Thematic Divisions in Book 4
1. Lanfranc2. Gregory VII3. William the Conqueror4. William Rufus5. Henry I6. Stephen and Henry II7. Frederick Barbarossa8. Thomas Becket9. Becket's letters10. Becket's martyrdom and miracles11. Events of 1172-7812. Waldensians13. Other incidents of Henry II's reign14. First year of Richard I's reign15. Strife at Canterbury16. Richard I and Third Crusade17. William Longchamp18. King John19. Henry III's early reign20. Innocent III and mendicant orders21. Papal oppression of the English Church22. Albigensian Crusade23. Hubert de Burgh24. Gregory IX25. Schism between Greek and Latin Church26. Papal exactions from England27. Louis IX on Crusade28. Frederick II29. Opponents of Papacy30. Robert Grosseteste31. Aphorisms of Robert Grosseteste32. Persecution of Jews33. Papal oppression and Alexander IV34. Conflicts in universities and mendicant orders35. Henry III and the barons36. Battle of Lewes37. Battle of Evesham38. End of baronial war39. Ecclesiastical matters and Edward prince of Wales goes on crusade40. Foreign events in Henry III's reign41. First seven years of Edward I's reign42. War with Scotland43. Philip IV and Boniface VIII44. Events of 1305-745. Cassiodorous's letter46. Pierre de Cugniere47. Death of Edward I48. Piers Gaveston49. The Despensers and the death of Edward II50. John XXIII and Clement VI51. Rebellion in Bury St. Edmunds52. Edward III and Scotland53. Edward III and Philip VI54. Edward III and Archbishop Stratford55. Events of 1341-556. Outbreak of the Hundred Years War57. Anti-papal writers58. Quarrel among mendicants and universities59. Table of the Archbishops of Canterbury
Critical Apparatus for this Page
Commentary on the Text
Names and Places on this Page
Unavailable for this Edition
289 [289]

K. Henry. 2. Tho. Becket. Letters of T. Becket. Actes and Monum. of the Church.

Becket complainyng of his prince, to the pope in maner and forme as foloweth.

¶ The copy of an Epistle sent of T. Becket, to Pope Alexander.

TO your presence and audience I flee (most holy father) that you, who hath bought the libertie of the church with your so great daunger: might the rather attende to the same (either being the onelye or chiefest cause of my persecution) vsing and following therein the example of you. It greueth me that the state of the church should fall to any decaye, and that the liberties therof should be infringed through the auarice of princes. For the which cause, I thought to resist betime that inconuenience beginning so to growe. And the more I thought my selfe obliged to the same my Prince (vnto whom next vnder God, I am most chieflye bounde) the more boldnes I tooke to me, to withstand hys vnrightfull attemptes: tyll suche that were on the cōtrary part (my aduersaries) preuayled, working my disquietnes, & in incensing him agaynst me. Wherupon (as the maner is amongest princes) they raysed vp against me citations and slaunders, to the occasion of my persecution: but I had rather to be proscribed, then to subscribe. Besides this, I was also called to iudgement, and cited before the king to make answer there as a laye person, to secular accomptes: where as they whom I most trusted did most forsake me. For I saw my fellowbrethren the bishops, through the instigation of some, ready to my cōdemnation. Whereupon all being set against me, and I thus oppressed on euery syde, toke my refuge to appeale to your goodnes, which casteth offe none in their extremities: being ready to make my declaratiō before you, that I ought neyther to be iudged ther in that place, nor yet of them. For what were that (father) but to vsurpe to them selues your right? and to bring the spiritualye vnder the temporaltie. MarginaliaTo kepe vnder the pryde of prelates is no cause sufficient to vnking a prince.Which thyng (once begon) may breede an ensample to many. And therfore, so muche the more stouter I thought to be in withstanding this matter: how much more prone and procliue, I saw the waye to hurt: if they once might see vs to be faynt and weake in the same. But they wyll say to me here agayne: geue to Cesar, that which belongeth to Cesar. &c. But to answer agayne therunto (albeit we are bound to obey our king in most thinges) yet not in such maner of thinges, whereby he is made to be no kyng: neyther were they then thinges belonging to Cesar, by to a tyrant. Concerning the which poyntes, these bishops should (not for me only, but for themselues) haue resisted the king. For if the extreme iudgement be reserued to him whych is able to iudge both body and soule: is it not then extreme pride for men there to iudge, whych iudge but by them selues? If the cause of the bishops and of the Clergye, (which I mayntayne) be right: why be they set agaynst me? Why do they reprehende me? for if that I appealed to hym before whom eyther it was not lawfull, or els not expedient for me to doe: what seeme they by this, but eyther to blame me causeles, or els to distrust your equitie? For me to be conuicted before your holynes: it had bene a double confusion. Or wherin haue I deserued to be persecuted of them, for whose cause I haue set my selfe to stand in their behalfe? And if they had wylled, I had preuayled: but it is ill with the head, when he is left of his members and forsaken: as if the eyes shoulde take the tounge to speake agaynste the head. If they had had eyes to haue foresene the matter, they might vnderstand themselues to speake their owne destruction: and that the princes did vse their helpe, but to their own seruitude. And what so great cause of hatred had they agaynst me, to procure their owne vndoing, in vndoing of me? So, whyle they neglected spirituall things in steede of temporall, they haue lost thē both. What should I speake more of this, that I repugningthem and appealing to your audience (yet notwithstāding) they durst presume to stand in iudgement and condemnation agaynst me, as chyldren agaynste their father. Yea, and not agaynst me onely, but against the vniuersall Churche of God (conspiring together wyth the prince) being wt me offended. And this suspection might also as well pertayne to you holye father. But to thys they wyll say: that they owe their duty and seruice vnto the king, as their Lorde: to whom they are bounde, vpon their allegiance. To whom I aunswere, that to hym they stand bound bodely, to me spiritually. MarginaliaIf ye mean by spirituall thinges, such as pertayne to the spirituall part of mā, I graūt but your liberties be not such as which pertaine to the inward or spirituall man but rather are thinges more corporall.But to whom ought they rather to stand bound, then to themselues? And were it not better to sustayne the losse of corporall, then of spirituall thinges? But here they wyll say agayne: at thys tyme the prince was not to bee prouoked. How subtylie do these men dispute for their own bondage? Yea, they themselues prouoke him by theyr owne excesse, ministring wynges vnto hym to fight agaynst them, for he woulde haue rested if they had resisted. And whē is constancye more to be requyred, then in persecution? Be not a mans chiefe friendes most tried in persecution? MarginaliaPersecutiō tryeth a true frend, but euery cause maketh not a true persecution.If they geue ouer styll, how shal they obtayne the victory? Sometime they must needes resist. Condescend therefore (holy father) to my excile and persecution. And remember, that I also once was a great man, in the tyme whan it was: and now for your sake thus iniuriously I am intreated. Vse your rigor and restrayne them, by whose instigation the name of this persecution began. And let none of these thinges be imputed to the king, who rather is to be counted the reparer then the autor of this busines.

[Back to Top]

Besides this Epistle sent vnto the Pope: 

Commentary  *  Close
Becket's letters

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008) because it was awaiting the delivery of research materials from the British Library. This commentary will become available in due course from the 'Late Additions and Corrections' page of the edition.

[Back to Top]
he wryteth also an other letter, sent to the kyng in Latyn: the tenor whereof (he that is disposed to rede) maye peruse in our former edition, with the notes adioyned withall.

Besides which epistle to the King in latin, he sent also one or two mo, to the sayd King Henrye the seconde, much after the like rate and sorte. The one thus beginning: Loqui de deo, liberæ mentis est et valde quietæ. Inde est quod loquar ad dominum meum, & vtinam ad omnes pacificum, &c. Which epistle, for that I would not ouercharge the volume of these histories with to much matter superfluous, I thought here to omit. The other he sēt afterward, wherof the wordes be these.

[Back to Top]
¶ An other letter of Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, sent to the kyng.

TO his Lord & frend Henry by the grace of god, king of England, duke of Normandy and Aquitane, erle of Angeow: Thomas by the same grace, hūble minister of the church of Cant (somtime his temporally, but now more hys in the Lord) health and true repentaunce with amendment. I haue long looked for, that the lord would looke vpon you: and that you would conuert & repente, departyng from your peruers way: and cut of frō you your wycked and peruers councellors, by whose instinctiō (as it is thought) you are fallen into that depe, wherof the Psalme speaketh. A sinner when he commeth to þe depth of mischiefes, is without all care or feare. And albeit, we haue hitherto quietly suffred and borne: consideryng and earnestly lookyng if there would any messenger come that would say: Your soueraigne Lord the kyng (which now a long tyme hath erred and been deceiued, and led euen to the destruction of the church) thorow gods mercy with aboundant humility doth now againe make speede for the deliuerance of the church, & to make satisfaction and amendment. Yet notwithstanding, we cease not (day by day continually) to call vpon almighty God, with most humble deuotion: that, that which we haue long desired for you and by you, we may spedely obtayne with aboundant effect. And this is one poynt, that the care of the church of Canterb. wherunto God hath presently appointed vs (albeit vnworthy) you being king

[Back to Top]
doth
Go To Modern Page No:  
Click on this link to switch between the Modern pagination for this edition and Foxe's original pagination when searching for a page number. Note that the pagination displayed in the transcription is the modern pagination with Foxe's original pagination in square brackets.
Find:
Type a keyword and then restrict it to a particular edition using the dropdown menu. You can search for single words or phrases. When searching for single words, the search engine automatically imposes a wildcard at the end of the keyword in order to retrieve both whole and part words. For example, a search for "queen" will retrieve "queen", "queene" and "queenes" etc.
in:  
Humanities Research Institute  *  HRI Online  *  Feedback
Version 2.0 © 2011 The University of Sheffield