Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/215

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195
THE COUNCIL OF BOURGES.

the chapters permission to depart, while retaining the bishops. The delegates thus dismissed were keen to scent some mischief in the wind ; they consulted together and sent to the legate a committee from all the metropolitan chapters to say that they understood him to have special letters from the Roman curia demanding for the pope in perpetuity the fruits of two prebends in every episcopal and abbatial chapter and one in every conventual church. They adjured him, for the sake of God, not to cause so great a scandal, assuring him that the king and the barons, would be ready to resist at the peril of life and dignity, and that it would cause a general subversion of the Church. Under this pressure the legate exhibited the letters and argued that the grant would relieve the Roman Church of the scandal of concupiscence, as it would put an end to the necessity of demanding and receiving presents. On this the delegate from Lyons quietly observed that they did not wish to be without friends in the Roman court, and were perfectly willing to bribe them ; others represented that the fountain of cupidity never would run dry, and that the added wealth would only render the Romans more madly eager, leading to mutual quarrels which would end in the destruction of the city ; others, again, pointed out that the revenues thus accruing to the curia, computed to be greater than those of the crown, would render its members so rich that justice would be more costly than ever ; moreover, it was evident that the host of officials in each church, whom the pope would be entitled to appoint to look after the collections, would not only lead to infinite additional exactions, but would be used to control the elections of the chapters, and end by bringing them all under subjection to Rome. They wound up by assuring him that it was for the interest of Rome itself to abandon the project, for if oppression thus became universal it would be followed by universal revolt. The legate, unable to face the storm, agreed to suppress the letters, saying that he disapproved of them, but had had no opportunity of remonstrance, as they had only reached him after his arrival in France. An equally audacious proposition, by which the curia hoped to obtain control over all the abbeys in the kingdom, was frustrated by the active opposition of the archbishops. Heresy might well hold itself justifiable in keeping aloof from such a Church as this.[1]


  1. Chron. Turonens. ann. 1225.— Matt. Paris ann. 1225, pp. 227-8. — Possi-