A Collection of Historic Documents with Commentaries
TRANSLATED AND EDITED BY
SIDNEY Z. EHLER , LL.D.
JOHN B. MORRALL , M.A., PH.D.
BIBLO and TANNEN
CHAPTER I. THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THE DARK AGES
1. The Emperor Trajan: letter to Pliny concerning the treatment of Christians (113 A.D.)
2. Edict of Milan (313)
3. The Emperors Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius I: edict establishing Christianity as State religion (380)
4. The Emperors Valentinian III and Theodosius II: edict on the Pope's primacy (445)
5. The Emperor Justinian I: view on spiritual and temporal power (535)
6. Pope Gelasius I: view on spiritual and temporal power (494)
7. Charlemagne's view on Church and State (796)
* 8. Lothair I: Constitutio Romana (824)
9. Donation of Constantine (c. 750-850)
CHAPTER II. THE GREGORIAN REFORMATION
1. Pope Nicholas II: decree In nomine Domini on Papal election (1059)
* 2. Robert Guiscard's vassalage to the Papacy (1059)
3. Pope Gregory VII: second letter to Hermann of Metz on secular power (1081)
4. Pope Gregory VII: depositions of Henry IV, king of Germany (1076 and 1080)
5. Pope Gregory VII: Dictatus Papae
6. Henry IV of Germany: view on the relationship between Church and State (1076)
7. Pope Gregory VII: decree prohibiting lay investiture (1078)
8. Concordat of Worms (1122)
CHAPTER III. THE FEUDAL MIDDLE AGES
1. Pope Adrian IV: Bull Laudabiliter (grant of Ireland) (1155)
2. Henry II of England: Constitutions of Clarendon (1164)
3. Frederic Barbarossa: view on Papacy and Empire (1157)
4. Pope Alexander III: decree Licet de vitanda on Papal election (1179)
* 5. Pope Innocent III: views on the plenitude of the Papal power (1198, 1202, 1204)
6. King John of England: vassalage to the Holy See (1213)
* 7. Pope Gregory IX: view on Papacy and Empire (1236)
* 8. Pope Innocent IV: deposition of the Emperor Frederic II (1245)
* 9. King Rudolf of Germany: surrender of Italy to the Papacy (1279)
10. Pope Boniface VIII: Bull Unam Sanctam (1302)
11. Pope Clement V: Brief Meruit (1306)
12. King Lewis of Germany: decree Licet iuris on the election of Emperors (1338)
CHAPTER IV. THE CONCILIAR PERIOD AND THE AGE OF DISCOVERY
1. King Richard II of England: Statute of Praemunire (1393)
2. Council of Constance: decrees Sacrosancta and Frequens on the Council's superiority over the Pope (1415 and 1417)
* 3. Council of Basel: Compacts of Prague with the Hussites (1433)
* 4. Charles VII of France: Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (1438)
* 5. Council of Basel: deposition of Pope Eugenius IV (1439)
* 6. Pope Nicholas V: Concordat of Vienna with Germany (1448)
* 7. Pope Pius II: Bull Execrabilis on appeals to the Councils (1460)
* 8. Pope Leo X: Concordat of Bologna with France (1516)
9. Pope Nicholas V: Bull Romanus Pontifex on African discoveries (1455)
10. Bull Inter caetera Divinae of Pope Alexander VI on the discovery of America (1493)
CHAPTER V. REFORMATION AND COUNTER-REFORMATION
1. Henry VIII of England: Act of Supremacy (1534)
* 2. Religious Peace of Augsburg (1555)
* 3. Pope Paul IV: Bull Ex Apostolatus officio deposing heretical princes (1559)
4. Pope Pius V: Bull Regnans in Excelsis deposing Elizabeth I of England (1570)
* 5. Henry IV of France: Edict of Nantes (1598)
* 6. Religious clauses of the Peace of Westphalia (1648)
* 7. Pope Innocent X: Bull Zelo domus Dei protesting against the Peace of Westphalia (1648)
* 8. Pope Paul III: Brief Pastorale officium on the treatment of Indians in America (1537)
CHAPTER VI. THE AGE OF ABSOLUTISM AND ENLIGHTENMENT
* 1. Declaration of the Gallican clergy (1682)
* 2. Louis XIV of France: Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685)
3. Charles II of England: Test Act (1673)
4. James II of England: Declaration of Indulgence (1688)
* 5. Pope Clement XI: Protest against the creation of the Kingdom of Prussia (1701)
6. United States of America: religious clauses of Constitutional Laws (1776, 1785, 1791)
* 7. The Emperor Joseph II: Toleration Act (1781)
* 8. Decree naming the Jesuit Order as protector of the Indians of Paraguay (1636) 230
CHAPTER VII. THE AGE OF LIBERALISM AND CAPITALISM
* 1. French Revolution: Civil Constitution of the clergy (1790)
* 2. Concordat between the Papacy and the First French Republic (1801)
3. Catholic Emancipation Act in Great Britain and Ireland (1829)
4. Belgian Constitution of 1831: religious clauses
* 5. Pope Pius IX: Concordat with Ecuador (1862)
6. Pope Pius IX: Syllabus errorum concerning the Liberal ideology (1864)
* 7. The Italian law of guarantees (1871)
* 8. The German "Kulturkampf ": law on the appointment of clergy (1874)
9. Pope Leo XIII: Encyclical Immortale Dei on the Liberal conception of State (1885)
10. Pope Leo XIII: Encyclical Rerum novarum (1891)
* 11. The French law on the separation of Church and State (1905)
12. Pope Benedict XV: Peace proposals during the First World War (1917)
CHAPTER VIII. THE AGE OF SOCIALISM AND TOTALITARIANISM
1. Lateran Treaty and Concordat between the Papacy and Italy (1929)
2. Pope Pius XI: Encyclical Quadragesimo anno (1931)
3. Pope Pius XI: Encyclical Non abbiamo bisogno on the Concordat with Fascist Italy (1931)
4. Pope Pius XI: Concordat with Nazi Germany (1933)
* 5. Corporative Constitutions of Austria (1934) and Portugal (1933 and 1935)
6. Pope Pius XI: Encyclical Mit brennender Sorge on the Concordat with Germany (1937)
7. Pope Pius XI: Encyclical Divini Redemptoris on Communism (1937)
8. Pope Pius XI: Encyclical Nos es muy on the persecution of the Church in Mexico (1937)
9. Irish Constitution (1937)
10. Pope Pius XII: view on Spiritual Power of Church and Modern Concepts of State Power (1945)
11. Pope Pius XII: excommunication of Communists (1949)
* 12. Czechoslovak Communist law on Church affairs (1949)
* Indicates documents appearing in English translation for the first time.
THE collection of documents contained in this book provides for students of European History an instrument of study which they should find most useful, uniting as it does within one cover a large number of fundamental texts of the greatest interest and variety. From the letter of the Emperor Trajan on the treatment of the early Christians to the Constitution of Ireland and the Czechoslovak Communist law on Church affairs is a long distance in time; but the character of the first and last of these documents is as clear an intimation as could be desired of the unity of the book's subject and of the extraordinary vitality of the institution with which it is concerned. Students will note with interest what a large number of these texts, especially among those from the medieval period, are here presented for the first time in English.
The editors of this book, Dr. Sidney Ehler and Dr. John Morrall, are distinguished members of the staff of University College, Dublin, whose success in the teaching of European History has been outstanding. Dr. Ehler has behind him the rich tradition of Continental jurisprudence and political science and Dr. Morrall is a product of the Oxford Schools. Their collaboration in Dublin on such a work as the present is a guarantee of its wide interest as well as of the competence and experience they have brought to their task.
University College, Dublin
IN English-speaking countries the lack of knowledge of classical or modern foreign languages is often a serious handicap to historical studies, whether in the Universities and other academic institutions or outside them. Nowhere is this lack likely to lead to more fundamental misapprehensions than in the study of the history of the Christian Church. Our aim in this book is to provide reliable English translations of the most significant official documents in one of the most controversial fields of Church History--the story of the Church's relationship with the secular political power through the various metamorphoses of that power over twenty centuries of history. The decision to confine the collection to these sources and to omit any quotations from individual writers, however distinguished, was taken to prevent an already large book from becoming unwieldy and thus defeating its own purpose. We believe there may also be a positive advantage in being able to inspect the official statements of religious and political authority in isolation from the sometimes distracting interpretations of individual publicists. Supporters of both sides have often used highly selective methods of quotation of official sources, and for this reason we have presented the vast majority of the documents in extenso. We venture to hope that this method of presentation may assist the interested reader in the study of a subject which has suffered, perhaps more than any other, from the prejudices of controversy.
Most of the documents selected appear in an entirely new English translation. Some are appearing in English, to the best of our knowledge, for the first time: these are indicated in the table of contents by an asterisk. Explanatory commentaries prefix each individual document, and each of the eight chapters into which the book is divided is preceded by a short general introduction. We have endeavoured to keep the intrusion of personal opinion to a minimum and to allow the documents to speak for themselves.
We acknowledge with grateful thanks the kind permission given to us by the Catholic Truth Society, London, to reproduce their copyright translations of certain modern Papal Encyclicals. The documents concerned are indicated at their appropriate places in the text.
SIDNEY Z. EHLER
University College, Dublin, JOHN B. MORRALL July, 1954
THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THE DARK AGES
WHEN Christians first appeared as a small and sometimes persecuted minority in the Mediterranean world of the Roman Empire, they had no distinctive social or political philosophy. Such a philosophy would hardly be necessary at this early period, when many Christians seem to have continuously expected an imminent end to the world itself, followed by the Second Coming of Christ. In the meantime, however, the general attitude toward the pagan State in which this little community existed was one of respectful submission whenever the State's commands did not conflict with those of God and of His Church. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (Chap. XIII) gives a classical expression of this general viewpoint.
The State itself was not prepared to regard this qualified obedience as satisfactory. To the Imperial authorities the refusal of the Christians to acknowledge the divinity of the Emperor could be construed as political disloyalty, for to the pagan State of antiquity religion and politics were one. So Christianity was denounced as unlawful (a "religio illicita") throughout the first three centuries of its history and sometimes this disapproval was expressed in terms of outright persecution. The more usual attitude of the Emperors was summed up by the Emperor Trajan's instructions to Governor Pliny ( Document No. 1 ) which, while discountenancing Christianity, did not allow anti-Christian activities to assume exaggerated proportions.
The Church, however, continued to increase in numbers and influence and at the beginning of the fourth century the Empire itself in the person of the Emperor Constantine ( 308-337) judged it advisable to come to terms with the new religion. The Edict of Milan ( Doc. No. 2 ), anticipated in part by a decree of Constantine's predecessor Galerius in 311, gave official toleration to the Christians, although for the moment they were to receive no open preference over other religious bodies. This attitude of State neutrality in matters of religion was quickly abandoned in practice by Constantine and his successors, who themselves became Christians, but the final prohibition of pagan worship by the secular authority did not occur until the end of the fourth century.
The Roman Empire had become an officially Christian Empire. This fact gave a new twist to the Church's relations with the State and rendered it imperative that some attempt at defining the Church's share in political life should be made. For the situation had its dangers; open persecution by the State was a thing of the past, but instead there was the more insidious peril that the State in its Christian form would gradually acquire a controlling influence over the Church's government and thereby rob it of its essential independence. Even State support of orthodoxy by such Emperors as Theodosius I and Valentinian III ( Doc. Nos. 3 and 4 ), valuable as it proved to be in ensuring practical triumph for Catholicism against the great heresies of the fourth and fifth centuries, and in securing respect for the decisions of Papal authority, might ultimately lead, as it did in the Eastern Byzantine Empire, to a view of the Church as being in effect a department of State, controlled by the Emperor just as were the secular activities of the community. This Byzantine attitude (often known as "Caesaro-Papism," because it allowed the Emperor to arrogate to himself ecclesiastical authority) persisted throughout the history of the Eastern Orthodox Church and was a powerful factor in its final schism with Rome ( 1054). It is best summed up in an extract from the famous Code of the Emperor Justinian I ( Doc. No. 5 ).
In the West, however, matters took a different course. The Roman See had always enjoyed much more independence vis-à-vis the Imperial authority than had the Eastern Patriarchs, while the extinction of the Imperial title in the West ( 476) and the conquest of Western Europe by the Germanic barbarian invaders wiped out the conception of a centralized State as Rome had known it. The new Teutonic kingdoms were decentralized tribal collections, which were in no position to enforce their will on the Church, now the main repository of law, culture and learning. The Papacy, as the leading ecclesiastical power, was therefore able to attempt a theoretical delimitation of the respective functions of spiritual and secular authority within the Christian Commonwealth. The "Gelasian" theory, enunciated by Pope Gelasius I ( 492-496), formulated a separation into two spheres of authority and this remained the standard statement of the position for the next 600 years ( Doc. No. 6 ). Its main effect was to set up a dualism of authority within the Christian society of the West.
The chaos of the barbarian invasions was finally resolved by the union of most of Christian Western Europe under the Frankish Empire, chiefly associated with the figure of Charlemagne, in whose person, under Papal auspices, the Imperial dignity in the West was revived. Charlemagne himself appears to have conceived it as his duty to watch over the spiritual as well as the temporal interests of the Church and, in his description of the relationship of the Empire to the Papacy ( Doc. No. 7 ), he assigns to the latter a comparatively passive role.
The Papacy, indeed, was at this stage handicapped in its struggle for ecclesiastical independence by the peculiar local conditions at its headquarters, Rome itself. Here the pressure of local Italian factions or the intervention of the Emperor often made Popes the tools of secular forces which weakened the moral fibre of the Church and gravely hampered its freedom of action. An illustration of this is the Constitutio Romana, a protectorate imposed upon the Papacy by Lothair, grandson of Charlemagne, in 824 ( Doc. No. 8 ).
It began to be obvious that, given the circumstances of the time, the Papacy could only free itself from this exterior pressure if it enjoyed some measure of political independence. In particular, it must establish itself as the political authority in Rome and the surrounding district. This was the reason for the beginnings of the territorial States of the Church which are to be placed at the agreement between the Frankish king Pippin and Pope Stephen II in 754. The acquisition and preservation of these territories became a sine qua non of the Papal policy for the next 1,100 years until the loss of the Papal States in 1870. The legal arguments by which this policy was buttressed may seem strange, even bizarre, to the modern reader. The most famous of them, the Donation of Constantine ( Doc. No. 9 ), is now universally accepted as a forgery. Its main interest to us is in its indication that at least some churchmen had by the ninth century come to the conclusion that attack was the best form of defence and that the Church's freedom in the spiritual sphere could best be secured by making it master in the political sphere. Even in its own field the State was to be subordinate to the Church. The subsequent development of this idea was to be one of the basic factors in the history of the Middle Ages.
1. Emperor Trajan's Rescript to Governor Pliny (A.D. 113) on the Treatment of the Christians
Original Latin text in C. Plinii C. S. Epistulae ( ad Traianum Imperatorem cum eiusdem responsis ), ed. E. G. Hardy, p. 216
This letter from the Emperor Trajan (98-117) was written to the famous Latin writer of the "Silver Age," Pliny the Younger, when
he was acting as Governor of the province of Bithynia in Asia Minor. It was a reply to Pliny's request for approval of his treatment of the Christians, whose number was disquietingly growing in Bithynia. The Emperor's instruction is of unique interest because it is the first extant document illustrating official Imperial policy towards the Christians. Trajan's attitude is moderate; while making clear that the profession of Christianity is a punishable offence, he discourages any attempt at a "witch-hunt" and condemns the laying of charges by anonymous informers. Each case is apparently to be judged on its own merits.
You have acted as you should have done, dear Secundus, in your investigation of the cases of those who had been denounced to you as Christians. For no general and unvarying principle can be laid down. These men are not to be tracked down; if they are arrested and proved guilty, they must be punished, with the proviso that whoever denies that he is a Christian and proves his denial by the action of giving worship to our gods, shall obtain pardon as a result of his repentance, even if he has been a past suspect. Information laid anonymously ought not to take its place in any charge, as it forms a bad example and is uncongenial with the spirit of our modern age.
2. Edict of Milan on the Toleration of the Christian Religion, Enacted in 313
The Latin text (taken over from Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum ), in Mirbt, Quellen zur Geschichte des Papstums, p. 39
The authenticity of the Edict has been questioned by some modern critics, but the balance of opinion is in its favour. Some of its provisions of toleration were anticipated by an edict of the Emperor Galerius in 311. It should be noted that the Edict of Milan does not in itself indicate any special pro-Christian feeling on the part of Constantine, and the references to religion (the "Supreme Godhead") are studiously vague. The State is to be religiously neutral and will content itself with ensuring a "fair deal" for all parties. This is an argument in favour of the document's authenticity; were it a Christian forgery, one should expect it to be worded much more uncompromisingly in favour of the Church.
The Christian Church is to be given back all the property which it had lost by confiscation during the persecutions under Diocletian and his successors. The Imperial treasury is to make financial compensation to the present owners of such confiscated property after their cases have been submitted individually by the Vicar of their respective provinces. (The Vicar was the representative of the Emperor for certain administrative purposes.) The text seems to indicate that Christianity was already important enough to need not only buildings for purposes of worship, but also places suitable for accommodating those responsible for Church order and government.
We, Constantinus and Licinius the Emperors, having met in concord at Milan and having set in order everything which pertains to the common good and public security, are of the opinion that among the various things which we perceived would profit men, or which should be set in order first, was to be found the cultivation of religion; we should therefore give both to Christians and to all others free facility to follow the religion which each may desire, so that by this means whatever divinity is enthroned in heaven may be gracious and favourable to us and to all who have been placed under our authority. Therefore we are of the opinion that the following decision is in accordance with sound and true reasoning: that no one who has given his mental assent to the Christian persuasion or to any other which he feels to be suitable to him should be compelled to deny his conviction, so that the Supreme Godhead ("Summa Divinitas"), whose worship we freely observe, can assist us in all things with his wonted favour and benevolence. Wherefore it is necessary for your Excellency to know that it is our pleasure that all restrictions which were previously put forward in official pronouncements concerning the sect of the Christians should be removed, and that each one of them who freely and sincerely carries out the purpose of observing the Christian religion may endeavour to practise its precepts without any fear or danger. We believed that these points should be fully brought to your attention, so that you might know that we have given free and absolute permission to practise their religion to the Christians. Now that you perceive what we have granted to them, your Excellency must also learn that for the sake of peace in our time a similar public and free right to practise their religion or cult is granted to others, so that every man may have free opportunity to worship according to his own wish. This has been done by us to avoid any appearance of disfavour to any one religion. We have decided furthermore to decree the following in respect of the Christians: if those places at which they were accustomed in former times to hold their meetings (concerning which a definite procedure was laid down for your guidance in previous communications) have been at any previous time acquired from our treasury or from any other person, let the persons concerned be willing and swift to restore them to the Christians without financial recompense and without trying to ask a price. Let those who have received such property as a gift restore whatever they have acquired to the Christians in similar manner. If those who have bought such property or received it as a gift, seek some recompense from our benevolence, let them apply to the Vicar, by whom their cases will be referred to our clemency. You are to consider it your duty that all these things shall be handed over to the Christian body immediately and without delay by your intervention. And since the aforesaid Christians are known to have possessed not only those places at which they are wont to assemble, but others also pertaining to the law of their body, that is of the churches, not of private individuals, you are to order in accordance with the law which we have described above the return of all those possessions to the aforesaid Christians, that is to their bodies and assemblies without any further hesitation or argument. Our previous statement is to be borne in mind that those who restore this property without price may, as we have said, expect some compensation from our benevolence.
You ought to bring into play your very effective intervention in all these matters concerning the aforesaid Christian body so that there may be a swift fulfilment of our Edict, in which the interests of public quiet have been consulted by our clemency. Let all this be done, so that as we stated above, the divine favour, of which we have experienced so many instances, may continue with us to bless our successors through all time with public wellbeing. In order that the character of this our perpetual benevolence can reach the knowledge of all, it will be well for you to circulate everywhere, and to bring to the awareness of all, these points which have been written to you as above, so that the enactment of this our benevolence may not be hidden.
3. Edict of the Emperors Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius I establishing Catholicism as the State Religion,
February 27, 380
Original Latin text in Mommsen, Theodosiani libri XVI, vol. I-2, "De fide catholica," p. 833
This Edict is the first which definitely introduces Catholic orthodoxy as the established religion of the Roman world. It marks the end of the great fourth-century religious controversy on the Trinity, occasioned by the Arian heresy and calling forth definitions of orthodox dogma by the Councils of Nicaea ( 325) and Constantinople ( 381). Acknowledgment of the true doctrine of the Trinity is made the test of State recognition. The citation of the Roman See as the yardstick of correct belief is significant; the bracketing of the name of the Patriarch of Alexandria with that of the Pope was due to the Egyptian See's stalwart defence of the Trinitarian position, particularly under St. Athanasius. The last sentence of the Edict indicates that the Emperors contemplate the use of physical force in the service of orthodoxy; this is the first recorded instance of such a departure.
We desire all people, whom the benign influence of our clemency rules, to turn to the religion which tradition from Peter to the present day declares to have been delivered to the Romans by blessed Peter the Apostle, the religion which it is clear that the Pontiff Damasus and Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness, follow; this faith is that we should believe, in accordance with apostolic discipline and Gospel teaching, that there is one Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in an equal Majesty and a holy Trinity. We order those who follow this doctrine to receive the title of Catholic Christians, but others we judge to be mad and raving and worthy of incurring the disgrace of heretical teaching, nor are their assemblies to receive the name of churches. They are to be punished not only by Divine retribution but also by our own measures, which we have decided in accordance with Divine inspiration.
Given on the 3rd Kalends of March at Thessalonica, Gratianus and Theodosius being Consuls.
4. Edict of the Emperors Valentinian III and Theodosius II
recognizing the Pope as Head of the Western Church (enacted in 445)
Original Latin text in Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. LIV, col. 636
Commentary The Edict Certum est puts the whole force of Roman Public Law behind the Papal position of primacy over the Western Church. That position had been challenged by Bishop Hilary of Arles, who had, by his own initiative, deposed a subordinate bishop, Celidonius of Besançon, through the agency of a provincial synod. Celidonius appealed to Rome and was upheld by Pope St. Leo I, who quashed the decision against him. Hilary resisted, contending that the Pope had no right to overrule the decisions of provincial synods. It was at this point that Imperial authority intervened decisively in the Pope's favour. The Edict is not a statement of Imperial competence to decide Church affairs; in fact, it explicitly says that the Pope's verdict should have been sufficient to settle the question. The secular authority's reason for intervening is to enforce the jurisdiction of the Pope by means of the material force which he himself does not enjoy and, by so doing, to preserve public order. This is an excellent example of the working in practice of the collaboration between the Papal and the temporal power, the latter providing the "secular arm" in case of necessity.
The Emperors Theodosius and Valentinian to his Excellency Count Aetius, Supreme Commander of the armed forces and Patrician.
It is clear that for us and for our Empire the only support is in the favour of the Supreme Godhead; to merit this we must assist in the first place the Christian faith and venerable religion. Since therefore the merit of St. Peter, who is the prince of the episcopal crown, the dignity of the City of Rome and the authority of a holy Synod have established the primacy of the Apostolic See, let not presumption attempt to carry out anything contrary to the authority of that See; for then at last the peace of the Church will be preserved everywhere, if the whole body recognizes its ruler. Up to now these customs have been preserved without a break; but Hilary of Arles, as we learn from the reliable report of the venerable man Leo, the Roman Pope, has with obstinate audacity ventured to attempt unlawful actions and, as a consequence, an abominable disturbance has entered into the churches north of the Alps, as recent examples make only too plain. For Hilary, who is called Bishop of Arles, has overstepped his functions and has passed judgment upon episcopal ordinations without reference to the Pontiff of the Roman City. For he removed some clerics from office, though he has no authority to do so, and ordained others who were unwelcome and objectionable to their citizens.
Because he has attempted such deeds both against the Imperial majesty and against the reverence due to the Apostolic See, sentence was passed against him by order of that devout man, the Pope of the City, after he had obtained accurate information about him and about those whom he had invalidly ordained. That sentence should have been valid throughout Gaul even without Imperial sanction. For what is not within the competence of so great a Pontiff in ecclesiastical matters? But this reasoning has strengthened our command that no one coming after Hilary who is permitted to retain his see as a result solely of leniency of the long-suffering Pontiff, may meddle in ecclesiastical affairs which concern another man, nor may oppose the orders of the Roman Bishop. For by such audacious acts the faith and reverence of our Empire is violated.
Not only do we banish this great crime but in order that there may not arise among the churches the smallest disturbance or the discipline of the religion appear to be weakened in any way, we decree by this perpetual Edict that it will not be lawful for the bishops of Gaul or of other provinces to attempt anything contrary to ancient custom without the authority of that venerable man the Pope of the Eternal City. But let whatever the authority of the Apostolic See decrees or shall decree, be accepted as law by all, so that if any bishop summoned to trial before the Roman Bishop shall fail to attend, he shall be compelled to be present by the Governor of the province in question, due regard being paid at every stage of the proceedings to the rights which our divine parents bestowed on the Roman Church. Therefore your illustrious and excellent Magnificence, by the authority of the law of the present Edict, is to cause those decrees stated above to be observed and a fine of ten golden pieces is to be exacted immediately from any judge who shall have allowed our orders to be disregarded.
5. View of the Emperor Justinian I on the Relations between Church and State,
Edict of April 17, 535
Original Greek and Latin text in Justinian's Corpus iuris
civilis, vol. III ("Novellae"--where the Edict of April 17,
5 35), appears as "Novella VI"), ed. by Schoell-Kroll, p. 35
This is a succinct summary of the Byzantine ideal of a Christian Commonwealth. It is contained in the preamble Justinian's decree of April 17, 535, dealing with the ordination of bishops and other clergy and with the upkeep of churches. There is, indeed, a recognition of the distinction between the clerical and lay elements in Christian society; but, for all practical purposes, the Emperor is to be the controller of both, exercising, as he apparently is to do, a supervision over the "moral wellbeing" of the clergy.
The greatest gifts which God in His heavenly clemency bestows upon men are the priesthood and the Imperial authority. The former ministers to Divine things, the latter presides and watches over human affairs; both proceed from one and the same source and together they are the ornaments of human life. Therefore nothing is so close to the hearts of Emperors as the moral wellbeing of the priesthood since priests have the task of perpetual prayer to God on behalf of Emperors themselves. For if the priesthood is in all matters free from vice and filled with faith in God, and if the Imperial authority with justice and efficiency sets in order the commonwealth committed to its charge, there shall be an ideal harmony to provide whatever is useful for the human race. We therefore have the greatest anxiety for the true doctrines of God and for the moral wellbeing of the priesthood by which, if it is preserved, we believe that the greatest gifts will be given to us by God and we shall preserve undisturbed those things which we have and in addition acquire benefits which are at present lacking to us. But all things are done rightly and efficiently if a beginning is made which is fitting and agreeable to God. We believe that this will come about if there is due care for the observance of the holy canons, which the justly praised Apostles and venerated eyewitnesses and servants of the word of God handed down and which the holy Fathers preserved and interpreted.
6. View of Pope Gelasius I on the Relations between Church and State
This view is contained in a letter sent by Pope Gelasius I in 494 to
the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I. The whole Latin text
of the letter can be found in Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. LVI, col. 633
Pope Gelasius I writes to the Eastern Emperor Anastasius I to rebuke him for his support of the schismatic attitude of the Patriarchs of Constantinople, particularly with regard to the Monophysite heresy condemned by Rome. Gelasius, trying to point out the illegality of the Emperor's interference in Church affairs, sketches his famous theory of the two powers governing Christendom--the spiritual and secular authorities. Each of these has its own sphere of action, with which the other must not interfere; but the spiritual power is comparatively the higher of the two, as it is concerned with the souls of all men, including rulers.
The "Gelasian" theory was often quoted throughout the Middle Ages, but its silence on the question of what were in practice the limits of each sphere made it ambiguous when borderline instances occasioned a clash between the two powers. This ambiguity is shown by the fact that both Papalist and Imperialist supporters in the medieval controversies appealed to Gelasius with equal freedom.
The rest of the letter, of which the following is an extract, deals with ecclesiastical issues pending at that time between Rome and Constantinople.
I beg your Piety not to judge duty to Divine truth as arrogance. I hope that it will not have to be said of a Roman Emperor that he resented the truth being brought home to him. There are indeed, most august Emperor, two powers by which this world is chiefly ruled: the sacred authority of the Popes and the royal power. Of these the priestly power is much more important, because it has to render account for the kings of men themselves at the Divine tribunal. For you know, our very clement son, that although you have the chief place in dignity over the human race, yet you must submit yourself faithfully to those who have charge of Divine things, and look to them for the means of your salvation. You know that it behoves you, in matters concerning the reception and reverent administration of the Sacraments, to be obedient to the ecclesiastical authority rather than to control it. So in such matters you ought to depend on ecclesiastical judgment, instead of seeking to bend it to your own will. For if in matters pertaining to the administration of public discipline, the bishops of the Church, knowing that the Empire has been conferred on you by Divine instrumentality, are themselves obedient to your laws, lest in purely material matters contrary opinions may seem to be voiced, with what willingness, I ask you, should you obey those to whom is assigned the administration of Divine mysteries? So just as there is great danger for the Popes in not saying what is necessary in matters of the Divine honour, so there is no small peril for those who are obstinate in resistance (which God forbid) at the time when they ought to be obedient. And if the hearts of the faithful ought to be submitted to all priests in general, who administer holy things in a right manner, how much more ought assent to be given to him who presides over that See which the Supreme Godhead Itself desired to be pre-eminent over all priests, and which the pious judgment of the whole Church has honoured ever since?
7. Charlemagne's View on the Relations between Church and State
(Letter sent in 796 to Pope Leo III)
Original Latin text in Monumenta Germaniae Historica,
"Epistolae Karolini Aevi," vol. II, p. 136
Commentary This letter from Charlemagne to Pope Leo III illustrates the outlook of Charlemagne on his relationship to the Papacy. There is a strong element of "Caesaro-Papism" in this outlook. Charlemagne regards it as his right and duty, not only to lend material support to the Church, but also to "strengthen within it the knowledge of the Catholic Faith," an activity which holds extensive possibilities of interference in the internal government of the Church. The Pope is assigned the task of praying for his people, as Moses did for Israel when they fought the Amalekites; this confining of the Pope to a purely "spiritual" capacity has the effect of allowing the secular monarchy a free hand in the practical life of the Church as well as of the State.
The rest of the letter, of which the following is an extract, deals with various topical issues outstanding between Charlemagne and the Papacy.
Just as I entered into a pact with the most blessed father your predecessor, so I desire to conclude with your Holiness an unbreakable treaty of the same faith and charity; so that with Divine grace being called down by the prayers of your Apostolic Sanctity, the Apostolic benediction may follow me everywhere, and the most holy See of the Roman Church may always be defended by the devotion which God gives to us. It is our part with the help of Divine holiness to defend by armed strength the holy Church of Christ everywhere from the outward onslaught of the pagans and the ravages of the infidels, and to strengthen within it the knowledge of the Catholic Faith. It is your part, most holy Father, to help our armies with your hands lifted up to God like Moses, so that by your intercession and by the leadership and gift of God the Christian people may everywhere and always have the victory over the enemies of His Holy Name and that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified throughout the whole world.
8. "Constitutio Romana" of the Emperor Lothair I,
Original Latin text in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, "Leges,"
sec. II, vol. I, p. 323
Commentary In 754 the first nucleus of the Papal States or "Patrimonium Petri"--as they were called--was formed by the arrangement of Quierzy between the Frankish king Pippin and Pope Stephen II. Later Charlemagne confirmed and enlarged the territorial donation of Pippin but emphasized the Frankish protectorate over the Papal States by reserving for himself the higher jurisdiction there. In 824 an alleged murder of several pro-Frankish members of the Papal court by order of Pope Paschal I gave Emperor Lothair I (ruling Italy with the Imperial title on behalf of his father, Emperor Lewis the Pious) an opportunity to intervene and impose a settlement the factions at Rome, known as Constitutio Romana. By this settlement the Imperial protectorate over the "Patrimonium Petri" was further accentuated. Mentioning the alleged victims of Pope Paschal I in its first clause, the Constitutio Romana set up a virtual "condominumb" of Pope and Emperor in the Papal States, establishing peranent Imperial inspectors of justice there; declared that there was to be a return to the older practice of Papal election by the whole body of the Roman people (clause 3), thus enabling the Emperor to exercise more pressure on the election through the agency of the Roman nobles; introduced an oath of allegiance of the Romans promising full obedience to the Emperor, and laid down that no Pope might be consecrated until he had taken this oath. The Constitatoo Romania marks the climax of the Imperial influence in the Papal States under the Carolinian Emperors. It was later imitated by the German Emperor Otto I when he imposed a similar statute on the Papacy in 962.
We have made a decree that all who have been taken under the special protection of the Apostolic lord or under our own shall enjoy a just and indestructible defence whenever they ask for it; if any one contemptuously presumes to break this law in any way, let him know that he stands in peril of his life. For we have decreed this also that they shall observe lawful obedience to the Apostolic lord in all matters, so also to his dukes and judges in things pertaining to the administration of justice. In this chapter mention is made of the widows and orphans of Theodore, Floro and Sergius.
2. 2. We forbid any further encroachments of the kind which have been frequently made up to this time, whether the Pope be living or dead; if any one shall do such a thing in the future, let him know that he shall be condemned by process of law. It is our wish that those acts which have been committed in the past, shall be adjusted legally according to our decision. 3. 3. We desire that no one, free or unfree, shall dare to take part in Pontifical elections, to make any hindrance to the Romans themselves to whom the custom of electing the Pontiff was conceded in ancient times by the decision of the holy Fathers. If any one shall dare to contravene this command of ours, he shall be banished.
4. 4. We desire that inspectors should be appointed by the Apostolic lord and by us, who will have the duty of reporting annually to us on the manner in which the dukes and judges are administering justice to the people and how they are putting our decree into effect. We decree that these inspectors shall first bring to the knowledge of the Apostolic lord all disputes which they have found to be neglected by the dukes and judges and the Pope himself shall choose one of the two alternatives: either the sufficiently urgent cases may be decided immediately by the inspectors themselves, or, if not, they shall be made known to us by our inspector, so that they may be again corrected by inspectors sent out specially by us.
5. 5. We desire that the whole Roman people may be asked, under which law it wishes to live, so that they may live under that law which they profess themselves to be willing to live under; and let it be made clear to them, so that every person without exception, whether the dukes or the judges or the rest of the people, may know that if they offend against the law, they shall be brought by the agency of the Pontiff and of ourselves under the operation of the same law which they have professed.
6. 6. We desire that matters may be corrected in the case of ecclesiastical possessions which have been unjustly seized under cover of Papal permission, and in the case of those which have not yet been given back to their rightful owners after they had been seized unjustly by Pontifical authority.
7. 7. We forbid any further acts of aggression within our territories and we order that those which have been made shall be corrected according to the law of each of the parties. We likewise desire that other injustices shall be corrected by the law of each of the parties.
8. 8. It is our pleasure that all the judges or the usual presiding officials, whose duty it is to exercise judicial authority in this city of Rome, should come into our presence; we wish to know their number and names and to give instructions to each on the office entrusted to him.
10. 9. Last of all it is to be made clear that every man, if he desires to have God's grace and our own, should show obedience and reverence in all things to the Pontiff.
The oath of the Romans:
I promise by God Almighty and the four holy Gospels and this cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and the body of the most blessed Peter, prince of the Apostles, that from this day for all the future days of my life I will be faithful to our lords the Emperors Lewis and Lothair, as far as my strength and knowledge permit, without deception and evil intention, saving the faith which I have promised to the Apostolic lord; and that I will not consent, as far as my strength and knowledge permit, that the election of a Pontiff to this Roman See should be made otherwise than canonically and legally; and that he who shall be elected with my consent shall not be consecrated Pontiff until he shall have taken this oath in the presence of the Emperor's inspector and of the people, together with the oath which the lord Pope Eugenius put into writing of his own free will for the preservation of all these things.
9. The "Donation of Constantine" (c. 750-850)
Original Latin text in Mirbt, Quellen zur Geschichte des Papstums, p. 107
This document is now universally regarded as a palpable forgery and has been admitted as such since methods of historical criticism were applied to it by Lorenzo Valla and other scholars of the Renaissance in the fifteenth century. Its true authorship is unknown, but it probably comes from a Frankish source during the century between 750-850. Some critics would contend for a Roman origin although this seems less likely. Its first recorded use by a Pope is by Leo IX in 1054. Later the document was used extensively by the apologists of the Papacy but to a much lesser degree by the Popes themselves; so for example Gregory VII, the chief architect of the legal and political supremacy of the Popes in Europe in the later Middle Ages (cf. the following Chap. II), never mentioned it in his decrees and in his vast official correspondence (an instance of the Papal use of the "Donation of Constantine" may be found in the letter "Si memoriam beneficiorum" of Pope Gregory IX in 1236-see Chapter III, Doc. No. 7). Anti-Papalist supporters had no thought of questioning the authenticity of the document, but contented themselves by arguing that Constantine had no authority to sign away the Western Empire in this fashion.
The opening and conclusion of the document are copied in imitation of fourth-century forms, but other details (such as the descriptions of Imperial and Papal ceremonial) date clearly from a later period. The Papacy is said to have been conceded by the Emperor Constantine temporal authority, not only over Italy, but over the whole Western Empire, while the Pope and his court are invested with every Imperial prerogative.
Whatever its origin and immediate purpose may have been, the document is a good example of the new and ambitious claims to direct control over temporal authority which were beginning to inspire certain quarters in the Church in the early Middle Ages. The principles which the "Donation" expresses in legendary form were to exercise strong influence on the medieval Papacy's policy from the eleventh century onwards.
The present new translation of the document is a complete one with the exception of a theological part of it explaining the Christian Creed.
In the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. The Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus in Christ Jesus (our Saviour and our God, a Member of the same Holy Trinity), the faithful, merciful, great, beneficent, conqueror of the Alamanni, Goths, Sarmatians, Germans, Britons and Huns, pious, fortunate, victor and conqueror, ever august: to the most holy and blessed Father of fathers, Sylvester, Bishop of the City of Rome and Pope, and to all his successors, the Pontiffs who shall occupy the See of the blessed Peter until the end of time; also to all the most reverend and God-loved Catholic bishops, subjected by this our Imperial enactment to the same most holy Roman Church throughout the whole world, to all who have been appointed now or who will be appointed at any future time; grace, peace, love, joy, long-suffering, and mercy from God the Father Almighty and Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Our most merciful Serenity desires to bring to the knowledge of peoples throughout the whole world in a clear narrative, through the page of this our Imperial enactment, the things which the Saviour and Redeemer our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Most High Father, has deigned miraculously to work through His holy Apostles Peter and Paul by the intervention of our father Sylvester, Supreme Pontiff and universal Pope. But first we put forward with a sincere confession of the heart, for the instruction of your minds, our faith, which we learnt from the above-mentioned most blessed father, our confessor, Sylvester the Universal Pontiff, and then at last we announce the mercy of God which has been poured forth upon us:
[The document goes on to a lengthy statement of Christian belief and then resumes]:
Our Lord God Himself, having pity on me a sinner, sent His holy Apostles to visit us and shed the light of His splendour upon us. Therefore rejoice with me that I have been rescued from darkness and brought into the true light and knowledge of truth. For while a powerful and sordid leprosy had taken possession of all the flesh of my body, and after I had received the attention of many assembled physicians, obtaining no cure from any of them, the priests of the Capitol came here, telling me that I ought to make a bath in the Capitol and fill it with the blood of innocent children and that I could be cleansed by bathing in it when it was warm. According to their instructions many innocent children were assembled, but when the unholy pagan priests were about to slaughter them and fill the bath with their blood, our Serenity noticed the tears of their mothers and immediately was seized with horror at the outrage. Having mercy on them, I ordered their sons to be restored to them and sent them back to their own homes with transport provided and with presents.
At the end of that same day, when the silence of night had fallen upon us, when the time of sleep had come, the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul appeared, saying to me: "Since you have put a stop to your crimes and have shunned the shedding of innocent blood, we have been sent by Christ our Lord God to give you advice on the recovery of your health. Hear our injunctions, therefore, and do whatever we tell you. Sylvester, Bishop of the City of Rome, has fled from your persecutions to Mount Serapte and has found an obscure hiding-place with his clergy in the caverns of the rocks. When you have summoned him to you, he will show you a holy pool, in which he will immerse you three times and then all the strength of the leprosy will leave you. When this has been done, make this recompense to your Saviour, that all the churches throughout the world may be restored by your order and that you purify yourself in this respect that, laying aside all vain worship of idols, you adore and worship the living and true God, who is alone true; in this way you will succeed in doing His Will."
Arising from sleep, I immediately carried out what I had been instructed to do by the holy Apostles. I summoned the excellent and beneficent father, our enlightener Sylvester, Universal Pope, and told him all the words imparted to me by the holy Apostles and I asked him who were these gods Peter and Paul. But he said they were not really to be called gods, but Apostles of our Saviour the Lord God Jesus Christ. And again we began to ask that same most blessed Pope, whether he had any accurate picture of those Apostles, so that we might learn from the picture that they were those whom revelation had shown to us. Then the venerable father commanded that the pictures of those Apostles should be shown by his deacon. When I looked at them I recognized the faces of those, whom I had seen in my dream, depicted in those pictures, and I confessed with a great cry in the presence of all my satraps that they were those which I had seen in my dream.
At this the most blessed Sylvester our father, Bishop of the City of Rome, placed upon us a period of penance within our Lateran palace in a hair shirt, so that we might beg pardon from our Lord God Jesus Christ by watching, fasting, tears and prayers for everything which had been wickedly performed and unjustly commanded by us. Then after the clergy had laid their hands on me I came to the Bishop himself. There, renouncing the pomps of Satan and his works and all idols made with hands, I freely acknowledged before all the people that I believed in God the Father, Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, of things visible and invisible, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. Then, after the font had been blessed, the water of salvation purified me with a triple immersion. There, when I was placed in the depths of the font, I saw with my own eyes a hand from heaven touch me. Learn that when I rose from the font I was cleansed from all the filthiness of leprosy. And after I had been raised from the venerable font the Bishop put on white vestments and administered to me the sign of the sevenfold Holy Spirit, the unction of the Holy Oil and he traced the emblem of the Holy Cross on my brow, saying: "God seals you with the sign of His faith in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in recognition of your faith." All the clergy replied: "Amen." The Bishop added: "Peace be with you."
On the first day, then, after receiving the mystery of holy Baptism and after the cure of my body from the filth of leprosy I recognized that there was no other God except the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, whom the most blessed Pope Sylvester preaches, Trinity in Unity, Unity in Trinity. For all the gods of the heathen which up to now I have worshipped, have been proved to be demons, the hand-made work of men. That same venerable father told very plainly to us the great power in heaven and earth which our Saviour had committed to the blessed Apostle Peter when, finding him faithful under questioning, he said: "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Take note, O mighty sovereigns, and incline the attention of your heart to what the good Master and Lord gave in addition to His disciple when He said: "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven." It is a very wonderful and glorious thing to bind and loose on earth and to have that sentence of binding and loosing carried out in heaven.
While the blessed Sylvester was preaching these things I understood them and found that I was restored to full health by the beneficence of the same blessed Peter. So we, together with all our satraps and the whole Senate and all the nobles and the whole Roman people which is subject to the glory of our Empire, judged it in the public interest that, because St. Peter was made Vicar of the Son of God on earth, the Pontiffs also, who are the successors of the same Prince of the Apostles, may obtain from us and our Empire greater governmental power than the earthly clemency of our Imperial serenity has so far conceded to them; thus we chose the same Prince of the Apostles and his Vicar to be our powerful patrons with God. And because our Imperial power is earthly, we have decided to honour reverently his most holy Roman Church, and to exalt the most holy See of blessed Peter in glory above our own Empire and earthly throne, ascribing to it power and glorious majesty and strength and Imperial honour.
And we command and decree that he should have primacy over the four principal Sees of Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople and Jerusalem, as well as over all the Churches of God throughout the whole world; and the Pontiff who occupies at any given moment the See of that same most holy Roman Church shall rank as the highest and chief among all the priests of the whole world and by his decision all things are to be arranged concerning the worship of God or the security of the faith of Christians. For it is just that the holy law should have its centre of government at the place where the institutor of the holy laws, our Saviour, commanded blessed Peter to set up the chair of his apostolate, where also, bearing the agony of the cross, he received the cup of a holy death and appeared as an imitator of his Master and Lord; there also it should be that the Gentiles should bow their necks in acknowledgment of the name of Christ where their teacher blessed Paul the Apostle stretched out his neck for Christ and was crowned with martyrdom; let them until the end seek their teacher there, where the holy body of that teacher rests; and there, where they proudly acted as slaves to the empire of an earthly king, let them, prostrate and humble, carry out the service of the King of Heaven, our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Meanwhile we wish all the people of every race and nation throughout the whole world to know that we have built from its foundations, together with a baptistery, a church consecrated to that same Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, within our Lateran palace, and you are to know that we have carried on our own shoulders twelve baskets heavy with soil from the foundations according to the number of the twelve Apostles; we decree that this most holy church is to be called, honoured, venerated and proclaimed as the head and summit of all the churches in the whole world, just as we have ordered by other Imperial decrees. We have built also the churches of blessed Peter and Paul, princes of the Apostles, and have enriched them with gold and silver; there also we have buried with great honour their most holy bodies and have made the coffins of amber, against which no elemental force may prevail. And we have placed on each of their coffins a cross of purest gold and adorned with precious stones and we have locked them with golden keys. We have bestowed on these churches the revenues of estates to provide lights, and have enriched them in various respects. And through our sacred Imperial orders we have conceded to them lands in the East as well as in the West and even on the northern and southern coasts, that is to say in Judaea, Greece, Asia, Thrace, Africa and Italy and the various islands under the condition that all shall be governed by the instrumentality of our most blessed father Sylvester the Pontiff and his successors.
Let every people and the nations of the Gentiles in all the world rejoice therefore with us; we exhort you all that you return thanks abundantly to our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, because He is God in Heaven above and on earth beneath, Who, visiting us through His holy Apostles made us worthy to receive the holy Sacrament of Baptism and bodily health. In recompense for this we concede to those same holy Apostles, my lords the most blessed Peter and Paul and through them also to blessed Sylvester our father, Supreme Pontiff and Universal Pope of the City of Rome, and to all his successors, the Pontiffs who will preside over the See of blessed Peter until the end of the world, and by this present document we confer, our Imperial palace of the Lateran, which surpasses and excels all palaces in the whole world, then a diadem which is the crown of our head, and at the same time the tiara; also the shoulder covering, that is the strap which is wont to surround our Imperial neck; also the purple cloak and the crimson tunic and all our Imperial garments. They shall also receive the rank of those who preside over the Imperial cavalry. We confer on them also the Imperial sceptres and at the same time the spears and standards, also the banners and various Imperial decorations and all the prerogatives of our supreme Imperial position and the glory of our authority.
We decree that those very reverend men, the clerics who serve the most holy Roman Church in various orders, shall have the same dignity, distinction, power and pre-eminence, by the glory of which our Senate is decorated; and we decree that the clergy of the most holy Roman Church shall be adorned as are the soldiers of the Empire; and just as the Imperial power receives dignity from various offices, chamberlains, doorkeepers and all the guards, so also we wish the holy Roman Church to be adorned; and so that the Pontifical dignity may shine forth more clearly, we decree this also, that the clerics of the same holy Roman Church shall decorate their horses with saddle-cloths of linen of the very whitest colour, and thus the horses are to be equipped for riding; and just as our Senate uses sandals with fur covering, so let the clerics be distinguished by their very white linen; then shall terrestrial as well as celestial things be adorned to God's glory. Above all, in addition, we grant to the same our most holy father Sylvester, Bishop of the City of Rome and Pope, and to all the most blessed Pontiffs who shall come after him in succession for ever, for the honour and glory of Christ our God, to add to the numbers in that same great Catholic and Apostolic Church of God any one from our court who shall wish of his own free choice to become a cleric, and to add any to the number of monastic clergy. Let no one presume to act arrogantly in all these matters.
So we have decreed this also, that our venerable father Sylvester, the Supreme Pontiff, and all his successors should use and wear upon their heads to the praise of God for the honour of blessed Peter a diadem, that is a crown of purest gold and precious gems, a crown which we have transferred from our own head; but the most holy Pope would by no means allow that golden crown to be worn above the crown of the priesthood, which he wears to the glory of the blessed Peter, so we placed upon his most holy head, with our own hands, a sparklingly bright tiara depicting the Lord's glorious Resurrection. And, holding the bridle of his horse, we performed the office of groom for him, decreeing that all the Pontiffs, his successors, might alone use that tiara in processions.
To correspond to our own Empire and so that the supreme Pontifical authority may not be dishonoured, but may rather be adorned with glorious power greater than the dignity of any earthly empire, behold, we give to the often-mentioned most holy Pontiff, our father Sylvester, the Universal Pope, not only the abovementioned palace, but also the city of Rome and all the provinces, districts and cities of Italy and the Western regions, relinquishing them to the authority of himself and his successors as Pontiffs by a definite Imperial grant. We have decided that this should be laid down by this our divine, holy and lawfully framed decree and we grant it on a permanent legal basis to the holy Roman Church.
Therefore we have seen it to be fitting that our Empire and the power of the kingdom should be transferred and translated to the Eastern regions and that in the province of Byzantium in the most suitable place a city should be built in our name and our Empire established there; because it is not just that an earthly Emperor should exercise authority where the government of priests and the Head of the Christian religion have been installed by the heavenly Emperor.
We decree also that all the things, which we have established and approved by this our holy Imperial edict and by other divine decrees shall remain uninjured and unbroken until the end of the world; so, in the presence of the living God, Who ordered us to reign, and in the presence of His terrible judgment, we solemnly warn, by this our Imperial enactment, all our successors as Emperors and all our nobles, the satraps, the most honourable Senate and all people throughout the world, now and in the future and in all times previously subject to our Empire, that none of them will be permitted in any way to oppose or destroy or to take away any of these privileges, which have been conceded by our Imperial decree to the most holy Roman Church and to its Pontiffs. Butifany one (which we do not believe) does show himself as bold or presumptuous in this matter, he shall be handed over to undergo eternal condemnation, and he shall feel the hostility of the Saints of God, the Princes of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, against him in this life and the next, and he shall perish with the devil and all the wicked by burning in the lowest hell.
We have confirmed the parchment of this Imperial decree with our own hands and have placed it over the venerable body of blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, promising to that same Apostle of God that we will observe inviolably all things stated in it, and that we will hand down in our commands to our successors instructions to preserve it. We then handed it over to our most blessed father Sylvester, the Supreme Pontiff and Universal Pope, and through him to all the Pontiffs who succeed him, to be possessed in perpetuity and happiness, with the consent of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Imperial signature follows: May the Godhead preserve you for many years, most holy and blessed fathers.
Given at Rome on the third day before the Kalends of April, when our lord Flavius Constantinus the Emperor (in his fourth term of office) and Galliganus, those most illustrious men, were consuls.
THE GREGORIAN REFORMATION
IN the tenth century the disintegration of Charlemagne's empire and the inroads of Northmen, Magyars and Saracens resulted in the "re-barbarization" of Europe. The Church shared fully in the decay of political and moral values. When feudalism emerged as a reaction to the chaos, she fell under the sway of feudal lords and monarchs.
A reforming tendency inside the Church had started at first as a monastic movement in France (Cluny) and in Germany (Lorraine). It acquired a definite bearing on European politics when, after the crisis of the Papacy in 1046 (synod of Sutri), a series of reformseeking Popes began, culminating in the pontificate of Gregory VII. The emancipation of the Church from the tutelage of the lay power, the "libertas ecclesiae," became their principal aim.
One big step in this direction was the reform of the papal election. Since Antiquity the Bishops of Rome had been elected by the Roman clergy, but from the ninth century onwards the decisive part in the election had been played either by the Roman aristocracy (on behalf of the Roman people) or by the Frankish and later German Emperors as political protectors of Rome. Both these lay elements were eliminated from the papal election by the Bull In nomine Domini, promulgated by Pope Nicholas II in the Lateran synod of 1059 ( Doc. No. 1 ). Excluding the Roman aristocracy entirely and mentioning the Emperor only in an intentionally vague way, the decree entrusted a few members of the Roman clergy with the papal election; this was the origin of the College of Cardinals.
For the liberation of the Papacy from the lay control and in view of the threatening conflict with the Emperor the political support of the powerful Normans of Southern Italy was important to the Popes. They got it when the Normans and particularly the greatest figure among them, Robert Guiscard, agreed to become vassals of the Holy See ( Doc. No. 2 ). As a result of this, the Popes could be considered as equal to the Emperors on the feudal plane, having vassal states of their own. Later a number of European monarchs followed the example of the Normans and became vassals of the Holy See.
The general emancipation of the ecclesiastical power from the feudal authority in the Holy Roman Empire actually necessitated a long conflict with the Emperor, known as the Contest of Investitures. It was fought primarily by ideological weapons. The Papacy formulated the theory of the superiority of the spiritual over the temporal power; it claimed the prerogatives to... feudal authority in the Holy Roman Empire actually necessitated a long conflict with the Emperor, known as the Contest of Investitures. It was fought primarily by ideological weapons. The Papacy formulated the theory of the superiority of the spiritual over the temporal power; it claimed the prerogatives to judge the temporal authority and to punish it, if unsatisfactory, even by deposing the guilty monarch. As a part of this doctrine a wide interpretation was advanced of the power of binding and loosing which had been conferred by Christ upon St. Peter, first Bishop of Rome ("Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth," etc.). It enabled the Pope to apply to a condemned monarch the sanction of dissolving the oaths of fealty of his vassals, thus placing him in a lawless position. The best exposition of this ideology is contained in a letter of Gregory VII to Hermann, Bishop of Metz, an influential German prelate who had asked for its clarification ( Doc. No. 3 ).
On the basis of it the two consecutive sentences of Gregory VII deposing the German king Henry IV from his throne were drawn up and enunciated ( Doc. No. 4 ).
This doctrine is also reflected in a curious document called Dictatus Papae, which had appeared among the correspondence of Gregory VII and was included in his official register. Sounding like a summary of a programme, the document tends to exalt the position of the Papacy inside Christendom and outlines a strong centralization of the Church under the papal authority ( Doc. No. 5 ).
Against these papal claims Henry IV and his supporters defended the temporal and particularly the imperial power. They asserted that it was older than the spiritual power of the Christian Church, that Christ had fully respected it and that the Fathers of the Church had always recognized it as an independent power which was subjected, like the spiritual power, only to the judgment of God. An example of these arguments is furnished by the letter of Henry IV summoning, after his first deposition, the German bishops and princes to a Diet to be held at Worms ( Doc. No. 6 ).
Prior to the Contest of Investitures the feudal authority usually appointed the Church dignitaries; together with the appointment it conferred upon the nominee not only the temporalities (fiefs, lands), but also the investiture with his spiritual dignity by the symbolic means of ring and staff. By his decree of 1078 Gregory VII prohibited all investiture by laymen of ecclesiastical functions. His concept was to revive the old system of canonical election, and the feudal temporalities were to be handed over to the elected candidate as a mere accessory of the election ( Doc. No. 7 ).
The Emperor opposed this. Finally a compromise was arrived at in the Concordat of Worms between Pope Calixtus II and the Emperor Henry V in 1122 ( Doc. No. 8 ). The Emperor conceded the free canonical election but retained certain rights of supervision over it. The investitures were split. The dignitary-elect was to get the spiritual investiture from the Church authorities (ring and staff) whereas the investiture with the feudal estates was to be conferred upon him by the suzerain through a sceptre.
By all these achievements the Gregorian Reformation completed the emancipation of the Church and laid the foundations of her position in relation to the State for the further Middle Ages and beyond the Middle Ages into Modern Times.
I. Decree of Pope Nicholas II concerning the Papal Election,
Original Latin text in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, "Leges", sec. IV, vol. I, P. 539
Several points in this decree are of lasting importance. The decree reserved the Papal election to the Cardinals (among whom the Cardinal-Bishops were given the decisive vote and the other Cardinals only a consultative one); it was enacted that the Pope would not need to be necessarily a Roman and that the election would not need to be held necessarily at Rome; and that the Pope-elect would acquire all Papal authority from the moment of his election. As for the Emperor, only the contemporary king of Germany, Henry IV, is granted a vague and unexplained right of co-operation in the election; it is granted to him unilaterally by the Pope and only to him, "ad personam."
In the following century this decree was amended by Pope Alexander III in 1179 (see in Chap. III, Doc. No. 4).
In the name of the Lord God our Saviour Jesus Christ, in the year of His incarnation 1059, in the month of April, in the twelfth indiction, the Holy Gospel being placed before the assembly presided over by the most reverend and blessed Apostolic Pope Nicholas and attended by the most reverend archbishops, bishops, abbots, and venerable priests and deacons in the patriarchal basilica of Lateran, called the basilica of Constantine, the same venerable Pontiff, speaking with Apostolic authority, said this about the election of the Supreme Pontiff:
You know, most blessed and beloved brothers and fellow-bishops --nor has it been concealed from the lower members also--how much adversity this Apostolic See, in which by God's will I serve, endured since the death of the lord Stephen, our predecessor of blessed memory, to how many hammering blows and frequent wounds it was subjected by the traffickers in simoniacal heresy; it almost seemed as if the column of the living God was about to stagger and the net of the chief fisher to be submerged in the depths of shipwreck by the swelling blasts. Therefore, if it please you, Brethren, we should, with the help of God, wisely foresee future cases and provide for the constitution of the Church in future, lest--which God forbid--the same and revived evil may prevail. Consequently, strengthened by the authority of our predecessors and of other holy Fathers, we decide and decree:
That, when the Pontiff of this Universal Roman Church dies, the Cardinal-Bishops shall first take counsel together with most diligent consideration, thereupon call in to themselves the Cardinal-Clerics and then, in the same manner, the remaining clergy and people shall approach to express their consent to the new election.
That--to be sure that the disease of venality will have no opportunity to creep in--the churchmen shall have the leading part in effecting the election of the Pope, and the others shall only be followers. And certainly this order of the election will be found right and legitimate, if, after the rules and acts of the various Fathers have been considered, the dictum of our blessed predecessor Leo be also recalled: "No reason allows," he says, "that they who have neither been elected by clerics, nor desired by the people, nor consecrated by the bishops of their provinces with the approval of the Metropolitan should be accounted as bishops." But because the Apostolic See is raised above all Churches throughout the whole world and thus can have no Metropolitan above itself, the Cardinal-Bishops undoubtedly function in the place of the Metropolitan; that is to say, they raise their elected Pontiff to the summit of the Apostolic eminence.
Let them make their choice from the Roman Church itself, if a suitable person is to be found there; if not, a person from elsewhere may be elected.
Saving due honour and reverence for our beloved son Henry, who is at present called king and who, if God wills, is expected to be future Emperor; in so far as we have made such concessions to himself and his successors, who shall personally have obtained this right from this holy Apostolic See.
But if the perversity of corrupt and evil men shall so prevail, that an uncorrupted, genuine and free election may not be made in the City, the Cardinal-Bishops together with the clerics of the Church and Catholic laity, however few, may be legally empowered to elect a Pontiff to the Apostolic See wherever they shall judge to be more suitable.
After an election shall have been definitely made, if a warlike disturbance or the attempt of any man whatever who may be inspired by an evil disposition, shall not allow the person who has been elected to the Apostolic See to be enthroned according to custom, nevertheless the person elected shall, as Pope, obtain authority to rule the holy Roman Church and to dispose of all its prerogatives, as we know blessed Gregory did before his consecration.
But if anyone, contrary to this our statute promulgated by decision of the Synod, shall by discord or usurpation or any trickery whatsoever be elected, consecrated and enthroned, let him be held and accounted by all not as Pope but as Satan, not as an Apostle but as an apostate, and let him undergo, as Antichrist and the ravager and destroyer of all Christendom, separation by perpetual excommunication from the threshold of the holy Church of God together with his instigators, supporters and followers; nor shall any hearing be allowed him in this case, but he shall be deposed permanently from every ecclesiastical office, which he formerly held. Whosoever shall take his part or shall show him any reverence as Pontiff whatsoever or shall dare to defend him in any way, shall be penalized with the same sentence. And whoever shall show himself contemptuous of the verdict of this our statute and shall attempt in his temerity to throw into disorder and to disturb the Roman Church in infringement of this statute, shall be condemned to perpetual anathema and excommunication and shall be reckoned with the wicked who do not rise at the Judgment. He shall perceive that the anger of the Omnipotent God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is turned against him and both in this life and in the life to come he shall experience the fury of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, whose Church he dares to throw into disorder. "Let his habitation be desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in his tents. Let his children be orphans and his wife a widow." In tumult he shall be swept away and his sons also "shall become beggars and shall be cast out of their habitations. The usurer shall take stock of all his property and strangers shall wipe out his labours." The whole world shall fight against him, and all the elements shall be adverse to him, and the merits of all the saints now at rest shall put him to confusion and in this life shall take open vengeance upon him.
But the grace of Almighty God shall protect those who are faithful to this our statute, and through the authority of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul He will absolve them of all their sins.
I Nicholas, Bishop of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church, have signed this statute promulgated by us, as it reads above. I, Boniface, by the grace of God Bishop of Albano, have signed. I, Humbert, Bishop of the holy Church of Silva Candida, have signed. I, Peter, Bishop of the Church of Ostia, have signed. And other bishops to the number of seventy-six, together with priests and deacons, have signed.
2. Robert Guiscard's Oath of Fealty to Pope Nicholas II,
Original Latin text in Fabre, Le Liber Censuum de l'Église Romaine, vol. I, p. 422
Commentary The far-reaching decree In nomine Domini, reforming the papal election, had been enacted in April 1059, a few months before the establishment of Robert Guiscard's vassalage. As opposition to it was expected from the Roman nobles and from the Emperor, the insistence of Nicholas II that Robert Guiscard should only recognize and support a Pope "consecrated to the honour of St. Peter" (i.e. in accordance with the decree In nomine Domini ) is noteworthy. The same oath of fealty was later repeated to Gregory VII by Robert Guiscard and Richard, duke of Capua, another leader of South Italian Normans. After this the states which had been formed by the Normans in Southern Italy remained vassals of the Holy See until the end of the Middle Ages. As a specimen of later infeodations of European states to the Papacy, see the vassal oath of John Lackland, king of England, to Pope Innocent III in Chap. III, Doc. No. 6. I, Robert, by the grace of God and St. Peter Duke of Apulia and Calabria, and, with the aid of both, future Duke of Sicily, from this moment onwards will be faithful to the Holy Roman Church and the Apostolic See and to you, my lord Pope Nicholas. I will not participate in any council or action by which you may lose your life or any of your limbs, or be taken into a vile captivity. Counsels which you might entrust to me and forbid me to disclose, I will not knowingly disclose in any way detrimental to you. Anywhere and with all my power I will assist against all men the Holy Roman Church in holding and acquiring the temporalities of St. Peter and his possessions and I will help you to hold safely and honourably the Roman Papacy. I will not seek to invade or acquire the land of St. Peter and his Principality, nor will I think of doing any damage to them unless with a clear permission from you or from your successors, consecrated to the honour of St. Peter; this special permission would have to be given to me in addition to those which you or your successors may confer upon me. With due fidelity I will see to it that the Holy Roman Church will receive every year the tribute, as stipulated, for the land of St. Peter that I hold or will hold. And all the Churches in my lordship with their possessions I will place under your authority; and I will defend them in all faithfulness to the Holy Roman Church. And if you or your successors pass away before me, I will assist--according to the instructions received from the better Cardinals and from the better clergy and laity of Rome--in the election and consecration of the Pope to the honour of St. Peter. I will observe all the aforesaid with due faithfulness to the Holy Roman Church and to you. And this faithfulness I will observe toward your successors, consecrated to the honour of St. Peter, who will confirm to me this investiture which you have conferred upon me. So God and this Holy Scripture help me.
3. Letter of Pope Gregory VII to Hermann, Bishop of Metz,
March 15, 1081
Original Latin text in Monumenta Gregoriana, ed. Jaffé, p. 453
In the official register of Gregory VII this letter is entitled: "Against those who stupidly affirm that the Emperor can not be excommunicated by the Roman Pontiff." It is the second of two letters in which the Pope explained to the Bishop of Metz, one of his supporters in Germany, his views in the controversy with Henry IV of Germany. It is a brilliant summary of the ideology inspiring the Church reformers in the eleventh century. It stresses particularly four points: 1. that the spiritual power is highly superior to the temporal power being derived from God Himself whereas the temporal power generally originates in despicable human passions ("Who does not know that kings and princes are sprung from those who . . . by almost every crime . . . have striven with blind cupidity and intolerable presumption to dominate over . . . men?") ; 2. that the monarchs, like any other members of the Church, can be punished by ecclesiastical penalties including excommunication; 3. that the superiority of the spiritual to the temporal power implies the right of judging the rulers for their governmental activities, of punishing them and, if necessary, even of deposing them from their thrones; 4. that the papal right of binding and loosing can be used as a sanction against a guilty monarch, by which the oaths of allegiance of his vassals can be dissolved.
Bishop Gregory, servant of the servants of God, to his beloved brother in Christ, Hermann, Bishop of Metz, greeting and apostolic benediction.
It is undoubtedly owing to the grace of God that you are ready, as we have learned, to go through trials and dangers in the defence of the truth. For such is His ineffable grace and immense mercy that He never permits that those chosen by Him go entirely astray and never allows them to fall or to be cast down completely. On the contrary, letting them pass through a time of persecution as a useful probation, He makes them stronger than before, even after some trepidation. And because among strong men he who acts bravely and goes forward with fervour inflames virile hearts--likewise among cowards fear induces one to flee more shamefully than the other--we wish to impress upon your Grace, with admonishing voice, the following: that you should be pleased to stand among the first in the army of the Christian religion if you do not doubt that they are nearest to God the Victorious, and that they are the most worthy ones.
It seems, however, hardly necessary to us to comply with your request, namely to be somewhat assisted by a letter from us and fortified against the madness of those who keep repeating with perverse mouth: that the Holy and Apostolic See has no authority to excommunicate Henry--a man who despises the Christian law, destroys the Churches and the Empire, sponsors and supports heretics--and to absolve any one from the oath of fealty to him. We hardly deem it necessary because so many and quite clear proofs of this can be found on the pages of Holy Scriptures. Nor do we believe that those who accumulate for themselves damnation by despising and opposing the truth, have added these views to the defence of their audacious standpoint either by ignorance or by madness and wretched desperation. And no wonder. For such is the habit of the wicked that looking for protection of their iniquity they defend those who are similar to themselves; and they attach no importance to the fact that they incur perdition for lying.
Now, to say only a few words out of many, who does not know the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who says in the Gospel, "Thou art Peter and upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth shall be loosed also in Heaven"? Are the kings excepted here? Are they not among the sheep that the Son of God committed to St. Peter? Who, I ask, can consider himself as exempted from this universal power of binding and loosing, conferred upon St. Peter, unless such an unfortunate one who, unwilling to bear the yoke of the Lord, subjects himself to the burden of the devil and refuses to be among Christ's sheep? For such a one it will add very little to his wretched liberty if he shakes from his proud neck the power divinely granted to St. Peter; the more any one, out of his pride, refuses to bear it, the more heavily it shall press upon him and he shall carry it to his damnation at the Judgment.
The Holy Fathers, supporting and serving the Holy Roman Church with great veneration, called her the Universal Mother in Councils and also otherwise in their writings and acts. By this doing they supported and served this institution of Divine will, this pledge of a dispensation to the Church, this privilege handed over since the beginning to St. Peter, chief of the Apostles, and confirmed to him by a heavenly decree. And accepting the proofs of all this and including them in the confirmation of the faith and in the doctrine of the holy religion, they also accepted her judgments; consenting in this, they agreed as if with one spirit and one voice: that all major affairs and important matters, as well as jurisdiction over all churches, ought to be referred to her as to a mother and head; that from her there is no appeal; and that no one should or could retract or repudiate her sentences. Consequently, when the blessed Pope Gelasius wrote, armed with Divine authority, to the Emperor Anastasius, he instructed him what and how he should think in the matter of the primacy of the Holy and Apostolic See as follows: "Although the faithful should be obedient to all priests in general who duly fulfil the duties of religion, how much more must they give adherence to the ruler of that See which the Supreme Godhead wished to preside over all priests and the subsequent piety of the whole Church has always honoured? So your prudence will perceive that by no human design of any sort whatever can any one set himself up as equal by privilege or acknowledgment to him whom the Voice of Christ has made supreme, and whom the venerable Church has always recognized and held in honour as her Primate."
Likewise Pope Julius when writing to the Eastern bishops concerning the power of the same Holy and Apostolic See, said:
"It would be fitting for you, Brethren, to speak about the Holy Roman and Apostolic Church moderately and not with vehemence against her; for our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, addressing her as it was fitting, said: 'Thou art Peter and upon this rock will I build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.' She has therefore the power, conceded by a unique privilege, of opening and closing the gates of the kingdom of Heaven for whom she will."
Is it not rightful, then, for him to whom the power of opening and closing Heaven has been granted to exercise justice on earth? God forbid that it should not be! Just remember what the Most Blessed Apostle Paul says: "Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more the things of earth!" And the blessed Pope Gregory stated that those kings shall fall from their dignity who would presume to violate the decrees of the Apostolic See, writing to a certain senator-abbot in these words: "If any king, priest, judge or person of secular estate shall ignore this page of our enactment and shall try to contravene it, he shall lose the dignity of his authority and honour, and shall know that he is guilty by Divine judgment of having committed a crime; and unless he shall restore the things which have been wrongfully seized by him, or atone by suitable penance for his lawless deeds, he shall be excluded from the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Redeemer Jesus Christ and shall be subject to a terrible retribution at the eternal judgment."
If the blessed Gregory, that most gentle teacher, laid down that kings who should violate his enactments in the case of one guesthouse ("xenodochium"), should not only be deposed but also excommunicated and condemned in the eternal judgment, who will say that we have been wrong in having deposed and excommunicated Henry, who is not only a flouter of the Apostolic decrees, but also of Mother Church herself and, as far as he may be, a perverter of the whole kingdom and a shameless plunderer and brutal ravager of the churches? So, under the instruction of blessed Peter, we have learnt in a letter about the ordination of Clement, in which he speaks as follows: "If any man shall be friendly to those with whom he" (speaking of that Clement) "is not in communication, he is in complicity with those who want to destroy the Church of God; and, though he may seem to be with us in body, he is against us in mind and spirit and he is a much more dangerous foe than those who are outside and who are avowed enemies. He under the pretence of friendship performs the action of an enemy and destroys and tears the Church." Take notice, then, my beloved; if the Pope passes judgment so severely on him who is on terms of friendship or acquaintance with those whom he regards as enemies because of their actions, with how much greater severity will he condemn the man himself whose actions he regards as inimical?
But to return to the point: ought not the authority which has been established by laymen, perhaps those who had no knowledge of God, to be subjected to that authority which the Providence of Almighty God established for His own honour and gave, in His mercy, to the world? For His Son, just as He is believed without doubt to be God and Man, is also held to be the High Priest, the Head of all priests, sitting at the right hand of the Father and always interceding for us; and He despised a secular kingship, with which the sons of this world are so puffed up, and came freely to the priesthood of the Cross. Who does not know that kings and princes are sprung from those who unmindful of God, urged on, in fact, by the devil, the prince of the world, and by pride, plunder, treachery, murders and by almost every crime, have striven with blind cupidity and intolerable presumption to dominate over their equals, that is to say, over men? To whom indeed may those who aspire to bend God's priests to their ways be better compared than to him, who is head over all the sons of pride? He is the being who, tempting the High Priest, the Head of priests, the Son of the Most High, and promising Him all the kingdoms of the world, said: "All these things I will give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me." Who can doubt that the priests of Christ are to be accounted fathers and judges of kings and princes and all the faithful? Is it not recognized to be wretched madness if a son tries to obtain ascendancy over his father, or a pupil over his teacher; or to subdue to one's own domination, by unlawful pressure, him to whom one believes is committed not only the earthly but also the heavenly power of binding and loosing? The Emperor Constantine the Great, lord of all the kings and princes throughout almost the whole world, clearly knew this fact (as blessed Gregory mentions in his letter to the Emperor Maurice), when, sitting in the Council of Nicaea last after all the bishops, he did not presume to pass any verdict of judgment upon them; but, going as far as to call them gods, decreed that they were not to be subject to his judgment, but rather that he himself would depend on their opinion. Also the previously mentioned Pope Gelasius when persuading the Emperor Anastasius not to take as an insult the truth which was brought home to his understanding, added: "There are indeed, most august Emperor, two powers by which this world is chiefly ruled--the sacred authority of the Popes and the royal power; of these the priestly power is much more important, because it has to render account for the kings of men themselves at the Divine tribunal." And a little further on he says: "You know, therefore, that in these matters you ought to depend on ecclesiastical judgment, instead of seeking to bend it to your own will."
Equipped, then, with such enactments and authorities, many bishops have excommunicated, sometimes kings, sometimes Emperors. If special mention of the names of these princes is sought, it can be pointed out that the blessed Pope Innocent excommunicated the Emperor Arcadius, because he consented to drive out St. John Chrysostom from his See. Another Roman Pontiff, Zacharias, deposed the king of the Franks from his kingdom, not so much because of his crimes, as because he was not suitable to exercise such great authority; and he set up in his place Pippin, father of Charlemagne the Emperor, and absolved all the Franks from the oath of fidelity which they had taken to the previous king. Holy Church often does the same thing by virtue of its authority when it absolves vassals from the bond of an oath which has been taken to those bishops, who have been deposed from pontifical rank by the Apostolic authority. Blessed Ambrose, though a saint, was not bishop over the Universal Church; yet he excommunicated and shut out from the Church the Emperor Theodosius the Great for a sin which was not looked upon as serious by other priests. He also shows in his writings that the priestly dignity is as high in comparison with the royal power as gold is in comparison with lead. He writes in this way near the beginning of his pastoral letter: "The episcopal honour and sublimity, brethren, can not be compared with any other. If you compare them to the splendour of kings and the diadem of princes it would be far worse than to compare the metal lead to the glitter of gold; so you may indeed see that the necks of kings and princes are bowed before the knees of priests and, after the monarchs have kissed the hands of the priests, they believe themselves to be strengthened by their prayers." Shortly afterwards he says: "You should know, brethren, that we have mentioned all these things to show that nothing may be found in this world more excellent than priests or more sublime than bishops."
You ought to have remembered, Brother, that greater power is granted to an exorcist, when he is made a spiritual emperor to drive away demons, than is obtained by any layman by reason of secular dominion. Indeed it is unfortunately true that demons rule over all the kings and princes of the earth who do not live a godly life and do not fear God in their deeds as they ought, and they torment them with a wretched captivity. For such men desire authority, not for the honour of God and the salvation of souls, as do religious priests who are led by Divine love; but in order that they may show their insupportable pride and the ambition of their mind, they desire to dominate others. Blessed Augustine spoke of them in the first book of his De Doctrina Christiana: "Indeed whoever strives to gain control over those who are naturally his equals, that is men, is intolerably proud in every way." Now exorcists, as we have said, have power from God over demons; therefore they have far greater power over those who are subject to, and in companionship with demons. If, then, exorcists so far surpass the earthly rulers, how much more will priests surpass them!
Furthermore, every Christian king, when he comes to his end, seeks as a poor suppliant the aid of a priest, so that he may escape the prison of hell, make his way from darkness to light and appear absolved from the chains of his sins before the judgment of God. But who among laymen (leaving priests out of the question), when near to death, has begged the assistance of an earthly king for the salvation of his soul? And what earthly king or Emperor is able by the office committed to him to snatch any Christian from the devil's power by Holy Baptism, and to number him among the sons of God, and to strengthen him with the Holy Chrism? And which of them is able to make with his lips the Body and Blood of the Lord, which is the greatest deed in the Christian religion? Or to which of them has been given the power of binding and loosing on earth and in Heaven? From these considerations it is obvious that the authority of the priests is by far pre-eminent in power. To take another case, which of these earthly potentates in ordain any cleric in Holy Church? Much less can he depose a cleric for any fault. For in the ecclesiastical hierarchy the power deposition is ranked as higher than that of ordination. For bishops can ordain other bishops, but can in no case depose them without the authority of the Apostolic See. What man of even mediocre intelligence is able to doubt, then, that priests are to take precedence of kings? But if kings should be judged for their sins by priests, by whom should they more rightly be judged than by the Roman Pontiff?
To sum up, it might be more fitting to consider any good Christians as kings than to consider bad princes to be such. The former, pursuing the glory of God, exercise strict control over themselves; but the latter, their own worst enemies, pursuing not the things of God but their own interests, oppress other men despotically. The former are the Body of Christ, the true King; the latter are the body of the devil. The former govern themselves so that they may reign eternally with the Supreme Emperor; but the authority of the latter has as its result that they perish in eternal with the prince of darkness, who is king over all the sons of pride.
Nor indeed should it be a matter for great surprise that bad bishops ally themselves with a wicked king, whom they love and fear because of the honours which they have obtained from him by evil means; who, ordaining simoniacally whom they please, sell even God for a contemptible price. For, just as the elect are inseparably united to their head, so also the reprobates are joined together, primarily against the good, with him who is the head of malice. We ought not so much to argue against these men as to groan for them with tearful lamentation, praying Almighty God to rescue them from the toils of Satan, by whom they are held captive and bring them at long last from these dangers to the knowledge of the truth.
These remarks apply to kings and Emperors who, puffed up with excessive worldly glory, reign not for God but for themselves. But because it is part of our office to distribute advice to each person according to the status and dignity which he enjoys, we make it our business, under the inspiration of God, to provide weapons of humility for Emperors, kings and other princes, so that they may be able to restrain the floods of their pride, rising, as it does, like the sea. For we are aware that worldly glory and secular anxiety usually do draw into pride, in particular those who rule; as a result, neglecting humility and pursuing their own glory, they perpetually yearn to dominate their brethren. So it would seem particularly useful to Emperors and kings that, when their soul wishes to puff itself up and take pleasure in its own glory, it may find some way to make itself humble and to realize that the cause of its rejoicing is the thing to be feared most. Let such a soul consider how dangerous and fearful is the Imperial or kingly dignity; in which very few are saved and those who attain salvation by God's mercy are not renowned in the Holy Church by the judgment of the Holy Spirit as much as are many of the poor. For, from the beginning of the world until our own times we do not find in the whole of authentic Scripture seven Emperors or kings whose lives were as eminent for religion or as adorned with the power of miracles as were those of a countless multitude of despisers of the world; however, we believe that many of them found salvation with the Almighty and Merciful God. For, not making mention of the Apostles and martyrs, who among Emperors and kings was resplendent with miracles to the same extent as the blessed Martin, Anthony and Benedict? What Emperor or king raised the dead, cleansed lepers, gave sight to the blind? Notice how Holy Church praises and respects the Emperor Constantine of pious memory, Theodosius and Honorius, Charles and Lewis, lovers of righteousness, spreaders of the Christian religion, defenders of the Churches; it does not, however, state that they were resplendent with so great a glory of miracles. Again how many are the names of kings and Emperors to whom Holy Church has ordered basilicas or altars to be dedicated, or has appointed' Masses to be celebrated in their honour?
Let kings and princes have a care lest, the more they exult because they are preferred above other men in this life, so much the more may they be plunged into the eternal fires. Whence it is written: "The mighty shall suffer torment mightily." For they shall give an account to God for as many men as they have held subject to their dominion. If it be no small task for a private religious individual to look after his own soul alone, a much greater task faces those who rule over many thousands of souls. Again, if the judgment of Holy Church punishes severely a sinner for the murder of one man, what shall be the fate of those who hand over many thousands to death for the sake of this world's honour? These men may frame with their lips a "Mea culpa" for the slaughter of many, but in their hearts they exult in the extension of their seeming prestige; they do not wish that they had not done what they have done; nor do they grieve that they have driven their brethren into hell. So as long as their sorrow is not heartfelt and as long as they do not wish to relinquish what they have gained or preserved by bloodshed, their repentance will remain without fruit worthy of repentance in God's sight.
They should therefore be exceedingly careful and frequently call to mind that-as we have previously said-very few kings from the various kingdoms of the earth have, since the beginning of the world in their countless multitude, been found to be saints; whereas in one See alone, that is the See of Rome, where Pontiffs have succeeded each other since the time of blessed Peter the Apostle, almost a hundred have been numbered among the highest ranks of sanctity. Why is this so, unless because worldly kings and princes, seduced by vain glory, prefer, as I have said previously, their own interests to spiritual things; while religious bishops, despising vain glory, put God's interests before carnal things? The former are prompt to punish those who offend against them, but they treat those who offend against God with an easy conscience; the latter are quick to forgive those who offend against them, but they do not tolerate easily those who offend against God. The former, being excessively attached to worldly affairs, hold spiritual things to be of small account; the latter, continuously meditating on heavenly things, despise the things of the world.
Therefore all Christians who desire to reign with Christ should be warned not to try to rule with ambition for temporal power, but rather let them keep in sight what blessed Gregory the most holy Pope admonishes in his book on the pastoral office when he says: "In these affairs, then, what course is to be pursued, what course is to be preserved, except one which will force the man pre-eminent in virtue to assume power and will not compel the man who lacks virtue to come to power." But if those who fear God are forced with great misgiving to ascend the Apostolic throne, in which those properly ordained are made better by the merits of blessed Peter the Apostle, with how much more misgiving and apprehension should the throne of the kingdom be approached, in which even the good and humble--as is made plain in the cases of Saul and David--are made worse! For what we have said previously about the Apostolic See, is contained in the following words in the decrees of blessed Symmachus the Pope (and we know it anyway by our own experience): "He" (that is, blessed Peter) "transmitted to his successors an everlasting gift of merits, together with an inheritance of innocence"; and shortly afterwards he says: "Who may doubt that he is holy whom the loftiness of so great a dignity elevates? In this dignity, if virtues acquired by merit are not present, those suffice which are supplied by his predecessor. For he (St. Peter) either raises eminent men to his exalted office, or enlightens those who are exalted."
Therefore let those humbly obey whom Holy Church voluntarily and deliberately calls to rule or command, not for the sake of passing glory, but for the salvation of many; and let them always beware of that which blessed Gregory points out in his book on the pastoral office: "When a man disdains to be like men, he is made like a fallen angel. So Saul, after meritorious humility, was puffed up with pride when at the height of power. Through humility, indeed, he was set in authority, through pride rejected, God being the witness, Who said: 'When thou wast small in thine own eyes, did I not make thee head over the tribes of Israel?'" And a little further on: "Strange to say, when he was very small in his own eyes, he was great in the sight of God, but when he appeared to be great to himself, he was very small in the sight of God." Let them also bear in mind what the Lord says in the Gospel: "I do not seek my own glory," and, "Let him who wishes to be first among you be the servant of all." Let them always put God's honour before their own; let them always embrace and guard justice, observing the rights of each man; let them not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, but always associate with ready heart with those who are religious. Let them not seek to subdue or subjugate Holy Church as a handmaid for themselves; but especially let them take pains to honour fittingly the eyes of the Church, namely the priests of the Lord, recognizing them as teachers and fathers. For, if we are bidden to honour carnal fathers and mothers, how much more the spiritual? And if he who has cursed his carnal father and mother is to pay the penalty of death, what does he deserve who curses his spiritual father or mother? Let them not, seduced by fleshly love, scheme to set their own son over the flock, for which Christ poured out His own Blood, if they can find someone better and more suitable than that son; lest,
loving their son more than God, they may inflict great damage on Holy Church. For he who neglects to provide as he best is able for such a function--indeed for such a necessity--of Holy Mother Church, is clearly proved guilty of not loving God and his neighbour as a Christian should. If this virtue of charity has been overlooked, a man will lose any fruit of salvation in any good which he may do. So they who perform these things and observe, as they should, love for God and for their neighbours, may expect mercy from Him Who said: "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." If they shall have humbly imitated Him, they shall pass from a servile and fleeting kingdom to the true kingdom of liberty and eternity.
4. Deposition and Excommunication of Henry IV by Pope
Gregory VII in 1076 and in 1080
Original Latin texts in Monumenta Gregoriana, ed. Jaffé,
pp. 223, 401
Henry IV was dethroned and excommunicated by the Pope in the Council of Lateran in 1076. By his penance at Canossa in 1077 he obtained a suspension of the sentence. Very soon the conflict broke out afresh, and in 1080 Gregory VII repeated the deposition and excommunication of the king. In both sentences all the main elements of the Gregorian ideology appear in full strength: the superiority of the spiritual to the temporal power is asserted and emphasized through St. Peter embodying the Papacy; on the basis of this superiority Henry IV is judged, condemned and deposed from his throne; using the power of binding and loosing the Pope dissolves the oaths of fealty of Henry's vassals; and as a member of the Church the king is excommunicated. In the second sentence a further and important step is made: the royal power is not merely taken away from Henry but it is granted by the Pope to the Duke Rudolf of Suabia.
First sentence, February 22, 1076
O St. Peter, chief of the Apostles, incline to us, I beg, your holy ear and listen to your servant whom from infancy you have nourished, and whom you have shielded until the present day from the hand of the wicked who have hated me, and who do hate me, for my fidelity to you. Amongst all the saints you and my Lady, the
Mother of God, and your brother, St. Paul, are witnesses for me that your Holy Roman Church drew me to its leadership against my will; that I never had any thought of ascending to your chair by violence and I should have preferred to end my life as a pilgrim rather than to have seized your throne by secular means for the sake of worldly glory. And therefore I believe that it is through your grace and not through my own merit that it has pleased and does please you that the Christian people, who have been expressly committed to you, should obey me. And especially to me, as your deputy and through your favour, has God granted the power of binding and loosing in Heaven and earth.
On the basis of this belief, therefore, for the honour and defence of your Church, in the name of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, by your power and authority, I withdraw from Henry the king, son of Henry the Emperor, who has risen against your Church with unheard-of insolence, the rule over the whole kingdom of the Germans and over Italy. And I absolve all Christians from the bonds of the oath which they have taken to him or which they shall in future take; and I forbid any one to serve him as king. For it is fitting that he who strives to lessen the honour of your Church should lose the honour which he possesses. And since he has scorned to obey as a Christian, and has not come back to God whom he has deserted, but has had intercourse with the excommunicated; practised numerous iniquities; spurned my admonitions which I sent to him--as you are witness--for his own salvation; and separated himself from the Church endeavouring to split it: I bind him, in your stead, with the chain of the anathema. And relying upon you, I bind him, so that the people may know that you are Peter, and upon your rock the Son of the living God has built His Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Second sentence, March 7, 1080
St. Peter, chief of the Apostles, and you, St. Paul, teacher of the nations, I beg you to deign to incline your ears to me and to hear me mercifully. You who are disciples and lovers of truth, assist me in order that I may tell you the truth deprived of any falsehood that you detest so much; so that my brothers may be in better peace with me and may know and understand that it is by leaning on you --after God and His Mother the Ever-Virgin Mary--that I resist the wicked and the iniquitous and that I aid those who are faithful to you. You know that I did not willingly take holy orders; unwilling I went to Germany with lord Pope Gregory; and still more unwilling I returned with my lord Pope Leo to this your Church to serve you both; later, much against my will, I was placed on your throne, although quite unworthy, after much resisting, groaning and wailing. I am mentioning this just to show that I did not choose you, but you have chosen me and have placed upon me the very heavy burden of your Church. And because you ordered me to ascend the highest mountain and to call out and to proclaim to the people of God their crimes and to the sons of the Church their sins, the limbs of the devil began to rise up against me and they presumed to lay their hands on me, not shrinking even from bloodshed. And the kings of the earth stood by and secular and ecclesiastical princes; and counsellors of princes and common people came together against the Lord and against you who are His anointed ones, saying: "Let us break their chains and throw off their yoke." And in many ways they attempted to rise up against me and to confound me utterly with death or exile.
Among them, particularly, Henry whom they call king, son of Henry the Emperor, raised his heel against your Church, conspiring with many German and Italian bishops and endeavouring to overthrow me and to subjugate her. But your authority resisted his pride and your power destroyed it. Then he came to me in Lombardy, confounded and humiliated, and asked me to absolve him from the excommunication. When I saw him humbled, I accepted his many promises that he would better his way of living, but I only restored him to the communion of the Church; I did not reinstate him in his kingdom from which I had deposed him in a Roman synod and I did not order that the allegiance of those who had sworn or would swear it to him and which I had also dissolved at that synod, should be observed toward him. This I did not do because I wanted either to render justice or to arrange peace between him and the German bishops and princes who had resisted him according to the orders of your Chruch; to this Henry himself acquiesced under oath in the presence of two bishops. But when the German bishops and princes heard that he had broken his promise to me, they elected--despairing of him--duke Rudolf as king; you are my witnesses that they did so without my advice. King Rudolf sent immediately an envoy to inform me that, being compelled to do so, he had undertaken to govern the kingdom but that he was prepared to obey me in every way. And to make it more credible, he kept repeating to me this message adding that he was ready to confirm to me his promises by giving his own son and the son of his faithful supporter duke Bertaldus as hostages. 1 In the meantime Henry started to implore me to assist him against the said Rudolf. I replied: I
1 By duke "Bertaldus" the Pope means Berthold von Zaehringen who, after being deprived by Henry IV of his duchy of Carinthia, was one of the staunchest supporters of Rudolf
would like to do it but only after having heard the arguments of both sides so as to know whom justice most favoured. But he despised my answer thinking that he could defeat Rudolf by his own resources. But when he saw that he was not able to do what he had hoped for, two of his followers, namely the Bishops of Verdun and of Osnabrueck, came to Rome and asked me in a synod to do justice to him. This also the envoys of Rudolf pressed me to do. Thereupon, inspired by God--as I believe--I decreed at that synod that a conference should be held in Germany where either peace should be made or it should be made known whom justice most favoured. Because up till to-day--and you, my fathers and masters, are my witnesses for this--I have never been disposed to help any party save the one which justice most favoured. And as I presumed that the party whose case was weaker would not like this conference to take place--where justice was to take its course--I excommunicated and bound with anathema the person of any one--whether king, duke, bishop or any other man--who should try to prevent by any means the assembly from taking place. But the said Henry, not fearing the danger from disobedience, which is a crime of idolatry, incurred the excommunication by impeding the conference; by this doing he caused a great number of Christians to be killed, many churches to be destroyed and nearly all the kingdom of Germany to be afflicted with desolation.
Therefore, strengthened by your authority and trusting in the judgment and mercy of God and of His Most Holy Mother the Ever-Virgin Mary, I do excommunicate and I bind with the chains of the anathema the often-mentioned Henry whom they call king, and all his followers. And again I deny to him, on behalf of God Almighty and of you, the kingdoms of Germany and of Italy and take away from him all royal power and dignity. And I forbid any Christian to obey him as king; and I absolve from their oath all who had sworn or shall swear it to him as ruler of the land. May this Henry and his partisans never obtain the upper hand in a war action and any victory during his life. On the other hand I do grant and concede on your behalf that Rudolf, whom the Germans had elected as their king in fidelity to you, may rule and defend the land of the Germans; to all those who faithfully adhere to him I grant--armed with your confidence--absolution of all their sins and your benediction in this as well as in the future life. For as Henry, on account of his pride, disobedience and falseness, is justly deposed from his royal dignity, so to Rudolf the power and dignity of kingship are granted for his humility, obedience and trustworthiness.
Act now, I beseech you, Fathers and most Holy Princes, in such a way that the whole world may learn and know that if you can bind and loose in Heaven, you also can on earth take away empires, kingdoms, principalities, duchies, margravates, counties and all possessions from men and confer them upon any one else according to his merits. For often have you taken away patriarchates, archbishoprics and bishoprics from wicked and unworthy men and gave them to pious ones. If therefore, you can render justice in spiritual things, how much more it is to be believed that you can do the same in secular matters! If you shall judge angels who rule over all proud princes, how much more you can do about their servants! Let kings and all secular princes learn now how great you are and what is your power; and let them fear to minimize the orders of your Church. And against the said Henry carry out your sentence with swiftness so that all may know that he did not fall by some chance but by your power. Let him be confounded until he makes penance in order that his soul be safe at the day of the Lord!Given at Rome, on the Nones of March, in the third indiction.
5. The "Dictatus Papae"
Original Latin text in Monumenta Gregoriana, ed. Jaffé, p. 174
The document is of unknown purpose, but seems to be the work of Gregory VII, though this has been disputed. It appears in the official register of Gregory VII under the title: 'What is the power of the Roman Pontiffs?" ("Quid valeant pontifices Romani"). It is usually explained as being a summary of principles by which the Gregorian reformers wished to inspire the pontifical policy. Out of twenty-seven dicta included in it, twenty-two are of a theological and ecclesiastical nature; they practically all aim at enhancing the authority of the Holy See inside the Church. The rest of them ( Nos. 8,9, 12, 27 and also 19 ) deal with the relationship between the Popes and the temporal power and are concrete expressions of the main aspects of the Gregorian ideology as explained in the letter to Hermann of Metz (see above, Doc. No. 3 ). In the dictum No. 8 the word "use" (in Latin "uti") is probably to be understood in the meaning "to dispose of."
1. That the Roman Church was founded by God alone.
2. That the Roman Pontiff alone is rightly to be called universal.
3. That he alone can depose or reinstate bishops.
4. That his legate, even if of lower grade, takes precedence, in a council, of all bishops and may render a sentence of deposition against them.
5. That the Pope may despose the absent.
6. That, among other things, we also ought not to stay in the same house with those excommunicated by him.
7. That for him alone it is lawful to enact new laws according to the needs of the time, 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 the Pope is the only one whose feet are to be kissed by all princes.
10. That his name alone is to be recited in churches.
11. That his title is unique in the world.
12. That he may depose Emperors.
13. That he may transfer bishops, if necessary, from one See to another.
14. That he has power to ordain a cleric of any church he may wish.
15. That he who has been ordained by him may rule over another church, but not be under the command of others; and that such a one may not receive a higher grade from any bishop.
16. That no synod may be called a general one without his order.
17. That no chapter or book may be regarded as canonical without his authority.
18. That no sentence of his may be retracted by any one; and that he, alone of all, can retract it.
19. That he himself may be judged by no one.
20. That no one shall dare to condemn a person who appeals to the Apostolic See.
21. That to this See the more important cases of every church should be submitted.
22. That the Roman Church has never erred, nor ever, by the witness of Scripture, shall err to all eternity.
23. That the Roman Pontiff, if canonically ordained, is undoubtedly sanctified by the merits of St. Peter; of this St. Ennodius, Bishop of Pavia, is witness, many Holy Fathers are agreeable and it is contained in the decrees of Pope Symmachus the Saint.
24. That, by his order and with his permission, subordinate persons may bring accusations.
25. That without convening a synod he can depose and reinstate bishops.
26. That he should not be considered as Catholic who is not in conformity with the Roman Church.
27. That the Pope may absolve subjects of unjust men from their fealty.
6. Letter of Henry IV on Church and State, summoning the
German Bishops to the Diet of Worms, April 1076
Original Latin text in Monumenta Germaniae Historica,
"Leges," sec. IV, vol. I, p. 111
The summons to the Diet of Worms is a reaction of Henry IV to his first deposition and excommunication of February 1076. Besides inciting the German episcopate to break discipline toward the Pope, it advances the theory of the two swords as a defence of the temporal power. This theory was later interpreted by the Church in a different way and used in corroborating the Papal claim to the "plenitudo potestatis," i.e. to the possession of all power, spiritual as well as temporal. (See the Bull Unam Sanctam of the Pope Boniface VIII below, in Chap. III, Doc. No. 10. )
Henry, king by the grace of God, sends favour, greeting and affection--but not to all, only to a few.
In great affairs the wisest counsels of the most outstanding men are necessary--of such men who are both externally able and inwardly do not lack the will to give good counsel on a matter for which they have interest; for ability without will or will without ability can never bring advantage in any matter. We are sure that both of these you possess equally, our most faithful one; or, better to say, although you have ability adequate to your greatness, nonetheless--if we know you properly and if we have noted your faithfulness with proper care--you abound with a good will to be useful to us and to the kingdom which is even greater than your great ability. For from the faithful services of the past we are led to hope for still more faithful services in the future. We rely on your love that your loyalty will not be inferior to our expectations. From the fidelity of no other prince in the realm do we expect greater things than from yours, as we are pleased not only with its showing in the past but also with what it promises in hopes for the future. Let, therefore, your timely good will be coupled now with your ability; because it is greatly required not only by our own strait but also by those of all your fellow-bishops and brothers, indeed of all the oppressed Church.
You are certainly not ignorant of this oppression. Therefore, see to it that you do not withdraw your help and consolation from the oppressed Church, but that you give your sympathy to the kingdom and the priesthood. The Church had been so far exalted in both of these, but it is now humiliated in both and bereaved. For assuredly one man who has claimed them both for himself, disintegrated them both; he could not bring advantage to one of them who was neither able nor willing to be of benefit to any of them. But we should not keep from you any longer the name, which is well known to you, of the person about whom we are talking: it is Hildebrand, a monk in appearance and called Pope, but sitting on the Apostolic chair rather through the violence of an invader than through the care of a shepherd and, from the seat of Catholic and universal peace, sundering the chain of this peace--as you yourself know very well. For, to mention only a few things among many: he usurped for himself the kingdom and the priesthood without God's sanction; by this doing he despised the holy ordination of God according to which the kingdom and the priesthood should not be in the hands of one, but, as two, in the hands of two. The Saviour Himself intimated this symbolically in His Passion as the meaning of the sufficiency of the two swords. When they told Him: "Behold, Lord, here are two swords," He replied: "It is enough." He meant by this sufficing duality that a spiritual and a carnal sword were to be wielded inside the Church by which all the harmful things should be cut off and amputated; by the sacerdotal sword, namely, in order that the king, for God's sake, should be obeyed; by the royal one in order that the external enemies of Christ should be defeated and that internally all people should be bound to obey the priesthood. So He taught and He also taught that affection should be extended from the one to the other so that the kingdom would not be deprived of the honour due to the priesthood, nor the priesthood of the honour due to the kingdom.
You know very well--if you are willing to know--in what way the madness of Hildebrand confounded this ordination of God. For in his judgment no one is a rightful priest unless he obtained a sanction of it by begging from his haughtiness. He also endeavoured to deprive me whom God called to the kingdom--not having, however, called him to the priesthood--of my royal power; this he did because he saw that I wanted to hold my rule from God and not from him who had not constituted me king; at the same time he menaced me that he would take away from me my kingdom and my soul, neither of which he had granted. Although he so often instigated and heaped against us this and other similar contumelies --as you know well--he apparently has not considered that as sufficient because from day to day he attacked us with fresh and gratuitous assaults and confusing man£uvres--as he recently showed in the case of our envoys. A page would not suffice to how he treated these our envoys, how he mishandled them using disgraceful methods, put them in jail and afflicted them, while in prison, with nakedness, cold, hunger, thirst and blows; and finally how he ordered them to be led around like martyrs in the middle of the town, thus providing a spectacle for all; so that you would say and believe that he is mad like Decius the tyrant, and a burner of saints.
Therefore, do not hesitate, my dearest, and may all of us not hesitate, to fulfil my request and that of your fellow-bishops and do not fail to come to Worms at Pentecost; there you will hear, together with the other princes, about many things of which only a few are mentioned in this letter and your view will be requested as to what is to be done. You are asked for love of your fellow-bishops, called upon for the good of the Church and bound for the honour of our life and of the whole kingdom to do this.
7. Decree prohibiting Lay Investiture, November 10, 1078
Original Latin text in Monumenta Gregoriana, ed. Jaffé, p. 332
This decree was promulgated by Pope Gregory VII in a Council held at Rome. The general banning of lay investiture was later repeated by the Popes on several occasions, until a satisfactory solution was reached in the Concordat of Worms. The opposition to the lay investiture, together with the ecclesiastical issue of clerical celibacy, were the two main means by which the Gregorian Reformation enforced the re-spiritualization of the medieval Church.
Inasmuch as we know that in many countries and places the investiture with churches is effected--contrary to the ordinances of the Holy Fathers--by lay persons, and that by this practice many disorders are caused in the Church by which the Christian religion is degraded, we decree that no cleric may receive the investiture with a bishopric, or abbey, or church, from the hands of an Emperor, or king, or any other lay person, male or female. If he shall presume to do so, let him know that such investiture is devoid of Apostolic authority and that he himself shall lie under excommunication until fitting satisfaction shall be rendered.
8. Concordat of Worms between Pope Calixtus II and the
Emperor Henry V, September 23, 1122
Original Latin text in Monumenta Germaniae Historica,
"Leges," sec. IV, vol. I, p. 159
The Concordat of Worms was not drawn up as the usual type of a treaty. It consisted in two separate declarations, each party formulating individually its concessions to the other. The papal statement was addressed to Henry V personally and did not mention his successors. But the agreement proved subsequently so satisfactory that it became a sort of customary law, observed by the successors of the original contracting parties. In this form it was valid until the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.
The Concordat of Worms was applicable to all the three kingdoms (of Germany, Italy and Burgundy), of which the Holy Roman Empire was composed, with one difference: whereas in Germany the Emperor was to confer the "regalia" (i.e. the temporal rights and revenues connected with the benefice) before the consecration of the elect, in the other two kingdoms the consecration was to take place first and the Emperor was bound to confer the "regalia" subsequently, within six months.
Privilege of the Pope
I, Bishop Calixtus, servant of the servants of God, concede to you, beloved son Henry--by the grace of God August Emperor of the Romans--that the election of those bishops and abbots in the German kingdom who belong to the kingdom shall take place in your presence without simony and without any violence; so that if any discord occurs between the parties concerned, you may--with the counsel or judgment of the metropolitan and the co-provincials --give your assent and assistance to the party which appears to have the better case. The candidate elected may receive the "regalia" from you through the sceptre and he shall perform his lawful duties to you for them. But he who is elected in the other parts of the Empire shall, within six months, receive the "regalia" from you through the sceptre and shall perform his lawful duties for them, saving all things which are known as pertaining to the Church. If you complain to me in any of these matters and ask for help, I will furnish you the aid, if such is the duty of my office. I grant true peace to you and to all those who are or have been of your party during this discord.
Privilege of the Emperor
In the name of Holy and Indivisible Trinity. I, Henry, by the grace of God August Emperor of the Romans, for the love of God and of the Holy Roman Church and of the lord Pope Calixtus and for the healing of my soul, do surrender to God, to the Holy Apostles of God, Peter and Paul, and to the Holy Roman Church all investiture through ring and staff; and do agree that in all churches throughout my kingdom and empire there shall be canonical elections and free consecration. I restore to the same Roman Church all the possessions and temporalities ("regalia") which have been abstracted until the present day either in the lifetime of my father or in my own and which I hold; and I will faithfully aid in the restoration of those which I do not hold. The possessions also of all other churches and princes and of every one else, either cleric or layman, which had been lost in that war, I will restore, so far as I hold them, according to the counsel of the princes or according to justice; and I will faithfully aid in the restoration of those that I do not hold. And I grant a true peace to the lord Pope Calixtus and to the Holy Roman Church and to all who are or have been on its side. In matters where the Holy Roman Church would seek assistance I will faithfully grant it; and in those where she shall complain to me, I will duly grant justice to her.
All this has been done by the consent and counsel of the princes whose names follow: Adalbert, Archbishop of Mainz; F., Archbishop of Cologne; H., Bishop of Ratisbon; O., Bishop of Bamberg; B., Bishop of Spires; H. of Augsburg; G. of Utrecht; O. of Constance; E., Abbot of Fulda; Henry, duke; Frederic, duke; S. duke; Pertolf, duke; Margrave Teipold; Margrave Engelbert; Godfrey, count Palatine; Otto, count Palatine; Berengar, count.
I, Frederick, Archbishop of Cologne and Archchancellor, have certified this.
THE FEUDAL MIDDLE AGES
THE ideology of the Gregorian Reformation, spread all over Europe by a countless army of reformers, imposed the recognition of its two leading principles: superiority of the spiritual over the temporal power and emancipation of the Church from the lay control. On the basis of the first principle the Papacy was exalted, both theoretically and practically, to the summit of the structure of Western Christendom. The Papacy became not only the highest authority in respect of international jurisdiction, being entitled to judge kings and princes, but the secular potentates also sought the Pope's sanction in major changes of their international position, such as acquisition of new territories or titles. In this the Pontiff was equal to the Emperor and usually overshadowed him by his more liberal outlook and greater political disinterestedness. An example of this Papal activity is the Bull Laudabiliter of 1155 by which Pope Adrian IV is said to have granted in advance to the king of England, Henry II, the possession of Ireland, a country whose invasion Henry was contemplating ( Doc. No. 1 ) This Bull was later followed by the sanction of the title of king of Ireland, conferred by the Pope on one of Henry's sons.
The principle of the emancipation of the Church from the lay control involved a substantial reduction of monarchical rights with regard to the clergy who tended everywhere to become autonomous under the centralizing influence of Rome. In this they had to overcome various forms of resistance of their secular rulers, whose opposition is best illustrated in the Constitutions of Clarendon, enacted by the same king of England, Henry II, in 1164 ( Doc. No. 2 ). The ensuing conflict between Church and State in England reached a sharp climax in the murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury; thereafter the king, unable to resist the concentrated pressure of the indignant Church, abandoned the Constitutions of Clarendon.
But, at the same time, the Church was undergoing an acid test of her new European position in a violent contest with the Emperor Frederic I Barbarossa. The occasion for this was furnished by a famous incident which occurred at the Imperial Diet at Besanqon in 1157. Papal envoys appeared at this Diet and presented the Emperor with a letter of Pope Adrian IV, a passage of which could be interpreted in the sense that the Emperor had obtained his dignity from the Pope as a feudal benefice. Frederic I, whose great ambition was a full restoration of Imperial prestige and authority, took it as... with a letter of Pope Adrian IV, a passage of which could be interpreted in the sense that the Emperor had obtained his dignity from the Pope as a feudal benefice. Frederic I, whose great ambition was a full restoration of Imperial prestige and authority, took it as a gross insult and addressed a circular letter to all European monarchs explaining his conception of the Imperial power with arguments similar to those which the king of Germany Henry IV had used against Gregory VII one hundred years earlier ( Doc. No. 3 ). In five military expeditions to Italy the Emperor tried to crush the papalist party there; he did not succeed in this design, but he was able to split the Church by setting up against Pope Alexander III three consecutive anti-popes, elected by a minority of the Sacred College. In order to prevent such schisms, or at least to make them more difficult in the future, Alexander III promulgated in 1179 a decree in the Lateran Council, declaring a two-thirds majority of Cardinals as necessary for the election of a Pope ( Doc. No. 4 ).
When Frederic Barbarossa made peace with Alexander III in 1177, the scope of the Imperial power in Italy had been substantially reduce; he had to abandon his anti-popes and confirm the liberty of the Church in the Holy Roman Empire as based on the Concordat of Worms; and in order to obtain absolution from excommunication, he humbled himself before the triumphant Pope. Soon after his death the Imperial crown was disputed between various pretenders and as nobody could acquire it without coronation by the Pope, the decisive role of the Pontiffs in the Holy Roman Empire became a political reality. In the meantime the dynamic Church continued to elaborate and expand the original ideology of the Gregorian Reformation. Taking the theory of the superiority of the spiritual over the temporal power as their starting point, her thinkers were no longer content with its occasional application to the monarchs embodying a separate temporal power, but they began to shape the doctrine that the Church and the Pope, her supreme representative, actually possessed and could exercise full power both over the Church and the State. The steadily expanding Canon Law (applicable to all the faithful in every country and combined with the international attributes of the Papacy which had resulted from the achievements of the Gregorian period) provided a powerful means for implementing this doctrine. From it the notion of the "plenitudo potestatis," of an all-embracing plenitude of the Papal power in the Christian community, grew up. Pope Innocent III, one of the most brilliant Pontiffs in history, formulated various aspects composing this doctrine in his official acts, among which the Decretals Per venerabilem, Novit Ille, Venerabilem fratrem and Sicut universitatis are particularly illustrative ( Doc. No. 5 ).
The arsenal of ideas and sanctions, of which this doctrine could dispose, was put in action--with a spectacular result--in the case of John Lackland, king of England. He became involved in a violent dispute with the Pope over various ecclesiastical grievances; after attempting resistance he completely submitted to Rome, surrendered his royal crown to Pope Innocent III and received it back from him as a vassal of the Holy See ( Doc. No. 6 ).
Soon afterwards this enlarged concept of Papal power found a formidable adversary in the person of Frederic II who was Emperor in the Holy Roman Empire and at the same time, in his capacity of king of Sicily, the most powerful secular potentate in Italy. This was a position which no other medieval Emperor had held before him; the centre of his political strength and energy was Southern Italy, in close proximity to Rome, so that his subsequent conflict with the Holy See became the climax of the medieval struggle between Empire and Papacy. After a first phase, brought to a temporary appeasement in 1230, a second and decisive stage of this conflict opened in 1236 when the Emperor started to enforce a complete submission of the Lombard towns to his authority, thus encircling the Papal States from all sides. At this moment Pope Gregory IX sent him a solemn warning in the letter Si memoriam beneficiorum, summing up the prerogatives and ancient rights of the Roman See in Europe and in the Holy Roman Empire ( Doc. No. 7 ).
The Emperor replied with the same arguments as had been advanced before him by his predecessors Henry IV and Frederic Barbarossa; the ensuing fierce war between Papalist Guelfs and Imperialist Ghibellines all over Italy culminated in the deposition of Frederic II from all his thrones, pronounced by Pope Innocent IV at the Council of Lyons in 1245 ( Doc. No. 8 ). The epic struggle was terminated by the death of Frederic II in 1250. With him the ambition of medieval Emperors to be the heads of European Christianity was definitely broken and buried.
The conceptions of the Papacy were triumphant and when, after a long "interregnum" in the Holy Roman Empire, Rudolf of Habsburg obtained Papal sanction as king of Germany, he had to give up the former Imperial rights of German kings to the parts of Italy claimed by the Papacy ( Doc. No. 9 ).
After the collapse of the Imperial position nobody seemed to be able to oppose the lofty supremacy of the Papacy at the summit of Western Christendom; at this time a great jurist on the See of St. Peter, Boniface VIII, enunciated the fullest formulation of the Papal plenitude of power in his celebrated Bull Unam sanctam of 1302 ( Doc. No. 10 ).
But simultaneously he entered into a bitter dispute with the king of France whose traditional dignity in Western Christendom was second only to that of the Emperor. In this contest, which arose over the taxation of the French clergy, Philip IV, king of France, obtained the upper hand; after the death of Boniface VIII and a short Pontificate of Benedict XI the Sacred College, composed of many pro-French Cardinals, elected in 1305 a French Pope, Clement V, who transferred the seat of the Papacy from Rome to Avignon. A period of close collaboration between the Avignon Popes and the kings of France began; it was inaugurated by the Brief Meruit of 1306 in which Clement V exempted the French kings from the strict application of the Bull Unam sanctam and guaranteed to them the position that they had enjoyed vis-à-vis the Papacy before this Bull ( Doc. No. 11 ).
In the rest of Europe the scope of power exercised by the Popes of Avignon had considerably increased both in the government of the centralized Church and in political matters. This was particularly the case in Germany where the Pontiffs insisted on their control of the German throne as deriving from their claim to examine and confirm the German kings elected by the princes (see the Decretal Venerabilem fratrem of Innocent III above, Doc. No. 5 ). Against this claim Lewis, duke of Bavaria, who had been elected king in 1314 without the Papal approval, carried on a lifelong struggle in Germany and Italy, and had himself crowned Emperor at Rome. When various attempts at his reconciliation with the Pontiffs of Avignon failed, he promulgated at the Diet of Frankfort in 1338 the law Licet iuris repudiating the Papal claim to confirm the election of German kings--( Doc. No. 12 ). He died excommunicated and without Pontifical recognition of his titles. But his successor, the Emperor Charles IV, secured peace and final harmony with the Papacy by renouncing any Imperial activity in the whole of Italy and this self-restriction was observed by the subsequent Emperors until the end of the Middle Ages.
1. Bull "Laudabiliter" of Pope Adrian IV sanctioning the
Conquest of Ireland by Henry II, King of England (1155)
Latin text in Giraldus Cambrensis, Expugnatio Hibernica
( Rerum Britannicarum Medii Aevi Scriptores, ed. J. F. Dimock, vol. V, p. 317)
Commentary There exists no original of this Bull and the only text of it is supplied by the Norman-Welsh chronicler Giraldus Cambrensis.
Therefore, the authenticity of the Bull has given rise to a long and spirited controversy. Be this authenticity as it may, the Papal will to sanction the conquest of Ireland by the king of England was expressed clearly by later Popes in other documents which are not disputed; Alexander III confirmed the English conquest in a letter addressed to king Henry II in 1172 and Urban III is said to have sent to him a crown with which one of Henry's sons was to be crowned king of Ireland. This, however, did not happen. One of Henry's sons, John, the future king John Lackland, merely received from his father the title "Dominus Hiberniae" ; when he became king of England, he joined it to his other titles and since then his successors governed in Ireland only as "Domini Hiberniae" until the end of the Middle Ages.
The Pope's decision on Ireland and the conferring of the Irish royal title on the English dynasty was in line with similar acts of Pope Gregory VII, such as his granting of Sicily to Robert Guiscard (see Chap. II, Doc. No. 2 ) or his conferring the royal dignity on the ruler of Croatia, Demeter, in 1076. Subsequently the Popes performed many such acts all over Europe, confirming territorial acquisitions and new titles; in so doing they functioned as a supreme international authority, entitled to approve and sanction major political changes in the Christian community. The case of Ireland is particularly instructive in this respect because no vassalage of the English king toward the Holy See existed at that time, nor was it created simultaneously with the granted privileges, as in the cases of Robert Guiscard and Demeter of Croatia. Consequently, the feudal element being absent, the Pope did not act as a suzerain conferring favours on his vassal, but distinctly as a recognized supreme authority of Christendom.
Bishop Adrian, servant of the servants of God, to his most beloved son in Christ the illustrious king of the English, greeting and Apostolic benediction.
Laudably and profitably your Magnificence contemplates extending the fame of your glorious name on earth and accumulating for yourself the rewards of eternal happiness in Heaven; in doing so you intend, like a truly Catholic prince, to enlarge the boundaries of the Church, to teach rude and ignorant peoples the truth of the Christian faith and to stamp out the plants of evil from the field of the Lord; and you ask for advice and favour of the Apostolic See in order the better to accomplish that. In this activity, we are sure, the loftier the counsel and the greater the discretion with which you proceed, the happier progress you will make with the help of God;
because those things which are commenced in the ardour of faith and in the love of religion are always wont to come to a good end and termination. There is certainly, as your Excellency also acknowledges, no doubt that Ireland and all islands which Christ the Sun of Righteousness has illumined and which have accepted the doctrines of the Christian faith, belong to the jurisdiction of the blessed Peter and of the most holy Roman Church. Consequently, so much the more willingly do we plant in them the seed of right faith agreeable to God, the more we are aware--by examining strictly our conscience--that this is required of us.
You have signified to us, most beloved son in Christ, your desire to enter the island of Ireland in order to subject the people of it to laws and to extirpate the vices which have taken root there; and also your willingness to pay an annual pension to St. Peter of one penny from every house; and your intention to preserve the rights of the churches in that land undiminished and inviolate. We, therefore, meeting with due favour your pious and laudable desire and according a benignant assent to your petition, consider it as accepted and agreed that you should enter that island in order to extend the boundaries of the Church, to restrain the downward course of vice, to correct morals and implant virtues, to advance the Christian religion and to execute there everything which tends to the honour of God and to the salvation of the land, and that the people of that land should receive you with honour and revere you as their lord; provided always that the rights of the churches remain undiminished and inviolate, and reserving for St. Peter and the most holy Roman Church the annual pension of one penny from each house. If, therefore, you effectively carry out what you have conceived in your mind, endeavour to enlighten that people in good morals; and act--both personally and through the medium of those whom you know as fitted for the task by their faith, words and ways of life--in such a manner that the Church there may be adorned, the Christian religion planted and made to grow and that everything which pertains to the honour of God and the salvation of souls may be so ordered that you may deserve a full and lasting reward from God and on earth may merit to obtain a name glorious throughout the ages.
2. Constitutions of Clarendon restricting the Rights of the Church in England,
January 28, 1164
Original Latin text in: Stubbs, Select Charters of English Constitutional History, ed. 1870, p. 131
The clash of jurisdiction between Church and secular courts in England was the immediate occasion of the controversy between the English king Henry II and St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. The Constitutions of Clarendon are an attempt to formulate in a written statement (requiring consent by the assembled barons and bishops) practices which Henry asserted had been the custom of all his predecessors on the English throne, but which the Church had ignored during the reign of king Stephen. Only one article of the Constitutions (No. 7) is in fact an innovation; Henry is appealing back to the condition of the Church before the Gregorian principles of ecclesiastical emancipation and strengthening of Papal authority had gained ground. Thomas, on the other hand, as a convinced supporter of the emancipation of the Church in line with contemporary Canon Law, could hardly accept the Constitutions and ultimately appealed to Rome against them. The propriety of his appeal without the king's consent then became the central point of the controversy; the dispute continued until the martyrdom of the Archbishop in 1170 and the subsequent concessions made by the king in the agreement with Pope Alexander III at Avranches in 1172, by which the independent status of the Church's legal system was recognized. The claim to punish "criminous clerks" was conceded by the king, as was also the right of direct appeal to Rome. The articles of the Constitutions, particularly those relating to royal control over ecclesiastical appeals (No. 8 where the words "proceed further" mean appeals to Rome), judicial matters (Nos. 1, 3, 6 and 7) and appointments to Church benefices (No. 12), are typical of the desire of secular princes throughout Europe to preserve the practical administration of the Church within their territories in their own hands.
The mention of the names of Thomas and of the other bishops as subscribing to the document is due to a temporary weakening of the Archbishop's attitude, which induced him to give consent, though he avoided affixing his seal. He afterwards regarded this concession as sin on his part and subjected himself to penance for it; it was the only sign of weakness on Thomas's side throughout the whole course of the dispute.
"Frank-almoign" mentioned in No. 9 was the technical feudal term indicating land held by the Church under no other obligation than that of prayer.
In the year of our Lord's Incarnation 1164, in the fourth year of Alexander's Pontificate, and the tenth year of the reign of the most illustrious King of the English, Henry II, was made the following record or memorandum of a certain section of the customs, liberties and dignities of his predecessors, that is of his grand-father King Henry and others, which ought to be observed and preserved in the kingdom. And because of quarrels and discords which had broken out between the clerics and the judges of the lord King and the barons of the kingdom concerning the customs and dignities, this memorandum was made in the presence of the archbishops, bishops, clergy, earls, barons and noblemen of the kingdom. And these same customs, recorded by the archbishops, bishops, earls, barons and the more noble and more venerable men in the kingdom, Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury, Roger Archbishop of York, Gilbert Bishop of London, Henry Bishop of Winchester, Nigel Bishop of Ely, William Bishop of Norwich, Robert Bishop of Lincoln, Hilary Bishop of Chichester, Jocelin Bishop of Salisbury, Richard Bishop of Chester, Bartolomew Bishop of Exeter, Robert Bishop of Hereford, David Bishop of St. Davids and Roger Bishop-elect of Worcester, were conceded and by word of mouth promised definitely on the word of truth, that they should be kept and observed towards the lord King and his heirs, by those present, with sincere loyalty and without evil intention: Robert Earl of Leicester, Reginald Earl of Cornwall, Conan Earl of Brittany, John Earl of Eu, Roger Earl of Clare, Earl Geoffrey of Mandeville, Hugh Earl of Chester, William Earl of Arundel, Earl Patrick, William Earl of Ferrers, Richard de Lucy, Reginald de St. Valery, Roger Bigot, Reginald de Warenne, Richard de Aquila, William de Braose, Richard de Camville, Nigel de Mowbray, Simon de Beauchamp, Humphrey de Bohun, Matthew de Hereford, Walter de Mayenne, Manser Biset the steward, William Malet, William de Courcy, Robert de Dunstanville, Jocelin de Balliol, William de Lanvallis, William de Caisnet, Geoffrey de Vere, William de Hastings, Hugh de Moreville, Alan de Neville, Simon son of Peter, William Maudit the chamberlain, John Maudit, John Marshal, Peter de Mare and many other lords and noblemen of the kingdom, clerical and lay.
A certain portion of the recorded customs and dignities of the kingdom is, then, contained in the present document. These are the chapters of this portion:
1. If disputing about the advowson and presentment to churches shall break out between laymen, or between laymen and clerics, or between clerics, it is to be dealt with and decided in the court of the lord King.
2. Churches in fee of the lord King can not be granted in perpetuity without his own consent and grant.
3. Clerics cited or accused concerning any matter shall, when summoned by the King's Justiciar, come into his court to give an answer there to whatever the King's court shall think is fitting to be answered there, and in the Church court for what shall be fitting to be answered there; with the proviso that the King's Justiciar shall send to the court of the Holy Church to observe by what method the case is treated there. And if the cleric shall be proved guilty and shall confess, the Church must not give him any further protection.
4. The archbishops, bishops and persons of the realm are not allowed to go out of the kingdom without the permission of the lord King. And if they go, they shall, if it please the King, give assurance that neither in going, nor in making a stay, nor in returning, will they seek the harm or damage of King or kingdom.
5. Those who are excommunicated shall not give a pledge in perpetuity, nor take any oath, but only a security and pledge that they would present themselves before the ecclesiastical tribunal in order to be absolved.
6. Laymen are not to be accused unless by reliable and legal accusers and witnesses in the presence of the bishop, so that the archdeacon does not lose his right nor anything due to him therein. And if such persons are inculpated whom no one wills or dares to accuse, the sheriff, being requested by the bishop, shall cause twelve lawful men from the neighbourhood or town to swear before the bishop that they will make manifest the truth in the matter according to their conscience.
7. No one who holds from the King in chief and no one of his demesne officers shall be excommunicated, nor shall the lands of any one of them be put under an interdict unless first the lord King, if he be in the land, or his Justiciar, if he be outside the kingdom, be asked to do right to him; and so that what shall pertain to the King's court shall be terminated there and what shall belong to the ecclesiastical court shall be sent to the same and treated there.
8. If appeals arise, they are to proceed from the archdeacon to the bishop and from the bishop to the archbishop. And if the archbishop fails in rendering justice, they have to come finally to the lord King in order to conclude the dispute by his command in the court of the archbishop, so that it must not proceed further without the consent of the lord King.
9. If a controversy arises between a cleric and a layman or between a layman and a cleric, concerning any tenement which the cleric wishes to attach to the frank-almoign, but the layman to the lay fee, it shall be determined--after inquest of twelve lawful men--by the judgment of the King's Chief Justiciar, whether the tenement belongs to frank-almoign or to the lay fee in the presence of the same Chief Justiciar. And if it be recognized as belonging to frank-almoign, the case shall be pleaded in the ecclesiastical court; but if to the lay fee, it shall be pleaded in the King's court, unless both parties claim to be under the same bishop or baron. But if both appeal concerning that fee to the same bishop or baron, the case shall be pleaded in his court; so that, on account of the inquest made, he who was first in possession shall not lose his seisin until the matter be settled through the pleading. 10. If any one belonging to a city, or castle, or borough, or a demesne manor of the lord King be summoned by the archdeacon or bishop for any offence for which he ought to answer to them, and refuse to give satisfaction to their summonses, it is perfectly lawful to put him under interdict; but he ought not to be excommunicated until the chief officer of the lord King of that town shall be asked to compel him to give satisfaction to the summonses. And if the officer of the King neglects this matter, he shall be at the King's mercy and thereafter the bishop can coerce the accused man by ecclesiastical justice. 11. Archbishops, bishops, and all persons of the realm who hold of the King in chief, have their possession from the lord King as a barony, answer for them to the Justices and officers of the King, and follow and do all royal rights and customs and, like other barons, have to be present at the judgments at the court of the lord King with the barons until there occurs, in the trials, a conclusion involving loss of life or limb. 12. When an archbishopric is vacant, or a bishopric, or an abbey, or a priory of the demesne of the King, it must remain in his own hand; and he shall receive all the revenues and incomes from it, as if they were revenues and incomes of a demesne. And, when it comes to providing for the church, the lord King has to summon the chief persons of the Church and the election is to take place in the chapel of the lord King with the assent of the same lord King and with the counsel of the persons of the realm whom he shall have called upon to do this. And there the elect shall do homage and fealty to the lord King as to his liege lord, for his life and his earthly honour, saving his order, before he is consecrated.
13. If any one of the nobles of the kingdom withholds from an archbishop or a bishop, or an archdeacon, the possibility of doing justice with regard to himself or his people, the lord King has to bring them to justice. And if by chance any one shall withhold from the lord King this possibility, the archbishops, bishops and archdeacons have to judge him in order that he gives satisfaction to the lord King.
14. No church or cemetery ought to detain, against the King's justice, the chattels of those who are under forfeit of the King; these chattels are the King's, whether they are found within the churches or outside them.
15. Pleas concerning debts due under pledge of faith or without pledge of faith are to be within the King's jurisdiction.
16. The sons of villein rustics may not be ordained without the assent of the lord on whose land they are known to be born.
So the record of the aforesaid royal customs and dignities was made by archbishops, bishops, earls, barons, nobles and elders of the kingdom at Clarendon on the fourth day before the Purification of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, the lord Henry being present there with his father the lord King. There are, moreover, many other great customs and dignities of the holy Mother Church, which are not contained in this document. Let them be safe for the holy Church and the lord King and his heirs and the barons of the kingdom and may they be inviolably observed for ever.
3. Circular Letter of the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa on the
Imperial Power, October 1157
Original Latin text in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, "Leges", sec. IV, vol. I, p. 230
After a series of initial governmental successes the Emperor Frederic I held a brilliant assembly of the Diet of Imperial vassals at Besançon in the kingdom of Burgundy, belonging to the Holy Roman Empire. Two Papal Legates came to this Diet, entrusted particularly to press the matter of the Scandinavian Archbishop of Lund who was held prisoner in Germany and whom the Emperor failed to have liberated. The Legates brought a letter of the Pope addressed to the Emperor in which Adrian IV spoke about his "conferring benefices" upon Frederic. The Latin expression "con-
ferre beneficia" could have a double meaning; either a general sense of "conceding favours" or a technically feudal one of "conferring fiefs." When the letter was read out in the Diet, the audience interpreted it according to the second meaning, implying that the Imperial crown had been granted to Frederic by the Pope as a Pontifical fief. The spokesman of the Legates, Cardinal Bandinelli, did little to dissipate this interpretation and an excited controversy between Emperor and Pope ensued.
Frederic Barbarossa had a very high conception of his Imperial mission and of his continuity, through Charlemagne, with the Roman Emperors of Antiquity. He took the incident very seriously. In the letter of protest, by which he informed--in October 1157--all European rulers of the matter, he develops the same ideas as the king of Germany, Henry IV, did against Pope Gregory VII eighty years earlier (see Chap. II, Doc. No. 6 ); namely that the secular and particularly the Imperial power is an independent one, responsible only to God, and that Christ himself had recognized it as such according to the theory of the two swords. The whole incident was, however, smoothed out by a more conciliatory attitude of the Pope.
Considering that the Divine power, from which all other power in Heaven and on earth is derived, has committed to us, whom it had anointed, the kingdom and the Empire to rule over and has ordered the peace of the Churches to be preserved by Imperial arms, it is not without a great pain of our heart that we feel compelled to complain to your Grace that from the head of the Holy Church, to which Christ affixed the character of His peace and affection, causes of dissension, seeds of evil and the poison of a pestiferous disease seem to emanate; so that if God does not avert it, the whole body of the Church--as we fear--will be infected by them, its unity disrupted and a schism will occur between the kingdom and the priesthood.
For recently, when we were holding our court at Besançon and were dealing there with the honour of the Empire and the welfare of the Church with all due care, Apostolic Legates arrived there; they said that they were bringing a message for our Majesty from which no little increase would result for the honour of the Empire. After having received them honourably on the first day of their arrival, on the second--as it is customary--we assembled in session with our princes to hear their message; and they--as if inflated with the mammon of unrighteousness, with the haughtiness of pride, with the harshness of arrogance and with an execrable elation of their swelling hearts--presented us with a message couched in an
Apostolic letter, the tenor of which was the following: that we should always keep before the eyes of our mind how the lord Pope conferred upon us the distinction of the Imperial crown and that he would not feel any regret if our Excellency received from him even greater benefices. This was the message of that fatherly sweetness which was to foster the unity between the Church and the Empire, which was to endeavour to tie together both with a ring of peace and to attract the minds of those who heard it toward concord and obedience of both. At these words, of course, scandalous and deprived of all truth as they were, not only did our Imperial Majesty conceive a righteous indignation, but also all the princes who were present were seized with such a fury and wrath that they would have, without doubt, punished those two iniquitous presbyters with the sentence of death had not our presence prevented it. Later many similar letters were found upon them and sealed forms to be filled in at their discretion, which would enable them to spread throughout the various churches of the kingdom of Germany--as it had actually been their custom hitherto--the venom conceived by their iniquity, to denude altars, to remove the vessels of the house of God, and to strip the crosses; but lest a possibility of proceeding further with this should be given to them we caused them to return to the City of Rome by the way which they had come. And as the kingdom and the Empire belong to us, being granted to us through the election of the princes by God alone, Who has subjected the world in the passion of His Son Christ to the rule of the two necessary swords, and since the Apostle Peter has enlightened the world with this teaching, "Fear God, honour the king," whoever may say that we have obtained the Imperial crown as a benefice from the lord Pope, contradicts the Divine institution and the teaching of Peter and shall be guilty of a lie.
We have endeavoured to wrench out from the hands of the Egyptians the honour and liberty of the Churches which have long been oppressed by the yoke of an undue servitude and we intend to make them preserve all their dignity and rights. Therefore we ask your conscience to condole with us over such ignominy inflicted upon us and upon the Empire, and we hope that the undivided sincerity of your faith will not tolerate the honour of the Empire-which has remained glorious and intact ever since the foundation of the City of Rome and since the establishment of the Christian religion up till our own time--to be diminished now either by an unheard-of innovation or by a presumptuous elation; for you know without any doubt that we are prepared rather to incur danger of death than to sustain in our time the shame of such a humiliation.
4. Decree "Licet de vitanda" of Pope Alexander III on Papal Election, 1179 Original Latin text in Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, vol. XXII, p. 217
Commentary After the death of Pope Adrian IV a double Papal election occurred in which Cardinal Bandinelli, who had been Adrian's Legate at the Diet of Besançon (see the preceding Doc. No. 3 ), was elected by the majority of the Sacred College under the name of Alexander III. Against him the minority set up an anti-pope who called himself Victor IV. Soon afterwards the great struggle began in which the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa opposed the Lombard towns backed by the Pope and the Emperor supported against Alexander III three consecutive anti-popes. Endeavouring to avoid contestable Papal elections in the future, Alexander III enacted in the Third General Council of Lateran the decree Licet de vitanda of 1179, by which he reformed the decree In nomine Domini of Pope Nicholas II (see Chap. II, Doc. No. 1 ). From this law of 1179 it follows that all Cardinals were to participate in the Papal election equally (the decree In nomine Domini of 1059 had reserved the decisive vote only to the Cardinal-Bishops) and that a two-thirds majority of the Sacred College was necessary for a valid election.
The decree was later incorporated into the Corpus Iuris Canonici ( Decret. Gregorii IX, lib. I, tit. VI, De electione, cap. IV), and this mode of Papal election has been observed ever since.
On the election of the Supreme Pontiff Although ordinances have emanated from our predecessors which are clear enough and destined to prevent any discord, nonetheless grave splits often occurred in the Church after these ordinances, due to the audacity of wicked ambition; in order to avoid this evil, we, too, have decided to make some addition to them, by the advice of our brothers and by the approval of the holy Council.
We therefore decree that if, by any chance, full concord could not be achieved in view of constituting a Pontiff, owing to a hostile man sowing tares of discord among the Cardinals, and one-third of them would not be willing to agree with the two other thirds united and concordant, or even would presume to consecrate some other candidate, he shall be regarded as Roman Pontiff who shall be elected and received by two-thirds.
But if any one, relying on the nomination by one-third, shall usurp for himself the episcopal name--for the substance of the episcopal function he can not usurp--he himself and those who shall have received him shall be subject to excommunication and, as further punishment, shall be deprived of the holy order in such a way that the holy Eucharist and even the Viaticum shall be denied to them, except if they are actually dying, and they shall share-unless they return to their senses--the lot of Dathan and Abiron whom the earth engulfed alive.
Moreover, if any one was elected to the Apostolic office by less than two-thirds, he shall by no means be accepted--unless a greater concord is attained--and shall be subject to the aforesaid punishment if he refuses humbly to abstain. This, however, must not engender any prejudice to the canonical ordinances and to other churches, in which the opinion of the greater and sounder part should prevail, so that if any contest occurs in them, it may be decided by judgment of a superior authority. But in the Roman church it is necessary to establish a special rule because from it no recourse to a superior authority can be made.
5. Views of Pope Innocent III on the Papal "Plenitudo
The original Latin texts of these documents can be found as follows:
i. The Decretal Per venerabilem in Corpus Iuris Canonici
( Decret. Gregorii IX, lib. IV, tit. XVII, "Qui filii sint legitimi", cap. XIII),
ed. Friedberg, vol. II, p. 714.
ii. The Decretal Novit Ille in Corpus Iuris Canonici
( Decret. Gregorii IX, lib. II, tit. I, "De iudiciis", cap. XIII),
ed. Friedberg, vol. II, p. 242.
iii. The Decretal Venerabilem fratrem in Corpus Iuris Canonici
( Decret. Gregorii IX, lib. I, tit. VI, "De electione", cap. XXXIV),
ed. Friedberg, vol. II, p. 79.
iv. The letter Sicut universitatis in Baluzius, Epistolarum Innocentii III Romani Pontificis libri XI, lib. I, epist. 401, p. 235.
For a variety of reasons the Pontificate of Innocent III is generally considered as the period of the height of the medieval Papacy's strength. To a large extent the period owes its greatness to the personality of Innocent III. In addition to his excellent qualities of
leadership, this Pope was an outstanding theologian and jurist; his Pontificate therefore produced a great number of Pontifical enactments by which the plenitude of the Papal power--a term that Innocent III contributed very much to make a common notion-was defined in its various aspects. Four of these enactments can be presented as particularly illustrative. They are:
i. The Decretal Per venerabilem in which the Pope described the authority of the Holy See in matters relating both to Canon and Civil Law;
ii. the Decretal Novit Ille explaining the Papal competence of intervention in international political affairs "ratione peccati" (i.e. because of the commission of sins); iii. the Decretal Venerabilem fratrem defining Papal rights with regard to the crown of Germany owing to the fact that the king of Germany was the only monarch who could claim the Imperial dignity; iv. the letter Sicut universitatis in which the Pope expressed his general view on the relationship between the spiritual and temporal power.
All the three decretals became part of the Corpus Iuris Canonici. i. The Decretal Per venerabilem is an answer to the request of Count William of Montpellier, a powerful feudal lord of Southern France, who asked the Pope in 1202 to legitimate his sons born from his second marriage while his first one was canonically still valid. Although Innocent III had previously legitimated two illegitimate children of the king of France Philip II, he rejects the request explaining that the two cases are different both in their factual and legal aspects. On this occasion he develops the theory that as the Church can dispense bastards so that they may become priests and bishops, she can do so the much more for all purposes of secular and civil law. In this particular instance, however, the Pope refused to dispense the sons of Count of Montpellier so that they were unable to succeed to their father; he later kept to this sentence in spite of its serious political consequences and in spite of the fact that Count William was a supporter of orthodoxy in the Albigensian troubles in Southern France.
j. The Decretal Novit Ille was addressed to the episcopate of France in 1204 during the protracted military hostilities between Philip II, king of France, and the English king John Lackland, caused by various feudal grievances. John Lackland had complained in Rome and Innocent III was anxious to stop this war because it prevented the two kings from participating in the fourth crusade, then in progress, and affected the Pope's policy in Germany. Consequently he endeavoured to impose his jurisdiction on the two kings in order to bring about a peace settlement. In doing so he advances the doctrine that although he has no competence in their feudal disputes as such, his judicial competence can not be denied in all matters where sins are committed. As practically all political deeds involve some moral aspect (particularly in the Middle Ages when treaties were confirmed by religious oaths so that accusations of perjury and breach of peace could easily be made in interpreting or executing the treaties) this competence "ratione peccati" meant for the Pope a vast possibility of jurisdictional intervention in political affairs, including feudal matters.
c. The Decretal Venerabilem fratrem determines the position of the Papacy towards the Imperial crown in a sense similar to that which had provoked the anger of Frederic Barbarossa fifty years earlier (see above in this chapter, Doc. No. 3 ). A decade of civil war in Germany followed the election of two rival kings in 1198, the Hohenstaufen Philip, second son of Barbarossa, and the Guelf Otto. After some initial hesitation, Innocent III approved the election of Otto. But the civil war went on and many German princes sided with Philip because they considered the Papal claim to confirm the royal elections in Germany as undue and illegitimate. In order to explain his stand and define the Papal rights in this respect Innocent III sent a letter to a leading supporter of the Hohenstaufen party, the duke of Zaehringen, which became the Decretal Venerabilem fratrem when included in the Corpus Iuris Canonici. The main points of this Decretal are the following: a. the Pope does recognize the right of the Electors to elect the king of Germany, the future Emperor, but he points out that the origin of their electing the Emperors is the transfer of the Imperial dignity from Byzantium to Charlemagne by the Pope (at the moment of Charlemagne's coronation in 800 the Byzantine throne was occupied by a woman, the Empress Irene; whence arose the thesis of Roman Canonists that owing to this Imperial vacancy--a woman being incapable of becoming a lawful Emperor--the Pope could transfer the Imperial dignity back to Rome and confer it upon Charlemagne); b. the Pope must examine the elect to find out whether he is worthy to be crowned Emperor and if he is not, can refuse to recognize his election; c. if the Electors are divided, the Pope can choose one of the candidates and crown him Emperor, because the Church needs a defender.
The right of rejecting an elected king on account of his unworthiness, combined with the right of crowning as Emperor one of the candidates issuing from a divided election (which was almost usual), assured the decisive role, legal and political, of the Pontiffs in the internal affairs of the Holy Roman Empire.
d. When Innocent III ascended the See of St. Peter, he found Southern and Central Italy oppressed by bands of German soldiers, remnants of the army that the late Emperor Henry VI had main- tained there. Against them the towns of Central Italy had formed a league and asked for Papal protection. Innocent III did not refuse it and the letter Sicut universitatis conditor, sent to the league's chief executive on this subject, gave him the opportunity to express his conception of the relationship between the Papal and the Imperial power (or the secular power in general) in terms of the famous allegory of sun and moon. The letter is addressed to "the noble man Acerbus, Prefect, and to the other leaders of Tuscany and of the Duchy (of Rome)."
i. The Decretal "Per venerabilem", September 7, 1202
Through our venerable brother, the Archbishop of Arles, who had betaken himself to the Apostolic See, your humility requested us that we deign to adorn your sons with the title of legitimation in order that the objection of (illegitimate) birth should not do harm to their succession to you. From the fact that the Apostolic See, after investigation of various pleas, has dispensed some illegitimate sons, not only natural sons but also those born from adultery, legitimating them for spiritual functions so that they could be promoted to be bishops, from this fact it is evident that the Apostolic See has full power in this matter. Consequently, it is believed as the more probable and reputed as the more credible that it is entitled to legitimate such children for secular functions, particularly since they do not know among men any one superior to the Roman Pontiffs who would have the power of legitimating; because, as for spiritual things both a greater precaution and higher fitness and authority are required, that which is conceded in major things appears as lawful also in minor ones.--
Inspired by these considerations, we conceded the favour to the king ( Philip II of France) as we had been requested, holding it both from the Old and from the New Testament that it is not only in the States of the Church--where we have full power in temporal matters --but also in other countries that we can occasionally exercise the temporal jurisdiction in certain cases, after having previously examined them. This does not mean that we want to prejudice the rights of anybody else or usurp any power which does not belong to us because we do not ignore that Christ replied in the Scripture: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's"; consequently, when He was asked to divide an inheritance between two claimants, He said: "Who hath appointed me judge or divider over you?" But in Deuteronomy the following is contained: "If thou perceive that there be among you a hard and doubtful matter in judgment between blood and blood, cause and cause, leprosy and leprosy; and thou see that the words of the judges within thy gates do vary: arise, and go up to the place, which the Lord thy God shall choose. And thou shalt come to the priests of the Levitical race, and to the judge, that shall be at that time; and thou shalt ask of them, and they shall show thee the truth of the judgment. And thou shalt do whatsoever they shall say, that preside in the place which the Lord shall choose, and what they shall teach thee according to His law; and thou shalt follow their sentence: neither shalt thou decline to the right hand nor to the left hand. But he that will be proud, and refuse to obey the commandment of the priest, who ministereth at that time to the Lord thy God, and the decree of the judge: that man shall die, and thou shalt take away the evil from Israel." Thus, if interpreting the second law of Deuteronomy, it proves on the strength of its wording and in relation to this passage that what is determined there should also be observed in the New Testament. For the place which the Lord has chosen is obviously the Apostolic See because the Lord Himself has established it, having laid its foundation stone. For when Peter, on his flight from Rome, was leaving the City the Lord, wanting him to return to the place which He had chosen and being asked by him "Lord, where are you going?" replied: "I am going to Rome to be crucified again." Understanding that this was meant for him Peter immediately returned. For the priests of the Levitical tribe are our brothers who function according to the Levitical law as our coadjutors in the discharge of our sacerdotal office. A priest or judge exists, superior to them, to whom the Lord said in the person of St. Peter: "Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in Heaven"; he is the vicar of Him Who is priest in eternity according to the law of Melchizedek, and established by God to be judge over the living and the dead. For in fact three kinds of justice are to be distinguished: first between blood and blood by which the criminal and the civil law are meant; last between leprosy and leprosy by which the ecclesiastical and the criminal law are understood; and a middle one is between cause and cause which refers to both laws, ecclesiastical as well as civil; in these if anything were difficult or ambiguous, recourse is to be had to the Apostolic See and if any one in his pride would disregard its sentence with contempt, he shall precipitate himself into death and shall take away the evil from Israel, i.e. he shall be separated, as if dead, from the communion of the faithful by a sentence of excommunication. St. Paul, too, writing to the Corinthians in order to explain the plenitude of power, said: "Know you not that we shall judge angels? How much more things of this world!" Consequently, the office of the secular power is exercised sometimes and in some matters directly by him, but other times and in other cases through others.
Thus, although we have decided that justice should be done to the sons of the often-mentioned king of France when it was doubted whether they had been legitimate from the start; because both the Mosaic and Canon law hates children born in adultery, as the Lord is witness: "A mamser, that is to say, one born of a prostitute" and a bastard "shall not enter into the church of the Lord, until the tenth generation"; as the Canon law forbids them to be promoted to the holy orders; and as secular laws not only exclude them from paternal succession but even deny them allowances for sustenance ("alimenta"), we have thought it right so far to supersede the aforesaid petition and we do not meet now your prayer in this matter with consent until, if possible, both a lesser guilt and a more liberal jurisdiction may appear; although we embrace your person with arms of a special affection and are prepared to show to you special favour in any matters in which we could extend it in accordance with God and honesty.
ii. The Decretal "Novit Ille", 1204
He knows, Who ignores nothing and Who, knowing the secrets, is searcher of hearts, that we love our illustrious son in Christ, Philip, king of the French, with pure heart, good conscience and unpretended fidelity; we genuinely favour his honour, success and prosperity, pondering on the growth of the French kingdom and the exaltation of the Apostolic See and wishing that this kingdom, blessed by God, may always remain in devotion to Him and never depart-as we hope--from this devotion; for, although sometimes, here and there, the influence of the wicked angels appear, we shall endeavour --not ignoring the astuteness of Satan--to prevent his temptations hoping that the said king will not allow himself to be tempted by his fallacies.
No one, therefore, may suppose that we intend to disturb or diminish the jurisdiction or power of the illustrious king of the French just as he himself does not want to and should not impede our jurisdiction and power; as we are insufficient to discharge all our jurisdiction, why should we wish to usurp that of someone else? But the Lord said in the Gospel: "If thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them, tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican." And the king of England is prepared--so he says--to prove sufficiently that the king of the French sins against him, that he himself tried to correct him according to the Evangelic rule and then, when he had no success, he told the Church about it. And how could we, who have been called by the Highest disposition to the government of the whole Church, fail to obey the Divine mandate and not to proceed according to its form unless, perhaps, he produces in our presence or in the presence of our Legate a sufficient plea to the contrary? For we do not intend to render justice in feudal matters, in which the jurisdiction belongs to him, unless something may be detracted from the common law by some special privilege or contrary custom, but we want to decide in the matter of sins, of which the censure undoubtedly pertains to us and we can and must exercise it against any one.--
In this, indeed, we do not lean on human constitutions, but much more on Divine law, because our power is not from man but from God: any one who has a sound mind knows that it belongs to our office to draw away any Christian from any mortal sin and, if he despises the correction, to coerce him with ecclesiastical penalties.--
That we can and also must coerce, is obvious from the words which the Lord said to the prophet who was one of the priests of Anathot: "Lo, I have set thee this day over the nations and over kingdoms, to root up and to pull down, and to waste, and to destroy, to build, and to plant." It is, indeed, obvious that what is to be rooted up, pulled down and destroyed is all mortal sin. Besides, when the Lord handed over the keys of the kingdom of Heaven to St. Peter, He told him: "Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in Heaven." Nobody will certainly doubt that he who commits mortal sins is bound before God. If therefore Peter is to imitate the Divine justice, he must bind on earth those who are known to be bound in Heaven. Somebody might, perhaps, say that the kings are to be dealt with differently from the others. But, as we know, it is written in the Divine law: "There shall be no difference in persons; you shall hear the little as well as the great; neither shall you respect any man's person, because it is the judgment of God"; and St. James is witness of it how such a discrimination occurs: "If there shall come into your assembly a man having a golden ring, in fine apparel, and there shall come in also a poor man in a mean attire, and you have respect for him that is clothed with the fine apparel, and shall say to him: Sit thou here well; but say to the poor man: Stand thou there, or sit under my footstool." We are thus entitled to wield the power to proceed in this manner in any criminal sin, in order to recall the sinner back from vice to virtue and from error to truth, and par- ticularly so if sins are committed against peace which is the bond of charity.--
As the treaties of peace should be ultimately renewed between the two kings and as they had been confirmed on both sides by duly sworn oaths, but not fulfilled within the fixed time, could we not examine these religious oaths--which undoubtedly pertain to the jurisdiction of the Church--in order to cause the broken peace treaties to be restored? Lest we seem to favour hypocritically such a discord, to conceal the destruction of sacred places and to neglect the ruin of Christian people, we gave the instruction to the abovesaid Legate, our beloved son the Abbot of Casamari, that, unless the king (of France) re-establishes a solid peace with the aforementioned king (of England), or concludes an adequate truce, or at least remains humbly passive, this Abbot and our venerable brother, the Archbishop of Bourges, should extrajudicially investigate whether the complaints, which the king of the English raised against him before the Church, are just, or whether that his defence against the plaintiff is substantiated, which he had expressed in the letter he sent to us, not omitting to observe the procedure that we had fixed for him. And we enjoin to you all by this Apostolic letter and clearly order in virtue of your obedience that when the said Abbot shall have carried out the Apostolic instructions in this matter, you should accept his sentence--which will be actually our sentence--in a humble manner, observe it and make it to be observed by others, knowing that if you depart from it, we will punish your disobedience.
Given at the Lateran, in the year VII [sc. of our Pontificate, i.e. in 1204.]
iii. The Decretal "Venerabilem fratrem", March, 1202 We have kindly received our venerable brother, the Archbishop of Salzburg, and our beloved son the Abbot of Salmansweiler, and the noble margrave of the East, who were sent by some princes as envoys to the Apostolic See, and we decided to grant them a benevolent audience. The letter which had been dispatched through them by some noble princes, we caused to be read carefully and we have noted everything which it contained. Among other things some princes use chiefly the objection that our venerable brother, the Bishop of Palestrina and Legate of the Apostolic See, behaved either as an Elector or as a judge; if as Elector, he threw his sickle in a stranger's harvest and, interfering with the election, disparaged the dignity of Electors; if as judge, it seems obvious that he proceeded wrongly because one of the parties was absent, was not called upon and thus should not have been judged as contumacious.
Just as we--who owe justice to particular persons according to the service connected with the Apostolic office--do not want our justice to be usurped by others, so we do not wish to vindicate to ourselves the rights of the princes. Wherefore we recognize, as we should, the right and power of those princes to whom it is known to pertain by right and ancient custom to elect a king who is subsequently to be promoted to the dignity of Emperor; and particularly so as this right and power has come to them from the Apostolic See, which had transferred the Roman Empire from the Greeks to the Germans in the person of Charlemagne. But, on the other hand, the princes should recognize, and they actually do recognize, that the right and authority to examine the person elected as king--who is to be promoted to the office of Emperor--belong to us, who anoint, consecrate and crown him. For it is usually and generally observed that the examination of the person appertains to him to whom belongs the laying-on of hands. Consequently, if the princes not only by divided votes but even unanimously elected as king a sacrilegious or excommunicated man, a tyrant or an idiot, a heretic or a pagan, should we anoint, consecrate and crown such a man? Certainly not!--
And it is obvious both from law and precedent that, if in an election the votes of the princes are divided, we can favour, after due warning and adequate waiting, one of the two parties, the more so as the unction, consecration and coronation will be demanded of us and it has often happened that both parties demanded it. For if the princes, after having been warned and granted a delay, either can not or will not agree, the Apostolic See would have no advocate and defender and, therefore, would not their fault result in penalizing her?--
As we can not be diverted from our intention by any occasion, we shall keep to it most persistently and as you had often suggested to us not to support that duke (i.e. Philip of Hohenstaufen), we now admonish your Nobility and enjoin by this Apostolic letter that-since you rely on our favour and we hope for your devotion--you abandon entirely the cause of the aforesaid duke Philip in spite of any oath that you might have taken towards him with regard to the kingdom; because, as he can not obtain the Imperial dignity, having been rejected, such oaths need not to be observed. But adhere, openly and effectively, to king Otto whom we intend to call-with the Lord's help--to the Imperial crown; if, following this our admonition, you adhere to him, you shall deserve particularly and among the first to obtain his favour and benevolence and in this you shall have, for the love of your Nobility, our full support.
Given at the Lateran.
iv. Letter "Sicut universitatis conditor", November 3, 1198
Just as God, founder of the universe, has constituted two large luminaries in the firmament of Heaven, a major one to dominate the day and a minor one to dominate the night, so he has established in the firmament of the Universal Church, which is signified by the name of Heaven, two great dignities, a major one to preside--so to speak--over the days of the souls, and a minor one to preside over the nights of the bodies. They are the Pontifical authority and the royal power. Thus, as the moon receives its light from the sun and for this very reason is minor both in quantity and in quality, in its size and in its effect, so the royal power derives from the Pontifical authority the splendour of its dignity, the more of which is inherent in it, the less is the light with which it is adorned, whereas the more it is distant from its reach, the more it benefits in splendour. Both these powers or leaderships have had their seat established in Italy, which country consequently obtained the precedence over all provinces by Divine disposition. And therefore, as it is lawful that we should extend the watchfulness of our providence to all provinces, we must especially and with paternal solicitude provide for Italy where the foundation of the Christian religion has been set up and where the pre-eminence of the priesthood and kingship stands prominent through the primacy of the Apostolic See.--
We therefore admonish and exhort you all in the Lord through this Apostolic letter, enjoining that since you receive a true and firm assurance from us who--as it is fitting for the Apostolic dignity-intend to do more for you than we want to promise, you should always endeavour to act in a way which would add to the honour and growth of the Roman Church so as to deserve and strengthen the pledge of her favour and friendship.
Given at the Lateran on the 3rd Kalends of November.
6. King John Lackland's Infeodation to Pope Innocent III,
May 15, 1213
Original Latin text in Stubs, Select Charters of English
Constitutional History, ed. 1870, p. 276
The dispute between John Lakeland, king of England, and Pope Innocent III arose in 1205 over the question of succession to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. John and the monks of Canterbury (in the latter of whom the election to this See was legally vested) each had their candidate, but Innocent quashed both claims and appointed a choice of his own-- Stephen Langdon, an eminent theologian and canonist. John refused to accept the decision and after some delay the Pope placed England under an interdict ( 1208), by which all organized worship was brought to a standstill. In 1209 John was personally excommunicated, other Papal sanctions were put in motion against him, and in 1213 he was faced with a threat of invasion by his enemy Philip II of France. He then surrendered, recognized Archbishop Langdon, resigned his kingdoms of England and Ireland to the Papacy and received them back as the Pope's vassal, taking an oath of fealty and homage.
The wording of the statement may be compared with that taken to the Papacy 250 years before by Robert Guiscard (see Chap. II, Doc. No. 2 ). The transaction was not particularly surprising to contemporaries; there were precedents for the view that England should be feudally subordinate either to the Holy See or to the Emperor. Pope Gregory VII had claimed homage from the English king William I though William refused to give it. Later Richard "Coeur de Lion" actually had to swear fealty to the Emperor Henry VI as a condition of his release from captivity in Germany; but he threw off this vassalage when he returned home. According to the text of John Lackland's document the initiative apparently came from the king ("acting by our spontaneous goodwill and by the common counsel of our barons"); the submission appears as a clever move of diplomacy on his part, for by it he obtained not only absolution and Pontifical protection against his rival, the king of France, but also the support of the Papacy against the baronial opposition for the rest of his reign. In 1366 the vassalage was solemnly repudiated by the English king Edward III and his parliament under the pretext that it had been established without the consent of the kingdom's barons and bishops.
John, by the grace of God king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, count of Anjou, to all faithful Christians who shall see this present charter, greeting.
We wish it to be known to you all through this our charter, bearing our seal, that since we have offended God and our Mother the Holy Church in many things and therefore are notoriously in great need of the Divine mercy and since we can not offer to God and to the Church anything worthy and fitting to satisfy duly God and the Church unless we humble ourselves and our realms:
We, willing to humble ourselves for Him Who humbled Himself for us even to death, inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit and not induced by violence or coerced by fear, but acting by our spontaneous goodwill and by the common counsel of our barons, offer and freely concede to God and His Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and to our Mother the Holy Church, to our lord Pope Innocent and to his Catholic successors, the whole kingdom of England and the whole kingdom of Ireland with all their rights and appurtenances, for the remission of our sins and of the sins of all the members of our family, living or dead; and receiving them and holding them, from now onwards, from God and the Roman Church as a vassal, we now do and swear fealty to the aforesaid our lord Pope Innocent, to his Catholic successors and to the Roman Church in the presence of this prudent man Pandulf, subdeacon and one of the household of the lord Pope, according to the form as annexed; and in the presence of the lord Pope, if we shall be able to appear before him, we shall do liege homage to him; and we bind our successors and heirs by our wife in perpetuity that they must, without contradiction, perform fealty and recognize liege homage in similar manner to the Supreme Pontiff of that time. In order to make evident this our perpetual obligation and concession we will and establish that from the normal as well as especial revenue of the above-mentioned our kingdoms for all service and custom that we shall be bound to render for them--saving in all respects the penny of St. Peter--the Roman Church shall obtain a thousand mark sterling a year, namely on the feast of St. Michael five hundred marks and at Easter five hundred marks; which means seven hundred for the kingdom of England and three hundred for the kingdom of Ireland; saving our jurisdiction, liberties and royal rights ("regalia") for us and our heirs, we wish all the above-said to be valid perpetually and we bind ourselves and our successors not to contravene it. And if we or anyone of our successors presumes to attempt this, whoever he may be, if he does not come to senses after due warning, let him forfeit his rights to the kingdom, whereas this charter of our obligation and concession shall remain always valid.
Form of the oath of fealty
I, John, by the grace of God king of England and lord of Ireland, from this hour onwards will be faithful to God and St. Peter, and the Roman Church, and my lord Pope Innocent, and to his successors, ascending his See in a Catholic manner; I shall not cause them by any deed, word, consent or counsel to lose their life or limb or to be taken into vile captivity. I will prevent them from suffering damage, if I know, and I will cause the damage to be removed, if I can; or else, I will inform them about it as soon as I can, or tell of it to such person whom I believe for certain will inform them. If they entrust me with any counsel either personally or through their envoys or through their letters, I will keep it secret and will not knowingly reveal it to any one to their harm. I will assist according to my best ability in holding and defending the Patrimony of St. Peter and particularly the kingdom of England and the kingdom of Ireland against all men.
So may God and these holy Gospels help me.
I myself being witness in the house of the Knights Templars near Dover, in the presence of lord H., Archbishop of Dublin; lord J., Bishop of Norwich; G., son of Peter, Earl of Essex, our Justiciar; W., Earl of Salisbury, our brother; W. Marshall, Earl of Pembroke; R., Count of Boulogne; W., Count of Warenne; S., Earl of Winchester; W., Earl of Arundel; W., Count of Ferrières; W. Briver; Peter, son of Herbert; Warin, son of Gerold.
On the 15th day of May, in the 14th year of our reign.
7. Letter "Si Memoriam Beneficiorum" of Pope Gregory IX on
the Papal Power, October 23, 1236
Original Latin text in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, "Epistolae selectae Pontificum Romanorum",
vol. I, p. 600
The Emperor Frederic II owed his crowns of Sicily, Germany and the Holy Roman Empire to the favours bestowed upon him by Pope Innocent III. When he began to revive the Imperial conception of his grandfather Barbarossa, concentrating his great power in Italy and persecuting the clergy loyal to the Holy See, Pope Gregory IX reminds him of the Papal rights as defined by his own former sponsor. To the formulation by Innocent III concerning Germany (see the Decretal Venerabilem fratrem, Doc. No. 5-iii in this chapter) he adds in the letter Si memoriam the argument based on the Donation of Constantine (see Chap. I, Doc. No. 9 ), according to which all Western countries and particularly Italy had been handed over by the Emperor Constantine to the Roman Pontiffs. And he warns Frederic not to infringe the freedom of the Church by arbitrary nominations to ecclesiastical benefices.
If the memory of the favours of the Eternal Founder, which emanate broadly through the ministry of His Bride to both sublime and humble, is not to be destroyed by the oblivion of human ingratitude, if our Lord Jesus Christ, Judge of the living and dead, Who will judge all deeds with the open books of consciences, all darkness being destroyed, is to be feared as Lord, then the faith, origin of virtues, ought to remain unshattered and acts ought to be weighed on the scales of justice: "words ought to falter under the sign of truth and the mouth should not be set up against Heaven" whence the thunder comes and God, Lord of vengeance, often sends lightnings against His persecutors.--
Go back to the memory of your predecessors and behold, pass to the examples of the Emperors of happy memory Constantine, Charlemagne, Arcadius and Valentinian and examine more carefully those things in which the conclusion of an infallible solution is accepted without contradiction and where the reprobate assumption of a false opinion is refuted. For we by no means overlook that it is publicly obvious to the whole world that the aforesaid Constantine, who had received the exclusive monarchy over all parts of the world, decided as just--with the unanimity of all and with the full consent of the whole Senate and people, established not only in the City of Rome but in the whole Roman Empire--that as the vicar of the Prince of Apostles governed the empire of priesthood and of souls in the whole world so he should also reign over things and bodies throughout the whole world; and considering that he should rule over earthly matters by the reins of justice to whom-as it is known--God had committed on earth the charge over spiritual things, the Emperor Constantine humbled himself by his own vow and handed over the Empire to the perpetual care of the Roman Pontiff with the Imperial insignia and sceptres and the City and Duchy of Rome, which you endeavour now to disturb by distributing money in it following in this the example of him who "will drink up a river and not wonder; he trusteth that the Jordan may run into his mouth"; and declaring it to be impious that the earthly Emperor should enjoy any authority where the head of all the Christian religion had been established by disposition of the Heavenly Emperor, he left Italy to the Apostolic disposition and chose for himself a new habitation in Greece. Whence later in the person of the aforesaid Charlemagne who thought that the difficult yoke imposed by the Roman Church should be carried with pious devotion, the Apostolic See transferred the judgment-seat of the Empire to the Germans, placed it upon your predecessors and your own person, as you will admit that it happened by means of consecration and anointment--although reducing in nothing the substance of its own jurisdiction--and conceded to them the power of the sword in the subsequent coronation; you should therefore realize that you will clearly stand convicted of infringing the rights of the Apostolic See and your own faith and honour as long as you do not recognize your own creator.--
Consequently, you incur no small charge of impiety if you attempt to imprint on us and on our brothers the stigma of sacrilege because we are compelled to claim from your justice those to whom churches and benefices are conferred although they are manifestly unworthy. This happens because you do not realize that Christ's priests are to be regarded as fathers and teachers of kings and of princes of all the faithful. Is it not an obviously miserable insanity, if the son endeavours to argue with his father and the pupil with his teacher by whom, as it is taught by Divine precept, they can be bound not only on earth but also in Heaven? For all agree, unless their eye is obstructed by some dust of error, that if you yourself are subject to the Apostolic examination--as proved by the aforesaid--we can much more judge the unworthiness of those who are known to have received some dignity from you; because the species, to which something belongs, can be automatically ascertained by the authority to which it is subjected.--
If you are anxious to show by deeds of gratitude how pure is your faith in God and how sincere is your devotion to the Apostolic See, which is to be exalted continuously by honours rendered from the multitude of the faithful, we beg your Grace and exhort you in the Lord Jesus Christ to receive those Legates as if they were our own person and to treat them with filial reverence; and receiving them like angels of peace, devoutly and joyfully, to extend to them all honour that you know and can give and to take care of them with due diligence; and to turn efficaciously your attention to all that they will do for the glory of God and for the growth of the Church and of the ecclesiastical freedom, as well as to that by which the affairs of the Empire and especially those of the said province (sc. Lombardy) should be soundly reformed; and the stains of heretical wickedness suppressed; and the affair of the Holy Land fostered, which we have committed to their particular care, as we are reputed, among all other living Christians, for endeavouring especially to bring about a progress in it. You know that in so doing you will acquire the grace of the supernal benediction and you will oblige us laudably to no little reward, very worthily deserved. Otherwise we wish to consider the sentence, with which they (sc. the Legates) had been provided against the rebels, as valid and we will cause it--with the help of God--to be inviolably observed. Given at Terni, in the third year [of our Pontificate].
8. Bull of Pope Innocent IV deposing the Emperor Frederic II, July 17, 1245 Original Latin text in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, "Leges," sec. IV, vol. II, p. 508
Replying to the Papal warnings by letters of protest sent to all European monarchs, the Emperor Frederic II proceeded to the conquest of the parts of Italy held by the pro-Papal Guelf party. In the face of this great danger and of the Emperor's propaganda in Europe the Pope decided to deal with his case in a General Council convoked to Rome. But a great number of prelates, sailing from France for the Council, were captured by an Imperial navy and taken prisoners. Thereupon Pope Innocent IV escaped from Rome, went to France and convened the General Council at Lyons. In July 1245 this assembly heard and approved the Pontiff's sentence deposing the Emperor Frederic II and releasing his subjects from their oaths of fealty in the same manner as Pope Gregory VII had deposed Henry IV almost two hundred years earlier (see Chap. II, Doc. No. 4 ). The sentence is motivated by perjury, sacrilege, suspicion of heresy and breach of feudal duties towards the Holy See (in Sicily); it concludes with an invitation to the German princes to elect a new king. In his capacity of king of Sicily, Frederic II was a vassal of the Holy See as had been all his predecessors since the distant Robert Guiscard (see Chap. II, Doc. No. 2 ); the Pope therefore reserved for himself the choice of a new vassal there.
Frederic II disregarded the sentence and was able to keep many partisans in the fierce civil war which ensued both in Germany and Italy until his death in 1250.
Bishop Innocent, servant of the servants of God, to the present holy Council for the eternal record of the matter.
Having been exalted to the summit of the Apostolic dignity, although unworthy of such a favour from the Divine Majesty, we have to take care of all Christians with a vigilant and diligent solicitude, discern their merits through the eye of intimate consideration and weigh them carefully on the scales of our deliberation; so that we elevate with adequate favours those whom the strength of a just examination shows worthy and afflict with due penalties the guilty ones, weighing always the merits and rewards impartially and recompensing each one for the quality of his deeds with a just amount of punishment or grace. When the terrible commotion of war afflicted several provinces of Christendom, we desired, with all the strength of our mind, peace and tranquillity for the holy Church of God and for the whole Christian people in general; thus we caused special envoys, namely our venerable, brothers the Bishops P. of Albano, at that time Archbishop of Rouen, and William of Sabina, then Bishop of Modena, and our beloved son William, Cardinal-Priest of the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles, who was Abbot of St. Facundus at that time, to go and see the principal secular prince, instigator of this dissension and trouble whom Pope Gregory, our predecessor of blessed memory, bound with a strict excommunication because of his excesses and for whose salvation they were zealous; we caused them to propose to him that we and our brothers wish, on our part, to have peace with him and with all men and that we are prepared to give peace and tranquillity to him as well as to all the world.
And because the peace could be best brought about if he sent back the prelates, clerics and all others whom he was keeping prisoners and all the clerics and laymen whom he kept in the galleys, we asked and begged him through the medium of these envoys to liberate them as he himself and his ambassadors had promised before we were called to the Apostolic office; moreover, we proposed that the same men were ready to listen to and negotiate about peace proposals on our behalf and also to listen to proposals for a recompense which the prince might wish to perform for all the things, for which he had been bound with the chain of excommunication, and to offer furthermore that if the Church had unduly injured him in any way (which she did not believe) she was ready to make amends and to remedy matters to a fitting extent. And if he should say that he had in no way unjustly injured the Church or that we had unjustly injured him, we were prepared to call kings, prelates and princes, both ecclesiastical and secular, to some safe place where they might meet either in person or by fully accredited ambassadors; and the Church was prepared to give satisfaction to him on the advice of the Council, if she had injured him in any way, and to revoke any sentence, if she had given any unjustly against him, and from him to receive, with all clemency and mercy--as far as she could do it for God and her own honour--satisfaction for the injuries and offences committed by him against the Church herself and her possessions. The Church also wished to place in peace and to make glad with complete security all his friends and adherents, so that danger could never arise on this account.
But although for the sake of peace we thus endeavoured to deal with him by paternal admonition and the gentleness of pleading, yet he, imitating Pharaoh's stubbornness and veiling his ears in the manner of an adder, des treaties and warnings with elated obstinacy and obstinate elation. And although in course of time, on a day near to Maundy Thursday, he took an oath that he would obey our and the Church's commands through the noble man Count of Toulouse and the masters Peter of Vinea and Thaddeus of Susa, judges of his court, his special ambassadors and proctors, who had been commissioned by him for this purpose; this was in our presence and in that of our brethren, who were present with our very dear son in Christ, the illustrious Emperor of Constantinople, and with a great assembly of prelates and senators of the Roman people, and a great crowd of others, who on that day because of its solemnity had come from various parts of the world to the Apostolic See; but afterwards he did not carry out what he had sworn to do. It therefore seems certain, as is obvious from his subsequent deeds that he took the oath with the intention of mocking rather than obeying the Church and ourselves, since more than a year has now elapsed and he can neither be recalled to the bosom of the Church nor will he stir himself to make satisfaction for the outrages and injuries which he has done to it, although this above all was required. Consequently, as we are not able without a grave sin against Christ to tolerate his misdoings any further, we are compelled by the prompting of conscience to take action against him.
He has committed four very grave offences, which can not be covered up by any subterfuge (we say nothing for the moment about his other crimes); he has abjured God on many occasions; he has wantonly broken the peace which had been re-established between the Church and the Empire; he has also committed sacrilege by causing to be imprisoned the Cardinals of the holy Roman Church and the prelates and clerics, regular and secular, of other churches, coming to the Council which our predecessor had summoned; he is also accused of heresy not by doubtful and flimsy but by formidable and clear proofs.
It is quite evident that he has committed many perjuries. Once when he was staying in the regions of Sicily, before he was elected to the Imperial dignity, he took in the presence of John of St. Theodore of happy memory, Cardinal-Deacon and Legate of the Apostolic See, an oath of fidelity to Pope Innocent our predecessor of blessed memory and to his successors in the Roman Church for the grant of the kingdom of Sicily which had been made to him by the same Church and, as has been said, he repeated this after he had been elected to the Imperial dignity and had come to the City, when before the above said Innocent and his brethren, with many others present, he renewed liege homage between Innocent's hands. Then, when he was in Germany, he swore, both to the aforesaid Innocent and, after he was dead, to Pope Honorius of blessed memory, our predecessor, and to his successors and to the Roman Church itself, in the presence of princes and nobles of the Empire, that he would guard to the best of his ability and sincerely protect the honours, laws and possessions of the Roman Church, and he promised to make compensation without prevarication for whatever had come into his hands of those possessions which had been explicitly mentioned in that oath; and later he confirmed this when he received the Imperial crown. But he has become a shameless violator of the said three oaths not shrinking from an infamous betrayal and "crimen laesae maiestatis." For he dared to direct denunciatory letters against our above-mentioned predecessor Gregory and his brethren to those same brethren and to defame on many occasions the said Gregory among his brethren, as it is obvious from the letters addressed by him to them, and he also defamed them, as it is said, throughout almost the whole world. And he personally caused to be captured and despoiled of all their goods and to be given up to ignominious imprisonment--more than once and in various places--our venerable brother O. of Porto, then Cardinal-Deacon of St. Nicholas in the Tullian Prison, and I. of Palestrina of happy memory, both Bishops, Legates of the Apostolic See, and noble and great members of the Roman Church. In addition he has striven with all his might to lessen or to take away. from that same Church the privilege which our Lord Jesus Christ transmitted to blessed Peter and his successors, i.e.: "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in Heaven," in which indeed the authority and power of the Roman Church consists; he wrote that the decisions of the aforesaid Gregory were not to be feared, and he despised the keys of the Church not only by refusing to observe the excommunication laid upon him, but also by compelling others, through his own pressure or that of his officials, not to observe it or the other sentences of excommunication or interdict; and he set them at naught in every respect. Also he caused the walls and towers of possessions of the Roman Church, namely the Marches, the Duchy (of Rome) and Beneventum, to be destroyed; and he did not fear to occupy the other Church's possessions in Tuscany, Lombardy and elsewhere that he could conquer--with only few exceptions--and he still keeps them in occupation until the present. And as if it were not enough for him, by daring such things, to contravene openly the oaths which he had taken, he compelled "de facto," though he could not "de jure," the men of those same possessions, by his own pressure or by that of his officials, to commit perjury; he released them from the oaths of fidelity by which they were bound to the Roman Church, made them abjure the said fidelity and take an oath of allegiance of the same kind to himself.
It is fully plain that he is a violator of peace, because at the time when peace had been re-established between himself and the Church, he took an oath in front of I. of Abbeville of happy memory, Bishop of Sabina, and Master Thomas, Cardinal-Priest of the title of St. Sabina, with many prelates, princes and barons being present, that he would abide by and obey to the letter and unconditionally all the commands of the Church about those things because of which he had been bound by the chain of excommunication, the reasons for his excommunication having been placed before him in due form; then he remitted to all the Germans, to the men of the Sicilian kingdom and to others, who had supported the Church against him, any legal offence and penalty and he took an oath through the Count of Acerra that he would pass over in his mind and at no time take action or cause action to be taken against them on account of the fact that they had supported the Church; afterwards, not being ashamed to be enmeshed in perjuries, he did not observe either this peace or this oath. For he ordered several among those men, noble and non-noble alike, to be imprisoned, and their wives and children brought into bondage, after all their goods had been seized; also he blasphemously invaded the estates of the Church in contravention of the undertaking which he had given to the above-mentioned I. Bishop of Sabina and Cardinal T., although they had on that occasion in his presence promulgated a sentence of excommunication against him, to be put into effect if he contravened the undertaking. And the same men had enjoined him by Apostolic authority not to obstruct either personally or through others the free conduct of nominations, elections and confirmations of appointments to churches and monasteries in the aforesaid kingdom and elsewhere according to the statutes of the General Council; and that he should not henceforth impose taxes or levies on churchmen and their possessions in the same kingdom; and that no cleric or other churchman there should be summoned to answer for a civil or criminal charge before a secular judge, unless the civil question should concern fiefs; and that he should provide to the Templars, Hospitallers and other ecclesiastical persons satisfactory compensation for the damage and injuries inflicted upon them. But he scorned to fulfil this order. For he left vacant in the aforesaid kingdom until the present time eleven or more archiepiscopal and many episcopal Sees, as well as abbeys and other churches, and these by his instrumentality, as is perfectly obvious, have been for a long time deprived of the government of prelates to their grave detriment and to the peril of souls. And although it is possible that in some churches of the same kingdom elections may be carried out by the chapters, yet it is probably safe to deduce that his own clerical favourites are elected by those chapters, since they have no free power of election. Not only did he cause the prerogatives and possessions of the abovesaid churches to be taken over as he wished, but he even, as if he were a despiser of the sacred liturgy, caused the crosses, thuribles, chalices and their other holy treasures and silken vestments to be seized, although it is said that these were restored in part to those churches, but not until a fixed price had first been extorted for them. The clerics are afflicted with many levies and taxes, while they are not only forced to appear before the secular tribunal of justice, but it is asserted that they are compelled to undergo ordeal by duel, and are imprisoned, executed and tortured, to the shame and embarrassment of the clerical dignity. No satisfaction has been made to the aforesaid Templars, Hospitallers and ecclesiastical persons for the outrages and injuries done to them.
He has also become a proved accomplisher of sacrilege. For when the above-mentioned Bishops of Porto and Palestrina and many prelates of churches and clerics, both secular and regular, being summoned to assist at the Council which he himself had first requested, were coming by ship to the Apostolic See, because all land routes had been blocked by his orders, he had sent Enzio his son with a large number of galleys and systematically prepared long before other obstacles in the coastal districts of Tuscany against the travellers, in order that he could vomit forth more powerfully the slime which he had preconceived; and he caused the bishops with sacrilegious presumption to be captured, together with some of their chief clergy, and others seized in the same capture, several even being slain and others being cut to pieces when trying to escape, while the rest were robbed of all their goods, shamefully paraded from place to place in Sicily and then imprisoned in the strictest confinement. Some of these died miserably, steeped in squalor and exhausted by hunger.
Furthermore the charge of heretical perversity has justly been raised against him, for after he had incurred the sentence of excommunication pronounced by the aforesaid I. Bishop of Sabina and Cardinal T., and after the aforesaid Pope Gregory had bound him with the chain of anathema, and after the capture of Cardinals of the Roman Church, prelates, clergy and others who at different times were coming to the Apostolic See, he despised and still despises the keys of the Church, making celebrate for himself, or rather, as far as he can, to profane the Divine mysteries, and he has repeatedly asserted, as has been said previously, that the sentences of the above-mentioned Pope Gregory are not to be respected. Also after he had joined himself in a detestable friendship to the Saracens, he sent messengers and presents to them on several occasions and received them from the Saracens in return with honour and joy; he embraced their customs, observing them notoriously in his daily life, for he did not even blush to appoint as guardians for his wives (descendants from royal stock) eunuchs, especially those whom, as it has been repeatedly alleged, he himself ordered to be castrated. What is more abominable still is that once, when he was in the countries beyond the sea, he made a treaty or rather a conspiracy with the Sultan and allowed the name of Mahomet to be publicly proclaimed day and night in the Temple of the Lord. And lately, as it is said, he caused the messengers of the Sultan of Babylon (after that same Sultan had inflicted personally and through his subordinates very grave and inestimable injuries upon the Holy Land and its Christian inhabitants) to be honourably received and magnificently entertained in the kingdom of Sicily, with praises for the prestige of the same Sultan. He also used other pernicious and horrible customs of the infidels against the faithful and he joined in kinship and friendship with those who, vilifying the Apostolic See, have departed from the unity of the Church; he had the Duke of Bavaria, a man particularly loyal to the Roman Church, killed by the Assassins--as it is alleged with certain proof--in defiance of the Christian religion; and he handed over his own daughter to Batatius, enemy of God and the Church and solemnly separated from the communion of the faithful by a sentence of excommunication together with his supporters, advisers and accomplices. 1
Moreover, rejecting the acts and customs of Catholic princes, unmindful of both salvation and reputation, he does not give any attention to pious works. On the contrary (passing over in silence his shameful debaucheries) since he has learned to be an oppressor, he does not trouble himself to give relief to the oppressed, as a prince should, for his hand is not extended to give alms; and he has set himself to the destruction of churches and has piteously afflicted monastic and other ecclesiastical persons; nor has he been known to have founded churches, monasteries, hospitals and any other pious institutions. Are not the arguments, then, for suspecting him of heresy not slight, but powerful? Yet the civil law declares that those who have been detected, even by slight proof, in deviation from the doctrine and way of the Catholic religion, ought to fall under the classification of heretics and under the sentences operating against them.
In addition to these things he has reduced to such exhaustion and servitude in both ecclesiastical and secular affairs the kingdom of
1 Batatius or Vatatius refers to John Vatatzes, Greek Emperor of Nicaea, to whom Frederic II gave in marriage his natural daughter Anna.
Sicily (which is a special patrimony of blessed Peter and which the same prince held as a fief from the Apostolic See) that clerics and laymen alike have been reduced to possessing almost nothing and all the honest men have been driven out from thence, while he compels those who remain there to live almost in a state of serfdom and to offend repeatedly against the Roman Church--of whom principally they are subjects and vassals--and to fight as enemies against it. He can also be justly condemned because he has for over nine years omitted to pay the annual sum of 1,000 "scyphati" [i.e. golden coins] which he owed to the Roman Church for the kingdom.
We therefore, who are the vicar, though unworthy, of Jesus Christ on earth and to whom it was said in the person of blessed Peter the Apostle: "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth," etc., show and declare on account of the above-mentioned shameful crimes and of many others, having held careful consultation with our brethren and the holy Council, that the aforesaid prince--who has rendered himself so unworthy of all the honour and dignity of the Empire and the kingdom and who, because of his wickedness, has been rejected by God from acting as king or Emperor--is bound by his sins and cast out and deprived of all honour and dignity by God, to which we add our sentence of deprivation also. We absolve for ever all who owe him allegiance in virtue of an oath of fealty from any oath of this kind; and we strictly forbid by Apostolic authority that any one should obey him or look upon him henceforth as king or Emperor, and we decree that whoever shall in the future afford him advice, help or goodwill as if he were Emperor or king, shall fall "ipso facto" under the binding force of excommunication. But let those in the same Empire whose duty it is to look to the election of an Emperor, elect a successor freely. We shall make it our business to provide for the aforesaid kingdom of Sicily as seems best to us with the advice of our brethren.
Given at Lyons, on the sixteenth Kalends of August, in the 3rd year of our Pontificate.
9. Act of the Electors confirming the Surrender of Italy by
King Rudolf of Habsburg (1279)
Original Latin text in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, "Leges," sec. IV, vol. III, p. 213
After the fall of the Hohenstaufen the great "interregnum" followed in the Holy Roman Empire. It is only in 1274 that Pope
Gregory X confirmed the election of a new king of Germany in the person of Rudolf of Habsburg (at that time the German kings, while awaiting their promotion to Emperors and their coronation by the Popes, usually called themselves "kings of the Romans"). This king showed the most conciliatory spirit toward the Papacy, trying to retain its favour and to obtain the Imperial crown. To this effect he solemnly subscribed to the Papal conception of the relationship between Papacy and Empire (see the statements of Pope Innocent III thereupon in Doc. No. 5-iii and 5-iv of this chapter), abandoned all ancient rights of the German kings to a jurisdiction in the duchy of Rome and in Romagna and had this approved in 1279 by the German Electors. By these acts a complete independence of the Papal States from the Imperial power was recognized after centuries of "condominium" of Popes and Emperors there (see in Chap. I, Doc. No. 8 ). At the same time the old-established feudal suzerainty of the Holy See over the kingdom of Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia was recognized anew, after having been disregarded by the Emperor Frederic II. The concession of Rudolf of Habsburg marks the decisive and lasting political victory of the Papacy in Italy where the Imperial power henceforth sank--in the territories not covered by this concession--to a mere shadowy theory.
We, the princes of the Empire, to all those who shall see this present document.
Embracing Germany from old with a genuine affection, the Roman Mother-Church has adorned her with the title of earthly dignity which exceeds all the other titles of temporal rulers on earth; and planting in her soil princes like select trees, she gave them such wonderful increase of their power that they can, with the support of the Church's authority and by their election, bring forth--like a select fruit--him who will hold the reins of the Roman Empire. He is that lesser light in the firmament of the militant Church which is illumined by the greater luminary of Christ's Vicar. It is he who draws and sheaths the material sword at the bidding of Christ's Vicar; so that under his protection the pastor of pastors may keep together the sheep entrusted to him helping to. protect them with the spiritual sword, while with the temporal sword he may restrain and correct by punishments the evildoers and praise the good and faithful.
Therefore, in order that all matter of dissension and possible scandal or even an occasion for strife between the Church and the Empire may be removed and that both these swords, established in the house of the Lord, may be coupled in fitting alliance and exercise their influence for the sound reformation of the government the whole world; and that we, who are bound to favour alike both the Church and the Empire may appear in will and deed as devout sons of peace; we approve and ratify all which has been recognized, confirmed, ratified, renewed, newly granted, declared or conceded, sworn, done and effected by our lord Rudolf, by the grace of God king of the Romans, ever august, to our most holy father and lord, the lord Pope Nicholas III, to his successors and to the Roman Church--by privileges or other written documents containing recognitions, ratifications, approbations, renewals, confirmations, donations, concessions done or effected both by this present king and by other Roman Emperors and kings, his predecessors, especially if they deal with fidelity, obedience, honour and reverence due by the Roman Emperors and kings to the Roman Pontiffs and their Church and with the possessions, honours and rights of this Church; and particularly with regard to all the land which extends from Radicofano to, the march of Ancona, the duchy of Spoleto, the land of the Countess Matilda, the cities of Ravenna, Emilia, Bobbio, Cesena, Forlimpopoli, Forli, Faenza, Imola, Bologna, Ferrara, Comacchio, Adria, Gavello, Rimini, Urbino, Montefeltro, the territory of Bagno, the country of Bertinoro, the exarchate of Ravenna, Pentapolis, Massa Trabaria, with their adjacent and all other lands pertaining to the said Church, with all borders, territories and islands belonging in any manner both on land and on sea to the aforesaid provinces, towns, territories and localities; and also with regard to the City of Rome with all its appurtenances and the kingdom of Sicily on both sides of the straits of Messina, and Corsica, and Sardinia, and all other lands and rights belonging to that Church. We approve and ratify (the above) on behalf of our realm in general and in particular, and we express unanimously and concordantly our will, approval and consent to all these acts in general and in particular and to all others which have been done by the said king or will be done in the future; and we promise that we shall not act against the aforesaid or against any part of it, but that we shall take the utmost care that all this and every part of it be inviolably observed.
And in order that this our will, approbation, ratification, assent, consent and promise to the Roman Pontiffs and Church be observed for ever, we caused this document to be made and we confirmed it and corroborated with our seals.
Done and given A.D. 1279, in the 7th indiction, under the reign of our aforesaid lord R., glorious king of the Romans, in the sixth year of his reign.
[The document was confirmed by the seals of the following princes: Henry, Archbishop of Trier, Siegfried, Archbishop of
Cologne, Werner, Archbishop of Mainz, Lewis, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, John and Albert, Dukes of Saxony, Otto, John and Otto, Margraves of Brandenburg.]
10. Bull "Unam sanctam" of Pope Boniface VIII on the Plenitude of the Papal Power, November 18, 1302 Original Latin text in Corpus Iuris Canonici ( Extravag. commun. , lib. I, tit. VIII, "De maioritate et obedientia", cap. I), ed. Friedberg, vol. II, p. 1245
Commentary In spite of their efforts neither Rudolf of Habsburg nor his immediate successors in Germany were crowned Emperors at Rome. As a consequence there had been no Western Emperor and the Roman Pontiff had remained the sole visible head of Catholic Christianity for half a century when Pope Boniface VIII, a great jurist and legislator, decided to embody the legal position of the Papacy, as it had crystallized during the thirteenth century, in a general enactment. He did so in 1302 by means of his famous Bull Unam sanctam which became part of the Corpus Iuris Canonici.
The occasion of this Bull was a long and violent conflict between Boniface VIII and the king of France, Philip IV, called "The Fair." Unlike the Holy Roman Empire, the French monarchy had grown during the thirteenth century into a highly centralized and powerful State. But like the Emperors, the kings of France insisted on deriving their authority from the tradition of Charlemagne and were reluctant to admit any principle of their subordination to the Papacy in secular matters. They acquired a considerable influence in Italy when Charles of Anjou, a brother of the French king St. Louis, obtained the kingdom of Sicily in succession to the Hohenstaufen so that they were, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, the mightiest secular potentates in Europe. The controversy between the Pope and Philip the Fair had been caused by the king's taxation of the French clergy which--if done without previous agreement with Rome--Boniface VIII considered as an infringement on the freedom of the Church from the lay control. The conflict reached its climax with the promulgation of the Bull Unam sanctam, destined to sum up and define the plenitude of the Papal power over all the Christian community, including France and her king.
It also marks the culmination of the evolution of the Church's attitude toward the secular power after the Gregorian Reformation. This evolution can be best illustrated by comparing two preceding documents with this Bull. Gregory VII proclaimed the superiority of the spiritual to the temporal power; he taught (particularly in his letter to Hermann of Metz--Chap. II, Doc. No. 3 ) that the spiritual power is a creation of God and therefore necessarily superior to the temporal power which is a product of base human passions and crimes. Against him king Henry IV advanced the theory of the two swords according to which Christ had approved the temporal power (which had existed before the spiritual one, i.e. before the establishment of the Christian Church) as an independent power subject only to God. Both antagonists, therefore, acknowledged an independent origin of the secular power with the proviso, on Gregory's side, that the secular power, being inferior, is subject to the spiritual power. Pope Innocent III in his allegory of sun and moon (see Doc. No. 5-iv in this chapter) broaches the idea that the secular power is only a reflection of the spiritual one. And this idea is fully developed in the Bull Unam sanctam to the effect that all power, spiritual as well as temporal, has its origin in God and that both have been given by God to the Church (in the form of the two swords); she leaves the exercise of the secular power to the princes but keeps a right of control over it. Consequently, the old imperialist theory of the two swords (see Doc. No. 6 in Chap. II and Doc. No. 3 in Chap. III) is recognized by the Pope, but interpreted in a way corroborating the Papal doctrine.
The Bull Unam sanctam is an excellent summary of the Church's ideology at the height of the feudal Middle Ages. However, the only part which can claim a dogmatic character is the last sentence, interpreted in the sense that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. An exemption from the Bull was granted in 1306 to the kings of France and their subjects by the Brief Meruit (see the next Document).
That there is only one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church we are compelled to believe and to hold, our faith urging us and this we do firmly believe and simply confess; and also that there is no salvation or remission of sins outside of her--as the bridegroom proclaims in Canticles: "One is my dove, my perfect one is but one; she is the only one of her mother, the chosen of her that bore her," which represents one mystical body whose head is Christ; and of Christ God is the head. And in it there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." At the time of the flood there was, indeed, one ark of Noah, prefiguring one Church; it had been finished in one cubit, had one steersman and commander, namely Noah, and we read that outside of it all things existing on earth were destroyed. This Church we venerate, and this alone, as the Lord says through the prophet: "Deliver, O God, my soul from the sword and my only one from the hand of the dog." He prayed for the soul, that is for Himself--for the head and the body at the same time--which body, namely, He called the one and only Church because of the promised unity of faith, sacraments and charity of the Church. That is the "seamless garment" of the Lord which was not cut but fell by lot. Therefore, in this one and only Church there is one body and one head, not two heads as if it were a monster: namely Christ and Peter, the vicar of Christ, and the successor of Peter; because the Lord said to Peter: "Feed my sheep.""My sheep," He said, speaking generally and not particularly about these or those sheep; so that it must be understood that He committed to him all His sheep. If therefore the Greeks and others say that they were not committed to Peter and his successors, they necessarily confess that they are not of the sheep of Christ, for the Lord says in John: "There shall be one fold and one shepherd."
We are taught by the words of the Gospel that in this Church and in its power there are two swords, a spiritual, to wit, and a temporal. For when the Apostles said, "Behold, here are two swords"--that means in the Church, since the Apostles were speaking--the Lord did not reply that it was too many, but enough. And he who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter, has wrongly understood the word of the Lord when He says: "Put up again thy sword into its place." Wherefore both are in the power of the Church, namely the spiritual and material swords; the one, indeed, to be wielded for the Church, the other by the Church; the former by the priest, the latter by the hand of kings and knights, but at the will and sufferance of the priest. For it is necessary that one sword should be under another and that the temporal authority should be subjected to the spiritual. For when the Apostle says, "There is no power but from God and those (powers) that are, are ordained of God," they would not be ordained unless sword were under sword and the inferior, so to speak, were kept back by the other to be led to the most illustrious deeds. Because according to St. Dionysius it is the law of Divinity that the lowest are to be led through the intermediate to the highest. Not therefore, according to the law of the universe, are all things kept in order equally and immediately; but the lowest through the intermediate and the inferior through the superior. But it is necessary that we confess the more clearly that the spiritual power exceeds any earthly power in dignity and nobility, as spiritual things excel temporal ones. This we can, indeed, clearly perceive with our eyes from the giving of tithes, from the benediction and sanctification, from the recognition of this power and from the exercise of government over those same things. For, the truth bearing witness, the spiritual power has to establish the earthly power, and to judge it, if it be not good. So is verified the prophecy of the prophet Jeremiah concerning the Church and the power of the Church: "Lo, I have set thee this day over the nations and over kingdoms," etc.
If, therefore, the earthly power err, it shall be judged by the spiritual power; if the lesser spiritual power err, it shall be judged by the higher, competent spiritual power; but if the supreme spiritual power err, it could be judged solely by God, not by man; of which the Apostle is witness: "The spiritual man judgeth all things; and he himself is judged of no man." Because this authority, although given to man and exercised by man, is not human, but rather Divine, being given to Peter at God's mouth and founded for him and his successors on a rock by Him Whom he confessed, when the Lord said to the same Peter: "Whatsoever thou shalt bind," etc. Whoever, therefore, resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordination of God, unless he pretends, like the Manicheans, that there are two beginnings; which we judge to be false and heretical, since--as Moses testifies--not in the beginnings, but "in the beginning" God created heaven, and earth. Consequently we declare, state, define and pronounce that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.
Given at the Lateran, in the 8th year of our Pontificate.
11. Brief "Meruit" of Pope Clement V (February 1, 1306)
exempting the French Kings from the Application of the
Bull "Unam sanctam"
Original Latin text in Corpus Iuris Canonici
( Extravag. commun. , lib. V, tit. VII, cap. II), ed. Friedberg, vol. II, p. 1300
Pope Boniface VIII lost his struggle with Philip of France under dramatic circumstances. Two years after the assault of Anagni and the Pontiff's death the Cardinals elected a French-born Pope, Clement V; faced with strong anti-French currents in Italy, he took residence in France and the era of the Avignon Papacy began. In order to appease Philip the Fair he issued in 1306 the Brief Meruit stating that any increase of Pontifical power which might have resulted from the Bull Unam sanctam could not be asserted against the kings of France and their subjects.
As this Bull was rather an expression of the conceptions which had prevailed in the thirteenth century than an innovation, the practical value of the Brief in concrete matters was vague. It also can not be regarded as an exemption from the conclusion of the Bull proclaiming that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, even with these reservations, the Brief was a spectacular privilege granted to the French kings at the beginning of the Avignon Papacy.
Two centuries later the Brief Meruit was confirmed, together with the Bull Unam sanctam, by Pope Leo X at the Fifth Council of Lateran in 1516 and it was incorporated in the Corpus Iuris Canonici.
The integrity of sincere affection of our beloved son Philip, illustrious king of the French, toward ourselves and the Roman Church merits--and also the very clear merits of his forefathers and, moreover, also the purity and sincerity of devotion of the inhabitants of his kingdom deserve--that we bestow benevolent favour both upon that king and his kingdom. That is why we do not wish or intend that any prejudice be engendered for that king and kingdom by the definition and declaration of our predecessor Pope Boniface VIII of happy memory, which begin by the words "Unam sanctam." And we do not wish or intend that through this declaration the aforesaid king, kingdom and its inhabitants be more subject to the Roman Church than they had been before, but we wish that all be understood to remain in the same state as it had been before the above-mentioned declaration, both with regard to the Church and to the aforesaid king, kingdom and its inhabitants.
Given at Lyons, on the Kalends of February, in the first year of our Pontificate.
12. Decree "Licet iuris" of the Diet of Frankfort on the
Election of Emperors, August 8, 1338
Original Latin text in Altmann-Bernheim,
Urkunden zur Verfassungs-geschichte Deutschlands im Mittelalter, p. 52
For more than a hundred years from the death of the Emperor Frederic II to the coronation of Charles of Bohemia in 1355 the Popes did not confer the Imperial crown on any one, with the exception of a short period of only one year when the German king, Henry VII, held the Imperial dignity. In the absence of an Emperor their political role in the Holy Roman Empire was paramount. Their right of confirming the election of German kings, as defined by Pope Innocent III (see Doc. No. 5-iii in this chapter), gave them an ample possibility of maintaining this situation. Nonetheless, an energetic pretender to the Imperial crown emerged in the person of Lewis, Duke of Bavaria, who was elected king of Germany in 1314. His election was not sanctioned by the Pope and when he continued to exercise authority in spite of that, he was excommunicated and deposed even from his Bavarian throne. Thereupon, he invaded Italy and captured Rome where he secured his coronation as Emperor in defiance of Papal wishes. After several fruitless attempts at a reconciliation with the Avignon Popes he enacted, with the support of the Electors, the edict Licet iuris proclaiming that the candidate elected by the German Electors becomes automatically king and Emperor without needing any Papal confirmation. He continued to defy the Papacy until his death in 1347.
His successor Charles of Bohemia obtained the Papal approval and even the Imperial crown on the condition that he would never go to Italy except for his coronation at Rome. He himself and later all the remaining Emperors of the Middle Ages observed this condition. But, on the other hand, his constitutional charter for Germany, the Golden Bull of 1356, stuck to the principle of the law Licet iuris (that no Pontifical confirmation was necessary for the election of German kings--or "kings of the Romans," as they ornamentally called themselves) in spite of strong Papal protests. Thus the great final compromise between Papacy and Empire stabilized on the lines that the Emperors gave up Italy and the Popes lost their decisive political influence in Germany.
The testimonies of both laws (Canon and Civil) manifestly show that from of old the Imperial dignity and power has proceeded immediately from God's Son, that God has openly given the secular law to the human race through Emperors and kings, and that the Emperor is constituted as true Emperor solely by the election of those to whom the election pertains without needing any confirmation or approbation of any one else; for he has no superior on earth in temporal things but to him peoples and nations are subject according to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself ordering that what is God's should be rendered to God and what is Caesar's to Caesar.
In spite of that some people, led by blindness of avarice and ambition, and not understanding the Scripture but departing from its right sense, resort to iniquitous and wicked interpretations and detestable assertions and attack the Imperial power and authority, the rights of the elected Emperors and those of other princes and faithful subjects of the Empire, asserting falsely that the Imperial dignity and power proceeds from the Pope and that he who is elected Emperor is not true Emperor or king by the election unless he is first confirmed, approved and crowned by the Pope or the Apostolic See. And since by such false assertions and pestiferous doctrines the ancient enemy stirs up discord, prepares dissensions and brings about seditions, we declare--in order to prevent such evil--with the counsel and consent of the Electors and other princes of the Empire: that the Imperial dignity and power comes directly from God alone and that according to the old and approved right and custom of the Empire he who is elected Emperor or king by the Electors of the Empire, unanimously or by majority, is to be considered and called, at once and by the mere fact of the election, true king and Emperor of the Romans; and that all subjects of the Empire owe him obedience; and that he has full power to administer the property and the rights of the Empire and to do all the other things which pertain to a true Emperor without needing the approbation, confirmation, authority or consent of the Pope, of the Apostolic See or of any one else.
Therefore we decree by this law, which shall be valid for ever, that he who is elected Emperor by the Electors, unanimously or by majority, shall be considered and regarded by all as the true king and lawful Emperor in consequence of the mere fact of election, that all the subjects of the Empire owe him obedience and that he shall have, and shall be regarded and firmly asserted by all as having and holding the Imperial administration, jurisdiction and the plenitude of the Imperial power.
And whoever shall presume to assert or say anything contrary to what is declared, decreed and defined above or to any part of it; or to approve of those who assert or say anything; or to obey their commands, letters or instructions: we deprive such a one at once of all the fiefs which he holds from the Empire and of all favours, jurisdictions, privileges and immunities conferred upon him by us or by our predecessors, and we decree him to be deprived of them automatically, by the mere fact of offending this law. Moreover, we decree that he will have committed the "crimen lesae maiestatis" and shall be subject to all the penalties applicable to those committing this crime of high treason.
Given in our town of Frankfort on the eighth day of the month. of August, A.D. 1338.
THE CONCILIAR PERIOD AND THE AGE OF DISCOVERY
THE Papacy entered the Avignon period with great prestige and power despite the reverse it had suffered, shortly before, at the hands of Philip IV of France. Its victory over the Hohenstaufen had been decisive. The Imperial power was disrupted and the last abortive attempts of the German kings Henry VII and Lewis the Bavarian to seize more power in Italy in the absence of the Pontiffs from it only confirmed the victory of the Papacy in its centuries-long duel with the Empire. At the same time the stay of the Curia at Avignon marks the culminating period of centralization in the Church. Archbishops, bishops, abbots and other higher prelates were appointed by the Pontiffs instead of canonical election; and even among the lower benefices those reserved to direct Papal nomination were increasing. This led to manifold abuses, corrupt practices in connection with the nominations, appointments of foreigners, absenteeism and expectatives (i.e. nominations "in spe" while the holder of the benefice was still alive). Simultaneously the taxation of the Church for the benefit of the Curia was reaching disquieting proportions. Old taxes were enlarged and new ones introduced; among the latter the annates or the first year's revenues of a new holder of a benefice--which were to be paid to the Pope-became particularly unpopular. In the jurisdictional sphere the extensive possibilities of appealing directly to the Pope from any stage of legal proceedings before lower ecclesiastical courts opened the way to malevolent delaying of justice and to many forms of corruption.
Against this state of affairs, engendering growing dissatisfaction and criticism, some monarchs tried to react by attempting to restrict unilaterally the Papal power over the Church in their territories. So for instance under the reign of the English kings Edward III and Richard II Parliamentary acts known as the "Statutes of Provisors" were passed in England; their aim was to return the right of appointment to Church benefices to the local patrons and to prevent Papal nominations in future. These statutes were strengthened by acts forbidding appeals to Rome against such changes;
of these laws, called the "Statutes of Praemunire, " the second-enacted in 1393--as particularly important ( Doc. No. 1 ). Soon after the end of the Avignon period the Great Schism split the Papacy into two rival centres, Rome and Avignon, both claiming the full...
of these laws, called the "Statutes of Praemunire, " the second-enacted in 1393--as particularly important ( Doc. No. 1 ). Soon after the end of the Avignon period the Great Schism split the Papacy into two rival centres, Rome and Avignon, both claiming the full scope of Pontifical authority, jurisdiction and taxation. Their violent opposition to each other brought about absurd situations such as that in which the whole of Catholic Christendom found itself excommunicated when each Pope excommunicated the other and all his adherents. The ensuing chaos and mounting indignation of the faithful gave birth to the Conciliar theory and the Conciliar movement which became its channel and champion. The theory contended that in the otherwise hopeless division of the Church--which threatened to become stabilized and to disrupt Catholicity into two hostile patriarchates--only a General Council could and ought to restore unity and introduce reforms in the Church over the heads of the two Popes and, if necessary, against them. As neither of them could assemble a truly general Council because of their limited obediences, the Council was to meet spontaneously; the objection that it would lack the authority of the Vicar of Christ was overcome by the assertion that in a General Council of the Church Christ Himself was present and presiding over it in a spiritual way. Consequently, the General Council was considered as superior to any other authority on earth, including the Pope.
An attempt to apply this doctrine at the Council of Pisa ( 1409) resulted only in an increase of the existing chaos. Thereupon the Council of Constance met in 1414; it embodied the spirit of the Conciliar theory in the decrees Sacrosancta, in which it declared its superiority over the Pope, and Frequens by which the Council was transformed into a permanent institution to meet periodically ( Doc. No. 2 ).
The Council of Constance actually resolved the crisis of the Great Schism by deposing the recalcitrant Popes and by electing Martin V as undisputed head of the Church. But this application of the Conciliar theory and the simultaneous condemnation and burning of the Czech reformer, John Huss, produced far-reaching effects. With these another important Council was faced in 1431 when it was convened at Basel according to the decree Frequens. The death of John Huss provoked an outburst of reforming radicalism in Bohemia. As this Hussite revolt could not be repressed by force of arms, the Council undertook the task of re-integrating the adherents of Huss into the Church by way of compromise. The Hussites had radically reformed the Church in Bohemia, but on extremist principles which the Council, in spite of its own reforming tendencies, could not admit. It succeeded, however, in concluding with them, in 1433, an agreement known as the Compacts of Prague ( Doc. No. 3 ); on its basis the peace was restored and the return of the Hussites into the Church--with only a few unorthodox divergencies--was facilitated.
Soon afterwards the Council of Basel entered into a violent controversy with Pope Eugenius IV because of its own reforming activity. The re-unified Papacy endeavoured to restore its position as it had existed before the Great Schism. It did not, therefore, favour general reforms as they might have impaired the restoration of the Papal authority at the apex of the centralized Church; and it particularly distrusted the reforming tendencies of the Councils because of their claim to superiority over Popes. On the other hand the Council of Basel considered the introduction of reforms in the Church as its main purpose. When it began to enact far-reaching changes in the Church organization, issuing decrees on elections to benefices and abolishing Pontifical taxation, a grave conflict between Pope and Council became inevitable.
This conjuncture provided an opportunity for the monarchical power to insert itself between the two antagonist ideologies. The steadily growing royal authority in France took particular advantage of this opportunity, striving to profit by the popularity of reforms and to enhance its influence on the French clergy. In 1438 Charles VII, king of France, assembled a national synod at Bourges and enacted the law called the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges ( Doc. No. 4 ). By this royal act a series of reforming decrees of the Council of Basel obtained force of law in France; canonical elections were substituted in France for Papal nominations, annates and other taxes were abolished and jurisdictional appeals to Rome restricted. In the following year, 1439, the conflict between Pope and Council reached its climax. Based on the doctrine of the superiority of the General Council over the Pontiff, as it had been formulated at Constance in the decree Sacrosancta, the Council of Basel solemnly deposed Pope Eugenius IV ( Doc. No. 5 ). It subsequently elected an anti-pope under the name of Felix V. However, the spectre of a fresh Papal schism alienated many sympathizers from the Council of Basel. Its gesture therefore did not endanger the Papacy, but nevertheless it caused a great deal of renewed chaos in the Church, particularly in Germany. To cope with this situation the Roman Curia sought a rapprochement with the monarchical power in Germany and in 1448 the so-called Concordat of Vienna was concluded between Pope Nicholas V and the king of Germany, Frederic III ( Doc. No. 6 ). It represented a success for the Curia. Nicholas V conceded canonical elections to bishoprics and abbeys in Germany instead of direct Papal nominations but other Pontifical rights over the German Church, including the financial ones, were maintained and strengthened by this contractual arrangement. As a consequence of the Concordat the Council of Basel was disposed of; it was banned from Basel by order of Frederic III and dispersed soon afterwards. Its anti-pope, the last in history, submitted to Rome.
This point marks the effective end of the Conciliar movement which became considerably discredited by the last and radical stage of the Council of Basel. But since the reforming task had not been fulfilled, the idea of a General Council as a natural means for achieving reforms in the Church remained in the minds of Christians all over Europe in a latent form. With its background of the Conciliar theory, this idea resulted in a shattering of the respect for the final character of Papal decisions. Henceforth cases multiplied in which various offenders openly disregarded Papal sentences and decisions under the pretext that they were appealing from them to a future General Council. In order to stop this practice which kept alive the doctrine of the superiority of the Councils over the Holy See, Pope Pius II promulgated in 1460 the Bull Execrabilis prohibiting such appeals to a future Council under the strictest ecclesiastical penalties ( Doc. No. 7 ). However, the abuse did not disappear and resulted in weakening the Papal supreme authority and prestige.
Another product of the Conciliar period, which survived it, was the French Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. Through it many antipapalist decrees of the Council of Basel remained valid in France and the Popes endeavoured to obtain their revocation by the French kings. Pope Pius II actually succeeded in this and in 1461 king Louis XI withdrew the Pragmatic Sanction. But under the successors of Louis XI a period of French expansion in Italy followed which led to great tension between the Papacy and the French kings; as a consequence the Pragmatic Sanction was re-established in France. Finally, in 1516, a compromise was arrived at in the Concordat between Pope Leo X and Francis I, king of France, arranged at Bologna ( Doc. No. 8 ). By this compact the Pragmatic Sanction was definitively abolished; in return the Pope conceded to the French kings practical nomination of bishops and abbots in France but kept the annates and other sources of revenues from France. The privilege concerning the nomination of French bishops was a great concession on the part of the Pontiffs. It proved, however, to be important soon afterwards because it helped considerably to secure the support of the French kings for Catholic orthodoxy in the subsequent disorders of the Reformation which broke out in Germany in the following year 1517.
Towards the middle of the fifteenth century the age of discovery began when the Portuguese stretched their first feelers beyond the coast of Morocco and brought back slaves and golden dust. A controversy about the claims to these African shores followed between the kings of Portugal and Castile. The Portuguese appealed to the Pope for confirmation of their rights to the new lands; their appeal was based on the old Pontifical competence of confirming major territorial acquisitions to European rulers (see in Chap. III, Doc. No. 1 ). Pope Eugenius IV, however, took a neutral attitude and it was only his successor, Nicholas V, who granted wholeheartedly to the king of Portugal the possession of the newly discovered African territories "from Cape Bojador through Guinea to the Southern shore." He did so in 1455 by the Bull Romanus Pontifex ( Doc. No. 9 ).
Fifty years after the first successes of Portuguese navigators in Africa, Christopher Columbus landed in America. In the general geographical confusion about the meaning of this discovery, the contest between Spain and Portugal blazed up anew. Again, it was placed before the Holy See and Pope Alexander VI decided it in his famous Bull Inter caetera Divinae of 1493 ( Doc. No. 10 ). He divided the oversea islands and continents by an imaginary line drawn in the Atlantic Ocean from one pole to the other, allocating America to Spain and Africa to Portugal. The sentence was accepted by both parties. It had later little practical effect, but can be regarded as the last great manifestation of this medieval competence of the Papacy in Europe. At the same time, it subscribed to the destruction of the geographical compactness of Catholic Christendom (as limited to Europe only) which had been, during the ten centuries of the Middle Ages, a stable framework of its international organization.
1. Statute of "Praemunire" enacted by Richard II,
King of England, 1393
English version of original French text in Statutes of the Realm,
16 Richard II, cap. 5, Vol. II, p. 84
An English Parliamentary statute of 1351 had laid down that presentations to benefices and dignities should be freely carried out by the usual patrons; this was known as the First Statute of Provisors. Two years later the First Statute of Praemunire (so called from the formula adopted to cite accused persons before the English Common Law courts in virtue of this Statute) laid down that those who appealed to foreign law courts in suits within the jurisdiction of the law of England should be prosecuted. Appeal of the clergy to the Papacy in cases of disputed appointments to benefices was the main target of the Statute, but this was not openly stated until 1365, when a confirmatory Statute brought suitors to Papal law courts under the scope of the Statute of 1353. The English episcopal hierarchy protested against this enactment but they were unable to secure its repeal.
The recurrence of the controversy during Richard II's reign was originally due to the financial demands of the Popes of the Roman obedience during the Great Schism. The reassertion of the Provisors legislation in 1390 was challenged by Pope Boniface IX's annulment, in 1391, of all previous legislation on these matters in England and by the same Pope's threat to transfer several English bishops to Sees outside the territory of the king of England. The threat, if fulfilled, would have gravely impaired the administrative routine of the country, because the English bishops were at that time the king's most efficient Civil Servants. As a counter-blast, Parliament promulgated the Second Statute of Praemunire in 1393, which is chiefly directed against this threat of transference of bishops.
During the fifteenth century the clergy continued to make periodical protests against this legislation, but in practice an open breach between Papacy and the English monarchy was avoided by moderation on both sides. It was left for king Henry VIII in the sixteenth century to draw out the extreme implications of this legislation when he made the Statute of Praemunire the starting-point for his assertion of complete royal supremacy over the English Church (see Chap. V, Doc. No. 1 ).
In the text of the Statute the stressing of the independence of the English Crown is noteworthy. It is obviously directed against the tradition of the vassalage of English kings to the Papacy (see Chap. III, Doc. No. 6 ); this vassalage had been repudiated in 1366 by the English Parliament and king.
Whereas the Commons of the Realm in this present Parliament have shewed to our redoubted lord the King, grievously complaining, that whereas the said our lord the King, and all his liege People, ought of right and of old time were wont to sue in the King's Court to recover their presentment to churches, prebends and benefices of holy Church, to which they had right to present, the cognizance of which suit belongeth to the King's Court of the old right of his Crown, used and approved in the time of all his progenitors Kings of England; and when judgment shall be given in the same Court upon such a plea and suit, the Archbishops, Bishops and other spiritual persons which have institution of such benefices within their jurisdiction, be bound and have made execution of such judgments by the King's commandments of all the time aforesaid without interruption, for another lay person (may not) make such execution, and also be bound of right to make execution of many other of the King's commandments, of which right the Crown of England hath been peaceably seized, as well in the time of our said lord the King that now is, as in the time of all his progenitors till this day. But now of late divers processes be made by the Holy Father the Pope and censures of excommunication upon certain Bishops of England, because they have made open execution of such commandments, to the open disherison of the said Crown and destruction of the regality of our lord the King, his law and all his Realm, if remedy be not provided.
And also it is said and a common clamour is made that the said Father the Pope hath ordained and purposed to translate some prelates of the same Realm, some out of the Realm and some from one bishopric to another within the same Realm, without the King's assent and knowledge and without the assent of the prelates, which so shall be translated, which prelates be much profitable and necessary to our said lord the King and to all his Realm; by which translations, if they should be suffered, the statutes of the Realm should be defeated and made void, and his said liege sages of his Council, without his assent and against his will, carried away and gotten out of his Realm, and the substance and treasure of the Realm shall be carried away, and so the Realm destitute as well of Council as of substance, to the final destruction of the same Realm; and so the Crown of England which hath been so free at all times that it hath been in subjection to no realm, but immediately subject to God in all things touching the regality of the same Crown, and to none other, should be submitted to the Pope, and the laws and statutes of the Realm by him defeated and avoided at his will, in perpetual destruction of the sovereignty of the King our lord, his Crown, his Regality and of all his Realm, which God defend.
And moreover, the Commons aforesaid say that the said things so attempted be clearly against the King's Crown and his regality, used and approved of the time of all his progenitors; wherefore they and all the liege Commons of the same Realm will stand with our said lord the King and his said Crown, and his regality, in the cases aforesaid and in all other cases attempted against him, his Crown and his regality in all points, to live and die; and moreover they pray the King, and him require by way of justice, that he would examine all the lords in the Parliament, as well spiritual as temporal severally, and all the States of the Parliament, how they think of the cases aforesaid, which be so openly against the King's Crown and in derogation of his regality, and how they will stand in the same cases with our lord the King in upholding the rights of the said Crown and regality.
Whereupon the lords temporal so demanded have answered everyone by himself that the cases aforesaid be clearly in derogation of the King's Crown and of his regality, as it is well known, and hath been of a long time known, and that they will stand with the same Crown and regality in these cases specially, and in all other cases which shall be attempted against the same Crown and regality in all points, with all their power. And moreover it was demanded of the lords spiritual there being, and the procurators of other being absent, their advice and will in all these cases; which lords, that is to say, the Archbishops, Bishops and other Prelates, being in the said Parliament severally examined, making protestations, that it is not their mind to say, nor affirm, that our holy Father the Pope may not excommunicate bishops, nor that he may make translation of prelates after the law of holy Church, answered and said that if any executions of processes made in the King's Court, as before, be made by any, and censures of excommunication be made against any bishops of England, or any other of the King's liege people, for that they have made execution of such commandments, and that if any execution of such translations be made of any prelates of the same Realm, which lords be very profitable and necessary to our said lord the King and to his said Realm, or that his sage men of his Council, without his assent and against his will, be removed and carried out of the Realm, so that the substance and treasure of the Realm may be consumed, that the same is against the King and his Crown, as it is contained in the petition before named. And likewise the same Procurators, everyone by himself examined upon the said matters, have answered and said in the name and for their lords as the said bishops have said and answered and that the said lords spiritual will and ought to stand with the King in these cases lawfully in maintaining of his Crown, and in all other cases touching his Crown and his regality, as they be bound by their ligeance.
Whereupon our said lord the King, by the assent aforesaid and at the request of his said Commons, hath ordained and established that if any purchase or pursue, or cause to be purchased or pursued in the court of Rome, or elsewhere, any such translations, processes and sentences of excommunication, Bulls, instruments, or any other things whatsoever, which touch our lord the King against him, his Crown and his regality, or his Realm, as is aforesaid, and they which bring them within the Realm, or them receive, or make thereof notification or any other execution whatsoever within the same Realm or without, that they, their notaries, procurators, maintainers, abettors, fautors and counsellors shall be put out of the King's protection, and their lands and tenements, goods and chattels forfeit to our lord the King; and that they be attached by their bodies, if they may be found, and brought before the King and his Council, there to answer to the cases aforesaid, or that process be made against them by "Praemunire facias," in manner as it is ordained in other Statutes of Provisors, and others which do sue in any other court in derogation of the regality of our lord the King.
2. Council of Constance: Decrees "Sacrosancta," April 6, 1415,
and "Frequens," October 9, 1417
Original Latin text in Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio,
vol. XXVII, pp. 590 and 1159
The Council of Constance was the largest European assembly ever held. Convened under the auspices of the German king Sigismund and, therefore, backed by a mighty secular power-which had not been the case with the preceding Council of Pisa--it was attended or visited, during the three years of its existence, by thousands of ecclesiastical and secular potentates, ambassadors, churchmen and University masters. The Conciliar theory, propounded mainly by the University of Paris and by its chief delegates at Constance, Gerson and d'Ailly, dominated the Council's labours. It asserted the sovereignty of the General Councils in the Church and it had already been applied by the Council of Pisa in 1409 with the result that the two Popes, then existing, had been declared deposed.
The schism, however, had not been resolved at Pisa; on the contrary, a third line of Popes had been established. The Council of Constance therefore re-stated solemnly the doctrine of the superiority of the Councils over the Popes in its decree Sacrosancta. This thesis, including the possibility of deposing the Popes, then appeared as the only hopeful means to settle the crisis; as such it had, at that time, the sympathies of large numbers of Church dignitaries and faithful. Accordingly, the sentences of Pisa were confirmed at Constance and Pope John XXIII, of the Pisan line, was deposed as well. Instead of the three claimants a new Pope, Martin V, was elected and the unity of Church leadership was actually restored.
The second main task of the Council of Constance was the introduction of reforms in the Church. This the Council of Constance did not achieve and the task was relegated to further Councils whose sequence was regulated, in a compulsory manner and in the form of a durable institution, by the decree Frequens. Following this decree several Councils were held later, culminating in the Council of Basel (see Doc. Nos. 3 and 5 in this chapter).
If applied integrally and permanently, the decrees Sacrosancta and Frequens would have changed the whole structure of the Church, transforming it into a type of parliamentary democracy. This being unacceptable to the Papacy, the Conciliar ideology met, after the Council of Constance, with the stubborn opposition of the Pontiffs; many serious and protracted difficulties resulted (see Doc. Nos. 5 and 7 in this Chapter).
Decree "Sacrosancta," April 6, 1415
This sacred synod of Constance, forming a General Council in view of the extirpation of the schism and in view of the union and reformation of God's Church in its head and members, assembled in the Holy Spirit to the praise of Almighty God, in order to bring about more easily, securely and freely the union and reformation of God's Church orders, determines, decrees and proclaims as follows:
It first declares that it is lawfully assembled in the Holy Spirit, constitutes a General Council, represents the Catholic Church and has immediate power from Christ to which anyone, of whatever status and condition, even if holding the Papal dignity, is bound to obey in matters pertaining to the Faith, extirpation of the schism and reformation of the said Church in head and members.
It also declares that any one of whatever condition, status and rank, even if holding the Papal dignity, who will contumaciously disdain to obey the orders, statutes, ordinances or instructions made or to be made concerning the aforesaid subjects or matters pertaining to them by this holy synod or by any other lawfully convened General Council, shall be, unless he comes to his senses, subjected to appropriate penance and duly punished, and recourse shall be had, if necessary, to other resources of the law.
Decree "Frequens," October 9, 1417
Frequent holding of General Councils is the chief means of cultivating the Lord's field, by which the briars, thorns and thistles of heresies, errors and schisms are extirpated, excesses corrected, deformities straightened and the Lord's vine made to bear the fruit of full fertility. On the other hand, if such Councils are neglected, the said evils are spread and encouraged; this is clearly brought before our eyes both by recollection of the past and by consideration of the present. That is why we enact, decree and order by this perpetual edict that henceforth General Councils shall be held in such a way that the first shall follow in five consecutive years precisely after the end of this one, the second in seven consecutive years precisely after the end of the preceding one, and subsequently Councils shall be always regularly held from decade to decade in places which the Supreme Pontiff must settle and indicate one month before the end of each Council with the approbation and consent of the same Council; if no such action shall have been taken by the Pope, the Council itself shall do so. So that with this continuity a Council will always be either in session or it will be awaited at the end of a certain current period; this period the Supreme Pontiff can shorten with the counsel of his brothers, the Cardinals of the holy Roman Church, should cases of such necessity by chance present themselves, but it must by no means be extended.
The place fixed for holding a future Council should not be changed without evident necessity. But if a case occurs, by chance, in which it would be deemed necessary to change that place, for example because of siege, war, plague or something similar, then the Supreme Pontiff is to be entitled to substitute--with the written consent of his aforesaid brothers or of two-thirds of them--for the former one another place which would be nearby and suitable and within the same nation, unless the same or a similar impediment would apply to the whole nation. Then the Council could be convened in another nearby place, situated within another nation and suitable for the purpose; and the prelates and others who are to be convoked to the Council are bound to adhere to this as if that place had been fixed for the Council's meeting from the beginning. The Supreme Pontiff is, however, bound to publish and intimate such a change of place or shortening of period lawfully and solemnly one year before the fixed term, in order that the said persons could meet to hold the Council at the fixed time.
3. Compacts of Prague concluded between the Council of Basel
and the Hussites, November 30, 1433
Original Latin text in Leibnitz, Codex iuris gentium diplomaticus, Mantissa, vol. II, p. 138
When the Hussite revolt broke out in Bohemia after the condemnation of John Huss by the Council of Constance, the movement comprised several sub-divisions embodying various degrees of reforming radicalism. However, they all agreed on a basic programme which was formulated in 1420 in the so-called Four Articles of Prague. They stipulated: 1. the communion for the faithful under both kinds, i.e. bread and wine ("communio sub utraque specie"-whence the name of "Utraquists" for the Hussites); 2. repression of mortal sins, particularly in public life (this referred especially to the abuses in the Church); 3. free preaching of God's word; 4. prohibition of the clergy from possessing secular dominion and goods.
This programme was introduced in the Hussite Church, but rejected by the Catholic authorities as heretical; long wars ensued, during which the Bohemians were able to repulse six consecutive crusades. The last rout of the crusaders in 1431, witnessed by Cardinal Cesarini, president of the Council of Basel, resulted in the general conviction that the solution of the Hussite problem was to be sought in negotiation and compromise. The task was undertaken by the Council of Basel and after having received and heard a delegation of Hussite theologians and military leaders, the Council sent its own delegates to Prague for further negotiation with the Bohemian Diet. In November 1433 an agreement was reached, known as the Compacts of Prague, in which the Hussites consented to a considerable reduction of their demands.
The Four Articles were practically emasculated. The communion under both kinds was conceded by the Council. It was the only major concession on the part of the Council and even that was made with two provisos: the Hussite communicants were to be instructed that communion under one kind is quite sufficient; and the communion under both kinds was admitted only for adults who would ask for it (this meant a protection for the orthodox Catholics in Bohemia and the suppression of the Hussite custom of administering the Eucharist even to children). The repression of mortal sins and the preaching of God's word were replaced under the lawful authorities; in this the simultaneous reintegration of the Hussite episcopate in the Church hierarchy was a guarantee of a return to orderly conditions. And the secular clergy were re-admitted to normal rights of property, although it was emphasized that they were only administrators of the Church goods.
The Compacts led at first only to an uneasy peace. The radicals among the Hussites refused to subscribe to them but they were defeated in a civil war and in 1436 the Emperor Sigismund, lawful heir to the Bohemian crown, was admitted to the throne at Prague on their basis.
Later, in 1462, the Compacts of Prague were denounced by Pope Pius II and the Bohemian king Georges of Podiebrad, a Hussite, was deposed by the Pontiff. He resisted the sentence but inspired the election of an orthodox Catholic as his successor. This king, Vladislav, reconfirmed the privileges of the Utraquists as based on the Compacts; in the course of time the Utraquists became little distinct from, and later resisted the first impact of the Reformation even better than the orthodox Catholics.
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ amen. That which is written below has been agreed to between the Legates of the holy Council of Basel and the General Diet of the glorious Kingdom of Bohemia and Margraviate of Moravia in the city of Prague.
First of all the said Diet in the name and on behalf of the said Kingdom and Margraviate and of all who belong to this Kingdom and Margraviate collectively as well as individually, will obtain, accept and make a good, solid and perpetual peace and will restore ecclesiastical unity which shall be professed openly and confirmed in due manner. Thereupon the said Legates, by authority of the said holy Council, will grant and receive the same peace and unity and will pronounce general peace of all Christian people with the citizens and inhabitants of the said Kingdom and Margraviate. They will cancel all sentences and censures, give full amnesty and order all the faithful of Christ, collectively and individually, that nobody must henceforth presume to defame the said Kingdom and Margraviate for past things, or invade or assault them or their inhabitants; but they must all observe Christian peace with them, consider them as their brothers, namely as reverent and obedient sons of the holy Mother Church, and approach them with a true affection.
In the matter of the First Article, which had been formulated by the Ambassadors of the said Kingdom and Margraviate to the holy Council in this way: "The necessary and healthful communion of the Most Divine Eucharist be freely administered by the priesthood under both kinds, that is bread and wine, to all the faithful of Christ in the Kingdom of Bohemia and Margraviate of Moravia and in other places where the adherents of this party are organized," the following has been arranged: "That among the Bohemians and Moravians who really and effectively acknowledge the ecclesiastical unity and peace, being in conformity with the faith and ritual of the Universal Church in all other things except the use of communion in both kinds, men and women who practise such a custom, shall communicate under both kinds under the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Church, His bride." And this Article shall be "fully discussed in the holy Council as to the scope of obligation involved," and it shall be ascertained what might be retained from it for Catholic truth and what may be useful therein for the profit and salvation of Christian people (in general). And if, all having been carefully and fully investigated, they still persist in their desire of receiving the said communion under both kinds, the holy Council, at the request of their Ambassadors, shall grant to the priests of the said Kingdom and Margraviate the faculty to give Holy Communion in the Lord under both kinds to the people, namely to those persons who, having reached the age of discretion, would reverently and devoutly ask for it, for their benefit and salvation.
It must, however, be always observed that "the priests should constantly inform those communicating in this manner that they ought to believe firmly that under the kind of bread there is not flesh only, nor is there solely blood under the kind of wine, but that under either kind there is the entire and whole Christ." And the Legates of the holy Council shall order through letters, by authority of the holy Council, to all and everyone of whatever status or condition, that no one must cast aspersions on the said Bohemians and Moravians who are using the said communion under the double kind or detract from their honour or reputation. And this the holy Council shall do as soon as it grants the above-mentioned concession of freedom.
In the matters of the other three Articles the above-said Legates of the holy Council made statements in the form as it follows. It is to be kept in mind that the doctrine of the Catholic truth has to be dealt with so soberly and cautiously, especially on the part of the holy Council, that the truth be declared in such plain wording that no stumbling block may emerge therefrom for any one in the future and no occasion for errors; so that nothing--to use the words of St. Isidore--should give a false impression because of obscurity.
In the matter of repressing and restraining sins, you have formulated the Article in these terms: "All mortal sins and particularly those which are public have to be repressed, restrained and stamped out reasonably and according to God's law by those whose concern it is." Here, indeed, the words "by those whose concern it is" are too general and might give rise to obstacles. And following the sentence of the Scripture, "We should not place stumbling block before the blind; and ditches should be barred off so that the neighbour's bull be not hurt," all such occasion ought to be suppressed. Therefore we say that according to the doctrine of the Holy Scripture and the testimonies of the holy Doctors the following is to be considered as Catholic: that all mortal sins and particularly public sins are to be repressed, restrained and extirpated so far as it can be done reasonably and in conformity with God's law and the institutions of the holy Fathers. The power, however, to punish the criminals does not pertain to private persons but only to those who have the jurisdiction over them by distinction of their office, the order of law and justice being observed.
In the matter concerning the preaching of the word of God you gave to the respective Article this wording: "That the word of God be preached by the Lord's priests and suitable Levites freely and faithfully." Lest an occasion for unrestrained and hurtful liberty be seized, arising from the word "freely," which you do not intend either (as you have often stated), it is to be circumscribed and we say that according to the doctrine of the Holy Scripture and the testimonies of the holy Fathers this is to be held as Catholic: that the word of God should be preached by the Lord's priests and Levites suitable for that, approved and sent by competent superiors, freely, however not in a chaotic but orderly and faithful manner, and "saving the authority of the Pontiff who is the high instructor in all things," according to the institutions of the holy Fathers.
As far as the last Article is concerned, it has been expressed in these words: "That it is not lawful for the clergy to have secular domination over temporal goods by virtue of worldly law."
Let us remind you that when a public and solemn discussion was held in the holy Council this subject, the representative who had been delegated by the holy Council to discuss this formulated two conclusions in the following terms:
"First, that the non-regular clergy" (who have not pledged themselves to the contrary by a vow) "can lawfully have and possess any temporal goods, can inherit them from their parents" or other persons who might leave them an inheritance and can possess other property justly acquired by way of donation or by some previous lawful and unchallengeable contract.
"Secondly, that it is lawful for the Church to have and possess temporal property" both movable and immovable, houses, farms, manors, towns, castles, cities, and to have private and civil dominion over them. The particular Ambassador who was your spokesman in this discussion agreed to this, stating "that these conclusions do not contradict his Article if it is well understood because he himself meant his Article as covering the normal civil dominion."
From this and from other things it can be sufficiently understood that the words "secular domination" used in the said Article seem to refer to some special mode of ownership or use. Therefore, since the doctrine of the Church should not be hidden in ambiguous words but shown plainly, we consider it as necessary to express what is to be held as Catholic according to God's law and the testimonies of the holy Doctors, namely that the aforesaid conclusions are correct and that the clerics should faithfully administer the Church property (of which they are the administrators) following the sound institutions of the holy Fathers. And this Church property should not be unjustly detained or occupied by other people. And the said Diet has acknowledged and accepted the declaration of the said three Articles which is based upon the truth of the Scripture.
As the matters concerning these three Articles involve--in the opinion of some people--many abuses and various disorders, it is indeed the intention of the said Diet to pursue with perseverance and solicitude the reform of such abuses and disorders in the holy Council through the medium of its Ambassadors. If, however, any other individuals may desire to urge such reforms at the holy Council in a due and honest manner, let that be permitted and let an opportunity for it be given to them. The aforesaid Legates welcome this, since the holy Council wants and intends to undertake--with the help of God--zealously and carefully the reform of morals; and because the Legates really desire, with all the strength of their mind, every just reform in the Church of God, they wish and promise to help and co-operate in all which may concern a just reform of the Church.
When the war waged for reasons of faith will have been terminated by the grace of God and a honest peace introduced, for the preservation of which all diligence should be applied, it appears desirable that both sides should also stop all violent actions used for other reasons, not concerning the faith, if they have any such contests with their neighbours; and the matters of these controversies should be resolved in Diets or otherwise brought to an end in the holy Council or outside it by concord, amicable composition or judgment.
In order to render the peace solid and respected the said Legates of the holy Council will cause everything to be ratified and will secure a Bull of the Council and orders of the same holy Council addressed to all princes and communities neighbouring ( Bohemia and Moravia); and they will also do such other things as may be necessary and useful. On the part of the said Kingdom and Margraviate a document will be given bearing seals and containing all suitable guarantees. Peace will be secured and caused to be kept, and all will be done which may be necessary and useful for the observation of this Peace and Unity.
All the aforesaid and afore-written has been agreed to and confirmed by several University masters and priests, delegates of the General Diet of the Kingdom of Bohemia and Margraviate of Moravia, in the name of the same Diet and in virtue of its special mandate, between the above-mentioned lords Legates of the holy Council on the one side and the said Diet on the other, all being corroborated with stipulation by hands and verbal promise on both sides.
(Given) in the City of Prague, in the College called "Collegium Carolinum," A.D. 1433, in the twelfth indiction, on the last day of November; in the third year of the Pontificate of the most holy Father in Christ and our lord Eugenius IV, by Divine Providence Pope, in the presence of honest men, provided for this purpose.
4. Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges enacted by Charles VII,
King of France, July 7, 1438
Original Latin text in Vilevault, Ordonnances des Rois de France, vol. XIII, p. 267
Gallicanism, a tendency of the French clergy to seek autonomy under the secular protection of their king, can be traced far back into the Middle Ages. In the fifteenth century it was encouraged by two factors: the memory of the French Avignon Popes, which had brought about, among Frenchmen, a bias against the revival of an Italian Papacy; and the Conciliar theory in which the French were playing an outstanding role, particularly in the Councils of Constance and Basel.
All these elements contributed to shape the mentality of the French clergy when the controversy between Pope Eugenius IV and the Council of Basel was moving towards its culmination in the Council's vote on the deposition of the Pontiff in 1439 (see the next Document). At that time, Charles VII, king of France, was beginning to emerge victorious from the Hundred Years' War with England; the spirit of Gallicanism could only reinforce his fresh and growing authority. He was not, therefore, inclined to oppose it. Under these conditions he convoked in 1438 a synod of the French clergy to Bourges in order to determine the attitude of France towards the contemporary currents in the Church. Envoys of both the Pope and Council came to Bourges to plead their causes and the Gallicans among the French episcopate sided with the Council. The king decided to keep official neutrality in the rivalry between Rome and Basel. But he approved in the Pragmatic Sanction, promulgated at the close of the Synod, great concessions to the Gallican party which included, at the same time, important advantages for the royal power.
The Pragmatic Sanction consists of three parts:
1. An introduction, strongly coloured with the reforming spirit, depicts the state of affairs in the French Church.
2. The text of twenty-four decrees of the Council of Basel follows which the king consented to introduce in France with a few modifications, as one compact law. Some of them are openly antiPapalist; so are the decrees Frequens and Sacrosancta, through the reception of which France recognized the substance of the Conciliar theory, or the decree concerning the number and qualification of Cardinals. Others are also anti-Papalist but imply, at the same time, considerable advantages for the autonomy of the French clergy and for the royal power. They are the decrees by which the annates and other Pontifical taxes are abolished in France (with a little compensation conceded to Pope Eugenius IV "ad personam"); appeals to Rome, interdicts and excommunications restricted; expectatives and Papal reservations abolished; and Pontifical nominations to benefices in France converted into canonical elections; in these elections, however, the king's influence is expressly permitted. The rest of the decrees deals with matters of liturgy and clerical discipline.
3. The third part of the Pragmatic Sanction contains the royal approval of the decrees as recommended by the synod and clauses concerning their application.
Although some anti-Papal provisions of this law were later somewhat softened in practice, the Popes made every effort to obtain its abrogation by the French kings. On the other hand, the Pragmatic Sanction became very popular in France with the Gallican clergy and also with the faithful because of its reforming achievements. Its subsequent actual abrogations by Louis XI and Francis I (between the two it had been re-established) were widely regretted; and when Francis I replaced it by his Concordat with the Pope in 1516 (see Doc. No. 8 in this chapter) he had to compel the Parliament of Paris to recognize the change. The Gallican spirit, with its advocacy of autonomy for the French clergy, continuous support of Conciliar doctrine and tenacious memory of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges as a celebrated charter of the claimed Gallican liberties, remained alive in France and manifested itself on many occasions in the further centuries (see Chap. VI, Doc. No. 1 ).
The vivid description of the contemporary abuses in the Church, contained in the first part of the Pragmatic Sanction, is largely taken over from the Council of Basel's decree Placuit Divinae on the collation of benefices. The Council's decrees, which were adopted at Bourges, are given below in a short summary.
Charles, by the Grace of God King of the French, to all who shall read this document greeting.
The inscrutable providence of the Divine Highness, by which kings reign and possess the government of public affairs, has established the royal power on earth among other things for the purpose of protecting and defending faithfully the holy Church founded by the precious Blood of Christ and her ministers; and also for the purpose of making respected and observed everywhere and sincerely the very sound institutions of the ancient holy Fathers, promulgated in the spirit of God, by which the vigour of ecclesiastical discipline and of a sound doctrine is stimulated and strengthened. Moreover, we are bound and pledged to this also in virtue of special engagements which we had undertaken by oath toward the Church of the Kingdom and Dauphiné when we had received our royal insignia and crown and on other occasions.
The Divine piety has deigned to inspire in these our days the hearts of the faithful so that a holy Council of the Universal Church has been convened and held in town of Basel, being a continuation decreed and ordered by the immediately preceding holy and General Councils of Constance and Sienna, but having also been solemnly convoked and by two Roman Pontiffs, namely Martin the Fifth of happy memory and the present Pope Eugenius the Fourth, in order to improve the field of the Lord's flock and to reform duly the situation of the Church in head and members which appears nowadays to be in distress because of the abundant wickedness and abated charity of men; and also in order that the Divine honour may be restored on earth and the pernicious enormities of prevailing abuses and crimes restrained, which has been ascertained, alas, as introducing many detrimental effects and aberrations into the whole Christian community by scorning and spurning even the decrees and institutions of the ancient holy Fathers; and in order that the light of Catholic truth may be rekindled and Christ, the true light, propagated, that the preservation of ecclesiastical freedom may be maintained, and that the Christian people may be soundly governed and led to its salvation.
The holy Council set it as its aim for the future to denounce everywhere the abuses in God's Church and to bury the very corrupt morals in her; it took care to administer publicly salutary admonitions to all and to provide efficacious remedies--as far as it is possible, with God's help--against the aforesaid. And considering that among other important things this was the most urgent task for which it had been convoked and assembled, it drew up and issued solemn decrees, ordinances and statutes and it caused them to be submitted and presented to us and to the Church of our aforesaid
Kingdom and Dauphiné its special envoys and ambassadors. And the prelates and other churchmen representing the said Church of our Kingdom and Dauphiné exhorted us with the utmost charity and besought us with the greatest insistence to adopt the decrees, statutes and ordinances made and issued by the holy Council on the above-mentioned subjects and deign to accept them, so far as our royal dignity is concerned, throughout all our Kingdom and Dauphiné; and to make them to be observed there inviolably and perpetually. This we have considered with due attention and in order to choose the best way and the most pleasing to God, we deliberated over the question very maturely with our Great Council; and we have convened and assembled Archbishops, Bishops, distinguished Chapters, Abbots, Deans, Provosts and other prelates and churchmen, and also the Masters of Divine and human law, Doctors and scholars of the Universities of General Studies, and others from our Kingdom and Dauphiné in great and copious numbers to meet us in this our illustrious town of Bourges.
This solemn assembly was held in the Chapter of our Holy Chapel at Bourges, with ourselves presiding over it; it was attended by our dearest first-born son Louis, Dauphin of Vienne, Charles, Duke of Bourbon, Charles of Anjou, Count of Maine, Peter of Brittany (our nephew), Bernard, Count de la Marche, and the Counts Louis de Vendôme and William de Tancarville, Princes of the Blood, many magnates, lords and experienced men, both ecclesiastical and secular, of our Great Council, and others. Special envoys sent to us by the afore-mentioned Pontiff and also those sent by the said holy General Council were heard there by us on the subject of these things and on other subjects concerning the state of affairs in God's Church and we caused them to be listened to attentively. When they had been fully heard and answered excellently and competently by several Prelates and most famous Doctors of holy Theology and Laws--whereby the matters involved were discussed during a few days, and all the aforesaid was diligently examined on the part of those prelates and other churchmen representing the said Church of our Kingdom and Dauphiné--the following has been declared to us:
That if they go back to memories and look at them with the eyes of their consideration, they must justly remember the priority with which our predecessors, prelates, lords and the faithful of our Kingdom and Dauphiné have constructed churches in the said Kingdom and Dauphiné from the beginning of the nascent Church to the praise and glory of God and for the Divine worship; how they endowed these churches with extensive possessions and bestowed privileges upon them, establishing in them suitable ministers who, at that time, propagated the Catholic faith successfully in the languages and among the peoples subject to them so that by their care and solicitude, wonderful achievements and salutary examples, the Church of Christ blossomed into beauty, grew up as far as the extreme limits of the Western regions, bringing forth fragrant fruits and virtues, and was resplendent like a magnificent diadem, dissipating the darkness of ignorance and errors and spreading the splendid light of her doctrine. Further, that a number of holy canons and most salutary decrees was instituted and promulgated by holy Fathers of the previous centuries for the good government and estate of the Church in matters of electing the ministers of the same Church, of modes of approving and establishing them and of salutary directives for them and for other prelates. As long as these were observed, God's Church produced a happy abundance of fruits of honour and honesty, the vigour of ecclesiastical discipline was maintained, piety and charity flourished everywhere and human souls worshipped in peace the Lord of Peace.
But, alas, the wickedness of a reprehensible ambition and the insatiable appetite of a detestable cupidity, which is the root of all evils, violating the law of humanity, gradually began to abase and scorn even the soundest decrees of the ancient holy Fathers and to descend into vice; from that have originated the corruption of morals, the dishonouring and besmirching of the ecclesiastical dignity, gravest usurpations, intolerable encroachments and particularly the reservations to prelacies and other ecclesiastical benefices, the multiplying and innumerable conceding of very exorbitant expectatives to benefices which shall be vacant in the future and other most serious and important burdens, by which the churches and ecclesiastical persons of our said Kingdom and Dauphiné appear nowadays to be gravely afflicted, oppressed and reduced almost to extreme exhaustion. The wealth of the Church and of ecclesiastical benefices is held by the hands of unworthy men and sometimes of foreigners; and many of the distinguished and more opulent benefices are conferred on unknown and unqualified persons who do not reside in those benefices; so that they do not know the face of the flock committed to them, sometimes do not understand the language and neglecting the care of souls merely seek worldly lucre like mercenaries. In this way the cult of Christ is being abased, the cure of souls neglected, hospitality ignored, the rights of churches are perishing, edifices fall to ruin and the devotion of the people is weakened; and such clerics of our Kingdom and Dauphiné who are outstanding in virtues and sciences and who could contribute to the salutary edification of the Christian people and who might be useful to the public councils of the King and of the Church in the said Kingdom and Dauphiné are being turned away from studies of the Divine and human sciences because an adequate hope for promotion is taken away from them.
Furthermore, through such reservations and expectatives the wish for the death of another is being introduced into men's minds, which is very prejudicial to their salvation, endless disputes are stirred up, contests and brawls between ministers of Christ occur, manifold rancours and implacable hatreds are nourished, plurality of benefices and execrable ambition is encouraged, lower clerics are subjected to innumerable victimizations, both personal and material, and are unduly oppressed by swindlers and frivolous men, the aforesaid benefices are often occupied unjustly owing to crooked processes of justice and frequently relinquished again after long periods without their duties having been discharged, matters are accumulated encouraging unjust vexations, pestiferous abuses of the horrible kind which is besprinkled with the stains of simony are committed, indolent youths who ought to be directed to virtuous behaviour are given the opportunity of evading it, prelates and other lawful collators are deprived of their rights of collation and of their ministry, the rights of the patrons are weakened, whereby the hierarchical order of the Church is confounded, and many other things are similarly committed and perpetrated against the Divine and human laws leading to the ruin of souls, and oppression and treading under foot of our often-mentioned Kingdom and Dauphiné; at the same time the rights of our Crown are greatly abased and the revenues of our said Kingdom and Dauphiné are exported into foreign countries, perhaps with the purpose that this Kingdom and Dauphiné would be enfeebled so as to surrender weakly in adversities with depressed clergy and exhausted treasury.
Concerning these things, whether taken collectively or individually, and many other evils following from the aforesaid, it is undoubtedly to be believed that they are displeasing to the Divine will, and, moreover, they thrust us, the said Church, and our Kingdom and Dauphiné into grave prejudice and detriment. Stimulated by our conscience, we can not overlook them any longer without the gravest offence to God. We know that those prelates and other churchmen representing the said Church of our Kingdom and Dauphiné think that the decrees of the holy Council of Basel bring adequate provisions for the reparation of the state of affairs depicted above; they had among themselves detailed and lengthy debates and thorough discussions and after deliberation they agreed that the said decrees, ordinances and statutes should be adopted and accepted at once and without delay, some of them as they stand, others with certain modifications and adjustments. In this (latter category), however, they do not hesitate as to the power and authority of the holy Council of Basel to enact and promulgate them, but they have in mind such suitable modifications as would be fitting to the times and customs of the regions and persons of our often-mentioned Kingdom and Dauphiné; these modifications are inserted (in the decrees) below and shown accordingly. The contents of the decrees follows.
[1. Decree Frequens of the Council of Constance--see above, Doc. No. 2 in this Chapter--which was renewed at Basel with an additional emphasis on the fact that the Council of Basel was the legal continuation of the Council of Constance in the line fixed by that decree at Constance.
2. Decree Sacrosancta of the Council of Constance--see above, Doc. No. 2 in this chapter--which was renewed at Basel with the emphasis on its provisions to the effect that nobody, not even the Pope, had the right of dissolving the General Council, transferring it to another pace or proroguing it.
3-4. Two decrees of the Council of Basel on canonical elections to benefices: the decree Sicut in construenda abolishing general Papal reservations in elective benefices and regulating the mode and procedure of elections; and the decree Licet dudum abolishing special Papal reservations to such benefices. To these decrees an important addition was made by the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges as follows: "However, the said synod of Bourges does not consider it as reprehensible if the King (of France) and the princes of his kingdom sometimes use benign and benevolent recommendations in favour of persons (to be elected to these benefices) who are meritorious and zealous for the common weal of the Kingdom and Dauphiné." By this provision the royal influence on the elections of French prelates was legalized.
5. Decree Et quia multiplices prohibiting Papal reservations of, and nominations to non-elective benefices, with a few exceptions.
6. Decree Placuit Divinae abolishing the expectatives and establishing rules for the collation of benefices and qualification of candidates. Some additions were made concerning the application of the decree in France; a concession was granted to the Pope to the effect that if a collator controlled the collation of ten or more benefices, one should be placed at the Pope's disposal; if he controlled fifty or more, then two.
7. Decree Ecclesiasticae sollicitudinis stating that no appeals must be made to the Papal Curia from places distant more than four days' journey from it. The Pragmatic Sanction reduced the four days to two if the Curia was outside Italy; it also added that no appeal at all can be made from France before a sentence has been rendered there, or with the omission of an intermediate ecclesiastical court of appeal.
8. Decree Ut lites citius forbidding abuse of appeals to the Papal Curia (second appeals for the same grievance or appeals against sentences which have not yet entered into legal force). 9. Decree Quaecumque non violentes stating that if a benefice had been in peaceful possession of a holder for at least three years, nobody could legally challenge his possession.
10. Decree Cum Summo Pontifici regulating the number and qualifications of Cardinals (their number should not exceed twentyfour, ho nation should have more than a third of them, they should be outstanding in science and morals, not "nepotes" of Popes, and not nominated by the Pope alone but elected by the majority of the Sacred College).
11. Decree Statuit haec sacra abolishing all annates and other Papal taxes connected with conferring or confirming benefices; to this decree an addition was made at Bourges according to which a fifth of Papal taxes, as levied in France before the Council of Constance, was conceded to Pope Eugenius IV "ad personam" (not to his successors) and the application of this concession was elaborated with many details. 12-20. A Series of decrees aiming at the improvement of devotion in the celebration of the Divine service.
21-23. Three decrees concerning clerical discipline and Church censures: clerics of any rank convicted as offenders against celibacy were to be suspended "ipso facto"; the full consequences of an excommunication were to apply only to those who were expressly named in a sentence of excommunication (not to vague categories, such as "adherents" or "followers" of an excommunicated person); interdicts were to be declared in towns and other communities only if their cause and culpability rested with the whole community or its leaders, not with private persons.
24. A decree suppressing the decretal Litteris nostris of Pope Clement V (this suppression opened the possibility of contesting the facts contained in the narrative part of Papal Bulls).]
Furthermore, the said synod (of Bourges) has concluded that those decrees which it has suggested for acceptance as they stand, should be accepted from now on, taken over and put into operation really and effectively. And similarly that those decrees in which the abovementioned modifications have been effected, should be accepted with those modifications from now on, with the hope that these modifications will be admitted by the holy Council; for this purpose royal Ambassadors shall make representations (to the Council) on behalf of the King and the Church of the Kingdom and Dauphiné.
And finally it has been decided that the said synod should approach the King collectively and ask him: to accept and approve from now on those decrees in the form as above; to give strict orders to the officials of the Parliament and to other Justiciars of the Kingdom and Dauphiné, and to other lords in the Kingdom, that they must observe the aforesaid for ever and inviolably, point by point, and cause it to be observed, and punish the transgressors and offenders in such a way that example be given to others for the future; and to issue a Pragmatic Sanction thereon.
Wherefore the said archbishops, bishops, distinguished Chapters, deans, abbots and other prelates and churchmen, and the scholars of the Universities of General Studies in the Kingdom, representing the Church of our said Kingdom and Dauphiné, have humbly petitioned us to give our Royal consent to their conclusions and resolutions thus passed according to God, justice and their own sincere conscience both with regard to the aforesaid decrees and canons of the most holy General Council of Basel and with regard to other matters, which have been deliberated between them and concluded for the benefit of the ecclesiastical community in our Kingdom and Dauphiné; and they asked that we deign to sponsor them and to order and cause them to be carried out efficaciously and observed inviolably by all our subjects.
Therefore, considering that whereas the priests are to preach freely the truth as they heard it from Christ, the prince is bound to defend faithfully and pursue efficiently the truth that he heard from the priests and which is also approved by the Scriptures; and being aware of the above-stated and of other just and reasonable matters; and having had most complete deliberations upon them with the afore-mentioned Dukes of our Royal family and other magnates, lords and many prudent and learned men of our Kingdom and Dauphiné, who assist us in our Great Council:
We recognize the supplication and request of those prelates and other churchmen, representing the Church of our Kingdom and Dauphiné, as just, reasonable, in conformity to the institutions of the holy Fathers and in accordance with all equity; and we regard the resolutions and conclusions of the same archbishops, bishops, and other prelates and churchmen of our Kingdom and Dauphiné as agreeable to us and accepted by us; and we have given to them our Royal consent and we give it by the present document. We wish and order the said resolutions and conclusions, all and each one of them, to be kept perpetually and observed inviolably in our Kingdom and Dauphiné and in our other dominions, and to enter entirely into full and complete operation as from the date of this enactment without any other publication or promulgation; nonetheless, we order it to be published and registered among the King's and Dauphin's ordinances.
Consequently, we command and very strictly enjoin our dear and faithful Counsellors holding the present Parliament and those who will hold them in the future, all Justiciars of our Kingdom and Dauphiné, other officials and our subjects, and each one of them so far as he is concerned, to keep, safeguard and preserve the abovestated, all and sundry, in full vigour and validity; and to judge, pronounce and sentence according to the resolutions and conclusions as above in any pleas which would originate or emerge in the future from matters described above; and to make them to be observed inviolably in all respects by all subjects and inhabitants of our Kingdom and Dauphiné. We order them to protect equally and defend the said ecclesiastical and secular persons, all and each of them, in all regards as expressed above, from any distress, violence, assault, molestation, vexation, damage, impediment and disturbance; and to punish all and any persons, of whatever rank or status they may be, who would contravene or oppose the above-said, in such a way that an example be set to others for the future. And so we wish and order to be done by the present enactment.
In witness thereof we caused our Seal to be affixed to this document.
Given at Bourges on the seventh day of July, A.D. one thousand four hundred and thirty eight, in the sixteenth year of our reign. By the King in his Great Council, which has been attended by the lord Dauphin of Vienne and the following lords: the Duke of Bourbon, Charles of Anjou, Count of Maine, Peter, son of the Duke of Brittany, and the Counts de la Marche, de Vendôme and de Tancarville; and also by prelates, lords and numerous other ecclesiastics and laymen.
5. Council of Basel: Deposition of Pope Eugenius IV,
July 7, 1439
Original Latin text in Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova e amplissima collectio,
vol. XXIX, p. 179
In spite of the decree Frequens, enacted by the Council of Constance (see above, Doc. No. 2 in this chapter), Pope Eugenius IV convoked the Council of Basel only under pressure from various European quarters; and he tried to dissolve it in the same year 1431. The assembly violently protested, defied the Papal decision and after this the animosity between Pope and Council remained latent. In 1433 Eugenius withdrew the Bull of dissolution and sanctioned the legality of the Council's existence and work.
When a peace settlement with the Bohemian Hussites had been definitely arrived at in 1436 (see Doc. No. 3 of this chapter), the Council tackled its reforming task with great élan. Independently of the Papacy it began to promulgate far-reaching decrees regulating the organization of the Church, her financial affairs, matters of faith and liturgy, and even the personal position of the Pontiffs and Cardinals. Some of the decrees obtained force of law in several countries, particularly in France (see the preceding Document). This activity widened the chasm between Pope and Council more and more and when Eugenius IV gained the upper hand in the final matter of discord--a congress with the Byzantine Greeks to discuss the reunion of the Western and Eastern Churches--he ordered the Council to be transferred from Basel to Ferrara in 1437. The Papalist wing of the assembly obeyed but the rest, composed of anti-Papal radicals, refused to go to Italy and declared the Pope suspended from his functions because of his infringing the authority of the Council.
Each party remaining inflexible, the deposition of Eugenius IV was ultimately proclaimed at Basel in July 1439, based on the doctrine of the superiority of the Council over the Pope as defined in the decree Sacrosancta of the Council of Constance (see Doc. No. 2 in this chapter). An anti-pope, Felix V, was elected by the Basel assembly in the same year. But these drastic steps, renewing the Papal schism, proved to be fatal to the Council. It gradually lost sympathies in Europe and although it managed to extend its declining existence for another ten years, it ended ingloriously in 1449.
The holy General Council of Basel, assembled lawfully in the Holy Ghost and representing the Universal Church, for the perpetual memory of this matter.
God has looked down from His sacred height, from Heaven He beheld the earth beneath and He heard the lamentation of the Church weeping over the perdition of souls redeemed by the precious Blood of Jesus Christ, and over innumerable evils which have invaded the Christian religion. And because the Lord is just and loves justice, He ordained that justice should be done upon one man through whom the scandal has come to the whole world and who, through his grave sins and his scorning of correction, caused wrath to be spread among all people; He ordained that this justice be done through the agency of His Church assembled in the name of Christ the Saviour of all men Who said: "Where there are two or three gather together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," and Who said concerning the sinner unwilling to hear the Church: "If he will not listen to the Church, then count him all one with the heathen and the publicand."
And the Divine Providence, foreseeing the resistance and attacks that Pope Eugenius the Fourth would perpetrate in due course against the reform of God's Church and the authority of holy General Councils, representing the same Church, and how many scandals, divisions and schisms he would bring about, inspired the holy Council of Constance through the Holy Ghost to explain to the whole world a truth of the Catholic Faith, namely, that a General Council representing the Universal Church has its power immediately from Christ and that any one, of any dignity, even Papal, is bound to obey it in matters pertaining to Faith, extirpation of schism and general reform of the Church in head and members. And also that if any one of whatever status and rank, even if holding the Papal dignity, who would contumaciously disdain to obey its orders, statutes, ordinances or instructions concerning the aforesaid matters and their appurtenances, does not come to his senses, he shall be subjected to appropriate penance and duly punished, and recourse shall be had (if necessary) to other resources of the law.
Indeed, by this declaration the merciful Lord has prepared the ground on which God's Church can proceed to a just judgment over the said Eugenius who has committed numerous excesses which are so notorious that they can not be concealed by any subterfuge, and who has contumaciously disdained to listen to the Church and to obey the instructions, statutes and ordinances of the Councils. According to the precept of this declared truth, the holy Council of Basel, being lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost and representing the Universal Church, considers it necessary that he who does not show a pious correction of his ways should not be spared from due extirpation; it has expected, with a great deal of forbearance, patience and clemency and after several admonitions, that the said Eugenius would effect a salutary amendment and correction of the aforesaid excesses; but the regard for the Catholic Faith and the salvation of the whole Christian religion can not--with the help of the Holy Ghost, our Protector, be overlooked any longer lest a further postponement of justice may cause the blood of the souls who pass away to be required from our hands; and in order that a sound government over the Lord's flock be exercised with due care; and since the truth has sprung up from the earth of the militant Church and "righteousness hath looked down from Heaven, the Lord shall give that which is good and our land shall yield her increase," so that from our day both justice and abundance of peace will come forth:
The same holy Council, sitting as a tribunal, with the help of our Protector, the Holy Ghost, enunciates, decrees and declares by this definition and sentence, which it inscribes in its records, that Gabriel (Condulmaro), formerly called Pope Eugenius the Fourth, has been and is notoriously and manifestly contumacious, that he disobeys the orders and instructions of the Universal Church, violates assiduously and disregards the holy canons of the Councils, is a notorious disturber of peace and unity of God's Church, a simoniac, a perjurer, and incorrigible man, a schismatic, an apostate from the Faith, an obstinate heretic, a squanderer of the Church's rights and property, incapable and harmful to the administration of the Roman Pontificate, and that he has made himself unworthy of any title, grade, honour and dignity.
Therefore, this holy Council announces and declares him deprived "ipso iure" of the Papal dignity and of the Pontificate, deprives him thereof, removes and deposes him therefrom and degrades him, deciding, moreover, that subsequently he will be proceeded against by means of some other legal penalties to which this same holy Council condemns him by this sentence. And it forbids him to call himself henceforth Pope or Roman Pontiff in any way or to behave as such. And the Council has absolved all Christians and declares them hereby absolved from obedience and fidelity to him and from all oaths and obligations taken towards him in any manner, and forbids these to be kept or taken by the faithful of Christ, all and each of them, under the penalties of favouring schism and heresy, of being deprived of all benefices, dignities and honours, ecclesiastical as well as temporal, and under other legal penalties, covering even the Imperial, royal, cardinalatial, patriarchal, archiepiscopal and episcopal dignities, and also communities, Universities and corporations, so that they shall be deprived of all these dignities "ipso iure" by the authority of this decree and sentence, if they contravene this prohibition. And they shall incur other legal penalties, if they obey the same Gabriel as a Supreme Pontiff, or are subservient or pay attention to him who is a notorious schismatic, perjurer, heretic, giver of scandal, an incorrigible and obstinate person, and who has been deprived, deposed, removed and declared as such; or if they support or re-admit him by any means or furnish him any help, counsel or favour. And the holy Council also pronounces, decrees and declares that the processes, prohibitions, sentences, censures, regulations, ordinances and anything similar, all and each of them, made by him or by any one else, which might be contrary to the aforesaid, are null and void, nor are they or shall they be of any validity or significance.
Given in our public session, solemnly held in the main church of Basel, on the seventh day of the Kalends of July, in the year one thousand four hundred and thirty nine of the Lord's Nativity.
6. Concordat of Vienna between Pope Nicholas V and the German King Frederic III,
February 17, 1448
Original Latin text in Altmann-Bernheim, Urkunde zur Verfassungsgeschichte Deutschlands im Mittelalter,
The Electors of Germany imitated, in March 1439, the example of the French king (see the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, Doc. No. 4 in this chapter) and enacted some of the reforming decrees of the Council of Basel as internal German laws in their Diet held at Mainz. A tension between them and the Roman Curia ensued, causing many disorders in the German Church. While applying the decrees of Basel, the German princes pretended to remain officially neutral in the conflict between Pope and Council following the deposition of Pope Eugenius IV by the Basel assembly in July 1439 (see the preceding Document); and they influenced the German Church in the same sense. This situation was aggravated when, in 1446, Eugenius IV excommunicated and deposed the Archbishops of Cologne and Trier, both Electors of the Empire, for having taken openly the side of the Council of Basel. The other Electors and princes, at one with the two Archbishops, proceeded to threaten the Pontiff with their collective adhesion to the antipope of Basel if he did not comply with their various demands.
But behind the scenes the Pope was already negotiating with the German king Frederic III for a general settlement of the Church conditions in Germany. An agreement was reached between the king and Pope Nicholas V, successor of Eugenius IV, in 1448 and promulgated at the Diet of Aschaffenburg; it is, however, known in history under the accepted name of Concordat of Vienna. Under the joint pressure of Frederic III and of Rome the German Electors and princes agreed to the Concordat (thus returning to the Roman obedience) and the two Rhineland Archbishops were reinstated by the Pope.
In the Concordat the Pope conceded free canonical elections of archbishops, bishops and abbots of exempted abbeys, keeping the right of confirming the elected persons (Art. 2). For the lower benefices a half-way solution was adopted in Art. 3: the dignitaries of those benefices which would become vacant in odd months were to be nominated directly by the Pope whereas those becoming vacant in even months were left to their customary procedure (election or nomination by other persons than the Pope). A general reservation was established in Art. 1 for any German churchmen holding some function at the Roman Curia or who would die on their way to Rome or back; the Pope was to nominate directly their successors to the benefices in Germany. Other Papal reservations were abolished so far as bishoprics and abbeys were concerned, but they were fully preserved in the lower benefices so that the provision about odd and even months was to be applied only to benefices unreserved to direct Papal nomination. From the lower benefices subject to Papal nomination the usual annates were to be paid with some attenuation; for archbishoprics, bishoprics and abbeys the annates were commuted into a fixed tax calculated on their wealth (Art. 4 and 4b).
The Concordat, which was to be a permanent arrangement, was regarded as a considerable success for the Papacy. Legal order was re-established in Germany after many disturbances of the Conciliar period; the Council of Basel was deserted by the German princes and soon dispersed; the scope of direct Pontifical nominations of German clergy remained very large and the taxation almost the same as before. However, the way in which the Renaissance Papacy later used these extensive rights in Germany contributed greatly to the creation of the atmosphere in which the Lutheran Reformation broke out in 1517.
The Bulls Execrabilis and Ad regimen, mentioned in the introduction to the Concordat, were general Papal enactments concerning the reservations of benefices. The Bull Execrabilis (as distinct from the Bull Execrabilis of 1460 prohibiting appeals to the General Council-see the following Document) had been issued by the Avignon Pope John XXII. The Bull Ad regimen, promulgated by another Avignon Pope, Benedict XII, had established a general Pontifical reservation of benefice which would become vacant through death of their holders deceased "in Curia" and the wording of Art. 1 of the Concordat is practically taken from it. Both these Bulls had been incorporated into the Corpus Iuris Canonici.
In the name of the Lord, amen. In the year one thousand four hundred and forty-eight from the Nativity of the Lord, on the seventeenth day of the month of February, the Concordat given below has been concluded, confirmed and accepted between the most holy Father in Christ and our lord Nicholas, Pope by Divine providence fifth of his name, and the Apostolic See on the one side and the Alamanic (German) nation on the other; it has been concluded in the name of our most holy lord and in that of the Apostolic See by the most reverend Father in Christ the lord John (Carvajal), Cardinal-Legate of the most holy Roman Church, sent "a latere" to the German nation and invested, on her behalf, with full authority and power, and in the name of the Alamanic (German) nation by the most glorious prince and our lord Frederic, King of the Romans, ever august, etc., with the consent and adherence of several Electors of the Holy Roman Empire and of other princes of this nation, both ecclesiastical and secular.
Concerning the provisions to churches and all benefices our most holy lord Pope Nicholas V uses the reservations of the written law and the modified Bulls Execrabilis and Ad regimen as follows:
Art. 1. Being called to the government of the Universal Church, although unworthy, by supernal disposition, we desire, as we ought, that suitable men should be selected to govern churches, monasteries, and other ecclesiastical benefices according to Divine pleasure and our affectionate intention, in order to preside over and to take care of the said churches, monasteries and benefices, committed to them. Inspired by these considerations and also led by other rational motives connected with the memory and policy of several Roman Pontiffs, our predecessors, we reserve to ourselves the nomination to all patriarchal, archiepiscopal and episcopal churches, monasteries, priories, dignities, parsonages and offices, as well as canonries, prebends, churches and other ecclesiastical benefices, with or without the cure of souls, secular or regular, wherever and whatever they may be, even if persons usually are or should be promoted to them by election or in any other manner, which are now or will become in future in any way vacant within the Curia of the Apostolic See; and we also reserve to ourselves the nominations to those benefices which have been or will later be made vacant anywhere by us or by our authority owing to deposition, deprivation or transfer; and also to those to which persons may have been elected or presented either in concord or discord and whose election may have been quashed or presentation rejected or who may have resigned and their resignation has been accepted by our authority, or whose election or presentation may be quashed in the future or appeal rejected or resignation accepted by us or by our authority within the said Curia or anywhere else; and also to those which are vacant owing to death of Cardinals of the said Roman Church or officials of the said See so far as these officials actually held their offices, namely the offices of vice-chancellors and treasurers, of seven notaries, auditors of Contradictory Letters and auditors of the Pleas of the Papal Palace, of correctors, of one hundred and one scribes of Apostolic Letters, twenty-four of the Penitentiary of the aforesaid See and twenty-five abbreviators, and also of members of our own household and of twenty-five chaplains of the said See mentioned in the epitaph; and we also reserve to ourselves the nomination of Legates and collectors, and of rectors in the States of the Roman Church, and of treasurers sent or delegated hitherto or to be sent or delegated in the future, whose offices have become or will become vacant in the future, irrespective of where these Legates or collectors or rectors or treasurers might die before returning to the Roman Curia; and also the nomination to the benefices of all those who are on the way to the Roman Curia for any purpose or who are returning from it, if they have died or should happen to die in some place within the distance of two days' journey (from the Roman Curia); and similarly the nomination to the benefices of any members of the Roman Curia on the way, for the sake of pilgrimage, illness, recreation or any other reason, to any place if they, as aforesaid, have died or shall happen to die, before returning to the same Curia, in places distant not more than two days' journey from the same Curia, so that their benefices are vacant now or shall be vacant in the future owing to a death of this kind--unless, however, their own residence would be there where they died; and the nomination to monasteries, priories, deaconries, dignities, parsonages, administrations, offices, canonries, prebends, churches and other ecclesiastical benefices, secular or regular, with or without cure of souls, wherever and whatever they are, even if persons usually are or should be chosen to them by election or in some other way, if those persons had been promoted by us or by our authority to the government over patriarchal, archiepiscopal and episcopal churches and over monasteries at the time when such promotions to them were made, and which are now for any reason vacant or will be vacant in the future; and also to the vacancies arising now or in the future from peaceful succession in any priories, dignities, parsonages, offices, canonries, prebends, churches or other benefices immediately conferred or to be conferred by us or by our authority given in writing, except if a peaceful succession occurs by virtue of an expectative favour. All this aforesaid in general and in particular we reserve to our ordination, disposition and possibility of promising, to be granted after full consultation with our brothers and ensuing careful deliberation, by our Apostolic authority with the counsel of our brothers; and we decree in advance that it would be null and void if attempts were made to proceed differently in the above-said matters or in any part of them by any one, knowingly or unknowingly, and by any authority.
Art. 2. In metropolitan churches and cathedrals, even if they are not immediately subject to the Apostolic See, and in monasteries which are immediately subject to the Apostolic See, canonical elections are to be held; (the results of these elections) shall be submitted to the Apostolic See, as the Pope requires, within the time fixed in the Bull of Nicholas beginning with the word "Cupientes." Consequently, if they were not presented (to the Holy See) or if they were presented but found canonically defective, the Pope shall provide to the benefice; if they are canonically correct, the Pope shall confirm them, unless he decides for some reasonable and evident cause and with the counsel of his brothers that some other more worthy and more useful person should be appointed; with the proviso that the persons confirmed or appointed by the Pope shall nevertheless take due oaths and shall do all that which is their legal duty toward the metropolitans and others.
Art. 2b. In monasteries which are not immediately subject to the Apostolic See and in other regular benefices with regard to which it is not customary to have recourse to the Apostolic See for confirmation or provision, those who are elected to, or granted the benefices shall not be obliged to come to the Curia for confirmation or provision; nor shall the said regular benefices fall under the expectative favours. In those monasteries, however, where it has been customary to come or to send to the Roman Curia, the Pope shall not confirm or provide otherwise than as stated above concerning the cathedral churches. The Pope shall not dispose of convents of nuns unless they are exempt (from the jurisdiction of the local Ordinaries) and then he shall do so by commission in the respective districts.
Art. 3. As far as any other dignities and benefices, secular or regular, are concerned which would become vacant beyond the reservations just mentioned (with the exception of those major dignities which follow, at the cathedral churches, the pontifical dignities and with the exception of principal dignities at collegiate churches which shall be filled up according to ordinary law by those inferior persons to whom it otherwise appertains) our most holy Father shall not impede, by reservation, expectative or a decision of any other description, made or to be made by himself or with the use of his authority, the free disposition of the benefices becoming vacant in the months of February, April, June, August, October and December by such persons to whom the collation, provision, presentation, election or any other mode of disposition will pertain, and they will not be hindered by any other reservations than the aforesaid or by any arrangements made or to be made by authority of the same our lord Pope. The months of January, March, May, July, September and November are specially reserved to the disposition of the Apostolic See; if, however, a benefice becomes vacant in them and if it does not appear within three months from the day on which the vacancy had become known in the place of the benefice, that somebody has been provided to it by the Apostolic authority, from that moment--but not with retrospective validity--let the Ordinary or somebody else, to whom this disposition may pertain, dispose of it freely.
Art. 3b. In order that this regulation on the collation of unreserved benefices in the alternate months may be published throughout the nation and that all those who wish to enjoy it may have adequate time to accept it, it shall enter into operation, as for the Apostolic See, on the next Kalends of June and shall be valid thenceforth unless something else is arranged in the future Council with the consent of the nation.
Art. 4. In connection with the provisions to be made by the Apostolic See, the system of annates shall run as follows: from all cathedral churches and monasteries of men now vacant or to be vacant, sums of money fixed in the books of the Papal Treasury and called "communia servitia" shall be paid from the day of the vacancy instead of the first year's fruits. If any churches are taxed excessively, this will be revised. Special care will be taken in regions which are heavily taxed according to the quality of goods and soil and to the circumstances of the time, lest they are overburdened; for this purpose our most holy lord will nominate, at the request of applicants, commissioners at large who shall investigate the applications with diligence and revise the taxation. Of the aforesaid taxes a half is to be paid within a year from the day of taking over peacefully the whole or the majority of the possessions in question; the second half is to be paid within the next year. And if during the course of a year the vacancy (in the same benefice) occurs two or more times, the payment shall be made only once; nor shall a debt of this kind pass over to the successor in the church or monastery.
Art. 4b. From all other dignities, parsonages, offices and benefices, secular as well as regular, which are conferred or to which provisions will be made by the authority of the Apostolic See--with the exception of expectatives and permutations--the annates or half fruits shall be paid according to the usual scale within one year from the moment of taking over; a debt of this kind shall not, however, pass over to the successor in the benefice. Nothing shall be paid from the benefices which do not exceed the value of twentyfour florins in revenues. This will be valid from now onward unless a future Council happens to alter it with the consent of the nation.
Art. 5. In other matters which the lord Pope Eugenius the Fourth, of happy memory, had permitted, conceded, granted and decreed to the aforesaid nation until the time of a future General Council and which have been confirmed by the above-mentioned our most holy lord Pope Nicholas, nothing is altered in so far as they are not incompatible with this Concordat.
Art. 6. The said lord Legate also wished that every metropolitan of the above-said nation may be entitled to intimate--at the request of any one and so far as he judges it necessary--the things contained in this Concordat in his own transcription and under his own seal and that full credence should be attached to and placed in these transcriptions before justice and extra-judicially in everything as if it were this original text. From the fact, however, that in this Concordat and in some other documents, which are going to be composed on the basis of it, reference is made to a special Alamanic nation for the purpose of a better description, it must not be assumed that the same is distinct or in any way separated from the German nation.
In witness and testimony of all aforesaid we, the above-mentioned Frederic, King of the Romans, and John, Cardinal-Legate, have ordered this document to be strengthened by our affixed seals.
By order in Counsel of the lord King.
7. Bull "Execrabilis" of Pope Pius II prohibiting Appeals to
General Councils, January 18, 1460
Original Latin text in Magnum Bullarium Romanum, ed., Cherubini,
vol. I, p. 386
At the close of the Council of Constance the ambassadors of the king of Poland asked the newly elected Pope Martin V to condemn as heretical an anti-Polish book written by the German friar John of Falkenberg on behalf of the Teutonic Knights. When the Pope did not agree with their request, the Polish delegates left the Council with protests, and announced their appeal from this Papal decision to the future Council. They did so in accordance with the Conciliar theory prevailing at Constance and declaring the General Councils as a permanent institution superior to the Papacy (see the decrees of the Council of Constance Sacrosancta and Frequens, Doc. No. 2 in this chapter).
Since then the practice of similar appeals multiplied and took disquieting proportions during the period of further Councils. Various offenders, both ecclesiastical and secular, were able to defy the Papal authority in this seemingly legal manner. As the final character of Pontifical decisions was questioned and challenged by it, the abuse resulted in a shattering of the Papal prestige in Europe; and it hindered the restoration of the Pope's full legal authority, which was the chief aim of the Papacy after the Great Schism.
Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini had been a fervent supporter of the Conciliar theory and a very active member of the Council of Basel. Nobody, therefore, could be better aware of the dangers of this practice than himself when he was elected Pope in 1458 under the name of Pius II after having abandoned the Conciliar cause. These dangers appeared, under his Pontificate, in a particularly acute form in the failure of his great effort to organize a general crusade against the Turks who were threatening, after the capture of Constantinople, the whole of Central Europe and Italy. In order to bring about the crusade he convoked a European congress to Mantua in 1459. It was a failure and on this occasion, at Mantua, the Pope promulgated the Bull Execrabilis, prohibiting appeals to a future Council under the maximum of ecclesiastical penalties.
The abuse, however, did not disappear. At the beginning of the sixteenth century it even took a specially menacing shape when the French king, Louis XII, excommunicated and deposed by Pope Julius II, appealed to a future Council and actually inspired the meeting of such a Council at Pisa in 1511 (see Doc. No. 8 in this chapter). In 1520 Martin Luther also took advantage of this practice and appealed to a future Council from the Bull by which the Pope had condemned his teaching.
An execrable, and in former ages unheard-of abuse, has sprung up in our time, namely that some people, imbued with the spirit of rebellion, presume to appeal to a future Council from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, to whom it was said in the person of blessed Peter: "Feed my sheep" and "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in Heaven"; they do not do so because they are anxious to obtain a sounder judgment, but in order to escape the consequences of their sins, and anyone who is not ignorant of the laws can realize how contrary this is to the sacred canons and how detrimental to the Christian community. Because-passing over other things which are most manifestly opposed to this corruption--who would not find it ridiculous when appeals are made to what does not exist and the time of whose future existence nobody knows? The poor are oppressed in many ways by the stronger, crimes remain unpunished, freedom is conceded to delinquents, and all the ecclesiastical discipline and hierarchical order is confounded.
2. Wishing therefore to thrust away from Christ's Church this pestilent venom, to take care of the salvation of all those who have been committed to us, and to hold off from the sheepfold of our Saviour all cause of scandal, we condemn appeals of this kind by the counsel of all prelates and jurisconsults of Divine and human law adhering to the Curia and on the ground of our sure knowledge; and we denounce them as erroneous and detestable, quash and entirely annul them in the event that any such appeals, extant at present, may be discovered, and we declare and determine that they are--like something void and pestilent--of no significance. Consequently, we enjoin that nobody dares under whatever pretext to make such an appeal from any of our ordinances, sentences or commands and from those of our successors, or to adhere to such appeals, made by others, or to use them in any manner.
3. If any one, of whatever status, rank, order or condition he may be, even if adorned with Imperial, royal or Papal dignity, shall contravene this after the space of two months from the day of the publication of this Bull by the Apostolic Chancery, he shall "ipso facto" incur sentence of anathema, from which he can not be absolved except by the Roman Pontiff and at the point of death. A University or a corporation shall be subjected to an ecclesiastical interdict; nonetheless, corporations and Universities, like the aforesaid and any other persons, shall incur those penalties and censures which offenders who have committed the "crimen laesae maiestatis" and promoters of heretical depravity are known to incur. Furthermore scriveners and witnesses who shall witness acts of this kind and, in general, all those who shall knowingly furnish counsel, help or favour to such appealers, shall be punished with the same penalty.
Therefore, it is not allowed to any man to infringe or to oppose by audacious perversion this charter of our will, by which we have condemned, reproved, quashed, annulled, decreed, declared and ordered the aforesaid. If any one, however, shall so attempt, let him know that he shall incur the indignation of Almighty God and of Saint Peter and Paul, His Apostles.
Given at Mantua, in the year 1460 of the Lord's Incarnation, on the fifteenth day before the Kalends of February, in the second year of our Pontificate.
8. Concordat of Bologna between Pope Leo X and Francis I,
King of France, August 18, 1516
Original Latin text in Raccolta di Concordati tra la Santa Sede e le autorità civili
( Vatican edition, 1919), p. 233
The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, issued in 1438 (see Doc. No. 4 in this chapter), was a cause of protracted tension between the Popes and the French kings. By this law the French monarchy openly recognized the Conciliar theory of the Council's superiority over the Pontiff and deprived him of the majority of his rights and revenues in France. For the kings, however, it was a welcome excuse for influence over the affairs of the French clergy. Ceding to constant Papal pressure, king Louis XI actually abrogated the Pragmatic Sanction in 1461. But the abrogation met with such opposition in France that it could not be carried out; the application of the Pragmatic Sanction was resumed under the following kings Charles VIII and Louis XII and it became a convenient royal weapon to counteract the Pontifical policy against the French conquests in Italy. This political antagonism between the Papacy and the kings of France took a serious turn when king Louis XII was excommunicated and steps were made to depose him from his throne by Pope Julius II in 1512. Disregarding the Pontifical censures, the king brought about and backed an anti-papal Council assembled at Pisa and later transferred to Lyons. However, the French were losing ground in Italy and Louis XII preferred to arrange a reconciliation, in 1513, with Pope Leo X, the successor of Julius II.Thereupon, in 1515, a new French king, Francis I, invaded Italy again and won a signal victory over his opponents there in the battle of Marignano. The whole political situation in Italy was reversed by this battle and a few weeks later Leo X met with the king of France at Bologna where a general agreement was reached between them, covering both the Church affairs in France and Italian politics.
The ecclesiastical arrangement was embodied in the Concordat of Bologna which was to regulate the position of the French Church for three centuries to come.The compact included these main features:
1. The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges was definitively revoked by the king.
2. The important provisions of the Pragmatic Sanction concerning the Pontifical nominations to French benefices were modified as follows: the king obtained the right of nominating his candidates who would be appointed by the Pope to the French archbishoprics, bishoprics and abbeys instead of canonical elections (the only exceptional category, in which the Pope could make appointments independently from the king, were the vacancies caused by death "in curia"--see elaborate provisions thereon in the Concordat of Vienna, Doc. No. 6 in this chapter); the lower clergy was left to the usual modes of election or nomination with a few exceptions; Papal reservations and expectatives were abolished.
4. With regard to Pontifical taxes and particularly the annates no specific stipulation was made about their payment. But their abolition contained in the Pragmatic Sanction having been removed, the way was open for the Popes to claim them; and they actually levied them later with royal approval.
5. The questions involved in the other reforming decrees, included in the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, were either settled by mutual agreement or simply passed over in silence.
6. This latter solution meant the abolition of the decrees in question in France. Its significance for the Papacy becomes obvious when the decrees of the Council of Basel, which were thus abandoned by the French monarchy, are surveyed: the decrees Frequens and Sacrosancta embodying the substance of the Conciliar theory on the Council's superiority over the Papacy (see their texts, as adopted by the Council of Constance, above, Doc. No. 2 in this chapter); the decree prescribing the number and qualifications of Cardinals; the decree forbidding the payment of annates and other Pontifical taxes; and nine decrees which contained various directives for the celebration of the Divine service and for clerical behaviour in the churches.
In their practical control of all appointments of the high French clergy a unique privilege was conceded to the kings of France. However, it hardly meant an innovation; it was rather a contractual recognition of a position which the kings had already enjoyed while applying the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. The important difference was that the kings were henceforth masters of the enormous wealth of the French episcopate (of ten archbishoprics, eightythree bishoprics and more than 500 abbeys) by Papal grant, expressed in the Concordat, and not on the basis of anti-papal Conciliar doctrine and Gallican autonomism.
The Concordat provoked violent Gallican opposition on the part of French clergy, Universities and Parliaments. But Francis I succeeded in overcoming it and the arrangement remained valid until the French Revolution of 1789. It proved its value in the disturbances of the Reformation which broke out soon after its conclusion. Their extensive rights over the material possessions of the French clergy brought the kings of France to protect the French Church against the temptations of schismatic doctrines; on the other hand, it also led them to protect the Church's unity against the currents of Gallican particularism. The return of the French Church to the full obedience to Rome, resulting from the abrogation of the Pragmatic Sanction, was an occasion for Pope Leo X to reconfirm in the Fifth Lateran Council the Bull Unam sanctam of Boniface VIII dealing in general with the obedience due to the Roman Pontiffs (see Chap. III, Doc. No. 10 ); it was restated together with the Brief Meruit establishing a special privilege for the French kings (see Chap. III, Doc. No. 11 ) by the Bull Pastor aeternus, the same enactment which definitively condemned and disposed of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges.
The whole compact of Bologna was sanctioned by the Fifth Lateran Council, then in session. The bulk of the Concordat's provisions was formulated in the Bull Primitiva illa ecclesia which is given below; the arrangements concerning some decrees of minor importance, which had been contained in the Pragmatic Sanction, are summed up in the text (cf. the corresponding summaries of these decrees in the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges above, Doc. No. 4 in this chapter). The chapter Quia propter, mentioned in the Concordat, is a chapter in the Decretals of Gregory IX, fixing the modes of canonical elections. It had been enacted by the Fourth General Council of Lateran in 1215 and its full quotation in the Decretals is as follows: Decretales Gregorii IX, lib. I, tit. VI, "De electione," cap. 42 Quia propter.
Leo the bishop, servant of the servants of God, for the perpetual memory of the matter.
The primitive Church, founded on a corner stone by our Saviour Jesus Christ, raised by the preaching of the Apostles, consecrated and increased by the blood of the martyrs, when it first began, with God's help, to move its sinews over the whole world, providently considering what a great burden of responsibility lay on its shoulders, how many sheep it had to feed, how many to guard, and to what extremely remote places it might be compelled to direct its attention, by Divine counsel instituted parishes, delimited dioceses, created bishops and set metropolitans over them so that, as obedient members to the Head, all might govern in the Lord and according to His Will in salutary fashion, deriving as rivulets from the everlasting fount, that is, the Roman Church, and so that no corner of the Lord's field should lack irrigation. Therefore, in order that the said Church should be united and preserved in this holy unity without spot or wrinkle, and all thorns uprooted from the same Church whose task it is, with the assistance of Divine grace, to cherish the virtues and completely extirpate the vices, we ourselves in our own time and during the present Council ought to attend to, and accomplish those things which seem to be conducive to the unity and preservation of the same Church; to this intent we are striving to pluck up utterly and extirpate all thorns which obstruct this unity and will not allow the Lord's seed to shoot up, and to plant virtues in the Lord's vineyard.
In particular we have been turning over in our inmost mind the dealings which took place between our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs of pious memory, Pius II, Sixtus IV, Innocent VIII, Alexander VI and Julius II, and the Most Christian Kings of France of illustrious memory, concerning the abrogation of a certain enactment known as "Pragmatic" (Sanction), in force in the kingdom of France; and although the aforesaid Pius II sent ambassadors to Louis XI of illustrious memory, Most Christian King of France, and by force of argument exercised persuasion on him so that the same king by his letters patent abrogated this Pragmatic Sanction, as a thing originating in sedition and brought forth at a time of schism, nevertheless this abrogation was not carried out; and also special Apostolic letters of the aforesaid Sixtus, our predecessor, concerning the things agreed between the ambassadors of the said King Louis and the above-mentioned Sixtus were not accepted by the prelates and ecclesiastical persons of the aforesaid kingdom when they were sent to them; these same prelates and ecclesiastical persons would not obey them, nor did they give heed to the warnings of the said Innocent and Julius, but wished to adhere to the same Pragmatic enactment.
Therefore our predecessor Julius, in the present Lateran Council, lawfully summoned by him to represent the Universal Church, committed the accomplishment of the task of abrogating this Pragmatic Sanction and the discussion of it to the assemblies of his venerable brethren the Cardinals, of whose number we ourselves then were, and of other prelates, and ordered that the result of these deliberations should be communicated to himself and to the same Council. The French prelates, Chapters of churches, assemblies of monasteries, Parliaments, and their lay adherents, of whatever dignity they might be, even if royal, who practised the aforesaid Sanction or approved of it, were to be warned by public edict, affixed at that time in certain specified churches (since access was not safe to those districts), and cited within a certain reasonable time, indicated there, to present themselves before the Pope in the aforesaid Council and to give reasons why the said Sanction should not be declared, pronounced and abrogated as null and void in its provisions concerning the authority, dignity and unity of the Roman Church and the Apostolic See and the violation of the sacred Canons and ecclesiastical liberty.
After the matter had been dealt with in legal form in the abovementioned Lateran Council and our predecessor Julius had been, according to God's pleasure, removed from human affairs, we also, having been raised to the summit of the highest Apostolate by the favour of Divine clemency, proceeded to certain acts against these prelates, Chapters, assemblies and persons, with the ultimate consideration that peace is the bond of charity and the spiritual virtue by which we are saved, as the Lord said, "Who shall drink of the water which I shall give him to drink shall not thirst for ever," and that in peace lies the salvation of all men, as Cassiodorus bears witness: "In every kingdom there should be a desirable tranquillity by which the people profit and the well-being of the nation is preserved." Then we have learnt by exhaustive discussion--not through our Nuncios or Legates, but by the guarantee of filial obedience which our most beloved son in Christ Francis, Most Christian King of the French, personally pledged to us--when we discussed these things in His Majesty's presence and exhorted him with paternal advice, that the King was willing, to the praise of God and his own honour, to abrogate freely, willingly and with ready mind the aforesaid Pragmatic Sanction, to live according to the laws of the Holy Roman Church, as do other Christians, and to submit to and obey the reservations, expectative graces, Apostolic decrees and provisions which are published from time to time by the Apostolic See.
Grave dangers to souls have arisen from the elections which have been held in cathedral and metropolitan churches and monasteries of the said kingdom. Many of them took place with abuse of secular power, some were preceded by unlawful and simoniacal pacts, others were stained with favouritism and ties of kinship, not without the guilt of perjury for the electors themselves; even if they have sworn, before making the election, to elect freely the most suitable person and no other, they have been accustomed to procure the election of such a candidate only on condition of the promise or donation of some temporal gift, or by influence brought to bear either by himself or by others, and in this manner they have not kept their oath but have prejudiced their souls by breaking their oath. This is known to us clearly by reason of frequent absolutions and rehabilitations which have been sought and obtained from us and our predecessors. Therefore King Francis, wishing as a truly obedient son to follow our paternal advice, both for the sake of obedience, in which indeed rests great merit, and also for the common and public profit of his kingdom, accepted--in place of the aforesaid Pragmatic Sanction and the respective chapters contained in it--the laws and constitutions set out in detail below; these have been carefully examined by our brethren the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church and agreed upon, by their advice, with the abovementioned King through our beloved son Roger Barme, the King's advocate and orator, who was sent to us by the same King Francis for the purpose of dealing with this matter and was specially and fully commissioned thereto.
With the advice and unanimous approval of the same brethren and from our own sure knowledge and plenitude of power, we decree and ordain that in the future the rules following hereafter are to be observed perpetually in the said Kingdom, in Dauphiné and the County of Die and Valence in place of the above-mentioned Pragmatic constitution and all the chapters contained in it.
In cathedral and metropolitan churches of the said Kingdom, Dauphiné and County, falling vacant now and in the future, even by voluntary cession into our hands and those of our successors canonically succeeding as Roman Pontiffs, their Chapters and Canons shall not proceed to the election or postulation of a future prelate to the diocese but, on the occurrence of such vacancies, the reigning King of France shall, within six months reckoned from the day when the benefice fell vacant, nominate to ourselves and our successors the Roman Pontiffs or to the aforesaid See, a respectable Master or Licentiate in Theology, or a Doctor in both laws or in either Law (Civil or Canon) or a Licentiate who has passed a strict examination in a well-known university, has reached the age of at least twenty-seven years and is otherwise suitable; the person nominated in this way by the King shall be provided by us or our successors or the aforesaid See.
If it should happen that the King should nominate a person without such qualifications to the said churches falling vacant in this way, the person so nominated ought not to be provided to the same churches by ourselves and our .successors or the See. But the King is bound, within three more months reckoned from the day of rejection of the unqualified person (a rejection which must be intimated in Consistory to the unqualified candidate seeking the nomination), to nominate another person who has the qualifications mentioned above; otherwise, in order that there may be speedy provision for the drawbacks which arise for churches vacant in this manner, the churches thus vacant shall be freely provided by us or our successors or the same See with a person having the above qualifications. There always shall be free provision with no preceding nomination by the King in the case of churches vacant by death at the aforesaid See (sc. "in curia"). We declare that attempted elections violating the above conditions, as well as provisions made against it by ourselves and our successors or the See are null and invalid. But kinsfolk of the said King and persons of high rank, for a reason and lawful cause expressed in the nomination and in Apostolic letters, and also mendicant religious of outstanding knowledge and pre-eminent in Catholic doctrine who, according to the rules laid down by their Order, can not proceed to degrees of this kind, are not included in the foregoing prohibition; such persons can be freely provided by us and our successors or the same See to churches when a vacancy arises, at the nomination of the aforesaid King.
Also in purely elective monasteries and conventual priories, that is to say, in those in which it has been the custom to observe the form of the chapter Quia propter and to seek solemn confirmation of elections of this kind, in the Kingdom, Dauphiné and the County, it shall not be possible to proceed, now and in the future, to the election or postulation of an Abbot or Prior for those convents, even if they are vacant by cession as mentioned above. But the same King, when such a vacancy occurs in those places, shall nominate to us and our successors or the same See, within a similar time of six months reckoned from the day of the vacating of these monasteries and priories, a religious of the same Order who has reached the age of twenty-three years at least, and the person nominated by the King to a monastery vacant in this way shall be provided to it by ourselves and our successors or the same See; a priory also should be conferred on the person nominated by the same King.
But if the King should nominate a secular priest, or a religious of another Order, or a person less than twenty-three years of age, or otherwise unsuitable, to us or our successors or the same See within the aforesaid six months, such a nominated person ought to be rejected and not provided to the benefice. However, the King himself should nominate, within three months from the day of rejection, computed by the afore-stated method of intimation, another person, duly qualified, to the vacant monastery or priory; and the nominated person shall be provided to the monastery and the priory shall be conferred on the person nominated to it, by us and our successors or the aforesaid See. Otherwise, after the lapse of nine months, if no person suitable or qualified in the aforesaid particulars has been nominated or if the vacancy has occurred at the said See (sc. "in curia")--in which case no previous nomination by the King shall have been made--provision to the monasteries shall be made by ourselves and our successors or the above-said See; in like manner it shall be possible to appoint freely persons with due qualifications to priories. And we declare elections, their confirmations and provisions, made in the future by us and our successors or the said See and contrary to the foregoing regulations, to be null, invalid and void.We do not intend, however, to prejudice in any respect by this enactment the Chapters of churches and convents of monasteries and priories, who have obtained privileges of electing their own prelate from the Apostolic See; so they may freely proeced to the election of bishops, abbots and priors, according to the privileges conceded to them and the mode laid down in their privileges.
And if in their privileges no express mode has been stated, then they shall be bound to observe the modes of the chapter Quia propter of the General Council [sc. the Fourth General Council of Lateran], provided that they can exhibit the privileges conceded to them in this matter by Apostolic letters or other authentic writings, any other kind of proof being rejected.We also will and decree that in the aforesaid Kingdom, Dauphiné and County in future no expectative graces may be given and no special or general reservations to vacant benefices may be made by ourselves and the said See; and if, by reason of pressure or any other reason, they may "de facto" issue from ourselves and our successors and the said See, we declare them to be null and void.In cathedral, metropolitan or collegiate churches whose statutes expressly guarantee that nobody can obtain a personal or administrative dignity or other office in them unless he holds there the effective rank of Canon, we intend to create Canons for the purpose of obtaining such personal or administrative dignities or offices, even without waiting for a vacancy.
1. In the matter of collation of lower benefices by ordinary collators the Bull proceeds to establish detailed regulations, particularly about the qualifications of the candidates: every cathedral or metropolitan church must have at least one Canon who had studied Theology for ten years at a University; every collator must reserve a third of benefices at his disposal to University graduates; in some months of the year only graduates can be appointed to benefices, in others non-graduates, etc. These regulations are to replace those of the decree Placuit Divinae of the Council of Basel on collations, contained in the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges; however, the Concordat maintains the additional provision of the Pragmatic Sanction to the effect that the Pope can appoint directly to a few French benefices (according to the number of benefices at the disposal of various collators, one or two were to be left to this Pontifical appointment--see above in the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, Doc. No. 4 in this chapter).
2. Jurisdictional appeals from France to the Papal Curia are limited only to "causae maiores" defined in Canon Law; in no case can an appeal be made omitting an intermediate ecclesiastical court of appeal. The corresponding provisions of the Pragmatic Sanction are taken over here, in an even stricter formulation.
3. The prohibition of abuses in making appeals, as laid down in the Basel decree Ut lites citius and reproduced in the Pragmatic Sanction (i.e. the prohibition of second appeals for the same grievance or appeals against sentences which are not yet definitive), is adopted by the Concordat. An addition is made that even the processes concerning ecclesiastical persons who are immediately subjected to the Pontiff by a privilege of exemption shall be delegated to the French courts, with the exception of Cardinals. And a time limit of two years is imposed for the termination of any process before these courts.
4. The principle of the Basel decree Quaecumque non violentes (reproduced in the Pragmatic Sanction), which had laid down that a holder of a benefice, who has enjoyed it peacefully for at least three years, can not be judicially dispossessed of it, is taken over by the Concordat.
5. In the same way as the Pragmatic Sanction had enacted the Basel decree De publicis concubinariis against the incontinent clerics, the Concordat restates the ecclesiastical sanctions against them with some details concerning the application.
6. The provisions of the Basel decree limiting the consequences of excommunication only to those who had been expressly named in a sentence of excommunication, are adopted in the Concordat as contained in the Pragmatic Sanction.
7. Similarly the provisions of the decree De interdictis leviter non ponendis prohibiting interdicts to be declared over whole localities because of non-collective guilt of private persons, are taken over.
8. The suppression of the decretal Litteris nostris, declared by a decree of the Council of Basel and adopted by the Pragmatic Sanction, is admitted by the Pope in the Concordat to the extent that no prejudice should arise to any one from the narrative part of Papal Bulls.]
We consent to the above-stated Concordat with the said King Francis on account of the sincere devotion on his part which he showed towards us and the aforesaid See when he deigned to come in person to our city of Bologna to present to us his reverence and filial obedience, and we desire it to be inviolably observed. It is to obtain the force and strength of a true contract and binding agreement lawfully entered into between ourselves and the Apostolic See on the one hand, and the King and his Kingdom on the other hand; and nothing can be derogated from it and from the present document or any part of it by whatever enactments and privileges which might be conceded by us and by our successors concerning these matters. And the clause about the derogation, which is to be extended to the fullest degree in virtue of this document (which document and its contents are to be regarded as most explicit) should be held as imposed on all supplications submitted now so that nothing should be done as a consequence of them, and on the strength of this clause nothing can be asserted in the Apostolic letters which are to be drawn up in reply to the said supplications, by which the present document or any part of its contents might be derogated or might seem to be derogated. We decree that in such a sense judgment, decision and sentence should be passed in any cases arising at present in the aforesaid matters or in any one of them, by all judges and officials whatsoever, even hearers of the Pleas of the Apostolic Palace and Cardinals of the Roman Church; and suppressing any possible capability and power of sentencing and deciding otherwise, we declare that whatever shall happen to be attempted against the matters above, or any one of them, by any authority whatsoever, even by ourselves and our successors aforesaid, knowingly or unknowingly, is null and void.--
And inasmuch as we are not informed of all the customs, statutes and usages which are in existence in the said Kingdom, Dauphiné and County and which might be prejudicial in way to the ecclesiastical liberty and to the authority of the Apostolic See, we do not--if any such customs or statutes exist in the Kingdom, Dauphiné and County in the above-said matters--intend prejudice to us and to the said See or to approve of them in any manner, either tacitly or expressly.
We enjoin, in virtue of holy obedience, the above-mentioned Francis and the Kings of the French who might exist (after him) to publish the present enactment and all and sundry contained in it, or to have it published by another or others invested with ecclesiastical dignities on as many occasions and as many times as shall be necessary, and to cause it to be inviolably observed. The opponents, of whatever dignity or rank they may be, should be checked by ecclesiastical censures, fines or any other legal or otherwise effective means which may be suitable, and their appeals (from the sentences) are to be postponed; notwithstanding all above, even if some persons might enjoy, collectively or individually, indults from the said See to the effect that they can not be placed under interdict, suspended or excommunicated, and this is granted by Apostolic Letters which, however, do not mention fully, expressly and word by word such indults.--
Let no man therefore infringe in any way this document of our statute, ordinance, suspension, imposition, declaration, precept, injunction, admonition, innovation, consent, decree, will, promise and mandate, or with rash daring contravene it. But if any one should presume to attempt this, let him know that he will incur the anger of the Omnipotent God and the blessed Peter and Paul, His Apostles.
Given in Rome at St. Peter's, in the year of the Lord's Incarnation one thousand five hundred and sixteen, on the fifteenth Kalends of September, in the fourth year of our Pontificate.
[The confirmation of the Bull by the Fifth General Council of Lateran follows.]
9. Bull "Romanus Pontifex" of Pope Nicholas V granting the Territories discovered in Africa to Portugal,
January 8, 1455
Original Latin text in Davenport, European Treaties bearing on the
History of the United States and its Dependencies, p. 13
As a young man, the Portuguese Prince Henry, later called the Navigator, took part in the military expedition by which the army of his father conquered in 1415 Ceuta, on the African side of the Gibraltar Straits. The deep impression of this experience made of him in later years the great inspirer of ambitious Christian expansion along the unknown coast of Western Africa. The motives of the ensuing exploratory achievements, organized under his leadership, were a mixture of Portuguese political interests, attraction of lucrative trade possibilities and crusading anti-Moslem spirit. In this last respect hopes were fixed on the discovery of a way by which the supposed Christian kingdom of "Presbyter (or Prester) John" inside Africa could be reached; an alliance of European Christians with this kingdom would encircle the Mohammedans and lead to their destruction. Vague notions about "Presbyter John" and his empire had been entertained in medieval Europe for centuries and in the fifteenth century some misrepresented knowledge about Abyssinia encouraged belief in the legend. This conception is reflected in the Bull Romanus Pontifex and the mistaking of "a certain great river" in Western Africa for the Nile (it was the river Senegal) points to the connection of Abyssinia with these geographical combinations.
At the same time the kings of Castile had established their authority in the Canary Islands. Long disputes arose between the Casti- lians and the Portuguese with regard to the gradually discovered African shores and the trade in these regions. According to the traditional medieval concepts (see Chap. III, Doc. No. 1 ) both parties sought the confirmation of their claims by the Papacy. The Roman Curia adopted a delaying attitude and it is only when the king of Portugal, Alfonso V, gained a special favour at Rome by his genuine response to the Papal appeal for a crusade against the Turks (after the fall of Constantinople in 1453) that the Pope Nicholas V subscribed definitely to the Portuguese point of view. He granted to him, "out of the plenitude of the Apostolic power," the possession of the African territories in question by the Bull Romanus Pontifex issued in January 1455.
The grant includes: the possession of Ceuta (conquered from the Moors) and that of the discovered lands; the possession of the adjacent sea; the exclusive right of trade, navigation and fishery; an exemption from the existing restrictions, imposed by Canon Law on trade with the infidels; and the right of organizing the Christian ecclesiastical administration in the new territories. All infringements of the rights thus established are to be punished by strict Church penalties.
The possession of the adjacent sea and the exclusive rights of navigation and fishery thereon were in line with the customary medieval conceptions in Europe; it was usual that naval powers should claim such sovereignty over vast areas of the sea. The prohibition of trade with the Saracens in certain articles was old and went back to the Crusades. The Third Lateran Council in particular had solemnly forbidden (in 1179) all Christians to supply the Saracens with goods--enumerated by the Council--which were considered as important from the military point of view and able to increase the Moslem war potential. The natives from Africa, to whose enslavement the Pope gives his placet in the Bull, were destined chiefly for the maritime Mediterranean nations who used nonChristian slaves for rowing in galleys; this practice was considered as justified by the hard treatment of Christian prisoners in Islamic countries. In later centuries, however, the African slave tradeparticularly with regard to America--took considerable and regrettable proportions.
The constant mentioning of Prince Henry in the grant together with King Alfonso V is due to the fact that the Infante was not only the inspirer and financier of the discoveries, but he also held the monopoly of trade and the administrative authority in the new lands; after his death these rights passed to the Portuguese Crown. The Pontiffs later confirmed the Bull Romanus Pontifex in several further enactments and as Portugal has possessed various colonies in Africa ever since this Bull, the the Papal grant of 1455 have been operative from that time until the present day.
Distant echoes of the Bull are found in the Concordat between the Holy See and Portugal in 1940, in which important and unusual privileges were granted to Portugal with regard to the organization of the Church and of missionary work in her colonies.
Nicholas the bishop, servant of the servants of God, for a perpetual memorial of the matter.
The Roman Pontiff, successor to the bearer of the keys of the heavenly kingdom and Vicar of Jesus Christ, looking with paternal interest upon all the regions of the world and the specific natures of all the peoples who dwell in them, seeking and desiring the salvation of every one of them, wholesomely orders and arranges with careful consideration those things which he perceives will be pleasing to the Divine Majesty and by which he may bring the sheep divinely committed to him into the one fold of the Lord, and may acquire for them the reward of eternal happiness, and may obtain pardon for their souls. We believe that this will more surely happen, with the Lord's help, if we reward with deserved favours and special privileges those Catholic kings and princes, whom we know by clear evidence to be, as it were, athletes of the Christian Faith and fearless warriors (not only restraining the ferocity of the Saracens and other infidel foes to the Christian name, but also conquering them, their kingdoms and territories, even when situated in the most distant and unknown places, and subjecting them to their temporal dominion for the sake of the protection and increase of that same Faith, sparing no toils and expenses) in order that those kings and princes, relieved from any possible obstacles, may be all the more encouraged to the undertaking of so eminently salutary and praiseworthy a work.
It has lately come to our hearing, not without great joy and happiness of our mind, that our beloved son, the noble man Henry, Inante of Portugal, uncle of our most beloved son in Christ Alfonso, illustrious king of the kingdoms of Portugal and Algarve, following in the footsteps of John of famous memory, king of the aforesaid kingdoms, his father, and fired greatly with zeal for the salvation of souls and enthusiasm for the Faith, as a Catholic and true soldier of Christ the Creator of all things, and a most vigorous and valiant defender and fearless champion of his Faith, has aspired from his earliest youth to make the most glorious Name of that same Creator to be proclaimed, praised and venerated throughout the whole world, even in the most distant and unknown places, and also to bring into the bosom of His Faith even His enemies and the enemies of the life-giving Cross by which we were redeemed, that is, the Saracens and all other infidels whatsoever. We have also heard that after the city of Ceuta, situated in Africa, had been subjugated to his lordship by the aforesaid King John, and after many wars had been waged, sometimes even in person by the Infante himself, but in the name of the aforesaid King John, against the above-mentioned foes and infidels, not without the greatest hardships and expenses, perils and loss of possessions and men and the slaughter of many of their subjects, the Infante, neither weakened nor daunted by so many severe toils, dangers and losses, but rather more eager to pursue his praiseworthy and pious purpose, peopled with the faithful certain solitary islands in the Ocean Sea and caused to be built therein churches and other holy places, in which Divine service is celebrated. Also, by the praiseworthy work and diligence of the aforesaid Infante, very many inhabitants and dwellers of different islands situated in the said sea have come to the knowledge of the true God and have received Holy Baptism to the praise and glory of the same God, the salvation of many souls, the spreading of the orthodox Faith and the increase of the Divine worship.
Furthermore, since some time ago it came to the attention of the aforesaid Infante that never or at least not within the memory of men had it been usual to sail on the Ocean Sea towards the southern and eastern shores, and that it was so unknown to us, the inhabitants of the West, that we have no clear knowledge concerning the peoples of those places, he believed that he would best perform his duty to God in this respect, if by his work and diligence that sea should be made navigable as far as to the Indians who are reported to worship the name of Christ, and that thus he might be able to negotiate with them and prevail upon them to provide aid to the Christians against the Saracens and other similar enemies of the Faith, and might also be able to conquer certain Gentile and pagan peoples living between, who are not infected with the sect of the most infamous Mahomet, and to preach and make to be preached the most holy and to them unknown Name of Christ. Always supported by royal authority, he has not ceased for twenty-five years to send almost annually an army of the peoples of the aforesaid kingdoms with the utmost toils, dangers and expenses, in very swift ships, known as caravels, to explore the sea and the maritime lands towards the south and the Antarctic pole. And so it happened that when ships of this kind had explored and taken possession of numerous ports, islands and seas, they came at last to the province of Guinea, and having taken possession of several islands, ports and of the sea adjacent to that province, they, sailing further, arrived at the mouth of a certain great river commonly reputed to be the Nile. War was waged for several years against the peoples of those places in the name of King Alfonso and the Infante themselves and during the struggle numerous neighbouring islands were subdued and peacefully occupied; they are still in their possession with the sea adjacent thereto. Thence also many inhabitants of Guinea and other negroes were captured by force, while some were obtained by exchange of unprohibited articles, or by other lawful contract of buying, and sent to the aforesaid kingdoms. Among these a large number has been converted to the Catholic Faith and it may be hoped, by the assistance of Divine clemency, that if progress of this kind continues to be made with them, either those peoples will be converted to the Faith or, at least, the souls of many of them will be acquired for Christ.
As we have been informed, the King and Infante aforesaid who (with so many grave dangers, hardships and expenses, and the loss of many subjects of their own kingdoms, of whom very many have died on those expeditions, and depending only on those their subjects) have caused these provinces to be explored and have acquired and taken in possession the said ports, islands and seas as their true lords, are now afraid that some men, led on by cupidity, might sail to those regions and, desiring to usurp them for themselves or at least to hinder the fulfilling, result and praise of this work, should carry or transport there--either for the sake of lucre or for malice--iron, weapons, wood for building purposes and other things and goods to be delivered to the infidels; or they might teach the infidels the art of sailing, by means of which they would become tougher and harder enemies to the King and Infante, so that the progress of the enterprise would either be hindered or perhaps might cease completely, not without great offence to God and immense discredit to the whole of Christendom. To prevent these things and to preserve their right and possession the King and Infante ordained under certain very severe penalties, set out at the same time, and prohibited generally that no one, unless with the King's and Infante's own sailors and ships and after payment of a certain tribute and with a special licence, obtained previously from the same King and Infante, should presume to sail to the aforesaid provinces or to trade in their ports or to fish in the sea. Despite this it could happen in the course of time that persons of other kingdoms or nations, led by envy, malice or cupidity, defying the aforesaid prohibition, might presume, without licence and the paying of such tribute, to approach the said provinces, and to sail, trade and fish in the same provinces, ports and islands thus acquired, and the sea; consequently there could and probably would ensue numerous hatreds, bitter feelings, disputes, wars and scandals, to the greatest offence to God and danger to souls, between King Alfonso and the Infante, who would in no way allow themselves to be set at nought in these matters, and those presumers.
So we, considering with due attention the above-said matters both generally and individually, have noted that we had conceded previously by other letters of ours, among other things, full and free permission to King Alfonso to invade, search out, capture, conquer and subjugate all Saracens and pagans whatsoever and other enemies of Christ wherever they exist, together with their kingdoms, duchies, principalities, lordships, possessions and whatever goods, movable and immovable, which may be held and possessed by them, and to bring their persons into perpetual slavery and to apply, appropriate and turn to the use and profit of themselves and their successors the kingdoms, duchies, counties, principalities, lordships, possessions and goods (of these peoples). In consequence of the securing of the aforesaid permission King Alfonso or, by his authority, the said Infante, has rightfully and lawfully acquired the islands, lands, ports and seas, and has possessed and does possess them, and they belong and pertain "de iure" to the same King Alfonso and his successors; neither has it been hitherto nor is it lawful for any other person whatsoever, even a faithful Christian, to interfere therein without special permission from King Alfonso and his successors themselves. This is in order that King Alfonso himself and his successors and the Infante may be able more keenly to pursue and may pursue this most pious and noble work, a work most worthy to be remembered in every age--which, since the salvation of souls, increase of the Faith and the defeat of the Faith's enemies are furthered in it, we regard as a task wherein God Himself, His Faith and His commonwealth, the Universal Church, are concerned--as they, after the more difficult obstacles have been removed, shall perceive themselves and shall be fortified in it with favours and privileges granted to them by us and by the Apostolic See.
To this end we, being fully informed concerning every particular of the aforesaid matters, acting of our own initiative, unprompted by King Alfonso or the Infante or by the petition of any one to us on their behalf about this question, and after having taken mature deliberation, do decree and declare by our Apostolic authority and from sure knowledge, from the plenitude of Apostolic power and by the explicit tenor of this present document, that the aforesaid letters of permission--the contents of which we wish to be regarded as being inserted word for word in the present statement, together with all the particular clauses included in them--are to be extended to Ceuta and to the above-mentioned and any other acquisitions whatsoever, even if acquired before the date of the aforesaid letters of permission, and to those provinces, islands, ports and seas, whatever they may be, which henceforth in the name of the said King Alfonso and his successors and the Infante may be acquired from the hands of the infidels or pagans in those and the adjoining regions and in the further and more remote areas. We also decree that by virtue of those and of the present letters of permission the territories already acquired and those which shall happen to be acquired in the future, after they have been acquired, have pertained and for ever do belong and pertain "de lure" to the same King Alfonso and his successors and the Infante, and that the right of conquest, which by the tenor of these letters we declare to be extended from the capes of Bojador and Não throughout the whole length of Guinea and beyond towards the southern shore, has pertained and belonged and for ever shall pertain and belong to the same King Alfonso and his successors and to the Infante and not to anyone else. We also enact and declare by the tenor of this present statement that King Alfonso and his successors and the Infante could and can freely and lawfully, both now and in the future, make in these territories and concerning them any prohibitions, statutes and decrees whatsoever, even if they be penal and include the imposition of any kind of tribute, and may dispose and command concerning them as they would with regard to their own property and their other lordships. And in order to confer on them a more effective right and security, we give, concede and appropriate in perpetuity to the aforesaid King Alfonso and his successors, kings of the above-mentioned kingdoms, and to the Infante, the provinces, islands, ports, districts and seas (whatever their character, number and quality may be) which have already been acquired and which shall be acquired in the future and the right of conquest from the afore-mentioned capes of Bojador and Não.
Furthermore, since in many respects it is convenient for the completion of an undertaking of this sort, we grant that the abovementioned persons, King Alfonso and his successors and the Infante, and those persons to whom they or any one of them shall see fit to entrust this undertaking, can (according to the concession which had been made to the previously mentioned King John by Martin V of happy memory and another made to King Edward of renowned memory, king of the same kingdoms, father of the same King Alfonso, by Eugenius IV of pious memory, Roman Pontiffs, our predecessors) buy and sell any objects, goods and foodstuffs whatsoever as they see fit, and enter into any contracts whatsoever, transact business, bargain, buy and negotiate, and transport any commodities whatsoever, as long as they are not iron instruments, wood for building purposes, ropes, ships or types of armour, to any regions whatsoever of the said Saracens and infidels; and they also may do, carry out and perform all other particular actions in the abovementioned matters which shall be relevant, opportune and necessary.
And the same persons, King Alfonso, his successors and the Infante, may found and cause to be founded and built in the provinces, islands and districts acquired in the past and future by them, any churches, monasteries and other holy places and may send over to them any ecclesiastical persons whatsoever, as volunteers, secular and also regular of any of the mendicant orders (with a licence, however, from their superiors); and those persons may dwell there as long as they live and may hear confessions of whatever people, inhabitants or visitors in the said districts, and after the confessions have been heard, they may give due absolution in all cases, except those reserved to the afore-mentioned See, and may impose a salutary penance and dispense the Sacraments of the Church freely and lawfully. And we concede and allow this to Alfonso himself and his successors as Kings of Portugal, who shall reign afterwards, and to the aforesaid Infante; and we beseech in the Lord and by the sprinkling of the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (Whom, as said above, the matter concerns) and exhort all and sundry faithful of Christ, and clerics, secular and regular of whatever order, in whatever region of the world they live, and of whatever state, rank, order, condition or dignity they may be, even if they enjoy the archiepiscopal, episcopal, imperial, royal, queenly, ducal or any other greater ecclesiastical or temporal dignity, and enjoin them for the remission of their sins, and by this perpetual edict of prohibition strictly forbid them to presume in any way to transport to the Saracens, infidels or pagans arms, iron, wood for building purposes and other materials prohibited by law from being transported to the Saracens, and to import them to any provinces, islands, ports, seas and districts whatsoever, acquired or possessed in the name of King Alfonso or situated in this conquered area or elsewhere; or even to transport goods and other things permitted by law, or to sail on those seas or cause them to be sailed upon, or to fish in them, or to intervene in the said provinces, islands, ports, seas and districts or any of them without special permission of King Alfonso himself and his successors and the Infante, or to interfere with this conquest; or to pursue such conquest by themselves or through another or others, directly or indirectly, by act or advice; or so to act or hinder that the aforesaid persons King Alfonso and his successors and the Infante are impeded in the peaceful possession of the territories acquired and occupied, and in carrying on and accomplishing their conquest.
Those who shall do to the contrary shall incur--besides the penalties promulgated by law against such ones who transport arms and other prohibited articles to the Saracens, which penalties we wish them to incur "ipso facto"--if they are individuals, the sentence of excommunication; if they form a community or corporation of a city, castle, village or district, that city, castle, village or district shall lie thereby under an interdict; nor shall offenders be absolved, collectively or individually, from the sentence of excommunication, nor shall they be able to obtain the lifting of an interdict of this kind by Apostolic or any other authority, unless they shall first have made sufficient satisfaction to the aforesaid persons Alfonso and his successors and the Infante, or shall have reached agreement with them in a friendly manner on the above-matters. We command, by these Apostolic writings, our venerable brethren the Archbishop of Lisbon and the Bishops of Silves and Ceuta, that they--or two, or one of their number--personally or through another or others, as often as they shall be required on behalf of the said persons King Alfonso and his successors and the Infante or any one of them, shall declare and announce by Apostolic authority on Sundays and feast days in the churches, while a great crowd of people shall gather together there for Divine worship, that those who have been proved to have incurred these sentences of excommunication and interdict, have been and are excommunicated and placed under interdict and bound by the other penalties as stated above; they shall also cause them to be denounced by others and rigorously avoided by all until they shall have given satisfaction or made agreement, as aforesaid, concerning the above matters; offenders are to be restrained by ecclesiastical censure with no right of appeal, notwithstanding any Apostolic decrees and ordinances and any other things whatsoever to the contrary.
In conclusion, lest the present statement (which, as has been said previously, has been issued by us from our clear knowledge and after careful deliberation) may be questioned in the future by any one as a fraud or an act of stealth or as invalid, it is our will and we decree and declare accordingly in this statement, by the authority, knowledge and power as aforesaid, that this document and what is contained in it can in no way be questioned, nor can its operation be set back or hindered because of any defect of fraud, stealth or invalidity, even because of a defect of the Ordinary or of any other authority, or because of any other defect, but it shall be perpetually valid and shall obtain the fullest and strongest authority; also, if any one, whether knowingly or unknowingly, happens to attempt anything inconsistent with this enactment, by whatever authority he does so, his act shall be null and void.
Furthermore, since it would be difficult to carry the present statement to all possible places, we desire, and by the aforesaid authority we decree in the present document that full and permanent credence should be given to copies of it, confirmed by the hand of a public notary and the seal of an episcopal and any major ecclesiastical office, as if the aforesaid original document itself were exhibited or shown; and that within two months, reckoned from the day when the present statement itself or the paper or parchment containing its tenor shall be fixed to the folding doors of the church at Lisbon, the sentences of excommunication and the others contained in it shall thereafter bind all and sundry who offend in the ways indicated above, as if this present document had been made known and presented to them personally and lawfully.
Therefore let no man infringe or with rash daring contravene this instrument of our declaration, enactment, grant, concession, appropriation, decree, supplication, exhortation, injunction, prohibition, command and desire. But if any one should presume to attempt this, let him understand that he will incur the anger of Almighty God and of His blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.
Given in Rome at St. Peter's, on the sixth day before the Ides of January, in the year of the Lord's Incarnation 1454, in the eighth year of our Pontificate.
10. Bull "Inter caetera Divinae" of Pope Alexander VI dividing
the New Continents and granting America to Spain
May 4, 1493
Original Latin text in Magnum Bullarium Romanum, ed. Cherubini,
vol. I. p. 466
When Christopher Columbus, returning from his first American voyage in March 1493, was forced to land in Portugal; the Portuguese king John II rebuked him severely for what he regarded as interference with the rights bestowed upon Portugal in the Bull Romanus Pontifex (see the preceding Document). In the king's view the lands found by Columbus were covered by the Portuguese monopoly to discoveries as granted by that Bull and later elaborated by other Pontifical enactments; John II therefore maintained that the results of Columbus's voyage belonged to him.
The Spanish royal couple, Ferdinand and Isabella, alarmed by these claims, dispatched immediately a full report on the voyage to the Papal Curia, asking for Pontifical confirmation of their right to the newly discovered territories. At Rome, the Spanish-born Pope Alexander VI was a friend of king Ferdinand; he did not refuse the confirmation and three Bulls were issued, dated on May 3 and 4, 1493, to meet the Spanish request. Two of these Bulls begin with the same words "Inter caetera Divinae," and the second, bearing the date of May 4, is the most important among them.
It settles the difficulty with regard to Portugal by drawing a line from one Pole to the other, running one hundred leagues west (and south) of the islands Azores and Cape Verde, and decides that everything west of this line is to be Spanish unless it can be proved that some land in this sphere has already been occupied by another Christian power. Although the knowledge of the geographical implications of this award could only be hazy at that time, it resulted in the allocation of America to the kings of Spain. This was done in the usual medieval form of a Papal grant out of the plenitude of the Apostolic power (cf. Chap. III, Doc. No. I ) including--as in the Bull Romanus Pontifex with regard to the Portuguese discoveries in Africa--the exclusive possession of the sea adjacent to the granted territories and with the usual condition of the obligation of introducing the Christian religion there. The sphere east of the line was considered as belonging to Portugal by the concession effected in the Bull Romanus Pontifex.
From this delimitation, as defined in the Bull Inter caetera, two questions of practical interpretation follow: What was meant by the words "lands situated west and south of this line?" And was the grant to Spain restricted to the Western Hemisphere only or was it to cover the territories around the earth?
A plausible reply to the first question may be found in the formulation of the Portuguese demands. As an addition to the Bull Romanus Pontifex the king of Portugal obtained in 1481 the Bull Aeterni regis, and from one of its clauses he deduced the claim that everything had been granted to him which was situated south of a horizontal line corresponding to the 20th Parallel. On the other hand Columbus, who probably suggested the demarcation line of the Bull Inter caetera, expected further lands to be found in the southwest direction from Spain and he actually intended to take a more southerly course on his next voyage. Consequently, it may be assumed that the otherwise illogical words "and south " were inserted in the Bull Inter caetera in order to dispel more emphatically the Portuguese deductions from the Bull Aeterni regis and their claims to the south-western parts of the Atlantic.
The second question did not disturb the authors of the Bull Inter caetera owing to their limited geographical notions. Later, when the Portuguese succeeded in reaching India and Malaya by the eastern route, they secured the confirmation of these discoveries from the Papacy so that, in this way, the grant to Spain embodied in the Bull Inter caetera was in the end actually restricted to the Western Hemisphere (with the exception of the Philippine Islands).
Although the demarcation established in the Bull Inter caetera was not fully respected in later years (the Portuguese enforced the recognition of their appropriation of Brazil), the Bull played a great role in the complicated negotiations between Spain and Portugal, which accompanied the further discoveries, and contributed largely to prevent any major colonial conflict between them. The Bull had been asked for and drawn up according to the traditional medieval conception of the Papacy's supreme international authority over the Christian community; it proved, however, to be the opening of a new era. For the destruction of this community's geographical boundaries, as they had been stabilized during the ten centuries of the Middle Ages within the scope of Europe only, and the appearance of maritime Great Powers with extra-European interests, were among the most important causes which brought about the later disintegration of Europe's medieval order and organization.
Alexander the bishop, servant of the servants of God, to our dearest son in Christ Ferdinand and to our dearest daughter in Christ Elizabeth (sc. Isabella), King and Queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, Sicily and Granada, greeting and Apostolic benediction.
Among other things pleasant to the Divine Majesty and desirable to us, this certainly occupies the highest possible place, that the Catholic faith and Christian religion are being exalted at this very moment in our time and enlarged and expanded everywhere, that the salvation of souls is being provided for and that barbarian nations are overwhelmed and brought to this Faith. When we were called by the favour of Divine clemency to this Holy See of Peter, although having inadequate merits for it, we knew you to be truly Catholic kings and princes--as we have known you always to be and as it already has been demonstrated to almost the whole world by your illustrious and well-known deeds--and we knew that you not only eagerly desired the work mentioned above, but also laboured to that end with all your might, with every zeal and diligence, not sparing any toils, expenses and perils, and shedding even your own blood; and we knew that you had already applied to it all your mind and all your labours as your re-conquest of the kingdom
of Granada from the tyranny of the Saracens, achieved with so much glory to the Divine name, bears recent witness. We therefore consider it as just and not undeserved by you, that we should concede to you spontaneously and with favour the wherewithal by which you may be able to pursue this your holy and laudable work, pleasant to immortal God, with the fervour of your mind growing from day to day to the honour of God and the expansion of the Christian rule.
1. We have been informed, indeed, that you intended to seek and discover some remote and unknown islands and mainlands which have not been found by any one so far, and bring their inhabitants and natives to the worship of our Redeemer and to the confession of the Catholic faith; but being hitherto mostly occupied with the conquest and recovery of the said kingdom of Granada, you were unable to fulfil this holy and praiseworthy intention as you would have desired. But then, as soon as you had recaptured the aforesaid kingdom--according to God's pleasure--you wanted to fulfil your desire and you have dispatched our beloved son Christopher Columbus, a man particularly worthy and highly recommendable, and fitted for such an undertaking, with ships and skilled men, not without great efforts, perils and expenses, in order to search carefully for such remote and unknown mainlands and islands on the sea on which no one had sailed before.
2. They navigated on the Ocean Sea with God's help and the greatest diligence and they actually discovered some very remote islands and also mainlands which have not been found by any one else before and in which several peoples live peacefully, going unclothed--reportedly--and not eating flesh. As far as your abovesaid envoys could judge, these peoples inhabiting the said islands and lands believe that one God-Creator is in Heaven; they seem to be well fitted to embrace the Catholic faith and to be imbued with good morals; and there is hope that, were they instructed, the name of the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ could be easily introduced into these lands and islands. The afore-mentioned Christopher has already caused a fort, fairly strong, to be built up and constructed in one of the principal islands and he has left it to the custody of some Christians, his companions, who are to seek for further remote and unknown islands and continents.
3. And in some islands and lands which have already been discovered gold, spices and very many precious things of various categories and qualities have been found.
4. Wherefore, all things considered maturely and, as it becomes Catholic kings and princes, considered with special regard for the exaltation and spread of the Catholic faith--as your forefathers, kings of illustrious memory, used to do--you have decided to subdue the said mainlands and islands, and their natives and inhabitants, with God's grace, and to bring them to the Catholic faith.
5. We recommend heartily in the Lord such a holy and laudable proposition and we wish it to be led to a due end, whereby the name of our Saviour would be introduced in those countries; we therefore exhort you very earnestly in the Lord and by your reception of Holy Baptism, in virtue of which you are bound to obey Apostolic orders, and by the bowels of the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ we especially enjoin that, as you intend to carry out such an expedition with a willing mind and zeal for orthodox faith, you should and must cause peoples dwelling in those islands and continents to accept the Christian religion. And no perils or hardships will ever deter you therefrom if you conceive your intention in faith and hope that Almighty God will follow with success your effort.
6. And in order that you may embark on an enterprise of such importance more readily and audaciously, endowed with the liberality of Apostolic favour, we give, concede and assign to youout of our own initiative, not at your request or at a petition presented to us by somebody else on your behalf in this matter, but solely out of our largess, sure knowledge and plenitude of Apostolic power, by the authority of Almighty God bestowed upon blessed Peter and by the Vicariate of Jesus Christ which we discharge on earth--all the islands and mainlands, found or to be found, discovered or to be discovered westwards or southwards by drawing and establishing a line running from the Arctic to the Antarctic Pole (i.e. from the Northern to the Southern Pole) one hundred leagues West and South from any of the islands which are commonly called the Azores and Cape Verde, irrespective of whether the mainlands and islands are situated in the direction of India or in that of any other country; with the proviso, however, that these mainlands and islands found or to be found, discovered or to be discovered as situated to the West or South of the said line, be not actually possessed by some other Christian king or prince until the day from the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ [i.e. of the Christian era] immediately preceding the first day of this year one thousand four hundred and ninety three, in which some of the aforesaid islands were discovered by your envoys and captains. And we concede them by the strength of the present document perpetually with all their dominions, towns, castles, localities and villages and all rights, jurisdictions and appurtenances to you and to your heirs and successors, kings of Castile and Leon; and we constitute, invest and depute you, your heirs and the said successors as lords thereof with full, free and integral power, authority and jurisdiction.
9. But we ordain that by this our donation, concession and grant no claimed right, belonging to any Christian prince who had actually possessed the said islands and mainlands until the abovementioned day from the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, can be understood as suppressed or taken away from him. Moreover, we enjoin you in virtue of holy obedience that you should dispatch--as you have already promised and as we do not doubt that you will, with your very great devotion and royal magnanimity, fulfil this promise--to the said mainlands and islands honest and God-fearing men, learned, skilled and experienced, to instruct the natives and inhabitants in Christian faith and to imbue them with good morals, and that you should apply all due diligence to this.
10. And we strictly forbid any persons of whatever dignity, even Imperial or royal, status, rank, order or condition--under the penalty of an excommunication "latae sententiae" which they will incur "ipso facto" in case of contravention-not to dare, without your special licence or that of your aforesaid heirs and successors, to approach, for the purpose of trade or for any other reason, the islands and mainlands found or to be found, already discovered or to be discovered towards the west and south by drawing and establishing a line from the Arctic to the Antarctic Pole to run at a distance of one hundred leagues from any of the islands commonly called the Azores and Cape Verde, irrespective of whether these mainlands and islands already discovered or to be discovered are situated towards India or towards any other country.
11. This we ordain and forbid notwithstanding any Apostolic Bulls, ordinances or other documents to the contrary, confident in Him, from Whom empires, dominions and all possessions proceed, that if He will direct your acts and you will pursue this holy and praiseworthy undertaking, within a short time your toils and efforts shall attain the most felicitous result to the happiness and glory of all Christendom. 12. As it would be difficult to have this present document sent to all places where it might be useful, we wish and decree, from a similar initiative and knowledge, that to copies of it, signed by the hand of a public notary commissioned therefor and provided with the seal of any person endowed with an ecclesiastical dignity or an ecclesiastical office, the same credence should be given before justice extra-judicially, and anywhere else, as would be given to the present document, if submitted or shown.
13. Let no one, therefore, infringe or with rash daring contravene this instrument of our recommendation, exhortation, examination, donation, concession, assignment, constitution, deputation, enactment, prohibition and will. But if any one should presume to attempt this, let him know that he shall incur the anger of Almighty God and of His Apostles, blessed Peter and Paul.
Given in Rome at St. Peter's, in the year of the Lord's Incarnation one thousand four hundred and ninety-three, on the fourth Nones of May, in the first year of our Pontificate.
[ Continue to Ch. 5 ]