CHAPTER V. THE CONSTITUTIONS OF CLARENDON
The real strife was about the seven remaining statutes, which declared that an accused clerk must first appear before the king's court, and that the justiciar should then send a royal officer with him to watch the trial at the ecclesiastical court, and if he were found guilty the Church should no longer protect him; that the chief clergy might not leave the realm without the king's permission; that appeals might not be carried to the Papal Court without the king's consent; that no tenant-in-chief of the king might be excommunicated without the leave of the king; that the revenues of vacant sees should fall to the king, until a new appointment had been made in his court; that questions of advowsons or presentations to livings questions which at that time represented comparatively a vast amount of property - should be tried in the king's court; and that the king's judges should decide in matters of debt, even where the case included a question of perjury or broken faith, which was claimed as a matter for ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Such laws as these were no doubt in Henry's mind simply part of his scheme for establishing a general order and one undivided authority in the realm. But they opened very much wider grounds of dispute between Church and State than the mere question of how criminal clerks were to be dealt with. They boldly attacked the whole of the pretensions of the Church; they threatened to rob it of a mass of financial business, to wrest from its control an enormous amount of property, to deprive it of jurisdiction in the great majority of criminal suits, to limit its power of irresponsible self-government, and to prevent its absorption into the vast organization of the Church of Western Christendom. They defined the relations of the English Church to the see of Rome. They established its position as a national Church, and declared that its clergy should be brought under the rule of national law.
The eight months which followed the Council of Clarendon were spent in a vain attempt to solve an insoluble problem. Messengers from king and archbishop hastened again and again to the Pope, with no result. Henry set his face like a flint. "Verba sunt," he said to a mediating bishop; "you may talk to me all the days that we both shall live, but there shall be no peace till the archbishop wins the Pope's consent to the customs." Fresh cases arose of clerks accused of theft and murder, but as the personal quarrel between Henry and Thomas increased in bitterness, questions of reform fell into the background. "I will humble thee," the king declared, "and will restore thee to the place from whence I took thee." Thomas, on his part, knew how to awaken all Henry's secret fears. All Europe was concerned in the dispute of king and archbishop. The Pope at Sens, the French king, the "eldest son of the Church," the princes of the House of Blois, as steadfast in their orthodoxy as in their hatred of the Angevin, the Emperor, ready to use any quarrel for his own purposes, were all eagerly watching every turn of the strife. In August Henry was startled by the news that Thomas himself had fled to seek the protection of the Pope at Sens. He was, however, recognized by sailors, and carried back to English shores. Henry immediately dealt his counter-blow. The archbishop was summoned in September to London to answer in a case which John, the marshal, an officer of the Exchequer, had withdrawn from the Archbishop's to the King's Court. Thomas pleaded illness, and protested that the marshal had been guilty of perjury. The king retorted by calling a council for the trial of the archbishop on a charge of contempt of the royal summons. With the insolence of power and the bitter anger of outraged confidence, Henry heaped humiliations on his enemy. The Primate had a right, by ancient custom, to be summoned first among the great lords called to the king's council; he was now merely served with an ordinary notice from the sheriff of Kent to attend his trial. When he arrived at Northampton there was no lodging left free for himself and his attendants. The king had gone out hunting amid the marshes and streams, and only the next morning met the Primate roughly after mass, and refused him the kiss of peace.