Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

teste himself under that impression when he visited them and talked the matter over with them.'

In the event, Archbishop Edmund remained firm, and the consecration was held at Reading. The monks appear to have behaved well in the matter. Whilst resolving to have their rights determined finally by the Holy See, in order not to prejudice their case unnecessarily, they formally protested; but gave way in this instance for the sake of peace, and allowed the ceremony to proceed. In November of this same year, 1235, Pope Gregory IX having heard the question at issue, formally confirmed the privilege by Bull, for which the monks had contended.'

The misunderstandings with the Christ Church community did not, however, end here. In fact, at this very time, another appeal against St. Edmund was already lodged in Rome by the prior of Canterbury in behalf of his community. This question was in some ways even more serious, as it regarded the revenues of certain impropriated churches and other matters, in which the monks considered that they had been gravely injured by the action of the archbishop. On 22nd December, 1235, the pope appointed a commission to hear and, by agreement of the parties, to determine the questions at issue; or, as an alternative, to establish the facts in dispute, and then remit its finding to Rome for final decision. Acting on this commission, the abbots of Boxley and Lesnes summoned the archbishop and the prior to appear before them at Rochester on roth May, 1236. The monks appeared by their proctor, but St. Edmund took no notice whatever of the summons. A second citation was issued for June, and the particulars of the claims of the monks against him was at the sa furnished to the archbishop. He had interfered , rights in regard to certain manors and churche had claimed certain revenues which had always been av garded by his predecessors as belonging to the monastery. He had even appointed certain officials of the house, such as the sacrist, cellarer, and guestmaster, etc. Apparently also, the question of the appointment of a prior over the community complicated the situation. The archbishop not only claimed to make choice of the superior, but actually carried out his claim by an appointment. The monks, for the sake of peace, accepted his nomination, but appealed to the pope. Gregory IX, whilst praising them for accepting the nominee of the archbishop, declared that de jure the election belonged to the community. To the second citation served upon him, St. Edmund again paid no attention, although the commissioners had reminded him that they were acting with the full power and authority of the Apostolic See. Out of respect to his office, however, they delayed once more giving judgement, even on the facts of the case, until the March following (1237).

i Grosseteste's Letters, 56. 2 Wallace's Life of St. Edmund of Canterbury, App. iv. 477. 3 Brit. Mus. Add. MS., 15,353, f. 319. + Wallace, ut sup. App. ix. 488.

A third time, although cited“ peremptorily," St. Edmund neglected to appear, either personally or by a proctor, and once again the settlement was adjourned till 7th May. On the following day, however, 14th March, each of the two delegates was served with a prohibition from proceeding further in the matter, this being contained in a letter from the king, obtained by, or in behalf of, the archbishop. King Henry claimed that questions as to revenues and appointments to churches were not matters to be brought before the common court of Christendom (Curia Christianitatis), and that even the holding of such a court was an offence

? Brit. Mus. Add. MS., 15,353, f. 389.

against the rights of the Crown and his royal dignity. He consequently ordered the two abbots commissioned by the pope to desist and refrain from citing the archbishop before them. Whilst they were still in doubt whether to proceed and risk the consequences of disobedience to the king, or stay the cause and thus disobey the strict orders of the pope, they received a second letter from Gregory IX. The monks had naturally complained of the repeated failure of the archbishop to appear before the Apostolic tribunal, and of his reputed intention to invoke the royal authority to put an end to the proceedings altogether. The pope directed the commissioners to ignore any royal prohibition they might receive, and to do what they had been directed to do without delay.

Upon receipt of this second papal letter the commissioned abbots again cited the parties to appear on 16th July, 1237. The monks once more put in an appearance, and lodged a formal complaint that the royal authority had been invoked to prevent their cause being tried and determined in accordance with justice; but once again the archbishop refused to come, and in his behalf the delegates were served with another royal prohibition. The king asserted that the papal assumption, that cases such as this were to be tried by any commission from the “ Court of Christianity," and not by judges appointed by the Crown, had never been allowed in England. Moreover, as there had now been a legate appointed by the pope to England who was "even now on the point of arriving,” the royal orders were that nothing further whatever was to be done in the matter until his coming. Finally, in August, 1237, by the advice of the legate, the commissioned abbots remitted the case to the Holy See, and fixed 26th January, 1238, as the day when the parties, either personally or by proxy, should appear in

the Roman Curia. This phase of the long-continued dispute was brought to an end by a compromise. St. Edmund appeared in the Chapter house at Canterbury and himself proposed terms, which were at once accepted by the monks' as satisfactory. The mutual agreement was of course subject to the confirmation of the Holy See, and St. Edmund set out for Rome to obtain this sanction.

Unfortunately this was not to be the close of these long and acrimonious disputes between the archbishop and his monastic Chapter. Before the papal sanction could be obtained to the proposed compromise, fresh occasion of offence was given by the monks, or taken by St. Edmund; and he returned to England with the whole matter still at issue between them. A visit to Canterbury, in company with the legate Otho, led to an unpleasant discovery. The copy of the Charter of St. Thomas, which had been produced as the original, was in truth merely a copy. It was made by two of the monks, with the approval or connivance of the prior, from the ancient document which had accidentally been torn. The three incriminated monks received condign punishment; but the stigma, which for some time after attached to the religious generally, was finally removed by a letter of Pope Gregory IX, written in 1241, after St. Edmund's death. This document declared the community entirely innocent of complicity in the matter, and formally found that the Charter of St. Thomas was genuine and authentic.

The relations of Archbishop Edmund with the Canterbury monks are from any point of view distressing reading. The two parties seem to have been incapable of understanding each other. The continuator of Gervase, the historian

[ocr errors]

of Canterbury, has summed up the chief points upon which St. Edmund insisted, and against which the monks contended: the archbishop claimed the right to establish a prebendal church for secular priests; he claimed to have the right to consecrate suffragan bishops where he wished, without the consent of the monks, notwithstanding the immemorial privilege of the Canterbury religious; he wished to substitute secular canons for the monks in the metropolitan cathedral; and as archbishop he desired to take an active part in the government of the monastery, and, as its superior, to correct abuses should he think fit to do so.

It is not difficult to understand the reason of the opposition which these proposed changes met with on the part of the monks. However right and reasonable they may have seemed to the archbishop, they cannot but have appeared unjust, and even tyrannical, to the bulk of the Christ Church community. The election of a successor to the prior, who had resigned in consequence of his complicity in the business of the forged Charter of St. Thomas, led to hopeless misunderstandings and complications. The archbishop suspended the monks and placed their church under an interdict; and the monks, after a long delay, disregarding the suspension, elected a prior notwithstanding the archbishop's positive prohibition. St. Edmund promptly excommunicated all who had taken part in the proceedings, and the consequent chaos continued from month to month in spite of the efforts of the legate Otho and of sundry English bishops, until St. Edmund's departure from the country. The cause of the delay in settling the question at issue before the Roman courts was entirely the fault of St. Edmund or of his representatives. The pope declares in his letters that a judge was appointed in the person of the bishop of Ostia, but that he was unable to proceed, “on

« PredošláPokračovať »