Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Conference at Saint-Léger-en-Yvelines, Feb 7 1169

Second Papal Commission continued.

The Pope's Commonitory [admonitory] letter had been delivered to king Henry II at Montmirail; the Comminatory letter was now delivered to him a month later at another conference, this time at Saint-Léger-en-Yvelines on February 7th 1169, to the west of Paris. The Pope's envoys, Simon, Prior of Montdieu, and Engelbert, Prior of Val St. Pierre, thought Henry was being perfidious and evasive.

The envoys thought it was impossible to hold Henry to any kind of promise regarding Becket. They considered there was little chance of any agreement between them. Henry stressed that he had not forced Becket into exile, but he did say that, out of respect for the Pope, to allow Becket to return to England and for him there to have peace, if he was willing to do for him what he should: as long as held unto him what his predecessors had observed as belonging to the king, and those things which he promised. The envoys thought Henry changed his mind too often, so they asked if could Becket return to his see and have peace. Henry answered that Becket would never be allowed to re-enter his kingdom until he promised to act towards his sovereign as he ought, and as others [the English bishops] had acted and had already promised to observe, and what he had also promised to observe. The envoys then asked king Henry would he give them a formal written and sealed response, stating it was their duty to his answer to the Pope, but he would not agree to this. Plainly Henry was not going to allow Becket to return unless he formally consented to the Constitutions of Clarendon, as the other bishops had done. This was his principal goal.

Becket's letter to the pope revealed that the standard reservations he made in it had been authorised by the pope himself. The archbishop had been duped once. He was not going to make the same mistake again.


Michael Staunton (7 December 2001). The Lives of Thomas Becket. Manchester University Press. pp. 164–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5455-6.

Frank Barlow (1990). Thomas Becket. University of California Press. pp. 182–3. ISBN 978-0-520-07175-9.

Guy, John (5 April 2012). Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel, Victim: A 900-Year-Old Story Retold. Penguin Books Limited. pp. 510–. ISBN 978-0-14-193328-3.

Actes Du Colloque International de Sedieres. Editions Beauchesne. pp. 93–

Guernes (de Pont-Sainte-Maxence); trans Janet Shirley (1975). Garnier's Becket:. Phillimore. pp. 106–12. ISBN 978-0-85033-200-1.
Lines 3981-4215

La vie de Saint Thomas le martyr
Publié par E. Walberg (1922)
Raymonde Foreville (1943). L'église et la royauté en Angleterre sous Henri II Plantagenet (1154-1189). Bloud & Gay. pp. 191

R. W. Eyton (1878) Court, household, and itinerary of King Henry II pp. 138


MTB 464
James Craigie Robertson. Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, Volume 6. Cambridge University Press. pp. 516-8. ISBN 978-1-108-04930-6.

John Allen Giles (1846). The Life and Letters of Thomas À Becket: Now First Gathered from the Contemporary Historians. Volume 2. Letter LXXIX: To The Pope from His Envoys, Simon, Prior of Montdieu, and Engelbert, Prior of Val St. Pierre.: Whittaker. pp. 161–.

"According to your holiness's instructions, we delivered your admonitory letters to the king of England, and exhorted him to the utmost of our power to listen to what was therein contained, and make peace with his lordship of Canterbury, and restore him to his Church, with permission to rule it in freedom as before. We waited long and patiently, hoping that God would soften his heart. But failing in this, we then delivered to him your second letter, not of admonition, but of commination, which he made much difficulty about receiving, but he was at last prevailed on to do so, at the instance both of ourselves and the other men of influence who were present; and after much other conversation, which we forbear to mention, he said as follows,—' I did not expel the archbishop, and yet if he will do as he ought towards me and observe my constitutions, I will, out of regard for my lord the pope, make peace with him, and allow him to return.' And after many other different remarks, he said that he would call together the English bishops and comply with their advice, but he did not appoint any day, nor did we get anything from him on which we can rely, respecting the restoration of the archbishop and the execution of your instructions. For he constantly varied his answer; and when we asked him if the archbishop might return to his see and be at peace, he replied that the archbishop should never return till he promised to act towards his sovereign as he ought, and as others had acted. We then asked him to grant letters patent, stating his answer, because it was our duty to report it to you, which we had not yet done, because he changed his answer so often. To this, however, he would not consent. The archbishop, on the other hand, replied when we informed him of this, that he was ready to do all that he was bound to do, and to observe all that his predecessors had done, saving his own order, but that without the authority of the pope he could not promise to enter upon new obligations, 'except with a reservation of his own order,' because such a precedent would be injurious, and because you had prohibited him from doing so. He added also, that you had censured him for not having submitted to be put to death rather than comply, except with a reservation of his order. 'But,' said he, ' if the king will restore to me his favour, and allow me to resume peaceable possession of my Church, with everything that has been taken from it, I will comply with his wishes, and serve him to the best of my ability.' May it please your holiness, therefore, to succour the Church in her distress: for if you only persevere, we are persuaded peace will soon be made. And as the brothers of Grammont never write letters, we certify that in all this we have the concurrence of our brother and associate, Bernard, who publicly gave his consent, and requested that others would write to you, who were not under the same obligation as he is."

CTB 187 after 7 February 1169
Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury to Pope Alexander, after the Conference Held with the King at Saint-Leger

J. A. Giles (1846). The Life and Letters of Thomas à Becket: Now First Gathered from the Contemporary Historians. Volume 2. Letter  LXXX. The Archbishop Of Canterbury to The Pope. Whittaker. pp. 164–.

Up to now the king of England has treated your leniency with contempt, completely ignoring that you have tried to bring him back to atone with patience. He has boasted, humiliating both the Apostolic See and your holy name, that you have allowed him the privilege that he would be safe against us and the church of Canterbury for as long as he wanted. He is causing copies of your letter in which you had granted him  this against us to be promulgated through Germany, France, England, and other neighbouring provinces. It is thus now how he repays your kindness. The justice of our cause, exile and proscription, and the goal towards which he is moving are now apparent to all. Would to God that you had believed this from the very start!

Scarcely accepting your comminatory letter, which he had originally refused to do, he finally acknowledged it at the second conference, within earshot of the king of France and all who were present. He said that he was seeking nothing more from us than observance of his customs, which, as you know, are wholly counter to the sacred Canon Law. Upon the French king's insistence together with the religious men whom you sent, and other intermediaries, he was told to keep silent about the customs, and indeed he did change the words, but not his intention. He demanded that we simply and absolutely accept upon oath that we would follow all that our predecessors had done, saying that this was the only way by which we could return to our church and have peace in the kingdom, but not yet have his grace. He thought that by adding this clause we would be denied the full power of our office by the authority of your rescript, until he consents to restore us to his favour.

After Prior Simon of Mont-Dieu and brother Bernard put his demand to us, we answered that we did not have the knowledge of exactly what our predecessors had done, although we know from reputable chronicles that some of them had also fled into exile for similar reasons, and that they finally had achieved recognition that those things which belong to God should be rendered unto Him, just as kings defend their rights for those things which should be rendered unto them. We said that we ready to serve him in every way, and indeed beyond whatever had been done by our predecessors, saving our order, adding that it would not be lawful for us to enter into any new obligation outside of Church procedure, promises which none of our predecessors had entered into; for you yourself had absolved us at Sens from the obligation of keeping or observing any customs which were hateful to God and the Church, customs which had been extorted by force and fear. And you prefaced all this with a very severe rebuke, which I shall never forget: you forbade us ever again to bind ourselves to anyone in a similar case, saving God's honour and our order. You added furthermore,  please try to remember this, that no bishop should ever enter into any undertaking, except saving God's honour and his order, even to save his own life. Accordingly we promised those holy men that if the king obeyed your order and restored to us his grace and peace, together with our Church and those things which he has taken from us, we would try to serve him and his sons with all our strength, saving God's honour and our order. We added that, without your authority, it was not lawful for us to change this ecclesiastical formula which is accepted by the whole of the Western Church, a formula which itself is even apparent in those abhorrent Constitutions which are the cause of our exile; for indeed it is explicitly stated in those Constitutions that bishops-elect should before their consecration swear that they will be faithful to the king, as far as life, limb, and earthly honour are concerned, saving their order.

Why then should we be forced to remain silent about God's honour and the immunity of our order in the deceitful obligation required of us? Which Christian has ever demanded this from another Christian? He pretends he would summon the bishops of  England to take their counsel. In truth, however, he is waiting for the return of the messengers he has sent to you, for he expects to get from you whatever he desires against us, either by promises or threats. Yet it cannot be scarcely possible to believe that the Apostolic See would ever force anyone to suppress the honour of God or forbid mention to be made of saving one's order.

Therefore, please act firmly. You have seen what acting mildly has achieved; now you should act decisively, and see how justice will triumph quickly. Require from him everything that has been taken from us, even to the smallest amount, lest the knowledge of the failure to castigate so great a plunder emboldens him and his descendants to commit the same sins. For if we see that he repents, and now wishes make reparation, we will be able with your prior guidance to lessen the rigour of the law, inasmuch as it would benefit God's Church now and in the future. By what other right should he receive absolution if he persists in his crimes and creates so great a scandal in the Church? For if he refuses to return what he has taken, then he is not penitent, and only pretends to be so. For there is one thing that he passionately desires, an immediate subjection to his laws not only the English Church but all the churches within his power. We cannot observe these things which he requires of us and also maintain our due obedience and fidelity to the Apostolic See at the same time, for these are mutually opposed to one another.  We beg you not to absolve those whom we have excommunicated.  If, however, he were to force us to make this concession (God forbid that we would be required do this even to save our earthly life), for we have not forgotten the promise we made on oath to you and the Roman Church when we received the pallium, he would then force not only the bishops, but the entire clergy, to do the same, strengthened with authority of precedent. And indeed all other princes might seek to copy his unpunished audacity. Indeed, what he is demanding from us, not even the knights or peasants of our land are compelled to do.

MTB 453 CTB 188 6 January-15 February 1169
A friend to Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury
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. 491. ISBN 978-1-108-04930-6.
Richard Hurrell Froude; James Bowling Mozley (1839). Remains of the Late Reverend Richard Hurrell Froude: v. 2.J. G. & F. Rivington. pp. 366–.

MTB 454 CTB 189 after 6—8 February 1169
Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury to Bishop John of Poitiers1
James Craigie Robertson (15 November 2012). Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, Cambridge University Press. pp. 493–. ISBN 978-1-108-04930-6.
John Allen Giles (1846). The Life and Letters of Thomas À Becket: Now First Gathered from the Contemporary Historians. Letter LXXVI: Archbishop to John of Poitiers: Whittaker. pp. 161–.
Richard Hurrell Froude; James Bowling Mozley (1839). Remains of the Late Reverend Richard Hurrell Froude: v. 2. J. G. & F. Rivington. pp. 368–.

MTB 471
[Lupus iv 25, Giles TB 352]
Prior Victor of Paris to Pope Alexander
Saint Thomas (à Becket); John Allen Giles (1846). Epistolae Sancti Thomae Cantuariensis. Epistola CCCLII: Apud Whittaker et socios. pp. 202–.
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. 529–30. ISBN 978-1-108-04930-6.

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