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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

The hierarchic ideas gained the day in England also


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Becket's murder the ideas of Church independence gained what was yet wanting to them, a martyr: his death was more advantageous to them than his life could ever have been. The belief that the victim wrought miracles, which were ascribed to him in increasing measure, at first slight, then more and more surprising ones, viz. cures of incurable diseases,--who does not know the resistless nature of this illusion, bound up as it is with the nearest needs of man in every form?--made him the idol of England. Henry II had to live to see the man who had refused him the old accustomed obedience, reverenced among his people with almost divine honours as one of the greatest saints that had ever lived. The great Hohenstaufen in the unsuccessful struggle with the Papacy was at last brought to declare that all he had hitherto done rested on an error; and in like manner, but one far more humiliating and painful, Henry II had to do penance, and receive the discipline of the scourge, at the tomb of the man who had been murdered by his loyal subjects. On a hasty glance it seems as though his Constitutions were established, but a more accurate inquiry shows that the articles which displeased the Pope were left out. The hierarchic ideas gained the day in England also.

It was precisely the Church quarrel that fed the discords which broke out in the King's own house. His eldest son found a pretence for his revolt, and essentially promoted it, by alleging that the murderers

of the glorious martyr were unpunished; he on his side promised the clergy to make good all existing injuries, since what belonged to the Church should not serve man's ostentation. The example of the elder wrought on the younger sons too, who, to withstand their father, recognised the supremacy of the King of France. Henry's last years were filled with depression, and even with despair; when dying he was believed to have bequeathed his curse to his children. In the cloisters his death was ascribed to the intercession and merits of S. Thomas.

For with the acceptance of the hierarchic ideas the prestige of their martyr grew day by day. In the crusade of 1189 men saw him appear in dreams, and declare that he was appointed to protect the fleet, to calm the storms.

It was under these auspices that the chivalry of the Plantagenet realm took part in the Third Crusade: King Richard (in whom the ideas of Church and Chivalry attained their highest splendour) at their head gave back to the already lost kingdom of Jerusalem, in despite of a very powerful foe, a certain amount of stability: as he served the hierarchic views with all his power, there was no question under him as to any dispute between Church and State. But this power itself could not be increased owing to his absence. Whilst he fought for the Church far away, elements of resistance were stirring in his realm which had been there long ago, and soon after his death came to the most violent outbreak.


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