Friday, 28 December 2012

Council of Westminster from Thómas saga erkibyskups:

Thómas saga erkibyskups:
a life of Archbishop Thomas Becket, in Icelandic,
with English translation, notes and glossary, Volume 1

Quarrel between the King and the Bishop.

Unto this council in London proceedeth the lord arch-
bishop Thomas with such pageantry, that he hath in his
company the blessed council aforementioned. Thither
come also bishops and abbots, canons and clerks. King
Henry, too, is there, accompanied by all his barons and a
multitude of mighty folk. The meeting having been
opened, no long while weareth away ere the lord king
taketh up the speech for the harming of the clergy,
reasoning in the following manner :

" We have been silent a while," said he, " and listened
" meekly, how ye, bishops, are willing to dispose your-
" selves towards royal rights and our rule here in
" England. Now that we have been watching your
" proceedings, we have been thinking and peacefully
" searching our mind, as to what kind of fault ye might
" happen to have found in us, that we must needs be
" deemed less worthy than other kings, who have been
" before us, to wear an untottering crown, in virtue
" of such law-enactments and royal prerogatives, as
" each one has had and enjoyed in due succession, and
" no learned men before you listed to withdraw from
" royal honour. Now altiiough matters of this kind
" multiply daily, according as your boldness waxeth
" more and more, we yet desire as at this time, to turn
" our speech chiefly towards those men of forfeited lives
" whom you name clerks, but whom we call so much the
" worse than layfolk, in that they have had the fool-
" hatdiness to push themselves into the honours and
" ordinations of holy church, turning her dignity and
" liberty into mockery and fell thraldom ; for they may
" by rights be far rather called the doers of the works
" of the devil, than consecrated clerks, who forbear
" doing any kind of mischief much less even 'than lay-
" folk who lead all the days of their life in honouring
" and obeying the law. Now ye, the bishops, maintain,
" that it is written in your canon, that such dishouour-
" able things should be protected, and withdrawn from
" rightful punishment, in that ye think that none be-
" side yourselves alone are able to understand the laws
" of the emperor or those of the church ; but with
" greater truth we know, that there are with us men
" so wise in either law, as to be well fit to root out
" your own misunderstandings or utterly to refute
" them. These men have testified such to be a tine
" interpretation of the law, that evil-doers, even such
" as are ordained, shall be delivered unto rightful
" punishment by kingly power. We therefore demand
" of you, the bishops, by the honour and the obe-
" dience you owe the crown, that ye deliver all such
" clerks as you let wrongfully slip away from our
" power into sundry places inland as well as abroad,
" into our hand for rightful punishment, and as to this
" matter we desire to have clear answers from you."

Now the blessed archbishop Thomas, having heard this
speech of the king, which seemeth to him right harsh
against the church, holdeth a council with his wise
men, as to what is to be taken up in so troublous a
matter. But since they had ever one heart and were
of one assenting mind in good things, the sentence of
all of them is one and the same, according to the example
of the apostles, that they ought to obey God rather than
men. Now as soon as the archbishop has heard, and
given his whole heart's consent to, what they say, he has
the bishops summoned before him, to whom, when they
had all assembled, he thus speaketh:-

" Now need exacteth that we pay good heed as to
" how we answer the speech of the king ; but my own
" mind I may speak without delay: that the dignity
" and freedom which God gave to his church by the
" institutions and the framed laws of the other shall
" never come to nought through a word of consent
" from me, and the same we desire that ye should do."

They answer : -

" And whereas you are set to be our head and lord,
" it behoves, that you should give out the answers on
" our behalf, but to us it becometh, not to part from
" you."

The archbishop further speaketh : -

" Prepare your mind for patience and episcopal stead-
" fastness, for the wrath of the king is ready for all of
" us. if we arise against his will, and fain will we
" suffer for the name of God whatsoever stones may
" befall rather than purchase for ourselves worldly peace
" by everlasting peril"

They all said yea, they would
stand firmly; and thus they come before the king.
The blessed archbishop Thomas then beginneth his
errand in this wise : -

" Let it be the unfeigned desire of us, the bishops,
" to honour- and worshipfully to heed your will in all
" things, my good lord, if it timii not against that
" which is right But if it setteth itself up thwart-
" ingly against the will of God, and the laws and
" dignity of the holy churchy we neither may nor
" dare give our assent to it. We pray your power,
" that you deign to take for your guide the laudable
" examples of other good lords ; for it will not be found,
" where Christian rule is rightfully holden and law-
" fully warded, that a consecrated person be judged
" as an unconsecrated one ; for the ancient decrees of
" the holy fathers ordain even thus : -

" clerks shall
" be taken in such unseemly deeds as manslaughter,
" theft, or robbeiy, they shall for a beginning be sus-
" pended from all offices, and be entirely deprived of
" all goods coming from the church ; then be excommu-
" nicated and degraded from all orders ; and, thus
" degraded and dishonoured, they are amenable to lay-
" folk law, but not till then. Now a second time, we
" pray your lordship, in all humbleness, that you may
" be pleased, not to introduce into your country any
" novelties against the holy church, for if you are of
" a mind to establish such laws as shall go straightway
" against the right of God, it is not for us, the bishops,
" to give consent to such things. I also desire, in all
" lowliness, to let you know, that the sentences which
" the holy fathers have settled to be law for the up-
" holding of holy church, shall not come down in this
" country whilst I may hold them up."

Thus the archbishop closeth his speech. But king
Henry answered thereto in great anger : -

" Know ye, for sure," said he, " that through your
" ill-will and violence I am nowise likely to lay down
" the royal dignity ; for by rightful succession we have
" come to the throne and its honours after my mother's
" father king Henry the old, and therefore we demand
" of you yet once more, that you allow to the kingdom
" freedom and peace, law-amendments and land-customs,
" such, and as many, as may be shown to have obtained
" in his day, and to this we demand your plighted
" consent."

Unto this the archbishop answered : -

" All praiseworthy customs here in the land will we
" hold saving our consecration and the unimpaired
" right of God."

Now all the bishops stand here awhile as if following
the words of the archbishop, to hold to the royal customs,
saving their consecration. But now that the king be-
cometh mad at this word with such a furious anger, as
if aU his power had been fordone, one of the bL^ops,
hight Hilarius of Chichester, as aforenamed, may nowise
bear this, but tumeth his words about and giveth an-
other hue to them. It fell, however, right deservedly,
that in thrusting faith away from him, he reaped there-
for no thanks from the king ; far rather the contrary,
because a little later the king springeth up from his
high seat with these words :-

" Although ye now huddle together, all of you, under
" one shield against us, ye shall nowise have a victory
" to boast of, for in such way shall matters fare, that if
" any man among you presumeth, from this day to dis-
" turb our realm, the same shall according to desert
" have to pay right dearly therefor."

With these hard words the king bringeth the meeting
to a close. But the lord archbishop lets sharp words
of chiding drop on the bare brows of bishop Hilary, for
the fickle and hireling-like manner in which he held his
stand even through the very first trial. But how great
a spite there must have been in the king's mind now,
may appear from this, that the very first night after
the meeting he rideth away from London stealthily,
ere even day did dawn, so that none of the bishops
gave him a blessing or bade him fare well.


Thómas saga erkibyskups: a life of Archbishop Thomas Becket, in Icelandic, with English translation, notes and glossary, Volume 1
Volume 65 of Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores
Volume 65 of Chronicles and memorials of Great Britain and Ireland during the ages
Volume 65 of Rerum britannicarum medii aevi scriptores, or Chronicles and memorials of Great Britain and Ireland during the Middle Ages
Thómas Saga Erkibyskups: A Life of Archbishop Thomas Becket, in Icelandic, with English Translation, Notes and Glossary, Eiríkr Magnússon
Editor Eiríkr Magnússon
Publisher Longman & Co., 1875

Thomas saga erkibyskups :fortælling om Thomas Becket erkebiskop af Canterbury (1869)
Carl Rikard Unger (1869). Thomas saga Erkibyskups. B.M. Bentzen. pp. 330–

Council of Westminster

When King Henry II dared to revive within himself the spirit of William Rufus, he found himself confronted with Anselm, resurrected in the person of Thomas.



De prima manifestae inter dominum Cantuariensem et dominum regem discordia causa.

Henricus, nobilis rex Anglorum, dux Normaniae et Aquitaniae et comes Andegavise, venit Londoniam calendis Octob. anno verbi incarnati MCLXIII, et archiepiscopus Cantuariensis Thomas et Eboracensis Rogerius et omnes episcopi Angliae. Sola autem et summa causa concilii fuit, ut metropolitanus Cantuariensis totius Anglise primas esse solemniter monstraretur; cui solus in hoc Eboracensis obviavit : quum ecce praeter spem omnium, rex Anglorum quaedam satis dura proponere coepit.

Primo enim conquestus est de archidiaconorum violentia, quod aliorum delicta in sua verterent lucra, quod peccatorum pretia exigant, et de his suos supra modum luxus exerceant, cum tamen peccantibus debitam correctionem non impendant : dixitque se velle, ne archidiaconi quemquam quantumcumque infamem super aliquo crimine conveniant, praeter officialis sui conscientiam. Moxque ad aliud sermonem vertens, Cogito, inquit, cogitationes pacis, moveorque multum pro bono pacis, quae in regno meo clericorum malitia perturbatur, qui rapinas et furta perpetrant, et homicidia plerumque. Peto igitur et volo, ut tuo, domine Cantuariensis, et coepiscoporum tuorum consensu clerici in maleficiis deprehensi vel convicti vel confessi exauctorentur illico, et mox curise mex lictoribus tradantur, ut omni defensione ecclesiae destituti, corporaliter puniantur. Volo etiam et peto, ut in illa exauctoratione, de meis officialibus aliquem interesse consentiatis, ut exauctoratum clericum mox comprehendat, ne qua ei fiat copia corporalem vindictam effugiendi.

Ad haec, dominus Cantuariensis, cum super petitionis hujus responso nec usque mane impetrare posset inducias, secessit in partem cum episcopis suis. Moxque hinc inde allegatum est : episcopi dicebant secundum leges seculi clericos exauctoratos curiae tradendos, et post poenam spiritualem, corporaliter puniendos : quoniam quo digniores sunt ex privilegio, eo deteriores judicantur in delicto ; et quo deteriores in delicto, eo graviori sunt afficiendi supplicio. Non ergo mirum, inquiunt, si privatiouem ordinis sequatur supplicium corporis. Id ipsum etiam non solum legibus, sed etiam autheuticis probabant exemplis ; Levitas veteris testamenti proponentes in medium, quos reos forte flagitii lege prohibiti, sequebatur mors corporis; vel juxta similitudinem criminis, multatio in membris.

Dominus vero Cantuariensis sacris canonibus consentiens, in contrarium allegabat, asserens omnino injustum fore, et contra canones, et contra Deum, si ob unius punitionem delicti, duo quis subeat judicia. Nec enim Deus judicat bis in id ipsum. Quod enim, inquit, judicat ecclesia, aut justum est aut injustum : sed non dabis injustum, erit ergo justum. Quod, cum non contineat absolutionem, continet damnationem. Si ergo damnatur reus, quum exauctoratur, non debet aliud judicium inchoari ad ejusdem condemnationem peccati. Ad hsec quoque cavendum est, inquit, nobis, ne nostro consensu opprimatur et pereat libertas ecclesise : pro qua, exemplo summi sacerdotis nostri, ex officio tenemur usque ad mortem certare. Nondum autem usque ad mortem restitistis.

Ad haec episcopi pereuntem ecclesiae libertatem nullum periculum afferre ecclesiae dicebant : sed aiunt, Potius nunc expedit, ut pereat, ne toti pereamus. Faciamus ergo quod rex petit; alioquin peri- bit fuga a nobis, et non erit, qui requirat animas nostras. Regi vero consentientes, haereditate possidebimus sanctuarium Dei, et in possessionibus ecclesiarum nostrarum securi dormiemus. Malitiae etiam temporis hujus multa indulgenda sunt. [Hoc enim dictum est propter schisma, quod tunc fuit in Romana ecclesia : erat namque apud Alemanniam qui- dam antipapa.] Haec dicebant episcopi, tanquam diei malitia sua non sufficiat, nisi et ipsa augeatur per malitiam episcoporum. Ad hsec dominus Cantuariensis zelo domus Dei succensus : Video, inquit, vos vestras inertias sub specie sustinentise consolari, et dispensationis vestrae praetextu, sponsae Christi libertatem suffocari. Et quis vos fascinavit, O insensati pontifices? Quid prudenti vocabulo dispensationis manifestam iniquitatem vestram contegitis? Quid vocatis dispensationem, totius ecclesiae Christi dispendium? Rebus vocabula serviant; non cum rebus pervertantur vocabula. Quod autem dicitis, malitise temporis multa fore indulgenda ; assentior certe : sed non ob id pec- cata accumulanda esse peccatis. Potens est Deus ecclesiae suae conditionem facere meliorem, quamvis non efnciamini deteriores. Nunquid impotens est Deus subvenire sanctse ecclesise, nisi per vitia docto- rum ecclesiae? Arbitror vos compati infirmitatibus Christi, quasi impotens sit sponsam suam erigere, nisi sensibus nostris adjuvetur. Revera tentat vos Deus. Quaeso namque, quando se debent episcopi offerre discrimini? Numquid in tranquillitate et non in discrimine ? Erubescitis certe fateri, quod in tranquillitate. Restat ergo, ut cum in ecclesia est perturbatio, pastor ecclesise opponat se periculo. Nec enim majoris meriti fuit olim episcopis, in suo sanguine ecclesiam Christi fundare, quam nostris tem- poribus pro ecclesiae libertate sanguinem fundere. Et ego quidem, Deo teste, afiirmo, non esse nobis tutum a forma illa recedere, quam a sanctis patribus nostris accepimus. Nec nos quenquam morti debemus exponere, cum etiam judicio sanguinis nobis non licet interesse.

Haec verba mox ad regem relata sunt. Videns illico quamplures ecclesise, non dico columnas, sed arundines, vento agitari et trepidare, audito quod non per omnia voto regis essent parituri. Et certe statim ante minas cessissent, nisi domini Cantuari- ensis constantiam persensissent. Videns autem rex, quod in verbo illo, ubi voluit proficere, non valuit, citius ad alia se convertit, sciscitans ab eis, si consuetudines suas regales essent ei per omnia servaturi. Dominus vero Cantuariensis cum consilio locutus : Etiam, inquit, in omnibus; salvo tamen per omnia et in omnibus ordine nostro. Et quum postea id ipsum rex a singulis ex ordine qusereret, erat quidem tunc vox illa in ore omnium. Quum vero diutius instaret, volvens et revolvens, si consuetudines suas regales absolute et absque apposita ordinis sui salva- tione, simpliciter omnino se ei servaturum promitteret dominus Cantuariensis ; a Christi vicario, quod voluit, obtinere non valuit. Turbatus est ergo rex vehementer, et omnis Jerosolyma cum illo: subitoque in illa spiritus vehementia exiliens, Londonia discessit universis negotiis suis infectis, et ratiociniis pendentibus. Videres tunc murmur in populo, commotionem in clero. Episcopi turbati et tremuli, regem abeuntem sunt prosecuti ; metuentes, se non prius regem inventuros, quam audirent se omnia bona sua perdituros. Moxque operati sunt cum rege occultam conventionem, omni mentione Dei et ordinis sui postposita: et tam facile regis petitioni assensum praebuerunt, ut viderentur consensisse antequam ille petisse ; adeo ut qui inter eos sestimabantur scientiores, ad opprimendam ecclesise libertatem fierent proniores. Cantuariensis autem solus praesul resedit, considerans ad dextram et ad sinistram ; nec fuit qui cognosceret eum. Requirebat in fratribus solatium : at illi abierunt retro, et jam cum illo non ambulabant. Pacem denique peccatorum videns, et sibi undique imminere discrimen, Unum, inquit, locutus sum ; quod terreni regis regales nullatenus servarem consuetudines, nisi salvo in omnibus ordine meo. Ob id offensam regis incurri: ob id episcopi mei dereliquerunt me : ob id totius orbis oculos offendi. Sed quid ? Velit, nolit mundus : ego cum mortali paciscens homine, nullo unquam tempore Dei mei et ordinis mei immemor ero, Deo volente. Absit a me, ut cujusquam mortalis metu vel gratia, Deum inveniar contempsisse. Si angelus de caelo venerit, et tale mihi cousilium dederit, anathema sit.

The Principal Case between the King and Thomas.

On the first manifestation of open discord between the king and the lord archbishop of Canterbury, and its cause.

Henry, noble king of the English, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine and count of Anjou, came to London on the first October, 1163 AD. [Here too were summoned] Thomas archbishop  of Canterbury, Roger [archbishop of] of York, and all the bishops of England. The main reason that the Council had been summoned was so that the metropolitan archbishop of Canterbury could be solemnly named primate of all England, to which the archbishop of York objected. It was then, quite unexpectedly to all present, the king of England began to outline a set of certain tough proposals.

First, he complained of the violations of the archdeacons, who from the wrongdoings of others had turned these to their own gain, demanding payment as the price of sin, and then applying it to their own excessive luxury, though from the wrongdoings the punishment due had not been shown.  And he went on to say he said that the archdeacons are not to summon or sentence anyone for a crime no matter how infamous, without the  knowledge of his official. Soon after he turned to another matter. 

"I think," he said, "for the sake of peace, and I am very much determined to have the benefit of peace in my kingdom, when matters are thrown into turmoil by the wickedness of clerics, those who commit thefts and robberies, and, above all, murders, I seek and want consensus from you, lord Canterbury and your co-bishops, that when your fellow clerics have been seized in the act, convicted of or confessed to a crime, and who have been dismissed from clerical service [in the ecclesiastical court], for them to be immediately transferred to my court.

First, he complained of the violations to the archdeacons, who the offenses of others had turned these to their own gain, demanding payment as the price of sin, and then applying it to their own excessive luxury, though from the wrongdoers no due correction was rendered. He said that the archdeacons were not to summon or sentence anyone for a crime no matter how infamous, without the  knowledge of his official.

"I think," he said, "for the sake of peace, and I am convinced very much for the good of peace in my kingdom, when matters are thrown into turmoil by the wickedness of clerics, those who commit thefts and robberies, and, above all, murders. I seek and want consensus from you, lord Canterbury and your co-bishops, that when your fellow clerks have been convicted of or confessed crimes, and who have been degraded, to be immediately handed over to the officials of my court. And I would also ask for agreement, that some of my officials take part in the proceedings, so that as soon as the the degradation of the cleric is realised, he is allowed no chance to escape physical punishment."

The lord Canterbury, unable to reach an [agreed] answer to these proposals by the end of the morning and unable able to arrive at a truce, he withdrew into private conference with his bishops. Soon after here and there it was averred, the bishops said, that according to secular laws clerics who have been degraded, after receiving spiritual punishment, should be transferred to the secular court to receive physical punishment,  where they can be dealt with more severely for their offence and there to suffer a heavier punishment because where they are more suited to do this by special privilege. It is thefore not surprising, they said, that punishment of the body should follows removal from the order. This itself is not only proved in law, but even by real examples. In reference amonst the Levites in the Old Testament it was noted that culprits guilty of heinous crimes, the death of the body followed. Or those crimes next in likeness mutilation of the members.

The lord Canterbury on the other hand, argued that the holy canons asserted quite the opposite, arguing that it would be entirely unjust, and contrary to those canons, and against God, if on account of the punishment for one offense, two sentences of a person were to follow.  For God does not judge twice in any case. For that which the church has already judged, he said, it is either just or unjust, But you will not grant an injustice, and then say justice has been done. That sentence since it does not contain absolution, it contains damnation.  If therefore the sinner has been condemned, and then dismissed from clerical service [degraded], a second judgment and punishment for same sin must not be begun. Towards these matters we must beware that by giving our consent, he said, we oppress and destroy the liberty of the Church. We must follow the example of our most high priest, whom we are bound by our office to serve even unto death. For whom we have, however, not yet gone even part of the way towards that death.

To this the bishops replied that the loss of this liberty of the Church would not bring any danger to it. "But" they said "it is better rather, it is lost, than we all perish." Let us therefore do what the king has asked us to do. Otherwise by fleeing we may perish, so let us have regard to our lives. On the other hand those who consent to the King, by inheritance, will possess the sanctuary of God, and shall sleep safe in the possession of their churches. The wickedness also the many things of this time have to be taken for granted. [For this is said to be because of the schism, which was then in the Roman church, which was certainly the case with the  antipope in Germany.]These things the bishops said, as if the evils of the day were not sufficient, and that by the wickedness of the bishops, the same might be increased.

Towards these the Lord of Canterbury, fired with the zeal of the house of God, answered 

I see, he said, you seem to have come with an inertia to sustain your own comfort, wealth, and your wardrobes whilst the Church of Christ's Bride is suffocated. Who has bewitched you, you senseless pontiffs?  What an injustice to the term which you call prudent management. Why with what foresight which you have designated management but which has uncovered an injustice which you have tried to hide? Why do you call this management,  that which is at the expense of the whole of the church of Christ?  Let matters be called by their real names and not be perverted by things or words. I certainly agree with what you say about the evils of our time. But not because of that to pile up sins on top of sins. God is able to make the conditions for his own church better, even if they did not become worse.  Now is God not able to sanitise the churches, except through the faults of its teachers? I think you were touched with the feelings for Christ's disabilities, as if he is not able to raise up his bride, unless it is with our senses to help us. In fact, God is testing you.

I ask when at what critical moment should criticism be offered to the Bishop?  Shall it be in calm and not crisis? You must admit you have blushed in shame. It stands therefore when the Church has been thrown into disorder, for the pastor of the Church to seek to oppose the danger. For there was no greater merit than that to be found in former times when the bishops spilled their blood on behalf of the church of Christ,  than is also when in our own times for us to shed blood on behalf of the liberty of the Church.  And I indeed, as God is my witness, affirm, that it is not safe for us to withdraw from that direction, which we have received from our holy Fathers. We did not do so in the past, we ought not to expose anyone to the death penalty, since we are not even allowed to take part in judgements involving the shedding of blood.

These words were soon reported back to the king. Seeing immediately there were very many of the Church, and I do not speak of unbending rods, but who are more like reeds which are blown about by and tremble in the wind; hearing that they were not in everything obedient to the wish of the king he was certain that if they were confronted with threats they might at once give in, were it not that they had felt deeply the perseverance of the Lord of Canterbury. The king, however, seeing, that in this motion in which he was determined to make progress he was not stronger he quickly turned towards another asking them whether or not they would each uphold his royal customs in every way. The Lord Canterbury, after taking counsel replied, 

"Yes," he said, "in everything, saving yet in all matters and everyone concerning our order."

And then after this the king asked the same of each those present in turn, but when asked on this they each spoke with one voice. Over and over again, he tried to get this promise from the Lord Canterbury, whether he might truly dutifully obey his royal customs absolutely without the addition of  "saving of his order" ; but was unable to obtain what he wanted from the vicar of Christ. After this the king became sorely troubled, and all Jerusalem with him, And suddenly in that same spirit burst forth angrily, and departed from London leaving the whole of these businesses unfinished, and discussions hanging.

You could see it in the people as they whispered, and commotion amongst the clergy. Bishops frightened and trembling that followed his departure, each fearing that they did not want to be the first to discover to hear how, from the king that all their wordly goods had been forfeit. Soon after, they organised a secret meeting with the king, in which all mention of God and His order was set aside. And so easily did they proffer their assent to the king's petition, in order that it might be seen that they had longed to agree about this before. Indeed even those amongst them considered to be the more knowledgeable, even they became more prone to agreeing to the overthrow of the freedom of the church. Nevertheless, the archbishop of  Canterbury sat down, looking to both his right and left. Seeing there was no one that wanted to know him, he sought moral support from amongst the friars: even they, however, turned their backs and no longer walked with him now.

Seeing finally the peace of the sinners, and himself critically threatened from every side, he spoke "One thing, I have said, I cannot keep to any of the royal customs of an earthly king in any way, unless it is in all things without prejudice to my order. But, on account of this I have incurred the wrath of the king: on account of this my bishops have abandoned me: on account of this  I have offended in the eyes of the whole world. But why? Whether the world likes it or not, when I as a mortal make a bargain as a man, not at any time can I forget my God and my order, God willing. Far be it from me to any mortal man's fear or favour for it to be discovered that I have scorned God. Were an angel  to come down from heaven, and do so much a thing as to give me this advice, let him be anathema."


'Summa Causae Inter Regem et Thomam' 
MTB, IV, pp. 201–5. 

Migne (1854). Patrologiae cursus completus: sive Bibliotheca universalisTomus CXC. J. P. Migne. pp. 395–

Universität Zürich Corpus Corporum
William FitzStephen
De tentatione diaboli per malos et iniustos homines facta.

Alternative Source
By William FitzStephen
Edwardus Grim; Alanus Tewkesberiensis abbas; Parisiensis Anonymus; decanus Salisburiensis Johannes (1845). Vita S. Thomae (etc.). Parker. pp. 209-214.


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James J. Spigelman (2004). Becket & Henry: The Becket Lectures. James Spigelman. pp. 113–. ISBN 978-0-646-43477-3.

Anne Duggan (2004). Thomas Becket. Bloomsbury USA. pp. 39–. ISBN 978-0-340-74137-5.

Guy, John (5 April 2012). Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel, Victim: A 900-Year-Old Story Retold. Penguin Books Limited. pp. 502–. ISBN 978-0-14-193328-3.

John Allen Giles (1846). The Life and Letters of Thomas à Becket. Chapter XVI: Council of Westminster: Whittaker and Company. pp. 176–.

William Holden Hutton (1926). Thomas Becket. Cambridge University Press. pp. 78–. ISBN 978-1-107-66171-4.

James Craigie Robertson (1859). Becket, archbishop of Canterbury: A biography. J. Murray. pp. 89–.

Michael Staunton (2001). The Lives of Thomas Becket. Manchester University Press. pp. 79–83. ISBN 978-0-7190-5455-6.
18. The Council of Westminster (October 1163)

Materials IV, 201-5

University of Zurich: Corpus Corporum
(Patrologia Latina Tomus 190 0396B)
VI. Summa Causae Inter Regem Et Thomam.

Guernes (de Pont-Sainte-Maxence); trans. Janet Shirley (1975). Garnier's Becket Phillimore. pp. 23–. ISBN 978-0-85033-200-1.
Lines 826-880
Stanzas 166-176
Guernes (de Pont-Sainte-Maxence) (1922). La vie de saint Thomas Becket. C.W.K. Gleerup. p. 30.

Whitelock, Brett, and Brooke, eds., Councils and Synods, Volume 1 part 2 1066–1204 pp. 848-52
#158 1 OCTOBER 1163 - ROYAL COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER. ISBN: 978-0198223948

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Becket's Two Swords Sermon

Roger de Potigny 
[Edwardus Grim; Alanus Tewkesberiensis abbas; Parisiensis Anonymus; decanus Salisburiensis Johannes (1845). J. A. Giles. ed. Vita S. Thomae (etc.). Parker. pp. 112-3.]

Circa Late July 1163

Contigit eo tempore in quodam celebri conventu ut Thomas ad clerum et populum rege praesente sermonem faceret: fuitque ei sermo de regno Dei Christi quod est ecclesia el de regno temporali: deque coronis eorumdem regnorum sacerdo tali videlicet et regali: simul etiam de gladio spiritual et materiali. Cumque sub hac occasione de potestate ecclesiastica et saeculari multa mirabiliter disseruissit, erat enim facundissimus rex ejus verba per singula notabat, intelligeusque quod dignitatem ecclesiasticam cuilibet excelleutiae seculari longe immensum praeferret, non aequo animo accepit. Sensit namque ex verbis illius quantum ab opinione sua archiepiscopus abesset: cum ecclesiam nihil prosus habere  vel posse nisi quantum ipse ei indulgeret, persuasum haberet. Exhinc jam quae in corde regis latuerant qualiter in apertum prodierint, qualiter etiam venerandus antistes pro domo Domini se murum opposuerit: quantave constantia regio furori se pro tuendo ecclesiasticae libertatis jure objecerit consequenter dicendum est. Tyranni namque, qui regnum obtinuerant, jura ecclesiastica annihilaverant penitus: quorum adhaerens vestigiis rex iste Henricus totius ecclesiastica dispositionis et ordinationis summam sibi usurpaverat, nam et episcopatus el abbatias quibus volebat conferebat jamque ipso praecipiente et constituente, sicut populus sic sacerdotes et clerici indifferenter ad saecularia judicia trahebantur.

It so happened, at that time, that at a well-known gathering, Thomas preached a sermon in front of the clergy and people at which the king was present. And the sermon was about the kingdom of Christ the Lord, and the difference between the church and temporal kingdoms:  and about the crowns of these same kingdoms, about one being the sacred and and the other royal. likening the one to a spiritual sword and the other to a material one. When on this occasion after he had admirably discoursed the various secular and ecclesiastical kingdoms using eloquent words, which King noted in detail, the king clearly sensed that he [Becket] vastly and immensely preferred the ecclesiastic dignity above the excellence of anything secular:  at this the king was not won over with equal mind. He felt, indeed, at hearing the Archbishop's words there was a great distance between them in their opinions, with the church to have nothing or to be able to do nothing except in so far as he himself indulged it or persuaded it.

From this it was seen how matters which were in the king's heart and which had hitherto lain hidden, and how now they came out into the open, and how too the venerable bishop, on behalf of the house of Lord, had placed himself on the opposite side of a wall. And how with great determination he has rightfully opposed the fury of the king in defence of the liberty of the church about which consequently he must speak out . Tyrants, thus indeed whenever they obtain the kingdom, thoroughly destroy the church's lawful rights: and this same King Henry, who by following in their footsteps, the whole of the church's organisations and appointments he has usurped the lot unto himself, indeed by conferring both bishoprics and abbacies upon whomsoever he wished, and, by command and decree,  priests and clerics, were to be indiscriminantly dragged before secular judges, as if they were just ordinary people.

Luke 22:38 KJVAnd they said , Lord, behold , here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.


Michael Staunton (7 December 2001). The Lives of Thomas Becket. Manchester University Press. pp. 75–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5455-6.

Guy, John (5 April 2012). Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel, Victim: A 900-Year-Old Story Retold. Penguin Books Limited. pp. 246–. ISBN 978-0-14-193328-3.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Council of Woodstock 1st July 1163

At beginning of July 1163 King Henry II summoned a Grand Council of bishops, barons and other magnates to his hunting lodge at Woodstock. The prime purpose for the Council was for Henry to be able to receive, in front of and witnessed by his vassals, homage from the princes of Wales and Malcolm IV King of the Scots. It was also at this Council Henry proposed that the auxilium vicecomitis [Sheriff's Aid]raised by all sheriffs in the land, monies hitherto kept by them. should be paid over directly into the king's treasury and exchequer. Becket opposed this proposal on the grounds that the custom for this was otherwise. A major row between them ensued. 

Of course, prior to his appointment as archbishop of Canterbury, Becket had been Chancellor at the King's Exchequer for several years. It is is almost certain that he would know intimately and specifically what rights the king had or did not have to raise taxes, and in what circumstances.

Extract from

AD 1163 Radolfo de Diceto c 536
Malcolm, king of the Scots, Rhys prince of South Wales, Owain of the north and five important persons from Wales paid homage to the king of the English and his son, Henry on the first of July 1163 at Woodstock. 

VS Thomae auct Grim pp 21-22
Commorante rege in praedio suo apud Wodestoke praesente archiepiscopo et primis patriae inter alia movetur quaestio de consuetudine quadam quae in Anglia tenebatur. Dabantur de hida bini solidi ministris regis qui vicecomitum loco comitatus servabant quos voluit rex conscribere fisco et reditibus propriis associare. Cui archiepi scopus in faciem restitit dicens non debere eos exigi pro reditibus nec pro reditu inquit dabimus eos domine rex salvo beneplacito vostro sed si digne nobis servierint vicecomites et servientes vel ministri provinciarum et homines nostros manu tenuerint nequaquam eis deerimus in auxilium. Rex autem aegre ferens archiepiscopi responsionem. Per oculos Dei ait dabuntur pro reditu et in scriptura regis scribeutur nec dignum est ut contradicas cum nemo tuos contra voluntatem tuam gravare velit Praevidens archiepiscopus et praecavens ne per ipsius patientiam consuetudo induceretur unde posteri gravarentur per reverentiam oculorum quos jurasti domine mi rex non dabuntur de tota terra mea et de jure ecclesiae ne unius quidem denarius.

Materials for The Life of Thomas Becket Volume II p.273

The king, whilst in residence on his estate at Woodstock, [in Council July 1163] in the presence of the archbishop and the magnates of the realm, motioned a question concerning a certain custom which [at that time] prevailed in England.[The custom was that] two shillings for each each hide [of land] which was paid over to the officers of the king, who, as sheriffs guarded the counties: this income he considered as a loss of revenue to the exchequer and he, as the king, wanted it to be enrolled [inscribed] as his own income. The archbishop resisted him, to his face, saying it should not be considered as the king's income. "Not from us," he said, "should this be given as revenue, my lord the king, saving your pleasure. but if we have been served by the sheriffs in a worthy manner or [also] by the officials and ministers of the shires we [of the Church] will not withhold contribution to their aid". But the king was greatly troubled with the archbishop's response. "By the eyes of God," he said, "it will be recorded as the king's revenue. Nor is the right to contradict me, when no one would anger your men against your will."  Foreseeing this, the archbishop and his patience, cautioning that the practice would be introduced so that future generations would not be burdened, "by the reverence of the eyes which you have sworn, my lord the king, from the whole my land and by the right of the Church, not a single penny will be given."

From Anonymous I [Roger of Potigny]
Prima igitur occasio, qua archiepiscopi propositum
et constantia regi innotuit, talis fuit. Erat consuetudo
in partibus illis ut rex ad abundantiorem
cautelam et custodiam regni sui, per singulos comitatus
regni, vicecomitem unum de fidelibus suis
constitueret, consueverantque comites et barones
eidem vicecomiti, regio videlicet ministro, duos solidos
de singulis dimensionibus terrae suae quas
patrio nomine hidas vocant, annuatim ab hominibus
suis facere dari ; quatenus tali servitio et beneficio
eos a gravaminibus et calumniis hominum
suorum cohiberent: videns autem rex quod duo
illi solidi de singulis hidis si in unum conferentur
immensum efficere possunt cumuluin,suntnamque
plura hidarum millia, voluit eos suis usibus et reditibus
applicare. Quapropter convocatis apud Wodestocke
episcopis et proceribus regni, coepit rex
de praefata pecunia suis reditibus connumeranda
verbum in medium proferre. Cumque ad hunc sermonem
universi obmutuissent, solus archiepiscopus
cunfmagna libertate satis modeste respondit
« Domine, inquiens, non decet excellentiam tuam
alienum beneticium ad tuos usus retorquere, praesertim
cura duo illi solidi, non necessitate nec debito,
sed gratia potius tuis ministris conferantur.
Nam si vicecomites vestri pacifice et modeste se ad
homines nostros habuerint, libenter quidein dabimus
: sin autem, non dabimus, nec cogi jure poterimus.
» Ad haec rex cum furore: « Per oculos,
ait, Dei, prolinus irrotulabuntur ; tali verbo usus
propter rolulos illos, in quibus regii reditus annotati
continentur, sed tu ipse bene super haec rneae
voluntotiassentire deberes. » Tunc archiepiscopus:
« Per oculos, inquit, per quos jurasti, nunquam de
terra mea me vivente dabuntur. » Sentiens igitur
rex archiepiscopum sibi palam adversari, aegre nimis

Therefore coming to the occasion in which the resoluteness of the archbishop and the staunchness of the king first became known, such as it was.

There was a custom that the king, for the more comprehensive care and safekeeping of his kingdom, in every county of the realm, to appoint one who had sworn fealty to him, to the office of sheriff. and for the earls and barons to collect annually to be paid by from the people of the district to this officer, two shillings [solidi] from each measure of land which, in the native tongue, are called hides, inasmuch seeing that these officers do safeguard them by their service from accusations and false charges.

Notwithstanding the king saw that if the two shillings [solidi] from each of those hides of land were aggregated into a single whole they would combine together to form a huge amount, insomuch as that there are many thousands of hides of land; and it was this money that he wished to have for his own use and income. Wherefore, at Woodstock, the bishops and magnates of the kingdom were convoked. The king opened with a proposal that the aforementioned money should be reckoned as his revenue.

Whereupon hearing this announcement, all seemed lose their power of speech: only the archbishop with great forthrightness but with some modesty responded: "Sire," he said, "it is not fitting to revert this to your use, especially since these two shillings [tax], are neither compulsory nor a duty, but rather more are collected by your officers as payment for their services. For if your sheriffs act peacefully and in a restrained manner  towards our people gladly indeed we will pay: but if, however, they do not, we will not pay, and neither legally will they be able to be collect."

Hearing this the king became furious: "By the eyes of God ," he said, "immediately they shall be so enrolled, with the usage of such words that are found in the account of the register rolls, those in which the royal revenues are recorded. And well must you yourself concerning this submit to my will."

Then the archbishop retorted: "By the eyes which you have sworn never from my land, whilst I am alive, will anything be given."

Thereupon perceiving openly that the archbishop had become his adversary,  the king accepted this exceedingly reluctantly.

Extract from

July 1st Woodstock
The King is at Woodstock, where Malcolm, King of Scotland, Rese, Prince of S. Wales, and Owen, Prince of N. Wales, attend and do homage to him and his son.

Becket opposes the King on the question of the Danegeld. By Charter dated at Woodstock, and clearly on this occasion, K. Henry confirms the grants of Robert, Earl of Leicester, to Nuneaton (Warwickshire), (a cell to the Priory of Fontevrault.)

There were witnesses of the King's Charter, Thomas, Abp of Canterbury; William (read Gilbert), Bp of London; Robert, Bp of Lincoln; M. (Malcolm), King of Scotland; William, the King's brother; Earl Reginald (of Cornwall); William, Earl of Gloucester; Richard de Humet, Constable; Richard de Luci; Henry fitz Gerald, Chamberlain ; William de Crevequer, Hugh de Longchamp, William Malet, William de Hastinge, Simon fitz Peter, Peter de Mara, and John Mauduit.

Palgrave (ut supra). Appendix, p. cccxxxv. Diceto p. 535.

Pontigny S. T. C. i. 113. Grim. S. T. C. i. 21.


Auxilium or Aid was a financial levy or a feudal incident on the people used to assist a feudal lord, official or anyone in power for a specific purpose. It could be raised for purposes such as

  • When the lord needed to ransom himself from captivity, or
  • To knight his eldest son, or
  • To provide a dowry for his eldest daughter
Sheriff's Aid was a kind of tax which funded sheriff's in the work they did for landowners.


James Craigie Robertson; William (of Canterbury.); Benedict (Abbot of Peterborough); John (of Salisbury, Bishop of Chartres), Alan (of Tewkesbury), Edward Grim, Herbert (of Bosham), William Fitzstephen, Joseph Brigstocke Sheppard (1965). Materials for the history of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury (canonized by Pope Alexander III., A.D. 1173).. Longman & co.. pp. 23–

Migne (1854). Patrologiae cursus completus: sive Bibliotheca universalis. J. P. Migne. pp. 70–.

Saint Thomas (à Becket) (1845). Opera. Parker. pp. 113–.

John Allen Giles (1846). The life and letters of Thomas à Becket: now first gathered from the contemporary historians. Whittaker and Co.. pp. 161–

John Allen Giles (1845). Vita S. Thomæ Cantuariensis ab auctoribus contemporaneis scripta, et nunc primum e codicibus omnibus mstis. edita. J.H. Parker. pp. 113–

Immanuel Bekker (1838). La vie St. Thomas le martir. pp. 65–


William Stubbs. The Constitutional History of England, in its Origin and Development. Cambridge University Press. pp. 462–. ISBN 978-1-108-03629-0.

Stubbs, William, (1874) The constitutional history of England, (Oxford, Clarendon press) p. 474

James Craigie Robertson (1859). Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. pp. 73–

John Morris (1885). The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket. Burns and Oates. pp. 90–.

Guy, John (5 April 2012). Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel, Victim: A 900-Year-Old Story Retold. Penguin Books Limited. pp. 224–. ISBN 978-0-14-193328-3.

Michael Staunton (2006). Thomas Becket and His Biographers. Boydell Press. pp. 99–. ISBN 978-1-84383-271-3

James Jacob Spigelman (1 June 2004). Becket & Henry: The Becket Lectures. James Spigelman. pp. 105–. ISBN 978-0-646-43477-3.

Frank Barlow (1990). Thomas Becket. University of California Press. pp. 88–. ISBN 978-0-520-07175-9.

A life of archbishop Thomas Becket, in Icelandic : with English translation, notes and glossary. Volume 1  ed. by Eirikr Magnusson,...

Materials for the history of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, canonized by pope Alexander III, A. D. 1173. Vol. 4 ed. by James Craigie Robertson,...

Wilfred Lewis Warren (1973). Henry II. University of California Press. pp. 162–. ISBN 978-0-520-02282-9.

J.H. Round (1909) Feudal England historical studies on the XIth and XIIth Centuries p.497 (Sonnenschein, London) 

The Alleged Debate on Danegeld
John Horace Round  "The Alleged Debate on Danegeld"Feudal England: Historical Studies on the XIth and XIIth Centuries. Cambridge University Press. p. 497. ISBN 978-1-108-01449-6.

Ernest F. Henderson (1 July 2004). "Dialogue Concering the Exchequer: XI What is Danegeld, and why so called". Select Historical Documents Of The Middle Ages. The Minerva Group, Inc. pp. 69–. ISBN 978-1-4102-1544-4.

John Tiley (31 July 2013). Studies in the History of Tax Law. Danegeld: Evolution from Danish Tribute to English Landtax: Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 261–. ISBN 978-1-78225-319-8.
 William Holden Hutton (1910). Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons.

Norgate, Kate. England Under the Angevin Kings. Ardent Media. pp. 43–.

Garnier de Pont Sainte Maxence (1859). La vie de saint Thomas le martyr, publ. par C. Hippeau. pp. 30–.

Frank Merry Stenton; Nellie Neilson (1910). Types of manorial structure in the northern Danelaw: Customary rents. Octagon Books. ISBN 978-0-374-96160-2
Auxilium Vicecomitis

Austin Lane Poole (1993). From Domesday Book to Magna Carta, 1087-1216. Oxford University Press. pp. 202–. ISBN 978-0-19-285287-8.

William Alfred Morris (1968). The Medieval English Sheriff to 1300. Manchester University Press. pp. 114–. ISBN 978-0-7190-0342-4.

William Alfred Morris (1968). The Medieval English Sheriff to 1300. Manchester University Press. pp. 246–. ISBN 978-0-7190-0342-4.