Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 71. KING EDWARD III -- MATTERS ECCLESIASTICAL

71. KING EDWARD III -- MATTERS ECCLESIASTICAL

Thus having discoursed at large all such martial affairs and warlike exploits, incident in the reign of this king betwixt him and the realms of France and Scotland; now, to return again to our matters ecclesiastical, it followeth in order to recapitulate and notify the troubles and contentions growing between the same king and the pope, and other ecclesiastical persons in matters touching the church, in order of years remaining in the Tower, taken out of the records, as followeth. As where first, in the fourth year of his reign, the king wrote to the archbishop of Canterbury to this effect: That whereas King Edward the First, his grandfather, did give to a clerk of his own, being his chaplain, the dignity of treasurer of York, the archbishopric of York being then vacant and in the king's hands, in the quiet possession whereof the said clerk continued until the pope misliking therewith would have displaced him, and promoted to the same dignity a cardinal of Rome, to the manifest prejudice of the crown of England; the king therefore straitly chargeth the archbishop of York not to suffer any matter to pass that may be prejudicial to the donation of his grandfather, but that his own clerk should enjoy the said dignity accordingly, upon pain of his Highness's displeasure.

    The like precepts were also directed to these bishops following, namely, to the bishop of Lincoln, bishop of Worcester, bishop of Sarum, Monsieur Marmion, archdeacon of Richmond, archdeacon of Lincoln, the prior of Lewen, the prior of Lenton, to Master Rich of Bentworth, to Master Iherico de Concoreto, to the pope's nuncio, to Master Guido of Calma. And withal, he wrote his letters unto the pope, as touching the same matter, consisting in three parts: First, in the declaration and defence of his right and title to the donation and gift of all manner of temporalties, of offices, prebends, benefices, and dignities ecclesiastical, holden of him in capite, as in the right of his crown of England. Secondly, in expostulating with the pope for intruding himself into the ancient right of the crown of England, intermeddling with such collations, contrary to right and reason, and the example of all his predecessors, which were popes before. Thirdly, entreating him that he would henceforth abstain and desist from molesting the realm with such novelties and strange usurpations; and so much the more, for that, in the public parliament lately holden at Westminster, it was generally agreed upon by the universal assent of all the estates of the realm, that the king should stand to the defence of all such rights and jurisdictions as to his regal dignity and crown any way appertained.

    After this, in the ninth year of the reign of this king, Pope Benedict the Twelfth sendeth down letters touching his new creation, with certain other matters and requests to the king; whereunto the king answering again, declareth how glad he is of that his preferment; adding, moreover, that his purpose was to have sent unto him certain ambassadors for congratulation of the same; but being otherwise occupied by reason of wars, could not attend to his Holiness's requests: notwithstanding, he minded to call a parliament about the feast of Ascension next, where, upon the assembly of his clergy and other estates, he would take order for the same, and so direct his ambassadors to his Holiness accordingly.

    The next year after, which was the tenth year of his reign, the king writeth another letter to the pope; That forasmuch as his clergy had granted him one year's tenth for the supportation of his wars, and for that the pope also had the same time to take up the payment of six years' tenths granted him by the clergy a little before, therefore the pope would vouchsafe, at his request, to forbear the exaction of that money for one year, till that his tenth for the necessities of his wars were despatched.

    The same year he wrote also to the pope to this effect: That whereas the prior and chapter of Norwich did nominate a clerk to be bishop of Norwich, and sent him to Rome for his investiture, without the king's knowledge; therefore the pope would withdraw his consent, and not intermeddle in the matter appertaining to the king's peculiar jurisdiction and prerogative.

    After this, in the sixteenth year of this king, it happened that the pope sent over certain legates to hear and determine matters appertaining to the right of patronages of benefices; which the king perceiving to tend to the no small derogation of his right, and the liberties of his subjects, writeth unto the said legates, admonishing and requiring them not to proceed therein, nor attempt any thing unadvisedly, otherwise than might stand with the lawful ordinances and customs of the laws of his realm, and the freedom and liberty of his subjects.

    Writing moreover the same year to other legates, being sent over by the pope to treat of peace between the king and the. French king, with request that they would first make their repair to the French king, who had so oftentimes broken with him, and prove what conformity the French king would offer; which, if he found reasonable, they should soon accord with him; otherwise he exhorted them not to enter into the land, nor to proceed any further in that behalf.

    The year following, which was the seventeenth of his reign, ensued another letter to the pope against his provisions and reservations of benefices.

    The year following, another letter likewise was sent by the king to the pope, upon occasion taken of the church of Norwich, requiring him to surcease his reservations and provisions of the bishoprics within the realm, and to leave the elections thereof free to the chapters of such cathedral churches, according to the ancient grants and ordinances of his noble progenitors.

    Proceeding now to the nineteenth year of this king's reign, there came to the presence of the king certain legates from Rome, complaining of certain statutes passed in his parliament tending to the prejudice of the Church of Rome, and the pope's primacy: viz. That if abbots, priors, or any other ecclesiastical patrons of benefices should not present to the said benefices within a certain time, the lapse of the same should come to the ordinary or chapter thereof; or if they did not present, then to the archbishop; if the archbishop likewise did fail to present, then the gift to pertain not unto the lord pope, but unto the king and his heirs. Another complaint also was this, that if archbishops should be slack in giving such benefices as properly pertained to their own patronage in due time, then the collation thereof likewise should appertain to the aforesaid king and his heirs. Another complaint was, that if the pope should make void any elections in the church of England for any defect found therein, and so had placed some honest and discreet persons in the same, that then the king and his heirs was not bound to render the temporalties unto the parties placed by the pope's provision. Whereupon the pope being not a little aggrieved, the king writeth unto him, certifying that he was misinformed, denying that there was any such statute made in that parliament. And further, as touching all other things, he would confer with his prelates and nobles, and thereof would return answer by his legates.

    In the twentieth year of his reign, another letter was written to the pope by the king, the effect whereof, in few words to express it, was this: to certify him that, in respect of his great charges sustained in his wars, he hath by the counsel of his nobles, taken into his own hands the fruits and profits of all his benefices here in England.

    To proceed in the order of years: in the twenty-sixth year of this king, one Nicholas Heath, clerk, a busy-headed body, and a troubler of the realm, had procured divers bishops, and others of the king's council, to be cited up to the court of Rome, there to answer such complaints as he had made against them. Whereupon commandment was given by the king to all the ports of the realm, for the restraint of all passengers out, and for searching and arresting all persons bringing in any bulls or other process from Rome, tending to the derogation of the dignity of the crown, or molestation of the subjects; concerning which Nicholas Heath, the king also writeth to the pope his letters, complaining of the said Heath, and desiring him to give no ear to his lewd complaints.

    The same year the king writeth also to the pope's legate, resident in England, requiring him to surcease from exacting divers sums of money of the clergy, in the name of first-fruits of benefices.

    The thirty-first year of this king's reign, the king, by his letters, complaineth to the pope of a troublesome fellow named Nicholas Stanway, remaining in Rome, which by his slanderous complaints procured divers citations to be sent into the realm, to the great disturbance of divers and sundry honest men; whereupon he prayeth and adviseth the pope to stay himsclf, and not to send over such hasty citations upon every light occasion.

    To pass further to the thirty-eighth year of the same king, thus we find in the rolls: That the king the same year took order by two of his clergy, to wit, John à Stock, and John of Norton, to take into their hands all the temporalties of all deaneries, prebends, dignities, and benefices, being then vacant in England, and to answer the profits of the same to the king's use.

    The same year an ordinance was made by the king and his council, and the same was proclaimed in all port towns within the realm ? "That good and diligent search should be made that no person whatsoever, coming from the court of Rome, &c., do bring into the realm with him any bull, instrument, letters patent, or other process, that may be prejudicial to the king, or any of his subjects; nor that any person, passing out of this realm toward the court of Rome, do carry with him any instrument or process that may redound to the prejudice of the king or his subjects, and that all persons passing to the said court of Rome, &c., with the king's special licence, do notwithstanding promise and find surety to the lord chancellor, that they shall not in any wise attempt to pursue any matter to the prejudice of the king or his subjects, under pain to be put out of the king's protection, and to forfeit his body, goods, and chattels, according to the statute thereof made, in the twenty-seventh year," &c.

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