Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Raphael Holinshed
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland 1587 (Selection)


120[John's dispute with the pope]

The thirteenth of July, Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, departed this life at Tenham,The death of the Archbishop of Canterbury. the king not being greatly sorry for his death (as some have written) because he gathered some suspicion that he bore too much good will towards the French king. In very deed (as some write) the archbishop repented himself of nothing so much as for that he had commended King John to the noblemen and peers of the realm, sith he proved another manner of man than he looked to have found him. This archbishop had governed the See of Canterbury eleven years, eight months, and six days.

121After his decease the monks of Canterbury, without knowledge of the king, chose one Reignold the sub-prior of their house, to be their archbishop,An archbishop chosen. who secretly went to Rome to obtain his confirmation of the pope. Which thing bred much mischief and great discord betwixt Pope Innocent and King John, since the pope would not confirm the election because he saw some piece of secret practice, till he might understand and be certified by report of sufficient witness (for that he wanted the letters commendatory from the king) that the same election was lawful and orderly made. Of this delay also the monks being speedily advertised, and to the end they might now recover the king's favor, whom they had very sore offended in not making him privy to the first election, they made request unto him that by his nomination it might be lawful for them to choose another archbishop.

122The king gladly hereunto assented,John Grey bishop of Norwich president of the council. requiring them to grant their voices unto John Grey the bishop of Norwich, being both his chaplin and president of his council. The monks, to gratify the king, obeyed his request, and so electing the same bishop of Norwich they sent their procurators to Rome in the year following to signify the same unto the pope and to require him to confirm this their second election, as unmindful of their first and clearly adnihilating the same to all intents and purposes. Amongst other that were sent to Rome about this business, Helias de Brantfield was one,Helias de Brantfield. a monk of great estimation, and had in good credit with the king, who ministered unto them that were thus sent sufficient allowance wherewith to bear their charges and expenses.

123Also at the same time the bishops that were suffragans to the See of CanterburyThe bishops quarrel with the monks of Canterbury about the election of an archbishop. sent their procurators to Rome about a quarrel which they had against the monks there, for that the same monks presumed to proceed to the election of an archbishop without their consent, having (as they alleged) a right by ancient decrees and customs to be associated with them in the said elections. But how this matter was answered, ye shall see hereafter. In the mean time, these and other like things procured the pope to reject both the elections, and of his own authority to nominate the third person, whereby the trouble begun was not a little augmented, as you shall hear hereafter. Now whilst these procurators were thus occupied in Rome, Philip the French king, minding to conquer all that which King John yet held within France, assembled an army, and coming before the town of Loches won it, and took Gerard de Atie prisonerGerard de Atie and Robert de Turnham taken prisoners. that had so long time and with such valiancy defended it. The same time also was Robert de Turnham taken prisoner, who with great manhood had all this while repressed and chastised the rebellious Poitouins.

124[King Philip takes Chinon]

Moreover, when the French king had won Loches he went to Chinon,Hubert de Burgh a valiant captain. within the which Hubert de Burgh was captain, a right valiant man of war as was anywhere to be found, who, having prepared all things necessary for defence, manfully repelled the Frenchmen, who inforced themselves to win the town with continual assaults and alarms, not suffering them within to rest neither day nor night, who yet for certain days together by the valiant encouragement of their captain defended the town with great slaughter of the Frenchmen. Nevertheless, at length beginning to despair by reason of their incessant travail, certain of them that were somewhat fainthearted stole over the walls in the night, and ran to the Frenchmen, and for safeguard of their lives instructed them of the whole estate of the town. The French understanding that they within were in no small fear of themselves,Chinon taken by force of assault. with such violence came unto the walls, and renewed the assault upon all sides, that straightaway they entered by force. A great number of Englishmen were taken, and amongst other their captain the foresaid Hubert de Burgh. This chanced on the vigil of Saint John Baptist.

125After this, King Philip took divers other towns and castles in that country, of the which some he razed, and some he fortified and stored with garrisons of his soldiers. This done he passed over the river of Loire, and won a castle situated near unto a promontory or head of land called Grapelitum, which was wont to be a great succor and aid to Englishmen arriving on that coast. The occasion why he made wars thus upon the Bretons was (as some write) for that Guy, Duke of Brittany, who had married the duchess Constance and succeeded in the duchy after her son Arthur, without regard to revenge the death of the same Arthur, was joined in league with King John together with Savere de Mauleon, and Almeric de Lusignian, lords of great honor, power, and stoutness of stomach.

126[King John takes Angers; a truce]

1206 Anno. Reg. 8. King John also in this mean while moved with the increase of these his new associates, and also with desire to revenge so many injuries and losses sustained at the French king's hands, preparing an army of men and a navy of ships, took the sea with them and landed at Rochelle the ninth of July where he was received with great ioy and gladness of the people; and no small number of gentlemen and others that inhabited thereabout repaired unto him, offering to aid him to the uttermost of their powers. He therefore, with assured hope of good speed, departed from thenceMontaluban won. and won the town of Montaluban, with a great part of all the country thereabouts. Finally he entered into Anjou and, coming to the city of Angers, appointed certain bands of his footmen and all his light horsemen to compass the town about whilst he, with the residue of the footmen and all the men of arms, did go to assault the gates. Which enterprise with fire and sword he so manfully executedKing John won the city of Angers by assault. that, the gates being in a moment broken open, the city was entered and delivered to the soldiers for a prey. So that of the citizens some were taken, some killed, and the walls of the city beaten flat to the ground. This done, he went abroad into the country and put all things that were in his way to the like destruction. Then came the people of the countries next adjoining of their own accord to submit themselves unto him, promising to aid him with men and victuals most plentifully.

127King John, being very joyful of this good success, marched towards Poitou, sending out his troops of horsemen to waste the country on every side. In the mean while the French king, being hereof advertised, came forth with his army ready furnished to resist King John,The duke of Brittany and other of King John's friends overthrown. and by the way encountered with the Duke of Brittany, Saverie de Mauleon, and Almeric de Lusignian, which had been abroad to spoil the French king's countries. But being now overset with the king's puissance, they were taken and all their company stripped out of their armor, to their great confusion. This mishap sore weakened the power and courage of King John. But the French king, proud of the victory, kept on his journey, and approaching near unto the place where King John was as then lodged, did cause his tents to be pitched down for the first night, and on the morrow after, as one desirous of battle, brought his army into the fields ranged in good order and ready to fight.

128[A truce for two years]

The like did King John, so that with stout stomachs and eager minds, they stood there in the field ready to try the matter with dint of sword upon sound of the warning-blast given by the trumpets. Howbeit, by the mediation of certain grave personages,This truce was concluded upon All Hallows day. as well of the spiritualty as of the temporality, which were in good estimation with both the princes, a communication was appointed, which took such effect that a truce was taken betwixt them for the term of two years, the prisoners on either side being released by way of exchange; and thus the wars ceased for that time. Then King Philip returned into France, and King John into England, where he landed at Portsmouth the 12th of December.

129About this time came one John Ferentino (so called peradventure A ferendo,John Ferentino the pope's legate. a common name to all the whelps of that litter, for they never came into the land as legates but they would be sure to carry out with them many large legacies and usurped duties) a legate from the pope into England, and passing through the same as it were in visitation, gathered a great sum of money; and finally at Reading on the morrow after Saint Luke's day celebrated a council, which being ended he caused his coffers to be packed up and sent away, hasting himself after to depart the realm, and so taking the sea bad England farewell.The pope giveth sentence with the monks against the bishops. About the same season also Pope Innocent confirmed the authority and power which the prior and monks of Canterbury had to elect and choose the Archbishop of that see, giving sentence against the suffragans which claimed a right to be joined with the said prior and monks in the election, as by a letter directed to the same suffragans from the said pope it may more plainly appear.

130After this it chanced that King John remembering himself of the destruction of the city of Angiers, which (because he was descended from thence) he had before time greatly loved, began now to repent him, in that he had destroyed it, and therefore with all speed he took order to have it again repaired,King John repaireth the city of Angers. which was done in most beautiful wise to his great cost and expenses, which he might have saved had not his foolish rashness driven him to attempt that whereof upon sober advisement afterwards he was ashamed. But what will not an ordinary man do in the full tide of his fury; much more princes and great men, whose anger is resembled to the roaring of a lion, even upon light occasions oftentimes, to satisfy their unbridled and brainsick affections, which carry them with a swift and full stream into such follies and dotages as are undecent for their degrees. Herto assenteth the poet, saying,

-- magni Regesque Ducesque
Delirant saepe et vitiorum peste laborant,
Stultitiisque suis saepe urbes exitio dant?
. . .
Imperiumque sibi miserorum caede lucrantur.

131Moreover, in this year about Candlemass, the King caused the 13th part of every man's goods,1207. A tax levied. as well of the spirituality as of the temporality, to be levied and gathered to his use, all men murmuring at such doings, but none being so hardy as to gainsay the king's pleasureThe Archbishop of York stealeth out of the realm. except only Geoffrey, the Archbishop of York, who thereupon, departing secretly out of the realm, accursed all those that laid any hands to the collection of that payment within his archbishopric of York. Also upon the 17th of January then last past, about the midst of the night,A mighty tempest. there rose such a tempest of wind upon a sudden that many houses were overthrown therewith, and sheep and other cattle destroyed and buried in the drifts of snow, which as then lay very deep every where upon the ground.

132The order of Friars Minor began about this time, and increased marvellously within a short season. And the Emperor Otho came over into England in this year,The Emperor Otho cometh into England. where he was most royally received by King John, who, taking council with the said emperor to renew the war against the French king (because he was promised great aid at his hands for the furnishing of the same), gave unto him at his departing forth of the realmFive thousand marks of silver, as Matthew West. and Matthew Parvus do write. Anno Reg. 9. great sums of money in hand towards the payment of such soldiers as he should levy for this business.

133[Conflict continues over the Archbishopric of Canterbury]

In this mean while, the strife depended still in the court of Rome betwixt the two elected archbishops of Canturbury, Reginald and John. But after the pope was fully informed of the manner of their elections,Stephen Langton chosen Archbishop of Canterbury by the pope's appointment. he disannulled them both, and procured by his papal authority the monks of Canterbury (of whom many were then come to Rome about that matter) to choose one Stephen Langton, the Cardinal of Saint Chrysogon, an Englishman born and of good estimation and learning in the court of Rome, to be their archbishop. The monks at the first were loath to consent thereto, alleging that they might not lawfully do it without consent of their king and of their Covent.

134But the pope as it were taking the word out of their mouths, said unto them:

Do ye not consider that we have full authority and power in the church of Canterbury? Neither is the assent of kings or princes to be looked for upon elections celebrated in the presence of the Apostolic See. Wherefore I command you by virtue of your obedience, and upon pain of cursing, that you, being such and so many here as are sufficient for the election, to choose him to your archbishop whom I shall appoint to you for father and pastor of your souls.

135The monks, doubting to offend the pope, consented all of them to gratify him, except Helias de Brantfield who refused. And so the foresaid Stephen Langton, being elected of them, was confirmed of the pope, who signified by letters the whole state thereof to King John, commending the said Stephen as archbishop unto him.

136[King John defies the pope]

The king, sore offended in his mind that the bishop of Norwich was thus put beside that dignity to the which he had advanced him, caused forthwith all the goods of the monks of Canterbury to be confiscate to his use,The monks of Canterbury banished. King John writeth to the pope. and after banished them the realm, as well I mean those at home as those that were at Rome, and herewith wrote his letters unto the pope, giving him to understand for answer that he would never consent that Stephen which had been brought up and always conversant with his enemies the Frenchmen should now enjoy the rule of the bishopric and diocese of Canterbury. Moreover, he declared in the same letters that he marvelled not a little what the pope meant, in that he did not consider how necessary the friendship of the king of England was to the See of Rome,How gainful England was to the court of Rome. sith there came more gains to the Roman church out of that kingdom than out of any other realm on this side the mountains. He added hereto that for the liberties of his crown he would stand to the death if the matter so required. And as for the election of the bishop of Norwich unto the See of Canterbury, sith it was profitable to him and to his realm, he meant not to release it.

137Moreover, he declared that if he might not be heard and have his mind, he would surely restrain the passages out of this realm, that none should go to Rome, lest his land should be so emptied of money and treasure that he should want sufficient ability to beat back and expel his enemies that might attempt invasion against the same. Lastly of all he concluded, sith the archbishops, bishops, abbots, and other ecclesiastical persons, as well of his realm of England as of other his lands and dominions, were sufficiently furnished with knowledge that he would not go for any need that should drive him thereto, to seek justice or judgement at the prescript of any foreign persons.

138The pope, greatly marvelling hereat, wrote again to the king,The pope's answer unto the king. requiring him to abstain from the spoiling of those men that were privileged by the canons of the church, that he would place the monks again in their house and possessions and receive the archbishop canonically elected and confirmed, the which for his learning and knowledge, as well in the liberal sciences as in holy scripture, was thought worthy to be admitted to a prebend in Paris; and what estimation he himself had of him it appeared in that he had written to him thrice since he was made cardinal, declaring that, although he was minded to call him to his service, yet he was glad that he was promoted to an higher room; adding further, how there was good cause that he should have consideration of him because he was born within his land, of father and mother that were his faithful subjects, and for that he had a prebend in the church of York which was greater and of more dignity than that he had in Paris. Whereby not only by reason of flesh and blood but also by having ecclesiastical dignity and office, it could not be but that he loved him and his realm with sincere affection.

139Many other reasons the pope alleged in his letters to King John to have persuaded him to the allowing of the election of Stephen Langton. But King John was so far from giving care to the pope's admonitions, that he with more cruelty handled all such, not only of the spirituality, but also of the temporality, which by any manner means had aided the forenamed Stephen. The pope being hereof advertised thought good not to suffer such contempt of his authority, as he interpreted it, namely, in a matter that touched the injurious handling of men within orders of the church. Which example might procure hindrance, not to one private person alone, but to the whole estate of the spirituality, which he would not suffer in any wise to be suppressed. Wherefore he decreed with speed to devise remedy against that large increasing mischief. And though there was no speedier way to redress the same but by excommunication, yet he would not use it at the first towards so mighty a prince but gave him liberty and time to consider his offence and trespass so committed.

140¶ These things being brought to this issue, the further narration of them shall stay for a time till I have told you of a little trouble which about this time happened in London. For upon the seventh of June, the bailiffs of London, Roger Winchester and Edmund Hardell were discharged,bailiffs of London discharged and committed to ward. and Serle the mercer and Hugh of Saint Albans chosen in their rooms. The two former bailiffs were discharged and committed to prison by the king's commandment upon displeasure taken against them, because they had resisted his purveyor of wheat and would not suffer him to convey any of that kind of grain out of the city till the city was stored. The thirty and five rulers of the city, having fulfilled the king's commandment to them directed for the discharging of those bailiffs, and imprisoning them, did after take advice together, and appointed a certain number of themselves with other to ride unto the king, as then being at Langley, to obtain pardon for the said bailiffs, and so coming thither they made such excuse in the matter, showing further that at the same season there was such scarcity of wheat in the city that the common people were at point to have made an insurrection about the same. By which means, and through friendship which they had in the court, the king was so satisfied that he released them from prison, and pardoned their offences.