Posts Tagged ‘bishops’

Sunday 10 August 1264: the bishops and the legate

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Henry III spent another week in London, but the attention of the government which ruled in his name was concentrated on the coasts of France and England. The great popular army to resist the threatened invasion was mustering in Kent. According to one chronicler, there was such a multitude of mounted and foot soldiers gathered at Harbledown, near Canterbury, that you would not have believed there were so many in England. There was a further summons for the sheriffs of Cambridgeshire and Essex to ensure that their counties provided armed men for the defence of the coast; those who failed to come were to be imprisoned. The army which had been called out to defend the coasts had already been serving for a long time, beyond the customary period of service, and they were assured that this would not be regarded as establishing a precedent. A letter in Henry’s name was sent to the archbishop of Rheims and other councillors of the king of France, asking them to use their influence to prevent the levying of troops in France for the invasion. The letter drew attention to the possible danger this would pose to the hostages, lord Edward and Henry of Almain. (Rishanger, 36; CPR 1258-66, 364-5, 340; Royal Letters, II, 268-9)

Two bishops, from BL Royal 2 B VI, a psalter and canticles from St Albans, c. 1246-60

Two bishops, from BL Royal 2 B VI, a psalter and canticles from St Albans, c. 1246-60

The English clergy were also participating in the national mobilization, some by providing their customary military service for their lands, some by contributing a levy of one-tenth of their revenues (and in the case of Dunstable priory, apparently both). It seems that this had been decided by a council of prelates and magnates. This may have been the same council of bishops and magnates, reported in only one chronicle, where the bishop of Worcester set out the case for the new regime; as spokesman for the bishops, he formally rejected any attempt by the legate to impose excommunication or interdict. A further council early in August (before 11 August, when the bishop of Exeter sent a mandate for collection of a levy) involved both prelates and the lower clergy, who agreed that the religious and the beneficed clergy should give a tenth of their spiritual income. (Councils & Synods, II, I, 694-9; Ann Mon, III, 233; Gervase, II, 239-42)

The legate, if he knew of the bishop of Worcester’s statement, was unimpressed. He was certainly displeased by the way in which the English government had treated his messengers, refusing them entry and confiscating their letters. The government feared the importation of papal letters condemning their seizure of power. Monks from Fountains abbey were only allowed to attend a general chapter of the Cistercian order on condition that they did not bring back anything prejudicial. The legate’s  response was proclaimed publicly, in the church at Amiens, on 3 or 4 August. As the legate was not allowed into England, he summoned the bishops to Boulogne. The clerical and secular negotiations were thus coming together, with the legate arriving in Boulogne on 9 August and Louis IX on 10 August, both waiting for a response from England. (CPR 1258-66, 340; Heidemann, register entries 17-19)

The government made yet more attempts to establish its authority over the northern royalists. It ordered its supporters in the north to cease harassing the royalist leaders, so that they would not have that excuse for refusing to come to the king. It then enlisted the bishop and prior of Durham and the abbot of St Mary’s, York, to ensure safe conduct for the northern magnates who were ordered to come to London. As usual, these instructions were ignored. At least one of the northerners who had fought for the king at Lewes, Robert de Brus, was still held captive; his son was given safe conduct to come to England to arrange for his father’s release. (CPR 1258-66, 364, 339-40; Royal Letters, II, 269-70)