Sunday, 26 July 2015

Garnier on Custom

Guernes (de Pont-Sainte-Maxence) ed. Walberg (1922). La vie de saint Thomas Becket. C.W.K. Gleerup. p. 120.
Stanzas 714-722 : Lines 3566-3609

714 - 3566
Tels letres enveierent al saint humme ultre mer
Li prelat qui deveient saint'iglise tenser.
Les custumes del regne voleient alever
En sainte mere iglise. Mais li saintisme ber
S'en conbati adès, e pur li delivrer.

715 -3570
Custume n'est pas dreiz, bien le poëz veeir.
Kar chascuns riches hum qui Deu ne volt cremeir,
Alieve sur sa gent custume a sun voleir.
Une custume ad ci, la en vei altre aveir.
Mais Deus n'aime custume, mes fundement de veir.

716 - 3575
E mult par est la vie del chaitif humme brieve ;
Or est chalz, or est freiz, cume cele eve tieve.
Pur ço fait grant pechié cil qui custume alieve
Dunt nuls huem ad damage u ki nul humme grieve :
Kar nel puet pas oster la u li quers li crieve.

717 - 3580
Se li reis Henris volt les custumes aveir
Qu'orent si ancesur, or voil dunches saveir
Lesqueles il volt mielz en sun regne aseeir :
U celes al Rus Rei, ki ot poi de saveir,
U al Viel rei Henri, ki fu de grant poeir.

718 - 3585
Li Rus Reis ne laissa as iglises neent
Les rentes en perneit, l'aveir, l'or et l'argent,
E les clers raemeit. Deus en prist vengement :
Al berser fu ocis e fina malement ;
Li cors en est purriz e l'aneme est en turment.

719 - 3590
E se li reis Henris ad sa custume enprise,
E voille guerreier e clers e saint'iglise,
Ainz qu'il en sace mot ert la venjance prise.
Deus ad ja en sun arc, certes, saete mise ;
L'aneme e le cors ocit, fiere est mult sa justise.

720 - 3595
Li reis Henris li Vielz les espuses perneit,
E a lur dreiz espus del tut les defendeit ;
E pur les mues bestes les hummes ocieit,
E envers saint'iglise mainte feiz mesperneit.
E se sis niés l'ensiut, entre lui e Deu seit !

721 - 3600
Un mult felun proveire, - nel poum pas neier, -
Fist li Vielz Henris pendre, e pur cels esmaier
Ki ne voleient pas la malveistié laissier.
E s'um par mesprisun volt custume afichier,
Males custumes funt, e mal us, a laissier. -

722 - 3605
Or mais larrum ici des custumes ester,
E de ces treis prelaz que m'oïstes nummer ;
De lur contienement ne voil or mais parler.
Mes del saint arcevesque vus voldrai recunter,
Qui sis anz demura en eissil ultre mer


714: They, the prelates, sent such letters to the holy man over the sea, they who ought to protect [and defend] Holy Church. They wanted to impose the customs of the kingdom upon [our] Holy Mother Church, but the most saintly baron persistently fought against this, to set her free.

715: Custom is not Law. This is easily understood, for without the fear of God [in his soul] any powerful men will try to impose whatever custom he likes [arbitrarily] on his people, one Custom here, another there,  God does not like Customs; Laws are based on Truth.

716: How short is the life of the unfree man, one moment full of fire, and then cooled down by tepid water. Thus it is a very grave sin for anyone to impose a Custom which causes any man harm or injury, for he cannot replace it if his heart is broken.

717: If the King Henry wants to bring back the Customs of his ancestors, I want to know which of these laws he would prefer to establish in his kingdom: those of the king William Rufus, who was of little knowing, or those of the late king Henry, who was very powerful.

718: King Rufus left nothing to the churches: he expropriated their rents, their property, their gold and silver, and ransomed their clerics. God took his revenge: Rufus was killed by an arrow whilst out hunting and died unshriven for his sins; his body lies rotting and his soul is in agony.

719: If King Henry were to adopt these customs there, and wants to make war upon the clergy and against Holy Church, before realizing it God will take vengeance: indeed He probably already has aimed his bow at him, with an arrow nocked. His justice is terrible: it kills both the soul and body.

720: The elder king Henry [Henry I] used to take captive married women, and completely deny all all access to them by their husbands; and just like as if they were dumb beasts had the men put to death. And towards Holy Church he often behaved badly: if his grandson were to follow him in this God would sit in judgment upon him in this case.

721: The elder king Henry had a very villainous priest -which we cannot deny- hung, as a warning to those who did not wish to renounce evil. But although bad customs may be established they ought to be abandoned if they are erroneous and put to use perniciously.

Janet Shirley (1975). Garnier's Becket: Translated from the 12th-century Vie Saint Thomas Le Martyr de Cantorbire of Garnier of Pont-Sainte-Maxence. Llanerch. pp. 94–5. ISBN 978-1-86143-023-6.

Guernes (de Pont-Sainte-Maxence); Jacques Thomas (2002). La vie de Saint Thomas de Canterbury. Peeters. pp. 214–. ISBN 978-90-429-1188-8.


The Anglo-Norman Dictionary

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