Collection of Letters: Detail
- Innocent IV, pope
. to the illustrious queen of the French.
Well known to us and recognized is the sincerity of that charity towards the church of God which thrives always in your soul and rooted there flourishes in the sacred soil of your kingdom, so it will never be dried up by any malignancy nor, cooled by the extremes of necessities, will it feel any languor in its fervor. We say charity not undeservedly known by certain signs and recognized by conclusive experience, which so many unanswerable arguments of promptitude pronounce, so many distinguished signs of afflictions prove, so many irrefutable witnesses of deeds make manifest. These ancient things are indeed read in the book of constant memory in which deserving services of whatever kind of devotion are gathered at the apostolic see, not made ancient by the forgetfulness of ingratitude which said see keeps recent by often reciting them, and consigns those things in itself from the other vicissitudes of time, gathered in the outstanding treasurehouses of its preservation.
Truly among the other documents of certitude by which your purity, your ardor, has published itself to us up to now, you presented evidence of your charity unambiguously, sending a faithful, circumspect, prudent messenger to our presence through whom you offered yourself and your kingdom to the service of us and our brothers, abounding in munificence of piety towards God and his spouse, the orthodox church within the other kingdoms of the world. And as the above mentioned Roman church your mother withdraws from your territory fully greeted by you and loads you with divine blessings and leaves happier with maternal embraces, you proposed through that messenger what you aspired to with burning desire, to see and speak to us before our departure from Gallican lands. To the extent that instinct of good will moved your spirit to this, as we understand, that the labor of a long journey did not deter you, fatigued by the labors of daily bodily weakness and not yet restored to the strength of full nature, but with the vigor of the heart exhorting you, the weakness of members did not keep you from longing to be [in our] presence, carried by whatever attempt, out of reverence for Christ in our aspect, whom you regard with the healthy eye of faith though unworthily in his vicar.
Blessed be God and the father of the lord Jesus Christ, and all praise rejoice in his holy name, who preserved in you and the glorious fruits of your womb with such integrity the devotion to the catholic faith with which the kingdom of the French has long shone in its princes, so that its serenity felt no harm from any cloud of disturbance or change. But beyond these, what have been proposed and offered to us from your highness, and what precious gifts pressed out from the winepress of royal purity we have received with full alacrity of heart and judged are to be embraced with all favor of acceptance, and we repay the thanks for your kindness, imploringly entreating the requiter of all whom through these things royal piety venerates and worships in us, that he give you devout merit significantly for such readiness to the height of rewards, because we are certain and nothing could make us more certain, that the magnificent breadth of royal generosity willingly carried out the promises of its affection. No wonder if the fertile goodness of your innate devotion suggested this to you, in whom multiplicity did not dry up the font of abundance, passed on to you by illustrious and very Christian parents, found then in your most serene consort and at last propagated through the salutary instructions of your establishing in precious offspring, so that already the inviolable sanctity of the Christian religion and the sincerity of orthodox faith is seen to come forth from your throne to your posterity as if hereditary.
Certainly, dearest daughter, we want you to know this from us, that our desire concurs with yours for mutual sight and speech, that in a place comfortable and near to you we would not be reluctant to carry the presence of the apostolic see to your desire, so that you might enjoy those things near at hand without any discomfort of laborious journeying, if time allowed and the urgent necessity of incumbent things permitted. Indeed, we are certain, the benefit of your presence to us and ours to you would advance what counsel might arise from common speech according to God. But the manifest necessity of hastening utility and the arduous business of the church of Rome importunately call us back to Italy, what has emerged about new dispositions of divine will not allowing further prolonging of our delay in these parts without certain damage and manifest danger.1
Beyond this, a not unjust fear of your weakness restrains us, deterring the common desires of seeing each other, lest it happen that the convalescence of your body be slowed by some motion of disturbance, lest — let us say what should not be — it incur a dangerous relapse. Since the safety of many depends on your life, your health must be preserved and cared for with all zeal as public, and for us it is so much more diligently to be avoided that we be the occasion of harm to you, as we are made zealous with greater affection for your safety. We know it to be fruitful to the success of your kingdom that you are fortified with the strength of faith and ecclesiastical liberty, which rejoices to flourish especially under your favor. Caution for your safety and public necessity therefore take precedence as we hasten to leave and our desires cede to these with equanimity, by which affection invited to the comfort of mutual sight and of laudable intention and presence of the spirits in the Lord must recompense for absence of bodies. So we ask your highness that you put aside altogether the plan of making the journey, sound and strong and getting stronger, blessed daughter in the Lord. We seek that the fervor of your devotion to God and his holy church, which will always hold you in the depths of love in its innards, increase ceaselessly.
The grace and peace of God our father and lord Jesus Christ to you and your sons, dearest to us in truth, also to your kingdom, that you may be led happily through temporal goods to eternal, and your throne remain in the world with unshaken stability.
Dated at Lyons, 15th kalends of April, in the 8th year [of our pontificate].
... regine Francorum illustri.
Nota nobis est patenter et cognita illius sinceritas caritatis, que erga Dei ecclesiam in animo tuo semper sic viguit et radicata sic viruit in sacro solio regni tui, ut nullis umquam malignitatibus ipsa arefacta deciderit, nec in extremis necessitatum articulis aliquem fervoris sui senserit tepefacta langorem. Notam quidem certo indicio et cognitam experimento probabili eandem non immerito dicimus caritatem, quam tot inrefragabilia promptitudinis argumenta pronuntiant, tot afflictionum insignia signa probant, tot inrevincibilia operum testimonia manifestant. Hec quippe antiqua leguntur in libro illabilis memorie, quo apud sedem apostolicam meritoria cuiuslibet devotionis obsequia recoluntur, sed non per oblivionem ingratitudinis aliquatenus antiquata, que predicta sedes efficit sepe recensendo recentia, eaque apud se de cunctis temporum vicissitudinibus, ne cum his a moderne considerationis dilabantur aspectibus, congregata in conservationis sue thesauris precipuis consignavit. Verum inter cetera certitudinis documenta, quibus nobis se hactenus prodidit tua puritas, tuus ardor, nunc experimentum caritatis non ambigue obiecisti, mittens ad presentiam nostram nuntium fidelem, providum et prudentem, per quem te ac regnum tuum, munificentia pietatis in Deum eiusque sponsam orthodoxam ecclesiam exuberans inter alia regna mundi, nostris et fratrum nostorum beneplacitis obtulisti. Et ut insuper Romana ecclesia mater tua de finibus tuis plenius a te salutata recederet teque divinis augeret benedictionibus et maternis dimitteret amplexibus letiorem, proposuisti per nuntium memoratum, quod nos flagranti desiderio videre affectes et alloqui ante discessum nostrum de partibus Gallicanis. In tantum quidem ad hoc animum tuum bone voluntatis, ut accepimus, impellit instinctus, quod te quamvis diuturnis corporalis egritudinis laboribus fatigatam necdum plene nature viribus redditam labor longioris itineris non deterret, quin per debilitatem membrorum, cordis adhortante vigore, nostris aspectibus pro Christi reverentia, quem in eius vicario licet immerito sane fidei oculo consideras, quoquo advehendi conamine gestias presentari. Benedictus itaque Deus et pater domini Iesu Christi, omnisque laus iubilet nomini sancto eius, qui devotionem fidei catholice, qua regnum Francorum in suis dudum refulsit principibus, [in] te ac gloriosis fructibus ventris tui tanta integritate servavit, quod eius serenitas ex aliquo turbinis nubilo ulla mutationis in aliud detrimenta non sensit. Sed super hiis, que ex parte celsitudinis tue nobis sunt proposita et oblata, et que tanquam de prelo regie puritatis expressa munera pretiosa tota cordis alacritate suscepimus et omni acceptionis favore iudicavimus amplectendo, mansuetudini tue gratiarum exolvimus actiones, retributorem omnium, quem per hec in nobis regalis pietas veneratur et colit, suppliciter implorantes, ut huiusmodi devote promptitudinis meritum signanter tibi reponat ad cumulum premiorum, quia certi sumus, nec est quo possimus fieri certiores, quod regie liberalitatis amplitudo magnifica sue affectionis pollicita libenter prosequeretur effectu. Nec mirum, si hec tibi suggerit fecunda innate devotionis benignitas, cuius fontem exuberantie multiplicitas non exaurit, in te quidem ab illustrissimis et Christianissimis traducta parentibus, deinde et in serenissimo reperta consorte ac demum per tue institutionis documenta salubria in divitem sobolem propagata, ut iam inviolabilis Christiane religionis sanctitas et fidei orthodoxe sinceritas tuis de cetero posteris de throno tuo videatur quasi hereditaria provenire.
Sane, karissima filia, hoc ex nobis nosse te volumus, quod ad mutuum conspectum atque colloquium votum nostrum adeo cum tuo voto concurrit, quod in loco tibi commodo ac vicino non piguisset nos desiderio tuo apostolice sedis afferre presentiam, ut ea iuxta posita sine aliquo laboriose profectionis incommodo fruereris, si id tempus admitteret et rerum incumbentium urgens necessitas pateretur. Quippe si nostre tibi ac tue nobis presentie commoditas proveniret captanda, sicut confidimus, ex sermone communi secundum Deum consilia orirentur. Sed importune nos in Italiam revocant accelerande utilitatis manifesta necessitas et ardua ecclesie Romane negotia, que de novis divine voluntatis dispositionibus emerserunt, ulteriorem non ferentia protractionem in hiis partibus more nostre sine certa iactura et discrimine manifesto. Impedit preter hec alterne visionis vota communia non iniusta formido de tua nos debilitate deterrens, ne tui convalescentiam corporis contingat ex aliquo motu inquietudinis retardari, ne dicamus incurrere, quod absit, periculum recidive. Cum tibi multorum salus de tua vita dependeat, servanda est et procuranda omni studio tanquam publica tua salus, et nobis, ne lesionis esse tibi possimus occasio, tanto diligentius est cavendum, quanto incolumitatem tuam ampliori zelamur affectu. Eam quidem fructuosam esse cognovimus tui regni profectibus, robori fidei ac munimini ecclesiastice libertatis, que gaudet sub tuo precipue se favore florere. Preferantur ergo tue cautela salutis et publica necessitas nos accelerans ad recessum, et his cedant equanimiter vota nostra, quibus ad mutue visionis alloquium utrinque laudabilis intentionis invitabantur affectus, et corporum absentiam spirituum in Domino presentia recompenset. Rogamus itaque celsitudinem tua, ut itineris assumendi propositum omnino deponas, consistens et valens ac convalescens, filia in Domino benedicta. Augeatur indesinenter, quesumus, fervor tue devotionis in Deum et ecclesiam sanctam eius, que te semper in intimis sue dilectionis visceribus continebit. Sit tibi, sit natis tuis nobis in veritate karissimis, sit quoque regno tuo gratia et pax a Deo patre nostro et domino Iesu Christo, quatinus per bona temporalia feliciter deducamini ad eterna et inconcussa stabilitate subsistat in secula thronus tuus.
Dat. Lugduni, XV Kalendas Aprilis, anno VIIIo.
Innocent’s nemesis, Frederick II, had died at the end of 1250, and Innocent felt free to return from his self-imposed exile. Blanche wanted to go to speak with the pope at Lyons before he left France, but the pope excused himself with heavy rhetoric on the grounds of her physical weakness and urgent matters calling him back to Italy. Presumably he was not anxious to have her press him to help the crusaders, particularly her son Louis who felt obliged to stay with his captured men.
1. The editor suggests that Innocent may be referring to a rebellion in the kingdom of Sicily against Manfred, the illegitimate son of Frederick II and heir to his power.
MGH, Ex Innocentii IV Registro, Epistolae Selectae, 1251, #95.