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lous adventurers, who were ready to forge papal documents when they were unable to carry out the business committed to them as they desired, or as the easiest and most certain way of satisfying their clients and obtaining their reward. This manufacture of spurious documents was rendered all the more easy by the distance which separated England from Rome; the fact that such privileges would seldom be questioned, and from the absence of any systematic registration in the Roman Curia. The mass of business transacted by the papal chancery at this time is so enormous, even as regards England alone, that it is not really very surprising to find that a large proportion of the Roman letters, bulls, and briefs, etc., were never entered in the papal Regesta. It is obvious that this fact would facilitate the work of the would-be forger, and there can be no reasonable doubt that many spurious documents were accepted, and the bearers paid for their trouble in procuring them, in all good faith. On 9th May, 1225, Pope Honorius III directed the attention of the English bishops to the serious evil being wrought by means of these falsarii—these manufacturers of false documents—and subsequently, by the command of the nuncio Otho, the bishops ordered all who claimed to possess any papal dispensation, whether of nonresidence in their cures or for plurality of benefices, etc., to present their letters for inspection and verification. On many of the original papal letters of this period may still be seen the certificate of their having passed this examination.
During these years of reorganisation, which the English ecclesiastics undertook at the first peaceful moment that had been known, whether in Church or State, since the troubled days of King John, the pope's direct and directing action is everywhere manifest. Nothing was apparently too small to escape his attention, nothing too trivial not to have a claim on his fatherly consideration. The number and variety of subjects, upon which his personal judgement was sought and his authority invoked, cannot but amaze anyone who will take the trouble to consult the pages of his Registers and the English records of the period. Thus, within the limits of the brief period of the three years, between the departure of Pandulph and the coming of Otho, when Langton was acknowledged almost for the first time in his archiepiscopate, as the ecclesiastical chief of the Church of England, there is ample evidence of the pope's direct action in guiding the policy and framing the legislation of the reviving ecclesiastical life.
From the very nature of the case and the multiplicity of subjects treated of in the papal letters, it is almost impossible to give the reader any idea of the matters submitted at this time to the Curia, or the vast interests dealt with by the pope. For the benefit of those who cannot examine the collections of documents for themselves, almost at haphazard the following may be noted as samples of the ordinary business of the Roman courts during this period. First, marriage cases, entailing complicated questions of law and fact, as well as the application of principles of justice, are offered for decision. To take one such. The all-powerful de Burgh, the justiciar, is in a difficulty for which he prays the pope's consideration. He states that he had been forced by the legate Pandulph to marry the king's sister. The marriage was not by his free act, what is he to do? What may he do in the matter? Then all the questions about impropriations of livings to religious houses, and they were numerous enough in those days, came up for the consideration of the supreme authority. Generally they were not settled so readily as we might suppose, and frequently commissions had to be appointed to get at the facts, or finally determine the grant. Some special religious houses at this period seem to have claimed a great deal of attention. Thus Sempringham and the Gilbertines appear as the frequent recipients of papal documents. Then all the many questions, which arose out of the settlement of property on religious houses, were referred to the Curia for approval; and some monasteries were for ever asking for new privileges, or seeking confirmation of old ones. Questions about elections, and the confirmation of those elected or promoted, are constantly arising ; provisions have to be made to benefices, and dispensations of all sorts have to be granted. Amongst the special matters dealt with at this time, may be named the English Augustinian Order in general, and their general chapters in particular; the affairs of the English Templars, about which there are many documents in the Registers; the question of the propriety of translating the relics of St. Birinus at Dorchester, which was relegated to Archbishop Langton. In one year the Abbey of Abingdon has four documents in regard to privileges; whilst many letters and bulls deal with inquiries into the sanctity of Saint William of York, and that of Saint Hugh of Lincoln, and with the process of their canonisation.
Besides these and such like, which must be taken as mere samples of the great business of the Curia, there are, of course, many documents of more general and national importance. Thus the attitude of Llewellyn of Wales is dealt with in many papal documents, and the English bishops are directed to excommunicate him and place his possessions under an interdict. Again: by means of the influence of the legate Pandulph, Reginald, king of the Isle of Man, had surrendered his kingdom to the pope, and, like King John, had acknowledged Honorius as his suzerain.
The bishop of the islands had died and, in accordance with immemorial custom, the abbot and monks of Furness had elected a successor and had sent him to the archbishop of Dublin for his confirmation and consecration. These were received, but Reginald refused to allow him to set foot in his diocese, and it was only after long negociations and the writing of many letters that the matter was arranged by the submission of Reginald. Pope Honorius III reminds him in 1223 that Divine Providence had made him king that he might watch over the interests of the Church as his first care, and urges him to make an adequate provision for the support of the clergy.
The pope, during this period, also continued to keep his hand upon the helm of the ship of State, of which he was the unquestioned suzerain. To take some examples: on 26th May, 1222, Honorius wrote to the king's council on what he regarded as certainly an infringement of ecclesiastical liberties. He understood, he says, that the archbishop of York was being sued in a secular court, in regard to the presentation to a benefice by one Richard de Percy. The late legate Gualo, on the previous vacancy of the living, had specially declared that the claimant had no title whatever. But whether he had or not, the king's justices must at once be prohibited from dealing with the case, since to do so “would be to interfere with the liberties of the Church.” And, continues the Pope, “it is not proper that we should tolerate this quietly.” He, therefore, warns the Council to stop the proceedings without delay," so that we may not be compelled to proceed further.” The letter is indorsed: "a letter is to be written that in the matter of the prebend there is no plea of laymen in a civil court."
i Brit. Mus. Add. MS., 15,352, f. 25. · P. R. O. Papal Bulls, Bundle L, No. 5.
Six months after the departure of Pandulph, the legate, from England, the pope was called upon to interfere in the case of the earl of March. The earl had promised Pandulph to make peace with the English king, and to settle the points of difference between them by the restoration of the royal castles and other property. The dean of Bordeaux was ordered to see that these promises were carried. into effect within a reasonable time, and if not, to excommunicate the earl with his aiders and abettors, and to place his lands under an interdict. In June, 1222, nothing had been done, and Pope Honorious writes: “We neither ought nor will allow our commands to be eluded by any man's cunning, or set at nought by delays, and as you should not abuse our kindness in granting respites," we direct that the sentence of excommunication be promulgated, if the matter is not finished by St. Andrew's day.
A week later a similar letter was written by the pope, at the English king's request, to the archbishop of Poitou, in which he blames him for not showing himself faithful to Henry, as Honorius, auctoritate nostra, had ordered him to do, and as he had promised the legate Pandulph to do when released from the sentence of excommunication under which he lay for siding with the king's enemies. He was again to be suspended, unless he, too, by St. Andrew's day, had satisfied the English king as to his loyalty. After that, both he and the prelates who sided with him would be compelled to come to the Curia to be absolved from their suspension.”
On 9th November of the same year, 1222, Henry, through de Burgh, wrote to the dean of Bordeaux and others, reminding them that “according to the jurisdiction committed to you by the Lord Pope, still in force,” you are ? Rymer, i. 169. The document is wrongly entered under 1223. Ibid.