chapter  5
3.2 The crisis of 1297
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The first coherent opposition came from the clergy. A tax on them in 1294 had been much criticised, as was Edward’s earlier extension of royal justice as against ecclesiastical courts. Complaints from English and French clergy that their respective kings were plundering their livings to pay for the war led to the issue by Pope Boniface VIII in 1296 of the Bull Clericis Laicos, forbidding the taxation of the clergy for secular purposes without authority from the Holy See. On the strength of this, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Winchelsey, refused the king’s demand for a Fifth from the clergy in the parliament of November 1296. Edward retaliated by placing the clergy outside the king’s peace and so, effectively, outlaws, and ordered the seizure of all the temporalities of the church, redeemable by payments equal to a Fifth. Had Winchelsey been a Becket or a Stephen Langton, this stand-off might have continued indefinitely. However, he opted not to stand on principle, but to allow the clergy to follow their individual consciences. The majority submitted and a peace of a sort was gradually cobbled together, assisted by a useful precedent in France, where the bishops chose to petition Pope Boniface to allow them to grant a subsidy to their king.