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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > E > England (Before the Reformation)

England (Before the Reformation)

This term England is here restricted to one constituent, the largest and most populous, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Thus understood, England (taken at the same time as including the Principality of Wales) is all that part of the Island of Great Britain which lies south of the Solway Firth, the River Liddell, the Cheviot Hills, and the River Tweed; its area is 57,668 square miles, i.e. 10,048 square miles greater than that of the State of New York, but 11,067 square miles less than that of Missouri; its total resident population in 1901 was 23,386,593, or 78.2 percent of the population of the United Kingdom.

For the history of England down to the Norman Conquest the reader may be referred to the article ANGLO-SAXON CHURCH; its later history is treated in the article ENGLAND SINCE THE REFORMATION. We begin our present account of pre-Reformation England with the new order of things created by William the Conqueror.

Although the picture of the degradation of the English Church in the first half of the eleventh century which has been drawn by some authorities (notably by H. Boehmer, "Kirche und Staat", 79) is very exaggerated, it is nevertheless certain that even King Edward the Confessor, with all his saintliness, had not been able to repair the damage caused partly by the anarchy of the last ten years of Danish rule, but not less surely, if remotely, by the disorders which for many generations past had existed at the centre of Christendom. Of the prevalence of simoniacal practices, of a scandalous and widespread neglect of the canons enjoining clerical celibacy, and of a general subordination of the ecclesiastical order to secular influences, there is no room for doubt. These evils were at that time almost universal. In 1065, the year of St. Edward's death, things were no better in England than on the Continent of Europe. Probably they were rather worse. But the forces which were to purify and renovate the Church were already at work.

The monastic reform begun in the tenth century at Cluny had spread to many religious houses of France and among other places had been cordially taken up in the Norman Abbey of Fécamp, and later at Bec. On the other hand this same ascetical discipline had done much to form the character both of Brun, Bishop of Toul, who in 1049 became pope, and is known as St. Leo IX, and of Hildebrand his chief counsellor, afterwards still more famous as St. Gregory VII. Under the auspices of these two popes a new era dawned for the Church. Effective action was at last taken to restrain clerical incontinence and avarice, while a great struggle began to rescue the bishops from the imminent danger of becoming mere feudatories to the emperor and other secular princes.

William the Conqueror had established intimate relations with the Holy See. He came to England armed with the direct authorization of a papal Bull, and his expedition, in the eyes of many earnest men, and probably even his own, was identified with the cause of ecclesiastical reform. The behaviour of Normans and Saxons on the night preceding the battle of Hastings, when the former prayed and prepared for Communion while the latter caroused, was in a measure significant of the spirit of the two parties. Taken as a whole, the Conqueror's dealings with the English Church were worthy of a great mission. All the best elements in the Saxon hierarchy he retained and supported. St. Wulstan was confirmed in the possession of the See of Worcester. Leofric of Exeter and Siward of Rochester, both Englishmen, as well as some half-dozen prelates of foreign birth who had been appointed in Edward's reign, were not interfered with. On the other hand, Stigand, the intriguing Archbishop of Canterbury, and one or two other bishops, probably his supporters, were deposed. But in this there was no indecent haste. It was done at the great Council of Winchester (Easter, 1070), at which three papal legates were present. Shortly afterwards the vacant sees were filled up, and, in procuring Lanfranc for Canterbury and Thomas of Bayeux for York, William gave to his new kingdom the very best prelates that were then available.

The results were undoubtedly beneficial to the Church. The king himself directly enjoined the separation of the civil and ecclesiastical courts, for these jurisdictions in the old shiremoots and hundredmoots had hardly been distinguished. It was probably partly as a consequence of this division that ecclesiastical synods now began to be held regularly by Lanfranc, with no small profit to discipline and piety. Strong legislation was adopted (e.g. at Winchester in 1176) to secure celibacy among the clergy, though not without some temporary mitigation for the old rural priests, a mitigation which proves perhaps better than anything else that in the existing generation a sudden and complete reform seemed hopeless. Further, several episcopal sees were removed from what were then mere villages to more populous centres. Thus bishops were transferred from Sherborne to Salisbury, from Selsey to Chichester, from Lichfield to Chester, and not many years after from Dorchester to Lincoln, and from Thetford to Norwich. These and the like changes, and, not perhaps least of all, the drafting of Lanfranc's new constitutions for the Christ Church monks, were all significant of the improvement introduced by the new ecclesiastical regime.

With regard to Rome, the Conqueror seems never to have been wanting in respect for the Holy See, and nothing like a breach with the pope ever took place during his lifetime. The two archbishops went to Rome in 1071 to receive their pallia, and when (c. 1078) a demand was made through the papal legate, Hubert, for the payment of arrears of Peter's-pence, the claim was admitted, and the contribution was duly sent.

Gregory, however, seems at the same time to have called upon the King of England to do homage for his kingdom, regarding the payment of Romescot as an acknowledgment of vassalage, as in some cases, e.g. that of the Normans in Apulia (See Jensen, "Der englische Peterspfennig", p. 37), it undoubtedly was. But on this point William's reply was clear. "One claim [Peter's-pence] I admit," he wrote, "the other I do not admit. To do fealty I have not been willing in the past, nor am I willing now, inasmuch as I have never promised it, nor do I discover that my predecessors ever did it to your predecessors." It is plain that all this had nothing whatever to do with the recognition of the pope's spiritual supremacy, and in fact the king says in the concluding sentence of the letter: "Pray for us and for the good estate of our realm, for we have loved your predecessors and desire to love you sincerely and to hear you obediently before all" (et vos præ omnibus sincere diligere et obedienter audire desideramus).

Possibly the incident led to some slight coolness, reflected, for example, in the rather negative attitude of Lanfranc towards the antipope Wibert at a later date (see Liebermann in "Eng. Hist. Rev.", 1901, p. 328), but it is also likely that William and his archbishop were only careful not to get entangled in the strife between Gregory and the Emperor Henry IV. In any case, the more strictly ecclesiastical policy of the great pontiff was cordially furthered by them, so that St. Gregory, writing to Hugh, Bishop of Die, remarked that although the King of England does not bear himself in all things as religiously as might be wished, still, inasmuch as he does not destroy or sell the churches, rules peaceably and justly, refuses to enter into alliance with the enemies of the Cross of Christ (the partisans of Henry IV), and has compelled the priests to give up their wives and laymen to pay arrears of tithe, he has proved himself worthy of special consideration. As has been recently pointed out by an impartial authority (Davis, "England under Normans and Angevins", p. 54) "Lanfranc's correspondence and career prove that he and his master conceded important powers to the Pope not only in matters of conscience and faith but also in administrative questions. They admitted for example the necessity of obtaining the pallium for an archbishop and the Pope's power to invalidate episcopal elections. They were scrupulous in obtaining the Pope's consent when the deposition or resignation of a bishop was in question and they submitted the time-honoured quarrel of York and Canterbury to his decision."

No doubt a strong centralized government was then specially needed in Church as well as State, and we need not too readily condemn Lanfranc as guilty of personal ambition because he insisted on the primacy of his own see and exacted a profession of obedience from the Archbishop of York. The recent attempt that has been made to fasten a charge of forgery upon Lanfranc in connection with this incident (see Boehmer, "Falschungen Erzbischof Lanfranks") breaks down at the point where the personal responsibility of the great archbishop is involved. Undoubtedly many of the documents upon which Canterbury's claims to supremacy was based were forgeries, and forgeries of that precise period, but there is no proof that Lanfranc was the forger or that he acted otherwise than in good faith (see Walter in "Götting gelehrte Anzeigen", 1905, 582; and Saltet in "Revue des Sciences Ecclés.", 1907, p. 423).

Well was it for England that William and Lanfranc, without any violent overthrow of the existing order of things, either in Church or State, had nevertheless introduced systematic reforms and had provided the country with good bishops. A struggle was now at hand which ecclesiastically speaking was probably more momentous than any other event in history down to the time of the Reformation. The struggle is known as that about Investitures, and we may note that it had already been going on in Central Europe for some years before the question, through the action of William II and Henry I, sons of the Conqueror, reached an acute phase in England. Down to the eleventh century it may be said that, though the election of bishops always supposed the free choice, or at least the acceptance, of their flocks, the procedure was very variable. In these earlier ages bishops were normally chosen by an assembly of the clergy and people, the neighbouring bishops and the king or civil magnates exercising more or less of influence in the selection of a suitable candidate (see Imbart de la Tour, "Les élections épiscopales"). But from the seventh and eighth century onwards it became increasingly common for the local Churches to find themselves in some measure of bondage. From the ancient principle of "no land without a lord" it was easy to pass to that of "no church without a lord", an whether the bishopric was situated upon the royal domain or within the sphere of influence of one of the great feudatories, men came to regard each episcopal see as a mere fief which the lord was free to bestow upon whom he would, and for which he duly exacted homage. This development was no doubt much helped by the fact that as the parochial system grew up, it was the oratory of the local magnate which in rural districts became the parish church, and it was his private chaplain who was transformed into the parish priest. Thus the great landowner became the patronus ecclesi , claiming the right to present for ordination any cleric of his own choice. Now the relation of a sovereign towards his bishops came in time to be regarded as precisely analogous. The king was held to be the lord of the lands from which the bishop derived his revenues. Instead of the possession of these lands being regarded as the apanage of the spiritual office, the acceptance of episcopal consecration was looked upon as the special condition or service upon which these lands were held from the king. Thus the temporal sovereign claimed to make the bishop, and, to show that he did so, he "invested" the new spiritual vassal with his fief by presenting to him the episcopal ring and crosier. The episcopal consecration was a subordinate matter which the king's nominee was left to arrange for himself with his metropolitan and the neighbouring bishops. Now, as long as the supreme authority was wielded by religiously-minded men, princes who took thought for the spiritual well being of their kingdoms, no great harm necessarily resulted from this perversion of right order. But when, as too often happened during the iron age, the monarch was godless and unprincipled, he either kept the see vacant, in order to enjoy the revenues, or else sold the office to the highest bidder. It must be obvious that such a system, if allowed to develop unchecked could only lead in the course of a few generations to the utter demoralization of the Church. When the bishops, the shepherds of the flock, were themselves licentious and corrupt, it would have been a moral miracle if the rank and file of the clergy had not degenerated in an equal or even greater degree. Upon the bishop depended ultimately the admission of candidates to ordination and he also was ultimately responsible for their education and for the maintenance of ecclesiastical discipline.

Now the fact cannot he disputed that in the tenth century a very terrible laxity had come to prevail almost everywhere throughout Western Christendom. The great monastic reform of Cluny and many individual saints like Ulric, at Augsburg, and Dunstan and Æthelwold, in England, did much to stem the tide, but the times were very evil. Worldly minded men, often morally corrupt, were promoted by sovereigns and territorial magnates to some of the most important sees of the Church, many of them obtaining that promotion by the payment of money or by simoniacal compacts. The lower clergy as a rule were grossly ignorant and in many cases unchaste, but under such bishops they enjoyed almost complete immunity from punishment. No doubt the corruptions of the age have been exaggerated by writers of the stamp of H. C. Lea, Michelet, and Gregorovius, but nothing could more conclusively prove the gravity of the evil than the fact that for two centuries the Church had to struggle with the abuse by which benefices threatened to become hereditary, descending from the priest to his children. Happily help was at hand. Many individual reformers strove to introduce higher religious ideals and met with partial success, but it was the merit of the great pontiff, St. Gregory VII, to go straight to the root of the evil. It was useless to fulminate decrees against the concubinage of priests and against their neglect of their spiritual functions if the great feudal lords could still nominate unworthy bishops, bestowing investiture by ring and crosier and enforcing their consecration at the hands of other bishops as unworthy as the candidates. Gregory saw that no permanent good could be effected until this system of lay investitures was utterly overthrown. Those who have accused Gregory of insufferable arrogance, of a desire to exalt without measure the spiritual authority of the Church and to humble all secular rulers to the dust, make little allowance for the gravity of the evils he was combating and for the desperate nature of the struggle. When feudalism seemed on the point of so completely swallowing up all ecclesiastical organization, it was pardonable that St. Gregory should have believed that the remedy lay not in any compromise or balance of power, but in the unqualified acceptance of the principle that the Church was above the State. If, on the one hand, he considered that it was the function of the Vicar of Christ to direct and, if need be, chastise the princes of the earth, it is also clear from the history of his life that he designed to use that power impartially and well.

In England the struggle over investitures developed somewhat later than on the Continent. If, in the matter of the election of bishops, Gregory VII forbore to press the claims of the Church to extremities under such a ruler as William the Conqueror, this was surely not to be attributed to pusillanimity. The pope's forbearance was due quite as much to the fact that he was satisfied that the king made good appointments, as to the circumstance that his own energies were for the time absorbed in the greater struggle with the emperor. Even under the rule of William Rufus no great abuses declared themselves before the death of Lanfranc (1089). It is very noteworthy that William of St. Calais, Bishop of Durham, in 1088, having been accused of treason before the King's Court, questioned the competence of the Court and appealed to the pope. Practically speaking, his appeal was allowed, and he was granted a safe-conduct out of the kingdom, though only after the surrender of his fief. This was virtually an admission that a bishop held only the temporalities of his see from the crown, and that as a spiritual person he was free to challenge the decision of any national tribunal. Such an incident can with difficulty be reconciled with those theories of the independence of the English Church which commonly prevail among modern Anglicans.

With the death of Lanfranc, however, all that was evil in the nature of William Rufus seems to have come to the surface. Under the influence of the man who was his evil genius, Ralph Flambard, a cleric whom he eventually made Bishop of Durham, the king during nearly the whole of his reign set himself to undo the good effected by his father and Lanfranc. In the words of the chronicler, "God's Church was brought very low". Whenever a bishop or abbot died, one of the king's clerks was sent to take possession of all the rents for the use of the crown, leaving but a bare pittance to the monks or canons. The prelacies whose revenues were thus confiscated were long kept vacant, and no new appointment was made except upon payment of a large sum of money by way of a "relief". For the credit of one or two really good men like Ralph Luffa and Herbert Losinga, who during these bad times became respectively Bishops of Chichester and Norwich (the latter paying a thousand pounds for his nomination), it should be pointed out that a certain pretext of feudal custom lent a decent veil to the simony involved in these transactions. The obsolete doctrine that a fief was a precarious estate, and granted only for a lifetime, was revived by Flambard, and, as a corollary, large sums of money, as "reliefs" (from relevare, "to take up again"), were demanded, when any fief, lay or spiritual, was conceded to a new possessor. But bishops and abbots were made to pay proportionately more than earls or barons, and a relief was exacted in some cases even from all the subordinate tenants of episcopal sees the moment the estate came into the king's hands (see Round, "Feudal England", p. 309). All this only illustrates further the evils inherent in the system of regarding a spiritual office as a fief held from the king. In the case of the metropolitan See of Canterbury, no successor was appointed until four years after Lanfranc's death. Even then William Rufus only yielded to the solicitations made to him because he had fallen grievously ill and was lying at the point of death. Most providentially, this illness coincided with the presence in England of Anselm, Abbot of Bec, whom all men regarded as marked out for the primacy alike by his learning and his holiness of life. The king summoned Anselm to his bedside, and the latter extorted a solemn promise of radical reform in the administration of both Church and State. Shortly afterwards, in spite of all his protests, Anselm himself was invested, literally by force, with the insignia of the primacy, and he was consecrated archbishop before the end of the year. But though the saint's firmness secured the restoration of all the possessions which belonged to the See of Canterbury at the time of Lanfranc's death, the king soon returned to his evil ways. In particular he still clung to the theory that by accepting investiture Anselm had become his liege man (ligeus homo), liable to all the incidents of vassalage. When an aid was demanded for the war in Normandy, Anselm at first refused. Then, not wantonly to provoke a conflict, he offered 500 marks; but when this sum was rejected as insufficient, he distributed the money to the poor. Early in 1095 the archbishop asked permission to go to the pope to receive the pallium. Rufus objected that, while the antipope Clement III was still disputing the title, it was for him and his Great Council to decide which pope should be recognized. When asked to recognize the jurisdiction of this council, Anselm replied: "In the things that are God's I will tender obedience to the Vicar of St. Peter; in things touching the earthly dignity of my lord the King I will to the best of my ability give him faithful counsel and help." The other bishops seem to have been cowed by Rufus and to have supported the king's claim to decide which of the rival popes he should recognize. But Anselm refused in any way to surrender the allegiance which, when Abbot of Bec, he had sworn to Urban. He recognized no right of king or bishops to interfere, and he declared he would give his answer "as he ought and where he ought". These words, writes Dean Stephens (History of The English Church, II, 99), were understood to mean, that, as Archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm "refused to be judged by any one save the pope himself, a doctrine which it seems no one was prepared to deny". Through the saint's firmness Urban was recognized, and the pallium brought from him to England; but a little later Anselm again asked leave to go to Rome, and when it was refused he declared in the plainest terms that he must go without leave, for God was to be obeyed rather than man. Pope Urban received him with all possible respect, and publicly spoke of him as "alterius orbis papa", a phrase much quoted by Anglicans, as though it implied the recognition in the Archbishop of Canterbury of a jurisdiction independent of Rome.

But the whole lesson of Anselm's life centred in his belief that it lay with the pope to decide what course was to be followed in matters affecting the Church even at the risk of the king's displeasure, and despite any pretended national customs. Neither does it appear that the rest of the English bishops maintained the contrary as a matter of principle, though they considered that Anselm's attitude was needlessly provocative and uncompromising. There are not wanting signs that Eadmer's desire to exalt his own beloved master has led him to be somewhat less than just to Anselm's suffragans and to the Holy See itself. The archbishop remained in exile until after the death of Rufus, when Henry, who succeeded, made generous promises of freedom to the Church, explicitly renouncing any sort of payment or relief for the appointment of new bishops or abbots, and promising that church revenues should not be seized during vacancies. He recalled Anselm to England, but came into conflict with him almost immediately over the same old question of investitures. At the Councils of Bari (1098) and Rome (1099), at which the saint had personally assisted, anathema had been pronounced on those bishops or abbots who received investiture at the hands of laymen. Anselm accordingly refused either to do homage himself for the restitution of the possessions of the archbishopric or to consecrate other bishops who had received ring and crosier from the king. Eventually, by the consent of both parties, the matter was referred to Rome. In three different embassies that were sent, the pope upheld Anselm's view, despite the efforts made by Henry's envoys to extort some concession. Then Anselm himself went to Rome (1103) while a fresh set of royal emissaries were dispatched to work against him at the Curia. Nothing was settled, for Henry still held out, and Anselm accordingly remained abroad. But at last, when Anselm was on the point of launching an excommunication against the king, the latter, being in political straits, accepted such modified terms as his envoys could obtain from the Holy See. Anselm was allowed to consecrate those who had previously received investiture, but the king at a great council (1107) renounced for the future the claim to invest bishop or abbot by ring and crosier. On the other hand it was tacitly admitted that bishops might do homage to the king for the temporal possessions of their sees. This settlement of the investiture question in England was fifteen years earlier than that arrived at on very similar lines between Pope Callistus II and the Emperor Henry V. The importance of the struggle can hardly be exaggerated, for, as already pointed out, the whole ecclesiastical order was in danger of being reduced to the status of vassals sharing all the vices of secular princes. Moreover this resolute stand made by St. Anselm and the popes was not without its political importance. The clergy as a body had now become sufficiently independent to take a leading part in that resistance to despotism to which the people during the next two centuries were to owe their most fundamental liberties. During all this time England as a whole was in no wise in sympathy with the monarch in his quarrel with the pope. As Dr. Gairdner writes of a later period, "It was a contest not of the English people, but of the King and his government with Rome. . . . As regards national feeling, the people evidently regarded the cause of the Church as the cause of liberty" (Lollards and the Reformation, I, 6). Nothing contributed so much to win the confidence of the nation as the independence shown by the Church in such struggles as those that are associated with the names of St. Anselm, St. Thomas Becket, and Cardinal Stephen Langton.

St. Anselm died peacefully at Canterbury in 1109, but Henry I lived on until 1135. During the remainder of Henry's reign and throughout the anarchy which prevailed under the rule of Stephen (1135-1154), good bishops were for the most part elected. The chapters were ostensibly left free in their choice, though they no doubt responded in some measure to the known preferences of the king. In any case simoniacal compacts are no longer heard of, while the Holy See had generally much to say to the final acceptance of the archbishops and of the more important prelates. A certain impatience of dictation from Rome, shown, for example, in occasional unwillingness to receive a legate or to allow appeals to the pope, may be noted at this as at other periods, but the principle of papal authority was never disputed. For example, the pallium, "taken from the body of Blessed Peter", a symbol of archiepiscopal jurisdiction which still appears in the arms of the English Sees of Canterbury and York, was personally fetched from Rome or at least petitioned for by every archbishop, as it had been in the Anglo-Saxon Church from the very beginning. In cases when the pall was brought to England instead of being conferred at the papal court, archbishops like St. Anselm and Ralph d'Escures went to meet it bare foot. To legates of the Holy See, notwithstanding the fact that their presence was not always desired, extreme deference was shown. Even a mere priest like Cardinal John of Crema, when he came to the country as papal legate, took precedence of the two archbishops in the Council of Westminster (1125). More over, when protests were made against the sending of legates, it was not so much that the presence of a papal representative in England was resented, as because men believed that such legatine powers, by old tradition, ought to be conferred on the Archbishop of Canterbury, as had been done, for example, in the case of Tatwine, Plegmund, and Dunstan. As Eadmer reports (Historia Novorum, p. 58), "Inauditum scilicet in Britanniâ . . ., quemlibet hominem supra se vices apostolicas gerere nisi solum archiepiscopum Cantuariæ" (It was surely an unheard-of thing in Britain . . . that any man should bear the Apostolic delegation over him except only the Archbishop of Canterbury). In the spirit of this protest Archbishop William de Corbeil almost immediately after Crema's departure eagerly sought the office of legate for himself, and from that time, though Henry, Bishop of Winchester, was made legate by Innocent II in 1129, the Archbishop of Canterbury was usually constituted legatus natus (native, or ordinary, legate), a term used in contradistinction to the legatus a latere dispatched on extraordinary occasions "from the side" of the sovereign pontiff in Rome. But in any case the significance of the ordinary legatine appointment, first associated with the person of William de Corbeil (d. 1136), is unmistakable. It was, as Dean Stephens truly observes, "an acknowledgment of the supreme authority of the Pope. The primate shone with a reflected glory, his preeminence was not inherent but derivative" (Hist. of the Eng. Church, II, 142).

Evil as were the times during the first half of the twelfth century the English Church was by no means lacking in vivifying influences. This was the period of the chief development in England of the Cluniac Order (see CONGREGATION OF CLUNY), a great Benedictine reform already alluded to, of which the first English house, that of Lewes, had been established by William de Warrenne and Gundrada his wife c. 1077. But the priory of Lewes later on became the mother of several other Cluniac priories, of which the best known are those of Wenlock, Thetford, Bermondsey, and Pontefract. Still more intimately associated with England was the Cistercian Order, another Benedictine reform of which the virtual founder was a Somersetshire man, St. Stephen Harding. His fame has been eclipsed by the glory of St. Bernard, the last of the Fathers and the founder of the Abbey of Clairvaux, but it was Stephen who received St. Bernard and his comrades at Cîteaux in 1113, and who gave them the white habit prescribed by the Cistercian rule. The first abbey of the order in England was that of Waverley in Surrey (1128), which itself became the mother of several other foundations. But Waverley was eclipsed by the Yorkshire Abbey of Rivaulx established (c. 1133) by monks sent directly from Clairvaux by St. Bernard. Among the earliest recruits of Rivaulx was St. Ælred, perhaps the most eloquent of pre-Reformation English preachers. The foundations of the white monks throve and multiplied exceedingly. By the year 1152 there were fifty Cistercian houses in England (Cooke in "Eng. Hist. Rev.", Oct., 1893), of which the best known are Fountains, Tintern, and Meaux. Unfortunately, this rapid development seems to have been followed before long by some relaxation of primitive austerity and fervour, but the movement while it lasted must have contributed greatly to the diffusion of more spiritual ideals and to the correction of the manifold moral evils of the times. The Carthusian rule, the most austere of all, was not introduced into England until somewhat later — the first house, that of Witham in Somerset, was founded by Henry II in 1180, one of the indirect results of the martyrdom of St. Thomas. Probably the extreme rigour of the life prevented the Carthusian foundations from ever becoming numerous. But the Charterhouse at Witham gave to England one of her greatest and holiest bishops, St. Hugh of Lincoln (d. 1200), and the Charterhouse of London at a later date played a noble part in the resistance it offered to the first stages of Henry VIII's revolt from Rome.

The houses of the Austin Canons, or "Black Canons", were more numerous and of earlier date than those of the Carthusians. Their first foundation was that of Colchester, in 1105, and they possessed two great establishments in London: St. Bartholomew's Smithfield, and St. Saviour's Southwark. At Carlisle they formed the cathedral chapter, the only exception to the rule that all the cathedrals which were not served by Benedictines were in the hands of secular canons. And here we may conveniently notice the fact that, owing, probably, to the initial impulse of St. Dunstan and the monastic sympathies of Lanfranc, who virtually reorganized the English Church after the Conquest, England stood almost alone among the nations of Europe in the number of her cathedrals that were served by monks. Canterbury, Durham, Winchester, Rochester, Worcester, Norwich, Ely, Coventry, and Bath all had Benedictine chapters. If this arrangement led to some gain in point of piety, there was also a proportionate disadvantage in the additional friction that was likely to result when it came to the election by religious of successors to the see. The Benedictines, the "Black Monks", were of course always the most numerous monastic body in England, and, while they had been firmly established in the country from the very beginning, there was at all times a pretty steady increase in the number of abbeys and cells which belonged to them. Bound specially by their rule to show hospitality to strangers, and being for the most part good farmers and good landlords, they formed a great element of stability and peace throughout the country, helping to bind district with district through their relations with their dependent cells and with one another. They were also the great centres of learning, more particularly in the collection and multiplication of books, and they were not only patrons of art but they provided in many cases the nearest approach to schools for architecture, painting, sculpture, embroidery, and other useful works. If their revenues were vast, so, it must be also remembered, were their charities. Neither would it be easy to imagine a more worthy object upon which to expend the superfluous wealth of the country than in the erecting of those magnificent abbeys and churches which the monastic builders left to posterity. Speaking of the religious orders generally, it may be said that no more misplaced charge was ever made than that which describes their members as idle and useless. Of all the sections of the community they almost alone in that day were profitably busy. The industrious man-at-arms, the industrious lawyer, the industrious forester, huntsman, or jongleur were too often only a scourge to the land in which they lived. For this reason we conceive that a quite unnecessary outcry has been raised by a number of Anglican writers against a practice which undoubtedly became very prevalent in the twelfth century, namely that of making over — technically called "impropriating" — to religious houses the tithes or other sources of revenue of the parish churches. By this arrangement the monastery so benefited received nearly all the funds properly belonging to the parish, but supplied for the religious needs of the parishioners, either by deputing one of the monks to act as parish priest or by paying a small stipend to some secular vicar. No doubt this practice was open to abuse, and various synodal decrees were passed to keep it under control accordingly. Thus as early as 1102 the Council of Westminster laid down the principle that monasteries were not to impropriate churches without the consent of the bishop, and required that churches should not be stripped so bare of revenue as to reduce the priests who served them to penury. Later synodal legislation insisted that "perpetual vicars" should be appointed (i.e. priests who would not be liable to removal, and who would consequently have a permanent interest in their cure), and that "competent stipends", for which a minimum amount was determined, should be paid them for their services. Where, however, these and similar precautions were observed it is certain that many of the wisest and holiest of the English prelates regarded the impropriations of churches to religious communities with no disfavour. St. Hugh of Lincoln made many such grants (see Thurston, "Life of St. Hugh", p. 463), and it seems indisputable that in the then condition of the secular clergy, who were far, as yet, from having recovered completely from the state of ignorance and demoralization into which they had fallen in the preceding century, the churches for which some monastic community made themselves responsible were likely to be spiritually better cared for than those livings to which the crown or some secular magnate presented at will. Strange to say, it is precisely those writers who declaim against the degradation of the medieval clergy, and against their general neglect of the canons enjoining celibacy, who also are loudest in denunciation of the scandal that monks should enjoy the revenues intended for the parish priests. — Can it be supposed that the possession of larger incomes would have tended to make the secular clergy more zealous or more continent? — That there were two sides to the question has, however, been recognized by more thoughtful Anglicans and one such writer, for example, remarks with point: "The secular priests living in solitude on a remote country benefice had more temptations to sink into ignorance and indolence, if not vice, than the member of a brotherhood, who was responsible to it for the discharge of his trust, and might from time to time be refreshed by a visit to the monastic house, or by visitors from it." (Stephens, Hist. Eng. Church, II, 272.)

With the accession of Henry II, in 1154, England, after years of strife, once more passed into the hands of a strong and capable ruler. Without being a whit less selfish or more patriotic than other princes of that age, Henry had the sense to see that good government meant stable government. His legal reforms and the new machinery of justice which he brought into being are of the highest possible importance to the jurist and to the student of constitutional history, but they do not specially concern us here. Henry at the beginning of his reign seems to have been well viewed in Rome, and believing, as the present writer does, that the Bull "Laudabiliter" is unquestionably genuine (see ADRIAN IV, and cf. "The Month", May and June, 1906), the religious mission entrusted to the king, no doubt upon his own representations, in the proposed conquest of Ireland, bears a close resemblance to the pretext advanced for William the Conqueror's invasion of Great Britain. In both cases, also, the Roman pontiff seems to have claimed dominion, granting the land to the invader as a fief upon payment of a certain tribute. The fact, that, according to the Bull "Laudabiliter", Henry himself had admitted (quod tua etiam nobilitas recognoscit) that "Ireland and all other islands upon which Christ, the Sun of Justice, has shone belong to the prerogative of St. Peter and the Holy Roman Church", deserves to be borne in mind in connection with King John's formal surrender of his kingdom to the Holy See at a later date.

But what specially interests us here in the reign of Henry II is the disputes between the king and Thomas, his archbishop, culminating, in 1170, in the martyrdom of the latter. Thomas Becket, a clerk in the household of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, having been strongly recommended to Henry, had been taken into his intimate friendship and made Chancellor of the Kingdom, an office which he had discharged with splendid ability for seven years. After the death of Theobald, Thomas, at the instance of the king himself, was elected Archbishop of Canterbury. He vainly tried to escape from the proposed dignity, but, once appointed, his consecration marked the beginning of a complete change of life. He renounced the chancellorship and all secular pursuits, while he devoted himself to the practice of rigorous asceticism. It was not long before he found himself in conflict with the king, as indeed he had foreseen from the first. The first question which caused an open breach between them was a purely secular one. Henry demanded that a certain tax called "the sheriff's aid" should be paid directly into the Exchequer. Thomas, in a Great Council, declared that he was willing to make his contribution to the sheriffs, as had been customary, but absolutely refused to pay if the money was to be added to the revenue of the Crown. Whether this tax was really the Danegeld, as Bishop Stubbs supposes, is very questionable, but in any case we may share his admiration for this, "the first instance of any opposition to the King's will in the matter of taxation which is recorded in our national history", and, as he adds, "it would seem to have been, formally at least, successful" (Const. Hist., I, 463). This incident, however, was soon thrown into the shade by the more serious quarrel over the Constitutions of Clarendon. What was put by the king in the forefront of the dispute was the alleged inadequacy of the punishment meted out to clerics who were guilty of criminal offences. The statement then made that a hundred homicides had been committed by clerics within ten years rests on no adequate evidence, neither are the cases of which we have definite particulars much more satisfactory (see Morris, "Life of St. Thomas", pp. 114 sqq.). It may be that the king was honestly intent on a scheme of judicial reform, and that he found that the growing jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts (the publication of the "Decretum Gratiani" and the increased study of the canon law had made them very popular) was an obstacle in his way. But Becket, who knew him well, suspected that Henry was deliberately striking at the privileges of the Church, and the manner in which a promise was extorted from the bishops to observe the "avitæ con suetudines" before anyone knew what these were, as well as the pretence that the Constitutions of Clarendon represented nothing but the customs said to have been observed in the time of Henry I, do not leave the impression of straightforward dealing. The general purport of the Constitutions, when they were at last made known, was to transfer certain causes — for example, those regarding presentations to benefices — from the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical to that of the King's Courts, to restrain appeals to Rome, to prevent the excommunication of the king's officers and great vassals, and to sanction the king's appropriation of the revenues of bishoprics and abbacies. On one clause, that dealing with criminous clerks, much misapprehension has prevailed. It was formerly supposed that Henry wanted all clerks accused of crimes to be tried in the King's Courts. But this impression, as F. W. Maitland has shown (Roman Canon Law, pp. 132-147), is certainly wrong. A rather complicated arrangement was proposed by which cognizance of the case was first to be taken in the King's Court; if the culprit proved to be a clerk, the case was to be tried in the ecclesiastical court, but an officer of the King's Court was to be present, who, if the accused were found guilty, was to conduct him back to the King's Court after degradation, where he would be dealt with as an ordinary criminal and adequately punished. The king's contention was that flogging, fines, degradation, and excommunication, beyond which the spiritual courts could not go, were insufficient as punishment. The archbishop urged that, apart from the principle of clerical privilege, to degrade a man first and to hang him afterwards was to punish him twice for the same offence. Once degraded, he lost all his rights, and if he committed another crime he might then be punished with death like any other felon. And here also it must not be forgotten that "the forces at the back of St. Thomas represented not only the respect which men feel for a bold fight for principle, but also that blind struggle against the hideous punishments of the age, of which the assertion of ecclesiastical privilege, covering widows and orphans as well as clerks and those that injured them, was a natural expression" (W. H. Hutton in "Social England", I, 394). After a moment of weakness in the earlier stage of the discussion, St. Thomas, in spite of Henry's fury, refused to have anything to say to the Constitutions. Among the rest of the bishops he met with little help, but the pope, Alexander III, loyally supported him. The rest of the story is well known. The archbishop soon found himself compelled to leave the kingdom. For nearly six years he remained abroad, an exile and bereft of his revenues. In 1170 a hollow reconciliation was patched up with the king, and Becket returned to Canterbury. But in a few weeks fresh cause of offence was given, and the king in a fit of passion uttered the rash words which led to the terrible tragedy of the martyrdom. St. Thomas fell in the transept of his cathedral, close beside the steps leading to the high altar, in the late afternoon of 29 December 1170. All Christendom was horrified, and Henry II, whether from policy or genuine remorse, surrendered his former pretensions while, in 1174, he performed humiliating penance at the martyr's tomb. Within a very few years Canterbury had become a place of pilgrimage celebrated throughout Europe. No one who studies carefully the history of the times can fail to see the immense moral force which such an example lent to the cause of the weak and to the liberties both of the Church and the people, against all forms of absolutism and tyranny. The precise quarrel for which St. Thomas gave his life was relatively a small matter. What was of supreme importance was the lesson that there was something higher, stronger, and more enduring than the will of the most powerful earthly despot.

The life of the Carthusian, St. Hugh, whom Henry II himself caused to be elected Bishop of Lincoln in 1186, forms an admirable pendant to that of St. Thomas. It may be noted in the first place, in view of the outcry raised a little later against the provision of foreigners to English sees, that St. Hugh was a Burgundian, who even at the end of his life hardly understood the language of the people. But no man ruled his diocese better, no man was more beloved alike by his own secular canons of Lincoln and by the numerous religious in his diocese; while, owing to his holiness, his fearlessness, and his merry humour, he was the only bishop who without yielding an inch of his high principles, preserved the respect and even the friendship of three such monarchs as Henry II, Richard C ur de Lion, and John. Very memorable was his firm refusal in the national council to grant Richard an aid in knights and money for foreign warfare. Though the reign of Richard, like that of his predecessor Henry II, still continued to be a period of reform in law, it was also a period of unparalleled exactions in money. In this case the great Justiciar, Hubert Walter, who was also Archbishop of Canterbury, had made himself the instrument of the king's designs. Though all the temporal lords submitted, St. Hugh offered an uncompromising and successful resistance. "This", says Bishop Stubbs, "which was done not on ecclesiastical but on constitutional grounds, is an act which stands out prominently by the side of St. Thomas's protest against Henry's proposal to appropriate the sheriffs' share of Danegeld" (Select Charters, p. 28).

Richard's extreme need of money had no doubt been caused in part by his participation in the Crusades and by the huge ransom he had had to pay when captured on his way home by Duke Leopold of Austria. Englishmen, both now and at an earlier date, had played their part in the Crusades. Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, who accompanied Richard, and who had been a most earnest preacher of the holy war, left his bones in Palestine, and Bishop Hubert Walter, who was destined to succeed him in the archbishopric, became the virtual commander of the English forces upon his death. But the Crusades exercised no great influence upon the national life of England. For our present purpose they are chiefly memorable as emphasizing the truth, so often ignored by Anglican writers, that medieval Christendom, while recognizing many different peoples and many different governments, conceived of the Church of God not as manifold, but as one. According to that "political theory of the Middle Age" which, founded by Gregory VII, had already imposed itself almost universally upon the speculative philosophy of Europe, the Church, embracing and controlling every form of civil government, was cosmopolitan and all-pervading. It was precisely the fact that she was not identified with any country or people, and that she appealed for her sanctions to forces outside of this visible world, that gave to the head of the Church his great position as the arbiter of nations. In principle no temporal ruler disputed the supremacy of the Vicar of Christ so long as the question remained in the abstract and so long as it was some other sovereign who was the sufferer. It was only when his own will was thwarted that active resistance was made, and then it was nearly always on some side issue, some technicality of law that the monarch and his advisers sought to evade the force of an unwelcome pronouncement. The very persistence with which monarchs at times sought to prevent the introduction into England of papal Bulls, provisions, or excommunications, was an acknowledgment rather than a repudiation of the papal authority; just as a man who barricades himself in his house that a writ may not be served on him is really giving proof of his supreme respect for the majesty of the law. This point of view is one that has carefully to be borne in mind in connection with the resistance to the papal exactions of the thirteenth century and with such apparently unfriendly legislation as the Statutes of Præmunire and Provisors which we shall have to consider later on.

The reign of John (1199-1216) was a time of terrible suffering for the country, but it had results of untold importance in the consolidation of England as a nation. The very loss of her foreign possessions — for in Henry II's day more than half France had recognized the suzerainty of the King of England — contributed to that result. But within Great Britain itself, ever since the Norman Conquest, the political constituents of the nation had been divided between two strongly marked parties more or less in opposition. The first, or feudal, element consisted of the great nobles of the Conquest, with their vassals and the influences they wielded. The tendency of this party was centrifugal or disruptive, and they looked upon the country and its people as their lawful prey. The second, which for convenience' sake may be called the national element, was less homogeneous. It comprised the king, the newer nobility which represented mainly the great officials of the Crown appointed under Henry I and Henry II, and with these the bishops and clergy almost to a man. Taken as a whole, all these recognized the advantage of a centralized government and sympathized with the native population, wishing their rights to be respected and justice to be done. Now it was the work of John's lawless and despotic rule, especially after the restraining influence of Hubert Walter was withdrawn by death, to break up this combination and to unite all parties against himself. In this the action of Pope Innocent III, culminating in the Interdict and the sentence of deposition pronounced against John, played a most vital part. It is needless to recapitulate the story of the election of Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury, over which John's quarrel with the Holy See practically began. But it is well to recall that Langton, who rendered such splendid service to the liberties of his country, and whose name is imperishably associated with Magna Charta, was the pope's own nominee, elected at his instance by the Christ Church monks who had been dispatched to Rome. Under stress of the Interdict and of John's exactions, the old feudal lords, the clergy, and the new "ministerial" nobility gradually drew together. John found that he had none but a few personal partisans upon whom he could count, and Philip of France with a great following threatened invasion to enforce the pope's sentence of deposition. Under these circumstances John made his submission to the legate, Pandulf, promising to receive all the exiled bishops and to make restitution for the injuries and losses the Church had sustained. A few days later, on 13 May, the vigil of the Ascension, 1213, he went even further, for he surrendered his crown and kingdom into the hands of the legate to be received back from him as a fief which he and his successors were to hold of the pope for an annual rent of one thousand marks. It is not unnatural, perhaps, that this transaction should have been denounced by historians in the language of unmeasured indignation. Even Lingard in his day described it as "heaping everlasting infamy on the memory of John", but the considerations he puts forward in extenuation of the act have not been without weight with later students. It may be said to be now generally acknowledged that the idea of such a surrender probably did not originate with the pope, but with John himself (see Davis, "England under the Normans and Angevins", 1905, p. 368; Norgate, "John Lackland", 1902, p. 181). As the second of these two writers explains, there is a quite intelligible motive for such an act: "John felt that he must bind the Pope to his personal interest by some special tie of such a nature that the interest of the papacy itself would prevent Innocent from casting it off or breaking it." But secondly, the statement formerly made about the cry of indignation heard in England when the news was known has little or no foundation. The vehement denunciation of the act by the partisan Matthew Paris, as "a thing to be detested for all time", was written many years afterwards. "Some", says Davis, "stigmatised the transaction as ignominious, but the most judicial chronicler of his day calls it a prudent move, for, he adds, there was hardly any other way in which John could escape from all his dangers. Even the hostile barons whose plans received an unexpected check did not venture either now or later to dispute the validity of the transaction" (cf. Adams, "Political Hist. of Eng.", II, 315). For such vassalage there were abundant precedents, both within and without the British Isles. Only twenty years earlier, as Hoveden states, Richard C ur de Lion resigned his crown to the Emperor Henry, engaging to receive it as a fief of the empire for an annual payment of five thousand pounds; while the Scottish patriots a century later, to defeat the claims of Edward I, acknowledged the pope as their feudal lord and pretended that Scotland had always been a fief of the Holy See. It would be most misleading to interpret these and other similar transactions merely in the light of modern sentiment. Perhaps one of the most regrettable features in the incident of John's submission and absolution is the encouragement which the sense of papal protection seems to have given him to proceed in his career of wrongdoing. His later action toward his subjects was no more straightforward or constitutional than before, and he seems to have deceived or gained over the legate to his side. But Archbishop Langton and his barons by this time knew him well, and by inflexible persistence they forced John to accept their terms. Taking as their foundation an earlier document granted by Henry I at the beginning of his reign, they drew up a charter of liberties, many times confirmed with slight variations in the course of the next century, and destined to be famous through all time as Magna Charta. This great treaty between the king and his people, which Stubbs has described (Const. Hist., II, p. 1) as "the consummation of the work for which unconsciously kings, prelates and lawyers had been labouring for a century, the summing up of one period of national life and the starting point of another", begins with a religious preamble declaring that John was moved to issue this charter out of reverence for God, for the benefit of his own soul, for the exaltation of Holy Church, and for the amendment of his kingdom, and, further, that he had acted therein by the advice of Stephen, Archbishop of Canterbury, of the other bishops, and of Pandulf "subdeacon of the Lord Pope and member of his household", as also of the secular lords, the more important of whom are mentioned by name. As in the charter of Henry I, so here, the first article promises freedom to the Church in England (quod ecelesia Anglicana libera sit et habeat jura sua integra et libertates suas illæsas) and specifies in particular the freedom of election of bishops, which, as the document further explains, had already been promised by the king and ratified by Pope Innocent. For the rest it will be sufficient to say that Magna Charta in substance lays down the principle that the king has no right to violate the law, and, if he attempts to do so, may be constrained by force to obey it. In particular, justice is not to be sold, or delayed, or refused to any man. No freeman is to be taken or imprisoned or outlawed except by the lawful judgment of his peers. No scutage or tax, other than the three regular aids, is to be imposed except by the consent of the common council of the kingdom. Twenty-five barons were appointed to watch over the execution of the Charter, but they were far from retaining the sympathy of all. "Before the conference at Runnymede came to an end", says Mackechnie, "confidence in the good intentions of the 25 executors, drawn it must be remembered entirely from the section of the baronage most unfriendly to John, seems to have been completely lost" (Mackechnie, "Magna Carta", p. 53). The indignation, therefore, formerly expressed at the subsequent action of Innocent III in declaring the charter null and void is now generally admitted to be unreasonable. The barons had themselves claimed the credit of making England a papal fief (Lingard, II, 333; Rymer, I, 185), and it was certainly contrary to feudal usage for a vassal to contract obligations of this serious kind without reference to the overlord.

That the papal condemnation was not directed in principle against English popular liberties, may be inferred from the fact that the Charter was confirmed in November, 1216, upon the accession of the child king, Henry III, at a time when the papal legate Gualo was all-powerful, and was strongly supported by the new pope, Honorius III. The long reign which then began with a regency, despite the personal piety of Henry, was a period of much distress in England. The king's weakness and his partiality for foreign favourites involved him in a vast expenditure, while, on the other hand, the taxation thus necessitated could only have been carried through without disturbance by a strong central government, which was here entirely lacking. Cabals and intrigues of all kinds abounded, and the situation was complicated by constant demands for money made by the Holy See. The exactions of the various legates and the never ending "provisions" of papal nominees to canonries and rich livings were undoubtedly the cause of very bitter feeling at the time, and have formed the favourite theme of historians ever since. It would be useless to deny the existence of very serious abuses, more especially the fact that a large number of French and Italian clergy provided to English benefices never visited the country at all, and were content with simply drawing the revenues. But on the other hand there is much to be said in extenuation of the papal action, which unfortunately has been set before English readers in the most unfavourable light, owing to the bitter antipapalist feeling of the great St. Albans chronicler, Matthew Paris. How much Paris's judgment was warped by his prejudices, may be clearly seen in his unfriendly references to the friars, though they were then, at least relatively, in their first fervour. Lingard says of him that he seems to have collected and preserved every scandalous anecdote that would gratify his censorious disposition, and he adds a very strong personal expression of opinion regarding Paris's untrustworthiness (Hist. of Eng., II, 479). It is not wonderful that in that outspoken age Matthew Paris and others like him, finding their pockets touched by the papal demands, should have raised an outcry which went a good deal beyond the actual damage inflicted. This very period, when England, it is alleged, was ground under the heel of papal tyranny, "was in all other fields of action, except the political, an epoch of unexampled progress" (Tout in "Polit. Hist. of England", III, 81). Again, the pope's need of money, owing to the life-and-death struggle with the Hohenstaufen, was real enough. In the eyes of Gregory IX and Innocent IV the wars with the excommunicated German emperor were as genuine a crusade in behalf of the Church of God as that undertaken against the Turks. Moreover, with regard to the provision of foreigners to English benefices, even after making all allowances for the bitter feeling against aliens which manifested itself so often in the reign of Henry III, it is impossible to deny that the world in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and especially the ecclesiastical world, was cosmopolitan to a degree of which we can now form no conception. In the early part of the thirteenth century nearly all the oldest and most influential men in England had made at least part of their studies in Paris. The two Archbishops of Canterbury, Stephen Langton and St. Edmund Rich, both men of pure English descent, might be instanced as conspicuous examples, and if Englishmen had to complain of the many foreign ecelesiastics provided for in England, it must not be forgotten that there was quite a considerable number of Englishmen occupying foreign sees and other positions of emolument on the Continent. The fact is indisputable — as indisputable as the fact that Englishmen formed a large proportion of the freebooters who roamed through Italy a century later and accepted the pay of anyone who would hire them — but it is interesting to find it proudly insisted upon by Matthew Paris, who in his indignation at the nomination of foreign ecclesiastics to English benefices, declares that England has no occasion to go abroad to beg for suitable candidates, seeing that she herself was rather accustomed to supply dignitaries for other distant lands ("Nec indiget Anglia extra fines suos in remotis regionibus personas regimini ecelesiarum idoneas mendicare, quæ solet tales aliis sæpius miristrare". — Historia Major, IV, 61).

The cosmopolitan tendencies just alluded to were very much increased in the thirteenth century by one of the greatest religious revivals which the world has seen, viz., that resulting from the foundation and rapid development of the mendicant orders. There is no reason to suppose that the effects produced by the preaching of the Franciscan and Dominican friars, who first came to England in 1224 and 1221 respectively, were more remarkable in this country than abroad, but all historians are agreed that the impressions produced by this popularizing of religion were very marked. The work of spiritual regeneration which they performed at the first was wonderful, and they were warmly encouraged by such holy men and patriotic prelates as the great Bishop Grosseteste. It is perhaps more important to note that, despite the accusations of idleness and worldliness made against them at a later date, their zeal was not extinguished, even if it flagged. An impartial historian who has given special attention to the subject says: "For more than three hundred years the mendicant Friars in England were on the whole a power for good up and down the land, the friends of the poor and the evangelisers of the masses. During all that long time they were supported only by the voluntary offerings of the people at large — just as the hospitals for the sick and incurable are supported now, — and when they were driven out of their houses and their churches were looted in common with those of the monks and nuns, the Friars had no broad acres and no manors, no real property to seize, and very little was gained by the spoiling of their goods, but inasmuch as they were at all times the most devoted servants and subjects of the Pope of Rome, they had to go at last, when Henry VIII had made up his mind to rule over his own kingdom and to be supreme head over State and Church" (Jessopp, "History of England", 34).

It was during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries that the relations between the medieval English Church and the Holy See may be considered to have assumed their final shape. At least this was the period when with such an outspoken champion as the great Bishop Robert of Lincoln (Grosseteste), or later, under so masterful a ruler as Edward I, or, again, amid the growing independence of Parliament, encouraged by such promoters of ecclesiastical disaffection as Wyclif and John of Gaunt in the reign of Edward III, the "Ecclesia Anglicana", according to the theory recently most prevalent, began to assert herself and resolutely set to work to put the pope in his place. And here it may be said once for all that the not unnatural impatience of papal supervision and papal interference which was often shown by strong kings like Edward I, and also at times by the clergy themselves, proves absolutely nothing against the acceptance of the pope's supreme authority as head of the Church. That subordinates should wish to be left free to enjoy a large measure of independence is a law of human nature. England's colonies, for example, may be quite loyal. They may fully recognize in principle the supreme right of the imperial Government, and yet any dictation from home which goes beyond what is customary, and especially when it is of a kind which touches the colonial pocket, provokes resentment and is apt to be angrily resisted. Even in a fervent religious order a proposed visitation of some outlying house or province may be met with remonstrance and an appeal to precedent on the part of those who, how ever docile, are doubtful of the ability of a foreign authority to understand local conditions. An entire acceptance of the spiritual supremacy of the Holy See is not in the least inconsistent with the belief that an individual pontiff, and still more the officials who form the entourage of that pontiff, may be influenced by mercenary or unworthy motives. There is not any form of authority in the world which is not at times disobeyed and defied under more or less specious pretexts by those who fully recognize in principle their own subordination. Thus it happens that the supporters of "Anglican Continuity" theories are able to quote many utterances of medieval writers that sound disaffected or rebellious in tone, they are able to appeal to many individual acts of disobedience, but they fail altogether in producing any, even the faintest, repudiation in principle of the pope's spiritual supremacy by the accredited representatives of the pre-Reformation Church. By no historian has this truth been more clearly recognized than by the distinguished jurist, F. W. Maitland. Challenging the statement of the Ecclesiastical Courts Commission of 1883, which, largely under the guidance of the eminent historian, Bishop Stubbs, reported that "papal law was not binding in [medieval] England even in questions of faith and morals unless it had been accepted by the national authorities", Professor Maitland, with an irrefragable array of illustrations drawn mainly from the classical canon-law book of the English pre-Reformation Church, the "Provinciale" of Bishop Lyndwood (1435), maintains the exact contrary. According to Lyndwood, as Dr. Maitland clearly proves, "The Pope is above the law, . . . to dispute the authority of a papal decretal is to be guilty of heresy, at a time when deliberate heresy was a capital crime". "The last", Dr. Maitland continues, "is no private opinion of a glossator, it is a principle to which archbishops, bishops and clergy of the province of Canterbury have adhered by solemn words" (Roman Canon Law, 17). As the same authority goes on to show, not only did the pope claim and obtain recognition of his right to take into his own hands the judgment of every ecclesiastical cause over the head of the bishop, but it was largely through the questions and appeals of English bishops to Rome, asking for decisions, that the fabric of Roman canon law was built up (loc. cit., 53, 66, etc.). In full accord with this we find Archbishop Peckham telling such a monarch as Edward I that the emperor of all has given authority to the decrees of the popes, and that all men, all kings are bound by those decrees. So we find the Archbishop of Canterbury with all his suffragans writing a joint letter to the pope and telling him that all bishops derived their authority from him as rivulets from the fountainhead (Sandale's "Register", 90-98). We find the pope carving a big slice from the jurisdiction of English bishoprics, as in the case of the Abbey of St. Albans or of Bury St. Edmunds, and making it absolutely and entirely exempt from episcopal authority. We find the very kings who are supposed by their Statutes of Provisors and Præmunire to have shaken off their allegiance to Rome, begging the sovereign pontiff in most respectful language to issue letters of provision or Bulls of confirmation in favour of such and such an ecclesiastic who enjoys the royal favour. No doubt these statutes of Provisors and Præmunire do in some sense play an important part in the history of the English Church during the fourteenth century, though it is admitted that they were so continually set aside that the permanent result of the legislation was greatly to strengthen the development of the king's dispensing power. The Statutes of Provisors, of which the first was passed in 1351, claimed for all electing bodies and patrons the right to elect or to present freely to the benefices in their gift, and moreover declared invalid all appointments brought about by way of papal "provision", i.e. nomination. Two years later this legislation was supplemented by the first Statute of Præmunire, which enacted that those who brought matters cognizable in the King's Courts before foreign courts should be liable to forfeiture and outlawry. It has been maintained that these acts prove that the English Church did not acknowledge any providing power in the Holy See. To this we may reply:

In the 300 years preceding the Reformation 313 bishops are known to have been provided by the popes; of these 47 were before the passing of the Statute, 266 after it (see Moyes in "The Tablet", 2 Dec., 1893). One thing is certain, that England in several instances owed some of her best and holiest prelates to the action of the popes in providing to English sees in opposition to the known wishes of the king. Stephen Langton, in 1205, St. Edmund Rich, in 1232, and John Peckham, in 1279, are conspicuous examples. We have already said above that a reaction against current Anglican theories regarding the position of the pope in the medieval English Church has been steadily growing during the last quarter of a century. The complete agreement of such writers as Professor F. M. Maitland, Dr. James Gairdner, and Mr. H. Rashdall, approaching the subject along quite different lines of research, is very remarkable. The following passage from one of the most distinguished of the younger school of English historians, Prof. Tout, of Manchester, states the case as frankly as it could have been stated by Lingard himself. After insisting that the Statutes of Provisors and Præmunire, like that of Labourers, or the sumptuary laws remained a dead letter in practice, and after declaring that to the average clergy man or theologian of the day the pope was the one Divinely appointed source of ecclesiastical authority, the shepherd to whom the Lord had given commission to feed His sheep, Prof. Tout continues: "The anti-papal laws of the fourteenth century were the acts of the secular not of the ecclesiastical power. They were not simply antipapal, they were also anticlerical in their tendency, since to the man of the age an attack on the Pope was an attack on the Church. . . . The clergyman, though his soul grew indignant against the curialists, still believed that the Pope was the divinely appointed autocrat of the Church universal. Being a man, a Pope might be a bad Pope; but the faithful Christian, though he might lament and protest, could not but obey in the last resort. The papacy was so essentially interwoven with the whole Church of the Middle Ages that few figments have less historical basis than the notion that there was an antipapal Anglican Church in the days of the Edwards" (Polit. Hist. of Eng., III, 379). No one who carefully studies the language and acts of such a man as Grosseteste can fail to realize the truth that in spite of all his fearless criticism of the Roman Curia, his attitude of mind is thoroughly reverential to papal authority. The most famous, as being the least temperately worded, of all his pronouncements is now known to have been addressed, not, as formerly thought, to Pope Innocent IV himself, but to one of his subordinates. On the other hand, as Maitland points out, Grosseteste throughout his life proclaimed in the strongest terms his belief in the plenitude of the papal power. "I know", he says, "and I affirm without any reserve that there belongs to our lord the Pope, and to the Holy Roman Church, the power of disposing freely of all ecclesiastical benefices." And this and similar language, acknowledging, for example, the pope to be the sun from which other bishops, like the moon and stars, receive whatever powers they have to illuminate and fructify the Church, was not only maintained by Grosseteste to the end (see "The Month", March, 1895), but re-echoed by Bishop Arundel nearly two centuries afterwards.

So again the occurrences which followed the publication by Boniface VIII of the Bull "Clericis laicos", in the days of Edward I and Archbishop Winchelsea, tend to show that even when the pope took up a position which was too extreme and from which he was forced ultimately to retire, the English Church was not less, but more, loyal to the Apostolic See than other, Continental, nations. Nothing could be less true to the facts of history than the idea that England stood apart from the rest of Christendom, with an ecclesiastical law, a theology, or in any essential matter even a ritual, of her own. The cosmopolitanism of the religious orders, especially the mendicants, and of the universities, would alone have sufficed to render this isolation impossible. England's isolation began when she broke away from the Roman obedience, suppressed the religious orders, banished every Catholic priest, and adopted a pronunciation of Latin which no Continental scholar could understand.

The great disturbing force in the ecclesiastical life of England during the fourteenth century, much more than the Statutes of Provisors or even the Black Death, was the rise and spread of Lollardy. We may perhaps doubt if the significance of the movement in this country was by any means as great as that which historians, partly on account of the Bohemian upheaval under John Hus which grew out of Wyclif's doctrines, partly through the favourite modern theory that Lollardy produced the Reformation, have generally attributed to it. Dr. James Gairdner, however, who has recently investigated the whole movement and its sequelæ with a thoroughness and knowledge of original materials to which no previous writer can lay claim, has arrived at conclusions which tend very seriously to modify the views hitherto very commonly received. In his idea the novelty and the socialistic tendency of the opinions so boldly proclaimed by Wyclif did constitute a grave political danger, a danger which was not, perhaps, so acute in the reformer's lifetime because the most startling of his views developed late, only ten years or less before his death (1384), but which were eagerly caught up and even exaggerated by ignorant disciples at a time of weak rule and political unrest. The fact that the Great Schism of the West broke out only six years before Wyclif's death added to the complications by leaving the greater part of Christendom in a state of uncertainty as to which of the rival popes had the better claim to men's allegiance, and to this cause most probably is due the fact that Wyclif was left during his last years to propagate his doctrines practically undisturbed. That his doctrines were utterly revolutionary, as judged by any standard of opinion tolerated up to that time it would be absurd to deny. No one can fail to see the danger of teaching that there was no real dominion, no real authority, no real ownership of property without the grace of God. From this he deduced the conclusions that a man in mortal sin had no right to anything at all, that among Christians there ought to be community of goods, and that, as to the clergy having property of their own, it was a gross abuse. Similarly he held that every layman had Christ Himself for priest, bishop, and pope; that a pope was only to be obeyed when he taught according to Scripture, and that a king might take away all the endowments of the Church. With these were combined in his later years theological opinions regarding the sacraments and Transubstantiation which were offensive in the extreme to the Christian sense of that day. Wyclif, no doubt, in his philosophical teaching provided safeguards which mitigated the practical consequences of the principles he held, but these were subtilties which were lost upon the more ignorant and fanatical of his followers, more especially after their master's death. The points that they clearly understood were that tithes were pure alms, and that if the parish priests were not good men the tithes need not be paid; that a priest receiving any annual allowance by compact was simoniacal and excommunicated; that a priest who said Mass in mortal sin did not validly consecrate, but rather committed idolatry; that any priest could hear confessions (without faculties), and in fact that any holy layman predestined by God was competent to administer the sacraments without ordination. Such opinions as these, debated among the ignorant and uninstructed, and reinforced by a constant railing against devotional practices, such as pilgrimages, and against the Roman Court, the friars and all ecclesiastical authority, were obviously full of danger to social order at a time when the Black Death and the question of villeinage which resulted from it, had already provided many elements of disturbance.

Speaking of the proceedings against the foremost representative of Lollard opinions, Sir John Oldcastle, in 1413, Dr. Gairdner says: "It seems to have been a life-and-death struggle between established order and heresy"; and Bishop Stubbs, while doing too much honour by far to the fanatic creed of the Wyclifite leader, remarks: "Perhaps we shall most safely conclude from the tenor of history that his doctrinal creed was far sounder than the principles which guided either his moral or his political conduct." These comments really sum up the situation. The Wyclifite heresy became for a while a real danger to the peace of the country, as Oldcastle's insurrection proved. On the other hand, there was very little that was either sane or ennobling in the dreams which inspired the leaders, and which were imparted to their often very ignorant followers. Given the ideas then, and long after, universally prevalent in regard to heresy and the measures of repression necessary to prevent infection from spreading, there was nothing exceptionally cruel or intolerant about the statute "De hæretico com burendo" of 1401, which provided that heretics convicted before a spiritual court, and refusing to recant, were to be handed over to the secular arm and burnt. There can be no doubt that before this extreme measure was resorted to much provocation had been given by the preaching of doctrines which all Christians then deemed blasphemous, and which were not confined to the vilifying of the Holy Eucharist, the pope, and the clergy, but touched upon the sanctity of marriage and the observance of Sunday as a day of rest. Dr. Gairdner, after a very careful survey of all the evidence, is satisfied that Archbishop Arundel and his suffragans acted in the interests of public order and showed no inclination to enforce the statute either intemperately or tyrannically. In point of fact after the suppression of Oldcastle's insurrection and his execution at the stake, Lollardy was no longer to be feared as a political power. Wyclif's ideas had little hold in England upon men of any weight or consideration. They lingered on for awhile and perhaps never entirely died down, though prosecutions for heresy became very rare long before the end of the fifteenth century, but they certainly cannot be regarded as a direct and primary cause of the religious changes which took place in the reign of Henry VIII.

Perhaps the most important in its ultimate consequences of all Wyclif's tenets was the supreme importance which he attributed to Holy Scripture. In his treatise "De Veritate Sacræ Scripturæ", written about 1378, he practically adopts the position that Scripture is the sole rule of faith. It followed in his idea that the word of God ought to become accessible to all, and that all men were free to interpret it for themselves. We are told, moreover, by a contemporary and hostile authority, the chronicler Knighton, that Wyclif himself translated the Gospel into English. Upon this and other evidence it has been commonly supposed that Wyclif was the first to bring the Bible to the knowledge of English readers and that the medieval Church uniformly adopted the practice of withholding the Scriptures from the laity. It is to the credit of modern students of medieval history that the grave misrepresentations involved in this traditional Protestant view are now generally abandoned (see e.g. Gairdner, "Lollardy", I, 100-17; "Cambridge Hist. of Eng. Literature", II, 56-62). We may summarize from the former of these writers the following conclusions, which represent what is best worth recalling upon this subject. The Church was not opposed in principle to the use of vernacular translations. Undoubtedly, translations into English of separate books of Scripture existed as far back as in the days of Bede. It is improbable, however, that a whole Bible in English, as distinct from Anglo-Saxon, existed before Wyclif's time; neither was it much required, for nearly all who could read, could read the Bible either in the Latin of the Vulgate, which the Church preferred, or in French. There was, however, no express prohibition to translate the Scriptures into English until the prohibition of the Provincial Synod of Oxford published in 1409. This prohibition was not seemingly occasioned by corrupt renderings or anything liable to censure in the text, but simply by the fact that it was composed for the general use of the laity, who were encouraged to interpret it in their own way without reference to the tradition and teaching of the Church. In fine, Dr. Gairdner concludes: "To the possession by worthy laymen of licensed translations the Church was never opposed, but to place such a weapon as an English Bible in the hands of men who had no regard for authority, and who would use it without being instructed to use it properly, was dangerous not only to the souls of those who read, but to the peace and order of the Church." The view has of late years been strongly urged by Abbot Gasquet, that the English version (or versions, for there are really two) commonly known as the Wyclifite Bible, has no connection with Wyclif, but is simply the fourteenth-century translation approved by ecclesiastical authority and existing probably before Wyclif's time. There are not wanting arguments in support of such a contention, but the difficulties are also serious, and the theory cannot be said to have found general acceptance.

The fifteenth century, owing mainly to the long minority of King Henry VI, and to the Wars of the Roses, was a period of political disturbance, and it does not add much to the ecclesiastical history of the country. We shall do well, however, to note that the invention of printing in England, as elsewhere, was cordially welcomed by the Church, and that it was under the shadow of the English Abbeys of Westminster and St. Albans that the earliest presses were erected. Despite the religious indifference which is supposed to have heralded the Reformation, the tone of the literature given to the world at these presses seems to bear witness to the prevalence of a very genuine spirit of piety.

As the story of the English Reformation is more fully told in the second part of this article, while many separate articles are to be found in THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA dealing with particular phases and leading personalities of that period, a brief outline of the great change will suffice to conclude this sketch of pre-Reformation England. Catholic historians and all others, except a small minority representing a particular school of Anglicanism, are agreed that, so far as England was concerned, even after the Wyclif movement, the Great Schism of the West, and the humanist revival of learning had done their worst, the position of the Church under the jurisdiction of Rome remained as secure as it had ever been. Lollardy no doubt had inoculated a certain section of the nation, and there were here and there stirrings indicative of a doctrinal revolt even during the early days of Henry VIII's reign, but with an episcopate thoroughly loyal to the Holy See and with the support of the king's strong government, these rumblings threatened no danger to the religious peace of the kingdom at large. Neither does there seem to have been any great decay of morals among clergy or laity. The public opinion of the learned world has in all substantial respects endorsed Abbot Gasquet's vindication of the discipline observed in the religious houses prior to the suppression. Occasional scandals there probably were, and even a great abbey like St. Alban's may possibly have given some cause for the very grievous charges rehearsed against it in 1491 by Archbishop Morton, though the matter is seriously contested (see bibliography), but there is not the least reason to believe that any wave of moral indignation at ecclesiastical corruption or any resentment of Roman authority had made themselves felt amongst the people of England until many years after Luther had thrown down the gauntlet in Germany. What produced the English Reformation was simply the passion of an able and unscrupulous despot who had the cleverness to turn to his own account certain revolutionary forces which are always inherent in human nature and which are always especially liable to be awakened into activity by the dogmatic teaching and the stern censures of the Church of Rome. Of course the movement was much helped forward by the wider distribution of a modicum of learning which had been effected by the invention of the printing press, and which, while enabling people to read and interpret the text of Scripture for themselves, had too often filled them with conceit and with contempt for all scholastic traditions. The age was, at least relatively, an age of novelties and of unrest. The discovery of America had fired the imagination; the humanism of a coterie of scholars had in a measure spread to the masses. There was general talk of the "New Learning" — by which, however, as Abbot Gasquet has pointed out, men meant not the revival of classical studies, but rather the bold and often heretical speculations about religion which were agitating so many minds. A great part of Germany was already in revolt, and England was not so isolated but that the echoes of controversy reached her shores. All these things made Henry's task easier, but for the severance of England from the obedience of the pope he, and he alone, was responsible. So far as Parliament had any share in the matter, the Parliament was Henry's tool. This estimate of the situation, which was long ago put forward by such writers as Dodd and Lingard, has impressed itself of late years with ever-increasing force upon Anglican opinion and will nowhere be found more clearly enunciated than in the writings of Dr. Brewer and Dr. James Gairdner, who, by their intimate first-hand acquaintance with all the manuscript materials for the reign of Henry VIII, are entitled to speak with supreme authority.

The fact that Henry was himself an amateur theologian and had vindicated against Luther the Catholic doctrine of the sacraments, thereby earning from Leo X the title of "Defender of the Faith", was probably fraught with tremendous consequences in the situation created by his attempted divorce from Queen Catherine. Profoundly impressed with his own dialectical skill, he persuaded himself that his case was thoroughly sound in law, and this probably carried him, almost without his being aware of it, into positions from which no retreat was possible to a man of his temperament. It was in 1529 that the papal commission to Wolsey and Campeggio, to pronounce upon the validity of the dispensation granted to Henry many years before to marry his deceased brother's wife, terminated by the pope's revocation of the cause to Rome. The failure of the divorce commission was quickly followed by the disgrace and death of Wolsey, and Wolsey's removal allowed all that was least amiable in Henry's nature to come to the surface. Two very able men, Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell, were ready at hand to second his designs, skilfully anticipating and furthering the king's wishes. To Cranmer is undoubtedly due the suggestion that Henry might obtain sufficient authority for treating his marriage as null if only he procured a number of opinions to that effect from the universities of Christendom. This was acted upon, and, by various arts and after the expenditure of a good deal of money, a collection of highly favourable answers was obtained. From Cromwell, on the other hand, the idea came that the king should make himself supreme head of the Church in England and thus get rid of the imperium in imperio. This was ingeniously contrived by the outrageous pretence that the clergy had collectively incurred the penalties of Præmunire by recognizing Wolsey's legislative jurisdiction; though this, of course, had been exercised with the royal knowledge and authority. Upon this preposterous pretext the clergy in convocation were compelled to make a huge grant of money and to insert a clause in the preamble of the vote acknowledging the King as "Protector and Supreme Head of the Church of England, as far as the law of Christ allows". This last qualification was only inserted after much debate, though it seems that at that period Henry was willing that the phrase "Supreme Head" should be understood in a way that was not inconsistent with the supremacy of the pope. At any rate, even after this, bishops still continued to receive their Bulls from Rome, and the royal divorce still continued to be pleaded there. Early in 1532 another move was made. The Commons were persuaded to frame a supplication against the Clergy of which drafts remain in the handwriting of Cromwell, showing from whom it emanated. This, after various negotiations and a certain amount of pressure, resulted in the "Submission of the Clergy", by which they promised not to legislate for the future without submitting their enactments for the approval of the king and a mixed committee of Parliament. To bring pressure to bear on the pope, the king caused Parliament to leave it in Henry's power to withhold from the Holy See altogether the payment of annates, or first-fruits of bishoprics, which consisted in the amount of the first year's revenue. By such gradual steps the breach with Rome was brought about, though even as late as January, 1533, application in a form most discreditably insincere was still made to Rome for the Bulls of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Cranmer, who had been elected on Warham's death, and who took the oaths of obedience to the pope, though he had previously declared that he regarded them as null and void. Almost immediately afterwards Cranmer pronounced sentence of divorce between Henry and Catherine. The king then had Anne Boleyn crowned, and an Act of Succession was passed next year with a preamble and an oath to be taken by every person of lawful age. Parliament all submitted and took the oath, but More and Fisher refused and were sent to the Tower. The climax of the whole work of disruption may be considered to have been reached in November, 1534, by the passing of the Act of Supremacy, which declared the king Supreme Head of the Church of England, this time without any qualification, and which annexed the title to his imperial crown.

A reign of terror now began for all who were unwilling to accept exactly that measure of teaching about matters religious and political which the king thought fit to impose. Fisher and More had been sent to the block, and others, like the Carthusians, who rivalled them in their firmness, were dispatched by that ghastly and more ignominious death-penalty assigned to cases of high treason. In virtue of this martyrdom these and many more are now venerated upon our altars as beatified servants of God. The rising in the North known as the Pilgrimage of Grace followed, and, when this dangerous movement had been frustrated by the astuteness and unscrupulous perjury of the king's representatives, fresh horrors were witnessed in a repression which knew no mercy. Previous to this had taken place the suppression of the smaller monasteries; and that of the larger houses soon followed, while an Act for the dissolution of chantries and free hospitals was passed in 1545, which there was not time to carry entirely into execution before the king's death. Probably all these things, even the destruction of shrines and images, reflect a certain rapacity in the king's nature rather than hostility to what would now be called popish practices. In his sacramental theology he still clung to the positions of the "Assertio septem sacramentorum", the book he had written to refute Luther. Both in the Six Articles and in the "Necessary Doctrine" the dogma of Transubstantiation is insisted upon; and indeed more than one unfortunate reformer who denied the Real Presence was sent to the stake. It was on this side that Henry's task was hardest. Against the Papalist sympathizers amongst his own subjects he consistently maintained a ruthless severity, neither did he relent until all were cowed into submission. Towards men of Calvinist and Lutheran tendencies, who were represented in high places by Cranmer, Cromwell, and many more, the king had intermittently shown favour. He had used them to do his work. They had been of the greatest assistance in prejudicing the cause of the pope, and even the most violent and scurrilous had rendered him service. True, the railing translation of the New Testament by Tyndale, which had been printed and brought to England as early as 1526, was prohibited, as was Coverdale's Bible later on, in 1546, very near the close of his reign. It is plain that the scurrility of the more revolutionary led him to regard such teaching as dangerous to public order. Very remarkable are the words used by Henry in his last speech in Parliament, when he deplored the results of promiscuous Bible-reading: "I am very sorry to know how that most precious jewel, the Word of God, is disputed, rhymed, sung and jangled in every alehouse. I am equally sorry that readers of the same follow it so faintly and coldly in living; of this I am sure, that charity was never so faint among you, and virtuous and godly living was never less used, and God Himself among Christians was never less reverenced, honoured and served." If ever a moral and religious cataclysm was the work of one man, most assuredly the first stage of the Reformation in England was the work of Henry VIII. One could wish we knew that the sense of his own personal responsibility for the evils he deplored had come home to him before the hour when, on 28 January, 1547, he was summoned to his account.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature in the religious condition of England during the last year of Henry's reign was the fact that, besides the king himself, there were probably not a score of persons who were contented with the existing settlement. One large section of the nation was in complete sympathy with the doctrines of the German reformers, and to them the Mass, confession, communion in one kind, etc., which had been preserved untouched throughout all the changes, were simply as gall and wormwood. The great numerical majority, on the other hand, especially in the more remote and thinly populated districts, longed for the restoration of the old order of things. They wished to see the monks back, St. Thomas of Canterbury and the shrines of Our Lady once more in honour, and the pope recognized as the common father of Christendom. During the two short reigns which intervened before Elizabeth came to the throne each of these parties alternately gained the ascendant. Under Edward VI, the Protector Somerset, and after him the Duke of Northumberland, in full harmony with Cranmer, Hooper, and other bishops even more Calvinistically minded, abolished all remnants of popery. Chantries and guilds were suppressed, and their revenues confiscated, images in the churches, and then altars and vestments were removed and destroyed, while the material desecration was only typical of the outrages done to the ancient liturgy of Catholic worship in the first and second Books of Common Prayer. (See ANGLICANISM; ANGLICAN ORDERS; BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER.) The bishops who were more Catholically minded, like Bonner and Gardiner, were sent to the Tower. Princess Mary was subjected to the meanest and most petty forms of persecution. Neither can it be maintained that those in power were animated by any disinterested devotion to Reformation principles. Spoliation in its most vulgar form was the order of the day. It is only of late years that fuller historical research has done justice to what seemed the one redeeming feature in the general work of destruction — the foundation of the grammar schools which are known by the name of King Edward VI. We have now learned that not one of these schools was originally of Edwardian creation (see Leach, "English Schools at the Reformation"). Educational resources had already been seriously impaired under Henry VIII, and "the schools which bear the name of Edward VI owe nothing to him or his government but a more economic establishment. A good many of them had been chantry schools, for if the chantry priest of old wasted his time in singing for souls he not infrequently did good work as a school master." So says a judicious summarizer of Mr. Leach's researches.

There can be no doubt that these violent measures provoked a reaction. Already in 1549 there had been serious insurrections all over the country, and more particularly in Devonshire and in Norfolk. On the death of the boy king, in July, 1553, an attempt was made by Northumberland to secure the succession for Lady Jane Grey but Mary at least for the time, had the people completely with her, and now it was the turn of Bonner, Gardiner, and the Catholic reaction. Overtures were made to the reigning pope, Julius III, and eventually Cardinal Pole, whose mission as legate was unfortunately delayed by the Emperor Charles V for diplomatic reasons connected with the marriage of Queen Mary to his son Philip II, reached England in November, 1554, where he was warmly received. After the Houses of Parliament through the king and queen had petitioned humbly for reconciliation with the Holy See, Pole, on St. Andrew's day, 30 November, 1554, formally pronounced absolution, the king and queen and all present kneeling to receive it. The restoration of ecclesiastical property confiscated during the previous reign was not insisted upon.

The reign of Mary is, unfortunately, chiefly remembered by the severity with which the statutes against heresy, now revived by Parliament, were put into force. Cranmer had been previously sentenced to death for high treason, and the sentence seems to have been politically just, but it was not at once executed. There seems to have been no desire upon the part of Mary or any of her chief advisers for cruel reprisals, but the reactionary forces always at work seem to have frightened them into sterner measures, and, as a result, Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, and a multitude of less conspicuous offenders, most of them only after refusal to recant their heresies, were condemned and executed at the stake. No one has judged this miserable epoch of persecution more leniently than the historian who of all others has made himself live in the spirit of the times. Dr. James Gairdner, stanch Anglican as he is, in his recent work, "Lollardy and the Reformation", seems only to press farther the apology which he has previously offered for their terrible measures of repression. Thus he says: "With all this one might imagine that it was not easy for Mary to be tolerant of the new religion, and yet tolerant she was at first, as far as she well could be. . . . The case was simply that there were a number of persons determined not to demand mere toleration for themselves, but to pluck down what they called idolatry everywhere and to keep the Edwardine service in the parish churches in defiance of all authority, and even of the feelings of their fellow parishioners. In short, there was a spirit of rebellion still in the land which had its root in religious bitterness; and if Mary was to reign in peace, and order to be upheld, that spirit must be repressed. Two hundred and seventy- seven persons are recorded to have been burnt in various parts of England during those sad three years and nine months, from the time the persecution began to the death of Mary. But the appalling number of the sufferers must not blind us altogether to the provocation. Nor must it be forgotten that if it be once judged right to pass an Act of Parliament it is right to put it in force." And as the same authority elsewhere says, "Amongst the victims no doubt, there were many true heroes and really honest men, but many of them would have been persecutors if they had had their way." Queen Mary died 17 November, 1558, and Cardinal Pole passed away on the same day twelve hours later.

Sources

To discuss at any length the monastic chronicles, the charters, rolls, and other records which constitute the ultimate sources of our information regarding the medieval history of England would be out of place in the present article. Only a small selection can in any case be made of the many serviceable works that have been published in recent years. It will be convenient to set down first the names of some Catholic books and studies which the reader is likely to find generally useful, and then to add a section of miscellaneous works and of books written from a standpoint which is at any rate not distinctively Catholic.

Catholic. — LINGARD, History of England (10 vols., London, 1849); RULE, Life of St. Anselm (2vols., London, 1883); RAGEY, Histoire de S. Anselme (2 vols., Paris, 1890); DELARC, Le Saint Siège et la conquête d'Angleterre in Revue des Quest. Histor., XLI (1887); RAGEY, Eadmer (Paris, 1892); MORRIS, Life of St. Thomas Beckett (London, 1885); L'HUILLIER, S. Thomas de Canterbury (Paris, 1891); THURSTON, Life of St. Hugh of Lincoln (London, 1898); BISHOP, Cathedral Canons in Dublin Review (London, 1898), CXXIII; WALLACE, Life of St. Edmund (London, 1893); WARD, St. Edmund Archbishop of Canterbury (London, 1903); DE PARAVICINI, Life of St. Edmund of Abingdon (London, 1898); KNELLER, Des Richard Löwenherz deutsche Gefangenschaft (Freiburg, 1893); FELTEN, Robert Grosseteste Bischof von Lincoln (Freiburg, 1887); GASQUET, Henry III and the Church (London, 1905); STRICKLAND, Ricerche storiche sopra il B. Bonifacio Archivescovo di Cantorbery (Turin, 1895); PALMER, Fasti Ordinis FF. Pr dicatorum (London. 1878); MOYES, How English Bishops were made before the Reformation in The Tablet, Nov., 1893, and many other articles in the Same periodical; GASQUET, The Great Pestilence (London, 1893); ID., The Old English Bible and other Essays (London, 1897); STEVENSON, The Truth about John Wyclif (London, 1885); STONE, Reformation and Renaissance Studies (London, 1904); GASQUET, The Eve of the Reformation (London, 1900); BRIDGETT, Life of Blessed John Fisher (London, 1888); ID., Life and Writings of Sir Thomas More (London, 1891); GASQUET, Henry VIII and the English Monasteries (London, 1888); RIVINGTON, Rome and England (London, 1897); BRIDGETT, Blunders and Forgeries London, 1893); GASQUET, The Last Abbot of Glastonbury (London, 1895); ID. (ed.), COBDEN, Hist. of the Reformation; STONE, Mary I of England (London, 1901); ZIMMERMANN, Kardinal Pole, sein Leben und seine Schriften (Ratisbon, 1893); GASQUET AND BISHOP, Edward VI and the Book of Common Prayer (London, 1890).

Upon the religious life of England generally, see: BRIDGETT, History of the Holy Eucharist in Great Britain (new ed., 1908); GASQUET, Parish Life in Medi val England (London, 1906); WATERTON, Pietas Mariana Britannica (London, 1879); BRIDGETT, Our Lady's Dowry (London, 1875); GASQUET, English Monastic Life (London, 1904); TAUNTON, The English Black Monks of St. Benedict (2 vols., London, 1897); GASQUET, Archbishop Morton and St. Albans in The Tablet, Oct. 17, 1908, and Jan. 23, 1909; but cf. GAIRDNER in Eng. Hist. Rev., Jan., 1909.

Among shorter Histories of England written from a Catholic standpoint, may be mentioned: BURKE, Abridgment of Lingard, re-edited and continued by BIRT (London, 1903); ALLIES, History of the Church in England (London, 1902); CATH. TRUTH SOCIETY, A Short History of the Church in England (London 1895); GASQUET, Short Hist. of the Cath. Church in England (London, 1903); WYATT-DAVIES, School History of England (London, 1902); STONE, The Church in Eng. History (London, 1907).

Non-Catholic Works. — Of general histories, three different series produced within the last few years may be recommended as representative of the best modern scholarship and as aiming conscientiously at impartiality in the treatment of religious questions: The Political History of England, of which the five volumes reaching from 54 B.C. to A.D. 1547 are written respectively by T. HODGKIN, G. B. ADAMS, T. F. TOUT, C. OMAN, H. A. L. FISHER (London, 1904-1905). — Mr. Tout's volume in particular is excellent. — A History of England in Six Volumes. — The first four volumes, reaching from the beginning to the age of Elizabeth, are written respectively by C. OMAN, H. W. C. DAVIS, OWEN EDWARDS, and A.D. INNES (London, 1905-1906). By far the best contribution in this series is that of Mr. Davis. — A History of the English Church. — The first four volumes, which extend to the death of Queen Mary, have respectively for authors W. HUNT, DEAN STEPHENS, CANON CAPES, and DR. J. GAIRDNER (London, 1901-1902). Dr. Gairdner's work is indispensable to the student of the Reformation period. — The works of the late BISHOP STUBBS have exercised an immense influence on historical study in England. The most noteworthy are the Constitutional History (3 vols.); the Select Charters, and the Prefaces to various contributions to the Rolls Series (e.g., HOVEDEN, BENEDICT, etc.), which have lately been collected and published separately. Stubbs's views on the tenure of land etc. during the Norman period are now somewhat out of date, but the chief defect of his work from a Catholic point of View is his adherence to the fiction of a national English Church independent of Rome. — FREEMAN, Norman Conquest (5 vols.) and William Rufus (2 vols.) show an immense command of detail, but are biassed by the author's rather eccentric views of British imperialism. Many of the less reliable conclusions of Stubbs and Freeman will be found corrected in the works of MAITLAND, which are of primary importance in more than one field. His Roman Canon Law in the Church of England (1898) is of the very highest Value as correctly stating the position of the English Church in regard to the Holy See. His History of English Law (1895), Domesday Book and Beyond (1897), and various contributions to TRAILL, Social England (1901), are of great moment from a legal and constitutional point of view. For the later period ending in the reign of Henry VIII or Mary, the writings of J. S. BREWER, particularly the Prefaces to the Calendars reedited under the title of The Reign of Henry VIII to the Death of Wolsey (2 vols., 1884), and of DR. J. GAIRDNER are of primary importance, especially as correcting the reckless inaccuracy of Froude. DR. GAIRDNER in particular has recently published a work entitled Lollardy and the Reformation (2 vols., 1908), which does fullest justice to the Catholic position.

Among other works of note may be mentioned: BÖHMER, Kirche und Staat in England und in der Normandie (Leipzig, 1899); ID., Die Fälschungen Erzbischof Lanfranks (Leipzig, 1902) — inconclusive, as Saltet and others have shown; ROUND, Feudal England (London, 1895); NORGATE, England under the Angevin Kings (2 vols., London, 1887); ID., John Lackland (London, 1902); STEVENSON, Robert Grosseteste (London, 1899); BLISS AND TWEMLOW, Calendars of Entries in Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland (8 vols. already published); JENSEN, Der englische Peterspfennig (Heidelberg, 1903); CREIGHTON, Historical Essays (London, 1902); ID., Historical Lectures (London, 1903) — both these able works are much biased by the writer's Anglican standpoint; JESSOPP, The Coming of the Friars (London, 1889); BREWER, Preface to the Monumenta Franciscana in R. S., and to the works of GIRALDUS CAMBRENSIS; MAKOWER, Constitutional History of the Church of England (London, 1895); WYLIE, History of England under Henry IV (4 Vols., 1882-96); WORKMAN, John Wyclif (London, 1902); Dr. Gasquet and the Old English Bible in the Church Quarterly Review, Vol. LI (1901); LANG, The Maid of France (London, 1908); GAIRDNER, The Paston Letters (3 vols., London, 1872-5); DIXON, History of the Church of England from 1529 (6 vols., London, 1878-1902); EHSES, Röm. Dok. zur Gesch. der Ehescheidung Heinrichs VIII (Paderborn, 1902) — a Cath. work. Of the Divorce the best account is by GAIRDNER, New Lights on the Divorce in Eng. Hist. Rev., XI-XII (1896-97). TYTLER, England under Edward VI and Mary (2 vols., London, 1839); LEACH, English Schools at the Reformation (London, 1896); POCOCK, on The Reign of Edward VI in English Historical Review, July, 1895.

For social and economic condition of England, see ASHLEY, An Introd. to Eng. Economic Hist. and Theory (2 vols., London, 1893); CUNNINGHAM, The Growth of Eng. Industry and Commerce (2 vols., Cambridge, 1896); THOROLD ROGERS, Hist. of Eng. Agriculture and Prices (6 vols., London, 1866-87); ID., Six Centuries of Work and Wages (2 vols 1891); RASHDALL, Universities of the M. A. (3 vols., Oxford, 1895); CHAMBERS, The Medieval Stage (2 vols., Oxford, 1903).

About this page

APA citation. Thurston, H. (1909). England (Before the Reformation). In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05431b.htm

MLA citation. Thurston, Herbert. "England (Before the Reformation)." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05431b.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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