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Accession of Henry III page 3

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Peter had even the insolence to say that the barons of England must not presume to put themselves on an equality with the barons of France, or assume the same liberties and privileges, the king of the former country having a more absolute power than the latter.

When the king at any time was checked in his illegal proceedings, and the authority of the Great Charter invoked, he was wont to reply -

"Why should I observe this charter, which is violated by all my nobles and prelates?"

On one occasion it was said to him -

"You ought, sire, to set them the example."

In the opposition of the nobility, and the discontent of the people, we may trace the slow but gradual growth of civil liberty. True, the struggle for absolute power was frequently renewed, and sometimes with success, but that success was only temporary. The nation never really gave way; and once more the Church came to the aid of the nation. Edmund, the primate, came to court, attended by many other prelates, and represented to the king the injustice of the measures pursued by Peter des Roches, the discontent and sufferings of the people, the ruin of his affairs, and after demanding the dismission of the obnoxious minister, threatened him with excommunication in the event of a refusal.

Henry, who knew that in the event of the primate carrying his threat into execution the entire nation would side against him, was compelled to submit; the foreigners were banished from the kingdom, and the English restored to their places in the council.

The primate, who was a prudent man, took care to execute the laws, and observe the charter of liberties. He bore the chief sway in the government.

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