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    40. In 1035 the death of Duke Robert of Normandy had left his son William, his successor, a child of but seven or eight years old. He was the sixth duke of Normandy, and by relationship was the fifth in direct descent from Rolf, or Rollo, the Danish chief who received from Charles the Simple the duchy of Normandy. By the time that he attained to the age of twenty, he had firmly fixed his authority in Normandy; and by the time he was thirty-six he had obtained possession of the counties of Maine and Brittany, and “stood first among the princes of France.” In 1051 he had made a visit to King Eadward of England, and ever afterward claimed that at that time Eadward had promised to him the crown of England at Eadward’s death. He further claimed that while Eadward was a child in banishment in Normandy, he had said to William that if ever he became king of England, William should be his successor. Further, about 1065, when Harold was the foremost subject in England, he had made a journey to Normandy, but by a storm was driven out of his direct course, and was shipwrecked near the mouth of the Somme, in the territory of the count of Ponthieu, who would not let him go without a ransom, and William paid the ransom; and so Harold came safely to William’s court. William told him of the promise that Eadward had made, and asked Harold whether he would support him in his claims under the promise. Harold assented; but William asked for an oath. This, too, Harold gave.ECE 74.3

    41. And now, in 1066, when William learned that Harold himself had received the crown of England, without any recognition or even mention of any of his claims, he determined that he would have the kingdom anyhow. He first sent an envoy to Rome, to obtain the sanction of the pope. When William had taken the oath of Harold to support him in his claims to the kingship of England under the promises of Eadward. By a trick he had secured Harold’s oath upon the relics of the saints. And now, when he desired the pope’s sanction of his enterprise, he urged the perjury and the awful blasphemy of Harold’s course in disregarding an oath given upon the holy relics. He asked the pope even to put all England under an interdict because of her having chosen such a man as this for king, and also because the nation had expelled the archbishop of Canterbury, who had borne the consecration of Rome. Hildebrand was at that time archdeacon at the papal court. He approved William’s claims, and, by his influence, the pope also was brought to William’s support. William “was thus able to cloak his schemes under the guide of a crusade and to attack England alike with temporal and spiritual weapons.” Feeling thus sure of his ground in the support of the papacy, William issued “a proclamation that, supported by the holy father of Christendom, who had sent to him a consecrated banner, William, duke of Normandy, was about to demand, by force of arms, his rightful inheritance of England; and that all who would serve him with spear, sword, or cross-bow, should be amply rewarded. At this call, gathered together all the adventurers of Western Europe. They came in crowds from Maine and Anjou, from Poitou and Brittany, from Aquitaine and Burgundy, from France and Flanders. They should have land; they should have money; they should wed Saxon heiresses; the humblest foot soldier should be a gentleman. The summer of 1066 was almost past before the preparations were complete. A large fleet had assembled at the beginning of September at the mouth of the Dive.”—Knight. 23[Page 76] “History of England,” chap 12, par. 15.ECE 75.1

    42. At this same time there was hanging over England another invasion from Norway. The king of Norway in this same month of September landed with a host in what is now Yorkshire, defeated the local forces, and September 24 received the submission of the territory immediately north of the Humber. Harold, marching to meet the invaders, found them September 25, and routed them at Stamford Bridge, near the city of York. In the afternoon of September 27, William, at the head of his fleet, started across the Channel, and, early in the day, September 28, landed at Pevensey, on the coast of Sussex. Harold, learning of this, brought his army as rapidly as possible again to the south; and, October 14, with his forces of Wessex, East Anglia, and Mercia, “met William and his host on the hill of Senlac,” near the city of Hastings, and not a great distance from the place of his landing. “At nine o’clock the Normans moved across the little valley, with the papal banner carried in advance of the Duke.” The camp of the English was fortified by a trench and a stockade, and at first the English were successful. They repulsed both the Norman horsemen and footmen, and at one time there was such danger of a panic amongst the Normans that William was obliged to tear off his helmet, so that he could be readily recognized, and by voice rally his troops. “After a fight of six hours, William commanded his men to turn their backs. The English raised a cry of triumph, and, breaking their ranks, rushed from their commanding position into the plain. Then the Norman cavalry wheeled around and a terrible slaughter took place. Harold fell a little before sunset,” pierced by an arrow, in his right eye. Under cover of the night the remnant of the English army fled, and William’s victory was complete.ECE 76.1

    43. All of Harold’s brothers had fallen with him in the battle; and of the regular royal line there was remaining but one male, a boy named Eadgar, about ten years old, the grandson of Eadmund Ironside. This boy the national council chose to the kingship. But the boy had sufficient sense to keep him from offering resistance to the greatest warrior of the age, and he himself was at the head of the deputation sent by the national assembly to offer the crown to William. The widow of the late king Eadward yielded to William and surrendered Winchester. By the national assembly “he was now chosen king and crowned at Westminster on Christmas day. He was thus king by the submission of the chief men, by the right of coronation, and by the absence of any other claimant.” Yet he had practically the whole of the territory of his kingdom still to conquer. This, however, he accomplished with ease, never, after Senlac, being required to fight a single pitched battle.ECE 76.2

    44. Yet, though so much of the realm was still unconquered, William felt so secure in his kingdom that in the month of March, the next year, 1067, he went back to Normandy to attend to the affairs of his dominions on the Continent. His lieutenants whom he left in charge in England, made themselves so obnoxious that before the end of the year, revolts recalled William to England; and within two years he secured the recognition of his power throughout the whole kingdom. “Early in 1070 William reviewed and dismissed his army at Salisbury. At the Easter feast of the same year, being now full king over all England, he was again solemnly crowned by legates from Rome.” In 1072 he “entered Scotland and received the homage of Malcolm at Abernethy. He had thus succeeded to the empire, as well as to the immediate kingdom, of his West Saxon predecessors. In the next year he employed English troops on the Continent in winning back the revolted county of Maine. In 1074 he could afford to admit Eadgar, the rival king of a moment, to his favor.” 24[Page 77] Encyclopedia Britannica, id., “Progress of the Conquest.”ECE 77.1

    45. As before stated, William laid the basis of his claim to the kingdom of England in his asserted promise of Eadward that William should be his successor. And now that he had actually obtained possession of the kingdom, he held that the kingdom had been his, by full right, ever since the death of Eadward. By this assertion he made it to follow that all that had been done in the kingdom since the death of Eadward, had been illegal; that all who had fought against him were guilty of treason; that all who had sustained Harold, had fought against him; and that as the general assembly of the kingdom had sustained Harold, and had even crowned a new king after the death of Harold, the whole nation was thus involved in the crime of treason. Whoever was guilty of treason, all his lands and goods were forfeit to the crown. And, since the whole kingdom was guilty of treason, all the lands and goods of all the people in the whole realm were forfeit to him, and he actually claimed all as his own. He did not remove the original owners from their land indiscriminately and everywhere. Much of the land he turned over to new owners, some he left in the possession of the original owners. But, whether given to new owners or left in the possession of the original owners, every one was obliged to receive it as the direct gift of the king, and to hold it continually subject to the king’s pleasure, and as the king’s “man.” “The only proof of lawful ownership was either the king’s written grant, or else evidence that the owner had been put in possession by the king’s order.”ECE 77.2

    46. In order to make this system thorough, William had a survey made of all the lands of the whole realm, and a census of all property and of the owners thereof. All this was recorded in a book—the value of the lands at the time the survey was made, the value of it in the time of Eadward, and the value of it at the date when it was bestowed upon its latest owner by the grant of the king. In the book were recorded the numbers dwelling upon the land, whether as tenants, or dependents; the amount of live stock, etc., etc. And, because the record in this book was the standard of decision upon every question or dispute as to property, and because its testimony was final in every case, that book was called Domesdeie Book—Domesday Book—Doomsday Book, from dom, doom, decree, law, judgment, or decision. This record was finished in 1086; and then “William gathered all the land-owners of his kingdom, great and small, whether his tenants in chief or the tenants of an intermediate lord, and made them all become his men.” And thus the Norman king was not only the head of the State, but “also the personal lord of every man in his kingdom.” This thoroughness with respect to persons and property caused the king’s authority to be respected everywhere throughout the realm; and “the good peace that he made in the land” was such “that a man might fare over his realm with a bosom full of gold.”ECE 78.1

    47. In January, 1087, William went again to Normandy especially for the purpose of setting a dispute concerning some Norman territory which the king of France had seized. In the month of August his forces had taken the town of Mantes; and, as William rode amongst the smoldering ruins, his horse stumbled and fell, by which William received an injury from which he died September 9. He left three sons. The eldest, Robert, was at the court of France; the other two, William and Henry, were with him at the time of his death. To the eldest he left the inheritance of Normandy; to William he gave his ring, and advised him to go at once to England and assume the crown; to Henry, the youngest, he bequeathed five thousand pounds of silver. William arrived safely in England and was crowned at Westminster, Sept. 26, 1087. He is known in history as William Rufus—“the Red.” The Norman element of England was so opposed to him that they actually revolted; but it was in vain, for his English subjects stood so loyally by him as to render him successful against all opposition. In 1096 his brother of Normandy, desiring to go on the first crusade, and not having sufficient funds, borrowed the needed sum from William of England, and gave Normandy as the mortgage for the repayment of the money. A part of the duchy rebelled. William went over and put down the rebellion. In 1098-99 he also conquered Maine. Shortly afterward he returned to England, and Aug. 2, 1100, he was found dead in the New Forest, with an arrow in his breast; whether shot by an assassin, or in accident by a hunter, was never discovered.ECE 78.2

    48. The kingdom was instantly seized by his brother Henry, surnamed Beauclerc. The Norman element of the kingdom opposed him, as they had opposed William Rufus; but the national assembly unanimously elected him, and promptly crowned him. Further, to hold the affections of his English subjects, he married a lady of English blood—Edith, the daughter of the king of Scotland, whose mother was the sister of the last king Eadgar, and granddaughter of King Eadmund Ironside. She changed her name to Maud, or Matilda; “and the shout of the English multitude when he set the crown on Matilda’s brow drowned the murmur of churchman and of baron. The mockery of the Norman nobles who nicknamed the king and his spouse Godric and Godgifu, was lost in the joy of the people at large. For the first time since the conquest an English sovereign sat on the English throne. The blood of Cerdic and AElfred was to blend itself with that of Rolf and the Conqueror. Henceforth it was impossible that the two peoples should remain parted from each other: so quick, indeed, was their union that the very name of Norman had passed away in half a century, and at the accession of Henry’s grandson it was impossible to distinguish between the descendants of the conquerors and those of the conquered at Senlac.”—Green. 25[Page 80] “Larger History of the English People,” book ii, cheap, ii. par. 4.ECE 79.1

    49. Shortly after this, Robert returned from the Crusades, and the Norman nobles in England conspired to bring him over to contend in England for that kingdom. He did come with an army, landing at Portsmouth; but Henry was able to make with him such terms that without fighting, a peace was settled, by which Robert recognized Henry as king of England, and returned to his proper dominions on the Continent. There, however, he so misgoverned his territories that they called on Henry to come over and be their king. In 1106 he went to Normandy with an army. The dispute culminated in the battle of Tenchebrai, in which Robert was defeated and captured, and was held in captivity until his death in 1134. Thus Normandy was conquered and possessed by the king of England, as, forty years before, England had been conquered and possessed by William of Normandy.“During the rest of Henry’s reign there was perfect peace in England; but nearly the whole time was filled with continental wars. The warfare between France and England, of which there had been only a glimpse in the days of Rufus, now began in earnest.” And, from the entanglements, intrigues, and war in France, which was now begun by Henry, England never found herself free for three hundred and forty-seven years.ECE 80.1

    50. In 1120, as Henry was returning with his forces from Normandy to England, his only son, William, “full of merriment and wine,” and “with rowers and steersman mad with drink,” had barely left harbor when his ship struck a rock, and instantly sank. “One terrible cry, ringing through the silence of the night, was heard by the royal fleet, but it was not till the morning that the fatal news reached the king. Stern as he was, Henry fell senseless to the ground, and rose never to smile again.”—Green. 26[Page 80] Id., par. 8. This left the son of his captive brother Robert as the true heir to Henry’s dominions, alike of England and Normandy. But Henry determined not to allow him to be his successor. Henry had a daughter, Maud, or Matilda, who had been married to the emperor Henry V, but who, on his death, had returned to England and her father’s house. And although, so far, in English history the reign of a woman had been unknown, yet Henry decided that Maud should succeed him upon the throne of England. Accordingly, while he lived, he “forced priests and nobles to swear allegiance to Maud as their future mistress;” and chose for her husband Geoffry, the son of the count of Anjou in France.ECE 80.2

    51. In 1135 Henry died. But the arrangement which he had made for the succession of Maud to the throne was disregarded by the national assembly, and Stephen was chosen king of England. Stephen was the grandson of William the Conqueror, and, with the rest of the chief men of England, had done homage, and sworn allegiance, to Maud as the successor of Henry. All this, however, was disregarded, and without opposition Stephen became king of England. One great reason why the agreement with Maud was not carried into effect, was that for her to be queen would cause that Geoffry of Anjou would practically be ruler—and he an utter foreigner: and this neither English nor Normans would have. At the time all this occurred, Maud was not in England, but was with her husband in Anjou; and, when they heard of these proceedings in England, Geoffry seized Normandy. With this added prestige, and with an army, Maud invaded England in 1139. Stephen was defeated and captured, at Lincoln, in 1141, and Maud “was received throughout the land as its lady”—they would not use the word queen. However, she was not crowned. She offended the city of London, which rose in arms against her. In an exchange of prisoners, Stephen had been released. For eleven years there was civil war, “a time of utter anarchy and havoc,” a “chaos of pillage and bloodshed.” Then, in 1153 an agreement was made between King Stephen and Maud’s son Henry, who was now duke of Normandy. By this agreement Stephen was to reign as long as he lived, and then Henry should have the kingdom. Stephen died the next year, and the agreement was fully carried out, as to Henry; and so he came to his kingdom without any opposition or any further confusion.ECE 81.1

    52. Henry II was now, by right from his grandfather, Henry I, king of England, and duke of Normandy; in France, as the heir of his father, Geoffry, he was lord of the counties of Anjou, Maine, and Touraine, and, through his brother, also of Brittany; and now, by marriage to Eleanor, the duchess of Poitou, Aquitaine, and Gascony, he received, with her, these three counties, the principal portion of southern Gaul. Besides all this, one of the first events of his reign was the granting of a bull by the pope, giving to him Ireland. Thus, in the reign of Henry II, the British empire embraced Ireland, all of England and Wales south of the Forth, and all of western and central France, from the English Channel to the border of Spain. “In ruling over a vast number of distinct states, widely differing in blood, language, and everything else, ruling over all without exclusively belonging to any, Henry II, king, duke; and count of all the lands from the Pyrenees to the Scottish border, was the forerunner of the emperor Charles V.” His father, Geoffry, count of Anjou, habitually wore in his helmet a sprig of broom-corn, called in the native tongue planta genista, from which he received the nickname of Plantagenet, which clung to his house. And so Henry—II of England—became the first of the Plantagenets, who ruled England for three hundred and thirty-one years—1154-1485.ECE 81.2

    53. Henry II died in 1189, and was succeeded by his son Richard, surnamed Coeur de Lion—heart of lion. At his accession, Richard was absent from England, in his mother’s possession in southern Gaul, and during his whole reign of ten years he was in England but twice, both times merely for the purpose of being crowned: first, immediately on his accession, in the autumn of 1189; second, in 1194, on his return from the Crusades. In 1190 Richard went on his crusade; and to obtain the money for his expenses he sold everything that he could sell, short of the very kingdom itself. “He put up the crown demesnes; he sold the public offices; he sold earldoms; he sold the claim which [his father] Henry had asserted to the right of homage for the crown of Scotland. ‘I would sell London, if I could find a chapman,’ he exclaimed. ‘Richard’s presence chamber was a market overt, in which all that the king could bestow—all that could be derived from the bounty of the crown, or imparted by the royal prerogative—was disposed of to the best chapman.’”—Knight. 27[Page 82] “History of England,” chap. par. 8.ECE 82.1

    54. Though on his crusade Richard was four years absent from his dominions, he was in Palestine only about sixteen months—June 8, 1191, to Oct. 9, 1192. While there he had dealt a kick to the duke of Austria for his refusing to work on the walls of Ascalon. And now on his return, as he was trying to make his way in disguise through Austria, he was detected when near Vienna, and was made prisoner by the duke of Austria, Dec. 21, 1192, who sold him to the emperor, who was also ready to sell him, but there was no buyer. In hope of release Richard agreed to pay an annual tribute to the emperor, resigned his crown to the emperor, and received it back as vassal to the “overlord of Christendom.” Yet he was kept prisoner till March 8, 1194, when he was released on a ransom of what would be now about a million dollars. He went at once to England, landing March 12: and notwithstanding the heavy drain upon the people to pay his ransom, without any recompense whatever he “forcibly resumed the lands which he had sold, and turned out the officers who had purchased their places,” to enable him to make his crusade. His stay in England was brief. He sailed away May 11, 1194, and never saw England again. He was mortally wounded by an arrow while besieging Chaluz, in a war with King Philip II of France, and died twelve days afterward, April 6, 1199. He was immediately succeeded by his brother John.ECE 82.2

    55. John, surnamed Lackland because his father, with all his vast possessions, left him no land, was crowned king of England on Ascension Day, May 27, 1199. There was a nearer heir in the person of Arthur, the grandson of Henry II, through his third son Geoffry, while John was so far removed as to be the fifth son of Henry. But Arthur, being a boy of only twelve years, while John was a man of thirty-two years, John was chosen as the one better able to discharge the responsibilities of kingship at that time. All the continental possessions of England likewise recognized John, except the three counties of Maine, Touraine, and Anjou. These openly espoused the claims of Arthur. King Philip of France stood with these in supporting Arthur: this, however, to promote his own designs in excluding, if possible, England from any possessions within the limits of what should be France. This brought on a war. John went at once to Normandy to defend his interests on the Continent: Philip invaded Normandy, besides putting garrisons in the three counties of Maine, Touraine, and Anjou.ECE 83.1

    56. When the war had continued eight months, a truce was arranged, about the first of March, 1200. John spent the months of March and April in England; and the first of May he returned to Normandy. The war was taken up again; but on May 23 a peace was concluded. Philip abandoned the interests of Arthur with respect to Maine, Touraine, and Anjou; but in the peace it was arranged that Arthur should receive Brittany as a fief from John; and that Philip’s son Louis should marry John’s niece, Blanche of Castile. While passing through his province of Aquitaine, John saw a beautiful woman, already betrothed to a noble, and he secured a divorce from his own wife, and persuaded this lady to marry him. This stirred up to vengeance against John, the noble—Hugh, count of La Marche. He incited an insurrection in John’s possessions on the Continent: he was secretly supported by Philip, and in two years and a half, Normandy, Anjou, Maine, and Touraine were lost to England. Arthur had joined in the insurrection, had been captured, and was assassinated at the direction of John, if not by the very hand of John himself.ECE 83.2

    57. In 1203 the estates of Brittany sent a deputation to Philip to demand justice against John. John, as duke of Normandy, was summoned to appear before a court of his peers in France, and as a vassal of the king of France. John’s envoy asked for a safe conduct. Philip answered that he should come unmolested. Then John’s envoy wanted to know whether he could be assured of a safe return. Philip replied that he should have safe return “if the judgment of his peers acquitted him.” John’s envoy then remarked that, since John was king of England as well as duke of Normandy, the duke of Normandy could not come without the king of England’s coming, and declared that “the barons of England would not permit their king to run the risk of death or imprisonment.” Philip, however, insisted that the duke of Normandy should come, because, as such, he was truly the vassal of the king of France.ECE 84.1

    58. John did not go; and, for his “contumacy,” the court decreed that “whereas, John, duke of Normandy, in violation of his oath to Philip, his lord, has murdered the son of his elder brother, a homager of the crown of France, and near kinsman to the king, and has perpetrated the crime within the seigniory of France, he is found guilty of felony and treason, and is therefore adjudged to forfeit all the lands he has held by homage.” This allowed Philip to assert legal claim to all the English possessions in France; and he at once entered Normandy and occupied the strongholds with his troops. But this the Normans did not like, and they appealed to John to come to their rescue. But, against this England protested, because she “thought the time was come when her wealth should no longer be dissipated in Normandy; when her language should be spoken by those who ruled over her; when her laws should be administered by those who abided among her people; and when her Church should be upheld by those who had no foreign bishoprics and abbeys.” As a consequence, all the continental possessions of England, except Aquitaine, were now lost, “and from the lordship of a vast empire that stretched from the Tyne to the Pyrenees John saw himself reduced at a blow to the realm of England.”ECE 84.2

    59. Next, in 1207 John fell into a quarrel with Rome. March 24, 1208, England was placed under an interdict, which John resisted for five years, when in 1213 to the interdict, the excommunication of John was added; and England was given by the pope to Philip of France. Philip gathered a fleet and an army with which to go and take possession of England. John surrendered to the pope, and took an oath of fealty as the vassal of Rome. Then the pope forbade Philip any further designs upon England. Philip determined to take England anyhow; but his vassal, the count of Flanders, refused to support him. This caused war; John supported Flanders, and Philip’s fleet was destroyed. Next, supported by the pope and the emperor, the count of Flanders and the Earl of Boulogne, John went with an army to punish Philip further. A great battle was fought at Bouvines. John and his allies were completely overthrown, and “concluded an ignominious truce with Philip,” and returned to England, October, 1214.ECE 85.1

    60. The people of England had long borne with the numberless wickednesses of John; but, when he made the realm of England a fief, and the king of England a vassal, of the pope, they could bear with him no longer. John himself wrote to the pope that “whereas, before we were disposed to subject ourselves and our realm to your dominion, the earls and barons of England never failed in their devotion to us; since then, however, and as they publicly avow for that reason, they have been in continual and violent rebellion against us.” Because of this attitude of his nobles, when John returned now from France, he came with an army of mercenaries, with the avowed intent that by this power he would be “for the first time king and lord of England.”ECE 85.2

    61. But “there were now two eminent persons among many other bold and earnest churchmen and laity who saw that the time was come when no man should be ‘king and lord in England’ with a total disregard of the rights of other men; a time when a king should rule in England by law instead of by force, or rule not at all. Stephen Langton, the archbishop, and William, earl of Pembroke, were the leaders and at the same time moderators, in the greatest enterprise that the nation had yet undertaken. It was an enterprise of enormous difficulty. The pope was now in friendship with the king, and this might influence the great body of ecclesiastics. The royal castles were in possession of the mercenary soldiers. The craft of John was as much to be dreaded as his violence. But there was no shrinking from the duty that was before these patriots. They moved on steadily in the formation of a league that would be strong enough to enforce their just demands, even if the issue were war between the crown and the people. The bishops and barons were the great council of the nation. Parliament, including the Commons, was not, as yet, though not far distant. The doctrine of divine right was the invention of an age that sought to overthrow the ancient principle of an elective monarchy, in which hereditary claims had indeed a preference, but in which the sovereign ‘is appointed to protect his subjects in their lives, properties, and laws, and for this very end and purpose has the delegation of power from the people.’”—Knight. 28[Page 86] “History of England,” chap 23, par. 12.ECE 86.1

    62. The nobles met at Saint Edmundsbury; and after duly considering the situation, Nov. 20, 1214, they “solemnly swore to withdraw their allegiance from John, if he should resist their claims to just government. They had not only public wrongs to redress, but the private outrages of the king’s licentiousness were not to be endured by the class of high-born knights whom he insulted through their wives and daughters. From Saint Edmundsbury they marched to London, where the king had shut himself up in the temple. When their deputies came into his presence, he first despised their claims and then asked for delay. The archbishop of Canterbury, the earl of Pembroke, and the bishop of Ely guaranteed that a satisfactory answer should be given before Easter. The king employed the time in the endeavor to propitiate the church by promising a free election of bishops. He took the cross, and engaged to wage war with the infidels. He sent to Rome, to implore the aid of the pope in his quarrel. And the pope came to his aid; and commanded Langton to exercise his authority to bring back the king’s vassals to their allegiance.ECE 86.2

    63. “At Easter, the barons, with a large force, assembled at Stamford. John was at Oxford, and Langton and Pembroke were with him. They were sent by the king to ascertain the demands of their peers; and these messengers, or mediators, brought back” Magna Charta. This “was a code of laws, expressed in simple language, embodying two principles—the first, such limitations of the feudal claims of the king as would prevent their abuse; the second, such specifications of the general rights of all freemen as were derived from the ancient laws of the realm, however these rights had been neglected or perverted.... It demanded no limitation of the regal power which had not been acknowledged, in theory, by every king who had taken a coronation oath. It made that oath, which had been regarded as a mere form of words, a binding reality. It defined, in broad terms of practical application, the essential difference between a limited and a despotic monarchy. It preserved all the proper attributes of the kingly power, while it guarded against the king being a tyrant.” In it the king was required to declare the great principle of the supremacy of the law of the realm in the words: “No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or disseized, or outlawed, or banished, or any otherwise destroyed; nor will we pass upon him, nor send upon him, unless by the legal judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. To no man will we sell, to no man will we deny or delay, right or justice.”—Knight. 29[Page 87] Id.ECE 87.1

    64. The Charter was a long document. The archbishop read it to the king slowly and solemnly, item by item. “John went into a furious passion,” exclaiming, “Why do they not ask for my kingdom? I will never grant such liberties as will make me a slave.” Langton and Pembroke took back to the nobles this the king’s answer. The barons proclaimed themselves “the army of God and holy Church,” and marched upon London, which they entered May 22, 1215, the citizens of London having already agreed to make common cause with them. There were further negotiations: the barons were immovable, and John yielded and agreed to a meeting. The meeting was appointed to be held June 15 “on an island in the Thames, between Windsor and Staines, near a marshy meadow by the riverside, the meadow of Runnymede”—Runemed, the mead or meadow of council. “The king encamped on one bank of the river, the barons covered the flat of Runnymede on the other. Their delegates met on the island between them, but the negotiations were a mere cloak to cover John’s purpose of unconditional submission. The Great Charter was discussed and agreed to in a single day.”—Green. 30[Page 88] “Larger History of the English People,” John. par. 6 from end.ECE 87.2

    65. However, this was not all. The barons had not yet finished with John. They next required that he should agree to articles by which there should be assured the means of carrying into effect the provisions of the charter. “Twenty-five barons were to be chosen by the barons assembled, to maintain the observance of the peace and liberties granted and confirmed; so that if the king or his officers violated any of the conditions, four out of the twenty-five barons so chosen might petition for redress of the grievance; and if not redressed within forty days, the cause being laid before the rest of the twenty-five, they, ‘together with the community of the whole kingdom shall distrain and distress us all the ways possible; namely, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, and in any other manner they can, till the grievance is redressed according to their pleasure, saving harmless our own person, and those of our queen and children; and when it is redressed, they shall obey us as before.’” It was further required “that the Charter should not only be published throughout the whole country, but sworn to at every hundred-mote and town-mote by order from the king.”ECE 88.1

    66. When these new demands were made, John was more angry than ever. He cried out: “They have given me four-and-twenty overkings:” and flung himself on the floor “gnawing sticks and straw in his impotent rage.” But it was all in vain; the nobles were inflexible, and John was obliged to sign all that they required. No sooner was it all over, however, and the respective parties had separated and the forces dispersed, than John let himself loose to take vengeance on the whole kingdom, in all of which he was still zealously supported by the pope, who issued a bull excommunicating the barons and annulling the Charter. England rejected the excommunication and maintained the Charter. But, by the bull, John counted himself free from his oaths to the nobles, with full right to punish the whole people. “Wherever he marches, his force is to be tracked by fire and blood. The country was overrun by his fierce mercenaries. He marched to the north with the determination to recover his authority by the terrors of a widespread desolation, without one passing thought of justice or mercy. As he entered Scotland, in revenge for the alliance which its king, Alexander II, had formed with the barons, he burned the abbeys without distinction, and having rested at a village, set fire with his own hand, when he departed in the morning, to the house in which he had slept the previous night. In the South the same work of terror went forward, under the command of John’s illegitimate brother, the earl of Salisbury. The barons despaired of their cause, for the people fled before these hell-hounds, abandoning home and property rather than perish under the hands of relentless torturers. Their leaders came at last to a desperate resolution. They offered the crown to Louis, the eldest son of the king of France.”—Knight. 31[Page 89] “History of England,” chap 24, par. 2.ECE 88.2

    67. This desperate step, of course, was fraught with more war; yet it was certain that no war could be worse than were the miseries which John was inflicting upon the kingdom without war. Louis of France landed in England, May 30, 1216. Many of John’s mercenaries were Frenchmen, and when their own prince came into England, they not only refused to fight against him, but actually went over to him in such numbers that John dared not meet him. Louis soon reached London, where he was welcomed: the barons and citizens paid him homage, “he swearing to govern justly, to defend them against their enemies, and to restore them to their rights and possessions.” Everything was in his favor; but he destroyed all his good prospects by bestowing upon Frenchmen, English honors and possessions. But the whole situation was presently relieved by the death of John. He was attacked with a fever, in addition to which he gorged himself with a “surfeit of peaches and new cider,” and as a consequence died Oct. 18, 1216.ECE 89.1

    68. Though the nobles had invited Louis of France to be king of England, he had so offended that they now rejected him, and chose, to be king, John’s son Henry, a boy of ten years, who was crowned King Henry III, at Gloucester, Oct. 28, 1216. Louis, however, defended his claims to the crown. There was war for two years, in which he was defeated, on both land and sea. He then willingly agreed to resign his claims and withdraw to France, upon the payment to him of “five thousand pounds to meet his necessities.” While Henry III was so young, the kingdom was governed by a regency till 1227, when he declared himself of age, and began immediately to imitate his father John. He rejected the Charter and its appendices, which John had signed, and, instead of all that, declared: “Whensoever, and wheresoever, and as often as it may be our pleasure, we may declare, interpret, enlarge, or diminish, the aforesaid statutes, and their several parts, by our own free will, and as to us shall seem expedient for the security of us and our land.” But he, as John, was firmly met by the kingdom’s insistence upon the right of the people and the supremacy of the law.ECE 90.1

    69. In answer to Henry’s pronunciamento, an English judge, Bracton, set the voice of English law, in words worthy of everlasting remembrance: “The king must not be subject to any man, but to God and the law, for the law makes him king. Let the king, therefore, give to the law what the law gives to him, dominion and power for there is no king where will, and not law, bears rule.” Again: “The king can do nothing on earth, being the minister of God, but what he can do by law.” And yet again, he “reckons as superior to the king, ‘not only God and the law by which he is made king, but his court of earls and barons; for the former (comites) are so styled as associates of the king, and whoever has an associate has a master: so that, if the king were without a bridle—that is, the law—they ought to put a bridle upon him.’” 32[Page 90] Quoted by Hallam, “Middle Ages,” chap 8, par. 81; students’ edition, chap 8, part ii, sec. xii. par. 1. Upon this it has been well observed: “Let no Englishman, who lives under the rule of law, and not of will, forget that this privilege has been derived from a long line of forefathers; and that, although the eternal principles of justice depend not upon the precedence of ages, but may be asserted some day by any community with whom a continued despotism has made them ‘native, and to the manner born,’ we have the security that the old tree of liberty stands in the old earth, and that a short-lived trunk has not been thrust into a new soil, to bear a green leaf or two and then to die.”—Knight. 33[Page 91] “History of England,” chap 24, par. 7.ECE 90.2

    70. Henry III reigned fifty-three years, and the whole reign is remarkable for the constitutional contest between the king and the people, upon the great question as to whether just government is by law, or by arbitrary and despotic will. His reign is also remarkable for the fact that “history presents him in scarcely any other light than that of an extortioner or a beggar. There were no contrivances for obtaining money so mean or unjust that he disdained to practice them;” and the pope sustained him in it all, and “had more than an equal share of the spoil.” Thus, both he and the pope incurred not only the antagonism of the nobles, but the disrespect of the common people everywhere. Says a writer of the time, in 1252: “During all this time angry feelings were aroused, and hatred increased against the pope and the king, who favored and abetted each other in their mutual tyranny; and all, being in ill-humor, called them the disturbers of mankind.” Matters reached such a pass in 1257 that the nobles took another step in constitutional government. The Parliament met at Westminster, May 2, the barons clad “each in complete armor. As the king entered, there was a clatter of swords; and Henry, looking around in alarm, said, ‘Am I a prisoner?’ ‘No, sir,’ said Roger Bigod, ‘but your foreign favorites and your prodigality have brought misery upon the realm; wherefore we demand that the powers of government be delegated to a committee of bishops and barons, who may correct abuses, and enact good laws.”ECE 91.1

    71. To this demand the king was obliged to submit; and, on June 11, Parliament met at Oxford, to formulate what had been demanded. “It was enacted that four knights should be chosen by the votes of the freeholders in each county, who should submit all breaches of law and justice to a parliament, to be called together regularly thrice in each year; that the sheriffs of the counties should be chosen by the freeholders; and that the great officers of State should be reappointed.” This was but carrying into effect the provisions of Magna Charta, and its securities, which John had signed at Runnymede. And Henry, like John, after having sworn to it all, obtained a dispensation from the pope to violate it, and “told the committee of council, in 1261, that he should rule without them.” However, in 1262, after making a blustering show of war, he yielded, and again agreed to observe the law. In 1264, however, he broke loose again, and the difference this time did bring on a war. Henry was defeated; a parliament was assembled “on a more democratic basis than any which had been ever summoned since the foundation of the monarchy,” to whose laws Henry was again required to submit.ECE 91.2

    72. Henry III died Nov. 16, 1272, and was succeeded by his son Edward, who, at the time, was absent in the Crusades. And it was not till 1274 that he arrived in England, August 3; and on August 19 he and his queen were crowned at Westminster. In 1282 Wales revolted, and Edward was obliged to make war there for two years before it was subdued. There, April 25, 1284, his first son was born, who was named Edward, and was given the title Prince of Wales, which is the origin of the title in the royal family of England. Edward I also resisted constitutional government, especially in the matter of raising taxes. But under the leadership of the two great earls, Roger Bigod of Norfolk and Humphrey Bohun of Hereford and Essex, the nobles of the kingdom “called upon the sheriffs to levy no more taxes till the charters were confirmed without any insidious reservation of the rights of the crown.” Edward yielded and the statute of the confirmation of the charter was accepted by the king. “From that day, the tenth of October, 1297, the sole right of raising supplies has been invested in the people—this most salutary power, which is the greatest of the many distinctions between a limited and a despotic monarchy.”ECE 92.1

    73. Next Edward set up a claim to be “sovereign lord of the land of Scotland.” This brought on a war in 1296, which continued for twenty-three years—far beyond his death which occurred July 7, 1307. He was immediately succeeded by his son Edward, who was twenty-three years old. Edward II carried on the war with Scotland until 1323, when on May 10 a truce of thirteen years was concluded. In the first year of his reign Edward had married Isabella, the daughter of the king of France. In 1323 Isabella entered into an intrigue with Lord Roger Mortimer, which ended only in their murdering of the king. The murder, however, was preceded by his imprisonment. the declaring of his son Edward king at the age of fifteen, Jan. 7, 1327; the deposition of Edward II, January 13; the proclamation of the accession of Edward III, January 24; and his crowning, January 29.ECE 92.2

    74. Only four years of the truce between England and Scotland had passed when the king of Scotland—Robert Bruce—broke the truce, and invaded England. But, in 1328 a peace was concluded, in which England recognized the independence of Scotland under Bruce, and the peace was sealed by the marriage of the sister of Edward to the son of Bruce. In 1328 had died Charles IV, king of France, leaving no direct heir. The throne was taken by a cousin—Philip of Artois. Edward’s mother was the sister of Charles; and therefore as Charles’s nephew and nearer of kin than was Philip, Edward of England claimed the throne of France. The French law was that a woman could not inherit the throne; but Edward asserted the claim that though women were excluded, the law did not exclude the son of a woman who, if she had been a man, would have inherited. When Charles IV had died, Edward had presented his claim.ECE 93.1

    75. In 1332 Robert Bruce died, and John Balliol, who had done homage to Edward II for the kingdom, now attempted to take it from Bruce’s young heir. Edward III favored Balliol, and the king of France aided young David, the son of Bruce. And this aiding of Scotland by the rival king of France against the king of England and his ally was by Edward III made the ground “for commencing a great war for the purpose of asserting his pretensions to the crown of France.” The king of France was just then at war with the people of Flanders. Edward III helped the Flemings, and they proclaimed him king of France. In 1337 “Edward boldly assumed the title of king of France, and prepared to enforce his claim at the sword’s point.” And thus began the Hundred Years’ War between England and France, which continued about a hundred and twenty years, through the rest of the reign of Edward III, to 1337; through the reign of Richard II, to 1399; that of Henry IV, to 1413; that of Henry V, to 1422; and into the reign of Henry VI, till 1458.ECE 93.2

    76. The Hundred Years’ War was barely ended when a civil war—the Wars of the Roses—began between the house of York and the house of Lancaster, which continued for thirty-five years, through the reigns of Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III, till the death of Richard III, the last of the Plantagenets, and the crowning of Henry VII, the first of the Tudors, on Bosworth Field, Aug. 22, 1485. Though the Wars of the Roses were thus ended, peace did not come to the kingdom; for there were insurrections and pretenders to the throne which kept the kingdom in a constant turmoil for fifteen years. In the last eight years of the reign of Henry VII, 1501 to April 21, 1509, there was “neither revolts nor wars” in the kingdom. Henry VII had two sons, Arthur, born 1486, and Henry in 1491. When Arthur was four years old, a marriage was arranged for him with a girl of five years, Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. In the year 1499, when the children were aged twelve and thirteen, respectively, the marriage ceremony was performed; first by proxy while Catherine was in Spain, and again in their own proper persons, Nov. 6, 1501, when Catherine arrived in England.ECE 93.3

    77. In January, 1502, a treaty of perpetual peace was made between England and Scotland. This treaty was sealed by the marriage of Margaret, the daughter of Henry VII, of England, to James IV, the king of Scotland. In April of the same year occurred the death of Arthur, the husband of Catherine, and heir apparent to the throne. The two kings, however, Henry and Ferdinand, immediately arranged that Henry’s remaining son—Henry—should be married to Arthur’s young widow, Catherine. It took a year satisfactorily to settle the terms and to get a dispensation from the pope making the marriage legal; so that it was not till 1503 that the contract was actually completed by a ceremonial, “in which a person was appointed to object that the marriage was unlawful, and another to defend it as ‘good and effectual in the law of Christ’s Church.’” To this contract young Henry was opposed; and, before he reached the age of fifteen, “he protested, in legal form, against the contract which had been made during his nonage.” Henry VII died April 21, 1509, and the next day began the reign of his young son Henry, eighth of the name. June 7, following, Henry and Catherine were publicly married by the archbishop of Canterbury, and were crowned at Westminster the 24th of the same month.ECE 94.1

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