Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Becket's Letter to King Henry II (1166): Loqui de Deo (ca April 1166)

Reverendissimo domino suo Henrico, Dei gratia illustri Anglorum regi,duci Normannorum,comiti Andegavice, et duci Aquitanice, Thomas eadem gratia Cantuariensis ecclesic e humilis minister, salutem, et per omnia bene facere.

Loqui de Deo valde quietae et liberae mentis est. Inde est quod loquar ad Dominum meum, et utinam ad omnes pacificum. Obsecro, domine mi, ut cum animi patientia sufferatis aliquid commonitionis, conferentis per gratiam Dei, quae nunquam vacua est, ad animae vestrae salutem, et meae liberationem. Angustiae mihi sunt undique. Tribulatio enim et angustia invenerunt me inter duo gravissima et timenda constitutum, et inter duo constituta gravissima timidum. Silentium loquor et commonitionem. Si autem siluero, mors mihi est, nec effugiam manus Domini dicentis: Si non annunciaveris delinquenti delictum suum, et moriatur in peccato suo, sanguinem ejus de manu tua requiram. Si commonuero, timeo ne non effugiam domini mei, quod absit, indigriationem. Ne accidat mihi, quod sapiens ille dicit: Quum is, qui non placet, ad intercedendum accedit vel mittitur, verendum est, ne irati animus ad deteriora provocetur. Quid ergo faciam? Loquar, an sileam?Utrobique certe periculum. Veruntamen quoniam tutius est incidere in hominis indignationem, quam in manus Dei viventis, confisus de misericordia altissimi, in cujus manu corda sunt regum, et quo voluerit inclinabit ea, et utinam in partem meliorem, loquar ad dominum meum, quia semel ccepi. Multoties enim bona praestantur invitis, maxime quum potius eorum utilitati consulitur quam voluntati. In terra vestra captiva tenetur filia Sion, sponsa regis magni, oppressa a multis, afflicta ab his, qui a tempore longo oderunt eam, a quibus honoranda potius esset, quam affligenda: maxime a vobis, habita vobiscum recordatione beneficiorum singulorum, qusd vobis contulit Deus in initio regni vestri, in medio, et fere usque modo. Solvite eam, et permittite eam conregnare sponso suo, ut benefaciat vobis Deus, et incipiat statim convalescere regnum vestrum, et auferatur opprobrium de generatione vestra, fiatque pax summa in diebus vestris. Credite mihi, dilectissime domine, serenissime princeps. Patiens enim retributor est Dominus, longanimis exspectator, sed gravissimus ultor: audite me, et benefacite. Sin autem, verendum est, quod absit, ne accingatur gladio super femur suum potentissimus, et veniat in manu valida cum militia multa liberare sponsam suam non sine grandi plaga de oppressione et servitute tribulantis. Si vero me audieritis, quoniam necesse habet Dominus in hoc instanti obsequium vestrum experiri tamquam strenui militis sui, benefaciet vobis Deus, et addet gloriam gloriae vestrae in progeuiem filiorum et filiarum vestrarum usque in tempora longa. Alioquin vereor, quod Deus avertat, ne non deficiat gladius de domo vestra, donec veniat qui ulciscatur de plano suam et suorum injuriam altissimus: sicut nec de domo Salomonis, a quo,licet eum Dominus elegisset, et contulisset tantam sapientiam et pacem, ut diceretur ab hominibus, Hic est filius sapientice et pacis, quoniam tamen recessit a via Dei, et ambulavit in iniquitate super iniquitatem, scidit Deus regnum ejus, et dedit illud ejus servo, maxime quia non quaesivit subito post delictum placare Dominum, sicut et David pater ejus, qui statim post offensam humiliavit se Domino, emendavit culpam, petivit misericordiam, et obtinuit veniam. Utinam et vos cum Dei gratia similiter faciatis. Haec vobis ad praesens scribo, caetera in ore latoris prasentium, viri religiosi, et magnae opinionis, fidelis etiam, ut credimus, vestri, posuimus, quibus, quaeso, si placet fideliter credatis. Potius tamen desideramus cum gratia vestra benigno vestro uti colloquio. Bene valeat semel et semper dominus meus.

Translation in

J. A. Giles (1846). "Loqui de Deo in English"The Life and Letters of Thomas à Becket: Now First Gathered from the Contemporary Historians. Whittaker. pp. 327–.

To His Most Respected Lord Henry, By The Grace Of God, The Illustrious King Of England, Duke Of Normandy, Count Of Anjou, And Duke Of Aquitaine, Thomas, By The Same Grace Humble Minister Of The Church Of Canterbury,
Health And Prosperity In All Things.

To talk of God requires a mind at liberty and at ease. Therefore will I speak to my lord, and pray he may be peacefully disposed towards all men. I entreat you to bear patiently my admonitions, which by God's grace, that never is given in vain, may confer safety on your soul and free mine from blame. Tribulation and anguish encompass me: whether I speak or whether I am silent, evil still awaits me. If I am silent, woe is me, for how shall I escape from Him who says, 'If thou speakest not to warn the wicked from his way to save his life, his blood will I require at thy hands.' Yet if I speak out, I dread the anger of my lord the king, lest it happen to me according to the words of the wise man, 'When one who pleases not is sent to intercede, it is to be apprehended that the mind of the angry man will be excited to still greater anger.' What then shall I do? Shall I speak or hold my tongue? There is danger in both. Since, however, it is safer to incur the anger of man than to fall into the hands of the living God, I will trust in the mercy of the Most High, in whose hand are the hearts of kings, and who can incline them as he thinks best, and I pray it may be for the best! and so I will speak unto my lord the king, even as I have begun.
 Good often falls to a man against his will, and especially when it is his advantage and not his pleasure which is consulted. In your kingdom the daughter of Sion is held captive, the spouse of the great King is oppressed by many, and afflicted by those who have long hated her, and who ought rather to have honoured than afflicted her. But she suffers this more particularly from you, though you cannot but remember the several benefits which God has conferred upon you, in the beginning and in the middle of your reign, even almost to this very day. Release, release her, and permit her to reign with her Spouse, that God may bless you, and your kingdom may revive, and this reproach be removed from your generation, and there may be peace in these your days. Believe me, my dear lord and most serene prince, God is patient in retribution, and waits long; but He is a most severe avenger: listen, I pray you listen, that it may be well with you. But if you will not, it is to be feared, (though God forbid it!) lest the MostHigh should gird the sword upon his thigh, and come with a strong hand and numerous troops to free his spouse, not without severe blows upon him who troubles her, for her oppression and for her servitude. But if you will listen to me, for God deems it necessary in this to try your obedience as of a bold and faithful servant, he will do you good, and will add honour to honour upon you and your sons and daughters for many generations. But if not, I fear, (though God forbid it!) that the sword will not fail from your house, until the Most High comes and takes vengeance on them for the wrongs which He and his children have received, even like the house of Solomon, though he was chosen by God, and endowed with so much wisdom and peace that he was called by men the son of wisdom and of peace; yet he departed from the way of the Lord and walked in iniquity after iniquity, so the Lord rent the kingdom from him and gave it to his servant, principally because he did not attempt, after he had offended, to appease the Lord, as his father David had done, who humbled himself after his offence, and did away with his transgression by asking pardon of the Lord. May God's grace enable you to do likewise. These things I write to you at present: other matters will be communicated to you verbally by the bearer, a religious man, of great reputation, and one in whose fidelity you may place as much reliance as if I myself was speaking to you. But above all things should I wish to be present and converse with you by word of mouth. Farewell, for ever my lord.

References

Saint Thomas (à Becket) (2000). The Correspondence of Thomas Becket: Archbishop of Canterbury, 1162-1170. "Letter 68: Becket to king Henry II.1166. Loqui de Deo". Oxford University Press. pp. 266–. ISBN 978-0-19-820892-1.

Gallica.bnf.fr
Rolls Series (1881). Materials for the history of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, canonized by pope Alexander III, A. D. 1173. Vol. 5  p.266-8. ed. by James Craigie Robertson,
Epistola CLII: Loqui de Deo
Thomas Cantuariensis Archiepiscopus Ad Henricum Anglorum Regem

David Wilkins (1737). Concilia Magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae: a synodo verolamiensi A.D. CCCC XLVI. ad londinensem A.D. M DCCXVII. sumptibus R. Gosling; F. Gyles; T. Woodward; et C. Davis. pp. 445–

Roger of Hoveden (1868). Chronica magistri Rogeri de Houedene. Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer. pp. 248–.

Roger of Hoveden (1853). The Annals of Roger de Hoveden: Comprising The History of England and of Other Countries of Europe from A.D. 732 to A.D. 1201. H.G. Bohn. pp. 287–

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