Economic development and increased urbanization along with attempts to balance the power of feudal aristocrats and Church authorities were some of the factors that led to communes in western Europe. Communes were organized as private associations for the common advantage of those swearing to them and to maintain peace. Sometimes they were helped by royal charters or ecclesiastical support; other times these authorities prevented or limited communes. Saint-Quentin gained an early charter in 1102 and extended its privileges with a democratic constitution and much independence under a mayor. Bishop Baudry proclaimed a commune in Noyons about 1108.
Abbot Guibert of Nogent described in his Memoirs turbulent events in Laon. In 1110 a conspiracy organized by Bishop Gaudry murdered crusader and convent-protector Gérard of Quierzy while he was praying in church. Believing Gaudry was guilty, King Louis VI ordered the bishop’s palace despoiled. Despite Guibert’s advice Bishop Gaudry excommunicated those who had taken goods from the fled murderers; but public pressure compelled the bishop eventually to excommunicate the murderers themselves. Guibert wrote that the word “commune” was “a new and evil name,” but people organized it as a way to replace all servile taxes with one lump sum paid annually. The bishop agreed to respect the rights of the commune according to the charters of Noyon and Saint-Quentin, and the people bribed the king to swear to it. Bishop Gaudry next had a bailiff of the peasants, also named Gérard, blinded. On Maundy Thursday in 1112 Bishop Gaudry persuaded some burghers to bribe King Louis to dissolve the commune. An angry mob protested and shouted “Commune.” Thiégaud dragged the bishop from his palace and killed him. In the chaos that followed other nobles were killed, and many were tortured to death. Thomas of Marle defended the commune of Laon, but the next year they were suppressed by the forces of King Louis. Thiégaud was captured and hanged by Enguerrand’s knights two years after the bishop’s murder.
After the destruction at Laon the people, burghers, and bishop of Amiens formed a commune by “bribing” (Guibert’s term) King Louis. In southern France the government was often consular. Marseilles was a republic with consuls for a while in the early 12th century, and consular government was recognized at Arles in 1131. The inhabitants of Vézelay gained a more equitable taxation system in 1137. Rouen acquired a charter from Geoffrey Plantagenet in 1145. Rheims archbishop Samson (1140-61) favored a commune to gain the support of the people; but his successor attacked the judicial rights of the burgesses and was driven out in 1167. Often the commune took its place as a powerful agent in the feudal hierarchy and was able to control local administration and finances. People were drawn to assemblies by the belfry, and the common seal stamped all public documents.
Flanders count Robert II (r. 1093-1111) gained a fief of 500 pounds annually from England’s King Henry I in 1103 and agreed to support Henry while still giving fealty to King Philip I of France. Robert helped Henry conquer Normandy from his older brother Robert Curthose, and the alliance was renewed in 1110. Robert prohibited the building of fortifications without his permission and proclaimed the peace of God, protecting markets. Flanders count Baldwin VII (r. 1111-19) with the support of the towns was able to defeat his rebelling mother Clementia and the count of Hainault, who were supported by William of Ypres. Baldwin abolished judicial duels in 1116. As Charles, the son of Knut of Denmark and Robert the Frisian’s daughter, gained prominence at court, Baldwin turned to William Clito, son of Robert Curthose. When Henry I refused to recognize William as duke of Normandy, Baldwin invaded and died of an infected wound. Before he died, he selected the Danish Charles as his successor.
In France King Philip I was succeeded by Louis VI (r. 1108-37), who began his reign by using force to subdue the crimes of Hugh of Crecy. War between France and England that would last two decades began in 1109 when Louis challenged Henry I to single combat over disputed territory. In 1110 Louis made Aymon Vaire-Vache restore Bourbon after he had refused to appear at court. Louis was urged by both Bishop Ivo of Chartres and his friend Suger, Abbot at St. Denis, to prevent such violations of the peace. In 1111 Theobald of Blois went over to England’s side with a strong coalition of barons, and Louis had to yield Maine and Brittany in a treaty two years later. By 1114 international fairs were being held in Champagne at Bar-sur-Aube and Troyes. Weekly markets and annual fairs were great boons to commerce in the 12th century.
Starting in 1116 frequent battles occurred in the Vexin, and at Rheims in 1119 Pope Calixtus II condemned England’s Henry for imprisoning Robert Curthose and arresting Robert of Belleme. In the peace agreement the next year Henry’s son William Atheling gave Louis homage for the duchy of Normandy. After William died in the White Ship disaster of 1120, Louis led forces to expel Henry from Normandy in order to replace him with William Clito. Henry turned to Germany; but in 1124 both were discouraged by the massive French army Louis raised. When Count William VI of Auvergne drove out the Bishop of Clermont in 1122, Louis used an army to bring the bishop back. Bernard of Clairvaux criticized Suger for turning the abbey of St. Denis into a worldly palace for knights and even women; but in 1127 Suger instituted drastic reforms in the monastery. Suger completed a Romanesque church at St. Denis in 1136 that was one of the first to use the Gothic pointed arches and rose windows. He argued that most people need to see material beauty in order to understand the beauty of God. The 12th century was the beginning of the great cathedrals that reflected the importance of the established religion.
Flanders count Charles (r. 1119-27) extended protection to the weak and tillers of the soil, outlawing the bearing arms in markets or towns. During two years of famine starting in 1124 Charles fed a hundred paupers a day in Bruges and made provisions for other towns. The Count ordered that anyone sowing two measures of grain should also sow a measure of peas and beans for a quick yield and to nourish the soil. He criticized the men of Ghent who let the poor die on their doorsteps, and he prohibited the brewing of beer so that there would be more bread. According to the monk Galbert of Bruges, who wrote a detailed account in The Murder of Charles the Good, Charles declined the crown of Jerusalem in 1123 and the imperial crown of Germany two years later. In 1127 he allowed knights to pay scutage in lieu of military service. In at least 34 charters Charles supported the liberties of the Church. Provost Bertulf began to resent the Danish count Charles, and in 1127 a feud broke out between his nephews and those of Thancmar. Count Charles punished the fighting and pillaging of Bertulf’s nephew Borsiard by burning his house and promised him a better house if he would stop fighting.
Borsiard and others plotted with the Erembald clan and murdered Charles on March 2, 1127 along with his counselor Walter of Loker and the castellan of Bourbourg. A week later citizens of Bruges led by Gervaise besieged the castle, and barons swore to support them in a league. The castle was stormed, but the citizens looted and turned against Thancmar as Bertulf fled. King Louis VI of France summoned the barons to Arras, and they elected William Clito as count. Count William granted charters to towns and had Bertulf put to death. A siege of Ypres captured William of Ypres, and Borsiard was left to die fixed to a tree. Count William ordered an inquiry into the murder of Charles but alienated the burghers of Bruges by demanding a toll. England’s king Henry I opposed William and sent money for bribes to Ghent. Thierry of Alsace gained the support of people at Ghent by promising to support the privileges William had promised but not fulfilled. Then in March 1128 Thierry was elected count by the barons and burghers at Bruges. France’s Louis still supported William Clito, and a partisan struggle raged in Flanders until William was killed in the siege of Aalst in June 1128. Count Thierry visited the towns and was invested by the kings of France and England with the fiefs and benefices that Charles had held.
Louis VI arranged for his son Louis to marry Eleanor of Aquitane in 1137 and died later that year while Louis VII (r. 1137-80) was taking possession of Aquitane. In 1141 Louis lost a struggle over who should be the next archbishop of Bourges when Pope Innocent II consecrated Peter in Rome and put an interdict on towns sheltering the king. Count Theobald had opposed Louis, and they quarreled again when the Seneschal of France, Count Ralph of Vermandois, repudiated his wife, Theobald’s niece, in order to marry Eleanor’s sister Alice. In anger Louis captured and burned Vitry-sur-Marne, and 1300 people perished in a church. Louis was so horrified by this that penitence led him to take up the cross on the second crusade. In 1143 Bernard of Clairvaux had mediated a settlement whereby Louis withdrew from Champagne. When Louis took control of part of it, Theobald formed a league with the counts of Flanders and Soissons; but again Bernard and Suger persuaded the king to depart, abandon Ralph, and accept Peter as archbishop of Bourges. While his wife Matilda was fighting King Stephen in England, Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou gradually started conquering Normandy in 1136, finally taking Rouen in 1144.
The pious Louis VII was persuaded by Bernard of Clairvaux to go on the second crusade and left in June 1147 with a large army. Suger ruled as regent in his absence in a time of peace. When Robert de Dreux and other nobles came back from the crusade before Louis, Suger wrote to his king to come home and restrain these disturbers of the peace. Returning Louis complained when Geoffrey besieged his Poitou seneschal Gerald. After Suger died in 1151, Louis proposed Stephen’s son Eustace of Boulogne as a rival to Count Geoffrey of Anjou and his son Henry. They attacked successfully; but after suffering an illness, Louis agreed to accept the return of Gisors and the Vexin. Louis and his wife Eleanor had become alienated after her affair at Antioch with Raymond, and their marriage was annulled legally for consanguinity in 1152; but the main reason may have been that she had borne only two daughters, and Louis wanted to marry again to have a son. When she married Henry of Anjou two months later, the large province of Aquitane went with her. Louis took up arms but soon agreed to a truce. Louis let Henry take Brittany by appointing him Seneschal of France. Henry also betrothed his three-year-old son Henry to Louis’ infant daughter Margaret, and the wedding was even celebrated two years later so that Henry could claim the Vexin.
King Louis granted a charter of privileges to the town of Lorris in 1155 that limited their taxes and protected them from tolls. Those going to markets and fairs could not be arrested unless it was for something done that day. Corvée labor was limited to twice a year when wine needed to be carried to Orleans. Prisoners were allowed bail, and burghers could sell their own property. In 1162 Count Henry of Champagne tried to get Louis VII to support Pope Victor IV by threatening to go over to the German empire; but England’s Henry II feared a German-French alliance and appeared with his forces to rescue Louis from this dilemma, enabling him to continue his support of Pope Alexander III. King Louis gave refuge to Thomas Becket when he fled England. War between England and France broke out again in 1167, but two years later Louis and Henry met and made peace. When Eleanor roused her sons to challenge their father Henry II in 1173, Louis joined the coalition; but he asked pardon of England’s king after retreating from Rouen the next year.
Like his father, Louis VII tried to suppress violence within his realm. In 1163 and 1169 he defended the canons of Clermont and Brioude from the depredations of the counts of Auvergne. When the Count of Chalon refused to appear after taking property from the monastery at Cluny in 1166, Louis confiscated his territory. In 1173 the Viscount of Polignac was imprisoned for crimes against the canons of Le Puy. Both Louis VI and Louis VII fought to control the barons and often left offices vacant for many years. For example, Louis VII had no chancellor from 1172 to 1179. Instead of depending on powerful barons, they hired less aristocratic administrators and often relied on well educated clerics such as Abbot Suger, who had been able to replace the influence of Stephen of Garlande. Suger had advised that it was dangerous to change personnel too often, because those replaced carried off as much as they could, and the new ones figured they had better steal their fortune quickly.
Serfs in Flanders had some economic allowances but were not free legally to request trial by combat. The Erembalds as former serfs were in the class of knights called ministeriales; but after the events of 1127 the ministeriales were no longer accepted as nobles in Flemish society. Thierry of Alsace decreed an amnesty and married the daughter of a Flemish noble. Count Thierry governed a peaceful and prosperous Flanders except when Baldwin IV of Hainault invaded in 1148. Thierry went on crusade four times, and in 1157 he left his son Philip in charge. Young Philip was assisted by Chancellor Robert of Aire. In his charter for Nieuwpoort in 1163 Philip of Alsace declared that all those in towns are free, and this principle became a part of later urban constitutions. Philip gained Vermandois from his wife Elizabeth when she was punished for adultery in 1164. Relations with Hainault improved when in 1169 Philip’s sister Margaret married Baldwin V of Hainault (r. 1171-95). In 1173 Philip of Alsace helped young Henry attacked his father Henry II in Normandy. When Henry II won the war the next year, the Flemish were expelled from England.
Champagne was controlled by Count Henri of Troyes, who in 1172 had about 1900 knights in 26 castellanies. Philip II, later called Augustus by the contemporary chronicler Rigord, was anointed king by the Archbishop of Rheims in November 1179 at the age of 14. His father Louis VII died the following September. In April 1180 Flanders count Philip of Alsace strengthened his alliance with France by arranging for King Philip II to marry Isabella, daughter of his sister Margaret and Baldwin V; but the large dowry of Artois would come back to France after Count Philip’s death. At Gisors in June 1180 King Philip renewed his father’s treaty with Henry II, agreeing to submit Berry to arbitration. Although his father Louis VII had protected them, Philip II captured the Jews in their synagogues, seized their gold, silver, and vestments, and then canceled all Christians debts to them, retaining a fifth for himself. Philip thus gained operating revenue, but later he could not exploit the Jews exiled.
Flanders count Philip of Alsace helped prosecute heretics in an 1182 trial at Arras, and English chronicler Coggeshall wrote that he persecuted Cathars more than anyone else of that era. When Count Philip married the daughter of King Alfonso I of Portugal in 1183, he tried to give her some of Isabella’s dowry; Flanders lost a short war with France when Baldwin V of Hainault supported Isabella. In 1183 a brotherhood of white-caped friends of peace called capuciati or pacifici sprung up in Puy-en-Velay led by the carpenter Durand Dujardin. The growing movement soon turned to suppressing and massacring mercenaries. As it became a revolution demanding equality, it was opposed by clergy and nobles, who within three years used mercenaries to destroy it.
After invading Flanders in 1184, the next year King Philip doubled the royal domain of France when the treaty of Boves gave him Amiens and other northeastern territory. He suppressed the office of chancellor to prevent the magnates from controlling him. Philip II’s campaign against the Angevin territory of Henry II in 1186 ended in a truce the following year. Philip claimed Geoffrey’s son Arthur as his ward, and he demanded back the Vexin and his still unmarried sister Alice, who had been promised to Richard. Hostilities continued, and in 1188 Richard Coeur de Lion did homage to Philip for Normandy and Aquitane, breaking the spirit of Richard’s father Henry II, who retreated, submitted, and died the next year. In 1190 after the family of a murdered a Jew got the countess of Champagne to approve the hanging of the murderer during the Purim festival, King Philip was aroused and with a force of men surrounded the houses of the Jews. Nearly a hundred Jews were burned to death, and only children were spared. A few days later Philip was consecrated for the holy crusade to Palestine.
The kings Philip and Richard became close friends and went on crusade together in 1190. Philip had raised considerable revenues in France from the Saladin tax of one-tenth of moveables and income until the Church persuaded him to repeal it in 1189. During his absence Philip appointed the queen mother Adele of Champagne and her brother Guillaume, Archbishop of Rheims, as regents. Hundreds of French knights were killed on the third crusade, including important vassals of King Philip such as Flanders count Philip and his own brothers Count Thibaut of Blois and Count Etienne of Sancerre. Their nephew, Count Henri of Troyes, remained in Palestine and died there in 1198. Thus the returning Philip was able to take possession of Artois and part of Vermandois. Queen Isabella gave birth to Louis in 1187 but died in child-birth three years later. Philip Augustus married Ingeborg, sister of King Knut VI of Denmark, in 1193; but within two months he got a council in Compiegne to annul it. Queen Ingeborg appealed to Pope Celestine III, who canceled the council’s decision in 1195. Nonetheless the next year Philip married Agnes of Meran, daughter of a Bavarian duke. For this reason Pope Innocent III would put France under interdict in January 1200.
Although England’s John did homage to Philip at Paris in 1193 for Normandy and other Angevin land, Philip invaded Normandy the same year, taking Gisors. After her long engagement to Richard, in 1195 Philip married his half-sister Alice to Count Guillaume of Ponthieu in order to secure more Flemish land. After Richard’s release from captivity, his campaigns forced Philip to sign the peace of Gaillon in 1196. Incursions continued, and Philip was nearly drowned with other retreating French knights when a bridge collapsed at Gisors in 1198. Flanders and Hainault had been united under Baldwin IX (r. 1194-1206), who sided with England’s Richard in a war with France in 1197. When his brother was captured, Baldwin had to renounce the alliance with England, but after advances he was able to regain most of Artois in the treaty of Péronne in 1200. King Philip was negotiating a treaty when Richard died in 1199, and his French court recognized the rights of the succeeding John.
King Philip II had accepted Arthur, nephew of England’s King John, as his vassal in Brittany in 1199 but then abandoned him by signing a peace treaty with John in 1200 at Le Goulet. In this agreement France gained Evrecin, the Vexin, and part of Berry, and Prince Louis was married to John’s niece Blanche of Castile. John alienated the family of Lusignan when he married Isabella at Chinon in 1200. That year Pope Innocent III put France under interdict, because Philip would not take back Ingeborg as his wife. Count Renaud of Boulogne made peace with Philip and married his daughter to young Philip, son of Agnes and the French king. Yet John’s forces continued to attack Lusignan castles in Aquitane in 1201 and ravaged the region of Tours. When John renewed his alliance with German king Otto of Brunswick, Philip betrothed his new daughter Marie to Arthur. After John failed to respond to Philip’s summons to Paris in 1202, the French court condemned John as a defaulted vassal and gave his continental lands to Arthur, assuming he could conquer them; but John captured Arthur at Mirebeau. The young Arthur was never heard of again, and it was assumed that John had murdered him in 1203. That year Philip invaded Normandy and the next year took the stronghold that Richard had built at Gaillard, enabling him to complete his conquest of Normandy. In the next two years Philip invaded the Loire region and made a truce with John in 1206.
Philip had gained Champagne after Thibaut III died on crusade in 1201; his widow Blanche’s son Thibaut IV became the king’s ward. Philip made an alliance with Count Renaud of Boulogne by betrothing his infant son Philip Hurepel to Renaud’s daughter Matilda. Flanders count Baldwin IX (r. 1194-1206) went on the fourth crusade in 1202 that took Constantinople, and he was elected Emperor in 1204; but two years later he was captured and then presumed dead. Philip renewed his attack south of the Loire in 1208 but had to withdraw because of sickness. According to the chronicler Guillaume de Breton, Philip claimed that he was defending southern churches from rapacious barons. Scottish chronicler Melrose recorded that in 1210 John despoiled the Jews in England, and King Philip ordered Jews in his realm imprisoned; but seven years later Philip’s income from the Jews had increased greatly.
In 1210 Pope Innocent III wrote to Philip asking for 200 knights to fight Otto’s imperial claims in Italy; but the French king only agreed to raise papal taxes because France was not in danger. Two years later Philip loaned Friedrich 20,000 marks, and both agreed not to make peace with Otto or John without the other’s consent; Friedrich II was elected king in Germany a month later. When Renaud failed to regain lost fiefs from Philip, he became the ally of Otto and John. Matilda, widow of Flanders count Philip, provided 50,000 livres to Philip so that her nephew Ferrand, son of King Sancho of Portugal, could marry Joan of Flanders at Paris in 1212; but Prince Louis captured them to take by force Aire and Saint-Omer as part of the dowry he had lost to Count Baldwin and in the treaty of Peronne. Ferrand was welcomed as ruler in Ypres and Bruges; but he had to subdue Ghent, and he granted the city the privilege of annually choosing their aldermen.
In 1213 Pope Innocent III threatened England’s King John with deposition and urged Philip to launch a crusade against him. Philip appointed his son Louis to lead the invasion of England. Philip reconciled himself to Queen Ingeborg in order to please the Pope; but John countered by also submitting to the Pope, promising the papal legate Pandulf that he would accept Stephen Langton as archbishop of Canterbury. Pandulf then told the French king he would be excommunicated if they invaded England. Flanders was dependent on the English wool trade and so sided with them. When Ferrand demanded his territory back, Philip attacked the Flemish resistance by taking over Ypres and Bruges while besieging Ghent. Bishop Goswin of Tournai sided with the French and excommunicated Ferrand. The French fleet was destroyed by a surprise attack at Damme in May 1213, and Philip ordered the remaining ships burned so that his enemies would not get them, making an invasion of England infeasible. Fighting continued in Flanders, which John was supporting with funds. The French took Tournai, Cassel, Lille, Bruges, and finally Ghent, and hostages were sent to Artesian communes.
John attacked the Loire valley in 1214 while Otto organized an army of the English, Flemish and German allies in the north. Although the armies each had about 20,000 men, the French may have had the strategic advantage at Bouvines in this critical battle that was fought contrary to chivalry on a Sunday. King Philip was unhorsed but was rescued and continued fighting; when Otto fled, the French triumphed, sending 130 knights to imprisonment; Ferrand was not released for a dozen years. In the south Philip made a five-year truce with the English king at Chinon, and John never returned to the continent. The triumphant Philip was hailed in Paris as France became a powerful kingdom with a centralized state. Philip dominated Joan in Flanders; their commerce with England increased after John died, as the Magna Carta guaranteed free trade. Philip had granted immunities to students at Paris in 1200, and by 1215 the university was fully organized. Philip provided thriving Paris with a central market, an aqueduct, new hospitals, new fortifications, and two paved roads to reduce the stench.
When English barons offered him the crown during their civil war with John, Philip’s son Louis crossed the channel with an army in 1216. Twelve out of twenty English bishops supported Louis; but after John died, eleven of them returned to support young King Henry III. In September 1217 Louis was paid 10,000 marks to depart. King Philip had offered no assistance to his son in this adventure, and in 1220 he renewed his truce with England for four years. Philip II died in 1223 and was succeeded by Louis VIII. His first important act was to prohibit officials from recording debts owed to Jews, and he ordered the outstanding bonds of Jews confiscated. In 1224 Louis conquered southern Poitou, Périgord, Quercy, and Limousin from the English though they managed to retain Gascony. In Flanders Joan was challenged by a man claiming to be Baldwin IX in 1224; but he lost credibility with all but the common people after he was questioned by Louis VIII the next year. The false Baldwin was executed, and Joan paid Louis 20,000 livres. In the treaty of Melun in 1226 Joan paid a ransom of 50,000 livres to get back her husband Ferrand. Pope Honorius persuaded Louis to take up the cross against the Albigensians in 1226; but Louis succumbed to an epidemic that year and was succeeded by his son Louis IX.
Louis VIII had arranged for his younger sons to have apanages. Robert received Artois in 1237; Alphonse got Poitou, Saintonge, and Auvergne in 1241; after Jean died, Charles was given Anjou and Maine in 1246. As Louis IX was only twelve when he became king, his mother Blanche of Castile ruled as regent until 1234. French nobles resisted obeying Blanche, because she was a foreigner and a woman. She had brought up her son Louis very religiously, and he was surrounded by priests. Thibaud IV of Champagne sublimated his love for Blanche by writing songs, and he wavered between the two sides. Blanche raised funds for the crown with a confiscatory tax on the Jews in 1227. After a tavern brawl in Paris in 1229, the queen’s archers were sent in to restore order and shot several young clerics. The university went on strike, and the masters left for two years until Blanche recognized the university’s privileges and made the burgesses pay compensation to the injured students. A chair of theology was conferred on a Dominican in 1229, and two other chairs were already held by another Dominican and a Franciscan though secular masters still held the majority of chairs.
Poitou nobles led by La Marche count Hugues de Lusignan and Brittany count Pierre Mauclerc of Dreux formed a coalition with Toulouse count Raymond VII and appealed to Henry III of England. For the royals Marshal John Clement waged a ruthless campaign that devastated Champagne. Pierre Mauclerc received a heavy blow when the strong castle of Belleme was captured, and the Pope prohibited his marriage to the queen of Cypress based on consanguinity. Blanche was helped by the papal legate Romano Frangipani, who got 100,000 livres transferred from the French Church to the crown, and he persuaded Raymond to give up land to the crown and the papacy in the Treaty of Paris in 1229. Raymond’s daughter and heir Joan was to marry Blanche’s son Alphonse. By then Thibaud was supporting the monarchy, and he and Philip Hurepel mediated a reconciliation between Matthew of Lorraine and Henry of Bar. Thibaud paid a fine of 1,000 silver marks to the archbishop of Lyons and agreed to go on crusade with 100 knights. In the treaty of Melun the king gained two castles as security, paying 1,000 livres rent, and a royal seneschalcy was established in Carcassonne. Peter Mauclerc went to England and did homage to Henry III for Brittany; but the English invasion was repelled, and Henry returned to England in October 1230.
Blanche charged the Archbishop of Rouen with taking timber for his residence. When he refused to accept her authority over him, she seized his temporalities. The archbishop then declared an interdict on the royal domains in his diocese until the papal legate got the Queen to give up the temporalities. Another conflict occurred between them over the election of an abbess in 1232, and it was only settled by the Pope two years later. In 1234 Louis IX attained his majority and married Margaret of Provence. The kingdom became more peaceful as Philip Hurepel died, Peter Mauclerc gave up Brittany to his son John the Red, and the controversial Thibaud became occupied ruling the kingdom of Navarre. The barons did object to the prelates’ claiming complete jurisdiction in their courts; but in 1235 the king prohibited their vassals from being judged in ecclesiastical courts for civil questions, and he threatened to seize the property of bishops who used the weapon of excommunication. In 1246 a league of barons led by the duke of Burgundy and the counts of Brittany, Angouleme, and St. Pol limited ecclesiastical courts to cases of usury, heresy, and marriage, and many barons continued to enforce this even though Pope Innocent IV denounced the league.
An uprising in Narbonne in 1237 was quickly suppressed. The next year Pope Gregory IX persuaded the kings of France and England to renew their truce for five more years. Beaucaire seneschal Pierre of Athies abused his authority between 1239 and 1241. In 1240 the excommunicated Raymond Trencavel tried to revive the Albigensian resistance and invaded Languedoc, and they were confronted by Carcassonne seneschal William of Les Orme, the Archbishop of Narbonne, and the Bishop of Toulouse. The Count of Toulouse remained neutral, and Trencavel had 33 priests massacred; but when royal troops approached, Trencavel fled across the Pyrenees. Many partisans were hanged, and some Carcassonne families lost their lands. La Marche count Hugues le Brun resented having to do homage to the King’s brother Alphonse, because Hugues was married to the haughty Isabel, widow of King John. The Poitevin barons rebelled in 1242 and were weakly supported by 300 knights from England. Henry III retreated, and Hugues, Isabel, and their children had to beg for mercy from Louis IX. Raymond of Toulouse seized Narbonne and Béziers but also made peace, promising to fight heresy. In 1243 Louis and Henry agreed on another truce for five years.
King Louis IX obtained relics believed from the passion of Jesus from Emperor Baldwin II in Constantinople by paying his debts for him in 1239. The splendid chapel at Sainte-Chapelle was constructed to house them and was dedicated in 1248. A Jew, who left his religion and was baptized as Nicholas Donin, sent from France to Pope Gregory IX a tract with 35 charges against the Talmud. In 1239 the Pope ordered all copies of the Talmud confiscated pending a trial before Christian authorities. Louis reacted to the papal directive in 1240 by having Nicholas prosecute four prominent rabbis on the Talmud. The queen mother presided, and the bishops judged that the Talmud insulted the Christian religion. Two years later 24 cart-loads of books were collected and burned at Paris.
In December 1244 Louis was seriously ill and vowed to go on a crusade if he recovered. Henry III agreed to continue the truce but did not volunteer to take the cross. Louis raised taxes and cut government expenses to raise enormous sums for the war that ended up costing about 1,500,000 livres or six years of annual revenue. About half of the crusading army of about 20,000 soldiers with nearly 2,000 knights was paid directly by the king, who also gave loans to help others. To those regions not providing their quota of taxes Louis sent Dominicans and Fransciscans to investigate, resulting in numerous reforms of local corruption.
Blanche was declared regent, and the crusading army left France in 1248. After Raymond VII of Toulouse died the next year, she had to enforce the succession to his daughter Joan, wife of Blanche’s son Alphonse, who was away on the crusade. When Louis was captured by the Muslims, they jeered him for allowing Jews to remain in his kingdom. When the French king was released, he issued an edict banishing Jews; but Queen Blanche did not enforce it. Difficulties on the crusade prompted Louis to appeal for more help. In 1251 in northern France and Flanders peasants responded and were led by the monk James, who had fled a Cistercian monastery and was called the “Master of Hungary.” Thousands of these “shepherds” marched toward Paris and were supplied by Blanche; but they resented the nobles who had stayed home from the crusade and attacked Jews and even clerics. After disorders in Orleans they entered Bourges without permission of the archbishop. Queen Blanche ordered the rioting stopped, and the bailli had the Master of Hungary and other leaders hanged. Simon de Montfort had others arrested to disperse the group near Bordeaux. Blanche became ill and died in November 1252, but several months went by before Louis heard the news. Her advising council of bishops governed in the name of ten-year-old Louis as the king’s brother Alphonse presided. He and Charles had returned from the crusade after being ransomed in 1250.
Offering more justice and an abolition of unlawful taxes, the Almoravids had crossed over from North Africa to the Iberian peninsula with a reported 12,000 men in 1086 and defeated the army of Alfonso VI. Five years later these Muslims took Cordoba, the Guadalquivir valley, and Seville; but they were defeated by El Cid in 1094 and 1097. The Taifa kings had depended on mercenary soldiers, but the religious zeal of the Almoravids won over the Muslim judges (qadis) of Andalusia. The governors’ viziers were expected to visit the qadis twice a day for advice. The status of Jews declined under Almoravid rule, and many of the Mozarebs (Christian Arabs) were suspected and deported to Morocco.
Alfonso VI (r. 1065-1109) had reunited Leon with Castile, and in 1095 he assigned Portugal to be governed by his daughter Teresa and her husband Henry, brother of Duke Eudes (Odo) of Burgundy. Aragon’s Pedro I (r. 1094-1104) besieged Huesca and defeated al-Mustain of Zaragoza in 1096, making the latter his capital until the Murabits regained it. After besieging Barbastro for more than a year, the fortress surrendered to Pedro in 1100. Pedro was succeeded in Aragon by his brother Alfonso I (r. 1104-34), who was known as the Warrior for his many conquests. Alfonso VI made his administrator Diego Gelmirez bishop of Santiago in 1101. El Cid had died in 1099; but his widow Ximena held onto Valencia until 1102 when it was surrendered to the Murabits. When Count Raymond of Galicia died in 1107, he was succeeded by his widow Urraca, daughter of Alfonso VI. Leon was defeated by the Murabit army in a bloody battle at Uclés in 1108, and Alfonso VI’s only son Sancho was killed. Before he died in 1109 Alfonso VI married his daughter Urraca (r. 1109-26) to Alfonso I of Aragon.
The Castilian nobility refused to accept an Aragonese sovereign, and Urraca quarreled with Alfonso I, causing their kingdoms to separate. Within six months of the break Queen Urraca ruled Castile, Leon, Rioja, and part of Galicia. Galician nobility led by Santiago bishop Diego Gelmirez tried to crown Urraca’s son Alfonso Raimundez king of Galicia in 1110, resulting in a civil war, complicated by Henry’s fighting to maintain his rule in Portugal. Count Henry of Portugal lost Santarem to the Murabits in 1111; but the same year near Sepulveda he defeated Castile’s army and personally killed Count Gomez Gonzalez as Count Pedro Gonzalez of Lara fled back to the queen at Burgos. However, Count Henry died the next year and was succeeded by his widow Teresa, who retained control of Portugal, Zamora, and Extremadura. Aragon’s Alfonso I had taken over much of Castile, Leon, and the region beyond the Duero; Toledo even recognized him. Castile regained Burgos from Aragon in 1113, and Pope Paschal II helped Urraca quell a revolt at Sahagun in 1116. The war between Castile and Aragon concluded in 1117 with a truce made at the Council of Burgos. Urraca formally associated her son Alfonso Raimundez in her government now that he was 12, granting him Toledo and the trans-Duero.
Count Ramon Berenguer III (r. 1097-1131) of Barcelona was married to a daughter of the Cid, and he took Balaguer from the Muslims in 1106 and annexed Provence in 1112. The Almoravid empire was ruled by Yusuf ibn Tashfin until he died and was succeeded by his son ‘Ali ibn Yusuf (r. 1106-43). His army attacked Uclés in 1108 and Zaragoza the next year; this last Taifa state was conquered by the Almoravids in 1110. Lisbon and Santarem were occupied two years later, and the Almoravid navy took over the Balearic Islands in 1114. Aided by the navy of Pisa, Berenguer invaded the Balearic Islands the next year, and Alfonso I of Aragon reconquered Zaragoza in 1118.
Queen Urraca had to face a revolt at home and was besieged at Leon in 1119, but she survived. The next year she tried to terminate the honor of Santiago and reclaim its castles; she even had Archbishop Gelmirez arrested but released him after eight days when riots forced her to take refuge in the cathedral. In 1121 after negotiations broke down, Urraca raised an army to invade Galicia; but facing excommunication and an interdict from Pope Calixtus II and an army raised by Gelmirez and by her young son Alfonso Raimundez, the Queen and the Archbishop made peace to prevent bloodshed. Gelmirez maintained control over west central Galicia and retained most of his castles. That year Pope Calixtus confirmed the authority of the see at Braga over Galicia and Portugal, and he recognized Toledo archbishop Bernard (1085-1125) as primate over all Spain except for Braga and Compostela. In 1123 Queen Urraca exerted her personal control by imprisoning the powerful Count Pedro Froilaz and isolating Gelmirez. The next year Castile reconquered Siguenza, Atienza, and Medinaceli. In 1125 Gelmirez excommunicated a burgher of Compostela and fought a brief war against Fernando Juanes, a partisan of Teresa. Urraca died in 1126 and was succeeded as sovereign of Castile and Leon by her son Alfonso VII.
The Warrior Alfonso I of Aragon invaded eastern Andalusia and in 1126 brought back 14,000 Mozarabs to settle conquered territory south of the Ebro. Castile’s Alfonso VII (r. 1126-57) began his reign by gaining an alliance with Barcelona by marrying Berengaria, daughter of Count Ramon Berenguer III in 1127 and by making peace with Teresa of Portugal so that he could try to recover eastern Castile from Alfonso I of Aragon. When Teresa conspired with Fernando Peres of Trava, Portuguese nobles supporting her son Afonso Henriques banished her in 1128. Alfonso VII regained most of the territories lost to Aragon by 1131; but Rioja was not conquered until after Alfonso I died without an heir while trying to take a castle in Lérida in 1134. A period of turmoil in Aragon also enabled Navarre under King Garcia IV (r. 1134-50) to become independent before doing homage to Alfonso VII after he invaded Navarre and the Basque provinces. Alfonso VII was crowned emperor in 1135 and seized Aragon’s capital at Zaragoza the next year. Aragon was ruled by Alfonso I’s brother, the monk Ramiro II (r. 1134-37), until Ramiro’s daughter Petronila married Count Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona, who got Zaragoza back in 1140 and ruled Aragon as regent until 1162.
In Morocco a new movement was led by ibn Tumart, who was born there about 1080 but was educated in Andalusia and by the famous al-Ghazzali in Baghdad. When they heard that al-Ghazzali’s great book, The Revival of the Religious Sciences, had been publicly burned by the Almoravids, the philosopher prophesied that ibn Tumart would end their dynasty. Ibn Tumart returned to Marrakesh in 1120 and founded a sect based on the strict unity of God known as Muwahhidun, which the Spanish called Almohade, and the next year ibn Tumart was proclaimed the promised Mahdi. He criticized the moral laxity of the Almoravids and ridiculed the men for wearing veils though the women did not. He was supported by ‘Umar Inti, leader of the important tribe of Hintata. Civil war raged for several years, and in 1130 al-Bashir carried out mass executions. That year an attack on Marrakesh failed, and ibn Tumart died. He left behind an inner Council of Ten, and a Council of Fifty made up of tribal leaders was added. These men became the basis of a new hereditary aristocracy as Almohad doctrines spread. The Caliph (successor) after ibn Tumart was ‘Abd al-Mu’min (r. 1130-63).
The Almoravid ruler Yusuf made his son Tashfin governor of Granada and Ameria in 1129. Tashfin gained Cordoba in 1131 and ruled Andalusia until 1138, when he was recalled to lead the fight against the Almohads in Morocco. Andalusians suffered under increased taxation. From 1137 to 1157 Alfonso VII spent much time and energy in the reconquista effort with military campaigns against the Muslims in fourteen of those years. Castile took advantage of Muslim conflicts by capturing Cordoba temporarily in 1144. Almohads from North Africa invaded Spain to support a local chief’s independence in 1146 and took power from the Almoravids in western Andalusia. ‘Abd al-Mu’min ordered administrative reforms, and a reported 30,000 people of less favored Berber tribes were executed. Cordoba submitted to the Caliph in 1149. Castile’s army failed in sieges of Cordoba in 1150, Jaen in 1151, Guadix in 1152, and lost Almeria in 1157. Alfonso VII married his son Sancho in 1151 to Blanca, daughter of Sancho VI (r. 1150-94), who by doing homage to Alfonso was recognized as king of Navarre, preventing the dismemberment of his kingdom by Castile and Aragon. Alfonso VII married the Polish princess Rica in 1152, and his daughter Constanza married Louis VII of France in 1154. ‘Abd al-Mu’min appointed his fourteen sons to govern provinces, establishing his dynasty. The Almohads reconquered Almeria and defeated the army of Murcia’s ibn Mardanish in 1157.
When Alfonso VII died in 1157, his kingdom was divided between his two sons; Sancho III ruled Castile for only a year while Fernando II (r. 1157-88) began his reign over Leon. Civil war raged in Castile between the Castro and Lara families, and Muslims seized the opportunity to advance. Alcantara was saved by the heroic Abbot of Fitero, and the monk Fray Diego Velazquez preached a Castilian crusade. The Knights of Calatrava had been founded in 1147, and this Military Order was confirmed by Pope Alexander III in 1164. Alfonso VIII was proclaimed king of Castile in 1166 at age eleven in Toledo. He came of age in 1170 when he married Eleanor, daughter of England’s Henry II and gained Gascony as dowry. The Knights of Santiago de Compostela were founded the next year to protect that famous shrine in Galicia.
Ibn Mardanish of Murcia still challenged Almohad rule in several battles. The next Almohad caliph was Abu Ya‘qub Yusuf (r. 1163-84). He valued books and patronized the philosophers ibn Tufayl and Averroes. The Caliph visited Seville in 1171, and the next year ibn Mardanish died, deserted by his followers. Caliph Yusuf did not return to Morocco until 1176, but his departure with many Almohad aristocrats weakened their power in Andalusia. He appointed his sons to govern the major cities of Seville, Cordoba, Granada, and Murcia. Yusuf was mortally wounded fighting the Portuguese at Santarem and died at Seville in 1184. The next caliph, like his father, was also called Ya‘qub (r. 1184-99), but he became known as al-Mansur after his tremendous victory over the Christians at Alarcos in 1196.
After defeating the Muslims at Ourique (a battle some historians consider legendary) in 1139, Afonso Henriques (r. 1128-85) proclaimed himself king of Portugal; he was recognized as the vassal of Castile’s Alfonso VII in 1143. Afonso removed the Portuguese Church from being under Toledo when he got Pope Alexander III to declare the Archbishop of Braga the primate of Portugal. English, French, German, and Flemish crusaders helped Afonso take Santarém and Lisbon from the Muslims in 1147. Portugal’s King Afonso Henriques invaded Muslim territories in Estremadura and Alentejo, taking Alcacer-do-Sal in 1158 and Cezimbra and Palmella in 1165. Afonso promised Pope Alexander III tribute for protection in 1179. Templars of Calatrava and Santiago governed from castles on the frontier in struggles with the Almohads, and Cistercian monks improved agriculture. Afonso was succeeded by his son Sancho I (r. 1185-1211), who granted charters to towns and enfranchised Muslims that were not enslaved. Sancho’s army with help from crusaders captured Silves in Algarve in 1189, but two years later the Muwahhidun army from Africa regained it. Both Afonso and Sancho I must have taxed Portugal heavily, because they left an enormous treasury of gold.
King Alfonso II (r. 1162-96) united Catalonia with his kingdom of Aragon, and he settled disputes with Alfonso VIII (r. 1158-1214) of Castile and helped him recover territory he had lost to Navarre in Rioja. These two Alfonsos also attacked the Muslims and founded the city of Teruel in 1171. Two years later Fernando of Leon defeated the Almohads at Ciudad Roderigo, and in 1177 his forces attacked the gates of Seville. That year Alfonso VIII captured Cuenca after a long siege while the Leonese king invaded Estremadura. Also in 1177 England’s king Henry II of Anjou arbitrated a dispute between Castile and Navarre’s King Sancho VI. Aragon’s Alfonso II had helped at Cuenca, and in 1179 the two Alfonsos signed a treaty dividing future conquests of Muslim territory. Alfonso VIII also made a treaty with Leon’s Fernando the next year. Meanwhile the Archbishop of Toledo led the new Order of Knights on raids against Muslims in the region of Cordoba and Jaen. To pay for his wars Alfonso II levied a new property tax on the nobles of Aragon, but their united effort got the tax reduced.
Leonese king Alfonso IX (r. 1188-1230) convened the first royal council (Cortes) of nobles and prelates at Leon in 1188. Castile and Aragon invaded Algeciras in 1194; but from fear of his ambition, Alfonso VIII was abandoned by allies, and at Alarcos near Toledo in 1196 he was defeated by a large Muslim army, killing many Castilian knights. The conflict between Castile and Leon was reconciled in 1198 when Alfonso IX of Leon married Berenguela, the daughter of his cousin Alfonso VIII, who attacked Sancho VII (r. 1194-1234) of Navarre and annexed three Basque provinces into his Castile in 1200.
Pedro II (r. 1196-1213) of Aragon went to Rome in 1204 to be crowned by Pope Innocent III; as his vassal Pedro promised to defend the Catholic faith and prosecute heretics. By the next year the barons had compelled Pedro to stabilize the coinage, abandon the hated bovatge tax, and agreed to consult with them on comital vicar appointments. In 1212 the Christian kings Alfonso VIII (r. 1158-1214) of Castile, Sancho VII (r. 1194-1234) of Navarre, and Pedro II, supported also by troops from Leon and Portugal, defeated the Almohads at Las Navas de Tolosa with a reported 100,000 Muslims killed, making Andalusia vulnerable. The Christians gained enormous spoils as they plundered cities in the region. Pedro was killed the next year fighting to defend Raymond of Toulouse against the Albigensian crusaders at Muret. Between 1212 and 1214 Alfonso VIII founded the first Spanish university at Palencia.
Pedro’s son Jaime I (r. 1213-76) won the throne of Aragon by defeating his uncles in a civil war that lasted until 1227. The next year Jaime gained Urgell by making its heiress Aurembiaix his mistress. A Cortes assembled at Barcelona decided to besiege Majorca, and Jaime I entered the capital on the last day of 1229. Minorca surrendered in 1232, and the Archbishop of Tarragona led the Catalan nobles that conquered Ibiza in 1235. After Valencia surrendered in 1238, many Muslims were incorporated into the Aragon kingdom. Jaime guaranteed local self-government and tolerance of Islam though Muslims were expelled from the city of Valencia to its suburbs. Jaime was called the Conqueror and was reported to have fought thirty battles against the Moors. Yet he was merciful to those who surrendered and tolerated their religion and civil laws though he founded nearly two hundred Christian churches in the conquered territories. When Sancho VII died childless, Navarre chose his nephew Count Theobald IV (r. 1234-53) of Champagne as king, and Navarre grew closer to French culture.
When Alfonso VIII died in 1214, his son Enrique was only ten. His mother Berenguela acceded to Count Alvaro Nuñez de Lara, whose rapacious governing resulted in the dean of Toledo excommunicating him, and Enrique died from an accident in 1217. Fernando III gained Castile (1217-52) from his mother Berenguela, but they had to defeat the towns holding to Alvaro and fight off an attack from his father Alfonso IX (r. 1188-1230), who was divorced from Berenguela by reason of consanguinity. She arranged her son Fernando’s marriage to Beatriz of Swabia in 1219. Berenguela’s sister Blanche married Louis IX of France, and Fernando’s son Alfonso married the daughter of Jaime I of Aragon. Alfonso IX of Leon founded the University of Salamanca in 1220.
Fernando III made an alliance with Muslim governor of Baeza in 1224 and the next year invaded the territory of Cordoba. He was given a colony for Castilians at Marrakesh in Morocco when he helped reinstate al-Ma’mun as Caliph of the Almohads. In 1228 Muslims drove the Almohads out of Cordoba, and ibn Hud sent envoys to the ‘Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad, bringing many Andalusian Muslims back into the Sunni faith. Almohad rule on the peninsula ended when al-Ma’mun left Seville and moved back to Marrakesh later that year. There al-Ma’mun defeated his Almohad rival, and allying with the Khuli tribe, the Hintata leaders were massacred. In 1229 the people of Seville accepted the authority of ibn Hud and the ‘Abbasid caliphate; but the next year he was defeated by Leon and the knights of Santiago. After Fernando III inherited Leon from his father in 1230, it would remain part of the kingdom of Castile. When Fernando took Cordoba in 1236, the many inhabitants were allowed to depart with only what they could carry. Jaen fell in 1246 after a siege of more than a year. The king of Granada helped powerful Castile besiege Seville in 1247, and the next year Fernando forced 300,000 Muslims to leave Seville as he took over the city. Tribute-paying Granada was now the last Muslim kingdom on the Spanish peninsula. Fernando was proud that he never attacked a Christian prince during his long reign.
The nobility in Castile and Leon expanded by including as knights all free men who could participate in war with a horse, and they were called Fijosdalgo, which later became Hidalgo. After Alfonso IX of Leon signed a document in 1215, the Christian serfs were allowed to leave the estates of their lords and could not be sold with the land. They could marry without the lord’s permission, and the amounts of dues, money, and labor owed their masters were given fixed limits. Mozarabs were more tolerated in Christian society except that prisoners of war were still harshly treated as slaves. In Aragon and Catalonia conditions for rural workers were still difficult as indicated by a document from the Cortes of Huesca in 1245. In Catalonia serfs could only gain their freedom by buying it with money, though the middle class increased as commerce and industry developed. Communes gained power as they were given charters (fueros). Communes called Brotherhoods (Hermandades) tried to protect people from the depredations of unemployed soldiers. Jews from Muslim districts prospered. Alfonso VI had allowed Jews to serve in public offices, and in Toledo there were 12,000 Jews. They often acted as intermediaries between Christians and Muslims.
In Portugal Sancho I (r. 1185-1211) was succeeded by his son Afonso II (1211-23). He refused to give his brothers and sisters their share of the inheritance until Pope Innocent III and an invasion by the Leonese forced him to do so. Crusaders helped the Portuguese regain Alcacer-do-Sal from the Muslims in 1217. A Cortes of nobles and prelates met at Coimbra in the first year of his reign and gained important concessions from the king. After quarreling with the Archbishop of Braga and the Pope, Afonso was excommunicated. Afonso’s son Sancho II (r. 1223-1246) reconquered Alentejo; but he allowed so much violence in the kingdom and attacks on the frontiers that he was censured by the dean of Lisbon, and his younger brother Afonso III got a papal commission to depose Sancho in 1245 so that he could take over the government. A civil war lasted two years before Sancho retired to Toledo and died in 1248.
Anselm was born on the frontier of Lombardy and Burgundy in 1033. After his father died and left him his property, Anselm nonetheless became a Benedictine monk at Bec in 1060, attracted by the brilliant Lanfranc, whom he replaced as prior three years later. His teaching method must have been humane as he objected to the assumption that frequent beatings helped individuals learn. Eadmer in his biography of Anselm described an abbot who said they had to beat boys constantly because they were perverse. Anselm explained this is like preventing a tree from growing naturally.
And so, because they are repressed without discrimination,
they fill their minds with thoughts
that are crooked and twisted like thorns.
Then they harbor those thoughts,
they foster them, by fostering them they strengthen them,
until finally their minds are so obstinate that
they evade everything that could contribute to their correction.
And so it happens, because they sense no kindness in you at all,
no good will or gentleness toward them,
that they come to lose all confidence in your goodness,
and believe that all you do is the expression
of hatred and ill-will toward them.
The wretched result is this.
As they keep on growing in body,
hatred and suspicion and all kinds of evil grow in them,
so that they are always inclined and bent toward vice.1
Anselm reminded the abbot that they are human like himself and asked if he wanted to be treated like that. He suggested giving them support with the help of fatherly kindness and gentleness. The soul that is weak and tender in God’s service needs the gentle milk of kindness.
In 1078 Anselm became the abbot of the Bec monastery, shortly after writing his Monologion and Proslogion, which present philosophical arguments for the existence of God. Anselm believed that faith helped one to understand more than understanding helped one to have faith. Yet his writings were designed both to give faith to doubters and to deepen the understanding of believers. In the Monologion he began with the idea that there is a being which is best, greatest, and highest of all existing beings. He believed that this divine Nature exists through itself, and all other beings exist through It. Anselm believed that rational beings exist in order to love this absolute being. Discernment loves according to whether something is more or less good so that it may love what is better and reject what is worse. It follows logically then that the rational creature must love the supreme being most of all as the supreme good; for that being is the source of all good, and nothing else is good except through it.
Anselm’s Monologion was a meditation on faith inside himself. His Proslogion is a dialog and was originally entitled “Faith In Search of Understanding.” In the first chapter Anselm prayed to God and explained to the reader, “I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; but I believe so that I may understand.”2 In the second chapter he stated his basic proposition that God is something than which nothing greater can be thought. If this only existed as a concept in the mind, it would not be the greatest, since to exist in reality is greater than that. After a delay of about a century this theological idea influenced many philosophers and was termed the ontological proof by Kant. As the supreme being God then is the supreme good, justice, truth, and happiness. Even though God is omnipotent He cannot be corrupted and do wrong. So Anselm argued that these evils are done not by power but from impotence of real good. Evil is impotent because it has no power over God. God is beneficent even to the wicked, because he would be less good if He were not, which is impossible by his definition of God as best. Anselm believed that God is good to the wicked both in punishing and in sparing them. If God did not punish the wicked at all, He would be treating the virtuous and vicious equally, which would be unjust. Anselm exhorted people to love the one good that is in all things and suggested that that is enough. In the perfect and pure love of the angels and saints no one loves another less than oneself, and each rejoices for others as for oneself.
King William Rufus delayed replacing Canterbury archbishop Lanfranc four years after his death so that he could appropriate the see’s revenues; but in 1093 William II became ill, and English bishops insisted that Anselm succeed his former teacher. Anselm accepted under three conditions: first, that lands of the see held by Lanfranc be fully restored; second, that he could counsel with the King in all spiritual things; and third, that the King recognize Urban II as the rightful Pope. Anselm rejected the King’s feudal right to invest bishops in order to make the English Church independent of the secular power, because he believed the Church belongs to God, not to the King. Anselm asked to go to Rome for the pallium, but William II refused permission. After negotiation William proclaimed Urban canonical; but Anselm declined to accept the papal pallium from William’s hands, and in 1097 he went to Rome without the King’s permission. There the next year Anselm completed his Why God Became Man (Cur Deus Homo). Anselm believed that original sin was not exactly concupiscence as Augustine held but rather injustice or rebellion of the rational will against God. Anselm began by asking why God became a man. He concluded that the redemption of humanity could only be accomplished by God; but sin could only be paid for by a human. He believed that mankind would have been lost if it were not redeemed by its Creator.
In 1095 Northumberland earl Robert de Mowbray refused to appear at court for having robbed Norwegian cargoes and organized a rebellion of leading Norman families. William II promptly called out a national army and forced the earl’s castles at Tynemouth and Bamborough to surrender to sieges. Robert de Mowbray was imprisoned, and others lost their lands or were fined. After a judicial combat William Eu was blinded and castrated, and William de Alderi was hanged. Duke Robert Curthose mortgaged his duchy of Normandy to his brother William for 10,000 marks of silver so that he could go on the crusade. King William sent Edgar Atheling to invade Scotland; Donald Bane was captured and blinded, and Edgar (r. 1097-1107), son of Malcolm III, was put on the Scottish throne. William Rufus governed both England and Normandy with efficiency but oppressively. Robert had lost Maine to Hélie; but in 1098 William captured Hélie and took Le Mans. On August 2, 1100 William was killed by an arrow, probably shot by Walter Tirel of Poix. His brother Heinrich was present and rode to claim the treasury at Winchester; he was crowned king at Westminster on August 5.
Henry I promised to replace his brother’s unjust practices in regard to reliefs paid by vassals to the king, wardships, marriages, and murder fines with smooth and orderly justice, and he invited Anselm to return from exile. Pope Urban II had refused to take any action against William II. When Anselm returned to England, he once again refused to show homage to the new king for the restored powers of the see. Trafficking in slaves was reduced when Anselm at the London Council in 1102 issued a canon prohibiting the selling of Englishmen like brute beasts. Anselm got more support from Pope Paschal II, but he still went into exile in 1103. Two years later Paschal excommunicated Henry’s chief advisor, the Count of Meulan, and the bishops William had invested. Anselm threatened to do the same to Henry; but a compromise suggested by Ivo of Chartres was worked out by 1107. Henry agreed that no one should be invested as a bishop or abbot in England by the king or any lay authority, and Anselm conceded that no one should be deprived of consecration because of having done homage to the king. Anselm died two years later; yet Henry collected revenues of the see for five years before appointing a successor. In 1102 the London council had enacted heavy penalties for clergy who married; but the practice went on as the influential Roger of Salisbury lived with his mistress, and his nephew, Bishop Nigel of Ely, was married.
Henry I married Edith, sister of Scot king Edgar, and she changed her name to Matilda to please the Normans. A rebellion favoring Duke Robert’s claim was led by Normans after Rannulf Flambard escaped from the Tower to Normandy in 1101. King Henry was supported by the Church and the English, and a treaty was accepted that promised Robert 3,000 marks a year and his claim to Normandy except the Domfront fortress. Rannulf was allowed to keep his lands, but other Normans were soon deprived of their English lands. Robert of Belleme was indicted on 45 charges in 1102 and resisted; but Henry took his castles at Arundel, Tickhill, Bridgnorth, and Shrewsbury. Robert Belleme was captured and banished but then terrorized Normandy. Duke Robert could not control him, and in 1104 Henry forced his brother to hand over the county of Evreux. In a decisive battle on September 28, 1106 exactly forty years after their famous father William invaded England, Robert Curthose was defeated and imprisoned until he died 28 years later. Henry established his father’s form of government. Violent actions were punished, and the unauthorized castles of lawless barons were destroyed. Having restored order in Normandy, Henry returned to England in 1107.
For the remainder of his reign to 1135 England was fairly peaceful, but Henry I spent most of his time in Normandy fighting occasional civil wars. During his absences England was governed by his regent Roger, who in 1102 was made bishop of Salisbury and became treasurer. Roger founded the board of Exchequer to audit the accounts of sheriffs and supervise the royal revenues. Roger also disseminated a common standard of law based on the royal court through his assistant justiciars. Churches were allowed to give money as scutage rather than provide military service. Lords could extort tallage from their villeins and make them pay for the use of their mills and ovens; but a fine paid by an Essex lord for thrashing a villein indicates that the serfs were protected by law from violence. Villeins usually had to work for two, three, or four days a week for the lord, and they were required to render hens and eggs.
Alexander I (r. 1107-24) succeeded his brother Edgar as king of Scotland. In a Normandy war Count Robert of Flanders was killed in 1112, and the next year Robert of Belleme was imprisoned for life. In 1114 Scot king Alexander joined Henry in an invasion of Wales. In 1116 the claim of Duke Robert’s son William Clito was supported by Norman barons allied to France, Flanders, and Anjou. Flanders withdrew after Count Baldwin VII died of wounds in 1118, and the next year Henry gained a truce with Anjou by marrying Matilda of Lisieux. Pope Calixtus II arranged a peace between Henry and France’s Louis VI. A third brother David (r. 1124-53) began his reign of Scotland by granting Annandale to the Norman knight Robert of Brus that established the Bruce family in Scotland. By allocating land to tenants providing military service David brought the feudal system to Scotland. When the rebellion of Earl Angus of Moray was defeated in 1130, David annexed the region. David also founded trading communities. Henry I had given David estates in Huntingdon, Bedford, and Northampton in 1113 when David married Waltheof’s daughter Matilda.
In 1120 Henry’s two sons died in the White Ship disaster. The King’s only surviving child was Matilda, who as wife of Germany’s Heinrich V was called Empress. After her husband died in 1125, she returned to England. Two years later Henry I required the reluctant prelates and barons to swear they would accept her as the next sovereign. The following year Matilda married Geoffrey, the son of Count Fulk of Anjou, and her son Henry was born in 1133. King Henry would not grant Geoffrey castles in Normandy and besieged the Alencon castle of William Talvas in 1135, but Henry died later that year.
Henry I had two nephews named Theobald and Stephen of Blois. While Norman barons were electing the elder Theobald as their duke, the younger Stephen went to England and was welcomed at London, where he was crowned by Archbishop William and supported by the powerful justiciar Roger of Salisbury. Confirmation by Pope Innocent II helped to assuage the oaths barons had taken to support Matilda. When King David of Scotland invaded Cumberland and Northumberland in 1136, Stephen marched his Flemish mercenaries north and forced David to give up the castles of Doncaster and Carlisle provided his son could have Huntingdon for doing homage to Henry. This agreement offended the powerful Earl of Chester, who lost land in Cumberland. Rebellions in Norfolk and Devon were promptly suppressed, and in 1137 King Stephen crossed over to Normandy to meet the challenge of Empress Matilda. Stephen’s Flemish mercenaries were led by William of Ypres; but some Norman barons resented this and deserted his cause. Stephen made a truce with Geoffrey and left Normandy never to return. Stephen’s brother Henry, Bishop of Winchester, was alienated when he was not appointed to fill the vacancy at Canterbury. Many atrocities occurred in the war between England and Scotland in 1138, and York archbishop Thurston tried to improve the conduct by preceding his campaign with praying and fasting.
Earl Robert of Gloucester, an illegitimate son of Henry I, broke into rebellion. In 1139 after a street brawl in Oxford, King Stephen committed the blunder of imprisoning Roger of Salisbury and his son. Stephen got Roger’s nephew, Bishop Nigel of Ely, and Roger’s mistress to surrender castles by threatening to torture or hang the chancellor. A month later Matilda and her brother Robert of Gloucester landed in England. Civil war raged for nine years as many used the war for profit by selling their services to one side or the other. In 1140 Earl Rannulf of Chester seized the castle of Lincoln. The following year Stephen chivalrously gave up high ground to fight on the level, but the six earls on his side fled. Stephen was captured, and Matilda was elected and crowned. However, Londoners resisted her taxes, swore to defend their liberties, and expelled her from the city. Stephen’s queen Matilda in Kent organized barons and the Londoners into a force that captured the Earl of Gloucester. Robert was exchanged for Stephen, who was re-crowned king.
Stephen rewarded Geoffrey de Mandeville by making him earl of Essex; but after Stephen had been defeated at Lincoln, Geoffrey went over to the other side. As constable he controlled the Tower of London. After Stephen took Oxford in 1142, Geoffrey came back to the King; but he was charged with treason and had to surrender the Tower or face hanging. He then fortified Ely and drove monks from the abbey of Ramsey. He used torture to extort ransoms from his prisoners. Meanwhile crops were abandoned or destroyed, and famine spread. Geoffrey de Mandeville was killed by an arrow in 1144. The Earl of Gloucester had returned from Normandy with 360 knights and held Dorset and Wiltshire. He drew mercenaries from Wales and controlled the southwest; but Stephen was supported by the prosperous east, where trade continued. Earl Rannulf of Chester was compelled to surrender his castles in 1146, and so he too broke into revolt, attacking Coventry and plundering the region. The second crusade drew many knights from England, and in 1147 a fleet of 164 ships carrying crusaders from Germany, Flanders, and England helped Alfonso, the first king of Portugal, to drive the Moors from his new kingdom. Robert of Gloucester died in 1147, and Empress Matilda left England for Normandy the next year and never returned.
Geoffrey of Anjou began conquering Normandy in 1141, and three years later he was recognized as duke by Louis VII of France. His son Henry was knighted by King David of Scotland in 1149 at Carlisle. When Henry reached the age of 17 in 1150, the duchy was transferred to him. Henry went to war with Louis and gained Gisors and Norman Vexin by doing homage to the French king in 1151, the year Geoffrey died. Henry of Anjou the next year gained nearly half of France as a dowry when he married Eleanor of Aquitane, who, after failing to bear a son to Louis, had been released from her unhappy marriage. In 1153 Henry crossed over to England with 140 knights and 3,000 infantry in 36 ships. Supported by the Earl of Chester, he captured Malmesbury and relieved Wallingford. Earl Robert of Leicester came over to Henry’s side, bringing thirty castles to control the midlands. Stephen’s heir Eustace died while plundering lands of the St. Edmunds abbey in East Anglia. The barons persuaded Stephen to make peace, and he recognized Henry as his heir and justiciar. Henry went back to Normandy for Easter in 1154 until King Stephen died six months later. People had suffered much from the exactions of the warring lords; but the number of religious houses had increased by fifty, and much building had still occurred.
The Church in Ireland was reformed for a half century, and at the synod of Kells in 1152 archbishops were consecrated for Armagh, Cashel, Dublin, and Tuam. Cistercians from Clairvaux had established a monastic community at Mellifont in 1142.
When Henry II became king of England in 1154, he already had inherited Normandy from his mother Matilda and Anjou, Maine, and Tourraine from his father Geoffrey; he had gained Aquitane, Poitou, and Auvergne from his wife Eleanor. In England he began ruling by expelling the mercenary Flemings and completing the task of destroying unlicensed castles begun after the treaty with Stephen. Canterbury archbishop Theobald recommended his clerk Thomas Becket, and Henry made him chancellor of England. Henry’s two justiciars Earl Robert of Leicester and Richard de Lucy had served Stephen. A few nobles still resisted. Count William of Aumale had been made Earl of York by Stephen in 1138, but he submitted when faced with Henry’s army. William Peverel fled Nottingham to live in a monastery, and Roger of Hereford was persuaded by Bishop Gilbert Foliot to surrender his castles. Hugh Mortimer tried to fortify his three castles at Bridgnorth, Wigmore, and Cleobury, but by July 1155 they had surrendered to Henry’s forces. For the next eighteen years England was free of wars except in 1157 and 1165 that affected only Wales, which maintained some independence. In 1156 Henry crossed over the channel for the first of thirteen sojourns on the continent during his 35-year reign.
Henry II gained the Vexin first by defeating his brother Geoffrey in 1156 and then by betrothing his son Henry to the infant French princess Margaret in 1158. Meanwhile in 1157 Henry had persuaded Scotland’s King Malcolm IV (r. 1153-65) to give back Cumberland, Westmorland, and Northumberland and do homage for the earldom of Huntingdon. That year barons at Northampton approved Henry’s campaign against the Welsh prince Owain of Grynedd. Owain was thus forced to do homage, give hostages, and restore his brother’s inheritance. The next year King Louis helped Henry control Brittany by appointing him Seneschal of France to pacify rebelling Bretons. Conan then ceded Nantes to Henry and was recognized as duke. In 1159 Malcolm accompanied Henry in his war to conquer Toulouse, which Henry claimed as his wife’s property. However, when French king Louis VII intervened to defend his sister Constance, wife of Toulouse Count Raymond V, Henry obeyed feudal law and did not challenge his overlord. Becket, who had raised his own force of 700 knights, disagreed. Henry had to settle for recovering the county of Quercy for Aquitane. Becket was put in charge of the Quercy castles, and according to Robert de Torigny he used brutal means to gain the submission of the county.
Thomas Becket was born into a merchant Norman family of London in 1118. He was educated in London and Paris. Becket worked as an accountant for sheriffs and served in the house of Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, who sent him to study law at Bologna and Auxerre. Three months after being appointed archdeacon of Canterbury, a position he retained, in 1154 Becket became chancellor of England. He administered the government, razing castles, repairing the tower of London, coordinating embassies, recruiting troops for the army, and leading them in war. He collected much money in scutage from ecclesiastical fiefs not wanting to perform military service. As best friend of King Henry, he gained great wealth and became a leader of fashion while remaining celibate. When Theobald was dying, Becket refused to visit him; but a year later in 1162 Henry appointed Becket to replace him as Archbishop of Canterbury despite his warnings.
Becket resigned as chancellor and quickly devoted his energy to winning back lands and rights the Church had lost. According to William of Newburgh more than a hundred murders had been committed by clerics since Henry became king, but the only punishment was usually degradation. Recently the canon Philip of Brois had murdered a knight at Dunstable but had been acquitted by the bishop in Lincoln’s court; when called into lay court, Philip had refused to plead and even insulted the royal judge. Henry demanded he be tried again for murder and for contempt of court; but Becket dismissed the former charge as already tried and imposed flogging and suspension for the latter offense. In 1163 Henry demanded that clerics convicted of crimes in ecclesiastical courts should be sentenced by secular authorities, but Archbishop Becket complained that God does not judge a man twice for the same offense. Becket opposed any proposal to diminish the clergy’s immunity from secular prosecution.
King Henry removed his heir from Becket’s charge and worked to organize a party against him, winning over the Archbishop of York and several prominent bishops, who gained the acquiescence of Pope Alexander III. Henry gave way on the criminal clerics and on appeals to the Pope, and in 1164 Becket promised he would consent to the ancient custom; but then he refused to sign the Constitutions at Clarendon. The quarrel escalated as Henry made demands, and Becket excommunicated bishops who implemented royal judgments. Becket in a disguise fled to France in November 1164, and Henry banished all his many relatives. Henry charged Becket at Northampton with contempt of court and malfeasance, not as Archbishop but as a baron; but the bishops persuaded the King to ask the Pope to depose Becket instead. Becket went to Pope Alexander and remained in exile for six years. Becket excommunicated bishops for communicating with supporters of the imperial Pope Paschal III, because they had been Henry’s ambassadors to the Emperor. Becket even demanded the Canterbury revenues since his exile.
Henry II marched his forces into south Wales in 1163 to capture Prince Rhys of Deheubarth because he had seized the royal castle at Llandovery. Henry exerted his authority by summoning his vassals from Wales and Scotland to do homage, but the result was worse relations in both regions. Malcolm could have been charged with treason for plotting with Louis VII of France, and his successor William the Lion (r. 1165-1214) was even more hostile. Henry invaded Wales with a large army in 1165, but floods and hunger compelled them to withdraw. Henry II ordered the male hostages taken from Wales blinded and castrated, and the women’s noses and ears were mutilated. In 1165 thirty German Cathars came to England, and the next year they were condemned by a council at Oxford for converting one woman who later recanted. They were whipped, branded, and banished; but because of the king’s order to shun them, they apparently died in the wintry weather. The Assize of Clarendon in 1166 authorized sheriffs to pursue felons on baronial lands and threatened lords with loss of profits if they did not allow criminals to be brought to justice.
When Henry invaded Auvergne to punish a usurper in 1167, Louis reacted by raiding the Vexin. Henry then burned the French arsenal at Chaumont-sur-Epte, and Louis sacked Andely. In August a truce was declared to last until the following Easter when Henry marched against the Bretons again. Henry had deposed Duke Conan for failing to keep order and gained Brittany for his son Geoffrey by 1169 after three years of campaigns crushed Breton resistance. Revolts occurred concurrently in Aquitane and Auvergne until Henry and his sons Henry and Richard renewed their homage to King Louis in 1169 as Richard was betrothed to Alice, daughter of Louis. Henry married his eldest daughter Matilda to the powerful Duke Heinrich the Lion of Saxony in 1168, and two years later his daughter Eleanor married Alfonso VIII of Castile. Henry’s daughter Joan was betrothed to King William II of Sicily, but the wedding did not take place until 1177. King Henry ordered in 1170 an inquiry into the abuses of sheriffs and the bailiffs of private landlords.
In 1170 the King had his son Henry crowned by York archbishop Roger, a flagrant breach of Canterbury’s prerogative. Pope Alexander, not wanting to drive Henry to the imperial Pope, urged peace by putting contentious issues aside so that Henry’s European lands would not be put under interdict, and Becket returned to England. On Christmas Day 1170 in Canterbury cathedral Becket denounced his enemies. Hearing Henry’s angry words, four knights of his household set out and murdered Becket four days later in the cathedral before Henry’s messenger could stop them. Henry was at Argentan and spent the next three days in solitude. Pope Alexander prohibited Henry from entering a church until his guilt was absolved.
Ireland was being ruled by local kings, who often battled each other. In 1166 MacLochlainn revolted against Dermot MacMurrough; that resulted in Turloch O’Connor’s son Rory seizing the high kingship because he was supported by Dublin Danes and the Irish princes of north Leinster. When O’Connor’s ally O’Rourke attacked Ui Cennselaigh, Dermot fled to England. Henry II received his homage and promised help. Dermot then appealed to Richard fitz Gilbert de Clare, the Earl of Pembroke, who became known as Strongbow. He promised to marry Dermot’s daughter when it was agreed he would succeed Dermot in Leinster. Dermot returned to Ui Cennselaigh but was soon defeated by O’Connor and O’Rourke, and he was forced to give hostages. Dermot sent messengers to Wales, and in 1169 Robert fitz Stephen arrived with thirty knights and 300 archers. They restored the rule of Dermot and raided Ossory. When O’Connor appeared with a force, they agreed on a treaty with Dermot giving his son as a hostage. In August 1170 Strongbow invaded Ireland with 200 knights and a thousand troops. Dublin was taken as their Danish king Asgall fled to islands. Dermot broke the treaty by reducing Offelan and Ossory, invading Meath, and claiming the high kingship; but Dermot died in May 1171, leaving Strongbow as his heir.
Meanwhile Henry II had sent messengers too late to recall Strongbow’s invasion. So the English king ordered all his subjects to return from Ireland or face forfeiture and banishment, and he prohibited exports to Ireland. King Asgall attacked Dublin but was defeated, captured, and executed. O’Connor’s large army from the north surrounded Strongbow in Dublin; but while some left to raid Leinster and destroy local crops, a Norman sortie defeated the remaining army. According to John of Salisbury writing in 1159, the English Pope Adrian had granted Henry II possession of Ireland. King Henry prepared a large army of 500 knights and granted Strongbow Leinster except for Dublin and received his fealty. Henry landed at Waterford in October 1171. Cork king Dermot MacCarthy of Desmond and O’Brien of Thomond did homage and gave hostages. At a Church council held at Cashel bishops swore fealty to Henry and agreed to conform usage to the English Church. After establishing order and building a royal palace in Dublin, Henry had to leave to make reparation for Becket’s murder. Henry granted Hugh de Lacey the kingdom of Meath and left him as justiciar of Ireland and constable in Dublin. Even though the Anglo-Norman barons married Irish women, the English domination of Ireland had begun.
Henry gained absolution from papal legates at Avranches by promising to go on a crusade for three years, supporting 200 knights; but instead the Pope let him build three monasteries. Becket was immediately acclaimed as a martyr, and stories of miracles circulated; he was canonized as a saint by Pope Alexander in 1173. Henry arranged for his son John to marry the daughter of Count Humbert of Maurienne in Provence in 1173; but when he said that John would have Chinon, Loudun, and Mirebeau as a cadet of Anjou, young Henry objected because he still had no proper estate even though he had been crowned king of England, Normandy, and Anjou. Henry, now 18, demanded at least one of the three. From Chinon young Henry and his brothers Richard and Geoffrey fled to Paris, where King Louis supported their cause; but Queen Eleanor, disguised in a man’s clothes, was captured and held under arrest. Young Henry promised lands in England and Normandy to gain allies and received the support of Count Philip of Flanders, his brother Count Matthew of Boulogne, Count Theobald of Blois, and King William of Scotland. Four English earls also declared for the sons—Hugh Bigod of Norfolk, Robert Blanchemains of Leicester, Hugh of Chester, and William de Ferrers of Derby.
Count Philip of Flanders advised as the way to begin war destroying their enemies by devastating their lands so that they would have nothing to eat. Young Henry and the Flanders count attacked Normandy while Louis VII marched through the Vexin. The Earl of Chester fought with Breton rebels, but Brittany was soon defeated as the Earl of Chester and many nobles were imprisoned. Henry II’s army was also victorious in Anjou and Poitou. The Scottish army of King William and his brother David invaded to claim the promised Northumberland and Huntingdon. After his brother Matthew of Boulogne died from a wound by a cross-bow, the Count of Flanders withdrew. In July 1174 Henry II fasted and was publicly scourged at Canterbury for his rash words that led to Becket’s murder. Soon after that, King William of Scotland was defeated, captured, and became Henry’s vassal. The surrender of besieged Northampton to Henry brought about the end of resistance in England. The siege of Rouen by the French army of Louis was not succeeding. Henry II crossed the channel again, and in September 1174 Louis fled and sued for peace.
Henry forgave his rebellious sons and made sure that all had money and lands. Queen Eleanor would remain under house arrest for the rest of her husband’s life. William of Scotland had to surrender five castles and publicly submit at York but remained fairly independent. The earls of Chester and Leicester were imprisoned until 1177. Henry II disliked the violence of war, and he ordered no executions or forfeitures nor did he demand ransoms for captives as his son had. Rebels were not held to account for carrying away chattels, and crimes were only prosecuted according to normal law. Henry did make sure that unlicensed castles were completely demolished while his royal castles were repaired and strengthened. Once again the royal forest laws were enforced, and over the objection of Richard de Lucy heavy fines were levied retroactively to replenish the treasury. Henry’s son Richard was put in charge of destroying the castles, and he had to force the city of Angouleme to surrender in 1176, making the leaders prisoners.
Strongbow and de Lacy had returned from Ireland to help Henry defeat his son. Strongbow was sent back to govern there, but he found most of the Irish revolting against the English. In the treaty of 1175 Henry accepted O’Connor as his liege king of Connacht, and the next year he sent Raymond le Gros to make an agreement with O’Connor and O’Brien, who both gave hostages. After Strongbow died, Henry appointed William fitz Audelm and sent John de Courcy to rule Ulster if he could conquer it. In 1177 de Courcy drove King Rory MacDonlevy out of Down. That year Henry recalled fitz Audelm for a council at Oxford that decided Ireland would be divided between Norman and Irish lordship with O’Connor as the chief Irish ruler. With papal approval Henry made his ten-year-old son John lord of Ireland, and feudalization began there as kingdoms were granted to various barons. The Irish complained of unjust treatment by de Lacy, fitz Audelm and others.
King Henry let many churches remain vacant so that he could collect their revenues. Bishops were increasingly secularized by being occupied as state administrators, such as chancellor, treasurer or even sheriff, which was a violation of canon law and was prohibited by a London council in 1175. When bishops did visit their dioceses, their extravagant entourage could impoverish parishes and monasteries that had to provide for them. The clergy at this time was satirized by Giraldus Cambrensis in his Gemma Ecclesiastica. So many priests were married or kept a “hearth-girl” to help them keep warm that the house was often cluttered with infants and nurses, and some church benefices became hereditary. In 1177 a papal legate mediated a peace between Henry and Louis VII in which both agreed to defend each other’s rights and to prepare a combined crusade. Now probably the most powerful monarch in Europe, Henry II was called upon to arbitrate a border dispute between the kings of Castile and Navarre in 1177. Between 1180 and 1185 Henry mediated several truces between Count Philip of Flanders and the young King Philip II of France.
Henry II appointed the unscrupulous Ranulf de Glanville as justiciar in 1180. According to Ranulf’s treatise the king’s judges were active in the shires, and any free man unjustly deprived of his land could appeal to the royal court. Henry is renowned for his contribution to improving English law. Richard had been betrothed to the French princess Alice since 1169, but rumor was that she had become his father’s mistress. Richard was busy suppressing violence in Aquitane. Young Henry and Geoffrey conspired with rebellious barons against their brother Richard; but the coalition soon dissolved after Henry died of dysentery in June 1183. Richard became heir to England, Normandy and Anjou, and Henry ordered him to give Aquitane to John in exchange for homage as the next king; but Richard refused. Henry angrily told John to fight for it even though he had no army. Nonetheless John joined with his brother Geoffrey and invaded Poitou with forces from Brittany. When Richard reacted by raiding Brittany, Henry summoned his sons and made peace. In 1185 Henry knighted John and sent him off to govern Ireland; but John mismanaged the campaign and did little more than antagonize both the Irish and the Anglo-Norman settlers. Henry’s son Geoffrey was killed during a tournament in 1186.
Since Richard still had not married Alice, France’s young King Philip II insisted her dowry of Vexin be returned. Philip marched into Berri but was forced to make a truce with Henry and Richard. When Richard pledged to go on crusade, he wanted his rights protected; but Henry favored John and would not agree. Once again Richard had to put down revolts in Aquitane, and then he invaded Count Raymond’s Toulouse until Philip’s renewed attack in Berri captured Chateauroux. Henry brought English and Welsh troops; but Richard did homage to the French king for all his continental possessions so that together they could defeat the aging Henry. The dying king finally resigned himself to obey Philip and agreed that Richard would marry Alice and have fealty as well. Henry II was forced to pay Philip 20,000 marks and died two days later on July 6, 1189.
Henry II’s son Richard first sent word to release his mother Eleanor and was installed as Duke of Normandy at Rouen in the same month. Richard made peace with France’s Philip Augustus by conceding him Auvergne and part of Berri and paying him 4,000 marks along with the 20,000 his father promised. Richard pardoned William the Marshal, who had nearly killed him in the revolt, and he permitted the Marshal to marry Isabel, daughter of the powerful Strongbow Richard of Clare. Queen Eleanor and the Marshall proclaimed an amnesty for those arbitrarily imprisoned and ordered all free men to swear allegiance to Richard I (r. 1189-99), who was crowned at Westminster. King Richard generously gave his brother John the income from Lancaster, Nottingham, Derby, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall. Their half-brother Geoffrey was appointed archbishop of York. Richard was eager to go on the crusade with Philip, and he spent only two months in England raising money for that endeavor. According to the Gesta Ricardi he sold everything he could, including powers, lordships, earldoms, shrievalties, castles, towns, and manors. Durham bishop Hugh de Puiset paid 3,000 marks to become sheriff of Northumberland and justiciar and to get released from the crusade. Ely bishop William Longchamp paid the same to become chancellor and justiciar south of the Humber.
A rare critic of the crusades was the theologian and chronicler Ralph Niger, who elucidated the arguments against the supposed religious adventure. He believed that true piety should be expressed in a journey to the spiritual Jerusalem, not the one on earth, and there are more appropriate ways of wiping out one’s sins that the Pope promised the crusaders than by killing foreigners. He questioned whether it would be effective without making restitution, and he declared it is wrong to kill human beings even if they are infidels.
At Richard’s coronation festival a quarrel with Jews led to widespread persecution of the hated money-lenders, who had come to England with the Normans and were usually protected by them. In 1190 Jews in the port town of Lynn were massacred, and their houses were looted and burned by sailors and merchants, who escaped by sea. The violence spread to Norwich and Stamford; at York Jews were besieged, and 150 or more were killed. Even more were murdered by crusaders in Bury St. Edmunds. Richard ordered an investigation; but crusaders departed, and others fled to Scotland. Only the governor of York was removed from office; Longchamp punished his rival Hugh de Puiset by having him arrested and imprisoned for his role. Longchamp expropriated money for his extravagant expenses and to pay for mercenary soldiers and Richard’s crusade. When Lincoln sheriff Gerard de Camville and Roger Mortimer of Wigmore favored John and flouted the authority of the chancellor, Longchamp reduced the Wigmore castle and besieged Lincoln in 1191.
With the Archbishop of Canterbury gone on crusade, Richard also had Longchamp made the papal legate by Clement III. Richard sent Rouen archbishop Walter of Coutances to assist Longchamp and, if warranted, to supersede him. After Geoffrey was confirmed by the Pope, Longchamp tried to keep him from taking up his position as Archbishop of York; Geoffrey was even imprisoned by Longchamp’s sister Richenda. This and other misconduct, such as appointing his relatives to lucrative offices, caused Walter and a council of barons, bishops, and citizens at London, also attended by John, to depose Longchamp, who after surrendering his castles was allowed to leave the country. Walter of Coutances became chief justiciar as the barons swore to uphold John’s right to succeed Richard; London gained recognition of their self-governing commune.
While returning from the crusade in 1192, Richard was imprisoned at Vienna by Duke Leopold of Austria, who demanded the enormous ransom of 150,000 silver marks. Most of the money was raised, and Richard had to do homage to Emperor Heinrich V for his kingdom. On his journey Richard gained alliances with the archbishops of Mainz and Cologne, and the dukes of Austria, Swabia, Brabant, and others. Meanwhile his brother John negotiated with King Philip II of France, occupied Windsor and Wallingford, and claimed to be king of England, announcing Richard was dead. By the time Richard arrived in March 1294, Canterbury archbishop Hubert Walter had nearly subdued John’s rebellion; Richard himself joined the final siege of Nottingham. Most rebels were pardoned after they contributed to Richard’s remaining ransom, and in 1195 John was restored to Mortain, Gloucester, and Eye though he lost his former income shires and all his castles. William Longchamp had helped Richard on the continent during his captivity, and he was reinstated as chancellor. In the next two years Hubert Walter raised more than a million marks for King Richard.
Chronicler Roger of Wendover recorded a disturbance in London during 1194. When the king’s agents exacted tallage for the Exchequer, the mayors and aldermen decided to put the burden on the poor rather than on themselves. William Fitz-Robert disliked the Normans and led the opposition that turned violent. After the lower and middle classes were put down by force, William was blamed and took refuge in a church. The archbishop ordered William dragged away; while he was in a tower, part of the church was burned. Forced out by the smoke, William was seized and hung on the gallows in chains. Nine of his family or neighbors were also put to death for supporting his cause. Roger considered him a martyr, because he had been executed shamefully for asserting the truth and defending the cause of the poor.
In May 1194 Richard crossed the channel with a hundred ships to fight France’s Philip for Normandy and Aquitane, where Richard claimed (probably with great exaggeration) that he captured 300 knights and 40,000 soldiers. In the 1195 Treaty of Louviers Richard gave up the Norman Vexin but regained other contested territories in Berri. Richard had a powerful castle built on the rock of Andeli as a headquarters for conquering the Vexin. In the south Richard was allied with his brother-in-law, King Sancho of Navarre, and in 1196 his sister Joan married Raymond VI of Toulouse. After the Count of Ponthieu married Philip’s sister Alice, Richard raided and devastated this region at the mouth of the Somme in 1197. A five-year truce between Philip and Richard was negotiated by cardinal legate Peter of Capua in January 1199; but Richard was killed by an arrow three months later while punishing a baron of the Limousin over a treasure dispute. England and Normandy accepted John as Richard’s heir; but Aquitane barons swore homage to queen-mother Eleanor, and those in Anjou, Maine, and Touraine gave allegiance to Richard’s nephew Arthur of Brittany. John quickly secured the treasure at Chinon, was invested with the duchy of Normandy at Rouen, and a month later was crowned King of England at Westminster.
Gerald, the Archdeacon of Brecon, traveled through Wales as translator for Canterbury Archbishop Baldwin to promote the crusade in 1188. From this experience Gerald wrote The Journey Through Wales and The Description of Wales. In the latter Gerald described the Welsh as frugal and caring mostly about their horses and weapons so that they can seize booty. He wrote that no one begs in Wales because of the hospitality. Though Welsh himself, he criticized them severely, observing that Welsh people rarely keep their promises and that they steal not only from foreigners and enemies but from each other as well. He believed that quarrels occurred more often in Wales because of their ancient custom of dividing property between brothers and because Welsh princes entrust the education of their sons to different nobleman. Also he found their government less orderly because they could not accept a single king. Gerald wrote that most of the Welsh only marry after living with a woman for some time to be sure she will be a good wife. He noted that the English strive for power, the Welsh for freedom; the English fight for material gain and hire mercenaries, while the Welsh defend their homeland to avert disaster. Yet the following statement surely has universal implications:
Nothing rejoices the hearts of men so much,
nothing inspires them and encourages them to behave so nobly
as the sheer joy of being free.
On the other hand nothing dejects and dispirits them
as much as oppression and slavery.3
When the bishopric of St. David’s became vacant in 1198, Gerald wanted the Welsh Church to become independent of Canterbury, but his long effort failed when he was not chosen as bishop in 1203.
After King Richard of England died in 1199, his brother John made Canterbury archbishop Hubert Walter chancellor and sent him and William Marshall to help justiciar Geoffrey Fitz Peter put down the revolts that sprang up from the news of Richard’s death. John’s coronation at Westminster on May 25 was well attended. He continued Richard’s war against King Philip II of France for Normandy which paused for another truce at Le Goulet in 1200. John was recognized as Richard’s heir and did homage to Philip for his French possessions, and his nephew Arthur was recognized in Brittany as John’s vassal. John also ceded the Vexin and Evreux to Philip. That year the English Church made marriage more difficult by requiring that banns be announced in church on three occasions. The erratic John the next year seized lands of rebellious barons in Poitou and suggested a trial by combat using champions. Philip summoned John to Paris; but when he refused to appear, the war was renewed in 1202. Aquitane was threatened; John’s two brothers-in-law, Count Raymond VI of Toulouse and King Alfonso IX of Castile, defected, though John made a treaty with the king of Navarre.
John’s cruel treatment of prisoners lost him public favor, and many suspected that he had murdered Arthur, who disappeared after he was captured by John. Normandy was nearly lost when John retreated to England in December 1203. John tried to raise money to recruit more mercenaries. While he was arranging to have wild animals sent across the channel for his hunting pleasure, Chateau Gaillard, the castle Richard had built, was taken by storm in March 1204. This enabled Philip’s army to over-run central Normandy as loyalty to John faded; Rouen surrendered to Philip in June. King John had lost all of Normandy except the Channel Islands. Most Norman barons had to choose whether to keep their lands in England or on the continent. Wood from forests as well as coal was used to fuel furnaces to smelt iron. In 1204 men of Essex offered the King 500 marks and five palfreys for a forest near Colchester, and Cornwall was prepared to spend 2,200 marks for deforestation and Devon 5,000 marks. By the end of John’s reign the coal trade of Newcastle-upon-Tyne was established.
John developed the English navy. For example, 112 pirates were beheaded in the Scilly islands in 1209. As of 1205 every Englishman over the age of 12 was liable to military service for national defense, and many were impressed onto English ships. John landed at La Rochelle in 1206 and captured a castle in Gascony. He tried to use the German allies Richard had gained; but in 1206 England’s commercial partner of Cologne had to capitulate as his ally Otto IV fled to England. Chancellor Hubert Walter supervised Jewish transactions at the Exchequer as John had protected their rights in a 1201 charter. After the capable chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury, Hubert Walter, died in 1205, John tried to get the monks of Canterbury to accept Bishop John de Gray of Norwich; but they elected the scholar Stephen Langton, and he was consecrated by Pope Innocent III at Viterbo in 1207. Since King John refused to accept his appointment, Stephen remained for six years at the Cistercian monastery at Pontigny, where Becket had resided. John seized the revenues of Canterbury, driving the monks into exile. York archbishop Geoffrey opposed the King’s tax of a thirteenth on Church rents and movables and excommunicated the collectors and tax payers before he fled England.
In 1208 Pope Innocent III got the bishops of London, Ely, and Worcester to impose an interdict on England, suspending ecclesiastical rites, and those three bishops had to flee too. The next year John met with Stephen’s brother Simon Langton but then decided to confiscate the property of clergy who refused to celebrate their offices. At Oxford a student killed a woman and fled; but his roommates were hanged, causing teachers and students to leave Oxford in protest until a new agreement was made with the town in 1214. This boycott stimulated the forming of a second university at Cambridge.
Before the end of 1209 King John had been excommunicated, which meant that anyone associating with him could also be excommunicated. Exchequer records indicate that state revenues from the churches went from 400 pounds in 1209 to 3,700 the next year and to 24,000 pounds in 1211, and there were other revenues from churches in addition. These funds helped pay for John’s military campaigns to subdue Scotland, Ireland, and Wales in the next three years, and he had the Welsh hostages hanged. Norwich bishop John de Grey was justiciar of Ireland from 1208 to 1213, and John invaded with William Marshall in 1210 to punish de Lacy. An English chronicler reported that twenty Irish kings did homage to John and swore to observe the English laws. John tried to build a coalition; the Count of Boulogne helped him gain Count Ferrand of Flanders as an ally in 1213 as Philip invaded Flanders. Threatened with an invasion by France, John submitted to the Pope and accepted Stephen Langton as archbishop of Canterbury, reinstating the exiled clergy and compensating the Church’s losses. John even pledged fealty to Pope Innocent and promised to pay a tribute of 1,000 marks annually.
On May 28, 1213 Salisbury earl William and the count of Boulogne led 700 English and Flemish knights on 500 ships with thousands of soldiers to surprise the French camp, reported to have 1,700 vessels, while French soldiers were dispersed besieging Ghent and plundering the region. Those ships that were not captured or destroyed were ordered burned by Philip Augustus five days later, ending the threat of a French invasion. King John planned to invade from Portsmouth while the count of Flanders and Otto were to strike from the northeast; but English barons refused to participate because John was still under excommunication. John was formally absolved at Winchester, but northern barons would not fight outside of England. While John set out for Poitou, hoping his forces would follow, he left the kingdom to be governed by the bishop of Winchester and Justiciar Geoffrey Fitz Peter. A council at St. Albans declared that the laws of Henry I were to be observed, and bad laws that allowed sheriffs, foresters, and other officials to extort were to be ended. Archbishop Stephen Langton read Henry I’s charter of liberties to the barons at an assembly at St. Paul’s and persuaded John not to punish the men who had not followed him.
John sent funds to support the counts of Flanders, Holland, and Boulogne and the dukes of Brabant and Limburg against the French. After Justiciar Geoffrey Fitz Peter died, John appointed Peter des Roches of Poitou, who was unpopular with the barons and the Church. In 1214 with a small army, mostly of mercenaries, John invaded Aquitane; but in July the barons of Poitou refused to fight a battle and deserted. Later that month the Netherlands coalition was defeated by the French at Bouvines, ending Otto’s reign as Emperor and John’s attempt to recover continental territory. John agreed to a truce and returned to England in October 1214. Barons irritated by John’s injustices met at Stamford during Easter week in 1215, and in May these insurgents joined the mayor and councilors of London. Archbishop Langton arranged a truce between the king and the barons while the Great Charter was developed. King John granted London a charter confirming their privileges and giving them the right to elect their mayor annually; but when the barons refused John’s suggested arbitration, he ordered sheriffs to confiscate their lands and chattels.
On June 15, 1215 the two parties met on the field at Runnymede, and King John put his seal on the Articles of the Barons; the Magna Carta was completed four days later. This famous milestone in human rights enunciated many important principles within the context of current feudal law. The liberties of the Church with its free elections are guaranteed. Feudal abuses are to be reformed. Wards of an inheritance can take no more than is reasonable. A widow’s property rights are protected, and no widow is to be forced to marry. No scutage or payment for an emergency is to be imposed unless by common counsel of the kingdom. A lord may take reasonable aid only to ransom his own person, make his eldest son a knight, or to marry his eldest daughter. The liberties and free customs of all cities, boroughs, towns, and ports are confirmed. A fixed court is to hear lawsuits, and inquests are to be held in each county. Penalties called “amercements” are to be proportionate to the offense and must be decided by a jury of peers. No sheriff, constable, or other bailiff shall try serious crimes. No constable or bailiff shall take anyone’s grain or chattels without paying for them. Standards for weights and measures are established to protect consumers. No one can be put on trial without reliable witnesses. Next comes the important principles that would be emphasized in later centuries.
No freeman shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised
or outlawed or exiled or in any way destroyed,
neither will we set forth against him or send against him,
except by the lawful judgment of his peers
and by the law of the land.
To no one will we sell,
to no one will we refuse or delay right or justice.4
Merchants and others except criminals are granted the right to come and go free of evil tolls except during war. Those from countries at war will be kept in custody without injury until the chief justiciar knows how merchants are treated in their country. Some restraint is put on forest officers to limit their oppression, and inquiries are to investigate and end abuses. A council of 25 barons is established to settle previous disputes and to make sure that the reforms are enforced.
Pope Innocent III tried to annul the charter by excommunicating anyone who observed it; but Archbishop Langton refused to authorize the excommunications. So the papal nuncio Pandulf and the bishop of Winchester suspended the archbishop. Barons intent on getting rid of King John took up arms and even offered the crown to Louis, son of Philip Augustus. The barons remained in London while John’s forces controlled the castles; only Rochester resisted but was taken. The many foreign mercenaries in John’s royal army plundered the land. Louis did not join the barons at London until May 1216 as the Scottish army captured Carlisle. King John retreated to the west to get reinforcements from Wales; but he became ill with dysentery and died on October 18, 1216.
John’s oldest son Henry was nine years old but was made king ten days after his father’s death. When he was knighted, Henry did homage to the papal legate Gualo. Then he was crowned by Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, since Canterbury archbishop Stephen Langton was in Rome. The English government was in disarray with no exchequer, no royal seal, and no money in the treasury. Less than a third of the barons had remained loyal, and Louis with the rebelling barons held London and half the shires of England. Earl Ranulf of Chester recommended the aged William Marshal to head the government, and he was named rector of the king and kingdom while Peter des Roches remained Henry’s tutor and guardian. Justiciar Hubert de Burgh renewed a truce with Louis at Dover and arrived at Bristol for a council that revised the Great Charter. Most Church authorities remained loyal, and Gualo granted the remission of sins for those fighting on the side of Henry. According to the Dunstable annalist the French alienated some of the English by calling them traitors and by not restoring their rights. This was in stark contrast to the generous terms offered to those becoming loyal again and to the confirming of the Great Charter, which now established the age of majority at 21 years.
William Marshal raised money by selling jewels and rich garments found in royal castles. His eldest son and the earl of Salisbury came back to Henry’s side; but the turning point was a military victory at Lincoln that captured 46 barons and 300 knights, which was half of the rebel knights. Aside from fleeing infantry slaughtered by people in the countryside, only two men were killed in this battle. Louis gave up his siege of Dover and returned to London. His wife Blanche of Castile raised some forces in France; but they and the fierce Eustace the Monk were defeated in a sea battle off Sandwich. Eustace was beheaded, and the booty was used to build the hospital of St. Bartholomew to commemorate the victory. Louis agreed to peace at Kingston in September 1217. A general amnesty restored lands with no ransoms except those previously agreed, and liberties in England were protected by the Charter. Only the rebelling ecclesiastics were subject to the discipline of the papal legate. The regency agreed to pay Louis 10,000 marks, and two merchants of St. Omer provided some cash. Marshal promised his lands in Normandy as security, and Louis promised to respect the English lands on the continent. In the next three months a thousand writs restored confiscated estates.
Another council in 1217 issued a revision of the Great Charter and added the Charter of the Forest that for the first time established written law in place of royal will so that henceforth no one would lose life or limb for a forest violation. Scot king Alexander surrendered Carlisle and was absolved. Peace was made with the Welsh prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, though the latter demanded as part of the treaty that Marshal return the Welsh lands taken from Morgan. Law was enforced by local sheriffs, but raising money from them was difficult. The Exchequer reopened; a royal seal was made; and in November 1218 justices of a general eyre began making their circuits in eight districts. Gualo departed and was replaced by Pandulf as papal legate. Both Pandulf and Archbishop Langton urged Marshal to ban tournaments; although the old knight had loved the contests and believed they offered training, he forbade them to protect the peace. William Marshal was eighty when he died in May 1219, recommending the legate Pandulf rather than Winchester bishop Peter des Roches.
Papal legate Pandulf was a leader in the administration until 1221. The council put the justiciar Hubert de Burgh in charge of attesting royal letters and the seal while Bishop Peter des Roches continued as King Henry’s guardian until 1221. Henry was crowned again in 1220 with great ceremony by Canterbury archbishop Stephen Langton, who also canonized St. Hugh of Lincoln and preached a crusade. The barons swore to surrender royal castles and to help put down anyone resisting, such as William de Forze, who had married the heiress of Aumale. When William de Forze did finally submit to the justiciar, he was absolved and pardoned. Hubert de Burgh raised his status in 1221 by marrying Margaret, sister of Scotland’s king, and he became earl of Kent. That year Archbishop Langton persuaded the Pope to withdraw his legate, and he welcomed the first Dominicans to England; the next year he affirmed the unity of the Western Church. In 1224 the first Franciscans arrived in England.
Archbishop Langton and the Justiciar Hubert were opposed by a party led by Peter des Roches and Earl Ranulf of Chester. The archbishop managed to work out a truce, but in 1223 Pope Honorius issued letters declaring the young king mature enough to control the seal. By the end of that year Peter, Ranulf, Fawkes, Engelard and others had lost their castles and sheriffdoms. Fawkes de Breauté previously had been guilty of dispossessing several men. His brother William de Breauté had resisted with violence and had been hanged with several others at Bedford in 1223. The Great Charter was issued with slight revisions once again in 1225 as a justification for taxation of a fifteenth on the movables of every householder. The king issued the Charter of his own free will, and the provision enforcing the charter by 25 barons was omitted. This tax was used to finance the war with France.
Earl William Marshal of Pembroke invaded Wales in 1223. The truce with France had been renewed in 1220 for four years; but after Louis VIII became king, he invaded Poitou in 1224. Henry’s mother Isabel had returned to Angouleme in 1217 and married Hugues de Lusignan in 1220. Her daughter Joan had been betrothed to Hugues but married Scot king Alexander II in 1221 after having been detained by her mother for her dowry. Before attacking, Louis had promised to recognize the lands of Hugues claimed as Isabel’s dowry. In 1225 Henry made his 16-year-old brother Richard earl of Cornwall and sent him to be count of Poitou with the earl of Salisbury; they lost Poitou but managed to defend Gascony. Louis died in 1226, but Queen Blanche of Castile gained Hugues and Isabel as vassals of France.
King Henry III was 19 in January 1227 when he proclaimed himself of age and gained full use of the seal, enabling him to give charters and grants in perpetuity. When his brother Richard ejected Waloran the German from his manor, the king ordered it restored. Richard refused, and the justiciar advised his arrest; but Richard fled and was backed by the earls of Pembroke, Chester, Gloucester, Surrey, Hereford, Derby, and Warwick. King Henry submitted and was reconciled with his brother. Henry received a request from Peter of Dreux to help him defend Brittany against Louis IX, and in 1230 Henry invaded but accomplished little in five months. Peter of Dreux eventually was reconciled to Louis in 1234 and was allowed to rule Brittany as his vassal until his son John came of age.
In 1228 Richard de Burgh was made justiciar in Ireland. His brother Hubert, England’s justiciar, extended his lands in Wales; but his 1228 expedition against Llywelyn at Kerry failed. When the earl of Pembroke, the younger William Marshal, died in 1231, Hubert gained the Braose lands. That year Llywelyn attacked and gained much territory in the truce. A movement against the benefices given to Italians by papal influence was led by Yorkshire land-owner Robert Tweng; those farming lands of churches held by absentees withheld their rents and molested some Italians, and justiciar Hubert was also blamed for this.
Meanwhile Peter des Roches had returned from the crusade in which he had helped Friedrich negotiate a treaty regaining holy sites as well as promoting the Emperor’s reconciliation with Pope Gregory IX in the treaty of San Germano in 1230. In France Peter des Roches mediated a truce to end the fighting between France and the Anglo-Breton alliance. Bishop Peter des Roches entertained King Henry and the justiciar on Christmas in 1231 at Winchester and began to challenge the growing power of Justiciar Hubert de Burgh. In June 1232 Peter’s nephew Peter des Rivaux was named treasurer and was given authority over the small seal, the Jews, ports, escheats, wardships, and the mint; also several offices gave him control of the royal finances in Ireland. Hubert’s power was also increased, but two months later he was charged with attacking Italians and was forced to surrender his castles to the new justiciar Stephen Segrave. Hubert was imprisoned and eventually lost all his offices, Welsh honors, escheats, and wardships, but pressure from the Church and barons enabled him to retain his lands and dignities as an earl. In Ireland Felim O’Connor was released; allied with Moylurg king MacDermot, he defeated and killed Aedh O’Connor and assumed the kingship.
The financial reforms of the Poitevin Peters soon aroused resentment. Peter des Rivaux became justiciar in South Wales and controlled the administration of Ireland. In a dispute over a manor in Wiltshire the Marshal Richard upheld the cause of ejected Gilbert Basset, and sporadic violence broke out in various places. Guards were strengthened as King Henry prepared to invade Ireland in order to conquer Connaught. Richard de Burgh aided the king by checking Earl Richard Marshal. Henry used Flemish mercenaries and besieged Marshal’s castle at Usk. Earl Richard only wanted abuses corrected and submitted when the king agreed. Peter des Rivaux was blamed for his “blood-stained letter” that declared Richard Marshal a traitor and led to his murder in Kildare when he demanded his lands be restored. Resentment against the Poitevins gained leadership after monks elected the Oxford teacher Edmund of Abingdon as Archbishop of Canterbury. The king had Peter des Rivaux and his associates investigated. Peter des Roches was serving the Pope in Italy, and Henry wrote to the Emperor that he had been led astray by Bishop Peter. In 1234 Henry admitted Hubert de Burgh and Gilbert Basset back into his council, and Archbishop Edmund negotiated a truce with Llywelyn. The king had outlawed Hubert illegally, and Gilbert had been ejected arbitrarily. Yet rule by law rather than royal edict had been vindicated.
The financial reforms began by Peter des Rivaux had a lasting effect. When he became treasurer in 1232, Peter was sheriff in 21 shires. He instituted a survey to handle local defaulters, enabling the Exchequer to control the profits of the shires. Administration of escheats, wardships, and successions was taken from the sheriffs and given to royal officers. Sheriffs were given salaries and were not allowed to exploit their office in tax farming or by taking charges, fines, and payments in the king’s name. A judicial eyre in 1234 was led by Devonshire judge William Ralegh. In 1236 the Merton statute provided further legal protections for widows, heirs, and successful litigants.
In Ireland a chancery was established at Dublin in 1232. Anglo-Normans led by Justiciar Maurice fitz Gerald (1232-45) invaded Connaught in 1235 and defeated O’Brien of Thomond and Felim O’Connor. O’Brien made peace, but O’Connor escaped to O’Donnell. In Ulster the kingship was disputed for several years until the justiciar and Hugh de Lacy expelled O’Loughlin and enthroned O’Neill in 1238. The Irish factions continued to fight among themselves and against the Anglo-Norman settlers.
In 1235 Henry’s sister Isabella married Emperor Friedrich, who sent Peter de Vinea to England. Scholar Robert Grosseteste was made bishop of Lincoln. The next year Henry III married Eleanor of Provence, sister of Louis IX’s wife Margaret, and this helped the two brothers-in-law maintain peaceful relations during most of their long reigns. In 1237 Henry sent out William Ralegh to collect a general tax to pay for these weddings; but the barons blamed the new bishop of Winchester, William of Savoy. The king agreed to add three barons to his council, which was given control of the proceeds of the new tax. The Great Charters of liberties and the forest were confirmed yet again as was the Archbishop’s sentence of excommunication against anyone who violated them. Henry gained Chester for the crown when its last earl died. In 1238 the Frenchman Simon de Montfort, who had become earl of Leicester, married Henry’s sister Eleanor. This caused a scandal, because she had taken an oath of chastity when her husband William Marshal died, though she was only 16 at the time. The king retreated to the tower of London and once again yielded to the barons.
After Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Iorwerth died in 1240, his son David (Dafydd) by King John’s daughter Joan was preferred to his older illegitimate brother Gruffudd; but the conflict between them was used by the English to limit David’s power to Gwynedd as Henry’s armies attacked the north Welsh coast in 1241 and 1245. Gruffud was kept a prisoner in the tower of London, but in 1244 he was killed trying to escape when an improvised rope broke. That year David tried to expand his realm by war, but he died two years later. Then Gruffudd’s sons Oswain and Llywelyn divided Gwynedd, agreeing to an armistice in 1247. When Scot king Alexander II died in 1249, his eight-year-old son was crowned as Alexander III and did homage at York for his lands in England. He was knighted and married Henry III’s daughter Margaret, and Henry added two members to the regency council of Scotland.
In 1242 Henry allied with his mother Isabel and Hugues de Lusignan and invaded Poitou; but faced with the army of Louis IX at Taillebourg, Henry fled to Saintes and accepted a truce the next year. In 1244 magnates, who disliked money being wasted on such wars, insisted that they assent to the selection of the new chancellor. King Henry admired Edward the Confessor, and in 1245 he began building him a shrine, which he decorated with many tapestries and other art. In fifteen years Henry demanded 73,000 pounds in taxes from the Jews, nearly half their assets. In 1248 Henry appointed Simon de Montfort seneschal of Gascony; the Gascons revolted in 1250, but the rebellion was suppressed by Simon the following year.
1. Eadmer, The Life and Conversation of Saint Anselm in A Scholastic Miscellany tr. Eugene R. Fairweather, p. 214.
2. Anselm, Proslogion 1 tr. M. J. Charlesworth, p. 115.
3. Gerald of Wales, The Description of Wales 2:8 tr. Lewis Thorpe, p. 270.
4. Magna Carta 39-40 tr. Harry Rothwell in Warren, W. L, King John 1167-1216, p. 272.
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