Thursday, 24 January 2013

Pope Alexander receives Becket and condemns the Constitutions

Extract from
William Holden Hutton (1899). S. Thomas of Canterbury. pp. 100-2. D. Nutt.

The Pope receives Thomas and condemns the Constitutions. 
Garnier pp. 81-84.
Verses 467-478
Lines 2331-2390
Within four days after to Sens S. Thomas came, 
To the hostel he went, for of wandering he was weary;
With his clerks he took counsel, who never deceived him. 
Who should plead his cause ; they all remained silent, 
None of them would plead it for bidding or for begging. 
For none of them dared plead it for fear of K. Henry, 
For they never would have his friendship again, they said; 
The archbishop took it up himself, who had God to his friend. 
The next day when he had served our Lord 
He went to the Pope and fell at his feet. 
The custom is that they who come there offer as a gift, 
At the Pope's feet, some good things : silver or gold. 
Rich plate or good jewel. 
The king's chirograph the archbishop takes. 
And at the Pope's feet spreads it out with his two hands* 

"This is the cause wherefor I am bound to suffer exile ; 
" Sire, behold it here ! ye shall hear it well. 
" Such laws the king wisheth to establish in his realm, 
" And would make Holy Church hold them by force, 
" But I will not consent thereto against God.
" Wherefor, sire, I am come hither that I may show it 
" to you." 
Then the Pope hath made him speak before them all. 
And ordered the laws to be read and heard ; 
And the saint began to prove word by word 
Where the king by these laws was wishing to tend and go. 
A cardinal was listening there who greatly loved the king, 
William of Pavia (thus was he named, I think). 
All the cardinals the king hath drawn over to himself, 
For he hath given them so much and done so much
That they maintained his cause openly and secretly. 

When the archbishop began to speak 
And to set forth his cause in Latin fairly, 
He [William] began to traverse it right through, 
He thought that he would have made him stop his case, 
And that if he were disturbed he would not know how to finish it off. 

Saint Thomas was very prudent, the Holy Ghost was in him. 
And whatever he [William] said he had understood it well, 
And he answered it all through word by word. 
In fair Latin at once he hath solved each point; 
He had taken up quite a half day with his cause. 
And when he had solved these questions well 
He came back to his own points, as if he were Solomon 
He pleaded forth his cause with many fair reasons ; 
Quite half a day the dispute between them has lasted. 
For he was all through point by point close upon him. 
When the archbishop had fairly finished his speech 
And destroyed the laws by solid reason, 
And had shown all through reasoning and proof; 
Both clerks and laymen have heard his words fairly. 
And the Pope had followed him over all the points. 

The Pope sat him down by himself at once, 
And "Welcome let him be" he bade him often. 
And thanketh him greatly for undertaking such a great deed 
As to defend Holy Church against an earthly king. 
All through he should be helped, as far as reason alloweth ! 

The archbishop Thomas often thanked him 
For his fair welcome that honoured him so ; 
Then the Pope excommunicated the laws, 
And him, whomsoever he was, that should ever hold them, 
And with his anathema confirmed it for ever.

In Norman French

Garnier de Pont Sainte Maxence (1859). La vie de saint Thomas le martyr, publ. par C. Hippeau. pp. 81–4.
Collection des poètes français du moyen âge. Aubier. 1859. pp. 82–.Guernes de Pont-Sainte-Maxence (1859). La vie de Saint Thomas le martyr archevêque de Canterbury. Aubry. pp. 82–.

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