Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Papal Supremacy

Papal supremacy, this was the first move in the direction of the theory that popes were universal monarchs who should govern the whole of Christendom; that popes should exercise supreme temporal and political authority; that all Christians high and low owed final obedience to the pope in all temporal and spiritual matters.

In a very real sense Becket was the victim of and martyr for the cause of the Doctrine of Papal Supremacy in England. This doctrine taught that the pope, as vicar of Christ on earth and pontifex maximus, had ultimate spiritual authority. Pope Gregory VII [Hildebrand] in the previous century to the Constitutions was determined to assert on behalf of the papacy and the church a complete supremacy over all secular powers, to be the absolute spiritual monarch over all of Western Christendom. He claimed to have supremacy over many secular rulers, including William the Conqueror. He claimed that not only did he have primacy over the church but also that he had a jurisdictional supremacy over emperors and kings in both a temporal and spiritual affairs. Many subsequent popes followed the Hildebrandine programme. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux even held the view that the Pope held a monarchical primacy over all secular rulers in Christendom.

Priests were a separate elite distinct from and quite above secular persons and superior to laity. The Roman church (its pope and cardinals) was to be master of all the churches, superior to a general council deriving its powers directly from God Himself.

Becket was a victim as Henry II, in common with all previous Norman kings of England, maintained a despotic power over all matters in his kingdom, quite independent from the church and pope. The Laws of England were inconsistent with the canon laws of the church. Becket  became a victim and martyr because he tried to defend the church's "liberty" in respect of papal supremacy.

The Humiliation of the Holy Roman Emperor at  Canossa, 1077
Also known as the Walk to Canossa
Walk to Canossa - Wikipedia

Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, was forced in 1077 by Pope Gregory VII  to walk from Speyer [in Germany] to the fortress at Canossa in Emilia Romagna [Italy], a distance of around 750 kilometres. to obtain revocation of his excommunication. He was humiliated by being forced to wait barefoot for three days and nights outside the entrance gate to the castle, in a blizzard, before being admitted.

Extract from Canossa: A Revision by Karl F. Morrison

From the beginning of the controversy with Henry IV until his own death, Gregory maintained one major premise: that as Pope he was the leader of the faithful in active battle against the Devil. It is sometimes maintained that in Gregory's thought, the Church had acceded to the territorial and jurisdictional universality of the Roman Empire, and that as head of the Church, the Pope was in some sense the successor of the Augusti. But Gregory himself never claimed the territorial or jurisdictional universality associated with the Empire, nor did he ever describe himself as the heir of the Caesars. His greatest claims were based rather upon his belief in the moral hegemony of the Papacy over orthodox Christendom, and the earnest conviction that the successor of St. Peter must lead the forces of God against the enemies of God.

Arnulf of Lisieux
Opening Speech on the Sacerdotal Prerogative at the Council of Tours 1163

In this speech Arnulf contended on the urgent need to defend the Liberty of the Church [Libertas Ecclesiae] in order to restore the Church's unity, which the Holy Roman Emperor had recently forced into schism.
Thomas Greenwood (1865). Cathedra Petri: A political history of the great Latin Patriarchate. Arnulf of Lisieux on The Sacerdotal Prerogative: C. J. Stewart. pp. 126–.

"Unity and liberty" he said, "are essential attributes of the church, without which she is enslaved, and can have no existence at all: but she is eternal in her strength; though, therefore, the tyrant of this world (the Emperor [or indeed by implication anyone who interferes with the rights of the Church of Rome]) assail our temporalities or even our persons, he must decline and fall, neither can he detract an atom from her right to that which belongs to her; nay, rather she dealeth with him as an outcast, and consigneth him to outer darkness, and bindeth him down with the chain of the anathema, and loadeth him with the opprobrium of an eternal malediction; so that he who would enslave her endeth by enslaving himself, while she abideth in her irrefragable liberty and unity."

Papal Supremacy is a Platonic idea. Plato teaches us that kings should become philosophers and philosophers become kings. His ideal city state, his Utopia, his Kallipolis, the ruler is a philosopher king, whose job is to rule with justice. So too is the Universal Catholic church. The City State is Rome, Civitas Dei, the City of God. Christendom's goal is to become a just Utopia with the Pope as the spiritual philosopher-king, second only to God.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Concepts of

Papal Plenitude of Power, Vicar of Christ, Gubernator of the Church

[St.] Bernard of Clairvaux was the most influential writer on papal authority in the twelfth century. He clearly express the view that the Church in Rome was supreme: The Church of Rome was the mother church of all the churches, and the head of Christendom and its faithful. That the Pope was Gubernator [steersman] of Church symbolised as a ship.

St. Bernard De Consideratione II.6.10 IV.3.6
Sancti Bernardi Opera III pp 418, 453

Saint Bernard (of Clairvaux); Gillian Rosemary Evans (1987). Bernard of Clairvaux: Selected Works. On Consideration: Paulist Press. pp. 145–. ISBN 978-0-8091-2917-1.

He told Pope Eugenius in his work "De consideratione" that the Roman Pontiff had 'no equal on eath': that he was defender of the faith; teacher of the nations; ordainer of the clergy; pastor of the people; moderator of the laws; dispenser of the canons; vicar of Christ.

"ubi non tam mellifluo, quam nervoso calamo, probat Romanum Pontificem parem non haber super terram."

Robert L. Benson. Viator. Periculosus Homo ... I.S. Robinson: University of California Press. pp. 103–. ISBN 978-0-520-03608-6.

Rosamond McKitterick (1995). The New Cambridge Medieval History: pts. 1-2. c. 1024-c. 1198. I.S. Robinson The Institutions of the Church: Cambridge University Press. pp. 368–. ISBN 978-0-521-41410-4.
David A. Carpenter (2003). The Struggle for Mastery: Britain, 1066-1284. Oxford University Press. pp. 97–. ISBN 978-0-19-522000-1.

Priests and bishops were, as Pope Gregory VII (1073—85) put it, to be 'pastors of souls'. For this to be achieved, certain abuses had to be eradicated. One was clerical marriage, which snared priests in the world and threatened to make their offices hereditary. Another was pluralism, the holding of more than one benefice, behind which there was often simony, the buying and selling of ecclesiastical office. If the church was to be rid of these abuses, a necessary condition was clear lines of authority. Bishops needed to be able to rule their dioceses and archbishops (metropolitans) their provinces. Above all, the ultimate authority of the pope in matters of doctrine, law and discipline needed to be recognized in theory and exercised in practice.

The pope was to become the ultimate authority in all matters concerning church doctrine, canon law, and ecclesiastical discipline. At about this time Canon Law was edited, compiled and summarised  into easily accessible volumes by Rufinus and Gratian. Canon Law itself was a summary of the pronouncements of popes, the church fathers, decrees made at ecclesiastical councils.

But it left the following questions open:

Did the king control the Church in his kingdom, or was it the Pope?
Who appoints bishops? Or even Popes?
Who controls the Church's lands and their revenue?
Do kings have the spiritual authority to do this?
And were those appointed by kings suitable persons to hold high office in the Church?

But the lands in England used by the Church were ultimately owned by the king. And the kings of England had always assumed that they had the right to nominate and invest bishops, and assign them to their regalia.


Zachary N. Brooke (1911). "Pope Gregory VII's Demand for Fealty from William the Conqueror". In R. L. Poole (Ed.). The English Historical Review. Vol  26 No. CII April 1911, Longman Group Limited. pp. 225–38.

Papal Authority and Bishop's Privilege

Papal supremacy - Wikipedia

Pope Gregory VII - Wikipedia

Gregorian Reform - Wikipedia

Chapter XIV Hildebrand pp. 264-
"The History Of Sacerdotal Celibacy In The Christian Church, Volume 1".  

Johann Karl Ludwig Gieseler (1836). Text-book of Ecclesiastical History. Carey, Lea, and Blanchard. pp. 156–.

Larry Siedentop (2014). Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism. Chapter 16 Natural Law and Natural Rights: Harvard University Press. pp. 208–. ISBN 978-0-674-41753-3.

Hauke Brunkhorst (2014). Critical Theory of Legal Revolutions: Evolutionary Perspectives. Chapter 3: Legal Revolutions: Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 83–. ISBN 978-1-4411-0249-2. 

Christopher Robert Cheney (1956). From Becket to Langton: English Church Government, 1170-1213. Manchester University Press. pp. 42–

Jean Edme A. Gosselin (1853). The power of the pope during the Middle ages;  Volume I

Gosselin (1853). The power of the Pope during the Middle Ages, Volume 2. J. Murphy

Oestereich, T. (1909). Pope St. Gregory VII. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

Hildebradine Essays. CUP Archive. pp. 5–.

Chapter VIII: The Hierarchical Doctrine of the State

James Pounder Whitney (1910). Pope Gregory VII and the Hildebrandine Ideal.

The Gentleman's Magazine. Critique of Robertson's and Morris' Lives of Becket: F. Jefferies. 1860. pp. 34–.

Samuel E. Thorne (1 July 1984). Essays in English Legal History. Continuum. pp. 54–. ISBN 978-0-8264-4305-2.

Z. N. Brooke January 1928 II. The effect of Becket's murder on Papal Authority in England

The Effect of Becket's Murder on Papal Authority in England
Z. N. Brooke
The Cambridge Historical Journal Vol. 2, No. 3 (1928), pp. 213-228
Published by: Cambridge University Press
Stable URL:

H. E. J. Cowdrey (20 August 1998). Pope Gregory VII, 1073-1085. Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19-158459-6
Amazon Link

The Hierarchical Principle, Papal Supremacy and the Constitutions of Clarendon
Philip Schaff. History of the Christian Church. Volume 3. Library of Alexandria. pp. 5703–. ISBN 978-1-4655-2873-5.

Christopher Robert Cheney (1956). From Becket to Langton: English Church Government, 1170-1213. Manchester University Press. pp. 1–.

Jean Edme Auguste Gosselin (1853). The power of the Pope during the Middle Ages. Volume 1. J. Murphy.
Jean Edme Auguste Gosselin (1853). The power of the pope during the middle ages. Volume 2. J. Murphy.

Canossa: A Revision
Karl F. Morrison
Traditio , Vol. 18, (1962) , pp. 121-148

Oswald Joseph Reichel (1870). The See of Rome in the Middle Ages. The Struggle for Jurisdiction in England: Longmans, Green. pp. 367–.

Papal Exactions In Britain Consequent On Papal Dominion
E.C Harrington

Church and State in Christian History
David Knowles
Journal of Contemporary History
Vol. 2, No. 4, Church and Politics (Oct., 1967), pp. 3-15
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.

Helmut K. Anheier; Stefan Toepler ( 2009). International Encyclopedia of Civil Society. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 345–. ISBN 978-0-387-93996-4.

Ius Condendi Canones

Gratian expressly says that the Pope had ius condendi canone, the right to declare the Canons of Church Law, the Canon Lawgiver, the right to modify Canon Laws as he sees fit.


Decretum Gratiani: Secunda Pars, Causa 25, quaestio 1, c 16
C. XVI. Contra statuta agit sanctorum Patrum qui non ea seruat intacta.
Habet enim ius condendi canones, utpote que caput et cardo est omnium ecclesiarum, a cuius regula dissentire nemini licet.

Mary Stroll (1997). The Medieval Abbey of Farfa: Target of Papal and Imperial Ambitions. BRILL. pp. 58–. ISBN 90-04-10704-5.

Vol. 20 (1964), pp. 179-317

Stable URL:

Dictatus Papae Clause VII -

That for him alone is it lawful, according to the needs of the time, to make new laws, to assemble together new congregations, to make an abbey of a canonry; and, on the other hand, to divide a rich bishopric and unite the poor ones.

The Gregorian Ideal and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
Hayden V. White
Journal of the History of Ideas
Vol. 21, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1960), pp. 321-348
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
DOI: 10.2307/2708141
Stable URL:

Aspects of  Mediaeval Thought on Church and State
Gerhart B. Ladner
The Review of Politics
Vol. 9, No. 4 (Oct., 1947), pp. 403-422
Published by: Cambridge University Press for the University of  Notre Dame du lac on behalf of Review of Politics
Stable URL:

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Dictatus Papae, A.D. 1075

The resolution of the Investiture Controversy encouraged the development and realisation of a Papal Monarchy called by some The Papal Theocracy, leading to the claim made by Pope Gregory VII  to have Papal Supremacy over the Church. Much of this is formulated in the Dictatus Papae of 1075. 

Dictate of the Popes (1075)
  1. That the Roman church was founded by God alone.
  2. That the Roman pontiff alone can with right be called universal.
  3. That he alone can depose or reinstate bishops.
  4. That, in a council his legate, even if a lower grade, is above all bishops, and can pass sentence of deposition against them.
  5. That the pope may depose the absent.
  6. That, among other things, we ought not to remain in the same house with those excommunicated by him.
  7. That for him alone is it lawful, according to the needs of the time, to make new laws, to assemble together new congregations, to make an abbey of a canonry; and, on the other hand, to divide a rich bishopric and unite the poor ones.
  8. That he alone may use the imperial insignia.
  9. That of the pope alone all princes shall kiss the feet.
  10. That his name alone shall be spoken in the churches.
  11. That this is the only name in the world.
  12. That it may be permitted to him to depose emperors.
  13. That he may be permitted to transfer bishops if need be.
  14. That he has power to ordain a clerk of any church he may wish.
  15. That he who is ordained by him may preside over another church, but may not hold a subordinate position; and that such a one may not receive a higher grade from any bishop.
  16. That no synod shall be called a general one without his order.
  17. That no chapter and no book shall be considered canonical without his authority.
  18. That a sentence passed by him may be retracted by no one; and that he himself, alone of all, may retract it.
  19. That he himself may be judged by no one.
  20. That no one shall dare to condemn one who appeals to the apostolic chair.
  21. That to the latter should be referred the more important cases of every church.
  22. That the Roman church has never erred; nor will it err to all eternity, the Scripture bearing witness.
  23. That the Roman pontiff, if he have been canonically ordained, is undoubtedly made a saint by the merits of St. Peter; St. Ennodius, bishop of Pavia, bearing witness, and many holy fathers agreeing with him. As is contained in the decrees of St. Symmachus the pope.
  24. That, by his command and consent, it may be lawful for subordinates to bring accusations.
  25. That he may depose and reinstate bishops without assembling a synod.
  26. That he who is not at peace with the Roman church shall not be considered catholic.
  27. That he may absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men. 
Many of the above are based on pseudo-isidorean decretals. 

Medieval Sourcebook: Dictatus papae from Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), pp. 366–367.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Lateran Councils of the 12th Century

A two ecumenical synods of the Roman Catholic Church, called Councils of the Lateran, took place during the half century preceding the Constitutions of Clarendon, and one soon afterwards.  Much new canonical legislation was passed during their sessions, much of which is relevant to an understanding and discussion of the historical circumstances of the Constitutions and the issues concerning church and state affairs of these times. The Lateran Councils were a revival of the Western Catholic Church seeking to re-establish its authority, and an assertion of papal leadership.

An ecumenical council, was one summoned by the pope. These were synods or special council meetings of the whole Christian world, of the prelates and overseers of the Christian faith [bishops and abbots], fathers of the church, which, in the case of the Roman Catholic Church; that world essentially meant a full meeting of as many representatives of the church from the whole Latin world as possible, that is the non-Muslim lands of the former Western Roman Empire, Scandinavia, Outremer, and Holy Roman Empire). These special councils held during this period of ecclesiastical history were often seen to have a legitimate authority above that of the pope, and could depose him, if necessary: later this theoretical power was called Conciliarism. The fathers of the church were summoned in this manner whenever there was a grave crisis, theological or otherwise, which affected the practice and management of the faith, for important matters concerning church and state relations, schisms, or matters concerning the general governance of the church. Many new canon laws were drawn up and ratified at these synods. Many of the new canon laws paased at these Councils found their way into Gratian's Decretals (c. 1140).

The First Lateran Council was a confirmation of the terms of the Concordat of Worms (1122), which itself was based on the Concordat of London (1107). It resolved the Investiture Controversy: the ancient right presumed by the Holy Roman Emperors to name the pope, to appoint bishops and priests; to invest them with secular symbols of office, the sword or sceptre, and symbols of spiritual authority: ring, mitre and crozier. There was a general movement within the church to try to break free from secular control, to exert its independence. This programme was known as the Hildebrandine programme, after Hildebrand, Pope Gregory VII.

The Canons pronounced during these Councils lend and lent very considerable authority to the apparent stubborn position adopted by Thomas Becket in his handling of the crisis caused by King Henry II's insistence that the bishops of England  should confirm the Constitutions of Clarendon as the accepted undeniable "Customs of the Kingdom", when many of its clauses were in direct conflict with the Canon Law of the Roman Church.

First Council of the Lateran (1123) addressed investment [appointment] of bishops and the Holy Roman Emperor's role therein, simony, episcopal control over benefices, the requirements of persons seeking ecclesiastical office and the authority of the pope.

Second Council of the Lateran (1139) reaffirmed Lateran I and addressed clerical discipline (dress, marriages).

Third Council of the Lateran (1179) restricted papal election to the cardinals, condemned simony, and introduced minimum ages for ordination (thirty for bishops).

Some Canons Ratified at the FIRST LATERAN COUNCIL (1123)


Summary. Ordinations and promotions made for pecuniary considerations are devoid of every dignity.

Text. Following the example of the holy fathers and recognize ng the obligation of our office, we absolutely forbid in virtue of the authority of the Apostolic See that anyone be ordained or promoted for money in the Church of God. Has anyone thus secured ordination or promotion in the Church, the rank acquired shall be devoid of every dignity.


Summary. Only a priest may be made provost, archpriest, and dean; only a deacon may be made archdeacon.

Text. No one except a priest shall be promoted to the dignity of provost, archpriest, or dean; and no one shall be made archdeacon unless he is a deacon.


Summary. Lay persons, no matter how pious they may be, have no authority to dispose of anything that belongs to the Church.

Text. In accordance with the decision of Pope Stephen, we declare that lay persons, no matter how devout they may be, have no authority to dispose of anything belonging to the Church, but according to the Apostolic canon the supervision of all ecclesiastical affairs belongs to the bishop, who shall administer them conformably to the will of God. If therefore any prince or other layman shall arrogate to himself the right of disposition, control, or ownership of ecclesiastical goods or properties, let him be judged guilty of sacrilege.


Summary. Marriages between blood-relatives are forbidden.

Text. We forbid marriages between blood-relatives because they are forbidden by the divine and secular laws. Those who contract such alliances, as also their offspring, the divine laws not only ostracize but declare accursed, while the civil laws brand them as infamous and deprive them of hereditary rights. We, therefore, following the example of our fathers, declare and stigmatize them as infamous.


Summary. Those excommunicated by one bishop, may not be restored by others.

Text. We absolutely forbid that those who have been excommunicated by their own bishops be received into the communion of the Church by other bishops, abbots, and clerics.


Summary. A bishop consecrated after an uncanonical election shall be deposed.

Text. No one shall be consecrated bishop who has not been canonically elected. If anyone dare do this, both the consecrator and the one consecrated shall be deposed without hope of reinstatement.


Summary. Abbots and monks may not have the cura animarum.

Text. We forbid abbots and monks to impose public penances, to visit the sick, to administer extreme unction, and to sing public masses. The chrism, holy oil, consecration of altars, and ordination of clerics they shall obtain from the bishops in whose dioceses they reside.


Summary. The appointment of priests to churches belongs to the bishops, and without their consent they may not receive tithes and churches from laymen.

Text. Priests shall be appointed to parochial churches by the bishops, to whom they shall be responsible for the care of souls and other matters pertaining to them. They are not permitted to receive tithes and churches from laics without the will and consent of the bishops. If they act otherwise, let them be subject to the canonical penalties.

Some of the  Canons of the Second Lateran Council


Summary. Anyone simoniacally ordained shall be deposed.

Text. We decree that if anyone has been ordained simoniacally, he shall lose the office thus illicitly obtained.


Summary. If anyone has obtained ecclesiastical promotion simoniacally, he shall lose the honor thus acquired and buyer and seller as well as intermediaries shall be condemned.

Text. If anyone, impelled by the execrable vice of avarice, has by means of money obtained a prebend, priory, deanery, or any ecclesiastical honor or promotion, or any ecclesiastical sacrament, as chrism, holy oil, or the consecration of altars and churches, he shall be deprived of the honor thus illicitly acquired, and buyer and seller and intermediary agent shall be stigmatized with the mark of infamy. Neither for provisions nor under pretense of some custom shall something be demanded from anyone either before or after, nor shall anyone presume to give, because it is simoniacal; but freely and without any price shall he enjoy the dignity or benefice conferred on him.


Summary. Those excommunicated by one bishop may not be restored by othcrs. Communication with one excommunicated entails the same censure.

Text. We absolutely forbid that those who have been excommunicated by their own bishops be received by others. He who shall dare communicate knowingly with one excommunicated before he is absolved by the one who excommunicated him, shall incur the same penalty.


Summary. Bishops and clerics should so conduct themselves that they do not offend those whose model and example they should be.

Text. We command that bishops and clerics in mind and in body strive to be pleasing to God and to men, and not by superfluity, dissensions, or the color of their clothes, nor in their tonsure, off end the sight of those whose model and example they ought to be; but rather let them manifest the sanctity that should be part and parcel of their office. But if, admonished by their bishops, they do not amend, let them be deprived of their benefices.


Summary. Possessions of deceased bishops must remain in charge of the steward and clergy and must not be seized by anyone.

Text. We decree that that which was enacted in the Council of Chalcedon (canon 22) be inviolately observed; namely, that the possessions of deceased bishops be not seized by anyone, but that they remain in the hands of the steward and the clergy for the needs of the Church and his successor. That detestable and barbarous rapacity shall henceforth cease. If anyone in the future shall dare attempt this, let him be excommunicated. Those who seize the possessions of deceased priests or clerics, let them be subjected to the same penalty.


Summary. Monks and canons regular are not to study jurisprudence and medicine for the sake of temporal gain.

Text. An evil and detestable custom, we understand, has grown up in the form that monks and canons regular, after having received the habit and made profession, despite the rule of the holy masters Benedict and Augustine, study jurisprudence and medicine for the sake of temporal gain. Instead of devoting themselves to psalmody and hymns, they are led by the impulses of avarice to make themselves defenders of causes and, confiding in the support of a splendid voice, confuse by the variety of their statements what is just and unjust, right and wrong. The imperial constitutions, however, testify that its is absurd and disgraceful for clerics to seek to become experts in forensic disputations. We decree, therefore, in virtue of our Apostolic authority, that offenders of this kind be severely punished. Moreover, the care of souls being neglected and the purpose of their order being set aside, they promise health in return for detestable money and thus make themselves physicians of human bodies. Since an impure eye is the messenger of an impure heart, those things about which good people blush to speak, religion ought not to treat (that is, religious ought to avoid). Therefore, that the monastic order as well as the order of canons may be pleasing to God and be conserved inviolate in their holy purposes, we forbid in virtue of our Apostolic authority that this be done in the future. Bishops, abbots, and priors consenting to such outrageous practice and not correcting it, shall be deprived of their honors and cut off from the Church.


Summary. Church tithes may not be appropriated by laymen. Likewise laymen possessing churches must return them to the bishops. Ecclesiastical honors are not to be conferred on young men.

Text. In virtue of our Apostolic authority, we forbid that tithes of churches which canonical authority shows to have been given for pious purposes be possessed by laymen. Whether they have received them from bishops, kings, or other persons, unless they are returned to the Church, the possessors shall be judged guilty of sacrilege and shall incur the danger of eternal damnation. We command also that laymen who hold churches shall either return them to the bishops or incur excommunication. We confirm, moreover, and command that no one shall be promoted to the office of archdeacon or dean, unless he be a deacon or priest; those archdeacons and deans or provosts who exist below the orders just mentioned, if they refuse to be Ordained, let them be deprived of the honor received. We forbid, moreover, that the aforesaid honors be bestowed upon young men, even though they are constituted in sacred orders; but let them be conferred on those who are noted for prudence and rectitude of life. We command, moreover, that churches be not committed to hired priests; but let every church that possesses the means of support have its own priest.


Summary. Clerics and other people, as well as their animals, shall at all times be secure.

Text. We command also that priests, clerics, monks, travelers, merchants, country people going and returning, and those engaged in agriculture, as well as the animals with which they till the soil and that carry the seeds to the field, and also their sheep, shall at all times be secure.


Summary. Usurers are deprived of all ecclesiastical consolation and stigmatized with the mark of infamy

Text. We condemn that detestable, disgraceful, and insatiable rapacity of usurers which has been outlawed by divine and human laws in the Old and New Testaments, and we deprive them of all ecclesiastical consolation, commanding that no archbishop, no bishop, no abbot of any order, nor anyone in clerical orders, shall, except with the utmost caution, dare receive usurers; but during their whole life let them be stigmatized with the mark of infamy, and unless they repent let them be deprived of Christian burial.


Summary. Anyone laying violent hands on a cleric or monk shall be anathematized. Likewise he who lays hands on one seeking refuge in a church or cemetery.

Text. If anyone at the instigation of the devil incurs the guilt of this sacrilege, namely, that he has laid violent hands on a cleric or monk, he shall be anathematized and no bishop shall dare absolve him, except mortis urgente periculo, till he be presented to the Apostolic See and receive its mandate. We command also that no one shall dare lay hands on those who have taken refuge in a church or cemetery. Anyone doing this, let him be excommunicated.


Summary. No one shall demand any ecclesiastical office on the plea of hereditary right. Such offices are conferred in consideration of merit.

Text. It is beyond doubt that ecclesiastical honors are bestowed not in consideration of blood relationship but of merit, and the Church of God does not look for any successor with hereditary rights, but demands for its guidance and for the administration of its offices upright, wise, and religious persons. Wherefore, in virtue of our Apostolic authority we forbid that anyone appropriate or presume to demand on the plea of hereditary right churches, prebends, deaneries, chaplaincies, or any ecclesiastical offices. If anyone, prompted by dishonesty or animated by ambition, dare attempt this, he shall be duly punished and his demands disregarded.


Summary. Marriages between blood-relatives are prohibited.

Text. We absolutely forbid marriages between blood-relatives. The declarations of the holy fathers and of the holy Church of God condemn incest of this kind, which, encouraged by the enemy of the human race, has become so widespread. Even the civil laws brand with infamy and dispossess of all hereditary rights those born of such unions.


Text. We do not deny to kings and princes the authority (facultatem) to dispense justice in consultation with the archbishops and bishops.


Summary. Ecclesiastical offices may not be received from the hands of laymen.

Text. If anyone has received a deanery, prebend, or other ecclesiastical benefices from the hands of laymen, he shall be deprived of the benefices unjustly obtained. For, according to the decrees of the holy fathers, laymen, no matter how devout they may be, have no authority to dispose of ecclesiastical property.


Summary. Men of piety are not to be excluded from the election of bishops, and only capable and trustworthy persons are to be chosen for the episcopal office.

Text. Since the decrees of the fathers insist that on the death of bishops the Churches be not left vacant more than three months, we forbid under penalty of anathema that the canons of cathedrals exclude from the election of bishops viros religiosos (that is, monks and canons regular), but rather with the aid of their counsel let a capable and trustworthy person be chosen for the episcopal office. If, however, an election has been held with such religious excluded and held without their assent and agreement, it shall be null and void.

A Selection of Canons Ratified at the Third Lateran Council

Canon 1. In order to prevent the possibility of future schisms, only cardinals were to possess the right to elect a pope. In addition a two-thirds majority was to be required in order for the election to be valid. If any candidate should declare himself pope without receiving the required majority, he and his supporters were to be excommunicated.

Canon 5 forbade the ordination of clerics not provided with any means of proper support.

Canon 19 declared excommunication for those who tried to tax churches and clergy without the consent of the bishop.

Canon 25 excommunicates those who engage in usury.



Wilhelm, J. (1908). General Councils. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

Raymonde Foreville. — Latran I, II, III et Latran IV

First Council of the Lateran (1123)

"Second Lateran Council (1139)". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913

Third Council of the Lateran (1179)

Leclercq, H. (1910). Third Lateran Council (1179). In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Letter of his Suffragan Bishops to the Thomas Becket: Quae Vestro (1166)

Extract from
Roger of Hoveden (15 November 2012). Chronica Magistri Rogeri de Houedene:. Cambridge University Press. pp. 262–. ISBN 978-1-108-04881-1.
Roger (of Hoveden) (1868). Chronica magistri Rogeri de Houedene. Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer. pp. 262–.

[(1166.) Letter of the suffragans to the archbishop.]

They were glad to hear that he bore his exile patiently and piously.

Epistola suffraganeorum Cantuariensis ecclesiae 
ad  beatum Thomam Cantuariensem archiepiscopum 

"Venerabili patri et domino Thomae, Dei gratia Cantua-
riensi arcbiepiscopo, suffraganei ejusdom ecclesiae episcopi,
et personae per eorundem dioceses locis variis constitutae,
debitam subjectionem et obedientiam.

Quae vestro, pater,
in longinqua discessu inopinata rei ipsius novitate turbata
sunt, vestra sperabamus humilitate et prudentia in pacis
pristinae serenitatem, cooperanto gratia, revocari. Erat
quidem nobis solatio, quod post discessum vestrum, ad
omnes fama divulganto pervenit, vos scilicet in transmarinis
agentem nil altum sapere; vos in dominum nostrum regem
aut regnum ejus nulla machinatione insurgere, sed sponte
susceptum paupertatis onus cum modestia sustinere, lectioni
et orationi insistere, praeteritorumque jacturam temporum
jejuniis, vigiliis, lacrymisque redimere, et spiritualibus oc-
cupatum studiis ad perfectum beatitudinis virtutum incre-
mentis ascendero. Ad pacis bona reformanda vos studiis
hujusmodi gaudebamus insistere: ex quibua spes erat, vos
in cor domini regis nostri banc posse gratiam de super
evocare, ut vobis iram regia pietato remitteret, et illatas
in discessu et ex discessu vestro injurias, ad cor de cajtero
non revocaret. Erat amicis vestris et benevolis nd ipsum
aliquis, dum hrec de vobis audirentur, accessus, et ob conci-
liandum vobis gratiam supplicantes benigne quemque sus-
tinuit. Jam vero quorundam relatione didieimus, quod ad
memoriam anxie revocamus, vos scilicet in eum comma-
torium emisisse, quo salutationem omittitis, quo non ad
obtentum gratia, consilium precesvo porrigitis, quo noncned
amicum quid sentitis aut scribitis, sod intentatis minis inter
dictum aut proocisionis elogium in eum jam dicendum fore
multa severitate proponitis. Quod si quam dure dictum est
tarn fuerit severo completum, quai turbata sunt nou jam
speramus ad pacem redigi, sed in perenne quoddam odium
et inoxorabile pertimcsoimus inflammari. Rerum vero finem
prudentia sancta considerat, dans operam sollicite, ut quod
prudenter inchoat, bono quoque fine concludat. Advertat
itaque, si placot, discretio vestra quo tendat, an conatibus
hujusmodi finem queat obtinere quem optat. Nos quidom
his ausis a spe magna cecidimus, et qui pacis obtinenda!
spem quandoque concepimus, ab ipsis jam spei liminibus
gravi quadam desperatione repellimur. Et dum velut ex
tracto gladio pugna conseritur, pro vobis supplicandi locus
utique non invenitur. Unde patri scribimus ex caritato con-
silium, ne labores laboribus, injurias superaddat injuriis;
sed omissis minis, pationtiaa et humilitati inserviat. Causam
suam Divina dementia, domini sui gratia misericordi
committat, et sic agendo carbones ignis in multorum capita
coacervet et congerat. Accenderetur bon modo caritas, et
quod minae non poterant, inspiranto Domino bonorumque
consilio suadente, sola fortasse pietas obtineret. Bonum erat
de paupertate voluntaria glorioso laudari, quam de beneficii
ingratitudino ab omnibus in commune notari. Insedit alte
cunctorum mentibus, quam benignus vobis dominus rex
noster exstiterit, in quam vos gloriam ab exili provexerit,
in familiarem gratiam tarn laeta vos monte susceperit, ut
dominationis sua} loca, quae a Boreali oceano Pyreneum
usque porrecta sunt, adeo potestati vestraa cuncta subjecerit,
ut in his solum hos beatos reputaret opinio, qui in vestris
oculis poterant complacere. Et ne vestram gloriam mobi
litas posset mundana concutere, vos in his qua? Dei sunt:
voluit immobiliter radicare; et dissuadente matre sua, regno
acclamante, ecclesia Dei, quoad licuit, suspirante et inge-
miscente, vos in earn qua pra?estis dignitatem modis omni-
bus studuit sublimare, sperans se de caatero regnare feli-
citer, et ope vestra et consilio summa seeuritate gaudere.
Si ergo securim accipit unde securitatem sperabat, quae do
vobis erit in cunctorum ore narratio? Qua? retributionis
bacteuus inaudita? rememoratio? Parcatis ergo, si placet,
fames vestra, parcatis et gloria?, et humilitate dominum
nostrum, filiumque vestrum caritate vincere studeatis. Ad
quod si nostra vos monita niovere nequeunt, debet saltern
summi pontificis, sancta?que Bomana? eeclesia? dilectio et
fidelitas inclinare. Vobis enim suaderi debet e facili, ne
quid attentare velitis, quod laboranti jamdiu matri vestra?
labores augeat; quove multorum inobedientiam deploranti
in eornm qui obediunt amissione dolor accrescat. Quid
enim si vestra, quod absit, exacerbatione et opera, domi-
nus noster, quern largiente Domino populi sequuntur et
regna, a domino papa recesserit. Ipsumque sibi fortassis
adversum vos solatia denegantem, sequi de cautero declina-
verit? Ipsum namque in hoc, qua? supplicatione, qua?
dona, quot quantave promissa sollicitant? In petra tamen
bucusque flrmus perstitit et totum quod mundus offcrrc
potest victor alta mente caleavit. Umim nobis timori est,
ut quern oblata? divitia?, et totum quod in hominum gloria
pretiosum est, flcctere nequiverunt, animi sui valeat indig-
natio sola subvertere. Quod si per vos acciderit, in thre-
nos totus ire poteritis, et lacrymarum fontem oculis vestris
de ecetero negare nulla quidem. ratione poteritis. Revoce-
tis itaque, si placet, sublimitati vestra? consilium, domino
quidem papa?, sancta? que Romana? ecclesia?, vobisque etiam,
si placet, advertere, modis omnibus, si processerit, ob-
futnrum. Sed qui penes vos alta sapiunt, vos forte hac via
progredi non permittunt. Hortantur cxperiri quis sitis in
dominum nostrum regem, et in omnia qua? sua sunt potes-
tatem exercere qua praestis. Quae nimirum potestas pec-
canti timenda est, satisfacere noleuti formidanda. Dominum
vero regem non quidem nunquam peccasse dicimus, sed
semper Domino paratum satisfacere confidenter dicimus et
prasdicamus. Rex a Domino constitutus paci providet per
omnia subjectorum, et ut banc conservet ecclesiis et com-
missis sibi populis, dignitates regibus ante se debitas et
inaudila] remuneratio exhibitas sibi vult ot exigit exhiberi. 

In quo si inter ipsum
et vos aliqua est oborta contentio, a summo super hoc pon-
tifice paterna gratia per venerabiles fratres nostros Lundo-
niensem et Hercfordensem episcopos conventus et commo-
nitus, non in coelum os suum posuit, sed de omnibus in
ecclesia vel ecclesiastica persona qucecunque se gravatam
ostendet, se non alienum quterere, sed ecclesia; regni sui
pariturum judicio humiliter et mansueto respondit. Quod qui
dem et factis implere paratus est, et dulce reputat obsequinm,
cum monetur ut corrigat si quid offenderit in Dominum.
Neo solum satisfacere, sed et, si jus exigat, in hoc satis
dare paratus est. Igitur et satis dare satisquo facere volen
tcm, ecclesisB se judicio in his qua; sunt ecclesia; neo in
modico subtrahentem, colla Christi jugo subdentem, quo
jure, qua lege, quove canone, aut interdicto gravabitis, aut
securi, quod absit, evangelica prrecidetis? Non impetu qui
dem ferri, sed judicio prudenter regi laudabilo est. Unde
nostrum omnium una est in commune petitio, ne consilio
praecipiti mactare pergatis et perdere, sed commissis ovi
bus, ut vitam, ut pacem, ut securitatem habeant, paterna
studeatis gratia providere. Movet quidem omnes nos, quod
in fratrem nostrum dominum Saresberiensem episcopum, et
decanum ejus, prrepostcre, ut quidam asstimant, nuper actum
audivimus. In quos suspensionis aut damnationis poenam
ante motam de culpa controversiam, calorem, ut videtur,
iracundioe, plusquam justitia; secuti tramitem, intorsistis.
Ordo judiciorum novus hie est, huiusque legibus et cano-
nibus, ut speramus, incognitus, damnare primum, et do
culpa postremo cognoscere. Quem ne in dominum nostrum
regem et regnum ejus, nec in nos et commissas nobis
ecclesias et parochias, in domini papa; damnum, sanctaeque
ecclesiae Romanae dedecus et detrimentum, vestraaque con
fusionis augmentum non modicum, exercere tentetis et ex
tendere: remedium vobis appellationis opponimus, et qui
contra metum gravaminuin, in facie ecclesia;, viva jamdu-
dum voce ad dominum papam appellavimus, iterato jam
nunc ad ipsum scripto etiam appellamus, et appellationi
terminum diem Ascensionis Dominica; designamus: quanta
quidem possumus devotione supplicantes, ut inito salubriori
consilio, vestris ac nostris laboribus expensisque parcatis,
causamque vestram in hoc, ut remedium habere queat,
ponere studeatis.

Valere vos optamus in Domino, pater."
The Letter of the suffragans of the Church of Canterbury to the blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury.

"To their venerable father and lord, Thomas, by the grace of God, archbishop of Canterbury, the suffragan bishops of that church and the beneficed clergy appointed over the various places throughout their dioceses, due submission and obedience. Whereas, father, on your departure for foreign parts, through the very unexpectedness and novelty of the circumstance, considerable confusion arose, still, we did hope, through your humility and prudence, with the aid of the Divine favour, for a re- turn therefrom to the serenity of our former peaceful state. That was, indeed, a solace to us, which, after your departure, reached us all by general report ; that you, while passing your time in the parts beyond sea, had no ulterior designs ; that you were guilty of no machinations against our lord the king or against his kingdom, but endured with, moderation the burden of poverty which you had spontaneously taken upon yourself ; that you were devoting your time to reading and prayer, and were atoning for the loss of time past by fastings, watchings, and tears, and, occupied in spiritual pursuits, were making your way, by the increase of your virtues, to the perfection of blessedness. We rejoiced to hear that by pursuits of this nature you were applying yourself to the restoration of the blessings of peace ; and, in consequence thereof, we did entertain a hope that you would be enabled also to bring the heart of our lord the king to feelings of graciousness, so that, in his royal clemency, he might cease to be angered against you, and no longer recall to mind the injuries that had been inflicted upon him in your departure, and in the consequences thereof. Your friends and well-wishers did enjoy some access to him while these things were heard of you, and when they made entreaties for the bestowal on you of his favour, he received each with benignity. But now, from the information of certain persons, we have learned that which we recall to mind with anxiety, namely, that you have issued against him a letter of warning, in which you omit the salutation, and in which you do not make any attempt to gain his favor, or have recourse to entreaties : in which you neither breathe nor write aught in a friendly spirit; but, on the contrary', with extreme severity, you declare in the threats which you utter against him, that you will shortly have to pronounce against him an interdict or else sentence of excommunication. Know, should this be carried out with as much severity as it has been asserted with harshness, we then no longer have any hope that peace may succeed the present state of confusion, but are greatly afraid that he will be inflamed to a lasting and inexorable hatred. But the prudence of the devout takes into consideration the results of things, using its best endeavours that what it has commenced with discretion it may also bring to a good end. Therefore, if so it please you, let your discreetness consider to what it tends, and whether, by attempts of this nature, it can obtain the end which is its object. As for us, in consequence of these endeavours, we have fallen from great hopes, and after conceiving the hope of at some time obtaining peace, we now find ourselves repelled by deep despair from the very threshold of hope. And thus, while the combat is being waged as it M'cre with the sword drawn, there is no room whatever to be found for entreaty in your behalf. Therefore do we write to our father what in our Christian love is our advice to him, not to super- add difficulties to difficulties, injuries to injuries, but rather, desisting from threats, to observe patience and humility. Let him entrust his cause to the Divine clemency, to the favour and mercy of his lord, and, thus doing, let him heap and gather hot coals of fire upon the heads of many. By thus acting, brotherly love will be excited, and, the Lord inspiring and the advice of the good prevailing, perhaps piety alone would be enabled to do that which threats have proved unable. It would be as well for you to be spoken of in terms of praise for your voluntary submission to poverty, as, for ingratitude for benefits received to become the subject of general remark. For all persons have a full recollection how kind the king our master has shewn himself towards you, to what a pity of glory he has raised you from an humble station, and how he has with feelings so joyous received you into his especial favor, that the whole of the various portions of his dominions, which extend from the northern ocean to the Pyrenees, he has rendered subject to your power ; so much so, that in them public opinion considered those only as fortunate who were able to find grace in your eyes. And, that no worldly fickleness might be able to shake your glory, he has willed immoveably to root you in the things which belong to God. While his mother dissuaded him, the kingdom expostulated, the Church of God, so far as she could, sighed and groaned, he made it his object, in every possible way, to raise you to that elevated post which you now enjoy, hoping that he should for the future reign hap- pily, and, amid the greatest security, rejoice in your aid and counsel. If, then, he receives injury where he looks for security, what will be the remark made on you by the voice of all ? What will be your reward, or what your character, in consequence of your having made such a return as this ? Do, then, if so it please you, spare your own character, spare, too, your own fame, and, in humility, endeavour to surpass our lord, and, in Christian charity, your son. If, however, our advice cannot prevail upon you to do this, at least the love and fidelity of the Supreme Pontiff, and of the holy Roman Church, right to influence you. For you ought easily to be persuaded not to wish to make any attempt which may increase the labours of your mother, who has now laboured so long, by causing her grief, which deplores the disobedience of many, to be increased by the loss of those who are obedient. For what if, and God forbid it should be so, through your irritation of him, or by your agency, our lord the king, whom people and kingdoms follow and obey, the gift of the Lord, should withdraw from our lord the pope, and decline to follow him for the future, after his refusal to give him satisfaction against you ? For, what entreaties, what gifts, what promises, and how many of them, are strongly urging him to this step ! whereas he has hitherto stood firmly upon a rock, and has victoriously, with feelings of deep devotion, trodden under foot the whole that the world could make offer of. One thing only do we fear, that him whom these offers of riches, and the whole of that which in the estimation of men is precious, could not influence, the indignation of his feelings of themselves may be enabled to overcome. Should this come to pass through your agency, you will have entirely to adopt the lamentations of Jeremiah, and in future will never by any means be enabled to deny unto your eyes a fountain of tears. Recollect, therefore, if so it please you, that the design of your highness, if it should succeed, will in every way conduce to the injury of our lord the pope and the holy Roman Church, and, if so it please you, of yourself as well. But those who are near you, and have deep designs, perhaps will not allow you to proceed upon this path. They entreat you to make trial against our lord the king who you are, and, in all matters which belong to him, to exercise your utmost possible power. For what power is there an object of fear to the sinful, of dread to him who refuses to give satisfaction ? We do not, indeed, say that our lord the king has never done amiss, but we do say, and aver with confidence, that he has always been ready to make satisfaction to our lord. The king, who has been so appointed by the Lord, he provides for the peace of his subjects in all things, that he may be enabled to preserve the same for the churches and the people entrusted to him, while, at the same time, the dignities which were the due of and accorded to the kings before him, he asks as his own due and to be accorded to him. Wherefore, it any disagreement has arisen between him and you, having been convened and warned thereon by the Supreme Pontiff, in his paternal love, through our venerable brethren the bishops ofj London and Hereford, he has not treated the same with supercilioiisness, but has shown that be does not require what does not belong to him in all those matters in which any grievance has been put forward relative to a church or any ecclesiastical person, and has humbly and meekly made answer that he will conform to the judgment of the Church of his kingdom ; which he is also prepared to fulfil in deed, and to esteem it a pleasing obedience when he is advised to correct the same, if he has been guilty of any offence towards God. And, not only to give satisfaction, but also to make reparation, if required, is ' he prepared. If then, he is ready both to give satisfaction and to make reparation to the Church in those matters which concern the Church, and not in the least to shrink there- from, thus bowing his neck to the yoke of Christ, with what right, by what law, by w hat canon or interdict will you oppress him. or, which God forbid, with what weapon of the Gospel will you smite him r Not to be carried away by impulse, but to be prudently regulated by the judgment, is a thmgworthy of praise. Therefore, this is the common petition of us all, that you will not give way to precipitate counsels, and thus betray us, but rather by your paternal kindness make it your study to provide for the sheep entrusted to your charge, that they may enjoy life, and peace, and security. Indeed, that is a subject of concern to us all, which we have lately heard of as being done, preposterously as some think, against our brother the bishop of Salisbury and his dean. Against them, following, as it seems to us, rather the warmth of anger than the path of jus- tice, you have hurled the penalties of suspension or condemnation before an enquiry has taken place as to their faults. This is a new method of giving judgment, hitherto, we trust, unknown to laws and canons, first to condemn for it, and afterwards to take cognizance of the fault. This we beg you not to attempt to put in practice against our lord the king and his kingdom, or against ourselves and the churches and dioceses entrusted to our chaise, to the detriment of our lord the pope, to the loss and disgrace of the holy Church of Rome, and to the no slight increase of your own confusion. To such a course on your part we oppose the remedy of appeal, having already in the face of the Church personally made appeal to our lord the pope against our fears of oppression. And now once more do we appeal to him in writing, and we name the day of the Ascension of Our Lord as the appointed time for our appeal.

Still, with all possible duteousness, we entreat you, adopting more healthful counsels, to spare your own and our labour and expense, and to make it your endeavour to place your case in such a position that it may admit of a remedy. Father, we wish you farewell in the Lord."

Saint Thomas (à Becket) (2000). "Letter 93"The Correspondence of Thomas Becket: Archbishop of Canterbury, 1162-1170. Oxford University Press. pp. 382–. ISBN 978-0-19-820892-1.
Rolls Series (1881). Materials for the history of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, canonized by pope Alexander III, A. D. 1173. Vol. 5  p.408-13. ed. by James Craigie Robertson,
Epistola CCV: Quae vestro, pater
Thomae Cantuariensi archiepiscopo Clerus Angliae
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. 372–. ISBN 978-1-108-04926-9.
Thurot Charles. Observations sur le texte de plusieurs documents relatifs à Thomas Becket.
In: Comptes-rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 15e année, 1871. pp. 153-159.
doi : 10.3406/crai.1871.67768