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Medieval Sourcebook:
Roger of Hoveden:
The Chronicle: On the Disputes between Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury and King Henry II of England

Roger of Hoveden was a royal clerk who compiled a History of England in the early years of the thirteenth century.  As a royal clerk he was well-placed to gather information from members of the royal court, and he also included many documents, especially letters, into his history.  I have condensed his chronicle for the years 1154 - 1190, presenting his account of the disputes between Becket and the king, the archbishop's death and the subsequent investigation by the pope into Henry's responsibility in the murder.

The account is divided by year.  Note that Roger began the year on Christmas Day, so for him, Becket's murder, which occured on 29 December 1170, occured in the early days of the year 1171, so his account of the murder occurs under the entry for that year.

1154 | 1155 | 1156 | 1157 | 1158 | 1159 | 1160 | 1161 | 1162 | 1163 | 1163 | 1164 | 1165 | 1166 | 1167 | 1168 | 1169 | 1170 | 1171 | 1172 | 1174 | 1179 | 1190

Index to documents quoted by Roger:


In the year of grace 1154, being the nineteenth and last year of the reign of king Stephen, Eustace, the son of king Stephen, departed this life. ... In the same year king Stephen laid siege to many castles, and took them, and leveled many of them with the ground; almost the very last of which was the castle of Drax; shortly after which, king Stephen died, and was buried at the abbey of Eversham. He was succeeded on the throne by Henry, duke of Normandy, son of the empress Matilda, who was crowned and consecrated king by Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, at London, on the Lord’s day before the Nativity of our Lord. In the same year, Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, gave to Thomas Becket, his clerk, the archdeaconry of Canterbury. In this year also, Louis, king of the Franks, caused himself to be divorced from his wife Eleanor, daughter of the duke of Aquitaine, the archbishops, bishops, earls and barons, making oath that she had ceased to deserve to be his wife. However, Henry, king of England, took the before-named Eleanor to wife, and had by her sons and daughters. The king of France, however, by his wife Eleanor, had no issue of the male sex, and only two daughters, one of whom he married to Henry, earl of Champagne, and the other to Theobald, earl of Blois, brother of the said earl Henry. After this, Louis, king of the Franks, took to wife the daughter of the king of Spain, by whom he had two daughters only.

In the year 1155, being the first year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said king laid siege to the castles of his enemies in England, and captured them; some of which he retained in his own hands, and some he leveled with the ground. After this, he crossed over into Normandy, and did homage to Louis, king of the Franks, for Normandy, Aquitaine, Anjou, Maine, and Touraine, with all their appurtenances. In the same year, died pope Anastasius, who was succeeded by Adrian.

In the year of grace 1156, being the second year of the reign of Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said king returned from Normandy to England, and caused nearly all the castles, which had been erected in England in the time of king Stephen, to be demolished, and issued a new coinage, which was the only one received and current throughout the realm; he also established peace in the kingdom, and commanded the laws of king Henry, his grandfather, to be observed inviolably throughout the whole of his kingdom, and in many matters followed the advice of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury.

In the year of grace 1157, being the third year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said king, by the advice and entreaty of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, conferred the chancellorship upon Thomas, archdeacon of Canterbury, and bestowed upon him many revenues, both ecclesiastical and of a secular nature, and received him so much into his esteem and familiarity, that throughout the kingdom there was no one his equal, save the king alone. In the same year, Malcolm, king of the Scots, came to the king of England at Chester, and did homage to him in the same way that his grandfather had done homage to the former king Henry, saving always all his dignities.

In the year of grace 1158, being the fourth year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said king Henry caused himself to be crowned a second time at Lincoln, without the walls of the city, at Wikeford. In the same year, by the king’s command, the castle of Werk was rebuilt. The king, and Malcolm, king of the Scots, met at Carlisle, but separated mutually displeased; in consequence of which, the king of Scots was not created a knight for the present.

In the year of grace 1159, being the fifth year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said king Henry caused himself, a third time, together with his wife Eleanor, to be crowned at Worcester, at the festival of Easter; and when they came to the offertory, they took off their crowns, and offered them upon the altar; vowing before God, that they would never in all their lives wear them again.
In the same year, pope Adrian departed this life, and was succeeded by pope Alexander the Third, who was canonically elected and consecrated. But Frederick, emperor of the Romans, being unwilling to acknowledge him, erected an idol for himself, Octavianus, an antipope, and, an execrable convention and league being formed of those of his own blood, against pope Alexander, he with his nation determined to pay veneration to him, on which a schism arose in the church, which lasted eighteen years.
In the same year, Henry, king of England, having levied a large army, laid siege to Toulouse, and although he sat before it for a long time, and wasted his treasure in various expenses, still he was able to effect nothing there, and without gaining his object, took his departure.  In this expedition died William, earl of Boulogne, son of king Stephen, and Hamo, son of the earl of Gloucester, with many others. On his return from this expedition, Malcolm, king of Scotland, was knighted by Henry, king of the English, at Tours.


In the year of grace 1160, being the sixth year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, Malcolm, king of the Scots, returned to his country from the expedition against Toulouse.


In the year of grace 1161, being the seventh year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, that king and Louis, king of the Franks, disagreed respecting some divisions of their territories, and the castles of Gisors and Neafle, which at that time were in the hands of Louis, king of the Franks, and which the said king Henry claimed as properly belonging to his dukedom of Normandy. But shortly after they came to terms on these conditions; that the king of France should give his two daughters, whom he had had by his wife, the daughter of the king of Spain (the name of one of whom was Margaret, and of the other Alice) in marriage to the two sons of king Henry, namely, Henry and Richard, who were as yet but little children; that he should deliver the before-named castles of Gisors and Neafle into the hands of the Templars for safe custody, until such time as his above-named daughters should be married to the said sons of king Henry, and that it should be arranged with them, that is to say, with Robert de Firou and Tostes de Saint Omer, that when, Margaret, the daughter of the king of France, had been married to Henry, the son of the king of England, they should deliver up to king Henry both the castles.
These terms being agreed to on both sides, and confirmed by oath, the king of the Franks delivered both of his daughters to the king of England, and the above-named castles into the custody of the Templars. Shortly after this period, Henry, king of England, caused his son Henry to be married to Margaret, the daughter of the king of France, although they were as yet but little children, crying in the cradle; Robert de Pirou, Tostes de Saint Omer, and Richard de Hastings, the Templars who had custody of the said castles, being witnesses and consenting thereto; immediately upon which they surrendered those castles to the king of England. In consequence, the king of France was extremely indignant at them, and banished these knights from the kingdom of France, upon which the king of England received them and rewarded them with many honors. In the same year, Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, legate of the Roman Church, departed this life.


In the year from the Incarnation of our Lord 1162, being the eighth year of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said king conferred the see of Canterbury on Thomas, his chancellor. In the same year, pope Alexander came into France, having been expelled from his see by Frederick, the emperor of the Romans. He was honorably entertained by king Louis and by Henry, king of the English, who looked upon him as pope of the Catholic Church. In the same year, Malcolm, king of the Scots, gave his sister Ada in marriage to the earl of Holland.


In the year of grace 1163, being the ninth year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said king of England returned from Normandy into England; and king Malcolm having recovered at Doncaster from a severe illness, a solemn treaty of peace was made between him and the king of England. In the same year, pope Alexander held a general council at Tours, at which he excommunicated Octavianus the antipope.
In the same year, a great dissension arose between the king of England and Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, relative to the ecclesiastical dignities, which the said king of the English was attempting to disturb and lower in estimation, whereas the archbishop endeavored by every possible means to keep the ecclesiastical power and dignities intact. For it was the king’s wish that if priests, deacons, subdeacons, and other rulers of the church should be apprehended on the commission of theft, or murder, or felony, or arson, or the like crimes, they should be taken before secular judges, and punished like the laity. Against this the archbishop of Canterbury urged, that if a clerk in holy orders, or any other ruler of the Church, should be charged upon any matter, he ought to be tried by ecclesiastics and in the ecclesiastical court; and if he should be convicted, that then he ought to be deprived of his orders, and that, when thus stripped of his office and his ecclesiastical preferment, if he should offend again, he ought to be tried at the pleasure of the king and of his deputies.


In the year of grace 1164, being the tenth year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said Henry gave to Henry, duke of Saxony, his daughter Matilda in marriage. In the same year, having called together a great council, and all the archbishops and bishops of England being assembled in his presence, he requested them, out of their love for and obedience to him, and for the establishment of the kingdom, to receive the laws of king Henry, his grandfather, and faithfully to observe them: on which, Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, made answer for himself and the others, that they would receive those laws which the king said were made by his grandfather, and with good faith would observe the same; saving  their orders and the honor of God and of the Holy Church in all respects. But this reservation greatly displeased the king, and he used every possible method to make the bishops promise that they would, without any exception whatever, observe those laws; to this, however, the archbishop of Canterbury would on no account agree.
A considerable time after this, Arnulph, bishop of Lisieux, came over to England, and anxiously endeavored, day and night, to make peace between the king and the archbishop, but was unable to ensure complete success. Upon this, by the advice of the bishop of Lisieux, the king separated Roger, archbishop of York, Robert de Melun, bishop of Hereford, Robert, bishop of Lincoln, and some other prelates of the church, from the society and counsel of the archbishop of Canterbury, in order that through them he might more easily induce the archbishop to yield to his own attempts. After this, there came to England. a certain man belonging to the religious orders, named Philip de Eleeoemosyna, being sent as a legate “a latere,” by Alexander the Supreme Pontiff, and all the cardinals, for the purpose of making peace between the king and the archbishop of Canterbury; by whom the pope and all the cardinals sent word to the archbishop of Canterbury, that he must make peace with the king of England his master, and promise, without any exception, to obey his laws. Assenting therefore to this and other advice on the part of these great men, the archbishop of Canterbury came to the king at Woodstock, and there made a promise to the king and agreed that he would, in good faith, and without any bad intent, observe his laws.
Shortly after this, the clergy and people of the kingdom being convened at Clarendon, the archbishop repented that he had made this concession to the king, and, wishing to recede from his agreement, said that in making the concession he had greatly sinned, but would sin no longer in so doing. In consequence of this, the king’s anger was greatly aroused against him, and he threatened him and his people with exile and death; upon which, the bishops of Salisbury and Norwich came to the archbishop together with Robert, earl of Leicester, Reginald, earl of Cornwall, and the two Templars, Richard de Hastings and Tostes de Saint Omer, and in tears threw themselves at the feet of the archbishop, and begged that he would at least, for the sake of the king’s dignity, come to him, and in the presence of  the people declare that he would observe his laws. The archbishop being consequently overcome by the entreaties of such great men, came to the king, and in the presence of the clergy and the people, said that he had acceded to those laws which the king called those of his grandfather. He also conceded that the bishops should receive those laws and promise to observe them. Upon this, the king gave orders to all the earls and barons of the realm, that they should go out and call to remembrance the laws of king Henry his grandfather, and reduce them to writing. When this had been done, the king commanded the archbishops and bishops to annex their seals to the said writing; but, while the others were ready so to do, the archbishop of Canterbury swore that he would never annex his seal to that writing or conform those laws.
When the king saw that he could not by these means attain his object, he ordered a written copy of these laws to be made, and gave a duplicate of it to the archbishop of Canterbury, which he, in spite of the prohibition of the whole of the clergy, received from the king’s hand, and turning to the clergy, exclaimed, “Courage, brethren! by means of this writing we shall be enabled to discover the evil intentions of the king, and against whom we ought to be on our guard;” after which he retired from the court, and was unable by any means to recover the king’s favor. And because he had acted unadvisedly in this matter, he suspended himself from the celebration of divine service from that hour, until such time as he himself, or his messenger, should have spoken thereon with our lord the pope.
After this, there came to England Rotrod, archbishop of Rouen, on behalf of our lord the pope, for the purpose of effecting a reconciliation between the king and the archbishop of Canterbury; to which, however, the king would on no account consent, unless our lord the pope should, by his bull, confirm those laws. When this could be in nowise effected, the king sent John of Oxford and Geoffrey Riddel, his clerks, to pope Alexander, requesting him to give the legateship of the whole of England to Roger, the archbishop of York, that so through his means he might be able to confound the archbishop of Canterbury. But our lord the pope would not, as to this part of it, listen to the king’s request. However, upon the petition of the king’s clerks, our lord the pope conceded that the king himself should be legate for the whole of England; on such terms, however, that he could do nothing offensive to the archbishop of Canterbury. The king, on seeing this, in his indignation sent back to our lord the pope the letters appointing him legate, which John of Oxford and Geoffrey Riddel had brought.
In the same year, on the vigil of Saint Agatha, the virgin and martyr, a great earthquake took place in the island of Sicily; so much so, that the city of Catania was utterly destroyed, and the bishops and clergy, and all the inhabitants of the city, perished; thirty thousand fighting men, in fact, besides women and children, which could not be numbered. On the same day, after the destruction of the city of Catania, the sea receded a distance of three thousand seven hundred and fifty paces, leaving vast quantities of fish of various kinds on the sands; end when the inhabitants of the country adjacent to the city that had been overthrown flocked together, and were intent upon taking the fish, the sea flowed back again and surrounded them, and swept them away into the deep.


In the year of grace 1165, being the eleventh year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said king assembled a great council at Northampton, where he inflicted great annoyances upon Thomas, the archbishop of Canterbury. For in the first place, the king made his own horses take up their quarters at the archbishop’s lodgings, on which the prelate sent word to the king that he would not come to court until his lodgings had been cleared of the king’s horses and men. On the day after the council, archbishop Thomas came to the king’s court, attended by his suffragan bishops, and demanded his leave immediately to cross the sea to go to pope Alexander, who at this time was staying in France; this, however, he could not obtain; but the king said to him, “You shall first answer me, for the injustice you have done to John, my marshal, in your court.” For this John had made complaint to the king that when he had claimed in the archbishop’s court a certain piece of land against him, as held by hereditary right, and had for a long time impleaded him in respect thereof, he was unable to obtain any redress from him, and had appealed from the jurisdiction of the archbishop’s court upon oath, according to the custom of the kingdom. To this the archbishop made answer:
“There has been no refusal of justice to John in my court; but he himself (whether by the advice of some one else, or whether of his own free will, I know not) brought into my court a certain bundle, end took the oath upon it, that in consequence of denial of justice he withdrew from my court; whereas it appeared to the justices of my court that it was he who had done the injustice towards me, in thus withdrawing from my court; as it is one of the statutes of your kingdom which says, ‘If any person shall wish to appeal from the court of another person, he must make oath upon the Holy Evangelists.’”
However, the king, paying no attention to Thomas, when he had said these words, made oath that he would have both justice and judgment at his hands. The barons of the king’s court thereupon sentenced him to be amerced by the king, and although the archbishop endeavored to appeal against this judgment, still, by the entreaties and advice of the barons he suffered himself to be amerced by the king, in the sum of five hundred pounds, and found security for that sum.

Upon this, he retired from the court and went to his lodgings, and, on account of the annoyance and vexation which he felt in his mind, took to his bed and fell extremely ill. When this became known to the king, that he might annoy him still more, he immediately sent to him, and summoned him by trusty summoners, to appear before him on the following day, prepared to give him an account of the stewardship, which he had held in the kingdom before his consecration. The archbishop, however, being sensible that a heavy sentence of banishment awaited him, if he should hasten to make his appearance at the court, sought every excuse for delay; both on the ground of the time given by the summons being extremely short, as also of his severe attack of illness. Upon this, the king seeing that the archbishop would not appear that day, sent to him Robert, earl of Leicester, and Reginald, earl of Cornwall, to be witnesses of his illness. When they came, they found him lying ill in bed, and at his entreaty granted him a respite from coming to the court until the following morning. On the same day it was told him, and word was brought to him by those of the king’s household, that if he appeared at the king’s court, he would either be thrown into prison or to death.

In consequence of this, the archbishop, after conferring with his friends on these matters, by the advice of a certain prudent person, next morning, before going to the court, celebrated with the greatest devotion the mass of Saint Stephen, the Proto-martyr, the office of which begins to this effect, “Etenim sederunt principes, et adversum me loquebantur,” etc., and commended his cause to the supreme Judge, who is God. Still, for celebrating this mass, he was afterwards severely accused by Gilbert, bishop of London, who spoke in the king’s behalf. For the bishop of London made it an accusation against him, that he had celebrated this mass by means of the magic art, and out of contempt of the king.
After having thus celebrated the mass, the archbishop placed over his shoulders his stole, and then put on his black canonical cape, and forthwith set out for the king’s court. Immediately upon this, a great crowd of people collected together from all quarters to see what would be the end of it. He carried his cross in his right hand, while with the left he held the reins of the horse on which he was seated, and on coming to the king’s palace dismounted, and, still holding the cross, entered the royal mansion; after which, he entered the outer chamber alone, still carrying his cross; but no one of his people followed him thither. On entering the chamber, he found there a great number of the common people, on which he took his seat among them. The king, however, was in his private closet with the persons of his household.
On this, Gilbert, the bishop of London, came to the archbishop on the king’s behalf, and greatly censured him for coming to the court thus armed with the cross, and even tried to wrest it from his hands, but the archbishop grasped it too tightly for him; whereupon, Henry, the bishop of Winchester, said to the bishop of London, “Brother, allow the archbishop to retain his cross; for he ought himself to be well able to carry it.” The bishop of London, being greatly enraged at this remark, turned to the bishop of Winchester, and replied, “Brother, you have spoken to ill purpose, and evil will ensue to you therefrom, inasmuch as you have spoken against the king’s interests.”
Next came to him Roger, the archbishop of York. “Oh, how oft did he wish to approach him with bland requests, and soft entreaties to use!” But the old embers of hatred forbade him so to do, end would not allow trim to utter a word in a peaceful way. On the contrary, he uttered the most severe reproaches against him for thus coming to court armed with the cross; saying that the king had a sword which was still sharper, and therefore, if he followed his advice, he would lay aside his cross. On this, one of the bystanders made this remark: “Believe me, if you believe him, you will be deceived. The fowler plays sweetly on his pipe while decoying the birds. Beneath sweet honey noxious poisons lie concealed.” However, the archbishop of Canterbury refused to put aside his cross, but said: “If the king’s sword carnally slays the body, my sword pierces spiritually, and sends the soul to hell.” Now while he was sitting there waiting, some persons secretly told him that his death had been sworn by the king’s followers; in consequence of which, from that hour he sought an opportunity for withdrawing from the court, and, that he might more easily withdraw, appealed to the Supreme Pontiff, placing the cause of the Church and of himself under the protection of God and of our lord the pope; and gave orders to all the bishops inviolably to observe his appeal. Upon this, all the bishops advised him to comply with the king’s wishes, and, surrendering his see, throw himself upon his mercy; but the archbishop refused to trust them upon that point.

At this moment the king sent him word by his knights to come to him without delay, and render to him a full account of ad the receipts of the revenues of the kingdom during the time that he had been his chancellor. And, in particular, he was questioned with reference to thirty thousand pounds of silver; on which the archbishop made answer: “My lord the king knows that I have often rendered him an account with reference to all the demands he is now making upon me, before my election to the archbishopric of Canterbury. But, upon my election to that see, the king’s son, Henry, to whom the kingdom was bound by its oath, and all the barons of the exchequer, and Richard de Lucy, the justiciar of England, released me before God and the Holy Church, from all receipts and reckonings, and from all secular exactions on behalf of our lord the king, and thus, free and acquitted, was I elected to the administration of the duties of this office; and for that reason do I refuse to plead any further.” The king, upon hearing this, said to his barons: “Make haste and pronounce judgment upon this person, who, being my liege-man, refuses to take his trial in my court;” on which they went forth, and pronounced that he deserved to be arrested and placed in confinement. On hearing this, the king sent to him Reginald, earl of Cornwall, and Robert, earl of Leicester, to inform him of the judgment that had been pronounced upon him; who accordingly said to him: “Listen to the judgment pronounced upon you.” To this, the bishop made answer: “In the name of Almighty God, and under penalty of excommunication I forbid you this day to pronounce judgment upon me, inasmuch as I have appealed unto the presence of our lord the pope.” While the above-named earls were carrying this answer to the king, the archbishop went forth from the chamber, and going through the midst of them, reached his palfrey, and mounting it, left the palace, all the people shouting after him and saying: “Where are you going, traitor? Stop, and hear your sentence!”
When, however, he had arrived at the outer gates, he found them shut, and was in great apprehension of being taken by his enemies, but Almighty God delivered him. For, Peter de Munctorio, one of his servants, espied a number of keys hanging on a mail near the gate, and taking them down, opened it, on which the archbishop sallied forth on horseback, the king’s porters standing by, and uttering not a word. The archbishop made all haste to arrive at the house of some canons regular, where he was hospitably entertained, and commanded the tables to be set out and all the poor that were to be found before the gates to be introduced to eat and drink in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was accordingly done; and he, together with them and his people, becomingly partook of the repast in the refectory of the canons, and, when it was finished, made his bed in the church, between the nave and the altar. In the meantime, he had secretly ordered preparations to be made for his journey, as it was his intention to depart by night. At twilight, therefore, when the king and the rest were supping in the town, taking with him two friars of the Cistercian order, the name of one of whom was Robert de Caune, and of the other Scaiman, and a single servant, who was called Roger de Broc, he went out of the town through the gate, which was left entirely without guards, and at daybreak arrived at Lincoln, and was entertained at the house of James. Here the archbishop changed his dress, and, changing his name, ordered himself to be called by that of Dereman; and then, being recognized by few persons, taking remote ways and bye-paths, he hastened towards the sea-shore, he and his attendants riding on at night, and concealing themselves in the day among his friends and acquaintances. At last they arrived at the sea-shore, and reaching the port of Sandwich, secretly embarked on board of a ship, and then, secretly setting sail, in the morning landed in Flanders, whence he immediately made his way to France.
Before, however, he had arrived at the court of Louis, king of the Franks, Gilbert Folliot, bishop of London, and William, earl of Arundel, had arrived on behalf of the king of England, to prevent the king of France from receiving the archbishop of Canterbury in his kingdom, and to request him to beg our lord the pope, out of his love for him, not to receive the archbishop of Canterbury into his favor. But the more pains the above-named envoys of the king of England took to have the archbishop of Canterbury expelled from the kingdom of France, the more did the king of France favor him and his cause. In addition to this, the king of France sent brother Francis his almoner, to pope Alexander, who was at this time staying in France, begging him, as he esteemed the honor of the Ro-man Church and the aid of the kingdom of France, in all things to maintain Thomas, the archbishop of Canterbury, and his cause against the tyrant of England; and, accordingly, from this moment our lord the pope received the archbishop of Canterbury into great favor.
In the meantime, Henry, king of England, sent to our lord the pope Roger, archbishop of York, Henry, bishop of Winchester, Gilbert, bishop of London, Hilary, bishop of Chichester, and Bartholomew, bishop of Exeter, together with Guido Rufus, Richard de Ivechester, and John of Oxford, clerks, and William, earl of Arundel, Hugh de Gondeville, Bernard de Saint Valery, and Henry Fitzgerald, laymen. These persons found the pope at the city of Sens, and gave utterance to many evil and false accusations against the archbishop of Canterbury; but our lord the pope did not believe them, as he knew that they were bearing false witness against him.
On seeing that they could not gain their object, they requested of our lord the pope that two legates might be sent to England to take cognizance of the dispute which existed be-tween the king and the archbishop of Canterbury, and to de-cide it to the honor of God, and of the Holy Church, and of the realm. However, our lord the pope was not willing to send any cardinal or any legate, as he was aware that the king of Eng-land was powerful both in word and deed, and that legates might easily be corrupted, as being more athirst for gold and silver than for justice and equity. Upon this, the envoys of the king of England, being unable to gain their object, withdrew from the court of our lord the pope. On the fourth day after, Thomas, the archbishop of Canterbury, came thither, and, throwing himself at the feet of our lord the pope, presented to him the above-mentioned writing, in which were written the laws of England, which the king called the laws of his grandfather. The pope, having heard them read in presence of all the cardinals, and of the clergy and a large concourse of people, pronounced a perpetual condemnation upon them, and excommunicated all persons who should observe them, or in any way maintain them.
In this year two comets made their appearance before sunrise, in the month of August; one in the west, the other in the north. A comet is a star which does not appear at all times, but in especial at the death of a king, or upon the ruin of a nation. When it appears refulgent with a hairy crown, it fore-tells a royal death; but, if it has long locks of hair which, as it scintillates, it spreads abroad, it betokens the ruin of a nation.
In the same year, pope Alexander returned to Rome, and was honorably received by the people of that city. In this year died Malcolm, king of the Scots, and was succeeded by his brother William. In this year, also, Henry, king of the English, crossed over from England into Normandy, having issued a shocking and execrable edict against pope Alexander and Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury; the words of which were to the following effect:
“If any person shall be found carrying letters or a man-date of our lord the pope, or of the archbishop of Canterbury, containing an interdict of Christian offices in England, let him be arrested and without delay let justice be done upon him, as a traitor to the king and the realm. Moreover, let no clerk, monk, or lay brother of any orders, be permitted to cross the sea, or to return to England, unless he has a letter from the justiciaries permitting him to cross over, or a letter from the king allowing his return. And if any such person shall be found, let him be arrested and detained. It is also forbidden that any person shall bring any mandate whatsoever of our lord the pope, or of the archbishop of Canterbury. And, if any such person shad be found, let him be arrested and detained. It is also universally forbidden that any per-son shall appeal to our lord the pope, or to the archbishop of Canterbury, and that, in future, any mandate of theirs shall be received in England; and it is ordered that no pleas whatsoever shall be held at their mandate. And if any per-son shall do anything against this prohibition, let him be arrested and detained. And further, if any bishop, priest, abbot, monk, clerk, or layman, shall observe any sentence of interdict, without delay let him be banished the king-dom, and all his kindred, but they are to take away none of their chattels with them, but let their chattels and possessions be seized into the king’s hand. Also, let all clerks, who have benefices in England, be admonished throughout every county, within three months after summons, to return to their benefices, as they wish to retain those benefices and return to England. and if they shall not return within the period before-mentioned, then let their chattels and possessions be seized into the king’s hand. also, let the bishops of London and Norwich be summoned to appear before the king’s justiciaries, to make redress for having, contrary to the statutes of the realm, laid an interdict on he lands of earl Hugh, and passed sentence against him. also, let Saint Peter’s pence be collected and kept.”


The Address of the Blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, to Henry, king of England, at his Council Held at Chinon.

 “With great longing have I longed to see your face, and to converse with you; much, indeed, on my own account, but more especially on yours. On my own account that, on seeing your face, you might recall to mind the services which, in my obedience to you, I have devotedly rendered to you to the best of my conscience; as God may help me at the last judgment, when all shall stand before His tribunal to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or whether evil; also, that I might move you to take compassion upon me, who am obliged to live on charity among the people of a foreign land; although, by the grace of God, I still have sufficient provision and in abundance.  It is also my great consolation that the Apostle says, ‘All that will live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution,’ and the words of the Prophet are, ‘I have not seen the righteous man forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.’ Again, for your own sake, for these three reasons:  because you are my lord, because you are my king, and because you are my son in the Spirit. Because you are my lord, I owe and offer to you my counsel, as is due from every bishop to his lord, in accordance with the honor of God and of the Holy Church; because you are my king, I am bound to respect and to admonish you; because you are my son, I am bound by the duties of my office to chastise and to correct you. For a father corrects his son, sometimes in kind words and sometimes in harsh, that, by the one means or the other, he may recall him to do what is right. You ought to understand that by the grace of God, you are a king for the following purposes:  first, because it is your duty to govern yourself, and to amend your life with the practice of good manners, in order that by your example others may be induced to reform their lives, according to the saying of the wise man, that the world is formed after the example of a king. In the second place, for encouraging some and punishing others, by virtue of the power which you have received from the Church with the sacrament of anointing, and with the sword which, in virtue of your office, you wield for the destruction of evil-doers to the Church. For kings are anointed in three places: on the head, on the breast, and on the arms, thereby signifying glory, knowledge and strength. The kings who, in ancient times, did not observe the judgments of God, but sinned against His commandments, were deprived of both glory, knowledge and strength, both they and their descendants: as examples in proof whereof, witness Saul, Nebuchadnezzar, Solomon, and many others. But those who, after their offenses, in contrition of heart humbled themselves before the Lord, to them was granted more abundantly and more effectually the grace of God, together with all the blessing above-mentioned: as for instance, David, Hezekiah, and many others. Christ founded the Church and gained its liberty with His own blood, by enduring the scourges, the spitting, the nails, and the straits of death, and thereby left us an example to follow in His footsteps; wherefore the Apostle says, ‘If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer we shall also reign with him.’ The Church of God is composed of two orders – the clergy and the people.  Among the clergy are the Apostles and the Apostolical men, the bishops and other rulers of the Church, to whom has been entrusted the care and government of that Church, and who have the management of ecclesiastical concerns, that they may cause all things to tend to the salvation of souls. For which reason it was said to Peter, and in Peter to the other rulers of the Church, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ In the number of the people are kings, dukes, earls, and other potentates, who have the management of secular business, that they may cause it entirely to tend to the peace and unity of the Church. And, inasmuch as it is certain that kings receive their power from the Church, and not it from them, but (with your leave I say it) from Christ, you ought not to give your commands to bishops to absolve or to excommunicate any person, to bring the clergy before secular courts, to pronounce judgment relative to tithes and churches, to forbid bishops taking cognizance of breaches of faith or vows in such manner as is here set forth in writing among your customs, which you style the laws of your grandfather. For the Lord says, ‘Keep my laws’; and, again, by the mouth of the prophet, ‘Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; to turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people. Therefore, let my lord, if so it pleases him, listen to the counsels of his liege, the advice of his bishop, and the correction of his father. Let him, for the future, have no intercourse or communication with schismatics. For it is well known to almost all the world how duteously and how honorably you received our lord the pope, how greatly you have cherished and have honored the Church of Rome, how greatly our lord the pope and the Church of Rome have loved and honored your person, and, on whatever occasion, in conformity with the will of God they possibly could, have listened to your requests. Do not then attempt, my lord, if you wish for the salvation of your soul, in any way to withdraw from that Church what is its own, or in any degree to contravene justice in acting towards it; but rather allow it to enjoy the same freedom in your kingdom which it is known to enjoy in others. Keep in remembrance also the profession which you made and placed in writing upon the altar at Westminster, to preserve its liberties to the Church of God, at the time when, by my predecessor, you were consecrated and anointed king. Restore, also, the church of Canterbury, in which you received your promotion and consecration, to that state and dignity which it enjoyed in the days of your predecessors and mine. Restore, also, the possessions which belong to that church, the towns, the castles, the estates, of which you have made distribution at your will, and replace in full all the things which have been taken from either me as well as my clerks and laymen. Likewise, allow me freely and in peace to return to my see, and I am ready to serve you loyally and duteously, as my most dear lord and king, in so far as I can, saving always the honor of God and of the Roman Church and my orders. But if you will not do thus, then know, for a certainty, that you will feel the severity of God’s vengeance.”

The Letter of the blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, to Alexander, the Supreme Pontiff.

“To your presence, most holy father, do I fly for refuge; inasmuch as you have redeemed the liberties of the Church, amid so great hazards to yourself, understand that that is the sole or the principal cause of the persecutions to which, following your example, I have been subjected. For I lamented that the foundations of the Church are being gradually shaken, and that her rights are being destroyed by the avarice of princes, and I therefore thought it my duty to meet the malady on its approach. The more I felt myself bound in duty to my liege lord, to whom, after God, I owe everything, the more safely did I think I might oppose his wicked instigators; until they had gained full possession of the serenity of his favor, and had clouded it against me; from which time, as is the way among princes, they threw out charges and accusations, in order thereby to ensure my persecution; on which, I preferred to be driven away rather than willingly to succumb. To these evils, this was added, that I was summoned, as though a layman, to appear before the king and to satisfy him thereon. And still further, in the quarter to which I looked for support in my resistance, I was deceived; for I found my brethren, the bishops, at the bidding of the courtiers, prepared to pronounce judgment against me. Thus, almost crushed by the multitude of my antagonists, I have taken breath in your presence, which does not overlook even those who are in extreme need. Under your protection will I prove, that I ought not to have been brought for trial before that tribunal, nor yet before those persons. For what else, my father, would this have been than to rob you of your rights? What else than to subject the spiritual power to the temporal? When once made, this precedent could be generally established; and for that reason, I considered it my duty the more firmly to oppose it, because a more ready method of doing injury would be introduced, if any weakness were manifested at the outset. But it will be their remark, ‘The things which are Caesar’s should be rendered unto Caesar; still, if in many things we must obey the king, we must not obey him on those points, the result of which would be, that he would not be a king. To do thus would be to make him not Caesar, but a tyrant; and then they would have to resist him, not for me, but in their own behalves. For if to him is reserved the highest possible judgment, when he is all-powerful to pronounce judgment upon body and life, will there be any last appeal among man kind when he gives judgment according to his own motives? If those who have attacked me have taken the side of justice, for what reason do they censure me? If, on the other hand, I have made my appeal to him, to whom it is not lawful or excusable to disallow an appeal, the consequence is, that they must either be accusing me unjustly, or must have distrust in your justice. For doubly should I be confounded, if before your Holiness I should be convicted. And do I merit persecution on the part of those, in behalf of whom I have laid myself open to such attacks, and should have gained my point, had they only been so inclined ? But badly fares the head, if it is forsaken by the limbs. If too the eyes were to assume a tongue in opposition to the head, if they were to be gifted with foresight, they would find that they were contriving evil against themselves; so likewise have the king’s followers used their aid against me to ensure their own slavery. What can have been the cause of hatred so great that, in order to destroy me, they should destroy themselves? The consequence is, that while they neglect their spiritual for their temporal duties, they fail in both. And is it the fact that, while I protested aloud and appealed to your presence, they presumed by their judgment to condemn their own father? Why, if they have made a compact to agree with the prince who is so offended at me in relation to the universal Church, even to you, most holy father, may their suspicion extend. But they will affirm that they have held with the king by reason of their duty to their liege; even so, corporeally to him, but spiritually to me. Whom then, in preference to themselves, ought they to have held with? Ought they not to have submitted in preference to the loss of things corporeal rather than spiritual? But to this they may reply, that this was not a proper time for provoking the prince. How astutely do they argue to ensure their own slavery! Why, they themselves encourage it, who give shelter beneath their wings to his excesses; for if they had not given their sanction, he would have refrained from acting thus. And on what occasion is constancy more required than during a time of persecution? Are not his friends proved by the test of persecution ? If people always succumb, what are they to look for? Resistance is necessary at times. Look then with condescension, most holy father, upon my exile and persecutions, and remember that once in your time I occupied an exalted position, and that for your sake I have been loaded with injuries. Put forth your severity, and restrain those at whose instigations this persecution has befallen me; and let not aught of these things be imputed to my lord the king, who is rather the instrument, than the author of these machinations.”

The Letter of the blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, to his suffragan bishops.

“Thomas, by the grace of God, the humble servant of the church of Canterbury, to his venerable brethren, the bishop of London, and the other bishops of the whole province of Canterbury; may they so enjoy temporal blessings, as pot to lose those of eternity. My most dearly-beloved brethren, wherefore do ye not arise with me against my enemies? Why do ye not take part with me against those who work iniquity? Is it that ye are ignorant that the Lord scattereth abroad the bones of those who please men? They shall be confounded, inasmuch as the Lord hath despised them. Your discreetness well knows that when the errors of a man are not opposed, they are approved; and that when truth is not defended, it is smothered. He, too, who does not hasten to the reproval of that which ought to be corrected, appears, Saint Gregory giving his testimony thereto, to encourage him who commits the wrong. Enough, and even more than enough, have we put up with our lord, the king of England; and yet, in return, the Church of God has received no support from him. We hold that it is a thing dangerous and not to be endured, to leave unpunished for the future, as hitherto, the excessive outrages committed by him and his officials against the Church of God and the ministers of that Church and the more especially so inasmuch as most frequently by letters and messages, and other means, as was our duty, we have endeavored to recall him from the perverseness of his course. But since we have been hardly heard by him, much more listened to, after invoking the grace of the Holy Spirit, we have publicly condemned, and have made null and void that writing in which are contained, not those customs, but rather those corruptions by which at the present time the Church of England is disturbed and put to confusion, as also the authority of the said writing. All who observe, or enforce, or counsel, or aid, or defend the same, we do likewise excommunicate; and all you bishops, by the authority of God and of ourselves, we do absolve from the promises, by which, against the rules of the Church, you bound yourselves to the observance thereof For who is there that can doubt that the priests of Christ are appointed to be the fathers and masters of kings and princes, and of all the faithful? Is it not understood to be an act of lamentable madness for the son to attempt to make his father, or the disciple his master, obedient to him, and by unrighteous means of compulsion to render him subject to his power? One, too, whom he believes to have power to bind and to loose him not only on earth, but even in heaven as well? Therefore, in order that we may not fall into the commission of this error, we have rendered of no effect, and have made null and void the authority of that writing, as also the writing itself, together with all the corruptions that are therein contained; and more especially the following: ‘Appeal shall not in any case be made to the Apostolic See, except with the king’s permission. It shall not be lawful for an archbishop or bishop to depart from the kingdom, to attend the summons of our lord the pope, without the king’s permission. It shall not be lawful for a bishop to excommunicate any person who holds of the king in capite, or to lay an interdict upon any one of his officers, without the king’s permission. It shall not be lawful for a bishop to take cognizance of perjury or breach of faith. The clergy are to be brought before secular tribunals. Laymen, whether the king or other persons, are to take cognizance of causes as to churches and tithes, and other enactments to a like effect. We do also denounce as excommunicated, and have excommunicated by name, the man called John of Oxford, who has fallen into a damnable heresy, by tendering an oath to schismatics, through whom a schism that had almost died out has revived in Germany, as also for communicating with that most notorious schismatic, Reginald of Cologne; and because, contrary to the mandate of our lord the pope and of myself, he has taken unlawful possession of the deanery of the church of Salisbury, a deed which, so detestable as it is, so contrary to right, so pernicious in its example to the Church of God, we do make utterly null and void, and do render it of no effect whatsoever; and it is our command to the bishop of Salisbury, and the chapter of that church, in virtue of their obedience, and at the peril of their orders, on seeing this our letter, thenceforth no longer to hold him as dean thereof. In like manner, we do denounce as excommunicated, and have excommunicated, Richard de Ivechester, because he has fallen into the same damnable heresy, by holding communication with Reginald of Cologne, the schismatic, as also by inventing and contriving all kinds of mischief with those schismatics and Germans, to the destruction of the Church of God, and especially of the Church of Rome, according to the terms agreed upon between our lord the king and them. We have also excommunicated Richard de Lucy and Jocelyn de Baliol, who have been the authors and fabricator of these corruptions; also Ranulph de Broc, who has taken possession of the property of the church of Canterbury, which by right is a provision for the poor, and withholds the same and has arrested our men as though they were laymen, and detains them in his custody. We have also excommunicated Hugh de Saint Clair and Thomas Fitz-Bernard, who, without either connivance or consent on our part, have laid hands upon the property and possessions of the said church of Canterbury All others beside who in future shall lay violent hands upon the property and possessions of the church of Canterbury against our will and consent, we have included in the same sentence of excommunication; according to the words of pope Lucius: ‘All spoilers of the Church and withholders of he possessions, putting them away from the threshold of the said mother Church, we do excommunicate, sentence to damnation and pronounce to be guilty of sacrilege.’ And not these only but those even who assent thereto, does he comprehend in the same sentence. The Scripture, also, in one place, tells us the he who agrees with the sinful, and defends another in his sin shall be accursed before God and man, and shall be visited with the most severe afflictions and likewise, that if any one defends another in his sin, he shall be more severely corrected than he who has committed the sin. As yet, indeed, we have delayed pronouncing this sentence against the person of our lord the king, in the hope that perchance, by the inspiration of the Divine grace, he may recover his senses, still, we shall very shortly pronounce it, unless he shall make haste so to do. Therefore, we do command your brotherhood, and by virtue of your obedience enjoin you, that henceforth you hold the aforesaid men who have been excommunicated by us as excommunicated, and cause them to be denounced as such; in obedience to the decree of pope Honorius: ‘Be it lawful for all bishops to declare the names of those who have been excommunicated by them both to the neighboring bishops, as well as to the people of their own diocese, and placing them in a public place before the doors of the churches, to warn all comers thereby, so that due diligence may be given to both points, entrance into the churches may be everywhere denied to those excommunicated, and grounds for excommunication may be removed from the rest.’ And you, brother, the bishop of London, we do command, and, by virtue of our authority over you, enjoin the same, that you will disclose and show this our letter to the rest of your brethren and to all our brother bishops of our province. Fare ye well in Christ, and pray continually for us.”
After these things, Henry, king of England, returned from Normandy to England, and marched with a great army into Wales, where he lost many of his nobles, barons, and men. He also did justice upon the sons of Rees, and upon the sons and daughters of his nobles, for he had the eyes of the male children put out, and cut off the noses and ears of the females.


In the year 1166, being the twelfth year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said king Henry expelled from England, and from all the lands of his dominions, all the men and women he could possibly find belonging to the kindred of the blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury; even infants crying in the cradle, and still hanging at the mother’s breast, he sent into banishment, that, upon seeing them, the grief of the above-named archbishop might be increased. What art thou doing, thou tyrant? What madness is it that hath overcome thee, that thou shouldst thus drive away from thy kingdom those who have done thee no injury, and in whose mouths no guile has been found? There is no reason why the issue of the banished, so long as they observe the laws, should not live in the city!
When the blessed Thomas beheld them, he was greatly afflicted, and, sharing in their sorrows, became more than a martyr. “No wonder was it, then, if his mind, becoming disturbed, melted away, like water dropping from the snow.” Still, all these sorrows did the man of God endure with great long-suffering. He had hardly remained two years at the abbey of Pontigny, with the abbot Gwarine, and the monks who were there in the service of God, under whose charge he had been placed by Alexander, the Supreme Pontiff, when the king of England sent word to the above-named abbot of Pontigny, that if he any longer harbored the archbishop of Canterbury in his house, he would, in such case, banish all the monks of his order from England. The consequence of this was, that the blessed Thomas, of his own accord, departed from that house, in order that so many houses of the religious might not, on his account, come to ruin. He, therefore, betook himself to Louis, king of the Franks; by whom he was hospitably received, and sent to the abbey of Saint Columba, near the city of Sens.

The Letter of pope Alexander to Henry, king of England.

“Alexander the bishop, servant of the servants of God, to early beloved son Henry, the illustrious king of England, health and the Apostolic benediction: Although your great devotion towards us and your mother the Holy Church seems in some measure to have waxed cool, still, at no season do we relax our paternal feelings towards you and the kingdom entrusted to your government. Inasmuch, then, as the stripes of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy, your highness ought diligently to advert thereto, and, seriously giving it your consideration, observe that as the clergy are distinguished in their lives habits from the laity, so also are the tribunals of the clergy bound to be entirely different from the tribunals of the laity. Wherefore, if you confound the same in an unseemly manner, render subject to your power that which belongs to Jesus Christ, enact, at your own goodwill, new laws for the oppression of the churches and of the poor of Christ, and introduce customs which you style those of your grandfather, then, without doubt, at the last judgment, which you will not be able to escape, you yourself will be judged in a similar manner, ‘With the same measure with which you mete, it shall be measured to you again.’ But, lest our admonitions may appear in some measure tedious or harsh to the ears of your highness, recollect the words of the Scripture, that ‘the son whom the father loveth he correcteth,’ knowing this for certain, that the more ardently we love your person with all brotherly love in the Lord, and the more frequently and thoughtfully we recall to mind the marks of your most sincere attachment to us and to the Church of God, which you formerly so frequently and so bounteously showed, the more readily do we make these intimations to you, to whom, with all the yearnings of our heart, we wish spiritual and eternal welfare. But if the future judgment is in any way to deter you, or if a crown of glory, as a reward in your eternal rest, has any delights for you, then does it befit you to worship true justice, which is God; to concede to every one his rights, and to leave to the ecclesiastics all ecclesiastical matters, and especially those of a criminal nature, which arise from breaches of faith or of oaths, and all cases relative to the property and possessions of churches. In fact, it would neither befit, nor, indeed, be expedient for your serene highness to confound the offices of king and priest. For, if the whole of the property of the Church, which by means of oppression of this nature has been converted to your use, were to be expended by you in the relief of the poor, or in other works of piety, you would therein be paying a mark of respect not more pleasing to God than if, after offering one alms-dish on the altar. you were to cover up another, or, if you were to crucify Peter, that you might deliver Paul from peril of death. For you ought to recollect, and have it as an example on this occasion before your eyes, how king Saul, who, after he had conquered Amalek, wished, against the commandment of the Lord, to reserve the spoil, was reproved by the Lord when he made it his excuse that he had reserved it for sacrifice; and how, while he was still alive, another man was appointed to the royal honors and dignities. The sins of the people had raised him to be king, but his own offenses deprived him of the government of the kingdom. How king Uzziah, also, when he attempted to sacrifice and to usurp the office of priest, was, as a worthy punishment, smitten with leprosy, it would be for your wellbeing to recall to mind. If, however, you shall ascribe your successes to your might and prowess, and not to God, beyond a doubt He who has set you over others, and made you a great prince in the world, for the governance of the faithful, and not for their oppression, will, with rebuke, require of you the talents which have been entrusted to you; and, as we read of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, who, for his father’s sins, was driven from his kingdom, so will God visit the sips of the father upon the children. Do you, then, give no heed to the evil suggestions of any person, nor incline your ear to those who are always whispering mischief, but diligently attend to those things which concern your salvation. Wherefore, make it your endeavor to govern to the honor of God and the peace and tranquility of the Church, for which alone you have received the government of your kingdom, and study to rule it to the best of the power that God has given you, to the end that God may preserve for you your temporal kingdom, and, after that, may give you one to endure world without end.”

The letter of pope Alexander to Gilbert, bishop of London, in behalf of the blessed Thomas.

“Alexander the bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his venerable brother Gilbert, bishop of London, health and the Apostolic benediction. Inasmuch as, in relation to the matters which we have enjoined to your brotherhood, you have shown efficient zeal and diligence, and have made it your care faithfully to solicit and advise our most dearly beloved son in Christ, Henry, the illustrious king of England, upon the increase and exaltation of the Church and of ourselves, we deem it every way pleasing and acceptable, and, returning you most abundant thanks for the same, with extreme praises, do commend your prudent anxiety in the same unto the Lord. And, inasmuch as we do love the said king and illustrious prince with the greatest affection, as a most truly beloved son, so both through you and through our venerable brethren, the archbishop of Rouen and the bishop of Hereford, as also through our most dearly beloved daughter in Christ, his mother, the former illustrious empress of the Romans, have we often and often, in divers ways, tried to induce and encourage him to observe his duty to the Church. Wherefore, we do rejoice and exult in the Lord at the dutifulness of the said king, of which in your letter you have informed us. But, inasmuch as we wish him to continue in his duty to the Church of God and to ourselves, as from the beginning he has been wont to do, we do ask of your brotherhood, enjoin, and command that, anxiously and diligently, you will often and often advise him, both yourself and by others, and exhort him by all means, and prevail upon him, after his usual manner, to use his best endeavors for the honor and exaltation of the said Church, and manfully to support and maintain and defend her cause. Let him, also, love and honor the churches and ecclesiastical persons, and preserve their rights. Our venerable brother, also, the archbishop of Canterbury, let him receive again into his love and favor. And we, if he shall continue to pay to Saint Peter and to ourselves that honor and respect which he has begun to do, will love him with sincere affection, and will use our endeavors in every way, as will be our duty, for the exultation of himself and the preservation of the kingdom entrusted to him. And, indeed, we would prefer to outdo him in patience and long-suffering, so long as we can possibly endure so to do, rather than cause him vexation in any way. Given this Wednesday, the eleventh day before the calends of September.”

The Letter of Gilbert, bishop of London, to pope Alexander upon the answer of the King on the business of the archbishop of Canterbury.

“To his father and lord, Alexander, the Supreme Pontiff, the brother Gilbert, servant of the church of London, the debt of sincere affection and the service of humble obedience. Your mandate, dearest father in Christ, has been received by us with due veneration, immediately on which, we presented ourselves before your son, and our dearest lord, the illustrious king of the English, who is now at the bead of his army in the French territory; and, in conjunction with our venerable brother, the bishop of Hereford, we diligently and carefully admonished him according to the tenor of your mandate. We set before his eyes all the particulars of your letter, and, beseeching him and expostulating with him as far as was becoming towards his royal majesty, we constantly and incessantly exhorted him that he would satisfy us as to his purposes, and that, if he had in any way departed from the paths of reasonableness, he would not delay, at your admonition, through us, to return to the ways of truth and justice; that, following the pious admonition of his father, he would desist from all evil actions, would love God with purity of heart, and would regard with his usual veneration his holy mother, the Roman Church; that he would neither impede those who wished to visit her, nor prevent appeals being made to her; that benignly recalling and restoring our brother, the lord archbishop of Canterbury, to his see, he would remain firm and immovable in his reverence for Saint Peter and yourself, and that, giving his entire attention to works of piety, he would not oppress either the churches or ecclesiastical persons in his realm or in his territories, nor yet allow them to be oppressed by his means or those of another; but, on the contrary, diligently preserve them under his royal protection, to the end that He, through whom kings reign, might preserve for him his temporal kingdom while on earth, and bestow on him an eternal one in heaven: that otherwise, if he would not listen to those wholesome counsels, your Holiness, who has hitherto patiently borne with him, could no longer bear with him in your long-suffering. We further added, that we greatly feared for him, that if he did not correct his faults, he would before long incur the wrath of Almighty God; so much so, that his kingdom would not be of long continuance, nor his family allowed to prosper; but that He who had exalted him when humble, would now, when exalted, hurl him down with a heavy fall from the summit of the throne. On this, he received your admonition with much thankfulness and with much forbearance, and with great meekness made answer to each part of it in order. In the first place, he asserted that his feelings were in no way estranged from you, and that he had never had in his mind any other intentions, provided you showed a paternal solicitude towards him, than to love you as his father, to support and cherish the Holy Church of Rome as his mother, and humbly to obey and follow your holy commands, saving always the dignity of himself and of his kingdom. But that, if for some time past he has not looked upon you with reverence, he asserts that the following is the reason for the same: that although he maintained your cause in your need, with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his strength, your Holiness did not return him the like, according to his deserts, in his time of need, when he had recourse to you through his envoys; but he complains, and feels ashamed to say, that in almost every request he has made of you, he has met with a repulse. Trusting, however, in a father’s love, which, when it shall think fit, will listen to his son, hoping for and expecting a more cheerful countenance, he remains firm and constant, as we have already said, in his attachment to Saint Peter and to yourself. For this reason it is that he will not attempt to prevent any one who may wish to visit your Holiness, and neither, as he affirms, has he hitherto prevented them. As regards the question of appeals, by the ancient institutions of his realm, he claims it as his privilege and duty that no clerk shall go out of his kingdom for any civil suit, unless he has first made trial whether by the king’s own authority and mandate he can obtain justice. But if he shall be unable to obtain this, then, the king making no opposition whatsoever thereto, any person whatsoever shall be at liberty to appeal to your excellency, whenever he shall think fit. And if upon this point your rights or dignities have been in any way prejudiced, he promises that he will speedily correct the same, with the help of God, in a synod of all the clergy of his dominions. As regards the emperor, although the king knew him to be a schismatic, still until this day he has never heard that you had excommunicated him. But if on our information he shall come to know that such is the case, if he has entered into any unlawful compact with him or with any other person, this he also promises he will have similarly corrected by the judgment and counsel of the Church of his realm. The king also asserts that he has by no means expelled our father, the lord archbishop of Canterbury, from his kingdom, as he has left it entirely of his own accord, so when he shall have a mind so to do, he will be entirely at liberty with his entire sanction to return to his church. Provided always, that while he receives satisfaction on those points upon which he makes complaint, he shall be willing that the royal privileges should be faithfully observed to which he has been sworn. And, if any church or ecclesiastical person shall make proof that they have been wronged by him or his people, he will be prepared to make full compensation, according to the judgment of the whole Church. This is the answer which we have received from our lord the king, although we could have wished that we had received something more entirely according to your wishes. This answer, however, we have determined upon notifying to your highness, that from his reply your wisdom might be enabled to form a judgment how to put an end to these matters. But our lord, the king, seems in especial to justify his cause, upon the fact that on all the points which have been mentioned, he will abide by the judgment and counsel of the Church in his dominions; and he promises that he will in nowise prevent the return of our father, the lord archbishop of Canterbury, as we have previously mentioned. Wherefore we have thought proper to supplicate your excellency, keeping this always before our eyes, ‘A bruised reed shalt thou not break, and the smoking flax shalt thou not quench.’ Moderate for a time, if so it please you, within the bounds of discretion that zeal which is kindled by the flames of the Divine Spirit to avenge each injury done to the Church of God; lest by pronouncing an interdict or the extreme sentence of excommunication, you may have to lament that numberless churches are subverted, and so, which God forbid, irrevocably alienate from your allegiance both the king himself, and numberless people with him. :For it is as good for the limb to be joined to the head, even though wounded, as to be cast away from the body when cut off. For wounded limbs return to a state of healthfulness. whereas, when once cut off, they have great difficulty in adhering to the body. To cut off a limb, is to entail desperation; whereas the cautious treatment of the surgeon will very frequently heal the wound. Wherefore. it so it please you, it were better that, at the present moment, you should use your endeavors in healing the wound, it any such there is, than that, by cutting off the most noble portion of the Church of God, you should bring to utter confusion that which, for this long time past, has been in a state of confusion beyond what can possibly be expressed. For, that as yet your words have not taken their full effect, or have been entirely appreciated. Is then the Divine grace to be despaired of? At an acceptable time, they may both have their full effect, and be entirely appreciated. Is the hand of God so shortened, that it cannot save? Or is his ear stopped, so that it cannot hear? Those words are swift in their course: God, when he wills it, with a high hand works changes in all things, and gives unhoped-for accomplishment to the prayers of his Saints. Royal blood, then only knows how to be overcome when it has been successful; nor is it ashamed to yield when it has gained the victory. By kindness is it to be mollified, by advice and long-suffering is it to be overcome. But what if this long-suffering, when manifested, or needed for a time to be manifested, causes some loss of temporal possessions? Is there nothing to be rescued from the wreck when the fate of multitudes is threatened? Are not many things needed to be thrown into the deep when the confusion of land, sea, and waves is threatening destruction? Foolishly, but still in charity, do we address you in no fictitious language. If this should be the termination of the matter, that, losing everything, the lord archbishop of Canterbury should submit to continual exile, and, which God forbid, England should no longer obey your commands, it would have been much better patiently to have endured this for a time, than with such zeal to have insisted upon acting with severity. For, suppose that your vengeance shall not be able to separate still more of us from our obedience to you – still, there will not be wanting some to bow the knee to Baal, and without regard to religion and justice, to receive the pall of Canterbury at the hands of their idol. Nor will there be wanting persons to occupy our sees, and, seated in our seats, to show him obedience with all feelings of duty. Many are already prognosticating such things, hoping that offenses may arise, and that the straight may be made crooked. Wherefore, father, we do not mourn or lament our own misfortunes; but unless you meet these evils, we see that a shocking subversion of the Church of God is threatened, and that, becoming weary of our lives, we may curse the day on which we were born to behold such a sight as this.  Beloved father in Christ, may Almighty God preserve you in safety for long to come.’  

The Letter of the blessed Thomas to King Henry.

“To his most revered lord, Henry, by the grace of God, the illustrious king of the English, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and earl of Anjou, Thomas, by the same grace the humble servant of the church of Canterbury, health and best prayers for his prosperity in all things. To speak concerning God stands in need of a mind utterly free and unbiased; upon this subject it is that I address my lord, and, I trust, with peace towards all men. I beseech you, my lord, that, with patience of mind, you will endure some little advice, which, by the grace of God, which is never ineffectual, will contribute to the salvation of your soul and to my acquittal. Difficulties beset me on every side; even tribulation and difficulties have come upon me, who am placed between two most grave and fearful alternatives. When I say between two most fearful alternatives, I mean a dangerous silence on the one hand, and admonition of you on the other. If, on the one hand, I am silent, it will be death to me, and I shall not escape the hands of the Lord, who says, ‘If thou cost not warn the wicked from his wicked way, and he shall die in his iniquity, his blood He will require at your hands.’ If, on the other hand, I admonish you I fear, which God forbid, that I shall not escape the wrath of my lord. And I trust that it may not befall me, according to what the wise man says, that when a person sends to intercede or to admonish a person who is not pleased thereat, it is to be feared lest, becoming angered, his mind may be provoked to do what is worse. What, then, am I to do? Am I to speak, or am I to be silent? In either alternative there is danger, no doubt. But inasmuch as it is safer to fall under the indignation of men than into the hands of the living God, trusting in the mercy of the Most High, in whose hands are the hearts of kings, and who will induce them as He shall think fit (and I trust that He will, to take the better part), I will speak to my lord, inasmuch as I have once begun so to do. For often are good things provided for those who are unwilling, and especially when the safety more than the will is consulted. In your land is kept in captivity the daughter of Sion, the spouse of a great king, oppressed by many, insulted by those who long have hated her, and by whom she ought rather to be honored than addicted, and in especial by you. Keeping, therefore, in your recollection each of those blessings which God has bestowed upon you in the beginning of your reign, in the middle thereof, and almost unto the present moment, do you release her, and allow her to reign jointly with her husband, to the end that God may bless you, and that your kingdom may forthwith begin to recover its strength, and this reproach be taken away from your generation, and that unbroken peace may reign in your days. Believe me, most serene prince, my much loved lord, the Almighty is slow in retribution, long-suffering in His patience, but most severe in His vengeance. Hear me, and do that which is right. But, if otherwise, it is greatly to be feared that (and I trust that so it may not be) He will gird His sword upon His thigh, and will come in His might and with a strong hand, armed with many woes, to set free His spouse, and that not without heavy oppressions and servitude, attended by tribulation. But if you listen to me, then the Lord will of necessity be sensible forthwith of your duteousness as acting the part of a valiant soldier on His side, and in such case He will bless you, and will add glory unto your glory, even unto the issue of your sons and of your daughters, down to distant times. But if otherwise, I fear, and may God avert it from you, that the sword will not depart from your house, until the Most High shall have come and avenged the injuries done to Him and His; just as it did not depart from the house of Solomon, although God had made choice of him, and had conferred upon him such great wisdom, and such an enjoyment of peacefulness, that it was said by all, ‘This is the son of wisdom and of peace;’ yet, inasmuch as he departed from the path of the Lord, and proceeded from wickedness to wickedness, God divided asunder his kingdom, and gave it unto his servant; and, in especial, because, after the commission of his sin, he did not instantly seek to appease the Lord, as his father David had done, who immediately after his offense humbled himself before the Lord, corrected his fault, sought for mercy, and obtained pardon; and would that, with the grace of God, you would do the like. These words I write unto you at present, the rest I have placed in the mouth of him who bears these presents, a pious man, one of great credit, and, as I believe, a faithful servant of yours. In them, I pray that so it may please you to place full belief; still in preference, with your favor, I could wish to enjoy the condescension of an interview with you. Once and always to my lord, farewell!”  

The Letter of the blessed Thomas to Robert bishop of Hereford.

“Thomas, by the grace of God, the humble servant of the church of Canterbury, to his venerable brother Robert, by the same grace, bishop of Hereford, health and blessings in all things. If so it is that my letters have caused anxiety in your brotherhood, would that it were the case that I had not found you slothful in feeling, and not watchful in the due performance of the duties of the office you have undertaken. I have chosen to be cast out and to become accurse on behalf of you all, a reproach before men and a scorn before the people, that I might not behold the evils of the holy ones, and keep silence upon the injuries done to my nation; and anxiously did I wish that perchance some one of you in his zeal for the law of God, and his love of the liberties of the Church, would follow and come after me, that so we might not give horns to the sinful. And behold! you, whom I believed to be given unto me by the Lord, that with me you might build, and weed, and plant, are suggesting encouragement amid ruin, and solace in despair inasmuch as you are preaching humility, nay, even abject submission, and ale announcing tidings of good, while, on every side, confusion prevails, to the injury of God and of the clergy: and this, at the moment when you ought to be strengthening the constancy of my mind amid its vacillation, and, with me, sustaining the attack, in order to defend our inheritance of the cross and repel and crush the enemies of the church, to be suggesting counsel to my ears, to be breathing fresh life into my spirit, to the end that I might entreat with the more firmness, that I might argue with the greater cogency, and rebuke with the greater severity. And, if they should refuse to hear me, then, undoubtedly, ought you to have exclaimed ‘Why dost thou sleep?  Unsheathe the sword of Saint Peter, avenge the blood of the servants of Christ that has been shed, the injuries of the Church which are being daily committed against us and ours.’ Has it entirely escaped your memory with what injuries I have been afflicted, with what insults persecuted, when, in my own person, against all authority and against all semblance of right, Christ was brought to be judged before a lay tribunal? Still, I will not recall to your mind the injury done to my own person but to the Church. Consider with thoughtfulness, and deeply reflect upon it in your mind, what was done before my departure, what was being done at my departure, what has been done since, what, in fact, is being done every day in your country, in relation to the Church of God and its servants. With what conscience can you possibly conceal these things from yourself; you, of whom hopes were entertained that you would be the redeemer of Israel, the liberator of the Church from bondage? And, now, because you have so long held your peace, I am always in affliction for you, my own begotten son, lest he should come after you who shall take away your birthright, and shall deprive you, which may God forbid, of the blessing of the first-born. But, though even thus far you have held your peace, resume your might (my most dearly-beloved son) and cry aloud - it is your duty so to do - lift up your voice against them, inspire them with fear, awaken their contrition, banish their self-satisfaction, that so the anger of God may not descend upon them, and the whole people perish ; or even, which may God forbid, the rulers with the people. For, even now, Divine vengeance is at the gates. These things do I write unto you, not for your confusion, but to put you on your guard; to the end that, relying upon the authority of God and of myself, for the future you may be strengthened and may be willing more manfully and more boldly to perform the duties of your office. This one thing in especial I wish you to be assured of, with the mercy of God, confusion to his Church shall not be extorted from me. In addition to what I have said, I give you thanks for this, that even now you have visited me, and have comforted me with your solaces. Further, there is one thing which I am not able to endure without the greatest bitterness of soul - verily, I weep for my most beloved lord the king. For fear and trembling have come upon me, and the shades have overwhelmed me, since I have seen that tribulation and difficulties are threatening my lord the king. And no wonder. For he has vexed the Church of God, and has put her to confusion, and has made hard- ships the lot of his clergy, giving them the wine of sorrow to drink. Therefore, thus saith the Lord to him ‘Where now, simple man, are the wise counsellors who used to say to thee, ‘Thou art the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings, whose customs must be observed throughout England; which if a person shall not observe, he is not a friend to Caesar, but an enemy to the crown, a criminal at the judgment-seat.’ But, assuredly, that person is rather the friend of the cross of Christ; for, ‘Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed, to turn aside the needy from judgment, and. take away the right of the poor of my people,” that churches and widows may be their prey, and that they may plunder the possessions of certain of the clergy. What shall these persons do on the day of visitation and of calamity that approacheth from afar? To whose aid will they fly for refuge, and lay aside their vaingloriousness, that they may not be bowed down under judgment, and fall with the slain? Where, now, are his wise men? Let them come forth, and let them disclose to him and say what the Lord of Hosts has determined as to England. His wise men are become fools, and his nobles have come to nought; they have deceived England, and into the midst of the people of England its lord has introduced a feeling of stupefaction. By their deeds they have made England to go astray, even as a drunken man goes astray, vomiting and staggering; and for England help there will be none. Who shall know the beginning or end hereof? For they have devoured Jacob, and have laid waste his dwelling-place, and have said, ‘Let us take possession of the holy place of God,’ and have reviled the priests and their chief men, saying, ‘Whither will ye fly for refuge from our hands, or in whom do ye put your trust?  Why have ye fled, and proved disobedient to our commands?’ Oh, how empty are these thoughts! how shame” these deeds in the sight of the Lord, who beholds how vain they are! For He will laugh to scorn him who thinks thus, when He shall see him acting thus; because His day is near at hand, even now He is at the gates, and will say, ‘Behold the men who have not placed reliance in their God, but have put their trust in the multitude of their riches, and have waxed strong in their vanity!” But it is in vain that they do thus; the Lord will not leave His church, nor His clergy, without a defender, without the heaviest vengeance. For it has been founded upon a firm rock; and that rock is Christ, who has founded it with his own blood. Assuredly, if they do not make amends herein, they will not escape with impunity, inasmuch as they have trodden under foot the Holy of Holies, the house of God, and have afilicted His priests with injuries and abusive words. These are those to whom the Lord himself has said, “I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High;’ and also, in another place, ‘He that hateth you, hateth me, and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of my eye.” Let them then return to their senses; let them avert evil from themselves; let them with the greatest humility show repentance. But if they do not, then it is to be feared, and, oh may it be averted! that the lord will speedily come, and will bring upon them and their land great tribulation and the most heavy vengeance of His retribution. Behold! our Lord shall come and shall not delay, and He shall save us; inasmuch as He will never forsake those who put their trust in Him. For the prophet saith, “Trust in the Lord, and do good, slid thou shalt be fed upon his riches;” and, again, ‘Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart;” and “put your trust in the Lord, and He shall soon deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.’ And, that I may end all that I have said herein with a becoming conclusion, inasmuch as the Lord has shown what and how great things we ought to endure for His name and in the defense of His Church, I hold it necessary for you to pray, both you and the whole Church entrusted to your charge, continually for u; to the end that, what through our own merits we are unable to endure, by your intercession and that of the holy men who are subject to you, we may be enabled to endure, and that thereby we may deserve to obtain everlasting grace. Farewell, and be comforted; farewell, likewise, to the whole of the Church of England, and may she be comforted in the Lord, that so we likewise may fare well.”
In the same year Henry, king of England, after his return from Wales, crossed over from England into Normandy, whither he was followed by William, king of the Scots.


In the year of grace 1167, being the thirteenth year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said Matilda, formerly empress of the Romans, and mother of the above-named king, departed this life, and was buried at Rouen, at the abbey called Saint Mary de Pratis. In the same year, Frederick, emperor of the Romans, went to Rome, and by violence and with an armed band, thrust Guido of Crema, the antipope and schismatic, into the Apostolic See. On his departure, a deadly plague immediately broke out among his people, and Reginald, the archbishop elect of Cologne, who was the head of the whole schism, perished on the Alps; in order that his hones might be separated from the flesh and taken to Cologne, the whole of his body was boiled in water.

The Letter of the blessed Thomas, the archbishop, to Pope Alexander.

“To his most loving father and lord, Alexander, by the grace of God, Supreme Pontiff, Thomas, the humble servant of the church of Canterbury, due and dutiful obedience. I have endured enough and more than enough, most loving father, while waiting for the reformation of the king of England, and yet have gathered no fruits whatever of my long suffering; but, on the contrary, while unthinkingly submitting thereto, I have incurred the loss and utter destruction of the authority and liberties of the Church of God. I have often-times by messengers, religious and fitting men, called upon him, and have frequently invited him to make due satisfaction; as also by letters, the copies whereof I have sent unto you. I have announced to him the Divine wrath and vengeance, if he fails to come to his proper senses; whereas he more and more persists in his evil courses, treading under foot and depressing the Church of God; both persecuting myself personally and those who are in banishment with me, so far as even to attempt to deprive me, by threats and menaces, of the kindnesses of the servants of God, who for the sake God and of yourself provide us with food. For he has written to the abbot of the Cistercians, that as he loves those abbeys of his order which are in his power, so must he withhold from us all services and attentions on part of his order. But why enlarge? For, notwithstanding my long suffering, to that degree has the harshness of the king and his officers proceeded, that even if any number of religious men whatsoever were to inform you thereupon, even upon oath, I should be much surprised if even then your Holiness would give any belief to their assertions. Reflecting, therefore, upon these things with great anxiety of mind, and the danger ensuing therefrom, both to the king and to yourself, I have publicly condemned these pernicious, I will not say customs, but perversions or corruptions, by which the Church of England is disturbed and confounded, together with the writing and the authority of the writing by which they were confirmed; as also the observers, enforcers, and defenders of the same. I have also in general terms excommunicated his abettors, advisers, and coadjutors, whosoever they may chance to be, whether clergy or laity, and have absolved my bishops from the oath by which they have been violently forced to the observance of the said customs. But these are the points which, in this writing, I have especially condemned. “Appeal shall not in any case be made to the Apostolic See, except with the king’s permission. It is not lawful for a bishop to take cognizance of perjury or breach of faith. It is not lawful for a bishop to excommunicate any person who holds aught of the king in capite, or his lands, or to lay an interdict upon any one of his officers without the king’s permission. Clerks, or those of the religious orders, are to be brought before secular tribunals; laymen, whether the king or other persons, are to take cognizance of causes as to churches pr tithes. It is not lawful for an archbishop or bishop to depart from the kingdom, to attend the summons of our lord the pope, without the king’s permission; and other enactments to a like effect. By name also I have excommunicated John of Oxford, who has held communion with that schismatic and excommunicated person, Reginald of Cologne; and who, contrary to the mandate of our lord the pope, and of ourselves, has taken unlawful possession of the deanery of the church of Salisbury, and, at the court of the emperor, has administered the oath for the supporting of that schism. In like manner also, I have denounced and excommunicated Richard of Ivechester, because he has fallen into the same damnable heresy, by holding communication with that most notorious schismatic at Cologne, and inventing and contriving all kinds of mischief, with those schismatics and Germans, to the destruction of the Church of God, and more especially of the Church of Rome, according to the treaties agreed upon between the king of England and them, and Richard de Lucy and Jocelyn de Baliol, who have been the encouragers of the royal tyranny, and the fabricators of these heretical corruptions. I have also excommunicated Ranulph de Broc, Hugh de Saint Clair, and Thomas Fitz-Bernard, who, without, our license and consent, have seized the property and possessions of the church of Canterbury. I have excommunicated all besides who, contrary to our will and assent, have laid hands upon the property and possessions of the church of Canterbury. The king, however, I have not as yet personally excommunicated, being still in expectation of his reformation; him, however, I shall not delay to excommunicate, if he does not speedily recover his senses, and submit to discipline for what he has done. To the end, therefore, most holy father, that the authority of the Apostolic See, and the liberties of the Church of God, which in our country have almost perished, may be, enabled to be in some measure restored, it is necessary, and in every way expedient, that you should entirely ratify, and by your letters confirm, what I have done. Farewell, and may your Holiness enjoy all happiness.”  

The Letter of Pope Alexander to Henry, king of England.

The bishop Alexander, servant of the servants of God, to his beloved son, Henry, the illustrious king of the English, health and the Apostolic benediction. With what paternal and kindly feelings we have often convened your royal excellence, and have frequently exhorted you, both by letters and our nuncios, to become reconciled to our venerable brother Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, and to restore to him and his clerks their churches, with the other things which you have taken from them, the prudence of your highness is by no means unaware, inasmuch as it is public and notorious to nearly the whole of Christendom. Wherefore, seeing that we have hitherto been able to make but little progress in this matter, or by kind and gentle conduct to soothe the emotions of your mind, we are rendered sad and sorrowful, and grieve that we are disappointed in our hopes and expectations; particularly as we love you sincerely as our most dearly-beloved son in the Lord, and we see this great danger threatening you; and inasmuch as it is written, ‘Cry aloud, and spare not; lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression;’ and likewise, ‘If thou cost not warn the wicked from his way, his blood will I require at thy hand;’ and by Jeremiah, the slothful man was ordered to be stoned with the dung of oxen. We have determined no longer to bear your hardness of heart as heretofore, to the detriment of justice and your own salvation; nor will we for the future close the mouth of the said archbishop in any way, or prevent him from freely doing his duty, and avenging with the sword of ecclesiastical severity the wrongs which have been done to himself and to the Church entrusted to his charge. Now, as to the points which are contained in this letter relative to the matters before mentioned, as also others of less importance, our well-beloved brother, the prior of Mont-Dieu, and the brother Bernard de Corilo, men who indeed pay more respect to God than to kings, will in words further explain to your highness. May He, to pay obedience to whose admonitions is to reign, and in whose hands are the hearts of princes, incline your mind and will, that so you may be prevailed upon rather, than, against God and your salvation, persist any longer in so determined a course of obstinacy. But if even now you shall refuse to hearken to the proposals which they shall make to you in my behalf, then without doubt you will have occasion to fear what is to ensue, and to dread the Divine vengeance in the world to come.”

The Letter of the blessed Thomas, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to Gilbert, Bishop of London.

“Thomas, the humble minister of the church of Canterbury, to Gilbert, bishop of London, may he, now as always, so pass through good things temporal as not to lose those eternal. It is a cause for wonder, indeed, for extreme astonishment, that a man of prudence, well versed in Holy Scripture, and especially wearing the appearance of religion, should, laying aside the fear of God, so manifestly, not to say irreverently, set himself against truth, oppose justice, and, to the utter confusion of all light and wrong, seek to overthrow the establishment of the Holy Church, which the Most High hath founded. For it is the Truth which says, ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ He is generally supposed not to be of sane mind who intends the ruin thereof, and is like a man who binds a rope around a vast mountain, and attempts to throw it down. But is it because I am inflamed with anger or with hatred, that, in my exasperation, I am driven to utter words of this nature against my brother, and colleague, and fellow-bishop? God forbid! But to the above effect have I collected from your letter, which I received through your archdeacon; nor was I enabled thereby to gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles. That it may be clear whether or not it is so, let us examine it, and bring its contents to the light. The end, when compared with the beginning, presents a very strong resemblance to a scorpion. The one approaches us, using smooth and gentle language, the other, stinging us severely, attempts to impose silence upon us. For, what else is it, first to acknowledge your dutiful subjection to us, and to promise obedience in conformity with that subjection, and then, in the end, to have recourse to appeal, in order that you may not be obliged to obey? The Apostle says, ‘Do I purpose that with me there should be yea, yea, and nay, nay?’ As the Apostles could not always be with the disciple, of necessity did the disciples receive power from the Lord of treading upon serpents and scorpions; for even unto this day Ezekiel is dwelling with the scorpions. And now consider in what sense you say, ‘We do have recourse to the remedy of appeal?’ You call yourself a follower of Christ; in this speech you are found to be far otherwise. For the efficacious, nay, rather the most efficacious remedy of all our evils, namely, Christ, has recommended to us obedience, not only in word, but by His most evident example, inasmuch as He became obedient to His Father even unto death. And with what grace do you call that a remedy which is an impediment to obedience? Not a remedy, indeed, but, more properly, a hindrance ought it to be called. But on what grounds do you rest your confidence in this presumption? Is it that you expect to find a defender of your disobedience in him who has received the office and the command to take cognizance of all acts of disobedience? It were wrong in you to expect this of him, and greatly to be in him. You might have been withheld from a supposition of that kind by the first and second repulses you have already experienced. For, in the first place, you appeared personally; after which, the letter which you wrote for the purpose of persuading him experienced how firmly stands the vicar of Saint Peter, and with what truthfulness, when, neither by prayers, nor by gifts, nor by suggestions, nor by promises, could you move him. But a third attempt must be made, that, after the example of his lord, he may, on a third attempt, come off triumphant. Besides, that no annoyance may be wanting, you have put off the time for your appeal nearly a whole year. You have had no compassion on my exile or on the difficulties of the Holy Church, the spouse of Christ, whom He has obtained with His own blood. Besides, to pass this over, which, indeed, I ought not to do, it was your duty to use some foresight in his behalf, to whom you assert yourself to be a well-wisher, I mean our lord the king, who, so long as he behaves thus towards us, or the Church of Christ, will be able neither to go to war, nor to live in peace, without danger to his soul. Let us now pass on to the rest. You mention that some confusion arose on my departure, and in consequence of my departure. Let the authors and contrivers of this confusion be afraid, lest they also be brought to confusion. You extol me with great praises, as to the good purpose of my journey, and indeed it is the duty of a prudent man not to be neglectful of his character; but still, it is the part of a discreet one, in relation to himself, not to believe another rather than himself. I am accused as though I had done certain injuries to my lord the king; but inasmuch as you do not mention one of them by name, I do not even know what it is I am to make answer to; therefore, as I am only charged in a superficial manner on that point, in a superficial manner only shall I defend myself In the meanwhile, however, take this for, my answer - because I am conscious of having done nothing wrong, for that treason I have not justified myself. You express surprise at the letter of warning which I sent him. What father sees his son going astray and holds his peace? What person is there that does not smite another with the rod, that he may not run upon the sword? The father despairs of the son whom he does not correct with threats or the scourge. However, God forbid that I should think as you do. that our lord. growing impatient under correction, will by degrees proceed to the extermination of the seceders! For the plantation of our heavenly Father will not be rooted up. A most violent tempest is now tossing the ship; I have hold of the helm, and do you invite me to sleep? Do you collect and place before my eves the benefits that have been conferred upon me by our lord the king, and speak of my being elevated from a lowly state to the highest position? Still, in my simplicity, to give you some small answer, what lowly state is it you are thinking of? If you look at the time at which he placed me high in his service, there were the archdeaconry of Canterbury, the priorship of Beverley, many benefices, several prebendal stalls, with other things, not a few, which, at that period attached to my name, go far to disprove that I was in such a low position as you affirm, with relation to the things of this world. And if you look at the origin of my family and my ancestors, they were citizens of London, who dwelt in the midst of the ir fellow-citizens without reproach, and persons by no means of the lowest station. But as, one day, when the darkness of the world is removed, we shall be judged by the light of truth, which will be the most glorious, to have been born of humble parents, or even those of the lowest rank, or of the great and honored ones of the world? For the Apostle says: ‘Those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon those we bestow more abundant honor.’  ‘What do pedigrees avail?’ says the heathen poet. What then ought a learned and religious Christian bishop to say? But perhaps, by your mention of my lowly condition, it was your intention to put me somewhat to confusion; however, how criminal it is to put one’s father to confusion, you yourself will see from the commandment of the Lord, which you have received as to honoring your father. But, as for commending the king’s favor to me, there was no great need to take the trouble of recapitulating his services done to me. For I call the Lord as my witness that nothing under the sun do I prefer to his favor and safety, save only those things which belong to God and to the Holy Church; for otherwise it will not be possible for hire to reign with happiness or with safety. As it is, so be it. There are many other favors, and still greater ones, than are mentioned in your letter, which I have received at his hands. In return for all these, even if they were to be doubled, ought I to peril the liberties of the Church of God, much less for the preservation of my own character, which has so frequently swerved from what is right? If I have acted with greater forbearance towards others, in this I will spare neither you, nor any one else, not even an angel, if he were to acme down from heaven, but the instant I should hear him suggesting such a course, he should hear from me these words, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan, thou savourest not the things that are of God!”’ Far from me be such madness as that! May the Lord avert such insanity from me, that any one should persuade me, by any backsliding, to make a bargain about the body of Christ; for, in such case, I should be likened to Judas, the seller of our Lord to the Jews, the buyers of Christ! But as to my promotion, which you state in your letter to have taken place, the mother of my lord the king dissuading him therefrom, the kingdom exclaiming against it, and the Church, so far as she could, heaving sighs thereat, this I tell you in answer thereto. I did not hear exclamations on the part of the kingdom, but rather acclamations; and if there was any dissent on the part of my lord’s mother, they did not come to the ears of the public. It might possibly be the case that some ecclesiastics did sigh upon that promotion, as aspirants generally do, when they found that they were disappointed in the hopes they had once entertained. And, possibly, at this day, it is those same persons who, by way of revenge for their misfortune, are the authors and advisers of the present dissensions. But ‘Woe to him by whom offenses come!’ Against the aforesaid obstacles, and against others, if any there were, the dispensations of God prevailed, as we may at this day perceive. For I am compelled by Him, who is justice itself, to postpone Him for nothing whatsoever, who in His mercy has placed me in this position. The points, also, which you seem to put forward, by way of justifying the king, I think ought not to be lightly passed over, or without some discussion; and I could only wish that he had not taken so wide a departure from justice, and that my complaints against him appeared less just. You say that he is, and always has been, ready to give me satisfaction. This you assert you can confidently say and maintain. Hold then a moment and answer these questions. When you say that he is ready to give satisfaction, in what sense do you understand it? You see those of whom God says that He is the father and the judge. the orphans, the widows, the fatherless, the innocents, and those who are utterly unacquainted with this controversy which is going on between us, you see these proscribed, and you are silent; you see the clergy banished, and you do not exclaim against it; you see others spoiled of their property, and loaded with insults, and you do not reprove it; you see my servants thrown into prison and confined there, and you hold your peace; you see the property of your mother church of Canterbury being made away with, and you offer no resistance; you see swords threatening the very throat of me your father, and myself escaping with the greatest difficulty, and you express no sorrow; still worse even, you are not ashamed to take part with my persecutors, and in me, persecutors of God and His Church, and that too, not in secret. Is this, then, giving satisfaction, not to correct evils which have been perpetrated, and day after day, to add to what is bad what is still worse? But perhaps you understand it in a contrary sense, and that to obey the will of the unrighteous is to give satisfaction, according to the words, ‘I will make mine arrows drunk with blood.’ However, you will say to me, ‘My father, of what do you accuse me? I will acquit myself in a few words. I am afraid for my gown.’ It is true, my son, and too true what you say, and it is for that reason, that you wield not the sword. But as to what you say, that he is prepared to stand by the judgment of his realm, as though, forsooth, that were a full satisfaction; who is there on earth, or even in heaven, that would presume to pronounce judgment with reference to the ordinances of God? Let human matters be pronounced judgment upon; but let Divine things remain utterly unshaken, and be left alone. How much better would it be, my brother, how much more healthful for him, and more safe for yourself, if you were to labor in every way to disclose to him and to persuade him, what is the will of God with reference to maintaining the peace of His Church, and to warn him not to covet those things which do not belong to his administration, and to remind him to honor the priests of God, not giving heed to who they are, but whose servants they are. You charge me with having been warped by prejudice against the bishop of Salisbury and John of Oxford, not a dean as you call him, but the usurper of a deanery But you ought to bear in mind that certain manifestoes preceded my judgment. You say too, that you have been moved thereby; how should you not? Ucalegon trembles when his neighbor’s party-wall is on fire and I only wish that you may be becomingly moved from the position which you have so unbecomingly taken up. Let then my lord, at your intimation, know and understand, that He who rules not only the kingdom of men, but of angels as well, has ordained under Him two powers, princes and priests; the one earthly, the other spiritual; the one to minister, the other to warn; to the one of whom He has conceded power, to the other He has willed respect to be shown. But he who withholds aught of his rights from the one or the other, resists the ordinances of God. Let not my lord then disdain to show respect to those to whom the Supreme ruler of all has not disdained to show respect; ‘I have said ye are Gods’ and again, ‘I have made you a God unto Pharaoh,’ and ‘thou shalt not revile the Gods; ‘meaning the priests. And again, when speaking by Hoses of him who was about to swear, he says, ‘Bring him unto the Gods,’ that is to say, the priests. And let not my lord presume to attempt to pronounce judgment on his judges. For to the earthly powers are not entrusted the keys of heaven, but to the priests. Wherefore it is written, ‘the priest’s lips shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord;’ and Saint Paul says, ‘Shall we not judge angels? How much more men.’ That also, at your suggestion, should be brought to our lord’s recollection as worthy of remembrance and imitation, which we read in Ecclesiastical History concerning the emperor Constantine, to whom when there had been presented written accusations against the bishops, he took the libels, and, calling the accused before him, in their sight, burned them, at the same time saying: ‘Ye are gods, made so by the true God. Go settle your disputes among yourselves, for it is not fit ting for us men to give judgment on gods. ‘Oh mighty emperor! Oh discreet ruler upon earth! one who did not fraudulently usurp that which belongs to another, and thus earned an eternal kingdom in heaven. ‘therefore, let my lord make it his study to imitate a prince so mighty, so discreet, and so prosperous; who enjoys both a praiseworthy memory upon earth, and an eternal and glorious life in heaven. Otherwise, let him fear what the Lord has threatened in Deuteronomy, saying: ‘The man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest, shall die before the judge.’ For unto this he has been called, and hereby the temporal peace and mightiness of his kingdom, of which you remind me, is ministered unto him from heaven. Otherwise, notwithstanding his many virtues, the king will not be saved even though kingdoms should be subdued by him, and nations should be prostrate. But enough upon these points. Whoever you have had as your fellow-writers in the aforesaid letter, let them understand that this answer made to you is an answer to themselves. For the future, my brethren, I warn you, I beg and entreat of you that schisms may not separate, nor enmities overshadow us; but let us have one heart and one soul in the Lord, and let us listen to Him who telleth us to struggle for justice with all our soul, and to contend for it to the death, and the Lord will conquer for us our enemies. And let us not forget that strict judge, standing before whose tribunal the truth alone shall judge us, all area) of and trust in the powers of this world being laid aside. Farewell to your brotherhood in the Lord.’  

The Letter of the Suffragans of the Church of Canterbury to the blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury.

“To their venerable father and lord, Thomas, by the grace of God, archbishop of Canterbury, the suffragan bishops of that church and the beneficed clergy appointed over the various places throughout their dioceses, due submission and obedience. Whereas, father, on your departure for foreign parts, through the very unexpectedness and novelty of the circumstance, considerable confusion arose, still, we did hope, through your humility and prudence, with the aid of the Divine favor, for a return therefrom to the serenity of our former peaceful state. That was, indeed, a solace to us, which, after your departure, reached us all by general report; that you, while passing your time in the parts beyond sea, had no ulterior designs; that you were guilty of no machinations against our lord the king or against his kingdom, but endured with moderation the burden of poverty which you had spontaneously taken upon yourself; that you were devoting your time to reading and prayer, and were atoning for the loss of time past by fastings, watchings, and tears, and, occupied in spiritual pursuits, were making your way, by the increase of your virtues, to the perfection of blessedness. We rejoiced to hear that by pursuits of this nature you were applying yourself to the restoration of the blessings of peace, and, in consequence thereof, we did entertain a hope that you would be enabled also to bring the heart of our lord the king to feelings of graciousness, so that, in his royal clemency, he might cease to be angered against you, and no longer recall to mind the injuries that had been inflicted upon him in your departure, and in the consequences thereof. Your friends and well-wishers did enjoy some access to him while these things were heard of you, and when they made entreaties for the bestowal on you of his favor, he received each with benignity. But now, from the information of certain persons, we have learned that which we recall to mind with anxiety, namely, that you have issued against him a letter of warning, in which you omit the salutation, and in which you do not make any attempt to gain his favor, or have recourse to entreaties; in which you neither breathe nor write aught in a friendly spirit; but, on the contrary, with extreme severity, you declare in the threats which you utter against him, that you will shortly have to pronounce against him an interdict or else sentence of excommunication. Now, should this be carried out with as much severity as it has been asserted with harshness, we then no longer have any hope that peace may succeed the present state of confusion, but are greatly afraid that he will be inflamed to a lasting and inexorable hatred. But the prudence of the devout takes into consideration the results of things, using its best endeavors that what it has commenced with discretion it may also bring to a good end. Therefore, if so it please you, let your discreetness consider to what it tends, and whether, by attempts of this nature, it can obtain the end which is its object. As for us, in consequence of these endeavors, we have fallen from great hopes, and after conceiving the hope of at some time obtaining peace, we now find ourselves repelled by deep despair from the very threshold of hope. And thus, while the combat is being waged as it were with the sword drawn, there is no room whatever to be found for entreaty in your behalf. Therefore do we write to our father what in our Christian love is our advice to him, not to super-add difficulties to difficulties, injuries to injuries, but rather, desisting from threats, to observe patience and humility. Let him entrust his cause to the Divine clemency, to the favor and mercy of his lord, and, thus doing, let him heap and gather hot coals of fire upon the heads of many. By thus acting brotherly love will be excited, and, the ford inspiring and the advice of the good prevailing, perhaps piety alone would be enabled to do that which threats have proved unable. It would be as well for you to be spoken of in terms of praise for your voluntary submission to poverty, as, for ingratitude for benefits received to become the subject of general remark. For all persons have a full recollection how kind the king our master has strewn himself towards you, to what a pitch of glory he has raised you from an humble station, and how he has with feelings so joyous received you into his especial favor, that the whole of the various portions of his dominions, which extend from the northern ocean to the Pyrenees, he has rendered subject to your power; so much so, that in them public opinion considered those only as fortunate who were able to find grace in your eyes. And, that no worldly fickleness might be able to shake your glory, he has willed immovably to root you in the things which belong to God. While his mother dissuaded him, the kingdom expostulated, the Church of God, so far as she could, sighed and groaned, he made it his object, in every possible way, to raise you to that elevated post which you now enjoy, hoping that he should for the future reign happily, and, amid the greatest security, rejoice in your aid and counsel. If, then, he receives injury where he looks for security, what will be the remark made on you by the voice of all? What will be your reward, or what your character, in consequence of your having made such a return as this? Do, then, if so it please you, spare your own character, spare, too, your own fame, and, in humility, endeavor to surpass our lord, and, in Christian charity, your son. If, however, our advice cannot prevail upon you to do this, at least the love and fidelity of the Supreme Pontiff, and of the holy Roman Church, ought to influence you. For you ought easily to be persuaded not to wish to make any attempt which may increase the labors of your mother, who has now labored so long, by causing her grief, which deplores the disobedience of many, to be increased by the loss of those who are obedient. For what if, and God forbid it should be so, through your irritation of him, or by your agency, our lord the king, whom people and kingdoms follow and obey, the gift of the Lord, should withdraw from our lord the pope, and decline to follow him for the future, after his refusal to give him satisfaction against you? For, what entreaties, what gifts, what promises, and how many of them, are strongly urging him to this step! whereas he has hitherto stood firmly upon a rock, and has victoriously, with feelings of deep devotion, trodden under foot the whole that the world could make offer of. One thing only do we fear, that him whom these offers of riches, and the whole of that which in the estimation of men is precious, could not influence, the indignation of his feelings of themselves may be enabled to overcome. Should this come to pass through your agency, you will have entirely to adopt the lamentations of Jeremiah, and in future will never by any means be enabled to deny unto your eyes a fountain of tears. Recollect, therefore, if so it please you, that the design of your highness, if it should succeed, will in every way conduce to the injury of our lord the pope and the holy Roman Church, and, if so it please you, of yourself as well. But those who are near you, and have deep designs, perhaps will not allow you to proceed upon this path. They entreat you to make trial against our lord the king who you are, and, in all matters which belong to him, to exercise your utmost possible power. For what power is there an object of fear to the sinful, of dread to him who refuses to give satisfaction? We do not, indeed, say that our lord the king has never done amiss, but we do say, and aver with confidence, that he has always been ready to make satisfaction to our lord. The king, who has been so appointed by the Lord, provides for the peace of his subjects in all things, that he may be enabled to preserve the same for the churches and the people entrusted to him, while, at the same time, the dignities which were the due of and accorded to the kings before him, he asks as his own due and to be accorded to him. Wherefore, if any disagreement has arisen between him and you, having been convened and warned thereon by the Supreme Pontiff, in his paternal love, through our venerable brethren the bishops of London and Hereford, he has not treated the same with superciliousness, but has shown that he does not require what does not belong to him in all those matters in which any grievance has been put forward relative to a church or any ecclesiastical person, and has humbly and meekly made answer that he will conform to the judgment of the Church of his kingdom; which he is also prepared to fulfill in deed, and to esteem it a pleasing obedience when he is advised to correct the same, if he has been guilty of any offense towards God. And, not only to give satisfaction, but also to make reparation, if required, is he prepared. If then, he is ready both to give satisfaction and to make reparation to the Church in those matters which concern the Church, and not in the least to shrink therefrom, thus bowing his neck to the yoke of Christ, with what right, by what law, by what canon or interdict will you oppress him or, which God forbid, with what weapon of the Gospel will you smite him? Not to be carried away by impulse, but to be prudently regulated by the judgment, is a thing worthy of praise. Wherefore, this is the common petition of us all, that you will not give way to precipitate counsels, and thus betray us, but rather by your paternal kindness make it your study to provide for the sheep entrusted to your charge, that they may enjoy life, and peace, and security. Indeed, that is a subject of concern to us all, which we have lately heard of as being done, preposterously as some think, against our brother the bishop of Salisbury and his dean. Against them, following, as it seems to us, rather the warmth of anger than the path of justice, you have hurled the penalties of suspension or condemnation before an inquiry has taken place as to their faults. This is a new method of giving judgment, hitherto, we trust, unknown to laws and canons, first to condemn for it, and afterwards to take cognizance of the fault. This we beg you not to attempt to put in practice against our lord the king and his kingdom, or against ourselves and the churches and dioceses entrusted to our charge, to the detriment of our lord the pope, to the loss and disgrace of the holy Church of Rome, and to the no slight increase of your own confusion. To such a course on your part we oppose the remedy of appeal, having already in the face of the Church personally made appeal to our lord the pope against our fears of oppression. And now once more do we appeal to him in writing, and we name the day of the Ascension of Our Lord as the appointed time for our appeal. Still, with all possible duteousness, we entreat you, adopting more healthful counsels, to spare your own and our labor and expense, and to make it your endeavor to place your case in such a position that it may admit of a remedy. Father, we wish you farewell in the Lord.”  

The Letter of the Suffragans of the Church of Canterbury to Alexander, the Supreme Pontiff.

"To their father and lord, the Supreme Pontiff Alexander, the bishops of the province of Canterbury, and the beneficed clergy appointed over many places throughout their dioceses, to their lord and father, the due service of love and obedience. We believe, father, that your excellency will remember that, through our venerable brethren, the bishops of London and Hereford, you did, by letter to them some time since directed, convene your dutiful son, our most dear lord, the illustrious king of the English, and did advise him, in your paternal love, as to the correction of certain points which seemed to your Holiness in his kingdom to stand in need of correction. On receiving your mandate with due reverence, as is well known to all, he did not thereupon give way to any ebullition of anger, or with haughtiness despise to pay obedience thereto; but immediately thereupon, feeling gratitude for your paternal correction he submitted himself to the judgment of the Church, repeating upon each point the commands which, according to the tenor of your mandate, had been carefully given to him thereupon; that he would be obedient to the judgment of the Church of his kingdom, and that what in it should seem worthy of correction, he would of his own praiseworthy counsel, and, with a duteousness in a prince most commendable, correct. From this determination he has not withdrawn, nor does he intend to fall away from his promise: but, on the contrary, whoever shall sit as judge, whoever shall take cognizance, and whoever shall pronounce judgment, he himself, showing respect to the Divine mandates, and not putting forward the pride of majesty, but rather, like an obedient son, is ready in all things to submit to that judgment, and in a lawful manner to show obedience to the sentence, and so prove himself a prince bound to respect the laws. Wherefore, as he submits himself to the judgment of the Divine laws, it is not necessary, either by interdict, or by threats, or by the goads of maledictions, to urge him to give the satisfaction required; for his deeds do not in any way withdraw themselves from the light, nor do they in any measure need to fly to the shade for concealment. For the king, who is in faith a most devout Christian, in the bonds of chastity a most exemplary husband, a preserver and defender of peace and justice of incomparable activity, sets all his wishes thereupon, and is animated by every desire, that all scandals may be removed from his kingdom, that all sins with their abominations may be banished therefrom, that peace and justice may universally prevail, and that, amid profound security and pleasing quietude, all things may rejoice and flourish under his rule. When, therefore, he learned that by the enormous excesses of certain insolent clerks the peace of his kingdom was in no slight degree disturbed, showing to the clergy all due reverence, he reported their excesses to the bishops, the judges of the Church, in order that the spiritual sword might come to the aid of the temporal, and the spiritual power might establish and consolidate in the clergy that peace which he revered and cherished in the people. On this occasion the zeal of both parties was made manifest; the judgment of the bishops taking this position, that murder and similar crimes ought only to be punished in the clergy by deprivation of orders. The king, on the other hand, was of opinion that this punishment was not at all equal to the guilt, and that due care was not had for the establishment of peace, if a reader or an acolyte should be allowed to kill any man illustrious for his exemplary piety or his high station, and then come off safe with solely the loss of his orders. The clergy, therefore, insisting that thus it has been ordained by heaven in favor of their order, while our lord the king was for visiting guilt with, as he hopes, a justifiable hatred, and striving to root peace still more deeply, a holy contention arose, which is excused, we believe, before the Lord, by the single-mindedness of either party. On his side, it is not from a love of dominion, nor with the object of crushing the liberties of the Church, but from a wish to establish peace, that our lord the king has made this attempt that the customs of the kingdom and the dignities of the kings which have before his time been observed in the kingdom of England by ecclesiastical persons and peacefully maintained, should be still upheld. And that, upon these points, the cord of contention might not be prolonged to succeeding times, and public notice be attracted thereto, the elders, bishops, and other great men of the kingdom, having been adjured thereupon by their faith and their hopes in God, after having been informed upon the usage in time past, the required immunities were openly discussed and published upon the testimony of the chief men throughout the kingdom. This, then, is the cruelty of our lord the king towards the Church of God which has been so loudly exclaimed against throughout the whole kingdom, this is his persecution, this is his malignity, the reports of which have been spread abroad among ourselves as well as in other quarters. Still, in all these, if there is anything contained that is dangerous to the soul, anything offensive to the Church, he has promised all along, and does most steadfastly promise, that, advised and moved thereto by your authority, he will, with the most holy duteousness, by reason of his reverence for Christ, and for the honor which he professes to pay to the Holy Church, whom he confesses to be his mother, and for the salvation of his own soul, correct the same, according to the advice of the Church of his realm. And, indeed, our father, our aspirations for peace, would, as we hope, before this have obtained their wished-for end, if the asperity of our father, the lord archbishop of Canterbury, had not kindled afresh the anger that was now subdued and almost extinguished. For he, from whose long-suffering we had hitherto hoped for peace, from whose moderation a renewal of his favor, has most harshly and irreverently made an attack upon him whom he ought to have softened with his admonitions, and to have subdued by well-deserving and meekness, by means of grievous and threatening letters, little savoring of the devotedness of the father or the long-suffering of the priest, upon the occasion of his lately taking proceedings against certain disturbers of the peace. He has most bitterly threatened sentence of excommunication against him, and the penalties of interdict against his kingdom. If, then, his humility is thus rewarded, what is to be done with him when he is contumacious? If ready duteousness and obedience are thus esteemed, in what way will punishment be inflicted upon obstinate perverseness? To these grievous threats, things more grievous have been added. For upon certain faithful and familiar friends of our lord the king, the first nobles of the realm, who especially take part in the private counsels of the king, and by whose hands the sovereign’s intentions and the business of the kingdom are carried out, he has passed sentence of excommunication, and has publicly denounced them as excommunicated, when they have been neither cited nor defended, nor are, as they say, conscious of having committed any fault, nor have been convicted or made confession thereof. In addition to this, our venerable brother, the bishop of Salisbury, when absent and undefended, having neither confessed to or been convicted of any crime, has been suspended from the sacerdotal and episcopal office before the grounds of his suspension had been submitted to the judgment of his brother bishops of the province, or indeed of any one else. If, therefore, this method of passing judgment is to be carried out with regard to the king, and with regard to the kingdom, in so preposterous, not to say, irregular a manner, what are we to suppose may be the possible consequence? For the days are evil, and find numerous pretexts for speaking ill of us, unless the bonds of peace and of brotherly love, by which the sovereignty and the priesthood are held together, are burst asunder, and we, together with 1 he clergy entrusted to our charge, depart hence dispersed in exile, or else, which God forbid! withdraw from our fealty to you, and are hurled into the evils of schism, and into the abyss of iniquity and disobedience. For this is the shortest possible way to the entire destruction of religion, and to the subversion and ruin of both clergy and people. Wherefore, let not, in the days of your Apostolate, the Church be thus grievously subverted; let not our lord the king and the people his servants, be, which God forbid! turned away from their obedience to you; let not the wrath of our lord the archbishop of Canterbury, which, by the machinations of certain private persons, is contrived to be leveled against him and his mandates, be enabled to work any grievance against our lord the king, or his kingdom, or ourselves, or the churches committed to our charge. To your highness, by word and by writing, we have appealed, and have fixed on the Ascension of our Lord as the day of our appeal, choosing, in all humility, to endure whatsoever shall in all respects be pleasing unto your Holiness, rather than suffer daily grievances, till we are wearied, from his manifestations of loftiness of spirit, our deserts not meriting the same. Beloved father in Christ, may the Lord Almighty preserve the safety of your Church to avail even unto ages far distant.”

In the year of grace 1168, being the fourteenth year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, Richard, earl of Striguil, assembling a great army, invaded Ireland, and subdued the greater part of it, with the assistance of Milo de Coggeham, a warlike soldier, and then, making a treaty with the king at Dublin, received his daughter as his wife, together with the kingdom of Dublin. In the same year died Guido of Crema the second antipope, and was succeeded by John, abbot of Struine, who was styled pope Calixtus. In the same year died Robert, earl of Leicester, chief justiciary of England.  

The Letter of the blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, to Gilbert, Bishop of London, with reference to the sentence pronounced against him.

“Thomas, by the grace of God, archbishop of Canterbury, and legate of the Apostolic See, to Gilbert, bishop of London - would indeed that he could say, his brother - may he turn away from evil and do what is good. Your extravagances we have borne with, so long as we could, and we hope that our endurance and long-suffering, which have been to ourselves detrimental beyond measure, may not redound to the injury of the whole Church. But inasmuch as you have always abused our patience, and have not been willing to listen to our lord the pope or ourselves in the advice which concerned your salvation, but rather, your obstinacy has been always increasing for the worse; at length, the necessities of our duty and the requirements of the law forcing us thereto, we have, for just and manifest causes, smitten and excommunicated you with the sentence of anathema, and have cut you off from the body of Christ, which is the Church, until you make condign satisfaction. Therefore, by virtue of your obedience, and at the peril of your salvation, of your dignity and of your priestly orders, as the form of the Church prescribes, we do command you to abstain from all communion with the faithful; lest by coming in contact with you, the Lord’s flock may be contaminated to its ruin, whereas it ought to be instructed by your teaching, and taught by your example how to live.”

The Letter of Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, to the Chapter of London, upon avoiding communion with those who are excommunicated

“Thomas, by the grace of God, archbishop of Canterbury, and legate of the Apostolic See, to the dean, archdeacon and clergy of the church of London, health, and may they faithfully abstain from communion with excommunicated persons. That ought not to escape your discernment, which almost the whole Latin world acknowledges, how unrighteously, taking the opportunity of the general schism, Gilbert, bishop of London, our brother, would that we could say our true brother, has acted in the cause of the Church, and has endeavored to disturb the peace thereof. Still, with great longsuffering we have hitherto endured this, while he has always abused the same, and to his manifold errors has added the crime of disobedience as well. We, therefore, being able no longer to conceal this from ourselves, the necessities of our duty, and the requirements of the law forcing us thereto, have publicly excommunicated him, and we do enjoin you in virtue of your obedience, and at the peril of your priestly orders and of your salvation, forthwith to abstain from all communion with him, as befits the faithful in Christ. Likewise, under the same penalties, we do order you to avoid those whose names are hereunder written. With a like sentence; also, God willing, we shall, on the day of the Ascension, condemn those who have been solemnly cited by us, unless in the meantime they shall make satisfaction, namely, Gilbert, archdeacon of Canterbury, and Robert, his vicar, Richard de Ivechester, Richard de Lucy, William Giffard, Adam de Cheringes, and those who, either at the king’s command or of their own rashness have taken possession of the property of ourselves, or of our clergy, as also those who, by their aid or counsel, are known to have instigated the feelings of our lord the king against the liberties of the Church, and to the proscription and plunder of the innocent, and those who hinder the nuncios of our lord the pope, and of ourselves, From ministering to the necessities of the Church. Let not Your heart be disturbed hereat, or be afraid, inasmuch as by the mercy of God we are safe, under the protection of the Apostolic See, against the backslidings of the malignant and the subterfuges of appeals. These are the names of those excommunicated – Jocelyn, bishop of Salisbury, earl Hugh, Ranulph de Broc, Thomas Fitz-Bernard, Robert de Broc, clerk, Hugh de Saint Clair, Letardus de Norfleet clerk, Nigel de Saccaville, and Richard, the brother of William de Hastings, who has taken possession of our church at New Coton. Farewell.”  

The Letter of the blessed Thomas, the archbishop, to Robert, bishop of Hereford.

“Thomas, by the grace of God, the humble servant of the church of Canterbury, to his venerable brother Robert, by the same grace, bishop of Hereford, health and constant perseverance in justice and in the defense of mother Church. For the glory of the Saints, and for the damnation of the wicked it is necessary that offenses must come: in tribulations the elect are to be proved, who by patience gain for themselves a crown, and improve others by their example. But woo unto those by whom offences do come! Whereas, the bishop of London has not abstained from giving offence but among other works of his notable wickedness, since he has been delivered up unto Satan, has even gone so far as, with insolent audacity and parricidal impiety, to lift up his heel against his and your mother, the holy church of Canterbury, in presuming to say that he owes no submission and will pay no obedience to him by whom he was translated to his see; and to the weight of his condemnation has added this, that he would be for causing the transfer of the archiepiscopal throne to the see of London - we do therefore entreat your brotherhood, in whom we have full confidence, with all possible affection to oppose the shield in defense of your mother, against this son of Belial, who in the front of other Gentiles, like another Goliah of Gath, has not been ashamed to come forth alone, by the Lord’s working, from the camp of the uncircumcised, and has not feared to challenge to the combat the whole community of the sons of the church of Canterbury, while he is thirsting for the blood of their mother, and is forsaking the unity of catholic concord. For he has written to our lord the pope, on behalf of our brother the archbishop of York, beseeching him with lying and deceitful testimony that he will allow him to bear the cross throughout our province, supposing that some great gain will be the result, if through hatred to our person he shall be enabled in any way to inflict an injury upon the Church to which by his canonical profession he owes duty and obedience. But Christ, who from its first foundation, amid various storms and many and great tempests, has guided and cherished the church of Canterbury, has wrought mercifully in that, in full consistory, his falsehood and wickedness have been, by means of unexceptionable witnesses, made manifest. Wherefore, in the first place I return thanks to God, and in the next to yourselves and the rest of our brethren, who have withheld yourselves from all communion with him from the time that it was known that he had been condemned to excommunication, and have ordered by public notice throughout your see, not only him, but the rest of those who have been excommunicated among you, to be avoided. In this has been made manifest your fidelity, and the constancy of your virtue has shone forth, which has determined that the threats of public power and of officials, equally with their blandishments, ought to be postponed to the commands of God. You have set at liberty your consciences, you have preserved your good name, while, both by the words of truth, and by the example of fortitude, you have taught that it is more becoming to obey God than man. Inasmuch, therefore, as the love of God, diffused so greatly by his Holy Spirit in your hearts, has gone forth to the public as a testimony of your well-doing, all servile fear being repulsed and laid aside, let this sincerity of yours feel assured that God will speedily beat down Satan under your feet, and will bring the contest to a happy issue; and this, too, the more speedily and gloriously, the more fervently and constantly your truth shall have been made manifest in the course on which you have begun. Wherefore, in the love of God, we do beg and entreat of you, and, by your fidelity, by your obedience, and by the sincere affection which you entertain towards your mother, the church of Canterbury, adjure you; that in order to maintain the dignity and the rights of the church of Canterbury to which you have made profession of fidelity, you will arise and come to our rescue against the above-named archbishop, and send in writing to our lord the pope, and to the court, a testimony of the truth, such as it befits her sons to bear for their mother church. For he who shall withhold it on the occasion of so unjust an attack, beyond all doubt ought to be esteemed as unfaithful, and worse than unfaithful, and one against whom right would demand that all the faithful should wage war even unto the death. Nor indeed can this course be productive of any danger, inasmuch as the truth is clear, and according to the saying, is manifest even to the blind. But inasmuch as he is cursed who withdraws his sword from blood, and the evil-doer is to be scourged in order that the wise man may be instructed to his salvation; whoever does not meet the parricide with a stone and a sword, renders himself subject to the curses of the law. For he appears to give his consent thereto, who does not, when he can, reason with, or hinder him who commits such excesses. And, in order that it may not be more stringently demanded at our hands, if we any longer conceal from ourselves the great and manifest errors of those who persecute the Church and whom now for a period of nearly a whole five years, we have endured with great long-suffering, in hopes that they might come to a feeling of repentance, we denounce to your brotherhood as publicly excommunicated, Geoffrey, archdeacon of Canterbury, and Robert his vicar, Richard de Ivechester, William Giffard, Earl Hugh, Richard de Lucy, Adam de Cheringes, as also those who against the rules of the sacred canons have received ecclesiastical offices or benefices from lay hands, or taken unlawful possession of them of their own authority; and likewise those who hinder the messages of our lord the pope, and of ourselves, from treating the necessities of the Church. We do therefore, by the authority of our lord the pope, and of ourselves, command you that you will hold, and will cause to be held throughout your bishopric, these persons in such wise as the discipline of the sacred canons has prescribed in the case of persons solemnly excommunicated. We bid your brotherhood farewell in the Lord, and may it remember in the prayers of the holy to pray for us and the cause of God which is in our hands.”

In the year of grace 1169, being the fifteenth year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, ... Henry, king of England, fearing that the blessed Thomas, the archbishop of Canterbury, would pronounce sentence of excommunication against his own person, and lay an interdict on his kingdom, appealed in behalf of himself and his kingdom, to the presence of the Supreme Pontiff; and sending envoys to him, requested that he would send one or two legates a latere to England, to enquire into the dispute which existed between him and Thomas, the archbishop of Canterbury, and terminate it to the honor of God and of the Holy Church; and also that the persons above-named, whom the archbishop of Canterbury had excommunicated, might in the meantime be absolved. Wherefore our lord the pope wrote to the following effect:

The Letter of pope Alexander to Henry, king of England.

“Alexander the bishop, servant of the servants of God, to Henry, the illustrious king of the English, health and the Apostolic benediction. The envoys sent by your mightiness, namely, our well-beloved sons Robert Cumin and Ralph de Tameworde, persons devoted to ourselves and to the Church of God, and, as we believe, most faithful servants to your royal highness, together with the letter which your excellency transmitted unto us by their hands, we have received with the more kindly feelings, and have with the greater favor and honor granted the prayer thereof, the more fully we were sensible that they had been sent by a mighty prince and most Christian king: to whom, indeed, we wish, so far as with the will of God we may, all glory and honor; and whose advantage, in every way in which we becomingly may, both we and our brethren and the whole Church wish for the more ardently, the more that in our greatest necessity we have experienced your most devoted sincerity towards us. For our memory at no time hereafter will be able possibly to lose the recollection of the marks of duty shown to us by you at a time so opportune, nor will they by any lapse of time be overshadowed in the sight of the church. We have thought proper to send certain persons as legates a latere, according to your request, although it seemed to us most inconvenient and most difficult at this time to part with any, when we are standing in need of the presence and counsel of our brethren, and especially of those whom you require, being not unmindful however, as we have already mentioned, of your praiseworthy and distinguished dutifulness to us. These we have thought fit to send to the presence of your highness, with full powers to take cognizance of and give judgment upon the ecclesiastical matters which are the subject of dispute between you and our venerable brother, the archbishop of Canterbury, as also, the controversy which exists between the said archbishop and the bishops of your kingdom with regard to the appeal made unto ourselves, and such other matters in dispute in your kingdom as they shall be enabled to bring to a satisfactory conclusion, and, according as the Lord shall give them His assistance therein, to terminate the same in a canonical manner. We shall by all means also forbid the said archbishop in any way to attempt to molest, or disturb, or disquiet either yourself, or your people, or the kingdom entrusted to your government, until these matters in dispute shall have been brought to a legitimate conclusion. But, if the aforesaid archbishop shall in the meantime, pronounce any sentence upon you, or your kingdom, or any person in your realm, we do pronounce the same to be null and void, and not in any way to affect you. To put an end to such a course, and as a proof of our wishes, you are, in case necessity shall arise for so doing, to produce this present letter. But, otherwise, we do beg of your serene highness, and strongly recommend you, not to let this letter or the tenor thereof be known to any person whatsoever, but to keep it entirely secret. And as for those persons of your household and your advisers, whom the said archbishop has already subjected to sentence of excommunication, the parties sent by us will, with the Lord’s assistance, absolve them. Put if, in the meantime, any one of them shall be in fear of immediate death, we do grant that he may be absolved by any bishop, or religious and discreet man, on the oath being administered to him, according to the custom of the Church, that if he shall recover he will consider himself bound to obey our mandates.”
Upon this, the above-mentioned legates of our lord the pope having arrived in Normandy, certain of the suffragans of the church of Canterbury wrote to the following effect:

 [Letter of the Suffragans of Canterbury to the Papal Legates]

“Cure is preferable to complaint. But, our sins requiring the same, our holy mother the Church has been placed between the hammer and the anvil, and, unless the Divine mercy shall look down upon her, will shortly feel the blow of that hammer. For, the wickedness of the schismatics wax ing strong, for defending his faith and for his love of justice, our father has been exiled by our other father from his country, and the hardened mind of Pharaoh forbids him liberty to return to his see. Added to this, in things spiritual as well as in things temporal the church of Canterbury is sadly impoverished. Like a ship upon the sea deprived of her pilot, she is buffeted to and fro, and is exposed to the winds, while, by the royal authority, her shepherd is forbidden to remain within the territories of his own country. He, wise though he may be, at his own peril and that of his Church, as also of ourselves, has, together with himself, exposed us to the bitterness of penalties and of labors; not reflecting that to use soothing methods will not detract from his own power. And further, although with all our affections we sympathize with his sufferings, he has proved ungrateful towards us, and, although we are in the same condemnation, ceases not to persecute us. For, between himself and the most serene king of the English, a certain controversy arose: at the desire of both, a certain day was fixed upon, that, upon the same, with the mediation of justice, an end might be put to this controversy. Upon that day, in obedience to the royal command, the archbishops, bishops, and other heads of the Church, were convoked, in order that the more extensive the council then held, the more manifest might be the exposure of fraud and malice. On the day appointed, this disturber of the kingdom and of the Church presents himself before the face of the Catholic king, and, being distrustful of the nature of his own merits, arms himself with the resemblance of the cross of our Lord, as though about to come into the presence of a tyrant. Nor yet even at this was the king’s majesty offended, but he entrusted the judgment of his cause to the fidelity of the bishops, that so he might be free from all suspicion. It remained, therefore, for the bishops to end the dispute by pronouncing judgment, that they might thereby bring the disputants to a reconciliation, and bury in oblivion the causes of their dissensions. He, however, came thither, and forbade sentence to be pronounced upon himself before the king, that so the royal mind might be the more violently inflamed to anger. The result of these excesses is, that the author thereof is in duty bound to expose himself to the vengeance of every one, being ashamed to deprecate a merited retribution, in not pausing at offending a most powerful prince in the days of the persecution of the Church. For it is his offence that has redoubled the weight of the blows of persecution. It would have been better for himself if he had placed a curb upon his prosperity, lest, while striving presumptuously to arrive at the summit of felicity, he might, in return for his presumption, be thrust down to a lower place. And, if the misfortunes of the Church did not move him, he ought at least to have been dissuaded from acting in opposition to the king by the advancement, both in riches and honors, which the king had bestowed upon him. Whereas, on the other hand, he faces him as an adversary, and objects, that for him to stand in judgment before the king would be a diminution of the dignity of the Apostolic See. But if he was not aware that in that judgment there was but little derogatory to the dignity of the Church, still, it was his duty to have concealed his feelings for a time, in order that peace might be restored unto the Church. Again, another objection that he takes, ascribing to himself the title of father, is, that it seems to savor of arrogance for sons to meet together for the condemnation of their father, a thing that they ought by no means to do. But, if he really had been a father, in the first place his humility would have moderated the pride of his sons, in order that hatred of the father might not spring up in those sons. Therefore, most holy fathers, it is clear from what is stated above, that our adversary ought to fail in his presences, being actuated by the malignity of his hatred alone, and supported by no reasonable grounds whatsoever, and inasmuch as the care of all the churches is known at present to rest upon ourselves.”
When Thomas, the archbishop of Canterbury, and some of his fellow-exiles, came to an interview with the legates, on the octave of Saint Martin, between Gisors and Trie, the legates discoursed at length with the archbishop on the Christian charity of our lord the pope, the anxiety which the Roman Church had hitherto manifested in his behalf, their own labors and the perils of their journey, the mighty power of the king of England, the necessities of the Church, the wickedness of the times, the love and kindness which the king of England had manifested towards him, and the honor which the king had always paid him. They also added the complaints, and the injuries which the king of England complained that he had suffered at his hands, laying it to his charge, among other things, that he had excited the king of the Franks to wage war against him, and sought his advice how they might be enabled to appease such vast indignation, because they were well aware that no remedy could be applied to such dangers without great humility, moderation, and marks of respect.
But the archbishop of Canterbury, in all humility and meekness of spirit, after duly returning thanks to our lord the pope and to them, made answer to each point, upon true and probable grounds, showing the emptiness of the king’s complaints, and fully explaining the injuries and intolerable losses of the Church. And, inasmuch as they required of him humility and marks of respect, he answered that he would most willingly show all humility, and the greatest possible honor and respect, saving always the honor of God, the liberties of the Church, the dignities belonging to his own person, and the possessions of the churches; and if anything should seem to them to require to be added, or to be taken away, or to be changed, he entreated that they would give him their advice, it being his fixed determination to acquiesce therein, saving always the conditions of his profession and orders. To this, however, they made answer, that they had come not to advise him, but to seek his advice, and to prepare the way for a reconciliation.
They also made inquiry of the archbishop, whether, in the presence of the legates, he was willing to promise to observe the customs which the kings had made use of in the times of his predecessors, and thus, all complaints being hushed up, to be reinstated in the king’s favor, and return to his see and the performance of his duties, and the enjoyment of peace by him and his people? To this the archbishop made answer, that no one of his predecessors, under any of the kings, had been bound to make this profession, and that he, with the help of God, would never promise to observe customs, which were openly opposed to the law of God, and, besides that, rooted out the privileges derived from the Apostles, and destroyed the liberties of the Church; which, also, our lord the pope, at Sens, in their presence, and in that of many others, had condemned, and some of which, he himself subsequently thereto, following the authority of our lord the pope, had subjected, together with those who observed them, to the penalties of excommunication, as the Catholic church in many councils is known to have done.
Upon this, he was asked to promise, if not a confirmation of them, at least connivance and toleration on his part, or, not making mention in any way of the customs, to return to his see and his former state of tranquility. To this the archbishop made answer: “It is a proverb among the people of our nation, that ‘silence looks like assent’:” and observed that, while the king would appear to be left in possession of these customs, and would unjustly and violently compel the Church to the observance of them, if all opposition should cease, through silence being obtained on his part, the authority of the legates being interposed for that purpose, the king would immediately appear to himself and to others to have gained his point in the contest. He also added, that he would go into exile, be perpetually proscribed, and, if God so ordained it, die, in defense of justice, rather than obtain a peace of this description, to the loss of his salvation, and to the prejudice of the liberties of the Church. For that there is a God who, in such a case, forbids the priesthood to be silent, and, in case they dissemble, has prepared hell for their portion, where there will be no dissembling of their punishment. The book of the abominations was also read by him, and he made inquiry of the cardinals, whether it was lawful for such things to be put in practice by Christians, much more concealed from their pastors?
They then proceeded to another question, inquiring whether he would be willing to abide by their judgment upon the matters in dispute between himself and the king? To this he made answer, that he fully confided in the integrity of his cause; and that when he himself and his people, who had been for a long time left destitute, should have been fully restored to the enjoyment of everything, taking into consideration causes, and circumstances, and times, he would readily obey the law, and that he neither could nor would decline it, but, on the contrary, both where, and when, and how, it should be his duty, would submit to the judgment of him or them, by whose judgment, whether one or more, our lord the pope should have made it his determination to abide. That, in the meantime, he and his people could not be urged on to litigation, and not even poverty would have this effect, even though he should have been in want of victuals, had he not been aided with money by the most Christian king of the Franks. Yet he was unwilling, at the first glance, to shrink from judgment, even though he might have the best possible grounds for suspecting either of them, lest he might thereby seem to justify the king’s cause, nor yet did he desire to engage in litigation before he had been entirely restored, in order that he might thereby be enabled to support his own cause.


In the year 1170, being the sixteenth year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said king Henry kept the solemn festival at Nantes, in Brittany, on the day of the Nativity of our Lord, which took place on the fifth day of the week. After this, the king made a hostile attack upon the lands of earl Eudo, and laid waste nearly the whole thereof, and compelled earl Eudo himself to surrender.
After this, in the first week of the month of March, he crossed over from Normandy to England, between Barbeflet and Portsmouth; on which passage, after being tossed about by a most dreadful storm, from the hour of midnight until the ninth hour of the following day, with great difficulty he reached England and landed at Portsmouth. But nearly all the other ships that were with him were broken and shattered, and reached various ports of England just as the strength of the gale drove them along. One of them, however, which was a better and more recently built vessel than all the rest, but more unfortunate, went down, together with Henry de Agnelles and his two sons, Gilbert de Sulemny, and master Ralph de Beaumont, a physician, and one of the king’s household, together with other men and women, to the number of four hundred.
In the same year, king Henry passed the festival of Easter at Windsor. ... After this, at the feast of Saint Barnabas the Apostle, the said king held a great council at London, with the nobles and chief men of his kingdom, upon the coronation of his son, Henry; and on the Lord’s day following, which took place on the seventeenth day before the calends of July, the clergy and people assembling and agreeing thereto, he himself caused the above-named Henry, his son, to be crowned and consecrated king at Westminster, by Roger, archbishop of York, who was assisted in this duty by Hugh, bishop of Durham, Walter, bishop of Rochester, Gilbert, bishop of London, and Jocelyn, bishop of Salisbury; no mention whatever being made of the blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, to whom by right of his see the coronation and consecration belonged. The day after this coronation, the king, his father, made William, king of the Scots, and David, his brother, and the earls and barons of the kingdom, pay homage to the new king, and swear fealty to him against all men, saving their fealty to himself

 When it became known to Louis, king of the Franks, that his daughter Margaret had not been crowned together with her husband, the king of England, he assembled a large army, and hostilely invaded Normandy. On hearing of this, the king of England, the father, leaving the king his son behind in England, crossed over into Normandy, and made peace with king Louis, at a conference held at Vendôme, on the festival of Saint Mary Magdalene, promising that next year he would cause his son to be crowned again, and his wife with him. On returning from this conference, the king, the father, came into Normandy, and was attacked at Motamgran by a grievous malady, on which he divided his dominions among his sons in the following manner:
He gave to his son Richard the dukedom of Aquitaine, and all the lands which he had received with his mother, queen Eleanor; and to his son Geoffrey he gave Brittany, with Alice, the daughter of earl Conan, whom he had obtained as his wife, from Louis, king of the Franks. To king Henry, his son, he gave Normandy, and all the lands which had belonged to his father, Geoffrey, earl of Anjou. These three sons he also made do homage to Louis. king of France. To John, his youngest son, who was as yet an infant, he gave the earldom of Mortaigne. A considerable time after this, king Henry, the father, on recovering from his illness, went on a pilgrimage to Saint of Roquemadour.
In the meantime, the blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, now passing his sixth year in exile, made complaint to Alexander, the Supreme Pontiff, against Roger, the archbishop of York, and the above-named four bishops who had assisted him at the coronation of the new king, in the province of Canterbury; whereupon, at his instance, the Supreme Pontiff excommunicated the bishops of London, Rochester, and Salisbury and the archbishop of York, and suspended Hugh, the bishop of Durham, from all his episcopal duties. For which purpose he wrote to them to the following effect:

The Letter of pope Alexander to Roger, archbishop of York, and Hugh, bishop of Durham.

“Alexander, the bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his venerable brethren, Roger, archbishop of York, and Hugh, bishop of Durham, health and the Apostolical benediction. Although you have shown yourselves praiseworthy and pleasing unto us in many respects, and we do sincerely embrace you in the arms of Christian love; still, for all this, we ought not to omit that those things which have been done by you, and which, remain uncorrected, beget death, and to remind you, and correct you in our zeal for what is right, as the Lord says by His prophet, ‘When I say unto the wicked, thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, and his blood will I require at shine hand.’ For the persecution of the English Church, and the diminution of her liberties which have taken place through the conduct of your king, whether of his own accord, or whether rather at the suggestion of others, have for this long time past greatly afflicted our mind, and caused us no small grief and anxiety. For whereas it was his duty to have thought of correcting those things which have been wrongfully done by his predecessors, rather adding prevarications to prevarications, he has both placed and established customs thus evil under the protection of the royal dignity. Under these, both the liberties of the Church are destroyed, and the decrees of the successors of the Apostles are, as far as possible, deprived of their validity. Nor has he thought that it ought to suffice, if under him the Divine laws in the kingdom of England should be reduced to silence and to nothingness, unless he should also transmit his sins to his heirs, and cause his kingdom long to exist without the ephod and without the pall. For this reason it is that these usurpations, so unrighteous and so utterly unjustifiable, he has caused to be confirmed by your oath, and by those of others of our brethren and fellow bishops, and has pronounced as an enemy whatever person should think fit to differ from these unrighteous ordinances. This is proved by the exile of our venerable brother, Thomas, the archbishop of Canterbury; this is also strewn by the dreadful proscription of his clergy and kindred, and of those even who, still hanging at their mother’s breasts, were crying in the cradle. Even the fear of death is appealed to, if the mind of any one is aroused, in contradiction to these enactments, a desire to obey the Divine laws. We ourselves, by whose judgment those prevarications ought to have been corrected or punished, were with much urgency on the occasion of a time of trouble pressed to confirm the same. Strong endeavors were also made, and no efforts were spared, that we might, at a time when they had not been explained to us, confer upon these usurpations, the confirmation of the Apostolical authority. This indeed took place at the very beginning. In process of time, however, the archbishop above-named being sent into exile for having performed the duty of his pastoral office, and frequently requesting from our assistance the customary aid of the Roman Church, we sent to the king before-mentioned, some of the best and most eminent of our brethren; we also sent other ecclesiastical persons, and did imagine that by our humility and forbearance his obduracy might be surmounted: and so it should have been, for Solomon says, ‘By long forbearance is a prince softened, and a soft tongue breaketh anger.’ But he, trifling with our long-suffering by the manifold arts of his envoys, seems so utterly to have hardened his heart against our advice, that he will not curb his wrath against the above-named archbishop, nor allow any portion to be withdrawn, of those unrighteous statutes, but will rather afflict the church of Canterbury with the entire loss of its possessions, and by these means despoil it of its ancient dignity in the ecclesiastical office. For lately, when he wished his son to be crowned, despising the said archbishop, to whom that duty is said of ancient right to belong, by your hand, brother archbishop, he caused the crown of the kingdom to be placed on his head in the province of another. Besides, at his coronation, no surety was given, according to usual custom, for preserving the liberties of the Church, or indeed, according to report, even demanded; but on the contrary, it is said to have been confirmed upon oath, that it is the duty of all to keep inviolate the customs of the kingdom, which they say were established by his grandfather, and by reason of which the dignity of the Church is endangered. Although in acting thus, the obstinacy of the above-named king greatly vexes us, yet we are still more moved by the weakness of yourselves and of our other fellow-bishops, who, and with grief we say it, have become as it were rams having no horns, and have fled without courage from before the face of their pursuer. For although, brother archbishop, it might possibly have been allowable for you to act thus in your own province, still, how it was allowable for you in the province of another, and of him in especial, who was almost the only one to go forth in exile for justice and thereby to give glory to God, we are unable to discover either upon the grounds of common sense, or according to the constitutions OI the holy fathers. But should any one, by way of excuse for so great a betrayal, make it an objection that in other kingdoms many and grave enormities are perpetrated, in truth we can make answer, that we find no kingdom that as yet has rushed into so great a contempt of the Divine laws, as to cause enormities so manifest to be promulgated by the writings and oaths of bishops, unless, indeed, any one should have the impudence to bring that forward, of which the schismatics who have been lately cut off from communion with the faithful, have with damnable and unheard-of pride been guilty. Wherefore, inasmuch as, according  to the words of the prophet, the evil has been done among you, to an extent beyond all other provinces in his usurpations, and after having confirmed these unrighteous customs you have not aroused yourselves to yourselves the shield of faith, in order that you might stand in the house of the Lord in the day of battle, but have laid your bodies on the ground, that there might be a way for him to pass over you; and lest if we should be any longer silent, we might, together with you, be involved on the day of judgment in the same sentence of damnation, by the authority of the Roman Church, of which with the aid of the Lord we are the servant, we do suspend you from all duties of the episcopal office, hoping that at least, under discipline and paternal correction, you will return to a sense of your duty, and, as you ought, apply yourselves to defending the liberties of the Church. But if not even then you resume the zeal that ought to belong to your ecclesiastical office, then shall we, by the Lord’s assistance, have recourse to that which is now impending over you. Be it then your care that that is not said to you, which was said to one by the prophet: ‘Because thou hast rejected what is holy, I will also reject thee, so that thou shalt be no priest to me.’ For, as we, God so disposing, according to His good pleasure, are seen to occupy the place of him who could be withheld from preaching the word of God neither by stripes nor by bonds, we are bound, not under an ambiguous expectation of peace, to place the money of the Divine word which has been entrusted to us in a napkin, and so keep it tied up until the hour for getting in the profit thereof shall arrive, and the creditor coming shall strictly demand of us an account thereof.”
In the meantime, Louis, king of the Franks, and the archbishops, bishops, and nobles of the kingdom of France, besought the Roman Pontiff in behalf of the archbishop of Canterbury, by the love which they bore him, and with protestations of implicit obedience, no longer to admit the excuses and delays which the king of England continually put forward, as he loved the kingdom of France and the honor of the Apostolic See. William, the bishop of Sens, also, being astonished at the desolate condition of the English church, repaired to the Apostolic See, and obtained of the Roman Church, that, an end being put to all appeals, the king of the English should be subjected to excommunication, and his kingdom to interdict, unless peace were restored to the church of Canterbury. Thus, at last, it pleased God, the dispenser of all things, to recompense the merits of His dearly beloved Thomas, and to crown his long labors with the victorious palm of martyrdom. He, therefore, brought the king of England to a better frame of mind, who, through the paternal exhortation of our lord the pope, and by the advice of the king of the Franks and of many bishops, received the archbishop again into favor, and allowed him to return to his church.
Accordingly, peace was established between the archbishop and the king of England, on the fourth day before the ides of October, being the second day of the week, at Montluet, between Tours and Amboise, upon which, everything being arranged, they returned, each to his place. Thomas, the archbishop of Canterbury, returned to the abbey of Saint Columba, where he had resided for nearly the last four years. But, one day while the said archbishop lay there, prostrated in prayer before a certain altar in the church, he heard a voice from heaven saying to him, “Arise quickly, and go unto thy see, and thou shalt glorify my Church with thy blood, and thou shalt be glorified in me.” Thereupon, at the commencement of the seventh year of his banishment, when he was now beloved by God and sanctified by spiritual exercises, and rendered more perfect by the sevenfold grace of the Holy Ghost, he hastened with all speed to return to his see. For the pious father was unwilling any longer to leave the church of Canterbury desolate; or else it was, because, as some believe, he had seen in the spirit the glories of his contest drawing to a close, or through a fear that, by dying elsewhere, he might be depriving his own see of the honor of his martyrdom.

As for his life, it was perfectly unimpeachable before God and man. To arise before daybreak did not seem to him a vain thing, as he knew that the Lord has promised a crown to the watchful. For every day he arose before daybreak, while all the rest were asleep, and entering his oratory would pray there for a long time; and then returning, he would awake his chaplains and clerks from their slumbers, and, the matins and the hours of the day being chanted, devoutly brats the mass; and every day and night he received three or five flagellations from the hand of a priest. After the celebration of the mass, every day he re-entered his oratory, and, shutting the door after him, devoted himself to prayer with abundant tears; and no one but God alone knew the manner in which he afflicted his flesh. And thus did he do daily unto his flesh until the hour for dining, unless some unusual solemnity or remarkable cause prevented it. On coming forth from his oratory he would come to dine among his people, not that he might sate his body with costly food, but that he might make his household cheerful thereby, and that he might fill the poor ones of the Lord with good things, whom, according to his means, he daily increased in numbers. And although costly and exquisite food and drink were set before him, still, his only food and drink were bread and water.
One day, while the archbishop was sitting at the table of Alexander, the Supreme Pontiff, a person who was aware of this secret, placed before him a cup full of water. On the Supreme Pontiff taking it up, and tasting it, he found it to be the purest wine, and delicious to drink; on which he said: “I thought that this was water;” and on replacing the cup before the archbishop, the wine immediately returned to its former taste of water. Oh wondrous change by the right hand of the Most High! Every day, when the archbishop arose from dinner, unless more important business prevented him, he always devoted himself to reading the Scriptures until the hour of vespers, at the time of sunset. His bed was covered with soft coverlets and cloths of silk, embroidered on the surface with gold wrought therein; and while other persons were asleep, he alone used to lie on the bare floor before his bed, repeating psalms and hymns, and never ceasing from prayers, until at last, overcome with fatigue, he would gradually recline his head upon a stone put beneath it in place of a pillow: and thus would his eyes enjoy sleep, while his heart was ever watchful for the Lord. His inner garment was of coarse sackcloth made of goats’ hair; with which his whole body was covered from the arms down to the knees. But his outer garments were remarkable for their splendor and extreme costliness, to the end that, thus deceiving human eyes, he might please the sight of God. There was no individual acquainted with this secret of his way of living, with the exception of two - one of whom was Robert, canon of Merton, his chaplain, and the name of the other was Brun, who had charge of his sackcloth garments, and washed them when necessary; and they were bound by their words and oaths that, during his life, they would disclose these facts to no one.
After the transactions above related, archbishop Thomas came to Witsand, but, upon hearing that Roger, archbishop of York, and the bishops of London and Salisbury, were at Dover, for the purpose of meeting him, he was unwilling to proceed thither, but landed in England at Sandwich. Having thus crossed the sea, the archbishop and future martyr was received in his church with great thankfulness, and with honor and glory, and especially by the monks, in solemn procession, all weeping for joy, end exclaiming, as they gave thanks, “Blessed is he, who cometh in the name of the Lord.” But he, like a good father, receiving them all with the kiss of peace, admonished them with paternal exhortations, and instructed them to love the brotherhood, to obey God, to persevere in doing good, and to strive even to the death for the law of God.
At this period, Henry, king of England, the son of king Henry, was in England, and the Nativity of our Lord was approaching, which that king, with the nobles of his land, was about to celebrate with the usual solemnities. To this celebration it was the intention of the blessed Thomas, although not invited, to go. However, when he had come to London, Jocelyn, the queen’s brother, came to him, and forbade him, in the king’s name, to go any further, upon which the blessed Thomas returned to Canterbury.
Accordingly, again was this champion of Christ afflicted with injuries and hardships still more atrocious, beyond measure and number, and, by public proclamation, enjoined not to go beyond the limits of his church. Whoever showed to him, or to any one of his household, a cheerful countenance, was held to be a public enemy. However, all these things the man of God endured with great patience, and staying among those of his own household, edified them all with his conversation and with words of exhortation: and once more the archbishop took his seat in his church, fearless, and awaiting the hour at which he should receive from God the crown of martyrdom. For, being warned by many beforehand, he knew that his life would be but short, and that death was at the gates.

Upon this, as though he had but that moment commenced to live, he used all endeavors, by spiritual exercises, to redeem the moments of his past life; and knowing that this life is but a journey and a warfare, in order that he might be sanctified in body, and disembarrassed in spirit by vices, armed with virtues, he girded himself up for the race, and prepared himself for the struggle of the conflict. Therefore, in finishing his race, he ran “not as uncertainly,” and, in fighting well, he did not “fight as one that beateth the air.” Then almost all his thoughts and discourse were upon the end of this life and the troubles of its path. Sometimes, also, in his discourses delivered to his brethren, the monks of the church of Canterbury, and the clergy and people of that city, he would say: “I have come to you to die among you.” And sometimes he would say: “In this church there are martyrs, and, before long, God will increase the number of them.” This he said, signifying by what death he should glorify the Lord.

In the year of grace 1171, being the seventeenth year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said king was at Bure, in Normandy, on the day of the Nativity of our Lord, being the sixth day of the week, and queen Eleanor and his sons, Richard, Geoffrey, and John, were with him. In the same year, his son Henry, king of England, was in England. On the same day, the blessed Thomas, the archbishop of Canterbury, being then at Canterbury, after delivering a sermon to the people, excommunicated Robert de Broc, who, the day before, had cut off the tail of one of his sumpter-horses.
Hardly had the father been residing one month in his see, when lo! on the fifth day of the feast of the Nativity of our Lord, there came to Canterbury four knights, or rather sworn satellites of Satan, whose names were as follow: William de Tracy, Hugh de Morville, Richard Brito, and Reginald Fitz-Urse, men of families remarkable for their respectability, but destined, by their daring to commit so enormous a crime, to blemish the glories of knighthood and the honors of their ancestors with perpetual ignominy. Accordingly, these persons made their way into the presence of the archbishop, and, as nothing salutary was the object of their message, in the malice they had conceived they omitted pronouncing any salutation, and addressed him in an insolent and haughty manner. Threats were exchanged on both sides, and threat was answered with threat. At last, leaving behind them abuse and insults, they departed: but, immediately after, they returned and broke into the cloister of the monks, with a large retinue of armed men, being also armed themselves. Now the archbishop, with meekness and self-possession, had gone before them to the choir of the church, the monks having entreated, nay, forced him, on account of the solemnity of the season, to perform the service at vespers. When he perceived these armed men behind him, in the middle of the cloisters, it might have been expected that their own malignant feelings would have warned them to leave the church; but, neither did reverence for the solemn occasion dissuade them from their crime, nor the innocence of the patriarch prevent them from shedding his blood. Indeed, so entirely had their shameless determination to perpetrate the crime taken possession of them and blinded them, that they neither regarded the disgrace to their knighthood, nor took account of any danger. Therefore, following the archbishop with headlong and heedless steps, with drawn swords, they entered the church, and furiously cried aloud, “Where is this traitor?”, After which, no one making answer, they repeated, “Where is the archbishop?” Upon this, he, the confessor, and, shortly to be, the martyr in the cause of Christ, being sensible that under the first name he was falsely charged, and that, by virtue of his office, the other belonged to him, came down from the steps to meet them, and “Behold, here am I,” showing such extraordinary presence of mind, that neither his mind seemed agitated by fear nor his body by trepidation.
On this, in the spirit of his frenzy, one of these fell knights made answer to him, “You shall now die, for it is impossible for you to live any longer.” To which the bishop made answer, with no less self-possession in his language than in his mind, “I am ready to die for my God, and for asserting justice and the liberties of the Church; but, if you seek my life, in the name of Almighty God, and under pain of excommunication, I forbid you, in any way, to hurt any other person, whether monk, or clerk, or layman, whether great or small, but let them be as exempt from the penalty as they have been guiltless of the cause.” These words of his would serve to express those of Christ in His passion, when He said, “If ye seek me, let these go their way.”
On this, the knights instantly laid hands on him and seized him, that, for the perpetration of their design, they might drag him out of the church, but were unable so to do. The archbishop, on seeing his murderers with drawn swords, after the manner of one in prayer, bowed his head, uttering these as his last words, “To God and to Saint Mary, and to the Saints, the patrons of this church, and to Saint Denis, I commend myself and the cause of the Church.” After this, amid all these tortures, this martyr, with unconquerable spirit and admirable constancy, uttered not a word or a cry, nor heaved a sigh, nor lifted his arm against the smiter; but, bowing his head, which he had exposed to their swords, held it unmoved until the deed was completed.
Upon this, the above-named knights, fearing the multitude of persons of both sexes that came running to the spot, hastened the perpetration of the crime, lest possibly it might be left incomplete, and their intentions be frustrated thereby; and while one of them was extending his arm and brandishing his sword over the head of the archbishop, he cut off the arm of a clerk, whose name was Edward Grim, and at the same time wounded the anointed of the Lord in the head. For this clerk had extended his arm over the head of the father, in order that he might receive the blow as he struck, or rather ward it off thereby. The righteous man still stood erect, suffering in the cause of righteousness, like the innocent lamb, without a murmur, without complaint, and, offering himself up as a sacrifice to the Lord, implored the protection of the Saints. And, in order that no one of these fell satellites might be said to be guiltless in consequence of not having touched the archbishop, a second and a third atrociously struck the head of the suffering martyr with their swords, and crave it asunder, and dashed this victim of the Holy Ghost to the ground. The fourth, raging with a still more deadly, or rather fiendlike, cruelty, when prostrate and expiring, cut off his shorn crown, dashed in his skull, and, thrusting his sword into the head, scattered his brains and blood upon the stone pavement. In the mixture of the two substances the difference of color seemed to remind any one, who considered the matter with due piety, of the twofold merits of the martyr. For, in the whiteness of the brains was shown the purity of his innocence, while the purple color of the blood bespoke his martyrdom. With both these becomingly arrayed, as though with a nuptial garment, the martyr Thomas was rendered a worthy guest at the heavenly table. Thus, even thus, the martyr Thomas become, by virtue of his long-suffering, a precious stone of adamant for the heavenly edifice, being squared by the blows of swords, was joined in heaven unto Christ, the headstone of the corner. Wherefore this our Abel, being made perfect by the glory of martyrdom, in a moment lived out many ages.
Thus it was that, at the beginning of the seventh year of his exile, the above-named martyr Thomas struggled even unto the death for the love of God and the liberties of the Church, which had almost entirely perished as regards the English Church. He did not stand in fear of the words of the unrighteous, but, having his foundation upon a firm rock, that is, upon Christ, for the name of Christ, and in the Church of Christ, by the swords of the wicked, on the fifth day of the Nativity of our Lord, being the day after Innocents’ day, he himself an innocent, died. His innocent life and his death, as being precious in the eyes of God, innumerable miracles deservedly bespeak, which, not only in the place where he rested, but in divers nations and kingdoms, were wondrously shown.
On the same day the passion of the blessed Thomas was revealed by the Holy Ghost to the blessed Godric, the anchorite, at Finchale a place which is distant from Canterbury more than a hundred and sixty miles. The monks of the church of Canterbury, on this, shut the doors of the church, and so the church remained with the celebration of the mass suspended for nearly a whole year, until they had received a reconciliation of the church from our lord the pope Alexander. But the monks took up the body of their martyr, and the first night placed it in the choir, performing around it the service for the dead. It is also said, and with truthfulness, that when they had completed around the body the obsequies of mortality, and while he was lying on the bier in the choir, about daybreak he raised his left hand and gave them the benediction; after which, they buried him in the crypt.
As for the knights who had perpetrated this unholy deed, instantly becoming conscious of the heinousness of their conduct, and despairing of forgiveness, they did not dare to return to the court of the king of England, but retired into the western parts of England to Knaresborough, the town of Hugh de Morville, and there remained until they had become utterly despised by the people of that district. For all persons avoided any communication with him, and no one would eat or drink with them. The consequence was that they ate and drank by themselves, and the remnants of their victuals were cast out to the dogs, which, when they had tasted thereof, refused to eat any more. Behold the signal and deserved vengeance of God! that those who had despised the anointed of the Lord should be despised even by dogs. However, a considerable time after this, the four knights above-named, who felt the accusation of their own consciences for having perpetrated this deed, went to Alexander, the pope of Rome, and, being enjoined by him to do penance, set out for Jerusalem. Performing penance according to the pope’s injunctions, they died at Montenegro, and were buried at Jerusalem before the doors of the Temple. The inscription on their tomb was to the following effect: “Here lie the wretched men who martyred the blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury. It was in the year one thousand one hundred and seventy-one that the primate Thomas died by their swords.”  

The Letter of Louis king of the Franks, to pope Alexander, on the death of the blessed Thomas.

“To his lord and most holy father, Alexander, by the grace of God Supreme Pontiff, Louis, king of the Franks, health and due reverence. The man who commits violence upon his mother revolts against human laws, and he remembers not the kindness of his Creator, who is not saddened at violence offered to the Holy See. Put more especially is there ground for condolence, and the novelty of a cruelty so unheard-of arouses a novelty in sorrow, in that wickedness, making an attack upon the holy one of God, has with the sword pierced the beloved son of Christ, and more basely even than cruelly stabbed him who was the light of the church of Canterbury. Let an unheard-of kind of retribution be invented. Let the sword of Saint Peter be unsheathed to avenge the martyr of Canterbury; inasmuch as, for the universal Church does his blood cry aloud, complaining not so much for himself as demanding vengeance for the whole Church. Behold! at the tomb of the martyr, as we have had revealed unto us, the Divine glory is revealed in miracles, and by Him are Divine manifestations made where his remains are deposited, for whose name he so valiantly struggled. We bid your Holiness, and your brotherhood, farewell in the Lord.”  

The Letter of William, archbishop of Sens, to pope Alexander, on the death of the blessed Thomas.

“To his most holy father and lord, Alexander, by the grace of God, Supreme Pontiff, William, the humble servant of the church of Sens, health and due obedience with all duteousness. To your Apostleship, holy father, all power has been granted in heaven and upon earth. In your hand is a two-edged sword, over nations and over kingdoms are you appointed, to bind their kings in fetters, and their nobles in chains of iron. Behold therefore, my lord, and consider what vintage they have gathered in. For a wild boar from the wood has destroyed the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth, and a single wild beast has pastured thereon. The church of Canterbury, rather the Church universal, from the ends of the earth, in your presence is pouring forth tears that drop blood, and sprinkled with bitterness, because she has been set up as a mark for the arrow, and has been made a reproach unto her neighbors. And those who behold her, wag their heads at her and say, where is their God? But she weeping and turning back, is crying aloud in the ears of the Lord of Hosts, Avenge, O Lord, the blood of thy servant and martyr, the archbishop of Canterbury, who has been slain, nay, crucified, for the liberties of the Church! Holy father! a thing horrible to be mentioned, a disgraceful crime, an enormous piece of flagitiousness has been perpetrated in your days, a thing at which both the ears shall tingle of each that shall hear of it, the like of which has not been heard in Theman, and has not been seen in Canaan. For another Herod, of the seed of Canaan and not of Judah, the offspring of vipers, sending his lictors from his side, has not been struck with horror at scarring with deep wounds the sign of the passion of our Lord, which he carried on his head, and at disfiguring with shameful marks the heavenly likeness. By reason whereof, as all the Church affirms, the cause and the penalty equally make him to be a martyr. The penalty is our grief, for the sufferings inflicted on him: the cause was the rigor of the ecclesiastical censure, because he contended for the law of his God even unto the death. It is therefore your part, O most merciful father, keeper of the walls of Jerusalem, to apply a remedy to what is past, and to employ foresight for the future. For what place is there that can be safe, if the rage of a tyrant is to stain with blood the Holy of Holies? And is it with impunity to tear in pieces the vicegerents of Christ, the foster children of the Church? Let then the ecclesiastical laws arouse themselves, let ecclesiastical rights put on their armor. Let the vengeance for the blood of this glorious martyr, which cries aloud from England, enter into your presence. For cry aloud it will, and will arouse not only the earth but the heavens as well. And so consult for healing our sorrows, that you consult both for your own good name and the liberties of the Church. As to the rest, we have thought proper to inform the fatherly affection of your Holiness, that whereas you gave it as your command both to the lord archbishop of Rouen and to ourselves, that we should place under an interdict the lands that belong to the king of England on this side the sea, if he should not keep the peace which he had promised to our lord of Canterbury of glorious memory; adding also, that if either of us should be unable or unwilling to take part in carrying out the same, the other should nevertheless obey your commands; the above-named archbishop of Rouen, after we had caused your letter to be presented to him, signified to us that he would come to the city of Sens, and would act according to the tenor of your mandate. But when he had come thither, together with the bishops of Lisieux, Evreux, and Worcester, and very many others, both clergy as well as laymen, of the household of the above-named king, after many shiftings and excuses on his part, he made answer, that he was on his road to your presence, and felt unwilling to pour forth too bitter a censure upon the above-named king. But we being sensible that whoever despises obedience to the Apostolic mandates, incurs the guilt of paganism, according to the tenor of your mandate, with the common advice of our brethren, all the bishops, and of the abbots of Saint Denis, Saint Germain de Pres, Pontigny, Vaucouleurs, Le Mans, and several other religious and wise men, have pronounced sentence against his lands on this side the sea, and have in your name enjoined the said archbishop and bishops to cause the same to be observed. For we know that he has neither, as he had promised, restored his possessions, nor had established security for him, as his death gives proof. Through a native of the diocese of Canterbury, whom we sent to him, he has also signified unto us that he had given cause for his death, and that he had had him slain. For this reason, we do supplicate your clemency, that you will ratify the sentence before-mentioned, and, as befits your majesty, and is expedient for the safety of the Church, will cause it to be in suchwise observed, that the honor of God and your own will may be preserved. And as for ourselves, who embrace your Holiness with that duteousness of which you are so well aware, we will by no means by reason hereof allow ourselves to be contemned. We wish you farewell, and as befits your majesty and holiness. so do.”  

The Letter of Theobald, earl of Blois, to pope Alexander on the death of the blessed Thomas.

“To his most reverend lord and father, Alexander, by the grace of God, Supreme Pontiff, Theobald, earl of Blois, and procurator of the kingdom of France, health and due obedience with filial subjection. It pleased your majesty, that between the lord archbishop of Canterbury and the king of England, peace should be restored, and renewed concord established. Wherefore, according to the tenor of your mandate, the king of England received him with a cheerful countenance, and with features that bespoke joyousness, and made promises to hum of peace and restoration to favor. At this agreement and reconciliation I was present, and in my presence the lord archbishop of Canterbury complained to the king of the coronation of his son, whom with premature aspirations and ardent desire, he had caused to be promoted to the elevation of the royal dignity. The king of England, being guilty of this wrong, and being conscious of his guilt, gave to the archbishop of Canterbury a pledge confirmatory of his right, and promising that he would make satisfaction. The archbishop also made complaint of those bishops who, contrary to the right and the honor of the church of Canterbury, had presumed to intrude a new king upon the seat of royalty; not through zeal for justice, not that they might please God, but that they might propitiate a tyrant. With regard to these, the king granted him free license and authority to pronounce sentence against them according as might seem fit and proper to you and to himself. These things, in fact, I am prepared to attest, and to substantiate to you either upon oath, or in any other way you may think fit. Upon this, a reconciliation having been made, the man of God fearing nothing, returned, that he might submit his throat to the sword, and expose his neck to the smiter; and on the day after the day of the Holy Innocents, this innocent lamb suffered martyrdom; his righteous blood was shed in the place where the viaticum of our salvation, the blood of Christ, was wont to be sacrificed. Those dogs of the court, the people of the king’s household and his domestics, showed themselves true servants of the king, and guiltily shed innocent blood. The detestable circumstances of this monstrous crime I would give you in detail, but I fear, lest it might be ascribed to me as being done through hatred, and the bearers of these presents will recount it more at large, and with greater precision; from their relation you will learn how great an accumulation of grief, how vast a calamity has befallen the universal Church, and the martyr of Canterbury. This calamity, with due regard to her honor, the mother Church of Rome cannot conceal from herself. For whatever is dared to be done against an only daughter, the same extends to her parent as well, nor without injury to the mother is the daughter made captive. Unto you, therefore, does the blood of the righteous man cry aloud, demanding vengeance. Hay then, holy father, the Almighty Father aid and counsel you, who gave the blood of His Son to the world, that He might wipe away the guilt of the world, and cleanse the spots of our sins. May He both instill into you a wish for vengeance, and the power of obtaining it, that so the Church, put to confusion by the magnitude of this unheard-of crime, may have reason to rejoice at the condign punishment thereof.”  

The Letter of William, archbishop of Sens, to our lord the pope, against the king of England, in relation to the death of the blessed Thomas.

“To his most loving father and lord, Alexander, by the grace of God Supreme Pontiff, William, the humble servant of the church of Sens, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, with all service of due obedience. While writing these lines, or rather before I had begun to write them, I stopped short and hesitated, being greatly in doubt in what kind of language I could present to the eyes of your clemency the atrocity of the crime lately perpetrated, and the enormity of the offense so recently committed. And, indeed, I believe that the outcry of the world must have already filled the ears of your Holiness, who have your seat upon the watch-tower of the world, how that this, not king of the English, but enemy rather of the English and of the whole body of Christ, has lately committed wickedness against the holy one, the son of your right hand, whom you had confirmed unto yourself. His departure from this world, and the mode of his departure, even though perchance you may have heard from the diverse or adverse relation of any persons, I will faithfully and conscientiously relate what has been signified unto me by those who were present, and, in a few words, explain the circumstances of the perpetration of this crime, the enormity of which can hardly be imagined. During the Nativity of our Lord, on the day after the Feast of the Innocents, towards sunset, and about the hour of vespers, the executioners having gained admission, the three, namely, who had been the first to arrive, approached this valiant champion of Christ in a most threatening and insolent manner; the names of whom, that their memories may be visited with everlasting maledictions, I here insert, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Reginald Fitz-Urse; these, on their first approach, on being saluted by the man of God, did not return the salutation, inasmuch as, having entered upon the ways of perdition, they manifestly rejected all that was salutary; but, on the contrary, contumeliously and malignantly thundered forth threats against him, if he did not, in obedience to the king’s mandate, absolve the bishops who were suspended or excommunicated. On his making answer that this manifestly pertained to your province, as being the sole judge thereon, and that he could not think of claiming any himself where so great an authority was concerned; they immediately, on the king’s behalf, denounced him as a traitor, and instantly went forth to their company of soldiers. As they went forth they also ordered, in the king’s name, those knights who belonged to the household of the man of God, upon peril of their lives and forfeiture of all their honors, to go forth likewise, and silently and patiently await the result. A similar proclamation of the king was published throughout the city. But this single champion of Christ has, in our days, despised the threats of princes, and was with the greatest difficulty, by the persuasion of the knights, compelled to go forth from the place where he had already, as it were, received a foretaste of death; and this was done that he might not seem unwilling to meet his end. God, therefore, providing the mother church. dedicated in honor of Christ himself, entering the same, the anointed of the Lord was deemed worthy to be sacrificed for the name of Christ in the spot where each day Christ as well is offered up. This priest of the Most High, standing before the altar, and embracing in his arms the cross which he had been accustomed to have carried before him, and praying, voluntarily offered himself as a peace. offering to God between the cross and the horns of the altar. For the hour of his passion was drawing nigh; on bended knees, with throat extended, and neck bowed down, he received the cup of salvation, and was beheaded by the three executioners above-named, having been first reviled with insults and many reproaches, that in no way he might be defrauded of the example which he had before him in the passion of his ford. And that, still more, the form thereof might find a remarkable resemblance in his case, at the same hour he prayed for his murderers, adding thereto, and earnestly entreating, that his household might be kept unhurt by the present evils. Therefore, alone, and not without the shedding of blood, did the priest enter into the Holy place. And inasmuch as, since the death of the holy man we have heard, from the frequent relation of many persons, that certain wonderful things, by the working of the Lord, have taken place, they ought not to be entirely omitted. For, it is said, and is steadfastly affirmed, that after his passion, he appeared in a vision to many, whom he informed that he was not dead, but living, and showed them, not wounds, but only the scars of wounds. Among these, he is said distinctly to have appeared to a certain aged monk, named Neil, but in what way I will not descant upon, in order that too long a narrative may be avoided; but the bearers thereof will faithfully and at large relate the circumstances. The story, too, about the blind man, who, immediately on his passion being ended, rubbed his eyes with the still warm blood and received his eyes and his sight, has been heard by all. There is also a story related by many, not unworthy of credit, relative to the tapers that were placed around his body, which, on being put out, afterwards were lighted again of themselves. And, a thing still more pleasing and miraculous, after all the obsequies of mortality had been performed around his body, while he was lying upon the bier in the choir, about dawn, raising his left hand, he gave the benediction. Arouse yourself, then, man of God, and put on the velour of those whose seat you hold; on the one hand let pity, on the other let indignation, move you to smite the smiter of your son; the one you owe to your son, the other to the tyrant: and so increase the glory upon earth of him whom God thus wondrously glorifies in heaven. But, to the other, award ignominy; who upon earth has so dreadfully persecuted God’ and has smitten the sides of your own body, has torn forth your entrails therefrom, and has trodden them under foot on the earth; who has also, by the hands of I know not what uncircumcised and unclean wretches, so perfidiously, so inhumanly, slaughtered your son, whom alone you loved as though a mother; neither fearing to commit violence upon the father, nor taking compassion upon his age. Wherefore, those to whose ministry you have succeeded, to their zeal succeed as well. And, inasmuch as you see the wickedness of Ahab, let emulation of Elias move you. Ahab slew [Naboth] and took possession; but, if we carefully weigh all the circumstances of the crime perpetrated by Ahab, Ahab is justified before this man. For this crime is one that by far deserves the first place among all the crimes of the wicked that are read of or related; as, all the wickedness of Nero, the perfidiousness of Julian, and even the sacrilegious treachery of Judas does it exceed. For look at this, and consider - what a personage, in what a church, what a time, too, for perpetrating the crime did ho made choice of; namely, the Nativity of our Lord, the day after the feast of the Holy Innocents; so that, since the old one, in our days a new Herod has risen up. The protection, too, that was publicly granted to him failed to recall the traitor from the commission of this wickedness. As though, too, of himself he was not sufficiently mad, he has had encouragers, who have given horns to a sinner, those false brethren, men to be detested by all churches throughout the world, namely, that devil Roger, the archbishop of York, Gilbert, bishop of London, and Jocelyn, bishop of Salisbury, not bishops but apostates, who have not secretly sold your son, their brother, but, in truth, have slain him, fearing neither the curse of the aged father, nor having regard for his sorrows or his age. That their life, both now and always henceforth, may be passed in bitterness, and their memory may be visited with eternal maledictions, may, Holy Father, your authority and your severity equally effect. Holy Father, we bid your Holiness farewell.”
In the meantime, Rotrod, archbishop of Rouen, Gilles, bishop of Evreux, and Roger, bishop of Worcester, with Richard Barre, and some others of the clerks and household of the king of England, set out to wait upon the Roman Pontiff, in behalf of the king of England and his kingdom. But the lord archbishop of Rouen, being worn out with infirmities and old age, after having accomplished nearly half the journey, was able to proceed no further, but returned to Normandy to his see, and the above-named bishops, with the king’s clerks, proceeded on their journey. On arriving, they obtained with the greatest difficulty of the Supreme Pontiff that two cardinals, Theodinus and Albert, should come on behalf of our lord the pope to Normandy, in order to take cognizance of the dispute which existed between the king and the church of Canterbury, of the death of the martyr of Canterbury, and of other ecclesiastical dignities, and to give judgment thereon, according as God should suggest to them. On this, the persons who had gone to Rome wrote to our lord the king to this effect:

[Letter of Henry's representatives in Rome to Henry, King of England]

“To their most dearly beloved lord, Henry, the illustrious king of England, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and earl of Anjou, Robert, abbot of Vaucouleurs, the archdeacon of Salisbury, Robert, archdeacon of Lisieux, Richard Barre, and master Henry, health and fealty in all things, and in all places obedience. Be it known unto your majesty, that Richard Barre went before us, and, amid great danger and hardships, preceded us to the court of our lord the pope. We four, with the two bishops, the dean of Evreux, and master Henry, with great difficulty arrived at Sienna, where we were detained for some days, as the earl Macharius had closed the roads on every side, so that there were no means of egress for any one. As we four, together with the bishops, who greatly desired to proceed, were unable so to do, being beset with the greatest difficulty of judging how to act, by the common consent of all, we sallied forth secretly at midnight; and thus, over the ridges of mountains, and through places almost inaccessible, with great fear and peril, we at last arrived at Tusculanum. Here we found Richard Barre, anxious, as he expressed himself, to sustain your honor, and skillfully, usefully, and unceasingly striving for the promotion of your interests, but, nevertheless, in great trouble and sorrow, because our lord the pope had not received him, and other persons had not strewn themselves affable and hospitable towards him. As for ourselves, on our arrival, our lord the pope would neither see us, nor admit us to the kiss, nor at his foot. Indeed, most of the cardinals hardly deigned to give us a reception even with a word. In consequence of this, being long racked with anxious cares, in the bitterness of our spirit, we entreated those who were more faithfully attached to you, by every possible means, that, through their intervention, our lord the pope might in some way or other grant us the indulgence of an audience. At length, at their urgent request, the lord abbot of Vaucouleurs and Robert, archdeacon of Lisieux, who were not so strongly suspected, obtained a reception. But when they, on giving the salutation on your behalf, made mention of your name as being a most devoted son of the Church of Rome, the whole court cried aloud with one voice, “Forbear! forbear!” as though it were abominable to our lord the pope to hear mention made of your name. Upon this, they left the court, and returned at a later hour to our lord the pope, and gave him information as to the object of our mission, and what injunctions we had received from your majesty. They also related, in their order, each of the benefits you had conferred on the archbishop of Canterbury, and all the excesses and affronts he had been guilty of against your dignity. The whole of these matters were at first privately mentioned to him, and afterwards, in the presence of our lord the pope and all the cardinals, they being confronted by two clerks of Canterbury, Alexander, and Gunther of Flanders. The fifth day of the week before Easter now drawing nigh, on which, according to usage of the Roman Church, our lord the pope is wont publicly to absolve or publicly to excommunicate, feeling certain that as to what regarded your grievances and those of your kingdom they had hitherto managed matters with the greatest foresight, we consulted those whom we knew to be faithful to your majesty; namely, the lord of Portuenza, the lord Jacinto, the lord of Pavia the lord of Tusculanum, the lord Peter de Mirio (the lord John of Naples being absent), and begged them with the most urgent prayers and entreaties, that they would disclose to us the intentions of our lord the pope towards us, and what determination he purposed to form on our case. However, the information they gave us in answer was nothing but what was ill-boding and disgraceful to your highness; and we learned from their relation and that of brother Francis, a trustworthy man, interrupted as it was by sobs, that, by the common advice of his brethren, our lord the pope had immutably determined on that day to pronounce sentence of interdict upon you by name, and upon all your dominions on both sides of the sea, and to confirm the sentence that had been pronounced against the bishops. Being, consequently, placed in a position of the greatest difficulty, we made the most stringent efforts, both through the cardinals and through those of our companions who had access to him, and through the people of his household, to induce him to pause in this design, or at least defer it until the arrival of your bishops. When this could not by any means be effected, we, as became us, and as we are bound in duty to you, being neither able nor bound to put up with disgrace to your own person and calamity to the whole of your dominions, having convened all our companions before certain of the cardinals, at length discovered a way for the preservation of your safety and honor, safe, and becoming, and advantageous to the whole of your dominions, as well as necessary for the bishops. Hereby we averted from you, and from your dominions, and from your bishops, the disgrace and peril that were impending, and exposed ourselves for obtaining this liberation to the whole of the danger, believing and having an assured hope that the whole matter will proceed according to what we believe to be your wishes, and according to what we feel assured ought to be your wishes. The lords bishop of Worcester and of Evreux, together with Robert, dean of Evreux, and master Henry, were shortly about to follow, and, indeed, we left them behind, anxious and vexed beyond measure because they had not been able to come on according to their wishes, for the purpose of carrying out the business you had entrusted them with. However, it was their suggestion, as much as our own, that we should by some means or other precede them, in order to be enabled to prevent the disgrace and mischiefs which our adversaries were preparing for us; for we were assured that serious troubles were in preparation for you at the court, and were in dread of the usual custom of that day. With wishes for your lasting prosperity, we bid your highness farewell: be comforted in the Lord, and let your heart rejoice, inasmuch as, to your glory, the present clouds will be succeeded by serenity. On the Saturday before Palm Sunday we arrived at the court, and the bearer of these presents has left us on Easter Day.”
In the meantime, there came into Normandy two cardinals, Gratianus and Vivianus, sent as legates a latere by Alexander, the Supreme Pontiff, who vexed the king of England by many and various annoyances, and wished to place him and his dominions under interdict. But the king of England being warned of this beforehand, had, before their arrival, appealed to the presence of our lord the Supreme Pontiff, and by these means kept himself and his dominions unhurt by the exercise of their severity.
Still, fearing the power of the Apostolic See, he hastened to the sea-shore, and crossed over from Normandy to England, giving orders that no person who should bring a brief, of whatever rank or order he might be, should be allowed to cross over, either from Normandy to England or from England to Normandy, unless he should first give security that he would seek to inflict neither evil nor injury upon the king or his kingdom.
In the meantime, Gilbert, bishop of London, and Jocelyn, bishop of Salisbury, sent to Rome and received letters of absolution, the tenor of which was as follows:  

The Letter of Pope Alexander to the Archbishop of Bourges.

“Alexander the bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his venerable brethren, the archbishop of Bourges and the bishop of Nivernois, health, and the Apostolic benediction. We believe that it is not unknown to your brotherhood how Thomas of blessed memory, formerly archbishop of Canterbury, in obedience to our mandate, pronounced sentence of excommunication upon the bishops of London and Salisbury: which we took due care to have ratified and confirmed by the authority of the Apostolic See. Now, inasmuch as the aforesaid bishops, being worn out with old age and infirmity of body, and, one of them laboring under a malady, are not able to come to our presence: to you, in whose prudence and fidelity we have full confidence, we have thought proper to entrust their absolution, for which, envoys from Henry, the king of England, and the said bishops have made the most urgent application. Therefore, we do command your brotherhood, by these Apostolic writings, within one month from the time when the said messengers shall have returned home - (as to the approach of the legates whom we have thought proper to send into those parts to take cognizance of this atrocious crime and misdeed which has been perpetrated and of the forgiveness of the king, that they have passed the Alps you are not unaware), that, after having publicly received their oaths according to the custom of the Church, that they are ready to pay obedience to our mandate, you will absolve them from the ban of excommunication by pronouncing sentence of suspension for the same cause for which they were recently sentenced to excommunication, the said cause being still valid and of full effect. But if you shall be satisfied that the bishop of Salisbury, from laboring under the effects of disease, cannot come to you, then it is our pleasure that you shall attend upon him personally. Or if you shall be made to attend upon him, then you are to send proper persons, in whom both you and we ourselves may be able to place full reliance, who, having publicly received his oath, in the presence of the church, that he is ready to pay obedience to our mandates, may thereupon absolve him. But if, brother archbishop, it shall not be in your power to give attention to this matter, then do you, brother bishop, together with the abbot of Pontigny, give your most diligent attention to the injunctions which we have given. Given at Tusculanum, on the eighth day before the calends of May.”

In the year of grace 1172, being the eighteenth year of the reign of king Henry the Second, the said king was at Dublin, in Ireland, on the day of the Nativity of our Lord, which took place on Saturday, and there he gave a royal feast. Having stayed there until the beginning of Lent, he proceeded thence to the city of Wexford, where he remained until Easter. While he was staying there, Theodinus and Albert, the cardinals who were sent as legates "a latere" by the Supreme Pontiff, came into Normandy. On their arrival being known, the king hastened to meet them; ...
The festival of Easter approaching, the king’s household crossed over from Ireland to England, on Easter Day, and landed at Milford Haven, near Pembroke. The king, however, by reason of the solemnity of the day, was unwilling to embark, but embarked the day after, and landed in Wales near Saint David’s. After this, the king repaired with all haste to Portsmouth, and, taking with him his son Henry, passed over from England to Normandy, and found the above-named cardinals at Caen, and, by their advice, made peace with Louis, king of the Franks, as to the coronation of his daughter; and accordingly, with the consent and advice of the above-named cardinals, sent back the king, his son, to England, and with him Rotrod, archbishop of Rouen, Gilles bishop of Evreux, and Roger, bishop of Worcester, for the purpose of crowning him and Margaret, his wife, the daughter of Louis, king of France: on which, they crowned them in the church of Saint Swithin, at Winchester, on the sixth day before the calends of September, being the Lord’s Day. Immediately after the coronation had taken place, his son, the king, with the queen, his wife, and the archbishop of Rouen, and the bishops of Evreux and Worcester, crossed over from England to Normandy.  

The Purgation of King Henry for the death of the blessed Thomas.

Henry, the king of England, the father, king Henry, his son, Rotrod, archbishop of Rouen, and all the bishops and abbots of Normandy, met at the city of Avranches, in presence of the cardinals, Theodinus and Albert. In their presence, the king of England, the father, on the fifth day before the calends of October, being the fourth day of the week, and the feast of Saints Cosmus and Damianus, the Martyrs, proved his innocence in the church of Saint Andrew the Apostle, by oath, in the presence of the above-named cardinals, and of all the clergy and the people, upon the relics of the Saints, and upon the Holy Gospels, and that he had neither commanded nor wished that the archbishop of Canterbury should be put to death, and that, when he heard thereof, he was greatly concerned. But, inasmuch as he could not apprehend  those malefactors who slew Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, of blessed memory, and he feared that they had perpetrated that profane deed in consequence his agitated state of mind and the perturbation in which they had seen him, he made oath that he would give satisfaction in the following manner:
In the first place, he made oath that he would not withdraw from Alexander, the Supreme Pontiff, and his Catholic successors, so long as they should repute him to be a Catholic king.
He also made oath that he would neither prevent appeals nor allow them to be prevented, but that they should be freely made in his kingdom to the Roman Pontiff in causes ecclesiastical; yet so, that if any parties should be suspected by him, they should give him security that they would not seek the injury of him or of his kingdom.
He also made oath that, for a period of three years from the Nativity of our Lord then next ensuing he would assume the cross, and would in the following summer go in person to Jerusalem, unless he should remain at home by permission of Alexander, the Supreme Pontiff, or of his Catholic successors: provided, that if in the meantime, by reason of urgent necessity, he should set out for Spain to war against the Saracens, then for so long a period as he should be engaged in that expedition he might defer setting out for Jerusalem.
Besides this, he made oath that in the meantime he would give to the Templars as much money as in the opinion of the brethren of the Temple would suffice for the maintenance of two hundred knights, for the defense of the land of Jerusalem, during a period of one year.

Besides this, he remitted his wrath and displeasure against all those, both clergy and laity, who were in exile for the cause of Saint Thomas, and allowed them freely and peacefully to return home.
He also made oath that the possessions of the church of Canterbury, if any had been taken away, he would restore in full, in the same state in which they were one year before the blessed Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, had departed from England.
He also made oath that he would utterly abolish the customs which had been introduced in his time to the prejudice of the churches of his kingdom.
All these articles he made oath that he would observe faithfully and without evil intent. He also made his son, king Henry, swear to observe these articles, those excepted which only related personally to himself. And, to the intent that the same might be retained in the memory of the Roman Church, the king, the father, caused his seal to be set to the writing in which the above-stated articles were contained, together with the seals of the above-named cardinals.  

The Charter of Absolution of our lord the King.

“To Henry, by the grace of God, the illustrious king of the English, Albert titular of Saint Laurentius in Lucinia, and Theodinus, titular of Saint Vitalis, cardinal priests, legates of the Apostolic See, health in Him who giveth health unto kings. That the things which take place may not come to be matter of doubt, both custom suggests and the ordinary requirements of utility demand that the same should be regularly stated at length in writing. For this reason it is that we have thought proper to have committed to writing those injunctions which we have given you, because you entertain a fear that those malefactors who slew Thomas of blessed memory, the late archbishop of Canterbury, proceeded to the commission of that crime in consequence of your agitated state of mind and the perturbation in which they saw you to be. As to which deed, however, you have of your own free will exculpated yourself in our presence, to the effect that you neither gave command nor wished that he should be put to death; and that, when news reached you of the same, you were greatly concerned thereat. From the ensuing feast of Pentecost, for the period of one year, you shall give as much money as in the opinion of the brethren of the Temple will suffice to maintain two hundred knights for the defense of the land of Jerusalem during a period of one year. Also, from the Nativity of our Lord next ensuing, for a period of three years, you shall assume the cross, and shall in the ensuing summer in person set out for Jerusalem, unless you shall remain at home by the permission of our lord the pope, or of his Catholic successors provided that if, by reason of urgent necessity, you shall set out for Spain to war against the Saracens, so long a period as shall elapse from the time of your setting out you shall be enabled to defer setting out for Jerusalem. You shall not prevent appeals, nor allow them to be prevented; but they shall freely be made to the Roman Pontiff, in causes ecclesiastical, in good faith, and without fraud and evil intent, in order that causes may be considered by the Roman Pontiff, and be brought to a conclusion by him; yet so, that if any parties shall be suspected by you, they shall give you security that they will not seek the injury of you or of your kingdom. The customs which have been introduced in your time, to the prejudice of the churches of your kingdom, you shall utterly abolish. The possessions of the church of Canterbury, if any have been taken away, you shall restore in full, in the same state in which they were one year before the archbishop departed from England. Moreover, to the clerks and to the laity of either sex, you shall restore your protection and favor and their possessions, who, by reason of the before-named archbishop, have been deprived thereof. These things, by the authority of our lord the pope, we do, for the remission of your sins, enjoin and command you to observe, without fraud and evil intent. Wherefore, to the above effect, in the presence of a multitude of persons, you have, as you venerate the Divine Majesty, made oath. Your son, also, has made oath to the same effect, with the exception only of that which in especial related personally to yourself. You have also both made oath that you will not withdraw from our lord the pope, Alexander, and his Catholic successors, so long as they shall repute you, like your predecessors, to be Catholic kings. And further, that this may be firmly retained in the memory of the Roman Church, you have ordered your seal to be set thereto.”  

The Letter of the same Cardinals to the archbishop of Ravenna.

“To their venerable and beloved brother in Christ, Gilbert, by the grace of God, archbishop of Ravenna, Albert, by the Divine condescension, titular of Saint Laurentius in Lucinia, and Theodinus, titular of Saint Vitalis, cardinal priests, legates of the Apostolic See, that which God has promised that He will grant unto the watchful. Inasmuch as we believe that you are desirous to hear somewhat relative to our present state and the progress of the business which was entrusted to our charge; we have thought proper by this present writing to inform your brotherhood how God has dealt as towards ourselves and through the ministry of our humble exertions. Know, therefore, that after the illustrious king of England had learned as a truth that we had arrived in his kingdom, laying aside every obstacle that might retard him, and omitting the transaction of pressing business, he passed over from England into the Norman territories, and instantly sent unto us many messengers of honorable rank, inquiring of us in what place we would prefer to meet and hold a conference with him. It at length pleased us to meet for the purpose of holding a conference at the monastery of Savigny, where we might be aided by the prayers of religious men. We came thither, and thither also came many persons of either order from out of his kingdom to meet us; and we diligently treated, so far as we were able, upon what related to his own salvation and the obedience enjoined by us. As, however, we were unable to agree on all points, he withdrew from us, as though about to cross over to England, and we remained there with the intention of going the following day to the city of Avranches. However, on the next day, there came to us the bishop of Lisieux and two archdeacons, and that being conceded which we demanded, we proceeded to the city before-mentioned. At this place, on the Lord’s Day, on which is sung “Vocem jocunditatis,” we went forth to meet a considerable number of persons, as they did to meet us; and the king then fulfilled the conditions that had been made, with such extreme humility that, beyond a doubt, this maybe believed to be the work of Him who looks down upon the earth and maketh it to tremble. Still, how that he showed himself a fearer of God and an obedient son of the Church, it is not necessary, in the present brief narrative, to relate. For this his actions sufficiently manifest, and will manifest still more fully, according to the hopes that have been given us of the future. In the first place, therefore, as to the death of Thomas, of blessed memory, the late archbishop of Canterbury: not in consequence of our exacting it, but of his own free-will, touching the Holy Gospels, he purged his conscience, making oath to the effect that he had neither commanded nor wished that the said archbishop should be put to death; and that, when he heard thereof, he was greatly concerned. But because what had been done he feared had been done through his instrumentality, he made the following oath as to giving satisfaction for the same. In the first place, he made oath that he will not withdraw from our lord the pope, Alexander, and his Catholic successors, so long as they shall repute him to be a Catholic king and a Christian. The same he also made his eldest son swear in the charter of absolution for the death of the blessed Thomas. He also promised on oath other things very necessary for the clergy and for the people; all of which we have carefully and in their order as he swore them sot forth in the charter of his absolution. He also promised other things of his own free will to be carried out, which are not necessary in their order to be committed to writing. We have written to you to this effect, that you may know that he is obedient to God, and much more disposed to be duteous to the Divine will than heretofore he has been. In addition to this, you must know that his son made oath to the same effect with himself in relation to the customs above-mentioned. Besides this, he publicly announced that he would repeat again, at Caen, all that had passed there, in presence of a greater assemblage of persons, in order that there might be left to no one any room to doubt his sincerity. He has also released the bishops from the promise which they made to him as to observing the customs, and has promised that he will not exact this in future.”
On the following day, the above-named cardinals held a great synod there, together with the archbishop, bishops, and clergy of Normandy, and there they agreed to the decrees underwritten, and enjoined that they should be strictly and inviolably observed by all.


The Decrees published at Avranches by the cardinals Albert and Theodinus.

Youths are, under no circumstance, to be admitted to the government of those churches, and the administration of those offices, in which there is the cure of souls.

Further, the sons of priests are not to be placed in the churches of their fathers.

Further, the laity are not to have a share of offerings made in the church.

Further, churches are not to be entrusted to the charge of vicars hired by the year.

Further, the priests of the larger churches, who have the means of so doing, are to be compelled to have another minister under them.

Further, priests are not to be ordained without having a sure title.

Further, churches are not to be let out at a yearly rent.

Further, let the minister who performs the duties of the church be deprived of no portion of one third part of the tithes.

Further, let those persons who hold tithes by hereditary right be at liberty to give them to some fitting clerk, whomsoever they may choose; but upon this understanding, that, after him, they are to revert to the church to which of right they belong.

Let no man while his wife is still living enter into monastic orders, and so, on the other hand, with regard to the wife, unless they shall have both passed the time for satisfying the lusts of the flesh.

Further, at the Advent of our Lord, to all who shall be able to obey, and especially to the clergy and the knighthood, let fasting and abstinence from flesh be enjoined.

Further, clerks are not to be appointed judges to administer the jurisdiction of secular powers; and those who shall presume so to do, let them be expelled from their ecclesiastical benefices.”

But, as regards the new books relative to those excommunicated, the property of the dead that the priests receive, the benediction of brides, baptism, and the eight-and-forty pounce which are demanded for the absolution of those excommunicated, there was nothing settled, as the bishops of Normandy were unwilling to receive a decree on those subjects. In the same synod, the archbishop of Tours claimed the archbishopric of Dol as properly belonging to his own archbishopric, affirming that there ought not to be there an archiepiscopal see; but the clergy of Dol stoutly maintained the contrary.

[In 1173, Henry II faced the open rebellion of his sons Henry, Richard and Geoffrey, aided by Louis VII, the king of France (who was also the father-in-law of Henry the Young King); additionally, King William of Scotland invaded England from the north.  The rebellion continued in 1173.]

[King Henry] landed at Southampton, in England, on the eight day before the ides of July, being the second day of the week, bringing with him his wife, queen Eleanor, and queen Margaret, daughter of Louis, king of the Franks, and wife of his son Henry, with Robert, earl of Leicester, and Hugh, earl of Chester, whom he immediately placed in confinement.
On the day after this, he set out on a pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Thomas the Martyr, archbishop of Canterbury. On his approach, as soon as he was in sight of the church, in which thc body of the blessed martyr lay buried, he dismounted from the horse on which he rode, took off his shoes, and barefoot, and clad in woollen garments, walked three miles to the tomb of the martyr, with such humility and compunction of heart, that it may be believed beyond a doubt to have been the work of Him who looketh down on the earth, and maketh it to tremble. To those who beheld them, his footsteps, along the road on which he walked, seemed to be covered with blood, and really were so, for his tender feet being cut by the hard stones, a great quantity of blood flowed from them on to the ground. When he had arrived at the tomb, it was a holy thing to see the affliction which he suffered, with sobs and tears, and the discipline to which he submitted from the hands of the bishops and a great number of priests and monks. Here, also, aided by the prayers of many holy men, he passed the night, before the sepulchre of the blessed Martyr, in prayer, fasting, and lamentations. As for the gifts and revenues which, for the remission of his sins, he bestowed on this church, they can never under any circumstance be obliterated from the remembrance thereof In the morning of the following day, after hearing mass, he departed thence, on the third day before the ides of July, being Saturday, with the intention of proceeding to London. And, inasmuch as he was mindful of the Lord in his entire heart, the Lord granted unto him the victory over his enemies, and delivered them captive into his hands.
For, on the very same Saturday on which the king left Canterbury, William, king of the Scots, was taken prisoner at Alnwick by the above-named knights of Yorkshire, who had pursued him after his retreat from Prudhoe. Thus, even thus;

How rarely is it that vengeance with halting step forsakes the pursuit of the wicked!” Together with him, there were taken prisoners Richard Cumin, William de Mortimer, William de l’Isle, Henry Revel, Ralph de Ver, Jordan le Fleming, Waltheof Fitz-Baldwin de Bicre, Richard Maluvel, and many others, who voluntarily allowed themselves to be made prisoners, lest they might appear to have sanctioned the capture of their lord.
[Henry II was able to come to favorable terms with the other rebels soon thereafter.]


In the same year, Philip, the son of Louis, king of the Franks, and of the said queen, Ala, fell ill, and was in danger of his life; at which his father was extremely grieved, and was admonished in his sleep by a Divine revelation to vow that he would go on a pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Thomas the Martyr, at Canterbury, to prevail upon him to restore his son to health.
In consequence of this, Louis, king of the Franks, sent ambassadors to Henry, king of England, the father, and asked for leave and a safe conduct upon coming into England, and also liberty to return without any impediment, which was granted accordingly. Therefore, putting his trust in the Lord, contrary to the advice of many, he set out for England. Taking with him Philip, earl of Flanders, and Baldwin, earl of Guisnes, Henry, duke of Louvaine, count William de Mandeville, the advocate of Bethune, and other barons of the kingdom of France, he came to Witsand, and thence passed over to England, arriving at Dover on the eleventh day before the calends of September, being the fourth day of the week. The king of England, the father, came to meet him on the sea-shore, and received him with great honor and congratulations, as his most dearly-beloved liege lord and friend, and, with due respect, supplied all necessaries for him and his people.
On the following day, that is to say, on the vigil of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle, he escorted him to the tomb of Saint Thomas the Martyr, at Canterbury. Upon arriving there Louis, king of the Franks, offered upon the tomb of Saint Thomas the Martyr a cup of gold, very large and of great value, and gave, for the use of the monks there in the service of God, a hundred tuns of wine, to be received yearly for ever at Poissy, in France, entirely at the expense of the king of France. In addition to this, he granted them that whatever in future should be bought in the kingdom of France for their own use, should be free from toll and all other customs and excise. All this he caused to be confirmed by his charter, which they received at the hands of Hugh de Pudsey, chancellor of the king of France, and son of Hugh, bishop of Durham. On the third day after this, the king of France and his people who were with him returned to Dover, under the escort of the king of the English; and on the following day, namely, the seventh day before the calends of September, being the Lord’s Day, the king of France crossed over from England to Flanders, and landed at Witsand.

In the meantime, his son Philip, through the merits and prayers of the blessed Thomas the Martyr, was restored to his former health: on hearing which, the king of France, elated, amid great public rejoicings, ordered by proclamation that all the chief men of his kingdom, both ecclesiastical and secular, should assemble at Rheims, at the beginning of the calends of November, in order to celebrate there the coronation of his son Philip. When they were assembled there, William, archbishop of Rheims, crowned the before-named Philip, the son of his sister Ala, who was now in the fifteenth year of his age, and anointed him king at Rheims, in the church there of the Pontifical See, on the day of the feast of All Saints, being assisted in the performance of that office by William, archbishop of Tours, and the archbishops of Bourges and Sens, and nearly all the bishops of the kingdom. Henry, the king of England, the son, in the procession from the chamber to the cathedral on the day of the coronation, preceded him, bearing the golden crown with which the said Philip was to be crowned, in right of the dukedom of Normandy. Philip, earl of Flanders, also walked before, bearing before him the sword of the kingdom. Other dukes, counts, and barons also preceded and followed him, each being appointed to perform some duty therein, according as the king had commanded them. But king Louis, his father, laboring under old age and a paralytic malady, was unable to be present at his coronation; for, as he was returning from England and staying at Saint Denis, being struck by a sudden chill, he had an attack of paralysis, and lost the use of the right side of his body.  


[King Richard the Lion-hearted is en route to the Holy Land during the Third Crusade.   A storm at sea menaces some of his ships.]
When they had now passed through the British Sea and the Sea of Poitou, and had come into the Spanish Sea, on the holy Day of the Ascension of our Lord, at the third hour of the day, a mighty and dreadful tempest overtook them, and in the twinkling of an eye they were separated from each other. While the storm was raging, and all in their affliction were calling upon the Lord, the blessed Thomas, the archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr, appeared at three different times to three different persons, who were on board a London ship in which was William Fitz-Osbert, and Geoffrey, the goldsmith, saying to them,

Be not afraid, for I, Thomas, the archbishop of Canterbury, and the blessed Edmund the Martyr, and the blessed Nicholas, the Confessor, have been appointed by the Lord guardians of this fleet of the king of England; and if the men of this fleet will guard themselves against sin, and repent of their former offenses, the Lord will grant them a prosperous voyage, and will direct their foot. steps in His paths.” After having thrice repeated these words, the blessed Thomas vanished from before their eyes, and immediately the tempest ceased, and there was a great calm on the sea.


Roger wrote originally in Latin.  This translation was made by Henry T. Riley and was published as The Annals of Roger de Hoveden.  2 vols. London:  Bohn, 1853.  I believe this translation is now in the public domain.  The electronic form of this presentation is ©1998 by Scott McLetchie and may not be reproduced for any commercial purposes whatsoever.  It may be reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.

Etext file created for a class by Scott Mcletchie [], and used by permission here.

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© Paul Halsall, October 1998

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