« ForrigeFortsæt »
might not be to seek where our miseries had their beginning, the same spirit appeared every where throughout the Western nations; and though it advanced by slower paces than it had done in England, yet a general assault was made upon the secular power, and there is scarce a nation in Europe which does not afford some trophies to adorn the triumphs of the Roman court. But those of pope Alexander over the emperor Frederic are very extraordinary, and such as ought never to be forgotten.
There had never been a good understanding betwixt the emperors and the bishops of Rome, from the time that pope Gregory the seventh first broached the doctrine of judging, correcting, and deposing secular princes. And as that doctrine and the new maxims of the court of Rome had given perpetual jealousies to those princes, the same reason had made them ever forward to break the measures of that party, which ran into the Hildebrandine principles. And this occasioned several schisms and wars; and there had been a long quarrel upon this subject betwixt the present emperor and pope Alexander, which was compromised about this time, but in a manner so equally unbecoming both parties, that one cannot easily determine at whose door the greatest share of the infamy ought to be laid.
After a war of sixteen or seventeen years, and a schism supported by a succession of four anti-popes, and the blackest scenes of confusion and misery that war and schism can produce, pope Alexander, by the assistance and intrigues of the French king, and by the arms of the Lombards and of William king of Sicily, had so entangled the affairs and so broken the measures of the emperor Frederic, that that prince saw himself under a necessity of making a peace with the pope and meeting at Venice, an agreement was made, wherein it was stipulated that the emperor should beg the pope's pardon. Accordingly, at the great door of the church of St. Mark, in the presence of the senate and people of Venice, the emperor, kneeling down, kissed the feet of pope Alexander, and asked his pardon; whilst that haughty prelate treading on the neck of the emperor, that he might at once offer an outrage to God and to his vicegerent, repeated these words, "It is written, thou shalt walk upon the basilisk and the asp, and tread the lion and dragon under thy feet."
Stella de vitis Pontificum, p. 180.
Epist. Alex. apud Concil. tom. x. col.  1293. [1489. 1496, 7.]
The emperor endeavouring to lessen the infamy of so mean and tame a submission, cried out in return, that he submitted to St. Peter and not to him; but that prelate replied, " Mihi et Petroa, giving himself the preference to the apostle whom he pretended to succeed. Baronius, who relates this story, and seems to have been ashamed of one part of it, does yet confess, that it has the authority of Blondus and Æneas Silvius, and that from them it is translated into the chronicle of cardinal Bessarion b. And in the account which he gives thereof, he makes the story rather worse than better; for he saith, that at that congress the emperor put off his imperial robes and dignity, and prostrated his body to the ground to kiss the feet of the pope; and that when he came into the church, he took a stick, and, having first driven out the people, did the office of a door-keeper, and in that manner waited upon the pope to the altar. But after all the pains he has taken to soften this story, Stella, a writer of the lives of the popes, and who was himself a Venetian, as he makes no doubt of the truth of that particular of which Baronius seems to be ashamed, so he speaks of it with a relish, and gives it a place amongst the triumphs of pope Alexander . Alexander. And that prelate himself was not only transported with the general success of this affair, but all his epistles written upon that occasion have an air and turn which plainly show he took pleasure in the pompous circumstances he must have blushed to have had a share in, had he not forgot the modesty and humility which became a Christian prelate. For in his epistles to the archbishop of Canterbury, to the archbishop of York, to the bishops of England 1, and to the archbishop of Capua, he takes care to tell them, that the emperor kissed his feet, and when he took horse held his stirrup. And there is no doubt but all the rest he wrote upon that subject ran in the same strain and so hasty was he to publish his glory, that his letters bear date at Venice, where this affair was transacted. So that when we behold this scene, and at once see an emperor forgetting all the honour and majesty of a prince, and a Christian bishop insulting his rightful sovereign, and glorying in a pomp which crowned heads had never assumed; we have in one view such unhappy instances of the effects of prosperity and adversity, as
afford us a very mortifying reflection on the infirmities of human
If the French kings escaped better than the emperor and the king of England, yet it was not long before their great monarch Lewis was brought as a pilgrim to Canterbury, to pay his devotions at the tomb of that prelate, who had been the great instrument in humbling the king of England, and had done a great deal in advancing the designs of the papacy. And that court was very just in making their returns, and letting the world see how much their heart was set upon humbling kings, by the veneration and favours which they paid to those who were their instruments therein.
As upon this foot the French king was brought to the tomb of the late archbishop, and by rich presents and a grant of great quantities of wines yearly for the monks of Canterbury, he has given the world very unusual marks of a zeal for the rights of princes, so this year Philip earl of Flanders and the archbishop of Rheims came to Canterbury on the same errand, to visit the tomb of the late archbishop. And the merits and sufferings of that prelate, or, to speak more properly, the cause he suffered in, not only shed a lustre upon his memory, but descended to all his creatures and followers therefore about this time John of Salisbury, who had been a dependent upon him, was upon that account advanced to the bishopric of Chartres in France. And as the French king grounds his consent to the election of John of Salisbury, chiefly upon the friendship of that prelate with the late archbishop, so he thinks fit to tell the world, that that election was owing to the influence of the archbishop of Sens, legate to pope Alexander d. And to render the honours to the memory of the late archbishop as public as was possible, the dean, precentor, and chancellor of Chartres, came over to England and made their election, or rather published the certificate thereof, in the cathedral church of Canterbury.
As if all this zeal to brighten the memory of the greatest enemy the present king and crown of England ever had, and to reward his party, had not been mortification enough to the king, before this year was done a new legate from Rome, and at the
b Gervas. Chron. ann. 1177. [X. Script. col. 1435.]
Ludov. Epist. ap. R. Dicet. [X. Script. col. 593.]
instance of Lewis king of France, who was then in open war with England, was sent into France with power to put the dominions of the king of England under an interdict, in case he did not suffer his son Richard to marry Alice the daughter of the French king. And when by his menaces that legate had brought those two princes to an agreement, he farther engaged them to agree upon an expedition to the Holy Land; an undertaking so fatal to all the Western princes who engaged in it, that one can hardly forbear applying to him who gave this advice, what our Saviour saith of sowing tares, "it was an enemy that did it." This was one article first put upon king Henry, when he made his peace upon the death of Becket and indeed this was the usual atonement required to appease their wrath, whenever the court of Rome was offended. And if weakening Christian princes and rendering them an easier prey to the papal usurpations were not at the bottom of this war, it is very certain this was the effect and consequence thereof.
Whilst the court of Rome was thus carrying on its designs to render the Western princes vassals to the papacy, and was every day making some new advances, they did not forget to mortify and humble their bishops; and in order thereunto took all occasions to encourage those who attempted to break through the ancient discipline of the Church. And as the religious were ever the most forward therein, their encouragement bore proportion to the importance of that interest which the court of Rome hoped to serve by it. It was this consideration which ever made them friends in that court, which no interest was sufficient to resist. And Richard archbishop of Canterbury about this time felt the effects' of the bias that court lay under, and not only saw his authority disobeyed, and
Baron. Annal. ann. 1177. N. 126.
1 Felt the effects.] Of the progress, effects, &c. of this exemption of the religious orders from episcopal jurisdiction, we may take the following as a melancholy specimen from Sir Roger Twisden:
"When the papacy first attempted the exempting some great monasteries from the jurisdiction of their ordinary, it was 'salva Primatis reverentia ;' or, as Malmsbury explains it, Archiepiscopi tantum nutum in legitimis spectaturus.' But, however this was thus carefully penned not to thwart with the archbishop, yet, being brought hither, it was taken away by Lanfranc, and not permitted to be made use of, the abbot finding no other way to regain it but multorum preces.' Yet afterward the pope without scruple exempted them not only from their diocesan, but even such as were under the archbishop's nose, with all pertaining to them, were taken out of his jurisdiction;
the offender supported in his rebellion, but put in a condition to set him at defiance, and to insult him in his own province; and this was occasioned by the vanity and ambition of the monks of Canterbury.
The convent of the monks of St. Austin having first driven out, and then by their interest in the court of Rome got their former prior deprived about two years before, they chose Roger in his room, who having in a very haughty manner required the archbishop to come to Canterbury, and to give him his benediction in his own monastery, was told by the archbishop that it was his duty to attend the place which he appointed. Nevertheless he at last consented to come to Canterbury, and give him his benediction, provided the prior would make such profession of obedience as had usually been made to his predecessors: but this was a condescension the monks had not humility enough to think of, much less to bear; and therefore their prior was sent away to Rome, and in the beginning of this year returned to England with the ring and the mitre, the usual ensigns of the episcopal authority a, and with a mandatory letter from pope Alexander, requiring the archbishop of Canterbury to go to the monastery of St. Austin in Canterbury, and there to give his benediction to the prior elect, and without requiring from him the usual profession of canonical obedience".
When the archbishop refused to obey, the prior returned to Rome, and there received his benediction. Nor was this the only mortification put upon that prelate; for pope Alexander did at least pretend to confirm the scheme and model projected by
and he who at first preserved others' rights, had now those houses at an easy rate removed from his own: a fact of infinite advantage to the papacy, by which it had persons of learning in all parts, who, depending wholly on it, defended what was done as being so by one who had a power (right) of doing it. And he (the archbishop), who alone did at first agere vices apostolicas in Anglia,' was under no legate, permitted no bull from Rome to be made use of in England but by his approbation, was now so far from taking them away from the bearers, that private clerks, by deputation from thence, did sit as his superiors in determining differences between him and others, who by strength were taken from his jurisdiction." Vindication of the Church of England, &c. p. 39, 40.
On the general question, see a learned and elaborate statement in Inett, vol. ii. p. 204-23. See also 226,7. 318,9. 338–41. and 494. See also Index, under Religious Orders, exemption of, &c. Gervas. Chron. ann. 1178. [X. Script. col. 1444.]