Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 57. THE RIGHT OF PRINCES TO APPOINT BISHOPS

57. THE RIGHT OF PRINCES TO APPOINT BISHOPS

    Now because much disquietness and controversy hath arisen (for the most part through all Christendom in every kingdom and realm severally) for and about the authority of choosing and depriving of bishops, (as may be seen by the example of this Frederic,) which the pope only and arrogantly challengeth to himself, and saith it doth not appertain to another, I thought good not with silence to overpass; but somewhat to say and to prove the authority of Christian kings and princes in this behalf to be both sufficient and good. Which thing not only by the Holy Scriptures is right easy to be done; but also that it is by synodal decrees and councils divers and sundry established and confirmed may easily be proved; as also by the ancient custom and manner of the primitive church may further be corroborated and made good.

    Whereunto appertain certain places collected and gathered out of the decrees of Gratianus, and especially in these canons, 12; 13, 14, 26, 27, 32, and 63, distinctions. Furthermore, when Christian kings and princes began to embrace Christ's religion, both for honour and order's sake it was granted, that when the people desired such ministers as were convenient, and by them thought meet, that they which were then in the ecclesiastial function, and chiefest in authority, should either confirm such as were presented, or else themselves, should place fit men in their churches as need required. So did the emperors of Constantinople (receiving the order and manner from Constantine the Great) use and give the right of ecclesiastical function, with the consent both of the people and ecclesiastical persons, and long so retained the same. As Honorius the emperor unto Boniface, can. 8; dist. 79, and can. 2, dist. 97.. Also by the example of Pelagius and Gregorius Magnus; of which one in the reign of. Justinian the emperor and Totila governing Italy, the other in the time of Mauricius the emperor, (when the Lombards possessed Italy,) were appointed bishops to the church of Rome.

    And whereas Gratianus in the beginning of the 96th and 97th distinction doth declare, that, the rescript of Honorius the emperor is void and, of none effect, for that he determined the election of the bishop of Rome, contrary to the authority of the holy canons, when as yet neither to the civil magistrate, nor to any of the ecclesiastical order, can there be read of any licence given them to dispense it withal, each man may plainly see and discern his great folly and want of understanding. As though at that time any decrees were made which should debar emperors from the constituting of the ecclesiastical ministers; or that it were doubtful whether the emperors at that time had passed any constitutions touching the causes of ecclesiastical discipline, and the same laws then put in use; when the contrary most manifestly (both by the laws and histories of that age and time, as well of the church as of the empire) may appear. And, that we need not seek, far for the matter, this thing is sufficiently proved by these titles; De sacrosanctis ecclesiis, episcopis, clericis, besides other ecclesiastical chapters and matters touching religion. All which are to be seen in the books of the principal and chiefest constitutions, collected and set forth. by Justinian. Amongst the which many of the chapters are said to be accepted and allowed of Honorius and Theodosius; so in like case the 21st can. in the 63rd distinction doth declare, that the Grecian emperors, that next ensued after Justinian, did observe that manner of ordaining and election of the bishop of Rome, although then at that time it was somewhat spurned at. Amongst whom mention is made of Constantiaus the Fourth, which was surnamed Pogonatus.

    Charlemagne in like manner followed their steps and manner in the, same, as in the 22nd canon and the same distinction is declared. And further, it was at a synodal council, in Lateran (Adrian being high bishop, where were csqnvented and assembled one hundred and fifty-three other bishops) decreed; that the power and authority of creating the bishop of Rome, and ordaining of all other prelates and ecclesiastical otders, should be in the power and will of Charlemagne, as well in Italy as in his other dominions and provinces; and that whosoever was not promoted and allowed by him should not be consecrated of any; and that those which repugned and disobeyed this decree should incur the most sharp pain of proscription and publication of law. The worthy example hereof is extant in the 18th can. and 18th title. Yet, notwithstanding, Stephanus the Fourth, author of this rescript against the said decree, without the emperor's consent, was: made bishop of Rome; who, to the intent he might elude the decreed and solemnized penalty, thereby to excuse himself went into France to Ludovicus Pius, the son of Charlemagne, and at Rheims crowned he him with the imperial diadem. Neither could this bishop here stay himself; but, spying the great lenity of the emperor, assayed to make frustrate the foresaid constitution. For his purpose was, and so he brought it to pass, as in the 27th can. and the same distinction appeareth, that it might be lawful for the ecclesiastical order, with the people and senate of Rome, (without the authority of the emperor,) to choose the bishop of Rome, reserving that he should not be consecrated without the will and consent of the emperor. Thus it is manifest that the bishops of Rome themselves, not regarding, but despising, the strict penalty and sanction of the foresaid decree of the Lateran council, were not only the first that brake thesame, but also, by contrary respripts and constitutions laboured and endeavoured to extol and set up themselves above all others.

    Whereupon Lothaire, afterward being emperor, and nephew to Charlemagne, coming into Italy; there to dissolve the conspiracy and confederacy of Leo the Fourth, about the translation of the empire; renewed and established again the synodal decree of Lateran, touching the jurisdiction of the emperor for the election of the bishop of Rome and other ecclesiastical persons. And hereof it came that those epistles were written of Leo in the 16th and 17th canon, and the same distinction, which also,.as in the 9th can, and 10th distinction, made a profession, that the same imperial precepts should be kept in all ages. This Leo, when he was reproved of treason and other evils, pleaded his cause before Louis the Second, emperor of Rome, and son of Lothaire above recited, 2nd question, 7th can. 40.

    But after this, as time grew on, the bishops of Rome, nothing relinquishing their ambitious desires, Otho, the first emperor of that name, deprived and put from the see of Rome that most filthy and wicked bishop John the Thirteenth, both for divers and sundry wicked and heinous acts by him committed, as also for his great treasons and conspiracies against his royal person, and did substitute in his place Leo the Fifth; who, calling a synod at Lateran in the same temple and place where the other before was kept,, did promulgate a new constitution, with consent of the senate and people of Rome, concerning the emperor's jurisdiction in the foresaid election; which in the 23rd canon is contained, and 63rd distinction. Whereby the old right and power of the emperor in the election of the bishop of Rome, and other ecclesiastical prelates, was again with sharper and stricter sanction confirmed and ratified. Again, John the Eighteenth, whom Crescentius the Roman (usurping the imperial crown) had made bishop by the consent of the people of Rome and the ecclesiastial order, having his nose cut off, and his eyes put out, and so thrust out of the capitol, was again of Otho the Third established and made bishop. But when as yet notwithstanding the bishops of Rome would not alter their old accustomed disposition, but with all their industry endeavoured to abrogate that jurisdiction of the emperor over the bishop of Rome, (as people loth to be under subjection,) Henry the Third (then Leo the Ninth, being constituted bishop) did once again ratify the same, and caused the bishop (which extolled himself, before all his fellow bishops) to stoop and give place to Moguntius.

    So after the death of Henry the Third, emperor, Nicholas the Second, although in his decree (which in the lst canon and 23rd distinction is recited) he gave the primacy for the election of the bishop of Rome, by the means of the priests and people of Rome, unto the cardinals; yet he would after that that the prerogative therein should be reserved to Henry the Fourth; the young emperor, from whom the empire afterwards was for a time wrested and taken.

    But now after this, when Hildebrand, which was called Gregory the Seventh, was pope, this prerogative of the emperor's in their election, which before in the creation of Alexander the bishop was neglected and broken, the bishops of Rome not only did seek to diminish the authority thereof, but also to evacuate and quite undo the same. For he not only aspired to that dignity without the consent and appointment of the emperor, but also made restraint, that no emperor, king, duke, marquis, earl, or any civil magistrate; should assign and appoint to any, any ecclesiastical function and charge, neither that any of his prelates should be so hardy as to take them at any of their hands; as quest. 16, can. 7, 9, and 10, may be seen.

    Yet notwithstanding, after that this horrible monster Hildebrand was proscript and thrust out of the papal seat, and Clement the Third put in his stead, Henry again challenged his imperial prerogative of election. But yet, when the bishops which succeeded after this Hildebrand, and led by his example, began to derogate from the imperial prerogative of election, and Henry on the other side, by all the means possible, sought to defend and maintain the same, by the subtle fraud and mischievous policy of the bishops, which set the son against the father, and found means to steal from him the hearts of his nobles and subjects, and to set them all against him, and especially the princes of Germany, he was deposed and disappointed of his purpose.

    And although Henry the Fifth (coming to Rome) brought Paschalis the Second to that point, that he, both in public council, and in writing sealed, and also by oath confirmed, restored again to the emperors of Rome the prerogative of election, and of giving ecclesiastical dignities; yet notwithstanding, after that Henry the emperor was gone from Rome, Paschalis the pope, greatly repenting and sorrowing that he had done, (in allowing and confirming the privileges of emperors through fear,) touching the giving and disposing of ecclesiastical functions, excommunicated the emperor, and in a synodal council at Lateran ordained and decreed that he should be had and accounted a wicked enemy, that would take any ecclesiastical function or preferment at the hands of a civil magistrate; whereupon were made these decrees, qtr. 16, chap. 7, 13, 14, 15, and 16.

    Therefore when these decrees touching the designation of bishops, in spite and contempt of the emperor, were practised and put in use, and when that now (especially by the means and procurement of the bishops) intestine and civil wars began to rise in the empire, the imperial jurisdiction in this matter was not only weakened and much debilitate, but also in manner utterly broken and lost. For when Henry the Fifth, emperor, was sharply of Lotharius and his vassals the bishops beset, and laid unto by the provocation of the pope, and was mightily, by the bishops that took his part on the other side, requested and entreated (in hope of public peace and tranquillity) that he would condescend and somewhat yield to the pope's demands; he at length, (the more was the pity,) that he might be reconciled and have peace with Pope Calixtus the Second, in the city of Vangio, departed from and with that his prerogative or jurisdiction of giving ecclesiastical preferments to the pope and his prelates, now more than three hundred years, from the time of Charlemagne, in the hands of the emperors of Rome, and until this time with great fortitude and princely courage conserved and kept; which resignation turned to no small detriment both of the church of Christ and Christian commonwealth.

    Then first, and never before, obtained the bishop of Rome, and quietly enjoyed, that prerogative of election and bestowing of benefices, which he so long before with such great policies, now secretly, now openly, and now with force, had sought for. And with what sufficient and good authority Gratianus will prove, that before this time the same authority was given to the city of Rome for the election of the pope without the consent of the emperor, he showeth, as in the 29th and 30th canon, and what good stuff he putteth in the latter, and how subtlely that papistical flatterer or pontifical parasite hath forged the same, both Carolus Molinæus sufficiently in divers places hath noted, and by the observation of times may of a mean historiographer, that hath read the French and German histories, soon be espied and discerned. For, first, five bishops one after another succeeded this Gregory the Fourth, upon whom the 29th canon is entitled or fathered; that is, Sergius the Second, John the Eighth, Adrian the Second, John the Ninth, and Adrian the Third. Which Adrian, by force, wresting the authority of the election from the people, was made pope; whenas Gregory (specially to be noted) would not take on him the papacy before that the emperor had consented to his election. After this, Molinæus compareth Raphael Volateran with the 30th canon, which again is suspected. For why? When Eugenius was bishop, who was the successor of this Paschal, with whom Louis the Pious is said to have made a league or paction, the same Louis the Pious, with his son Lotharius, together with the help of the king of Romans, at Rome made laws both to all his subjects in the empire, as also to the Romans themselves; speaking nothing of the renewing of the decree made by Lotharius. Then again, how could Leo the Fourth write to Lothaire and Louis, emperors, that counterfeit or forged decree beginning with Constitutio, &c., when in the same mention is made of Henry the Fowler, and Otho the First, which reigned more than fourscore years after them, and Leo the Fourth, bishop of Rome?

    Now with what face dare this fond fellow Gratianus make Otho the First to be author of the 31st canon, whenas Otho deprived the same John the Twelfth of the papacy; and not only took nothing from the imperial jurisdiction concerning the election, nor from the city of Rome, nor any other bishops subject to the Roman empire, but added somewhat more thereunto, as was said before. And yet, notwithstanding, so shameless and senseless was this Gratian, that he durst obtrude and lay before the reader so manifest fraud and evident legerdemain, (feigned, and made of his own brains in the compiling of this decree,) being so necessary, as he thought, for the dominion and primacy of the Roman bishops, in the stead of good and true laws; neither fearing that the same might be after his days reprehended, neither to his great shame and discredit to him attributed. Where also, by the way, is to be noted, that as this graceless Gratianus, to please these holy fathers, and to erect their kingdom, would give so impudent an attempt to the blinding and deceiving of all posterities, inserting for grounded truths and holy decrees such loud lies and detestable doctrine, what may be thought of the rabble of the rest of writers in those days? what attempts might hope of gain cause them to work! by whom, and such like, is to be feared the falsifying of divers other good works now extant, in those perilous times written.

    Thus when the bishops had once wrested this authority out of the emperor's hands, they then so fortified and armed themselves and their dominion, that although afterwards Frederic the First, grandfather unto this good emperor Frederic the Second, as also Louis the Pious, and Henry of Luxemburg, (as men most studious and careful for the dignities of the empire, unfeigned lovers and maintainers of the utility of the commonweal, and most desirous of the preservation and prosperity of the church,) did all their endeavours with singular wisdom and strength, as much as in them lay, to recover again from the bishop of Rome this authority of the imperial jurisdiction lost, most cruelly and wickedly abusing the same, to the destruction both of the empire, undoing of the commonwealth, and utter subversion of the church of God; yet could they not be able to bring the same to pass in those dark and shadowed times of perverse doctrine and errors of the people, and most miserable servitude of civil magistrates.

    The same and like privilege also in the election of their bishops and prelates, and disposing of ecclesiastical offices, as the emperor of Rome had, every prince and king in their several dominions had the like. For by the decree of the Council of Toletan, which in the 25th canon and 63rd distinction is mentioned, the authority of creating and choosing bishops and prelates in Spain was in the power of the king of Spain. The like also by the histories of Clovis, Charlemagne, Louis the Ninth, Philip Augustus, Philip the Fair, Charles the Fifth, Charles the Sixth, Charles the Seventh, kings of France, is apparent and well known; for all these kings had the chief charge and government of the French Church, and not the bishops of Rome.

    And by our English histories also, as you heard, it is manifest, that the authority of choosing ecclesiastical ministers and bishops was always in the kings of England, till the reign of King Henry the First; who, by the labour and procurement of Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, was deprived and put from the same.

    Also the princes of Germany and electors of the emperor, till the time of Henry the Fifth, had all (every prince severally in his own empire and province) the same jurisdiction and prerogative to give and dispose ecclesiastical functions to their prelates at their pleasure, and after that it appertained to the people and prelates together. And how, in the reign of Frederic, the prelates gat unto themselves alone this immunity, John of Aventine in his seventh book of the Annals of the Boiores doth describe.

    Also it is probable that the kings of Sicily had the same faculty in giving and disposing their ecclesiastical promotions and charge of churches. And that because Frederic defended himself against the tyranny of the bishop of Rome, therefore (as Fazellus saith) he was excommunicated of Honorius; but that Platina and Blondus allege other causes wherefore he was excommunicate of Honorius, I am not ignorant; howbeit, he that will compare their writings with others, that write more indifferently between Honorius and him, shall easily find that they more sought the favour of the Roman bishops than to write a verity. But now again to the history of Frederic.

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