Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/448

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

time (epist. cxii. pp. 160 f.). Archbishop Theobald also wrote on his behalf (see epist. cxiii. p. 162), perhaps the letter printed among John's as epist. lxiv*. p. 80 (see, however, J. J. Brial, Notices et Extraits des Manuscrits, ix. pt. ii. pp. 96 f., 1813).

John was for a time in deep despondency. Possibly he exaggerated his actual danger; but poverty and the pressure of debt (see his letter to Ralf of Sarr, epist. lix. p. 63) added to the load upon his spirits, and he knew not whither to turn. He was, however, dissuaded from leaving England (epist. xcvi. pp. 142 f.), and after a while, presumably through Thomas's mediation, and in spite of the resistance of Arnulf of Lisieux (see epist. cxxi. pp. 169 f.), he appears to have silently emerged from his difficulties (epist. xcvi. p. 143). When Theobald died in April 1161, John was one of the executors of his will (epist. lvii. pp. 60 f.), and when Thomas was consecrated as Theobald's successor, 3 June 1162, John was one of the five commissioners who went to Montpellier, some time before the middle of July ((cf. Jaffé, Meg. Pontif. Rom. ii. 157–60), to receive the archbishop's pall from Alexander III (William FitzStephen, Vit. S. Thom.,in Robertson, Materials, iii. 36; R. de Diceto, ed. Stubbs, 1876, i. 307 marg.) It was soon after this that John composed a life of Archbishop Anselm, with the design of procuring his canonisation. This was doubtless written at Thomas's request, and the latter sent it to the pope for consideration at the council of Tours. Alexander wrote back from Tours, 9 June 1163, explaining why the matter could not then be brought forward (Alex. iii, epist. clxix., in Migne, cc. 235 f.), and the canonisation was not effected for more than three centuries.

His friend's election to the primacy might seem to promise security for John's future; but when the king returned to England in January 1163 (R. De Diceto, i. 308), after an absence of five years, there was a rapid change in the state of affairs, and John found it necessary to leave the country. The date of his departure is not quite clear. William FitzStephen states that he was one of the archbishop's two firmest supporters whom Henry was careful to remove before the time of the council of Clarendon (Robertson, Materials, iii. 46; where the title assigned to him, ‘canonicus Sarum,’ is probably not a mistake: cf. epist. cxl. p. 200); and John himself, writing in the late summer of 1167, says: ‘Quartus exilii mei annus elapsus est’ (epist. ccxxi. p. 76). In his letter, however, to Thomas describing his journey through France (epist. cxxxiv. pp. 187–90), he mentions the councils of London and Winchester as having been held before he started. The former was on 1 Oct. 1163; the latter is not easily identified. Robertson understands it as the council of Clarendon itself (Materials, v. 97), in which case ‘Wintoniensi’ must stand for ‘Wiltoniensi;’ and the supposition is confirmed by the words in the same letter speaking of Margaret of France, ‘quam nuper sanam videram,’ where one manuscript reads Sar', i.e. ‘Saresberiæ’ (ib. p. 98 n. 5). If this be so, John must have quitted England in the first months of 1164. He made his way slowly across France, and had interviews with the Count of Flanders and with Louis VII, whose assistance he sought for the archbishop's cause. A postscript to the letter to Thomas just quoted, which is not in the printed collection (it is published by Brial, l.c. pp. 117 f. and by Robertson, v. 101 f.), informs us that he left England heavily in debt, and ‘did not possess twelve pence in the world;’ he had to borrow twelve marks before starting, and was grateful for the gift of seven more from the archbishop. He was accompanied to Paris by his brother Richard, who seems, however, soon to have returned to England (Schaarschmidt,, p. 40 n. 4).

In the end John found a shelter with Peter of La Celle, who was now abbat of St. Remigius at Rheims. Here he made his home for the next six or seven years, and, according to his wont, the first use he made of his freedom from official cares was to busy himself in the composition of a considerable literary work. This time the subject was historical, and the ‘Historia Pontificalis,’ following upon the Gembloux continuation of Sigebert, which ended in 1148, was doubtless intended to be, if it was not actually, carried on through a number of years. Unfortunately, in the only manuscript in which it is preserved, the work terminates abruptly in 1152, and there is no evidence to show how far it originally extended. Giesebrecht (Sitzungsberichte der philos.-philol. und hist. Classe der k. Bay. Akad. der Wissensch., 1873, p. 124) argued from internal evidence that it was written in 1162 or 1163; but since, as Pauli observed (ubi supra, p. 268), it mentions Robert of Melun as bishop of Hereford (cap. viii. p. 522) the date must be later than 22 Dec. 1163, while the posterior limit depends upon the time of Ralph II of Vermandois's death (he is here spoken of as living, cap. vii. p. 521), which may have taken place several years after 1163 (Art de Vérifier les Dates, ii. 707 a, 3rd edit. 1784; cf. Recueil des Historiens, xiii. 566 n. c. ed. Brial, 1786; and Comte de Mas Latrie, Trésor de Chrono-