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(1215 A.D.) 
Septingentenary (jooth Anniversary}^ 1915 A.D. 







1915 /f&* 





THE National Biography's article on Stephen 
Langton says, " a full biography of him has yet to 
be written, we have only sketches of his life as 
yet." The author does not, for a moment, imagine 
that the following pages contain all that is needed, 
but he humbly hopes that their perusal will do 
something towards quickening an interest in the 
life and times of one who is apparently so little 
known and yet who loomed so large in the fight 
for political and ecclesiastical freedom in the Middle 



General Survey 

Britannica Encyclopaedia. 

CHAMBERS'S Encyclopaedia. 

Catholic Encyclopaedia. 

CUTT'S Dictionary of Church of England. 

ROGER OF WENDOVER : Flowers of History. 

Literary History 

WRIGHT : Biographia Britannica Literaria. 

Social History 

BATESON, Miss : Medieval England. 
Cox, J. C, LL.D. : Canterbury City. 

Constitutional History of the Church 
WILKIN'S Concilia. 
HOOK : Ecclesiastical Biography. 
FlELDEN : Short Constitutional History. 
MEDLEY : English Constitutional History. 
STUBBS : Lectures in Early Church History. 

Development of Constitutional History 
THOMSON : Essay on Magna Charta. 
STUBBS : Early Plantagenets. 
KNIGHT : Old Antiquities. 
MCKECHNIE : Magna Charta. 
Miss NORGATE : John Lackland. 

Ecclesiastical History 

GEE AND HARDY : Documents Illustrative of English 

Church History. 

STEPHENS, W. R. W. : English Church History. 
PERRY, CANON G. C. : English Church History. 
CUTTS, DR. : Turning Points of Church History. 


GASQUET, CARDINAL : Henry III and the Church. 
LANE, C. A. : English Church History. 
Canterbury and York Society (Registers). 
CUTTS : Parish Priest and People. 
Historical Manuscripts Commission, vol. iv. 
ISAACSON, F. W. : English Cardinals. 
LUARD, H. R. : Flores Historiarium. 

Political History 

ADAMS : Political History of England. 

DAVIS, H. W. C. : England under Normans and Angevins. 

FLETCHER, C. R. L. : Introduction to English History. 


Dictionary of National Biography. 
HOOK : Lives of the Archbishops. 
CHAMBERS : Biographical Dictionary. 

Constitutional History 
STUBBS : Select Charters. 

Introduction to Rolls Series. 

Constitutional History, vol. i. 
SHIRLEY, W. W. : Letters of Henry III. 

Incidental History 

SEIGNOBOS : History of Contemporary Civilization. 
TOUT, T. F. : Empire and Papacy. 

Advanced History of Great Britain. 
HENDERSON : Historical Documents of the Middle Ages. 
THATCHER AND SCHWILL : Europe in the Middle Ages. 
LINGARD : History of England, vol. iii. 
JERVIS AND HASSAL : Student's France. 
HUME : Student's England. 
MILLER : Medieval Rome. 
FIRTH, C. : Oliver Cromwell. 
ROBERTSON, CANON J. C. : Sketches of Church History. 






INNOCENT III ....... 14 






STEPHEN LANGTON . . . . . .22 



TO KING JOHN ...... 28 



THE ANGRY KING . . . . . . 30 


THE INTERDICT ....... 33 







PETER'S PENCE ....... 49 














MAGNA CHART A, 1215 . . . . . 76 



THE BARONS ...... 141 

ANARCHY ........ 143 




HENRY Ill's ACCESSION . . . . -152 

RISE OF PANDULPH . . . . . -154 
















SYNOD OF OSENEY . . . . . .189 




LANGTON : PATRIOT ...... 204 

CONCLUSION . . . . . . .210 

INDEX ........ 213 


WHAT is the history centring around that great 
statesman-archbishop, Stephen Langton, to whom, 
more than to any other person, layman or clergy- 
man, we are indebted for that famous deed, Magna 
Charta, which granted and secured very important 
liberties and privileges, not only to the Church of 
England, but to every order of men in the king- 
dom, i. e. to the barons, the clergy, and people 
generally ? 

The reign of John, which produced this great 
Englishman, marks an important epoch in the 
history of the English nation. 


The Norman Conquest in the eleventh century 
was a principal and fatal blow to the liberties of 
Britain; for when William the First became sove- 
reign, there were but few of the English nation left 
in the possession of their original estates. As the 
monarch's power was entirely arbitrary, the partial 


laws of a foreign adventurer superseded those whi 
had been instituted by the equity of Edward the 
Confessor, and although repeated petitions for the 
restoration of the liberties of England were made 
to the Conqueror's successors, these liberties con- 
tinued to fluctuate. " When the King was weak, 
or in such circumstances as permitted him not to 
fight, the barons tried to get the liberties of the 
English restored, and the Prince, not knowing 
what to do better, put them off with fair promises, 
which he had no design to perform. But, under 
able kings, who were in prosperity, the contest 
was stifled, and the barons waited for a more 
favourable opportunity to compass their ends." 

However, a charter for these liberties was issued 
by Henry the First, about the year noo A.D., 
wherein it is declared that the Church shall be 
free, that heirs shall receive their possessions un- 
redeemed, that evil customs shall be abolished, 
and, in fine, relates the greater part of those privi- 
leges which we shall see the subsequent act of King 
John more securely confirmed. 

Under the Anglo-Norman kings there had been 
two different races dwelling upon the English soil, 
speaking different languages, and possessing no 
common interests; but during the reign of the 
practically non-resident king Richard the First, 
John's immediate predecessor, the Saxons and 
Normans because fused into the English people. 



One illustration of this will suffice. In 1198 
Richard the First, as usual, wanted money, and 
had exhausted all the usual means of procuring it. 
He accordingly directed Archbishop Hubert, Lang- 
ton's immediate predecessor, to propose to the 
assembled bishops and barons that they should 
maintain for him, during his war, a force of 300 
knights, to be paid a sum of 35. per day. To the 
archbishop's amazement, for the first time for five 
and thirty years, but for the second time in English 
history, the demand was disputed. Again the 
opposition was led by a bishop, as then by St. 
Thomas, this time by St. Hugh. This great Hugh 
of Lincoln, who had won the heart of Henry the 
Second, Richard's father, and had treated him as 
an equal, now acted on behalf of the nation to 
which he had joined himself, for he declared that 
he would rather go back to his old hermit's life 
than lay fresh burdens on the tenants of the lands 
in connection with his bishopric. Herbert, the 
Bishop of Salisbury, followed Hugh's example. 
The estates of the churches were not bound, they 
said, to afford the King military service except 
within the four seas; they would not furnish it 
for foreign warfare. The opposition prevailed ; the 
bishops had struck a chord which awoke the baron- 
age. This body now, to a far greater extent than 


before, consisted of men who had little interest in 
Normandy, were far more English in sympathy, and 
perhaps also in blood, than they had been under 
Henry the Second. 

But the sympathy of the monasteries at this 
time was rather in a foreign direction, for the effect 
of the Norman Conquest in the matter of English 
monasteries was peculiar and important. It owed 
its character indirectly to the two powerful minds 
that were at the head of the Church and State; 
Lanfranc, the Archbishop of Canterbury, saw in the 
monasteries societies of degenerate Benedictines; 
William the Conqueror, nests of anti-Norman feel- 
ing. Lanfranc tried to reform the abuses by draw- 
ing closer the rules of discipline ; William sought to 
stifle the patriotic spirit by setting over them the 
tools of his strong policy. For a long time the 
English spirit in the monasteries maintained itself 
against both tyranny and reform. They hated the 
Norman invaders, but they had no inclination 
towards Rome, under whose auspices the Norrnan 
invasion had succeeded. 

As the bishops and secular clergy opposed them- 
selves to Roman centralisation, the monasteries 
became colonies of Roman partisans. 

So long as the Pope and the King were on 
the same side, the monks and the nation were op- 



posed to both alike ; when the Pope and the King 
quarrelled, the nation sided with the King, the 
monks with the Pope; hence, the monasteries be- 
came more papal as the State became more national, 
and the same series of events made them less English 
without becoming more Norman, and more papal 
without becoming more loyal. Matters had reached 
this point in the latter years of Henry the Second, 
John's father. 


Richard the First's (John's immediate prede- 
cessor) character is illustrated in some minor 
points by his course in the disputes respecting 
the election to the archbishopric of Canterbury, 
and of his attitude towards the Pope of Rome. 
Richard would not suffer the laws of the land 
to be over-ridden by a rescript from Rome. He 
condescended to none of what St. Thomas of 
Canterbury called his father's mousetraps, the 
tricks by which that astute King managed to put 
his adversaries in the wrong without committing 
himself to a decided course. Richard forbade the 
execution of the mandate of Pope Innocent, in- 
stead of trying to elude it either by chicanery or 
by bullying. Archbishop Hubert Walter's char- 
acter has suffered a good deal from his connection 
with Richard the First as the latter's chief adviser. 


With the exception of St. Thomas, he was the 
only primate since the Conquest who had been 
chosen for any other reason than learning or sanctity ; 
he was raised to the high position which he filled 
simply for secular reasons. But it should be taken 
into account that Hubert never enriched himself. 
He was not, perhaps, the best conceivable minister 
for Richard the First, but he was probably the 
best, if not the only one, possible. He was a true 
patriot, a man of honest purposes and pure life. 
He was the most popular and in some respects the 
greatest of the medieval statesmen, says Mr. H. W. C. 
Davis, in England under the Angevins, p. 352, who 
were rewarded with the primacy of the English 
Church. Hubert Walter had been to John, as 
Lanfranc to Rufus, a moderating and restraining 
influence, respected though disliked, and he had 
maintained intact the alliance and long friendship 
between the English Crown and the national Church 
which was the corner-stone of the Angevin power. 

If we regard Hubert Walter as a bishop (and this 
is necessary in order to bring out the work of his 
successor, Stephen Langton) other considerations 
come in. The exchequer of a Norman sovereign 
could hardly be a good school of financial honesty, 
much less of theological learning. Hubert was 
sadly deficient in both the scholarship and the 
doctrinal learning that became a bishop, and such 
as his successor was endowed with; the state of 



religion was extremely bad. There was the paralysis 
of discipline in the Church itself. There can be 
no reasonable doubt that the hands of the bishops 
were tied by the sufferance of appeals to Rome, 
contrary to the ancient custom of the realm. The 
great prize of the monks' ambition, the government 
of the Church, fell from their hands. The position 
occupied from henceforth by the monks of Canter- 
bury was void of all political importance, and their 
action in the election of the primate was merely 
nominal; but this did not prevent the Christ 
Church, Canterbury, monks, from scheming when 
the opportunity presented itself, to regain the 
privilege of electing to the archbishopric of Canter- 


Prince John easily got himself accepted as king 
in 1199 A.D. It is quite true that his elder brother, 
Geoffrey, who had been killed at a tournament, 
had left a son named Arthur, and many who had 
become disgusted with John's government of 
Ireland, together with his treachery and base in- 
gratitude to his father and elder brother, were 
prepared to proclaim Arthur as the next heir to 
the Crown of England, but it was quite in accord- 
ance with old English precedent, says Professor 
Tout, that his uncle, who was a grown man, should 


be preferred to him. Philip of France, ever anxious 
to make mischief in the Angevin dominions, sup- 
ported Arthur's cause; but Queen Eleanor, though 
now very old, used all her influence against her 
grandson, and in favour of her youngest son. 

The better, however, to secure the voice of the 
English nation on behalf of John, the friends whom 
he had engaged to support his cause promised, in 
his name, a restoration of those liberties the people 
so earnestly desired : a confirmation of Henry the 
First's Charter, and a renewal of the Anglo-Saxon 
laws, as instituted by Edward the Confessor; and 
these promises, made at the commencement of a new 
reign, gave to the barons a stronger hope for their 
performance than they had hitherto entertained. 

The barons were also very desirous of removing 
the cruel oppressions and restrictions of the Forest 
Laws. Mr. Lewis, in his Historical Inquiry Con- 
cerning Forests, says, " In those times, speaking of 
their regulations as being contemporary with the 
Feudal System, when a conqueror settled the 
economy of a country which he had previously 
vanquished, it behoved him, in order to secure his 
new acquisition, to keep the natives of the country 
(who were not his military tenants) in as humble 
a condition as possible; and more especially to 
restrain them from the use of arms ; and as nothing 
could do this so effectually as a prohibition of 
hunting and shooting, it became a matter of policy 


to reserve this right to himself, or to those of his 
capital feudatories (the greater barons), on whom 
he thought proper to bestow it." 

Under the colour of Forest Law, Matthew of 
Westminster remarks of William the Conqueror 
(F lores Historiarium), " that if men disabled a 
wild beast, they were dispossessed and imprisoned," 
and in another place, " if it were a stag, a buck, or 
a boar, they were deprived of their eyes." King 
John, if we may believe the assertion of Matthew 
Paris, made his interdict concerning the chase wider, 
for he included the winged, as well as the four-footed 

It is not, then, surprising that there should be a 
strong desire on the part of the people capable of 
expressing themselves for the passing of Magna 
Charta, where it is enacted in Chapter LVI : "All 
evil customs concerning Forests, Warrens, and 
Foresters; Warreners, Sheriffs, and their Officers; 
Rivers and their Keepers; shall forthwith be en- 
quired into in each County, by twelve Knights of 
the Shire, chosen by the most creditable persons in 
the same County, and upon oath, and within forty 
days after the said inquest, be utterly abolished, so 
as never more to be restored." 

In the year 1200 Philip of France acknowledged 
John to be the rightful heir of his brother, and 
made Arthur do homage to his uncle for the Duchy 
of Bretagne. 


The English barons, who had already made a 
demand for the privileges of Magna Charta, which 
were not yet granted, in the year 1201, at Whitsun- 
tide, May 13, refused to attend John into France 
for the consummation of the Dauphin's marriage 
to his niece, Blanche of Castile, until the liberties 
they desired should be confirmed. The King, in 
return, seized upon their castles, and with Isabella 
of Angouleme, whom he had lately married, left 
England for Paris, where Philip entertained them 
in the most magnificent manner. 

In 1203 Arthur was imprisoned at Rouen, and 
by his uncle's orders he was murdered. By 1205 
the whole of the Duchy of Normandy passed into 
Philip's hands. During these events the barons 
had remained passive. 


When King John heard of the death of Arch- 
bishop Hubert Walter, 1205, he exclaimed : " Now 
I am King of England," and he invited the monks 
of Canterbury Cathedral to elect the Bishop of 
Norwich to the vacant archbishopric ; they refused, 
saying that they had the right to choose their own 
archbishop, and without waiting for the conge d'tlire, 
i. e. leave to elect, and without any communication 
from the King, a party consisting of the junior 
monks, thinking to steal a march on the sovereign 


by a nocturnal and surreptitious election, secretly 
appointed Reginald, the sub-prior of the monastery, 
and sent him to Rome for the pallium, the distinc- 
tive badge or vestment of an archbishop; and 
which was regarded as an indisputable badge of 
metropolitan authority, although not actually 
essential to the validity of an archbishop's spiritual 
functions. But why should the pall or pallium be 
got from Rome at all ? 


When Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1095 
A.D., asked leave of William the Second to go to 
Rome to receive this vestment from Urban, one of 
the two popes reigning at the same time, the King 
answered that he did not recognise either Urban 
or his rival, Clement, as Pope, and refused Anselm 
permission to leave the country. King Rufus, 
when he said that " while he lived he would endure 
no equal in his realm," practically confirmed the 
Conqueror's attitude towards the See of Rome. 
Even when Rufus, two years afterwards, acknow- 
ledged Urban, he did not permit Anselm to go to 
Rome for his pallium, but allowed him to receive 
it, May 27, 1095, at Canterbury, from a papal 
legate who had brought it from Rome. However, 
this did not make the Church of England Roman 
Catholic; it was still the national Church and 


running on parallel lines, as part of the Catholic 
Church of Christendom, with the Church of Rome. 

When Henry the First, who, after the result of 
the Investiture contest, which proved a victory for 
neither party, but a check on both, was reconciled 
to Anselm, he was only willing that the Pope should 
exercise spiritual jurisdiction in England, and he 
stipulated that no papal legate should enter this 
country without special royal licence. This does 
not support the statement so frequently made that 
the English Church was, at this time, an integral 
part of the Church of Rome. 

Anselm's previous training had led him to uphold 
ideas which sought to make the bishops of Rome 
autocrats of a universal despotism. In such 
a theory patriotism finds no place. No excuse 
need be made for the irreligious King Rufus, nor 
need we doubt the piety and conscientiousness of 
Anselm, but as he attacked the ancient preroga- 
tives of English kings, they did right to maintain 
them. There was no justification for Anselm's 
evidently strong desire to set up the authority of 
an unacknowledged pontiff over that of his lawful 
sovereign, and it was wrong of him to claim that 
the declarations of a synod of Rome, 1079 A.D., 
which declared that any clergy who accepted lay 
investiture should be excommunicated, could sup- 
plant the ancient laws and customs of England. 
It must be admitted, however, that Anselm's atti- 


tude materially strengthened the central power of 
the popes against which most of Europe, and espe- 
cially our own country, during Stephen Langton's 
occupancy of the Archiepiscopal See of Canterbury, 
had afterwards to struggle for national indepen- 
dence. This reference to one of Langton's rather 
remote predecessors in the See of Canterbury will 
enable us the more to realize the greatness of 
the work which he undertook on behalf of his 
country and its national Church. 


To return, Reginald, the nominee of the junior 
monks, was not at all a fit man for the vacancy, 
and soon showed this. So puffed up was he that, 
as soon as he reached the Continent, he began to 
assume the state of an archbishop, and could not 
refrain from boasting of it to every one before 
the election had been confirmed. His supporters, 
ashamed at his conduct, and alarmed for the 
consequences of their own intrigue, abandoned 
him, and joined with the rest of the monks whom 
the angry King compelled to elect the Bishop of 
Norwich, his own nominee, to the vacant arch- 
bishopric of Canterbury. Twelve of the monks of 
Christ Church Cathedral were then sent to Rome 
with a handsome present to oppose the claims of 
their own sub-prior Reginald and bring back the 
pallium for the Bishop of Norwich. 


But in the election of the latter John de Grey 
some right by which the suffragan, but diocesan, 
bishops in the Province of Canterbury, claimed to 
be consulted, had been neglected, and they, too, 
sent an embassy to the Pope to guard their interests. 


But who was this Pope? The answer to this 
question will enable us to understand the severity 
of the struggle and therefore the greatness of 
Stephen Langton in resisting so influential and 
powerful a potentate. He was of noble parentage 
educated at Rome, Bologna, and Paris. He had 
a profound knowledge of scholastic philosophy, of 
both canon and civil law. He was a jurist, 
trained in the schools of Paris and Bologna. He 
looked at everything from the jurist's point of view, 
and endeavoured to reduce to a legal form and 
basis all the claims of the papacy. He was not 
personally ambitious, but fully persuaded that he 
was acting in accordance with the best interests of 
the Church and even with the plans of God in 
everything that he did. He believed that the 
government of the world was a theocracy, and that 
he himself was the Vicar of God on earth. Thus 
distinguished by birth, intellect, and attainments, 
on his return to Rome he rose rapidly in the Church, 
and, on the death of Pope Celestine the Third, 


Jan. 8, 1198, on the very same day Cardinal- 
deacon Lotario di Signi, though not even a priest, 
was unanimously elected pope by the assembled 
cardinals. He took the name of Innocent the 
Third. On Feb. 21 he was ordained priest, and on 
the 22nd consecrated bishop. Innocent was but 
thirty-seven years old at the time, and the vigour 
of youth, guided by a master mind, was soon 
apparent in the policy of the papacy. The circum- 
stances of the time being highly favourable to him, 
he soon restored the prestige of the Holy See in 


The early death of Henry the Sixth (1197) had 
left Germany divided between rival candidates for 
the Crown. Henry's widow, Constance, seeing 
different parts of the Empire falling under the sway 
of the Pope, in despair acknowledged Innocent 
the Third as overlord of the two Sicilies, and on 
her death (1198) appointed him guardian of her 
infant son Frederick. Thus in the first year of 
his pontificate, Innocent had established himself 
as the protector of the Italian nation against foreign 
aggression, and had consolidated in the peninsula 
a secure basis on which to build up that world- 
power which was the characteristic feature of 
Innocent's pontificate. 

Other popes before him, from Gregory the Seventh 

li i ,! 

* f I ; 


onwards, had upheld the theory of the supremacy 
of the spiritual over the temporal authority, with 
various fortune, it was reserved for Innocent the 
Third to make it a reality. How strong and 
powerful this Pope was we know from the way in 
which he forced potentates such as Philip Augustus, 
King of France, to put away Agnes of Meran and 
to restore to his Danish wife Ingleburga, whom he 
had wrongfully divorced the day after marriage, 
the title of queen, although its honours were enjoyed 
in the retirement of a distant chateau ; how Alphonso 
the Ninth of Leon, Sancho of Portugal, and Ladis- 
laus of Poland, had to obey his commands in their 
matrimonial concerns. Just as in the affairs of 
the world at large, so also in those of the Church 
itself, Innocent's authority exceeded that of all his 


When Hildebrand, who took the title of Gregory 
the Seventh, had said that the papacy was as much 
greater than any earthly power as the sun is than 
the moon, now Innocent the Third carried out this 
further by saying that, as the lesser light (the 
moon) borrows of the greater light (the sun), so the 
royal power is borrowed from the priestly power. 
Under this Pope the independent jurisdiction of 
metropolitans and bishops was greatly curtailed. 



To prove the world-power of this Pope and of his 
undisputed personal ascendancy, look at the twelfth 
Lateran Council, 1215 A.D., which was attended by 
the plenipotentiaries of the emperor, of kings and 
princes, and by some 1,500 archbishops, bishops, 
abbots, and other dignitaries. And all that this 
great assembly virtually did was not to debate 
but to listen and endorse the decretals read by 
the Pope. His views on the papal supremacy are 
best explained in his own words (Innocent III, 
lib. ii. p. 209) : " The Lord left to Peter the govern- 
ment not of the Church only but of the whole 
world." To the Emperor of Constantinople, who 
quoted i Pet. ii. 13-14 (" Submit yourselves 
to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; 
whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto 
governors, as unto them that are sent by him for 
the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of 
them that do well") to the contrary, he replied in 
perfect good faith that the apostle's admonition 
to obey the king as supreme was addressed to lay 
folk and not to the clergy. 

The more intelligent laymen of the time were not 
convinced even when coerced. Innocent considered 
heresy the deadliest of sins, and its extirpation as 
the first of his duties. The Albigenses (France), on 
whom this Pope's persecution chiefly fell, held 
something like the doctrines of Manes a religion 
really made up by himself from a mixture of Christian 


and heathen nations so that they could not properly 
be considered as Christian at all. The Pope sent 
two legates with the title of inquisitors to extirpate 
the heresy. One of them, Castlenau, having be- 
come odious by his severities, was murdered near 
Toulouse, upon which Innocent addressed himself 
to the faithful, exhorting them to fight strenuously 
against the ministers of the old serpent, and promis- 
ing them the kingdom of heaven as a reward. Tens 
of thousands were slain, and their rich and beautiful 
country turned into a desert. The chief leader of 
the crusade in the south of France was Simon de 
Montfort, father of that Earl Simon who is famous 
in the history of England. 


But although we cannot think well of the doctrines 
of the Albigenses, yet the treatment of these people 
was so cruel and treacherous as to raise the strongest 
feelings of anger and horror in all who read the 
accounts of it. Very possibly Innocent was much 
deceived by those who reported matters to him. 

In spite of the latter persecution Professor Tout 
(Empire and Papacy, p. 314) eulogises Innocent the 
Third in the following words : " He was possessed 
of a majestic and noble appearance, an unblemished 
private character, popular manners, a disposition 
prone to sudden fits of anger and melancholy, and 



a fierce and indomitable will. The many-sided 
Pontiff had not less dear to his heart the spiritual 
and intellectual than the political direction of the 
universe. He had the utmost zeal for the extension 
of the Kingdom of Christ. The affair of the Crusade, 
to rouse the Christian world for the recovery of 
Jerusalem, falling on deaf ears, was the bitterest 
grief of his life. He was sympathetic and con- 
siderate to great religious teachers, like Francis 
and Dominic, from whose work he had the wisdom 
to anticipate the revival of the inner life of the 
Church. If not the greatest, he was the most 
powerful of all the popes." 

A better side also to Innocent's character is 
gathered from the following (Chambers's Ency., 

P- I 47)- 

" It is from his letters and decretals alone that 

the character of the age and the true significance 
of the Church policy of this extraordinary man can 
be fully understood. However earnestly men may 
dissent from these views, no student of medieval 
history will refuse to accept Dean Milman's verdict 
on the career of this Pontiff that his high and 
blameless, and, in some respects, wise and gentle 
character, seems to approach more nearly than 
any one of the whole succession of Roman bishops 
to the ideal light of a supreme pontiff ; and that in 
him, if ever, may seem to be realised the Church- 
man's highest conception of a Vicar of Christ." 



Something has already been said showing the 
growing power of the Church of Rome as regards 
the monasteries in England, as well as the attitude 
of Anselm, and especially of this Pope concerning 
his extraordinary ascendancy over both spiritual 
and temporal princes, and yet, although, ultimately, 
backed by England's king, we shall see how he was 
braved and brooked effectively by Stephen Langton, 
Archbishop of Canterbury. 

From our brief account of Innocent the Third 
we should naturally conclude that he was eager to 
extend his influence in every direction, and, therefore, 
would seize every opportunity for advancing his 
own claims. When, then, Innocent was consulted 
respecting the vacant archbishopric, he showed his 
power by deciding, amidst the three conflicting 
interests already mentioned, that Reginald the 
sub-prior's election was irregular, as was clearly the 
case, but then he declared the Bishop of Norwich's 
election irregular also, because it had been made 
before the irregularity of the previous one had been 
decided by the competent tribunal, and, of course, 
that competent tribunal or judge was himself, the 

Apart from the question of irregularity of ap- 
pointment the Pope refused to accept either Reginald 


the sub-prior, on the ground of inefficiency, or King 
John's nominee, the Bishop of Norwich, who was a 
mere politician, on the ground that kings ought 
not to be concerned with the appointment of 
spiritual persons. Then, after both candidates had 
been set aside, the Pope called upon the proctors of 
Canterbury Cathedral, who had full powers, to 
elect Stephen Langton (his own nominee) to the 
vacant archbishopric; but the clerical ambassadors 
from Canterbury had sworn to accept no one but 
King John's nominee; they, therefore, pleaded 
their solemn oath, taken in the name of the Holy 
Trinity, to which the Pope arrogantly replied that 
his authority would supply all defects, and at once 
absolved them; then they pleaded that the right 
of electing the Archbishop of Canterbury was in 
the cathedral chapter, not in them, and that King 
John's consent was necessary ; whereupon the Pope 
threatened them with excommunication. Finally, 
with the exception of one bold man, Elias de Brant- 
field, who still refused to concur, they yielded to 
persecution and accepted the recommendation or 
rather the command of Pope Innocent. 

(Solus tamen ex omnibus magister Helyas de 
Brantefeld, qui pro parte regis et episcopi Norwic- 
ensis advenerat, noluit consentire. Caeteri autem 
omnes cum hymno " Te Deum laudamus " electum 
memoratum ad altare detulerunt.) 

No doubt Stephen Langton was, at that time, 


the most illustrious living churchman of English 
birth, and a fitter man for the archbishopric of 
Canterbury than either Reginald the sub-prior, or 
the Bishop of Norwich, the justiciary or King's 
chief minister. 


But who was Stephen Langton ? He was neither 
a monk nor a courtier. The date and place of his 
birth are unknown, although one well-known author, 
shortly to be referred to, definitely mentions his 
birthplace. From which of the many Langtons in 
England his family took its name there is no con- 
clusive evidence to show. The anonymous writer 
in the series Lives of the English Saints, published 
in 1845, says that he "is known by the surname of 
Langton from the place of his birth, Langton, near 
Spilsby, but he produces no proof of the fact ; but 
as there was a grant of Free Warren of this Langton 
in the next reign (called humbellot Langton) to a 
Langton, this may have given some support for the 
anonymous writer's statement. 

Since Stephen Langton became, early in his 
career, a prebendary of York, and, since his brother 
Simon (died 1245 A.D.) was elected, although 
Innocent the Third would not confirm the election 
to that See in 1215, we may suppose the family to 
be of northern extraction. 


Hook, in his Ecclesiastical Biography, vol. vi. 
p. 538, says that Stephen Langton was born at 
Langton, near Spilsby in Lincolnshire, and his 
family, though not illustrious, was respectable, that 
in addition to the offices mentioned in the next 
paragraph he held the office of the Dean of Rheims. 
In the Middle Ages it was not considered strange 
for a cleric to hold many stipendiary dignified posts 
at one and the same time. 

It is certain that Langton studied at the Uni- 
versity of Paris, became a doctor in the faculties of 
arts and theology, and acquired a reputation for 
learning and holiness which gained him a prebend 
in the Cathedral Church of Paris and another 
(already referred to) in that of York. The fact of 
holding two appointments in different countries at 
the same time illustrates to some extent the cosmo- 
politan character of the Medieval Church. Because 
of his great ability and learning Langton was 
made Rector Scholarum (a position corresponding 
to that of Vice-Chancellor of a university), i. e. the 
real Principal of the University of Paris, then the 
most famous school of theology in Europe, and to 
which students flocked from every part of Europe. 

The University of Paris was, in the thirteenth 
century, the largest school in Europe. More than 
20,000 students came there from all countries. It 
has given to Europe the outline of superior in- 
struction. The English universities, Oxford and 


Cambridge, have been copied from it; and when 
the German princes wanted to have schools in their 
states, all founded universities after the model of 
that in Paris. 

But Hook says it is more than doubtful whether 
there was, at any time, any Chancellor of the 
University as distinguished from the Chancellor of 
the Church of Paris. 

It is probable, however, that Langton exercised 
some of the powers which afterwards developed 
upon the Chancellor, for it is expressly stated by 
the older writers who mention his name, that he 
presided over and governed the schools of Paris. 
However, Langton continued to live in Paris and 
to lecture there till 1206 A.D. Pope Innocent the 
Third, who had been his fellow-student and friend 
in that city, called him to Rome and made him 
a cardinal-priest of St. Chrysogonus. Walter of 
Coventry says that Langton taught theology at 
Rome also, and Roger of Wendover declares that 
the Roman Court had not his equal for learning and 
moral excellence. 


We are not to suppose that the office of a cardinal 
was, at this time, what it afterwards became. 
The cardinals had not assumed the red hat, with 
its tassels, for that, which is now regarded as the 


emblem of their office, was not conceded to them till 
the year 1245 A.D. by Innocent the Fourth. They 
were not apparelled in the purple; for the purple 
cloak was not assigned, as their robe of office, till 
1464, by Paul the Second. They were, probably, 
even when not consecrated to the episcopal office, 
permitted to officiate in pontificalibus, for this 
privilege had been conceded to many of the abbots, 
who ranked as their inferiors, and they were 
authorised to give the benediction, at least within 
their cures. They were not superior to the legates, 
for we shall see Pandulph, who never was a cardinal 
and who, during the period of his acting in England, 
was only sub-deacon, assuming authority over 
Cardinal Langton himself. They were not ad- 
dressed as " your Eminence," for that title was only 
conceded to them by Urban the Eighth in the year 
1630 A.D. But still, they alone were eligible to the 
papacy, according to a decree of Stephen the Fourth 
in 769 A.D. ; and by Nicholas the Second the 
principle was established that by the cardinals 
only the pope was to be elected. They had not, 
as yet, assumed a position of equality with princes 
of royal birth, and the consistory did not exist in 
its present form. 


The Pope praised Langton in a bull to the prior 
of Christ Church, Canterbury, in the words " Our 


beloved son, Master de Langton, a man verily endowed 
with life, fame, knowledge and doctrine" (Stephanum 
de Langetuna, natione Anglicum, verum profundi 
pectoris, elegantem corpore, moribus prselectum, 
aptum et sufficientem in quantum est universalem 
ecclesiam gubernandi). 

It is clear, then, that Langton was, as has already 
been stated, the most illustrious living churchman of 
English birth when the struggle for the freedom of 
the See of Canterbury begins. It was an excellent 
appointment. The Pope was a man of the highest 
character for piety, judging him by the standard of 
his own time, and sought to exercise the vast powers 
which he claimed in the interests of religion, for 
he deprived himself of a personal friend and valuable 
official in order to send to Canterbury the man who 
seemed best fitted for the important office, and he 
was probably anxious for the sake of the Church to 
place in the seat of Augustine the first scholar of 
the first university of Christendom, a man on whom 
he could rely in the interests of religion, and whom 
John himself respected so much that he thrice 
congratulated Langton [by letter on his elevation 
to the cardinalate. 

It might be suggested here that Innocent the 
Third only appointed Stephen Langton feeling that 
he would have such a strong and influential sup- 
porter in him, as Archbishop of Canterbury, in 


bringing England into complete subjection to the 

If he did, he was soon undeceived, just as Henry 
the Second was in regard to his friend Thomas 
Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury. Anyhow, Lang- 
ton did not much like the change for himself. He, 
no doubt, knew that the lives of the Archbishops 
of Canterbury were often full of troubles, and he 
foresaw that it would be difficult to get on with 
the King, and in this he was not mistaken ; he very 
soon had a proof of it. 

Innocent the Third had even reason to flatter 
himself that the choice would not be disagreeable 
to John, who had frequently spoken of Cardinal 
Langton in terms of the highest esteem. To 
obviate, however, all probable objections, he not 
only sent to request the King's permission that the 
monks might make the election at Rome, but when 
Stephen had been elected, dispatched other envoys 
to solicit his approbation of the prelate-elect. His 
letters, however, were detained at Dover ; no answer 
was returned ; and the Cardinal, after a decent but 
fruitless delay, was consecrated June 17, 1207, at 
Viterbo, by Innocent himself. Shortly after this 
the following letter was sent, entitled 



"To John the King of England. Of all the 
works of earth which the eyes of mortals covet, 
and which the flesh desireth, the most pure gold 
and precious stones have principally obtained our 
estimation. But however these and the like riches 
are to be prized, Your Royalty should abound with 
other excellencies; yet, nevertheless, in token of 
our great love and favour, We have prepared for 
You Four Golden Rings, with various precious 
stones, in which We desire you specially to under- 
stand their Form, their Number, their Material, 
and their Colour ; inasmuch as a more excellent 
meaning attends the gift. Their Roundness, there- 
fore, signifiea Eternity, which is without beginning 
or end ; and Royalty should have the virtue which 
is required by this form, considering that earth is 
the passage to heaven, and that temporality pro- 
ceedeth out of eternity. Their Number of four, 
also, whose own number is a perfect square, signifies 
Firmness of mind, which is neither depressed by 
adversity, nor elevated by prosperity ; and what is 
praiseworthy to be accomplished, is commonly done 
with the four principal Virtues; namely, Justice, 
Fortitude, Prudence, and Temperance. Under- 
stand, therefore, firstly, Justice, as exercised in 
judging; secondly, Fortitude, as shown in ad- 


versity; in the third place, Prudence, as watchful 
in doubt; and fourthly, Temperance, as not dis- 
carded even in prosperity. For their Materials, by 
the fine gold is designated Wisdom, which, as gold 
is pre-eminent over all metals, so doth the gift of 
Wisdom surpass all others, as the Prophet witnesses, 
saying, The Spirit of Wisdom shall rest upon him, 
etc. Indeed, nothing is more fitting that a King 
should have; and accordingly the pacific King 
Solomon prayed of the Lord for Wisdom only, that 
he might know how to govern the people committed 
to him. Moreover in the precious stones, note that 
the green of the Emerald, signifies Faith ; the mild- 
ness of the Sapphire, Hope; the redness of the 
Ruby, Charity; and the brilliancy of the Topaz, 
good works ; of which the Lord hath said, Let your 
lights so shine. From these, therefore, you have 
in the Emerald what you should believe; in the 
Sapphire what you should hope ; in the Ruby what 
you should love ; and in the Topaz what you should 
practise; so that you may rise from virtue to 
virtue, until you come to the sight of the Lord of 
Lords in Sion. 

" Given at Rome at St. Peter's the 4th of the 
Calends of June " (May 29, 7th of John, 1205). 

It may have been imprudent and indecorous to 
force a prelate on the King without waiting for his 
consent; but it must be confessed that the whole 


proceeding was conducted according to the canons 
which at the time obtained the force of law, and 
with more attention to John's honour than many 
sovereigns experienced at the Court of Rome. 


But neither the praises of Pope Innocent the 
Third nor the merits of Langton could satisfy or 
appease the angry King. John, with the hot 
blood common to his race, and the bad judgment 
peculiar to himself, rushed headlong into the 
quarrel from which a little circumspection would 
have saved him, for he chose to enter the lists 
against Innocent the Third, matching his own low 
cunning at once against the consummate diplomacy 
of the Roman Curia and the aspiring statesmanship 
of the greatest of all the popes. If Innocent had 
had to deal with Henry the Second, or even with 
Hubert Walter, he would have been met with his 
own weapons; the delays and evasions of the 
canon law would have been made serviceable on 
both sides; the crisis would have been a compro- 
mise. John's policy in the matter was simply the 
blundering, floundering, pettifogging, obstinate, and 
yet irresolute procedure of a violent man, devoid of 
real courage or counsel, and ignorant of the strength 
of his cause. 

When the King heard of Langton's consecration 


he drove the monks of Canterbury out of the country 
for electing without his permission, and proclaimed 
that any one who acknowledged Langton as Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury should be accounted a public 
enemy (a consequence of which was that the Arch- 
bishop's father fled into exile at St. Andrew's), and 
he wrote to the Pope insisting upon the confirmation 
of his own nominee's election, and declared that 
Stephen Langton should never set foot in England 
as primate. What marks John personally from the 
long list of our sovereigns, good and bad, is this, 
that there is nothing in him which for a single 
moment calls out our better sentiments; in his 
prosperity there is nothing that we can admire, 
and in his adversity nothing that we can pity. 
Many, most perhaps, of our other kings have had 
both sins and sorrows; sins for which they might 
allege temptations, and sorrows which are not less 
meet for sympathy because they were well deserved, 
but for John no temptations are to be pleaded in 
extenuation of his guilt, and there is not one moment, 
not one of the many crises of his reign, in which we 
feel the slightest movement towards sympathy. 
Now, King John being so utterly bad as a man and 
as a king, our sympathies are apt to go against him 
under all circumstances, but in the present case 
he was not without some show of right, and he 
justly deserves our praise on this occasion for 
vindicating the independence of the Church of 


England and his royal rights against the worl( 
dominating Pope Innocent the Third. 


Although all the appointments made by the 
Pope to offices in the English Church were lawless 
usurpations yet all of them were not necessarily 
bad. vSometimes, there was a deliberate intention 
of making a good appointment; sometimes one 
proved good where there had been no such inten- 
tion. There can be no doubt that the thrusting of 
Cardinal Stephen Langton into the See of Canter- 
bury by Innocent the Third (1207) was a violent 
intrusion on the rights of the English Church and 
also on the rights of the English King John; but 
the appointment of a man, so true a lover of all 
which was best and freest in English life, was one 
for which, we shall see, every Englishman to this 
day is thankful, if not to the Pope who made the 
appointment, only partially knowing his man, yet 
to Him who overrules this service to so signal a 
gain for the English Church and people. 

Innocent virtually acknowledged that John had 
some ground of complaint, and went so far as to 
solicit the assent and approbation of the King, and 
promised, if John would acquiesce, to take care 
that the past transaction should not be converted 
into a precedent injurious to the prerogatives of 


the English Crown. But the obstinacy of the 
monarch was not to be softened; he avowed that 
Langton should never set foot in England in the 
character of primate. The die was now cast, and 
the quarrel became a tower of strength between 
the power of the king and that of the pontiff. 

King John then seized the property belonging 
to the cathedral and monastery of Canterbury. 
The Pope retorted with one of the most terrible 
weapons in his spiritual armoury; he threatened 
to place the kingdom under an Interdict. John 
replied that if his clergy obeyed the Interdict he 
would banish the whole lot of them and confiscate 
their goods, and that if he found any of the Roman 
clergy in his dominions he would send them back 
to Rome with their eyes plucked out and their 
noses slit, but this cruel threat was utterly disre- 
garded. To Innocent's threat of Interdict, August 
27, 1207 A.D., John replied in November by giving 
to another Stephen's prebend of York. 


The Pope knew how to thoroughly avenge him- 
self : he did a very bold act ; he now laid the 
kingdom of England under an Interdict, a singular 
form of punishment by which the person of the 
King was spared, and his subjects, the unoffending 
parties, were to suffer; for no services were to be 


performed in the churches no one could be married, 
baptised, or buried with Christian services until 
such times as King John would submit to papal 
authority. It might be profitable for us to remem- 
ber that the excommunication of an individual cut 
him off from the visible Church; he was shunned 
by all Christian people; he might not enter a 
church, he must live without its sacraments, and 
be buried like a dog; moreover, it carried with it 
civil disabilities; he was outside the pale of the 
law; the civil power would not defend him from 
spoliation, robbery, or personal injury, or avenge 
his death; but the sentence of Interdict was passed 
against a whole nation. Its effect was to deprive 
the whole people of the offices of public religion. 
The following translation of the original in Wilkin's 
Concilia, i. p. 526, by Gee and Hardy, is the answer 
of Innocent the Third to the Bishops of London, 
Ely and Winchester as to the observance of the 

" 1208. Innocent the bishop (episcopus) etc., to 
the Bishops, just mentioned, greeting and apostolic 
blessing. We reply to your inquiries, that whereas 
by reason of the Interdict new chrism cannot be 
consecrated on Maundy Thursday, old must be used 
in the baptism of infants, and, if necessity demand, 
oil must be mixed by the hand of the bishop or else 
priest, with the chrism, that it fail not, and although 



the viaticum seem to be meet on the repentance of 
the dying, yet, if it cannot be had, we who read it 
believe that the principle holds good in this case, 
' believe and thou hast eaten/ when actual need, 
and not contempt of religion, excludes the sacra- 
ment, and the actual need is expected soon to cease. 
Let neither gospel nor church hours be observed 
in the accustomed place, nor any other, though the 
people assemble in the same. Let religious men, 
whose monasteries people have been wont to visit 
for the sake of prayer, admit pilgrims inside the 
church for prayer, not by the greater door, but by 
a more secret place. Let church doors remain 
shut save at the chief festival of the church, when 
the parishioners and others may be admitted for 
prayer into the church with open doors. Let 
baptism be celebrated in the usual manner with 
old chrism and oil inside the church with shut doors, 
no lay person being admitted save the god-parents, 
and, if need demand, new oil must be mixed. 
Penance is to be inflicted as well on the whole as 
the sick; for in the midst of life we are in death. 
Those who have confessed in a suit, or have been 
convicted of some crime, are to be sent to the 
bishop or his penitentiary, and, if need be, are to 
be forced to this by church censure. Priests may 
say their own hours and prayers in private. Priests 
may on Sunday bless water in the churchyard and 
sprinkle it ; and can make and distribute the bread 


when blessed, and announce feasts and fasts and 
preach a sermon to the people. A woman after 
childbirth may come to church, and perform her 
purification outside the church walls. Priests shall 
visit the sick, and hear confessions, and let them 
perform the commendation of souls in the accus- 
tomed manner, but they shall not follow the corpses 
of the dead because the latter will not have church 
burial. Priests shall, on the day of the Passion, 
place the cross outside the church without ceremony, 
so that the parishioners may adore it with the 
customary devotion." 


Innocent had already, eight years before, used 
this terrible weapon of Interdict with effect against 
Philip Augustus, one of the ablest kings of France. 
The Interdict caused, as we should expect, a terrible 
state of things, and Simon Langton, the brother of 
Stephen, who was high in favour with the King, 
entreated him to allow the Archbishop and the 
exiled Canterbury monks to return to England in 
order that the Interdict might be taken off. The 
bishops of Norwich, Winchester and Bath were 
brave enough to disobey the Pope's command, and 
also joined with Simon Langton in pleading with 
John to yield. Not only were some bishops found 
who took no notice of the Interdict, but many other 


individual clergymen acted the same way; and 
even where the Interdict was observed, the people 
could attend divine service on Sundays in the 
monasteries; marriages and churchings of women 
were allowed, but only at the church door ; sermons, 
but only in the open air ; children might be baptised ; 
but the Holy Communion could be administered 
only to the dying. 

The clergy who remained in England were many 
in number, and their continuance in the country 
was a toleration which they experienced on the 
sole condition that they did not observe the In- 
terdict. In the convents of the regulars the ob- 
servance of the canonical hours became a necessity 
for the preservation, if not of piety, yet of that 
regulation of time without which convents soon 
degenerated and became corrupt, but it was to be 
without singing. 


King John and Innocent were each determined 
to try who could hold out the longer. All prelates 
or clergy who obeyed the Pope were expelled from 
the realm and their benefices seized. This was a 
convenient way for the King to supply himself 
with money. The general confiscation or forfeiture 
of Church property must have relieved greatly 
the financial distress of the King, and during the 


years when these lands were administered as part 
of the royal domains, we hear less of attempts 
at national taxation. In this the King was upheld 
by the bishops of Durham, Winchester and Norwich, 
who agreed that the Pope had no legal right to 
issue such an edict. But the Pope remained firm 
and so did King John. 

The Interdict seems to have been generally ob- 
served by the clergy. The Cistercian monks at 
first declared that they were not bound to respect 
it, but they were, after a time, forced by the Pope 
to conform. Nearly all the bishops went into exile. 
Two only remained in the end, both devoted more 
to the King than the Church : John de Grey, Bishop 
of Norwich, employed during most of the time in 
secular business in Ireland, and Peter de Roches, 
appointed Bishop of Winchester 1205, destined to 
play a leading part against the growing liberties of 
the nation in the next reign, and now, as a chronicler 
says, occupied less in defending the Church than in 
administering the King's affairs. 

But if the clergy were necessarily inclined to the 
side of the Pope during the Interdict, it was other- 
wise with the laity; though they feared the Pope 
much, they hated him more, even more, perhaps, at 
first than they hated the King. 

Indeed, it is from this time onward that we may 
date the deep distrust of sacerdotal pretensions 
which is such a remarkable factor in the history of 


such a deeply religious people as ourselves. The 
confiscation of the clerical lands seems to many 
pious laymen a regrettable but righteous retribution 
for the enormous wealth and greed of all orders in 
the Church. 

Thus, although one cannot say that the sober 
part of the laity gave King John an enthusiastic 
support against Innocent, at all events it gave 
Innocent none against John. The result of the 
action of Pope Innocent the Third is generally over- 
stated. No doubt there were many persons who 
believed that the Pope had such power as Innocent 
claimed, and therefore obeyed this injunction, but 
there was a large number of others, well acquainted 
with the struggles that the Church had made for 
many generations to retain its national independence 
against the aggrandisement of the papacy, who 
cared very little for the Pope's threatenings. 


But where was Stephen Langton at this time? 
He was at Pontigny in France, which opened its 
doors a second time to an exiled Archbishop of 
Canterbury, and it was probably his headquarters 
during the next five years. 

A story of his having been Chancellor of Paris 
University during this period seems to rest upon a 
double confusion of persons and offices. 


John opened a correspondence with Langton. 
A safe-conduct was offered to Simon, the Arch- 
bishop's brother, in February 1208 A.D. Of this 
Simon availed himself, and he was permitted to 
remain in England till Easter. Simon Langton had 
an interview with the King on March 12, 1208. 

The King evidently thought himself, or wished 
his people to believe, that he had been hardly used. 
He published the result of the interview in a letter 
to the people of Kent. 

" The King, to all the men of Kent. Know 
ye, that Master Simon of Langton came to us 
at Winchester on March 12, and, in the presence 
of our bishops, prayed us to receive Master 
Stephen Langton, his brother, as Archbishop 
of Canterbury. When we spoke to him of pre- 
serving our dignity in this business, his answer was, 
that he would do nothing for us, with respect to 
that, unless we placed ourselves altogether at his 
mercy. We inform you of this, that ye may know 
what ill and injury has been done to us in the 
matter. We command you to give credence to 
what Reginald of Cornhill shall tell you on our 
behalf concerning the aforesaid transactions be- 
tween us, the said bishops and the same Simon, 
and concerning the execution of our precept therein 
14 March, 1208 A.D. Then the King committed 
to Reginald of Cornhill the custody of the said 


In September 1208 John invited Stephen Lang- 
ton to a meeting in England and sent him a safe- 
conduct for three weeks, but he addressed it not 
to the Archbishop of Canterbury but to Stephen 
Langton, Cardinal of the Roman See. Of course, 
Stephen could not accept it, as to do so would have 
been to acknowledge that his election was invalid. 

Throughout these years of exile Stephen Langton's 
part in the struggle between Innocent and John 
was always that of a peacemaker. From Pontigny 
he addressed a letter to the English people, giving 
them advice and encouragement in their coming 
trial, and identified his own interests with theirs, 
and in the letter there is neither a word of personal 
bitterness nor of personal grievance. But in his 
efforts as a peacemaker there is to be found the 
note of mingled firmness and moderation, and this 
is seen in a letter to the Bishop of London empower- 
ing him to act in the primate's place against the 
despoilers of Canterbury, and another to the King, 
warning him of the evils he was bringing upon his 
realm and offering an immediate relaxation of the 
Interdict if he would come to a better mind. 


John was then threatened with excommunication, 
but as there were no bishops left in the country 
who were acting in the interests of the Pope, and 


John took care that there should be no means of 
making any proclamation of the impending sentence 
in his kingdom, he was not to be moved. 

So, when Innocent launched, in 1209 A.D., a bull 
of excommunication, John was able successfully to 
watch the ports and keep the outrageous bit of 
sheepskin out of the country, and the Pope had to 
be content with the formal publication of King 
John's excommunication in France. 

Though excommunication may have inconveni- 
enced the King a little, it did not, at first, trouble 
him much, except that it made him still more 
bitter against the Pope. For some years the 
Interdict continued, but each year the tyrannies 
and exactions of John increased so much that to 
escape from them the clergy and barons decided to 
ask the Pope to adopt still stronger measures. 
Although excommunication did not trouble the 
King much, it so affected Geoffrey, Archdeacon of 
Norwich, one of the judges of the Court of Ex- 
chequer, that he at once left the Court with some 
expression about the danger of serving an excom- 
municated king. John had him thrown into prison 
and a leaden cope put over his head, and by this and 
other severe usage put an end to Geoffrey's life. 


Miss Bateson, in Medieval England, p. 149, tries 
hard to show a better side to the King's character, 


for she says : " John sought to make up for his 
life's irregularities by regular and liberal almsgiving ; 
if he had irreligious convictions, he had not the 
courage of them. Very steadily did the paupers, 
by hundreds and even thousands, reap their penny 
apiece because the King or other ministers, led 
astray by him, ate meat twice on a fast-day. He 
fed 350 poor men because he had good sport one 
day and took seven cranes. Many were fed ' for 
the souls of his father and brother Richard, that 
the prayers of the beggars who had dined might 
release their souls from purgatory/ But many 
were the disappointed religious, who looked in vain 
for a handsome gift from the King to their church 
in return for hospitalities received. King John 
has hardly had justice done to him as a book- 
lender, and therefore, possibly, a book-lover. The 
extracts from the close-rolls have long been in print 
which show him ordering a copy of the Romance of 
English History, and acknowledging ' the receipt of 
six books/ the Old and New Testaments, and other 
works from the Abbot of Reading. That such works 
were not John's daily reading we may well believe, 
but the records show the nature of the Court library 
and the orderly arrangements for the loan and 
return of books." But in spite of his charity to the 
poor, King John's character was so bad that he was 
hated by the people ; barons, clergy, and nobles of 
all degrees dreaded his entrance into their houses. 


It really seemed as if he would do anything, 
however mean or cruel, to get money. It is said 
that on one occasion he had all the teeth of an 
unfortunate Jew taken out one by one in order to 
make him give up his treasures. 

On another occasion there came to the King, on 
the borders of Wales, officers of one of the sheriffs, 
leading a robber with his hands bound behind his 
back, who had robbed and killed a priest, and they 
asked the King what should be done to him. " He 
has killed one of my enemies; loose him and let 
him go," ordered John. Such a man was not likely 
to get much support from the majority of his 


Towards the close of 1209 A.D. Langton sent his 
steward to John with overtures for a reconciliation ; 
this time the King responded by letters patent, 
inviting my lord of Canterbury to a meeting at 
Dover, but John came no nearer than Chilham. 

On December 20, 1209 A.D. Archbishop Langton 
consecrated Hugh of Wells to the bishopric of 
Lincoln, the latter having gone to the former for 
that purpose in defiance of the King's order that 
he should be consecrated by the Archbishop of 
Rouen. Next year John tried again to lure Stephen 
across the Channel, and offered to submit to the 
Pope, to acknowledge Langton as Primate, to 


restore the exiled clergy, and to pay a limited sum 
as compensation for the rents of the confiscated 
clerical estates. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury demanded not 
only restitution in full but also would only respond 
to the invitation on the fulfilment of three con- 
ditions : (i) that he should have a safe-conduct in 
proper form, (2) that, once in England, he should 
be allowed to exercise his archiepiscopal functions 
there, and (3) that no terms should be required of 
him save those proposed on his last visit to Dover. 

King John's reply came in the shape of an un- 
acceptable because irregular safe-conduct. 

Instead of letters patent, according to custom, 
letters were closed and accompanied with a warning 
from English nobles which resulted in Stephen's 
immediate return to France. Dr. Hook gives the 
following as showing the conciliatory temper of 
Langton, and how willing he was to make a sacrifice 
of everything merely personal for the sake of peace. 
It was written when the negotiations between the 
Archbishop and the King were almost but not en- 
tirely concluded. 

" Stephen, by the grace of God, Archbishop 
of Canterbury, Primate of all England, Cardinal 
of the Church of Rome, to all who shall see 
this charter, greeting. Know all of you that we 
do not wish that anything which is done by our 


dear Lord John, the King of England, or by us, 
touching the election, or the confirmation, or the 
consecration of the elect of Rochester, which can 
be hurtful to our aforesaid Lord, or to his heirs, 
either in seisin or in right, which he declares himself 
to have in the advowson of the Bishop of Rochester. 
Moreover, we wish it to be established, if the peace 
is not concluded which is spoken of between him 
and us, and if the peace is concluded, the charter 
which the aforesaid King respecting the advowson, 
etc., shall be firmly established, we have confirmed 
them by this charter and our seal. Dated at 
Winchester the first year of the relaxation of the 
general Interdict of England, January 20." 


Langton's country's growing misery shows him in 
contrast to the former exiled Archbishop of Canter- 
bury (Anselm) at Pontigny, for, after addressing 
to the English a protest he was moved, in 1212 A.D., 
along with the Bishops of London and Ely, to urge 
upon Innocent the necessity of taking energetic 
measures for putting an end to the wretched state 
of affairs in England ; and in adopting this extreme 
measure he had consistently adopted towards John 
as conciliatory an attitude as his duty to the Church 
would allow, and had more than once, as we have 
already seen, entered upon negotiations for a 
peaceful compromise. The Pope had now a standing 
army, the result mainly of the Crusades, and with 


this army he was in the habit of fighting against 
kings and emperors as if he were a temporal 
prince; he could, therefore, enforce his will by an 
appeal to arms, as John very well knew. The 
embassy mentioned resulted in bringing, January i, 
1213, a sentence of deposition declaring John de- 
posed from his throne and absolving the King's 
subjects from their allegiance; and also granting 
the forfeited kingdom to Philip Augustus, King of 
France, who was not, as we have seen, generally 
an obedient servant of the Pope, but now that it 
suited his purpose he obeyed with considerable 
alacrity. John, on his side, called out the military 
force of the kingdom; every ship in his kingdom 
capable of carrying six horses was brought to Ports- 
mouth harbour, and the sheriffs of counties sum- 
moned to the coast of Kent all persons who were 
able to bear arms. The King, however, had not 
the means of maintaining the vast forces thus 
collected from fear of invasion; and they were 
reduced to 60,000 men, out of whom, Matthew 
Paris observes, there was scarcely one on whose 
fidelity he could depend, though the same historian 
calls them enough to have defied all the powers of 
Europe, if they had felt any loyalty towards their 
sovereign; but the tyrant, after eight years' 
obstinacy, we see, dared not trust his own subjects, 
and in spite of his scoffing disregard of religion 
he trembled at the papal excommunication (and, 
therefore, his own despair of salvation), the dire 


effects of which he saw in the downfall of his nephew, 
the Emperor Otto of Germany, his dread of the 
King of France, his doubts of his own barons, 
some of whom he knew to be perfidious, but above 
all he dreaded the fulfilment of the prophecy of 
Peter of Wakefield, that on the approaching feast 
of the Ascension he should be no longer king, and 
also realising that he would stand no chance against 
the combined power of Philip, King of France, and 
Pope Innocent the Third; he now passed from the 
height of insolence to the lowest prostration of fear, 
and secretly sent the Abbot of Beaulieu to Pandulph, 
the legate or clerical ambassador whom the Pope 
had sent as his representative with the French 
invading force, to offer his submission to the Pope, 
and he agreed to receive Stephen Langton as Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury. But Pope Innocent required 
more than this. He forced the terrified King to 
surrender his crown, robes, sword, and ring to his 
legate, Pandulph, May 13, 1213; and to receive 
them back after a day or two as a favour from the 
Pope, and also to sign a charter in which King John 
said " that, not constrained by fear, but of his own 
free will/' he agreed to hold these dominions as 
feudatory or as a servant of the Church of Rome, 
" and as a sign, moreover, of this our perpetual 
obligation and concession," John said, " we will 
and establish that from the proper and especial 
revenues of our aforesaid kingdoms, for all the 
services and customs which we ought to render to 


them, saving in all things the penny of St. Peter, 
the Roman Church shall receive yearly 1000 marks 
sterling, viz. at the feast of St. Michael 500 marks, 
and at Easter 500 marks 700 namely for the 
kingdom of England and 300 for the kingdom of 
Ireland saving to us and our heirs our rights, 
liberties and regalia." 


Peter's Pence, by the way, amounted to 199 8s., 
paid from the different dioceses in the following 
proportions, "as I," says Lingard (History of 
England, vol. iii. p. 33), "transcribed from the 
Ex Regist Antent, Innocent III, in the Vatican 

i * 
Canterbury . . . 7 18 

Rochester . . . 5 12 

London . . . .1610 

Norwich . . . . 21 10 

Ely 50 

Lincoln . . . . 42 o 

Chichester . . . .80 

Winchester . . . 17 8 

Exeter . . . -95 

Worcester. . . 10 5 

Hereford . . . .60 

Bath . . . . ii 5 

Salisbury . . . .70 

Coventry . . . . 10 5 

York . . . . ii 10 


Either the 199 8s. given as the total of Peter's 
Pence is a misprint, or a sum of 10 has been omitted 
from one of the contributing dioceses. It will be 
noticed that the extreme northern dioceses of 
Durham and Carlisle are not mentioned in this 


In addition to the payment of 1000 marks and 
Peter's Pence, John agreed that if he or his suc- 
cessors should revoke or infringe the charter they 
should forfeit all right to their dominions. Thus 
was John humiliated, and in the indignant language 
of the historian, Matthew Paris, " thus did he make 
a charter to be abhorred throughout all ages." 

John's Oath of Fealty, May 15, 1213, as trans- 
lated by Gee and Hardy, is as follows 

"I, John, by the grace of God, King of England 
and lord of Ireland, from this hour forward will be 
faithful to God and the blessed Peter and the Roman 
Church and my lord the Pope Innocent and his 
successors following in Catholic manner; I will not 
be party in deed, word, consent, or counsel, to their 
losing life or limb or being unjustly imprisoned. 
Their damage, if I am aware of it, I will prevent, 
and will have removed if I can, or else, as soon as 
I can, I will signify it or will tell such persons as I 
shall believe will tell them certainly. Any counsel 
they entrust to me immediately or by their messenger 



or their letter, I will keep secret, and will consciously 
disclose to no one to their damage. The patrimony 
of the blessed Peter, and specially the realms of 
Ireland, I will aid to hold and defend against all 
men to my ability. So help me God and these holy 

" Witness myself at the house of the Knights of 
the Temple, near Dover, in the presence of the 
lord H. Archbishop of Dublin G. Fitz-Peter, Earl 
of Essex, our justiciar, etc." 

It is needless to say that no English king had 
ever stooped, or was ever to stoop as low as this; 
and equally needless to say that no great Council of 
English barons had been called to sanction such a 
grovelling transaction. 

Even Cardinal Gasquet (Henry III and the 
Church, p. 4) says, "it is by no means clear 
that the King's assertion, that he had had the full 
assent of his people in making his submission, is 
quite correct. It is hard to see how such an assent 
could have been obtained, and there is little doubt 
that to many churchmen, like Cardinal Langton, 
the surrender of any ' overlord/ even were he the 
Pope himself, was eminently distasteful. More- 
over, in after years it was plainly asserted that the 
nation had never consented to King John's act, 
and that even Stephen (Langton) the Archbishop 
had stood against." 



The exiled prelates returned to Dover in triumph, 
with Langton at their head, July 16, 1213. The 
King went forth to meet them at Porchester, threw 
himself on the ground before the Archbishop with 
a " Welcome, father," and he entreated the prelates 
to have compassion on him. 

When England heard and realised what its king 
had done it tingled with a sense of shame. ' The 
King has become the Pope's man," the people cried. 
" he has degraded himself to the level of a serf." 

This transaction heaped eternal infamy on the 
memory of John, but, around and about this time, 
it was not an uncommon thing for kings to acknow- 
ledge the overlordship of other kings and of the 
Pope as an earthly monarch. Thus, only nine years 
before this period Peter, King of Arragon, had 
voluntarily become the vassal of Pope Innocent the 
Third, binding himself and his successors to pay the 
Holy See 250 ounces of gold yearly. 

William the Lion, King of Scotland, acknowledged 
the overlordship of Henry the Second by the 
ignominious treaty of Falaise, from which he was 
absolved on payment of a sum of money to the 
absentee King Richard the First of England. We 
must judge the doings of the people at this time by 
the general standard of international conduct in 
Europe at the time. It would be interesting to 


know how many of those who suggested John's 
surrender to the Pope were included among those 
who, two years afterwards, resisted the papal bull 
which declared the Great Charter null and void. 

But the King's surrender was to some extent 
politic or prudent, for it prevented for a time another 
foreign invasion. The King of France had already 
raised an army to invade England, but when it 
came to the point, the English people, much as they 
hated John, were too patriotic to see their country 
given into the hands of a foreigner, and John's 
submission, already referred to, put an end to the 

After making submission to the papal legate at 
Dover, May 15, 1213, John remained in Kent, 
Sussex, and Hampshire, preparing for an expedition 
to France, on which, as he was still excommunicate, 
says Stubbs (Select Charters, p. 286), the barons 
refused to accompany him. 

The Pope ordered the King of France and his son 
to desist from their intended invasion of England, 
as it had now become the patrimony of St. Peter; 
to which the King of France replied that he had 
spent 60,000 to enforce the Pontiff's sentence, but 
that he would turn his power upon Flanders for 
some indemnity; swearing that France should 
become Flanders or Flanders France. Langton, 
in his eagerness to forgive, overleapt the bounds 
of the Pope's instructions and the usual forms of 


ecclesiastical procedure, and without more ado he 
performed his first episcopal acts in England on 
Sunday, July 20, 1213, by absolving his King in 
the chapter house of Winchester Cathedral and 
afterwards celebrating Mass in his presence and 
giving him the kiss of peace, but the Interdict was 
not removed until the papal legate was satisfied 
with the restitution John had made. 

In the chapter house just mentioned, Stephen 
Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, gave the King, 
after absolution from his excommunication, the 
book of the Gospels to hold whilst he took the 
following oath administered to him by the Prelate. 
;< That he would diligently defend the ordinances 
of the Holy Church, and that his hand should be 
against all her enemies; that the good laws of his 
ancestors, and especially those of King Edward 
the Confessor, should be recalled, and evil ones 
destroyed; and that his subjects should receive 
justice according to the upright decrees of his 
courts. He likewise swore that all corporations and 
private persons whom the Interdict had damaged 
(Thomson, Magna Charta, p. n) should receive a 
full restitution of all which had been taken away, 
before the time of the approaching Easter, if his 
Sentence of Excommunication were first removed. 
He swore, moreover, fidelity and obedience to 
Pope Innocent and his Catholic successors, and 
that he would give them that superiority which 



was already in writing. King John now probably 
thought that, being freed from the ecclesiastical 
outlawry under which he had so long lived, the 
night of his misfortunes was passed, that Pope 
Innocent would support him, and that his barons 
would now cease to contend for the liberties of 
Magna Charta. 


Even after Langton's removal of the papal 
censure from John, the northern barons still re- 
fused to accompany him to Normandy. Their 
new plea was that the tenure on which they held 
their lands did not compel them to serve abroad; 
they added that they were already exhausted by 
expeditions within England. 

On August 4, 1213, Stephen Langton was present 
at a Council at St. Albans, where the promises of 
amendment with which John purchased absolution 
were renewed by the Justiciar, Fitz-Peter, in the 
King's name, and directions for the fulfilment of 
these promises were laid on the sheriffs, for at this 
assembly, which was attended by not only the 
Archbishop, but bishops and barons, and the reeve 
and four men out of each of the King's demesne 
townships, it was ordered quatenus leges Henrici 
avi sui ab omnibus in regno custodirentur, i. e. as far 
as possible the laws of Henry his grandfather should 
be kept by all in the kingdom. 


What those laws were does not seem to have been 
ascertained until the 25th of the same month, when 
the Archbishop produced the Charter of Henry the 
First (Stubbs-Rolls, p. 474). 

After John set out with his mercenaries to punish 
by force of arms the refusal of his northern magnates 
(McKechnie, Magna Charta, p. 35) to follow him to 
the Continent, Stephen Langton opened, August 25, 
1213, a Council of Churchmen at Westminster with 
a sermon on the text, " My heart hath trusted in 
God and I am helped, therefore my heart greatly 

' Thou liest," cried one of the crowd, " thy heart 
never trusted in God and thy heart never rejoiced." 

The interrupter was seized and beaten until 
rescued by officers of justice. Then the Archbishop 
resumed his discourse. This incident shows to 
some extent the popularity of Langton, and the 
unpopularity of the King's attitude. The Arch- 
bishop had, it seems, especially invited certain lay 
barons to be present at the council. 


There was a terrible lawless state of things exist- 
ing, and to remedy this by repressing and checking 
the extortions both of the King and barons, Langton 
tried to have a good set of laws made, and to get the 
King to promise to obey them. When King John 


was absolved from the excommunication pronounced 
by the Pope, he had promised to observe the laws 
of Edward the Confessor, but no one knew what 
those laws were, but Langton searched the archives 
of the nation and produced the Charter of Henry the 
First which stipulated what privileges the barons 
and prelates respectively might claim for their order. 
This he laid before the private council of nobles, held, 
according to Stubbs, Cutts and Professor Adams, 
at St. Paul's, but according to the National Bio- 
graphy, vol. xxxii. at Westminster (Davis, H. W. C., 
Eng. under Angevins, in a footnote, says the con- 
ference at St. Paul's, August 25, 1213, Ramsay 
suspects as apocryphal), which was called ostensibty 
to determine what use Langton should make of his 
power to grant partial relaxation of the Interdict 
still casting its blight over England; and which 
could not be finally lifted until the legate arrived 
with fuller powers. 

No doubt when the assembly of the commons of 
the royal demesne met the bishops and barons, 
under Fitz-Peter at St. Albans, the three estates 
learned much of each other's desires, and we cannot 
question that when Langton at St. Paul's expounded 
to the clergy the great Charter of Henry the First, 
he pointed out the duty there enforced, that they 
should do to their vassals as they would have the 
King do to them, hence the growth of co-operation 
between the barons and the commons. 


The one hope for the opposition lay in appealing 
through Archbishop Langton to the people; it 
might be that the head of the National Church, by 
ancient custom regarded as the King's first coun- 
sellor and the protector of the poor, would be able 
to arouse those whom the " head of the Church 
Catholic " had ordered to be subservient. At the 
council just referred to the Archbishop found him- 
self recognized as the leader of the barons. He at 
once raised the struggle (Davis, Eng. under Angevins, 
p. 371) to a higher plane by pressing them to accept 
as their programme the recently unearthed Charter 
of Henry the First a document in which the liberties 
of all classes were equally secured ; and thus trans- 
formed a feudal rising into a national agitation, and 
caused claims of special privileges to fall into the 
background behind broad principles of justice. 
' Ye have heard, when at Winchester, before the 
King was absolved, I compelled him to swear that 
the existing evil statutes should be destroyed, and 
that more salutary laws, namely, those of King 
Edward the Confessor, should be observed by the 
whole kingdom. In support of these things are ye 
now convened; and I here disclose to you a newly- 
discovered Charter of King Henry the First of 
England, the which if ye are willing to support, your 
long-lost liberties may be restored in all their ori- 
ginal purity of character." The Prelate then pro- 
ceeded to read the Charter with a loud voice, which 


so animated the minds of the barons present that 
with the greatest sincerity and joy they declared 
themselves ready to die for these liberties. " Swear 
it," said Archbishop Langton, and they swore to 
fight for those liberties, if it were needful, even unto 

If it be asked why the laws of Henry the First 
were substituted for those of Edward the Confessor, 
the answer is easy. The latter could be collected 
only from the doubtful testimony of tradition ; but 
it was assumed that they had been embodied in the 
Charter which Henry the First had granted at his 

But why did not the barons themselves find this 
Charter? Although Henry the First's Charter, as 
Matthew Paris relates, was sent in the year noo to 
all the English counties, and deposited in all the 
principal monasteries, yet, in a little more than a 
century afterwards it was so rare that a single copy 
of that instrument could scarcely be found. King 
John professed himself unacquainted with its con- 
tents, but the whole kingdom was rejoiced to find a 
precedent on which they might found a new charter. 
Among the barons were men of very various sorts, 
some who had personal aims merely, some who were 
fitted by education, accomplishments and patriotic 
sympathies for national champions, and some who 
were carried away by the general ardour, but appar- 
ently there was no one to effectively organise and 


consolidate them until Stephen Langton threw him- 
self on their side and gave them courage and pru- 
dent guidance, together with the sanction of religion 
which religious men (professionally at least) of that 
period, I think, so much desired. And in this 
attitude, the Archbishop proved himself not only 
a statesman and a patriot, but also a hero, especially 
when we take into account that he had to deal with 
a King whose attitude towards statesmen was cruel, 
revengeful and ungrateful, for when Fitz-Peter, the 
justiciary a man whom John feared had died, 
October 2, 1213, during the latter's absence in 
France, he laughed at the news imparted to him : 
" It is well," said he, " in hell he may again shake 
hands with Hubert, our late primate, for surely he 
will find him there. By God's teeth (Stubbs says 
" by the feet of God ") now for the first time 
I am King of England." 


It may not be out of place to say that from the 
beginning of his reign John was only saved from dis- 
aster, according to Professor Tout, by the restraining 
influence exercised over him by three wise advisers. 
His mother, Eleanor, secured his succession to the 
whole of the Angevin Empire; Hubert Walter, 
the Archbishop of Canterbury, kept up some sort 
of terms between him and the Church ; the Justiciar, 



Geoffrey Fitz-Peter, managed, despite many ob- 
stacles, to carry on the internal government of 
England on the lines laid down by Henry the Second. 
As time went on, the removal of these three faithful 
friends left John free to follow his own caprice, and 
in each case his personal action involved him in 
humiliation and disaster. 

The death of Eleanor, 1204 A.D., was quickly 
followed by the loss of Normandy, 1204-6 A.D. 
The death of Hubert Walter soon led to the mortal 
quarrel with the Church. When Fitz-Peter died, 
1213 A.D., John blundered into a quarrel with his 
English subjects which cost him his greatest and 
last humiliation. 

Although John had been humiliated by becoming 
the Pope's man, he was destined to pass through a 
series of more humiliating circumstances than had 
ever yet fallen to the lot of any other monarch. He 
had arrived at the stage when he was equally odious 
and contemptible, both in public and private life, 
for he had grievously hurt the barons by his insolence, 
dishonoured their families by his licentious gallant- 
ries, enraged them by his tyranny, and given dis- 
content to all ranks of men by his endless exactions 
and impositions. 


Under these circumstances, therefore, it was a very 
good thing indeed for England that Langton was 


able to come and take up work as Archbishop of 
Canterbury, for unlike the Pope, whose object 
seemed to be to thoroughly subject England and its 
National Church to his will, the Archbishop gave 
ear to the popular cry for redress of political griev- 
ances, and persisted, as we shall soon see, in associa- 
ting with the baronial opposition, even after he was 
ordered by Innocent the Third to excommunicate 
the barons as disturbers of the peace ; and, although 
a friend of the Pope's, would not allow him to inter- 
fere so completely between bishops and King as he 
had been in the habit of doing of late years. 

Thus it was soon seen that Archbishop Langton 
was a man who knew how to manage affairs, for 
whilst he was powerful he was also judicious. He 
must have greatly astonished both the King and 
the Pope by his line of conduct. Considering the 
enormous trouble which Innocent the Third had 
taken to obtain the primacy for him, we might have 
expected Langton to uphold the papal claims, but 
as soon as he had entered upon the temporalities of 
his see, he adopted an independent attitude towards 
the cruel and offensive King on the one hand and 
the unbrookable Pope on the other. 

One reason for this attitude was that Langton, 
being a true Englishman, was hugely patriotic in 
refusing to do anything which would dishonour his 
country or injure his countrymen or harm the 
National Church. 


Now in this constitutional conflict Stephen showed 
himself " the soul of the movement " (Catholic 
Cyclo), and this appears very clearly from the 
strong action he took, as we have already seen, in 
the council of St. Paul's, for when the King, who 
had just landed from France and was advancing as 
far as Northampton, was about to wreak vengeance 
by military execution on the barons for their dis- 
obedience during the late quarrel, he was overtaken 
by the Archbishop, who firmly insisted on their right 
to be tried and judged by their peers, and added 
that if John refused them this justice he would 
deem it his duty to excommunicate all, except the 
King, who took part in this impious warfare. 
" Rule you the Church," replied John to Langton, 
" and leave me to govern the State." 


John apparently continued his journey as far 
north as Durham, but returned to meet the new 
papal legate Nicholas, to whom he performed the 
promised homage; and, repeating the formal act 
of surrender, October 1213 A.D., he completed his 
alliance with the Pope. 

Rome never quite forgave Langton for absolving 
the King, July 20, 1213. The legate Nicholas seems' 
to have taken a spiteful pleasure in asserting; 4 liter: .= 

? t. 


superiority to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 
every way. By his own legatine authority he de- 
graded the Abbot of Westminster, and in other ways 
acted in a most arbitrary manner. John, who hated 
Langton, was entirely on the side of the legate. So 
that the detested Archbishop was humbled, John 
cared for nothing. The second resignation of 
England, just now referred to, took place at West- 
minster, before the Peers and Ecclesiastics, when a 
new instrument of concession was drawn up and 
sealed with gold, instead of wax, like the former, 
in order to give additional value to its authority. 

The character of Langton here shows in a beau- 
tiful light; his mind was so much affected by be- 
holding the kingdom yielded a second time into the 
hands of a capricious priest, and seeing it would 
militate considerably against the liberties he wished 
to secure, that in the presence of all he declared 
his solemn protest against these proceedings and 
laid that protestation on the altar before them. 

As most, if not all, of the great magnates were 
against him, the King saw it would be well to 
strengthen his position by support of the class be- 
neath them in the feudal scheme of society. Perhaps 
it was this which led John to broaden the basis of 
the National Assembly. The Great Council which 
met at Oxford, November 15, 1213, was made notable 
by the presence, in addition to the crown tenants, 
of representatives of the various counties. 


Miss Norgate lays stress on the fact that these 
writs were issued after the death of the great jus- 
ticiary, Geoffrey Fitz-Peter, and before any suc- 
cessor had been appointed John, she argues, acted 
on his own initiative, and is thus entitled to the 
credit of being the first statesman to introduce 
representatives of the counties into the National 
Assembly. The importance of this precedent need 
not be obscured by the selfish nature of the motives 
to which it was due. Knights who were tenants of 
mesne lords (Miss Norgate says " yeomen ") were 
invited to act as a counterpoise to the barons. The 
peace between the King and subjects which had 
followed upon the submission to Rome was not of 
long duration. Difficulties soon began to arise 
between the bishops and Crown as to certain ecclesi- 
astical appointments made by a papal legate. 


But who were these legates? They were am- 
bassadors or deputies sent by the Pope into foreign 
countries to charge people to respect and obey as 
they would respect and obey the Pope himself. 
Generally speaking, these legates usually made 
themselves hated by their pride and greediness, 
for they set themselves up far above the archbishops 
and bishops of any country that they might be sent 
into, and they squeezed out from the clergy of each 


country which they visited the means of keeping up 
their pomp and splendour. 

Now the Pope's legate, Nicholas of Tusculum, 
after receiving John's deed of surrender at St. Paul's, 
October 3, 1213, was authorised to fill up vacancies 
to benefices, and gave great offence by appointing 
many ill- qualified men, on the advice of the King's 
clerks and ministers, without conferring with 
Archbishop Langton and the bishops. 

Some of the parish churches he bestowed on his 
own clerks, without any regard to the rightful 

The Archbishop lodged an appeal against these 
high-handed proceedings, but the legate employed 
Pandulph to thwart it. Pandulph depreciated the 
Primate and his suffragans to the Pope, representing 
them as too grasping in their demands for restitution 
and opposed to the royal authority. John, on the 
other hand, although described as the most sub- 
missive and modest of kings, and deserving of 
much favour, yet it was only with spiritual artillery 
that Pope Innocent the Third assisted him. 

The tension almost reached the snapping point. 
According to Cardinal Gasquet (Henry III and 
the Church] , Langton summoned his suffragan 
bishops (diocesan), the abbots and other prelates 
of the Province of Canterbury to meet him at Dun- 
stable in the early part of January 1214 A.D. ; and 
there complaints were made against the papal legate 


Nicholas' action, and, at the request of the Assembly, 
Archbishop Langton, who could not endure the 
interference of a papal legate in the National Church 
of England, appealed to the Pope (who was evidently 
quite misinformed by another legate, Pandulph, as 
to the real state of affairs in England, and was com- 
pletely ignorant of John's true character) against 
such uncanonical, unchurchlike intrusions, and he 
inhibited the legate Nicholas in 1214 A.D. from 
making further appointments to churches and 
abbeys. The time was now come for all the 
powers in Church and State to unite in resisting 
the combined efforts of the King and the Pope to 
overthrow the constitutional rights and liberties of 
the English people. 

Langton now turned his attention to the King, 
who refused to keep his promise and restore the 
Church revenues which he had abstracted from 
benefices and bishoprics. Instead of repaying the 
Church moneys, John told Pope Innocent that he 
would take the vows of a crusader, and persuaded 
him to relieve him from more than half of the money 
he had agreed to pay, that is, in return for his sub- 
servience the Pope reduced the amount of money 
King John had agreed to pay to the clergy from 
100,000 to 40,000 marks, and removed the interdict, 
June 29, 1214. 

But this second abject submission to the papacy 
the King made only when he saw the clergy and 


barons under Archbishop Langton and Robert Fitz- 
Walter at the head of what was called the Army of 
God and Holy Church, for barons and people and 
the better half of the clergy were alike furious ; the 
removal of the Interdict, glad as every one was at 
that, counted for nothing against such a humiliation. 
Then, getting more bold still, John declared that 
he took back his promise to observe the old English 
laws, and in this he felt sure of the Pope's support. 
But he had overreached himself now ; this was " the 
last straw," this was more than the barons and 
prelates could bear. 

The defeat at Bou vines (France), August 27, 
1214 A.D., one of the most memorable battles of 
the Middle Ages, by which Otto the Fourth, John's 
nephew, Emperor of Germany, retired to Brunswick, 
resigned his crown, and ended his days in obscurity, 
broke all the measures of John, who solicited and 
obtained from Philip, King of France, a truce for 
five years, and returned from an inglorious campaign 
in France to an inglorious contest in England. 


At Bury St. Edmunds, November 4, 1214, the 
barons met as if for prayer, but in addition to this 
they had sworn to demand the Charter of Henry the 


First, and were prepared, after Christmas, to force 
the King to grant their claims, for " it was agreed," 
says Matthew Paris, " that after the Nativity of 
our Lord, they should come to the King in a body, 
to desire a confirmation of the liberties before 
mentioned. And that in the meantime they were 
to provide themselves with horses and arms in the 
like manner that if the King should perchance 
break through that which he had specially sworn 
(which they well believed), and recoil by reason of 
his duplicity, they would instantly, by capturing 
his castles, compel him to give them satisfaction." 

It was probably as an attempt to separate the 
clergy from the barons that John issued, Novem- 
ber 21, 1214, the following charter respecting the 
right of chapters to elect their bishops, and of the 
monasteries to elect their abbots a charter con- 
firmed by the Pope, but it failed to sow dissension 
in the National party. 


The Interdict was relaxed, June 29, 1214, and the 
damages of the Church assessed. The charter, 
issued in November 1214 and reissued in January 
1215 A.D., and confirmed by the Pope, is as 
follows : 

" John, by the grace of God, King of England, 


etc., to the archbishops, earls, etc., and to all who 
shall see or hear these letters, greeting. Since by 
the grace of God, of the mere and free-will of both 
parties, there is full agreement concerning damages 
and losses in the time of the Interdict, between us 
and our venerable fathers, Stephen, Archbishop 
of Canterbury, Primate of all England, and Cardinal 
of the Holy Roman Church, and Bishops of London, 
Ely, Hereford, Bath and Glastonbury, and Hugh of 
Lincoln. We wish not only to make satisfaction 
to them, as far as in God we can, but also to make 
sound and beneficial provision for all the Church of 
England for ever ; and so whatsoever custom has been 
hitherto observed in the English Church, in our own 
times and those of our predecessors, and whatsoever 
rights we have claimed for ourselves hitherto in the 
elections of any prelates, we have, at their own 
petition, for the health of our soul and the souls of 
our predecessors and successors, Kings of England, 
freely of our mere and spontaneous will, with the 
common consent of our barons, granted and con- 
stituted and by this our present charter have 
confirmed that henceforth in all and singular the 
churches and monasteries, cathedral and conventual, 
of all our Kingdom of England, the elections of 
all prelates whatsoever, greater or less, be free for 
ever, saving to ourselves and to our heirs the 
custody of vacant churches and monasteries which 
belong to us. 


" We pronounce also that we will neither hinder 
nor suffer nor procure to be hindered by our minis- 
ters that in all and singular the churches and monas- 
teries mentioned after the prelacies are vacant, the 
electors should, whenever they will, freely set a 
pastor over them, yet so that leave to elect be first 
asked of us and our heirs, which we will not deny 
nor defer. And if by chance, which God forbid, 
we should deny or defer, let the electors, none the 
less, proceed to make a canonical election, and like- 
wise, after the election is concluded, let our assent be 
demanded, which in like manner we will not deny, 
unless we put forth some reasonable excuse and law- 
fully prove it by reason of which we should not con- 
sent. Wherefore we will and firmly forbid that when 
churches or monasteries are vacant, any one in any- 
thing proceed or presiime to proceed in opposition 
to this our charter. But if any do ever at any time 
proceed in opposition to it, let him incur the curse 
of Almighty God, and our own. 

" These being witnesses Peter, Bishop of Win- 
chester." (Here follow the names of twelve barons.) 


It was also probably with a view of propitiating 
Archbishop Langton that this reform was now 


proposed, by which the King intended to make what 
had been before a sham into a reality. 

In this war we see Stephen Langton as a bishop 
fighting for the independence of his Church as well 
as an Englishman fighting for the liberty of his 

John was probably well aware of what took place 
at St. Edmunds after he had left. He held what 
must have been an anxious Christmas at Worcester 
(always a favourite resting-place of this king) but 
tarried only for a day, hastening to the Temple, 
London, where the proximity of the Tower would 
give him a feeling of security. There, January 6, 
1215, a deputation from the insurgents met him 
without disguising that their demands were backed 
by force. These demands, they told him, included 
the confirmation of the laws of King Edward, with 
the liberties set forth in Henry's Charter. 

On the advice of the Archbishop and the 
Marshal, who acted as mediators, John asked for 
a truce till Easter, which was granted in return 
for the promise that he would then give reasonable 

Archbishop Langton, the Marshal and the Bishop 
of Ely were named as the King's securities. 

On January 15, 1215 A.D., John re-issued the 
Charter to the Church, and demanded a renewal of 
homage from all his subjects. The sheriffs in each 
county were instructed (McKechnie, Magna Charta, 


p. 39) to administer the oath in a specially stringent 
form, all Englishmen must now swear to " stand by 
him against all men." John now enlisted himself 
as a crusader, and both parties in the meantime 
consulted the Pope. 

Eustace de Vesci, as spokesman of the malcon- 
tents, asked Pope Innocent, as overlord of England, 
to compel John to restore the ancient liberties, and 
claimed consideration on the ground that John's 
surrender to the Pope had been made under pressure 
put on the King by them all to no effect. Then 
in April the Northern barons, convinced that the 
moment for action had arrived, met in arms at Stam- 
ford, with 200 knights, their esquires and followers. 
The King lay at Oxford, and commissioned the 
Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Earls of Pem- 
broke and Warenne, to go and ascertain their de- 
mands. They brought him back a list of grievances 
which they said, " the King must redress or 
we will do it for ourselves"; and as soon as 
he heard it read, he exclaimed, " They might as 
well have demanded my crown; do they think 
I will grant them liberties which will make me a 
slave? " 

There was now no patience left to the barons 
with John's promises and evasions; they took the 
field with Fitz- Walter at their head, in defence of 
their rights. 

In 121 1 died Samson, of pious memory, the Abbot 


who had prosperously ruled the great abbey of 
Bury St. Edmunds, committed to him for thirty 
years, and had freed it from a load of debt. This 
Abbot was succeeded by Hugh de North wold, who, 
in 1228, became Bishop of Ely. The King had 
kept the abbatial property in his hands for a 
whole year before allowing the community to 
proceed to an election, and even when the leave 
to elect came, difficulties arose about the " free 
choice " of the monks, which caused further delays, 
and it was not until March 10, 1215, that the 
question was decided in Hugh de Northwold's 

Even then the difficulties were not at an end, and it 
was only on June 9, 1215 A.D., that he was received 
by the King to do homage. By this time, however, 
he had already been blessed by Archbishop Langton 
on May 17. The Archbishop had thought that in 
view of the commotion which had arisen between 
the King and the barons, it was necessary that the 
Abbot of St. Edmundsbury should be blessed without 
delay, and so put himself in a position to act with 
other ecclesiastics with full abbatial power should 
events so demand. It was on May 17, after his 
benediction at Rochester, that the news came from 
London that the city had fallen into the hands of 
the barons; and when the King consented to 
receive the Abbot on June 10, he did so in " Staines 


King John found himself deserted by nearly 
everybody seven knights only remaining true 
to him. The whole nation, he saw, was in 
arms against him. What should he do? He 
felt it was no use to struggle, and therefore sug- 
gested that the matter should be referred to the 
Pope, but the sympathies of Innocent the Third 
had already been only too clearly manifested, 
and the offer was scornfully refused. " No," 
said the resolutely patriotic Archbishop Langton, 
" this is a national affair, and must be decided by 
the nation." The Archbishop of Canterbury, re- 
presenting the King, although still nominally neu- 
tral, but known to be in full sympathy with the 
rebels, wrote out the laws, which the English people 
generally demanded should be in vogue, on a large 
sheet of parchment, and induced John to meet the 
barons and bishops in order that this should be 
signed by him in their presence. 

The King was then at Windsor, and he met the 
barons and bishops at a place called Runnymede, 
which was our Marathon, a meadow on the bank of 
the river Thames, 

Where England's ancient barons, clad in arms 
And stern with conquest, irom their tyrant king 
(There rendered tame) did challenge and secure 
The charter of our freedom. 

And there and then signed the Great Charter which 


is the " Keystone of English liberty " and the first 
actual limitation of the royal prerogative. 


But, first, what does " Charta " mean ? The Latin 
charta, carta, from the Greek %aQTqs, signified 
originally papyrus, material writing, thence trans- 
ferred to paper and from this material to the docu- 
ment; in Old English boc, book, a written instru- 
ment, contract or convention by which cessions of 
sales of property or rights and privileges are con- 
firmed and held, and which may be produced by 
those granted to that they ought to have lawful 
possession. In modern usages grants by charter 
have become all but obsolete, though in England 
this form is still employed in the recognition by 
the Crown of such societies as the College of 

" The Charter in question is called Magna Charta/' 
says Sir Edward Coke, " not that it is great in quan- 
tity> for there be many voluminous charters com- 
monly passed, specially in these later times, longer 
than this is ; nor, comparatively, in respect that it is 
greater than Charta de Foresta, but in respect of the 
great importance and weightiness of the matter, 
as shall hereafter appear. As the gold-finer will 


not out of the dust, threads or shreds of gold, let 
pass the least crumb, in respect of the excellency 
of the metal, so ought not the learned reader to 
let pass any syllable of THIS LAW in respect of the 
excellency of the matter." 




Concessus Die Junii Quinto Decimo, A.D. 1215 

In anno regni septimo decimo. 
In archivis ecclesiae cathedralis Lincolniensis 


Johannes Dei Gratia, 

Rex Angliae-Dominus 

Hiberniae, Dux Normanniae 

et Aquitaniae, Comes Andegaviae, 

Archiepiscopis, Episcopis, Abbatibus, 

Comitibus, Baronibus, Justiciariis, 

Forestalls, Vicecomitibiis, Praepositis, 

Ministris, et omnibus Ballivis, et ndelebus suis. 
Salutem, Sciatis Nos, intuitu Dei, et pro salute 
animae nostrae, et omnium antecessorum, et 
heredum nostrorum, ad honorem Dei, et exalta- 
tionem Sanctae Ecclesiae, et emendationem Regni 
nostri, per consilium venerabilium pat rum nostro- 
rum Stephani Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi, Tolius 
Angliae Primatis et Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae 
Cardinalis, Henri ci Dubliniensis Archiepiscopi. 
Willielmi Londoniensis, Petri Wintoniencis, Josce- 




Granted June 15, A.D. 1215. 

In the seventeenth year of his reign. 

Translated from the original preserved in the 

archives of Lincoln Cathedral. 

John, by the Grace of God, 

King of England, Lord of 

Ireland, Duke of 

Normandy and Aquitane, Earl of Anjou, 
to his Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, 

Earls, Barons, Justiciaries, 
Foresters, Sheriffs, Governors, 

Officers, and to all Bailiffs, and his faithful sub- 
jects. Greeting, Know ye, that We, in the presence 
of God, and for the salvation of our own soul, and 
of the souls of our ancestors, and of our heirs, to 
the honour of God, and the exaltation of the Holy 
Church, and amendment of our kingdom, by the 
counsel of our venerable fathers, Stephen, Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, and 
Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, Henry Arch- 
bishop of Dublin, William of London, Peter of 


lini Bethoniensis of Glastoniensis, Hugonis Lincoln- 
iensis, Walter! Wigorniensis, Willielmi Coventrensis, 
Benedict! Roffensis, Episcoporum; Magistri Pan- 
dulphi Domini Papae Subdiaconi et familiaris, 
Fratris Eimerici, Magistri Militiae Templi in Anglia, 
et nobilium virorum Willielmi Marescalli Comitis 
Pembrochiae, Willielmi Comitis Sarisburiae,Willielmi 
Comitis Warreniae, Willielmi Comitis Arundelliaei 
Alani de Galweia Constabularii Scotiae, Warin, 
filii Geroldi, Huberti de Burgo Senescalli Pictaviae, 
Petri filii Hereberti, Hugonis de Nevillae, Matthei 
filii Hereberti, Thomae Basset, Alani Basset, Phi- 
lippi de Albiniaco, Roberti de Roppelay, Johannis 
Marescalli, Johannis filii Hugonis, et aliorum fide- 
lium nostrorum; In primis concessisse Deo, et hac 
presenti Charta nostra confirmasse pro nobis et 
heredibus nostris in perpetuum : 

I. Quod Anglicana Ecclesia libera sit, et habeat 
jura sua integra et libertates suas illaesas, et ita 
volumus observari, quod apparet ex eo quod liber- 
tatem electionum, que maxima, et magis necessaria 
reputatur Ecclesiae Anglicanae, mera et spontanea 
voluntate, ante discordiam inter nos et Barones 
nostros motam, concessimus, et charta nostra con- 
firmavimus, et earn obtinuimus, a Domini papa 
Innocentio Tertio confirmari : quam et nos observa- 
vimus, et ab heredibus nostris in perpetuum bona 
fide volumus observari. Concessimus etiam omni- 


Winchester, Joscelyne of Bath and Glastonbury, 
Hugh of Lincoln, Walter of Worcester, William of 
Coventry, and Benedict of Rochester, Bishops; 
Master Pandulph our Lord the Pope's Subdeacon 
and familiar, Brother Almeric, Master of the Knights- 
Templars in England, and of these noble persons, 
William Mareschal Earl of Pembroke, William 
Earl of Salisbury, William Earl of Warren, William 
Earl of Arundel, Alan de Galloway Constable of 
Scotland, Warin Fitz-Gerald, Hubert de Burgh 
Seneschal of Poictou, Peter Fitz-Herbert, Hugh de 
Nevil, Matthew Fitz-Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan 
Basset, Philip de Albiniac, Robert de Roppel, John 
Mareschal, John Fitz-Hugh, and others our liege- 
men; have in the first place granted to God, and 
by this our present Charter, have confirmed for us 
and our heirs for ever : 

I. That the English Church shall be free, and shall 
have her whole rights and her liberties inviolable; 
and we will this to be observed in such a manner 
that it may appear from thence, that the freedom 
of elections, which was most requisite to the English 
Church, which we granted, and by our Charter 
confirmed, and obtained the confirmation of the 
same, from our Lord Pope Innocent the Third, 
before the rupture between us and our Barons, was 
of our own free will ; which Charter we shall observe, 
and we will it to be observed with good faith, by 


bus liberis hominibus regni nostri, pro nobis et 
haeredibus nostris in perpetuum, omnes libertates 
subscriptas, habendus et tenandas eis et haeredibus 
suis de nobis et haeredibus nostris. 

II. Si quis Comitum vel Baronum nostrorum, sive 
aliorum tenentium de nobis in capite per servitium 
militare, mortuus fuerit, et cum decesserit haeres 
suus plene aetatis fuerit, et relevium debeat, habeat 
haereditatem suam per antiquum relevium; scili- 
cet, haeres vel haeredes Comitis, de Baronia Comitis 
integra, per centum libras : haeres vel haeredes 
Baronis, de Baronia integra, per centum libras; 
haeres vel haeredes Militis, de Feodo Militis integro, 
per centum solidos, ad plus; et qui minus debuerit, 
minus det, secundum antiquam consuetudinem 

III. Si autem haeres alicujus talium fuerit infra 
aetatem, et fuerit in custodia, cum ad aetatem per- 
venerit, habeat haereditatem suam sine relevio et 
sine fine. 

IV. Gustos terrae hujusmodi haeredis qui infra 
aetatem fuerit, non capiat de terra haeredis nisi 
rationabiles exitus, et rationabiles consuetudines, 
et rationabilia servitia, et hoc sine destructione et 
vasto hominum vel rerum. Et si nos commiseri- 
mus custodiam alicujus talis terrae Vicecomiti, vel 
alicui alii qui de exitibus illius nobis respondere 



our heirs for ever. We have also granted to all the 
Freemen of our Kingdom, for us and our heirs for 
ever, all the underwritten liberties to be enjoyed 
and held by them and their heirs, from us and from 
our heirs. 

II. If any of our Earls or Barons, or others who 
hold of us in chief by military service, shall die, and 
at his death his heir shall be of full age, and shall 
owe a relief, he shall have his inheritance by the 
ancient relief; that is to say, the heir or heirs of 
an Earl, a whole Earl's Barony for one hundred 
pounds; the heir or heirs of a Baron for a whole 
Barony, by one hundred pounds; the heir or heirs 
of a Knight, for a whole Knight's fee, by one hundred 
shillings at most; and he owes less, shall give less, 
according to the ancient custom of fees. 

III. But if the heir of any such be under age, and 
in wardship, when he comes to age he shall have 
his inheritance without relief and without fine. 

IV. The warden of the land of such heir who shall 
be under age, shall not take from the lands of the heir 
any but reasonable issues, and reasonable customs, 
and reasonable services, and that without de- 
struction and waste of men or goods. And if we 
commit the custody of any such lands to a Sheriff, 
or any other person who is bound to us for the issue 


debeat, et ille destructionem de custodia fecerit 
vel vastum, nos ab illo capiemus emendam, et terra 
committatur duobus legalibus et discretis hominibus 
de feodo illo, qui de exitibus respondeant nobis, 
vel ei cui eos assignaverimus. Et si dederimus 
vel vendiderimus alicui custodiam alicujus talis 
terrae, et ille destructionem inde fecerit vel vastum, 
amittat ipsam custodiam; et tradatur duobus 
legalibus et discretis hominibus de feodo illo, qui 
similiter respondeant nobis sicut praedictum est. 

V. Gustos autem, quamdiu custodiam terrae habu- 
erit, sustinet domos, parcos, vivaria, stagna, molen- 
dina, et caetera, ad terram illam pertinentia, de 
exitibus terrae ejusdem, et reddat haeredi cum 
ad plenum aetatem pervenerit, terram suam totam, 
instauratam de carrucis et waignigiis, secundum 
quod tempus waignigii exiget, et exitus terrae 
rationabiliter poterunt sustinere. 

VI. Haeredes maritentur absque disparagatione, 
ita quod antequam contrahatur matrimonium, 
ostendatur propinquis de consanguinitate ipsius 

VII. Vidua, post mortem mariti, sui statim et 
sine difficultate, habeat maritagium et haeredi- 
tatem suam : nee aliquid det pro dote sua, vel pro 
maritagio suo, vel haereditate sua, quam haeredi- 


of them, and he shall make destruction or waste 
upon the ward-lands we will recover damages from 
him, and the lands shall be committed to two 
lawful and discreet men of that fee, who shall answer 
for the issues to us, or to him to whom we have 
assigned them. And if we shall give or sell to any 
one the custody of any such lands, and he shall 
make destruction or waste upon them, he shall lose 
the custody. And it shall be committed to two 
lawful and discreet men of that fee, who shall 
answer to us in like manner as it is said before. 

V. But the warden, as long as he hath the custody 
of the lands, shall keep up and maintain the houses, 
parks, warrens, ponds, mills, and other things be- 
longing to them, out of their issues : and shall 
restore to the heir when he conies of full age, his 
whole estate, provided with ploughs and other 
implements of husbandry, according as the time of 
wainage shall require, and the issues of the lands 
can reasonably afford. 

VI. Heirs shall be married without disparage- 
ment, so that before the marriage be contracted, 
it shall be notified to the relations of the heir by 

VII. A widow, after the death of her husband, 
shall immediately, and without difficulty have her 
marriage and her inheritance, nor shall she give 
anything for her dower, or for her marriage, or for 


tatem maritus suus et ipsa tenuerint die obitus 
ipsius mariti; et maneat in domo mariti sui per 
quadraginta dies post mortem ipsius, infra quos 
assignetur ei dos sua. 

VIII. Nulla vidua distringatur ad se maritandum 
dum voluerit vivere sine marito; ita tamen quod 
securitatem faciat quod se non maritabit, sine 
assensu nostro de nobis tenuerit, vel sine assensu 
domini sui de quo tenuerit, si de alio tenuerit. 

IX. Nee nos nee Ballivi nostri, saisiemus terram 
aliquam nee redditum pro debit o aliquo, quamdiu 
catalla debitoris sufficiunt ad debitum reddendum; 
nee plegii ipsius debitoris distringantur, quamdiu 
ipse capitalis debitor sufficit ad solutionem debiti, 
et si capitalis debitor defecerit in solutione debiti, 
non habeus unde sol vat, plegii respondeant de 
debito, et si voluerint, habeant terras et redditus 
debitoris, donee sit eis satisfactum de debito quod 
ante pro eo solverint, nisi capitalis debitor mon- 
straverit se esse quietum inde versus eosdem 

X. Si quis mutuo coeperit aliquid a Judeis, plus 
vel minus, et moriatur antequam debitum illud 
solvatur, debitum non usuret quamdiu haeres fuerit 
infra aetatem de quocumque teneat ; et si debitum 


her inheritance, which her husband and she held 
at the day of his death; and she may remain in 
her husband's house forty days after his death, 
within which time her dower shall be assigned. 

VIII. No widow shall be distrained to marry 
herself, while she is willing to live without a husband ; 
but yet she shall give security that she will not 
marry herself without our consent, if she hold of us, 
or without the consent of the lord of whom she does 
hold, or if she hold of another. 

IX. Neither we nor our Bailiffs will seize any 
land or rent for any debt, while the chattels of the 
debtor are sufficient for the payment of the debt; 
nor shall the sureties of the debtor be distrained, 
while the principal debtor is able to pay the debt ; 
and if the principal debtor fail in payment of 
the debt, not having wherewith to discharge it, the 
sureties shall answer for the debt, and if they be 
willing, they shall have the lands and rents of the 
debtor, until satisfaction be made to them for the 
debt which they had before paid for him, unless the 
principal debtor can show himself acquitted thereof 
against the said sureties. 

X. If any one hath borrowed anything from the 
Jews, more or less, and die before that debt be paid, 
the debt shall pay no interest so long as the heir 
shall be under age, of whomsoever he may hold; 
and if that debt shall fall into our hands, we will 


illud incident in manus nostras, nos non capiemus 
nisi catallum contentum in charta. 

XI. Et si quis moriatur et debitum debeat Judeis, 
uxor ejus habeat dotem suam, et nihil reddat de 
debito illo ; et si liberi ipsius defuncti qui fuerint 
infra aetatem, remanserint, provideantur eis neces- 
saria secundum tenementum quod fuerit defuncti, 
et de residue solvatur debitum, salvo servitio 
dominorum. Simili modo fiat de debitis que 
debentur aliis quam Judeis. 

XII. Nullum scutagium vel auxilium ponatur in 
regno nostro, nisi per commune consilium regni 
nostri; nisi ad corpus nostrum redimendum, et 
primogenitum filium nostrum militem faciendum, 
et ad filiam nostram primogenitam semel mari- 
tandam; et ad haec non fiat nisi rationabile 

XIII. Simili modo fiat de auxiliis de civitate 
Londonii. Et Civitas Londonii habeat omnes ante- 
quas libertates, et liberas consuetudines suas, tarn 
per terras quam per aquas. Praetera volumus et 
concedimus quod omnes aliae Civitates, et Burgi, 
et Villae, et Portus, habeant omnes libertates et 
liberas consuetudines suas. 

XIV. Et ad habendum commune consilium regni, 
de auxilio assidendo, aliter quam in tribus casibus 


not take anything except the chattel contained in 
the bond. 

XI. And if any one shall die indebted to the 
Jews, his wife shall have her dower and shall pay 
nothing of that debt ; and if children of the deceased 
shall remain who are under age, necessaries shall be 
provided for them, according to the tenement which 
belonged to the deceased; and out of the residue 
the debt shall be paid, saving the rights of the lords 
(of whom the lands are held). In like manner let 
it be with debts owing to others than Jews. 

XII. No scutage nor aid shall be imposed in our 
kingdom, unless by the common council of our 
kingdom; excepting to redeem our person, to 
make our eldest son a knight, and once to marry 
our eldest daughter, and not for these, unless a 
reasonable aid shall be demanded. 

XIII. In like manner let it be concerning the aids 
of the City of London. And the City of London 
should have all its ancient liberties, and its free 
customs, as well by land as by water. Further- 
more, we will and grant that all other Cities, and 
Burghs, and Towns, and Ports, should have all 
their liberties and free customs. 

XIV. And also to have the common council of 
the kingdom, to assess and aid, otherwise than in 


praedictis, vel de Scutagio assidendo, summoned 
faciemus Archiepiscopos, Episcopos, Abbates, Com- 
ites, et Majores Barones, sigillatim, per liberas 
nostras. Et praeterea, faciemus summoned in 
generali per Vicecomites et Ballivos nostros, omne- 
sillos qui de nobis tenent in capite, ad certum diem, 
scilicet, ad terminum quadraginta dierum, ad 
minus, et ad certum locum; et in omnibus literis 
illius summonitionis causam summonitionis expri- 
memus; et sic facta summonitione, negotium ad 
diem assignatum procedat, secundum consilium 
illorum qui presentes fuerint, quamvis non omnes 
summoniti venerint. 

XV. Nos non concedemus de caetero, alicui, 
quod capiat auxilium de liberis hominibus suis, 
nisi ad corpus suum redimendum, et ad faciendum 
primogenitum filium suum militem, et ad primo- 
genitam filiam suam semel maritandam ; et ad haec 
non fiat nisi rationabile auxilium. 

XVI. Nullus distringatur ad faciendum ma jus 
servitium de Feodo Militis, nee de alio libero tene- 
mento, quam in debetur. 

XVII. Communia placita non sequantur curiam 
nostram, sed teneantur in aliquo certo loco. 

XVIII. Recognitiones de Nova Dissaisina, de 
Morte Antecessoris, et de Ultima Presentatione, 


the three cases aforesaid; and for the assessing of 
Scutages, we will cause to be summoned the Arch- 
bishops, Bishops, Abbots, Earls and great Barons, 
individually, by our letters. And besides we will 
cause to be summoned in general by our Sheriffs 
and Bailiffs, all those who hold of us in chief, at a 
certain day, that is to say at the distance of forty 
days, (before their meeting) at the least, and to a 
certain place; and in all the letters of summons, 
we will express the cause of the summons ; and the 
summons being thus made, the business shall pro- 
ceed on the day appointed, according to the counsel 
of those who shall be present, although all who had 
been summoned have not come. 

XV. We will not give leave to any one, for the 
future, to take an aid of his own free-men, except 
for redeeming his own body, and for making his 
eldest son a knight, and for marrying once his 
eldest daughter, and not that unless it be a reasonable 

XVI. None shall be distrained to do more service 
for a Knight's Fee, nor for any other free tenement, 
than what is due from thence. 

XVII. Common Pleas shall not follow our court, 
but shall be held in any certain place. 

XVIII. Trials upon the Writs of Novel Disseisin, 
of Mort d'Ancestre (death of the ancestor) and 


non capiantur nisi in suis comitatibus, et hoc modo : 
Nos, vel si extra regnum fuerimus, Capitalis Justi- 
ciarius noster, mittemus duos Justiciaries per 
unumquemque comitatum per quatuor vices in 
anno, qui cum quatuor militibus cujuslibet comi- 
tatus, electis per comitatum, capiant in comitatu, 
et in die et loco comitatus, assisas praedictas. 

XIX. Et si in die comitatus assisae praedicte 
capi non possint, tot milites et liberae tenentes 
remaneant de illis qui interfuerint comitatui die ilia 
per quos possint sufficienter judicia fieri, secundum 
quod negotium fuerit ma jus vel minus. 

XX. Liber homo non amercietur pro parvo de- 
licto, nisi secundum modum delicti; et pro magno 
delicto, amercietur secundum magnitudinem delicti, 
salvo contenemento suo, et Mercator eodem modo, 
salva mercandisa sua, et villainus eodem modo 
amercietur, salvo waignaigio suo, si inciderint in 
misericordiam nostram; et nulla praedictarum 
misericordiarum ponatur, nisi per sacramentum 
proborum hominum de visneto. 

XXI. Comites et Barones non amercientur nisi 
per Pares suos, et non nisi secundum modum 


Darrien Presentment (last presentation), shall not 
be taken but in their proper counties, and in this 
manner. We, or our Chief Justiciary, if we are out 
of the kingdom, will send two Justiciaries into each 
county, four times in the year, who, with four 
knights of each county, chosen by the county, shall 
hold the aforesaid assizes, within the county on 
the day and at the place appointed. 

XIX. And if the aforesaid assizes cannot be 
taken on the day of the county court, let as many 
knights and freeholders, of those who were present 
at the county court remain behind, as shall be 
sufficient to do justice, according to the great or 
less importance of the business. 

XX. A free-man shall not be amerced for a small 
offence, but only according to the degree of the 
offence; and for a great delinquency, according to 
the magnitude of the delinquency, saving his 
contenement; a Merchant shall be amerced in the 
same manner, saving his merchandise, and a Villein 
shall be amerced after the same manner, saving to 
him his wainage, if he shall fall into our mercy; 
and none of the aforesaid amerciaments shall be 
assessed, but by the oath of honest men of the 

XXI. Earls and Barons shall not be amerced 
but by their Peers, and that only according to the 
degree of their delinquency. 


XXII. Nullus Clericus amercietur de laico tene- 
mento suo, nisi secundum modum aliorum prae- 
dictorum, et non secundum quantitatem beneficii 
sui ecclesiastic!. 

XXIII. Nee villa nee homo distringatur facere 
pontes ad riparias, nisi qui ab antique, et de jure, 
facere debent. 

XXIV. Nullus Vicecomes, Constabularius, Coro- 
natores, vel alii Ballivi nostri, teneant placita 
coronae nostrae. 

XXV. Omnes comitatus et Hundredi, Trethingii, 
et Wapentachii, sint ad antiquas firmas, absque 
ullo incremento, exceptis Dominicis maneriis nostris. 

XXVI. Si aliquis teneus de nobis laicum feodum 
moriatur, et Vicecomes vel Ballivus noster, ostendat 
literas nostras patentes de summonitione nostra de 
debito quod defunctus nobis debuit, liceat Vice- 
comiti ve Ballivo nostro attachiare et imbreviare 
catalla defuncti inventa in laico feodo, ad valentiam 
illius debiti, per visum legalium hominum, ita 
tamen quod nihil inde amoveatur, donee persolvatur 
nobis debitum quod clarum fuit ; et residuum relin- 
quator executoribus ad faciendum testamentum de- 
functi et si nihil nobis debeatur ab ipso, omnia 
catalla cedant defuncto, salvis uxore ipsius et 
pueris rationabilibus partibus suis. 


XXII. No Clerk shall be amerced for his lay- 
tenement, but according to the manner of the others 
as aforesaid, and not according to the quantity of 
his ecclesiastical benefice. 

XXIII. Neither a town nor any person shall be 
distrained to build bridges or embankments, ex- 
cepting those which anciently, and of right are 
bound to do it. 

XXIV. No Sheriff, Constable, Coroners, nor other 
of our Bailiffs, shall hold pleas of our Crown. 

XXV. All Counties, and Hundreds, Trethings, 
and Wapentakes, shall be at the ancient rent, 
without any increase, excepting in our Demesne- 

XXVI. If any one holidng of us a lay- fee dies, 
and the Sheriff or our Bailiff, shall show our letters- 
patent of summons concerning the debt which the 
defunct owed to us, it shall be lawful for the Sheriff 
or our Bailiff to attach and register the chattels of 
the defunct found on that lay-fee to the amount 
of that debt, by the view of lawful men, so that 
nothing shall be removed from thence until our debt 
be paid to us; and the rest shall be left to the 
executors to fulfil the will of the defunct, and if 
nothing be owing to us by him, all the chattels 
shall fall to the defunct, saving to his wife and 
children their reasonable shares. 


XXVII. Si aliquis liber homo intestatus deces- 
serit, catalla sua per manus propinquorum parentum 
et amicorum suorum, per visum Ecclesiae distri- 
buantur; salvis unicuique debitis quae defunctis ei 

XXVIII. Nullus Constabularius vel alius Ballivus 
noster, capiat blada vel alia catalla alicujus, nisi 
statim inde reddat denarios, aut respectum inde 
habere possit de voluntate venditoris. 

XXIX. Nullus Constabularius distringat aliquem 
Militem ad dandum denarios pro custodia castri, 
si facere voluerit custodiam illam in propria persona 
sua, vel per alium probum hominem, si ipse earn 
facere non possit propter rationabilem causam; et 
si nos duxerimus vel miserimus eum in exercitu, erit 
quietus de custodia secundum quantitatem temporis 
quo, per nos, fuerit in exercitu. 

XXX. Nullus Vicecomes vel Ballivus noster, 
vel aliquis alius, capiat equos vel carettas alicujus 
liberi hominis pro carragio faciendo, nisi de voluntate 
ipsius liberi hominis. 

XXXI. Nee nos, nee Ballivi nostri, capiemus 
alienum boscum ad castra vel alia agenda nostra, 
nisi per voluntatem ipsius cujus boscus ille fuerit. 


XXVII. If any free-man shall die intestate, his 
chattels shall be distributed by the hands of the 
nearest relations and friends, by the view of the 
Church, saving to every one the debts which 
the defunct owed. 

XXVIII. No Constable nor other Bailiff of ours 
shall take the corn or other goods of any one, 
without instantly paying money for them, unless 
he can obtain respite from the free-will of the 

XXIX. No Constable (Governor of a Castle) shall 
distrain any knight to give money for castle guard, 
if he be willing to perform it in his own person, or 
by another able man, if he cannot perform it him- 
self, for a reasonable cause, and if we have carried 
or sent him into the army, he shall be excused from 
castle guard, according to the time that he shall be 
in the army by our command. 

XXX. No Sheriff nor Bailiff of ours, nor any 
other person shall take the horses or carts of any 
free-man, for the purpose of carriage, without the 
consent of the said free-man. 

XXXI. Neither we, nor our Bailiffs, will take 
another man's wood, for our castles or other uses, 
unless by the consent of him to whom the wood 


XXXII. Nos non tenebimus terras illorum qui 
convicti fuerint de felonia, nisi per unum annum et 
unum diem, et tune reddantur terrae dominis 

XXXIII. Omnes Kidelli de caetero deponantur 
penitus de Thamesia et de Medeway, et per totam 
Angliam, nisi per costeram maris. 

XXXIV. Breve quod vocatur Praecipe, de cae- 
tero non fiat alicui de aliquo tenemento, unde liber 
homo possit amittere curiam suam. 

XXXV. Una mensura vini sit per totum regnum 
nostrum, et una mensura cervisiae, et una mensura 
bladi, scilicet quartarium Londonii ; et una latitudo 
pannorum tinctorum, et russettorum, et halber- 
gettorum, scilicet duae ulnae infra listas. De 
ponderibus autem sit ut de mensuris. 

XXXVI. Nihil detur vel capiatur de caetero pro 
Brevi Inquisitionis de vita vel membris; set gratis 
concedatur et non negatur. 

XXXVII. Si aliquis teneat de nobis per Feodi- 
Firmam, vel per Socagium, vel per Burgagium; et 
de alio terram teneat per Servitium Militare, nos 
non habebimus custodiam haeredis nee terrae suae 


XXXII. We will not retain the lands of those 
who have been convicted of felony, excepting for 
one year and one day, and then they shall be given 
up to the lord of the fee. 

XXXIII. All Kydells (weirs) for the future shall 
be quite removed out of the Thames, and the 
Medway, and through all England, excepting upon 
the sea coast. 

XXXIV. The writ which is called Praecipe, for 
the future shall not be granted to any one of any 
tenement, by which a free-man may lose his court. 

XXXV. There shall be one measure of wine 
throughout all our kingdom, and one measure of 
ale, and one measure of corn; namely, the quarter 
of London ; and one breadth of dyed cloth, and of 
russets, and of halberjects, namely, two ells within 
the lists. Also it shall be the same with weights as 
with measures. 

XXXVI. Nothing shall be given or taken for 
the future for the Writ of Inquisition of life or 
limb; but it shall be given without charge, and 
not denied. 

XXXVII. If any hold of us by Fee-Farm, or 
Socage, or Burgage, and hold land of another by 
Military Service, we will not have the custody of 
the heir, nor of his lands, which are of the fee of 


est de feodo alterius, occasione illius Feodi-Firmae, 
vel Socagii, vel Burgagii; nee habebibimus custo- 
diam illius Feodi-Firmae, vel Socagii, vel Burgagii, 
nisi ipsi Feodi-Firma debeat Servitium Militare. 

Nos non habebimus custodiam haeredis vel terrae 
alicujus, quam tenet de alio per Servitium Militare, 
occasione Parve Serjanterie quam tenet de nobis 
per servitium reddendi nobis cultellos, vel sagittas, 
vel hujusmodi. 

XXXVIII. Nullus Ballivus ponat de caetero 
aliquem ad legem, simplici loquela sua, sine testibus 
fidelibus ad hoc inductis. 

XXXIX. Nullus liber homo capiatur, vel im- 
prisonetur, aut dissaisiatur, aut utlagetur, aut 
exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur; nee super 
eum ibimus, nee super eum mittemus, nisi per 
legale judicium parium suorum, vel per legem 

XL. Nulli vendemus, nulli negabimus, aut differi- 
mus, rectum aut justitiam. 

XLI. Omnes Mercatores habeant salvum et secu- 
rum exire ab Anglia, et venire in Angliam, morari 
et ire per Angliam, tarn per terram quam per 
aquam, ad emendum et vendendum, sine omnibus 
malis toltis, per antiquas et rectas consuetudines ; 
praeterquam in tempore guerrae, et si sint de terra 


another, on account of that Fee-Farm, or Socage, 
or Burgage ; nor will we have the custody of the 
Fee-Farm, Socage or Burgage, unless the Fee-Farm 
owe Military Service. 

We will not have the custody of the heir, nor of 
the lands of any one, which he holds of another by 
Military Service, on account of any Petty-Sergeantry 
which he holds of us by the service of giving us 
daggers, or arrows, or the like. 

XXXVIII. No Bailiff, for the future, shall put 
any man to his law, upon his own simple affirma- 
tion, without credible witnesses produced for that 

XXXIX. No freeman shall be seized, or im- 
prisoned, or dispossessed, or outlawed, or in any 
way destroyed; nor will we condemn him, nor will 
we commit him to prison, excepting by the legal 
judgment of his peers, or by the laws of the land. 

XL. To none will we sell, to none will we deny, 
to none will we delay right or justice. 

XLI. All Merchants shall have safety and security 
in coming into England, and going out of England, 
and in staying and in travelling through England, 
as well by land as by water, to buy and sell, without 
any unjust exactions, according to ancient and right 
customs, excepting in the time of war, and if they 



contra nos guerrina : et si tales inveniantur 
terra nostra in principio guerrae, attachientur sine 
dampno corporum et rerum, donee sciatur a nobis, 
vel Capitali Justiciario nostro, quomodo Mercatores 
terrae nostrae tractentur, qui tune invenientur in 
terra contra nos guerrina ; et si nostri salvi sint ibi, 
alii salvi sint in terra nostra. 

XLII. Liceat unicuique de caetero, exire de regno 
nostro, et redire salvo et secure per terram et per 
aquam, salva fide nostra, nisi tempore guerrae, per 
aliquod breve tempus, propter communem utili- 
tatem regni; exceptis imprisonatis et utlagatis, 
secundum legem regni; et gentae de terra contra 
nos guerrina, et Mercatoribus de quibus fiat sicut 
praedictum est. 

XLIII. Si quis tenuerit de aliqua escaeta, sicut 
de Honore de Wallingeford ; Notingehamiae, Bono- 
nii, Lancastriae, vel de aliis escaetis quae sunt in 
manu nostra, et sunt Baroniae, et obierit, haeres 
ejus non det aliud relevium, nee faciat aliud nobis 
servitium quam faceret Baroni, si Baronia ilia esset 
in manu Baronis ; et nos eodem modo earn tenebimus 
quo Baro earn tenuit. 

XLIV. Homines qui manent extra forestam, non 
veniant, de caetero, coram Justiciariis nostris de 


be of a country at war against us : and if such are 
found in our land at the beginning of a war, they 
shall be apprehended without injury of their bodies 
and goods, until it be known to us, or to our Chief 
Justiciary, how the Merchants of our country are 
treated who are found in the country at war against 
us; and if ours be in safety there, the others shall 
be in safety in our land. 

XLII. It shall be lawful to any person, for the 
future, to go out of our kingdom, and to return, 
safely and securely, by land or by water, saving 
his allegiance to us, unless it be in time of war, for 
some short space, for the common good of the 
kingdom, excepting prisoners and outlaws, according 
to the laws of the land, and of the people of the 
nation at war against us, and Merchants who shall 
be treated as it is said above. 

XLIII. If any hold of any escheat, as of the 
Honour of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, 
Lancaster, or of other escheats which are in our 
hand, and are Baronies, and shall die, his heir shall 
not give any other relief, nor do any other service 
to us, than he should have done to the Baron, if 
that Barony had been in the hands of the Baron; 
and we will hold in the same manner that the Baron 
held it. 

XLIV. Men who dwell without the Forest, shall 
not come, for the future, before our Justiciaries of 


Foresta, per communes summonitiones ; nisi sint 
in placito, vel plegii alicujus, vel aliquorum qui 
attachiati sint pro Foresta. 

XLV. Nos non faciemus Justiciaries, Constabu- 
laries, Vicecomites, vel Ballivos, nisi de talibus qui 
sciant legem regni, et earn bene velint observare. 

XLVI. Omnes Barones qui fundaverunt Abbatias, 
unde habent cartas Regum Angliae, vel antiquam 
tenuram, habeant earum custodiam cum vacaverint, 
sicut habere debent. 

XLVII. Omnes Forestae quae afforestate sunt 
tempore nostro, statim de afforestentur ; et ita fiat 
de Ripariis quae per nos tempore nostro posite sunt 
in defense. 

XLVIII. Omnes males consuetudines de Forestis 
et Warrennis, et de Forestariis et Warrennariis, 
Vicecomitibus et eorum ministris, Ripariis et 
earum custotibus, statim inquirantur in quolibet 
comitatu, per duodecim Milites juratos de eodem 
comitatu, qui debent eligi per probos homines 
ejusdem comitatus, et infra quadraginta dies post 
inquisitionem factam, penitus, ita quod nunquam 
revocentur, deleantur per eosdem, ita quod nos hoc 
prius sciamus vel Justiciarius noster, si in Anglia 
non fuerimus. 


the Forest on a common summons ; unless they be 
parties in a plea, or sureties for some person or 
persons who are attached for the Forest. 

XLV. We will not make Justiciaries, Constables, 
Sheriffs or Bailiffs, excepting of such as know the 
laws of the land, and are well disposed to observe 

XLVI. All Barons who have founded Abbeys, 
which they hold by charters from the Kings of 
England, or by ancient tenure, shall have the 
custody of them when they become vacant, as they 
ought to have. 

XLVII. All Forests which have been made in 
our time, shall be immediately disforested; and it 
shall be so done with Water-banks, which have 
been fenced in by us during our reign. 

XLVIII. All evil customs of Forests and Warrens, 
and of Foresters and Warrenners, Sheriffs, and 
their officers, Water-banks and their keepers, shall 
immediately be inquired into by tw r elve Knights of 
the same county, upon oath, who shall be elected 
by good men of the same county ; and within forty 
days after the inquisition is made, they shall be 
altogether destroyed by them, never to be restored ; 
provided that this be notified to us before it is done, 
or to our Justiciary, if we be not in England. 


XLIX. Omnes obsides et cartas statim reddemus 
quae libertate fuerunt nobis ab Anglicis in securi- 
tatem pacis, vel fidelis servitii. 

L. Nos amovebimus penitus de balliis parentes 
Gerardi de Atyes, quod de caetero nullam habeant 
balliam in Anglia ; Engelardum de Cygonii, Andream, 
Petrum, et Gyonem de Cancelli, Gyonem de Cygonii, 
Galfridum de Martini, et fratres ejus, Philippum 
Marci, et fratres ejus, et Galfridum nepotem ejus, 
et totam sequelam eorumdem. 

LI. Et statim post pacis reformationem, amovebi- 
mus de regno omnes alienigenas milites, balistarios, 
servientes stipendarios, qui venerint cum equis et 
armis ad nocumentum regni. 

LII. Si quis fuerit dissaisitus vel elongatus per 
nos, sine legali judicio parium suorum, de terris 
castallis, libertatibus, vel jure suo, statim ea ei 
restituemus ; et si contentio super hoc orta fuerit, 
tune inde fiat per judicium viginti quinque Baronum, 
de quibus fit mentio inferius in securitate pacis. 
De omnibus autem illis de quibus aliquis dissaisitus 
fuerit, vel elongatus, sine legali judicio parium 
suorum, per Henricum Regem patrem nostrum, vel 
per Richardum Regem fratrem nostrum, quae in 


XLIX. We will immediately restore all hostages 
and charters, which have been delivered to us by 
the English, in security of the peace and of their 
faithful service. 

L. We will remove from their bailiwicks the 
relations of Gerard de Athyes, so that, for the 
future, they shall have no bailiwick in England; 
Engelard de Cygony, Andrew, Peter, and Gyone 
de Chaucell, Gyone de Cygony, Geoffrey de Martin, 
and his brothers, Philip Mark, and his brothers, 
and Geoffrey his nephew, and all their followers. 

LI. And immediately after the conclusion of the 
peace, we will remove out of the kingdom all 
foreign knights, crossbow-men, and stipendiary 
soldiers, who have come with horses and arms to 
the molestation of the kingdom. 

LII. If any have been disseised or dispossessed 
by us, without a legal verdict of their peers, of their 
lands, castles, liberties, or rights, we will immediately 
restore these things to them; and if any dispute 
shall arise on this head, then it shall be determined 
by the verdict of the twenty-five Barons, of whom 
mention is made below, for the security of the peace. 
Concerning all those things of which any one hath 
been disseised or dispossessed, without the legal 
verdict of his peers by King Henry our father, or 
King Richard our brother, which we have in our 


manu nostra habemus, vel quae alii tenent quae 
nos oporteat warantizare respectum habebimus 
usque ad communem terminum Crucae Signatorum ; 
exceptis illis de quibus placitum motum fuit, vel 
inquisitio facta per praeceptum nostrum, ante sus- 
ceptionem Crucis nostrae; cum autem redierimus 
de peregrinatione nostra, vel si forte remanserimus 
a peregrinatione nostra statim inde plenam justitiam 

LIII. Eundem autem respectum habebimus, et 
eodern modo de justitia exhibenda, de forestis 
deafforestandis, vel remansuris forestis quas Henricus 
pater noster, vel Ricardus frater noster afforesta- 
verunt; et de custodiis terrarum quae sunt de 
alieno feodo, cujusmodi custodias hucusque habui- 
mus; occasione feodo quod aliquis de nobis tenuit 
per Servitium Militare ; et de Abbatiis quae fundate 
fuerint in feodo alterius quam nostro, in quibus 
dominus feodi dixerit se jus habere : et cum redieri- 
mus, vel si remanserimus a peregrinatione nostra, 
super hiis conquerentibus pleplenam justitiam statim 

LIV. Nullus capiatur nee imprisonetur propter 
appellum feminae de morte alterius, quam viri sui. 

LV. Omnes fines qui in juste, et contra legem 
terrae facti, sunt nobiscum, et omnia amerciamenta 


hand, or others hold with our warrants, we shall 
have respite, until the common term of the Crois- 
aders, excepting those concerning which a plea had 
been moved, or an inquisition taken, by our precept, 
before our taking the Cross ; but as soon as we shall 
return from our expedition, or if, by chance, we 
should not go upon our expedition, we will imme- 
diately do complete justice therein. 

LIII. The same respite will we have, and the 
same justice shall be done, concerning the dis- 
forestation of the forests, or the forests which 
remain to be disforested, which Henry our father, 
or Richard our brother, have afforested; and the 
same concerning the wardship of lands which are in 
another's fee, but the wardship of which we have 
hitherto had, occasioned by any of our fees held 
by Military Service; arid for Abbeys founded in 
any other fee than our own, in which the Lord of 
the fee hath claimed a right; and when we shall 
have returned, or if we shall stay from our expedi- 
tion, we shall immediately do complete justice in 
all these pleas. 

LIV. No man shall be apprehended or imprisoned 
on the appeal of a woman, for the death of any other 
man than her husband. 

LV. All fines that have been made by us unjustly, 
or contrary to the laws of the land ; and all amercia- 


facta injuste, et contra legem terrae, omnino con- 
donentur, vel fiat inde per judicium viginti quinque 
Baronum de quibus fit mentio inferius in securitate 
pacis, vel per judicium majoris partis eorumdem, 
una cum praedicto Stephano, Cantuariensis Archi- 
episcopo, si interesse potent, et aliis quos secum ad 
hoc vocare voluerit; et si interesse non poterit, 
nihilominus procedat negotium sine eo; ita quod 
si aliquis, vel aliqui, de praedictis viginti quinque 
Baronibus, fuerint in simili querela, amoveantur, 
quantum ad hoc judicium, et alii loco illorum per 
residues de eisdem viginti quinque tantum ad hoc 
faciendum electi et jurati, substituantur. 

LVI. Si nos dissaisivimus vel elongavimus Walen- 
ses de terris, vel libertatibus, vel rebus aliis, sine 
legali judicio parium suorum in Anglia, vel in 
Wallia, eis statim reddantur; et si contentio super 
hoc orta fuerit, tune inde fiat in Marchia per judi- 
cium parium suorum; de tenementis Angliae, 
secundum legem Angliae; de tenementis Walliae, 
secundum legem Walliae; de tenementis Marchiae, 
secundum legem Marchiae. Idem facient Walenses 
nobis et nostris. 

LVII. De omnibus autem illis de quibus aliquis 


ments that have been imposed unjustly, or contrary 
to the laws of the land, shall be wholly remitted, 
or ordered by the verdict of the twenty-five Barons, 
of whom mention is made below, for the security of 
the peace, or by the verdict of the greater part of 
them, together with the aforesaid Stephen, Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and 
others whom he may think fit to bring with him; 
and if he cannot be present, the business shall 
proceed, notwithstanding, without him; but so 
that if any one or more of the aforesaid twenty-five 
Barons have a similar plea, let them be removed 
from that particular trial, and others elected and 
sworn by the residue of the same twenty-five, be 
substituted in their room, only for that trial. 

LVI. If we have disseised or dispossessed any 
Welshmen of their lands, or liberties, or other things, 
without a legal verdict of their peers, in England 
or in Wales, they shall be immediately restored to 
them ; and if any dispute shall arise upon this head, 
then let it be determined in the Marches by the 
verdict of their peers; for a tenement of England, 
according to the law of England, for a tenement of 
Wales, according to the law of Wales, for a tenement 
of the Marches, according to the law of the Marches. 
The Welsh shall do the same to us and to our 

LVI I. Also concerning those things of which any 


Walensium dissaisitus fuerit, vel elongatus, sine 
legali judicio parium suorum, per Henricum Regem 
patrem nostrum, vel Richardum Regem fratrem 
nostrum, quae nos in maim nostra habemus, vel 
quae alii tenent quae nos oporteat warantizare, 
respectum habebimus usque ad communem ter- 
minum Crucae Signatorum, illis exceptis, de quibus 
placitum mo turn fuit, vel inquisitio fact a per prae- 
ceptum nostrum, ante susceptionem crucis nostrae. 
Cum autem redierimus, vel si forte remanserimus a 
peregrinatione nostra, statim eis inde plenam justi- 
tiam, exhibebumus secundum leges Wallensium, et 
partes praedictas. 

LVIII. Nos reddemus filium Lenelini, statim, et 
omnes obsides de Wallia, et cartas quae nobis 
libertate fuerunt in securitatem pacis. 

LIX. Nos faciemus Alexando Regi Scottorum, 
de sororibus suis, et obsidibus reddendis, et liber- 
tatibus suis, et jure suo, secundum formam in qua 
faciemus aliis Baronibus nostris Angliae, nisi aliter 
esse debeat per cartas quas habemus de Gulielmo 
patrae ipsius quondam Rege Scottorum; et hoc 
erit per judicium parium suorum in curia nostra. 

LX. Omnes autem istas consuetudines praedictas, 
et libertates quas nos concessimus in regno nostro 
tenendas, quantum ad nos pertinet erga nostros, 


Welshman hath been disseised or dispossessed 
without the legal verdict of his peers, by King 
Henry our father, or King Richard our brother, 
which we have in our hand, or others hold with 
our warrant, we shall have respite, until the common 
term of the Croisaders, excepting for those con- 
cerning which a plea had been moved, or an in- 
quisition made, by our precept, before our taking 
the Cross. But as soon as we shall return from our 
expedition, or if, by chance, we should not go upon 
our expedition, we shall immediately do complete 
justice therein, according to the laws of Wales, and 
the parts aforesaid. 

LVIII. We will immediately deliver up the son 
of Llewelin, and all the hostages of Wales, and 
release them from their engagements which were 
made with us, for the security of the peace. 

LIX. We shall do to Alexander King of Scotland, 
concerning the restoration of his sisters and hostages, 
and his liberties and rights, according to the form 
in which we act to our other Barons of England, 
unless it ought to be otherwise by the charters 
which we have from his father William, the late 
King of Scotland; and this shall be by the verdict 
of his peers in our court. 

LX. Also all these customs and liberties afore- 
said, which we have granted to be held -in our 
kingdom, for so much of it as belongs to as, JfiK'o'UT 




omnes de regno nostro, tarn clerici quam laici 
observent, quantum ad se pertinet erga suos. 

LXI. Cum autem pro DEO et ad emendationem 
regni nostri, et ad melius sopiendum discordiam 
inter nos et Barones nostros ortam, haec omnia 
praedicta concesserimus, violentes ea Integra et 
firma stabilitate in perpetuum gaudere, facimus et 
concedemus eis securitatem subscriptam; videlicet, 
quod Barones eligent viginti quinque Barones de 
regno, quos voluerint, qui debeant pro totis viribus 
suis, observare, tenere, et facere observari, pacem 
et libertates quas eis concessimus et hac presente 
carta nostra confirmavimus : ita, scilicet, quod si 
nos, vel Justiciarius noster, vel ballivi nostri, vel 
aliquis de ministris nostris, in aliquo erga aliquem 
deliquerimus, vel aliquem articulorum pacis aut 
securitatis transgressi fuerimus, et delictum osten- 
sum fuerit quatuor Baronibus de praedictis viginti 
quinque Baronibus, illi quatuor Barones accedent 
ad nos, vel ad Justiciarium nostrum, si fuerimus 
extra regnum, proponentes nobis excessum, petent, 
ut excessum ilium sine dilatione faciamus emendari. 
Et si nos excessum non emendaverimus, vel si 
fuerimus regnum, Justiciarius noster non emenda- 
verit, infra tempus quadraginta dierum, compu- 
tandum a tempore quo monstratum fuerit nobis, 


subjects, as well clergy as laity, shall observe towards 
their tenants as far as concerns them. 

LXI. But since we have granted all these things 
aforesaid, for GOD, and for the amendment of our 
kingdom, and for the better extinguishing the discord 
which has arisen between us and our Barons, we 
being desirous that these things should possess 
entire and unshaken stability for ever, give and 
grant to them the security underwritten; namely, 
that the Barons may elect twenty-five Barons of 
the kingdom, whom they please, who shall with 
their whole power, observe, keep, and cause to be 
observed, the peace and liberties which we have 
granted to them, and have confirmed by this our 
present charter, in this manner; that is to say, if 
we, or our Justiciary, or our bailiffs, or any of our 
officers, shall have injured any one in anything, or 
shall have violated any article of the peace or 
security, and the injury shall have been shown to 
four of the aforesaid twenty-five Barons, the said 
four Barons shall come to us, or to our Justiciary if 
we be out of the kingdom, and making known to 
us the excess committed, petition that we cause 
that excess to be redressed without delay. And 
if we shall not have redressed the excess, or, if we 
have been out of the kingdom, our Justiciary shall 
not have redressed it within the term of forty days, 
computing from the time when it shall have been 


vel Justiciario nostro, si extra regnum fuerimus, 
praedicti quatuor Barones referant causam illam ad 
residues de illis viginti quinque Baronibus, et illi, 
viginti quinque Barones, cum communa totius 
terrae, distringent et gravabunt nos modis omnibus 
quibus poterunt; scilicet, per captionem castrorum, 
terrarum, possessionem, et aliis modis quibis pote- 
runt, donee fuerit emendatum secundum arbitrium 
eorum; salva persona nostra, et Reginae nostrae, 
et liberorum nostrorum; et cum fuerit emendatum, 
intendent nobis sicut prius fecerunt. Et qui- 
cumque voluerit de terra, juret quod ad praedicta 
omnia exequenda, parebit mandatis praedictorum 
viginti quinque Baronum, et quod gravabit nos pro 
posse suo cum ipsis : et nos publice et libere damus 
licentiam jurandi cuilibet qui jurare voluerit, et 
nulli unquam jurare prohibebimus. Omnes autem 
illos de terra, qui per se et sponte sua noluerint 
jurare viginti quinque Baronibus, de distringendo 
et gravando nos cum eis, faciemus jurare eosdem de 
mandate nostro, sicut praedictum est. Et si aliquis 
de viginti quinque Baronibus decesserit, vel a 
terra recesserit, vel aliquo alio modo impeditus 
fuerit, quominus ista praedicta possent exequi, qui 
residui fuerint de praedictis viginti quinque Baroni- 
bus, eligant alium loco ipsius, pro arbitrio suo, qui 



made known to us, or to our Justiciary if we have 
been out of the kingdom, the aforesaid four Barons 
shall lay that cause before the residue of the twenty- 
five Barons; and they, the twenty-five Barons, 
with the community of the whole land, shall distress 
and harass us by all the ways in which they are 
able; that is to say, by the taking of our castles, 
lands, and possessions, and by any other means in 
their power, until the excess shall have been re- 
dressed, according to their verdict ; saving harmless 
our person, and the persons of our Queen and 
children; and when it hath been redressed, they 
shall behave to us as they have done before. And 
whoever of our land pleaseth, may swear, that he 
will obey the commands of the aforesaid twenty- 
five Barons, in accomplishing all the things afore- 
said, and that with them he will harass us to the 
utmost of his power; and we publicly and freely 
give leave to every one to swear who is willing to 
swear; and we will never forbid any to swear. 
But all those of our land, who, of themselves, and 
of their own accord, are unwilling to swear to the 
twenty-five Barons, to distress and harass us to- 
gether with them, we will compel them by our 
command, to swear as aforesaid. And if any one 
of the twenty-five Barons shall die, or remove out 
of the land, or in any other way shall be prevented 
from executing the things above said, they who 
remain of the twenty-five Barons shall elect another 


simili modo erit juratus, quo et caeteri. In omnibus 
autem, quae istis viginti quinque Baronibus com- 
mit tunter exequenda, si forte ipsi viginti quinque 
presentes fuerint, et inter se super re aliqua discor- 
daverint, vel aliqui ex eis summoniti nolint, vel 
nequeant interesse, ratum habeatur et firmum, 
quod major pars eorum, qui presentes fuerint, 
provident, vel praeceperit; ac si omnes viginti 
quinque in hoc consensissent : et praedicti viginti 
quinque jurent quod omnia antedicta fideliter obser- 
vabunt, et pro toto posse suo facient observari. Et 
nos nihil impetrabimus ab aliquo, per nos, nee per 
alium, per quod aliqua istarum concessionum et 
libertatum revocetur vel minuatur. Et si aliquid 
tale impetratum fuerit, irritum sit et inane; et 
numquam eo utemur, per nos, nee per alium. 

LXII. Et omnes malas voluntates, indignationes, 
et rancores ortos, inter nos et homines nostros, 
clericos et laicos, a tempore discordiae, plene omni- 
bus remisimus et condonavimus. Praeterea, omnes 
transgressiones factas occasione ejusdem discordiae, 
a Pascha anno regni nostri sextodecimo, usque ad 
pacem reformatam, plene remisimus omnibus clericis 
et laicis, et quantum ad nos pertinet, plene con- 


in his place, according to their own pleasure, who 
shall be sworn in the same manner as the rest. In 
all those things which are appointed to be done by 
these twenty-five Barons, if it happen that all the 
twenty-five have been present, and have differed 
in their opinions about anything, or if some of them 
had been summoned, would not, or could not be 
present, that which the greater part of those w r ho 
were present shall have provided and decreed, 
shall be held as firm and as valid, as if all the twenty- 
five had agreed to it ; and the aforesaid twenty- 
five shall swear, that they will faithfully observe, 
and, with all their power, cause to be observed, 
all the things mentioned above. And we will 
obtain nothing from any one, by ourselves, nor by 
another, by which any of these concessions and 
liberties may be revoked or diminished. And if 
any such thing shall have been obtained, let it be 
void and null ; and we will never use it, neither by 
ourselves nor by another. 

LXII. And we have fully remitted and pardoned 
to all men, all the ill-will, rancour, and resent- 
ments, which have arisen between us and our 
subjects, both clergy and laity, from the commence- 
ment of the discord. Moreover we have fully 
remitted to all the clergy and laity, and as far as 
belongs to us, have fully pardoned all transgressions 
committed by occasion of the said discord, from 
Easter, in the sixteenth year of our reign, until the 


donavimus. Et, insuper, fecimus eis fieri literas 
testimoniales patentes domini Stephani Cantuariensis 
Archiepiscopi, Domini Henrici Dubliniensis Archi- 
episcopi, et Episcoporum praedictorum, et Magistri 
Pandulphi, super securitate ista et concessionibus 

LXIII. Quare, volumus, et firmiter praecipimus, 
quod Anglicana Ecclesia libera sit ; et quod homines 
in regno nostro habeant et teneant omnes praefatas 
libertates, jura, et concessiones, bene et in pace, 
libere et quiete, plene et integre, sibi et haeredibus 
suis, de nobis et haeredibus nostris, in omnibus 
rebus et locis, in perpetuum, sicut praedictum est. 
Juratum est autem, tarn ex parte nostra, quam ex 
parte Baronum, quod haec omnia supradicta bona 
fide, et sine malo ingenio servabuntur. Testibus 
supradictis, et multis aliis. Data per manum 
nostram, in Prato quod vocatur Runimede, inter 
Windeles horum et Stanes, quintodecimo die Junii, 
anno regni nostri septimo decimo. 


conclusion of the peace. And, moreover, we have 
caused to be made to them testimonial letters, 
patent of the Lord Stephen, Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, the Lord Henry, Archbishop of Dublin, and of 
the aforesaid Bishops, and of Master Pandulph con- 
cerning this security, and the aforesaid concessions. 

LXIII. Wherefore, our will is, and we firmly 
command that the Church of England be free, and 
that the men in our kingdom have and hold the 
aforesaid liberties, rights, and concessions, well and 
in peace, freely and quietly, fully and entirely, to 
them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all 
things and places, for ever as is aforesaid. It is 
also sworn, both on our part, and on that of the 
Barons, that all the aforesaid shall be observed in 
good faith, and without any evil intention. Wit- 
nessed by the above and many others. Given by 
our hand in the Meadow which is called Running- 
mead, between Windsor and Staines, this I5th day 
of June, in the lyth year of our reign. 

The Great Seal of England was then appended 
to Magna Charta, which was likewise confirmed by 
the King's solemn oath; but its greatest security 
was that twenty-five Barons were elected by the 
rest, to enforce the observance of all which this 
instrument contained. The Peers who were en- 
trusted with this authority were certainly some of 


the most celebrated of their time, both with regard 
to descent, to valour, and to intellectual endow- 
ments : their names were 

Richard de Clare, Earl of Clare. 

William de Fortibus, Earl of Aumerle. 

Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Gloucester. 

Saher de Quincy, Earl of Winchester. 

Henry de Bohun, Earl of Hereford. 

Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. 

Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford. 

William Mareschall, junior. 

Robert Fitz- Walter. 

Gilbert de Clare. 

Eustace de Vesey. 

William de Hardell, Mayor of London. 

William de Mowbray. 

Geoffrey de Say. 

Roger de Mumbezon (Mount Begon). 

William de Huntingfield. 

Robert de Ros. 

John de Lacy, the Constable of Chester. 

William de Albeniac. 

Richard de Percy. 

William Malet. 

John Fitz-Robert. 

William de Lanvalay. 

Hugh Bigod. 

Richard de Muntfitchet. 


As John had now conceded to all the claims which 
the discontent of his Barons could devise, or their 
hatred demand, it might be expected that the re- 
mainder of his reign was passed with the faithful 
allegiance and love of his subjects, but this was 
not the case; they feared the King might yet 
retract his engagements, and they demanded, says 
Blackstone, " a real and substantial security for 
his performance of the articles of the Charter; 
nothing less than the custody of the City and Tower 
of London, till August 15, then next ensuing, and 
afterwards till the Charter should be carried into 
execution." To this the King also consented, if 
compliance in his circumstances may be called a 
consent, and the custody was actually delivered. 

The Covenant which thus originated, contained 
a particular account of the Writs for electing the 
twelve Knights, who were to rectify the Forest 
laws and customs; these were dated on June 19, 
which was four days after the conclusion of Magna 
Charta, and the period when the assembly was dis- 
missed. These writs, or Letters of Election, as 
they are called by the Covenant, were a material 
part of the newly-granted liberties, inasmuch as 
they gave to the Barons the power of watching 
over the pure administration of the enactments of 
Magna Charta. 



made between 

A.D. 1215. 

This is the Covenant made between our Lord 
John, King of England, on the one part; and 
Robert Fitzwalter, elected Marshal of God and of 
the Holy Church in England, and Richard Earl of 
Clare, Geoffrey Earl of Essex and Gloucester, 
Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk and Suffolk, Saher 
Earl of Winchester, Robert Earl of Oxford, Henry 
Earl of Hereford, and the Barons under- writ ten. 

That is to say 

William Marshall the younger, 
Eustace de Vesey, 
William de Mowbray, 
John Fitz-Robert, 
Roger de Mont Begon, 
William de Lanvalay, 

and other Earls and Barons, and Freemen of the 
whole kingdom, on the other part : namely, That 
they the Earls and Barons and others before written, 
shall hold the custody of the City of London in 
bail from our Lord the King ; saving that they shall 


clearly render all the debts and revenues within 
the same, to our Lord the King, until the term of 
the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the 
seventeenth year of his reign. 

And the Lord of Canterbury shall hold in like 
manner of bail from our Lord the King, the custody 
of the Tower of London, to the aforesaid term; 
saving to the City of London its liberties and free 
customs, and taking his oath in the keeping of the 
said Tower, that our Lord the King shall in the 
meanwhile not place a guard nor other forces in 
the aforesaid City, nor in the Tower of London. 

And that also within the aforesaid term, the 
oaths to the twenty-five Barons be tendered through- 
out all England as it is contained in the Charter 
granted concerning the liberties and security of 
the kingdom; or to the attornies of the twenty- 
five Barons as it is contained in the letters granted 
concerning the election of twelve knights for 
abolishing evil customs of the forests and 'others. 

And, moreover, within the said term, all the 
other demands which the Earls, Barons, and other 
free-men do ask of our Lord the King which he 
himself has declared to be granted to them, or which 
by the twenty-five Barons, or by the greater part 
of them shall be judged proper to be granted, are 
to be given, according to the tenor of the said 

And if these things shall be done, or if our Lord 


the King on his part shall agree to do them, within 
the term limited, then the City and Tower of London 
shall at the same term be delivered up to our Lord 
the King, saving always to the aforesaid City its 
liberties and free customs as it is before written. 

And if these things shall not be done, and if our 
Lord the King shall not agree to do them within 
the period aforesaid, the Barons shall hold the 
aforesaid City and the Lord Archbishop the Tower 
of London, until the aforesaid deeds shall be com- 

And in the meanwhile, all of both parts shall 
recover the castles, lands, and towns, which have 
been taken in the beginning of the war that has 
arisen between our Lord the King and the Barons. 


Langton appeared at Runnymede as a com- 
missioner on the King's side, and his influence 
must be sought, it is said, in those clauses of the 
Charter which differ from the original petitions of 
the barons. And of these the most striking is 
that which confirms the liberties of the Church; 
and this is chiefly remarkable for its moderation. 

The Charter contains the following : " Know 
that, looking to God and the advancement of holy 
Church, and for the reform of our realm we have 


granted as underwritten by advice of our vener- 
able father, Stephen, Archbishop of Canterbury, 
primate of all England, and Cardinal of the holy 
Roman Church; Henry, Archbishop of Dublin, 
etc. ; of Master Pandulph, sub-deacon and member 
of the household of our lord the Pope and of the 
illustrious men Earls of Pembroke, Salisbury, 
Arundel, and others, our liegemen." 

But though King John had signed the Charter 
he never meant to keep it. The skilfully worded 
provisions of that famous Charter, the Magna 
Charta of the year 1215, are sacred to this day as 
the foundation of all our liberties as Englishmen. 
" Entire as at this hour in which it was written," says 
Knight in Old English Museum of Popular Anti- 
quities, " it is preserved, not for reference or doubtful 
questions of right, not to be proclaimed at market 
crosses or to be read in churches as in the time of 
Edward the First, but for the gratification of a 
just curiosity and an honest national pride. The 
humblest in the land may look upon that document, 
day by day, in the British Museum, which was 
written almost 700 years ago; and will find it to 
be the foundation of statute upon statute, and of 
what is as stringent as statute, the common law, 
through which for nearly 700 years we have been 
struggling to breathe the breath of freedom, and 
we have not struggled in vain." 

The first clause of the Charter reads : " That the 


Church of England be free and hold her rights 
entire, and her liberties inviolate." 

The freedom of electing bishops by the dean and 
chapters is recognised as the most necessary and 
fundamental privilege of the Church of England. 
Archbishop Langton had good cause to know how 
necessary it was to make this declaration; he had 
seen enough of the oppressive and cruel treatment 
of the Church, both by popes and kings, to make 
him feel the necessity of such a statement. The 
legal and administrative changes of Henry the 
Second and of Archbishop Walter left many loop- 
holes for the abuse of authority by royal officials 
(1194-1214 A.D.). The Church, finally, complained 
that the right of free and canonical election, which 
Henry the Second had guaranteed, was practically 
withdrawn, and that the property of the clergy, both 
in land and in movables, was now taxed without 
regard to custom or the principles of canon law. 

This was the only clause of importance to the 
Church, and was evidently added at the request 
of Archbishop Stephen Langton, and being placed 
both at the beginning and at the end of the Great 
Charter, makes it very emphatic, and so is worth 

In primis concessione. Deo et hac presenti 
Carta nostra confinnasse, pro nobis et heredibus 
nostris in perpetuum. Quod Anglicana ecclesia 


libera sit, et habeat jura sua Integra, et libertates 
suas illesas. 

" In the first place we have granted to God and 
by this our present charter confirmed for us and our 
heirs for ever that the English Church shall be free 
and shall have her rights entire, and her liberties 

And at the end 

Quare volumus et firmiter praecipimus quod 
Anglicana ecclesia libera sit et quod homines in 
regno nostro habeant et teneant omnes praefatas 
libertates jura, et concessiones. 

" Wherefore it is our will and we firmly enjoin, 
that the English Church be free, and that the men 
in our kingdom have and hold all the aforesaid 
liberties, rights and concessions." 

The freedom of the English Church, not the Irish 
Church, then is referred to, because at the time of 
the Great Charter, 1215, the kingdom of Ireland 
had no share in this liberty, but by a law enacted 
in 1494, the eleventh year of Henry the Seventh, 
called Poyning's law, it was decreed that all previous 
Statutes of England should be extended into that 

It is, however, probable that the Army of God 
and Holy Church had omitted to discuss ecclesi- 
astical grievances, not from any indifference to their 


settlement, but in the belief that the Archbishop 
needed no assistance. On either hypothesis the 
moderation of the Archbishop and his colleagues 
is remarkable. They ask nothing beyond a con- 
firmation of the Church's ancient liberties, and of 
the right of free canonical election which John had 
already conceded in a separate charter. 

The " Rights " of the Church, although remaining 
theoretically unalterable from the days of King 
Stephen, felt the pressure directed by Henry's 
energetic arm against all claims of privilege. Rights, 
theoretically the same, says McKechnie, shrank to 
smaller practical limits when measured against the 
strength of Henry as compared with the weakness 
of Stephen. Canonical election thus remained, at 
the close of the reign of Henry the Second, the same 
farce it had been in the days of Henry the First. 
The election lay with the Chapter of the vacant 
See, but the King told them plainly to elect. 

King John's rash provocation, followed by his 
quick and cowardly retreat, gave Langton the 
opportunity to compel a new definition of the 
frontier between the spiritual and the temporal 


The essential clauses of Magna Charta, according 
to Hallam, are those which protect the personal 


liberty and property of all freemen, by giving 
security from arbitrary imprisonment and arbitrary 

" No freeman," the charter says, " shall be seized, 
or imprisoned, or outlawed, or in any way brought 
to ruin; we will not go against any man, nor send 
against him, save by legal judgment of his peers 
(equals) . 

'To no man will we sell, or deny, or delay right 
or justice. No scutage or aid, taxes, shall be im- 
posed in our realm save by the Common Council." 

Justice, then, is no longer to be sold, denied or 
delayed. The Court of Common Pleas, instead of, 
as formerly, following the King's person in all his 
progresses, is to be permanently fixed at West- 
minster; assizes are to be held in the several 
counties, and annual circuits are established. Of 
peers a provision which recognised a popular 
tribunal as a check on the official judges, and may 
be looked upon as the foundation of the writ of 
Habeas Corpus. No one is to be indicted on rumours 
or suspicion, but only on the evidence of witnesses. 

Even the women were thought of, and the King 
was no longer allowed to make rich widows marry 
his friends in order that he might get some of their 
money. But the best thing in Magna Charta was 
that it protected the poor. It was declared that 
no man whose goods were forfeited should lose his 
means of making a living. 


Other clauses of the Great Charter of English 
liberty protected freemen and even villeins from 
excessive fines. The villeins, who held lives by a 
base and servile tenure, were not to be deprived of 
their carts, ploughs, and implements of husbandry. 


It was probably by the bishops, Langton in 
particular, and the legal members of the confederacy, 
that the rights of the freeholder, says Stubbs 
(Introduction to Rolls), were so carefully fenced 
round with provisions. These men and their 
successors led the Commons and acted for them 
until the Reformation, with little discord and still 
less jealousy of their rising influence, and it was 
the extinction of this class which furnished their 
natural leaders that threw the Church and nation 
under the tyranny that followed the Wars of the 

The charter, notwithstanding the prominence 
given to redress of feudal grievances, redressed 
other grievances, just mentioned, as well. In this 
the influence of the Church, and notably of its 
primate, can be traced. Some little attention was 
given to the rights of the under-tenants also, and 
even to those of the merchants, while the villein 
and the alien were not left entirely unprotected. 

The Great Charter was not, of course, a complete 


document, for it has required safeguards, such as 
the Petition of Right, 1628 A.D., and the Habeas 
Corpus Act, 1679 A - D - but amongst its intrinsic 
merits was that it made definite what had been 
vague before. Definition is a valuable protection 
for the weak against the strong ; whereas vagueness 
increases the powers of the tyrant who can interpret 
while he enforces the law. 

In reality Magna Charta made few lasting in- 
novations and asserted no new liberties ; the framers 
desired no alteration in the fabric of the executive 
or legislature. 

The Great Charter is, then, the act of the united 
nation, the Church, the barons, and the commons, 
for the first time thoroughly at one. It is in form 
only the act of the King in substance and in 
historical position it is the first effort of a corporate 
life that has reached full consciousness, resolved 
to act for itself and able to carry out the resolution. 
The nature of the grievances of the nation is more 
to be gathered from Magna Charta itself, which is 
the first actual limitation of the royal prerogative, 
than from the historians who have told the story. 

Again, the Great Paper was a treaty of peace 
between the King and his people, and so is a com- 
plete national act. Stubbs, in Early Plantagenets , 
says that it is the first act of the kind, for it differs 
from the charters issued by Henry the First, 
Stephen and Henry the Second not only in its greater 


fulness and perspicuity, but by having a distinct 
machinery provided to carry it out. 

Twenty-five barons were nominated, as we have 
seen, to compel the King to fulfil his part, and 
Stephen Langton was put in charge of the Tower of 

The foundations of English liberty were now laid, 
which no less undeniably sowed the seeds of the 
severance of the English Church from the Roman 
obedience three centuries later. To Archbishop 
Langton more than to any other one man the over- 
throw of John's despotism was due. He had with- 
stood the King and rescued the country from 

So far as we are guided by historical testimony, 
two great men, the pillars of our Church and State, 
may be considered, says Stubbs, as entitled beyond 
the rest to the glory of the monument, Magna 
Charta or the Great Charter. Stephen Langton, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, and William, Earl of 
Pembroke. To their temperate zeal for a legal 
Government, England was indebted during that 
critical period for the two greatest blessings that 
patriotic statesmen could confer: the establish- 
ment of civil liberty upon an immovable basis, and 
the preservation of national independence under 
the ancient line of sovereigns, which richer men 
were about to exchange for the dominion of France. 



Satisfied with what they had accomplished at 
Runnymede, the prelates and barons joyfully re- 
turned home with their retainers, while the King, 
who had laughed and joked whilst he signed the 
charter, as soon as he got safely back to Windsor 
gave vent to his rage and cried : " They have given 
me twenty-five kings," and he didn't know how to 
control himself. 

A celebrated English historian speaks in the 
following terms concerning the manner in which 
the grant of Magna Charta preyed upon the health 
and disposition of John 

"Great rejoicing," says Holinshed, "was made 
for this conclusion of peace between the King and 
his barons, the people judging that God had 
touched the King's heart, and mollified it, whereby 
happy days were come for the realm of England, 
as though it had been delivered out of the 
bondage of Egypt : but were much deceived, for 
the King having condescended to make such 
grant of liberties, far contrary to his mind, was 
right sorrowful in his heart, cursed his mother that 
bare him, the hour that he was born, and the paps 
that gave him suck, wishing that he had received 
death by violence of sword or knife, instead of 


natural nourishment; he whetted his teeth, he did 
bite now on one staff, and now on another, as he 
walked, and oft brake the same in pieces when he 
had done, and with such disordered behaviour and 
furious gestures he uttered his grief, in such sort 
that the noble men very well perceived the inclina- 
tion of his inward affection concerning these things, 
before the breaking up of the council, and, therefore, 
sore lamented the state of the realm, guessing what 
would come of his impatience and displeasant taking 
of the matter." 

The country would now soon have been in a 
happier condition if all the King had promised had 
been acted upon. But the mean-spirited King 
never intended to keep his promise, for the ink, in 
which his signature was made on the Great Charter, 
was scarcely dry before he sent a special messenger 
to Rome explaining that the first great act of Arch- 
bishop Langton, whom Pope Innocent the Third 
had imposed or inflicted upon him, was to defy the 
(assumed) prerogative of the papacy in this country 
by organising a rebellion against himself, King John, 
the vassal of the Pope. 

It is to be noted how John lays the blame on 
Stephen Langton, and by this shows how powerful 
and influential must the Archbishop's support have 
been to the barons in their demand for the general 
liberty-conferring charter. 


When Innocent heard of Magna Charta he 
furiously raged at the temerity of the barons, and 
he issued a " bull," August 24, in which he annulled 
and abrogated the whole charter, as unjust in itself, 
as obtained by compulsion, and as derogatory to 
the dignity of the Apostolic See of Rome. 

This " bull," with the seal of Innocent attached 
to it, and preserved in the British Museum, con- 
cludes : " We utterly reprobate and condemn any 
agreement of this kind, forbidding, under ban of our 
anathema, the aforesaid King to presume to observe 
it, and the barons and their accomplices to exact its 


In order that John might obtain the assistance 
of the Church of Rome, says Dr. Hook, the King 
changed his party, and swore fealty to the Pope. 

As the Primate of the Church of England was, at 
the same time, a cardinal of the See of Rome, John 
thought that the two Churches might be regarded 
as one. This, however, was never the case. Within 
our own memory most of the nations of Europe 
fell under the dominion of the Emperor of the 
French, the elder Bonaparte, who either forced 
upon them his own code of legislation or made 
his will their law. But, however much he might 
himself believe the Empire to be one, the subdued 


people, although they acquiesced in, and although 
some among them may have approved of, the 
usurpation, only awaited, with more or less of im- 
patience, for the time when they might reassert 
their nationality and independence. Even now, 
when the papacy was in the ascendant, or rather 
had reached its culminating point, throughout the 
nations and the churches of Europe, the Church of 
England remained distinct from the Church of 
Rome. The Church of England sided with the 
barons against a tyrannical king, the Church of 
Rome supported the tyrant against the barons. 

Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, was 
the leader of the popular party, whose chief opponent 
the Pope of Rome now became. 

Why this attitude of the Pope ? It has been said 
that the Pope might naturally sympathise more with 
authority than with those in apparent authority 
against it; that he was bound, moreover, by the 
duty and interest to care for the rights of his vassal ; 
and, assailed with reports from the King's side, he 
might naturally and clearly be expected to take a 
different course from Archbishop Langton's. There 
is not a word here as to the probability of Innocent's 
desire to advance the metropolitan See of Rome at 
the cost of the metropolitan See of Canterbury. 

Strange how the Pope, after supporting the 
patriotic struggle for many years, by which he 
was able to force the reluctant King John to his 


knees, should now so quickly turn round, and at 
the protest of a so generally well-known unreliable 
monarch, try to take away from the people those 
liberties already won by the Great Charter. Now 
when the papal authority began to back the royal 
tyranny, the barons determined to resist, and the 
Church, having recovered, in Archbishop Langton, 
its natural leader, resumed its ordinary attitude 
as the supporter of freedom. The country saw 
that the submission of John to Innocent placed its 
liberty, temporally and spiritually, at his mercy, 
and immediately demanded safeguards. Hence the 
firmness of the English nobles. The Charter, the 
whole Charter, and nothing but the Charter, should 
be the basis and foundation of their allegiance or 
obedience to the King. 

John now recalled all the liberties which he had 
granted to his subjects and which he had solemnly 
sworn to observe; he was stronger now, being at 
the head of a very large band of ravenous and 
mercenary soldiers, who, incited by an enraged 
king, were let loose against the estates, tenants, 
manors, houses, parks of the barons, and spread 
devastation and destruction over the whole of the 
kingdom, from Dover to Berwick ; but the barons 
stood firm to the charter. 



Baron William de Albini, who became one of the 
twenty-five Securities for the Great Charter, although 
it may almost be questioned whether he were not 
even then more on the part of the King than of 
the barons, for when he was summoned by Robert 
Fitz- Walter to attend the tournament adjourned 
from Stamford to Hounslow Heath on June 29, 
1215, he never attended, and it was not until after 
the other barons had alarmed him by their messages 
and censures, that he fortified Belvoir Castle, and 
joined them at London. He was, however, received 
with considerable joy, and Rochester Castle having 
been delivered up to them by Stephen Langton, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, he was appointed 
governor; when, though he found it so utterly 
destitute of provision as almost to induce his forces 
to abandon it, he recruited and held it out until 
famine, weakness, and midnight watching obliged 
them to surrender to the King. 

Matthew Paris relates of this baron that during 
the siege, as John and some of his commanders 
were one day viewing the castle, an excellent 
archer asked him if he should shoot at the King 
with an arrow which he then held ready; and 
upon his answering "No," r * Why/' rejoined the 
bowman, " he would not spare us if he had the 


advantage." " God's will be done ! " answered 
De Albini, " for He, and not the King, will dis- 
pose of us." The siege having lasted three months, 
and being attended with considerable loss, John 
ordered that all the nobles in the castle should be 
hanged; but the sentence being resolutely opposed 
by Savaricus de Maloleone, one of his own chief 
commanders, William de Albini and his son Odonel, 
with several other barons, were sent prisoners to 
Corfe and Nottingham castles. Whilst he remained 
in the former of these fortresses, on the morrow 
of Christmas Day, 1216, the King marched from 
Nottingham to Langar, whence he sent a summons 
for Belvoir Castle to surrender; adding that if 
any conditions were insisted on, " the lord of it 
should never eat more." 


When Pope Innocent heard of the barons' atti- 
tude to stand firmly by the charter he ordered 
Archbishop Langton and the bishops to excom- 
municate the barons, and he strongly condemned 
the prelates for their action in promoting such 
contempt of the Holy See of Rome. The bishops, 
however, were becoming bolder, and refused to do 
this. As soon as the Pope heard this he summoned 
Langton and the bishops to Rome to a council 


there, and, in their absence from England, he 
peremptorily suspended them for their share in 
bringing about the signing of the Great Charter. 

When the proctors of the English king charged 
the Primate, Langton, with aiding and abetting 
the barons in their opposition to the King, the 
Archbishop refused to reply or plead, and only 
requested to be absolved from the sentence passed 
on him in England. The Pope took counsel with 
the other cardinals, with the result, says Cardinal 
Gasquet, D.D., that he charged the laity and clergy 
of the diocese of Canterbury not to obey their arch- 
bishop " until such time as by his conduct he should 
merit absolution." 

In the following year Langton was absolved from 
the suspension under which he lay, upon giving his 
personal pledge not to return to England until the 
disturbances were entirely over. 

What is known of the Archbishop during the 
sixteen months he stayed at Rome at this time? 
Langton, notwithstanding his suspension, sat in 
the Lateran Council held in November 1215 A.D., 
respecting which Cardinal Gasquet says, " but the 
Archbishop took no part in the deliberations," or 
rather, we should say, had no opportunity to do so, 
for deliberation was not asked for. The Council 
received canons at the dictation of Innocent the 
Third, and, amongst the canons, the doctrine of 
Transubstantiation was for the first time synodically 


authorised, and confession was made generally 

To show their sympathy for the Archbishop of 
Canterbury, the canons of York elected his brother, 
Simon Langton, to the Archbishopric of York 
(Simon de Langetuna vir quidem parum habens 
gratiae popularis), but both Pope and King refused 
to approve the election; the latter because he 
feared that with his brother, Stephen, in ecclesi- 
astical power in the south and himself (Simon) 
in the northern regions, their combined influence 
might be greater than his. (Timebat autem rex, 
ne si Stephanus Cantuariensis archiepiscopus in 
australibus, et f rater ejus Symon Eboracensis 
archiepiscopus factus in septemtrionalibus domin- 
erentur, quasi maximi praelati in Anglia, omnia 
ad vota eorum disponerentur, et alter alterius 
auxilio fulciretur.) The York canons were forced 
to receive, instead of Simon Langton, a most un- 
worthy and rapacious prelate Walter de Gray, 
Bishop of Worcester. 


The last sixteen months of John's reign were a 
mere anarchy, but we are not to lay all the blame 
on John. The barons, elated with their success, 
showed very little moderation. They trusted the 
King no more than he trusted them. Many of 


them, no doubt, wished to thoroughly humiliate 
the King. Stephen Langton's departure for Rome 
left them without the prudent, sincere, and honest 
English counsel that was needed for the successful 
vindication of the national cause, and gave the 
chief place amongst them to men who had personal 
wrongs to avenge and personal objects to attain. 
The insurgents lost in the Archibishop's absence, 
not only their bond of union, but also a wholesome 
restraint ; and his absence must be reckoned among 
the causes of the royalist reaction soon to take 
place, for whilst Robert Fitz- Walter had all the 
valour of a soldier, he had none of the genius of a 
general, and he was without the sagacity of a 
statesman. (During the truce between Philip the 
Second and John in 1213, when the latter was in 
Normandy, a tournament took place in the presence 
of both monarchs, at which Fitz- Walter, concealed 
in his armour, at the first course overthrew both 
horse and man, upon which the English sovereign 
swore : " By God's tooth ! he deserves to be a 
king, who hath such a soldier in his train." Upon 
this some friends of the baron made him known to 
John, who restored to him the whole of his forfeited 
estates, and permitted him to repair his destroyed 

Of the lay barons there is not one who rose either 
before or after the signing of the Charter to the 
first rank among English statesmen, while Stephen 


Langton, whose high intellectual gifts were coupled 
with an earnest patriotism and practical sagacity, 
had entered English politics too recently, as one 
writer says, to know how deep the evils of the 
existing system went. 

One answer to this is that whilst in exile in 
Pontigny, and also before his appointment to the 
Primacy of all England, Stephen would probably 
be well acquainted with the political condition of 
his native country and the social needs of the people 
from information supplied as regularly as possible 
by his brother Simon. 


However, the strength of the Archbishop's in- 
fluence is proved by the disintegration of the 
national party which occurred as soon as he had 
departed. Some endeavoured by all lawful means 
to enforce the Charter, others made overtures to 
the Kings of Scotland and France. In the Civil 
War which followed the revocation of the Great 
Charter of John, victory inclined very constantly 
to his side; his mercenaries were an overmatch for 
the feudal tenantry of the barons. Their devasta- 
tions caused the barons more pain than the an- 
athemas and excommunications of Pope Innocent. 
Many individuals made their peace with the King. 
Place after place surrendered, and at last London 

alone remained to the maintainers of the Charter. 


k in 

Thus driven to extremity, the barons took in 
their turn the desperate step of calling in foreign 
aid. They declared John to have forfeited the 
Crown, and offered it to Louis of France to fill his 

More than once in history a similar step has been 
dictated by the mere blindness of political passion, 
or by the party spirit which elevates the importance 
of particular measures above the safety of the State 

But we should judge harshly of the barons in 
this case if we were to forget that the feeling of 
nationality, now so engrained into our whole char- 
acter, was then in its very infancy, a vague 
impalpable emotion, the secret power of which 
probably no statesman, except perhaps Stephen 
Langton, had yet divined, and which had yet 
long to wait before it was consecrated by common 
suffering, by united achievements, and by the 
establishment of distinctive political institutions. 

And if the deposition of John were judged to 
be a necessity, Louis was, perhaps, the only pos- 
sible successor. He was the nephew of John by 
marriage; he was, through his father, suzerain of 
the continental provinces of England, actual lord 
of Normandy (he had also defeated John at La 
Roche au Moine), and was master of troops who 
had conquered at Bouvines and in the Albigensian 


His accession might seem to promise a speedy 
termination of the war, and a settlement of those 
questions of divided allegiance and consequent 
confiscation which, since the loss of Normandy, 
had borne so heavily on some of the great houses 
of England. 


If it involved annexation to France, it may be 
remembered that this country (says the Rev. W. W. 
Shirley, in Letters of Henry the Third) was familiar- 
ised by long habit to the government of an alien 
king, and that of their sovereigns since the Norman 
Conquest, Stephen and John alone had constantly 
resided in the island. The barons were not wholly 
un-English if they argued that the frequent absence 
of the sovereign was an essential condition of 
freedom and good government. 

What disasters their unhappy decision might 
have entailed upon England had it been allowed to 
work itself out to its natural consequences, it is 
fortunately in vain to speculate. 

Louis accepted the offer. After having received 
twenty-four young men, sons of the noblest families, 
as hostages, he sent over a fleet with a numerous band 
of French knights, and a letter that he would lead 
hither a powerful army at Easter, 1216. At this 
time Cardinal Gualo chanced to be travelling through 



France to England, and foreseeing that if Louis 
were successful, the Pope would lose his interest in 
the kingdom, he first endeavoured to suspend 
the expedition by solicitations, and then forbade it, 
upon the penalty of excommunication, as belonging 
to the Holy See. But the Dauphin had already 
determined upon the attempt, and, after making 
a haughty reply to the Legate, sailed for England 
with a fleet of 680 ships, and, after some losses, 
landed at Sandwich, May 30, 1216, when the 
barons who favoured the Great Charter joined his 
standard. He recaptured Rochester Castle, and 
thence, marching to London on June 2, was met 
in procession by the barons and citizens, who 
conducted him to St. Paul's, where he prayed, 
received the homage of his new subjects, and took 
a solemn oath to govern them by good laws, pro- 
tect them against their enemies, and reinstate them 
in their former rights and possessions. The baronial 
enterprise was now attended with rapid success, 
whilst the cause of King John declined in propor- 
tion. The counties round London, the King of 
Scots, and the men of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, 
declared in favour of Louis; even several of the 
royal barons hastened to offer him their homage 
and fealty; and the foreign soldiers of John either 
revolted to the Dauphin or returned to their 

Owing to the fact of Louis's excommunication, 


but few of the clergy dared to support him, whilst 
many of the officials of the school of Henry the 
Second faithfully held to John. But in the mean- 
time Louis obtained considerable successes, and, 
whilst continuing the struggle, John suddenly died, 
October 19, 1216. According to Professor Tout, 
the prudent measures which we shall see were 
taken by the guardians of the little King, Henry 
the Third, made many of the supporters of Louis to 
melt away, because those who hated John the most 
had no ill-will to the monarchy; and the innocent 
boy on the throne was in nowise responsible for the 
crimes of his father; besides, there was the feeling 
that for England to be ruled by a prince who would 
one day be King of France was a dangerous thing. 

Louis soon began to lose ground, and when in 
1217 Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, defeated him in 
a pitched battle in the streets of Lincoln, and a 
fleet containing reinforcements from France for him 
was utterly destroyed by Hubert de Burgh off 
Sandwich, he found it useless to continue in England 
any longer, and therefore in September 1217 he 
executed the Treaty of Lambeth with William 
Marshall, by which he agreed to leave England. 


The death of John, auspicious as it was, could 
not wholly remove the dark cloud, says the Rev. 
W. W. Shirley, which overhung the land. The 



young king, guiltless of the wrongs, and free from 
the animosities of his father, had one great advan- 
tage : he could forgive without suspicion. But his 
advisers were those of his father ; some of them the 
ministers of his vices; some of them foreign ad- 
venturers ; the best of them who had looked coldly 
on the Charter, and when victory was followed by 
peace, one inevitable condition was attached. The 
supporters of the Charter, who had followed Louis 
of France, were indeed admitted to pardon; they 
could not hope for favour. 

For the first four years of Henry the Third, almost 
every office of importance, every sheriff of a county, 
every governor of a royal castle, so far as the names 
are known, was taken from the short list of those 
who had stood by the side of John at Runnymede, 
from the few proscribed by the text of the Charter, 
or from the soldiers who had since been in arms 
against the baronial league. Amongst the most 
notable of these are Falkes de Breaute, Engelard de 
Cigoigny, and Philip Mare all sentenced to exile 
by the Charter; Henry, Archbishop of Dublin; 
Peter, Bishop of Winchester; Jocelyn, Bishop of 
Bath; Earls of Pembroke and Salisbury, the two 
Fitz-Herberts, Alan and Thomas Basset, Hubert 
de Burgh, John Marshall, and Philip D'Albiney, all 
of whom stood quasi ex parte regis at Runny- 
mede. Amongst those who deserted John only at 
the last moment were the Earls of Chester, Albe- 


marie, R. Vipont, G. Lucy, Brian de Lisle, Henry 
Braybroc, and William Brewer. 

Every one of these held office in the first year of 
Henry the Third. It was impossible for any party 
to be completely exiled from political power than 
at that moment were the authors of the Great 
Charter. The presage of bad government which 
such a condition of affairs might have suggested 
was not wholly justified by the event. 

Political virtue has never, in this country, been 
confined to a single party, and the party of the 
Great Charter was no exception. Yet, after all 
allowances, it was, perhaps, hardly to be hoped that 
among the courtiers and advisers of King John 
two such men should have been found as Marshall, 
Earl of Pembroke, and Hubert de Burgh. 

There is, perhaps, no period of equal length, from 
the Norman Conquest to the present day, over 
which the reader of English history, it is said, passes 
with more impatient haste than over the twenty 
years which elapsed between the accession and the 
marriage of Henry the Third, none which appears 
so barren of great events, or so silent of the character 
of its actors. They were years, not of exciting 
interest, but of critical importance, nor is it easy 
to say how much the destiny of this country has 
been affected by the current of political influences 
to which it was subjected during the first few years 
after the granting of Magna Charta. 



John was succeeded by his son Henry the Third 
(nine years old), who was hastily crowned October 28, 
1216, at Gloucester, immediately after his father's 
death, when Langton's charter was accepted as the 
first official act of the reign by the advice of the 
Earl of Pembroke, Marshal of England and one of 
the guardians of the young King. 

" We have been the enemies of this child's 
father," said the Marshal, a good and true gentle- 
man, to the few lords who were present, " and he 
merited our ill-will, but the child himself is inno- 
cent, and his youth demands our friendship and 

So strong was Langton's party, evidently, that 
during his absence from England, Gualo, Cardinal 
of St. Martin's, the papal legate, acted prudently by 
reversing the policy of Innocent the Third, and in 
conjunction with Pembroke issued a confirmation 
of the Charter in the name of Henry the Third. 

The aged regent, Pembroke, was held in profound 
respect. His policy was the simple but difficult 
one of conciliation. He accepted the Charter, but 
shorn of the celebrated clause which protects the 
subject from arbitrary taxation. He proclaimed a 
large amnesty for the past, and inspired the just 
confidence that it would be loyally observed. Above 


all, he managed with singular skill the great difficulty 
of his position, the claim of papal suzerainty. The 
surrender of King John was interpreted by Pope 
Honorius to imply that the Pope was the sole 
guardian of the royal minor, a claim of vague 
import and most perilous precedent, but which it 
was yet undesirable to question, while the restora- 
tion and maintenance of peace depended almost 
wholly upon the forbearance and the support of 
Rome. Yet, without embroiling himself with 
either Pope or papal legate, and holding firmly his 
own authority in truth it must be said that during 
the first two years of Henry the Third's minority 
affairs both in Church and State were largely ruled 
from Rome. The letters of Pope Honorius, which 
occur every month, are addressed not only to the 
legate, but to bishops, abbots, barons, including 
William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, the King's 
guardian. The powers of the legate Gualo seem to 
have been almost absolute. He imprisons thirteen 
clerks at Westminster who had used disrespectful 
language to him. As usual with papal agents, no 
small pecuniary profits were made out of these 
transactions. When the legate returned to Rome 
in 1218, " his saddle bags," says Matthew Paris, 
" were well stuffed with incalculable gains." Gualo 
seems, amongst other things, to have attempted 
to undermine the power of the Regent, by giving him 
the Earl of Chester, one of the most factious and un- 


principled nobles of the day, as a colleague. Pope 
Honorius, however, was sufficiently well advised 
to discourage the scheme. 


Pope Innocent died in July 1216, before he had 
tried the case of the Archbishop of Canterbury; 
and the death of John and the recognition of 
Henry the Third, already recorded, set Langton 
free to return to England, but he did not actually 
return before May 1218. 

On his return from exile he found such engrossing 
occupation in the business of his see that, it is 
said, he took little part in politics for several years. 
His self-effacement strengthened the position of the 
papal legate, Pandulph, Bishop-elect of Norwich, 
who was no stranger to England. As sub-deacon 
of the Roman Church he received, as we have seen, 
John's submission in 1213, and stood side by side 
with him in nearly all his later troubles. On the 
recall of Gualo, he had come back to England in 
the higher capacity of legate, December 3, 1218. He 
had been the cause of Langton's suspension, and 
there was probably no love lost between him and 
the Archbishop. 

It was in order to avoid troublesome questions 
of jurisdiction that Pandulph, at the Pope's sug- 
gestion, continued to postpone his consecration as 


bishop, since that act would have subordinated 
him to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The sup- 
plementary rite of the Coronation of the young 
King on Whitsunday, 1220 A.D., in Westminster 
Abbey, with all the ceremonies, some of which had 
been necessarily omitted at Gloucester, Pandulph 
discreetly permitted, says Professor Tout, the 
Archbishop Langton to take. 

But not all the self-restraint of the legate could 
commend him to Langton, whose obstinate insistence 
upon his metropolitan authority forced Pandulph to 
procure " bulls " from Rome specifically releasing 
him from the jurisdiction of the Primate. 

The young King, Henry the Third, at the coro- 
nation just referred to, then only fourteen years 
of age, swore to observe the laws of Magna Charta, 
notwithstanding the Pope's condemnation of the 
Charter ; but it is sad to be obliged to say that he 
frequently broke them during his long reign. Pem- 
broke's death, at the beginning of 1219 A.D., after 
a year spent in giving order to the realm, brought 
no change in the system he had adopted. 

The control of affairs passed into the hands of 
the legate, Pandulph, of Stephen Langton, says 
Prof. J. R. Green, and of the Justiciar, Hubert de 



De Burgh's conception of good government lay 
in a wise personal administration, in the preserv- 
ation of order and law, but his desire for national 
independence was hampered by the constant inter- 
ference of Rome. 

The close of the struggle for the Charter saw the 
feudal party break out in their old lawlessness and 
defiance of the Crown. For a time the anarchy 
of King Stephen's days seemed to revive. But the 
Justiciar was resolute to crush it, and he was aided 
by the strenuous efforts of Archbishop Langton. 
The complexity of the political situation is some- 
times perfectly bewildering. The nobles and the 
towns formed two great parties, natural enemies 
to each other, both of which England was at this 
time too weak to govern, and between which she 
could not choose without throwing the other into 
the arms of France. 

If, in the face of these difficulties, the country 
might not unnaturally acquiesce for a time in the 
new encroachments of the legate, Pandulph, on 
the other hand, was not a man to miss the oppor- 
tunity of power. A keen perception of opportunity 
seeming indeed to have been among the most re- 
markable qualities of a man more fitted to acquire 
power than to retain it, and, who hastened by un- 


governable arrogance, says the Rev. W. W. Shirley, 
a fall which was perhaps inevitable. The first year 
of his legation was passed in almost unbroken 
success. But this unbroken success did not last 
long, for the fall of Pandulph was occasioned by 
the joint action or tacit understanding of Archbishop 
Langton and Hubert de Burgh. 

For the vacancy caused by Geoffrey Neville's 
resignation of the office of seneschal, Pandulph and 
Des Roches recommended a native noble, whilst 
De Burgh, who had himself been seneschal in the 
last reign, supported the petition of the cities, who 
dreaded the dictatorship of a feudal neighbour and 
implored the appointment of an Englishman. 

The Great Council seems to have approved of 
De Burgh's policy. 

A private " bull " addressed to Pandulph himself 
arrived at the very time the Great Council was 
sitting, in which it was stated that no obedience was 
due to the metropolitan (Archbishop Langton) from 
the legate so long as he continued to be only Bishop- 
elect of Norwich. 

Thus, at the very moment that De Burgh was 
for a time in open difference with Pandulph, Stephen 
Langton had to suffer a keen mortification from 
him. Then the latter set out for Rome. By what 
support the man who had so fearlessly resisted the 
encroachments of the papal power in England 
could hope to carry his cause at Rome we would 


like to know, but that he did gain his point is evident 
from the fact that he wrested a promise from Pope 
Honorius the Third that so long as he was Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury no papal legate should be 
sent to England, therefore the direct interference 
of the papacy in the government of the realm came 
to an end. 

Pandulph was not called upon to resign, but his 
resignation naturally followed, and he departed 
with every expression of respect upon an impossible 
mission to Poitou. Thus Rome destroyed with 
her own hands that singular fabric of legatine 
government which she had so recently and boldly 
set up. 


But even these services of the Primate were small 
compared with his services to English freedom. 
Throughout his life the Charter was the first object 
of his care. 

The omission of the articles which restricted the 
royal power over taxation in the Charter which 
was published at Henry the Third's accession, in 
1216, was doubtless due to the Archbishop's absence 
and disgrace at Rome. The suppression of disorder 
seems to have revived the old spirit of resistance 
among the royal ministers, for when Stephen 
Langton, as leader and spokesman of the Barons, 


demanded a fresh confirmation of the Charter in 
Parliament, at London, 1223 A.D., William Brewer, 
one of the King's councillors, protested that it had 
been extorted by force and was without legal 

(Willelmus de Briwere, qui unus erat ex consiliariis 
regis, pro rege respondens, dixit, " Libertates quas 
petitis, quia violent er extort ae fuerunt, non debent 
de jure observari.") 

" If you loved the King, William/' the Primate 
burst out in anger, " you would not throw a stum- 
bling block in the way of the peace of the realm." 
(Si regem in veritate diligeres, pacem regni non 

The young King was cowed by the Archbishop's 
wrath, and promised observance of the Charter. 

It was, no doubt, with the view of checking the 
efforts of Peter de Roches and his partisans to get 
complete mastery of the young King that Archbishop 
Langton and Hubert de Burgh obtained, in the 
year 1223, a declaration from the Pope that Henry 
was now old enough to direct the affairs of the 
kingdom himself, with the aid and advice of his 

The Archbishop and his suffragan (diocesan) 
bishops were to warn all who had the custody of 
fortresses, honours and manors belonging to the 
King to surrender them on pain of excommunica- 


Although the fall of Pandulph left to De Burgh 
the first place in the State, it left an unscrupulous 
rival at his side. De Roches, who thwarted De 
Burgh and became the leader of aggrieved nobles, 
with the Earls of Chester and Albemarle, Falkes 
de Breaute and other foreigners at their head, 
attempted to seize London and overturn the Govern- 
ment. Thwarted in this, they returned to Leicester, 
where they celebrated Christmas with defiant pomp. 
The die was cast. A trial of strength between the 
two parties was inevitable. Resolved on the part 
of De Burgh that the royal court should assemble 
for Christmas at Northampton, near enough to 
Leicester for intimidation, and, if necessary, for 
action. It was a move, however, which could only 
have been taken in the consciousness of strength. 
It was an appeal to the loyalty of the country and 
most nobly it was answered. Such a royal Christmas, 
the chronicler assures us, had never been kept since 
the days of Cceur de Lion. The Church, as usual, 
played her foremost part, and on the morrow after 
Christmas, the bishops, with their courageous and 
determined Primate, Stephen Langton, at their 
head, solemnly excommunicated the leaders of the 
Leicester secession. This display of power was 
conclusive. Overmatched and disheartened, the 
rebels hastened to make their peace and surrender 
the royal castles. Archbishop Langton and the 
baronage demanded, two years later, 1225 A.D., a 


fresh promulgation of the Charter as the price of a 
subsidy, and Henry the Third's assent established 
in principle, so fruitful of constitutional results, 
that redress of wrongs precedes a grant to the 


Archbishop Stephen Langton was at the head of 
the Commission appointed by the Pope in 1223 A.D. 
to examine the miracles alleged to have been per- 
formed at the grave of Hugh, the late Bishop of 
Lincoln, who died 1200 A.D. 

No one could influence Henry the Third so 
powerfully as the fearless Hugh of Lincoln, who 
when the former wanted to prefer a courtier to a 
prebendal stall at Lincoln Cathedral, says Rev. 
C. A. Lane, the Bishop replied, " O king, the 
benefices of the Church are for ecclesiastics, not 
for L those who serve the palace." Hugh's frank 
and dauntless manner and faith in the King's 
sense of right made him Henry's firmest friend, 
and when Richard the First succeeded his father 
on the English throne, no man could stand so 
fearlessly and conscientiously before him as Hugh. 

When King Richard the First sent to England a 
demand for more money for the support of his war 
with France from the barons and bishops and 
clergy, it was this same Hugh, already referred to 



at the beginning of this book, who said, on behalf 
of the clergy, " Our homage to the King does not 
include military service for foreign wars." Richard's 
reply was to order the Bishop's goods to be con- 
fiscated, but none of the King's officers ventured 
to carry out his mandate for fear of episcopal 
anathemas. To save the King's officers from 
Richard's wrath, Bishop Hugh visited the impetuous 
monarch in Normandy, who was at that time 
attending a celebration of the Holy Communion. 

The Bishop boldly advanced to the King and 
claimed the kiss of peace, which was then a customary 
part of the Eucharistic Service. The King looked 
another way; the service was suspended, and all 
the nobles watched the singular mental struggle. 
" Kiss me, my lord," said Hugh again, " for I have 
come from far to see thee." ' You have not 
deserved it," replied Richard. " Nay, but I have," 
and he laid hold of the royal robe. The King now 
turned towards the prelate, but there were no signs 
of flinching on the part of Hugh when their eyes 
met, so the lion-hearted was vanquished and the 
kiss was granted. Afterwards Richard said, 
" If all bishops were like Hugh, no prince would 
venture to withstand them." His remarkable 
courage has gained for him the pseudonym of Regum 
Malleus, " the hammer of kings." 

The report of Archbishop Langton respecting 
alleged miracles at Hugh's grave was so favourable 


that Pope Honorius the Third at once issued the 
bull of canonization of St. Hugh of Lincoln. 


Once more the Archbishop of Canterbury had to 
deal with a papal legate who had come to England 
to disturb the peace of the Church of which he was 
the ecclesiastical chief. A chaplain of the Pope, 
named Otho, was sent in the Pope's name in 1225 
A.D., on a special mission to lay before the English 
Church the poverty of Rome, and to request that 
" all should unite as natural children to relieve the 
needs of their Mother (the Romish Church) and 
their Father (the Pope). The way in which Otho 
proposed that this should be done was, that in 
every collegiate church the revenues of one pre- 
bend, and in every cathedral church that of two 
prebends, together with a fixed sum from every 
monastery, should be reserved for Rome. 

Langton insisted that the matter should be 
referred to an English Council and to the King. 
The Council was summoned to meet in London in 
the following spring. Meanwhile the Archbishop 
induced the Pope to recall Otho, and when the 
Synod met at St. Paul's, May 4, 1226, he laid before 
the assembly the papal claims, and pointed out 
that the same demands had been made on the 
Church of France, but had been neglected by the 
French clergy. 


1 +T^ 

It was resolved by the King, the nobles, and the 
prelates that the Archbishop should make the 
following wise and cautious reply to the papal 
request : " What the Lord Pope asks us to do is a 
matter which affects the whole Christian world. 
We are placed, as it were, on the very confines of 
the world, and consequently desire to see how other 
kingdoms will act in regard to these proposed ex- 
actions. When we shall have the example of what 
others do before our eyes, the Lord Pope will not 
find us more backward in obedience." 

With this answer the Roman Curia had to rest 
content, and Stephen Langton was never again 
troubled by a papal legate or nuncio. 

Leaving the affairs of his diocese in the hands 
of his brother Simon, whom he had appointed 
Archdeacon of Canterbury, the Cardinal-archbishop 
of Canterbury retired to his country residence at 
Slindon in Sussex, where he died July 9, 1228 A.D., 
after reigning twenty-two years as archbishop; 
and his remains were deposited in a chapel called 
St. Michael's, or the Warrior's, in Canterbury 
Cathedral, which stands on the south side against 
the western transept. 

Notwithstanding the opposition made by Stephen 
Langton to the exactions of Rome, Pope Honorius 


greatly extolled him when dead, saying, "The 
custodian of the earthly paradise of Canterbury, 
Stephen of happy memory, a man pre-eminently 
endowed with the gifts of knowledge and supernal 
grace, has been called, as we hope and believe, to 
the joy and rest of paradise above/' 

The death of the Archbishop was a very heavy 
blow to English freedom. In persuading Rome to 
withdraw her legate, the Primate had averted a 
conflict between the national desire for self-govern- 
ment and the papal claims for overlordship. The 
mere consideration of the fact of legatine authority, 
and the vivid alarm with which the attempt to 
renew it, after the death of Langton, was regarded, 
certainly leads to the conclusion that it was singu- 
larly oppressive and unpopular ; and we may fairly 
infer that the experience of its evils was one of the 
chief causes which operated during the next few 
years to determine the political attitude of the 
English Church. 

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that, during 
the infancy of our Constitution, the influence of 
the Church was almost more important than that 
of the lay nobility. It was by the Church, led by 
Archbishop Langton, full as much as by them, that 
the Great Council was won; it was by her again, 
and chiefly through her titular head, that the 
country was delivered from the yoke of legatine 
authority; it was by her also that De Burgh was 


maintained in power ; it was from her, finally, that 
Simon de Montfort derived his most able and con- 
sistent support. 

The cause of this is extremely simple. Not only 
was the Church more advanced in political intelli- 
gence, it had also the most at stake in the govern- 
ment of Henry's reign, viz. the exclusion of aliens 
from power. 

But Langton's death gave the signal for a more 
serious struggle ; for it was in the oppression of the 
Church of England by the Pope's during the reign 
of Henry the Third that the little rift first opened 
which was destined to widen into a gulf that parted 
the one from the other at the Reformation. It 
was only by the promise of a heavy subsidy that 
Henry the Third, in 1229 A.D., could buy the 
papal confirmation of Langton's successor, but the 
baronage at once rejected the King's demand for an 
" aid " to Rome. 


It may be profitable to consider this question 
here. Was the position offered him by either 
Innocent the Third or Honorius the Third, popes 
of Rome, during his tenure of the archiepiscopal 
See of Canterbury? Did Innocent think Stephen 


Langton too learned, to judicious, and too mighty 
a person to entrust with a power almost, for the 
time being, equal to his own ? Was he afraid of a 
possible supersession by Cardinal Langton in effect, 
if not in name, if he made the latter a permanent 
papal legate? 

In those days it was not, we must remember, an 
impossible thing, as it has seemed now for hundreds 
of years, for an Englishman to become Pope of 
Rome, for in the same year that Henry the Second 
was crowned by Theobald (1154 A.D.), Nicholas 
Breakspear, an Englishman, had been made pope, 
under the title of Adrian the Fourth ; although this 
is the only instance of an Englishman obtaining 
that position. 

But can we conceive of Innocent the Third, after 
the account already given of him, offering Arch- 
bishop Langton the position of papal legate in 
England, a position which had been held by some 
of his predecessors ? I think so, but, it would seem 
to me, probably, only on condition that the office 
must be accepted and exercised literally, submis- 
sively and thoroughly dependently on the offerers' 
will. Innocent's love of and his idea of inherent 
power as Vicar of Christ on earth would force him 
to demand from such a character as Stephen (whose 
college friend he had been, whose independence of 
character he would have noticed, and probably 
was well aware of his intense patriotism for his 


native country) a definite, clear, literal promise 
that he would be content (like the officials of Frederic 
the Great of Prussia, 1740-1748 A.D.) merely to 
register papal decrees, and fulminate papal bulls 
against any and whomsoever he (Innocent) might 
issue them. 

By making Henry, Bishop of Winchester, to be 
a legatus ordinarius or ordinary legate, in 1137 A.D., 
the Pope placed the Archbishop of Canterbury in 
subjection to one of his own suffragans, cleverly 
calculating that the Archbishops of Canterbury in 
the future would be not only willing but anxious 
to avoid the repetition of so grave an outrage by 
assuming the chains of slavery themselves. 

Assuming the offer was made by Innocent on 
the humiliating condition imagined, and refused 
by Archbishop Langton, it would still be greatly 
to the latter's credit, for in the Middle Ages the 
position of papal legate was a powerful one, as 
will be gathered from the following : William of 
Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury, claimed and 
obtained the office in 1127 A.D., and it was held 
by the archbishops, with occasional interruptions, 
till Cranmer disavowed it in Convocation in 1534 
A.D. The archbishops accepted the oifice rather 
than have a legate appointed over their heads, and 
it added to their dignity and authority in the eyes 
of the Church; the popes were glad to give them 
the office because it turned into supporters of the 


papal authority in the Church of England those 
who would else have been its bitterest and most 
powerful opponents; and gave to much of the 
constitutional authority which they exercised as 
archbishops the appearance of being exercised as the 
delegated authority of the " Apostolic See." And 
this system also helped very much to familiarise 
men's minds with the doctrine of papal supremacy, 
and caused hopeless confusion between the metro- 
politan and legatine powers of the Archbishop of 
Canterbury. These ex officio legates whom the 
popes found it convenient to appoint in other 
churches besides England, were called legati nati, 
i. e. born, or ex officio legates. 

But the popes continued from time to time to 
send special legates, legati a later e, i. e. " from beside 
himself," on special occasions, and their authority 
for the time superseded that of the legatus natus. 
Thus Pandulph was sent to receive King John's 
surrender and oath of fealty. Otho and Ottoboni 
were sent, in Henry the Third's reign, to regulate 
and plunder the Church which John's surrender had 
placed at the mercy of the Court of Rome. 


After Archbishop Langton's treatment of the 
commands of Innocent the Third, we can hardly 


imagine that the latter's successor, Honorius the 
Third, would be anxious to entrust the former with 
legatine or ambassadorial power in a country so far 
away, when locomotion and transmission of business 
were not expedited by steam engines, steamships, 
telephones, telegraphs and marconigrams, but even 
if he made the offer to the Archbishop of Canterbury, 
it would be refused, in my humble judgment, for 
the same reason that he refused, if approached, the 
offer of Pope Innocent. And the reason for the 
assumed twice offered and twice refused position 
would probably be that he had learned from his 
reading of British-Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman 
history that the Church of his native land had again 
and again asserted its independence, and that, 
therefore, the Pope of Rome as such had no really 
effective, but only a kind of conventional juris- 
diction within the realm of England; or how could 
Langton have managed to persuade Pope Honorius 
the Third to grant " that the Archbishop of York 
should carry his cross only in his own province, 
that the Pope should not give away any English 
benefice to a foreigner in succession to a foreigner; 
and that no legate should ever again be sent to 
England during his (Langton's) life; the result 
being a complete victory for his policy as regards 
the administration of the English Church? " 

In the light of Honorius's promise and let us 
bear in mind that he was the immediate successor 


of the would-be world-dominating Pope Innocent 
not to make appointments of foreigners to English 
benefices and of a legate to our country, how could 
the English Church at this time, we ask, be con- 
sidered as wholly subservient, as asserted by some, 
to the Church of Rome? 

We would here seem to have some support for 
the reason given respecting the refusal of the as- 
sumed offer of a papal ambassadorship by Stephen 
Langton. But it might be replied that Pope 
Honorius was prudentially waiving his rights only 
for a time, arid that the Archbishop of Canterbury 
was only anxious for his own personal honour and 
ascendancy in stipulating that the promise should 
only be operative during his lifetime. Archbishop 
Langton was too much of a statesman to lose the 
opportunity of getting the public promise of the 
Pope of Rome in essential matters, even if only for 
his own lifetime. By this action the former kept 
before the eyes of the English people what had 
been held, perhaps, rather dimly before his time 
namely, the independence of their Church and of 
their nation. And most probably Langton believed 
that, whoever might be his successor, he would 
adhere firmly to Magna Charta, which asserted the 
privileges of both the national Church a|id of the 
different orders of English people. 



Again, some support for the reason given why 
Archbishop Langton refused the assumed twice 
offered papal legateship may probably also be 
obtained from the matter of the Forged Decretals. 
What are these? 

Somebody, who took the name of Isidore, a 
famous Spanish Bishop (560-636 A.D.) who had 
been dead more than 200 years, made a collection 
of Church law and of popes' letters ; and he mixed 
up with the true letters a quantity which he had 
himself forged, but which pretended to have been 
written by bishops of Rome from the very time 
of the Apostles. The forger (Isidore Mercator) 
published them in Spain about 845 A.D., and he 
naturally fathered them upon the great Isidore of 
Seville. And in these letters it was made to appear 
that the Pope had been appointed by our Lord 
Himself to be head of the whole Church, and to 
govern it as he liked ; and that the popes had always 
used this power from the beginning. Now, nobody 
in those times had any notion that they were false, 
and so they were believed by every one, and the 
Pope got all that they claimed for him. And for 
some generations after the publication of the pseudo- 
Isidorian decretals, the See of Rome gradually 
pressed forward the claim to an ultimate appellate 


jurisdiction, and consequently, to the headship of 
the Church. 

The Roman theologians had put this claim, not 
on the ground that such an organisation had gradu- 
ally grown up and was practically advantageous, 
and thereupon ought to be accepted by all Christian 
people, but they had declared it to be of divine 
right. Christ, they asserted, had given to Peter 
and his successors a supremacy over the Church; 
and the popes of Rome were the successors of Peter ; 
and so they claimed, as of divine right, that the 
Pope was the centre of Christian unity, and the 
head of the Church on earth, and the representative 
and vicegerent of Jesus Christ her Lord. This 
theory Innocent the Third did his best, as we have 
already seen, to make it a reality. 

But did Archbishop Langton believe in this 
theory? It is true he had connived nay, more, 
that he had asked for the putting into practice of 
this theory against King John with regard to the 
latter's excommunication, and in his acquiescence 
with the " Interdict " which affected the whole 
kingdom, but evidently, from what we have just 
seen in his attitude towards both Innocent the 
Third and Honorius the Third, he had not a wholly 
implicit and unquestioned belief in the theory, or 
else he would not have flatly disobeyed Innocent's 
injunction to excommunicate the barons (when the 
latter declared Magna Charta null and void), and 


Langton would never have dreamed of suggesting 
or demanding the terms, recently referred to, which 
he obtained from Pope Honorius. 


Archbishop Langton, no doubt, had respect for 
Rome as the centre of wealth and learning. 

The Middle Ages, in spite of many diversities, 
have a certain stamp of unity, and, above all, of 
simplicity. The papal court was a common meeting 
place at the end of the twelfth century for the best 
intellects from all lands. There was one common 
language for all formal interchange of thought. 
There was one great system which separated all 
Europe into classes, and made all the members of 
a given class akin. A nation, on the other hand, 
as such, had little influence on its neighbour, and 
mingled seldom in that neighbour's quarrels. Kings 
went their own way, for the most part untram- 
melled by fear of interference. Each country had 
only to reckon with a sovereign, a few bishops and 
nobles, and a large uneducated mass of people ; not 
as to-day, with the most far-reaching representation, 
with a king or president, with a Parliament of two 
Houses of Representatives. And all this simplicity 
of the times is admirably reflected in the documents 
that have come down to us. 

The fact that Rome was so important a place 


did not prevent Langton from believing in the 
independence of the English Church and of the 
English nation. But he did not, in the least, act 
as if he thought the Church of Rome was a totally 
different body from his own Church; rather, he 
looked upon that Church as running on parallel 
lines with his own as regards essential doctrines, 
and considered both these Churches as national 
Churches, and forming part of the Catholic (not 
Roman Catholic) Church of Christendom. If Arch- 
bishop Langton had been so obsessed with the idea 
of the English Church being a subordinate part of 
the Roman Catholic Church there would be great 
reason for believing that he would have worked 
hand and glove with Pope Innocent, who would have 
made him a papal ambassador with full powers 
(legatus a later e), and this office would have been 
confirmed to him by Pope Honorius the Third. 

Such a scholar as Langton was likely to be an 
omnivorous reader, as well as a voluminous writer, 
and therefore would know that England owed its 
Christian religion not in a specially large way to 
the Italian band of missionaries but in a considerable 
degree to missionaries from Ireland and Scotland, 
who in their turn were indebted to a great extent 
to Gaul or France, and the latter, of course, not only 
to missionaries from the West, but also from the 
East, the birthplace and burialplace of Him whom 
both Roman Catholic and English Catholic tried 


and do try to glorify and make known to all 

If it be said that Archbishop Stephen Langton's 
episcopate was uneventful, this much must be said, 
that for one who suffered so much and worked so 
well in other ways he might well be pardoned whose 
pastoral work was not comparable with his work 
as a statesman, patriot, social reformer and scholar. 
And yet his work as an archbishop was not without 
some interesting features when we take into account 
the difference between the circumstances and con- 
ditions of life in his time and our own, for we find 
that, amongst other things. 


He had a fondness for the magnificent in ecclesi- 
astical ritual. To restore religious fervour and 
enthusiasm in the country, when reading was not 
the common heritage of all, he caused the memory 
of several famous English saints to be revived by 
translating their remains to much grander shrines 
or sacred places; thus the remains of Wulfstan, 
the Saxon Bishop of Worcester, 1061 A.D. (the 
dignitary who was so popular that even William 
the Conqueror thought it not politic to remove from 
his See in order to make way for a Norman ecclesi- 
astic), and Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, 1162 A.D., were translated, amidst imposing 


ceremonies; to witness the latter noblemen and 
prelates came from foreign countries. Cardinal 
Archbishop Langton entertained the company after 
the function in the new palace he had built which, 
to the eyes of contemporary chroniclers, could 
hardly have been surpassed by the glories of King 
Solomon's buildings, and the banquet was such as 
recalled the f eastings of King Ahasuerus. Langton 's 
lavish expenditure on the ceremonies in connection 
with the translation of Thomas Beckett is said to 
have involved the See of Canterbury in debts of 
which it was not cleared until the fourth primate in 
succession from himself. In this the Archbishop 
seems to have gone beyond the scriptural injunction 
that a bishop must be given to hospitality. 

The cause of the financial encumbrance of the 
See of Canterbury was looked upon as its great 
event in the thirteenth century, and as one of its 
most glorious pageants, for " the chroniclers " agree 
in stating that the concourse of people from all 
nations was of a character such as England never 
before witnessed. For fifty years the martyr's 
corpse (Archbishop Beckett) had rested in the crypt ; 
but on the night of July 6, 1220 A.D., it was privately 
removed under the superintendence of Prior Walter 
by the monks of Christ Church, in the presence of 
Archbishop Langton and the Bishop of Salisbury, 
and carried to the west end of the nave. The 
remains were placed in a strong coffer studded with 



iron clamps and nails, where they were watched 
till the dawn of July 7. On that morning, in the 
presence of the boy-king, Henry the Third, of too 
tender years to be himself a bearer, the coffer was 
raised on the shoulders of Pandulph, the papal 
legate, Archbishop Langton, Hubert de Burgh, the 
grand Justiciary and the Archbishop of Rheims, 
and borne by them into the quire, and up the steps 
of Trinity Chapel. Liberal provision was made for 
the vast crowd, which consisted 

" Of bishops and abbots, priors and parsons, 
Of earls, and of barons, and of many knights 


Of sergeants, and of squires, and of his husband- 
men enow, 

And of simple men eke of the land, so thick thither 

Stephen Langton was well prepared for this 
universal concourse of all conditions of men, and 
was not taken aback by its numbers, for he had 
himself caused proclamations to be circulated of 
the great day whereon his martyred predecessor 
was to be honoured, two years before the event, 
and this not only throughout England, but through- 
out all the Christian states of Europe. Provision 
was made for the multitudes not merely in Canter- 
bury itself, where at each gate tuns of wine were 
freely distributed to all comers, but the whole way 



along the road from London to Canterbury hay and 
provender for man and beast were given to all who 
asked. In the following year, from a sermon on 
the translation of Thomas Beckett, the fiftieth year 
of the death of the martyr, it may be inferred that 
a good deal of uproarious revelry took place at the 
great festival. 


Again Langton showed himself a Church revivalist 
in his desire for the revival of spirituality amongst 
his people by introducing the Dominican and 
Franciscan Orders of monks into England, and allow- 
ing them to preach not only in his own particular 
diocese, but in his Province of Canterbury, which 
meant not only over the larger part of England, but 
where the populations, compared with the northern 
province of York, was much larger. But what 
real need was there for introducing these foreign 
orders at all into England when the country was 
w r ell supplied at the time with religious houses in 
addition to many parish (secular as opposed to 
regular) priests? Whilst very much can be said 
in favour of the monastic communities, there was 
one very serious drawback to their beneficial in- 
fluence on the nation. The support given to these 
great auxiliary institutions which were added to the 
system of the ancient Church of England tended 


to weaken the hands of the bishops and clergy 
had the cure of the souls of the people, for the 
Normans introduced the custom into England of 
endowing the monasteries which they founded or 
supported, not only with land and money, but also 
with the rectories of which they had become 
patrons, with the result that the vicars or representa- 
tives of the monasteries in the benefices were very 
poorly remunerated for their work, and lost prestige 
in the eyes of their parishioners because they were 
unable to confer temporal benefits upon them, as 
their predecessors, the old rectors, had been able to. 
This was one of the causes that tended to deteriorate 
the influence and usefulness of the secular that is, 
the parochial clergy, and, therefore, tended to the 
moral and spiritual deterioration of the people, for 
parish chaplains could not really fill the place of 
the rector ; no locum tenens could adequately fulfil 
the duties of an absentee. 


As the population increased the clergy were not 
able to supply its spiritual needs. In the towns 
of England in the thirteenth century, the condition 
of the people bore some resemblance to that which 
forms the great and painful problem of our own 
days. Foul, crowded dwellings, in undrained and 
unscavenged quarters of the towns, inducing leprosy 


and occasional visitations of plague, extreme poverty, 
ignorance, vice and misery, were among the char- 
acteristics of the Middle Ages as nearly all these are 
of our own. It was to meet this condition of things 
that the orders of friars were founded in the thir- 
teenth century. The first Dominican friars landed 
1221 A.D., and the first Franciscans in 1224; the 
former preachers to the educated and capable of 
dealing with the infidelity of the time; the latter, 
impressed with the miseries of the poor, were mis- 
sionaries of charity to the most distressed and de- 
graded outcasts of our great towns. They were 
mission preachers and, at this time, the purest and 
poorest of evangelists. " Nothing," it is said, 
in the histories of Wesley and Whitfield, " can be 
compared with the enthusiasm which everywhere 
welcomed them, or with the immediate visible 
result of their labours/' But it is sad to relate that 
within a century these orders were destined to 
become lazy and covetous, quacks and pretenders, 
salt that had lost its savour, one of the saddest 
spectacles of degeneration in history, for, by the 
middle of the fourteenth century, we find Chaucer, 
in his prologue to the Canterbury Tales, elaborating 
a beautiful description of the evangelical virtues 
of a poor parson of a town (a secular priest). 

" A good man there was of religion. 
A Parson poor in worldly goods but 


Rich in holy thought and work. 
He preached the law of Christ, 
And His apostles, and better still 
Followed it himself ; and never 
Did he fail to visit all 
Who were sick and in trouble ! " 

Whilst he satirises the jolly fox-hunting monk and 
the hypocritical cant and money-getting tricks of 
the friar 

" A monk there was who cared 
Little of what was said about him, and 
Spared no cost to keep the finest greyhounds ; 
And whose sleeves were edged with lace. 

And there was a friar 

A riotous merry fellow enough, 

Glib of tongue, yet solemn in his office, 

And his penances were light, 

When people made it worth his while." 

Archbishop Langton's desire for the moral and 
spiritual uplifting of his people prompted him to 
allow the Dominican and Franciscan orders of 
monks, when in their prime for religious purity 
and zeal, to come where they were so much needed, 
for the religious influence of the clergy had sunk to 
a low ebb; non-residence and ignorance and the 
disuse of preaching, on the part of many priests, and 


the decline of the older monastic orders created a 
demand for these self-denying missionaries. 

Walter de Map, chaplain to King John, and also 
a judge and ambassador, in an oft-quoted passage, 
writes : " The whole body of the clergy, from 
pope to hedge-priest, is busy in the chase for gain. 
What escapes the bishop is snapped up by the 
archdeacon, and what escapes the archdeacon is 
nosed and hunted down by the dean; while a 
host of hungry officials prowl around these greater 

In Langton's attitude towards these friars we 
see that the pastoral, spiritual side of his office 
was not wholly laid aside. The Archbishop was 
evidently one who realised that there were diversi- 
ties of gifts, and that such men as these missioners 
were more able than himself and his clergy to bring 
about a higher moral and spiritual tone among both 
the educated and uneducated classes in his Province 
of Canterbury. Here the primate, I think, carried 
his aptitude for statesmanship into the pastoral 
needs of the large ecclesiastical province over which 
he presided, and, in this matter, I consider that 
Langton exhibited one of the marks of greatness of 
character in allowing others whom he thought could 
do the work, for which he was responsible, better 
than himself, and without showing any kind of 
jealousy at their success, and his own apparent lack 
of success in the spiritual side of his great position. 


Archbishop Langton showed himself alive to his 
work as a pastor when the religious training and 
education of the people had to be done so much 
by the concrete, through the eye, by market crosses, 
architecture, etc., for he was a 


Great vigour was infused into the Church during 
the latter days of his primacy, which had its greatest 
effect in the rebuilding of old and the construction 
of new churches. Westminster Abbey nave and 
transepts present to us the finest specimen of Early 
English architecture. The Abbey Church, which 
Edward the Confessor built, had fallen into decay, 
and a great part was rebuilt by Henry the Third at 
the instigation of Langton. 

From the register of Hugh of Wells, 1209-1235 
A.D. (consecrated by Archbishop Langton during his 
enforced exile), it appears that three hundred vicar- 
ages (benefices) were ordained in his long episcopate. 
This meant a large amount of church building, 
probably a new church for the vicarages or parishes 
just referred to. And what the Bishop of Lincoln 
was doing in his vast diocese, other bishops were 
also doing, proportionately, all up and down the 
country. Therefore we may presume that this 
excellent Church work, in the Province of Canter- 
bury, received the blessing of its archbishop, and 


that, in the latter's own diocese, Stephen Langton 
encouraged the endowment and building of vicarages 
and benefices, and thus brought to the people a 
resident clergyman or, at least, the more frequent 
administration of the sacraments of the Church. 

The Historical Manuscripts' Commission, vol. iv. 
p. 66, speaks of Stephen, Archbishop of Canterbury, 
notifying that Sir William Briwerr had in his 
presence granted the church of Coleton to the 
deanery of Exeter (1225). 


Again, Archbishop Langton was a reformer of 
Convocation, or the Church's Parliament. In the 
Anglo-Saxon period Church Councils were either 
assemblies of the whole Church (Anglicana), such 
as were held at Clovesho and Hertford (A.D. 673), 
or provincial gatherings of the clergy of York and 
Canterbury. In his organisation of the Church, 
Archbishop Theodore, the metropolitan of Canter- 
bury, 668 A.D., provided for the annual meeting of 
a synod at Clovesho, somewhere in the neighbour- 
hood of London. 

Diocesan synods were only instituted after the 
Norman Conquest, and, before that date, member- 
ship of the provincial synods was confined to the 
episcopate or bishops. Abbots and archdeacons 
were added after the Conquest. The growth of 


the Provincial Convocations is chiefly marked by 
the institution and development of the principle of 
representation. There are few traces of it before 
the pontificate of Stephen Langton. 

In 1225 A - D - Langton summoned not only the 
bishops, abbots, priors, deans and archdeacons, but 
also proctors or representatives from the collegiate 
and monastic clergy ; and by this means broadened 
its constitution. 


Archbishop Stephen Langton's reputation as a 
scholar and a divine in his day was great. He was 
a person of considerable learning, and is the author 
of various theological tracts, some of which have 
been printed, and lists of all them that are known 
are given by Cave and Tanner. It has been shown 
in a note to Watson's History of English Poetry 
(edition 1840, ii. p. 28) that there is no reason to 
suppose Langton to have been the author of a 
drama in the French language, which had been 
assigned to him by Mde. le Rue on no better grounds 
than the manuscript having been found bound up 
with one of the Cardinal's sermons. 

One chief enduring result of Langton's industrious 
scholarship is seen in the division of the Bible into 
chapters and, expressed in the quaint words of an 
old chronicler, " He coted the Bible at Parys and 
marked the chapitres." This statement has been 


confirmed by recent researches of Denifle, which 
prove already that the division of the sacred text 
into chapters owes its origin to Stephen Langton. 

The importance of this work may be sufficiently 
gauged by its widespread adoption, for the division 
into chapters has not only passed from the Vulgate 
to all modern vernacular versions of the Bible, but 
has been applied with obvious advantage to the 
Greek New Testament and to the Septuagint. It 
is, indeed, one of the few cases in which Latin 
scholarship has affected the Eastern Churches. 
The Jews have adopted the division but not the 
Langtonian division. 

The works written by or attributed to Stephen 
Langton are voluminous, but they consist chiefly 
of commentaries on the Scriptures which are dis- 
tinguishable in general by their scholastic subtleties, 
and, were it not for his political celebrity, he would 
not hold a very prominent place among the Anglo- 
Norman writers. A rather early manuscript in the 
Bodleian Library (Oxford) sums up the literary 
labours of Stephen by stating that " while at Paris 
he divided the Bible into chapters and verses 
(quotavit), he wrote expositions on the book of 
Kings, composed a life of King Richard, and left 
many other volumes the produce of his industry." 
Langton, as already stated, is said to have been 
the author of the division of the books of the Old 
and New Testament into chapters and verses, but 


others have disputed his claims, and attributed 
this mode of division to a French scholar named 
Hugh de St. Cher. The authority of the Oxford 
manuscript just quoted may, however, be considered 
as giving some weight to Stephen's claims. 

Among his other theological writings, the most 
remarkable are the Sermones de Tempore et de 
Saudis, which are preserved in manuscript. The 
Archbishop also enjoyed some reputation as a Latin 
poet. Perhaps the most singular of all Langton's 
writings is a brief sermon preserved in a manuscript 
in the British Museum (MS. Arundel, No. 292), in 
which he takes a stanza of a French popular song, 
and gives a theological comment or moralisation 
on each phrase. It is written in Latin and is 
entitled " The Sermon of Master S. de Langton, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, concerning the Holy 

Dr. Hook says of Archbishop Stephen Langton, 
" A man more inflexibly upright than he or more 
profoundly erudite, both as a philosopher of the 
schools and as a biblical scholar, could not be found. 
In the controversies of a university not free from 
turbulence, and in the discussions of ecclesiastical 
chapters where intrigue was often busy, Langton 
had found opportunity to prove that, by his varied 
talents and knowledge of human nature, he was 
qualified to shine equally in the court and in the 
cloister, in the conduct of public affairs not less 


than in the meditations of the contemplative life, 
among politicians as among scholars/' 


Look at Archbishop Langton as the president of 
a very important synod, and we shall see him as a 
strict disciplinarian of the clergy, monks, nuns, and 
laity. In 1222 A.D. he presided over the Provincial 
Council held at Oseney, Oxford, when the following 
decrees, composed by himself, were passed (the 
decrees are printed in the collections of Spellman 
and Wilkins) 

1. Excommunicates generally all who encroach 
upon the rights of the Church, disturb the public 
peace, etc. 

2. Directs that bishops shall retain about them 
wise and charitable almoners, and attend to the 
petitions of the poor; that they shall also at times 
themselves hear and make confessions; that they 
shall reside at their cathedrals, etc. 

3. Forbids bishops, archdeacons, and deans to 
take anything for collations or institutions to 

4. Concerning a dispute among patrons. 

5. Concerning the Divine Office (i. e. Holy Com- 
munion) and of Baptism. (Praecipue baptismatis 
et altaris devotissime.) 


6. Orders the celebration of the nocturnal and 
diurnal office, and of all the sacraments, especially 
those of baptism and of the altar, with such devotion 
as God inspires. 

7. Forbids priests to say Mass more than once in 
the same day, except at Christmas and Easter, and 
when there was a corpse to be buried. 

8. 9. Clergymen should not be merchants or 
tradesmen; should not practise secular jurisdic- 
tions especially those in which there is annexed the 
judgment of blood. 

10. Orders curates to preach often, and to attend 
to the sick. 

11. Directs that the ornaments and vessels of the 
church be properly kept, and that in every church 
there shall be a silver chalice and a clean white 
linen cloth for the altar; also that old corporals be 
burnt, etc. 

12. Forbids any one to resign his benefice, and to 
retain the vicarage, to prevent suspicion of unlawful 

13. Forbids to divide benefices in order to provide 
for several persons. 

14. On what persons vicariates (benefices) ought 
to be conferred. Any one unwilling to be ordained 
to the priesthood to be deprived of a vicariate. 

15. Orders churches, not worth more than five 
marks a year, to be given to none but such as will 
reside and minister in them. 



16. Assigns to a perpetual vicar a stipend not 
less than five marks, except in Wales, " where 
vicars are content with less by reason of the poverty 
of the churches." Orders that the diocesan (bishop) 
shall decide whether the parson or vicar shall bear 
the charges of the church. 

From these rules of the Council of Oxford 1222 
A.D., we can illustrate how great was the difference 
in wealth and social position between the higher 
and the lower clergy. 

Whatever may have been the gulf between the 
wealth of bishops and the poverty of the parish 
clergy in the seventeenth or eighteenth century, it 
is as nothing to what we find in the Middle Ages 
five marks a year the minimum stipend for the 
parish clergy. 

17. Orders that in large parishes there shall be 
two or three priests. 

18. Directs that the bishop shall make the person 
presented to a living, take an oath that he has 
neither given nor promised anything to the patron. 

19. Provides that in each archdeaconry confessors 
shall be appointed for the rural deans and others 
of the clergy who may be unwilling to confess to 
the bishop. 

20. Takes from the rural deans the cognisance of 
matrimonial causes. 

21. Forbids, under anathema, to harbour thieves, 


22, 23. Relate to archidiaconal visitations. For- 
bid those dignitaries to burden the clergy whom 
they visit, with many horses, to invite strangers to 
the procurations provided for them, and to extort 
procurations without reasonable cause. 

24. Forbids to let out to farm archdeaconries, 
deaneries, etc. 

25. Orders the archdeacons to take care in their 
visitations that the canon of the Mass be correct, 
that the priest can rightly pronounce the words of 
the canon and of baptism, that laymen be taught 
how to baptise rightly in case of necessity, and that 
the host, chrism, and holy oil be kept under lock 
and key, etc. 

26. Forbids bishops, archdeacons, and their 
officers to pass sentence without first giving the 
canonical monitions. 

27. Forbids to exact any fee for burials and the 
administration of the holy sacraments. 

28. Respecting the life and honourable reputation 
of the clergy. 

29. Concerning the alienation of ecclesiastical 

30. Orders ecclesiastics to wear decent habits 
with close copes, to observe the tonsure, to keep 
their hair cut short, and to abstain from immoderate 
eating and drinking. 

31. Forbids clergymen in Holy Orders publicly 
to keep wives. 


" It was by no means a matter of course that the 
presentee or occupant of a benefice was in Holy 
Orders. Great laxity prevailed. Many presentees 
were refused institution until they had attended at 
the ' schools ' of Northampton, or Oxford, or other 
places for a certain length of time." 

32, 33. Concerning the vesting or clothing of 
nuns and abbots. 

34. Forbids the clergy to spend their ecclesi- 
astical revenues in building houses on lay fees for 
their sons, nephews or concubines (wives). 

35. Nothing to be extorted from those living in 

36. Forbids the nuns to wear veils of silk, to use 
pins of silver and gold, and to wear girdles worked 
and embroidered, and long trains. 

37. 38. Respecting the concession of many bene- 
fices and of matrimony. 

39, 40. Concerning the hindrances and impedi- 
ments, etc., of Jews. 

41. Forbids to give a person already provided 
with a benefice having cure of souls, any revenue 
out of another church. 

42, 43. Orders monks to live in common, and for- 
bids them to receive any one into their community 
under eighteen years of age. 

44. Orders monks to give away to the poor what 
remains of their repasts. 

45. Forbids monks to make wills. 


46. No religious person should hold any property. 

47. Forbids monks and canons regular to eat and 
drink save at the appointed hours, permits them 
to quench their thirst in the refectory, but not to 

48. 49, 50. Religious persons should not be 
gluttons. Other directions as to their social 

Very remarkable were these enactments of the 
Provincial Council of Oseney. Archbishop Stephen 
Langton, who was of an ascetic disposition (and the 
canons just given would seem to imply a general 
prevalence of clerical matrimony), dealt in the 
harshest way with the wives of the married clergy, 
styling them mere concubines, and insisting on their 
being put away immediately. All " concubines " 
(wives), unless they get them gone, are to be ex- 
pelled from the Church, refused the sacraments, and 
even, added the austere primate in his injunction, 
denied Christian burial. The clergy who persisted 
in living with them were to be suspended, and were 
to be subjected to severe penance before absolution 
was granted. But a recognition of the marriage 
of the clergy took place in 1225, when a canon was 
published allowing the wives of the clergy to be 
admitted to the sacraments of the Church if they 
expressed penitence. 

Langton was not of an unstable disposition, and 



when we compare him with his eminent predecessor, 
Archbishop Thomas Beckett, he was much more 
consistent than he in the maintenance of a public 
cause, but where he himself was concerned he was 
submissive to a fault. There is no record of any 
eccentric asceticism at one time and of relapses 
into luxurious living at other times, on the part of 
Langton, during his residence at Pontigny. He 
was ready to leave his books that he might enter 
into the duties of public life. We never read of his 
injuring his cause by his impetuosity or through the 
ebullitions of a violent temper, although he was not 
devoid, as already seen in his canons of Oseney, of 
an exhibition of cruel asceticism. 

But this attitude (harsh and unreasonable as it 
seems to us) towards the wives of the clergy was 
not new, for synod after synod had continued to 
legislate against the married clergy before Lang- 
ton's enactments, on which Dr. Cutts says, " that 
the clergy might not leave such partners (wives) 
anything in their wills, that if the poor wives didn't 
leave their partners (husbands) they should be 
excluded from the Church and the Sacraments ; and 
if that did not suffice, they (wives) should be stricken 
with the sword of excommunication; and, lastly, 
the secular arm should be invoked against them." 

This synod of Oseney enjoins the clergy " not to 
be dumb dogs, but with salutary bark to drive 
away the disease of spiritual wolves from the flock." 


It was this Provincial Council which has been ren- 
dered famous by one of the earliest known instances 
of execution for heresy, which is not much to the 
president's credit. An impostor who pretended to 
be Jesus Christ, and who showed scars on his hands, 
feet and sides, which he said were inflicted on him 
by the Jews, was condemned by the Council, and 
put to death on a cross ; and this Council also con- 
demned to be burnt a deacon who had apostatised 
to Judaism to marry a Jewess; the latter case the 
only capital condemnation for heresy which we read 
of till the passing of the Act de heretico comburendo 
in 1400 A.D., that is, the burning of heretics, by 
which persons condemned in the Church courts for 
false teaching were handed over to the sheriff of the 
county to be burnt alive. 

Here we have 


Strange that Langton, who was, as already 
stated, such a biblical scholar in his own day, and 
who must have read the Sermon on the Mount 
and St. Paul's Triumph Song of Love or Charity 
(i Cor. xiii.) could be a party to the cruelty 
just mentioned. If we judge this side of his 
character by the Christian conscience of our own 
day, the Archbishop's attitude towards heresy 


would be a cruel and intolerable one; but if we 
judge him, it ought to be taken into account that 
he had spent a large amount of the responsible 
portion of his life on the Continent, where there 
was not very much compunction on the part of his 
contemporaries to inflict condign punishment on 
heretics (vide Innocent the Third), and then we may 
not find it difficult to imagine that he sincerely 
believed it necessary to the glory of God and the 
extension of His Kingdom that blasphemy and 
heresy ought to be so punished in the flesh that the 
spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 

As the years rolled on, and with their wider and 
supposed more tolerant ideas, we find in A.D. 1402 
(Henry the Fourth) that Sawtree a Lollard priest, 
was burnt for heresy. In the sixteenth century, 
as in the Middle Ages, it was still thought to be the 
business of the State to uphold religious truth and 
to put down heretical teaching by the severest 
means. To tolerate error was regarded as a sin, 
and it was looked upon as something like rebellion 
for a subject to reject the religion of his sovereign. 
Protestant and Catholic (Roman) Kings alike had 
sent those who disagreed with their doctrines to 
the scaffold. Many were the victims of Henry the 
Eighth's ecclesiastical policy. Edward the Sixth 
had burnt the extreme Protestants called Ana- 
baptists, and Calvin himself had condemned to 
death the Unitarian Servetus. 


From 1648 to 1654 A.D. the followers of the strange 
enthusiast, George Fox, began now to be abundant. 
For some reason or other these fanatics were worse 
treated than the others. The gaols are said to have 
been full of Quakers under the Commonwealth. 

Cromwell's Constitution (1654-8 A.D.) promised 
liberty of worship to " all such as do profess faith 
in God by Jesus Christ " ; yet Anglicanism and 
Catholicism (Roman) labelled Prelacy and Popery 
and regarded as idolatrous or politically dangerous 
were excepted by name from this promise. Even 
the English Church Prayer-Book was prohibited 
from being used either in public or in private. In 
August 1645 A.D. any one using the Book of Com- 
mon Prayer was to be fined five pounds for the first 
offence, ten pounds for the second, for the third a 
year's imprisonment. Any minister not using the 
Government's Directory of Worship was to be fined 
forty shillings for each offence. This was done in 
the name of toleration. Slow, but dreadful cruelty 
was inflicted by a so-called toleration government 
on hundreds of clergy and their families. Even a 
writer who does his best to put Cromwell as a tolerant 
man says that, in June 1654, a Catholic (Roman) 
priest was executed in London for no crime except 
being a priest. And this took place four hundred 
years after Archbishop Stephen Langton's time. 

History, the record of human actions, tells us that 
Roman Catholic, English Catholic and Protestant, 


Nonconformist and Calvinist, have all been guilty 
of cruelty one towards another, but, unfortunately 
for the detractors of professedly Christian repre- 
sentatives, the practising of cruelty, on account of 
a difference of opinion, does not belong exclusively to 
Christians, for what could have been more horrible 
than the terrible cruelties inflicted by Infidels, 
so-called Theists, and Socialists, in the shape of 
butcheries and wholesale drownings of crowds of 
Christian clergy and laity, and also of Non-Christian 
men and women during the French Revolution, 
1789-95 A.D., in the name of liberty, equality and 
fraternity ? 

Immediately after the execution of the unfor- 
tunate queen, Marie Antoinette, 1793 A.D., the 
enthusiastic and noble-hearted Madame Roland 
was led to the scaffold. On passing before the 
statue of Liberty, which was erected at the Place 
de la Revolution, she apostrophized it in the 
memorable words : " O Liberty ! what crimes are 
committed in thy name ! " 

And these awful deeds were done 550 years after 
the Archbishop's time. 

Stephen Langton's cruel attitude at the Synod 
of Oseney is not praised or approved by the Christian 
code of ethics, but he must be judged fairly, and 
this cannot be done if this particular conduct of 
his be looked at and judged by what we see through 
twentieth-century spectacles. 



Archbishop Langton's attitude as a Social Re- 
former, that is, his regard for the good of the nation 
as a whole, should be recognised. 

Immediately preceding Magna Charta, Langton 
saw through the attempt made by the King and 
Pope to separate the cause of the clergy from that 
of the barons, by offering to the clergy, first as from 
the King himself, and then from the King ratified 
by the Pope, a charter of ecclesiastical liberties 
which might easily have been accepted by one less 
able or more selfish, but our hero would not have 
anything to do here with party or sectional advan- 
tage. In the few details of Magna Charta, already 
given, we see the position of freemen, merchants, 
barons, clergy, women, and the villeins very much 
improved. If social reform is to be of any real good 
it must be backed up by efficient rulers, and, 
amongst the latter, we find Langton strenuously 
aiding the efforts of Hubert de Burgh, Justiciar of 
Henry the Third, in crushing the anarchy prevalent 

In the preamble to the canons enacted at Oseney, 
1222, a sad picture of the times is presented to us. 
Excommunication is declared to be ipso facto 
incurred by all who violate monasteries, seize the 
goods of clergymen or their tenants, or in any ways 


molest their persons, and especially of those who 
keep robbers on their lands, in their castles or houses; 
or are sharers with them, or are lords over them. 
One of the worst of these robber-chiefs was the 
ruffian Falkes de Breaute*. An event, in the summer 
of the year 1224, shows that some powerful influence 
was at work in Rome adverse to Henry the Third's 
interests, for amongst the hostile barons was this 
Falkes de Breaute, a man of infamous character, 
but one who, nevertheless, somehow or other suc- 
ceeded in securing (one writer says by purchase) 
the powerful protection of Pope Honorius the Third. 
He had long been famous, or infamous, in England 
for his crimes, and for setting all laws at defiance 
almost as he pleased. 

This year his evil courses reached a climax. He 
was summoned before the King's justices at Dun- 
stable to answer to more than thirty writs for 
having robbed various people, and he was con- 
demned to pay heavy fines for the King. De 
Breaute, upon hearing this, sent soldiers from 
Bedford Castle to seize the persons of the judges. 
One was taken and imprisoned. Refusing to set 
the ill-fated judge at liberty, Archbishop Stephen 
Langton and the bishops solemnly excommunicated 
Falkes, and the King laid siege to the castle. Pope 
Honorius writes of this brigand as " that noble 
man " who in time of need had risked his life 
and property for your father, King John, and for 


yourself, "and warns the King not to punish the 
aforesaid nobleman, nor allow him to be punished 
in any way." 

To Cardinal Langton, Pope Honorius wrote on 
this subject in a manner even more peremptory : 
' We have not yet been able to force our mind to 
credit what has been suggested to us about you by 
many, though they have striven to enforce the truth 
of what they say by many evidences. We thought, 
indeed, of that eminent knowledge of Divine Scrip- 
ture which you possess . . . and of that abundance 
of love which has been shown to you by the Apos- 
tolic See in so many ways ; and turning these things 
over in our mind, we could not bring ourselves to 
think anything evil or unworthy of you. We warn 
your Fraternity, and strictly order you, by our 
Apostolic letters, that you cause the King at once 
to abandon the siege of the said nobleman, and that 
you, without delay or difficulty, relax the sentence 
you have laid upon him and his followers." Henry 
the Third's reply was to the effect that the Pope 
might understand that the very order of the king- 
dom demanded peremptory satisfaction from the 
man whom the Pope had gone out of his way to 
defend. The correspondence was dropped. On 
Breaute's submission, the wife of that noble pleaded 
for the King's protection. Before Archbishop 
Stephen Langton she sued for a divorce on the ground 
that she had been married by force and had never 


given her consent. She had been the widow of 
Baldwin, Earl of Albemarle, and when Falkes de 
Breaute had earned the gratitude of King John, in 
1213, by his cruelties perpetrated in Wales, John, 
as his reward, bestowed the Countess Margaret, 
with all her possessions, upon him. The Archbishop 
considered her case, and finally her lands and pos- 
sessions were restored to her by Henry the Third, 
and she was placed under the protection of the Earl 
of Albemarle. Pope Honorius wrote two letters 
on the subject, the first directed to Archbishop 
Langton and others. In the second, addressed to 
the Archbishop alone, he speaks in very strong 
language, for he imagines that the wife of Falkes 
was detained from him apparently against her will. 
He warns Langton, the possessor of such a know- 
ledge of Divine Scripture, for the sake of his own 
reputation to remember the account which will be 
demanded of him at the last day, and he specially 
appeals to him to try in every way to get the King 
to do what he has written to tell him in this matter. 
The Archbishop was not to be moved from his love 
of law and order which made for the general social 
welfare of the nation. 

In a very special way must social reform have 
been brought about by Langton's introduction of 
the Dominican and Franciscan missioners into 
England in the matter of improved conditions 
for the mass of the people with regard to better 


housing, temperance, workmen's wages, education 
and sanitation. 


Neither Pope Innocent the Third nor King John 
really knew the character of Stephen Langton. 
They had seen in him a patient, suffering exile. 
Neither potentate expected the Archbishop to take 
a resolute and independent stand against his author- 
ity ; and both of them were, no doubt, surprised to 
see in him a powerful and skilful organiser, not only 
of the barons, who were discontented with John, 
and whom he taught to combine and form them- 
selves into a kind of " House of Lords/' but a 
skilful organiser in formulating a national, and 
not a sectional, policy which preserved alike the 
material, temporal, and religious privileges of the 
community; because he saw that neither the King 
nor the Pope could be relied on for giving the free- 
dom which he considered necessary for the lasting 
welfare of the nation and its Church (vide Magna 
Charta and the Council of Oseney). 


Stephen was a lover of his native country and of 
its freedom; he was jealous for its honour and 
for its great institution, the Church. Hence his 


opposition to the very unpatriotic King John, who 
submitted to be the vassal of the Pope, and thus 
allowed the papal influence to reach its height in 
England ; and his opposition also to the Popes who 
tried to make him feel that he was only their servant, 
and had to do their bidding in both Church and State. 

But was Stephen consistently patriotic? Did 
he not allow a foreign clerical potentate to appoint 
him to the metropolitan see of the English Church ? 
True. But there was this in Langton's favour, that 
he was an Englishman of the highest character for 
goodness and ability, and he might have thought 
that it was better for his native country's good that 
he should not then contest the right of the Pope 
almost universally recognised in Europe at the time 
in the appointment of ecclesiastical persons, and 
especially so when he saw the unworthy Bishop of 
Norwich recommended by John to the Pope for the 
position he himself so ably filled afterwards. 

It is nowhere, as far as I can find, stated that 
Langton sought the Archbishopric of Canterbury 
for himself. 

It would appear that Langton allowed the Pope 
to issue the interdict which involved his innocent 
countrymen in suffering, but early on, probably at 
Stephen's instigation, his brother Simon pressed 
King John to allow the Archbishop of Canterbury 
to return to England so that the blighting Interdict 
might be taken off. 


Then, later on, it is true that Langton asked for 
and obtained from the Pope the excommunication, 
and ultimately the deposition, of his country's 
King; but it might be replied that John by this 
time was really only King de jure and not de facto 
as well ; and that the Archbishop's intense patriot- 
ism induced him to invoke the arm of one who could 
back up his spiritual condemnation with material 
weapons, without his believing in the Pope having 
a position as Universal Monarch. 

Stephen might have thought that, once in Eng- 
land, he could rally the English generally, and strike 
fear into the heart of the tyrant John and induce 
him to act honestly, justly and equitably. In this 
he would be acting from prudential motives. 

When in England, Langton soon showed himself 
on the side of those who, whilst they hated John, 
did not wish to have a foreigner to rule over them ; 
and soon demanded laws, ultimately obtained by 
Magna Charta, which made, as we have seen, for the 
freedom of the people from the King and freedom 
of the Church from both King and Pope. 

In spite of the Pope's reconciliation with John, 
and the former's command to Langton to excom- 
municate the barons, on account of Magna Charta, 
the Archbishop refused, probably on the ground 
that he believed the Pope of Rome had no authority, 
legal, moral or religious, to interfere in the affairs 
of the English nation and the English Church ; and 



especially so when the opinions of all classes of the 
English people had been so recently materialised 
in the Great Charter. Langton's patriotism has 
already been shown with regard to his successful 
attitude towards William Brewer, Henry the Third's 
councillor, respecting the second reading of the 
Great Charter. 

Again, the Archbishop was successful towards 
Honorius the Third respecting the visits of his legates 
to England, to his demand for material help from 
English benefices, and also with regard to the punish- 
ment of the ruffian Breaute. In all these matters 
Stephen evidently wished to give Rome the im- 
pression in a polite manner that it must be " hands 
off " as regards the management of that Church 
which he felt should be a free and independent 
Church, and of which he was accepted nationally 
as its chief. 

To anticipate one result of our hero's attitude. 
When Cardinal William Allen, who was an English- 
man, wrote a letter in 1588 exhorting the English 
to accept Philip the Second of Spain as the executor 
of Pope Pius the Fifth's sentence of deposition 
against Queen Elizabeth, it was hoped that, on 
the landing of Spaniards from the Armada, the 
English Roman Catholics would gladly join with 
them in throwing off the yoke of the heretic queen- 
but, despite the efforts of Allen, whatever resident 
Roman Catholics there were joined with the English 


Catholics (many of whom probably were called or 
called themselves Protestants, as opposing papal 
supremacy and non-Scriptural doctrine), and affect- 
ively opposed the unjustifiable claims of the Bishop 
of Rome, by successfully resisting the intended 
invaders, for it was no longer a war of religions, but 
a struggle between two nations. This action was a 
confirmation of Langton's attitude, 350 years before, 
when he stood up boldly against probably the most 
powerful Pope of all for the independence of both 
his Church and his country. 

By the way, it seems very strange to me to read 
the statement, so often reiterated and repeated by 
Roman Catholics, and also by some educated Non- 
conformists, that practically up to 1588 England 
was thoroughly Roman Catholic. If it were 
so, how comes it then, although England had 
officially (not really) restored the Roman Catholic 
spiritual supremacy in 1554, that, within the short 
period of thirty-five years the Romish Church was 
unable to influence its supposed adherents resident 
in England to its side ? Does it not seem to show, 
to some extent, that the majority of the people of 
England felt that in resisting Rome they were not 
resisting a Church superior to their own or an 
ecclesiastic superior to their own metropolitan and 
primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and that 
they had no intentions of ministering to the idea of 
the universal despotism of the Pope ? 


Magna Charta styles our Church not the Church 
of Rome, but the Church of England Ecclesia 
Anglicana and the Act of Parliament, Edward the 
Third, 1350 A.D., refers to it as La Seinte Eglise 
d'Engeterre, that is, the Holy Church of England. 

But the patriotic stand made by Langton did not 
prevent him from giving deferential and courteous 
consideration to the wishes of the two Popes he had 
to deal with in matters spiritual. Our hero, after 
his arrival in England, July 16, 1213, allowed the 
metropolitans of Rome no more effective jurisdiction 
in the English Church than would be allowed now- 
adays by the metropolitans of South Africa and 
Australia to the metropolitan of Canterbury in 
their respective churches. 

Too much credit cannot be assigned to Archbishop 
Langton for the bold stand we have shown he made 
for civic and ecclesiastical freedom, from the oppres- 
sion of the King on the one hand and the autocracy 
of the Pope on the other. And we may say that it 
was not in Geoffrey Fitz- Peter that English freedom 
was to find its champion and the baronage their 
leader. From the moment of his landing in England 
Stephen Langton had taken up the constitutional 
position of the Primate in upholding the old customs 
and rights of the realm against the personal des- 
potism of the kings. And he alone of all the con- 
stitutionalists attained to influence and consideration 
under Henry the Third. Such is the common lot 


of revolutionaries unblessed with genius, that when 
they survive the need which called them into being, 
they are exceptionally fortunate if the historian, 
after recounting their mistakes, will concede to 
them the merit of a patriotic intention. 


Archbishop Stephen Langton's greatness of char- 
acter stands out conspicuously when we see what 
took place immediately after his death. The oppor- 
tunities of his position enabled the Pope to prey 
heavily on the revenues of England. When the 
Church suffered the great loss of Langton (a man 
who throughout his career, as already seen, had 
been of most signal service to his Church and nation) 
the monks of Canterbury, being allowed to proceed 
to a free election, abused their privilege by electing 
an obscure monk of ill repute named Walter de 
Hemisham. The suffragan bishops and the King 
refused to accept this election in which they had not 
been consulted. In the end Richard Grant, Chan- 
cellor of Lincoln, was appointed on condition of the 
King promising that the clergy would give a tenth 
of their revenues to the Pope. Already the inde- 
pendence of the English Church, which Langton had 
so nobly defended, was going. 

" Even among his own countrymen," says the 
(Roman) Catholic Cyclopaedia, " too few have an 


adequate knowledge of his merits and of his great 
services to his country and to the Catholic Church, 
although his labours were concerned with the two 
things specially dear to Englishmen, the Bible and 
the British Constitution. Little though they may 
think it, every one who reads the Bible or enjoys the 
benefit of civic freedom owes a debt of gratitude to 
this Catholic Cardinal." (The writer of this book 
would suggest that the debt of gratitude owing to 
this statesman-ecclesiastic is rather to Langton's 
position as Archbishop of Canterbury the Catholic 
(Roman) Cardinal's part being almost obliterated 
by the higher office of Primate of all England.) 

If men may be measured by the magnitude of the 
work they accomplish, it may be safely said that 
Langton was the greatest Englishman who ever sat 
in the chair of St. Augustine. For Anselm was not 
an Englishman, and his triumphs were won in fields 
of thought and politics of less interest to Englishmen. 

Some churchmen, again, have been great as 
writers and thinkers, others as statesmen solicitous 
for the welfare of the whole people, and others as 
zealous pastors of the flock, but it was Stephen 
Langton's lot to win distinction in all three capacities 
as scholar, statesman and as Archbishop, and the 
author of this book would add in other capacities 
also, such as social reformer, patriot, Church reformer 

and hero, 
p 2 




Albigenses, 17, 18, 146 
Albini, William de, 122, 140 
Alexander of Scotland, 113 
Aliens, 103 
Anarchy, 142, 200 
Angevin, 6, 8 
Anglicana Ecclesia, 81, 128 
Anselm, n, 12, 20, 46, 211 
Army of God, 68, 129 
Arthur, Prince, 7, 9, to 

Baronage, 3, 8, 10, 56, 63, 71, 
73. 79,93. 103, in, 113, 124, 
135. 141 

Barons, the 25, in, 115 
Beckett, Archbishop, 3, 5, 6, 

27. 176 

Benedictines, 4 
Bible, 186, 202, 211 
Bonaparte, 137 
Bouvines, 68, 146 
Brantfield, Elias de, 21 
Breakspear, Nich., pope, 167 
Breaute, Falkes de, 150, 160, 

201, 203 

Brewer, William, 151, 159, 207 
Bull, papal, 137, 168 
Burgh, Hubert de, 14, 151, 

155, 157, 159, 178, 200 

Calvin, 197 

Canons of Oseney, 191 
Canterbury, 7, 10, n, 13,22, 22, 
25. 3L 33. 139. 164, 177, 183 
Cardinal Allen, 207 

Cardinal's status, 24, 25 
Charter, Ecclesiastical, 69, 72 
Chaucer, 182 
Church, National, n, 58, 62, 

67, 72, 81, 127, 130, 138 
Church Property, 37, 39, 67, 


Church restorer, 184 
Church revivalist, 176 
Cistercians, 38 
Civil War, 145 
Clergy, 37, 190, 195 
Coke, Sir Edward, 76 
Communion, virtual, 35 
Conciliatory Archbishop, 44 
Cong& d'elire, 10 
Convocation, 168, 185 
Corbeil, Archbishop, 168 
Council, Great, 163 
Covenant, The, 124 
Cranmer, Archbishop, 168 
Cromwell, 198 
Crusaders, 46, 67, 73, 109, 113 

Dauphin, The, 10, 53 
Decretals, Forged, 172 
Deposition of King John, 46 
Dominicans, 179, 203 
Dunstable, 66, 201 

Edward the Confessor, 8, 54, 

57, 58, 72, 127 
Eleanor, Queen, 8, 60 
English Roman Catholics, 207 
Eustace de Vesci, 73, 122 
Excommunication, 34, 41, 135, 

141, 148, 195, 200, 206 


2I 4 


Falaise, Treaty of, 52 
Fitz-Peter, Geoffrey, 53, 57, 

60, 65, 209 
Fitz- Walter, Robert, 68, 73, 

122, 124, 140, 144 
Forest Law, 9 
Fox, George, 198 
Franciscans, 179, 203 
Freedom, Blow to, 164 
Friars, 179, 182 

Gasquet, Cardinal, 51, 66, 142 
Geoffrey, Archdeacon, 42 
Gregory the Seventh, 16 
Grey, John de, 38 
Gualo, 147, 152 

Habeas Corpus Act, 131 
Hemisham, Walter de, 210 
Henry the First, 2, 12, 55, 58 
Henry the Second, 3, 5, 52, 

107, 167 
Henry the Third, 149, 151- 

155. 159. i?8, 201 
Heretics, 17, 197, 207 
Hildebrand, 16 
Honorius the Third, 153, 158, 

163, 170, 173, 175, 201, 207 
Hubert Walter, archbishop, 3, 

5, 6, 60, 128 

Hugh of Lincoln, 3, 70, 161 
Hugh of Wells, 44, 185 

Ingleburga, 16 

Innocent the Third, 5, 14, 15, 
16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 26, 27, 33, 
46, 50, 62, 67, 75, 136, 138, 
142, 169 

Interdict, 33, 57, 69, 173, 205 

Investiture, 12 

Ireland, 50, 129, 175 

Isabella of AngoulSme, 10 

Isidore (decretals), 172 

Jews, 87, 196 

John, King, 7, 9, 10, 21, 26, 28, 
30. 33, 34, 37. 39-48. 60, 67, 
73, 136, 149, 153, 201 

Jurisdiction, papal, 141, 163, 

Knights, Seven, 75 
Knights, Twelve, 9, 105, 123 

Lackland, John, 7, 91 
Lambeth, Treaty of, 149 
Lanfranc, Archbishop, 4, 6 
Langton, Simon, 22, 36, 40, 

41, 143, 164 

Langton, Stephen, i, 6, 13, 14, 

20, 21, 22, 23-27, 30-33, 36, 

39, 41, 44, 52, 55, 58, 62, 67, 

71, in, 130, 154, 164-212 

Lateran Council, 17, 142 

Legate, papal, 65-67, 148, 153, 

158, 164, 167, 169 
Liberty, 199 
Lotario di Signi, 15 
Louis of France, 146 

Magna Charta, 9, 55, 75-130, 

150, 158, 171, 206 
Map, Walter de, 183 
Marriage, clerical, 194 
Marshall, 72, 124 
Matthew of Paris, 47, 50, 59, 

69, 153 

Matthew of Westminster, 9 
Merchants, 93, 101 
Metropolitan, 205, 209 
Monasteries, 4, 70, 200 
Montfort, Simon de, 18 

National Party, 58, 64, 67, 69, 


Nicholas of Tusculum, 66, 67 
Norgate, Miss, 65 
Normandy, 144, 146, 162 
Normans, 6, 10 
Northwold, Hugh, abbot, 74 
Norwich, Bishop of, 10-13, 

Oseney, Synod of, 189 
Otho, 163 

Otto of Germany, 48 
Oxford, 73 

Pallium, ii 



Pandulph, 48, 66, 82, 127, 154, 

160, 169 

Papal pecuniary demand, 164 
Paris, University of, 14, 23, 39 
Patriot, 204 
Peers, 93, 131 
Pembroke, Earl, Marshal, 73, 

81, 127, 134, 149, 150, 152 
Penance, 35 
Peter of Wakefield, 48 
Peter's Pence, 49 
Petition of Right, 133 
Philip Augustus, King, 8, 9, 

10, 36, 47, 144 
Pontigny, 39,41, 46 
Popes, u, 12, 13, 14, 25, 138, 

164, 205 
Porchester, 52 
Poyning's Law, 129 
Prayer-Book, 108 
Primacy, English Church, 145, 

158, 160, 165, 175, 209, 211 

Reformation, The, 134, 208 
Reformer, Church, 185 
Reginald of Cornhill, 40 
Reginald, sub-prior, n, 13, 22 
Revocation of Charter, 137 
Revolution, French, 199 
Richard Grant, 210 
Richard the First, 2, 3, 5, 107, 


Rings, Four, 28 
Roches, Peter de, 38, 157, 159 
Rochester, 74, 148 
Roger of Wendover, 24 
Rome, n, 29, 142, 158, 163, 

169, 174 
Rouen, 10, 44 
Rufus, King, 6, n, 12 
Runnymede, 121, 126, 150 

Sacraments, 34, 189, 192 

St. Albans, 55, 57 

St. Edmundsbury, 68, 72, 74 

St. Paul's, 163 

Samson, Abbot, 73 

Sawtre, 197 

Scutage, 89 

Slindon, 164 

Socage, 99, 101 

Socialists, French, 199 

Social Reform, 131, 180, 200, 


Spilsby, 23 
Stephen, King, 147 
Submission to Papacy, 50, 67, 

73> 169 

Taxation, National, 152, 161 

Toleration, 198 

Tower of London, 72, 123, 126 

Usurpation, Papal, 32 

Vicar's stipend, 191 
Villeins, 132, 200 
Viterbo, 27 

Walter of Coventry, 24 
Warenne, Earl, 73, 81 
Westminster, 56, 153 
Widows, 85 

William the First, I, 4, 9, 176 
William the Lion, 52, 113 
Winchester, 54, 58, 64, 71 
Wives of clergy, 194 
Worcester, 72 
Wulfstan, Bishop, 176 

York, 170 





DA Leeming, J.R. (John Robert) 

228 Stephen Langton