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contrary to the laws and customs of the kingdom; by which means, that which had been given to pious uses, and for the Abp. Cant. service of religion, was turned into a scandalous and unIn censum godly tribute; wherefore, by the advice of the earls, barons, est conver- &c., the king ordained that no abbot, prior, or any other religious person of what state or order soever, within the king's dominions, should pay any rent, talliage, or impositions, charged upon them by any foreign superiors, or agreed between themselves; neither were they permitted to go beyond sea to visit any such monasteries, in order to convey any part of their revenues or effects thither.
Farther, the act likewise prohibited all foreign abbots and religious superiors from imposing any payments or burthens upon any monasteries belonging to their government, in the king's territories, under the penalty of forfeiting all their interest and estate in his highness's dominions.
However, the meaning of this statute was not to bar the abbots and other foreign religious from visiting their charge in England; from governing their monks, and exercising the discipline of their order: I say, they were not restrained from this liberty, provided such visitors levied no contribution upon the monasteries, nor carried anything out of the kingdom, excepting such sums as were necessary to furnish them for their voyage.
No payments allowed to foreign religious.
A. D. 1307.
Riley's Placita Parl.
fol. 312. Coke Instit.
part 2. De Asportatis Religiosorum. fol. 580.
Riley, Placit. Parl. fol. 314.
The other great affair was the consideration of the petitions exhibited by the earls, barons, &c., against the exactions set on foot by the pope's authority, and managed by Mr. William Testa, his nuncio, or by officers and deputies in his name. The heads of the grievances are these: First, the extravagant number of provisions of the best church preferments, disposed of to Italians or other foencroach reigners and non-residents, to the great prejudice and disinherison of the founders, benefactors, and their successors.
Articles drawn up against the
ments of the court of Rome.
Secondly, they complained that the pope pretended a right to apply the rents and revenues of religious houses to the use and maintenance of several cardinals.
Thirdly, the next article remonstrates against the pope's claim of the first-fruits of vacant benefices; a thing never heard of before: and that this new duty was very prejudicial to the king, church, and kingdom.
Fourthly, that the demand of the Peter-pence very much
exceeded the proportion of the first grant, and was exacted to treble the just value.
Fifthly, that legacies given to pious uses were seized by the authority of the apostolick see, and converted to uses foreign to the intention of the testator.
EDWARD I. K. of Eng.
Sixthly, they complained of an abuse with reference to debts. For instance; when the creditors went to the pope's nuncios, and offered them half the debt to secure the rest, these nuncios immediately ordered the debtors to be summoned and distrained to answer before them, in open disinherison of the king and his crown.
Seventhly, They complained that legacies which were given in general to charitable uses, and left to the discretion of the executor, without any particular nomination,—that these legacies were unjustly challenged by the pope's clerks, and turned to uses contrary to the will of the deceased. From hence they conclude, that unless God shall arise fol. 379. and scatter his enemies, unless the king and his parliament appear vigorously against the mischief, the exhausting the treasure of the kingdom, the decay of the commonwealth, and the undoing of the Church, must inevitably follow.
Riley, Placit. Parl.
After the reading of these articles, the nuncio, William Testa, was called into the house, and the charge made good against him: neither did he offer at any other defence, excepting his commission from the pope.
After a thorough examination of the matter, it was declared by the assent of the king, lords, and commons, that the grievances, oppressions, and extortions aforesaid, should no longer be permitted in the king's dominions; and Mr. The proviWilliam, the pope's nuncio, was ordered not to do any- sions of the thing contrary to the purport of this provision, either by at Carlisle. himself or any others. He was likewise enjoined to revoke and annul whatever had been acted of this kind, either by himself or his agents; and to keep the money levied upon this account in some place within the kingdom, till the king's pleasure was farther known; and, to make the matter more publick, it was agreed by the king, lords, and commons, that a remonstrance against the grievances above mentioned should be drawn up and transmitted with an embassy to the pope. The sheriffs, likewise, of the respective counties, were commanded to make a legal enquiry after the names of
Id. fol. 381.
those commissaries or agents of Mr. William Testa, who were instrumental in the oppressions above mentioned; and Abp. Cant. that all those who were presented as such, should be attached by their bodies, and brought to answer their misdemeanors in the court of King's Bench.
And here, we are to observe, that these provisions were first made in the year 1305. However, they were not published till after a review by this parliament at Carlisle.
While the parliament was sitting, there was a remonstrance dropped in the house against the oppressions of the court of Rome; it is addressed to the Church of England, by one Peter Fitz-Cassiodore, which, I suppose, was a feigned name. It runs thus:
A satirical remon
"To the noble Church of England, now in distress, and under servitude; Peter, son of Cassiodore, a soldier of the against the Church militant, and a devout champion for the Christian court of Rome.
2. 13. Lament. 1. 13. 14
'What religion, sends greeting and wishes of liberty. thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? What shall I equal to thee, O virgin daughter of Sion? For thy breach is great like the sea, thou sittest solitary without any to comfort thee, thou art made desolate, and faintest all the Lamentat. day.' 'Thou art delivered into the hands of those from whom thou art not able to rise up.' For thy Roman princes, like the Scribes and Pharisees sitting in Moses's chair, are become thy greatest enemies, they enlarge their phylacteries, and keep up a pretence to extraordinary piety; but, at the same time, make no scruple to harass thee to the last extremity, and suck, in a manner, the marrow out of thy bones; laying intolerable burthens upon thee and thy ministers, and putting thee under the uneasiness and disgrace of tribute, who hadst formerly the privilege of being free. Let nobody wonder at this alteration, since thy mother, the lady of the nations, has, according to the custom of some widows, marrying their inferiors, made the bishop of Rome thy father, who does not answer the kindness of that relation in any respect. No, he grows haughty upon the match, makes a figure at thy expense, overstrains the advantage of a husband, and shews himself master, with a witness, of thy mother's fortune. He takes effectual care to misapply the order given to the prophet Isaiah, take thee a Isaiah 8. 1. great roll, and write in it with a man's pen; seize the spoils,
and fall quickly upon the prey.' But does the apostle warrant EDhim in this management of his office? Where, he informs K. of Eng. us, that every high priest taken from among men is ordained
for men in things pertaining to God?' that is, not to pull, Hebr. 5. 1. and plunder, and squeeze people to death; but that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; that he may have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way.' Hebr. ibid. This bishop pretends to be St. Peter's successor. Now, we read that St. Peter returned to his business of fishing, with the rest of the apostles, after our Saviour's resurrection; who, when he had no success in fishing on the left side of the ship, made a throw on the right, at our Saviour's command, and drew the net to shore full of large fish. By the right side of the ship, is meant the proper use and application of the ecclesiastick character. By this exercise of the powers of priesthood, according to the intention of the grant, the devil is conquered, multitudes of souls are gained, and the hierarchy become fishers of men; but the toiling on the left side of the ship, imports mismanagement, and turns to no good account. Here faith grows languid, and the mind, by disappointment, is seized with despair. But who can wonder that nothing is taken this way? How can a man be so sanguine as to believe he can serve God and mammon at the same time; please his fancy and plunge himself in the animal life, and yet offer acceptable sacrifice to Christ Jesus? And, without doubt, that shepherd who is not vigilant for the benefit of the flock, affords an opportunity of mischief to that roaring lion who walks about seek. ing whom he may devour. I desire you would consider the unaccountable practice of your pretended father. This father of yours drives away the good shepherds from the folds, and puts his ignorant nephews and relations in their place; men that understand nothing of the management of the sheep, nor trouble themselves how much they are worried by the wolf. In short, these men, who mind nothing but shearing the fleece, and eating the mutton, have the crook put into their hand, only to shew their authority, and make a benefit of the employment. These guides are careful enough to consult their present advantage; they ease their own shoulders from the burthen, and deliver their hands from making the pots.' From whence it is evident Ps. 81. 6.
that the design of the priesthood is strangely perverted now-a-days; the service of Almighty God is neglected; Abp. Cant. the distributions of charity unpractised; and the pious benefactions of kings and princes misapplied in a great meaIs it not a wonderful thing to consider, that since Christ paid tribute for himself, and St. Peter, refused to interpose in a dispute about property, and declared his kingdom not to be of this world; is it not a wonderful thing, I say, that the man who pretends to be our Saviour's vicar, or vicegerent, should style himself universal governor, and grasp at the empire of the universe? And as for you his daughter, what usage does he put upon you? does he not poll and rack you at his pleasure? The tenth of your revenue will not satisfy him, without the first-fruits of the livings. And what is all this for? Why, it is to fill his own exchequer, and raise estates for his family. There are likewise other contributions levied for the maintenance of his agents. These impositions amount not only to the taking away men's livelihoods; but are, in a manner, a downright preying upon the flesh and bones of his charge. May not such a person be justly compared to king Nebuchadonozor, who rifled and demolished the Lord's temple, and carried off the consecrated plate? Since they both acted the same part, I see no reason why they may not stand together in a comparison. Nebuchadonozor plundered the ministers of God, and unfurnished his house; and does not this father of yours do the same? Now, in my opinion, it is better for people to be dispatched by a sword, than left to the execution of hunger; for this latter way of dying does but draw out the punishment to a greater length, and give people more time to feel pain. Thou mayest, O daughter, make use of the lamentation of the prophet, 'Behold and see, all you that pass by, if there be any sorrow Lamentat. like unto my sorrow.' 'By the greatness of thy grief thy visage is blacker than a coal, insomuch that thou art not known in the streets.' 'Thy governor above mentioned has brought thee into darkness, compassed thee with gall, and made thee drunken with wormwood. O Lord, look down from heaven, and behold the affliction of thy people, and hear their cry; for the heart of that man is hardened beyond the obduration of Pharaoh, neither will he release the
Ib. 4. 8.
Ib. 3. 2. 5. 15.