the nobility, and particularly of the earl of Mellent, who, in this affair, running counter to reason more from ancient custom than a sense of right, alleged that the king’s majesty must be much diminished if, disregarding the usage of his predecessors, he ceased to invest the elected person with the staff and ring. The king, however, considering more attentively what the clear reasoning of the epistles, and the bountiful gift of divine favours, plentifully showered down upon him, admonished, yielded up the investiture of the ring and staff for ever, retaining only the privilege of election and of the temporalities. A great council, therefore, of bishops, nobles, and abbots, being assembled at London, many points of ecclesiastical and secular business were settled, many differences adjusted. And not long after, five bishops were ordained in Kent, on the same day, by archbishop Anselm: William to the see of Winchester; Roger to Salisbury; William to Exeter; Reinald to Hereford; Urban to Glamorgan. In this manner a controversy, agitated by perpetual dissensions, and the cause of many a journey to and from Rome by Anselm, met with a commendable termination. Henry’s queen, Matilda, descended from an ancient and illustrious race of kings, daughter of the king of Scotland, as I have said before, had also given her attention to literature, being educated, from her infancy, among the nuns at Wilton and Romsey. Wherefore, in order to have a colour for refusing an ignoble alliance, which was more than once offered by her father, she wore the garb indicative of the holy profession. This, when the king was about to advance her to his bed, became matter of controversy; nor could the archbishop be induced to consent to her marriage, but by the production of lawful witnesses, who swore that she had worn the veil on account of her suitors, but had never made her vow. Satisfied with a child of either sex, she ceased having issue, and enduring with complacency, when the king was elsewhere employed, the absence of the court, she continued many years at Westminster; yet was no part of royal magnificence wanting to her; but at all times crowds of visitants and talebearers were, in endless multitudes, entering and departing from her superb dwelling; for this the king’s liberallty commanded; this her own kindness and affability attracted. She was singularly holy; by no means despicable in point of beauty; a rival of her mother’s piety; never committing any impropriety, as far as herself was concerned; and, with the exception of the king’s bed, completely chaste and uncontaminated even by suspicion. Clad in hair cloth beneath her royal habit, in Lent, she trod the thresholds of the churches barefoot. Nor was she disgusted at washing the feet of the diseased; handling their ulcers dripping with corruption, and, finally, pressing their hands, for a long time together to her lips, and decking their table. She had a singular pleasure in hearing the service of God; and on this account was thoughtlessly prodigal towards clerks of melodious voice; addressed them kindly, gave to them liberally, and promised still more abundantly. Her generosity becoming universally known, crowds of scholars, equally famed for verse and for singing, came over; and happy did he account himself who could soothe the ears of the queen by the novelty of his song. Nor on these only did she lavish money, but on all sorts of men, especially foreigners, that through her presents they might proclaim her celebrity abroad; for the desire of fame is so rooted in the human mind, that scarcely is any one contented with the precious fruits of a good conscience, but is fondly anxious, if he does any thing laudable, to have it generally known. Hence, it was justly observed, the disposition crept upon the queen to reward all the foreigners she could, while the others were kept in suspense, sometimes with effectual, but oftener with empty promises. Hence, too, it arose that she fell into the error of prodigal givers; bringing many claims on her tenantry, exposing them to injuries, and taking away their property; by which obtaining the credit of a liberal benefactress, she little regarded their sarcasms. But whoso shall judge rightly, will impute this to the designs of her servants, who, harpylike, conveyed everything they could gripe into their purses or wasted it in riotous living. Her ears being infected with the base insinuations of these people, she induced this stain on her noble mind, holy and meritorious in every other respect. Amid these concerns she was snatched away from her country, to the great loss of the people, but to her own advantage; for her funeral being splendidly celebrated at Westminster, she entered into rest; and her spirit manifested, by no trivial indications, that she was a resident in heaven. She died, willingly leaving the throne, after a reign of seventeen years and six months, experiencing the fate of her family, who almost all departed in the flower of their age. To her, but not immediately, succeeded Adala, daughter of the duke of Louvain, which is the principal town of Lorraine.

By Matilda king Henry had a son named William, educated and destined to the succession, with the fondest hope, and surpassing care. For to him, when scarcely twelve years’ of age, all the free men of England and Normandy, of every rank and condition, and under fealty to whatever lord, were obliged to submit themselves by homage, and by oath. When a boy, too, he was betrothed to and received in wedlock, the daughter of Fulco earl of Anjou, who was herself scarcely marriageable; his father-in-law bestowing on him the county of Maine as her dower. Moreover, Fulco, proceeding, to Jerusalem, committed his earldom to the king, to be restored, should he return, but otherwise, to go to his son-in-law. Many provinces, then, looked forward to the government of this boy: for it was supposed that the prediction of king Edward would be verified in him; and it was said, that now might it be expected, that the hopes of England, like the tree cut down, would, through this youth, again blossom and bring forth fruit, and thus put an end to her sufferings: but God saw otherwise; for this illusion vanished into air, as an early day was hastening him to his fate. Indeed, by the exertions of his father-in-law, and of Theobald the son of Stephen, and of his aunt Adala, Lewis king of France conceded the legal possession of Normandy to the lad, on his doing him homage. The prudence of his truly careful father so arranged and contrived, that the homage, which he, from the extent of his empire, disdained to perform, should not be refused by his son, a youth of delicate habit, and not very likely to live. In discussing and peaceably settling these matters, the king spent the space of four years; continuing the whole of that time in Normandy. Nevertheless, the calm of this brilliant, and carefully concerted peace, this anxious, universal hope, was destroyed in an instant by the vicissitudes of human estate. For, giving orders for returning to England, the king set sail from Barfleur just before twilight on the seventh before the kalends of December; and the breeze which filled his sails conducted him safely to his kingdom and extensive fortunes. But the young man, who was now somewhat more than seventeen years of age, and, by his father’s indulgence, possessed everything but the name of king, commanded another vessel to be prepared for himself; almost all the young nobility flocking around him, from similarity of youthful pursuits. The sailors, too, immoderately filled with wine, with that seaman’s hilarity which their cups excited, exclaimed, that those who were now a-head must soon be left astern; for the ship was of the best construction, and recently fitted with new materials. When, therefore, it was now dark night, these imprudent youths, overwhelmed with liquor, launched the vessel from the shore. She flies swifter than the winged arrow, sweeping the rippling surface of the deep: but the carelessness of the intoxicated crew drove her on a rock, which rose above the waves not far from shore. In the greatest consternation, they immediately ran on deck, and with loud outcry got ready their boat-hooks, endeavouring, for a considerable time, to force the vessel off: but fortune resisted and frustrated every exertion. The oars, too, dashing, horribly crashed against the rock, and her battered prow hung immovably fixed. Now, too, the water washed some of the crew overboard, and, entering the chinks, drowned others; when the boat having been launched, the young prince was received into it, and might certainly have been saved by reaching the shore, had not his illegitimate sister, the countess of Perche, now struggling with death in the larger vessel, implored her brother’s assistance; shrieking out that he should not abandon her so barbarously. Touched with pity, he ordered the boat to return to the ship, that he might rescue his sister; and thus the unhappy youth met his death through excess of affection: for the skiff, overcharged by the multitudes who leaped into her, sank, and buried all indiscriminately in the deep. One rustic alone escaped; who, floating all night upon the mast, related in the morning, the dismal catastrophe of this tragedy. No ship was ever productive of so much misery to England; none ever so widely celebrated throughout the world. Here also perished with William, Richard, another of the king’s sons, whom a woman of no rank had borne him, before his accession; a youth of intrepidity, and dear to his father from his obedience: Richard earl of Chester, and his brother Otuell, the tutor and preceptor of the king’s son: the countess of Perche, the king’s daughter, and his niece the countess of Chester, sister to Theobald: and indeed almost every person of consequence about court, whether knight, or chaplain, or young nobleman, training up to arms. For, as I have said, they eagerly hastened from all quarters, expecting no small addition to their reputation, if they could either amuse, or show their devotion to the young prince. The calamity was augmented by the difficulty of finding the bodies, which could not be discovered by the various persons who sought them along the shore; but delicate as they were, they became food for the monsters of the deep. The death of this youth being known, produced a wonderful change in existing circumstances. His father renounced the celibacy he had cherished since Matilda’s death, anxious for future heirs by a new consort: his father-in-law, returning home from Jerusalem, faithfully espoused the party of William, the son of Robert earl of Normandy, giving him his other daughter in marriage, and the county of Maine; his indignation being excited against the king, by his daughter’s dowry being detained in England after the death of the prince.

His daughter Matilda, by Matilda, king Henry gave in marriage to Henry emperor of Germany, son of that Henry mentioned in the third book. Henry was the fifth emperor of the Germans of this name; who, although he had been extremely incensed at his father for his outrages against the holy see, jet, in his own time, was the rigid follower of, and stickler for, the same sentiments. For when Paschal, a man possessed of every virtue, had succeeded pope Urban, the question again arose concerning the investiture of the churches, together with all the former contentions and animosities: as neither party would give way. The emperor had in his favour all the bishops and abbots of his kingdoms situated on this side of the mountains; because Charles the Great, to keep in check the ferocity of those nations, had conferred almost all the country on the churches: most wisely considering, that the clergy would not so soon cast off their fidelity to their lord as the laity; and, besides, if the laity were to rebel, they might be restrained by the authority of their excommunication, and the weight of their power. The pope had brought over to his side the churches beyond the mountains, and the cities of Italy scarcely acknowledged the dominion of Henry; thinking themselves exonerated from servitude after the death of his brother Conrad, who, being left by his father as king of Lombardy, had died at Arezzo. But Henry, rivalling the ancient Caesars in every noble quality, after tranquillizing his German empire, extended his thoughts to his Italian kingdom: purposing to quell the revolt of the cities, and decide the question of investitures, according to his own pleasure. This progress to Rome, accomplished by great exertion of mind, and much painful labour of body, hath been described by David, bishop of Bangor, a Scot; though far more partially to the king than becomes an historian. Indeed he commends highly even his unheard-of violence in taking the pope captive, though he held him in free custody; citing the example of Jacob’s holding the angel fast till he extorted a blessing. Moreover, he labours to establish, that the saying of the apostle, “No servant of God embroils himself in worldly business,” is not repugnant to the desires of those bishops, who are invested by the laity, because the doing homage to a layman, by a clergyman, is not a secular business. How frivolous such arguments are, any person’s consideration may decide. In the meantime, that I may not seem to bear hard on a good man by my judgment, I determine to make allowances for him, since he has not written a history, but a panegyric. I will now therefore faithfully insert the grant and agreement extorted from the pope, by a forcible detention of three weeks; and I shall subjoin, in what manner they were soon after made of none effect, by a holier council.

“The sovereign pope Paschal will not molest the sovereign king, nor his empire nor kingdom, on account of the investiture of bishoprics and abbeys, nor concerning the injury suffered by himself and his party in person and in goods; nor will he return evil to him, or any other person, on this account; neither, on any consideration, will he publish an anathema against the person of king Henry; nor will the sovereign pope delay to crown him, according to the ritual; and he will assist him, as far as possible, by the aid of his office, to retain his kingdom and empire. And this the sovereign pope will fulfil without fraud or evil design.” These are the names of the bishops and cardinals who, at the command of the sovereign pope Paschal, confirmed by oath the grant to, and friendship with, the sovereign emperor Henry: Peter, bishop of Porto; Censius, bishop of Sabina; Robert, cardinal of St. Eusebius; Boniface, cardinal of St. Mark; Anastasius, cardinal of St. Clement; Gregory, cardinal of the apostles Peter and Paul; also Gregory, cardinal of St. Chrysogonus; John, cardinal of St. Potentiana; Eisus, cardinal of St. Lawrence; Eemerus, cardinal of Saints Marcellinus and Peter; Vitalis, cardinal of St. Balbina; Teuzo, cardinal of St. Mark; Theobald, cardinal of John and Paul; John, deacon in the Greek School; Leo, dean of St. Vitalis; Albo, dean of Sergius and Bacchius.

The king also made oath as follows; “I, Henry, the king, will, on the fourth or fifth day of the ensuing week, set at liberty the sovereign pope, and the bishops and cardinals, and all the captives and hostages, who were taken for him or with him; and I will cause them to be conducted, safely, within the gates of the city, beyond the Tiber; nor will I hereafter seize, or suffer to be seized, such as remain under fealty to the lord Paschal: and with the Roman people, and the city beyond the Tiber, I will, as well by myself as by my people, preserve peace and security, that is, to such persons as shall keep peace with me. I will faithfully assist the sovereign pope, in retaining his papacy quietly and securely. I will restore the patrimony and possessions of the Roman church which I have taken away; and I will aid him in recovering and keeping every thing which he ought to have, after the manner of his predecessors, with true faith, and without fraud or evil design: and I will obey the sovereign pope, saving the honour of my kingdom and empire, as Catholic emperors ought to obey Catholic Roman pontiffs.” And they who swore on the part of the king are these: Frederic, archbishop of Cologne; Godebard, bishop of Trent; Bruno, bishop of Spires; Berengar, earl; Albert, chancellor; Herman, earl; Frederic, count palatine; Boniface, marquis; Albert, earl of Blandriac; Frederic, earl; Godfrid, earl; Warner, marquis.

This treaty being settled and confirmed by the oath of the aforesaid bishops and cardinals, and mutual embraces exchanged, the sovereign pope, on Sunday, the fourth before the ides of April, celebrated the mass, “As though just born,” in which, after his own communion, and that of the ministers at the altar, he gave the body and blood of our Lord to the emperor with these words: “This body of the Lord, which the truly holy church retains, born of the Virgin Mary, exalted on the cross for the redemption of mankind, we give to thee, my dearest son, for the remission of thy sins, and for the preservation of the peace and true friendship to be confirmed between me and thee, the empire and the priesthood.” Again, on the next day, the pope and the king met at the columns which are in the Forum, guards being stationed wherever it was deemed necessary, that the consecration of the king might not be impeded. And at the Silver gate he was received by the bishops and cardinals, and all the Roman clergy; and the prayer being begun, as contained in the ritual, by the bishop of Ostia, as the bishop of Albano, by whom it ought to have been said, had he been present, was absent, he was conducted to the middle of the Rota, I and there received the second prayer from the bishop of Porto, as the Roman ritual enjoins. After this they led him, with litanies, to the confessionary of the Apostles, and there the bishop of Ostia anointed him between the shoulders and on the right arm. This being done he was conducted, by the sovereign pontiff, to the altar of the aforesaid apostles, and there the crown being placed on his head by the pope himself, he was consecrated emperor. After putting on the crown, the mass of the Resurrection of the Lord was celebrated, in which, before the communion, the sovereign pope, with his own hand, gave to the emperor the grant, in which he conceded to him and his kingdom what is underwritten; and in the same place confirmed it by the sanction of a curse. “Pope Paschal, servant of the servants of God, sendeth health and his apostolical benediction, to his dearest son in Christ, Henry Augustus, by the grace of Almighty God, emperor of the Romans. The Divine disposal hath ordained, that your kingdom shall unite with the holy Roman church, since your predecessors, through valour and surpassing prudence, have obtained the crown and sovereignty of the Roman city; to the dignity of which crown and empire, the Divine Majesty, by the ministry of our priesthood, hath advanced your person, my dearest son Henry. That pre-eminence of dignity, then, which our predecessors have granted to yours, the Catholic emperors, and have confirmed in the volume of grants, we also concede to your affection, and in the scroll of this present grant confirm also, that you may confer the investiture of the staff and ring on the bishops or abbots of your kingdom, freely elected, without violence or simony: but, after their investiture, let them receive canonical consecration from the bishop to whom it pertains. But if any person shall be elected, either by the clergy or the people, against your consent, unless he be invested by you, let him be consecrated by no one; excepting such, indeed, as are accustomed to be at the disposal of the archbishops, or of the Roman pontiff. Moreover, let the archbishops or bishops have permission, canonically, to consecrate bishops or abbots invested by you. Your predecessors, indeed, so largely endowed the churches of their kingdom of their royalties, that it is fitting that kingdom should be especially strengthened by the power of bishops or abbots; and that popular dissensions, which often happen in all elections, should be checked by royal majesty. Wherefore, your prudence and authority ought to take more especial care to preserve the grandeur of the Roman church, and the safety of the rest, through God’s assistance, by your gifts and services. Therefore, if any ecclesiastical or secular person, knowing this document of our concession, shall rashly dare oppose it, let him be bound with the chain of an anathema, unless he recant, and hazard his honour and dignity. But may God’s mercy preserve such as keep it, and may he grant your person and authority to reign happily to his honour and glory.”

William of Malmesbury

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29 January, 2015

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