Collection of Letters: Detail
- Alexander III, pope
To her most holy lord and dearest father Alexander, highest pontiff by the grace of God, his humble and devoted daughter A, queen of the French, greetings and owed obedience with sincerity of heart.
I shall speak to you as to a father and lord whose honor my lord king and I and our whole kingdom desire as our own; for your honor is ours and your confusion, God avert it, is ours, who have accepted you as father and lord, and have scorned the hostility of those seeking your soul in our circle of raging kings, for God's sake and yours. Hear therefore, if it please you, your daughter and in what I am about to say do not scorn/condemn the female sex, but attend to the affection of one who loves [you].
Last year John of Oxford caused a very serious scandal in the Gallican church, triumphing easily over the Roman church by his perjury. Cardinals whose good works are yet to be heard of in our land followed him and — would that the evils had been covered by silence — scandals multiplied! Now however the king of England has obtained letters through his most recent messengers in which you declared (unless they are forged) that the archbishop of Canterbury, who has already been in exile four years over justice, can not deliver a sentence on him or his land or impose a burden on anyone from that land until he [Thomas] is restored to his [Henry's] grace. Does it not seem, father, that he [Henry] has the authority from those letters of sinning with impunity and of proscribing the archbishop permanently? For it will be his decision whether to receive him in grace or not.
That is why our whole church is scandalized and could not be more distressed: for a bad example has been given to all princes. My lord king, to whom you entrusted the archbishop, is very disturbed that, if you persist in this decision, he [Thomas] will be killed, innocent, while he is in his [Louis's] hands. It grieves the whole kingdom that our enemies prevail with you. My lord king awaits the outcome of your promise which, unless it is swiftly kept, he and his descendents will be taught what they should hope from the Roman church.
Fare well, dearest and most holy father, and help the archbishop of Canterbury, if it please you.
Sanctissimo domino et Patri charissimo Alexandro, Dei gratia summo pontifici, humilis et devota filia eius AÉregina Francorum, salutem, et cum sinceritate cordis devotum obsequium.
Vobis sicut Patri loquar et domino, cuius honorem dominus meus rex, et ego, et totum regnum nostrum desideramus ut proprium, quia vester honor noster est, et confusio vestra, quam Deus avertat, nostra. Qui vos in patrem suscepimus et dominum, et in circuitu nostro frementium regum, et animam, vestram quarentium, pro Deo et vobis contempsimus inimicitias. Audite ergo, si placet, filiam vestram, et in eo quod dictura sum, non sexum contemnatis femineum, sed amantis attendatis affectum. Anno praeterito gravissimum in Ecclesia Gallicana scandalum fecit Jeannes de Oxeneford, qui suo periurio de Romana tam facile triumphavit Ecclesia. Secuti sunt eum cardinales, quorum bona opera nondum audita sunt in terra nostra, et utinam mala silentio tegerentur. Unde et scandala multiplicata sunt. Nunc autem per novissimos suos nuntios obtinuit rex Angliae litteras, si tamen adulteratae non sunt, patentes, quibus statuisitis, ut Cantuariensis archiepiscopus, qui iam quadriennio pro iustitia exsulavit, sententiam ferre non possit in eum, vel in terram eius, nec gravamen inferre alicui personae de terra sua, donec in ipsius gratiam restituatur. Nonne, Pater, ex his Iitteris habere videtur auctoritatem in pune peccandi, et archiepiscopum perpetuo proscribendi? Nam de caetero in arbitrio eius erit eum recipere in gratiam vel non recipere. Hinc adeo scandalizata est, apud nos tota Ecclesia, ut magis turbari non possit, quia malum exemplum omnibus principibus datum est.
Dominus meus rex, cui archiepiscopum tradidistis, turbatur plurimum, quod inter manus eius, si tamen in hac sententia perstiteritis, innocens jugulatur. Dolet regnum totum, quod apud vos praevalent hostes nostri. Exspectat adhuc dominus meus rex exitum promissionis vestrae, quam nisi citius viderit adimpleri, quid de Romana Ecelesia sperare debeat, edocebitur, et posteri sui. Valete, charissime et sanctissime Pater et Cantuariensi archiepiscopo, si placet, subvenite.
The queen writes to pope Alexander for her husband, in support of Thomas Becket, whom the pope had committed to Louis's protection during his exile after his jurisdictional disputes with the king of England, and whose life Louis fears is in danger. She questions a letter the pope is reputed to have sent king Henry II, stating that the archbishop cannot pass judgment on the king or his land until he is restored to Henry's grace.
PL 200, Variorum 22 c.1380-81, HGF16, Epistolae S. Thomae, p.319, Champollion-Figeac, Lettres de Rois, Reines et Autres Personnages (Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1839), v1 ep.3; same text with minor variations, 'erit' for 'est' in first sentence of CF, 'con'