chapter
INTRODUCTION
Pages 66

A. THE RELATIONSHIP OF CHURCH AND KING Adominant feature of the Church in this period was, on the whole, its conservative respect for tradition and law; but in spite of this some significant changes took place. Throughout this period the Church in England remained an integral part of the Latin Church. The age-old tradition of submission to the papacy had been enhanced by the results of the Gregorian movement of the eleventh and twelfth centuries and had been given greater precision and diversity by the vast development of canon law, which centred on the pope as the supreme judge on earth. The life of the English Church had been profoundly influenced by the canons of international councils, by papal decretals and decisions. Except in questions involving politics, appeals were freely made to Rome; and the popes were able to put into practice the theory which the canon lawyers developed during the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, that the pope as universal judge could provide, if he wished, to any benefice in the Church, overriding the claims of more ancient electors and patrons. Numerous requests were made to Rome for indulgences and dispensations from ecclesiastical laws, as a glance at the Calendars of Papal Letters will show; requests for dispensation from the rules on marriage within prohibited degrees, petitions to hold incompatible benefices, indulgences to help the building of a church or the repair of a bridge.1 Not only the centralised orders such as Cluniacs or Cistercian monks, Grey or Black friars, looked to Rome instead of episcopal authority; so also did most of the greater Benedictine houses, which had, before this period began, obtained independence from the local bishop by invoking the protection of the apostolic see. English ecclesiastics took a full part in international councils of the Church, such as Constance or Basel. English layfolk as diverse as Margery Kempe or John Tiptoft Earl of Worcester went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Rome or Santiago of Compostella,2 like their fellow-Christians of other western lands; indeed the pilgrim traffic to Santiago was an important item in Anglo-Spanish trade and shipping. Europe could still be regarded as Christendom, not merely as a geographical region.3