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CHAPTER XII THE FIRST YEARS OF POPE INNOCENT IV DURING the first few months of his occupying the Chair of St. Peter, Pope Innocent IV did much to clear off the heavy arrears of business which had accumulated during the long interregnum. From some of the early letters of this pontiff, it is clear that, in this country, advantage had been taken of the vacancy to withdraw the payments of the fruits of benefices held by Roman ecclesiastics in England. This is quite what was to be expected; and the pope, in endeavouring to set this matter right and insure punctual payment for the future, speaks in these documents of the contempt with which the agents of the foreign beneficed clergy had been treated in their endeavour to obtain the revenues for the alien ecclesiastics. At the same time, within a few weeks of his election to the papacy, Innocent IV severely condemns the action of papal collectors in demanding fees and excessive presents for themselves. Although legates who are sent from the Holy See ought to be treated honourably, he says, as messengers of the pope, still he does not approve “of the minor officials, and in particular, mere humble messengers," not being content with receiving their necessary expenses, and so bearing themselves rather as thieves and extortioners than as “papal nuncios.”? In the midst of more important business in the governLes Registres d'Innocent IV, i. No. 43.
ment of the Church, the new pope found time to consider such small matters as the approval of the impropriation of churches to Rievaulx; the bestowal of privileges on St. Augustine's, Canterbury, and on the monks of Winchester, allowing the communities henceforth to say their office with heads covered, except during the reading of the Gospel and the elevation of the most Holy Sacrament, although immemorial custom had been that during Divine Service all heads were uncovered; and the conceding of other similar personal but otherwise unimportant benefits. The first matters of moment to which his attention was turned was the settlement of the two vacant Sees of Canterbury and Winchester. In his letter confirming the election made by the monks to the former See, the pope relates that the proctors of election were amongst those who had been captured by the emperor Frederick in the Genoese ships which were carrying the three cardinals to Rome. They were three of the community, one of whom was the subprior. Of these three, one died of the hardships consequent upon the capture and captivity, one returned to England, and the sub-prior alone proceeded to Rome, where he waited with steadfast determination until the election of a successor to Gregory IX. Having considered the facts of the election, Pope Innocent confirms Boniface of Savoy as archbishop of Canterbury, and gives him “full power of administration of the See in both spirituals and temporals.” 1
The same day, 17th September, 1243, the translation of the bishop of Norwich, William de Raleigh, to Winchester, was decreed by the pope, and the usual letters were addressed to the king, to the monks, and to the clergy and people of the diocese announcing the papal decision. This unfortunately did not settle the long-continued dis
Gervase of Canterbury, ii. 200.
pute. Henry was greatly incensed at de Raleigh for acting as bishop and being accepted as bishop by all save a few of the monks of Winchester, although he had refused his royal consent. He detained the episcopal manors in his hands and placed his own servants in them to prevent the bishop taking possession, and when, after the pope's decision, William de Raleigh came to be enthroned in his cathedral, Henry had the gates of the city shut against him. The head of the opposition was the foreign prior, Andrew, whom the king had intruded upon the monastery; but Henry himself took an active part in trying to prevent the new bishop from taking up the rule of his diocese. He forbade any one in the neighbourhood of Winchester to shelter him, and he wrote to the University of Oxford and to Rome itself, charging de Raleigh with having procured the papal confirmation by unworthy means. After manifesting great patience, the new bishop, on being formally refused entrance to his cathedral city, placed it under an interdict.
Bishop Grosseteste took up the defence of the bishop with vigour. He wrote to the newly appointed archbishop of Canterbury urging that “since the lord pope had admitted and confirmed the postulation" of the bishop of Norwich to Winchester, and had written to the English king in behalf of the bishop, Henry had no ground for opposition. If he persisted, it might be very bad for himself and his kingdom, “since in thus acting he clearly was going against the action of the lord pope,” to whom over and above the duty owing by all princes as sons of the Church, he (the king) was specially bound to fealty under the greatest penalties by the Charter and oath of King John, his father of illustrious memory, “which we do not (of
· Matthew Paris, iv. 263-266.
course suppose) is unknown to you. As it belongs to you above others to protect ecclesiastical liberty, and to see that the determination of the lord pope is rightly carried out”; he requests him to do all he can to get the king to withdraw his opposition, and even to write to the queen, his niece, to influence her husband.'
Besides this, conjointly with the bishops of Worcester and Hereford, the bishop of Lincoln went to Reading to confront the king, and to endeavour to put a stop to the scandal. Henry would not wait for their arrival, and hurried off his messengers to Rome, authorising them to make great promises in his name, and furnishing them with much money, to procure the bishop's deprivation from the Holy See. These proposals, however, were never made, for one of his agents, considering that it would be unjust and scandalous to have any part in such arrangements, returned to England, upon which his companion disappeared with the king's money. Meanwhile, the bishops followed Henry from Reading to Westminster, and there, upbraiding him for his tyranny and injustice, threatened to place his royal chapels under an interdict. The king did not seek to defend his action, but merely pleaded delay until the envoys he had dispatched to Rome could return with some reply. To this they were obliged to agree; the bishop of Winchester being then compelled to seek safety by flight across the seas.
Matters could not long be allowed to remain in this state. On 20th February, 1244, after many previous suggestions by the pope for a settlement had proved useless, Innocent IV addressed a grave letter of remonstrance to Henry. When with the advice of the cardinals he had determined, he says, to translate William de Raleigh from Nori Grosseteste, Epist., 271-272.
· Matthew Paris, iv. 286.
wich to Winchester, he had written to beg that Henry would receive the appointment cordially. “On the contrary," he continues, "as we are grieved to hear, you have been pleased not only to pay no attention to our requests, but what is more grave, you have given expression to words in no way showing fitting modesty or filial reverence. You have asserted that, if you were unwilling, no postulation in the kingdom of England either ought or indeed could be made by the Apostolic See. You have declared that you had the same power in temporals as we had in spirituals (so that) no one, appointed to a See (postulatus) without your consent, could obtain possession of his temporalities. Further, you added that you would hold the translation of this bishop (from Norwich to Winchester) as invalid, as if obtained from us by false information. Certainly, beloved son, such expressions as these do not redound to the honour of God, the Church, or your Highness; they are not suggestive of justice nor manifest equity, especially when the received belief of all the faithful is that the Apostolic See by God's providence possesses full power and authority in all Churches, and is not so bound to the will of princes as to be obliged to ask their assent to their elections and postulations." The new pontiff concludes by exhorting the king to return to a better mind, and beseeches him to endeavour to protect the interests of the Church, and not to hinder its work by interfering with the bishops in the full enjoyment of the spirituals and temporals belonging to their Sees.' At the same time the pope wrote to the queen, to the archbishop-elect of Canterbury, and to some of the bishops, exhorting them to do their best to bring about a reconciliation between the king and Bishop William de Raleigh. He further ordered the bishops of
Matthew Paris, iv. 347-348.