Sunday, 4 November 2012

Lyttleton's Comments: Constitutions Clause 8

George Lyttelton (1767). The History Of The Life of King Henry the Second, Sandby and Dodsley. pp. 142–.


Concerning appeals if any shall arise, they ought to proceed from the archdeacon to the bishop, and from the bishop to the archbishop. And, if the archbishop shall fail in doing justice, the cause shall at last brought to our lord the king, that by his precept the dispute may be determined in the archbishop's court; so that it ought not to proceed any further without the consent of our lord the king. 

In a letter of the bishop of London to the pope concerning the dispute between the king and Becket he explains this constitution as being no prohibition of appeals to Rome, but only a check on their being carried thither unnecessarily, and without the leave of the king. His words are these : " In appellationibus ex antiqua regni sui consuetudine id sibi vindicat (rex scilicet) honoris et oneris, ut ob civilem causam nullus clericorum regnisui ejusdem regni fines exeat, nisi, an ipsius authoritate et mandato jus fuum obtinere queat, experiendo cognoscat. Quod si nec sic obtinuerit, ad excellentiam vestram, ipso in nullo reclamante, cum volet quilibet appellabit." Without question there is not in the words of this constitution any direct prohibition of appeals to Rome; it being only declared, that, upon an appeal from the archdeacon, the cause ought not to proceed any further than the archbishop's court without the consent of the king. But in effect this restraint would generally have stopt the cause in that court; and it manifestly asserted the royal supremacy, by subjecting the power of appealing to Rome, in ecclesiastical causes, to the will and pleasure of the king: whereas the pope claimed the right of receiving such appeals as inherent in his see. Henry's desire of gaining the consent of the bishops to this constitution was the reason of his avoiding an express prohibition: but he intended it should have the same operation, and the pope saw that intent.


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