Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/137

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Langton
Langton
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On 2 July 1306 Langton was appointed joint warden of the realm with the Archbishop of York during the king's absence in Scotland (Fœdera, i. 989). But early next year he followed Edward to the borders, appointing, on 8 Jan. 1307, a baron of the exchequer named Walter de Carleton as deputy during his absence (Madox, Hist. of the Exchequer, ii. 49). Edward now directed Langton to open the parliament at Carlisle (Fœdera, i. 1008). Langton seems to have been present at the king's death, and conveyed his body with all due honour on its slow march from the Scottish border to Waltham.

Langton's old quarrel with Edward II had indeed been patched up, and Langton had even professed to intercede with the old king on behalf of Gaveston (Hemingburgh, ii. 272, Engl. Hist. Soc.). But he had done this so unwillingly that there is no need to believe the chronicler's story of Edward I's answering his advances by tearing the hair out of his head and driving him out of the room (ib. ii. 272). Langton was well known to be Gaveston's enemy (Chron. Lanercost, p. 210), and the speedy return of the favourite from exile, soon to be followed by the restoration of Winchelsea, sealed the doom of the treasurer. As he rode from Waltham to Westminster, to arrange for the interment of his old master, he was arrested and sent to the Tower (Hemingburgh, ii. 273; Ann. Paulini, p. 257). On 22 Aug. 1307 he was removed from the treasurership. On 20 Sept. his lands, reckoned to be worth five thousand marks a year, were seized by the king (Fœdera, ii. 7). On 28 Sept. Edward invited by public proclamation all who had grievances against the fallen minister to bring forward their complaints (Riley, Memorials of London, p. 63). The king and Gaveston also seized upon the vast treasure hoarded up by Langton at the New Temple in London, including, it was believed, fifty thousand pounds of silver, besides gold and jewels (Hemingburgh, ii. 273–4). Most of this went to Gaveston. So vast a hoard explains Langton's unpopularity. A special commission of judges, headed by Roger Brabazon, was appointed to try Langton, now formally accused of various misdemeanors as treasurer, such as appropriating the king's moneys for his own use, selling the farms at too low a value for bribes, and giving false judgments (Madox, Exchequer, ii. 47). On 19 Feb. 1308 Edward ordered the postponement of the trial until after his coronation (Fœdera, ii. 32); but before the end of March judgments were being levied on the lands belonging to his see. Langton himself remained in strict custody, being moved to Windsor for his trial, and then being sent back to the Tower (Parl. Writs, ii. iii. 230). Gaveston was entrusted with his custody, and appointed the brothers Felton as his gaolers (Murimuth, p. 11). They maliciously carried their prisoner about from castle to castle. For a time he was confined at Wallingford (Chron. Lanercost, p. 210; Canon of Bridlington, p. 28), and was finally shut up in the king's prison at York.

Clergy, pope, and baronage interceded in vain in Langton's favour. Even Winchelsea, who hated him, could not overlook the grave irregularity of confining a spiritual person without any spiritual sentence. In April 1308 Clement V strongly urged on Edward the contempt shown to clerical privilege by Langton's confinement. The legate, the bishop of Poitiers, pressed for his release. At last, on 3 Oct. 1308, Edward granted Langton the restitution of his temporalities (Fœdera, ii. 58). But nothing of advantage to him resulted at once from this step. In 1309 further accusations were brought against him in the articles of the barons, and he remained in prison, though Adam Murimuth, a partisan of Winchelsea's, assures us (p. 14) that the archbishop refused to have any dealings with the king on account of his continued detention of Langton. It is noteworthy that during his imprisonment Langton still received writs of summons to parliament and to furnish his contingents for the king's wars (Parl. Writs).

Langton had been too long a minister, and was too unfriendly to the constitutional opposition, to care to remain a martyr. He had great experience and ability, and as Edward's difficulties increased the king bethought himself that his imprisoned enemy might still be of service to him. The declaration of Winchelsea for the ordainers and against the king made Langton most willing to come to terms with Edward. On 1 July 1311 he was removed from the king's to the archbishop's prison at York (Fœdera, ii. 138). This put Edward right with the party of clerical privilege, though about the same time he appointed new custodians of Langton's estates (ib. ii. 146–50). But on 23 Jan. 1312 Langton was set free altogether. Next day Edward, who was at this time at York, wrote to Pope Clement in favour of his former captive (ib. ii. 154). On 14 March Langton was restored to his office of treasurer until the next parliament should assemble (ib. ii. 159). He was believed to have betrayed the secrets of the confederate nobles to the king as the price of this advancement (Flores Hist. iii. 148). The growing troubles of Edward from the lords ordainers are the best explanation of his falling back on his father's old minis-