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Fathers, and the decretal constitution of the Holy See." Still the Archbishop acted with reserve, and said nothing to remove his scruples. From the same feeling he objected afterwards, at the solicitation of the King, to institute Robert de Passelewe, justiciary of the forest, to the church of St. Peter, in Northampton: though in this instance, as well as in the former, his opposition was ultimately ineffectual. Having gone over the other parts of his diocese, he next purposed visiting the cathedral of Lincoln, and the prebendal churches. But when he attempted to execute his purpose, William de Tournay, the Dean, and the Canons, obstinately withstood him, and refused to receive him as their visitor. The measure was unusual, as he himself acknowledged; but he was both empowered from the Pope to proceed in it, and considered it as a matter of right. The Dean and Chapter first appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who either declined interfering, or did nothing effectual. The Legate then attempted to effect a reconciliation, but without success. The Dean and Chapter then tried to procure letters from Rome to inhibit the Bishop from proceeding, in order to protract the suit, and prevent his design of visiting them from ever taking place. This opposition laid the foundation of a long and unhappy rupture with the Bishop. The Bishop declared that he purposed doing nothing but what belonged to the episcopal office by divine and canonical right, and what was specially conceded to him by the Apostolic See for the support of common right and ordinary power; and what he could not omit without the risk of souls; protesting, also, that if, through weakmess and ignorance, he had done any thing not strictly canonical, he was willing to recall it upon better information, to correct his mistake, and make satisfaction. This, he said, he had often told the Dean and Chapter, both in writing and by word of mouth; and had desired them in friendship to shew him his mistakes, that they might be corrected: but this they never would do, nor even return an answer to the arguments he had urged to them in writing. In consequence of their refusal to revoke their mandate to the Vicars and Chaplains of the prebendal churches, enjoining them not to obey the Bishop in the event of his visiting them, he proceeded to suspend the Dean, the Precentor, and the Sub-dean of Lincoln; but soon remitted the sentence, notifying to the Dean and Chapter his intention of visiting them on a certain day in the October following. He began, accordingly, soon after the 8th of September, to visit some prebends: but the Dean and Chapter still frustrated his intention, by absenting themselves on the day appointed, having previously assembled in consultation, and, in order to court popularity, having obtained leave from the people to repair to Rome. They, at the same time, wrote to all the cathedrals in England which consisted of Canons; and not only did these bodies combine with them, but the people at large were interested in their cause. The matter thus became one of public notoriety, and the Bishop was generally calumniated as an oppressor and malefactor. He was in London on the 3d of November, and the aggrieved parties contrived to meet him there as they were on their way to Rome. This was an anxious moment to him, while he balanced in his mind, whether he should persevere in the course which he had begun, or yield to the popular clamour and obloquy. He determined on a middle course;— to refer the matter in dispute, either to the Legate, or to the Pope himself. To both these proposals the other party objected, but consented to submit to the joint arbitration of Walter de Cantilupe, Bishop of Worcester, and the Archdeacons of Worcester and Sudbury; either to determine the matter absolutely, or transmit the case to the Pope in the last instance. Grosseteste accordingly wrote to Gregory IX. for his assent to these terms, and also to Otho the Legate, sending him a copy of the proposals, and requesting his opinion on the step which he had taken, as he feared it might give offence to the Pope, with whom he was at present on the best terms, and upon whose authority he had hitherto acted in the business. It was agreed, that if the arbitrators did not proceed canonically, both parties were to be at liberty to appeal to his Holiness; and that in the mean time both visitors (the Canons considering the Dean as their proper and only visitor) were to suspend their visitation. - - This arrangement, however, only ended in dissatisfaction. The Canons would not suffer the Bishop to enter the chapter-house, nor to hold any visitation, publicly declaring, in his presence, their sorrow that they had ever elected a Bishop of so low an extraction. The event was, that an appeal was made to the Pope * : and here the matter rested for several years. A horrible attempt was made about the same time to destroy the Bishop by poison. And the murderous design had nearly succeeded. Pustules broke out in various parts of his body, his hair dropped off, his flesh was partly excoriated, and he nearly lost his nails and teeth. His recovery was happily effected, however, by the skill of the Dominicant, John de St. Giles. It remains a mystery what was the immediate cause of the nefarious attempt, or who was the agent in it. In 1241 we find him engaged in another struggle for the maintenance of his rights, and that with the King himself. The King was desirous of appointing John Mansel, his chaplain, to the prebend of Tame, in the church of Lincoln; and Mansel, under the royal protection and the colour of the papal provisions, had taken violent possession of that preferment. The Bishop had fixed on Simon de London as the Prebendary; and the dispute was, which of the two should suc400 The Life of Bishop Grosseteste.
* It was the general policy of the court of Rome to encourage applications for exemption from the authority of the Diocesan from the rich corporations, as thus the power of the Bishops was depressed, and that of the Pope was established in its stead; for in such cases the privileged bodies came immediately under the papal jurisdiction.
+ The Clergy were also the Physicians of that day.
1 Under the plausible pretext of preventing any evil which might accrue to Churches, or other benefices, from long vacancies, the Pope's practice was to dispose of them beforehand.
ceed. He used the services of the famous scholar, John de Basing *, whom he had preferred to the archdeaconry of Leicester, on this occasion, and whom he sent, together with the Archdeacon of Huntingdon, to the King, then in Wales, to negociate the matter. These persons conducted their mission with so much discretion, urging such strong reasons against the papal provision, that the King was contented to yield the point, and Mansel readily desisted from his opposition. Grosseteste went to London prepared to excommunicate all who should encroach upon the privileges of his Church; and thus carried his point with a high hand. Here he not only contended against an arbitrary act of the King, but also made a stand against that growing evil, the papal provisions. He was not, however, at this time roused to that staunch opposition to the papal encroachments, which he afterwards exhibited. Thus, on his objection to the Legate's nomination to a vacant prebend of Lincoln, he professed, at the same time, the strongest attachment to the Holy See, acknowledging it to be invested with the power of disposing of all ecclesiastical benefices, and only lamented that he had not been consulted in the affair. So, again, on the Legate's requesting him to collate to a living a son of the Earl Ferrers, though under age and not in orders, he refused himself to be guilty of so great an impropriety, but conceded to the Legate the disposal of the patronage, as the Legate, he said, could lawfully do things which he could not t. These instances, and another case in particular, in which he permitted the son of a nobleman to enjoy a pension of ten marks annually from a rectory, it must be allowed, are very derogatory to that character of a strict disciplinarian which he generally maintained. In reforming the morals of the ecclesiastical bodies he shewed himself more uniformly scrupulous. He dismissed two monks from Minting, a cell of Fleury, or St. Benedict on the Loire, to their monastery abroad to be punished, both being charged with acts of incontinence, and a forgetfulness of their spiritual function, in their devotedness to the amusements of hunting and shooting. Soon afterwards, he sent away four others from the same place for their licentiousness and other vices. We next behold the Bishop a champion for the University of Oxford, which had incurred the severe displeasure of the Legate, in consequence of a fray which happened between his suite and the students, on the occasion of his visiting the University. His brother had been killed by a bow-shot from one of the students, and the Legate himself had been compelled from fear, first to take refuge in the tower of the Abbey Church at Osney, and afterwards to escape privately by night to the King at Abingdon. Stimulated by revenge, he thundered excommunications against all that were concerned in the tumult, and caused several to be imprisoned: and having convened the Bishops in London, proceeded to consult in what manner he should punish effectually the insult which he had received. Here, then, Grosseteste manfully came forward to prevent the serious injury which the University would have sustained from the fury of the enraged Legate. He had already been the means of releasing many of the members from imprisonment, by offering bail for their appearance. He now, in the presence of the King and the Legate, with a noble spirit, interdicted every person that should offer to lay violent hands on the students. He was seconded by the other Bishops, who represented the desertion of the University, which measures of severity would produce: and the Legate was thus induced to dismiss the meeting without taking any further immediate steps. On the death of Gregory IX, Celestine IV. succeeded to the chair of St. Peter, but only occupied it sixteen or eighteen days, being, as was suspected, poisoned, if not suffocated; and to him succeeded Sinibald, a Genoese, who assumed the title of Innocent IV. About this conjuncture of affairs, we find Bishop Grosseteste, with the Archbishop of York and the Bishops of Norwich and Carlisle, entering into consultation with the superior Clergy, both regular and secular, concerning the distressed condition of the Church, which the turbulent policy of Gregory had embroiled with the Emperor Frederic II. He concurred with the assembled Prelates in judging it expedient, that a form of prayer with fasting should be used throughout the kingdom, to implore the divine commiseration on the See of Rome, and that a deputation of the Clergy should wait on the Emperor, to deprecate all further persecution of the Church on his part. This negociation, however, proved fruitless. In the first place, none of the Prelates who urged the measure could be found willing to embark in it personally; and the only messengers that could be obtained were the itinerant mendicant friars: and then, their plea with the Emperor was a very weak' one, as it could not but be acknowledged that the Pope had been the aggressor in the quarrel; and that the Emperor, therefore, was not chargeable with the distress which had befallen the Church. One great evil arising from the existence of religious houses possessing independent jurisdiction was, the frequent contests with the Diocesan, about their respective rights, to which such a state of things led. Bishop Grosseteste accordingly, who was particularly “tenacious of his episcopal prerogative, was often involved in altercation with the abbots and monks of convents. Towards the whole class of monks, indeed, he entertained a great antipathy, and oncouraged the friars, as a more laborious and useful order of men. In 1241, a dispute which he had with the convent of Canterbury was carried to a great height. Incensed at the deposition of the Abbot
* Fuller considers him as the restorer of the Greek language in England. He had visited Athens, and there heard Constantina, the daughter of the Archbishop of Athens, the prodigy of that age for learning. He imported many valuable Greek MSS. into England.
t An expedient of providing for laymen out of the revenues of the Church was by the institution of vicarages; and this expedient was suggested in this case by Grosseteste. The origin, indeed, of all vicarages is to be traced to appropriations, or the assignment of rectories, or churches, to religious houses and monasteries. In these cases the monks themselves were the incumbents, and employed vicars as parish priests with annual stipends from themselves.
vent of Canterbury, who conceived their privileges infringed, assembled fifty priests of the Bishop's own diocese, and in full convent, where fifty or more monks in priest's orders were present, solemnly excommunicated the Bishop with bell, book, and candle, as an ingrate, and a rebel to that Church of which he was a suffragan". Grosseteste on receiving the letters importing this, threw them on the ground, and trod upon them, to the astonishment of the beholders, as the impression of the seal represented the martyrdom, as it was reputed, of Thomas à Becket. So far indeed was he transported with rage, as to declare openly, that “he did not desire that the monks should othernise pray for his soul as long as the world endured,” and at the same time gave orders that the messenger, whom he loaded with reproaches, should be arrested." The officers hesitating to lay hands on the messenger as he was a priest, the Bishop then ordered that the priest should be driven from the palace as a vile slave or robber. Both parties had thus greatly exceeded the bounds of moderation in the exercise of their power. The authority claimed by the monks was quite groundless and extravagant, and the Bishop had proceeded to an unwarrantable extremity in resenting their insult. As for the sentence of excommunication, he paid no regard to it, but continued in the exercise of all his episcopal functions. It was very soon relaxed by an order from the Pope. - The sentence of deposition however against the Abbot of Bardney was not repealed. The King availed himself of the opportunity to seize on the temporalities of the Abbot, but directed his officer to supply the abbot with necessaries and permit his free access to the church. The royal interference in a matter of ecclesiastical jurisdiction roused the spirit of the churchman, and Grosseteste accordingly addressed the King by letter on the subject, desiring that his Majesty would recal his instructions. He also wrote to the Queen, entreating her to have regard to the welfare of the Church and kingdom, and to lead the King into more salutary measures, for the relief, not only of the people, but also of the Clergy and Priesthood de insolitis et novis angustiis; alluding, probably, by this expression, to the exorbitant sums which the King was in the habit of extorting from the Clergy. The Bishop shewed himself on subsequent occasions an assertor of the rights of the Church against the rapacity of the King. He assisted in protecting De Ralegh, Bishop of Norwich, whom the monks of Winchester had elected for their Bishop in opposition to the wishes of the King, who proposed the Queen's uncle, a foreigner, for the vacant dignity: and when the Dean and Canons of Chichester, to gain the favour of the King, had elected Robert Passelewe, the King's treasurer, an illiterate person, as their Bishop, he was appointed by Archbishop Boniface to examine the Bishop elect on questions of theology, and thus lent his aid in frustrating the appointment. The suit between the Bishop and the Chapter of his Cathedral occa
* This happened in an interval during which the See of Canterbury was vacant, and the monks of Canterbury, in such a case, arrogated to themselves the metropolitan power.