Friday, 5 July 2013

Gilbert Foliot's letter to Becket (Summer 1166): Multiplicem nobis

Extract  from
Gilbert Foliot (1846). Gilberti ex abbate Glocestriae episcopi primum Herefordiensis deinde Londoniensis epistolæ. Apud Whittaker et socios. pp. 265–.

Venerabili domino et patri in Christo Thomae Cantuariensi archiepiscopo Gilbertus Londoniensis ecclesiae minister, salutem.

Multiplicem nobis et diffusam late materiam profunde pater et copio se rescribendo proponitis, et nos licet super appellatione ad dominum papam prosequenda sollicitos, vestrae tamen sublimitati rescribere, gravi quidem et nos graviter urgente necessitate compellitis. Emissis enim sparsim elogiis nos de toto fratrum nostrorum collegio seorsum ponitis ad convitia, ut singulariter in nos et si immeritos ignominiosa congeratis et probra. Sobrii sensus hominem gravitatis reverendae personam, magistrum ratione prelationis et dogmatis veritati reverenter obnoxium, mirum est ad verba veritatis exarsisse tam graviter et velut evocatum ad colleras, innocentiam filii piepatri consulentem, non solum non admisisse, sed et ipsius opinionem nota quadam malitiae cujus sibi minime conscius est, ejus non id exigente merito respersisse : unde cum ecclesiam Dei subvertere, fas nefasque confundere, montem illum qui ecclesia et columna Dei viventis est, non sano capite velle dejicere, ad ea quae vestra sunt ambisse, et quod ab his obtinendis repulsi fuerimus, ob id vestram ecclesiaeque Dei pacem temere perturbasse, in bello Domini terga dedisse, emissis scriptis publice denotemur, difficile est, ut sileamus, ut hanc adversum nos opinionem, vel a praesentibus admitti, vel indefensam futurae posteritati transmitti, confessionem innuente silentio permittamus. Quum sit itaque malorum radix et origo cupiditas, ne nos hujus suspectos habeant quibus prava suadentur e facili, nos hinc ipsa jubet necessitas exordiri. Ait apostolus, Quis scit hominum occulta hominis, nisi Spiritus hominis, qui est in ipso. Latent quidem homines occulta hominum, et abyssum cordium de caelo dominus intuetur. Ipsum ignota non transeunt, occulta non fallunt. Est enim sermo Dei vivus et efficax, penetrabiliorque omni gladio ancipiti. Nec est ulla creatura invisibilis in conspectu illius. Ipsi et coram ipso loquimur ; sub ipsius examine non vana aut ficta, sed quae veritate conscientiae subnixa sunt, confidenter et libere respondemus, asserentes utique quoniam ad ea quae vestra sunt ambitionis stimulos nunquam vel momento sensimus. Honorem hunc nulli unquam invidimus. Nulli ad hanc gratiam munere vel obsequio, gratia vel favore deservivimus, ut ad hujus fastigia culminis accessum nobis sacrilegum quibuscumque modis aut adminiculis aptaremus. Quis hoc melius pater quam vos, quis poterit liquidius aestimare, quem ipsius ecclesiae tunc temporis archidiaconum, et domini nostri regis electum, e milibus non consiliarium solummodo, sed cor fuisse constat et consilium, sine quo non quidem facile, sed non erat possibile ob haec omnino quempiam obtinere progressum? nobis itaque quam apud vos gratiam collocavimus, num per nos aut per alium vestram unquam gratiam xeniis aut obsequiis attentavimus, ut ad quod nisi per vos attingi non poterat, in id ope vestra sublevaremur ? hinc nostram pater justum est metiri prudentiam, quales nos aliis exhibuerimus, qui nec vestrae celsitudini quam rerum summa sequebatur ad turpe supplicare compendium, nec aliqua favoris gratia unquam vel in modico blandiri curavimus. Rem hoc fine concludimus, hoc nobis onus ipsi confidenter imponimus, ut sit nobis illa die repositum, si nos hujus culpae conscios in aliquo reprehendit cor nostrum. Non nostram itaque pater non nostram in vestra promotione repulsam planximus. Illo quidem die non nostra quaerere, sed quae Domini nostri Jesu Christi, non nobis, sed ejus nomini in omnibus gloriam exhiberi toto cordis affectu desideravimus, attendentes rem secus fieri condoluimus. Cernentes jus ecclesiae subverti, fas nefasque confundi, montis illius magni quem dicitis deorsum cacumen inflecti, sponsam Christi libertate pristina, sibi semper usque tunc observata reverenter, et exhibita inverecunde privari, altis utique in domino suspiriis ingemuimus, et dolorum quos nunc experimur assidue, praelibationes et presagia certa quadam divini spiritus insinuatione, multi quidam in ecclesia Dei praesensimus. Oportebat equidem ejus tunc meminisse quod scriptum est, Difficile est ut bono peragantur exitu, quae malis fuerint inchoata principiis ; ad ipsa quidem si recurramus initia, quis toto orbe nostro, quis ignorat, quis tam resupinus ut nesciat vos certa licitatione proposita cancellariam illam dignitatem nmltis marcarum millibus obtinuisse, et aurae hujus impulsu in portum Cantuariensis ecclesiae illapsum ad ejus tandem sic regimen accessisse, quam pie, quam sanete, quam canonice, quo vitae merito id exigente, multis quidem notum est, et stilo quodam doloris intimi bonorum est cordibus exaratum. Diem suum clauserat ille bonus et bonae memoriae pater noster Theobaldus ecclesiae Cantuariensis dudum archiepiscopus, et vos qui cordis oculos in casum hune pervigiles minime claudebatis, confestim a Normannia celeres in Angliam reditus habuistis. Ex intervallo directus est a domini nostri regis latere vir magnus et sapiens moderator regni Ricardus de Luci, quem laqueis anathematis innodatum hodie digne sic merito honorastis, regis hie ad omnes habebat imperium, ut Cantuarienses monachi et ecclesiae ipsius suffraganei episcopi vos expeterent, vos eligerent, vos in patrem et pastorem negotium nulla deliberationum mora protrahentes assumerent, alioquin iram regiam non utique declinarent, verum se regis hostes et suorum proculdubio ipsis rerum argumentis agnoscerent. Quod loquimur experto novimus, attendentes enim ecclesiam Dei suffocari graviter, ob quod in ejus libertatem, quodam modo proclamavimus, verbum illico proscriptionis audivimus, et exilio crudeliter addicti sumus, nec solum persona nostra, sed et domus patris mei, et conjuncta nobis affinitas, et cognatio tota. Hoc quidem calice, et aliis propinatum est. Scriptum vero est, Leo rugiet, quis non timebit. Et illud Ut rugitus Leonis, sic terror regis. Quod tantae voluntatis impetu praecipiebat rex, quod effectu compleri tanto nuncio perurgebat, in quod cordis oculos vos omnes injecissc noverant, in quod omnes vestri minis et terroribus, promissis et blandiciis vigilanter instabant, quis negaret? torrenti huic voluntatis et praecepti regii quis resisteret ? Stabat regni gladius in manu vestra, si in quem torvos oculos habebatis, terribilis in hunc et importabilis irae quodam velut igne coruscans. Ille qui dem gladius quem in sanctae matris ecclesiae viscera vestra manus paulo ante immerserat, cum ad trajiciendum in Tolosam exercitum tot ipsam marcarum milibus aporiastis. Qui ne limatus denuo per vos aptaretur ad vulnera, jussis obtemperavit ecclesia, et declinando quae metuit, simulavit se velle, quod noluit. О quam longe erant omnium corda bonorum ab hoc ipso, quam dissidentia vota. Motu tamen est et impressione completum, quod interminatione dirissima fuerat imperatum. Sic in ovile ovium non utique per ostium, sed ascendens aliunde introistis, et hoc pater introitu libertatem ecclesiae tot sibi temporum conservatam curriculis, ademistis, quae si ejus vita est, ut scribitis, ipsam utique exanimem reddidistis. Deus bone, quis horror illa die, quis omnes horror invasit, cum prognosticum illud de more conspectum, et circumastantium oculis est oblatum, illud inquam prognosticum quod in futuri casus indicium evangelista Mathaeo quasi vaticinante prolatum est, ait enim dominus ficulneae non habenti fructum, nunquam ex te fructus nascatur in sempiternum, et arefacta est continuo. Oportuisset igitur illa die non recta mandanti principi respondisse, quod oportet Deo obedire magis quam hominibus. Illo utinam die corda nostra plene timor ejus occupasset, qui potest animam in gehennam perdere, et non solum corpus occidere. Quod quia secus actum est, parit nobis enormitas haec erubescentiam, erubescentia confusionem, confusio pœnitentiam quae condignam inferet opem, ferente domino satisfactionem, adeo ut in maxillis nostris juges lacrimae perseverent donec convertat dominus captivitatem Syon, et consoletur merentes in Jerusalem, et clementiae reducat oculos in desolatos Jerusalem. Interim ut quod actum est currente stilo prosequamur, sublimationis vestrae quis fructus extiterit, audiamus. A pio rege nostro suscepto regni gubernaculo ad illum usque diem ecclesia quidem sancta alta pace floruerat, excepto quod, ut diximus ad instaurandum in Tolosam exercitum manus vestras jam nimis in se graves agnoverat, de caetero, sub bono principe cuneta gaudebant, jocundissime laetabantur universa. Regnum sacerdotio devotum sanete praestabat obsequium, et sacerdotio firmissime fulciebatur ad bonum omne regis imperium. Exercebantur in ecclesia gladii duo, devoto domino Jesu famulantes obsequio. Nec sibi stabant ex adverso, nec tendentes in contraria repugnabant alterutro. Unus erat populus, et ut scriptum est, unius labii, studens peccata persequi, gaudens vitia fortiter eradicari. Haec regni fuit et ecclesiae pax, alterna sic gratia fovebantur, et unanimi voluntate jungebantur. In vestra vero promotione gratiarum sperabamus et expectabamus augmenta, et ecce peccatis exigentibus illico turbata sunt universa. Virtus est peccato cum exurgit occurrere, mentisque sinistros faetus ad Petram quae Christus est, statim cum nascuntur allidere. Oportebat itaque vestram providisse prudentiam, ne dissentiones inter regnum et vos paululum exsurgentes in immen8um excrescerent, ne de scintilla tenui in multorum perniciem tantus ignis exurgeret. Actum secus est, et ob causas quas enumerare longum est, dissentiones adauctae sunt, inflammata est ira, et odium fortiter obfirmatum. Haec causa fuit, hinc emersit occasio, cur ad requirendas dignitates regias, et in commune commemorandas suum dominus noster rex animum applicaverit et consilium, quarum observatio cum a vobis et a suffraganeis ecclesiae vestrae exigeretur episcopis, eo quod in quibusdam earum ecclesiae Dei videbatur libertas opprimi, assensum dare recusavimus praeterquam his quae salvo honore Dei et ordine nostro poterant observari. Exigebat instanter dominus noster rex observationes earum absolute sibi a nobis repromitti, sed quod libertati repugnabat ecclesiae, et domini papae fidelitati, a nobis nequaquam potuit obtineri. Ob causam hanc coacti sunt cœtus, et convocata concilia. Quid meminisse opus est, quae sunt acta Londoniis? quae denuo Oxenefordiae ? Quae gesta sunt Clarendoniae, ad memoriam revocemus. Ubi continuato triduo id solum actum est, ut observandarum regni consuetudinum et dignitatum a nobis fieret absoluta promissio. Ibi quippe vobiscum stetimus, quem in domini spiritu stare fortiter aestimabamus. Stetimus quidem immobiles, stetimus imperterriti. Stetimus in fortunarum dispendium, in cruciatum corporum, in subeundum exilium, subeundum quoque, si sic dominus permisisset, et gladium. Quis unquam pater filios in sua plus habuit confessione concordes ? quis unquam plus unanimes ? inclusi eramus omnes conclavi uno, die vero tertio cum jam regni principes et omnes quidem nobiles in summas coleras exarsissent, facto quidem fremitu, et strepitu conclave quo sedebamus ingressi rejectis palliis, exertisque brachiis nos taliter allocuti sunt. Attendite qui regni statuta contemnitis, qui regis jussa non suscipitis. Non nostrae sunt manus ista e quas cernitis, non nostra brachia, non haec demum corpora nostra, verum domini nostri regis Henrici sunt ad omnem ejus nutum, ad omnem ejus ulciscendam injuriam, ad omnemejus voluntatem quaecumque fuerit, jam nunc applicari promptissima. Ipsius mandatum quodcunque fuerit ex sola nobis voluntate ejus erit justissimum ; revocate consilium, inclinate animos ad preceptum, ut declinetis, dum fas est, quod jam non poterit evitari periculum. Quid ad haec ? quis fugit ? quis terga vertit ? quis animo fractus est ? vestra nobis exprobratur epistola, quod in die belli conversi sumus, quod ex adverso non ascen dimus, quod nos murum pro domo Domini non opposuimus. Judicet Dominus inter nos, ipse judicet ob quem stetimus, ob quem ad minas prineipum flecti nequivimus, judicet ipse quis fugerit, quis in bello desertor extiterit, stetit proculdubio vir nobilis, et spiritus in Domino constantissimi Wintoniensis Henricus, stetit Eliensis Nigellus, stetit Lincolniensis Robertus, Cicestrensis Hilarius, Salesberiensis Jocelinus, Exoniensis Bartholomaus, Cestrensis Ricardus, Wigorniensis Rogerus, Herefordiensis Robertus, Londoniensis Gillebertus. His omnibus percussor defuit, non hi i virtuti; hii quoque temporalia reputantes ut stercora pro Christo et ecclesia exposuerunt se et sua. Dicatur itaque quod verum est, fiat sub sole quod praesentibus nobis et cernentibus actum est, terga dedit dux militiae ipse, campi ductor aufugit, a fratrum suorum collegio simul et consilio dominus Cantuariensis abscessit, et tractatu seorsum habito ex intervallo reversus ad nos, in haec verba prorupit : Est domini mei voluntas, ut perjurem, et ad praesens subeo et incurro perjurium, ut potero pœnitentiam acturus in posterum. Auditis his obstupuimus et mutuis haerendo conspectibus ad lapsum hunc a summo ut aestimabamus virtutis et constantiae viro suspirantes ingemuimus. Non est apud dominum est, et non, nee ejus sperabamus sic moveri posse discipulum. Languente capite, languent cito caetera membra, et ipsius infirmitas ad caetera statim membra dilabitur. Ipse quod exigebatur annuens, et dignitates regias, et antiquas regni consuetudines antiquorum memoria in commune propositas, et scripto commendatas, de caetero se domino nostro regi fideliter observaturum, in verbo veritatis absolute promittens, in vi nobis obedientiae adjunxit, sponsione simili nos obligare. Sopita est hoc fine contentio, sacerdotii sic est pax conciliata cum regno. Descendit Israel in iEgyptum, unde cum multa gloria legitur postmodum ascendisse. Nobis quoque spes magna resederat, id quod dominus noster rex ad tempus ira motus exegerat, sedato ipsius animo ad Dei gloríam et ipsius honorem in bonum denuo esse reformandum. Invidit paci tenerae pacis ille turbator pristinus. Et qui procellis enavigatis sperabamus tenerae jam portum, Aquilonis ecce flatibus compellimur in profundum. Recens erat illa in verbo veritatis regi facta promissio, vos nisi ab eo impetrata licentia non discessurum a regno. Scriptum est, verba sacerdotis comitem semper habeant veritatem ; illud quoque, quod quis dicit veritati debet, et quod promittit, fidei. Emensis tamen diebus paucis ventis vela commisistis, et egressum a regno rem rege penitus ignorante procurastis; quo audito, nemo rege plus stupuit, nemo plus doluit, stupuit non esse completum, quod fuerat a pontifice quasi juramento promissum. Doluit in se grave sciens scandalum suscitan, et illaesam hactenus opinionem suam ex fuga hac apud gentes et regna gravissinie lacessiri. Quid enim veritatis ignari, quid poterant ex his aliud suspicari, quam regem regiae pietatis immemorem in tyranni rabiem exarsisse, et odio Christi ministrum ejus a regno suo et dominationis suas finibus expulisse ? Mallet in came sua manu vestra vulnus gravissimum excepisse, quam hoc famae suae dispendium toto orbe Christiano per vos et vestros incurrisse. Quid plura ? aquilone vela perdante completa fuisset jam navigatio, nisi flatu meliore cœptis auster obstitisset, quo fiante prospere navis ad litus unde ccepit navigare perducta est. In manus itaque regis cum vos rei deduxisset eventus, nunquid iram secutus aut potentiam in vos, aut excessit opere, aut est quicquam locutus aspere ? Absit, at benigne susceptum et veneratione qua decuit honoratum remisit ad propria et vos in regno manere, commissam vobis ecclesiam regere, animi vestri dilectionem et dulcedinem sibi rebus ipsis ostendere, humiliter et benigne supplicando commonuit. Vix auster detonuerat et jam circius fulminabat ; motus animorum vix utrimque resederant, et ecce de novo emersit unde ferventius ebullirent. Perlatum est ad vos mandatum regium, ut cuidam regni nobilium super prœdio quod a vestra vendicabat ecclesia, quod justum foret exhiberetis. Qui post statutos dies ad regem reversus asseruit, se penes vos justitiam adsequi nequivisse, et se id ipsum juxta regni statuta coram vobis suo congruoque testium juramento comprobasse ; quo regem prosequente diutius, et super exhibenda sibi justitia quotidie supplicante, domini nostri regis ad vos est emissa citatio, ut statuto die se vestra sublimitas sibi exhiberet, ut quod ipso mandante non egerat, eo cognoscente litemque judicio dirimente compleret. Non est a vobis haec admissa citatio, verum vos in hoc sibi minime pariturum declaravit a vobis ad ipsum delegata responsio. Arbitratus hoc ipso dominus rex juri suo detrahi graviter et potestati, ecclesiam regni jussit ad consilium Northamtoniam convocari. Convenit populus ut vir unus, et assidentibus sibi quorum id dignitati congruebat et ordini, quod dictum est super exspreto mandato suo in querelam adversus vos usus qua decuit modestia et venustate proposuit. Porro quod intendit, fratrum vestrorum non expectato vel expetito consilio, vestra incontinenti confessio confirmavit, adjiciens vos ob id non paraisse mandato, quod Johannes ille qui regis ad vos mandatum pertulerat, in vestra praesentia non evangelio sed tropario quodam proposito juravisset. Est itaque dictum in commune, causam non eam esse ob quam mandatum regium oportuisset omisisse, regnique fore consuetudinem in offensis hujusmodi muleta pecuniaria suam rem taxante misericordia placari regem; paruit sublimitas vestra sententiae ad plenum cavens super judicati solutione, vestram tamen non latebat prudentiam decretum illud apostolicum, quod in hunc modum expressum est; Nullus episcopus, neque pro civili, neque pro criminali causa apud quemvis judicem, sive civilem, sive militarem producatur, vel exhibeatur. Et illud, Clericus apud secularem judicem si pulsatus fuerit, non respondeat aut proponat. Et illud Gelasii papae ad Helpidium episcopum, Quo ausu, qua temeritate rescribis ad Ravennam te parare proficisci, cum canones evidenter praecipiant nullum omnino pontificum nisi nobis ante visis aut consultis ad comitatum debere contendere ? Sed haec altiori forte scientia et spiritu clariore discernitis, et quia regem unctio divina sanctificat, unguitur ei manus in sanctitatem operum, brachiorum nexus in castitatem complexuum, pectus in cordis munditiam, scapulae in laboris pro Christo tolerantiam. Chrismate caput infunditur, ut secundum Christum a quo chrisma dictum est, et ejus nomine consecratum, apto semper moderamine studeat sibi credita dispensare, ipsum a ceteris secernitis, et judicem non secularem solummodo,sed et ecclesiasticum reputatis, ad quod roborandum id fortasse proponitis, quod imperiali judicio papa Leo quartus emendare voluit, si quid in subditos injuste commisit, Ludevico Augusto sic scribens : Nos si incompetenter aliquid egimus, et in subditis justae legis tramitem non conservavimus, vestro aut missorum vestrorum cuneta volumus emendan judicio, ut eorum legitimo cuneta terminentur examine, ne sit in posterum quod indiscretum valeat permanere. Si vobis mens ista est, discretioni vestrae quam plurium in hoc consentit opinio, ut ob sacramenti reverentiam regem aestiment, non omnes, sed quas distinguunt ecclesiae et personarum ecclesiae causas oportere discutere, et regiae jurisdictionis examine terminare; habet enim ecclesia quaedam divino tantum jure, quaedam ut testantur humano. Gradus ecclesiasticos, ordines sacros, et dignitates his cohaerentes et potestates divino tantum jure sortitur. Unde si baptizat, aut consecrat, solvit, aut ligat, praedicat et informat, haec tantum spiritnalia sunt, collata desuper ab horoine in hominem, nec hominis dono, sed divino intus operante spiritu propagata, hunc sibi nemo sumit honorem, sed qui vocatur a Deo tanquam Aaron ; affectaverunt haec Chore, Dathan et Abiron a Domino non vocati et inaudita morte perierunt. Immiscentes se sacrificiis Jeroboam et Ozias, alter manus ariditate alter lepra percussi sunt. Est igitur in his omnibus sacerdos quilibet ut pater, ut pastor, omni rege superior, rex ut filius, ut discipulus, longe inferior aestimatur. Si itaque rex delinquat in Deum, imitando Theodosium conciliari studeat opera sacerdotum. Si sacerdotes se accusent alterutro, haec suo rex non usurpet judicio, sed ne patrum verenda conspiciat, incedens retrorsum causam hujusmodi pallio laudis operiat. Sunt et ecclesiae corporalia quaedam divino tantum jure possessa; in his decimae numerantur oblationes et primitiae, quae segregando sibi sanctificavit Dominus, et in usus sibi ministrantium aeterna lege sancivit ; quos quia divino tantum jure praecipit, ad cognoscendum super his potestas se regia non extendit, humano vero jure multa possidet, quae sola sibi sunt hominum donatione concessa, non id praecipiente Domino vel legem super hoc statuente, ut jam non levitica solum portione limitata sit, verum donis eximiis et possessionibus ampliata; transtulerunt ad eam ampla sua patrimonia reges, transtulerunt electi principes, ut jam sit etiam corporaliter impletum quod de filiis ecclesiae dudum est propheta vaticinante praadictum, fortitudinem gentium comedetis et in gloria eorum superbietis. Et illud, ut det illis hereditatem gentium ; item Esaias, dilata tentorium tuum, longos fac funiculos tuos, ad dextram et ad levam dilataberis. Vêtus quidem habet historia in opus illud tabernaculi antiquum, illum populum ea devotione contulisse donaría, ut compulsi artifices dicerent Moysi, Plus offert populus, quam necesse est, quorum quantacunque devotio filiis tamen gratiae non aequatur. Quibus saepe numero non satis est donare singula, nisi supererogent universa. Est vero cuique liberum cum transfert donando quod suum est, donationi conditionem quam velit annectere, quantum nec legibus nec bonis constat moribus obviare ; hanc itaque donationi regum conditionem annex am aestimant, hoc consuetudine tot temporum obtinente curriculis affirmant, ut regibus ecclesiae militaría, et annexa praediis alia quaedam persolvant obsequia, et possessiones ipsas a regibus personae suae principalis hominio et fidelitate praesente evangelio promissa recognoscant. Sic igitur ecclesiae geminata potestas est, ut hinc regi caelesti serviat, hinc terreno principi quod ad eos spectat exhibeat, ejusque ministros efficit potestas, hinc a Deo collata pontifices, hinc a rege suscepta comites, aut barones. Potestas haec est, qua magnum in palatio obtinet ecclesia principatum, cum in omnibus regni judiciis, praeterquam si de vitae periculo tractetur aut sanguine, locum habeat ipsa praecipuum : haec regi nos obligat, ut affirmant, ut ab ipso citati debeamus assistere, et singulorum causas universi discutere, et judicare. Nam qui in his quae ad Deum sunt gradu quodam distinguuntur, ut superiores quidam, inferiores alii reputemur, et simus, nos in hoc pares aestimant, ut si de fundis ad ecclesiam libertate regia devolutis, inter nos aut in nos fuerit oborta contentio, apud regem quae spectant ad singulos universorum definiat pronuntiatio. Nec mirum, si patrem teneat a filio lata sententia, cum ipsum qui est filius patris sui dominum fore convincat ratio manifesta, et cum hominio fidelitas reverenter exhibita. Cum sit ergo a Deo gemina potestas, hinc sacerdotalis, hinc regia, utrumque secundum quid praeesse alteri, et ab altera secundum quid posse judicari, patrum auctoritate confirmant, ut sit regum et praesulum vicissitude haec qua se vicissim judicant, et judicantur a se, forte quoddam caritatis vinculum, reverentiae debitum, et utique necessitudo quaedam conservandae pacis ad alterum ; haec et his altiora considerans regem quasi praecellentem, prout monet apostolus, honoratis et ejus parendo sententiae recte judicem agnovistis, sibique servando quod suum est, ipsum in his quae ad Deum sunt vestrae parere sublimati prudenter et provide monuistis. Omni humanae creaturae propter Deum sancta sc submittit humilitas, et quo se dejicit inferius, eo juxta verbum Domini meretur altius etgloriosius exaltari. Atque in his utinam humilitatis finibus res ipsa tota resedisset, et cum a vobis quaedam debita reposceret Dominus noster rex, cum de summa pecuniae quam in manu vestra ex caducis quibusdam excrevisse memorabat, quod jus dictaret, id sibi solum peteret exhiberi, ad declinandum regalis curiae judicium, tunc se vester minime zelus erexisset. Nam quid poterat inferre periculi danda super hac petitione sententia? ad regimen ecclesiae vos a curia transferri voluit, et ab ipsius nexibus hoc ipso vos ut plures opinantur absolvit; quod si ad debita minime referendum est, ut evectus loco sic absolvatur a debito, poterat negotium per exceptionem in rem versum plurimum expediri, et siquid compoto nequivisset includi, irate magis repetenti sua quam avide, de reliquo poterat satisdari, et civilis haec causa absque hoc rerum turbine pace poterat honestissima terminari. Sed inauditum dicitis, ut in regis curia Cantuariensis unquam compelleretur ad talia, et id dixeritis inauditum, officialem curiae repentino transitu ad illam sic ecclesiam unquam hactenus sic ascendiese, ut hodie quis curiam, eras dispensaret ecclesiam, ab avibus et canibus caeterisque curiae jocundis usibus cito quis astaret altaribus, et episcopis totius regni spiritualia ministraret et sacerdotibus. Usus igitur in diversa tendente consilio, domum regiam crucem gestans in manibus introistis, et execrandae cujusdam malitiae suspectum regem omnibus ilico reddidistis. At ejus innocentiam summis offerendam praeconiis patientia declaravit ; illationem crucis adversum se et si moleste tulerit, fines tamen regiae modestiae non excessit. Non ira motus efierbuit, non verbo malignatus aut opere ; causam quam sua repetens intenderat fine studuit justitiae debito terminare. At declinando judicium ad dominum papam appellastis, et sicut in ingressu, sic in egressu vestro summam regis mansuetudinem et tolerantiam vobis observatae pacis indiciis agnovistis. Nam ut in Absalonem prodeunte exercitu paterna pietas exclamavit, Sérvate mihi puerum Absalon, sic ejus mandato voce statim praeconaria cunctis innotuit, ut siquis vobis aut e vestris cuiquam molestus existeret, ultore gladio deperiret. Addidistis ad haec, et tanquam vitae vestrae vel sanguini machinaretur insidias, fuga nocte iuita, mutato habitu post latitationem aliquantulam, a regno clam transmeastis, et nemine persequente, nullo vos expellente extra dominationis suae loca in regno vobis altero ad tempus sedem elegistis. Inde, navem gubernare disponitis, quam in fluctibus et tempestate subducto remige reliquistis ; hinc nos vestra jubet et hortatur auctoritas ut convertamur ad vos, et salvi simus, ut vestris inhaerendo vestigiis pro Christo mortem subeamus, et pro liberanda ipsius ecclesia animas ponere non metuamus. Et utique si attendamus quanta nobis promittantur in cœlis, debeant animo vilescere quaecunque possidentur in terris. Nam nec lingua dicere nec intellectus capere valet, illa supernae civitatis quanta sint gaudia, Angelorum choris interesse, cum beatissimis spiritibus gloriae conditoris assistere, praesentem Dei vultum cernere, nullo metu mortis affici, incorruptionis suae munere perpetuo gloriari. Passiones hujus temporis miuime condignae sunt ad futuram gloriam quae revelabitur in sanctis. Et quod modo leve est et momentaneum tribulationis, supra omnem modum eternae gloriae pondus operabitur in electis, haee nostris jamdiu sensibus insederunt ; nostra jamdiu studia haec post se promissa traxerunt. Caput utinam quod mihi scapulis insidet, lictoris gladius projecisset in medium, dum tamen legitimoDeoque placito certamine decertassem. At martyrem non pœna facit, sed causa, dura sanete perpeti gloria est, improbe, pertinaciter, ignominia. Pro Christo subire gladium consummata laus est et victoria, hune in se temere provocare late patens insania, et si vestra, pater, non solum dicta verum facta pensemus, in mortem nec temere, nec leviter impingemus. Nam genu Clarendoniae curvando, fugam Northamtoniae ineundo, mutato ad tempus habitu delitescendo, a regni finibus clam emigrando, quid actum est? quid haec agendo procurastis? nisi quod mortem quam nemo dignabatur inferre, tam sollicite declinastis? Nos igitur ad mortem qua fronte pater invitastis, quam vos et formidasse et fugisse indiciis tam manifestis toti mundo luce clarius ostendistis. Qua e vos suadet caritas, nobis onus imponere, quod abjecistis? Gladius nobis imminet, quem fugistis, in quem funda jacere non dimicare comminus elegistis. Ad similem forte fugam nos invitastis. At nobis mare clausurn est, et post digressum vestrum, naves nobis sunt omnes et portus inhibiti. Insulie terrarum claustra regum fortissima sunt, unde vix evadere vel se quis valet expedire. Si nobis pugnandum est, de proximo contendemus. Si cum rege pugna conseritur, unde percutiemus gladio, nos ibi gladius repercutientis inveniet, unde vulnus infligemus, vulnera declinare nequibimus. Et annui vestri reditus nunquid vobis tanti sunt ut fratrum vestrorum sanguine vobis hos velitis adquirí. At Juda reportante pecuniam hanc Judaei respuerunt quam sanguinis esse pretium agnoverunt. Sed aliam nobis causam fortasse proponitis. Paululum itaque divertamus, ut mortis nobis suadendae causam plenius attendamus. Gratias Domino, nulla penes nos est de fide contentio, de sacramentis nulla, nulla de moribus, viget recta fides in principe, viget in praelatis, viget in subditis. Omnes fidei articulos regni hujus ecclesia sane complectitur. A summi pontifiais obedientia praesentis schismatis insania nemo dividitur, ecclesiae sacramenta venerantur omnes et excolunt, suscipiunt in se et aliis pie sancteque communicant. Quod ad mores, in multis quidem offendimus omnes. Errorem tamen suum nullus praedicat aut defendit, verum pœnitentiae remedio sperat posse dilui quod admittit. Tota igitur in regem est, et de rege contentio ob quasdam consuetudines suis praedecessoribus observatas, ut asserit, et exhibitas quas sibi vult et expetit observari. Super hoc a vestra sublimitate commonitus non desistit a proposito, non renunciat iis qua e firmavit antiquitas et longa regni consuetude Haec causa est cur ad arma decurritis, et in sanctum caput et nobile gladium librare contenditis, in quo refert plurimum quod has ipse non statuit, sed ut tota regni testatur antiquitas, sic eas repperit institutas. Nam difficilius evellitur quod altius radicatur, haeret planta tenacius qua e suas in altum jamdiu radices immiserit. Quam siquis transferre desiderat, non viribus evellenda est, ne protinus exarescat. Circumfodienda prius est et humus est ejicienda, denudanda radix undique, ut sic prudens expleat diligentia quod vis commode non expleret incompetenter adhibita. A bonis exempla sumenda sunt, et cum tractantur hujusmodi, ipsorum sunt opera diligentius attendenda. Predecessor vester ille pater Augustinus multa a regno hoc extirpavit enormia, et ipsum regem fide illuminans pravas ab eo consuetudines, non quidem paucas eliminavit, non maledictis equidem, sed benedicendo potius et praedicando, exhortando salubriter, et potentum animos ad bonum fortiter inclinando. Cremensis ille Johannes diebus nostris in partes has a sancta Romana directus ecclesia, regni consuetudines in quibus jam senuerat, immutavit. Quod non maledictis aut minis, sed doctrina sana et exhortationibus sanctis obtinuit. Benedicendo seminavit, de benedictionibus et messem fecit. Hi si ad arma decurrissent, nihil aut parum profecissent. A pio Francorum rege optata diu prole sibi jam concessa divinitus, nuper illi regno multa sunt remissa gravamina, quae firmaverat antiquitas hactenus inconvulsa, haec suggerente, ut audivimus, ecclesia, et monente, non in electum principem minas impetente sublata sunt. Quae denique quantaeve dignitates, libertates, immunitates, possessiones ecclesia e Dei a piis regibus orbe toto pietate sola, non maledicti necessitate collata sint, quis valeat explicare ? utique tempus id volentem explicare deficiet, haec namque regum est laude digna nobilitas. Ab ipsis supplex obtinet quod erectus in minas nullis unquam conatibus obtineret, ipsis minimi pretium tam reputatur vile, quam exiguum, quod sibi vi surripere quisque violenter intenderet, magnos in re modica rei suae defensores spe cito frustratus agnosceret. Uaee itaque non fervore novitio, sed maturo fuerant attendenda consilio ; erant fratrum vestrorum et aliorum plurimum in his exquirenda consilia, attendenda patrum prudentum opera, cum incommodis ecclesia e pensanda commoda, et haec tunc demum danda forte sententia, cum jam non foret spes ulla superesse remedia, quo profecto cum datur juxta sacrorum formam canonum attendendum est, in quem detur, cur detur, quomodo detur, an expediat ecclesia e quod detur, et obfuturum sibi si non detur. Is vero quem impetistis, ut nota vobis referamus, nun quid non ipse est quem dulcissima pignora, nobilissima conjux et honesta, subjecta sibi regna quam plurima, amicorum cœtus et suisobsequentium nutibus tot populorum agmina, mundi quaeque pretiosa vix detinent, vix blandiendo persuadent, quin spretis omnibus post crucem suam pоrtantem Dominum Jesum nudus exeat, et paupertatem contemplando quam subiit, id facto studeat implere, quod docuit ipse dicens, Qui non bajulat crucem suam et venit post me, non est me dignus ; haec mentis ejus obstinatio est, haec maledictis opprimenda crudelitas, haec in ecclesia Dei toto orbe declamata malignitas; in hunc si maledicta congesseritis, partem sui nobilissimam suis laedi jaculis ecclesia recte condolebit, ipso namque vulnerato besam se non filiorum paucitas, sed populorum ampla numerositas ingemiscet. In hoc vero sacra sic docet auctoritas in ejusmodi causis, ubi per graves dissensionum scissuras, non hujus aut illius est hominis periculum, sed populorum strages jacent; detrahendum est aliquid severitati, ut majoribus malis sanandis caritas sincera subveniat ; et iterum, non potest esse salubris a multis correctio, nisi cum ille corripitur, qui non habet sociam multitudinem. Medico namque quis ascribat industriae ut vulnus unum sanet, aliud longe majus, longe periculosius infligat? discretioni quis attribuat ob quaedam quae poterunt et levius et expeditius obtineri, ecclesiam sic deserere, in principem exurgere et ecclesiae totius regni concussa pace animarum in subditis corporumque pericula non curare? Agris cessit Ambrosius, ecclesiam deserere non approbavit. Nam quid a bono principe vestra pater prudentia poterat non sperare, quem divino compunctum spiritu in Christum a Deo noverat anhelare ? Шas consuetudines temporalis commodi nil prorsus sibi conferentes, quanti sibi sunt, cum ipsa mundi gloria quantam se cumque offerat jam tota fere viluit, et a cordis sui desiderio tam procul est, utDomino loquens saepius id dicat, quod scriptum est : Insigne mei capitis odi, o Domine tu seis. Nunquid non hic fovendus erat, et in ipso nidificanti columbae sancta e dimittendus, donec plene formatus in ipso Christus occulta ejus in lucem traheret, produceret, et libertates ecclesiae non tantum has de quibus agitur, sed et longe propensiores ipse quasi manu propria distribueret ? In his quidem quod scimus loquimur, quod novimus id confidenter asserimus. Consuetudines in quas plus excandescitis, Dominus noster rex jam pridem penitus exsprevisset, si non hoc propositum duo graviter impedissent. Unum quod sibi timet esse dedecori a patribus ad se devoluto regno diebus suis subtrahi quicquam vel imminui. Alterum, siquid remittat ob Dominum, erubescit ut hoc sibi vi reputetur extortum. Primum tamen illud jam sanctitatis pede calcaverat, et ipsum in hoc Dei timor, innata bonitas, Domini papa e sancta monitio, multorumque in hoc supplicatio continuata produxerant, ut ob ejus reverentiam per quem ultra omnes suos patres longe magnificatus est, ecclesiam Dei convocare, et regni consuetudines qua e gravamen sibi noscerentur inferre multa devotione spiritus immutare vellet ultroneus et corrigere. Et si penes vos cœpta perseverasset humilitas, ecclesiam Dei in regno exhilarasset jam diffusa late jocunditas. Nam finem in quem tenditis evicerat jam supplicatio, cum male totum impedivit a vobis orta recens turbatio, nam cum suis nondum Britannia titulis accessisset, et levaret in eum usque tunc indomita gens illa calcaneum, cum produceret in turbatores pacis exercitum, terribiles in illum literas devotionem patris, modestiam pontificis, minime redolentes emisistis, et quod summi pontificis admonitio multorumque elaboraverat supplex et intenta devotio, suspirando minasilico sustulistis, et tam regem quam regnum in scandalum cunctis retro actis fere gravius impulistiff. Avertat Deus finem quem negotio sic procedente metuimus, qui ne nostris erumpat temporibus ob honorem Dei et sancta e ecclesiae reverentiam, ob vestrum si placet commodum, ob pacis commune bonum, ob minuenda scandala, et quae turbata sunt ad pacem, juvante Domino revocanda, ad Dominum papam appellavimus, ut vestri cursus impetum vos in regem prone rapientis et regnum, ad tempus saltem cohibeamus. Qua in re bonum est ut intra fines modestiae vester se velit zelus cohibere, ne ut regum jura subvertere, sic quoque debitam Domino papaг reverentiam, appellationes ad ipsum interpositas non admittendo, ni mis e sublimi studeat exinanire. Quod si placeret advertere ad Zachaeum non divertisse Dominum, nisi cum de siccomoro jam descendisset, descenderetis forsitan et quem minis exasperastis verbis alloquendo pacificis mitigare studeretis non solum exigendo, sed et satisfactionem humilem, etsi forte injuriam passus, offerendo. Puerum apostolis proposuit exemplo Dominus qui laesus non irascitur, injuriae cito non meminit, nec quicquam malitiose moliens dum magna non affectat sibi, totum hoc innocentis vitae remedio vitaeque jocunditate plenissima recompensat. Singulare virtutis exemplar ipse est qui se crucifigentes absolvit, qui lata caritate persequentes, et odientes amari praecipit, et si peccet frater in nos veniam non solum septies, sed et septuagies septies imperat impertiri. Ista quid non posset humilitas apud dominum nostrum regem, quid non obtineret viarum ista perfectio ? Callis iste rectus est, ad pacem recte perducens; quem pater cum intraveritis pacem ilico apprehendetis, et dispersis tristitiae nebulis cuneta pace, gaudio cunetareplebitis, et a rege piissimo dominoque nostro carissimo non solum quae ad praesens petitis, sed et longe majora his Domini spiritu cor ejus accendente, et in amorem suum semper dilatante feliciter obtinere poteritis.

Translation from
John Allen Giles (1846). The Life and Letters of Thomas À Becket: Now First Gathered from the Contemporary Historians. Whittaker and Company. pp. 376–99.

"TO HIS VENERABLE LORD AND FATHER IN CHRIST, THOMAS ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, GILBERT MINISTER OF THE CHURCH OF LONDON, HEALTH.
"Manifold and lengthy, my father, is the subject of your profound and copious letter, and however anxious we are to prosecute the appeal to our lord the pope, you compel us, almost of necessity, to write again to your highness. For amid the shafts which you launch out at random on every side, you single me out from our whole fraternity as an object for reproach, and cover me with abuse, though I have done nothing to deserve it.

It is marvellous that a man of sober feeling, of a grave and reverend character,—a professor bound by his episcopal station and by his doctrines to have regard to truth,—should act so intemperately when the truth was told him; that he should not only have rejected the son who wished to advise his father, but have undeservedly ascribed his advice to a malicious feeling, of which he is himself unconscious. When, therefore, I am publicly charged with subverting the Church of God, confounding right and wrong, with insanely aiming to overthrow that mountain of the Church which is the pillar of the living God, with having been ambitious to possess what belongs to you, and when repulsed in my designs, with having vented my malice in disturbing the peace of God's Church and your own, and with having turned my back in fighting the Lord's battles, it is difficult for me to keep silence, lest I be supposed by the present generation to plead guilty to the charge, and posterity admit the accusation against me, because it has never been refuted.

"Now as cupidity is the root and origin of all evils, I will begin with that, lest those who are easily led by others, suppose that I am influenced thereby. The apostle says: 'What man knows the secrets of a man, save the spirit of man that is within him V The secret thoughts of a man are known to no man, but only to the Lord of heaven. Things that are unknown cannot escape Him, nothing can be hidden from Him. The word of the Lord lives and is of power, it is \* ./*.*""sharper than the sharpest sword: nor is anything invisible in his sight. It is to Him, and in his presence that I speak: before his tribunal my reply is given, and I say boldly and fearlessly, and with truth, as my conscience dictates, that no impulse of ambition has ever for a moment excited me to covet that power and station which belong to you. Never have I felt envy that another should enjoy that honour. Never have I courted any one by gift, service, influence, or favour, that I might myself obtain it, or carve out for myself a guilty road to that eminence.

"Who can know this better than you, my father, who at that time were archdeacon of that Church, and not the chosen counsellor merely of the king, but his bosom friend, without whose aid it was absolutely impossible for any one to obtain promotion? What favour did I ever attempt to gain with you? Did I ever by gifts or services endeavour, directly or indirectly, to secure your good-will that I might obtain promotion by your intervention, which was, at that time, the only way? If this be true, it is but just to infer that I have acted with the same moderation towards others, who might be supposed to possess less influence than you. "Thus, then, I sum up this business, and do not fear to take the burden of this accusation upon me; that I may have it laid up in store for me against the great day of account, if my conscience convicts me in the smallest particular of being guilty of this crime. No, my father, it was not my own rejection that grieved me in your promotion. I did not seek on that day to advance my own interests, but those of Christ Jesus, and to give glory in all things, not to myself, but to his name, and I grieved to see my endeavours baffled. When we saw the privileges of the Church subverted, right and wrong confounded, and the summit of that lofty mountain, of which you speak, humbled to the ground, when we saw that spouse of Christ shamefully deprived of the liberty which she had always before enjoyed, we groaned aloud in the Lord, and many of us immediately, by some influence of God's Spirit working in us, had a foretaste of the troubles which we are now suffering. We ought then to have remembered what is written, how difficult it is to bring to a happy issue what has been ill begun. For if we look back at the beginning, who is there so dull in all our part of the world, as not to know that you obtained the dignity of chancellor by sale for several thousand marks, and that by favour of this wind, you found a haven in the Church of Canterbury, to the government of which you were at last promoted—whether canonically or not—whether by your merits or otherwise, is known to many, and on the memories of all good men is written with the pen of sorrow.

"Our good father, the late archbishop Theobald, of excellent memory, had descended to the grave, and you, who had your eyes open to this contingency, came back with speed from Normandy to England. The king speedily sent that able nobleman and guardian of his kingdom, Richard de Lucy, whom you have now so meritoriously excommunicated; his instructions were, that the monks of Canterbury and suffragan bishops of that Church should elect you for their father and pastor without delay, otherwise they would incur the king's anger, and speedily find by experience that he regarded them in the light of enemies. We know what we are saying, and you know it too: for we anticipated that the Church was about to be smothered, and we in a manner raised our voice against it, for which we heard a sentence of proscription passed against us, and not only our own person, but our father's house, our friends and relations were doomed to banishment. Others also were made to drink from the same cup. It is written, 'The lion shall roar, who will not tremble ?' and again, 1 As the roaring of a lion, so is the terror of a king.' But what the king himself commanded with so much earnestness, what he urged on by such powerful embassies, and you, as was known to all, were so bent upon, whilst all your friends and creatures were using threats, promises, and blandishments to promote it, who was there that dared make opposition to it? who could resist this torrent of the will and of the royal mandate? The sword of state was in your hand, shedding terror on all whom you might view with an angry eye. It was the same sword which your own hand had plunged into the bosom of our holy mother Church, when you stripped her of so many thousand marks to pay the expenses of the expedition to Toulouse. That you might not use it again to smite, she obeyed your orders, and to avoid what she feared, feigned acquiescence in what she loathed. O how averse were the hearts of all good men from the deed! how repugnant were their wishes! but what had been enjoined on us by such fierce threats, was hastened to its completion. Thus you entered into the sheep-fold by another way, and not through the gate, and by this invasion, my father, you took away from the Church the liberty which she had enjoyed for ages, yea, her very life, as you yourself express it, and so you have made her lifeless. Good God! what horror came over all on that day, when all prognosticated from what they saw the indication of the future, spoken of by the evangelist Saint Matthew, how the Lord said to the barren fig-tree, 'Let no fruit be borne by thee for ever,' and it withered away immediately. We ought on that day to have replied to the king's message, that we should obey God rather than man. Would that our minds had been alive on that day to the fear of Him who is able to kill the soul in hell, rather than to him who can kill the body only! But it was not so, and the sin calls forth our blushes—our blushes cover us with confusion—confusion will, by God's mercy, produce repentance, which in turn will lead to atonement, so that the tears will not cease to bedew our cheeks, until God turn the captivity of Sion, and console the mourners in Jerusalem, and bring back the eye of mercy upon her outcasts.



"In the mean time let us briefly describe the sequel, and see what was the fruit of your elevation. Since the accession of our religious king up to that day the Church had enjoyed tranquillity, save, as we have said, that she felt the weight of your hands for the equipment of the army at Toulouse; otherwise, under our good king, every thing was tranquil and happy. The throne treated the altar with due observance, and the altar supported the throne in every good work. The two swords were both on duty in the Church, both in devout obedience to the Lord Jesus, not opposing one another, nor acting in contrary directions. The people were one, and, as it is written, of one lip, zealous to punish crime and eradicate vice. There was peace between Church and State, which were united together in mutual good-will, and went hand in hand. In your promotion we looked for an increase of blessings, when lo, for our sins, every thing was thrown into confusion. It is a viitue to oppose vice when it arises; and to dash against the rock, which is Christ, the untoward productions of the mind. Your prudence, therefore, should have taken precautions against the differences which might arise between you and the king, lest they might increase, and so, from a small flame, should arise a large fire, which might consume many. But it turned out otherwise; and for causes which it is too long to mention, differences were augmented, anger excited, and deadly hatred engendered. This was the cause, this the first origin of our lord the king's determination to inquire into his royal dignities, and to publish them to the people. The observance of them was demanded from you, and from the suffragan bishops of your Church; but because some of them seemed calculated to destroy the liberty of the Church, we refused to give our consent to them, except to those which could be observed without detriment to the honour of God and of our own order. Our lord the king urged us to promise an absolute and unqualified observance, but he could not obtain from us what impugned both the liberties of the Church and our allegiance to our lord the pope. For this end were meetings held, and councils convoked: why need I mention what was done at London, or afterwards at Oxford?



"Let us pass in review what took place at Clarendon; where, for three whole days, the point was to obtain from us a promise to observe unconditionally the king's dignities and customs. We stood by you then; because we thought you were standing boldly in the Spirit of the Lord: we stood immovable, and were not terrified: we stood firm, to the ruin of our fortunes, to encounter bodily torment, or exile; or, if God should so please, the sword. What father was ever better supported by his sons in adversity? who could be more unanimous than we? we were all shut up in one chamber, and on the third day the princes and nobles of the kingdom, bursting into fury, entered the conclave where we sat, threw back their cloaks, and holding forth their hands to us, exclaimed, ' Listen, you who set at nought the king's statutes, and obey not his commands: these hands, these arms, these bodies of ours, are not our's, but King Henry's, and they are ready at his nod to avenge his wrongs, and to work his will whatever it may be. Whatever are his commands, they will be law and justice in our eyes: retract these counsels then, and bend to his will, that you may avoid the danger before it is too late.' What was the result of this? Did any one turn his back to flee? was any one's resolution shaken? Your letter, my father, reproaches me with having turned my back in the day of battle; with having neither gone up to the strife, nor placed myself as a wall of defence before the house of the Lord. Let God judge between us; let Him judge in whose cause we then stood: in his cause we were not bent by the threats of princes; let Him say who it was that fled, that became a deserter in the battle: for it assuredly was not that noble champion in God's cause, Henry of Winchester, nor Nigel of Ely, nor Robert of Lincoln, nor Hilary of Chichester, nor Jocelin of Salisbury, nor Bartholomew of Exeter, nor Richard of Chester, nor Roger of Worcester, nor Robert of Hereford, nor Gilbert of London. All these were found to stand firm; but there was no one found who dared to smite them: they accounted temporal things as dross, and exposed themselves without fear for Christ and for his Church. Let the truth then be told, let the light of day be thrown on what was then done in presence of us all. It was the leader of our chivalry himself who turned his back, the captain of our camp who fled: his lordship of Canterbury himself withdrew from our fraternity, and from our determination; and, after holding counsel apart for a while, he returned to us, and said aloud, ' It is the Lord's will that I should perjure myself: for the present I submit and incur perjury: to repent of it, however, as I best may.' We were thunderstruck at these words, and gazed one upon the other, groaning in spirit at the fall of one whom we had thought a champion of virtue and constancy. There is no such thing as yea nay with the Lord, nor did we anticipate that his disciple was so easy to be turned.
"When the head faints, the other members faint also, and speedily suffer from its weakness. Our lord of Canterbury himself acceded to the king's royal dignities and constitutions, when they were reduced to writing, and when he had himself promised to observe them, commanded us to bind ourselves by a like engagement. Thus was a finish put to the contention, and the priesthood reconciled with the throne. Thus Israel went down into Egypt, from whence we read that he afterwards came out with glory. And we also had hopes that when our lord the king's mind was tranquillized, we might restore things to their former state: but the old enemy was envious of our tranquillity whilst it was still recent, and we had hardly entered the harbour ere we were again compelled to put to sea. The promise that you would not leave the kingdom without the king's consent, was still fresh upon your lips, and the words of a priest should always be the companions of truth. But lo! within a few days you spread your sails to the winds, and essayed to flee the realm, though the king knew nothing of the matter. When the king heard of it, no one was more surprised than he, no one grieved more at this deviation of a priest from his plighted word. For he knew the scandal that would be created against himself, and the attack that would be made among foreign nations upon his reputation, hitherto unstained. What, indeed, could those who were unacquainted with the truth suppose, save that his unchristian malice had led him to expel Christ's priest? He would rather have been wounded in his person by your hand, than suffer this blemish upon his fame. But the wind was adverse, and you were driven back to port; yet thus in the king's power, did you receive injury from his hand or insult from his lips? Far from it; he received you with courtesy, and sent you back among your own people.

"This storm had hardly ceased to blow, and our minds were scarcely tranquillized, ere another convulsion shook us. You received a royal mandate to do justice to one who had a claim upon your Church. But this suitor waited in vain for justice, and returned disappointed to the king. His majesty espoused the suitor's part, and cited you to appear and render in his presence the justice which you had denied to his written mandate. To this citation you did not listen, but returned an answer that declared your disobedience. The king, whose power was thus outraged, convoked a council at Northampton. The people came together as one man: the nobles and elders heard the king, whilst, with becoming moderation, he described your disobedience to his summons. But you at once acknowledged the charge without waiting for the counsel of your bishops, and you gave as your reason, that the suitor John had sworn, not upon the gospels, but on a book of jests. All then agreed that this was not a valid cause for neglecting the king's summons, and that it was customary in such matters for a fine to be adjudged to the king, subject to his mercy. Your highness bowed to the sentence and gave bail for the full amount, without considering the canon, 'No bishop shall be cited before a civil or military judge in any cause, either criminal or civil,' and again: 'A clerk impleaded before a secular judge, shall not answer to the plea.' Nor that rescript of Gelasius to bishop Helpidius, 'How dare you write that you are preparing to set out for Ravenna, when the canons forbid your going for that purpose, without first seeing or consulting us'.

<Two or three pages of uninteresting theological commonplaces are omitted here.>



"Would to God that the matter could have ended with this humble-mindedness, and that when the king claimed from you the money which you owed him, and sought nothing but his due, you had then been less ready to rise in indignation against it. What harm could it have done you to reply to this question? The king transferred you from the court to the government of the Church, and by so doing, as most men think, released you from all former obligations: but if this does not apply to debts, an exception might here have been taken, and if there were any points which could not well be reduced to calculation, compensation might have been made, for the king was actuated, not by avarice, but by anger, and so this civil question might most creditably have been settled.


"But you say it is an unheard-of thing that an archbishop of Canterbury should answer to such things in the king's court; and you may say that no one ever before heard of an officer of the king's court having so suddenly mounted to so high a dignity—that he should one day be following his dogs and hawks, and the next be bending at the altar, and ministering in sacred things before all the bishops of the kingdom.

"Thus then you adopted a hostile course, for you entered the king's house carrying your own cross, and created in the minds of men a suspicion of foul conduct from the king. But his long-suffering declared how admirable was his integrity and his innocence: he was offended at your carrying the cross, but his offence exceeded not the bounds of moderation: he endeavoured to terminate his just claims within the bounds of justice. But you appealed from the judgment to the pope, and thus in the issue as in the outset his modesty and his toleration were conspicuous. The voice of paternal love once cried out, 'Save Absalom, save the boy Absalom,' and so also the voice of his heralds proclaimed aloud that the sword of public justice should overtake any one who dared to injure you. This was not all, for, as_if_your life were in danger, you fled by night in disguise, and escaped by sea out of the kingdom, though no one was pursuing you, and you chose out a residence for a time in a foreign country; from which you now attempt to steer that vessel of the Church, which you left without a pilot amid the waves. You call on us to turn to you to save ourselves, to encounter death with you in the cause of Christ's Church. Truly, if we consider what treasures are in store for us in heaven, we shall have no regard for the things of earth. For tongue cannot tell, nor intellect comprehend the joys of the heavenly city, to join the company of the angels, and with the blessed spirits to sing the praises of the Creator, to look upon his countenance, and free from the fear of death, to glory for ever in immortality. The sufferings of this world are nothing in comparison to the future glory which shall be revealed in the saints. Our momentary tribulations here will work out for us hereafter an exceeding weight of glory. All this, my father, I have long cherished in my bosom; all this has long been the subject of my aspirations. This head, which still rests upon my shoulders, should long have fallen by the sword of the executioner, to ensure the favour of God upon my earthly pilgrimage. But it is the cause and not the stroke which makes the martyr: to suffer persecution for holiness is glorious, for obstinacy or perverseness it is ignominious. It is victorious to die for Christ, but to provoke death is madness; and if we weigh your deeds as well as your words, my father, we shall not hastily provoke martyrdom. For you bent the knee at Clarendon; and took to flight at Northampton; you clothed yourself in the dress of disguise, and escaped beyond the frontiers of the land. What did you gain by this? Why, you showed your anxiety to escape that death, with which no one condescended to threaten you. With what effrontery then, father, do you invite us to meet death, which you, by such palpable means, so studiously avoided? What charity is it to place on us a burden which you threw off from your own shoulders? The sword hangs over us, from which you escaped, and which you try to repulse with missiles, never daring to advance to close encounter. Perhaps you wish us to flee also. Alas! the sea is closed against us since your escape, and every port blockaded. Islands are a king's safest prisons, from which it is difficult to depart, and almost impossible to do so privily. If we fight, it must be hand to hand; if we join battle with the king, his sword will cross our own in the fight, and if we give a wound, we may expect another in return Are your revenues so dear to you, that you would spill the blood of us who are your brethren to recover them? Yet even the Jews spurned the money which Judas brought back, because it was the price of blood. But you have another motive. Pause we here then, and consider what are your motives for counselling us to die. Blessed be God, it is no schism of faith between us, no question about the holy sacraments, nor of morals: our faith thrives with the king, the hishops, and their people. All the articles of our Creed are adhered to by the clergy of this kingdom. No one has failed in his obedience to the holy pontiff, the sacraments of the Church are respected by all, and all join devoutly in communion. In our morals, indeed, we all go astray daily: but no one boasts of his errors or defends them, but all hope by repentance to be washed clean from their acknowledged sins. The whole strife, therefore, is with the king, for certain constitutions of his ancestors which he wishes to be observed towards himself. Your highness has admonished him, but he will not renounce what long usage has sanctioned. This is why you have recourse to arms, and you are holding the sword ready to fall upon his hallowed head, though it was not he who propounded these constitutions but his ancestors, as the voice of the whole kingdom certifies. The tree which has been long planted, and shot its roots deeply, is with difficulty uprooted: and if we attempt by force to transplant it, it withers away. It must first be dug around and the earth be thrown out until the root is laid bare, and thus patience will effect what cannot be attained by violence. We should take example from the good men who have preceded us, and see how they acted. Your predecessor, Saint Augustine, eradicated many enormities from this kingdom, and when he converted the king, made him abandon many depraved laws and customs, not by heaping maledictions upon him, but by giving him his blessing, and by exhorting him to good works.


"In our own times John of Crema, who was sent into these parts by the Roman Church, changed many customs, in which all his life had been spent. This he effected, not by maledictions or by threats, but by sound doctrine and by holy exhortations: and as he had sowed in blessings, in blessings did he reap. If all these men had taken up arms, their success would have been small, if any.

"The pious king of France long desired to have a son; and when Heaven at last granted what he prayed for, many grievances, which antiquity had sanctioned, were nevertheless abolished at the suggestion, as they tell us, of the Church, which admonished, but never uttered threats against its sovereign. But who can enumerate the dignities, privileges, immunities, and possessions which pious princes have bestowed upon the Church of God? The time would fail me: suffice it to say, that such bounty is the noblest prerogative of kings. The humble obtain from them what is never conceded to the haughty. Money is to them trifling and of no value, yet whoever tries to take it from them by violence will find to his cost that the possessors can stoutly defend that to which they had attached so little value. You should have handled such concerns as these, not with the ardour of a novice, but with mature deliberation, and the advice of your brethren and others; you should have turned to the acts of the old fathers, and weighed the gains of the Church against her losses; and should not have taken a decided part, until you saw that there was no remedy remaining, and when at last your decision was given, you should have reflected who was the object of it, what were your motives, and what would be the evil or the good that would result to the Church from it. The object of your canonical censures is a sovereign, who even at this moment is hardly detained by the dearest ties of wife and children, and so many kingdoms that obey his rule, from taking up his cross and going a pilgrim to see the place where our Lord lay, thereby fulfilling that saying,—' He that carrieth not his cross and followeth me, is not worthy of me.' Yet this is he whose obstinacy of mind, whose cruelty and malignity towards God's Church, you lay so much stress on, and prepare to visit with excommunication. If you were to execute this threat, the Church of God would be wounded in her noblest part, and whole nations, not one or two individuals only, would groan beneath the stroke. Mercy must be blended with severity, that charity may step in and heal our wounds, for correction can never be salutary when the object of it has numbers associated with him. What physician ever gains applause by healing one sore, if he opens another still more dangerous? Is it the part of discretion, in order to effect an object that could have been better accomplished in another way, to desert one's flock, to rebel against the sovereign, to disturb the peace of the Church throughout the whole kingdom, and to neglect the salvation of the souls of the people? Saint Ambrose abandoned his possessions, but would not abandon his Church. Your prudence might have hoped for anything from a prince whom you know to be so zealous in the cause of Christ. What advantage could he expect from these earthly constitutions, when it was well known that the world and all it can offer had lost its charms for him? Ought we not to have waited till Christ's spirit was fully fledged in him, that so he might have resigned to us not only the constitutions in question, but many more with lavish hand have been showered upon us? In this I speak only what I know. Our lord the king would not have cared for those dignities and constitutions, but for two reasons only. He thought it would be a reproach to him if he should allow the crown to suffer loss and diminution of the honours which had been handed' . down to him by his ancestors: and secondly, though he might give up anything for his God, he would nevertheless blush to have it taken from him by violence. But he had already trodden underfoot the first of these motives, and the fear of God, his natural goodness of heart, the admonition of the pope, and the united prayers of many had already produced such an effect upon him, that out of reverence for Him who has exalted him above all his predecessors, he wished to call together the Church of God, and to alter and modify those constitutions by which they felt so much aggrieved. And if the humble-mindedness which began to show itself in you had but lasted, the Church would at this moment have been in the possession of widely extended tranquillity and rejoicing. For all that you had aimed at was already gained by entreaty, but all was again defeated by the disturbance which you began. For whilst he was preparing to lead his army against the Britons, who had not yet bowed to his sovereignty, but were indomitably lifting up their heel against him, you sent him those terrible letters, savouring neither of the affection of a father, nor the modesty of a bishop; and all that had been done by the admonition of the holy pontiff, and the entreaties of so many persons, was at once destroyed by your threats. Thus you have again made our king and kingdom a scandal to the world worse than it was before. 

"May God avert the evil which we fear, if this state of things continues; at least, may it not happen in these our times! to ensure which desirable consummation, for the honour of God, the benefit of the Church, and your own, my father, if so please you, for the sake of peace, and putting a stop to the scandals and disturbances which are so rife amongst us, we have appealed to our lord the pope, that we may check, at least for a time, that fury which impels you on against the king and his kingdom. And it will be well if you contain your zeal within moderate bounds, lest by rejecting our appeal, you be found to despise the authority of the pope as well as the rights of kings. May it please you to remember that our Lord made Zaccheus descend from the sycamore tree before He would enter into his house, and thus should you also condescend and strive to pacify the king whom you have offended, by offering to give him satisfaction, even though you may have suffered at his hands. Our Lord told his disciples to imitate the example of a child, who though wronged is not angry, and soon forgets an injury, but compensates for all by the innocence and happiness of his life. An extraordinary model of perfection we have in Him who pardons those who punish themselves, who orders us to love our enemies and persecutors, and to forgive our brother, not for seven, but for seventy times seven offences. What might not be expected from such humility at the hands of our lord the king? Such a course would have been like the straight way, leading directly to peace: when you once enter upon it, my father, you may hope to arrive at peace, and to fill with joy and gladness that which is now covered with the clouds of sorrow; whilst from our religious and beloved king you will gain all that you are aiming at, and even more than all, through the grace of God's Holy Spirit filling his mind, and bringing it even nearer and nearer to the knowledge of Himself!"

One of the more important statements in this letter:

Michael Staunton (2001). The Lives of Thomas Becket. Manchester University Press. pp. 233–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5455-6.

Michael Staunton (2006). Thomas Becket and His Biographers. Boydell Press, Boydell & Brewer. p. 123. ISBN 978-1-84383-271-3.


Tota igitur in regem est, et de rege contentio ob quasdam consuetudines suis praedecessoribus observatas, ut asserit, et exhibitas quas sibi vult et expetit observari. Super hoc a vestra sublimitate commonitus non desistit a proposito, non renunciat iis qua e firmavit antiquitas et longa regni consuetude. Haec causa est cur ad arma decurritis, et in sanctum caput et nobile gladium librare contenditis, in quo refert plurimum quod has ipse non statuit, sed ut tota regni testatur antiquitas, sic eas repperit institutas. Nam difficilius evellitur quod altius radicatur, haeret planta tenacius qua e suas in altum jamdiu radices immiserit.

No dispute, he writes, exists over faith, the sacraments or morals: 'The entire dispute with the king and regarding the king, then, is about certain customs which he claims were observed, and enjoyed by his predecessors, and he wishes and expects to enjoy.'


Sources

James Craigie Robertson (15 November 2012). Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury (Canonized by Pope Alexander III, AD 1173). Cambridge University Press. pp. 521–44. ISBN 978-1-108-04929-0.


Gilbert Foliot (1846). Gilberti ex abbate Glocestriae episcopi primum Herefordiensis deinde Londoniensis epistolæ. Apud Whittaker et socios. pp. 265–.


John Allen Giles (1846). The Life and Letters of Thomas À Becket: Now First Gathered from the Contemporary Historians. Whittaker and Company. pp. 376–99.


Saint Thomas (à Becket) (2000). The Correspondence of Thomas Becket: Archbishop of Canterbury, 1162-1170Volume 5. Oxford University Press. pp. 498–. 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.521-44. ed. by James Craigie Robertson,
Epistola CCXXV: Multiplicem nobis et diffusam late
Gilbertus Londoniensis episcopus ad Thomam Cantuariensem archiepiscopum


References


David Knowles (January 1951). "Appendix VII: The Letter Multiplicem"Episcopal Colleagues. Cambridge University Press. pp. 171–. ISBN 978-0-521-05493-5.
Link

Gilbert Foliot and His Letters. Chapter IX: CUP Archive. pp. 147–

England Under the Angevin Kings. Ardent Media. pp. 67–.

Michael Staunton (7 December 2001). The Lives of Thomas Becket. Manchester University Press. pp. 36–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5455-6.

David Charles Douglas; W. D. Handcock (1996). "EHD No. 141: Letter from Gilbert Foliot to Thomas Becket 1166"English Historical Documents: 1833-1874. IX. Routledge. pp. 798–. ISBN 978-0-415-14374-5.

Wilfred Lewis Warren (1 January 1973). Henry II. University of California Press. pp. 475–. ISBN 978-0-520-02282-9.

Saint Thomas (à Becket) (2000). "Letter 109: Multiplicem Nobis - Gilbert Foliot to Becket"The Correspondence of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1162-1170: Letters 1-175. Oxford University Press. pp. 498–. ISBN 978-0-19-820892-1.

Gilbertus Episcopus Londoniensis Foliot (1845). Epistolae (etc.). Parker. pp. 248–.

England Under the Angevin Kings. Ardent Media. pp. 67–. GGKEY:450T56QFYQN.


Frank Barlow (1990). Thomas Becket. University of California Press. pp. 153–. ISBN 978-0-520-07175-9.


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