CHAPTER XVI. HENRY OUTGENERALLED
In the meantime Richard and Philip were drawing together again, in what way exactly we do not know. We suspect some underhanded work of Philip's which would be easy enough. Evidently Richard was still very anxious about the succession, and it seems to have occurred to him to utilize his father's desire for peace on the basis of Philip's latest proposition, to gain a definite recognition of his rights. At any rate we are told that he brought about the next meeting between the kings, and that he offered to submit the question of the rights or wrongs of his war with Toulouse to the decision of the French king's court. This dramatic and fateful conference which marks the success of Philip's intrigues began on November 18 at Bonmoulins, and lasted three days. Henry was ready to accept the proposal now made that all things should be restored on both sides to the condition which existed at the taking of the cross, but here Richard interposed a decided objection. He could not see the justice of being made to restore his conquests in Toulouse which he was holding in domain, and which were worth a thousand marks a year, to get back himself some castles in Berri which were not of his domain but only held of him. Then Philip for him, evidently by previous agreement, brought forward the question of the succession. The new proposition was that Richard and Adela should be married and that homage should be paid to Richard as heir from all the Angevin dominions. It seems likely, though it is not so stated, that on this condition Richard would have agreed to the even exchange of conquests. As time went on the discussion, which had been at first peaceable and calm, became more and more excited so that on the third day the attendants came armed. On that day harsh words and threats were exchanged. To Richard's direct demand that he should make him secure in the succession, Henry replied that he could not do it in the existing circumstances, for, if he did, he would seem to be yielding to threats and not acting of his own will. Then Richard, crying out that he could now believe things that had seemed incredible to him, turned at once to Philip, threw off his sword, and in the presence of his father and all the bystanders offered him his homage for all the French fiefs, including Toulouse, saying his father's rights during his lifetime and his own allegiance to his father. Philip accepted this offer without scruple, and promised to Richard the restoration of what he had taken in Berri, with Issoudun and all that he had conquered of the English possessions since the beginning of his reign.
To one at least of the historians of the time Richard's feeling about the succession did not seem strange, nor can it to us. For this act of Richard, after which peace was never restored between himself and his father, Henry must share full blame with him. Whether he was actuated by a blind affection for his youngest son, or by dislike and distrust of Richard, or by a remembrance of his troubles with his eldest son, his refusal to recognize Richard as his heir and to allow him to receive the homage of the English and French barons, a custom sanctioned by the practice of a hundred years in England and of a much longer period in France, was a political and dynastic blunder of a most astonishing kind. Nothing could show more clearly how little he understood Philip Augustus or the danger which now threatened the Angevin house. As for Richard, he may have been quick-tempered, passionate, and rash, not having the well-poised mind of the diplomatist or the statesman, at least not one of the high order demanded by the circumstances, and deceived by his own anger and by the machinations of Philip; yet we can hardly blame him for offering his homage to the king of France. Nor can we call the act illegal, though it was extreme and unusual, and might seem almost revolutionary. An appeal to his overlord was in fact the only legal means left him of securing his inheritance, and it bound Philip not to recognize any one else as the heir of Henry. Philip was clearly within his legal rights in accepting the offer of Richard, and the care with which Richard's declaration was made to keep within the law, reserving all the rights which should be reserved, shows that however impulsive his act may have seemed to the bystanders, it really had been carefully considered and planned in advance. The conference broke up after this with no other result than a truce to January 13, and Richard rode off with Philip without taking leave of his father.