Vol. 5, Chapter XV (Cont’d) – Church and Clergy in England


Literature: I. The works of William of Malmesbury, William of Newburgh, Henry of Huntingdon, Roger of Wendover, M. Paris, Richard of Hoveden, John of Salisbury, Walter Map, Giraldus Cambrensis, Ordericus Vitalis, Peter of Blois, Grosseteste, etc.

II. Phillimore: The Eccles. Law of Engl., 2 vols. Lond., 1873, Supplem., 1870. — Stubbs: Select Charters of Engl. Const. Hist., 8th ed., Oxf., 1896; Constit. Hist. of Engl., 6th ed., 1897, 3 vols. — Gee and Hardy: Documents Illustr. of Engl. Ch. Hist., Lond., 1896. — F. W. Maitland: Rom. Canon Law in the Ch. of Engl., Lond., 1898. — Jessopp: The Coming of the Friars. — H. D. Traill: Social England, a Record of the Progress of the People, etc., 2 vols. Lond., 2d ed., 1894. — W. R. W. Stephens: A Hist. of the Engl. Church, 1066-1272, Lond., 1901. Freeman: The Norman Conquest and William Rufus. — Histt. of England and the Ch. of England, etc. — Dict. of Nat. Biogr.

With the Norman Conquest the Roman curia began to manifest anxious concern for the English Church and to reach out for her revenues. Reverent as the Saxon kings had been towards the pope, as was shown in their visits to Rome and the payment of Peter’s Pence, the wild condition of the country during the invasions of the Danes offered little attraction to the Church rulers of the South. Henry of Huntingdon called the England of his day — the twelfth century — “Merrie England” and said that Englishmen were a free people, free in spirit and free in tongue, with even more freedom in giving, having abundance for themselves and something to spare for their neighbors across the sea. The Romans were quick to find this out and treated the English Church as a rich mine to be worked. It is probable that in no other part of Christendom were such constant and unblushing demands made upon church patronage and goods. On the other hand, in no country was so persistent a struggle maintained for popular rights in Church and state against the impositions both of pope and crown.

Among the first distinct papal encroachments upon the liberties of the English Church were the appointment of legates and the demand that the archbishop go to Rome to receive the pallium. The first legates to England seem to have been sent at the invitation of William the Conqueror, 1070, to take up the case of Stigand, the Saxon archbishop of Canterbury, who had espoused the cause of the antipope. It was not long before the appointment of foreign legates was resisted and the pope, after the refusal to receive several of his representatives, was forced to yield and made it a rule to associate the legatine authority with the archbishops of Canterbury and York, — a rule, however, which had many exceptions. The legates of English birth were called legati nati in distinction from the foreign appointees, called le nati a latere.

The pope’s right to interfere in the appointment of bishops and to fill benefices was asserted soon after the Conqueror’s death. In such matters, the king showed an almost equally strong hand. Again and again the pope quashed the elections of chapters either upon his own motion or at the king’s appeal. Eugenius III. set aside William, canonically chosen archbishop of York. Stephen Langton 1207, Edmund Rich 1234, the Franciscan Kilwardby 1273, Peckham 1279, and Reynolds 1313, all archbishops of Canterbury, were substituted for the candidates canonically elected. Bonaventura was substituted for William Langton, elected archbishop of York, 1264. Such cases were constantly recurring. Bishops, already consecrated, were set aside by the pope in virtue of his “fulness of power,” as was the case when Richard de Bury, d. 1345, was substituted for Robert Graystanes in the see of Durham.

This violence, done to the rights of the chapters, led to a vast amount of litigation. Almost every bishop had to fight a battle at Rome before he obtained his see. Between 1215-1264 not fewer than thirty cases of contested episcopal elections were carried to Rome. It was a bad day when the pope or the king could not find a dissident minority in a chapter and, through appeals, secure a hearing at Rome and finally a reversal of the chapter’s decision. Of the four hundred and seventy decretals of Alexander III., accepted by Gregory IX., about one hundred and eighty were directed to England.

The regular appointment to benefices was also invalidated by the pernicious custom of papal reservations which threatened even in this period to include every high office in the English Church. A little later, in 1317, the supreme pontiff reserved for his own appointment the sees of Worcester, Hereford, Durham, and Rochester; in 1320 Lincoln and Winchester; in 1322, 1323 Lichfield and Winchester; 1325 Carlisle and Norwich; 1327 Worcester, Exeter, and Hereford.

Another way by which the pope asserted his overlordship in the English Church was the translation of a bishop from one see to another. This, said Matthew Paris (V. 228), “became custom so that one church seemed to be the paramour of the other.”

The English clergy and the barons looked upon these practices with disfavor, and, as at the Mad Parliament, 1258, demanded the freedom of capitular elections. The Constitutions of Clarendon, 1164, clearly expressed the national opposition, but the pope continued to go his own way.

The convents, for the most part, escaped papal interference in the election of their abbots. The reason is to be sought in the support which the orders gave to the pope in his struggle to reduce the episcopate to subjection. Nor did the crown venture to interfere, repelled, no doubt, by the compact organization of the monastic orders, the order rising to the defence of an attacked abbey.

The participation of the English bishops in the House of Lords was based originally upon the tax of scutage. From this followed their equal right to deliberate upon public affairs with the barons. At a time when this body contained less than forty lay peers, it included twenty bishops and twenty-six abbots. Most of the bishops and abbots, it would seem, had houses in London, which had taken the place of Winchester as the centre of national life. As the emoluments of the higher ecclesiastical dignities increased, they were sought and secured by noblemen for their sons and by members of the royal house. Odo, bishop of Bayeux, d. 1097, was the brother of William the Conqueror. Two of Stephen’s nephews were made respectively bishop of Durham and archbishop of York. Ethelmar, brother of Henry III., received the see of Winchester, 1250, and the archbishopric of Canterbury was provided for Henry’s uncle, Boniface. Geoffrey, son of Henry II., was made bishop of Lincoln when a lad, and afterwards transferred to York. Among the men of humble birth who rose to highest ecclesiastical rank were Edmund Rich and Robert Kilwardby.

The honors of canonization were reached by Hugh of Lincoln, Rich of Canterbury, and Richard of Wyche, bishop of Chichester, not to speak of Anselm and Thomas à Becket. The cases of proud and warring prelates were numerous, and the custom whereby bishops held the chief offices at the court was not adapted to develope the religious virtues. Richard Flambard, bishop of Durham under William Rufus, Hugh, bishop of Lichfield, 1188-1195, and Peter des Roches of Winchester, 1205-1238, supporter of John, are among the more flagrant examples of prelates who brought no virtues to their office and learned none. William Longchamp, bishop of Ely and favorite of Richard I., was followed by a retinue of 1000 men. The council of London, 1237, presided over by the cardinal legate, Otho, reminded the bishops of their duty to “sow the word of life in the field of the Lord.” And, lest they should forget their responsibilities, they were to listen twice a year to the reading of their oath of consecration.

The English chapters were divided almost equally between the two classes of clergy, monks and seculars. To the former class belonged Canterbury, Winchester, Durham, Norwich, Coventry, Rochester, Worcester, Ely, and Bath. The chapters of York, London, Exeter, Lichfield, Wells, Hereford, Lincoln, Salisbury, Llandaff, St. Asaph, St. David’s, and Chichester were made up of secular clergy. As the chapters asserted the rights of distinct corporations, their estates were treated as distinct from those of the bishop. It not infrequently happened that the bishop lost all influence in his chapter. The dean, in case the canons were seculars, and the prior, in case they were monks, actually supplanted the bishop in the control of the cathedral when the bishop and canons were hostile to each other. The Fourth Lateran, however, recognized the superior right of the bishop to enter the church and conduct the service. The Third Lateran ordered questions in the chapter settled by a majority vote, no matter what the traditional customs had been.

The pope and the English sovereign vied with one another in appropriating the revenues of the English Church, though it is probable the pope outdid the king. In William Rufus’ reign, a high ecclesiastic was no sooner dead than a royal clerk took inventory of his goods and rents, and appropriated them for the crown. The evil was so great in Stephen’s reign that the saying ran that “Christ and his saints slept.” Sees were kept vacant that the crown might sequester their revenues. The principle of taxing ecclesiastical property cannot awaken just criticism. Levies for military equipment on the basis of scutage go back into the Saxon period. In the latter half of the twelfth century a new system came into vogue, and a sum of money was substituted. The first levy on the moveables of the clergy including tithes and offerings, called the spiritualia, seems to have been made in 1188 by Henry II. This was the famous Saladin tax intended for use against the Turks. For the ransom of Richard I. even the sacred vessels and books of the clergy were taxed. Under John the taxation was on an elaborate scale, but it became even more exacting under Henry III., 1216-1272. In 1294 Edward I. threatened to outlaw the clergy if they refused to grant him a half of their revenues for his war with France. The dean of St. Paul’s remonstrated with the king for this unheard-of demand, and fell dead from the shock which the exhibition of the king’s wrath made upon him. Unwilling as the clergy may have been to pay these levies, it is said they seldom refused a tenth when parliament voted its just share. The taxes for crusades were made directly by the popes, and also through the sovereign. As late as 1288, Nicolas IV. granted Edward I. a tenth for six years for a crusade.

The papal receipts from England came from three sources — Peter’s Pence, the tribute of John, and special taxations. Peter’s Pence, which seems to have started with Offa II., king of Mercia, in the eighth century and was the first monetary tribute of the English people to Rome, was originally a free gift but subsequently was treated as a debt. The failure to promptly meet the payment became a frequent subject of papal complaint to king and bishops. In letters to Henry I., 1115, and to the archbishop of Canterbury, Pascal reminded them that not one half of the “gift” had been paid to St. Peter. Innocent III. gave his legate sharp orders to collect it and complained that the bishops kept back part of the tax for their own use. The tax of a penny for each household was compounded for £201.7s.; but, in 1306, William de Testa, the papal legate, was commanded to ignore the change and to revert to the original levy. Beginning with the thirteenth century, the matter of collection was taken out of the hands of the bishops and placed in the hands of the papal legate. By the law of Gregory X. two subcollectors were assigned to each see with wages of 3 soldi a day, the wages being afterwards increased to 5 and 8 soldi. Peter’s Pence, with other tributes to Rome, was abolished by Henry VIII.’s law of 1534.

The tribute of one thousand marks, promised by John, was paid with great unwillingness by the nation or not paid at all. In 1275, as John XXI. reminded the English king, the payments were behind seven years. By 1301 the arrearage amounted to twelve thousand marks. It would seem as if the tax was discontinued after 1334 and, in 1366, parliament forbade its further payment and struck off all arrearages since 1334. The popes, however, continued to make the claim, and the tax was paid in part or in whole.

The special taxes levied by popes were for the crusades in the East and against Frederick II. and for the expenses of the papal household. Gregory IX., 1229, with the king’s sanction, levied a tax of a tenth for himself. The extraordinary demand, made by Innocent IV., 1246, of a third of all clerical revenues for three years and a half, was refused by a notable gathering of bishops and abbots at Reading and appeal was made to a general council.

The most fruitful method which Rome employed for draining the revenues of the English Church was by requisition upon her benefices and special taxation of bishops and other dignitaries for their offices. The rapacity of the Roman proconsuls seemed to be revived. The first formal demand was made by Honorius III., 1226, and required that two prebends in each cathedral and two positions in each monastery be placed at the pope’s disposal. Italians were already in possession of English livings.

In 1231, Gregory IX. forbade the English bishops conferring any more prebends until positions were provided for five Romans. In 1240, the same pontiff made the cool requisition upon the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of Lincoln and Salisbury of places for three hundred Italians. It was a constant complaint that Italian succeeded Italian. And the bitter indignation was expressed in words such as Shakespeare used in his King John (Act III., Sc. 1):

“that no Italian priest

Shall tithe or toil in our dominions.”

Innocent IV. was the most unblushing offender. He appointed boys to prebends, as at Salisbury, and Grosseteste spoke of some of his appointees as children, parvuli. A protest, directed to him, complained that “an endless number of Italians” held appointments in England and that they took out of the kingdom 60,000 marks yearly or more than half the amount realized by the king from the realm.

As early as 1256, the pope claimed the first-fruits of bishoprics, the claim to be in force for five years. Later they were made a fixed rule. The papal legates could not be expected to fall behind their unscrupulous or complaisant masters. When Martin arrived in 1244, he asked for 30,000 marks and seized benefices worth more than 3000 marks a year. These officials were freely denominated indefatigable extortioners, bloodsuckers, and “wolves, whose bloody jaws were consuming the English clergy.” Money-getting was also esteemed the chief business of the papal representatives in Scotland. Matthew Paris compared the “bloodsucking extortion” to the work of a harlot, vulgar and shameless, venally offering herself to all, and bent upon staining the purity of the English Church. The people, he says, were estranged in body, though not in heart, from the pope who acted in the spirit of a stepfather and from the Roman Church who treated England like a stepmother. The popular indignation at times found vent in something more significant than words. Martin, after receiving textures, vases, furniture, and horses, as well as gold and silver, was given short shrift by the barons to get out of the kingdom. When he applied to the king for safe conduct, the king replied, “The devil give you safe conduct to hell and all the way through it.”

The Norman Conquest exerted a wholesome influence upon the Church in England, and introduced a new era of church building and the erection of monasteries and the regular and canonical observance of the church’s ritual. The thirteenth century was a notable period of church extension. The system of endowed vicarages was developed.

Hugh de Wells created several hundred vicarages and Grosseteste continued the policy and provided for their maintenance out of the revenues of the older churches. Chantries were endowed where mass was said for the repose of the souls of the dead, and in time these were often united to constitute independent vicarages or parishes. The synod of Westminster, 1102, provided for a more just treatment of the ill-paid vicars. The Constitutions of Otho forbade the tearing down of old historic buildings and the erection of new ones without the consent of the bishop.

The Normans also introduced a new era of clerical education. Before their arrival, so William of Malmesbury says, the clergy were content with a slight degree of learning and could scarcely stammer the words of the sacraments. A satisfactory idea of the extent and dispersion of learning among the clergy it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. A high authority, Dr. Stubbs, makes the doubtful statement that every one admitted even to minor orders must have been able to read and write. It happened, however, that bishops were rejected for failing in their examinations and others were admitted to their sees though they were unable to read. As for preaching, a sermon from an English parochial priest in the Middle Ages was probably a rare thing. There were at all times some men of literary ability among the English clergy as is attested by the chronicles that have come down to us, by such writers as John of Salisbury, Walter Map, and Peter of Blois (who was imported from France), and by the Schoolmen who filled the chairs at Oxford in its early history.

In spite of the measures of Anselm and other prelates, clerical marriage and concubinage continued in England. Writing to Anselm, Pascal II. spoke of the majority of the English priests as married. Laws were enacted forbidding the people to attend mass said by an offending priest; and women who did not quit priestly houses were to be treated as adulteresses and denied burial in sacred ground. An English priest in the time of Adrian IV. named his daughter Hadriana, a reminder to the pope that he himself was the son of a priest. Some relief was attempted by the introduction of the Augustinian rule, requiring priests to live together; but it was adopted in the single English cathedral of Carlisle and in a few Scotch cathedrals. The records of the courts leave no doubt of the coarse vice which prevailed in clerical groups. Even after the twelfth century, many of the bishops were married or had semi-legitimated families. According to Matthew Paris, Grosseteste was on the point of resigning his see on account of the low morals of his clergy.

The attempt to introduce the law of Gratian into England was never wholly successful. Archbishop Arundel might declare that “in all cases the canons and laws were authoritative which proceeded from the porter of eternal life and death, who sits in the seat of God Himself, and to whom God has committed the laws of the divine realm.” But the barons, as at the parliament of Merton, 1236, resisted the foreign claim. William the Conqueror provided for ecclesiastical courts, under the charge of bishops and archdeacons, which took the place of the hundred court.

Suits, however, touching the temporalities of the clergy were tried in the secular courts, as were also offences against the forestry laws and the laws of hunting. But all matters pertaining to wills and to marriage were reserved for the clerical court. These provisions gave the Church vast power. It was inevitable, however, that there should be a clash of jurisdiction, and, in fact, endless disputes arose in the settlement of matters pertaining to advowsons, tithes, and other such cases. The relative leniency of the penalties meted out to clerics led many to enter at least the lower orders, and enroll themselves as clerks who never had any idea of performing clerical functions.

The more important acts pertaining to the Church in England in this period were, in addition to William’s mandates for dividing the civil and church courts, the canons of the council of London, 1108, the Clarendon Constitutions, 1164, John’s brief surrendering his kingdom, 1213, the Constitutions of Otho, 1237, and the Mortmain Act of 1279. The Mortmain Act, which was one of the most important English parliamentary acts of the Middle Ages, forbade the alienation of lands to the Church so as to exempt them from the payment of taxation to the state.


129. Two English Bishops

For Hugh of Lincoln: The magna vita, by his chaplain, Adam, ed. by Dimock, Lond., 1864; — a metrical Life, ed. by Dimock, Lond., 1860, — G. G. Perry: St. Hugh of Avalon, Lond., 1879. — H. Thurston (Rom. Cath.): St Hugh of Lincoln, Lond., 1898, transl. from the French, with copious additions. — J. A. Froude: A Bishop of the Twelfth Century, in Short Studies on Great Subjects, 2d series, pp. 54-86.

For Grosseteste: His Epistolae, ed. by Luard, Lond., 1861; Monumenta Franc., ed. by Brewer. — M. Paris, Luard’s ed. — Lives of Grosseteste, by Pegge, Lond., 1793. — Lechler, in his Life of Wiclif, transl. by Lorimer, pp. 20-40. — G. G. Perry, Lond., 1871. — Felten, Freib., 1887. — F. S. Stevenson, Lond., 1899. — M. Creighton: in Hist. Lectt. and Addresses, Lond., 1903. — C. Bigg, in Wayside Sketches in Eccles. Hist., Lond., 1906. — Dict. of Nat’l Biog.

Most prominent among the English ecclesiastics of the period, as faithful administrators of their sees, are Hugh and Robert Grosseteste, both bishops of Lincoln.

Hugh of Lincoln, or Hugh of Avalon, as he is also called, 1140-1200, was pronounced by Ruskin the most attractive sacerdotal figure known to him in history; and Froude passed upon him the eulogy that he “was one of the most beautiful spirits ever incarnated in human clay, whose story should be familiar to every English boy.”

Born near Grenoble, France, he was taken in his ninth year, on his mother’s death, to a convent; afterwards he entered the Grande Chartreuse, and followed an invitation from Henry II., about 1180, to take charge of the Carthusian monastery of St. Witham, which the king had founded a few years before. In 1186 he was chosen bishop of Lincoln, the most extensive diocese in England.

Hugh’s friendship with Henry did not prevent him from resisting the king’s interference in the affairs of his diocese. When the king attempted to force a courtier into one of the prebends of Lincoln, the bishop sent the reply, “Tell the king that hereafter ecclesiastical benefices are to be bestowed not upon courtiers but upon ecclesiastics.” He excommunicated the grand forester for encroaching upon the rights of the people. The king was enraged, but the bishop remained firm. The forests were strictly guarded so as to protect the game, and also, as is probable, to prevent Saxons from taking refuge in their recesses. The foresters and rangers were hated officials. The loss of the eyes and other brutal mutilations were the penalties for encroachment.

Towards Richard and John, Hugh showed the same independent spirit as towards Henry. At the council of Oxford, 1197, he dared to refuse consent to Richard’s demands for money, an almost unheard-of thing. The king’s wrath was allayed by a visit the prelate paid him at his castle on the rock of Andely. This was the famous castle built in a single year, of which Philip said, “I would take it if it were iron.” To which Richard replied, “I would hold it if it were butter.” Upon Hugh’s departure, Richard is reported to have said, “If all prelates were like the bishop of Lincoln, not a prince among us could lift his head against them.”

Hugh’s enlightened treatment of the Jews has already been referred to. He showed his interest in the lepers, built them a house, cared for them with his own hands, and called them “the flowers of Paradise, and jewels in the crown of heaven.” The Third Lateran had ordered separate churches and burial grounds for lepers. His treatment of the tomb of Fair Rosamonde was more in consonance with the canons of that age than agreeable to the spirit of our own. When, on a visit to Gadstow, he found her buried in the convent church, with lamps kept constantly burning over her body, he ordered the body removed, saying that her life was scandalous, and that such treatment would be a lesson to others to lead chaste lives. In his last moments Hugh was laid on a cross of ashes. John, who was holding a council at Lincoln, helped to carry the body to its resting-place. The archbishop of Canterbury and many bishops took part in the burial ceremonies. The Jews shed tears. Hugh was canonized in 1220, and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage.

One of the striking stories told of Hugh, the story of the swan, is attested by his chaplain and by Giraldus Cambrensis, who witnessed the swan’s movements. The swan, which had its nest at Stow, one of the bishop’s manors, was savage and unmanageable till Hugh first saw it. The bird at once became docile, and learned to follow the bishop’s voice, eat from his hand, and to put his bill up his sleeve. It seemed to know instinctively when the bishop was coming on a visit, and for several days before would fly up and down the lake flapping its wings. It kept guard over him when he slept.

Robert Grosseteste, 1175-1253, had a wider range of influence than Hugh, and was probably the most noteworthy Englishman of his generation. No prelate of his century was so bold in telling the pope his duty. To his other qualities he added the tastes and acquisitions of the scholar. He was a reformer of abuses, and a forerunner of Wyclif in his use of the Scriptures. Roger Bacon, his ardent admirer, said that no one really knew the sciences but Robert of Lincoln. His great influence is attested by the fact that for generations he was referred to as Lincolniensis, “he of Lincoln.”

Born in England, and of humble origin, a fact which was made by the monks of Lincoln an occasion of derision, he pursued his studies in Oxford and Paris, and subsequently became chancellor of Oxford. He was acquainted with Greek, and knew some Hebrew. He was a prolific writer, and was closely associated with Adam Marsh.

No one welcomed the advent of the Mendicant Friars to England with more enthusiasm than did Grosseteste. He regarded their coming as the dawn of a new era, and delivered the first lectures in their school at Oxford, and left. them his, library, though he never took the gray cowl himself, as did Adam Marsh.

On being raised to the see of Lincoln, 1235, Grosseteste set out in the work of reforming monastic and clerical abuses, which brought him uninterrupted trouble till the close of his career. He set himself against drinking bouts, games in the churches and churchyards, and parish parades at episcopal visitations. The thoroughness of his episcopal oversight was a novelty. He came down like a hammer upon the monks, reports Matthew Paris, and the first year be removed seven abbots and four priors. At Ramsey he examined the very beds, and broke open the monks’ coffers like “a burglar,” destroying their silver utensils and ornaments. To the monks, who were about to choose an abbot, He wrote: “When you choose one to look after your swine, you make diligent search for a person possessing proper qualifications. And you ask the questions, Is he physically capable? Has he the requisite experience? Is he willing to take them into fitting pastures in the morning, to defend them against thieves and wild beasts, to watch over them at night? And are not your souls of more value than many swine?”

The most protracted contest of his life was with his dean and chapter over the right of episcopal visitation. The canons preached against him in his cathedral. But Grosseteste cited the cases of Samuel, who visited Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and David, who defended his father’s flocks. He was finally sustained by the pope.

In no way did the great bishop win a more sure place in history than by his vigorous resistance to the appointment of unworthy Italians to English livings and to other papal measures. In 1252, he opposed the collection of a tenth for a crusade which had the pope’s sanction. He declined to execute the king’s mandate legitimatizing children born before wedlock. His most famous refusal to instal an Italian, was the case of the pope’s nephew, Frederick of Lavagna. The pope issued a letter threatening with excommunication any one who might venture to oppose the young man’s induction. Grosseteste, then seventy-five years old, replied, declaring, “I disobey, resist, and rebel.” Matthew Paris (III. 393), professing to describe the scene in the papal household when the letter was received, relates that Innocent IV. “raved away at the deaf and foolish dotard who had so audaciously dared to sit in judgment upon his actions.” Notwithstanding this attitude to the appointment of unworthy Italians, the bishop recognized the principle that to the pope belongs the right of appointing to all the benefices of the church.

On his visit to Lyons, 1250, Grosseteste’s memorandum against the abuses of the clergy was read in the pope’s presence. “Not in dispensing the mass but in teaching the living truth” does the work of the pastor consist, so it declared. “The lives of the clergy are the book of the laity.” Adam Marsh, who was standing by, compared the arraignment to the arraignments of Elijah, John the Baptist, Paul, Athanasius, and Augustine of Hippo.

According to Matthew Paris, on the night of Grosseteste’s death strange bells were heard. Miracles were reported performed at his tomb, and the rumor ran that, when Innocent was proposing to have the bishop’s body removed from its resting-place in the cathedral, Grosseteste appeared to the pope in a dream, gave him a sound reprimand, and left him half dead. The popular veneration was shown in the legend that on the night of Innocent IV’s death the bishop appeared to him with the words, “Aryse, wretch, and come to thy dome.”

In the earlier part of his life, Grosseteste preached in Latin; in the latter he often used the vernacular. He was the greatest English preacher of his age. He was not above the superstitions of his time, and one of his famous sermons was preached before Henry III. at the reception of the reputed blood of Christ. His writings are full of Scriptural quotations, and he urged the importance of the study of the Scriptures at the university, and the dedication of the morning hours to it, and emphasized their authority. Wyclif quoted his protest against the practices of Rome, and he has been regarded as a forerunner of the English Reformation.

Of Grosseteste’s writings the best known was probably his de cessatione legalium, the End of the Law, a book intended to convince the Jews. With the aid of John of Basingstoke, he translated the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, which Basingstoke had found in Constantinople. He seems to have been a man of sterling common sense, as the following counsels indicate. To a friar he said: “Three things are necessary for earthly well-being, food, sleep, and a merry heart.” To another friar addicted to melancholy, he prescribed, as penance, a cupfull of the best wine. After the medicine had been taken, Grosseteste said, “Dear brother, if you would frequently do such penance, you would have a better ordered conscience.”

Matthew Paris (V. 407) summed up the bishop’s career in these words: — 

“He was an open confuter of both popes and kings, the corrector of monks, the director of priests, the instructor of clerks, the supporter of scholars, a preacher to the people, a persecutor of the incontinent, the unwearied student of the Scriptures, a crusher and despiser of the Romans. At the table of bodily meat, he was hospitable, eloquent, courteous, and affable; at the spiritual table, devout, tearful, and contrite. In the episcopal office he was sedulous, dignified, and indefatigable.”