England under the Normans and Angevins, 1066-1272

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

CHAPTER XIV
THE STRUGLE WITH THE PAPACY--BOUVINES

WHILE John was engaged in fighting for the possession of Normandy England enjoyed a season of comparative tranquillity.1 The most serious danger which had confronted John at his accession was that of war with Scotland. William the Lion, like the English earls, had judged the moment a favourable one for reviving old pretensions. He demanded that the new King should fulfil the promise, which Henry II. had made to David, of surrendering Northumberland and Cumberland with their appurtenances. But the sense of advancing years and the lack of allies had soon induced the King of Scots to leave his claim in abeyance and to do homage for his English estates ( Nov. 22, 1200). It does not appear that he concluded any league with Philip or attempted to profit by the continental war. In England public order was maintained by the Justiciar Geoffrey FitzPeter and by the Primate, who had cheerfully accepted the inferior office of Chancellor, and now worked harmoniously with his sometime subordinate. The King left them a free hand, only intervening now and then to bestow a sheriffdom or a grant of lands upon a foreign favourite. His personal confidants, the Poitevin Peter des Roches, the brothers John and Walter de Gray, the Normans Gerald d'Athée and Engelard de Cicogné, had not yet reached the high positions in which they afterwards became notorious. The Justiciar, though a man of harsh temper and narrow sympathies, enjoyed the respect of the baronage. The Earldom of Essex, which he had received in the right of his wife, put him on a footing of equality with the greatest houses; his connections were numerous and influential. He could answer, therefore, for

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1
Gervase, ii., 94: "Anglia tamen interim per Dei gratiam, agente archiepiscopo Cantuariensi Huberto et Gaufrido filio Pettri, tranquilla pace gaudebat".

-347-

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