Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Garnier: Introduction to the Letters

Extract from
http://txm.ish-lyon.cnrs.fr/bfm/pdf/becket.pdf
Stanzas 557-569
Lines 2781-2845

557
Del tut erent a un plus que uncles e niés.
E sovent enveieient a saint Thomas lur briés :
Diseient qu’il ot tort, quant al rei ert si griés ;
Car des iglises est li reis e sire e chiés,
2785 E les iglises sunt faites des reaus fiés.

558
As reis deivent tresbien li prelat obeïr.
Bien lur deit hum laissier lur custumes tenir ;
Quant a lur anceisurs nes peut um ainc tolir,
Pur tuz cels qui or sunt ne lur estuet guerpir.
2790 Mult deivent lur seignur e clerc e lai suffrir.

559
Itels briefs enveieient al saint humme ultre mer,
Plusurs altres asez, dunt rien ne sai conter,
Pur mielz plaisir al rei e pur lur sens mustrer.
Il refaiseit les suens, si lur faiseit porter
2795 Pur destruire les lur e sa cause afermer.

560
Humblement respundeit li sainz a lur escriz,
E par les escriptures confermout tuz ses diz.
Ne pot estre en nul liu pur els tuz contrediz.
Herbergiez ert en lui pur veir sainz Esperiz,
2800 Qui dedenz lui parlout e par qui il ert fiz.

561
As terrïens seignurs deit hum bien obeïr,
Tant cum al siecle apent ; mais s’il volent tolir
A saint’iglise rien, ne lur deit hum suffrir.
E se l’um les esparne, qu’um nes voille ferir,
2805 Quant Deus revoldra bien, ne li purrunt guenchir.

562
Li prelat sunt serf Deu, li reis les deit cherir ;
E il sunt chiés des reis, li reis lur deit flechir.
Deus est chiés des prelaz ; pur sa lei maintenir
Devreient il estendre les cols, prez de murir :
2810 Deus suffri mort en cruiz pur s’iglise franchir.

563
De Deu tienent li rei, de sainte mere iglise :
A li e as suens deivent e honur e servise,
Car de li unt il lei e la corune prise ;
Ele deit bien aveir, e tuit li suen, franchise,
2815 Quant par sa mort li ad Nostre Sire conquise.

564
E li buen anceisur, qui les iglises firent
E qui premierement del lur les establirent
E de lur propre aumosne les crurent e vestirent,
De tutes ces custumes e d’autres les franchirent,
2820 N’ainc puis a nule rien un des deiz n’i tendirent.

565
Car cil qui fait aumosne la deit del tut franchir,
Par tut e contre tuz defendre e maintenir ;
N’il n’en deit seignurie, ne nul el, retenir,
Car ço n’est pas aumosne, s’il en fait sun plaisir :
2825 Quant l’a dunee a Deu, ne li puet retolir.

566
E quant vers saint’iglise volt li reis rien mesprendre,
Qui la devreit par tut e tenser e defendre,
Li evesque l’en deivent mult egrement reprendre ;
Ne deivent la endreit rien a sun voil entendre.
2830 Mais n’osent la bufee plus que le ros atendre.

567
Barun e chevalier e sergant e vassal,
Qui n’unt rien de nului fors fié anceisural,
Se conbatent sovent pur lur seignur mortal
E sueffrent granz damages, mort e mahaing e mal,
2835 Car il ne volent estre tenu pur desleal.

568
Mielz devreient asez li prelat guerreier
Tuz cels qui saint’iglise volent contralïer ;
Car de la table Deu sunt riche e haut e chier.
Le fil a mult bas humme fait Deus si eshaucier
2840 Qu’um li dune eveschié u mult plus haut mestier.

569
Li prelat deivent estre li plus espirital,
Ne deivent chanceler pur rien de lur estal.
Cil qui laissent le munt e se tienent el val
Bous d’or en gruing de porc sunt, e del tut jaal.
2845 Ne sunt pas des sers Deu, ainz sunt des serfs Baal.

Translation

557
They were in everything as one more than uncles and nephews [family]. And often they sent letters to St. Thomas saying he had done wrong, when towards the king he had been so critical, because the king was both lord and chief [head] of the churches, and the churches had been made royal fiefs. 2785

558
Prelates ought very much to obey their kings [and] well kings should be allowed to maintain their customs. when if by their ancestors they could not previously have them removed.then they [kings] do not have to abandon them for the sake of anyone alive today. Clerics and laity must accept on suffrance [submit to] their lord. 2790

559
Such were the kinds of letters which they sent to holy man across the sea, besides many others of which I know not the number, for which much to please the king and to express their reasoning. He [Thomas] in his turn caused to have his sent back to them to bring down their [arguments] and to affirm his own cause 2795

560
Our saint replied to their letters with humility, and by reference to the scriptures confirmed all that he said. One could not find anywhere in them which to contradict him. The Holy Spirit truly dwelt within him, and spoke from within him and through him made Himself apparent. 2800

561
One must fully obey one's secular [earthly/lay] [feudal] lord for all that which belongs to this world. But if he wishes to deprive anything from Holy Church he must not be allowed to do so. And we may spare them not wishing to strike them, how much more God will wish to again. They cannot escape Him. 2805

562
Prelates are the servants of God; kings must care for them: God is the suzerain of prelates, and kings must bow before them. To maintain His law they must stretch their necks, [and be] ready to die. God suffered death on the cross to free His Church. 2810

563
Kings hold [their position/and are beholden as vassals] from [to] God and Holy Church: they must both honour and serve Him and her as it is from them whom and by law they have received their crown. She [the Church] must enjoy her freedom, and all her own too, since she acquired them from Our Lord by his death/ 2815

564
And the good ancestors of old who founded churches and who initially established them out of their own pocket, and then enriched and endowed them out of their own charity freed them from all these and other customs, and since then have not pointed a single finger at them in any way..2820

565
Because anyone who give alms must be completely free of them, and above all must maintain and defend them from everyone; he must not have or retain any lordship over them, because then that would not be alms-giving if he was able to do what he likes with them. That which has been given to God cannot be taken back.

566
If a king commits a wrong against Holy Church, he who must always protect and defend her, then bishops ought strongly to reproach him, without listening in the least way to his will. But they are more like reeds daring not to withstand a strong wind.

567
Barons and knights, men-at-arms and vassals who hold little else besides their ancestral fiefs, often fight for their mortal lords and suffer great harms, death, woundings and pain because they do not wish to be held to be disloyal. 2835

568
Better still prelates should take up battle against all those who would wish to attack Holy Church, for they enjoy great riches and high honour at the table of God. God sometimes advances the son of a very low-born man by giving him a bishopric, or an even higher ministry. 2840

569
Prelates must be ever the more so spiritual and must not abandon their posts for anything. Those who leave the mountain to stand in the valley have rings of gold in their snouts like swine: they have completely prostituted themselves. They are not the servants of God but are the henchmen of Baal. 2845

Proverbs 11:22
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without good sense.


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