Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects/Learning and Literature at the Court of Henry II. (1)
LEARNING AND LITERATURE AT THE COURT OF HENRY II.
(June 11, 1878.)
WE are at present suffering, and may for some little time to come continue to suffer, from a reaction against medievalism. I call it a reaction, for I think it is only caused by a recoil from modes of thought, art, and action, which have been pressed beyond reality, or have been pressed too rigorously. There are not wanting signs that even in architecture, in which the greatest and most permanent traces of medieval genius are found, the world is growing a little impatient of Gothic buildings, whether as imitative creations or as the claimants of exclusive orthodoxy in their art; in poetry it can scarcely be denied that the Arthurian legend has begun somewhat to pall upon most ears; in ritual or ceremonial worship we see much of which we are tempted to ask whether it has any meaning whatever for nine out of every ten of those who profess to value it. The dear delightful middle ages are unfortunately growing into something like a by-word. We are perhaps witnessing the turn of the tide of fashion which set in with Sir Walter Scott, and found its great triumphs under Sir Gilbert; of which, however, all that is real and natural and free will live, whilst that which is forced, unspontaneous and merely imitative, will not long continue to encumber the ground.
If this be indeed the case, it will explain some things that touch the study of history. Three or four years ago I was startled by the remark, which occurred in a review of Mr. Kitchin's History of France in the Athenæum, to the effect that all study of the early periods was thrown away, and that the true interest of history begins only where that history has begun to be illustrated by the genius of Mr. Carlyle. But I was scarcely prepared for the recommendation of my friend Professor Pearson, in his recent report on the subject of education to the government of Victoria, that the teaching of history in the Australian High Schools should begin with the year 1700. And why? because the ages that precede are so entirely unlike our own; there were no railways, no large manufacturing towns, no newspapers to speak of, no such relations as now exist between Lords and Commons, no property tax, no taxation by excise, and a good deal of living religion, which religion exercised over the daily lives and political views of men an influence that is scarcely comprehensible at the present day.
Such a theory, it seems to me, would go a long way towards dispensing with education altogether; but the expression of such a theory, if it be the result of anything else than a clever man's crotchets, is a mark of a reaction; and such a reaction as is even painful to one who has spent the best years of his life in attempting to connect the several stages of his country's life and growth; who believes that the age of railways, and excise and newspapers, would never have been had it not been for the free institutions and high ambitions that were nursed through the preceding ages, and that the present condition of the strength of the world is the direct and continuous result of historical growth and historical training.
It is no wonder, I say, that to me, and those who have pursued the same line of study, this tendency should seem very much to be deprecated. I do not for a moment suppose that it is dangerous; all experience, all belief in progress and true culture, encourage me to believe that it is adventitious. If Australia can content itself with the history of England since the reign of Queen Anne, America has found out long ago the mistake of crippling the historic instinct with any such limitation; and American scholars, lawyers, and constitutionalists are working as zealously at the medieval forms as are the students of England, France, and Germany. And not only experience of the past and faith in the future, but sympathy with the historical world both past and future, if I may use such an expression, inclines me to a protest. Like the man in Terence, I say 'Humani nil a me alienum puto;' I have a sympathy with the struggles of the struggling ages, with the weariness of the weary ages, with the faith of the ages of faith, with the controversies of the ages of controversy, with the changes of the ages of change, with the light of the ages of illumination, with the darkness of the dark ages themselves. Nay, I am not sure that I may not some day have to profess myself a convert to the Unity of History and the Education of the World. For after all, human life is not essentially changed by railways or excise, or newspapers, or even by the property tax: the people before the flood ate and drank, married and were given in marriage, planted and builded; still Jacob finds his Rachel at the well, and David and Jonathan make their covenant together, and David mourns for Absalom. Natural selection, and the survival of the fittest, have not done away with sin and sorrow, and, whatever evolution may have done in the producing of new types, those new types have not swept away the old. To go beyond and behind the ancients, what else do we find in Egypt, Babylon and Nineveh, in Japan, and in the China of immemorial sameness? And as there is no history in which we do not find a sympathy, there is none in which we may not find a lesson.
But to put aside generalities; the two or three truisms which I have uttered, and the subject which I have chosen for these two lectures, are alike suggested by the discussion which we have seen recently earned on by Mr. Freeman and Mr. Froude on the subject of Thomas Becket. I am not going to interfere in a struggle between two such combatants, nor shall I again refer to either of them, but the opposite lights in which those two champions approach the common subject, shed some rays on the fashion of thought which marks not only the two writers, or the two schools of which they may be supposed to be the disciples^ but the two ways of looking at the middle ages which divide cultivated men of the present day. And I have thought that I might, in attempting to sketch the literary life of an age, on which so many lights from various sides are now brought to bear, contribute somewhat, not perhaps to the true estimation of that age, but to a realisation of, and sympathy with, the life of it, without which no estimation or even understanding of it can be thought possible.
But the men of whom I am going to speak lived 700 years ago—700 years; as long a time as separated them from Hengist and Horsa, or Hengist and Horsa from Alexander the Great, or Herodotus from the Trojan war; or us ourselves perhaps from the New Zealander, who, on London Bridge, is to draw the conclusion that Thucydides ascribes to the τοῖς ἔπειτα and to recognise the disproportion between our ruins and our glory. It is true; but the only thought that this suggests to me is that, if the New Zealander finds in the ruins of the British Museum half as many of the literary productions of our time, as we now possess of the reign of Henry II, the shades of the Victorian literati may, in the Elysian fields of the period, feel a thrill of satisfaction, and say that a great part of their life has escaped Libitina.
In truth, I would call your attention to a point which I have never seen fully set out; the fact that the same age that originated the forms in which our national and constitutional life began to mould itself, was also an age of great literary activity; of very learned and acute men, and of culture enough to appreciate and conserve the fruits of their labours.
We all know the debt that England owes to the great men of the thirteenth century, to its political, religious, and scholastic life: Simon de Montfort, Grosseteste, Edward I, and the rest; but I do not remember ever to have seen an estimate of the debt that the thirteenth owed to the twelfth, save and except in the recognition of Henry II's constitutional work. I can now only attempt an outline of any such view as is needed for the purpose, but I think that, when I have briefly reviewed the period, you will allow that in other matters besides constitutional, the glories of the latter age were the result of, and not much in themselves superior to, the glories of the former.
I will begin with the king himself, for, as the medieval writers were never tired of quoting, 'vulgi turba movetur regis ad exemplar.' Henry II was by his very descent a champion of literary culture. Not to speak of his grandfather, Henry Beauclere, whose clerkship was very probably of a very elementary sort, he was the lineal descendant of that Fulk the Good who had told King Lothar that 'Rex illiteratus' was 'asinus coronatus.' He shared too those hereditary characteristics which so strongly marked his two uncles, Baldwin III and Amalric I, Kings of Jerusalem. Both of these princes were, according to William of Tyre, good scholars, and both extremely fond of history. Baldwin was the better professor; Amalric the better examiner; Baldwin the more serious and orthodox, Amalric the more superficial; but both were students of history, and given to reading and discussion—discussion which threatened now and then to go beyond the bounds of orthodoxy.
Peter of Blois gives a similar character of Henry, and in words so nearly resembling those of William of Tyre that the two writers notably confirm one another's probability. And in Peter's sketch this feature comes in quite by the way, for he is describing Henry as a great huntsman. ' He has always in his hands bows and arrows, swords and hunting spears, save when he is busy in council or over his books. For as often as he can get breathing time amid his business cares, he occupies himself with private reading, or takes pains in working out some knotty question among his clerks. Your king,' he is writing to the Archbishop of Palermo, ' is a good scholar, but ours is far better; I know the abilities and accomplishments of both. You know that the King of Sicily was my pupil for a year; you yourself taught him the elements of verse-making and literary composition; from me he had further and deeper lessons, but as soon as I left the kingdom he threw away his books and took to the easygoing ways of the court. But with the King of England there is school every day, constant conversation of the best scholars and discussion of questions.'
He had indeed been well taught; notwithstanding the troubled times in which his youth had been trained, he had learned literature at Bristol Castle in the household of his uncle, Robert of Gloucester; his tutor Matthew, who was some time his chancellor, and who probably was identical with the Bishop of Angers, Matthew of London, took him in charge when he was nine and kept him close at work for four years; there doubtless he had the acquaintance of Gilbert Foliot, then Abbot of Gloucester, certainly one of the ablest politicians as well as of the best scholars of the time; whilst, when political affairs allowed it, he might learn somewhat more under the eye of Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, the patron of Vacarius the lawyer and John of Salisbury the philosopher.
The hereditary taste for history may perhaps, to some extent, account for the considerable number of independent historians who flourished under him; such chroniclers as those known by the name of Benedict of Peterborough, and Roger of Hoveden, bear intrinsic marks of having been royal historiographers; one distinguished officer of the Exchequer, Master Thomas Brown, kept a Roll on which were entered all the doings of the king: Richard Fitzneal, the High Treasurer of the Exchequer, composed a similar book, the Tricolumnis, in which he kept a regular register of Henry's acts and of the public documents of the time. There was, as we shall see presently, a fashion for writing history.
But not only so; Henry was also a lawyer. Very early in his reign we find him, in the Chronicle of Battle, dictating a new form of writ; he heard and decided law suits, he took an active part in devising budgets, he took an independent line on religious toleration, and refused to persecute. All these are signs of general enlightenment, but the man is even better known by his friends. Becket indeed was no great scholar in the early days when the king treated him as an equal and confidential friend, but later in life, when we find Henry choosing for companions such men as Hugh of Lincoln and Baldwin of Canterbury, both of them as remarkable for learning and eloquence as for piety, or even Giraldus Cambrensis, who had a fund of humour and cleverness that is as noteworthy as his extensive reading; or Peter of Blois, who acted for some time as the king's secretary, and, with all his time-serving and self-seeking, was a distinctly learned man in both history and theology, we feel sure that Henry was neither the mere voluptuary that his enemies represented him, nor merely the man of business that his more lasting
works prove him to have been. It has been the fashion to suppose that some literary influences were brought into England from Southern France by Queen Eleanor, and that it was from her that Richard, and perhaps John also, inherited some instincts of the kind. But I confess that, as against the claims of her husband, Eleanor's title to our gratitude depends very much on conjecture, and partly on a confusion between Aquitanian and Proven9al civilisation. That Eleanor was a clever and cultivated companion for her husband we may accept as a matter of course, and she probably would have some share in the early education of her sons; but they were very soon removed from her influence, and after the year 1 1 73 she probably saw very little of either them or her husband: whilst in England, court or country, her direct influence could never have been comparable with that of the king. As for her judgments in the Courts of Love, I suppose, we may safely relegate them to the regions of romance, and if they were authentic they would not prove much as to her literary culture. But we may, I think, confidently assume that she was a well-educated woman for those days, and that in her long captivity she had something else to amuse herself with besides needlework. A woman who, after twelve years of seclusion, could come out of prison not only fit to take the reins of government during a short interregnum, but able to exercise great influence in European politics until she was nearly eighty years old, must have possessed not merely vitality and ability, but mental resources also of no ordinary character.
However this may have been, some of her children, if not all, were educated with care, and appear as either possessed of learning themselves or as the patrons of learned men. Henry, the eldest son, was, as we are told, devoted to arms; if he was not equally accomplished in letters it was not because such accomplishments were undervalued by the people whom he was expected to rule. There is among the letters of Peter of Blois an epistle written in the name of Rotrou, archbishop of Rouen, and at the express wish of the Norman bishops, urging in strong terms, and by cogent examples, the importance of a literary training for a young prince. Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, King David, Constantine, Theodosius, Justinian, and Leo are pressed into the service. No doubt the advice was taken; but the stormy career of the younger Henry does not afford many indications of its results. One book we know, a book unfortunately lost, was especially written for his amusement. Gervase of Tilbury, who, many years after Plenry's death, wrote for his grandson, the Emperor Otto, the Otia Imperialia, tells us that he wrote a Liber Facetiarum for the young king, in which no doubt he collected the amusing stories of the popes and emperors that were current at the time, some of which are probably preserved for us in the pages of Ralph de Diceto. It is possible that the Otia Imperialia were originally drawn up for the instruction of the same prince. It is curious, however, that in none of the panegyrics of this unfortunate boy is any special stress laid on his knowledge of letters, and it is even possible that the epistle of Archbishop Rotrou was intended as a remonstrance against the exclusively military training of the heir to the crown; certainly Thomas Becket, to whose care he is said to have been committed in his youth, would, at that period of his career, have been better qualified to instruct him in arms than in letters.
With Richard it was otherwise. In his case we must certainly allow some amount of literary knowledge and skill. We may not perhaps credit him with the quotations from the classical poets which the historians of the third crusade put in his mouth, but we cannot refuse to believe those writers when they tell us of the lampoons of the king's own composition which were sung in the camp in contempt of the Duke of Burgundy; and the stream of time, in which so many more precious things have been submerged, has brought down to us some few sirventes or satiric lays that entitle Richard to the name of a trouvere. His education in the south of France no doubt qualified him for such compositions; but his father's foreign dominions may also have furnished him with more valuable instruction. At the schools of Tours his half-brother Geoffrey was educated, and there Richard himself may have obtained the elements of that 'scientia' which is markedly ascribed to him in contrast with his brothers. Of Geoffrey of Brittany we know no more than that he was an accomplished knight. John's reputation for scholarship seems to rest on the fact that he once borrowed a book of the Abbot of S. Alban's. But the real interest of such inquiries does not lie in the question whether such and such kings could read or write, but in the general character of the court which was kept about them; the king might be illiterate, but if the court around him was full of learned men we may safely infer that the central figure was no contemner of learning. Of the king's daughters we know little more than that they were all married to princes who took a conspicuous place among the pioneers of medieval culture. Matilda, the eldest, was the wife of Henry of Saxony, who was not only a great conqueror but a great traveller and collector of chronicles; Eleanor, the second, married King Alfonso of Castile, the founder of the University of Palencia; and Johanna, the youngest, William, the good king of Sicily, who was not only, as we have seen, both an educated man himself, but also the patron of many learned Englishmen.
There was something, however, besides the literary wide-awakeness of Henry and his family that made England and its Court at the time a centre of literary activity. Henry was the most powerful king of the West, and his hand was in the affairs of all the Western kingdoms: and this at the time when international acquaintance was carried on upon the very largest scale. There can hardly have been a period of our history in which the intercourse between England and France was freer or more frequent. The enormous number of letters which passed between England and Rome, every letter, remember, carried by a separate messenger; the stream of pilgrims to the East, and the prominence given in the histories of the time to the adventures of the few that returned; the cosmopolitan character of the clergy, the frequent promotions of English and Normans in foreign churches, and their continued intercourse with their friends at home; the recourse to foreign Universities, and the honours won by English scholars at those Universities, were a constant inducement to others to follow them; the welcome given at the English Court to foreign scholars, and finally, the fact that the English Court was open to all exiles from East or West, North or South; all these served to arouse and keep awake that curiosity about foreign matters which will not be satisfied without the acquisition of learning: so that learning is not sought for itself only, but as a part of the equipment of a man of the world. A little may go a long way under such circumstances, but yet every little helps to make a mickle, and there were many men about, as I shall hope to show you, who were bent on picking up all they could, and to whom nothing came amiss.
To run rapidly over the more prominent examples under each of the heads I have enumerated: in 1155, the first year of Henry II, there was an embassy from the kings of Norway. Henry received the envoys, and sent them back with ambassadors of his own and large presents; and the next year there was a similar transaction with Sweden. Here at once opens up a field of interesting investigation. Norway and Sweden were about as far from England as they are now, but they seem to have been even more neighbourly. The Norse settlements in the islands had not forgotten their origin. The Bishop of Sodor and Man was expected to seek consecration at Drontheim. Just before Henry's accession, the Bishop of Bergen had visited Fountains Abbey and obtained a colony of Cistercians for a cell in Norway itself, called, after that beautiful custom of the order, the House of Light. Again, in 1164, another Norwegian prelate appears in the royal accounts as receiving a gift of £3 6s. 8d.; and again, in 1182, the Archbishop Eystein, of Nidros, was maintained for 17 weeks at the expense of the English Court. These two dates synchronise with the Norwegian revolutions under Magnus Herlingson and Swerre Birkbain, and we thus learn how the detailed accounts of those revolutions came into the English Chronicles of Benedict and Roger of Hoveden, and William of Newburgh: it was at St. Edmund's that Archbishop Eystein was entertained at the king's expense from August 1181 to February 1182. And this leads us on to the recollection that it was the Englishman Nicolas Breakspere who had been legate of the Roman see for the settlement of the Scandinavian churches, before he became pope as Adrian IV, and so liberally bestowed the realm of Ireland on the king of the English.
The intercourse with Germany under Frederick Barbarossa was steady and probably continuous; for although there was little love lost between England and the empire, and the Hohenstaufen were always somewhat drawn to France, the quarrel of Henry with Becket and that of Frederick with Alexander III so nearly coincided, that there was always a prospect that the two great sovereigns might make common cause against Lewis VII. Hence in 1165 there was a German embassy under the Archbishop of Cologne in London, and the English lords showed their orthodoxy by refusing to meet the schismatic prelate at dinner, although Henry's own envoys at Würtzburg were credibly reported to have given in the national adhesion to the antipope. The marriage of Matilda with duke Henry, his subsequent quarrel with the emperor, Henry's negotiations for the support and restoration of his son-in-law, the long exile of Henry the Lion and his stay in England, gave English society much interest in German politics; so much so, that it is from the English Chroniclers of this period that much of the German history of the time has to be written; and English writers took sides in the Welf and Hohenstaufen quarrel, describing both events and characters with partisan colouring that is rare even in their pictures of home politics. Thus, too, copies of important documents came to be preserved in the English Annals, and we are so led to infer that the relations of the Court, to whose hands primarily these documents must have come, with the recording annalists, were of the closest description; and we understand how the great Longchamp or Walter of Coutances could send down import tant dispatches to he copied into the historical collections of Ralph de Diceto. For when we talk of the public and of the court of Henry II, we are not talking of such a vague and abstract idealism as the court and public of the reign of Victoria, made up of society at large at one end and the press and newspaper correspondents at the other; with all that lies between; the Court is a small body of well-known men, and the public is the aggregate of the clergy and knights who know foreign lands, can speak foreign tongues and take an intelligent interest in European politics. Not to dwell, however, on these points; in 1176 there were at the English Court at Westminster, on the 13th of November, embassies from Constantinople, and from Frederick I, the Eastern and Western Cæsars, from France, both Rheims and Flanders, and from Henry the Lion; the same year the Sicilian envoys came to demand Johanna in marriage for their king, and the kings of Navarre and Castile applied to Henry to arbitrate on a great international dispute in Spain. It is true that on this last occasion there were some difficulties of interpretation; the English could not understand the Spanish envoys, a fact which seems to indicate that thus early Spanish Latin had become somewhat rusty, for of course it must have been in Latin that the negotiations would be conducted; but the difficulty was surmounted and the arbitration settled; the documents concerning it, which are totally without interest to the English mind except in so far as they contained a full pedigree of the Spanish dynasties, being circulated among the chroniclers of the time, and so preserved in several authorities.
With Italy and Sicily, owing first to the constant recourse to Rome during the Becket and other Canterbury quarrels, and secondly to the sustained connexion with the Sicilian Normans, which came to its climax in the marriage of Johanna, the offer of the Sicilian crown to Henry himself, and the contract of marriage between Arthur of Brittany and king Tancred's daughter, the relations of the English were very close.
But in fact the diplomatic activity of Henry II throughout his reign was enormous; all nations of Europe came by envoys to his court, and his ministers, especially Richard of Ilchester and John of Oxford, ran about from one end of Europe to another. Spain, the most distant in interest of all, became familiar by the pilgrimages to Compostella and by the substitution of service against the Moorish infidels for service against the Turks. Both Henry and his eldest son purposed, or said they purposed, pilgrimages to Compostella, and it is well known how great was the debt of the infant kingdom of Portugal to English pilgrims. We see, too, how the elaborate surveys of the Spanish coasts found their way into several of our chronicles, so that Spanish geography, scarcely less than German political history, owes something to the English of this period.
To go, however, one step further; the diplomatic intercourse is illustrated not merely by the occasional visits of ambassadors, but by the constant interchange of letters between Englishmen abroad and at home, or between Englishmen and foreigners. Now the subject of medieval letter-writing is one on which a very great deal of entertaining discussion might be taken, but I can now only note a few points in this particular connexion.
At first sight, medieval letters are disappointing; the amount of sentiment, and especially of religious generalities, seems altogether out of proportion to the amount of news. That arises from two causes: firstly, many of our collections of letters are edited collections, made by the writers, who prided themselves upon their correct Latinity, and published their correspondence rather as literary exercises than as historical memorials; thus, so far from setting special value on the spontaneous unartificial morsels, which are to us the bonnes bouches of letter-writing, these men actually cut them out of their codified letters. This may be seen in almost every case in which copies of the original letters can be compared with the revised editions put out by the writers; especially is it the case with Alcuin's letters. Many of the letters of Peter of Blois look as if they had received the same treatment, and in the Becket correspondence the reader is often nonplussed by finding a provoking etcetera, which marks the point at which the gossip, or even the serious news, was expunged by the editor.
The other reason is that in very many cases the letters were little more than credentials. The real news was carried by the bearer of the letter, and the real force of the communication was not in the postscript, we may say, but in the postman. Still, we often come upon letters and letter-writers of real interest, and a good man may certainly be known by good letters, although many good men wrote very weak ones. John of Salisbury, among Becket's correspondents, wrote real letters, and those of Richard of Ilchester, preserved among Foliot's, are the writing of a business-like man. Even amidst the wearisome sameness of the Canterbury letters we now and then get a glimpse of life, such as in the letter of Master John from Lombardy, when he explains why he could not write from the Great S. Bernard. 'Pardon me for not writing. I have been on the Mount of Jove; on the one hand looking up to the heavens of the mountains, on the other shuddering at the hell of the valleys; feeling myself so much nearer to heaven that I was more sure that my prayer would be heard. "Lord," I said; "restore me to my brethren, that I may tell them, that they come not into this place of torment." Place of torment, indeed, where the marble pavement of the stony ground is ice alone, and you cannot set down a foot safely; where, strange to say, although it is so slippery that you cannot stand, the death, into which there is every facility for a fall, is certain death. I put my hand in my scrip, that I might scratch out a syllable or two to your sincerity; lo, I found my ink-bottle filled with a dry mass of ice: my fingers, too, refused to write: my beard was stiff with frost, and my breath congealed into a long icicle. I could not write the news I wished.' But this is a digression, and such scraps are not common.
Well, the mass of twelfth century letters is so large that, notwithstanding the drawbacks, they furnish a large contribution to the materials for national, literary, and social history. John of Salisbury, Peter of Blois, Arnulf .of Lisieux, Thomas Becket, Gilbert Foliot, the monks of Canterbury, furnish a series of thick volumes, the many-sided interest of which is not easily exhausted. These collections contain news from every part of Christendom; some of them, although only a few, are really news letters, containing all that the writers could pick up, like the news letters of later times. All, however, contain evidence by which the literary culture, as well as the political interest felt at the time, may be tested. The citations of the Latin poets which occur so very frequently are amusing, and often amusingly inappropriate. There is something touchingly comic in the monk of Canterbury who will bring in Ovid's Art of Love as a treasury of stock quotations. Lucan's Pharsalia, Claudian, Statins, even Silius Italicus, but Ovid most of all, notably more than Virgil and Horace, seem to have been the storehouse of proverbs. Shall we be so cruel as to say that the frequency with which particular passages are quoted suggests that the writers betook themselves to a Margarita Poetica, a dictionary of quotations, rather than to the authors themselves? No, it is only true in the very penny-a-lining letters of inferior men. Certainly the best writers, like John of Salisbury, could both read and criticise the originals. But again I am straying from the point.
The next head which I mentioned as illustrating the process by which international intercourse worked in a direction favourable to literary progress, was the otherwise curious and interesting point, the number of Englishmen promoted in foreign churches; and, by interchange of good offices, the cases in which foreigners of note were promoted in the English Church. I say, in both eases, men of note, because no doubt many Frenchmen, and even Italians, of whom nothing else is known, were enriched with English preferment, and, probably, the few names of Englishmen promoted abroad, which history has recorded, might be supplemented with large additions if the records of foreign churches had been kept as carefully as those of our own. And I am not careful to distinguish here between Norman and native Englishmen, because, from the very accession of Henry II, I regard the two elements as forming one people, and indeed, except in the very highest ranks of the baronage, it is impossible now to distinguish whether the English or the Norman strain was the strongest in any given Englishman. And for a similar reason, it is not necessary to include the Norman and Angevin provinces in our calculation. Many of the great families from which Norman bishops were taken, such as the Beaumonts and the Bohuns, were equally powerful on both sides of the channel, and, it may be added, in the Norman kingdom of Sicily also. Such men as Rotrou of Beaumont, Archbishop of Rouen, and Henry of Beaumont, Bishop of Bayeux, not only were members of a kinship which counted the English Earls of Warwick and Leicester, and the Norman Counts of Meulan as cousins, but were near relations of the Sicilian kings, and knew how to push in the southern regions the fortunes of their servants: the broken up condition of France left potentates like the Counts of Champagne and Flanders able to treat on an equal footing with the royalties around them, and to govern their own churches quite as freely as the King of France or the Emperor could govern theirs. Hence there was a good deal of international promotion as a matter of course. I shall, however, name only the greatest names: and first take the Englishmen who were promoted abroad.
The two most eminent instances in France and the French speaking countries are the two Johns, John of Poictiers and John of Salisbury; the latter a name that is so intimately bound up with our literary history that it may be adduced to illustrate almost every sort of distinction. John of Poictiers was a native of Kent, probably of Canterbury itself; he was one of the fellow-scholars with Becket and Roger of Pont l'Evêque in the household of Archbishop Theobald, which, as I shall have to note presently, was at that time a substitute in England for the as yet undeveloped Universities; he ran neck and neck with those great candidates for promotion, and managed, by the adroitness and moderation of his conduct, to steer clear of the difficulties in which they were constantly embroiled with either one another or some third party. Promoted early in the reign of Henry to the rich stall of treasurer at York, John became in 1162 Bishop of Poictiers, and in 1181 Archbishop of Lyons; that great and semi-independent see he held until 1193, when he resigned and fell back on his minor preferments and the company of the Cistercians of Clairvaux; but to the day of his death he retained the living of Eynesford in Kent, and kept up a close correspondence with the Canterbury clergy and with the learned men of England, especially Ralph de Diceto, Dean of S. Paul's, with whom he had in his youth competed for the archdeaconry of Middlesex. The letters of John of Poictiers are among the less important contributions to the Becket literature, but they are worth reading as the composition of a man of mark, of sound learning and prudent character, and an eminent canonist. The career of John of Salisbury I shall recur to more particularly further on; he also was a son of the Church of Canterbury, and retained the closest relations with his Alma Mater as long as he lived.
Another Canterbury man was Ralph de Serris, or Ralph of Sarr in Thanet, who was Dean of Rheims from 11 76 to 1194; who was a most dutiful son of the church to which he owed his education, and no doubt a faithful agent of the monastic interest, which found at Rheims such powerful protection in the Archbishop William of Champagne and the great family to which he belonged. Of Ralph of Sarr as a literary man I only know that he wrote fairly good Latin. These three men, you will observe, although sons of the Convent of Canterbury, were not monks; they were pupils of the great school of the monastery and, as clerks of the primate, affiliated to that Church. When they received foreign promotion they had to be released by a formal document from their allegiance to the Mother Church. John of Poictiers was one of the clerks whom Archbishop Baldwin, and Hubert after him, would have made canons of that college at Lambeth which they intended to set up as a centre of ecclesiastical learning and dignity, emancipated from monastic restrictions; a scheme which, if it had succeeded, might have possibly fixed the University life of England, and its ecclesiastical centre, in London itself.
Not to waste time upon minor names, we go on to Italy: there the greatest name of course is that of Nicolas Breakespere, the pupil of the Monastery of S. Alban's; the great legate of the north, the confidential friend of John of Salisbury, the one English pope, and the bestower of Ireland on Henry II. His life and career lie only on the very edge of the period which we are considering; and I can say no more of him than that he is one of those figures of medieval history of which what little we know is suggestive of a great deal more that we should desire to know. He was unquestionably a great pope; that is, a great constructive pope, not a controversial one, like those who preceded and followed; a man of organising power and missionary zeal; a reformer, and, although he did not take a wise way of showing it, a true Englishman. Next in dignity to him would come, if we were quite sure of anything respecting him, the great Robertus Pullus, who is said to have been made Chancellor of the Apostolic See under Lucius II and Eugenius III, and who likewise lies a little outside our limits. His history has yet to be worked out; but as he is, like John of Salisbury, a historical link of some importance, I must say a word or two about him. We know from a letter of S. Bernard addressed to Ascelin, Bishop of Rochester, between the years 114a and 11 48, that Robertus Pullus was at that time studying with great success in the University of Paris; he was then, it would appear from the Rochester Fasti, Archdeacon of Rochester; and S. Bernard's petition to the Bishop, that he might be allowed to pursue his studies at Paris, is thus quite in character with the usual practice for an archdeacon to go and study for some time in a foreign university before he began the formal exercise of archidiaconal functions. In 1146, or thereabouts, Robert was still at Paris teaching theology, and there John of Salisbury attended his lectures during the last two of the twelve years, dating from 1136, that his education was in progress. If these dates are accurate, it is a little difficult to identify him with the person who appears as Chancellor of the Apostolic See in 1145 and 1146. It is not impossible that he was then for a short time transferred to Rome; this, however, will leave no time for his teaching divinity, as he is said to have done, at Exeter and Oxford. He is mentioned as Chancellor of the Apostolic See by the contemporary writer John of Hexham, who dates him in 1146. Anyhow, he was a man of great mark; that we know from S. Bernard and John of Salisbury, and from his extant works, Sentences, and Sermons. But there was another Robert, also connected with Rochester, also an Italian Chancellor, and mentioned as a distinct person by the same historian of Hexham. He was a native of 'Salesby,' whether Selby or Salisbury I shall not decide, who tried his fortunes in Sicily and became chancellor to King Roger about the same year 1146. Is it possible or probable that he has somehow become confounded with Robertus Pullus? Certain it is that Paris, Archdeacon of Rochester in Henry II's reign, was the nephew of Robertus Pullus; certain it is also that Paris had relations in Sicily, and was chosen as an envoy in 1176 to that court because of his connexions there: it is needless to add that archdeaconries went in those days very frequently from uncle to nephew, and not uncommonly from father to son. Whether, however, we have here two Roberts, or two Robert! Pulli, for the sojourn in Apulia might entitle the second Robert to the name of Pullanus, or only one, we have the starting-point of the usage according to which English ministers were domiciled at the Sicilian Court. Robert may have been the first; he was not the last.
Master Thomas Brown, with whose name the readers of Mr. Freeman's books must have become by this time familiar, was another Englishman, a great financial authority, who enjoyed the confidence of King Roger until the death of that king in 1154. Thomas Brown is the first modem Englishman, if not the first Englishman of any sort, whose name was written in Greek. In that language, as Thomas Brounos, it appears among the attestations of Greek Charters of King Roger. After Roger's death, when a new king arose, who, according to the Dialogus de Scaccario, knew not Thomas, he returned to his native land, and was immediately summoned by Henry II to his restored exchequer; he became the king's almoner, and kept at the exchequer a separate roll of the king's doings. He had a handsome pension, too, £36 a year, if not more, and an allowance for his nephew Ralph. Madox goes so far as to conjecture that the special duties which were assigned to him were the basis of the later office of Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Another Englishman in Sicily was Herbert, a man of Middlesex, who was Archbishop of Compsa between the years 1169 and 1180; another, more famous, was Richard, surnamed Palmer, Bishop of Syracuse from 1165 to 1183, and Archbishop of Messina from 1183 onwards; a kindly man who entertained the relations of Becket when they were driven into exile. He had the credit of first proposing a matrimonial alliance between the two royal houses, and seems to have been detached from Becket's interests by the hope of obtaining the Bishopric of Lincoln. Walter, Archbishop of Palermo 1169-1187, and Bartholomew his brother. Bishop of Agrigentum, who succeeded him at Palermo, are likewise called Englishmen. So close and continuous was the connexion maintained by these men with the kindred realm that we can quite understand the influences which prevailed on William the Good to propose Henry II as his successor, and Richard I meditating the translation of the Archbishop of Monreale to Canterbury. More apposite, however, to our present subject is the fact that owing to these men and their connexions at home, there was a constant flow of epistolary intercourse between England and Italy, independent of that which moved to and fro between Rome and the English Church. Henry II doubtless availed himself of both currents for his diplomatic intrigues. The King of Sicily and the Bishop of Syracuse, as well as the men of Milan and Bologna, were sub-agents in the great game which he was playing. And the Italians, Italian as they were, learned to feel some interest in England besides a pecuniary one. The books of later Italian heraldry recognise, I fear somewhat apocryphally, the exiled kinsfolk of Becket as the progenitors of the family of Becchetti of Fabriano. Now and then they repaid the loan of Robert Pullus and Thomas Brown with a scholar or clerk of half English birth, as Robert and Thomas had in their turn repaid part of the debt incurred by England from Lanfranc of Pavia and Anselm of Aosta. But here I must stop; in the other lecture I shall hope to get into the more purely literary half of the subject, and trace some of the results that accrued from these multiplied relations of courts and councils. The subject, superficially as it must be treated in lectures like this, persistently grows upon our hands.