The death of the Earl Marshal in 1219 left the direction of affairs in the hands of a new legate, Pandulf, of Stephen Langton who had just returned forgiven from Rome, and of the Justiciar, Hubert de Burgh. It was an age of transition, and the temper of the Justiciar was eminently transitional. Bred in the school of Henry the Second, he had little sympathy with national freedom; his conception of good government, like that of his master, lay in a wise personal administration, in the preservation of order and law. But he combined with this a thoroughly English desire for national independence, a hatred of foreigners, and a reluctance to waste English blood and treasure in Continental struggles. Able as he proved himself, his task was one of no common difficulty. He was hampered by the constant interference of Rome. A Papal legate resided at the English court, and claimed a share in the administration of the realm as the representative of its over-lord, and as guardian of the young sovereign. A foreign party, too, had still a footing in the kingdom, for William Marshal had been unable to rid himself of men like Peter des Roches or Faukes de Breauté, who had fought on the royal side in the struggle against Lewis. Hubert had to deal too with the anarchy which that struggle left behind it.
From the time of the Conquest the centre of England had been covered with the domains of great nobles, whose longings were for feudal independence, and whose spirit of revolt had been held in check, partly by the stern rule of the Kings, and partly by their creation of a baronage sprung from the Court and settled for the most part in the North. The oppression of John united both the older and these newer houses in the struggle for the Charter. But the character of each remained unchanged, and the close of the struggle saw the feudal party break out in their old lawlessness and defiance of the Crown. For a time the anarchy of Stephen's days seemed revived. But the Justiciar was resolute to crush it, and he was backed by the strenuous efforts of Stephen Langton. The Earl of Chester, the head of the feudal baronage, though he rose in armed rebellion, quailed before the march of Hubert and the Primate's threats of excommunication. A more formidable foe remained in the Frenchman, Faukes de Breauté, the sheriff of six count es, with six royal castles in his hands, and allied both with the rebel barons and Llewelyn of Wales. His castle of Bedford was besieged for two months before its surrender, and the stern justice of Hubert hanged the twenty-four knights and theirretainers who formed the garrison before its walls.
[Authorities. - The two great authorities for this period are the historiographers of St. Albans, Roger of Wendover, whose work ends in 1235, and his editor and continuator Matthew Paris. The first is full but inaccurate, and with strong royal and ecclesiastical sympathies: of the character of Matthew, I have spoken at the close of the present section. The Chronicles of Dunstable, Waverley, and Burton (published in Mr. Luard's " Annales Monastici") supply many details. The " Royal Letters," edited by Dr. Shirley, with an admirable preface, are, like the Patent and Close Rolls, of the highest value. For opposition to Rome, see " Grosseteste's Letters," edited by Mr. Luard].
The blow was effectual; the royal castles were surrendered by the barons, and the land was once more at peace. Freed from foreign soldiery, the country was freed also from the presence of the foreign legate. Langton wrested a promise from Rome that so long as he lived no future legate should be sent to England, and with Pandulfs resignation in 1221 the direct interference of the Papacy in the government of the realm came to an end. But even these services of the Primate were small compared with his services to English freedom. Throughout his life the Charter was the first object of his care. The omission of the articles which restricted the royal power over taxation in the Charter which was published at Henry's accession was doubtless due to the Archbishop's absence and disgrace at Rome. The suppression of disorder seems to have revived the older spirit of resistance among the royal ministers; when Langton demanded a fresh confirmation of the Charter in Parliament at London, William Brewer, one of the King's councillors, protested that it had been extorted by force, and was without legal validity " If you loved the King, William," the Primate burst out in anger, "you would not throw a stumbling-block in the way of the peace of the realm." The King was cowed by the Archbishop's wrath, and at once promised observance of the Charter. Two years after, its solemn promulgation was demanded by the Archbishop and the barons as the price of a subsidy, and Henry's assent established the principle, so fruitful of constitutional results, that redress of wrongs precedes a grant to the Crown.
The death, of Stephen Langton in 1228 proved a heavy blow to English freedom. In 1227 Henry had declared himself of age; and though Hubert still remained Justiciar, every year saw him more powerless in his struggle with Rome and with the tendencies of the King. In the mediaeval theory of the Papacy, the constitution of Christendom as a spiritual realm took the feudal form of the secular kingdoms within its pale, with the Pope for sovereign, bishops for his barons, the clergy for his under vassals. As the King demanded aids and subsidies in case of need from his liegemen, so it was believed might the head of the Church from the priesthood. At this moment the Papacy, exhausted by its long struggle with Frederick the Second, grew more and more extortionate in its demands. It regarded England as a vassal kingdom, and as bound to aid its overlord. The baronage, however, rejected the demand of aid from the laity, and the Pope fell back on the clergy. He demanded a tithe of all the moveables of the priesthood, and a threat of excommunication silenced their murmurs.