James Wayland Joyce.

England's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic online

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Online LibraryJames Wayland JoyceEngland's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic → online text (page 23 of 83)
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Mag. Brit,
vol. i. p.

those which really incited to the perpetration of these acts.
The archbishop's real offences were, that he had resisted the
conqueror of his country to the last * — had gained some more
advantageous terms than K. William had been inclined to
grant after the battle of Hastings — and, finally, had refused to
place the crown on the usurper's brow. The ostensible crimes
alleged against Stigand were, " that " he had assumed the arch-
bishopric of Canterbury in the lifetime of Archbishop Robert,
who had been exiled — that he had celebrated mass in the
pallium belonging to that archbishop — and that he had received
a pallium himself from Benedict, who had been excommuni-
cated by the Roman Church. Such were his real, and such his
o.stensible offences ; but the civil power of K. William, united
with the assumed spii-itual authority of the three legates, was
too powerful to be resisted by the last of our Anglo-Saxon
archbishops. Being deprived in this first council held under
Norman auspices, he fled to Scotland in order to escape^ the
fate of imprisonment, which some of his brother prelates en-
countered, and thus departed from his country, and shortly
after from his life.

IV Work of ^^^^ second assembly held under \\"illiam the
deprivation car- Couqucror was the great Council of Windsor,

ned on at the . ^ " . '

great Council of With a Concurrent legatme synod, convened
Windsor. ^^ Whit.suntide, A.D. 1070. The work of de-

privation and ejection was again here renewed. The cardinals
Peter and John had returned to report progress to their
master at Rome. But the legate Hermanfred still remained
to complete the enterprise against the Anglo-Saxon Church,
which had thus far been carried on both with energy and
success. Agelric, the bishop of the South Saxons, was now
degraded''; very many abbots were deprived, Normans, and
friends of the Conqueror, being advanced to the vacated
places. He here gave the archbishopric of York to Thomas,
canon of Bayeux ; three royal chaplains were promoted to
bishoprics, and Norman monks were presented with abbacies.
Such were the measures taken to reduce the Anglo-Saxon
Church to a hopeless dependence upon the royal will, and to
obedience to the Pope. Such was the employment of the two
first assemblies — "great councils," with concurrent "lega-
tine synods" — held in this country after the Conquest.



V. Changes ef- ^^ would iiot be within the scope of our pre-
fected in the con- gent obicct to enter at leno-th into the constitu-

stitution of En- '' '^

glish councils bj'
tlie Conquest.

tion of the civil assembhes held after the Con-
quest, or to inquire into the changes and modifi-
cations which took place in them, as compared with the civil
assemblies among the Anglo-Saxons ; still it will be well just
to glance at this subject in passing. Whatever facts, however,
may be found in the present period of our history calculated
to throw light upon the constitution of our ecclesiastical
synods will be hereafter carefully noted.

As regards the great councils of this period, the change
which passed upon them, as compared with those of the
Anglo-Saxon times, was this : William the Conqueror obliged
his Normans, upon condition of feudal tenures, to attend
him in his civil councils ; and also changed the tenure of
lands held previously under Frankalmoign by the bishops,
who now became members of the " great councils " not
only in their spiritual capacity as bishops, but also as tem-
poral barons. It is a matter to be borne in mind that bishops
of the English Church have, in every period of our history,
claimed seats in the most august civil assemblies of this
country. As far as any document, record, or subscription-
list goes back, there they are to be found as constituent
members. Neither memory nor history runs to the contrary.
In the early British times, and throughout the Anglo-Saxon pe-
riods, their presence may always be traced. At the Norman
Conquest a fresh and double obligation was laid upon them to
contribute their counsel and advice. And from that time to
the generation in which we live this unvarying custom, that
bishops should sit in the highest of the civil councils, has pre-
vailed undisturbed, until, by the present increase of light and
knowledge, it has been discovered that the interests of our
country would be more surely promoted by making a change
in this essential part of her constitution.

Besides the change affecting tenure, K. William I. also
divided^ the court of the bishop and earl, who before had
mixed jurisdictions. For in Anglo-Saxon times ecclesiastical
and civil causes were tried in the same courts, the bishop
sitting with the earl in the folc-gemote, the archdeacon with
the hundreder in the hundred court. But those jurisdictions

A.D. 1070


P 2




A.D. 1070

Mag. Brit,
vol. i. p.
426. Ibid.
p. 458.

* Vlfl. sup.
chap. vii.
sec. 5.
» Kennett's
Eccl. Syu.

S. Matt.
:vi. 18.

were now separated ; and a charter was promulgated, by
which it was forbidden to carry causes of a spiritual nature
before a tribunal of a partially lay character *. Yet this
change affected only the executive, and not the legislative
assemblies of our country. The great councils, notwith-
standing the change in the tenure of land before mentioned,
and the division of the ecclesiastical and civil courts, still
bore a near resemblancey to the Anglo-Saxon wittena-gemotes,
and, with but inconsiderable exceptions, continued to do so
until the representative element was introduced towards the
latter end of the reign of K. Henry III., and was more per-
fectly developed in that of his son and successor, K. Edward I.
We have seen in the Anglo-Saxon times that if laws were to
be made for the general good, or for the temporal affairs of the
Church, they were enacted by the king, together with the higher
clergy, the earls, wites, thanes, and perhaps some others^.
But " if there was any doctrine ^ to be tried, or any exercise
of pure spiritual discipHne to be reformed, then the clergy of
the great council departed into a separate synod ; and there,
being the same men in a different capacity, they acted as
proper judges within the power of the keys.''"' And such,
saving the changes above specified, appear to have been the
general arrangements governing the Anglo-Norman assem-
blies. Such arrangements were in conformity with the prin-
ciples which had prevailed ever since this nation had be-
come Christian — principles most appropriately and clearly
expressed in the words of Archbishop A'Becket to K. Henry
II. "The Church," said he, "consists of two orders, of
clergy and people. Among the clergy are apostles and apos-
tolical men, bishops, and other rulers of the Church, to whom
the care and regulation of the Church herself is committed ;
whose duty it is so to order ecclesiastical affairs that all may
tend to the salvation of souls. Whence it was said to Peter,
and in Peter to 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.' Among the people

^ " Propterea mando et regia auctoritate prsecipio, ut iiullus episcopus aut archi- |
tliaconus de legibus episcopalibus ampliiis in hundrct placita tcneant, nee causam
quie ad regimen anirnarum pertinet, ad judicium ssecularium hominuni adducant." —
Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 369.




are kings, dukes, counts, and other authorities, whose duty it
is to order secular affairs, that all may tend to the peace and
unity of the Church '=,''"' And, so far as appears, the Norman
Conquest made no great change in these respects. Now
sometimes (as in the Anglo-Saxon periods, and as indeed was
usually then the case) ecclesiastical synods and great councils
were held concurrently : sometimes, on the other hand, synods
were held at times and places entirely distinct from the great
councils, and were convened independently of them by pure
ecclesiastical authority ; and sometimes great councils were
held without any concurrent synod, if no Church business of a
purely spiritual character required attention.

As in the Anglo-Saxon periods, so in the Conqueror's time
the spiritual prelates and temporal barons "jointly"^ advised
him upon all the exigencies of preserving the peace and ad-
vancing the interest of the Church and State." But when
purely spiritual questions arose, then the ecclesiastics de-
parted into a "distinct synod %" and there proceeded to act
as the " Church representative ^." Thus the ecclesiastical
synods and great councils in the Conqueror's time often met
concurrently ; and that this was the practice not only at the
beginning of his reign, but that it continued throughout it,
may be learnt from the two first councils and from the last
which he held,

VI. Synods and In the following instances we may trace the
sometimes°"'heid pi'acticc of holding syuods and great councils
concurrently. concurrently. The Conqueror's first great
council was celebrated with a " concurrent ^ synod " at Win-
chester, at the festival of Easter, a.d. 1070. His second
great council was held with a concurrent'* synod at Wind-
sor, on the festival of Whitsuntide, in the same year ; and
these synods were then celebrated because Church affairs on
these occasions came under discussion. Again in the year
1072, when the Archbishops of Canterbury and York dis-
puted the limits of primacy and of canonical subjection, and
when an inquiry was to be instituted respecting ordinations,
then those ecclesiastical questions were referred to two proper
synods, one convened at Easter * in the royal chapel of Win-
chester, the other at Whitsuntide in the town J of Windsor,
and held concurrently, as in the former instances, with great

A.D. 1070

•■ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
i. 440, quotes
Rog. Hove-
den in an.

d Kennett's
Eccl. Syn.
p. 249. &
Cone. Maar.
Brit. i. 458.

*^ Kennett's
Eccl. Svn.
p. -2.50. •
' Ibid.

S Kennett's
Eccl. Svn.
p. -250. ■

h Kennett's
Eccl. Syn.

n 'Mv!

i Cone.
Mag. Brit.
i. 325.
J Ibid.




A.D. 1070

k Conr.
Ma^. Brit,
i. ?)2.5.
' Kennctt's
Eccl. Syn.
quotes Will,
1. iii. p.

"> Cone.
Mag. Brit,
vol. i. p.

" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
vol. i. p.

P Kennett's
Eccl. Svn.
p. 2,54. ■

1 Cone.
Mag. Brit.
vol. i. p.
•■ Cone.
Mag. Bnt.

councils. And that these were pure synods, though held con-
currently with great councils, may be gathered from the fact
that the synodical decrees, though attested by the king and
queen as witnesses ^, were in addition to those signatures
subscribed only by " legate ^ archbishops, bishops, and
abbots, and not by one of the lay barons, though all then
attending upon the concurrent great council." In the year
1085, two years before William the Conqueror's death, we
have another instance of a synod and great council being held
concurrently. The king held his great council at Christmas,
in the city of Gloucester, and a synod was there held by Arch-
bishop Lanfranc. The language used by the Anglo-Saxon ™
chronicle in recounting these events distinctly shews that on
such occasions the ecclesiastics separated from the lay
assembly for consultation upon the law divine. " The king,"
as it informs vis, "held his court there for four days, and
afterwards the archbishop and the clergy held their synod
for three days *."

Such were instances during this reign of synods and great
councils being held concurrently.

VII. SjTiods We also readily find several instances of
disTnc^' from P^^e syuods having been held distinct from
gi eat councils. great councils, and entirely independent of
them. In the year 1075 a national synod was convened in
S. PauFs °, London, by Archbishop Lanfranc, independently
of a great council, the synod being held not only in a place
distinct from the king's court, but even during his " absence
beyond the seas p." In the next year, 1076, another synod
was convened independently of the great council, and held at
Winchester "^ under the presidency of the same archbishop.
Two years afterwards, in the year 1078, he convened, of his
own motion, another pure synod in London " on the subject
of the increase of the episcopate in England, and the esta-
blishment of sees at Bath, Lincoln, Sali.sbury, Exeter, Chester,
and Chichester.

VIII. Great Two iustauccs of great councils held at times

councils some- .

times held dis- whcu uo syuods wcrc Contemporaneously con-

* " Fuit rex in Gloawcester cum suis proceribus, et tenuit ibi curiam suam quin-
que dies, postea autem archiepiscnpus et clerici habuerunt synodum trium dierum."
- Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 368.




tinctiy from ay- vened, may be found during the Conqueror^'s
reign in the assembHes which met at Petherton %
in Somersetshire, a.d. 1071, and at Westminster, a.d. 1077.
The matters which there came under discussion were temporal
ones, and as no question of a spiritual nature was involved,
they were " properly * determined in the great council without
occasion for a synod."

IX An lo- ^^^"® ^* ^^ plain, as regards those general
Saxon arrange- principles which rcgulatcd the convening of our
imitatedinThese highest legislative assemblies, that the Norman
points. Conquest made no very material changes, and

that the arrangements which obtained in the Anglo-Saxon
times still for the most part continued to prevail. Those
arrangements were as follow. The " clergy and laity together
consulted on civil matters, while " true ^ ecclesiastical causes
were always debated in proper ecclesiastical synods." Those
synods at the call of the ecclesiastical authorities, and the
great councils at the command of the king, might be held
either concurrently or independently of each other, as circum-
stances happened to require ; but it was not unusual to con-
vene both concurrently as in the case of the Anglo-Saxon
synods and wittena-gemotes. This course was still adopted,
not only because the members of the synods were for the
most part also members of the civil assemblies, and it was
therefore convenient that one journey should serve two pur-
poses, but also because, when the two meetings were held
at the same time and place, the civil powers were ready to
give legal authority to such canons as had received synodical
sanction, and were thought conducive to the general good.
Such were the arrangements connected with our highest
legislative assemblies subsequent to the Conquest; and though
it now became more common to hold ecclesiastical synods
independently of the civil councils, yet the Anglo-Saxon
example as regards the points above specified was generally

_ ^ ^ From the date of the expulsion of the Anglo-

X. Increase of i i • i • x" at

papal power in Saxon prelates, and the introduction oi iNor-
^-ng an . mans and other foreigners into their places by

William the Conqueror, down to the time of K. John, the
papal power, by various devices and by the exercise of a most

A.D. 1070
— 1279.

* Cone.
INIag. Brit,
vol. i. p.

' Kennett's
Eccl. Syn.
p. 253.

" Cone.
Mag. Brit.
vol. i. p.
426. & ibid,
p. 458.
" Kennett's
Eccl. Syn.
p. 254.




A.D. 1070

« Coll.
E.cl. Hist,
vol. ii. p.

» Collier
quotrs M.
Paris, p.

subtle policy, obtained a gradual extension over the English
Church. During part of that period the country was com-
pletely overrun with foreigners. The highest offices in the
land were conferred upon them, and England was subjected
to all such indignities as are the necessary consequence of a
preference shewn to aliens over the natives of the soil.

The language used on one occasion by Matthew Paris
describes in a most tragical strain the state to which a country
may be reduced by such a course of policy. '' He laments "'
that the privileges of the Church were in a manner lost ; that
Christian charity was ready to expire, and religion fallen
under contempt ; ' that the daughter of Sion was become as
it were an harlot ;' that persons of no merit or learning came
menacing with the Pope's bull into England, hectored them-
selves into preferment, trampled upon the privileges of the
country, and seized the revenues designed by our pious ances-
tors for the support of the religious, for the benefit of the poor,
and for the entertainment of strangers." " And in case^"
he says, " the injured persons have recourse to the remedy of
an appeal, the Pope strikes the cause dead, and sends out an
excommunication against the plaintiff". And thus instead of
gaining their preferment by modest and respectful applica-
tions, they invade the patrimony of the Church, and, as it
were, plunder the kingdom. And whereas formerly the Church
preferments were held by natives of birth and character — men
who were a credit to their country, and spent their wealth in
hospitality and relieving the poor — instead of this we are
now pestered with obscure, rapacious people, no better than
farmers and servants to the court of Rome, who glean up the
wealth of the country for the pride and luxury of their mas-
ters ; and thus England, which was formerly so illustrious in
figure and command, and so exemplary in religion, was clapped
under hatches, made a prey to foreigners, and sunk to an
ignominious degeneracy." \\'ith such disastrous results the
sovereigns of England were in a great measure chargeable.
K. William I. called in the Pope's aid to eject the Anglo-
Saxon prelates ; K. Stephen obtained from Rome the con-
firmation of his claim to the ci-own ; and K. Henry II., to
serve a turn, accepted at the hands of Pope Adrian a title to
the kingdom of Ireland. That papal power which those



monarchs thus contributed to introduce into this country for
their private purposes became, by arts in which Rome was
better versed than they, a most dangerous weapon, and some-
times subversive of their own proper authority y.

In the reign of K. John the aggressions of Rome reached
their culminating point. That monarch consented to the
most ignominious -terms at the bidding of Pope Innocent III.,
and humbled himself in the most abject manner before the
feet of Pandulf, the Roman legate. The king agreed to hold
his dominions of England and Ireland "as feudatory "^ of the
Church of Rome by the annual payment of one thousand
marks;"''' and he stipulated that these dominions should be
forfeited by himself or his successors, if he or they infringed
this agreement without subsequent repentance for such an
offence. This humiliating contract he ratified with all those
outward signs of submission which the feudal law required of
vassals to their lord. He came disarmed into the presence
of the legate seated on a throne, put ^ his uplifted hands be-
tween those of the Roman representative, and swore fealty to
the Pope as he paid the stipulated tribute for the possession
of his own dominions. Pandulf, with ill-disguised exultation,
trampled under his feet the offered gold — a cumulative insult
to this country which none present, save an English eccle-
siastic, the Archbishop ^ of Dublin, had the courage and
honesty to resent.

But not only did this monarch thus degrade his own
office and the country of which he was the unworthy re-
presentative ; he also purchased some concessions from the
Pope of Rome at the expense of the clergy of the English
Church ;

" Vendidit ^ hie auro patriam, dominumque potentem
Inaposuit : fixit leges pretio atque refixit."

For when some English ^ barons were appointed to assess, in
order to compensation, the losses which the clergy of this
Church had sustained at the hands of their king, he made an
offer of less than was demanded. This " the clergy ^ rejected
with disdain," but K. John, by his arrangements with the Pope,
succeeded in compelling them to receive the smaller sum ;
and though " the bishops and considerable abbots got repara-
tion beyond what they had any title to demand, the inferior


A.D. 1070


y Lathbury,
p. 79.

Hume, c.

:i. p.m.


^ Hume, c.
xi. p. 112.

<' Virg. JEn.
vi. 621-22.

<! Hume, c.
xi. p. 112.



A.D. 1070

f Hume, c.
xi. p. 112.

e Ibid.



Hume, c
i. p. 114.

' Hume, c.
xi. p. 114.

J Cone.
Ma;.'. Brit,
vol. i. p.
^ Cone.
Majr. Jirit.
vol. i. p.
' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
vol. i. p.

clergy were obliged to sit down contented with their losses ^."
This king, having thus di.sgraced the country and robbed the
clergy, again renewed his fealty to the Pope with fresh signs
of submission, and his professions of homage and obedience to
the see of Rome were reiterated in a charter of most solemn
character, ratified under a seal ^ of gold.
,,^ „ . But while the king thus unworthily humbled

A I. Resistanee , '^ * ,

of the Churcii of his couutry under the feet of the Pontiff, the
"^'^ ' English Church was roused to resistance

against those encroachments, now become intolerable. Such
a despotic power had been assumed by the Pope, that the
synods, canons, and customs of this Church were treated
with disdain. As it was sought ^ to confine the whole ad-
ministration of ecclesiastical affairs to the court of Rome, and
as preferments were thence dispensed, the clergy of this country
saw that some limit must be placed to pretensions and acts so
subversive of all their inherited liberties and rights. Arch-
bishop Langttm became jealous of the invasions upon the
liberties of his see. He took the part of the Church of which
he was the rightful overseer, for the " English ' Church was
universally disgusted." The tide, having ri.sen to its height,
now turned, and there appeared a common determination to
put some check upon that power which never has been satis-
fied with any bounds but those of universal dominion. This
resistance on the part of the English clergy manifested it-self
in public demonstrations in the reign of K. John's son and
successor, K. Henry III. He, like his father, did much on
several occasions to forward the designs of the Papacy. Ten
legatine synods were held during his reign ; and he made
iiimself notorious for taking part with the legates Otho and
Rustand, on some of those occasions, against the stout and
honest remonstrances of the English prelates. The insultiug
bearing of those legates towards this Church and nation in-
duced our ecclesiastics to use towards them and the king, as
their aider and abettor, language of a character neither peace-
able J nor courteous^. Nor indeed was it wonderful that their
conduct should rouse indignation in the breasts of English-
men. Not only was the assumption of authority and the affec-
tation of pageant ' offensive, but the contumely with which
the legates treated our prelates and the representatives of




our time-honoured institutions was perfectly intolerable. As a.d. 1070
an example of the latter may be quoted that indignity which ' '

was shewn to the English bishops and the University of Oxford
by the legate Otho. Our prelates were compelled to walk, in
company with all the scholars of the University of Oxford, on
foot from S. Paul's as far as to the house of the Bishop of
Carlisle, and thence, " having ' divested themselves of their
caps and gowns, and expressing other marks of humility, to
proceed barefoot" to the legate's residence, distant a mile
from the cathedral. To such an inconceivable pitch was the
haughtiness and tyranny of this foreign emissary carried ; to
such indignities were subjected not only English bishops and
clergy, many of whom indeed were * committed by his orders
to prison, but also the most ancient university of this land.

Such conduct not only roused the clergy of England to
oppose the encroachments of the court of Rome by their
pubhc acts, as when in their Synod™ of London, a.d. 1246,
they appealed from the self-styled head of the Church to her
true ® head and to a general council ; but it induced her pre-
lates also on the most public occasions to resent these indig-

Online LibraryJames Wayland JoyceEngland's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic → online text (page 23 of 83)