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The archbishop rode off from Clarendon with his clerks, in a state of extreme dejection, deploring with sighs and tears his own hard fate and that of the church.
This is one of the dark passages in Becket's life. He is not to be blamed for refusing at first to agree to the new ordinances, for there is every reason to suppose that the king exacted more than the archbishop could have anticipated. The odious articles went far beyond the mere question of criminal jurisdiction. They stripped the ecclesiastical court of its control over other matters of moment. They forbade the clergy to appeal to the Pope, or to leave the realm without the king's consent. Becket could not be expected to concede tamely what the stiff old Anselm, and even the mild Theobald, had vehemently denounced and resisted. But it is difficult to excuse his final hypocritical assent to the constitutions. He meant to break his word. His subsequent proceedings betray no regret for the breach of faith, but only for the previous assent. He lost no time in apprising the Pope of what had been done, put himself under penance, and for forty days suspended his ministrations at the altar. At length, having received absolution from the pontiff, he demanded an audience of the king, which was refused. He next made two attempts to cross over into France, which were defeated by contrary winds. This violation of the new constitutions of course exasperated the king. Nevertheless, an interview took place between them
torted, was verbal, and consequently incomplete. As the head of the English church, he represented the English people, the third estate in the constitution. The king and nobles were agreed, but the consent of the church, which was superior to both, was wanting, or was gained by threats, and, as we have seen, had not been ratified either by the seal of the archbishop, or by the confirmation of the sovereign pontiff." We wish that Dr. Giles had informed us where he learned that the English church represented the English people or the third estate. What did it represent after the people had a house of commons, and the spiritual magnates sat in the house of lords? Some of those bishops of Norman blood, who were so proud of their race, would have deemed it a jest, and a sorry one, to call them the representatives of the third estate. If the head of the English church was, as Dr. Giles seems to think, a coördinate sovereign of the realm, it was high time to dethrone him. The distinction between a verbal and a written assent is mere quibbling. We own that the menaces addressed to the bishops formed a strong point; but whether they were strin gent enough to invalidate their oaths is very doubtful. Foliot, in one of his letters, censures Becket for giving way. Becket himself justified his course by the unlawfulness of the promise; not, we believe, on the plea of compulsion.
at Woodstock. Henry remarked to Becket, "So, my lord, you wish to leave my kingdom. I suppose it is not large enough to hold both you and me." They parted without anger, and without compromise.
Meanwhile, the king had petitioned the Pope to enjoin the obedience of the English prelates to the constitutions. He refused; but, not to break with the king, granted a legatine commission to the Archbishop of York, one of Becket's enemies. In the spring of 1164, the death of the Antipope Octavian took place; an event not likely to further Henry's plans. The summer was passed in negotiation between the king, the Pope, and the archbishop. But Henry, weary of this long-drawn delay, and bent on crushing the refractory primate, assembled a council at Northampton, in October. At this council Becket was arraigned on a most contemptible charge of treason, and condemned to suffer confiscation of all his goods. Old Henry of Winchester, sorely against his will, was forced to pronounce this harsh sentence. His persecutor, not content with this, next called him to answer for the proceeds of the church offices which had been vacant while he was chancellor. In vain did he plead the solemn release which he had received on the day of his consecration. The tide had set strongly against him. The barons, regarding him as a fallen man, withdrew their wonted courtesies. Not a few of the bishops had grown lukewarm, and some pressed him to resign his office. For four days, without flinching, he faced the malice of false friends and cruel foes. A violent disorder, brought on probably by anxiety and fatigue, confined him for a day to his bed. The next morning, having somewhat recovered his strength, and taking with him a portion of the consecrated wafer as a talisman, he entered the castle-hall, bearing his official cross, and with the words, "My cross is the sign of peace; the king's sword is an instrument of war," took his seat. The king's justiciary came to pass judgment upon him. But the archbishop, rising hastily, refused to hear the judgment, and having placed himself and his church under the protection of the apostolic see, and summoned the bishops before that tribunal, turned, amidst the scoffs of the crowd, to leave the hall. We hardly know a finer scene for the painter or dramatist, than when he turned upon the king's natural brother, who had called him traitor, with the exclamation," If it were not for
my sacred office, my sword should answer that foul speech." Leaving the town, he passed to the monastery where he lodged, attended by a "glorious procession," as he styled it, of the poor, whom he invited to sup with him. After supper, he conferred with the few knights and clerks who had not abandoned him, on his future measures. One of them was despatched to Canterbury, to collect as much money as possible. In company with three others, Becket took horse, in the midst of a dark and rainy night, and rode fifty miles before dawn. Passing in disguise from place to place, after eight days, he reached the coast of Kent; and at length, on the 2d of November, the twentieth day after his departure from Northampton, he crossed over in an open boat, in tempestuous weather, to the coast of Flanders. He was not yet out of danger. The lord of the district in which he had landed had an old grudge against him, and would gladly have arrested him. Becket, also, had nearly betrayed himself to a party of young men, by a too sportsman-like interest in a falcon which one of them bore on his wrist. He was saved by the ready tact of one of his companions. At Gravelines, again, his "great stature, high forehead, fine hands, and noble bearing, and the easy liberality with which he gave the most delicate bits of his supper to the children," excited the suspicions of his landlord. But the publican, though he had taken counsel of his better half, kept the secret like a good Christian, and contented himself with thanking the saints for the honor of entertaining such a man. Becket lost no time in pushing on towards the French king's dominions, where he had reason to expect a favorable reception.
In the mean time, the king had sent envoys to the king of France and the Pope. When Henry's letter was produced, in which he stigmatized "the late Archbishop of Canterbury " as a traitor and a fugitive, King Louis declared, with some warmth, that, if he knew where he was to be found, he and his whole court would go out to meet him. Becket, on his part, having arrived at Soissons, in France, sent forward two of his company to watch the movements of Henry's emissaries. They were received by Louis with great cordiality. On the next morning, he solemnly granted protection to the archbishop, proclaiming at the same time, that it was one of the royal dignities of France to protect fugitives. The agents of both parties soon reached Sens, in Champagne, where the
Papal court was then held. The king's messengers had but a cold audience of the Pope and cardinals. Foliot, of London, was thrown into confusion by a sharp rebuke from the pontiff. Hilary, of Chichester, broke down in his Latin, and was laughed at. The plain English of the Earl of Arundel did not help their cause. The Pope refused to act till the archbishop had been heard in his own behalf.
Louis, being informed of Becket's arrival at Soissons, went thither to welcome him, and proceeded immediately to his hotel. The interview between these illustrious personages was an extremely cordial one. The king, having heard Becket's narrative of the recent events, gave orders that he should be liberally supplied with funds from the royal treasury; an offer which for the present he declined. He accepted more readily a noble escort of three hundred horsemen, at whose head he set out for Sens, and had the satisfaction of affording the English envoys, who passed them on the opposite bank of a river on their way home, an opportunity to witness the state, with which that "traitor and fugitive, the late Archbishop of Canterbury," travelled to the Papal court. Becket was received at Sens with great honor, and seated at the Pope's right hand. At his first audience, he presented a roll containing the Clarendon Constitutions, that the court might see what laws the church was called upon to receive. This was a dexterous stroke, and took effect. The Pope, indeed, rebuked the archbishop for his too easy compliance, but was willing to take his sufferings as an ample atonement. On the next day, Becket, after an affecting speech which moved his hearers to tears, took off his ring and placed it in the Pope's hand, in token of his resignation of an office to which he had been uncanonically elected by the influence of the crown. Certain of the cardinals were willing, for the sake of peace, to take him at his word. But the Pope would bear of no such thing, and immediately reappointed him. Becket knew his man, or he would never have ventured on a step for which Henry would have fallen down and worshipped him.
Becket's long exile of six years had now commenced. At the suggestion of the Pope, he established himself at the Cistercian monastery of Pontigny, where he at first endeavoured to conform to the strict rules of that severe order. But the mantle of Saint Bernard was too narrow for the shoul
ders of the splendid metropolitan. The violent attempts of the novice to mortify the flesh brought on a serious malady, which drove him back to a more rational and comfortable regimen.
A temper so irascible as Henry's did not brook patiently the utter failure of the embassy to the Papal court. His measures were prompt and thorough. Not content with confiscating the archbishop's property, and placing the church of Canterbury in the custody of Randolf de Broc, Becket's ferocious enemy, he banished from his dominions the relations, clerks, and domestics of the primate, adding the barbarous exaction of an oath, that they would immediately show themselves to their exiled lord. By this brutal edict, four hundred helpless and unoffending beings, men, women, and children, were thrown, with every aggravation of misery, on an unknown coast. Those who survived the perils of want, weariness, infancy, and age were hospitably received. after their hard journey by the French king and the Empress Matilda, who did not approve of the extreme measures of her arbitrary son. But these indirect attacks, though they might annoy and grieve "the traitor," as Henry called him, did not unhouse him.
At length, after Becket had passed two years in his secluded abode, the vigilant malice of his enemy devised a means of effecting his removal. In September, 1166, the general chapter of the Cistercians received a significant hint, that, if they cared for the houses or lands which they held in the territories of the king of England, they would find it well to speed the departure of their guest. A second significant hint apprised Becket of the fact that he had worn out his welcome. "The Lord," said he, "who feeds the birds of the air, and clothes the lilies, will provide for me and my fellowexiles." One of his clerks was despatched to the king of France to acquaint him with the news. Louis immediately offered the archbishop the choice of any place in his dominions for his residence, and a liberal pension from the royal treasury. He selected the monastery of St. Columba, within a short distance of the city of Sens, and there continued to reside until his departure for England.
We need not enter into a detailed account of the events which occurred during Becket's exile. It would only be a monotonous chronicle of plots and counterplots, menaces and