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the situation to which he was reduced with his Barons, obliged him to give largely, and at last to resume what he had before given, the price of the dissembled affection of his Courtiers.
Stephen had liberality, and loved splendour; so that, had he lived in times more favourable to it, he would, probably, have shone with great lustre in his Court and Household, if we may take the Court which attended him in his first year, and the magnificence there exhibited, for a specimen.
King Stephen, being a Foreigner, and an Usurper, might not choose to ask Aids of the people of England, and it does not appear that he did. He had two sons, Eustace and William, both of whom lived to be married, and no doubt were Knights, which, according to the complexion of the times, every person of the least consequence was, though these Princes do not appear to have received that honour in England. King Stephen was unpopular; and being embroiled in domestic wars with his Cousin the Empress Maud, made no demands of aids of this sort of which we are speaking. His two elder Sons died in his life-time; and his third, William, was by Henry II. restored to his titles of Earl of Bolleigne, Surrey, and Mortaine; and dying without issue, was succeeded by his sister Mary, who, after having been Abbess of Ramsey, was married to the second son of Theodoxic, Earl of Flanders, who, in her right, was Earl of Bolleigne.
King Stephen, during the internal disquietudes in the Kingdom, was taken prisoner by Maud, the Empress, and afterwards released at the suit of his Son Eustace. It is not said that any sum of money was paid on the occasion, and indeed it will admit of a question whether the Norman aid, allowed for ransom of the King's Person if taken prisoner, would extend to such a domestic war. The Kingdom was divided; and the Title to the Crown suspended, and in such an unquiet hour, it was difficult for the Nation at large to refuse or comply.
HENRY II. (plantagenet.)
Henry at his Accession found himself so contracted in his Royal Revenues, by the imprudence of his immediate Predecessor, Stephen, that some spirited measures became necessary, to enable him to support his dignity equal to the Sovereign of a great Kingdom, and his own wishes.
Henry soon saw that the resumption of several grants made by Stephen was absolutely necessary; and these having been conferred on great and powerful men, the measure must be conducted with firmness and delicacy. In a Treaty made at Winchester, after the close of the Civil Commotions in the late Reign, after Stephen had contented himself that Henry, then Duke of Normandy, should assume the Rights and Power of a King, reserving to himself only the Image of the Royal Dignity, it was stipulated, inter alia, by a separate and secret article, that the King (Stephen) " should resume what had been alienated to the No
* Lord Lyttelton.
bles, or usurped by them, of the Royal Demesne *." This article was limited to whatever lands or possessions had belonged to the Crown at the death of King Henry I.; all which were to be restored, except those that Stephen had granted to William his Son, or had bestowed on the Church, Among these resumable gifts were some made by Matilda; for she too, acting as Sovereign, had followed Stephen's example, in giving away certain parts of the Estate of the Crown, to reward her adherents. Add to these, much that had been usurped by the Barons of both Parties, without any warrant, by the licence of the times, on unjustifiable pretences*. No article of the Treaty of Winchester was more necessary to be fulfilled than a resumption of all these alienations, which had been neglected by Stephen, indigent as he was; for, had this not been now executed, Henry would have been little better than Stephen, a Sovereign without a Royal Revenue—"Rex et preterea nihil."— His power would soon have vanished; and the Barons, having usurped the Crown Lands, would very soon have contended for the Sovereign Power: and had not Henry exerted the spirit and conduct which he soon shewed, it is more than probable the Government of the Kingdom at this period had sunk into an Aristocracy. Henry, therefore, as soon as he was well and fully confirmed on the Throne, set about the execution of this secret article of the Treaty of Winchester, relating to the alienated lands, which Stephen had neglected. The necessity of this measure, however arduous and disagreeable in itself, appeared in the most glaring colours to Henry; for Stephen's extravagance, and the insatiable demands of his faction, had induced him to alienate so much of the ancient Demesne of the Crown, that the remaining Estate was not (as has been said) sufficient to maintain the Royal Dignity. Royal Cities, and Forts of great consequence, had been also granted away, which could not be suffered to continue in the hands of the Nobles, without endangering the peace of the Kingdom. Policy and Law concurred in demanding these concessions back again. The Antient De
* Lord Lyttelton. E