Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Becket Correspondence relating to First Papal Legation - 1166

A summary of the principal letters relating to the First Papal Legation  1166


Lupus =
Chretien Lupus (1682). Epistolæ et vita divi Thomæ martyris et archi-episcopi Cantuariensis.  Henrici Fricx.

Giles TB =
Saint Thomas (à Becket) (1845). Opera. Volume 3. Parker..

James Craigie Robertson. Materials for the History of Thomas Becket Volume 6. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-04930-6.

CTB 115 late November 1166
Abutitur ecclesiae
[Lupus 129, Giles TB 4, MTB 246]
Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury to Pope Alexander

Becket telling the Pope about his trials and tribulations in exile, and how he has been ejected from his residence at the Cistercian monastery at Pontigny.

"The English king is abusing the patience of the Church and rages continually against the bride of Christ with such inhumanity that Peter, to whose faith and zeal she was entrusted, is compelled to unsheathe his sword [excommunicate the wrongdoers], and in the power of the Holy Spirit to curb the wickedness of those who persecute Christ."

"Because we dared to speak out for justice,  calling to mind the obligations of our office and fearing the judgment of God ... Finally, we were cast into exile with all who belong to us, clergy and laymen, women and children, weak and strong, so that neither respect for order, nor the circumstances of sex, nor consideration for age held back any of the rage or fury. Many of them
have already died in exile; since they were suffering innocently for justice, we trust they have all passed speedily to peace and received  the reward for their labours with the elect."

"... others are bound in chains, among whom is our chaplain, a religious priest, who had remained in England with the knowledge and approval of the king; he was harassed at the king's command after their so-called appeal and is held in prison."

"To this end, he made an official declaration of his enmity not long ago to the whole Order in the last Chapter at Citeaux,  declaring that he would remove all their houses from his land, unless the Cistercians expel me, exiled and proscribed for the Lord, for loyalty to the Roman Church, and for the freedom of the clergy, from the monastery of Pontigny,  against the will of the abbot and brethren of the house, who have most kindly and generously shown the greatest humanity to me and mine (for which may the Most High repay them), and were prepared to show it until now, if they were so permitted, out of respect for your prayers and those of the most Christian king of the French and of the great men of France."

"For that reason, may it please your excellency to heal these many disorders and provide for our afflictions, or rather those of God's Church, so that he who has called the sentence of anathema down."
He then went on to complain to the pope about the wickedness of Gilbert Foliot, the bishop of London; and to warn the pope that John of Oxford, the schismatic, was on his way to the papal curia and that he should not trust what he says. He then went on to express hope the expected mission of Cardinal William of Pavia would not have the power to depose him, which his persecutors were already openly boasting about, and hoped that judgment in his case would be  entrusted to no one else except the pope himself.  Becket wrote this because he had heard from the clerk of a friend of his that a promise had been made to the king of England, that the proposed papal legate would determine the dispute between the king and himself in accordance with the king's will.

CTB 116 late November 1166
Omnia nostra
[Giles TB 98, MTB 247]
Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury to Archbishop Conrad of Mainz

Becket begging for Conrad's intercession at the papal curia

Becket warns Archbishop Conrad that John of Oxford, that "well-known schismatic", is approaching the Apostolic See, and how this John intends "to deceive it and undermine true justice".

And how he had heard from Prester clerk of Cardinal William of Pavia, that the latter seems to have promised Henry a little while earlier, that after receiving the papal legation, that cardinal would determine the case between the king and himself in accordance with the king's pleasure, and how the Church's  enemies were now openly boasting about his own expected deposition.

CTB 117 late November 1166
Si vobis alitur
[Giles TB 42, MTB 248]
Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury to the Cardinal Priest, Lord Henry of Pisa

Becket also begging for his urgent intercession with the pope. And to listen to and trust what the messengers have to say,  about what has been told about the promise which has been made to Henry king of England by Prester, clerk to cardinal William of Pavia, not a long time before, that when the cardinal  has been formally assigned to the legation, that he would determine the Church's cause [Becket's case] in accordance with the king's pleasure. Becket hopes cardinal Henry will strive to see that this is not carried out.

Becket refuses to entrust his person and his cause to the judgment of anyone except the Pope.

CTB 118 late November 1166
Ecclesiam Anglorum
Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury to the Cardinal Deacon Hyacinth
[Giles TB 50, MTB 249]

Also requesting cardinal Hyacinth's intercession with the pope and the papal curiaand  asking him to receive his messengers kindly; and telling him that he will hear the rest of his message from them.

The English king had at first intended that there should be no appeal to Rome; and now he has added his share of the schism in the Church to that of the schismatics through the ambassadorship of the perjurer, John of Oxford, who is now daring to appear in person before the papal curia. It seems that the king is now compelled to make an appeal to the Holy See and to ask the pope, whom he had earlier forbidden to be named. Of couse it was right that he should have recourse to the Roman Church, if he were turning aside from wrong and not committing it, if he were offering devotion to the Church, instead of seeking to overthrow it, if he were not injuring it more by his offers of false friendship and fraudulent service. Now Hyacinth could expect have an opportunity to demonstrate what kind of man he was. 

Becket begs Hyacinth to try to ensure that they at the papal curia are not deceived by the fox's [John of Oxford's] cunning. He warns that he would demonstrate it himself, to the shame of the Apostolic See and that said many times to many people that "everything is for sale in Rome'."

About  how the brother [Becket's chaplain] of the priest messenger has been violently arrested by king Henry and thrown into prison after having made an appeal. And about how after Becket had appealed [to the pope], the king ought not have taken any further action against him and his people, since he had made the appeal in his presence, and was still requesting and waiting for a judgment already now for two years.

Becket asks Hyacinth to note how king Henry had despoiled the Church of its freedom and possessions, and the cruelty with which he is persecuting him and his people, who are suffering for the liberty of the Church and for fidelity to the Apostolic See, and who are all prepared to continue suffer in this cause. About how he heard that  Prester, clerk of cardinal William of Pavia, had recently promised Henry, the king of England that the cardinal would determine the case according to the king's pleasure, once he has received the legation;

He asks Hyacinth to be absolutely dear that he entrusts neither his person nor the Church's cause to William of Pavia, sincehe has already had of his love for himself and the king well enough. The judgment by which the church stands or falls [in England] should come "from the stern face of the Lord Pope" himself.

Becket begs for Hyancinth's help and counsel.

CTB 119 ca 20 December 1166
[Giles TB 204, MTB 259]
Pope Alexander to Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury

Urging Becket to be patient.

Telling Becket that he proposes to admonish king Henry, to calm his wrath by careful persuasion so that he might reconcile Becket to himself and restore him to his grace and affection. And hopefully that he will restore Becket to his church freely and peacefully. The pope begs Becket to be prudent and to bear everything patiently until the outcome of the controversy is seen. Until that time Becket is forbidden to decree anything against king Henry, or anyone in his kingdom, which might appears harsh or offensive to him. And he was to keep this detail secret.

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