During the second half of the thirteenth century, the custom was developed of dividing the revenues from visitationes, servitia, and census between the pope and the college of cardinals.3 Up to that time the cardinals had depended upon benefices held in their own names and the tributes of castles and towns in the papal territory set aside for them by popes. To these sources of revenue were added during the thirteenth century livings in foreign lands which they administered, if administered at all, through vicars. A number of benefices were often held by a member of the curia, but the abuse of pluralities did not reach its largest proportions till the latter half of the fifteenth century. In 1291, Benedict Gaetani (Boniface VIII.) cardinal of S. Nicolas in Carcere, held, in addition to that living, two archdeaneries and two churches in France, three churches in Rome and prebend stalls in Langres, Chartres, Lyons, Paris, Anagni, Todi, Terouanne, and St. Peter’s in Rome.
The half portion, accruing to the cardinals, was divided equally between those dignitaries. In case a cardinal was suspended his portion was divided equally between the papal treasury and the other cardinals. It became customary at the close of the thirteenth century, in appointing a cardinal, to announce that he was entitled to a share of the servitia. 1904
During the absence of a cardinal on legatine business or for other reasons, he ceased to participate in the fund.
These revenues were handled by two treasurers: a papal treasurer, or chamberlain, and a treasurer for the college of cardinals.5 The latter held his office for life. The two offices were never vested in the same person. Each treasurer, at least from the time of Benedict XII. in the fourteenth century, kept his own set of books and at times copies of the papal ledgers were made and turned over to the cardinals. To such a system had the finances been reduced that, as early as the reign of Boniface VIII., the Registers of preceding pontiffs were consulted. 1906 In the period 1295–1298, the college of cardinals received as their share, coin amounting to 85,431 gold florins, a sum equal in face value to $200,000. 1907
To the pope’s own exchequer went the additional sums accruing from annates as defined above, the special taxes imposed by the pope at will, and the gifts for special papal favors. The crusades against the Saracens and Frederick II. were an inviting pretext for special taxation. They were the cause of endless friction especially in France and England, where the papal mulcts were most frequent and most bitterly complained of. The first papal levy for revenue in France seems to have been in 1188. As early as 1247 such a levy upon church property was met by a firm protest. In 1269, Louis IX. issued the pragmatic sanction which forbade papal taxes being put on church property in France without the sovereign’s consent. One of the most famous levies of mediaeval England was the Saladin tax, for a crusade against the Saracens.
The curia was already, in the time of St. Bernard, notorious for its rapacity. No sums could satisfy its greed, and upon it was heaped the blame for the incessant demands which went out from Rome. Bernard presents a vivid, if perhaps overcolored, picture of this hungry horde of officials and exclaims: "When has Rome refused gold? Rome has been turned from a shrine into a place of traffic. The Germans travel to Rome with their pack animals laden with treasure. Silver has become as plentiful as hay. It is to Eugenius’ credit that he has turned his face against such gifts. The curia is responsible. They have made Rome a place of buying and selling. The ’Romans,’ for this was the distinctive name given to this body of officials, are a pack of shameless beggars and know not how to decline silver and gold. They are dragons and scorpions, not sheep."8
The English chronicler, Matthew Paris, writing a century later, has on almost every other page of his chronicle a complaint against the exactions of the papal tax gatherers. One might easily get the impression from his annals, that the English Church and people existed chiefly to fill the Roman treasury. The curia, he said, was like a gulf swallowing up the resources of all classes and the revenues of bishops and abbots.9 The contemporary Italian chronicler Salimbene has biting words for the luxury and idleness of the cardinals and reports the invectives of Hugh de Digne delivered at the council of Lyons, 1245. 1910
Bernard of Cluny and other poets of the time lashed the Curia for its simony.1 Everything at Rome had its price. Poems, ascribed to Walter Map, abound in bitter invective against the wide-open mouths of the cardinals which only money could fill. In one of them, the Ruin of Rome, the city is compared to the waters between Scylla and Charybdis, more capacious of gold than of ships."
"The meeting place of our pirates, the cardinals"
Ibi latrat Scylla rapax et Charybdis auri capax
Potius quam navium, ibi cursus galearum
Et concursus piratarum, id est cardinalium.
There, at that deep gulf, are the Syrtes and Sirens who threaten the whole world with shipwreck, the gulf which has the mouth of a man but the heart of a devil. There the cardinals sell the patrimony, wearing the aspect of Peter and having the heart of Nero, looking like lambs and having the nature of wolves. 1912 In a conversation, purporting to have occurred between Thomas Aquinas and the pope, the pope said, as he showed the theologian the papal treasure-room, "Thomas, Peter could now no longer say as he once said to the lame man "silver and gold have I none.’ " "Nor," was Thomas’ reply, "has his successor the power now to lay his hand on the lame man and heal him."
§ 125. Bishops.
Although the episcopate lost some of its ancient prestige through the centralization of power in the papacy, the incumbents of the great sees were fully as powerful as the greater secular princes. The old theory, that all bishops are the successors of Peter, had a waning number of open advocates. Bernard said 1913that, like the pope, they were pastors and porters of the kingdom of heaven and fountains of authority, but, in power and rank, they were inferior to the pope who is the immediate successor of the prince of the Apostles. A hundred years later Grosseteste still held to the equal dignity of all bishops as being successors of Peter. 1914
By the law of Gregory IX., archbishops took an oath of allegiance to the pope, and Martin V. (1417–1431) extended it so as to include all bishops. Gregory IX. and other popes made this oath the ground of demands for military service. Long before this, in 1139, Innocent II. had addressed the bishops as occupying a relation to the papal see such as vassals occupy to their prince. They were to be known as "bishops by the grace of God and the Apostolic see."5 Innocent III. distinctly stated that bishops receive their authority by the grace of the pope in whom resides the fulness of authority. 1916 The confirmation of bishops by the pope was made a fixed rule by Nicolas III. (1277–1280). 1917 And the ancient right which bishops had exercised of resigning their sees was now denied and the privilege made dependent upon the pope’s dispensation.
After the Concordat of Worms, 1122, the appointment of bishops by princes and other lay patrons, in theory, ceased. Pope after pope declared the right of election belonged to the cathedral chapters. But, in fact, the elections were not free. Princes ignored the rights of the chapters and dictated the nominees, or had unsatisfactory elections set aside by appealing to Rome. In France and Spain, a royal writ was required before an election could be had and the royal acceptance of the candidate was interposed as a condition of consecration. In England, in spite of the settlement between Anselm and Henry I., the rights of the chapters were constantly set aside, and disputed elections were a constant recurrence. By John’s charter, the election took place in the chapter house of the cathedral, and the king might exercise the right of nomination and confirmation. 1918 In the case of disputed elections, the pope acted as umpire and might set aside all candidates and order a new election, as did Innocent III., in the case of Stephen Langton. The Fourth Lateran established the rule that a chapter, failing to reach a conclusion in three months, forfeited the right of election.
The law requiring a bishop to be at least thirty years old 1919and of legitimate birth was often set aside. Geoffrey, natural son of Henry II., was appointed bishop of Lincoln before he was twenty and for six years he enjoyed the revenues of the see without being ordained priest. He was afterwards made archbishop of York. Gerlach of Nassau was made archbishop at twenty. We have in this period no case quite so flagrant as that of Hugh of Vermandois, about 930, who, after poisoning the archbishop of Rheims, put his own son, a child of five, into the office. Disregard of the age-limit reached its height in the latter half of the fifteenth century. The larger sees were a tempting prize to noblemen, and Innocent III. felt it necessary to emphasize merit as a qualification for the episcopal office as against noble birth.
The important right of canonization was withdrawn from the bishops by Alexander III., 1181, and its exercise thenceforth restricted to the pope. Bishops were not popular material for sainthood. Otto of Bamberg is a shining exception.
From the time of Otto the Great, German bishops had the rank of princes. 1920 In France, England, and other countries, they were raised to the dignity of the peerage. The three German sees of Treves, Mainz, and Cologne probably enjoyed larger revenues and authority than any other sees in Western Christendom. They gave to the territory along the Rhine the name of the "priests’ alley." Their three prelates were among the seven electors of the empire. In Northern Germany, the see of Bremen retained its relative importance. Lund was the metropolitan see of Denmark and Scandinavia. In France, the ancient archbishoprics of Lyons and Rheims perpetuated the rank and influence of an earlier period. In England, after the see of Canterbury, Lincoln was the most influential diocese.
The cathedral and collegiate chapters grew in importance. In the earlier part of this period, it was still the custom for the canons belonging to a chapter to live under the same roof and eat at the same table. In the thirteenth century a great change took place. With the increasing wealth of the churches, the chapters threatened to assert the rights of distinct corporations, and to become virtually independent of the bishops. 1921 Prebends or stalls—stallum in choro—were furnished with endowments of their own. The sons of nobles coveted and secured these places which brought emolument and influence without work. The canons lived apart by themselves, supported by the revenues of their stalls and their portion of the cathedral income. No places were more often filled by papal appointment in the way of reservation and expectance. 1922
The archdeacon, still called as of old, "the bishop’s eye," assisted the bishop in matters of diocesan administration, visited churches, made investigation of the sacred robes and vessels, adjudicated disputes, presided over synods, and, as provided for by the English Constitutions of Otho, instructed the clergy on the sacraments and other subjects. This official threatened to assume the rank of bishop-coadjutor, or even to become independent of the bishop.3 His duties are frequently dwelt upon by English, German, and French synods. The large dioceses employed a plurality of them. As early as the eleventh century, the see of Treves had five, Cologne six, and Halberstadt thirty. 1924 After the Norman Conquest, the English dioceses adopted the system. Lincoln included the archdeaconries of Lincoln, Leicester, Stow, Buckingham, Huntingdon, Northampton, Oxford, and Bedford. Archdeacons were often appointed at an early age, and it became the custom for them to go abroad to pursue the study of canon law before entering upon the duties of their office. They were inclined to allow themselves more liberties than other ecclesiastics, and John of Salisbury propounded the question whether an archdeacon could be saved. Among the better known of the English archdeacons were Thomas à Becket, Walter Map, archdeacon of Oxford, and Peter of Blois, archdeacon of London. Peter complained to Innocent III. that he received no financial support from the 120 churches of London.
A hard struggle was carried on to remove the hand of the secular power from church funds. Synods, local and oecumenical, threatened severest penalties upon any interference of this kind. In 1209, Otto IV. renounced the old right of spoliation—jus spolii or jus exuviarum,—whereby the secular prince might seize the revenues of vacant sees and livings, and appropriate them to himself. The Church was exempted by Innocent III. from all civil taxation at the hands of laymen, except as it was sanctioned by pope or bishop, and lay patrons were enjoined against withholding or seizing for their own use church livings to which they had the right of appointment. 1925 The goods, laid aside by clerics from their livings, were the property of the Church, 1926and in case a priest died intestate, it was, in some parts, the privilege of the bishop to administer his estate. Priests were exempt from personal taxation. For prescribed taxes, free gifts so called, were substituted. Peter of Blois commended the piety of certain princes who declined to levy taxes upon churches and other ecclesiastical institutions, even for necessary expenditures, such as the repair of city walls; but met them, if not from their own resources, from booty taken from enemies. 1927
Besides the usual income accruing from landed endowments and tithes, the bishop had other sources of revenue. He might at pleasure levy taxes for the spiritual needs of his see,8and appropriate the first year’s income of newly appointed priests. Other additions, from the eleventh century on, came in the way of fees and collections for indulgences and gifts at the dedication of churches and altars, and the benediction of cemeteries. Abaelard speaks of the throngs which assembled on such festal occasions, and the large offerings which were, in part, payments for the relaxation of penances. 1929
As for the pastoral fidelity and morals of the bishops, there was much ground for complaint, and there are also records of exemplary prelates. As a whole, the prelates were a militant class. No pope of this age wore armor as did John XII., and, at a later time, Julius II., though there were few if any pontiffs, who did not encourage war under the name of religion. Bishops and abbots were often among the bravest warriors and led their troops into the thickest of the fight both on European soil and under Syrian suns. Monks and priests wore armor and went into battle. When the pope asked for the release of the fighting bishop of Beauvais, whom Richard Coeur de Lion had seized, Richard sent him the bishop’s coat of mail clotted with blood and the words taken from the story of Joseph, "We found this. Is it not thy son’s coat?" Archbishop Christian of Mainz (d. 1183) is said to have felled, with his own hand, nine antagonists in the Lombard war, and to have struck out the teeth of thirty others. Absalom and Andrew of Lund were famous warriors.0 So were Odo of Bayeux, Roger of York, and Geoffrey, his successor, and many other English prelates. The abbot Henry, afterwards archbishop of Narbonne, went at the head of the armies sent against the Albigenses, and did more, wearing the monk’s garb, to encourage bloodshed than he could have done in military dress.
The chastity of the bishops was often open to just suspicion. The Christian, already referred to, a loyal supporter of Barbarossa, kept a harem. 1931 When the confirmation of Geoffrey Riddel to the see of Ely was being prosecuted at the papal court, and Geoffrey was absent, the bishop of Orleans facetiously explained his absence by saying, "He hath married a wife, and therefore he cannot come." 1932 The case of Henry of Liége, prince-bishop of Liége, is perhaps the most notorious case. He was cited before Gregory X. at the second council of Lyons, and forced to resign. He was an illiterate, and could not read the book presented to him. For thirty years he had led a shameless life. Two abbesses and a nun were among his concubines and he boasted of having had fourteen children in twenty-two months. The worst seems to have occurred before he was made priest. Innocent IV. had been his strong friend. Salimbene tells the popular tale of his day that the saintly Cistercian, Geoffroi de Péronne, came back from the other world and announced that if he had accepted the bishopric of Tournai, as the pope urged him to do, he would have been burning in hell. From the pages of this chronicler we have the pictures of many unworthy prelates given to wine and pleasure, but also of some who were model pastors. 1933
The prelates of Germany had no better reputation than those of Italy, and Caesar of Heisterbach4reports the conversation of a Paris clerk, who declared that he "could believe all things, but it was not possible for him to believe that any German bishop could be saved." When asked the reason for such a judgment, he replied, that the German prelates carried both swords, waged wars, and were more concerned about the pay of soldiers than the salvation of the souls committed to them.
The other side to this picture is not so apt to be presented. Chroniclers are more addicted to point out the scandalous lives of priests than to dwell upon clerical fidelity. There were faithful and good bishops and abbots. The names of Anselm of Canterbury and Hugh of Lincoln, Bernard and Peter the Venerable only need to be mentioned to put us on our guard against accepting the cases of unworthy and profligate prelates which have been handed down as indicating a universal rule.
§ 126. The Lower Clergy.
The cure of souls—regimen animarum — was pronounced by the Fourth Lateran, following Gregory the Great, to be the art of arts, and bishops were admonished to see to it that men capable in knowledge and of fit morals be appointed to benefices. The people were taught to respect the priest for the sake of his holy office and the fifth commandment was adduced as divine authority for submission to him. 1935
The old rule was repeated, making the canonical age for consecration to the priesthood twenty-five. Councils and popes laid constant stress upon the priest’s moral obligations, such as integrity, temperance in the use of strong drink,6simplicity in diet and dress, abstinence from the practice of usury. 1937 He was forbidden to frequent taverns, to play at dice, to attend theatrical and mimic performances, and to allow dances in church buildings and church yards.
The old rules were renewed, debarring from the sacerdotal office persons afflicted with bodily defects, and Innocent III. complained of the bishop of Angoulême for ordaining a priest who had lost a thumb. 1938
Beginning with the twelfth century, the number of parishes increased with great rapidity both in the rural districts and in the towns. In German cities the division of the old parishes was encouraged by the citizens, as in Freiburg, Mainz, Worms, and Lübeck, and they insisted upon the right of choosing their pastor.9 On the other hand, the convents were busy establishing churches and, in Germany, there were thousands under their control. 1940 The eleventh and twelfth centuries were a busy time of church building.
What occurred in Germany occurred also in England. But here the endowment of churches and chapels by devout and wealthy laymen was more frequent. Such parishes, it is true, often fell to the charge of the orders, but also a large share of them to the charge of the cathedral chapters and bishops.
Clerical incomes varied fully as much in those days as they do now, if not more. The poorer German priests received from one-tenth to one-twentieth of the incomes of more fortunate rectors and canons. 1941 The Fourth Lateran made small salaries responsible for a poorly trained ministry.
The clergy depended for their maintenance chiefly upon the income from lands and the tithe. The theory was that the tenth belonged to the Church, "for the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof." The principle was extended to include the tithe of the fish-catch, the product of the chase, and the product of commerce. 1942 The clergy also received fees for special Sacerdotal services from baptism to burial and rites pertaining to the soul after death. Such fees became general after the twelfth century, but not without vigorous protests against them. The Second Lateran and other synods 1943forbade priests making charges for the administration of baptism, marriage, extreme unction, and other rites, and for sepulture. The ground was taken by Innocent III. that, while gifts for such services were proper, they should be spontaneous and not forced. The Fourth Lateran bade laymen see they were not overlooked.
Priests receiving their benefices from laymen were likened to thieves who came not in by the door but climbed in some other way. The lay patron had the right of nomination—presentatio. To the bishop belonged the right of confirmation—concessio. Laymen venturing to confer a living without the consent of the ecclesiastical authority exposed themselves to the sentence of excommunication. 1944 Stories were current of clerics who had bought their way to ordination and to benefices, who afterwards gnawed through their tongues in remorse. 1945 The system of pluralities was practised in spite of the decrees of oecumenical and local synods. 1946
The ideal of a faithful priest was not a preacher but one who administered the sacraments and other solemn rites upon the living and the dead. Restricted as the education of the priest was, it greatly surpassed that of his lay brother, and it was not so meagre as it has often been represented. There were writers who held up the ignorance of the clergy to scorn, but it is dangerous to base wide generalizations on such statements. Statements of another kind can be adduced to show that a class of priests had literary interests as wide as the age was familiar with. The schools that existed were for the training of the clergy. Synods assumed that clerics could read and prescribed that they should read their breviaries even while travelling on journeys. Peter of Blois urged them to read the Scriptures, which he called David’s harp, a plough working up the fallow field of the heart, and which he compared to drink, medicine, balsam, and a weapon. He also warned priests against allowing themselves "to be enticed away by the puerilities of heathen literature and the inventions of philosophers." When the universities arose, a large opportunity was offered for culture and the students who attended them were clerics or men who were looking forward to holy orders. The synod of Cologne, 1260, probably struck the medium in regard to the culture of the clergy, when it declared that it did not demand eminent learning of clerics but that they know how to read and properly sing the church service.
The function of parish-preaching was not altogether neglected. Bishops were enjoined by the Fourth Lateran to appoint men capable of preaching in all cathedral and conventual churches. In the eleventh century there was scarcely a German parish in which there was not some preaching during the year, and subsequent to that time, sermons were delivered regularly.7 The sermons were sometimes in Latin and sometimes in German. Those which are preserved abound in stories and practical lessons and show more dependence upon the Fathers than upon the Scriptures. In England and other parts of Europe sermonizing was a less common practice. English priests were required to give expositions of the Creed, the Ten Commandments, the evangelical precepts, the seven works of mercy, the seven cardinal virtues, and the seven sacraments, and to cover these subjects once a quarter. Grosseteste called upon them to be diligent in visiting the sick night and day, to preach, and to carefully read the Scriptures that they might be able to give a reason for the hope that was in them. 1948 In the regions infected with the Albigensian heresy, instruction was ordered given to children in the articles of the Catholic faith. The mendicant monks started out as preachers and supplied a popular demand. The ignorance of the priesthood at times called for inhibitions of preaching, as by the synod of Oxford, 1281.
Not the least important among the priest’s functions was the supervision of wills that the Church might come in for seemly remembrance. State laws in conflict with this custom were set aside. Abuses were recognized by synods, and the synod of Paris, 1212, ordered that laymen should not be compelled to make provision in their wills for the payment of thirty mortuary masses. The priest’s signature insured the validity of a will, and some synods made the failure to call in a priest to attest the last testament a ground of excommunication. 1949
Turning to the priest as a member of society, the Church, with unwavering emphasis, insisted upon his independence of the secular tribunal. In the seventh century, Heraclius had granted to the clergy, even in the case of criminal offences, the right of trial in ecclesiastical courts. The Isidorian fiction fully stated this theory. These and other privileges led many to enter the minor clerical orders who had no intention of performing ecclesiastical functions. Council after council pronounced the priest’s person inviolate and upon no other matter was Innocent III. more insistent.0 Violence offered to a priest was punished with the anathema, and civil authorities venturing to cite clerics to appear before them incurred the same penalty. 1951 Such legislation did not, however, bring complete immunity from injury or exempt church property from spoliation. In England, Thomas à Becket is the most noteworthy example. A bishop of Caithness had his tongue cut out. A Spanish bishop received the same treatment at the hands of a king of Aragon. In Germany, Bishop Dietrich of Naumburg, a learned man, was murdered, 1123; as were also Conrad, bishop of Utrecht, 1099; Arnold bishop of Merseburg, 1126, and other bishops. Lawrence, archdeacon of York, was murdered in the vestibule of his church by a knight. The life of Norbert of Magdeburg was attempted twice. 1952 The principle which the Church recognized in the punishment of clerical crimes was laid down by Coelestin III., 1192. Theft, homicide, perjury, or other "mortal crimes" were punished with deposition. If the priest persisted in committing offences, he was excommunicated and, at last, turned over to the state for punishment. 1953 There was no little complaint against the application of the canon law. Roger Bacon complained bitterly against the time given to its study in Bologna. He declared its study was obliterating the distinction between the clerical and lay professions. The doctors of law called themselves clerks though they had not the tonsure and took to themselves wives. He demanded that, if clergymen and laymen were to be subjected to the same law, it should be the law of England for Englishmen, and of France for Frenchmen and not the law of Lombardy.
Clerical manners were a constant subject of conciliar action. Ordination afforded no immunity from vanity and love of ostentation. The extravagance of bishops and other clergy in dress and ornaments gave rise to much scandal. The Third Lateran sought to check vain display by forbidding a retinue of more than 40 or 50 horse to archbishops, 25 to cardinals, and 20 or 30 to bishops. Archdeacons were reduced to the paltry number of 5 or 7 and deans to 2. There was some excuse for retinues in an age of violence with no provision for public police. The chase had its peculiar fascination and bishops were forbidden to take hounds or falcons with them on their journeys of visitation. Dogs and hunting were in localities denied to clergymen altogether. 1954
The fondness of the clergy for gay apparel was often rebuked. In Southern France, clergymen ventured to wear red and green colors and to substitute for the close-fitting garment the graceful and flowing open robe. They followed the fashions of the times in ornamenting themselves with buckles and belts of gold and silver and hid the tonsure by wearing their hair long. They affected the latest styles of shoes and paraded about in silk gloves and gilded spurs, with gilded breastbands on their horses and on gilded saddles.5
Full as the atmosphere of the age was of war-clamor, and many warring prelates as there were, the legislation of the Church was against a fighting clergy. The wearing of swords and dirks and of a military dress was repeatedly forbidden to them. Wars for the extermination of heresy were in a different category from feuds among Catholic Christians. It was in regard to the former that Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, said, "As for the enemies of Christ, we shall slay them and purify the face of the earth, that the whole world may be subject to one Catholic Church and become one fold and one shepherd."6 Priests were prohibited from attending executions, and also tournaments and duels, on the ground that these contests presented the possibility of untimely death to the contestants. In case a combatant received a mortal wound he was entitled to the sacrament but was denied ecclesiastical burial. 1957 The Fourth Lateran solemnly enjoined ecclesiastics against pronouncing the death sentence or executing it, and the same council forbade surgery also, so far as it involved cutting and burning, to deacons and subdeacons as well as to priests.
The period opens with the dark picture of clerical morals by Peter Damiani who likened them to the morals of the Cities of the Plain. Bernard, a hundred years later, in condemning clergymen for the use of military dress, declared they had neither the courage of the soldier nor the virtues of the clergyman. 1958 A hundred years later still Grosseteste, in describing the low moral and religious state of the English people, made the immoral lives of the clergy responsible for it.
Dice were played even on the altars of Notre Dame, Paris, 1959and dice-playing is often forbidden to priests in the acts of synods. Wine-drinking to excess was also a fault of the clergy, and Salimbene knew Italian clerics who sold wine and kept taverns. 1960 According to Caesar of Heisterbach, wine often flowed at the dedication of churches. A Devonshire priest was accustomed to brew his beer in the church-building.
The most famous passage of all is the passage in which Jacob de Vitry describes conditions in Paris. Fornication among clergymen, he says, was considered no sin. Loose women paraded the streets and, as it were by force, drew them to their lodgings. And if they refused, the women pointed the finger at them, crying "Sodomites." Things were so bad and the leprosy so incurable that it was considered honorable to have one or more concubines. In the same building, school was held upstairs and prostitutes lived below. In the upper story masters read and in the lower story loose women plied their trade. In one part of the building women and their procurors disputed and in another part the clergy held forth in their disputations. 1961
The Fourth Lateran arraigned bishops for spending the nights in revelry and wantonness. The archbishopric of Rouen was occupied for 113 years by three prelates of scandalous fame. Two of them were bastards of the ducal house and all rivalled or excelled the barons round about in turbulence and license. A notorious case in high places was that of the papal legate, Cardinal John of Crema. He held a council which forbade priests and the lower clergy to have wives or concubines; but, sent to the bishop of Durham to remonstrate with him over the debauchery which ruled in his palace, the cardinal himself yielded to a woman whom the bishop provided. The bishop regarded it as a jest when he pointed out the cardinal in the act of fornication.
Marriage and concubinage continued to be practised by the clergy in spite of the Hildebrandian legislation. Innocent III. agreed with Hildebrand that a priest with a family is divided in his affections and cannot give to God and the Church his full allegiance in time and thought.2 Writers, like Salimbene and Caesar of Heisterbach, were severe on married priests. According to the Fourth Lateran, bishops not only violated the canons of the Church themselves by committing the "crime of the flesh," as Gregory VII. called it, but winked at their violation by priests for a money-compensation. A common saying among priests was, si non caste, caute; that is, "if not chaste, at least cautious." In this way Paul’s words were misinterpreted when he said, "If they cannot contain, let them marry." Bonaventura, who knew the facts, declared "that very many of the clergy are notoriously unchaste, keeping concubines in their houses and elsewhere or notoriously sinning here and there with many persons." 1963
Conditions must have been bad indeed, if they equalled the priestly customs of the fourteenth century and the example set by the popes in the latter half of the fifteenth. Who will forget the example and mistresses of the first and only Scotch cardinal, Archbishop Beaton, who condemned Patrick Hamilton and Wishart to death! Were not the Swiss Reformers Bullinger and Leo Jud sons of priests, and was not Zwingli, in spite of his offence against the law of continence, in good standing so long as he remained in the papal communion!
The violation of the ecclesiastical law of celibacy was, however, by no means in all cases a violation of the moral law. Without the ceremony of marriage, many a priest lived honorably with the woman he had chosen, and cared for and protected his family. The Roman pontiff’s ordinance, setting aside an appointment of the Almighty, was one of the most offensive pieces of papal legislation and did unspeakable injury to the Church.
§ 127. The Councils.
The legislation of the oecumenical and local synods of this age gives the most impressive evidence of the moral ideals of the Church and its effort to introduce moral reforms. The large number of councils, as compared with the period just before 1050, was a healthy sign.4 Their time was largely taken up with disciplinary and moral subjects. They legislated upon the relation of the Church to the empire, and the election of the pope, against simony and clerical marriage, upon heresy and measures for its repression, upon the crusades and the truce of God, on the details of clerical conduct and dress, and upon the rites of worship. The doctrine of transubstantiation, defined at the Fourth Lateran, was the only doctrine which was added by oecumenical authority to the list of the great dogmas handed down from the early Church.
At one period one subject, and at another, another subject, was prominent. The character of the legislation also differed with the locality. The synods in Rome, during the latter half of the eleventh century, discussed clerical celibacy, simony, and investiture by laymen. The synods of Southern France and Spain, from the year 1200, abound in decrees upon the subject of heresy. The synods of England and Germany were more concerned about customs of worship and clerical conduct.
A notable feature is the attendance of popes on synods held outside of Rome. Leo IX. attended synods in France and Germany, as well as in Italy. Urban II. presided at the great synod of Clermont, 1095. Innocent II. attended a number of synods outside of Rome. Alexander III. was present at the important synod of Tours, where Thomas à Becket sat at his right. Lucius III. presided at the council of Verona, 1184. Innocent IV. and Gregory X. were present at the first and second councils of Lyons. Such synods had double weight from the presence of the supreme head of Christendom. The synods may be divided into three classes: —
I. Local Synods, 1050–1122.—The synods held in this, the Hildebrandian period, were a symptom of a new era in Church history. The chief synods were held in Rome and, beginning with 1049, they carried through the reformatory legislation, enforcing clerical celibacy and forbidding simony. The legislation against lay-investiture culminated in the Lenten synods at Rome, 1074 and 1075, presided over by Gregory VII. Local synods, especially in France and England, repeated this legislation. The method of electing a pope was settled by the Roman synod held by Nicolas, and confirmed by the Third Lateran, 1179. The doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, as advocated by Berengar, d. 1088, called forth action at Rome and Vercelli, 1050, and again at Rome, 1059 and 1079. The legislation bearing on the conquest of the Holy Places was inaugurated at Piacenza and more seriously at the synod of Clermont, both held in 1095.
II. The Oecumenical Councils.—Six general councils were held within a period of one hundred and fifty years, 1123–1274, as against eight held between 325–869, or a period of five hundred years. The first four go by the name of the Lateran Councils, from the Lateran in Rome, where they assembled. The last two were held in Lyons. They were called by the popes, and temporal sovereigns had nothing to do in summoning them. 1965 They were presided over by popes, and the dockets of business were prepared by papal direction. The pope ratified their decrees. The first canon of the First Lateran ran, "by the authority of the Apostolic see, we forbid," etc., — auctoritate sedis apostol. prohibemus. It is true that the assent of the assembled prelates was assumed or, if expressly mentioned, the formula ran, "with the assent of the holy synod," or "the holy synod being in session,"—sacro approbante concilio, or sacro praesente concilio. So it was with the Fourth Lateran. The six oecumenical councils are:—
1. The First Lateran, 1123, called by Calixtus II., is listed by the Latins as the Ninth oecumenical council. Its chief business was to ratify the Concordat of Worms. It was the first oecumenical council to forbid the marriage of priests. It renewed Urban II.’s legislation granting indulgences to the Crusaders.
2. The Second Lateran, 1139, opened with an address by Innocent II., consummated the close of the recent papal schism and pronounced against the errors of Arnold of Brescia.
3. The Third Lateran, 1179, under the presidency of Alexander III., celebrated the restoration of peace between the Church and the empire and, falling back on the canon of the Second Lateran, legislated against the Cathari and Patarenes. It ordered separate churches and burial-grounds for lepers. Two hundred and eighty-seven, or, according to other reports, three hundred or three hundred and ninety-six bishops attended.
4. The Fourth Lateran or Twelfth oecumenical, 1215, marks an epoch in the Middle Ages. It established the Inquisition and formulated the doctrine of transubstantiation, the two most far-reaching decrees of the mediaeval Church. Innocent III. dominated the council, and its disciplinary and moral canons are on a high plane and would of themselves have made the assemblage notable. It was here that the matter of Raymund of Toulouse was adjudicated, and here the crusade was appointed for 1217 which afterwards gave Frederick II. and Innocent’s two immediate successors so much trouble. A novel feature was the attendance of a number of Latin patriarchs from the East, possessing meagre authority, but venerable titles. The decisions of the council were quoted as authoritative by Bonaventura and Thomas Aquinas. 1966
5. The First council of Lyons, 1245, presided over by Innocent IV., has its fame from the prosecution and deposition of the emperor Frederick II. It also took up the distressed condition of Jerusalem and the menace of the Tartars to Eastern Europe.
6. The Second council of Lyons or the Fourteenth oecumenical, 1274, was summoned by Gregory X., and attended by five hundred bishops and one thousand other ecclesiastics. Gregory opened the sessions with an address as Innocent III. had opened the Fourth Lateran and Innocent IV. the First council of Lyons. The first of its thirty-one canons reaffirmed the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son. It repeated the legislation of the Fourth Lateran, prohibiting the institution of new monastic orders. The council’s chief significance was the attempt to reunite the churches of the West and the East, the latter being represented by an imposing delegation.
These oecumenical assemblages have their importance from the questions they discussed and the personalities they brought together. They had an important influence in uniting all parts of Western Christendom and in developing the attachment to the Apostolic see, as the norm of Church unity.
III. Local Synods, 1122–1294.—Some of the local synods of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries are of even more importance than some of the oecumenical councils of the same period. If they were to be characterized for a single subject of legislation, it would be the repression of heresy. Some of them had far more than a local significance, as, for example, the synod of Tours, 1163, when Spain, Sicily, Italy, England, Scotland, and Ireland were represented as well as France. Alexander III. and seventeen cardinals were present. The synod legislated against heresy.
The synod of Verona, 1184, passed a lengthy and notable decree concerning the trial and punishment of heretics. It heard the plea of the Waldenses, but declined to grant it.
The synod of Treves, 1227, passed important canons bearing on the administration of the sacraments.
The synod of Toulouse, 1229, presided over by the papal legate, celebrated the close of the Albigensian crusades and perfected the code of the Inquisition. It has an unenviable distinction among the great synods on account of its decree forbidding laymen to have the Bible in their possession.
These synods were great events, enlightening the age and stirring up thought. Unwholesome as were their measures against ecclesiastical dissent and on certain other subjects, their legislation was, upon the whole, in the right direction of purity of morals and the rights of the people.
§ 128. Church and Clergy in England.
Literature: I. The works of William of Malmesbury, William of Newburgh, Henry of Huntingdon, Roger of Wendover, M. Paris, Richard of Hoveden, John of Salisbury, Walter Map, Giraldus Cambrensis, Ordericus Vitalis, Peter of Blois, Grosseteste, etc.
II. Phillimore: The Eccles. Law of Engl., 2 vols. Lond., 1873, Supplem., 1870.—Stubbs: Select Charters of Engl. Const. Hist., 8th ed., Oxf., 1896; Constit. Hist. of Engl., 6th ed., 1897, 3 vols.—Gee and Hardy: Documents Illustr. of Engl. Ch. Hist., Lond., 1896.—F. W. Maitland: Rom. Canon Law in the Ch. of Engl., Lond., 1898.—Jessopp: The Coming of the Friars.—H. D. Traill: Social England, a Record of the Progress of the People, etc., 2 vols. Lond., 2d ed., 1894.—W. R. W. Stephens: A Hist. of the Engl. Church, 1066–1272, Lond., 1901. Freeman: The Norman Conquest and William Rufus.—Histt. of England and the Ch. of England, etc.—Dict. of Nat. Biogr.
With the Norman Conquest the Roman curia began to manifest anxious concern for the English Church and to reach out for her revenues. Reverent as the Saxon kings had been towards the pope, as was shown in their visits to Rome and the payment of Peter’s Pence, the wild condition of the country during the invasions of the Danes offered little attraction to the Church rulers of the South. Henry Of Huntingdon called the England of his day—the twelfth century—"Merrie England"7and said that Englishmen were a free people, free in spirit and free in tongue, with even more freedom in giving, having abundance for themselves and something to spare for their neighbors across the sea. The Romans were quick to find this out and treated the English Church as a rich mine to be worked. It is probable that in no other part of Christendom were such constant and unblushing demands made upon church patronage and goods. 1968 On the other hand, in no country was so persistent a struggle maintained for popular rights in Church and state against the impositions both of pope and crown.
Among the first distinct papal encroachments upon the liberties of the English Church were the appointment of legates and the demand that the archbishop go to Rome to receive the pallium. The first legates to England seem to have been sent at the invitation of William the Conqueror, 1070, to take up the case of Stigand, the Saxon archbishop of Canterbury, who had espoused the cause of the antipope. It was not long before the appointment of foreign legates was resisted and the pope, after the refusal to receive several of his representatives, was forced to yield and made it a rule to associate the legatine authority with the archbishops of Canterbury and York,—a rule, however, which had many exceptions. The legates of English birth were called legati nati in distinction from the foreign appointees, called le nati a latere.
The pope’s right to interfere in the appointment of bishops and to fill benefices was asserted soon after the Conqueror’s death. In such matters, the king showed an almost equally strong hand. Again and again the pope quashed the elections of chapters either upon his own motion or at the king’s appeal. Eugenius III. set aside William, canonically chosen archbishop of York. Stephen Langton 1207, Edmund Rich 1234, the Franciscan Kilwardby 1273, Peckham 1279, and Reynolds 1313, all archbishops of Canterbury, were substituted for the candidates canonically elected. Bonaventura was substituted for William Langton, elected archbishop of York, 1264. Such cases were constantly recurring. Bishops, already consecrated, were set aside by the pope in virtue of his "fulness of power," as was the case when Richard de Bury, d. 1345, was substituted for Robert Graystanes in the see of Durham.
This violence, done to the rights of the chapters, led to a vast amount of litigation. Almost every bishop had to fight a battle at Rome before he obtained his see. Between 1215–1264 not fewer than thirty cases of contested episcopal elections were carried to Rome. It was a bad day when the pope or the king could not find a dissident minority in a chapter and, through appeals, secure a hearing at Rome and finally a reversal of the chapter’s decision. Of the four hundred and seventy decretals of Alexander III., accepted by Gregory IX., about one hundred and eighty were directed to England. 1969
The regular appointment to benefices was also invalidated by the pernicious custom of papal reservations which threatened even in this period to include every high office in the English Church. A little later, in 1317, the supreme pontiff reserved for his own appointment the sees of Worcester, Hereford, Durham, and Rochester; in 1320 Lincoln and Winchester; in 1322, 1323 Lichfield and Winchester; 1325 Carlisle and Norwich; 1327 Worcester, Exeter, and Hereford.0
Another way by which the pope asserted his overlordship in the English Church was the translation of a bishop from one see to another. This, said Matthew Paris (V. 228), "became custom so that one church seemed to be the paramour of the other."
The English clergy and the barons looked upon these practices with disfavor, and, as at the Mad Parliament, 1258, demanded the freedom of capitular elections. The Constitutions of Clarendon, 1164, clearly expressed the national opposition, but the pope continued to go his own way.
The convents, for the most part, escaped papal interference in the election of their abbots. The reason is to be sought in the support which the orders gave to the pope in his struggle to reduce the episcopate to subjection. Nor did the crown venture to interfere, repelled, no doubt, by the compact organization of the monastic orders, the order rising to the defence of an attacked abbey.
The participation of the English bishops in the House of Lords was based originally upon the tax of scutage. From this followed their equal right to deliberate upon public affairs with the barons. At a time when this body contained less than forty lay peers, it included twenty bishops and twenty-six abbots. Most of the bishops and abbots, it would seem, had houses in London, which had taken the place of Winchester as the centre of national life.1 As the emoluments of the higher ecclesiastical dignities increased, they were sought and secured by noblemen for their sons and by members of the royal house. Odo, bishop of Bayeux, d. 1097, was the brother of William the Conqueror. Two of Stephen’s nephews were made respectively bishop of Durham and archbishop of York. Ethelmar, brother of Henry III., received the see of Winchester, 1250, 1972and the archbishopric of Canterbury was provided for Henry’s uncle, Boniface. Geoffrey, son of Henry II., was made bishop of Lincoln when a lad, and afterwards transferred to York. Among the men of humble birth who rose to highest ecclesiastical rank were Edmund Rich and Robert Kilwardby.
The honors of canonization were reached by Hugh of Lincoln, Rich of Canterbury, and Richard of Wyche, bishop of Chichester, not to speak of Anselm and Thomas à Becket. The cases of proud and warring prelates were numerous, and the custom whereby bishops held the chief offices at the court was not adapted to develope the religious virtues. Richard Flambard, bishop of Durham under William Rufus, Hugh, bishop of Lichfield, 1188–1195, and Peter des Roches of Winchester, 1205–1238, supporter of John, are among the more flagrant examples of prelates who brought no virtues to their office and learned none. William Longchamp, bishop of Ely and favorite of Richard I., was followed by a retinue of 1000 men. 1973 The council of London, 1237, presided over by the cardinal legate, Otho, reminded the bishops of their duty to "sow the word of life in the field of the Lord." And, lest they should forget their responsibilities, they were to listen twice a year to the reading of their oath of consecration.
The English chapters were divided almost equally between the two classes of clergy, monks and seculars. To the former class belonged Canterbury, Winchester, Durham, Norwich, Coventry, Rochester, Worcester, Ely, and Bath. The chapters of York, London, Exeter, Lichfield, Wells, Hereford, Lincoln, Salisbury, Llandaff, St. Asaph, St. David’s, and Chichester were made up of secular clergy. As the chapters asserted the rights of distinct corporations, their estates were treated as distinct from those of the bishop. It not infrequently happened that the bishop lost all influence in his chapter. The dean, in case the canons were seculars, and the prior, in case they were monks, actually supplanted the bishop in the control of the cathedral when the bishop and canons were hostile to each other. The Fourth Lateran, however, recognized the superior right of the bishop to enter the church and conduct the service. The Third Lateran ordered questions in the chapter settled by a majority vote, no matter what the traditional customs had been.
The pope and the English sovereign vied with one another in appropriating the revenues of the English Church, though it is probable the pope outdid the king. In William Rufus’ reign, a high ecclesiastic was no sooner dead than a royal clerk took inventory of his goods and rents, and appropriated them for the crown. The evil was so great in Stephen’s reign that the saying ran that "Christ and his saints slept." Sees were kept vacant that the crown might sequester their revenues. The principle of taxing ecclesiastical property cannot awaken just criticism. Levies for military equipment on the basis of scutage go back into the Saxon period. In the latter half of the twelfth century a new system came into vogue, and a sum of money was substituted. The first levy on the moveables of the clergy including tithes and offerings, called the spiritualia, seems to have been made in 1188 by Henry II. This was the famous Saladin tax intended for use against the Turks. 1974 For the ransom of Richard I. even the sacred vessels and books of the clergy were taxed. Under John the taxation was on an elaborate scale, but it became even more exacting under Henry III., 1216–1272. In 1294 Edward I. threatened to outlaw the clergy if they refused to grant him a half of their revenues for his war with France. The dean of St. Paul’s remonstrated with the king for this unheard-of demand, and fell dead from the shock which the exhibition of the king’s wrath made upon him. Unwilling as the clergy may have been to pay these levies, it is said they seldom refused a tenth when parliament voted its just share. The taxes for crusades were made directly by the popes, and also through the sovereign. As late as 1288, Nicolas IV. granted Edward I. a tenth for six years for a crusade. 1975
The papal receipts from England came from three sources—Peter’s Pence, the tribute of John, and special taxations. Peter’s Pence, which seems to have started with Offa II., king of Mercia, in the eighth century and was the first monetary tribute of the English people to Rome, was originally a free gift but subsequently was treated as a debt.6 The failure to promptly meet the payment became a frequent subject of papal complaint to king and bishops. In letters to Henry I., 1115, and to the archbishop of Canterbury, Pascal reminded them that not one half of the "gift" had been paid to St. Peter. Innocent III. gave his legate sharp orders to collect it and complained that the bishops kept back part of the tax for their own use. The tax of a penny for each household was compounded for £201.7s.; but, in 1306, William de Testa, the papal legate, was commanded to ignore the change and to revert to the original levy. Beginning with the thirteenth century, the matter of collection was taken out of the hands of the bishops and placed in the hands of the papal legate. By the law of Gregory X. two subcollectors were assigned to each see with wages of 3 soldi a day, the wages being afterwards increased to 5 and 8 soldi. Peter’s Pence, with other tributes to Rome, was abolished by Henry VIII.’s law of 1534.
The tribute of one thousand marks, promised by John, was paid with great unwillingness by the nation or not paid at all. In 1275, as John XXI. reminded the English king, the payments were behind seven years. By 1301 the arrearage amounted to twelve thousand marks. It would seem as if the tax was discontinued after 1334 and, in 1366, parliament forbade its further payment and struck off all arrearages since 1334. 1977 The popes, however, continued to make the claim, and the tax was paid in part or in whole.
The special taxes levied by popes were for the crusades in the East and against Frederick II. and for the expenses of the papal household. Gregory IX., 1229, with the king’s sanction, levied a tax of a tenth for himself. The extraordinary demand, made by Innocent IV., 1246, of a third of all clerical revenues for three years and a half, was refused by a notable gathering of bishops and abbots at Reading and appeal was made to a general council. 1978
The most fruitful method which Rome employed for draining the revenues of the English Church was by requisition upon her benefices and special taxation of bishops and other dignitaries for their offices. The rapacity of the Roman proconsuls seemed to be revived. The first formal demand was made by Honorius III., 1226, and required that two prebends in each cathedral and two positions in each monastery be placed at the pope’s disposal. Italians were already in possession of English livings.
In 1231, Gregory IX. forbade the English bishops conferring any more prebends until positions were provided for five Romans. In 1240, the same pontiff made the cool requisition upon the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of Lincoln and Salisbury of places for three hundred Italians.9 It was a constant complaint that Italian succeeded Italian. And the bitter indignation was expressed in words such as Shakespeare used in his King John (Act III., Sc. 1):
"that no Italian priest
Shall tithe or toil in our dominions."
Innocent IV. was the most unblushing offender. He appointed boys to prebends, as at Salisbury, and Grosseteste spoke of some of his appointees as children, parvuli. A protest, directed to him, complained that "an endless number of Italians "held appointments in England and that they took out of the kingdom 60,000 marks yearly or more than half the amount realized by the king from the realm. 1980
As early as 1256, the pope claimed the first-fruits of bishoprics, the claim to be in force for five years. Later they were made a fixed rule.1 The papal legates could not be expected to fall behind their unscrupulous or complaisant masters. When Martin arrived in 1244, he asked for 30,000 marks and seized benefices worth more than 3000 marks a year. These officials were freely denominated indefatigable extortioners, bloodsuckers, and "wolves, whose bloody jaws were consuming the English clergy." 1982 Money-getting was also esteemed the chief business of the papal representatives in Scotland. 1983 Matthew Paris compared the "bloodsucking extortion" to the work of a harlot, vulgar and shameless, venally offering herself to all, and bent upon staining the purity of the English Church. The people, he says, were estranged in body, though not in heart, from the pope who acted in the spirit of a stepfather and from the Roman Church who treated England like a stepmother. 1984 The popular indignation at times found vent in something more significant than words. Martin, after receiving textures, vases, furniture, and horses, as well as gold and silver, was given short shrift by the barons to get out of the kingdom. When he applied to the king for safe conduct, the king replied, "The devil give you safe conduct to hell and all the way through it."
The Norman Conquest exerted a wholesome, influence upon the Church in England, and introduced a new era of church building and the erection of monasteries and the regular and canonical observance of the church’s ritual. The thirteenth century was a notable period of church extension. The system of endowed vicarages was developed.
Hugh de Wells created several hundred vicarages and Grosseteste continued the policy and provided for their maintenance out of the revenues of the older churches. Chantries were endowed where mass was said for the repose of the souls of the dead, and in time these were often united to constitute independent vicarages or parishes. The synod of Westminster, 1102, provided for a more just treatment of the ill-paid vicars. The Constitutions of Otho forbade the tearing down of old historic buildings and the erection of new ones without the consent of the bishop.
The Normans also introduced a new era of clerical education. Before their arrival, so William of Malmesbury says, 1985the clergy were content with a slight degree of learning and could scarcely stammer the words of the sacraments. A satisfactory idea of the extent and dispersion of learning among the clergy it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. A high authority, Dr. Stubbs, 1986makes the doubtful statement that every one admitted even to minor orders must have been able to read and write. It happened, however, that bishops were rejected for failing in their examinations and others were admitted to their sees though they were unable to read. 1987 As for preaching, a sermon from an English parochial priest in the Middle Ages was probably a rare thing. There were at all times some men of literary ability among the English clergy as is attested by the chronicles that have come down to us, by such writers as John of Salisbury, Walter Map, and Peter of Blois (who was imported from France), and by the Schoolmen who filled the chairs at Oxford in its early history.
In spite of the measures of Anselm and other prelates, clerical marriage and concubinage continued in England. Writing to Anselm, Pascal II. spoke of the majority of the English priests as married. Laws were enacted forbidding the people to attend mass said by an offending priest; and women who did not quit priestly houses were to be treated as adulteresses and denied burial in sacred ground. An English priest in the time of Adrian IV. named his daughter Hadriana, a reminder to the pope that he himself was the son of a priest. 1988 Some relief was attempted by the introduction of the Augustinian rule, requiring priests to live together; but it was adopted in the single English cathedral of Carlisle and in a few Scotch cathedrals. The records of the courts leave no doubt of the coarse vice which prevailed in clerical groups. Even after the twelfth century, many of the bishops were married or had semi-legitimated families. According to Matthew Paris, Grosseteste was on the point of resigning his see on account of the low morals of his clergy.
The attempt to introduce the law of Gratian into England was never wholly successful. Archbishop Arundel might declare that "in all cases the canons and laws were authoritative which proceeded from the porter of eternal life and death, who sits in the seat of God Himself, and to whom God has committed the laws of the divine realm." 1989 But the barons, as at the parliament of Merton, 1236, resisted the foreign claim. William the Conqueror provided for ecclesiastical courts, under the charge of bishops and archdeacons, which took the place of the hundred court.
Suits, however, touching the temporalities of the clergy were tried in the secular courts, 1990as were also offences against the forestry laws and the laws of hunting. But all matters pertaining to wills and to marriage were reserved for the clerical court. These provisions gave the Church vast power. It was inevitable, however, that there should be a clash of jurisdiction, and, in fact, endless disputes arose in the settlement of matters pertaining to advowsons, tithes, and other such cases. The relative leniency of the penalties meted out to clerics led many to enter at least the lower orders, and enroll themselves as clerks who never had any idea of performing clerical functions.
The more important acts pertaining to the Church in England in this period were, in addition to William’s mandates for dividing the civil and church courts, the canons of the council of London, 1108, the Clarendon Constitutions, 1164, John’s brief surrendering his kingdom, 1213, the Constitutions of Otho, 1237, and the Mortmain Act of 1279. The Mortmain Act, which was one of the most important English parliamentary acts of the Middle Ages, forbade the alienation of lands to the Church so as to exempt them from the payment of taxation to the state.
§ 129. Two English Bishops.
For Hugh of Lincoln: The magna vita, by his chaplain, Adam, ed. by Dimock, Lond., 1864;—a metrical Life, ed. by Dimock, Lond., 1860,—G. G. Perry: St. Hugh of Avalon, Lond., 1879.—H. Thurston (Rom. Cath.): St Hugh of Lincoln, Lond., 1898, transl. from the French, with copious additions.—J. A. Froude: A Bishop of the Twelfth Century, in Short Studies on Great Subjects, 2d series, pp. 54–86.
For Grosseteste: His Epistolae, ed. by Luard, Lond., 1861; Monumenta Franc., ed. by Brewer.—M. Paris, Luard’s ed.—Lives of Grosseteste, by Pegge, Lond., 1793.—Lechler, in his Life of Wiclif, transl. by Lorimer, pp. 20–40.—G. G. Perry, Lond., 1871.—Felten, Freib., 1887.—F. S. Stevenson, Lond., 1899.—M. Creighton: in Hist. Lectt. and Addresses, Lond., 1903.—C. Bigg, in Wayside Sketches in Eccles. Hist., Lond., 1906. — Dict. of Nat’l Biog.
Most prominent among the English ecclesiastics of the period, as faithful administrators of their sees, are Hugh and Robert Grosseteste, both bishops of Lincoln. 1991
Hugh of Lincoln, or Hugh of Avalon, as he is also called, 1140–1200, was pronounced by Ruskin the most attractive sacerdotal figure known to him in history;2and Froude passed upon him the eulogy that he "was one of the most beautiful spirits ever incarnated in human clay, whose story should be familiar to every English boy."
Born near Grenoble, France, he was taken in his ninth year, on his mother’s death, to a convent; afterwards he entered the Grande Chartreuse, and followed an invitation from Henry II., about 1180, to take charge of the Carthusian monastery of St. Witham, which the king had founded a few years before. In 1186 he was chosen bishop of Lincoln, the most extensive diocese in England. 1993
Hugh’s friendship with Henry did not prevent him from resisting the king’s interference in the affairs of his diocese. When the king attempted to force a courtier into one of the prebends of Lincoln, the bishop sent the reply, "Tell the king that hereafter ecclesiastical benefices are to be bestowed not upon courtiers but upon ecclesiastics." He excommunicated the grand forester for encroaching upon the rights of the people. The king was enraged, but the bishop remained firm. The forests were strictly guarded so as to protect the game, and also, as is probable, to prevent Saxons from taking refuge in their recesses. The foresters and rangers were hated officials. The loss of the eyes and other brutal mutilations were the penalties for encroachment.
Towards Richard and John, Hugh showed the same independent spirit as towards Henry. At the council of Oxford, 1197, he dared to refuse consent to Richard’s demands for money, an almost unheard-of thing.4 The king’s wrath was allayed by a visit the prelate paid him at his castle on the rock of Andely. This was the famous castle built in a single year, of which Philip said, "I would take it if it were iron." To which Richard replied, "I would hold it if it were butter." Upon Hugh’s departure, Richard is reported to have said, "If all prelates were like the bishop of Lincoln, not a prince among us could lift his head against them."
Hugh’s enlightened treatment of the Jews has already been referred to. He showed his interest in the lepers, built them a house, cared for them with his own hands, and called them "the flowers of Paradise, and jewels in the crown of heaven." The Third Lateran had ordered separate churches and burial grounds for lepers. His treatment of the tomb of Fair Rosamonde was more in consonance with the canons of that age than agreeable to the spirit of our own. When, on a visit to Gadstow, he found her buried in the convent church, with lamps kept constantly burning over her body, he ordered the body removed, saying that her life was scandalous, and that such treatment would be a lesson to others to lead chaste lives. In his last moments Hugh was laid on a cross of ashes. John, who was holding a council at Lincoln, helped to carry the body to its resting-place. The archbishop of Canterbury and many bishops took part in the burial ceremonies. The Jews shed tears. Hugh was canonized in 1220, and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage.
One of the striking stories told of Hugh, the story of the swan, is attested by his chaplain and by Giraldus Cambrensis, who witnessed the swan’s movements. The swan, which had its nest at Stow, one of the bishop’s manors, was savage and unmanageable till Hugh first saw it. The bird at once became docile, and learned to follow the bishop’s voice, eat from his hand, and to put his bill up his sleeve. It seemed to know instinctively when the bishop was coming on a visit, and for several days before would fly up and down the lake flapping its wings. It kept guard over him when he slept.
Robert Grosseteste, 1175–1253, had a wider range of influence than Hugh, and was probably the most noteworthy Englishman of his generation. 1995 No prelate of his century was so bold in telling the pope his duty. To his other qualities he added the tastes and acquisitions of the scholar. He was a reformer of abuses, and a forerunner of Wyclif in his use of the Scriptures. Roger Bacon, his ardent admirer, said that no one really knew the sciences but Robert of Lincoln. 1996 His great influence is attested by the fact that for generations he was referred to as Lincolniensis, "he of Lincoln."
Born in England, and of humble origin, a fact which was made by the monks of Lincoln an occasion of derision, he pursued his studies in Oxford and Paris, and subsequently became chancellor of Oxford. He was acquainted with Greek, and knew some Hebrew. He was a prolific writer, and was closely associated with Adam Marsh. 1997
No one welcomed the advent of the Mendicant Friars to England with more enthusiasm than did Grosseteste. He regarded their coming as the dawn of a new era, and delivered the first lectures in their school at Oxford, and left. them his, library, though he never took the gray cowl himself, as did Adam Marsh.
On being raised to the see of Lincoln, 1235, Grosseteste set out in the work of reforming monastic and clerical abuses, which brought him uninterrupted trouble till the close of his career. He set himself against drinking bouts, games in the churches and churchyards, and parish parades at episcopal visitations. The thoroughness of his episcopal oversight was a novelty. He came down like a hammer upon the monks, reports Matthew Paris, and the first year be removed seven abbots and four priors. At Ramsey he examined the very beds, and broke open the monks’ coffers like "a burglar," destroying their silver utensils and ornaments.8 To the monks, who were about to choose an abbot, He wrote: "When you choose one to look after your swine, you make diligent search for a person possessing proper qualifications. And you ask the questions, Is he physically capable? Has he the requisite experience? Is he willing to take them into fitting pastures in the morning, to defend them against thieves and wild beasts, to watch over them at night? And are not your souls of more value than many swine?"
The most protracted contest of his life was with his dean and chapter over the right of episcopal visitation. 1999 The canons preached against him in his cathedral. But Grosseteste cited the cases of Samuel, who visited Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and David, who defended his father’s flocks. He was finally sustained by the pope.
In no way did the great bishop win a more sure place in history than by his vigorous resistance to the appointment of unworthy Italians to English livings and to other papal measures. In 1252, he opposed the collection of a tenth for a crusade which had the pope’s sanction. He declined to execute the king’s mandate legitimatizing children born before wedlock. His most famous refusal to instal an Italian, was the case of the pope’s nephew, Frederick of Lavagna. The pope issued a letter threatening with excommunication any one who might venture to oppose the young man’s induction. Grosseteste, then seventy-five years old, replied, declaring, "I disobey, resist, and rebel." 2000 Matthew Paris (III. 393), professing to describe the scene in the papal household when the letter was received, relates that Innocent IV., raved away at the deaf and foolish dotard who had so audaciously dared to sit in judgment upon his actions." Notwithstanding this attitude to the appointment of unworthy Italians, the bishop recognized the principle that to the pope belongs the right of appointing to all the benefices of the church. 2001
On his visit to Lyons, 1250, Grosseteste’s memorandum against the abuses of the clergy was read in the pope’s presence. "Not in dispensing the mass but in teaching the living truth" does the work of the pastor consist, so it declared. "The lives of the clergy are the book of the laity." Adam Marsh, who was standing by, compared the arraignment to the arraignments of Elijah, John the Baptist, Paul, Athanasius, and Augustine of Hippo.
According to Matthew Paris, on the night of Grosseteste’s death strange bells were heard. Miracles were reported performed at his tomb, and the rumor ran that, when Innocent was proposing to have the bishop’s body removed from its resting-place in the cathedral, Grosseteste appeared to the pope in a dream, gave him a sound reprimand, and left him half dead. The popular veneration was shown in the legend that on the night of Innocent IV’s death the bishop appeared to him with the words, "Aryse, wretch, and come to thy dome."
In the earlier part of his life, Grosseteste preached in Latin; in the latter he often used the vernacular. He was the greatest English preacher of his age. He was not above the superstitions of his time, and one of his famous sermons was preached before Henry III. at the reception of the reputed blood of Christ.2 His writings are full of Scriptural quotations, and he urged the importance of the study of the Scriptures at the university, and the dedication of the morning hours to it, and emphasized their authority. 2003 Wyclif quoted his protest against the practices of Rome, 2004and he has been regarded as a forerunner of the English Reformation.
Of Grosseteste’s writings the best known was probably his de cessatione legalium, the End of the Law, a book intended to convince the Jews. With the aid of John of Basingstoke, he translated the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, which Basingstoke had found in Constantinople. 2005 He seems to have been a man of sterling common sense, as the following counsels indicate. To a friar he said:, Three things are necessary for earthly well-being, food, sleep, and a merry heart." To another friar addicted to melancholy, he prescribed, as penance, a cupfull of the best wine. After the medicine had been taken, Grosseteste said, "Dear brother, if you would frequently do such penance, you would have a better ordered conscience." 2006
Matthew Paris (V. 407) summed up the bishop’s career in these words:—
"He was an open confuter of both popes and kings, the corrector of monks, the director of priests, the instructor of clerks, the supporter of scholars, a preacher to the people, a persecutor of the incontinent, the unwearied student of the Scriptures, a crusher and despiser of the Romans. At the table of bodily meat, he was hospitable, eloquent, courteous, and affable; at the spiritual table, devout, tearful, and contrite. In the episcopal office he was sedulous, dignified, and indefatigable."