In the January of 1163 Henry once more landed in England. His absence off our and a half years had given time for dangers and alarms to spring up in the half-settled realm. Mysterious prophecies passed from mouth to mouth that the king would never be seen in the island again, and even Theobald, before his death in 1161, had sent urgent entreaties for his return. The king had, in fact, during the first eight years of his rule been mainly occupied in building up his empire, and providing for its defence against external dangers. He had only twice visited the kingdom, each time for little more than a year. He was now, however, prepared to take the work of administration seriously in hand. In the next eighteen years, from 1163 to 1180, he landed on its shores seven times, and spent altogether eight years in the country. Once he was busied with the conquest of Ireland; one visit of a month was spent in crushing a dangerous rebellion; but with these two exceptions every coming of the king was marked by the carrying out of some great administrative reform. In his half-compacted empire order was still only maintained by his actual presence and the sheer force of his personal authority, as he hurried from country to country to quell a rising in Gascony or a revolt in Galloway, to wage war in Wales, to finish the conquest of Britanny or of Ireland, to order the administration of Poitou or Normandy. But in the swift and terrible progresses of a king who visited the shires to north and south and west in the intervals of foreign war, a long series of experiments as to the best forms of internal government was ceaselessly carried out, and the new administration securely established.

Henry, however, was at once met by a difficulty unknown to earlier days. The system which the Conqueror had established of separate courts for secular and ecclesiastical business had utterly broken down for purposes of justice. Until the reign of Stephen much of the business of the bishops was done in the courts of the hundred and the shire. The Church courts also had at first been guided by the customary law and traditions of the early English Church, which had grown up along with the secular laws and had a distinctly national character. So long, indeed, as the canon law remained somewhat vague, and the Church courts incomplete, they could work peaceably side by side with the lay courts; but with the development of ecclesiastical law in the middle of the twelfth century, it was inevitable that difficulties should spring up. The boundaries of civil and ecclesiastical law were wholly uncertain, the scientific study of law had hardly begun, and there was much debatable ground which might be won by the most arrogant or the most skilful of the combatants. Every brawl of a few noisy lads in the Oxford streets or at the gates of some cathedral or monastic school was enough to kindle the strife as to the jurisdiction of Church or State which shook medieval society to its foundation.

The Church courts not only had jurisdiction over the whole clerical order, but exercised wide powers even over the laity. To them alone belonged the right to enforce spiritual penalties, to deal with cases of oaths, promises, anything in which a man's faith was pledged; to decide as to the property of intestates, to pronounce in every case of inheritance whether the heir was legitimate, to declare the law as to wills and marriage. Administering as they did an enlightened system of law, they profited by the new prosperity of the country, and the judicial and pecuniary disputes which came to them had never been so abundant as now. Henry was keenly alive to the fact that the archdeacons' courts now levied every year by their fines more money than the whole revenue of the crown. Young archdeacons were sent abroad to be taught the Roman law, and returned to preside over the newly-established archdeacons' courts; clergy who sought high office were bound to study before all things, even before theology, the civil and canon law. The new rules, however, were as yet incomplete and imperfectly understood in England; the Church courts were without the power to put them in force; the procedure was hurried and irregular; the judges were often ill-trained, and unfit to deal with the mass of legal business which was suddenly thrown on them; the ecclesiastical authorities themselves shrank from defiling the priesthood by contact with all this legal and secular business, and kept the archdeacons in deacons' orders; the more religious clergy questioned whether for an archdeacon salvation were possible. In the eight years of Henry's rule one hundred murders had been committed by clerks who had escaped all punishment save the light sentences of fine and imprisonment inflicted by their own courts, and Henry bitterly complained that a reader or an acolyte might slay a man, however illustrious, and suffer nothing save the loss of his orders.

Since the beginning of Henry's reign, too, there had been an enormous increase of appeals to Rome. Questions quite apart from faith or morals, and that mostly concerned property, were referred for decision to a foreign court. The great monasteries were exempted from episcopal control and placed directly under the Pope; they adopted the customs and laws which found favour at Rome; they upheld the system of appeals, in which their wealth and influence gave them formidable advantages. The English Church was no longer as in earlier times distinct from the rest of Christendom, but was brought directly under Roman influence. The clergy were more and more separated from their lay fellow citizens; their rights and duties were determined on different principles; they were governed by their own officers and judged by their own laws, and tried in their own courts; they looked for their supreme tribunal of appeal not to the King's Court, but to Rome; they became, in fact, practically freed from the common law.

No king, and Henry least of all, could watch unmoved the first great body which threatened to stand wholly outside the law of the land; and the ecclesiastical pretensions of the time were perhaps well matched by the pretensions of the State. The king had prepared for the coming conflict by a characteristic act of high-handed imperiousness in the election of the chancellor-archbishop to carry out his policy. But all such schemes of imperative despotism were vain. No sooner was Thomas consecrated than it became plain that his ecclesiastical training would carry the day against the influence of Henry. As rapidly as he had "thrown off the deacon" to become the chancellor, so he now went through the sharper change of throwing off the chancellor to become the archbishop. With keen political sagacity he at once sought the moral support of the religious party who had so vehemently condemned his appointment. The gorgeous ostentation of his old life gave way to an equally elaborate scheme of saintliness. He threw away with tears his splendid dress to put on sackcloth and the black cloak of the monk. His table was still covered with gold and silver dishes and with costly meats, but the hall was now crowded with the poor and needy, and at his own side sat only the most learned and holy among the monks and clergy. Forty clerks "most learned in the law" formed his household. He visited the sick in the infirmary, and washed the feet of thirteen poor men daily. He sat in the cloister like one of the monks, studying the canon law and the Holy Scriptures. He joined their prayers in the Church and took part in their secret councils. The monks who had suffered under the heavy hand of Theobald, when their dainty foods were curtailed and their cherished privileges sharply denied them, hailed joyfully the unexpected attitude of their new master. "This is the finger of God," men said, "this, indeed, is the work of the right hand of the Most High." "As he had been accustomed to the pre-eminence over others in worldly glory," commented another observer, "so now he determined to be the foremost in holy living."

Rumours spread that there were to be other changes besides that of "holy living." The see of Canterbury under the new primate was to win back all lands and privileges lost during the civil wars, at whatever cost to the interests of the whole court party, of barons who found their rights to Church appointments and Church lands questioned, and of clerks of the royal household who trembled for their posts and benefices. There was soon no lack of enemies at court, old and new, ready to carry to Henry whispers that would appeal most subtly to his fears, - whispers that the royal dignity itself was in danger; that he must look to himself and his heirs, or the story of Stephen's time would be told over again, and that man alone would in future be king, whom the clergy should elect and the archbishop approve. Henry's bitter anger was aroused when Thomas resigned the chancellorship, "not now wishing to be in the royal court, but desiring to have leisure for prayers, and to superintend the business of the Church." The king retorted by forcing Thomas to resign his archdeaconry with its rich fees; and at his landing in January 1163 he received the archbishop, who came to meet him, "with averted face." Thomas, on his part, added another grievance by refusing on ecclesiastical grounds to allow Henry to marry his brother to Stephen's daughter-in-law, the Countess of Warenne; and on the general question of the relations of Church and State, he hastened to define his views with sharp precision in an eloquent sermon preached before the king. "Henry observing it word by word, and understanding from it how greatly Thomas put the ecclesiastical before the civil right, did not receive this doctrine with an equal mind, for he perceived that the archbishop was far from his own view, that the Church had neither rights nor possessions save by his favour." The attitude of Thomas was yet further strengthened and defined when, in May 1163, he went to attend a great Council held at Tours, where he was brought more immediately under the influence of the ecclesiastical movement of the day. There he sought, with a meaning that Henry must clearly have understood, to procure the canonization of Anselm from Pope Alexander, who, however, was far too politic amid his own difficulties, and in his need for Henry's help, to commit himself either by consent or by refusal.

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.

The punishment might seem severe enough, but Henry would accept no compromise. With a burst of fury he declared that just judgment for murder was refused because the offender was in orders. Resolute that the question should once for all be settled, he summoned a council at Westminster on October 1. There he demanded, "for love of him and for safety of the kingdom," that accused clerks should be tried by the common law, and that if proved guilty, they should be degraded by the bishops, and given up to the executioner for punishment. He complained of the exactions of the ecclesiastical courts, and urged that in all matters concerning these courts or the rights of the clergy, the bishops should return to the customs of Henry the First. Such a course would have left them at the king's mercy, and the prelates wavered in their sore distress. The king's friends contended that a guilty clerk deserved punishment double that of a layman, and urged the need of submission at this moment when the Church was torn asunder by schism; and the bishops frankly admitted a yet more pressing consideration: "For if we do not what the king wishes," they said, "flight will be cut off from us, and no man will seek after our souls; but if we consent to the king, we shall own the sanctuary of God in heredity, and shall sleep safely in the possession of our churches." On the other hand, the archbishop had no mind to resign without a contest all the results of the great tide of feeling which had swept the Church onward far past its old landmarks. For him there was no going back to a traditional past from which the Church had shaken itself free, and in which, though king and barons might see the freedom of the State, he saw the enslaving and degradation of the clergy. He vehemently asserted that the "customs" of the Church were of greater authority than any "customs" of the kingdom, that its canon law claimed obedience as against all traditional national law whatever; and with keen political insight he insisted on the dangers that would follow if once they allowed the charm of prescription to be broken, or the ecclesiastical liberties to be touched. He boldly led the way in his answer to the king: "We will obey in all things saving our order;" and as the bishops were asked one by one, they took courage to follow, and "one voice was in the mouth of all of them." Such a phrase had never been heard in England before, and Henry, with ready indignation, at once demanded the withdrawal of the words. When Thomas refused, he broke up the council in a burst of anger, and suddenly rode away from London, instantly followed by the whole body of trembling bishops, who hurried after him in abject terror, "lest before they should be able to catch him up, they should already have lost their sees." Thomas was left alone - "there was not one who would know him," - while the prelates, coming up in time with their terrible lord, agreed henceforth to guide their words by his good pleasure.

From this moment all the elements of strife were prepared, and there was but outer show of harmony when king and archbishop, a few days later, joined at Westminster to celebrate with solemn pomp the translation of the remains of the sainted Confessor. In declaring war upon local jurisdictions, whether of clergy, or nobles, or burghers, or independent shire courts, Henry was defying all the traditions and convictions of his age, - an age when local feeling was a force which we are now quite unable to measure. The nobles, the guilds, and the rising towns had already won long before, or were now seeking to win as their most cherished privilege, the right to their own justice without interference from any higher power. They naturally looked with sympathy on the rights exercised by the clergy within their own body; they felt that whatever had been won by one class might later be won by another, and that liberties which were enjoyed by so enormous a body as the clerical order were a benefit in which the whole people had a share. If the king was determined to wage war on "privilege," clergy and people were equally resolute to defend "liberty." Moreover, in attacking the special jurisdiction of the Church, Henry had to encounter a force to which there is no parallel in our own time. An English king had doubtless less to fear from the Church than had any continental ruler. Abroad the bishop-stool, the abbey, the Church, were oases in the midst of perpetual war, - the only spots where peace and law and justice spoke in protest against the chaos of the world. But England was, in comparison with the rest of the western world, a country of peace and law. There the Church was less powerful against the State because the State had never handed over its duty of maintaining justice and law and right to the exclusive guardianship of the Church. None the less it was a formidable matter to rouse the hostility of a body which included not only all the religious world, but all the educated classes, and penetrated even to the despised villeinage and the poor freemen whose sons pressed into its lower ranks. The Church with which Henry had to deal was no longer the same that the Conqueror had easily bent to his will. It had received its training and felt its strength in political action; it had developed a close corporate spirit; it had an admirable organization; it possessed the most advanced as well as the most merciful legal system of the age. Its courts had strong claims to popular regard. Their punishments were more merciful than the savage sentences of the lay courts; and they held out great advantages to the rich, since the penances they inflicted could be commuted for money. Their system of law, moreover, was far in advance of the barbarous rules of customary law; and they were backed by all the authority of the Roman Curia and of the religious feeling of the day.

Henry had, however, peculiar advantages in the contest. He was master of a disciplined body of ministers and servants, in whom he could confidently trust. He was sure, in this matter at least, of the support of the lay baronage, who had long arrears of jealousy to make up against their hereditary opponents the clergy, and who were not likely now to forget that no party in the Church had ever made common cause with the feudal lords. He could count on the obedience of the secular clergy. In France or Germany the bishops were members of the great houses, and as powerful local rulers wielded a vast feudal authority. In England their position was very different. They were drawn from the staff of the king's chapel, and had their whole training in the administration of the court; and they formed an official nobility who were charged, in common with the secular nobility, with the conduct of the general business of the realm. They were appointed to their places by the king for services done to him, and as instruments of his policy. Neither Pope nor people had any share in their election. Their estates were granted them by the same titles, and with the same obligations as those of feudal barons; the king could withhold their temporalities, sequestrate their lands, confiscate their personal goods, and burden them with heavy fines; they lay absolutely at his mercy without appeal. Every tie of feudal duty, of official training, of prudent self-interest, forced them into subjection to the Crown. Their Roman sympathies were quenched as they watched the growing independence of the monasteries, and saw Church endowments taken to enrich the new religious houses of every kind which were springing up all over England. They feared the new authority claimed by legates, which threatened to withdraw the clergy, if they chose to assert their claims, from regular episcopal jurisdiction. They were thrown on the side of the king in ecclesiastical questions, drawn together by a common cause, both alike found their interest in the defence of national tradition as opposed to foreign custom.

Their leaders too looked coldly on the cause of the Primate. The Archbishop of York, Roger of Pont l'Eveque, once the companion of Thomas in Theobald's household, was now his personal enemy and rival. The two prelates inherited the secular strife as to which see should have the precedence. Moreover, while Canterbury represented the papal policy and always looked to Rome, York preserved some faint traditional leanings towards the liberties of the Irish and Scotch churches from whence the Christianity of the north had sprung. The Bishop of London, Gilbert Foliot, who, with the approval of Thomas, had been translated from Hereford only five months before, was, by his mere position, marked out as the chief antagonist of the archbishop, for St Pauls was at the head of the whole body of secular clergy throughout southern England, and to its bishop inevitably fell the leadership of this party against Canterbury, which was in the hands of a monastic chapter. The Bishop of Winchester, Henry of Blois, could well remember the struggle between Church and Crown under a far weaker king twenty six years before, when the bishops had wisely withdrawn from a contest where they had "seen swords unsheathed and knew it was no longer a joking matter, but a struggle of life and death," and with the prudence born of long political experience he was for moderate counsels. The Bishop of Chichester, Hilary, doubtless remembered the inconvenient part which Thomas as chancellor had played in his own trial a few years before, and might gladly recognize a poetic justice in seeing Thomas's old doctrines of the supremacy of the State now applied to himself. "Every plant," he once said with taunting reference to the king's part in Thomas's election, "which my heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up." Thomas bitterly added another verse as he heard of the saying, "This man had among the brethren the place of Judas the traitor." There seems to have been a general impression that the position of the Primate was extremely critical, and he was besieged by advisers who urged submission, by messengers from pope and cardinals, by panic-stricken churchmen. Beset on all sides the Primate wavered, and at last promised to swear obedience to the "customs of the kingdom." Immediately the king summoned prelates and barons to witness his submission, and the famous Council of Clarendon met for this purpose in 1164.

At Clarendon, however, after three days' conference, the archbishop hesitated and hung back, he had grievously sinned in yielding, and he now refused the promised oath. The bishops, finding courage in his firmness, declared themselves ready to follow him in his refusal. At the news the fury of the king burst forth, and "he was as a madman in the eyes of those who stood by." The court broke into wild disorder, the servants of the king, "with faces more truculent than usual," burst into the assembly of the prelates, and flinging aside their long cloaks, flourished their axes aloft, and threatened to strike them into the heads of the bishops. Two nobles were sent to warn Thomas that orders for his death were already given unless he would submit. The weeping bishops with lamentable voices besought him to save them; knights of the Hospital and the Temple from the king's household knelt before him, sighing and pouring forth tears. "In fear of death," says one chronicler, he yielded. "I am ready," he said, "to keep the customs of the kingdom." Hardly were the words out of his mouth, when Henry commanded him to order the bishops to give the same promise, and again the Primate obeyed. But the king was still unsatisfied. His temper had risen in the discussions of the last few months; his determination was fixed that the matter should be settled once for all. With the sharp decision of a keen and practical administrator, he ordered that the "customs of the kingdom" should be written down, so that no question might ever arise as to the laws which Thomas had sworn to observe; and "wise men" passed into the next room to write according to the king's will. They returned with a draft of sixteen articles, the famous "Constitutions of Clarendon." To these the king commanded that the Primate should set his seal; but Thomas, agitated by fear and anxiety, was no longer of the same mind. "By the omnipotent God," he cried, "while I live, I will never set my seal to it!" Whether he finally submitted it is impossible now to say. But he left the court with a last protest. A copy of the writing was torn down the middle, and one half, after the fashion of the "tallies" of the day, was given to Thomas in token of his promise, while the other was laid up in the royal treasury. "I take this," said the archbishop, "not consenting nor approving," and turning to the clergy: "By this we may know the malice of the king, and those things which we must beware of." He left the council and retired to Winchester, where in sackcloth and penance, shut out from the services of the Church, he condemned himself to wait in deepest humiliation till he should receive the Pope's absolution for his momentary betrayal of duty. For years to come a furious battle was to rage round the sixteen articles drawn up at Clarendon. According to Thomas, the Constitutions were a mere act of arbitrary violence, a cunning device of tyranny. He asserted that they were the sole deed of the justiciar De Lucy, and of Jocelyn de Bailleul, a French lawyer. In any case he frankly denied the authority of "custom," that tyrannous law of medieval times. "God never said," writes one of his defenders, "I am Custom, but I am Truth." Thomas rested his case not on the customary law of the land, but on the code of Rome; to English tradition he opposed the Italian lawyers. Henry, on his part, declared that the Constitutions were drawn up by the common witness of bishops, earls, barons, and wise men; that they were, in fact, part of a system actually in operation, and which had been administered by Thomas himself when he was chancellor. It was certainly a startling novelty to have the customs of the realm drawn up in a written code to which men were required to swear obedience; but still the "Constitutions" professed to be no new legislation, but to be simply a statement of recognized national tradition. The changes that had followed on the Conquest had modified older customs profoundly. The conditions, not only of England but of Europe, had changed with confusing rapidity, and it was no longer easy to say exactly what was "custom" and what was not. To Henry the Constitutions did fairly represent the system which had grown up with general consent under the Norman kings. Thomas, on the other hand, might argue with equal conviction that he was asked to sign as "customs" what was practically a new code; and he had neither the wisdom nor the temper to reconcile the dispute by a reasonable compromise.

No question seems to have been raised as to some of the statutes which were certainly of recent growth, though they touched Church interests. One of these repeated unreservedly the assertion that bishops held a feudal position in all points the same as that of barons or direct vassals of the king, being bound by all their obligations, and entitled to sit with them in judgment in the Curia Regis till it came to a question of blood. Others dealt with disorders which had grown up from the mutual jealousy of Church and lay courts, and the difficulties thus thrown in the way of administering laws which were not disputed; rules were made for the securities to be taken from excommunicated persons; for the giving up to the king of forfeited goods of felons deposited in churches or churchyards; and forbidding the ordination of villeins without their lord's consent, - a provision which possibly was intended to prevent the withdrawal of an unlimited number of people from secular jurisdiction. Two other clauses touched upon the new legal remedies, the use of the jury in the accusation of criminals, and in the decision of questions of property; it was decreed that laymen should not be accused in Church courts save by lawful witness, or by the twelve legal men of the hundred - in other words, by the newly-developed jury of "presentation"; while the jury of "recognition" was ordered to be used in disputed titles to ecclesiastical estates.

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.

In the council which opened in Northampton Castle on Wednesday, 7th October, we see the Curia Regis in the developed form which it had taken under Henry and his justiciar, De Lucy, carrying out an exact legal system, and observing the forms of a very elaborate procedure. The king and his inner council of the great lords, the prelates, and the officers of the household, withdrew to an upper chamber of the castle; the whole company of sheriffs and lesser barons waited in the great hall below till they were specially summoned to the king's presence, crowding round the fire that burned in the centre of the hall under the opening in the roof through which the smoke escaped, or lounging in the straw and rushes that covered the floor. For seven days the trial dragged on, as lawyers and bishops and barons anxiously groped their way through baffling legal problems which had grown out of legislation new and old. Even the king himself, fiery, imperious, dictatorial, clung with a kind of superstition to the forms of legal process. The archbishop asked leave to appeal to the Pope. "You shall first answer in my court for the injury done to John the marshal," said Henry. The next day, Thursday, this matter was decided. Bishops and barons alike, lacking somewhat of the king's daring, shrank at first from the responsibility of pronouncing judgment. "We are laymen," said the barons; "you are his fellow-priests and fellow-bishops, and it is for you to declare sentence." "Nay," answered the bishops, "this is not an ecclesiastical but a secular judgment, and we sit here not as bishops but as barons; if you heed our orders you should also take heed of his." The dispute was a critical one, leading as it did directly to questions about the jurisdiction of the Curia Regis over ecclesiastical persons, and the obligation asserted in the Constitutions of Clarendon, that bishops should sit with barons in the King's Court till it came to a question of blood. The king was seized with one of his fierce fits of anger, and the discussion "immediately ended." The unwilling Bishop of Winchester was sent to pronounce sentence of fine for neglect of the king's summons. Matters then moved quickly. A demand was made for L300 which Thomas had received from Eye and Berkhampstead when he was chancellor; and in spite of his defence that it had been spent in building the palace in London and repairing the castles, judgment went against him. The next day a further demand was made for money spent in the war of Toulouse, and this, too, Thomas agreed to pay, though it was now hard to find sureties. Then the king dealt his last blow. Thomas was required to account for the sums he had received as chancellor from vacant sees and abbeys. "By God's eyes," the king swore, when the Primate and the bishops threw themselves in despair at his feet, he would have the accounts in full. He would only grant a day's delay for Thomas to take counsel with his friends.

By this time there was no doubt of the king's purpose to force upon Thomas the resignation of his archbishopric. The courtiers and lay barons no longer thought it expedient to visit him, and the prelates gave counsel with divided hearts. "Remembering whence the king took you," said Foliot, "and what he has bestowed on you, and the ruin which you prepare for the Church and for us all, not only the archbishopric but ten times as much, if it were possible, you should yield to him. It may be that seeing in you this humility he may yet restore all." To this argument Thomas had curt answer. "Enough - it is well enough known how you, being consulted, would answer!" "You know the king better than we," urged Hilary of Chichester; "in the chancery, in peace and war, you served him faithfully, but not without envy. Those who then envied now excite the king against you. Who dare answer for you? The king has said that you can no longer both be at one time in England - he as king, you as archbishop." Henry of Winchester took his stand on the side of Thomas. "If the authority of the king was to prevail," he argued, "what remains but that nothing shall henceforth be done according to law, but all things shall be disturbed for his pleasure - and the priesthood shall be as the people," he concluded, with a stirring of the churchman's temper. The Bishop of Exeter added another plea to induce Thomas to stand firm: "Surely it is better to put one head in peril than to set the whole Church in danger." Not so, thought the Bishop of Lincoln, "a simple man and of little discretion;" "for it is plain," he said, "that this man must yield up either the archbishopric or his life; but what should be the fruit of his archbishopric to him if his life should cease, I see not." The Bishop of Worcester, son of the famous Robert of Gloucester, and Henry's own cousin and playmate in old days took an eminently prudent course. "I will give no counsel," he said, "for if I say our charge of souls is to be given up at the king's threats, I should speak against my conscience, and to my own condemnation; and if I should advise to resist the king, there are those here who will bring him word of it, and I shall be cast out of the synagogue, and my lot shall be with outlaws and public enemies." At last, by the advice of the politic Henry of Winchester, Thomas offered to pay the king 2000 marks, but this compromise was refused. He urged that he had been freed at his consecration from all secular obligations, but the plea was rejected on the ground that it was done without the king's orders. An adjournment over Sunday was again granted; but on Monday Thomas was ill, and unable to attend the Council. Three days had now passed in fruitless negotiations, and the rising wrath of the king made itself felt. Rumours of danger grew on all sides, and the archbishop prostrated himself before the altar in an agony of prayer, "trembling in his whole body," as he afterwards confessed, less from fear of death than from the more terrible fear of the savage blinding and cruel punishments of those days.

But he showed no signs of yielding when on Tuesday morning, the last day of the Council, the bishops again gathered round him beseeching him to yield to the king's will. With a fierce outbreak of passionate reproaches he solemnly forbade them to take part in any further proceedings against him, and gave formal notice of an appeal to Rome. Then kneeling before the altar of St. Stephen he celebrated mass, using the service for St. Stephen's Day with its psalm, "Princes sat and spake against me," - "a magical rite," said Foliot, "and an act done in contempt of the king"-and commended himself to the care of the first Christian martyr, and of the martyred Archbishop of Canterbury, Aelfheah. Still arrayed in his pontifical robes, he set out for his last ride to the castle. Of the forty clerks "most learned in the law," who formed his household, only two ventured to follow him; but "an innumerable multitude" of people thronged round him as he passed bearing his cross in his right hand, and followed him to the castle doors with cries of lamentation, weeping and kneeling for his benediction, for it was spread abroad that he should that day be slain. The gates were quickly closed in the face of the tumultuous crowd, and Thomas passed up the great hall, while the king, hearing of his coming in such dress and fashion, hastily withdrew to the upper chamber to take counsel with his officers. "A fool he was, and a fool he always will be," commented Foliot as Thomas entered with his uplifted cross. "Lord archbishop, thou art ill-advised to enter thus to the king with sword unsheathed - if now the king should take his sword, we shall have a well-armed king and a well-armed archbishop!" - "That we will commit to God," said Thomas. Thus he passed to his seat, the troubled and perplexed bishops "sitting opposite to him both in place and in heart."

Meanwhile the king and his inner council, to which the bishops were now summoned, were busy discussing what must be done. Henry's position was one of extreme difficulty, suddenly called on as he was to deal with a legacy of difficulties which had been left from the unsettled controversies of a hundred years. By coming to the court in his pontifical dress Thomas had raised a claim that a bishop could only be tried dressed in full pontificals by his fellow-bishops also in full dress. He had thrown aside the king's jurisdiction by his appeal to Rome; and by his orders to the bishops to judge no further with the barons in this suit he had further violated the "customs" of the realm to which he had himself commanded the bishops to swear obedience at Clarendon. None of the questions raised by Thomas indeed were raised for the first time. William of St. Carileph, when charged by Rufus with treason, had asserted the privilege of a bishop to be tried in pontifical dress, and to be judged only by the canon law in an ecclesiastical court, and had claimed the right of appeal to Rome. But such doctrines were in those days new and somewhat doubtful, not supported in any degree by the Church and quite outside the sympathy of nobles and people, and Lanfranc had easily eluded the Bishop of Durham's claims. Anselm himself had accepted a number of points disputed now by Thomas. He frankly admitted the king's authority in appointing him to the see of Canterbury; he submitted to the jurisdiction of the King's Court; he made no claims to clerical privileges or special forms of trial. He had indeed given the first example of a saving clause in his oath to keep the customs of the kingdom; but the clause he used, "according to God," was radically different from that of Thomas, and asserted no different law of obedience for clerk and for layman. In the reign of Stephen the question of ecclesiastical jurisdiction ad been raised at the trial of Bishop Roger of Salisbury; but in this case too the difficulty had been evaded by a temporary expedient, and the real principle at issue was left untouched. Thomas had in fact taken up a position which had never been claimed by any great churchman of the past. The rising tide of ecclesiastical feeling had swept him on far beyond any of his predecessors. Not even in Anselm's time had the people in an ecstasy of religious fervour pressed to the gate of the judgment hall and knelt for the blessing of the saint with a passion of sympathy and devotion. No problem of such proportions in the relations of Church and State had ever before presented itself to a king of England.

Henry's first step was to send orders to the archbishop to withdraw his appeal to Rome and his prohibition to the bishops to proceed in the trial, and to submit to the King's Court in the matter of the chancery accounts. Secret friends in the Council sent the archbishop strange warnings. Henry, some said, was planning his death; according to others the royal officers were laying plots for it secretly, "the king knowing nothing." A new access of panic seized the bishops. "If he should be captured or slain what remains to us but to be cast out of our offices and honours to everlasting shame!" With faces of abject terror they surrounded Thomas, and the Bishop of Winchester implored him to resign his see. "The same day and the same hour," he answered, "shall end my bishopric and my life." "Would to God," cried Hilary, "that thou wert and shouldst remain only Thomas without any other dignity whatever!" But Thomas refused all compromise; he had not been summoned to answer in this cause; he had already suffered against law for men of Kent and of the sea-border charged with the defence of the coast might be fined only one-third as much as the inland men; at his consecration, too, he had been freed from any responsibility incurred as chancellor; he asserted his right of appeal; and he had meanwhile forbidden the bishops to judge him in any charge that referred to the time before he was Primate. Silently the king's messenger returned with his answer. "Behold, we have heard the blasphemy of prohibition out of his mouth!" cried the barons and officers, and courtiers turning their heads and throwing sidelong glances at him, whispered loudly that William who had conquered England, and even Geoffrey of Anjou, had known how to subdue clerks.

On hearing the message the king at once ordered bishops and barons to proceed to the trial of the Primate for this new act of contempt of the King's Court. "In a strait place you have put us," Hilary broke out bitterly to Thomas, "by your prohibition you have set us between the hammer and the anvil!" In vain they again entreated Thomas to yield; in vain they begged the king's leave to sit apart from the barons. Even the Archbishop of York and Foliot sought anxiously for some escape from obeying Henry's orders, and at the head of the bishops prayed that they might themselves appeal to Rome, and thus deal with their own special grievances against Thomas, who had ordered them to swear and then to forswear themselves. To this Henry agreed, and from this time the prelates sat apart, no longer forced to join in the proceedings of the lay lords; while Henry added to the Council certain sheriffs and lesser barons "ancient in days." The assembly thus remodelled formally condemned the archbishop as a traitor, and the earls of Leicester and of Cornwall were sent to pronounce judgment. But the sentence was never spoken. Thomas sprang up, cross in hand, and passionately forbade Leicester to speak. "How can you refuse to obey," said Leicester, "seeing you are the king's man, and hold your possessions as a fief from him?" "God forbid!" said Thomas; "I hold nothing whatever of him in fief, for whatever the Church holds it holds in perpetual liberty, not in subjection to any earthly sovereignty whatever.... I am your father, you princes of the palace, lay powers, secular persons; as gold is better than lead, so is the spiritual better than the lay power.... By my authority I forbid you to pronounce the sentence." As the nobles retired the archbishop raised his cross: "I also withdraw," he said, "for the hour is past." Cries of "Traitor!" followed him down the hall. Knights and barons rushed after him with bundles of straw and sticks snatched up from the floor, and a clamour rose "as if the four parts of the city had been given to flames and the assault of enemies." He made his way slowly through the weeping crowd outside to the monastery of St. Andrews. That night he fled from Northampton. The darkness was "as a covering" to him, and a terrible storm and pelting rain hid the sound of his horse's feet as he passed at midnight through the town, and out by an unguarded gate to the north. At dawn of day the anxious Henry of Winchester came to ask for news. "He is doing well," Thomas's servant whispered in his ear, "for last night he went away from us, and we do not know whither he has gone." "By the blessing of God!" cried the bishop, weeping and sighing. When the news was brought to the king he stood speechless for some moments, choked by his fury, till at last catching his breath, "We have not done with him yet!" he exclaimed.

It seemed, indeed, as though the Council of Northampton had brought nothing but failure and disaster. The king's whole scheme of reform depended on the ruin or the submission of the Primate, who was its open and formidable opponent. But Thomas was free and was now more dangerous than ever. The Church was alarmed, suspicious, perplexed. It was not ten years since Henry had made his first journey round the kingdom with Archbishop Theobald at his side, as the king chosen and appointed by the spiritual power to put down violence and repress a lawless baronage. But now he could no longer look for the aid of the Church; all dream of orderly legislation seemed over. Amid all his violence, however, the king's sincere attempt to maintain the outward authority of law made of the Council of Northampton a great event in our constitutional history. It showed that the rule of pure despotism was over. A new step was taken too in the political education of the nation. Thrown back on the support of his own officials and of the baronage, Henry used the nobles as he had once used the Church. Greater and lesser barons sat together in the King's Council for the first time when Henry summoned sheriffs and knights from the hall of Northampton Castle to the inner council chamber. He taught the nobles their strength when he called the whole assembly of his barons to discuss questions of spiritual jurisdiction. It was at Northampton that he gave them their first training in political action - a training whose full results were seen half a century later in the winning of Magna Charta.