England under the Normans and Angevins, 1066-1272

By H. W. C. Davis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
THE SONS OF HENRY II

HENRY'S reconciliation with the Papacy followed immediately upon his return from Ireland. The terms of peace were arranged at a meeting with the legates on May 21st, 1172, at Avranches, and ratified in the following September by a full and public absolution of the King from all the censures launched against the enemies of Becket. Henry's surrender had been far from unconditional. When the original draft of the concordat was laid before him he demurred to it threatening that, unless the legates abated their demands, he would break off all negotiations. The final agreement accordingly omitted all reference to the Constitutions of Clarendon. The King, it is true, promised that he would not prevent ecclesiastical appeals to the Pope's court, providing he was allowed to exact from all appellants an oath that they meditated no infringement of royal rights or of the liberties of the English church ; he restored the lands of the see of Canterbury in their integrity ; he granted an amnesty and restitution to all the supporters of the late Archbishop. But for the rest Alexander could only obtain a pledge that the King would abandon all customs prejudicial to the Church which had been introduced in his own time.1 Strictly interpreted this concession would have justified the King in enforcing all the most disputed articles of the Constitution ; since he had invariably contended that the Constitutions were from first to last a statement of ancient and well- established usage. But it was privately agreed that he would claim no jurisdiction over clerks in criminal cases. In this respect the cause of ecclesiastical liberty reaped a lasting triumph. From the time of the conference of Avranches until the reign of Henry VII. no attempt to limit the benefit of clergy was successful, and

The Conference of Avranches, 1172

Effect of the New Concordat

____________________
1
Materials, vii., 514. Benedictus, i., 32, 33.

-243-

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