Friday, 7 September 2012

Constitutions of Clarendon Jan 1164

Constitutions of Clarendon Jan 1164
(from the Medieval Sourcebook)

This was a parliament or Great Council of all the Magnates and Great Churchmen of the Kingdom of England summoned by King Henry II towards the of  January 1164 to attend him in person at the royal hunting lodge and grounds at Clarendon, a few miles east of Old Sarum, and west of Winchester.  The Council was assembled to discuss issues and royal customs and laws concerning the Church and State relationship in England, and subsequently for all the senior churchmen in the land to agree to the points and matters laid down in the above document which was drawn  up at the meeting.

Dom David Knowles
Archbishop Thomas Becket — The Saint
1170-1970, St Thomas Becket
Canterbury Cathedral Chronicle (#65 -1970)

The essential points of the controversy at Clarendon were:

(1) The 'criminous clerks' issue. Reduced to its lowest terms
this was the claim of the lay courts to sentence and punish a
clerk who had already been condemned and degraded by a
court christian. Thomas held the double judgment to be
unjust, and in any case uncanonical.

(2) Clergy were forbidden to leave England to visit the pope
without royal permission.

(3) Tenants-in-chief and royal ministers might not be excommun-
icated without the king's leave.

(4) Appeals from a church court should be determined in Eng-
land by king and archbishop.

(5) The king should enjoy the revenues of vacant sees and
abbeys, and the subsequent election should take place in his

All these involved a clash between what had been royal practice at various limes in England, and the newly centralized church and its canon law under the papacy

No group of bishops loyal to the pope and united among themselves could have accepted the Constitutions as they stood, and for this reason many contemporaries and modern historians have considered that it was a fatal mistake on Henry's part to have them written down for formal acceptance by the church.

The Constitutions of Clarendon represent the struggle between Canonism [the right of the Church to assert the supremacy of Canon Law] and the Royal Prerogative.  The Constitutions of Clarendon were an attempt to define in writing the Royal Prerogative in ecclesiastical matters, and fairly represent the state of what the king believed the royal prerogative in those matters were all the way down to the date of Magna Carta.


The Constitutions of Clarendon, 1164 - Documents in English History
Available at: Link

Austin Lane Poole (1993). "Chapter VII: Church and State - Becket"From Domesday Book to Magna Carta, 1087-1216. Oxford University Press. pp. 197–231. ISBN 978-0-19-285287-8.

Pierre Claude Fontenai (1739). Histoire de l'Eglise gallicane. Tom. 9-11 [of the work begun by J. Longueval].. Livre Vingt-Septieme: Saint Thomas de Cantoberi. pp. 381–573.

Roger de Hoveden
Chronica magistri Rogeri de Houedene. Vol. 1 (ed. by William Stubbs). Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer (London) pp. 221-2 

Histoire litéraire [sic] de la France où l'on traite de l'origine et du progrès, de la décadence et du rétablissement des sciences parmi les Gaulois et parmi les François ...: Suite du douzième siècle de l'Eglise. Palmé. 1869. pp. 476–.

Thomas Littleton; David Hoüard (1766). Anciennes Loix Des Francois Conservées Dans Les Coutumes Angloises: Avec des Observations historiques & critiques, ...
Anciennes loix des François conservées dans les coutumes angloises recueillies

The Becket Controversy in Recent Historiography
James W. Alexander
Journal of British Studies
Vol. 9, No. 2 (May, 1970), pp. 1-26

A History Of Britain By Simon Schama S01 E03 Dynasty - YouTube

A history of the British constitution

Thomas Greenwood (1835). Introductory Lectures on the Study of History: Delivered Before the University of Durham. J. Cochran. pp. 43–.

R. H. Helmholz; John Hamilton Baker (2003). The Oxford History of the Laws of England: The Canon law and Ecclesiastical jurisdiction from 597 to the 1640s. The Constitutions of Clarendon: Oxford University Press. pp. 114–. ISBN 978-0-19-825897-1.

Date and Duration of the Council of Clarendon

England Under the Angevin Kings. Note B: Date and Duration of the Council of Clarendon: Ardent Media. pp. 44–.

Johann Martin Lappenberg; Georg Reinhold Pauli (1853). Geschichte von England, von J.M. Lappenberg (R. Pauli, M. Brosch). pp. 40–.


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