CHAPTER V. THE CONSTITUTIONS OF CLARENDON
The inevitable controversy declared itself soon after the return of Thomas from Tours. Throughout July and August one question after another was hurried forward for settlement between king and primate. On July 1 the king proposed a change in the collection of the land tax, which would have increased the royal revenues at the expense of the revenues of the shire. Since the Conquest there had never been a single instance of an attempt to resist the royal will in matters of finance, but Thomas showed no hesitation. He flatly refused consent to an arbitrary act of this kind. He made no objection to the payment of the tax, but he was determined to prevent the local revenues being seized in this way by the king. His action seems to have been wise and patriotic, and his triumph was complete. Henry was forced to abandon the scheme. Having awakened the anger of the king, Thomas next alienated the whole party of the barons by pressing his demands for the recovery of lands belonging to his see. Tunbridge, Rochester, now in the custody of the crown itself, Hythe, Saltwood, and a number of other manors became the subjects of sharp contention. The archbishop urged a doubtful claim, which he had inherited from Theobald, to appoint the priest to a church on the land of William of Eynesford, a tenant of the king. William resisted, and Thomas made his first false move by excommunicating him. Henry at once appealed to the "customs" of the kingdom, which forbade such sentence on the king's barons without the royal consent, and Thomas had to withdraw his excommunication. "I owe him no thanks for it!" cried the angry king.
A more serious strife was raised when Thomas came into direct collision with Henry on the inevitable question of the punishment of clerks for crime against the common law. If the king was determined to bring about a fundamental reform in the administration of justice, the Primate was equally resolute that as archbishop he would have nothing to do with reforms which he might have countenanced as chancellor. He prudently sought at first to divert attention from the real issue by increasing the severity of judgments in the ecclesiastical courts. A clerk had stolen a chalice; he insisted on his trial in the Church Court, but to appease the king ordered him to be branded, - a punishment condemned by ecclesiastical law which considered all injury to the person as defiling the image of God. Such devices, however, were thrown away on Henry. When another clerk, Philip de Broc, who had been accused of manslaughter, was set free by the Church courts, the king's justiciar ordered him to be brought to a second trial before a lay judge. Philip refused to submit. The justiciar then charged him with contempt of court for his vehement and abusive language to the officer who summoned him, but the archbishop demanded that for this charge, too, he should be tried by ecclesiastical law. Henry was forced to content himself with sending a detachment of bishops and clergy to watch the trial. They returned with the news that the court had refused to reconsider the charge of manslaughter, and had merely condemned Philip for insolence; he was ordered to make personal satisfaction to the sheriff, standing (clerk as he was) naked before him, and submitting to a heavy fine; his prebend was to be forfeited to the king for two years; for those two years he was to be exiled and his movable goods were confiscated.