The poor and needy come second


The deal called for the crown of Sicily to go to Henry’s ten-year-old son Edmund in return for money and soldiers to defeat Frederick’s successor. Already 300,000 marks in debt because of Gascony, Henry allowed the bishop of Hereford, another of Eleanor’s numerous French relatives, to obtain loans from Italian merchants using security he had acquired underhandedly from his brother prelates. Innocent was hastened to his grave by Manfred’s rapid victories, but the new pope, Alexander IV, was just as determined to carry on the fight. He urged Henry to keep his end of the bargain and sent a man named Rustand to help out. As the king was washing his hands of the Jews of Lincoln, the papal nuncio unleashed an army of tax collectors on parishes throughout the country. Dismissing all pleas about the church providing for the poor and needy, Rustand told an assembly of bishops that the church belonged first and foremost to the pope. Yes, came the reply, to be protected, not used as a cash cow. Furious, Rustand ordered every man to speak for himself, so that the king might know where he stood.

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