67. QUARREL OF KING PHILIP OF FRANCE AND THE POPE
Now to return to that which I promised before, touching the variance and grievous dissension between Philip the French king, and Pope Boniface, the eighth of that name. After the bishopric of Rome had been long void through the dissension of the cardinals, for the space of two years and three months, at length Pope Celestinus was chosen successor to Pope Nicholas the Fourth. Which Celestinus in his first consistory began to reform the clergy of Rome, thinking to make it an example to all other churches. Wherefore he procured to himself such hatred among his clergymen, that this Boniface, then called Benedictus, speaking through a reed by his chamber wall, nightly admonished him, as it had been a voice from heaven, that he should give over his papacy, as being a burden bigger than he could wield.
This Pope Celestine, after he had sat six months, by the treachery and falsehood of this Boniface, was induced to give up and resign his bishopric, partly for the voice spoken of before, partly for fear; being told of certain craftily suborned in his chamber, that, if he did not resign, he should lose his life. Who then after his resignation, going to live in some solitary desert, (being a simple man,) was vilely taken and thrust into perpetual prison by Pope Boniface; craftily pretending that he did it not for any hatred unto Celestine, but that seditious persons might not have him as their head to raise up some stir in the church. And so he was brought to his death. Wherefore this Boniface was worthily called the eighth Nero; of whom it was rightly said, He came in like a fox, reigned like a lion, and died like a dog.
This Pope Boniface succeeding, or rather invading, after Celestinus, behaved himself so imperiously, that he put down princes, excommunicated kings, such as did not take their confirmation at his hand. Divers of his cardinals he drove away for fear; some of them as schismatics he deposed and spoiled of all their substance. Philip, the French king, he excommunicated for not suffering his money to go out of the realm; and therefore cursed both him and his to the fourth generation. Albert, the emperor, not once nor twice, but thrice, sought at his hands to be confirmed, and yet was rejected, neither could obtain, unless he would promise to drive the French king out of his realm. In the factious discord in Italy between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, which the part of a good bishop had been to extinguish, so little he helped to quench the smoke, that he of all other was the chiefest firebrand to increase the flame. Insomuch that upon Ash Wednesday, when Porchetus, an archbishop, came and kneeled down before him to receive his ashes, Pope Boniface, looking upon him, and perceiving that he was one of the Ghibellines' part, cast his handful of ashes in his eyes, saying, Remember, man, that a Ghibelline thou art, and to ashes thou shalt go. This pope, moreover, ordained first the jubilee in. Rome; in the solemnizing whereof the first day he showed himself in his pontificalibus, and gave free remission of sins to as many as came to Rome out of all the parts of the world. The second day, being arrayed with imperial ensigns, he commanded a naked sword to be carried before him, and said with a loud voice, Lo, hear the power and authority of both the swords, &c.
From the which very year (as most stories do record) the Turks do begin the first count of their Turkish emperors, whereof the first was Ottomanus, as you shall hear discoursed hereafter, by God's grace, in the history of Turks.
By this said Pope Boniface divers constitutions, extravagancies of his predecessors, were collected together, with many of his own newly added thereto, and so made the book called Sextus Decretalium, &c. By whom also first sprang up pardons and indulgences from Rome.
These things thus premised of Boniface the pope, now will I come to the occasion of the strife between him and the French king. Concerning which matter, first I find, in the history of Nicholas Trivet, that, in the year of our Lord 1301, the bishop of Oppanuham, being accused for a conspiracy against the French king, was brought up to his court, and so committed to prison. The pope hearing this, sendeth word to the king by his legate to set him at liberty. The French king, not daring to the contrary, looseth the bishop. But when he had done, he dischargeth both the bishop and the legate, commanding them to void his realm. Whereupon Pope Boniface revoketh all the graces and privileges granted either by him or his predecessors before to the kingdom of France; also not long after he thundered out the sentence of his curse against him. Moreover, he citeth all the prelates, all divines and lawyers, both civil and canon, to appear personally before him at Rome, at a certain day, which was the first of November. Against this citation the king again provideth, and commandeth by strait proclamation, that no manner of person should export out of the realm of France either gold or silver, or any other manner of war or merchandise, upon pain of forfeiting all their goods and their bodies at the king's pleasure; providing withal, that the ways and passages should diligently be kept, that none might pass unsearched. Over and besides, the said French king defeated the pope in giving and bestowing prebends, and benefices, and other ecclesiastical livings, contrary to the pope's profit. For the which cause the pope writeth to the aforesaid king in form and effect as followeth.
"Boniface, the servant of God's servants, &c. Fear God, and observe his commandments. We will thee to understand, that thou art subject to us both in spiritual things and temporal; and that no gift of benefices or prebends belongeth to thee; and if thou have the keeping of any being vacant, that thou reserve the profits of them to the successors. But if thou have given any, we judge the gift to be void, and call back, how far soever thou hast gone forward. And whosoever believeth otherwise, we judge them heretics."
Unto this letter of the pope King Philip maketh answer again in manner and order as followeth, which is this:
Philip, by the grace of God king of Francc, to Boniface, not in deeds behaving himself for pope, little friendship or none.
"To Boniface, bearing himself for chief bishop, little health or none. Let thy foolishness know, that in temporal things we are subject to no man, and that the gifts of prebends and benefices, made and to be made by us, were and shall be good, both in time past and to come. And that we will defend manfully the possessor of the said benefices. And we think them that believe or think otherwise fools and madmen. Given at Paris the Wednesday after Candlemas, 1301."
These things thus discoursed and done, then followed the year of our Lord 1304. In the which year, about the nativity of our Lady, came a garrison of harnessed soldiers well appointed, sent partly by the French king, partly by the cardinals of Columna, whom the pope before had deposed, unto the gates of Arvagium, where the pope did hide himself, because he was born in the town. The captains of which army were one Schaira, brother to the foresaid cardinals; and another, William de Longareto, high steward to the French king. Who, invading the pope's town, and finding the gates open, gave assault to the pope's frontier, where the pope with his nephew, a marquis, and three other cardinals, were immured. The townsmen, seeing all their intent and strength to be bent against the pope, caused the common bell to be rung, and so, assembling themselves in a common council, ordained Adolphus, one of the chiefest rulers of the town, for their captain; who, unknown to them, was a great adversary to the pope. This Adolphus bringing with him Reginald de Supine, a great lord in Campania, and the two sons of John Chitan, a nobleman, whose father the pope had then in prison, at length joined with the French company against the pope, and so beset his palace on every side. And first, setting upon the palaces of the three cardinals, which were then chief about the pope, they rifled and spoiled all their goods. The cardinals by a back door hardly avoided their hands. But the pope's palace, through munition and strength of the marquis, was something better defended. At length the pope, perceiving himself not able to make his party good, desired truce with Schaira and his company, which was to him granted from one till nine. During which time of truce the pope privily sendeth to the townsmen of Arvagium, desiring them to save his life; which if they would do, he promised so to enrich them, that they should all have cause never to forget or repent their benefit bestowed. To this they made answer again, excusing themselves, that it lay not in their ability to do him any good, for that the whole power of the town was with the captain. Then the pope, all destitute and desolate, sendeth unto Schaira, beseeching him to draw out in articles wherein he had wronged him, and he would make him amends to the uttermost. Schaira to this maketh a plain answer, signifying to him again, that he should in no wise escape with his life, except upon these three conditions. First, to restore again the two cardinals of Columna his brethren, whom he had before deprived, with all other of their stock and kindred; secondly, that after their restitution he should renounce his papacy; thirdly, that his body should remain in his power and custody. These articles seemed to the pope so hard, that in no case he would agree unto them; wherefore, the time of truce expired, the captains and soldiers, in all forcible means bending themselves against the bishop, first fired the gates of the palace, whereby the army, having a full entrance, fell to rifle and spoil the house. The marquis, upon hope to have his life, and the life of his children, yieldeth him to the hands of Schaira and the other captain; which when the pope heard, he wept and made great lamentation. After this, through windows and doors at length with much ado they burst in to the pope, whom they treated with words and threats accordingly. Upon this he was put to his choice, whether he would presently leave his life, or give over his papacy. But that he denied stiffly to do, to die for it, saying to them in his vulgar tongue, Lo here my neck, lo here my head; protesting that he would never while he lived renounce his popedom. Then Schaira went about, and was ready to slay him; but, by certain that were about him, he was stayed; whereby it happened that the pope received no harm, although divers of his ministers and servants were slain. The soldiers, which ranged in the mean time through all the corners of the pope's house, did lade themselves with such treasure of gold, silver, plate, and ornaments, that the words of my author, whom I follow, do thus express it; That all the kings of the earth together were not able to disburse so much out of their treasury in a whole year, as then was taken and carried out of the pope's palace, and of the palace of the three cardinals and the marquis. Thus Boniface, bereaved of all his goods, remained in their custody three days. During which space they had set him on a wild and unbroken colt, his face turned to the horse tail, causing the horse to run course, while the pope was almost breathless. Moreover, they kept him so without meat, that he was thereby near famished to death. After the third day, the Arvagians and people of the town mustering themselves together, (to the number of ten thousand,) secretly burst into the house where the pope was kept, and so slaying the keepers, delivered the pope by strong hand. Who then being brought into the middle of the town, gave thanks with weeping tears to the people for his life saved; promising moreover, that forasmuch as he was out of all his goods, having neither bread nor drink to put in his mouth, God's blessing and his to all them that now would relieve him with any thing, either to eat or drink. And here now see what poverty and affliction can work in a man; the pope before in all his pomp and most ruffling wealth was never so proud, but now he was as humble and lowly, that every poor simple man, as mine author testifieth, might have a bold and free access to his person. To make the story short, the pope, in that great distress of famine, was not so greedy of their victuals as they were greedy of his blessing. Whereupon the women and people of the town came so thick, some with bread, some with wine, some with water, some with meat, some with one thing, some with another, that the pope's chamber was too little to receive the offering; insomuch that when there lacked cups to receive the wine, they poured it down on the chamber floor, not regarding the loss of wine to win the pope's holy blessing. Thus Pope Boniface, being refreshed by the town of Arvagium, took his journey from thence, accompanied with a great multitude of harnessed soldiers to Rome, where he shortly upon the same, partly for fear which he was in, partly for famine, partly for sorrow of so inestimable a treasure lost, died. After whom succeeded Benedict the Eleventh. And thus have ye the whole story of Pope Boniface the Eighth, author of the Decretals. Which story I thought the more diligently to set forth, that all the Latin Church might see what an author he was, whose laws and decretals so devoutly they follow.