Saturday, 8 June 2013

Philippe, abbé de l'Aumône

Also known as

The Pope's Almoner
Philip the Almoner
The Abbot of Alms
Abbas de Eleemosyna
Philippus de Eleemosyna
Abbat of Charity
 
 
Formerly archdeacon of Liège, he accompanied St. Bernard during his crusade into Germany. Later he became prior of Clairvaux whilst St. Bernard was still alive. Subsequently he became the fourth abbot of Aumône, a major Cistercian establishment at Blois, in 1156. A very capable diplomat he enjoyed a very high esteem amongst the popes, bishops and kings of the time, having been a protegé of the great St. Bernard. Towards the end of October 1163, he was sent by pope Alexander III as a legate a latere  to Thomas Becket, together with a letter from him to try to persuade Thomas, in the name of the pope and cardinals, to compromise and accept the king's position. Philip was an avid supporter of pope Alexander III's cause, and Alexander frequently used Cistercians as his emissaries. Becket was told to be both reasonable and valiant in the defence of the church, but was told he could only hope for "just and reasonable support" from the papal curia. Becket had already been warned about this beforehand by John, bishop of Poitiers, in a letter, that he probably could not really expect to get any significant support from the papal curia in matters which might offend the king. 

Philip found Becket at his manor in Harrow where he had gone after the Council of Westminster.  Philip told him that the pope had accepted king Henry’s promises, and explained to him that by dropping the clause salvo ordine suo [saving his own order] from the oath that this was only a matter of the king trying to save face, and that it really did not pose any real danger to the church's position were it to be left out.  It is also highly likely that at the the same time Philip told Becket that arrangements were being for him to be able to flee into safety and exile into France were it to become necessary for him to to have to abandon England, and that the Cistercians there had been told to prepare sanctuary for him.

Becket caved in. He went to the fortress at Oxford, where the king was staying, and agreed to the retraction of the Saving clause, and before the king promised verbally and without reservation, that he would observe the ancient customs of the kingdom.

But this was not enough for the king. He now wanted Becket to profess this publicly in front of all the bishops and nobles. This directly led to the Council of Clarendon, which was held soon afterwards in January 1164.

References

Saint Thomas (à Becket) (2000). "Letter 18: Bishop John of Poitiers to Archbishop Thomas Becket". The Correspondence of Thomas Becket: Archbishop of Canterbury, 1162-1170. Oxford University Press. pp. 42–. ISBN 978-0-19-820892-1

 

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