Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/129

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Langton
Langton
123

ton, and the pope wrote to demand from John the fulfilment of his promise to ratify their choice. John in a fury refused to have anything to do with a man whom, he now declared, he knew only as a dweller among his enemies. When Stephen was consecrated by the pope at Viterbo, 17 June 1207, John proclaimed that any one who acknowledged him as archbishop should be accounted a public enemy; the Canterbury monks, now unanimous in adhering to Stephen as the representative of their church's independence, were expelled 15 July, and the archbishop's father fled into exile at St. Andrews. To Innocent's threat of interdict (27 Aug.) John replied in November by giving to another man Stephen's prebend at York. In March 1208 the interdict was proclaimed.

Stephen's attitude thus far had been a passive one. To the announcement of his election he had replied that he was not his own master, but was entirely at the pope's disposal. After his consecration he appealed to his suffragans, in a tone of dignified modesty, for support under the burden laid upon him (Cant. Chron. pp. lxxv–vi), and at once set out for his see; all hope of reaching it was, however, precluded by the violence of John. Pontigny for the second time opened its doors to an exiled archbishop of Canterbury (Martene, Thesaur. Anecdot. iii. 1246–7), and was probably his headquarters during the next five years; a story of his having been chancellor of Paris during this period seems to rest upon a double confusion of persons and of offices (Du Boulay, Hist. Univ. Paris, iii. 711). Throughout those years his part in the struggle between Innocent and John was always that of peace-maker. At the first tidings of the expulsion of the monks he had addressed a letter to the English people, setting the main outlines of the case briefly and temperately before them, warning them of the probable consequences, giving them advice and encouragement for the coming time of trial, and identifying his own interests entirely with theirs; of personal bitterness there is not a trace, and of personal grievances not a word (Cant. Chron. pp. lxxviii–lxxxiii). The same note of mingled firmness and moderation rings through a letter to the Bishop of London, empowering him to act in the primate's stead against the despoilers of Canterbury (ib. pp. lxxxiii–v), and another to the king, warning him of the evils he was bringing upon his realm, and offering an immediate relaxation of the interdict if he would come to a better mind (D'Achéry, Spicilegium, iii. 568). In September 1208 John invited Stephen to a meeting in England, and sent him a safe-conduct for three weeks; he addressed it, however, not to the Archbishop of Canterbury, but to 'Stephen Langton, cardinal of the Roman see;' Stephen therefore could not accept it, as to do so would have been to acknowledge that his election was invalid. A mitigation of the interdict, granted early in 1209, was due to his intercession, and it seems to have been partly his reluctance that delayed the excommunication of John himself. Towards the close of the year he sent his steward to John with overtures for reconciliation; this time the king responded by letters patent, inviting 'my lord of Canterbury' to a meeting at Dover. Thither Stephen came (2 Oct.) with the Bishops of London and Ely; John, however, would go no nearer to them than Chilham; the justiciar and the Bishop of Winchester, whom he sent to treat with them in his stead, refused to ratify the terms previously arranged; and Stephen went back into exile. On 20 Dec. he consecrated Hugh of Wells to the bishopric of Lincoln, Hugh having gone to him for that purpose in defiance of the king's order that he should be consecrated by the Archbishop of Rouen. Next year (1210) John again tried to lure Stephen across the Channel. Stephen declared his readiness to go on three conditions: that he should have a safe-conduct in proper form; that, once in England, he should be allowed to exercise his archiepiscopal functions there; and that no terms should be required of him, save those proposed on his last visit to Dover. He then proceeded to Wissant to await John's reply. It came in the shape of an irregular safe-conduct, not by letters patent according to custom, but by letters close, and accompanied by a warning from some of the English nobles which made him return to France. Envoys from John followed him thither, but failed to move him from his quiet adherence to the terms already laid down. What moved him at last was his country's growing misery. In the winter of 1212 he went with the bishops of London and Ely to Rome, to urge upon Innocent the necessity of taking energetic measures for putting an end to the state of affairs in England. In January 1213 the three prelates brought back to the French court a sentence of deposition against John, the execution of which was committed to Philip of France. In May John yielded all, and far more than all, that he had been refusing for the last six years, and issued letters patent proclaiming peace and restitution to the archbishop and his fellow-exiles, and inviting them to return at once. At the end of June or beginning of July they landed at Dover; on 17 or 18