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KING OF EAST

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Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 947 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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KING OF EAST ANGLIA 947 benefices. He not infrequently retired for solitude to Reading Abbey; it is probable that he would have become a monk if that profession had afforded more scope for his gifts as a preacher and expositor. As his fame increased he became alarmed by the temptations which it threw in his way. He ceased to lecture in Oxford, and about 1222 accepted, at the invitation of Bishop ;Richard Poore, the treasurership of Salisbury cathedral. Little is known of his life for the next ten years. But he attracted the notice of the Roman court, and was appointed in 1227 to preach the Crusade in England; he formed a friendship with Ella, countess of Salisbury, and her husband, William Longsword, and he won general admiration by his works of charity and the austerity of his life. In 1233 he was elected archbishop of Canterbury at the express suggestion of Gregory IX., after the monks of Canterbury had in vain suggested three other candidates for the pope's approval. Edmund at once leaped into prominence by the outspoken manner in which he rebuked the king for following the advice of foreign favourites. In common with the baronial opposition he treated Henry III. as responsible for the tragic fate of Richard Marshal, earl of Pembroke, and threatened the king with ex-communication. The king bowed before the storm, dismissed the foreign counsellors, made peace with Marshal's adherents, and was publicly reconciled with the barons. But the new ministers were as unpopular as the old; nor was the archbishop allowed that political influence which he claimed in virtue of his office. It was with the object of emancipating himself from Edmund's control that the king asked the pope to send him a legate (1236). On the arrival of Cardinal Otho (1237) the arch-bishop found himself thwarted and insulted at every point. The marriage between Simon de Montfort and the Princess Eleanor, which' Edmund had pronounced invalid, was ratified at Rome upon appeal. The king and legate upheld the monks of Canterbury in their opposition to the archbishop's authority. On all public occasions the legate took precedence of the arch-bishop. By the advice of his suffragans Edmund laid a protest before the king, and excommunicated in general terms all who had infringed the liberties of Canterbury. These measures led to no result; nor could the pope be moved to reverse the legate's decisions. Edmund complained that the discipline of the national church was ruined by this conflict of powers, and began to meditate retiring. He was confirmed in this intention by the papal encroachments of the year 1240, when the English clergy were required to pay a subsidy of a fifth for the war against Frederick II., and simultaneously three hundred Romans were " provided " with English benefices in return for their political services to the Holy See. Edmund withdrew to Pontigny in the summer of 1240. A little later the state of his health compelled him to seek the cooler air of Soissy (near Provins). Here he died on the 16th of November 1240. His canonization was at once demanded by his admirers, and only delayed (till 1247) through the opposition of Henry III. The honour was well deserved. He is one of the most saintly and attractive figures in the history of the English church. It was his misfortune to be placed at the head of the national hierarchy in a crisis for which he had not been prepared by practical training or experience. As archbishop he showed no great capacity or force of character; but the purity of his motives and the loftiness of his deals commanded universal respect. See the Life printed by Martene and Durand in the Thesaurus novus anecdotorurn (1717). Other lives of importance exist in manuscript at the British Museum, in the Cambridge University library and in that of St John's College, Cambridge. The last-named is printed by W. Wallace in the appendix to his Life of St Edmund (1893). An account of the manuscript lives and many extracts (translated) will be found in the Rev. B Ward's St Edmund (19o3). See also St Edmund of Abingdon (1898), by the Baroness Paravicini; and the English Historical Review, xxii. pp. 84 if. (H. W. C. D.)
End of Article: KING OF EAST
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