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as his master could be to raise him to that dignity. After he had received his pall from pope Alexander III. then residing in France, he immediately sent messengers to the king in Normandy, with his resignation of the seal and office of chancellor. This displeased the king ; so that upon his return to England, when he was met at his landing by the archbishop, he received him in a cold and indifferent manner.
Becket now betook himself to a quite different manner of life, and put on all the gravity and austerity of a monk, He began likewise to exert himself with great zeal, in defence of the rights and privileges of the church of Canterbury; and in many cases proceeded with so much warmth and obstinacy, as raised him many enemies. Pope Alexander III. held a general council of his prelates at Tours in April 1163, at which Becket was present, and was probably animated by the pope in his design of becoming the champion for the liberties of the church and the immunities of the clergy. It is certain that on his return he prosecuted this design with such zeal that the king and he came to an open rupture: Henry endeavoured to recall certain privileges of the clergy, who had greatly abused their exemption from the civil courts, concerning which the king had received several complaints; while the archbishop stood up for the immunities of the clergy. The king convened a synod of the bishops at Westminster, and here demanded that the clergy, when accused of any capital offence, might take their trials in the usual courts of justice. The question put to the bishops was, Whether, in consideration of their duty and allegiance to the king, and of the interest and peace of the kingdom, they were willing to promise a submission to the laws of his grandfather, king Henry? To this the archbishop replied, in the name of the whole body, that they were willing to be bound by the ancient laws of the kingdom, as far as the privileges of the order would permit, salvo ordine suo. The king was highly displeased with this answer, and insisted on having an absolute compliance, without any reservation whatever; but the archbishop would by no means submit, and the rest of the bishops adhered for some time to their primate. Several of the bishops being at length gained over, and the pope interposing in the quarrel, Becket was prevailed on to acquiesce; and soon after the king summoned a convention or parliament at Clarendon, in 1164, where several laws
were passed relating to the privileges of the clergy, called from thence, the Constitutions of Clarendon. But before the meeting of this assenıbly, Becket had again changed his mind, and when he appeared before the council, he obstinately refused to obey the laws as he had before agreed. This equally disappointed and enraged the king, and it was not until after some days debate, and the personal entreaties, and even tears, of some of his particular friends, that Becket was again softened, and appearing before the council, solemnly promised and swore, in the words of truth and without any reserve, to obey all the royal laws and customs which had been established in England in the reign of his majesty's grandfather Henry I. The constitutions of Clarendon were then put in writing, read in the council, and one copy of them delivered to the primate, another to the archbishop of York, and a third deposited among the records of the kingdom. By them ecclesiastics of all denominations were reduced to a due subjection to the laws of their country; they also limited the jurisdiction of spiritual courts, guarded against appeals to Rome, and the pronouncing of interdicts and excommunications, without the consent of the king or his judiciary.
As it was with visible reluctance that Becket had sworn to obey these constitutions, he soon began to give indications of his repentance, by extraordinary acts of mortification, and by refraining from performing the sacred offices of his function. He also dispatched a special messenger, with an account of what had happened, to the pope, who sent him a bull, releasing him from the obligation of his oath, and enjoining him to resume the duties of his sacred office. But though this bull reconciled his conscience to the breach of his oath, it did not dispel his fears of the royal indignation, to avoid which he determined to retire privately out of the kingdom. Accordingly he went aboard a ship, in order to make his escape beyond sea; but before he could reach the coast of France, the wind shifting about, he was driven back to England, and, conscious that he had done amiss, he waited upon the king at Woodstock, who received him without any other expression of displeasure than asking him if he had left England because he thought it too little to contain both ? Notwithstanding the mildness of this rebuke, Becket persisted in setting the clergy above the laws; and therefore the king summoned a parliament at Northampton, 1165, where the archbishop har.
ing been accused of failure of duty and allegiance to the king, was sentenced to forfeit all his goods and chattels. Becket made an appeal to the pope; but this having availed nothing, and finding himself deserted by his brethren, he withdrew privately from Northampton, and went aboard a ship for Graveline in Holland, from whence he retired to the monastery of St. Bertin in Flanders.
The king seized upon the revenues of the archbishopric, and sent an ambassador to the French king, desiring bim not to give shelter to Becket: but the French court espoused his cause, in hopes that the misunderstanding betwixt him and Henry might embarrass the affairs of England; and accordingly when Becket came from St. Bertin to Soissons, the French king paid him a visit, and offered him his protection. Soon after the archbishop went to Sens; where he was honourably received by the pope, into whose hands he in form resigned the archbishopric of Canterbury, and was presently re-instated in his dignity by the pope, who promised to espouse his interest. The archbishop removed from Sens to the abbey of Pontigny in Normandy, from whence he wrote a letter to the bishops of England, informing them, that the pope had annulled the Constitutions of Clarendon. From hence too he issued out excommunications against several persons, who had violated the rights of the church, This conduct of his raised him many enemies. The king was so enraged against him for excommunicating several of his officers of state, that he banished all Becket's relations, and compelled them to take an oath, that they would travel directly to Pontigny, and shew themselves to the archbishop. An order was likewise published, forbidding all persons to correspond with him by letters, to send him any money, or so much as to pray for him in the churches. He wrote also to the general chapter of the Cistertians, threatening to seize all their estates in England, if they allowed Becket to continue in the abbey of Pontigny. The archbishop thereupon removed to Sens; and from thence, upon the king of France's recommendation, to the abbey of St. Columba, where he remained four years. In the mean time, the bishops of the province of Canterbury wrote a letter to the archbishop, entreating him to alter his behaviour, and not to widen the breach, so as to render an accommodation impracticable betwixt him and the king. This, however, had no effect on the archbishop. The pope also sent two
cardinals to try to reconcile matters; but the legates find ing both parties inflexible, gave over the attempt, and returned to Rome.
The beginning of 1167, Becket was at length so far prevailed upon as to have an interview with Henry and the king of France, at Mont-Miral in Champaigne. He made a speech to Henry in very submissive terms; and concluded with leaving him the umpire of the difference between them, saving the honour of God. Henry was provoked at this clause of reservation, and said, that whatever Becket did not relish, he would pronounce contrary to the honour of God.
“ However,” added the king, " to shew my inclination to accommodate matters, I will make him this proposition : I have had many predecessors, kings of England, some greater and some inferior to myself; there havė been likewise many great and holy men in the see of Can, terbury. Let Becket therefore but pay me the same regard, and own my authority so far, as the greatest of his predecessors owned that of the least of mine, and I am satisfied. And, as I never forced him out of England, I give him leave to return at his pleasure; and am willing he should enjoy his archbishopric, with as ample privileges as any of his predecessors." All who were present declared that Henry had shewn sufficient condescension. The king of France, surprised at the archbishop's silence, asked him why he hesitated to accept such reasonable conditions ? Becket replied, he was willing to receive his see upon thé terms his predecessors held it; but as for those customs which broke in upon the canons, he could not admit them; for he looked upon this as betraying the cause of religion. And thus the interview ended without any effect.
In 1169, endeavours were again used to accommodate matters, but they proved ineffectual. The archbishop refused to comply, because Henry would not give him the customary salute, or kiss of peace, which bis majestý would have granted, had he not once swore in a passion never to salute the archbishop on the cheek; but he declared that he would bear him no ill will for the omission of this ceremony. Henry became at length so irritated against this prelate, that he ordered all his English subjects to take an oath, whereby they renounced the authority of Becket and pope Alexander : most of the laity complied with this order, but few of the clergy acquiesced. The following year king Henry, upon his return to England, ordered bis son, prince
Henry, to be crowned at Westminster, and the ceremony was performed by the archbishop of York: this office belonged to the see of Canterbury; and Becket complained of it to the pope, who suspended the archbishop of York, and excommunicated the bishops who assisted him.
This year, however, an accommodation was at length concluded betwixt Henry and Becket, upon the confines of Normandy, where the king held the bridle of Becket's horse, while he mounted and dismounted twice. Soon after the archbishop embarked for England; and upon his arrival, received an order from the young king to absolve the suspended and excommunicated bishops; but refusing to comply, the archbishop of York, and the bishops of London and Salisbury, carried their complaint to the king in Normandy, who was highly provoked at this fresh instance of obstinacy in Becket, and said on the occasion, “That he was an unhappy prince, who maintained a great number of lazy, insignificant persons about him, none of whom had gratitude or spirit enough to revenge him on a single, insolent prelate, who gave him so much disturb, ance, or as some report his words, “Shall this fellow, who came to court on a Jame horse, with all his estate in a wallet behind him, trample upon his king, the royal family, and the whole kingdom? Will none of all these lazy cowardly knights whom I maintain, deliver me from this turbulent priest?” This passionate exclamation made too deep an impression on some of those who heard it, particuJarly on the four following barons, Reginald Fitz-Urse, William de Tracy, Hugh de Morville, and Richard Breto, who formed a resolution, either to terrify the archbishop into submission, or to put him to death,
Having laid their plan, they left the court at different times, and took different routes, to prevent suspicion ; but being conducted by the devil, as some monkish historians tell us, they all arrived at the castle of Ranulph de Broc, about six miles from Canterbury, on the same day, Dec. 28, 1170, and almost at the same hour. Here they settled the whole scheme of their proceedings, and next morning early set out for Canterbury, accompanied by a body of resolute men, with arms concealed under their clothes. These men they placed in different parts of the city, to prevent any interruption from the citizens. The four barons above-named then went unarmed with twelve of their company, to the archiepiscopal palace, about eleven o'clock