Archbishop of Canterbury. Now, the election of Langton did not take place till five years afterwards, and the interdict and excommunication were still later. However, Shakspeare is correct in making John stand out stoutly against the Pope, and assert boldly his independence. He contended, in fact, for domestic nomination ; and told the Pope plainly, as we learn from monkish authority—

“that he would not admit a man who had been brought up in France among his enemies; he reminded the Pope of the value of England to the papal see as a fruitful source of revenue, and declared that, as there was an abundance of learned men within his dominions, he would not go to any foreigner for justice or judgment.”*

This was going very far in rebellion against the head of the Roman Catholic church. It is possible that Shakspeare, in the speech which he has put into John's mouth, had in his mind the king's supremacy, asserted afterwards more effectually by Henry the Eighth and Elizabeth:— “King John. What earthly name to interrogatories Can task the free breath of a sacred king 2 Thou canst not, cardinal, devise a name So slight, unworthy, and ridiculous, To charge me as an answer to the pope.

* Matt. Par., 224; anno 1207.

Tell him this tale; and from the mouth of England
Add thus much more—that no Italian priest
Shall tithe or toll in our dominions;
But as we, under heaven, are supreme head,
So, under him, that great supremacy,
Where we do reign, we will alone uphold,
Without the assistance of a mortal hand:
So tell the pope; all reverence set apart
To him, and his usurp'd authority.”

But Shakspeare paraphrased a passage in the old play:—

“K. John. And what hast thou, or the pope thy master, to do to demand of me how I employ mine own? Know, sir priest, as I honour the church and holy churchmen, so I scorn to be subject to the greatest prelate in the world. Tell thy master so from me, and say that John of England said it, that never an Italian priest of them all shall either have tythe, toll, or pollingpenny out of England; but, as I am king, so I will reign, neat under God, supreme head both over spiritual and temporal; and he that contradicts me in this, I'll make him hop headless.”f

The play now makes Pandulph occasion a renewal of the war, by exciting Philip to turn against John as an enemy to the church, and excommunicated by the authority of the Pope. But, according to the histories, Philip had, in 1202, espoused

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Arthur's claim to John's possessions “on that side the sea,” had married Arthur to his daughter Mary,+ recommenced the war, notwithstanding the treaty of the preceding year and a renewal of friendship at Paris, where John had visited him by invitation. Hugh le Brun, Earl of March, a disappointed suitor of Isabel of Angoulême (John's new queen),

“being now desirous to procure some trouble also unto King John, joined himself with Arthur Duke of Britain, and found means to cause them of Poitou (a people ever subject to rebellion) to revolt from King John, and to take armour against him ; so that the young Arthur, being encouraged with this new supply of associates, relying upon the discontents of the English barons, : first went into Touraine, and after into Anjou, compelling both those countries to submit themselves unto him, and proclaimed himself earl of those places by commission and grant of King Philip.” Yet we are told that this young prince, whom Mr. Schlegel, with poetical licence, styles the amiable Arthur,S did not make himself more acceptable than his uncle himself to the people whom he desired as his subjects. Queen Elinor, the regent, got into Mirabeau, in Anjou, which was besieged by Arthur, and, according to some, she was taken there. But John displayed the activity of which he boasted when he said, “Whatever the King of France may take I will recover in one day.” He attacked Arthur, took him prisoner, and confined him at Falais. Here, according to our histories,

* Hol. 284. + Sismondi, vi. 211. : Ibid. vi. 207. § iii. 102.

“King John caused his nephew to be brought before him, and there went about to persuade him all that he could to forsake his friendship and alliance with the French King, and to lean and stick to him, being his natural uncle. But Arthur, like one that wanted good counsel, and abounding too much in his own wilful opinion, made a presumptuous answer, not only denying so to do, but also commanding King John to restore under him the realm of England with all those other lands and possessions which King Richard had in his hand at the time of his death.”

The King hereupon confined him closely, and a rumour of his death was spread through France. The Breton and Poictevin lords in vain solicited his liberty; and “it was now reported that King John, through persuasion of his counsellors, appointed certain persons to go into Falais, where Arthur was kept in prison under the charge of Hubert de Burgh, and there to put out the young gentleman's eyes.”

I continue the quotation, because it is the foundation of one of the most beautiful of Shakspeare's SCeneS :

* Matt. Paris 208.

“But through such resistance as he made against one of the tormentors that came to execute the King's commandment (for the other rather forsook their prince and country than they would consent to obey the King's authority herein), and such lamentable words as he uttered, Hubert de Burgh did preserve him from that injury, not doubting but rather to have thanks than displeasure at the King's hands, for delivering him of such infamy as would have redounded to his highness if the young gentleman had been so cruelly dealt withal. For he considered that King John had resolved upon this point only in his heat and fury (which moveth men to undertake many an inconvenient enterprise, unbeseeming the person of a common man, much more reproachful to a prince, all men in that mood being more foolish and furious, and prone to accomplish the perverse conceits of their ill-possessed hearts), and that afterwards, upon better advisement, he would both repent himself so to have commanded and give them small thank that would see it put in execution. Howbeit, to satisfy his mind for the time, and to stay the rage of the Bretons, he caused it to be bruited through the country that the King's commandment was fulfilled, and that Arthur also, through sorrow and grief, was departed out of this life. For the space of fifteen days this rumour ran incessantly through both the realms of England and France, and there was ringing for him through towns and villages as it had

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