Monday, 25 March 2013

Becket's Election as Archbishop by Ralph de Diceto

Extract from

Edwardus Grim; Alanus Tewkesberiensis abbas; Parisiensis Anonymus; decanus Salisburiensis Johannes (1845). Vita S. Thomae (etc.). Parker. pp. 306–.

MCLXII. Clero totius provinciae Cantuariorum generaliter Lundoniae
convocato, praesente Henrico filio regis et regni
justiciariis, Thomas Cantuariensis archidiaconus et regis
cancellarius, nemine reclamante sollemniter electus est in
archiepiscopum.  Electionem factam sine aliqua contradictione
recitavit Henricus Wintoniensis episcopus apud Westmustier
in refectorio monachorum iiii feria ante Pentecosten. Electus
autem sabbato Pentecostes ordinatus est in presbiterum in
ecclesia Cantuariensi a Waltero Rofensi episcopo, in
ordinationibus et dedicationibus faciendis ecclesiae
Cantuariensis vicario. Sequenti die Dominica, consecratus est
a Henrico Wintoniensi episcopo vice Lundoniensis ecclesiae
tunc vacantis; quod ad jus suum spectare dicebat Rofensis
episcopus sed non optinuit.

Nuntiis ad dominum papam directis, quem ad
Gallias descendentem Willelmus de Monte Pessulano
tanquam ligium dominum suum receperat honorifice, celeri
relatione perlatum est, quod suffragenei Cantuariensis
ecclesiae sibi pastorem elegerant, qui concurrentibus
omnium votis jam a propia sinodo fuerat consecratus. Acceptum
fuit verbum istud in auribus domini papae. Litteris igitur
episcoporum, litteris etiam prioris et conventus Sanctae
Trinitatis, litteris quoque regis in medium recitatis sub
audientia cardinalium in consistorio postulatione facta,
facilis et jocun- dus juxta, petitionem ab omnibus datur
assensus. Pallium itaque cum ea gravitate, cum ea
remoratione, cum ea solennitate qua consueverant nunciis est
commissum, quod Thomas archiepiscopus in sede Dorobernensi
conditionibus solitis involutus, et sacramento constiictus,
ab altari majore suscepit. Postquam autem induit vestes,
summis sacerdotibus, nomino disponente, collatas, habitum sic
mutavit ut mutaret et animum. Mam curiæ cuiis interesse non
approbans, ut eximeretur a cuiia, vacans orationi,
superintendens ecclesiæ suæ negotiis, nuntium in Normanniam
regi direxit, renuntians cancellariæ, sigillum resignans.
Quod altius in cor regis ascendit, in se solum causam
resignationis tam subitæ retorquentis. . Audierat namque quod
Maguntinus archiepiscopus in Teutonica sub rege, quod
Coloniensis archiepiscopus in Italia sub imperatore, nomen
sibi vendicent archicancellarii. Qui nec promiscuis actibus
estimant turbari rerum officia si gestant in dextra baculum
pastoralem, et ad expediendas regni vel imperii necessitates
et pacem ecclesiae procurandam propensius accingantur,
dummodo cancellarius curiae sinistro lateri sigillum
allateret nunc regis nunc imperatoris, qui dicitur

AD 1162. The whole of the clergy in general of the province of Canterbury was convoked to appear in London, in the presence of Henry son of the king and king's justiciar; Thomas archdeacon of Canterbury and the king's chancellor, without anyone dissenting was solemnly elected archbishop. The result of the election was recited by Henry bishop of Winchester without contradiction at Westminster in the monks' refectory on the fourth day before Pentecost. Having been elected he was ordained as a priest in the church of Canterbury by Walter, bishop of Rochester representing him during the ordination and dedication and proceedings in the church at Canterbury. On the day following Sunday he was consecrated by Henry bishop of Winchester, because bishop of London was vacant at the time; which was seen to be the right of the bishop of Rochester, he said, but not taken up. 

Messengers were directed to go to the lord pope, who was in France. This descended to William of Montpellier, who had just been received honourably by his liege lord. He was swiftly to relate the report that the suffragens of the church of Canterbury had elected  their pastor, and also that they chose had been concurrently consecrated by a special synod. This report was received at an audience with the lord pope. Then a letter from the bishops, letter from the prior and convent of the Holy Trinity, and also the king's letter were read out in the during the audience with the cardinals assembled making the request simple and easy: the petition was given assent by all. The pallium was then wrapped with all gravity, with its reverence, with its solemnity, and entrusted to the messengers in the customary manner and bound with holy sacraments that archbishop Thomas might receive it upon the high altar of the See of Canterbury. After, however, he had put on the vestments of the high priest, in the name of the appointment, it was conferred upon him. As he changed his habit so his spirit changed, for the court no longer met his interest or approval, and that so he might be rescued from this, vacant in prayer he saw his business was now superintending the church. He sent a message to the king in Normandy renouncing the chancellorship and resigned the seal. That the more deeply felt in the heart of the king, in itself the cause of so sudden a resignation it had to be related to this: for he, the king, had heard that the archbishop of Mainz, in the kingdom of Germany, and that the archbishop of Cologne in Italy under the emperor, they both claimed the title of archchancellor.  He acts neither indiscriminately considering the welter of official matters who if they bear in their right hand the pastoral staff, and who are more likely to expedite the needs of the kingdom or empire and readily to procure peace  with the church, provided also that the chancellor of the royal court on his left hand bears either the king's or emperor's seal, who may be called the chief cleric.


Humphrey Hody (1701). A History of English Concils and Convocations. pp. 1–.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Giles: Election of Thomas Becket as Archbishop

Extract from
John Allen Giles (1846). The Life and Letters of Thomas À Becket: Now First Gathered from the Contemporary Historians. Whittaker and Co.. pp. 100–.


Theobald's Death -- Of The Events Which Followed It, And Of Becket's Election To The Archbishopric Of Canterbury.

Thus far had Thomas Becket risen by his talents alone to the highest civil station in the kingdom: an event now occurred which placed him at the head of the ecclesiastical affairs also; for on the 18th of April 1161, the aged archbishop Theobald was laid in the grave, after having presided twenty-two years over the Church of Canterbury. The remainder of that and half the next year would seem to have been occupied in such intrigues and negotiations as usually followed when an office fell vacant, conferring so much wealth and dignity. If it had been Henry's wish to intrude the chancellor into the see of Canterbury by every means in his power, however hasty or imprudent, he would not have suffered more than a year to elapse before the election took place: nor on the other hand, if he had wished to convert the archiepiscopal revenues to his own use, would he have limited his usurpation within so brief a period. It is more probable that the king passed the intervening months in pondering more fully on the propriety of electing the chancellor, which, perhaps, before the vacancy had actually occurred, though often lightly mentioned to his courtiers, had not yet become the settled purpose of his mind. The court was at this time in Normandy, and in the beginning of the year 1162, the chancellor was sent over to England on several matters of public business, one of which was to make preparations for crowning the young prince Henry as his father's successor, and to obtain an oath of allegiance to him from the barons, "but principally," says Gervase of Canterbury, "with the intention of getting him elected to the archbishopric of Canterbury. A short time after, namely, in the month of May, a deputation arrived at Canterbury from the king, consisting of [Hilary] Bishop of Chichester, [Bartholomew] of Exeter, [Walter] of Rochester, the abbat of Battle, and his brother, Richard de Lucy [
cf. Gervas. Cantuar.]" grand justiciary of the realm, "bringing the king's command under his seal, to the convent, for the prior with the other monks to meet the bishops and clergy of England at London, and proceed to the election of an archbishop and primate."

The account of what took place on the arrival of these commissioners is given as follows by the

monk of Pontigny [Roger de Potigny] somewhat more fully than by the other biographers, though in substance it is identical. "The bishops entered the chapterhouse of Canterbury, and having first spoken at much length of the kindness and condescension of the king, they deputed Richard de Lucy to communicate their message to the monks: whereupon Richard de Lucy addressed them thus: 'Since my lords the bishops have determined that I shall declare to you the king's pleasure, be it known to all for a certainty, that our lord the king, as you have already heard from their lordships, is most zealous in everything which concerns the Lord God, and is devoutly attached to the service of our holy Church: and especially to this Church of Canterbury here present, to which he is bound by filial affection, as he regards her as his own especial mother in the Lord. Wherefore, that she may not be disturbed or injured by the protracted want of a pastor, be it known to you all that the election of an archbishop is left to your free choice; yet so that you elect a person worthy of such an honour, and equal to the burden of it. For you cannot be ignorant that our lord the king has never in such matters attempted to do anything, save what he has considered pleasing to God and of advantage to His
Church. For the rest, therefore, it is your especial province and duty to elect one, under whose protection you may rejoice both before God and before men. For if the king and the archbishop shall be united together in the strong bonds of affection, and shall mutually and amicably support one another, there is no doubt that happiness will await our times, and the state of the Church continue in peace and tranquillity. But if, which God forbid, things should turn out otherwise, the dangers which may result, the troubles, the difficulties, and the tumults which may arise, together with the loss of our worldly goods, and the danger to our souls, I do not think your holinesses can have lost sight of.'"

With these words Richard concluded, and the bishops expressed their approbation of what he had said: whereupon 
offended them, namely, his irregular exterior, and with willing hearts and one consent elected him archbishop. The bishops, therefore, "whom the king had sent for this very purpose, appointed a day for the prior and monks of Canterbury to meet them in council at London; that whatever remained which Jwas requisites to complete the solemnity of the election might there be done before all the bishops and abbats of the realm, and in presence of the young king his son. For the king, his father, had now givenCover the kingdom to him, andhadrorocure'a for him, by means of the chancellor, the homage and oath of allegiance of the barons. He had, moreover, written to him about the election to the archbishopric of Canterbury, signifying that whatever should be done in that matter in his son's presence, should meet with his own approbation and consent.
In consequence of these proceedings, the bishops aforesaid, in the king's name, convoked all the other prelates and abbats of the kingdom, together with the priors of the conventual churches, the earls and nobles, and all the king's officials on a fixed day in the city of London. When they were all assembled on the appointed day, the prior of Canterbury reverently proclaimed before all the bishops then present, the election which had taken place at Canterbury, with the king's consent and by his mandate, before the three bishops whom he had sent for that purpose: stating that, by the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, they had unanimously and according to the canons elected Thomas, chancellor of the kingdom, to be their archbishop. Whereupon the bishops, who had been sent by the king, and had witnessed the proceedings at Canterbury, having spoken in favour of the form of election, and of him on whom it had fallen, all present gave their consent, and with one accord raised their voices in thanksgiving to Almighty God.
One, however, there was, Gilbert Foliot, bishop of London', who opposed and murmured at the election; but when he saw the unanimity of the others, and that his own solitary malice would effect nothing, he gave his consent also. He was a man advanced in years, of much learning, and of the monastic profession; it was also the generally received opinion that he had himself long aimed at being made archbishop. After the election all the bishops approached the young king, asking his assent, favour, and approbation to what they had done: to all of which the young king, with much pleasure, gave his approbation accordingly. Moreover, the great officers
'Or rather bishop of Hereford; but there are great chronological difficulties attending the translation of Gilbert Foliot to the see of London.
of state, to whom the king had also addressed letters on the subject, hailed the election with joy, and devoutly gave their confirmation of it. But Henry of Winchester, no less famous for his high birth than for his prudence and piety, said to the young king, " My lord, the chancellor, our archbishop elect, has for a long time possessed the highest place in the house of the king, your father, and in the whole kingdom, which he has had entirely under his government; nor has any thing been done during your father's whole reign without his advice and pleasure. We demand, therefore, that he shall be delivered over to us, and to the Church of God, free from all civil obligation or service of the court, from all suit or accusation or any other matter whatsoever, that from this very hour and ever after he may be at liberty and at leisure to act freely in God's service. For we know that the king, your father, has delegated to you his authority in this matter, and will gladly confirm whatever you shall do therein." The young king listened with pleasure to his request, and delivered Thomas over to the Church according to the words of Henry of Winchester, free absolutely from all civil obligations. But Thomas himself, from the first moment that his own promotion was talked of, opposed it by every means in his power: knowing full well that it was impossible for him to serve two masters at once, whose wills were so much at variance; and that whoever should be made archbishop of Canterbury, would be sure either to offend God or the king. But God had ordained otherwise, and Henry of Pisa, priest and cardinal and legate of the apostolic see, and also a monk of the Cistercian order, urged him, by all means, to undertake the office; and so his election was made and brought to completion in the way that we have just described.
The most important part of Becket's elevation to the see of Canterbury was now over, for the unanimity with which all parties concurred in the choice, is certified by all the contemporary writers6; but there were still many minor ceremonies to be performed.
On the Thursday before Whit-Sunday, the writ of election was read by Henry bishop of Winchester, in the refectory of the abbey of Westminster, without opposition: on the following Whit-Sunday the new archbishop received priest's orders (for he was yet only deacon) in the church of Canterbury, from the hands of Walter, bishop of Rochester, who also claimed the right of performing the consecration in place
'Ralph de Diceto, archdeacon of London, and during part of the subsequent troubles secretary to king Henry, says that "Thomas, archdeacon and chancellor, was formally elected to of the bishop of London, for the see of London had not yet been filled since the death of Richard. This claim, however, was not allowed.
"On the day fixed for the consecration, the bishops assembled at Canterbury, and with them a large number of abbats and religious men of all ranks, eager to be present at the consecration of so great an archbishop, and to participate in the prayers and blessings that would then be bestowed. Thomas also came on the appointed day, attended by a large number of the clergy and other persons of dignity: the bishops went out to meet him with the monks and clergy, and an immense multitude of the common people, receiving him with every kind of honour, and
the archbishopric, no one objecting:" and John of Salisbury, in a letter written to the archbishop, in 1166, comments upon one of the hostile communications which Becket had just received from Gilbert, bishop of London, in the following terms:—
"As to the falsehoods which he has dared to assert respecting your lordship's elevation, I care little for them. I was myself present at it, and saw it all. He was the solitary individual who did not express pleasure at your nomination; and he, as was then evident, and is still abundantly so, had been foremost among the aspirants to your lordship's see. Yet even he was soon shamed out of his opposition, for every one saw through his ambition and impudence. Whatever then were his secret intentions, (of these God takes cognizance,) he was one of the first to give his vote in your favour, and the loudest in his praises of the election."

with acclamations of joy: so great was their delight that no language can describe it. But Thomas paid no attention to all these tokens of the public satisfaction: he advanced on foot with humility and contrition of heart, and with his eyes filled with tears, thinking less of the honour than of the burden which he was about to take upon him. He was ordained and consecrated archbishop by Henry of Winchester; for he was the most eminent of the bishops, both for his piety and his high birth, for he was a monk and brother of Stephen of Blois, who succeeded the first Henry on the throne of England, which he held twenty years. For William the bastard was succeeded by William Rufus, who drove into exile the illustrious archbishop of Canterbury, saint Anselm, and was slain while hunting by an arrow from a certain knight, directed not by accident but by Divine Providence, as was generally supposed. To him succeeded his brother Henry, who was the father of Matilda, and was a most magnificent and powerful sovereign. After him reigned the above-named Stephen of Blois, brother of the bishop of Winchester, and of the illustrious Count Theobald the elder. Whilst Stephen was still alive and reigning, Henry, son of the empress Matilda, came over and obtained the sovereignty. It was in the eighth year of his reign that Thomas was consecrated archbishop in the city of Canterbury.7"
On the completion of this solemn ceremony, messengers, among whom was the archbishop's clerk and private friend, John of Salisbury, were dispatched to inform the sovereign pontiff of what had taken place. The pope, surrounded by his cardinals, gave them audience, and letters were read from the king, and from the prior and convent of Canterbury. The election met with general approbation, and after a short delay, the messengers returned to England, bearing with them the pall, by which it was supposed that the head of the Church gave power to discharge the archiepiscopal functions. This "mystic government and badge of an archbishop *," was deposited on the high altar in the church of Canterbury, from whence it was taken by Becket himself, who advanced, clothed in his pontifical robes, and tendered the solemn oath which was usual on such occasions.

Becket's Election as Archbishop by Gervase of Canterbury

Becket's Election as Archbishop by Gervase of Canterbury

Extracted from
Gervase (of Canterbury); William Stubbs (1965). The Historical Works of Gervase of Canterbury: the chronicle of the reigns of Stephen, Hnery II., and Richard I. Longman & Company.

   Rex   Henricus   suis    transmarinis    impeditus   negotiis,
admirabilem  illum  Thomam  cancellarium  ad  expedi-
enda  regni  negotia  transmisit  in  Angliam ;   hac  tamen
prima et  praecipua intentione  ut in episcopum Can-
tuariensis   ecclesiae    eligeretur.     Post   modicum,   mense
videlicet  Maio,  venerunt Cantuariam  nuntii  ex parte
et  praecepto domini , episcopus  scilicet  Cicetren-
sis, episcopus Exoniensis episcopus Roffensis abbas de
Bello et frater ipsius Ricardus de Luci, portantes con-
ventui domini regis apices et mandatum, ut prior cum
aliquibus monachis una cum episcopis et  clero Angliae
apud Londoniam  convenirent sibi  archepiscopum to-
tique    patriae    primatem    electuri.      Hoc   igitur   audito
nuntio,  venerandus   ille   Wibertus   prior   assumptis   se-
cum   senioribus  Cantuariensis   ecclesiae   monachis   Lon-
doniam venit, ibique praesules et proceres Angliae con-

 gregatos  invenit.  Multis itaque et  variis  de electione
facienda consertis sermonibus, em Wibertus  prior
et  qui  cum  eo  erant  invocata Spiritus Sancti gratia
Thomam regis cancellarium in nomine Sanctae Trinitatis
elegerunt.    Facta  igitur  electione, cum electus Cantuar-
iam   tenderet    consecrandus,    in   visu   noctis  apparuit   ei
persona   venerabilis   dans   ei   decem   talenta.     Ipse   autem
statim obiter instituit sibi magistros idoneos  qui ejus
errata corrigerent si  forte excederet in aliquo.

 Convenerunt itaque Cantuarise praesules et principes
regni ut tantae assisterent consecrationi. Sabbato igitur
octavarum Pentecostes in presbiterii gradum ordinatus
est, in crastino, in archiepiscopum consecrandus. Cum
autem omnia consecrationi necessaria preparata fuis-
sent, orta est aliquantula inter episcopos altercatio de
consecratione facienda. Archiepiscopus enim Eboracen-
sis per internuntios licet absens dicebat, consecrationem
illam sibi de jure dignitatis antiquae contingere, seque
ad exequendum esse paratum si novo electo caeterisque
placeret. Fatentur quoque episcopi Eboracensem archi-
episcopum de jure antiquo debere Cantuariensem elec-
tum consecrare, quod et eidem de facili concederent,
si tamen Cantuariensi ecdesiae juste restitueret quam
injuste subtraxerat, canonicam scilicet subjectionem et
tam debitam quam privilegiatam professionem. Renuit
ille quod mandatum est, et sic omnium judicio petitio
archiepiscopi Eboracensis repulsa est. Quidam autem
episcopus de Gualia benedictionem illam suam dicebat,
eo quod esset primus omnium quia prae omnibus con-
secratua Episcopus e contra Roffensis suam esse con-
tendit, quia ab antiquo Cantuariensis ecclesiae proprius
erat capellanus. Fuerant autem quidam qui pro epi-
scopo Wintoniensi qui Cantuariensi ecclesia cantoris
gaudet officio allegarent. Cum autem his diebus
Londoniensis vacaret ecclesia, mortuo ejusdem ecclesiae
episcopo qui ab olitanis temporibus in Cantuariensi
ecclesia decanatus praeminet dignitate, canonici prae-

fatae Londoniensis ecclesiae novo scripserunt electo,
suppliciter postulantes quatinus episcopo Wintoniensi
liceret in consecratione illa Londoniensis episcopi vices
agere, sicut hactenus in minoribus fecerat sacramentis.
Consenserunt itaque vix tandem episcopi, et consecra-
vit eum Henricus Wintoniensis episcopus, Dominica
octavarum Pentecostes, iiitio nonas Junii, quadragesimo
circiter aetatis suae anno, astantibus et cooperantibus
omnibus fere suffraganeis ecclesiae Cantuariensis. Eo-
rum qui affuerunt nomina sunt hsec : Henricus Win-
toniensis, Nigellus Heliensis, Robertus Bathoniensis,
Jocelinus Saresberiensis, Willelmus Norwicensis, Hy-
larius Cicestrensis, Ricardus Cestrensis, Bartholomaeus
Exoniensis, Robertus Lincolniensis, Walterus Roffensis,
Nicholaus Landavensis, David Menevensis, Godefridus
Lanelvensis, Gilebertus Herefordensis. Tres episcopatus
in Anglia vacabant quia eorum pastores decesserant;
scilicet Londoniensis, Wigomiensis, et Bangoriensis.
Mentiuntur plane qui dicunt Londoniensem electioni
Thomse archiepiscopi restitisse, quia sedes illa, Lon-
doniae scilicet, illis diebus vacavit, et postea usque ad
Nativitatem Domini. Consecratus autem, ut praedictum 
est, Thomas Cantuariensis archiepiscopus, instituit fes-
tivitatem principalem Sanctse Trinitatis singulis annis
inperpetuiun die octavarum Pentecostes celebrandam,
unde et ipse eadem die missam celebravit.


Gervase of Canterbury (1879). The Historical Works of Gervase of Canterbury. Volume 1 Cambridge University Press. pp. 169–. ISBN 978-1-108-05159-0.

James Craigie Robertson (1859). Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. pp. 39–.
Hugh James Rose; Samuel Roffey Maitland (1833). The British Magazine. John Turrill. pp. 37–

David Knowles (January 1951). Episcopal Colleagues. Cambridge University Press. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-0-521-05493-5.

William Holden Hutton (1910)
Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.  pp. 51-6
London : I. Pitman & Sons

John Morris (1859). The life and martyrdom of saint Thomas Becket archb. of Canterbury. Longman, Brown. pp. 51–

Frank Barlow (1990). Thomas Becket. University of California Press. pp. 73–. ISBN 978-0-520-07175-9.

Becket's Election as Archbishop by Herbert of Boseham

Becket's Election as Archbishop by Herbert of Boseham

Extracted from
Patres ecclesiae anglicanae : Aldhelmus, Beda, Bonifacius, Arcuionus, Lanfrancus, Anselmus, Thomas Cantuariensis. J.-H. Parker. 1845. pp. 25–.


His itaque se habentibus, Thoma nostro in aula summa augustali gratia et gloria ceteris longe praefulgente, et ipsojam velut rerum summam gerente, saepe nominatus Cantuariorum antistes pater Theobaldus, vir omni sanctitate et religione perspicuus, qui Thomae nostri currus extiterat et auriga, quum Cantuariensem ecclesiam per annos viginti duos strenue et prudenter rexisset, senex jam et plenus dierum decretam universae carnis ingreditur viam. Quod quum statim ad regem et ad aulicos pervenisset, suspicantur mox omnes, submurmurant hi, asserunt illi cancellarium archi-praesulis defuncti successorem futurum; et id ipsum praeconizabat et populus. Verum rex omnino dissimulat; nisi quod archiepiscopatus, sicut et episcopatus et etiam vacantes 

abbatiae solent, curae cancellarii et custodiae traditur. Cancellarius vero, qui quasi praesagiis quibusdam et conjecturis jam de regis voluntate praesumebat, tamen sicut et rex dissimulans, rem tacitus considerabat. Rege autem tunc in transmarinis extra regnum agente et cancellario cum eo, propter crebras Wallensium infestationes et alia quaedam regni negotia cancellarium rex in Angliam mittere disposuit; et quia plurimae et magnae erant causae, cancellario, nemine suorum ad magna sic idoneo, injungit legationem, qui quum jam suscepta per dies legationis forma, in ipso profectionis articulo ingressus aulam apud castrum illud in Normannia quod Faleise dicitur, ut rege duntaxat salutato mox conficeret iter, vocato eo seorsum rex instillat secretum: Necdum, inquit, plene nosti tuae causam legationis. Et adjecit, Mea, inquit, voluntatis est te Cantuarienserri archipraesulem fore. Cui cancellarius schemata quaedam risibilia quibus tunc inductus subridendo ostendens et quasi oculis ingerens, Quam religiosum, inquit, virum, quam sanctum in tam sancta sede et super tam celebrem et tam sanctum monachorum conventum constitui desideras! sciturus certissime quod si Domino disponente acciderit sic citissime a me avertes animum et gratiam, quae nunc inter nos tanta est,in atrocissimum odium convertendam. Novi quippe te nonnulla exacturum et etiam in ecclesiasticis te jam multa praesumere quae ego aequo animo sustinere non possem. Et ita occasione nacta interponent se invidi, qui extincta gratia perpetuum inter nos odium suscitabunt.

O mira viri magnificentia domino suo comminantis sic; incujus manu erat adhuc ipsi comminanti, honorem conferre vel adimere! O sincera animi puritas non honorem ambientis, nec respuentis tamen, sed cum honore propter honorem humeros suos ad honoris onus portandum se mox parantis. Mox inquam in primo honoris illius auditu, utpote qui expertus optime novit quantum honor ille oneris habeat cum honore. O quam magnum quam certum pastoris boni ecclesiae profuturi verbum hoc praesagium erat, ipsomet contestante ante illum recessus sui a rege articulum quod ipse nec per se nec per alium regi nec rex ipsi vel etiam verbum unum praeloquutus fuisset. Verum rex nihil motus ex cancellarii sui quasi dilectionis comminatorio hoc, sed in proposito manens mox in ipsa cancellarii praesentia magnis et industriis viris legationis ipsius in Angliam comitibus hoc votum suum et desiderium super cancellarii promotione, sacro metropolitanae ecclesiae conventui et regni sui clero intimandum, sedulo et operose injunxit. Et ad unum inter legatos praecipuum specialiter sermonem dirigens, (Ricardus dictus cognomento de Luci hic erat) " Ricarde," inquit, " nonne, si mortuus jacerem in sandapila, intenderes ut primogenitus meus Henricus in regem sublimaretur?" Et ille: "Etiam, domine, pro posse." Et rex illi: "Adeo volo intendas ad cancellarii in sede Cantuariensi promotionem." In quo certe, sicut in priori cancellarii magnificentia et animi absque ambitione puritas, ita et in hoc perspicue videre possimus constantem regis gratiam et rege magnificentiae gloriam. Eo ipso ni fallor, sicut et rerum cito post probavit exitus, ad cancellarii sui promotionem ferventior quo ipsum magnifice sic loquutum audierat et quo minus ambitiosum pensabat. Sed super omnia et prae ceteris intuerihinc libet vere regum corda in manu Dei esse et dispositionibus altissimi nihil posse resistere. Hanc historiae pericopen ab ipsomet pontifice postea in exilio, propter verbisui quasi cujusdam vaticinii finemtunc impletum, saspius rememorante didici. Unde et pericopen hanc eo promptior quo verior ipsa, et ab ipso mihi edocta pontifice, historiae huic curavi hic interserere: et eo praesertim quod ex hac utriusque tam regis quam cancellarii virtutum hinc inde magnificentia adverti possit. Et ita rex cancellarium suum in haec dimisit, qui post dies paucos in Angliam applicuit.


Regis autem voluntate et petitione cito post cancellarii adventum in sancto illo et religioso sanctae Cantuariensis ecclesiae conventu et episcoporum quibusdam accitis super cancellarii promotione declarata, mox ut solet varia diversorum fertur sententia. Et praesertim in sacro illo monachorum conventu utpote quos prae ceteris contingebat negotium: asserentibus his quod hoc fieri bonum, aliis vero contra immo malum. Hi regis gratiam allegabant et per hoc tam gratioso inter regnum et sacerdotium mediatore ecclesiae deinceps pacem futuram sicut securam ita et prosperam; aliis vero e diverso illam regis gratiam non profuturam sed plurimum eo ipso ecclesiae obfuturam opponentibus; eo quod officiales Augusti et praesertim quotquot aulici, pontifice non de ecclesia sed de aula assumpto, in ecclesiae bona liberius grassarentur: et praeterea quod nimis foret absonum et omni divino juri adversum hominem militari potius cingulo quam clericali officio mancipatum, canum sectatorem et pastorem avium, ovium constituere pastorem; praesertim super tam sanctum monachorum conventum et super tam grandem et tam numerosum, qui per totam Angliam diffunditur, Dominicum gregem: hunc profecto aulica cupiditate et voracitate quadam lupina totius gregis dissipatorem potius et voratorem quam pastorem, certissime praesumendum; et qui propter popularis aurae flatum universa eventilet et aulico fastu expompet.

O quam multos in facto hoc supplantavit suspicio et in vanitate detinuit sensus eorum! Cernebant hominis vanitatem, de futura quam necdum videbant veritate diffisi. O divina judicia, et si terribilia in consiliis super filios hominum, nihilominus tamen et jucunda! O temeraria hominum judicia quas etsi quando probabilia fallentia tamen! Ita quidem mundi homines de mundi homine, secundum mundi judicium judicabant, sed longe secus et satius et jucundius de mundi homine, non secundum mundi temerarium sed secundum jucundum Dei judicium accidit. Unde et rex ille et propheta, Amputa, inquit, opprobrium meum quod suspicatus suum, quia judiciatua jucunda. Vere jucunda Dei judicia contra mundi spem, contra omnem mundi suspicionem, educentis mel de petra, oleumque de saxo durissimo et de lapidibus istis suscitantis filios Abrahe [auferentis etiam et amputantis opprobrium servi sui.] Amputa, inquit opprobrium meum quod suspicatus sum. Quis enim crederet nisi suspicione ab ipso Deo amputata, quis asserenti se non apponeret, canum, ut aiebant, sectatorem et pastorem avium, futurum ovium tam bonum et tam fidum pastorem? Quid tamen hoc facto non solum satius, sed et jucundius et inter Dei opera Deo digniusf Eo quidem Deo dignius quo clementius et quo illo mirabilior Deus. In tanta quippe potestate etsi omnia ineffabiliter admiranda, nihil tameu tam stupore tam admiratione dignum quam quod in tanta potestate sit clementia tanta. Propterea ex qua causa monet sapiens ne ante mortem hominem laudes, ita et ne vituperes ante mortem. Quis enim scit si convertatur et ignoscat Deus et relinquant post se benedictionem? Unde et magister, Nolite, inquit, ante tempus judicare. Omnium igitur impraesentiarum suspicione amputata et altercatione
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omissa, divinae, cui cuncta militant, dispensationi pariter et in hoc regio quoque voto militante et episcoporum provincialium et conventus sanctae Cantuariensis ecclesiae communi omnium consensu et unanimi Thomas ejusdem ecclesiae archilevita in archipraesulem Londoniae in regio illo et praeclaro monasterio quod dicitur Westmunstier eligitur. Eligitur, inquam, jam in aula annis quinque cancellariae functus officio, aetatis vero annum vitae circiter agens quadragesimum quartum. Et mox filio regis regni haeredi Henrico adhuc puero, et quem de eximia regis gratia cancellarius quasi in filium et alumnum sicut jam praefati sumus susceperat, praesentatur regis patris sui de mandato, patris in hoc vices gerenti. Et electioni ecclesiae regia conniventia accedente, auctoritate quoque regia ab omnibus curiae nexibus absolutus, liber Anglicanae ecclesiae redditur et in ea libertate ab ecclesia in hymnis et canticis spiritualibus sicut solet cum summa jucunditate suscipitur.


Thomas ergo noster, non jam aulae cancellarius sed ecclesiae electus et ab omnibus curiae nexibus absolutus, mox quasi homo de gravi somno evigilans, quis jam diu fuisset et qualis deinceps futurus esse debuisset, cum corde suo meditabatur. In aula aliquandiu quasi lethargicus sui ut videbatur passus oblivionem. Sed nunc rediens ad cor cum corde suo meditabatur. Et ex meditatione hac concaluit cor, et sensim ccepit ignis exardescere, quo novus qui extinctus putabatur homo fotus et coalitus ccepit paulatim coalescere, sed necdum erigere caput. Qui tamen novus homo, sicut jam supra diximus, quadam discretionis cautela veteris hominis habitu magis fuit opertus, quam oppressus a veteri, nisi quia ipsa opertio quasi oppressio erat. Verum nunc mox

in ipsa mutationis suae novitate novus homo et relegari appetit et se diutius opprimi non permittit. Electus vero noster Londonia sicut ortus, sic ibi et electus cum multorum et magnorum comitatu cito post electionem metropolim Cantuariam propter consecrationis gratiam proficiscens inter itinerandum, non in agrum deflectens, sed iri ipsa via solum discipulum qui scripsit hasc accersivit, ipsi secreto inquieus se in visu eadem nocte vidisse venerabilem quandam personam ipsi astitisse et decem tradidisse talenta. Cujus quidem interpretationem discipulus minime tunc advertens de somnii conjectura haesitabat. Quam tamen mox post expletam de homine, quae tunc non putabatur, dispositionem altissimi, servus ille evangelicus qui acceptis in sorte quinque talentis alia quinque praeter sortem negociando super lucratus est, absque hassitatione omni et asnigmate nunc apertissime solvit. Adhuc autem eundem discipulum secretius alloquens pariter et in via mox subjecit. "Hoc volo, hoc tibi injungo de cetero quera homines me esse dixerim confidentius mihi et secreto edicito, et si quoquo vitio laborantem, tibi, inquam, injungo ut mihi libere hoc et confidenter sed secreto edice. Multa quippe amodo de me quae non mihi dicentur, quemadmodum et de aliis et prsesertim divitibus, plurima passim in vulgo de ipsis et pauca ullius nulla ipsis. Pariter et excessum indica, si quo tu ipse videris et judicaveris excedentem," et in calce sermonis adjiciens "circumspectius quippe," inquit, " et clarius quatuor quam duo oculi vident." Quod mihi tunc credo quia forte ni fallor et aliis et alias me sanctioribus et circumspectioribus nisi quia ego minime talis, idem pariter injunxisse.
0 prudentia viri! O forma jam in necdum episcopo episcopalis, certe omnibus sed praesertim episcopis et admiranda et imitanda. O propheticum! O videns et videntis oculatum animal! quod ne in distortae et amfractuosae viae et vitas hujus nocte offendat ullatenus et ante et retro jam sibi oculos coaptabat. Jam profecto illius compastor et compastoris discipulus, qui compastofibus et discipulis suis dans formam, " Quem" inquit " dicunt homines esse filium hominis?" Formam inquam, dans ut hi qui lux sunt mundi et gentibus in lucem dati, nequaquam contemnant sed crebro et sedulo de se a suis vulgi inquirant opinionem. Ne videlicet ipsis nescientibus lucis suae radios aut squalida et atra detractionis nubes subobscuret aut adversus aliquis sinistri rumoris flatus eventilet: tunc quippe, quod absit, de luce mundi, de lucerna verbi, de candelabro templi magis fumus quam illuminatio emitteretur, quod ne accidat vulgi de se a suis opinionem pastor ille pastorum forma sciscitatur, in hac etiam sciscitatione id notans multa dici et sinistra de nobis quae non nobis. Unde et plerumque in rebus humanis illud lacrimabile accidit, ut etiam qui sibi nihil conscius est, forte tamen ob aliquam mali speciem in populo habeatur famosus, ipso tamen quae de ipso sinistra dicuntur penitus ignorante. Habens quidem oculos ante sed retro carens, quid de se, nec per se, quia non potest, nec per alium, quia negligit aut contemnit, sed solnm quid ipsi dicatur attendens.
Verum electus noster, necdum episcopus, episcopalem tamen jam formam induens: vix adhuc etiam electus, mox elegit quibus istam quasi propriam propriae visitationis suae curam injungeret. Moti ergo Londonia, ubi electio, Cantuariam venimus, in qua tanquam metropoli secundum morem et canonum formam metropolitani consecratio celebranda. Ad quam jam consecrationem ob consecrandi reverentiam totum fere regnum confluxerat. Clerus quidem ut ex debito, proceres vero regni et magnates ut regi, cui opus adeo complacebat, pariter et electo, qui de aula prodierat, honoris impenderent gratiam et obsequium. Igitur in sacramentali illo tempore, in illis tam mirae quam mirificae unctionis diebus in hebdomada Pentecostes, in hebdomadae sabbato, temporis et ordinis ut mox claruit consonantibus sacramentis, archilevita ecclesiae electus in sacerdotem ordinatur, in crastino Dominicae diei in antistitem consecrandus. Verum ordinato jam sacerdote, quis pontificum provincialium in consecratione primam manum habere debeat, deliberatur mox inter pontifices. Londoniae quippe episcopali sede, ad quam id pertinere dinoscitur, tunc vacante, Wintoniensis, qui absentis aut non superstitis Londoniensis vices in provincia gerit, id ad se omnimodis pertinere asserebat. At e contra Rophensis eo quod ab ecclesiae suae fundatione et jure specialiter peculiari arcbipraesulis capellanus sit, id suum esse et non alterius contendebat. Tandem vero ob quaedam quae impraesentiarum hic interserere praetermitto, salvo in hac parte jure Rophensis ecclesiae, de Rophensis consensu venerabili viro sicut generositate ita et sanctitate praeclaro Henrico Wintoniensi episcopo archipraesulis consecratio est delata, et in crastino Dominico die in octavis Pentecostes festivae supra modum et magnifice sicut futurum tantum decebat antistitem consummata. Cujus profecto consecrationi, praeter procerum et nobilium regni tanquam turbam innumeram, quibus et egregius ille adhuc puer Henricus regis filius et regni haeres praeminebat, quatuordecim comprovinciales episcopi interfuerunt, ipso ni fallor qui consecrabat archipraesule quinto decimo. Et electi quidem nostri in archipraesulem consecratio sic erat, ipso tunc circiter quadragesimum quantum, ut supra diximus, aetatis suae annum agente.
Nuntii vero ad felicis memoriae Alexandrum tertium Romanae sedis pontificem confestim directi sunt, qui de novo propter schisma quod in Romana tunc ecclesia erat, apud montem Pessulanum applicuerat et ibidem per aliquod tempus moram fecerat. Qui vero missi fuerant, viri religiosi litterati et honesti, insigne illud metropolitanorum quod pallium dicitur, instanter sicut decebat et fortiter postulantes, tura quia favorabiles in se qui petebant, et praecipue quia ea persona favorabilis ad cujus hoc usum petebatur, citius et facilius pallium a sede apostolica obtinuerunt et in brevi cum pallio lastabundi et prospere sunt reversi. Et ita Thomas hic noster cum summa devotione suscepto pallio de episcopo archiepiscopus factus est.

Becket' Election as Archbishop by Roger de Potigny

Becket' Election as Archbishop by Roger de Potigny

Per Idem tempus defuncto Cantuariensi archipraesule Theobaldo, rex ei Thomam successorem dare disposuit: credens eum tanto honore dignissimum et ad suam utilitatem atque voluntatem in omnibus paratissimum. Thomas namque ex industria circa personas et res ecclesiasticas quasi severissimum se exhibebat; ut tali occasione omnem a se suspicionis notam excuteret, et regis voluntati, quam intime noverat, melius sub hac palliatione conveniret. Credens itaque rex propositum suum adversus ecclesiam per eum potissimum posse impleri: quippe quem sibi in omnibus fidelissimum et ad voluntates suas pronissimum expertus fuerat: irrevocabiliter disposuit ut ecclesiae Cantuariensi praeficeretur antistes.

Missis igitur duobus episcopis et cum iis magnate quodam fidelissimo sibi, Bichardo scilicet de Luci, dedit iis in mandatis ut Cantuariensem conveutum supef electione pontificis convenirent. Qui venientes Cantuariam, capitulumque ingressi, regis primum benignitatem et devotionem multiplicibus verbis extulerunt: deinde Richardo de Luci, ut mandata regis iis proponeret, injunxerunt. Tunc Bichardus, Quoniam, inquit, sic placet dominis nostris episcopis, ut nos vobis regis voluntatem intimemus, noveritis certissime quod dominus noster rex, sicut ab ipsis melius audistis, studiosissimus est circa ea quae Dei sunt, et circa sanctam ecclesiam maximam et prsecipuam gerit devotionem: praecipue autem circa ecclesiam prsesentem Cantuariensem, quam specialem in Domino matrem suam filiali dilectione humiliter et fideliter recognoscit. Quapropter, ne ex diutina pastoris absentia in aliquo forte turbetur vel gravetur, sciatis ab ipso liberam vobis electionis datam licentiam: ita tamen ut personam tanto oneri et honori congruam eligatis. Non enim vos latet quod dominus noster rex in tali negotio nihil attendere consuevit, nisi quse Deo credit esse placida et sanctae ecclesise utilia. Vobis itaque de csetero incumbit et omnino expedit, ut talem eligatis, cujus patrocinio secundum Deum et secundum homines gaudeatis. Si enim rex et archiepiscopus grato dilectionis vinculo sibi invicem cohseserint: seseque mutuo amicabiliter confoverint: non est dubium quin interim felicia sint tempora, quin status ecclesiae jucundus et quietus perseveret. Sin autem, quod absit, res in contrarium cesserit: quot exinde sequantur discrimina, quae perturbationes, qui labores et tumultus, quot denique damna rerum et pericula animarum, vestram non puto latere sanctitatem. Quumque Richardus finem dicendi fecisset, et ipsi episcopi ejus orationem laude dignam approbassent, prior Cantuariensis primum Deo gratias, deinde regi grates immensas pro sua erga se benevolentia et sollicitudine cum debita reverentia retulit: sicque ad nutum episcoporum nominatis et ad se vocatis quibusdam monachis natu et prudentia majoribus egressus est foras. Quumque consedissent et de verbo quod audierant tractare csepissent: visum est iis nihil circumdici vel statui posse sine episcoporum et ipsius consilio Richardi: qui utique regis voluntatem optime noverant: ex qua totam electionis summam pendere oportebat. Vocaverunt itaque regios legatus, Bartholomseum videlicet Exoniensem episcopum, et Hilarium Cicestrensem, et Richardum. Qui quum venissent, et quum iis multum denique super proposito negotio contulissent, tandem omnes unanimiter, tam monachi quam episcopi, una voce eademque sententia Cancellarium in pastorem et episcopum animarum suarum elegerunt. Monachi vero aliquandiu haesitaverant in electione, non quia Thomam virum esse virtutis ignorarent: sed quia religionis habitum non praeferebat: quum usque ad illa tempora fere semper ecclesia Cantuarieusis viros vita et habitu religiosos habuerit pontifices. Sanctus namque Augustinus, beati et Apostolici Papae Gregorii monachus, qui genti Anglorum fidem Christi praedicavit, Cantuariensem et alias plures in partibus illis ecclesias sub regulari et monastica disciplina ordinavit et instituit: quoniam consuetudines maxime in electione Pontificis Cantuariensis ecclesia prae cseteris diligentius hactenus observaverat. Verumtamen solum illud, quod in electi sui moribus horrebant, cseterarum virtutum et gratiarum, quse in eo clarius eminebant, consideratione compensantes, corde bono et animo volente eum unanimes elegerunt. Episcopi itaque, quos ad hoc rex destinaverat, diem apud Londonias priori et monachis Cantuarise assignaverunt: quo ea quae de electionis celebritate restabant, publice coram omnibus episcopis et abbatibus regni totius in praesentia regis junioris consummarentur. Jam enim ei rex pater suus regnum disposuerat: et sicut superius dictum est, hominia et fidelitates regni per manum Cancellarii sui ei fieri fecerat. Scripserat etiam ei rex de electione Cantuariensis ecclesiae, significans quia, quicquid in ejus praesentia factum fuisset, ipse quoque concederet et confirmaret, ac per omne tempus ratum haberet.

Memorati igitur episcopi ex mandato regis universos episcopos et abbates regni; sed et conventualium ecclesiarum priores, necnon et comites atque proceres, omnesque regis officiales, ad prsefixam diem Londonias convocaverunt. Quumque die statuto simul omnes convenissent: prior Cantuariensis formam electionis apud Cantuariam ex voluntate et mandato regis, prsesentibus episcopis, quos ad hoc ipsum rex direxerat, celebratam, in prsesentia et audientia omnium episcoporum cum reverentia propalavit: seque Sancto inspirante Spiritu, Thomam regni cancellarium in archiepiscopum concorditer et canonice elegisse. Episcopis quoque, qui apud Cantuariam missi a rege electioni interfuerant, tam electionis formam quam electi personam multipliciter commendantibus, assentiunt universi, et Deum tam votis quam vocibus consona gratulatione benedicunt.

Solus tamen inventus est Gilbertus Foliot, cpiscopus Londoniensis qui obloqueretur et submurmuraret: qui tamen videns unanimem omnium assensum suamque singularem maliciam nihil posse obtinere, et ipse pariter assensit. Eratque vir ille grandaevus et multum literatus, habituque monachus; qui, ut ferebat opinio, ad archiepiscopatum ex diu aspiraverat. Accedunt igitur omnes simul episcopi ad regis junioris prsesentiam, assensum illius, favorem et gratiam in sua electione postulantes: quibus ipse cum multa exultatione applausit, favit et assensit. Magistratus quoque officiales regni, nam et ad ipsos rex pater super electione scripserat: cum devotione et immenso gaudio electionem acceptaverunt et laudaverunt. Henricus autem Wintoniensis episcopus non minus genere quam prudentia et religione clarus, ad regem puerum sic locutus est: Dominus, ait, cancellarius electus noster multo jam tempore in domo regis patris vestri et in omni regno summum obtinuit locum, habuitque in dispositione sua regnum, nec aliquid in tempore suo in regno actitatum est, nisi ad suum arbitrium; unde eum liberum et absolutum ab omni nexu et ministerio curiali, ab omni etiam querela et calumnia, omnique penitus occasione, ecclesise Dei et nobis tradi postulamus: quatenus ab hac hora et deinceps emancipatus et expeditus quae Dei sunt libere exsequatur. Cognovimus enim regem patrem vestrum vices suas in hoc negotio vobis delegasse, gratumque et ratum habiturum, quicquid a vobis inde fuerit constitutum. Gratam habuit rex hujuscemodi petitionem, Thomamque gratanter secundum postulationem Wintoniensis episcopi liberum et absolutum ab omnibus ecclesiastico ministerio contradidit. Ipse vero Thomas a principio, ex quo sermonem de sua promotione egressum comperit, modis quibus potuit, obviavit, ne res ad effectum veniret: sciens indubitanter duobus Dominis concorditer non posse servire, quorum voluutates longe ab invicem discreparent: et quisquis Cantuariensis episcopus fieret, cito Deum aut regem infensum esse habiturum. Verum tamen, Deo aliter disponente, et Henrico Pisano praesbyterum cardinali et apostolicae sedis legato, monacho vero ordinis Cisterciensis procurante et modis omnibus instante, eumque ad susceptionem regiminis cohortante et animante; tandem ejus electio qualem breviter memoravimus exitum habuit.

Episcopi igitur condicto inter se consecrationis die apud Cantuariam convenerunt: simulque cum eis abbatum et religiosorum et clericorum nobiliumque terrae illius multitudo infinita: tanti pontificis consecrationi et missarum atque benedictionum primitiis cupiens interesse. Ipse quoque Thomas cum maximo virorum religiosorum et aliarum venerabilium per sonarum comitatu ad diem occurrit, processeruntque venienti obviam cum gaudio et honore multo episcopi cum monachis et clero, populique multitudine innumerabili: tantaque fuit occurrentium devotio et exultatio ut verbis nequeat explicari. Quumque vox lsetitiae et exultationis undique personaret, Thomas tamen ad ista animum non apposuit: sed cum magna humilitate et contritione lachrymis ubertim fluentibus pedes accessit, plus cogitans de onere sibi imposito quam de honore impenso. Ordinatus est itaque et consecratus pontifex, imponente ei manum viro venerabili Henrico Wintoniensi episcopo. Is quippe inter coepiscopos tam religione quam genere eminebat; erat enim monachus et frater Stephani Blesensis qui regnum Anglorum post Henricum regem seniorem ferme per viginti annos obtinuerat. Willelmo namque notho successit filius ejus, cognomento Rufus, qui sanctum et illustrem virum Anselmum Cantuariensem archiepiscopum de regno suo expulit; cui Willelmo Rufo, in venatione occupato, et a quodam milite sibi carissimo non tam casu quam divina ut creditur voluntate sagitta perempto, successit Henricus frater ejus, qui fuit pater Matildis imperatricis; huic autem Henrico magnifico et potentissimo regi successit prsefatus Stephanus Blesensis, frater Wintoniensis episcopi et illustrissim comitis Theobaldi senioris. Stephano vero adhuc superstite et regnante; supervenit Henricus Matildis imperatricis filius, accepitque regnum. Cujus regni anno octavo Thomas est consecratus Cantuarise antistes.Consecratus autem studium et diligentiam propensiorem. exhibere curavit, qualiter vita et moribus tanto gradui conveniret: moxque divina cooperante gratia mutatus in virum alterum veterem hominem cum actibus suis exuit, novumque induit in justitia et sanctitate, celans tamen iterum hominibus propositum suum soliti habitus honestate; cilicio namque ad carnem indutus, lectioni et orationi indesinenter instabat: eripiens et subtrahens se quantum poterat negotiis secularibus, ut spiritualibus studiis liberius et efficacius vacare posset. Quoties tamen causis aliquibus eum interesse officii necessitas deposcebat, miram exhibebat in audiendo patientiam, in inquirendo seu discutiendo diligentiam, in judicando quoque justitiam. Tam munerum quam personarum acceptione prorsus postposita corripiebat cum magna libertate delinquentes, durius autem semper divites et potentes: paratum ad ulciscendum se omnem inobedientiam, non solum verbi sed et operis attestatione, quoties expediebat comprobaus, opera autem misericordise et pietatis, quse dum adhuc esset cancellarius diligenter exercuerat, multipliciter auxit et cumulavit: decimis omnibus, qusecumque eum aliqua ratione alicubi contingebant, usibus pauperum deputatis. Viduis et orphanis atque infirmantibus lectoque decumbentibus egenis multa beneficia conferebat, eorumque quamplurimis quotidiana victus et vestitus stipendia perpetuo deputaverat. Predecessor ejus pise memorise Theobaldus predecessorum suorum eleemosynas pietatis studio duplicaverat; Thomas vero liberali semulatione etiam duplum illius studuit duplicare. Introducebatur ad mensam ejus quotidie pauperum magnus numerus: et prseter illos qui ad mensam ingrediebantur alios tredecim pauperes omni die circa vesperam faciebat secretius introduci: singulisque eorum post pedum ablutionem et deosculationem; post copiosam refectionem; quatuor argenteos largiebatur. Quod si quando forte propter majorem aliquam occupationem manibus propriis perficere impediebatur; per servientes suos impleri faciebat. Inferebatur ad mensam ejus quotidie ferculorum et potionum varia copia: ut per hoc et patriis moribus congrueret: et de reliquiis abundanter solaretur egenos. Varia etiam auri et argenti supellex mensam ejus et onerabat et honestabat: non quidem ad divitiarum ostentationem, sed pro more gentis et patrise consuetudine. Ipse vero quantum ad se nihil nisi usum necessarium in hujusmodi reputabat: sic utens vasis aureis et argenteis quomodo fictilibus. Vestis adhuc ei erat in exterioribus ut prius, splendida scilicet, pretiosa et honesta. Unde monachi Cantuarienses qui in caeteris quidem omnibus de felicitate vitse et actuum illius in Domino gaudebant et gloriabantur, de hoc solo scandalizari et submurmurare videbantur: unus autem ex ipsis habens familiaritatem cum illo, secreta eum alloquutione super hoc reverenter convenit: referens ei visionem quam cuidam monacho religioso et servo Dominus super hac re demonstrare dignatus fuerat. Apparuit, inquit, Dominus cuidam religioso et sancto viro, dicens ad eum: Vade, dic archiepiscopo ut absque dilatione vestes mutet: nam quamdiu id facere distulerit: me sibi placatum habere non poterit. Haec audiens archiepiscopus motus est in lacrymas: propositum tamen suum ista sibi referenti monacho minime revelavit. Parvo itaque interjecto tempore vestes pretiosas et coloratas cum pellibus variis et peregrinis penitus a se abjiciens: super cilicium quo ad carnem induebatur: pellicias agninas bysso tantum munda coopertas induit; indesinenter satagens qualiter in conscientia apud Deum, et non in hominum sestimatione, religionis sibi meritum collocaret, et in exterioribus ecclesiastico ministerio conveniret. Amiciebatur quoque pallio pullo, id est nigro, parvi pretii solo tenus defluente. Quod agninis pellibus muniebatur. Vita igitur et veste religionisque et sanctitatis exemplo factus forma gregis ex animo: totum se ministerio, cui Deo vocante addictus erat, impendere firmiter apud se statuit. Quid autem venerandus antistes ageret et quomodo se haberet, regem latere non potuit: praesertim aemulis ejus, nam et ipsi non deerant, vitam illius curiosius explorantibus; et regi cuncta quamquam aliter renuntiantibus. Singularem namque eum et superstitiosum potius quam religiosum dicebant. Regisque animum subdolis et malignis delationibus vehementer sollicitabant. Rex autem callide dissimulabat: nolens eum inimicum lucrari gratis quem necdum in aliquo sibi contrarium expertus fuerat. Quoties vero occasio se offerebat, cum multa eum reverentia et honore excipiebat, multisque obsequiis et blanditiis demulcebat. Sciebat namque viri magnanimitatem et prudentiam, nolebatque ei propter clandestinas delatorum suggestiones prsepropere adversari.

Contigit eo tempore in quodam celebri conventu ut Thomas ad clerum et populum, rege prsesente, sermonem faceret: fuitque ei sermo de regno Dei Christi qnod est ecclesia et de regno temporali: deque coronis eorundem regnorum sacerdotali videlicet et regali: simul etiam de gladio spirituali et materiali. Quumque sub hac occasione de potestate ecclesiastica et seculari multa mirabiliter disseruisset: erat enim facundissimus; rex ejus verba per singula notabat; intelligensque quod dignitatem ecclesiasticam cuilibet excellentiae seculari longe immensum praeferret, non aequo animo accepit. Sensit namque ex verbis illius quantum ab opinione sua archiepiscopus abesset: quum ecclesiam nihil prorsus habere vel posse, nisi quantum ipse ei indulgeret, persuasum haberet. Exhinc jam quse 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 ecclesiasticse libertatis jure objecerit consequenter dicendum est. Tyranni namque, qui regnum obtinuerant, jura ecclesiastica annihilaverant penitus: quorum adhserens vestigiis rex iste Henricus totius ecclesiasticse dispositionis et ordinationis summam sibi usurpaverat: nam et episcopatus et abbatias quibus volebat conferebat: jamque ipso prsecipiente et constituente, sicut populus sic sacerdotes et clerici indifferenter ad secularia judicia trahebantur.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Election of Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury

Consecration of Thomas Becket as Archbishop
Victoria and Albert Museum London

Archbishop Theobald, Becket's predescessor, died on 18th April  1161. For about one whole year the post was left vacant. During all this time the barony that went with the position was given over to the care and custody of the king's chancellor, Becket, to garner for the king's benefit the income that derived from the estate. This arrangement  was the feudal custom at the time in the case of vacant bishoprics and abbacies. It was at about this time king Henry II had the idea of combining the role of chancellor together with that of the archepiscopacy, which would seemingly enable him personally to gain control of both wings of power in the kingdom, the spiritual and the temporal,.

In 1162 Becket was summoned to appear before the king at his court in the castle of Falaise, in Normandy, to be given instructions about his return to England. Becket thought he was being sent back as chancellor for the purpose of managing some aspect of the kingdom's business during the king's absence and to deal with Welsh incursions. But there was some other matter on the king's mind. After Becket had paid his respects to the king,  the king called him aside, telling him privately, "You do not fully comprehend the reason for your mission. I intend to appoint you as archbishop of Canterbury." After some jests that he was not really a proper candidate for the role, saying he was too worldly, Becket reluctantly accepted the king's offer. The king charged Richard de Lucé, his justiciar, to go along with Becket back to England to ensure that his will was done. They set out for Canterbury.

After they arrived the prior, canons and monks  of the abbey of Christchurch and cathedral of Canterbury were convoked to appear before them in the chapter house. The congé d'eslire  (a special licence from the king of England issued under the great seal authorizing them to elect an archbishop when the position is vacant) was delivered to the prior by three bishops acting as the royal commissioners.  Together Richard de Lucé, the justiciar, and the three bishops explained to them they were essentially free to choose whom they like but that the king's desire was that chancellor Becket should be elected as their archbishop, and successor to St. Augustine. There was some hesitation from the monks at this, as Becket was only a member of the secular clergy [archdeacon] and was not, at that time, ordained, nor was he even a monk, which were generally the normal preconditions for being able to be proposed as a candidate. But their arms were twisted, and, it is recorded that the canons and monks of Canterbury cathedral in the chapter house of the abbey of Christchurch consented to elect Thomas Becket as archbishop of Canterbury, on 23rd May 1162.

Following this election, and a few days later Becket, and the royal commissioners gathered in Westminster in London, together with a delegation from the chapter of Canterbury convoking a synod of all the bishops and mitred abbots of the ecclesiastical province of Canterbury, who were summoned to inform them of the result of the election at Canterbury and ask for their agreement to and confirmation of the appointment. The synod took place in the monks' refectory in Westminster Abbey before the young prince Henry, the king's eldest son, and other notables of the kingdom. Their collective consent was more or less unanimous, saving for that of Gilbert Foliot, bishop of Hereford [later Bishop of London], who alone dissented. After being ordained as a priest Becket was consecrated archbishop by Henry, bishop of Winchester and installed as primate of the English church. After the consecration Henry, bishop of Winchester asked the prince, as the king's representative, to release Becket from all secular obligations that he may have incurred as chancellor up till then. The prince consented to this. The king had already written that whatever was done in the matter of the election of the archbishop in his son's presence would meet with his own approbation and consent.

The election of Becket as archbishop freed him from a great deal of his feudal responsibilities to the monarch. However he did have residual obligations, but he owed a greater honour and duty to God thereafter, as did the king following his coronation. King Henry II never really could accept that a vassal of his could presume such a freedom. Becket could never accept that he was still technically a vassal of the king as well as a servant of God.

It has been suggested that king Henry II chose to make Becket archbishop at this time in 1162 so that he would be able to preside over and perform the coronation ceremony of Henry, his eldest son, as the Young King, which he was planning to have done at this time. Once crowned the barons would have to swear allegiance to and perform homage before the new king, one way to ensure their loyalty to his dynasty.

References and Sources

EHD 120. Herbert of Bosham on the appointment of Thomas Beckct as
archbishop (1161-2)
(Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, III, 180)

EHD 121 . "Roger of Pontigny" on the election of Thomas Becket as archbishop
(Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, IV, 14)

John of Salisbury
Materials, II, 305

Edward Grim
Materials, II, 368

Gervase of Canterbury (ed. W. Stubbs, Rolls Series, 1, 169)

Council at Westminster, May 26th 1162
For the Election of Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury

Councils & Synods #156 
Dorothy Whitelock; M. Brett; Christopher Nugent Lawrence Brooke. Councils & synods: with other documents relating to the English ChurchVol 1. Part 2. Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19-822394-8 p. 843-5

D. Douglas; G.W. Greenaway (1996). English Historical Documents: Vol 2. 1042-1189 . EHD 120  Routledge, Chapman & Hall, Incorporated. pp. 755–. ISBN 9780203439517.

EHD 120: Herbert of Bosham on the appointment of Thomas Becket as archbishop (1161-2)
(Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, III, 180)

L.B. Radford. (1894) Thomas of London Before His Consecration. CUP Archive. GGKEY:LPUALGW4X2R
Chapter VIII The Primacy, p. 191-224

Edward Hasted (1801). The History and topographical survey of the county of Kent. Printed by W. Bristow. pp. 328–.

The Election at London
Thomas Saga, i. 73-83

Hugh James Rose; Samuel Roffey Maitland (1833). The British Magazine. John Turrill. pp. 37–

James Craigie Robertson (1859). "Chapter IV: The Archbisopric"Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. pp. 37–.

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1869). Historical memorials of Westminster Abbey. J. Murray. pp. 449–.

Alban Butler; Paul Burns (1995). Butler's Lives of the Saints: December. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 225–. ISBN 978-0-86012-261-6.

Anne Hope; Thomas Becket (st., abp. of Canterbury.) (1868). The life of s. Thomas à Becket. pp. 51–

John Morris (1885). The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Burns and Oates. pp. 50–

William Holden Hutton (1899). S. Thomas of Canterbury. pp. 26-8 D. Nutt.

Henry Hart Milman (1860). Life of Thomas à Becket. Sheldon & company. pp. 36–

Guy, John (5 April 2012). Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel, Victim: A 900-Year-Old Story Retold. Penguin Books Limited. pp. 208–. ISBN 978-0-14-193328-3.

Anne Duggan (29 October 2004). Thomas Becket. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-0-340-74138-2

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

Michael Staunton (2006). Thomas Becket and His Biographers. Boydell Press. pp. 83–. ISBN 978-1-84383-271-3.

Kay Brainerd Slocum (2004). Liturgies in Honour of Thomas Becket. University of Toronto Press. pp. 27–. ISBN 978-0-8020-3650-6

Wilfred Lewis Warren (1978). King John. University of California Press. pp. 453–. ISBN 978-0-520-03494-5

Wilfred Lewis Warren (1973). Henry II. University of California Press. pp. 454–. ISBN 978-0-520-02282-9

James Jacob Spigelman (1 June 2004). Becket & Henry: The Becket Lectures. James Spigelman. pp. 81–. ISBN 978-0-646-43477-3.

Matthew Paris Council of london
D. Wilins (1715) Concilia Magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae p. 434

The following references suggest that Becket did everything possible to get himself advanced into the post of archbishop of Canterbury:-

Hugh James Rose; Samuel Roffey Maitland (1833). The British Magazine and Monthly Register of Religious and Ecclesiastical Information, Parochial History, and Documents Respecting the State of the Poor, Progress of Education, Etc. J. Petheram. pp. 31–.

George Lyttelton (1767). The History of the Life of King Henry the Second, and of the Age in which He Lived, in Five Books .... W. Sandby. pp. 133–.

THE 'TRANSFORMATION' OF THOMAS BECKET '. . . poteris de nostra manu pontificalis officii curam recipere'
Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory
No. 58 (May 1982), pp. 25-32
Published by: Berghahn Books
Article Stable URL:

Richard Hurrell Froude; James Bowling Mozley (1839). Remains of the Late Reverend Richard Hurrell Froude: v. 2. Means Used to Secure His Election as Archbishop: J. G. & F. Rivington. pp. 582–.