Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 128.djvu/751

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741
THE POPE AND MAGNA CHARTA.

important person in the family, and Lucy's bright eyes were brighter than usual at the prospect of his visit.

"What a coxcomb I am, to be sure!" said Yorke to himself afterwards in the retirement of his room. "I was beginning to fancy the little girl was ready to join in the family plot and make eyes at me; while from the way in which she brightens up because, forsooth, a brother is coming home, she was evidently bored all the time with my company. But it is always my folly to be fancying that one woman or another is in love with me."




From The Contemporary Review.

THE POPE AND MAGNA CHARTA.

BY CARDINAL MANNING.

About two years ago, in speaking of the conflict of S. Edmund of Canterbury against Henry III. for the liberties of the Church, I pointed out that his contest was only one of many periods in the continuous resistance to royal excesses, in behalf of the laws and liberties of England, maintained by S. Anselm, S. Thomas, Archbishop Langton, and S. Edmund. I might have added, by Archbishop Richard, his immediate predecessor. This statement was next day met by the old taunt that the pope condemned Magna Charta. I then shortly pointed out the distinction, here again asserted, between the mode in which the Great Charter was obtained, and the contents or merits of the Great Charter itself. The former, not the latter, was condemned.

Before I enter upon this point, I cannot refrain from quoting a passage from the preface of Professor Stubbs, in his volume of "Documents Illustrative of English History." And in doing so I must express my grateful sense of the service he has rendered to historical truth. His small volume stands alone for learning and discernment.

Describing the period I was speaking of, he says: —

The political situation may generally be stated thus: Since the Conquest, the political constituents of the nation had been divided into two parties, which may be called the national and the feudal. The former comprised the king, the ministerial nobility, which were created by Henry I. and Henry II., and which, if less richly endowed than that of the Conquest, was more widely spread and had more English sympathies; the other contained the great nobles of the Conquest, and the always large but varying body of lower vassals, who were intent on pursuing the policy of foreign feudalism. The national party was also generally in close alliance with the clergy, whose zeal for their own privileges extended to the defence of the classes from whom they chiefly sprang, and whose vindication of class liberties maintained in the general recollection the possibility of resisting oppression.
The clergy may be roughly divided into three schools—the secular, or statesman school; the ecclesiastical, or professional; and the devotional, or spiritual. Of these the representative men are Roger of Salisbury, Henry of Winchester, and Anselm of Canterbury. Thomas the Martyr more or less combines the characters of the three throughout his life. The three stages through which he passed—that of chancellor, that of primate, and that of candidate for martyrdom (sit venia egregio auctori)—answer well to the three schools of the clergy. Throughout the whole period, the first of these schools was consistently on the side of the king, the last as consistently on the side of the nation; the second, when its own privileges were not in danger, as from the peace of the Church, in 1107, to the Beckett quarrel, and after the conclusion of that quarrel, continuously on the same side. No division of the clergy ever sympathized with the feudal party.[1]

Again Mr. Stubbs writes: —

From the beginning of the thirteenth century the struggle is between the barons, clergy, and people on one side, and the king and his personal partisans, English and foreign, on the other. The barons and prelates who drew up the charter were the sons of the ministerial nobles of Henry II., the imitators of S. Anselm and S. Hugh, of Henry of Winchester and Thomas of Canterbury.[2]

But does not this show that if the spiritual prelates were with the people, they were certainly with the pope, by whom they were canonized? How, then, was not the pope with the people and its Christian liberties?

I will now give evidence of my assertion that the barons, and not the contents of the charter, were condemned by Innocent III.

I. Let us first examine the antecedents of the conflict between John and the barons, out of which the Great Charter arose.

It is simply impossible to form an adequate conception of this conflict unless we go back to the reign of our earlier kings. Mr. Stubbs, in his valuable work "The Memorials of S. Dunstan," gives the promissio regis, or the oath taken at his

  1. Stubbs' Documents, pp. 31, 32: Oxford, 1874.
  2. Ibid. p. 33.