Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Correspondence following the Agreement of Frétéval, July 22nd 1170

Becket wrote to the Pope that after the settlement at Fréteval  he would not return to England, nor Canterbury until every square foot of the land belonging to his see at Canterbury and the Church which had been taken by the king was returned.

Bouquet (1814). Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France...: accompagnés de sommaires, de tables, de notes, etc.

Thomas Sanctus Episcopus Canterburiensis Becket (1845). Epistolae(etc.). Parker. pp. 57–.

MTB 684
quamdiu de terra ecclesiae passum pedis abstulerit

Very soon after the agreement Becket had made with Henry at Frétéval on July 22nd, 1170 he sent a messenger to the Pope's court togther with letters and private verbal messages carried by this messenger for various cardinals and bishops requesting that they intercede with the Pope on an important matter. We do not know exactly what Becket was asking the Pope in the private verbal messages to do, but we can infer from the Pope's reply that he was seeking suspension or excommunication of those prelates who had been involved in the coronation of the young king.. The pope consented to Becket's request and had the letter of suspension of Roger archbishop of York, and the letters of excommunication for the two other bishops involved Salisbury and London sent to Becket to put into action should he deem it necessary. It was clear that Becket on his return to England was seeking absolute submission to his authority by his suffragan bishops, and full exertion of his role and position as Primate of all England. He saw it as absolutely necessary to discipline all those who had been his enemies and failed to support his cause of the freedom of the Church, and denied his authority.

It was execution of the letters which the Pope sent him which set in motion a train of events which eventually led to his murder in the cathedral.


CTB 302
Becket to Cardinal Bishop Walter of Albano
Becket Correspondence Volume II pp 1283-5
After July 22nd 1170

Asking him to inform and intercede with the Pope. That the messenger who brings the message will explain the details of what he wants. To tell the Pope that peace has been made been made between him and the King of England.

CTB 303
Becket to Bishop Hubald of Ostia
After July 22nd 1170
Becket Correspondence Volume II pp 1285-7

Informing him that he has humbly made peace with the king of England. Requesting him to present this news to the Pope. Telling him that some have said that Becket should now  entrust himself to the king's will, but saying at the same time that he does not necessarily trust the king to honour and fulfil his side of the bargain.

CTB 304
Becket to Cardinal William of Pavia
after July 22nd 1170
Becket Correspondence Volume II pp 1287-9

Thanking him for all the effort he had made in Becket's cause. Considers him to be one of his friends. Tells him that he has finally succeeded in gaining a deal with the king of England. Asks him for assistance in promoting a petition he wishes to make to the Pope.

CTB 305
Becket to Cardinal Hyacinth
Becket Correspondence Volume II pp 1289-
after July 22nd 1170
delivered by messenger.

"It is right that the labourer in the field should be the first to eat after rendering the first fruits to God; it is even more right that his kindness, which has laboured so much and so long to raise up the all but ruined  holy church of Canterbury." Tells him that he has made peace with the king of England. And requests him for assistance in promoting a petition to the Pope details which will be given by his messenger.

CTB 306
Becket to Bishop William de Turba of Norwich
Becket Correspondence Volume II p. 1191
after 22nd July 1170

Tells him that he has made an honourable peace with the King of England, both to the honour of God and the Church.

CTB 307
Pope Alexander III to Becket
Veruli 10th September 1170
Becket Correspondence Volume II pp 1191-95

Having suffered in defence of ecclesiastical liberty the Pope told Becket that he wished to stand with him, were it not for the many other cases he had to consider. If he seems to have slack in Becket's cause it was because he was afraid for a schism within the Church. 

"As for those who have disturbed the peace and destroyed ecclesiastical liberty, and have cast themselves off from hope of repentance we impose canonical sentences on Roger, archbishop of York, and the other bishops who took the oath to preserve the evil customs and were fomentors of such great wickedness, we suspend them from episcopal dignity. Moreover we resume the sentence of anathema from which they were absolved on the bishops of Salisbury and London, because they have participated in the crowning of the new king contrary to the dignity of the church of canterbury. We leave it to your authority to decide on the bishop of Rochester who ought to have fought more resolutely for Canterbury's rights and Geoffrey Ridel who attacked his maternal church gravely and spurned the sentence of excommunication issued upon him, this is now to be considered ratified and confirmed by apostolic authority. And also his vicar Robert and bishop Godfrey of St Asaph who defied the Pope's mandate. And David archdeason of the same church."

[all these had participated in the Coronation of the Young King]

"We will confirm whatever you decide to do to these evil doers."

The Pope advises that Becket should seek the advice of the king of France before acting.

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