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Gregory the Great, and to determine that the two archbishops of Canterbury and York should have precedence according to priority of consecration, and that the archbishops of Canterbury should not require a profession of canonical obedience from the archbishops of Yorkb; and in case they refused to consecrate the archbishops of York for want of such profession, the bishops of the province were then to consecrate them by the papal authority. But though a constitution of this kind appears both in the history of Diceto d and in the appendix to the third council of Lateran, and this doubtless served to perpetuate the quarrel upon this subject, yet it doth not appear that it answered the ends for which it was designed: however, it could not but give some uneasiness to the archbishop of Canterbury.
But if pope Alexander gave too much to the province of York, he endeavoured to make the archbishop of Canterbury a recompense at the charge of his suffragan bishops. Those prelates, it seems, had a wrong notion of the legatine authority, and persuaded themselves that the archbishops of Canterbury as legates had no cognizance of such causes as were the proper subject of their authority, but when carried to the legate by appeals e: but by a constitution of pope Alexander the third, directed to the bishops of the province of Canterbury', he thinks fit to tell them, that though their archbishop as metropolitan had no cognizance of things arising in their dioceses, but when brought to him by appeals, yet as legate he had cognizance of every thing in the first instance as well as in case of appeals 8, and commanded them quietly to submit, and to suffer causes from their several dioceses to be brought to his legate; or, in other words, quietly to part with their rights and to yield up their authority, as a sacrifice to the usurpation which was by this time grown masterly and incapable of resistance.
This was the return which the court of Rome made to those bishops who were not so careful as they should have been in the defence of their metropolitans; they were made an easy prey, and became a common sacrifice to the usurpation which they wanted precaution or courage to prevent; and if they had any favour, it was only this, to see the rights of the crown and the national church perish first, and to be themselves last devoured.
Concil. tom. x. col. 1690. & R. Dicet. (X. Script. col. 589.]
KING JOHN, THE BARONS, AND POPE INNOCENT THE
The design of pope Gregory the seventh to change the primitive and apostolic government of the Christian church from an aristocracy to a monarchy, and such a monarchy too as pretended to a supreme authority over princes, falling into the hands of a succession of men who for more than an age pursued it with indefatigable zeal, great applications, and steady counsels, the ecclesiastic monarchy was raised to such a pitch, that pope Innocent, taking the advantage of a dispute (1207) betwixt Otho and Philip, who by different factions were both elected emperors, determined“ that the correction of princes belonged to the bishops of Rome a ;” that “it was their right to judge of the elections of emperors, and either to approve or reject as they saw cause b:” and this determination was inserted into the decretals, as a standing law and maxim of the court of Rome. And in the council of Avignon in the year one thousand two hundred and nine, it was decreed by the legates of that court, that bishops might by the censures of the church compel the lords, nobility, and people, and governors of provinces, to promise upon oath to extirpate heresy out of their country, and in case of neglect to interdict their dominions and countries
· The third.] From Inett's Origines Anglicanæ, &c. vol. ii. p. 410—22, 430-52, 465–72, 473–87. Blondel. decad. ii. lib. vi. • Decretal. Greg. lib. i. tit. vi. сар.
xxxiv. · Concil. tom. xi. par. i. col. 43.
The conduct of that court was suitable to the maxims thereof; for not contented to command the wealth, and usurp on the authority of the Western churches by drawing the clergy and religious to a dependence upon them, and thereby to secure to themselves a considerable interest in the several dominions of the Western princes, they carried their pretensions still higher, and under the umbrage of the Holy War' found out ways to break in upon the authority of states and kingdoms, to lay impositions on their subjects, and without the leave of their princes to raise men and head armies in their dominions, and in some measure to make themselves masters of their wealth, their arms, and people.
, And it was an easy step from hence to advance to the command of their crowns; for he who has the wealth and subjects in his power, has the prince and the crown at his disposal. And so artfully did they manage that war, that those expeditions which were at the first the scourge of infidels, became at last the terror of Europe, and were upon
all occasions held as rods over the heads of Christian princes.
The emperors of Germany had very often felt the dire effects of that holy fury, and the Eastern church and empire were at this time bleeding under it. And yet, as if God had given up the Western princes to blindness and infatuation, and intended to redouble His judgments upon them by suffering them to be parties to their own ruin, whilst these things were doing, they were so fatally charmed by the artifices of the court of Rome, that their arms were engaged one against another, and princes by turns were tools to and suffered under the imposture, and were not allowed to see their danger, till it was past a remedy. For whilst they slept, the new ecclesiastic monarchy grew up to the most formidable power in Europe; and which is still more, it was in the hands of pope Innocent the third, a young, bold, and active prelate; a man of great capacity, great application and address, and greater ambition; and as exactly fitted to put the last hand to the vast designs of the court of Rome, as if God had raised him up for an original of craft and ambition, and intended in him to let the world see, what base and unworthy designs might be covered and carried on under the colour of religion and the holy name and authority of Christ.
1 The Holy War.] See Index, under Crusade.
See also Ben. Accolti De Bello a Christianis contra Barbaros. 1731. 8vo. Buddæi Selecta Juris Naturalis, p. 97—148, &c.
Whilst the court of Rome was thus in the height of its glory, the monarchy of England was in a very feeble and languishing condition. The king found his kingdom deprived of the civil duties and assistance of the clergy and religious, their persons made subjects to a foreign power, their wealth excused from the necessities of the state, and the power of nominating and investing bishops snatched out of his hands; and by this means saw so great a body of men excused from his laws and government, that the number, wealth, and dependencies of the clergy and religious considered, it may seem doubtful whether himself or the bishop of Rome had the greater interest in his kingdom.
Besides, the king had ascended the throne over the head of his nephew, Arthur earl of Bretagne, and if he had not the guilt of his death to answer for, yet the world believed hardly of him, and he had at least the reproach and the dishonour of it. The suspicion he had of his title made him very liberal in his promises, and stoop too low to meet the crown; and that raised an expectance in his people which he could not answer, and for that reason he was scarce sooner on the throne, than on ill terms with his subjects: and he was so far from recovering the affections of his people by his succeeding conduct, that he gave them too much reason to believe, that the care of their welfare had not its due weight upon him; so that time rather increased than put an end to the uneasiness and disaffection of his people. And the issue was such as might be expected; for they remembered the promises which the king had too soon forgot, and suffered themselves to be led by his ill example to forget their own duty, when he stood most in need of it, and when the honour of the monarchy and their country required it at their hands.
In this posture stood the affairs of the monarchy and of king John, when he was called to assert the rights of his crown, against a bold and daring encroachment of pope Innocent the third, in his attempt to force an archbishop' upon him. The king had the law, and the ancient usage of England, and the rights of all the princes of Christendom on his side; but the time was now come when the court of Rome was to let the world see, that the canons were rules fitted only to the infant ages of the Church, and had now no more force, but where the interest of the
made them binding: and accordingly the power which Christ had trusted
* Force an archbishop.] See Southey's Book of the Church, vol. i. p. 256—62.
to His church, to serve the ends of peace and holiness, was presently called forth to serve the purposes of that ambition, which our Lord detested and which His religion had forbid.
For pope Innocent seeing the king resolute to maintain the poor remainders of his right, proceeded to interdict the kingdom, and commanded that the sentence which he had before pronounced in his own consistory at Rome, should be pronounced and published in England by the bishops of London, Ely, and Worcester, who for this purpose were made executors of the aforesaid sentence: and the interdict was pronounced accordingly, the latter end of March this year (1208), and too soon and too generally obeyed.
The king, as he had great reason to be, was exceedingly provoked with this wicked and unchristian usage, and suffered his resentment to carry him to such extremities as turned to his disadvantage: for not content to treat William bishop of London, Eustace bishop of Ely, and Malgar bishop of Worcester, as their undutifulness deserved, and to force them to seek their safety out of his dominions, that prince, though he did afterwards distinguish and receive those to his favour and protection who refused to observe the interdict, for the present let loose his rage upon the whole body of the clergy and religious, and generally seized their effects, especially those of the religious. And the event was such as usually succeeds, when princes suffer themselves to consult with their passions, and make their own displeasure the measure of their justice; for seeing innocence no longer their security, and the innocent and guilty involved in the same fate, resentment carried the clergy and religious beyond their duty, and united them, at least in their wishes, to the papal interest.
It seems very probable, that this proceeding had a very different effect from what the king expected, and, instead of giving a check to it, made the interdict the more generally observed : so that except the baptism of infants, confession, and the last offices to dying persons, there was a stop put to all the public offices of religion. The dead had the burial' of the ox and the ass ; daily prayers, the administration of the eucharist, preaching of God's word, were forced to give way; God's altars were forsaken, His houses shut up and left destitute; in short, the honour of God and the interest and care of souls were made sacrifices to the
1 Had the burial.] See Index, under Interdict.