CLARENDON, CONSTITUTIO:s.7S OF, were laws made by a parliament, or rather by a general council of the nobility and prelates, held at Clarendon, a village in Wiltshire, in 1164, whereby king Henry II. checked the power of the church, and greatly narrowed the total exemption which the clergy had claimed from the jurisdiction of the secular magistrate. These famous ordinances, 16 in number, defined the limits of the patron age, as well as of the jurisdiction, of the pope in England, and provided that the crown should be entitled to interfere in the election to all vacant offices and dignities in the church. The constitutions were unanimously adopted, and Becket, the primate, reluc tantly signed them, at the solicitation of his brethren. But they were at once rejected by pope when sent to him for ratification, and Becket thereupon imme diately retracted his consent, and imposed upon himself the severest penances for his weakness in giving it. This, and time other measures adopted by the haughty and impe
rious archbishop, to vindicate the independence of his order, led to the unhappy dis putes between him and the monarch, which terminated in the famous tragedy at Canter bury, commonly known as the martyrdom of St. Thomas-a-Becket, the canonization of the saint, and the pilgrimages to his tomb, which subsequently became an institution of the Roman Catholic church. Notwithstanding the personal humiliation to which Henry submitted after Becket's death, most of the provisions of the constitutions of C. con tinued to be permanent gains to the civil power. A masterly and dispassionate appre. elation of the constitutions of C. will be found in Dr. Pauli's Geschichter. England; and in prof. Stubbs's Select Charters illustrative of English Constitutional History, the text of the constitutions is given.