Thursday, 4 July 2013

Becket's Letter to King Henry II (Late May to Early June 1166): Desiderio desideravi

Thomas Becket (1845). "Desiderio desideravi". Ed. Giles (1845). Patres ecclesiae anglicanae : Aldhelmus, Beda, Bonifacius, Arcuionus, Lanfrancus, Anselmus, Thomas Cantuariensis. J.-H. Parker. pp. 365–.

Thomas Cantuariensis archiepiscopus ad Henrico regi Angliae.

Desiderio desideravi videre faciem vestram, et loqui vobiscum. Multum quidem propter me, sed maxime propter vos. Propter me, ut visa facie mea reduceretis ad memoriam servitia, qure, dum agerem in obsequio vestro, exhibui vobis devote et fideliter juxta animi mei conscientiam. Sic Deus me adjuvet in examine ultimo, quando omnes adstabimus ante tribunal ipsius, recepturi prout gesserimus in corpore, sive bonum sive malum. Et ut moveremini pietate super me, quem oportet mendicando vivere inter alienos: licet tamen Dei gratia cum abundantia victualia ad sufficientiam habeamus. Estque nobis consolatio multa, quod dicit Apostolus: Omnes qui volunt pie vivere in Christo, persecutionem patiuntur. Et propheta: Non vidi justum derelictum, nec semene jus quaerens panem.

Propter vos ex tribus caussis. Tum quia dominus meus estis; tum quia rex meus; tum quia filius meus spiritualis. Eo quod dominus, debeo vobis, et offero consilium meum, et obsequium, quodcumque debet episcopus domino secundum honorem Dei et sanctae ecclesiae. Eo quod rex, teneor ad reverentiam vobis et commonitionem. Eo quod filius, officii ratione ad castigationem teneor et coercitionem. Corripit enim pater filium, nunc blandis, nunc asperis, ut vel sic revocet eum ad beue faciendum. Nosse debetis vos Dei gratia regem esse. Primo, quia vos ipsum regem, vitamque vestram debetis optimis informare moribus, ut vestri exemplo caeteri provocentur ad melius, juxta illud sapientis: Componitur orbis regis ad exemplum. Secundario alios: hos demulcendo, alios puniendo potestatis auctoritate, quam ab ecclesia accepistis, tum sacramento unctionis, tum gladii officio, quem gestatis ad malefactores ecclesiae coercendos. Inunguntur enim reges tribus in locis: in capite, in pectore, in brachiis. Quod significat, gloriam, scientiam, fortitudinem. Qui antiquis temporibus justificationes Dei non observabant, sed praevaricati sunt mandata ejus, his sublata est gloria, scientia, fortitudo: et eorum generationi; exemplo Pharaonis, Saiilis, Nabuchodonosor, Salomonis, aliorumque quamplurium. Qui vero post delictum suum cordis contritione humiliaverunt se Domino, his gratia Dei accessit cum omnibus supradictis abundantius et perfectius. Sicut David, Ezechiae, aliisque quamplurimis.

Christus fundavit ecclesiam, ejusque comparavit libertatem sanguine proprio, sustinendo flagella,sputa, clavos, mortis angustias, nobis relinquens exemplum, ut sequamur ejus vestigia. Unde et dicit apostolus: Si compatimur ei, et conregnabimus. Si commorimur, et conresurgemus. Ecclesia enim Dei in duobus constat ordinibus: clero et populo. In clero sunt apostoli, apostolici viri, episcopi, et caeteri doctores ecclesiae, quibus commissa est cura et regimen ipsius ecclesiae, qui tractare habent negotia ecclesiastica, ut totum redigatur ad salutem animarum. Unde et Petro dictum est, et in Petro aliis ecclesiae Dei rectoribus, non regibus, non principibus: Tu es Petrus, et super hanc Petram cedificabo ecclesiam meam, et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus eam. In populo sunt reges, principes, duces, comites, et aliae potestates, qui saecularia habent tractare negotia, ut totum perducant ad pacem et unitatem ecclesiae. Et quia certum est reges potestatem suam accipere ad ecclesia, non ipsam ab illis, sed a Christo, ut salva pace vestra loquar, non habetis episcopis praecipere, absolvere aliquem vel excommunicare, trahere clericos ad saecularia examina, judicare de ecclesiis vel decimis, interdicere episcopis ne tractent causas de transgressione fidei vel juramenti, et multa in hunc modum, quae scripta sunt inter consuetudines vestras, quas dicitis avitas. Dominus enim dicit: Leges meas custodite. Et iterum per prophetam: Vae qui condunt leges iniquas, et scribentes scripserunt injustitias, ut opprimerent pauperes injudicio, et vim facerent causae humilium populi Dei.

Audiat itaque dominus meus, si placet, consilium fidelis sui, commonitionem episcopi sui, et castigationem sui patris. Nec cum schismaticis aliquam de caetero habeat familiaritatem vel communionem, nec cum eis aliquo modo contrahat. Notum est enim
 toti fere mundo, quam devote, quam honorifice dominum papam receperitis, quantum Romanam ecclesiam foveritis et honoraveritis; quantum etiam dominus papa et Romana ecclesia personam vestram dilexerint, honoraverint, atque etiam in quibuscumque secundum Deum potuerunt, vos exaudiverint. Nolite ergo, domine, si salutem animae desideratis, eidem ecclesiae, quod suum est, aliqua ratione subtrahere, seu in aliquo ei citra justitiam contraire. Immo eandem ei permittatis in regno vestro habere libertatem, quam et in aliis regnis habere dignoscitur. Memorque sitis professionis, quam fecistis, et posuistis scriptam super altare apud Westmonasterium, de servanda ecclesiae Dei libertate sua, quando consecratus estis et inunctus in regem a praedecessore nostro. Ecclesiam etiam Cantuariensem, a qua promotionem et consecrationem accepistis, in eum statum restituatis et dignitatem, in quibus fuit temporibus praedecessorum vestrorum et nostrorum, possessionesque ad ipsam ecclesiam et nos pertinentes, villas, castella, et praedia, quae pro voluntate vestra distribuistis, resque omnes ablatas, tam nostras, quam clericorum nostrorum, et laicorum, in integrum nobis restituatis. Permittatis etiam nobis, si placet, libere, et in pace, et cum omni securitate redire in sedem nostram, officioque nostro libere uti, sicut debemus et ratio exigit. Et nos vobis, tamquam domino carissimo et regi, fideliter et devote pro viribus nostris servire parati sumus, in quocumque potuerimus, salvo honore Dei et ecclesiae Romanae, et salvo ordine nostro. Alioquin pro certo sciatis, quia divinam severitatem et ultionem sentietis.

Partial Translation


THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, TO THE KING OF ENGLAND. Sine salutation.

" I have very earnestly desired to meet your Majesty in person, and to converse with you. I have desired it greatly for my own sake, but far more for the sake of your Majesty.

"As to myself, I hoped that the sight of me might recall to your mind the zealous and faithful services which I have before now rendered you, according to the best of my conscience, (so help me God, at the last day when we shall all stand before His throne to receive according to the deeds we have done in the body!) I hoped that when you saw me, who am now forced to beg my bread among strangers, you might at least be touched by some feeling of kindness. And yet, by the grace of God, I have a sufficiency, and am comforted in the words of the Apostle, that " All that will live a godly life shall suffer persecution. But for your Majesty's sake I was much more anxious. You are my liege Lord, and as such I owe you my counsels: you are my son in the Spirit, and I am bound to chasten and correct you.

" Since, craving your Majesty's pardon, it is certain that the power of Kings is given them through the Church, but not that of the Church through Kings, your Majesty can have no pretence for compelling the Bishops either to absolve or excommunicate ; for summoning the Clergy before secular Courts ; for interfering with tithes or presentations ; for prohibiting the trial of perjury in the Bishop's Court; and many other things of like nature contained among the Usages which you are pleased to call traditional.

" ' Keep My laws,' saith the Lord. And again, ' Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed, to turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of My people.'

" Let my Lord, therefore, if it please him, listen to the counsels of his subject, to the warnings of his Bishop, and to the chastisements of his Father. And first, let him for the future abstain from all communion with schismatics. It is known almost to the whole world with what devotion your Majesty formerly received our Lord the Pope, and what attachment you showed to the See of Rome ; and also, what respect and deference were shown you in return. Forbear then, my Lord, as you value your soul, to withdraw from that See its just rights. Remember, moreover, the profession which you made to my predecessor at your coronation, and which you deposited in writing upon the Altar at Westminster, respecting the rights and liberties of the Church in England. Be pleased also to restore to the See of Canterbury, from which you received your consecration, the rank which it held in the time of your predecessors and mine; together with all its possessions, its villages, castles and farms, and whatever else has been taken by violence, either from myself or my dependants, lay as well as clerical. And farther, to allow us to return in peace and quietness to the free discharge of our duties.

" Should your Majesty be pleased to act in this manner, you will find me prepared to serve you as a beloved Lord and King, faithfully and devotedly, with all my might, in whatsoever I am able,—saving the honour of God and of the Roman Church, and saving my order.

" But Otherwise, Know For Certain That You Shall Feel The Vengeance Of God."

Full Translation in

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. 270–

The Address of the blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, to Henry, king of England, at his Council held at Chinon.

"With great longing have I longed to see your face, and to converse with you; much, indeed, on my own account, but more especially on yours. On my own account, that, on seeing your face, you might recall to mind the services which, in my obedience to you, I have devotedly rendered to you to the best of my conscience; as God may help me at the last judgment, when all shall stand before His tribunal to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or whether evil; also, that I might move you to take compassion upon me, who am obliged to live on charity among the people of a foreign land; although, by the grace of God, I still have sufficient provision and in abundance. It is also my great consolation that the Apostle says, 'All that will live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution,' and the words of the Prophet are, 'I have not seen the righteous man forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.' Again, for your own sake, for these three reasons; because you are my lord, because you are my king, and because you are my son in the Spirit. Because you are my lord, I owe and offer to you my counsel, as is due from every bishop to his lord, in accordance with the honor of God and of the Holy Church; because you are my king, I am bound to respect and to admonish you; because you are my son, I am bound by the duties of my office to chastise and to correct you. For a father corrects his son, sometimes in kind words and sometimes in harsh, that, by the one means or the other, he may recall him to do what is right. You ought to understand that, by the grace of God, you are a king for the following purposes: first, because it is your duty to govern yourself, and to amend your life with the practice of good manners, in order that by your example others may be induced to reform their lives, according to the saying of the wise man, that the world is formed after the example of the king. In the second place, for encouraging some and punishing others, by virtue of the power which you have received from the Church with the sacrament of anointing, and with the sword which, in virtue of your office, you wield for the destruction of evil-doers to the Church. For kings are anointed in three places; on the head, on the breast, and on the arms, thereby signifying glory, knowledge, and strength. The kings who, in ancient tunes, did not observe the judgments of God, but sinned against His commandments, were deprived of both glory, knowledge, and strength, both they and their descendants: as examples in proof whereof, witness Saul, Nebuchadnezzar, Solomon, and many others. But those who, after their offences, in contrition of heart humbled themselves before the Lord, to them was granted more abundantly and more effectually the grace of God, together with all the blessings above-mentioned; as for instance, David, Hezekiah, and many others. Christ founded the Church and gained its liberty with His own blood, by enduring the scourges, the spitting, the nails, and the straits of death, and thereby left us an example to follow in His footsteps; wherefore the Apostle says, 'If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.''The Church of God is composed of two orders— the clergy and the people. Among the clergy are the Apostles and Apostolical men, the bishops and other rulers of the Church, to whom has been entrusted the care and government of that Church, and who have the management of ecclesiastical concerns, that they may cause all things to tend to the salvation of souls. For which reason it was said to Peter, and in Peter to the other rulers of the Church, 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' In the number of the people are kings, dukes, earls, and other potentates, who have the management of secular business, that they may cause it entirely to tend to the peace and unity of the Church. And, inasmuch as it is certain that kings receive their power from the Church, and not it from them, but (with your leave I say it) from Christ, you ought not to give your commands to bishops to absolve or to excommunicate any person, to bring the clergy before secular courts, to pronounce judgment relative to tithes and churches, to forbid bishops taking cognizance of breaches of faith or vows in such manner as is here set forth in writing among your customs, which you style the laws of your grandfather. For the Lord says, 'Keep my laws;' and, again, by the mouth of the prophet, '"Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; to turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people.' Therefore, let my lord, if so it pleases him, listen to the counsels of his liege, the advice of his bishop, and the correction of his father. Let him, for the future, have no intercourse or communication with schismatics. For it is well known to almost all the world how duteously and how honorably you received our lord the pope, how greatly you have cherished and have honored the Church of Rome, how greatly our lord the pope and the Church of Rome have loved and honored your person, and, on whatever occasion, in conformity with the will of God they possibly could, have listened to your requests. Do not then attempt, my lord, if you wish for the salvation of your soul, in any way to withdraw from that Church what is its own, or in any degree to contravene justice in acting towards it; but rather allow it to enjoy the same freedom in your kingdom which it is known to enjoy in others. Keep in remembrance also the profession which you made and placed in writing upon the altar at Westminster, to preserve its liberties to the Church of God, at the time when, by my predecessor, you were consecrated and anointed king. Restore, also, the church of Canterbury, in which you received your promotion and consecration, to that state and dignity which it enjoyed in the days of your predecessors and mine. Restore, also, the possessions which belong to that church, the towns, the castles, the estates, of which you have made distribution at your will, and replace in full all the things which have been taken from either me as well as my clerks and laymen. Likewise, allow me freely and in peace to return to my see, and I am ready to serve you loyally and duteously, as my most dear lord and king, in so far as I can, saving always the honor of God and of the Roman Church and my orders. But if you will not do thus, then know, for a certainty, that you will feel the severity of God's vengeance."


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.278-82. ed. by James Craigie Robertson,
Epistola CLIV: Desiderio desideravi
Thomas Cantuariensis Archiepiscopus Henrico Regi Angliae

Saint Thomas (à Becket) (2000). "Letter 74: Becket to King Henry II, Late May to Early June 1166"The Correspondence of Thomas Becket: Archbishop of Canterbury, 1162-1170. Oxford University Press. pp. 292–. ISBN 978-0-19-820892-1.

Richard Winston (1967). Thomas Becket. Knopf. p. 240.

James Jacob Spigelman (2004). Becket and Henry: The Becket Lectures. James Spigelman. pp. 170–. ISBN 978-0-646-43477-3.

Michael Staunton (1 January 2006). Thomas Becket and His Biographers. Boydell Press. pp. 103–. ISBN 978-1-84383-271-3.

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