Sunday, 23 June 2013

Roger de Potigny: Meeting of the king and the archbishop at Northampton, after the Council of Westminster 1163

Extract From



[29]. Rex igitur ad praesens ab intentione sua frustratus: post non multum temporis apud Northamtoniam positus archiepiscopum ad se vocavit, volens ejus animum tentare, si quo forte modo eum posset flectere, et ad suam voluntatem inclinare. Quumque archiepiscopus ad locum appropinquasset; et ejus adventus innotuisset regi: nescitur qua calliditate rex quosdam obviam misit qui dicerent: Rex in oppido cum multis est positus, et tu nihilominus cum maxima multitudine advenisti: nec sufficit locus ut ambos vos capiat: quapropter mandat rex, ut hic eum expectes. Adest enim ipse tecum locuturus. Quumque in agrum divertisset pontifex: statim sine mora rex advenit: cui occurrens debito eum salutationis honore praevenire curavit. Sed cum propter lascivientium equorum, quibus insidebant, hinnitus et recalcitrationem ad se invicem accedere non possent tandem mutatis equis in parte seorsum simul ambo constiterunt. 

Tunc rex ad episcopum ita exorsus est. "Nonne," ait, "ego te ex humili et paupere in maximum honoris et excellentiae culmen extuli? Parumque id mihi visum est, nisi et patrem regni te constituerem, et etiam mihimet ipsi te praeferrem. Quomodo ergo tot beneficia, tantaque meae circa te dilectionis indicia, omnibus notissima, tam subito tibi a mente excidere potuerunt: ut non solum ingratus, verum etiam in omnibus contrarius mihi existas?" 

Et episcopus, "Absit," inquit, "Domine mi: non sum immemor beneficiorum tuorum, quae non quidem simpliciter tu, sed Deus tribuens omnia per te mihi conferre dignatus est: quapropter absit ut ingratus vel in aliquo voluntati tuae contrarius existam, dummodo tu Divinae voluntati concordes. Scit enim dignatio tua quantae fidelitatis tuae extiterim, a quo temporalem tantum praestolabar remunerationem: quanto magis omnipotenti Deo, a quo et temporalia bona accepimus et aetema speramus, fidele et sincerum ministerium nos exhibere necesse est. Tu quidem es dominus meus, sed ille et meus et tuus est Dominus, cujus voluntatem praeterire ut tuae acquiescam, nec tibi nec mihi expedit: in tremendo namque ejus examine ambo ut unius Domini servi judicandi sumus, ubi neuter nostrum pro altero poterit respondere: sed unusquisque secundum facta sua, excusatione cessante, recipiet. Est enim dominis temporalibus obtemperandum, sed non contra Deum, dicente beato Petro, Oportet obedire Deo magis quam hominibus."

Tunc rex ad ista: "Nolo," inquit, "mihi modo ut sermocineris: Nonne tu filius fuisti cujusdam rustici mei? 

Et archiepiscopus, "Revera," inquit, "non sum atavis editus regibus, sicut nec beatus apostolorum princeps  Petrus: cui Dominus claves regni caelorum et totius ecclesiae principatum conferre dignatus est. 

"Verum est," ait rex, "sed ille pro Domino suo mortuus est. Venerabilis vero antistes respondit, Moriar et ego pro Domino meo: quum tempus advenerit. 

Tunc rex, "Tu," inquit, "nimis affigeris et inniteris scansilibus tuis." 

Et archiepiscopus, "In Domino," ait, "confido et innitor. Quia maledictus homo qui spem suam ponit in homine. Verumtamen quicquid tu mihi dixeris et ego tibi respondero: ad honorem tuum et beneplacitum, salvo ordine meo, sicut olim ita et nunc paratus sum. Sed et super his quae ad honorem tuum et salutem animae tuae spectant, ego potius consulendus eram, quem toties tam fidelem et utilem in consiliis expertus es: quam illi qui quasi sub obtentu honoris tui de me, qui eos non laesi, gratuita succensi invidia e flamma vindictam expetere satagunt. Quem enim infra sacros ordines adhuc constitutum fidelem tibi fuisse ut credo non negabis: multo magis sacerdotii officio sublimatum me tibi in omnibus fidelem aestimare debuisti. Quumque multa verba salubria dilectionis et fidei plena archiepiscopus perorasset, rex tamen vehementer instabat: ut verbum illud, scilicet salvo ordine nostro, penitus omitteretur. Quod quum minime obtinere potuisset, archiepiscopo inflexibiliter in sententia persistente, ab invicem discesserunt.

The king, therefore, for the present was frustrated in his intention. Not a long time afterwards he summoned, by order, the archbishop to come to Northampton, where he was, to try to see how much, if by using a strong manner it was possible to bend his mind, and to incline him towards his will. And as the archbishop approached the place, he made his arrival known to the king. It is not known by what sly ruse the king sent the following reply, which said: "The king is already in the town with a large number, and nevertheless you have arrived with a most great multitude: this suffices as an alternative place where both of you can meet: this the king has ordered and you are to wait for him here. Indeed he will come soon to speak to you." As soon as the primate had been diverted into a field, immediately and without delay the king came to him taking care that when meeting, to prevent the due honorable salutation.  As he neared him the horses, upon they were both mounted, became lascivious, whinnying and kicking, so much so that as each tried to approach each other in turn they were not able to do so. Finally after changing mounts they both stood in a separate part of the field.

Then the king began to speak to the archbishop thus: "Did I not," he said, "bring you up out of humble and poor circumstances and confer upon you the greatest honours and raise you to the highest excellencies? And it was not enough, it seems to me, that I did make you father of the kingdom, and even set you above myself. How therefore after so many kindnesses, and so great around you the evidences of my love, with everything of great note, so that all of a sudden these seem to have been banished from your mind and forgotten, so that not only are you are ungrateful, but the truth has also emerged that in all things you have become contrary towards to me?"

And the archbishop: "Lord forbid," he said "O my lord, that I am not unmindful of your kindnesses, which were indeed not simply from you, but from God, giver of all things, acting through you which He deigned to confer upon me; far be it that I stand forth seemingly ungrateful or in any way contrary to your wish, as long as you are in accord with the Divine will. Your grace knows just how much fidelity I visibly showed you when I was in receipt of so great temporal recompense, and now in the case of a great and all-powerful God, from whom we receive temporal rewards and the eternal that we both hope for, so much more so it is necessary for both of us to deliver faithful and sincere ministry. You indeed are my lord, but He is both your and my Lord, whose will to disregard, it is neither profitable for you nor for me: it will be terrible under his examination, for both of us as a servants of the Lord, when we are to be judged, where neither one of us will be able to answer for the other: but every man shall receive according to his deeds, upon the failure of excuse. For although temporal lords and masters are to be obeyed, but not against God; according to the words of the blessed Peter, it behoves us to obey God rather than men."

Then the king said to him: "I did not want you to sermonise me. Were you not the son of one of my villeins?"

And the archbishop said to him, "The fact is that my great-grandfathers were not descended from kings, but neither was the blessed St. Peter, prince of the apostles, upon whom the Lord deigned to confer the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and sovereignty of the whole of the church."

"It is true," the king said, "but he died for the sake of his Lord God."

The venerable pontiff replied, "let me die for my Lord, when the time comes."

Then the king said, "You are too afflicted and rely too much on climbing above your position."

And the archbishop said, "it is in the Lord I trust and upon whom I rely, because accursed be the man who puts his trust in Man. And yet whatever you have said to me, I have given you a reply. I am prepared to honour thy good pleasure, saving our order, as now, as it was in former times, and in those things, however, which have regard to your honour and concern the salvation of your soul. I would rather that I had been consulted, like before when I had experienced previously trust so often in your councils and profitably so.   But those who as if under protection of thy honour concerning me, those whom I have not injured, are freely burning with envy,  and out of its flame they have struggled to seek revenge.
  
For whom indeed those constituted under holy orders are still being faithful to you, that I believe you will not deny:  so much more so whilst in the holy office of a priest when determining the value let me give you the sublime.  And whilst the archbishop concluded his address with many wholesome,  loving and faithful words: the king, however, vehemently continued to pursue that the words saving our order should be dropped. As in the very least of this he was unable to prevail, with the archbishop unbending in opinion, they parted from one another.

See also

Michael Staunton (7 December 2001). The Lives of Thomas Becket. Manchester University Press. pp. 83–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5455-6.


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