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ARCHBISHOP BONIFACE ONE of the first acts which the archbishop of Canterbury on taking possession of his See was called upon to do, was to circulate a letter addressed to him and his suffragans by the pope on 24th September, 1249. This document dealt with the troubles and afflictions of the Church, caused not only, as the pope said, by those that had not the faith and did not acknowledge the Church as a spiritual mother, but even by those who had been received into its bosom by the regenerating waters of baptism. It then pointed out the sorrow which the continued revolt of the emperor Frederick against papal authority had given to the heart of the supreme pastor, and expatiated upon the serious state of affairs in the Holy Land. For all these reasons the pontiff urged the faithful to unite in prayer, that God might remedy the ills from which the Church was suffering.
Early in the year 1250, the king again applied to the pope to force the ecclesiastics of England to give him substantial assistance. On 13th April, Innocent IV replied that he rejoiced to hear that Henry was getting ready “with power and might, and, moved with zeal for the faith and devotion," was preparing to come to the help of the Holy Land. “As this business necessitates great expenses,” he writes, “previously and now again, you have asked me to grant you a tenth of all the ecclesiastical revenues of your kingdom and of other lands subject to your juris
diction.” Although most desirous to do what you ask as far as possible, it is to be remembered that we did not grant this to the French king, after he had taken the cross, until he had first obtained the consent of the prelates of his kingdom. Wishful, however, that you should obtain the tenth, we have asked the prelates of your kingdom to act as liberally and willingly in what you desire, as those of France have done. They have replied, asking us "to provide for you generously out of the ecclesiastical revenues of the kingdom for so important a business, which is pleasing and acceptable to us." It was necessary, however, so as not to forget the duties of the office which has set him over all the Lord's flock, he continued, to point out to the king a danger which threatened all Christendom. The French king and his brothers were already away; and, as by the two nations of France and England the Christian religion was chiefly sustained, it might be a real danger should Henry also now be absent from his kingdom. It would possibly therefore be better that he should delay his expedition. “But,” continues the pope, “whatever you shall determine as to this, it has been necessary for you, in order to carry out the design, to incur expenses; and, as holy mother the Church should encourage and as far as possible assist your Majesty's praiseworthy design, we have thought proper to grant your Highness for three years a tenth of all the ecclesiastical revenues of your kingdom and of all other lands subject to your jurisdiction, to assist you in the expedition to the said Holy Land. We have given orders to our brethren, the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of Hereford, to hand over the tenth to you without delay or without any deductions, when it is collected and when you wish to begin your journey over the seas.”
Rymer, i. 272.
A few days later, on 24th April, Innocent IV addressed an urgent letter to some of the bishops of England and to the provincials of the Franciscans and Dominicans, urging them to exhort the English people, whom he calls the Strenui Angliae pugiles, Domini athletae divini, to take up the work of the crusades with enthusiasm. Great Indulgences were promised to those who would promise to go and would pay their own expenses, or would furnish others in their places, or would devote a quarter or half of their revenue to this purpose. Other Indulgences are promised to such as contribute a tenth of their income to the expenses of the king, or are willing to help those who are appointed to preach the crusade. If any crusader is in the hands of usurers, the ecclesiastical authority is to be invoked to force the money lender to desist from requiring the excessive interest, and if he has already been compelled to pay, the same authority is to force the usurer to restore it. If the money lender was a Jew, and so not amenable to spiritual censures, the faithful are to be prohibited from holding any intercourse with him until he has complied with this direction. Then, after giving the bishops named in the Apostolic letters to preach the crusade, ample powers to deal with special cases as they rose, the pope directs them to pay whatever sums they collect to the king, when he was ready to start on his expedition, except when he, the pope, should otherwise direct.'
A day or two later, Innocent IV sent a further letter to the archbishops of Canterbury and York and to the bishops of Hereford, Ely, and Durham, concerning the payments to be made out of the ecclesiastical revenues to the king. With their consent, he said, he had granted Henry a tenth of their revenues for three years. These bishops were to
Rymer, i. 273.
collect this tithe and to keep it safely, until the English king, having taken the oath, was ready to begin his journey, when they were to pay over to him the tenth for two years and all sums obtained for the dispensation of crusading vows.
As the year went on, any doubt that the pope may have entertained as to the inadvisability of Henry's starting on his crusade seems to have disappeared, and he wrote to him urging him not to delay his departure for the Holy Land. The payments of the tithe of ecclesiastical revenues to the French king hardly seem to have been more readily made in that country than they were in England. Pope Innocent IV had held up the example of the foreign ecclesiastics to induce those of this country to emulate their generosity to their sovereign; but it was rumoured over here that the French king, St. Louis, had obtained the papal sanction to receive this subsidy from the church revenues of his country, only on condition that after the three years, for which this grant was made, the pope might be allowed to take a similar tithe from French benefices for his war against the emperor Frederick. Whether this arrangement was made or no, when the French monarch had received his portion for three years he refused to allow any further sums to go into the papal exchequer. In England, however, it was also with reason suspected that there was some arrangement between Henry's agents at the Curia and Innocent IV, and that once the process of levying - large sums upon the ecclesiastical revenues had been initiated with success, it would be continued, sometimes for the needs of the pope, sometimes for those of the king.
With the beginning of the year 1250 the strained rela
Rymer, i. 274.
2 P. R. O. Papal Bulls, Bundle xix. No. 21. Matthew Paris, v. 171.
tions between Bishop Grosseteste, of Lincoln, and the religious of his diocese reached the breaking-point. On 13th January, 1250, the religious superiors met, by his direction, at Leicester, to hear the tenor of a papal Bull regarding them, which he had obtained from the pope, through his clerk, Master Leonard, who having often been at the Curia, knew the ways by which such instruments could be secured. The document was short, but of great importance to the regular orders of the great Lincoln diocese. It was dated on the 17th of May previously, and it simply declared that the bishop had informed the Holy See that many monasteries and other religious places were in possession of impropriated churches and other ecclesiastical benefices and tithes, for which they could not show the consent of the Lincoln Chapter; and that by this letter Grosseteste was empowered to take all these possessions from them.”
An appeal to the pope followed as a matter of course; the cause being supported by all the religious bodies. As all the impropriations had necessarily been made by the original patrons of the livings, with the sanction of the Curial authorities, it was difficult to understand how this sudden and general revocation could have been obtained from the pope without examination into a matter affecting the interests of so many. It was evident, however, that every effort would now be needed on the bishop's part to prevent a revocation of the document, and he himself set out to Lyons to support his own case. After working strenuously for some time in the Curia, it was made clear to him that it was impossible to uphold the document in question, and that the appeal of the religious bodies against him would be successful. In an interview with 1 Matthew Paris, v. 96.
2 Additamenta, p. 152.