‘scots’ due to the king. On 20 Jan. 1188 the pope extended to Samson and his successors the grant of exemption from metropolitical jurisdiction, which Abbot Hugh had received for his own lifetime (Reg. Nigr. f. 74). In February he vainly begged the king's leave to join the projected crusade. Samson was present at the coronation of Richard I on 3 Sept. 1189 (Gesta Ric. ii. 79). He was one of the arbitrators chosen by the king to settle the dispute between Archbishop Baldwin and the Christ Church monks in November 1189 (Epp. Cantt. p. 317; Gerv. Cant. i. 469, 478). After a massacre of Jews, which occurred at St. Edmund's on Palm Sunday 1190, he obtained the king's leave to expel all the remaining Jews from the town. In October he attended a council held in London by William of Longchamp [q. v.] as legate, and defied William's attempts to curtail the independence of the Benedictine order.
In 1193 Samson offered to search out the captive king. He was called the ‘high-souled abbot’ for his bold excommunication of the rebels, of whom John was the head; and he led his knights in person to the siege of Windsor, which John had seized. He afterwards went to visit the king in his German prison. He was once appointed a justice-errant; Battely (Antiq. S. Edm. p. 84) dates this 1195–6, but his authority has not been traced. A long-standing dispute with his knights as to the amount of service which they owed him was settled in the abbot's favour in 1196–7; he established his right to the full service of fifty fees, while he was only answerable to the crown for that of forty (Jocelin, pp. 269, 270; cf. Feet of Fines, 8 Ric. I, Nos. 29–41, and 9 Ric. I, No. 50). In 1197 Samson was joined with Archbishop Hubert and the bishop of Lincoln in a papal commission for restoring the monks of Coventry, whom their bishop [see Nonant, Hugh de] had expelled. Soon afterwards he foiled Hubert in a project for asserting over St. Edmund's his authority both as legate and justiciar; and he was equally successful in a strife with the king for the wardship of an infant tenant of the abbey. He was absent from St. Edmund's when the shrine was burnt on 17 Oct. 1198. After its restoration he, in the night of 26 Nov., opened the coffin and examined the body of the saint.
With his monks Samson had no easy life. They liked neither his masterful ways, nor his economic reforms, nor, above all, that encouragement of the town in its struggle for liberty which is the most remarkable feature of his career. Early in his rule he commuted for a fixed sum, paid yearly through the town-bailiff, the dues of ‘reap-silver’ and ‘sorpenny’ which the cellarer had been wont to collect from the townsfolk on an arbitrary and unfair assessment. In 1185 he allowed the cellarer's court to be merged in that of the town, in order that tenants dwelling ‘without the gate’ might thenceforth ‘enjoy equal liberty’ with the townsmen (Jocelin, pp. 301–2; for date cf. p. 333). He turned a deaf ear to the entreaties of the monks in 1192 for the ejection of new settlers from the town and new stall-holders from the market, and next year he confirmed by a charter (printed in Monast. Angl. iii. 153–4) all the old liberties of the borough. In 1199 the dissensions within the convent rose to such a pitch that Samson withdrew from St. Edmund's for a week, believing that the younger monks were plotting his death. The severe measures which he took on his return soon brought them to a better mind; ‘and when he saw they were willing to submit, he was conquered at once.’
In 1200 Samson drew up an account of the knight's fees belonging to the abbey, and of their tenants. He was one of the papal commissioners for the settlement (6 Nov.) of the quarrel between Archbishop Hubert and the Canterbury monks (Epp. Cantt. p. 512). In September 1201 he was one of three commissioners sent by the pope to Worcester to investigate the miracles of St. Wulfstan (Ann. Monast. iv. 391). In December he was summoned over sea by the king (R. Diceto, ii. 173). In the autumn of 1202 he obtained a royal order for the abolition of a market which the monks of Ely had set up at Lakenheath, in infringement of the rights of St. Edmund's (cf. Jocelin, p. 329; Rot. Chart. p. 91; Rot. de Oblat. et Fin. p. 186; Abbrev. Placit. p. 36). The order was unheeded, and Samson bade his bailiffs overthrow the market by force. For this he was summoned to answer at the exchequer. On 21 Jan. 1203 he and the bishop of Ely alike were called over sea as papal commissioners to release some of John's ministers from their vow of crusade. On the eve of Samson's hurried departure his monks asked him to indemnify them for what they had lost since 1185 by his concessions to the town. He promised that on his return he would ‘render to every man his dues, and act in all things by the convent's advice.’ His biographer hints that the promise was not fulfilled.
While still only a cloister monk, Samson had written a treatise on the miracles of St. Edmund (printed in Arnold, i. 107–208). Except the prologue and four other passages in the first book, it is merely a recasting of