« ForrigeFortsett »
charged with the reading of the sentence, pronounced in the French tongue the first words of the prescribed formula, “Cyez-ci le jugement rendu contre vous -the archbishop interrupted him:-“Earl,” he said, “I forbid you, in the name of Almighty God, here to give judgment against me, who am your spiritual father; I appeal to the sovereign pontiff, and cite you before him.” After this sort of counter-appeal to the authority which his adversaries themselves had first invoked, Becket rose, and passed slowly through the crowd. A murmur arose on all sides; the Normans cried :-"The false traitor, the perjurer, where is he going? why is he suffered to go in peace 1 Remain here, traitor, and hearthy sentence.” At the moment of going out Becket turned, and looking coldly around him said, “If my sacred order did not forbid it, I would have replied by arms to those who have called me a traitor and a perjurer.” He mounted his horse, went to the house where he lodged, had tables set out for a great repast, and gave orders that all the poor of the town should be assembled. A great number came, and he made them eat and drink. He supped with them, and, the same night, whilst the king and the Norman barons were prolonging their evening repast, he left Northampton, accompanied by two Cistercian friars, the one an Englishman, named Sharman, the other a Frenchman, called Robert de Canne. After three days march he reached the fens of Lincolnshire, and there hid himself in a hermit's hut. From thence, in complete disguise, and under the assumed name of Dearman, the Saxon character of which was a guarantee of obscurity, he reached Canterbury, then the coast near Sandwich. It was the end of November, a season when the passage becomes perilous. The archbishop embarked in a small boat, to avoid suspicion, and after passing through many dangers, arrived at the port of Gravelines. He then repaired on foot, and ill-equipped to the monastery of St. Bertin, near Namur. On the news of his flight, a royal edict was published in all the king of England's provinces on both shores of the Channel. By the terms of this edict, all the relations of Thomas à Becket, in the ascending and descending line, from old men, to women in their pregnancy, and infants in arms, were condemned to banishment. All the possessions of the archbishop and his adherents, or those who were so called, were sequestrated into the hands of the king.
65.—THE DEATH OF THOMAS A BECKET. Hon.INshed.
The Archbishop of York, the two bishops London and Salisbury, being offended with his doings, sailed over into Normandy, and there complained to king Henry of injuries done to them by archbishop Thomas, grievously accusing him that he went about to take away their liberty of priesthood, to destroy, corrupt, and finally to abolish both the laws of God and man, together with the ancient decrees and statutes of their elders; insomuch that he took upon him to exclude bishops at his pleasure from the company of christian men, and so being excluded, to banish them for ever : to derogate things merely prejudicial to the king's royal prerogative ; and finally to take away from all men the equity of laws and civil orders.
The king giving ear to their complaint was so displeased in his mind against archbishop Thomas, that in open audience of his lords, knights, and gentlemen, he said these or the like words: “In what miserable state am I, that cannot be in rest within mine own realm, by reason of one only priest. Neither is there any of my folks that will help to deliver me out of such troubles.”
There were some that stood about the king, which guessed by these words, that his mind was to signify how he would have some man to dispatch the archbishop out of the way. The king's displeasure against the archbishop was known well enough, which caused men to have him in no reverence at all, so that (as it was said), he chanced on a time, that he came to Stroud, in Kent, where the inhabitants meaning to do somewhat to his infamy, being thus out of the king's favour, and despised of the world, cut off his horse's tail. There were some also of the king's servants, that thought after another mander of sort to revenge the displeasure done to the king's majesty, as Sir Hugh Morville, Sir William Tracy, Sir Richard Brito, and Sir Reginald Fitzurse, knights, who taking advice together, and agreeing in one mind and will, took shipping, and sailed over into England, landed at a place called Dogs-haven, near Dover. Now the first night they lodged in the castle of Saltwood, which Randolph de Broe had in keeping. The next morning being the 29th of December, and fifth day of Christmas, which as that year came about fell upon a Tuesday, having gotten together certain soldiers in the country thereabouts, came to Canterbury, and first entering into the court of the Abbey of St. Augustine, they talked with Clarenbald the elect abbot of that place; and after conference had with him, they proceeded in their business as followeth. The first knight Sir Reginald Fitzurse came to him about the eleventh hour of the day, as the archbishop sat in his chamber, and sitting down at his feet upon the ground without any manner of greeting or salutation, at length began with him thus:– “Being sent of our sovereign lord the king from beyond the seas, we do here present unto you his grace's commandments, to wit, that you should go to his son the king, to do unto him that which appertaineth unto you to do unto your sovereign lord, and to do your fealty unto him in taking an oath, and further to amend that wherein you have offended his majesty.” Whereunto the archbishop answered —“For what cause ought I to confirm my fealty unto him by oath; or wherein am I guilty in offending the king's majesty 1" Sir Reginald said:—“For your barony, fealty is demanded of you with an oath, and another oath is required of those clerks, which you have brought with you, if they mean to continue within the land.” The archbishop answered —“For my barony I am ready to do to the king whatsoever law or reason shall allow : but let him for certain hold, that he shall not get any oath either of me or of my clerks.” “We knew that,” said the knight, “that you would not do any of these things which we proposed unto you. Moreover the king commandeth you to absolve those bishops that are excommunicated by you without his licence.” Whereunto he said:—“The bishops are excommunicated not by me, but by the pope, who hath thereto authority from the Lord. If indeed he hath revenged the injury done to my church, I confess that I am not displeased therewith.” “Then,” said the knight, “sith that such things in despite of the king do please you, it is to be thought that you would take from him his crown, and be called and taken for king yourself, but you shall miss of your purpose surely therein.” The archbishop answered, “I do not aspire to the name of a king, rather would I knit three crowns unto his crown if it lay in my power.” At length after these and such words, the knights turning them to the monks, said, “In the behalf of our sovereign lord the king, we command you, that in any wise ye keep this man safe, and present him to the king when it shall please his grace to send for him.” The archbishop said, “doye think that I will run away; I came not to run away, but to look for the outrage and malice of wicked men.” “Truly,” said they, “you shall not run away,” and herewith went out with noise and threatenings. Then master John of Salisbury, his chancellor, said unto him —“My lord, this is a wonderful matter that you will take no man's counsel; had it not been meet to have given them a more meek and gentle answer.” But the archbishop said, “surely I have already taken all the counsel that I will take, I know what I ought to do.” Then said Salisbury, “I pray God it may be good." Now the knights departing out of the place, and going about to put on their armour, certain came to the archbishop, and said, “My lord, they arm themselves.” “What forceth it,” said he, “let them arm themselves.” Now when they were armed, and many other about them, they entered into the archbishop's palace. Those that were about the archbishop cried upon him to flee, but he sat still and would not once remove, till the monks brought him even by force and against his will into the church. The coming of the armed men being known, some of the monks continued singing of even song, and some sought places where to hide themselves, other came to the archbishop, who was loath to have entered into the church, and when he was within, he would not yet suffer them to make fast the doors, so that there was a great stir among them, but chiefly when they perceived that the armed men went about to seek for the archbishop, by mean whereof their even song was left unfinished. At length the knights with their servants having sought the palace, came rushing into the church by the cloister door with their swords drawn, some of them asking for the traitor, and some of them for the archbishop, who came and met them, saying, “Here am I, no traitor, but the archbishop.” The foremost of the knights said unto him, “Flee, thou art but dead.” To whom the archbishop said, “I will not flee.” The knight stept to him taking him by the sleeve, and with his sword cast his cap beside his head, and said, “Come hither, for thou art a prisoner.” “I will not,” said the archbishop, “do with me here what thou wilt.” and plucked his sleeve with a mighty strength out of the knight's hand. Wherewith the knight stepped back two or three paces. Then the archbishop turning to one of the knights, said to him, “what meaneth this, Reginald, I have done unto thee many great pleasures, and comest thou now unto me into the church armed !” Unto whom the knight presently answered and said, “Thou shalt know anon what is meant, thou art but dead; it is not possible for thee any longer to live.” Unto whom the archbishop answered, “I am ready to die for my God, and for the defence of his justice and the liberty of the church; gladly do I embrace death, so that the church may purchase peace and liberty by the shedding of my blood.” And herewith taking another of the knights by the habergeon, he flung him from him with such violence, that he had almost thrown him down to the ground. This was Sir Will. Tracy, as he after confessed. Then the archbishop inclined his head after the manner of one that would pray, pronouncing these his last words:–“To God, to St. Mary, and to the saints that are patrons of this church, and to St. Denis, I commend myself and the church's cause.” Therewith Sir Reginald Fitzurse striking a full blow at his head, chanced to light upon the arm of a clerk named Edward of Cambridge, who cast up his arm to save the archbishop; but when he was not able to bear the weight of the blow, he plucked his arm back, and so the stroke staid upon the archbishop's head, in such wise that the blood ran down by his face. Then they stroke at him one after another, and though he fell to the ground at the second blow, yet they left him not till they had cut and pushed out his brains, and dashed them about upon the church pavement. All this being done, they rifled his house, spoiled his goods, and took them to their own uses, supposing it lawful for them being the king's servants so to do. But doubting how the matter would be taken, after they had wrought their feat, they got them into the bishopric of Durham, there to remain till they might hear how the king would take this their unlawful enterprise; though (as they alledged) they had lustily defended his cause, and revenged his quarrel as faithful servants ought to do. Howbeit, it chanced otherwise than they looked it should have done; for king Henry gave them so little thanks for their presumptuous act, sounding to the evil example of other in breach of his laws, that they despairing utterly of pardon, fled one into one place, and another into another, so that within four years they all died an evil death (as it hath been reported).
£6.—THE KING AND THE ARCHIBISHOP.
Henry, De Lacy, Cornwall, De Eynsford, Archbishop of York; Bishops of Winchester,
Save to the mole-eyed people, of distress,
Henry. Oh! he would set up
Leicester. He comes, my liege ;
Enter Becket, arrayed in purple and pall, with his Crosier elevated, and a proud
Henry. Heyday ! the Pope of Canterbury |
Becket. I bear it for my sole protection
Item; three hundred pounds,
Which thou didst levy upon Eye and Berkham,
Becket. My liege my liege my liege
Henry. Oh I am then thy sovereign yet, it seems
Becket. I did never lack allegiance,—