CHAPTER XVII. RICHARD I AND THE CRUSADE
During all the summer Richard had been impatient to return to England, and his impatience had been due not alone to his discouragement with the hopeless conditions in Palestine, but partly to the news which had reached him from home. Ever since he left France, in fact, messages had been coming to him from one and another, and the story they told was not of a happy situation. Exactly those things had happened which ought to have been expected. Soon after the council in Normandy, William Longchamp had freed himself from his rival Hugh of Durham by placing him under arrest and forcing him to surrender everything he had bought of the king. Then for many months the chancellor ruled England as he would, going about the country with a great train, almost in royal state, so that a chronicler writing probably from personal observation laments the fact that a house that entertained him for a night hardly recovered from the infliction in three years. Even more oppressive on the community as a whole were the constant exactions of money which he had to make for the king's expenses. The return of John to England in 1190, or early in 1191, made at first no change, but discontent with the chancellor's conduct would naturally look to him for leadership, and it is likely John was made ready to head an active opposition by the discovery of negotiations between Longchamp and the king of Scotland for the recognition of Arthur of Britanny as the heir to the kingdom, negotiations begun - so the chancellor said - under orders from Richard. About the middle of summer, 1191, actual hostilities seemed about to begin. Longchamp's attempt to discipline Gerard of Camville, holder of Lincoln castle and sheriff of Lincolnshire, was resisted by John, who seized the royal castles of Nottingham and Tickhill. Civil war was only averted by the intervention of Walter of Coutances, Archbishop of Rouen, who had arrived in England in the spring with authority from the king to interfere with the administration of Longchamp if it seemed to him and the council wise to do so. By his influence peace was made, at an assembly of the barons at Winchester, on the whole not to the disadvantage of John, and embodied in a document which is almost a formal treaty. One clause of this agreement is of special interest as a sign of the trend of thought and as foreshadowing a famous clause in a more important document soon to be drawn up. The parties agreed that henceforth no baron or free tenant should be disseized of land or goods by the king's justices or servants without a trial according to the customs and assizes of the land, or by the direct orders of the king. The clause points not merely forward but backward, and shows what had no doubt frequently occurred since the departure of the king.
About the middle of September a new element of discord was brought into the situation by the landing of Geoffrey, who had now been consecrated Archbishop of York, and who asserted that he, as well as John, had Richard's permission to return. Longchamp's effort to prevent his coming failed; but on his landing he had him arrested at the altar of the Priory of St. Martin's, Dover, where he had taken sanctuary, and he was carried off a prisoner with many indignities. This was a tactical mistake on Longchamp's part. It put him greatly in the wrong and furnished a new cause against him in which everybody could unite. In alarm he declared he had never given orders for what was done and had Geoffrey released, but it was too late. The actors in this outrage were excommunicated, and the chancellor was summoned to a council called by John under the forms of a great council. At the first meeting, held between Reading and Windsor on October 5, he did not appear, but formal complaint was made against him, and his deposition was moved by the Archbishop of Rouen. The meeting was then adjourned to London, and Longchamp, hearing this, left Windsor at the same time and took refuge in the Tower. For both parties, as in former times of civil strife, the support of the citizens of London was of great importance. They were now somewhat divided, but a recognition of the opportunity inclined them to the stronger side; and they signified to John and the barons that they would support them if a commune were granted to the city. This French institution, granting to a city in its corporate capacity the legal position and independence of the feudal vassal, had as yet made no appearance in England. It was bitterly detested by the great barons, and a chronicler of the time who shared this feeling was no doubt right in saying that neither Richard nor his father would have sanctioned it for a million marks, but as he says London found out that there was no king. John was in pursuit of power, and the price which London demanded would not seem to him a large one, especially as the day of reckoning with the difficulty he created was a distant one and might never come. The commune was granted, and Longchamp was formally deposed. John was recognized as Richard's heir, fealty was sworn to him, and he was made regent of the kingdom; Walter of Rouen was accepted as justiciar; and the castles were disposed of as John desired. Longchamp yielded under protest, threatening the displeasure of the king, and was allowed to escape to the continent.