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pretence was made of a threatened invasion by France ; but still the great tenants of the crown refused. Negotiations were then opened. It appeared that within the last few years the officers of the court had openly disregarded the provisions of the Charters, and laughed at their so-called confirmation ; and it was now demanded that a final and solemn ratification should be made of Magna Charta and of Charta de Forestâ. This was done. They occupy the first page of the statute book, under the entry of the 9th of Henry III., but are in all respects the same as were ratified in the second year of the reign. Upon this, a subsidy was no longer withheld. It was yielded in the shape of a fifteenth of all movables ; but the money was to be placed in the treasury, and none of it taken out before the king was of age, unless for the defence of the realm, and in the presence of six bishops and six earls. One sces, in this great transaction, the germ of all that was worthiest of a free people in the after-course of English history, The check of popular and parliamentary control is for the first time brought into direct collision with the royal prerogative, and the issue of the unequal conflict determined at once and for ever.
But the discovery was made last where it most behoved it to have been earliest made. Within four days of the ratification of the Charter, the commissioners for assessment and collection of the subsidy were at work ; and as the only thought seemed to be to get the money, the only care was to spend it when obtained. In the difficult part he had to play, the regent lost favour both with the court and the people. With the aid of the one he had driven des Roches from the government, with that of the other he had put violent restraints upon popular disorder and insubordination; but he had not sufficient help or sympathy from either, after the expiration of the regency in 1227, to retain his office of justiciary for more than five years ; though in the days of his fall, when dragged out of sanctuary by some soldiers of the king, it is recorded that an honest blacksmith refused to put fetters on the
“who had fought so well against the French, and who had preserved England from aliens.
Alien favouritism had meanwhile succeeded under the championship of Peter des Roches, not without warning of its danger. In the very year of Hubert's disgrace, the great council (or, as I shall hereafter call it, the Parliament) refused an aid to Henry. In vain he pleaded poverty. The Earl of Chester, speaking for the rest, plainly told him that his faithful barons suffered not less
than he did, by the same wasteful expenditure. Irritated by refusal, he threw himself more completely into the power of the Poitevin. Upwards of two hundred foreign creatures were brought over into England, and placed in offices of trust. The men of ancient family, now wedded to the land of their fathers as jealously as the Saxon had ever been, saw themselves displaced for the foreign jester, tool, or pander; and they turned-these so-called Norman barons—as even Norman kings in like ways
unfriended or deserted had seen it to be their interest to turn, to a PEOPLE now neither Norman nor Saxon, but united inseparably on their English soil.
Historians have been very reluctant to admit this element in the Plantagenet government of England ; and it is still the custom to treat of this reign of Henry III. as a mere struggle for the predominance of aristocracy or monarchy. But beneath the surface, the other and more momentous power is visible enough. It is that which now heaves and stirs the outward and visible influences of authority. It is that which is to turn what might else have been a paltry struggle for court favour or military power, easily terminable, into that war of principles which ran its course with varying fortune through all later history, awful and irreconcileable. The merchants and tradesmen of the towns are for the first time cognizable in this reign as an independent and important class ; enriched by that very intercourse with foreigners which was so hateful to the barons ; invested with privileges wrung from the poverty of their lords ; no longer liable to individual services, but in place of them paying common rents ; with guilds and charters as inviolable as the fees of the great proprietor ; and with the right, as little now to be disputed as that of the feudal superior had been, to hold fairs and demand tolls, to choose their own magistrates and enact their own laws. On the hearing of such men as these, the provisions of the Great Charter, read aloud from time to time in their County Courts, could not have fallen as a mere empty sound. It might be but half-enfranchisement thus proclaimed ; with still unresisted slavery in the classes directly beneath them, it could be little more than that ; but it pointed to where freedom was, accustomed them to its forms and claims, and helped them onward in the direction where it lay. They knew, now, that it assuredly lay not with Peter des Roches and his associates ; and they joined the barons against the foreign favourite.
Henry, urged by his necessities, made two attempts in 1233 to
call a parliament. IIis summonses were in both instances refused; and the messengers who bore the refusal, might have added the as unwonted tidings, that songs were now daily to be heard against the favourite, filled with warnings to the sovereign. Amid other signs and portents of social change had arisen the political ballad. In it shone forth the first vera Higies of the Poitevin Bishop ; nimble at the counting of money as he was slow in expounding the gospel ; sitting paramount in Exchequer, when he ought to be in Winchester ; pondering on pounds and not upon his book; preferring lucre to Luke; and setting more store by a handful of marks than by all the doctrines of their namesake saint. Would the king avoid the shipwreck of his kingdom, it asked ? then let him shun for ever the stones and rocks (Roches) in his way. The warning was quickly followed up
The standard of rebellion was let loose in thie Welsh districts by no less a person than Pembroke's son ; the clergy, oppressed by l'apal tax and tallage, began to take part in the general discontent; and in midst of a feast at the palace, Edmund of Canterbury (Langton's successor) presented himself with a statement of national grievances and a demand for immediate redress. IIis father, he reminded the king, had well nigh forfeited his crown ; the English people, he added, would never submit to be trampled upon by foreigners in England ; and for himself, he should excommunicate all who any longer refused, in that crisis of danger, to support the reform of the government and the welfare of the nation. This was in February, 1234. In April a parliament had assembled ; Peter and his Poitevins were on their way home across the sea ; the ministers who had made themselves hateful were dismissed : and the opposition barons were in power.
This will read like the language of a modern day ; but if these events have any historic significance, they establish what can only in the modern phrase be properly described as ministerial responsibility and parliamentary control. Nor were they the isolated events of their class which marked the feeling of the time. Again and again, during this prolonged reign, the same incidents recur, in precisely the same circle of resistance and submission. Subsidies are requested, and contemptuously refused ; grievances are redressed, and aid is given. Then, when Court coffers are filled, Court promises are forgotten ; till distress brings round again the old piteous petition, and assistance is once more yielded, with new conditions of restraint and Constitutional safeguards hitherto
undemanded. In five years from the time of which I have been treating, the money granted was paid into the hands of selected barons, with as strict a proviso for account as modern Parliaments have claimed over public expenditure ; while in two years later, on the payment of certain monies to the Exchequer, the city of London exacted a stipulation that the Justiciary, Chancellor, and Treasurer, might hereafter be appointed with the consent of Parliament, and hold their offices only during good behaviour. And thus it was that the great lawyer, Bracton, at the close of a reign which he adorned with his judicial talents, and made remarkable by the composition of a treatise which went far to establish uniformity of legal practice, found himself able to reckon as superior to the King, ‘not only God and the law by which he is made king, but his great court of earls and barons ; so that if he were without a bridle, that is the law, they ought to put a bridle upon him.' This court, this Curia Regis, consisting of Chief Justiciary, Chancellor, Constable, Marshal, Chamberlain, Steward, and Treasurer, was what in modern time might be called the Cabinet of the King.
In 1236, being then in his twenty-ninth year, Henry married Eleanor, the daughter of Raymond Count of Provence. Great were the festivities at the marriage and coronation, and most minute are the descriptive raptures of the contemporary chronicler, who declares that the whole world could not produce a more glorious and ravishing spectacle. Yet all that so moved the good Mathew of Paris may pass away for us into quiet oblivion, saving one figure of the coronation crowd. He who served at the feast as High Steward, with the basin of water, has outlived the rest of the pageant. He was of the great family of de Montfort. His grandfather, descended from a French king, had, by marriage with Robert of Leicester's heiress, obtained his English estates and earldom. His father had led the terrible crusades against the heretic Albigenses, which stained with so much gentle blood the popedom of Innocent the Third. But with the son the fame of both had increased ; for to the extraordinary personal stature, strength, and beauty of his race, he joined a power of command and a persuasive genius which subdued or fascinated all men. a time when to be of foreign descent was to be marked for popular distrust, de Montfort, alone among the nobles of the court, was singled out for the favour of the people. He was but seven years older than Henry; yet the gravity of his repute, the dark ground of religious enthusiasm which set off the lustre of his military
fame, his patronage of learning, and his knowledge of the peaceful arts, were spread afar over Europe. The men of the court intrigued against him ; but their leader Richard, the skilful and powerful brother of the sovereign, he swiftly changed into his own associate and peculiar friend. The king was jealous of his power; yet in two years from the date of his own marriage, and while he was yet childless, he saw de Montfort wedded to his sister in the chapel of St. Stephen. There passed a whisper at these nuptials that he was surely aiming for a throne ; but with that old chapel, and the name of Simon de Montfort, there came to be connected in after years a yet more daring and more enduring ambition. The birth of Prince Edward in the third year of IIenry's marriage gave fresh direction to men's thoughts, but IIenry's impatience of his kinsman only strengthened. He looked with vague discomfort and fear on one whom the people honoured, whom the clergy trusted, and whom the barons were content should represent them. One day an insult, an office of trust the next, showed the vacillation of his doubts and dread. At length he sent him to an honourable exile in Guienne; appointing him its governor by royal patent, and committing it in charge to his fame to save that province from surrender and loss in a serious existing rebellion.
Much happened in the interval before IIenry and de Montfort again stood face to face. The connexions of the young queen had inundated the land with new foreign adventurers. Three of her uncles grasped the chief offices of state. William of Valence became paramount at court, Peter of Savoy seized the honour of Richmond, and the archbishopric of C'anterbury was obtained by Boniface of Savoy, through whose peaceful robes there glittered a coat of mail on the day of his inauguration. Loud was the national dissatisfaction. Judgment, it cried out, is now entrusted to the unjust, the laws to outlaws, peace to the turbulent, and justice to wrongdoers. It åppealed to the king's brother to place himself at the head of another successful opposition ; but the prudent and powerful Richard, who enjoyed the confidence of the popular barons, had suddenly become captive to the charms of the queen's young sister, and for the present found himself perforce a favourer of the alien faction. Then came over Beatrice, Countess of Provence, whom Dante celebrates for her four daughter-queens, to see the good fortune of her children. Then bethought herself the dowager Isabella, now Countess de la Marche,