Sunday, 24 February 2013

Council of Westminster by Anonymous of Lambeth


Council of Westminster by Anonymous of Lambeth
October 1163

Extract from
Thomas Becket (st., abp. of Canterbury.) (1845). Vita s. Thomæ Cantuariensis archiepiscopi et martyris, ab auctoribus contemporaneis, ed. ab I.A. Giles. pp. 88–9


Universität Zürich Corpus Corporum
Anonymous
XII. DE ORTU CONTENTIONIS INTER IPSUM ET REGEM.
XII. DE ORTU CONTENTIONIS INTER IPSUM ET REGEM.

Non multo post autem episcoporum, abbatum et procerum coetum Londoniae colligi contigit, ob negotia regia, pacisque regni firmamentum. Inter ceteras vero quae propositae sunt illic querimonias, accusati sunt archidiaconi super subditos non praelationis tenere modestiam sed exercere tyrannidem, calumniis fatigare laicos et indebitis exactionibus clericos. De cleri quoque numero producti sunt quidam variis flagitiorum criminationibus impetiti. Tales enim praecipue dicebantur regni turbare pacem, novisque facinorum immanitatibus debacchari, securitate per ordinis privilegium evadendi. Correctionem igitur horum rex instanter ab episcopis flagitabat. Amplius autem institit, ut in clericos publicorum criminum reos de ipsorum consilio sibi liceret, quod avitis diebus factum sua curia recolebat; tales enim deprehensos et convictos aut confessos, mox degradari, sicque poenis publicis, sicut et laicos subdi tunc usurpatum est. Hoc idem sibi licere quum instantius rex postularet per episcopos decerni, substiterunt quidem ipsi diutius caventes admittere, quod legi divinae videbatur obviare. Dicit enim Naum propheta, Non judicabit Deus bis in id ipsum. Contra Deum itaque bis judicandos censuisse videri poterant, si post degradationem inconvictis poenam mortis aut mutilationis infligi consensissent. Cavit hoc prudentissimus et rectissimus judicum rex Salomon. Quum enim Abiathar sacerdos reus mortis appareret sicut et Joab, quia contra Salomonem declinassent post Adoniam fratrem ejus ut rex fieret, non tamen sicut Joab, sic et Abiathar Salomon morte punivit, sed a sacerdotio tantum amovit dicens: Vade iu Anathor, agrum tuum: es quidem vir mortis, sed hodie te non interficiam, quia portasti arcam Domini coram patre meo David. Talibus itaque cum archiepiscopo moti pontifices, ad regis arbitrium legem ponere dubitarunt, praesertim ne trahi posset in praejudicium et calumniam innocentium, ut vel ad purgationem urgerentur vel nocentium sorti subderentur. Hinc itaque contentionis exordium. Hinc enim arbitratus rex archiepiscopum cum episcopis in insidiis sibi sedere, regiarumque dignitatibus consuetudinum velle contraire, primum ira non parum excanduit, et deinde promissionem de servandis illis extorquere prosdiit. Illi vero, tractatu seorsim diutius habito, volentes regis iram sedare, cautam putaverunt procurasse responsionem, dum ordine suo salvo petitionem fieri concesserunt. Additionem autem, quam providerant ad cautelam, pars regis interpretata est ad captionem, et super ea detrahenda diutius certatum est, sed episcopis unanimiter subsistentibus tunc obtentum non est. Unde soluto conventu terribiliter efferatus rex et minax abscedens, exinde pontificalium concussionibus rerum officiales suos gravius insistere jussit.


Not long afterwards, however, at an assembly of  bishops, abbots and the nobles in London who happened to be gathered together, on account of the king's business, and in support of the peace of the kingdom, and among other matters which had been properly raised there, there were also some complaints: archdeacons were accused of not keeping hold of their authority and exercising discipline towards their subjects, but instead were behaving with tyrrany and oppressively, harrassing the laity and profiting  by exacting undue monies from the clerics. And concerning some clerics there were a number of whom about which it was brought forward they were accused of certain various scandalous charges. These were of such kind which were said to be disrupting the peace of the kingdom, and the news of the barbarity and debauchery of their deeds, and freely without any care, by the privilege of their order, were evading justice. It was on account of these therefore that the king urgently demanded from the bishops an immediate rectification. Furthermore he insisted, that in order to allow the prosecution of those clerics accused of committing public crimes, he wanted to bring back those practices which were in force in the courts in the time of his grandfather. For such persons who have been caught and who have been convicted or have confessed, and have subsequently been degraded, they should thus be received for public punishment as if they were lay persons, and subject to seizure. This same matter they were going to permit since the king had asked for it very forcibly to be decided by the bishops, but indeed, they held themselves back for a long time from having to allow it, as they saw it as being be prevented by the divine laws. 

Indeed Nahum, the prophet, said that God does not judge the same case twice. It would be seem to God, therefore, if they were to seen to concur with this, as permitting a double punishment, if the convict, after having been degraded, they were also to agree that he could be subjected to the death penalty or mutilation. 

The most foreseeing and most virtuous judge, king Solomon, warned of this, just as when indeed Abiathar, the priest, who was evidently a defendant in a case involving the death penalty, and Joab who had turned against Solomon, so that his [Solomon's] brother, Adonijah, could become king. However, Joab and Abiathar were not dealt with in the same way. Solomon wanted to sentence them both to death, but to Abiathar, who had moved so far away from being a priest he said,

"Go back to Anathoth, to your fields. You are indeed worthy of being put to death, but today I will not have you die, because you carried the Ark of the Lord personally for my father, David."

So it was with the such a line of reasoning therefore that the archbishop moved the pontiffs. They hesitated having the law dragged more towards the arbitration of the king, particularly that he would not able to betray into the prejudgement and false accusation of the innocent, as either they might be pushed hard towards having purge themselves, or they might find themselves in the fate of being subdued as criminals. 

Hence, therefore, here was the beginning of the contention. Hence, indeed, the king observed that the archbishop together with the bishops were themselves sitting in ambush, and wishing to oppose the authority of the royal customs; his anger not a little burned at first, but he then tried to extort promises from those who required security. Those considerations aside, aware of the day-to-day requirements of living, they wanted to appease the anger of the king, by providing  a more carefully thought out answer, and hence granted the request of his petition, "saving their order".

In addition, nonetheless, which they had foreseen about the security of their living, it was explained that the king had the right to deprive them of part  of their land, and above that to take that away longer, but he did not prevent the unanimity of the bishops by this pretense.

Hence this was the outcome of the conference: the king was terribly furious and threatened to leave. From then on, with the bishops shook up, he ordered his officials to pursue matters on a more serious footing.

References


Dorothy Whitelock; Martin Brett; Christopher Nugent Lawrence Brooke (1981). "#158: Royal Council of Westminster"Councils & Synods: With Other Documents Relating to the English Church. A.D.871-1204Volume I. Part II 1066-1204. Clarendon Press. pp. 848–52. ISBN 978-0-19-822394-8

Patrologiae cursus completus: sive biblioteca universalis,integra uniformis, commoda, oeconomica, omnium SS. Patrum, doctorum scriptorumque eccelesiasticorum qui ab aevo apostolico ad usque Innocentii III tempora floruerunt ... [Series Latina, in qua prodeunt Patres, doctores scriptoresque Ecclesiae Latinae, a Tertulliano ad Innocentium III]. 1854. Col. 287. http://books.google.com/books?id=UfEQAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA295.

James Craigie Robertson. Materials for the history of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury (canonized by Pope Alexander III., A.D. 1173).. Vol. IV.. Longman & co.. pp. 95–7. 
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k50321s/f128.image
 



Frederic William Maitland (1 July 1998). Roman Canon Law in the Church of England: Six Essays 1898. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd.. pp. 138–. ISBN 978-1-886363-57-1
http://archive.org/details/romancanonlawin00maitgoog


Toutant, Mary Aimee du Sacre-Coeur. “An Annotated Translation of the Life of St. Thomas Becket by an Anonymous Author Number 2” (1944). Master's Theses. Paper 403. http://ecommons.luc.edu/luc_theses/403
 


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