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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/418

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John
John
412

In this year (1212) the pope issued a bull, declaring John excommunicate by name and deposed from the throne, and entrusted its execution to Philip of France, who at once began preparations for an invasion of England. The hatred felt for John by his lords became active. Llywelyn broke the peace made the year before, destroyed his castles, slew his men, and burnt many places. John marched to Nottingham with a large army, and there hanged twenty-eight Welsh youths whom he held as hostages. While he was there, probably in August, a message was brought him from the Scottish king that treason was being plotted against him. A message from Llywelyn's wife, Joan (d. 1237) [q. v.], his natural daughter, warned him of another plot, and he thereupon shut himself in the castle and dismissed his army. At the end of the month he visited York, and thence went to Durham. A hermit of Wakefield named Peter of Pomfret, who appears to have prophesied evil of him before, foretold that by the next Ascension day, 23 May, his reign would be over and his crown have passed to another. John caused him to be brought before him, questioned him, and committed him to prison at Corfe. In order to keep a hold upon his lords he again exacted hostages from those whom he suspected; he found no proof of plots against himself, but outlawed Eustace de Vesci and Robert Fitzwalter and confiscated their lands; he seized the castles of some others, and kept the country quiet by force. He tried to propitiate the people by mitigating theexactions of the forest courts, and guarded himself against future claims by compelling the prelates to seal deeds declaring that his exactions from them had been freely granted. One of his ablest clerks, Geoffrey of Norwich, withdrew from the exchequer, saying that it did not become a beneficed clerk to keep company with an excommunicate. John imprisoned him at Bristol, and caused a heavy leaden cope to be placed upon him, so that he died of misery and want. John strengthened himself against Philip by forming an alliance with Reginald, count of Boulogne, and shortly afterwards with Ferrand, count of Flanders, and during the early part of 1213 made active preparations to repel invasion. By sea he was far stronger than Philip, and an English fleet took several French ships about the mouth of the Seine and burnt Dieppe. All the force of the kingdom was summoned to meet in arms at Dover the week after Easter under penalty of 'culvertage,' a declaration of infamy for cowardice and perpetual slavery. An immense force and large stores having been gathered, he sent detachments to various ports, keeping the remainder encamped on Barham Down, near Canterbury. Meanwhile he was full of uneasiness; his lords' hatred of him had become so strong that, it is said, they sent messages to Philip inviting him to invade the land (Annalsof Worcester, iv. 402; Robert of Auxerre, an. 1213; Genealogy of Counts of Flanders, c. 27). There were rumours of a conspiracy to offer the crown to Simon of Montfort (Ann. of Dunstable, iii. 33; Wendover, iii. 248). The prophecy of Peter troubled him as Ascension day drew near. When, therefore, two knights of the Temple brought him a message from Pandulf urging him to seek reconciliation, he sent them back with an invitation to the envoy to come to England at once. He met Pandulf at Dover on 13 May, and on the 15th the terms of submission were ratified. He swore to be reconciled to the archbishop, and the exiled bishops and monks, and to all others, lay and clerical, concerned in the quarrel, and to make full restitution to them. Moreover he placed England and Ireland under the suzerainty of the pope, promising for himself and his successors to pay one thousand marks yearly tribute to the Roman see, seven hundred marks for England and three hundred for Ireland, and swore to do fealty and liege homage to Innocent and his successors, for he believed that no prince in Christendom would dare to invade a kingdom that was under the protection of the pope (Walter of Coventry, ii. 210). The act of homage was subscribed on the eve of Ascension day, and on the morrow he caused Peter to be drawn from Corfe to Wareham and there hanged along with his son. It was said that the hermit had spoken truth, for that John ceased to reign when he became the pope's vassal. The acknowledgment of the pope's suzerainty, however, was not at the time generally felt to be a disgrace. Meanwhile Philip entered Flanders with an army, and gathered a large fleet at Damme. But an English fleet under the command of the Earl of Salisbury, and in conjunction with the counts of Boulogne and Holland, destroyed and made prizes of so many vessels that Philip ordered the rest to be burnt. The battle seems to have taken place on or immediately before 1 June (Canon of Laon, an. 1213). It seems probable that the French ships were gathered for an invasion of England, but that Pandulf forbade the attempt. Philip (William Of Armorica, sub an.; Wendover, iii. 256) after this check evacuated Flanders, whither John sent a strong force to uphold the cause of the count. John proposed to remove all danger of invasion by carrying the war into France, and proposed to the barons that he should invade Poitou. They refused to go with him on the plea that