Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/28

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
8
THE CHURCH.

edy. The council was directly concerned only with the Norman dukes, but the contemporary King of France, Henry I., was notorious as a vendor of bishoprics. lie had commenced his reign with an edict prohibiting the purchase and sale of preferment under penalty of forfeiture of both purchase-money and benefice, and had boasted that, as God had given him the crown gratis, so he would take nothing for his right of confirmation, reproaching his prelates bitterly for the prevalence of the vice which was eating out the heart of the Church. Yet in time he yielded to the custom, and a single instance will illustrate the working of the system. A certain Helinand, a clerk of low extraction and deficient training, had found favor at the court of Edward the Confessor, where he had ample opportunities of amassing wealth. Happening to be sent on a mission to Henry, he made a bargain by which he purchased the reversion of the first vacant bishopric, which chanced in course of time to be Laon, where he was duly installed. Henry's successor, Philip I., was known as the most venal of men, and from him, by a similar transaction, Helinand purchased, with the money acquired from the revenues of Laon, the primatial see of Reims. Such jobbers in patronage were accustomed to enter into compacts with each other for mutual assistance, and to consult astrologers as to expected vacancies. The manipulation of ecclesiastical preferment was reduced to a system, calling forth the indignant remonstrance of all the better class of churchmen. Instances of these abuses might be multiplied indefinitely, and their influence on the character of the Church cannot easily be overestimated.[1]

Even where the consideration paid for preferment was not actually money, the effect was equally deplorable. Peter Cantor assures us that, if those who were promoted for relationship were


  1. Innocent. PP. HI. Regest. i. 261. — P. Cantor. Verb, abbrev. cap. cv. — Alex. PP. ni. Epist. 395.— Caesar. Heisterb. Dial. Mirac. Dist. vi. c. 5.— Concil. Ro- tomag. ann. 1050 c. 2. — Rodolphi Glabri Hist. Lib. v. c. 5.— Guibert. Noviogent. de Vita sua Lib. iii. c. 2. — Joann. Saresberiens. Polycrat. Lib. vii. c. 19. — Hist. Monast. Andaginens. c. 81. — Ruperti Tuitens. Chron. S. Laurent, c. 28, 45. — Hist. Monast. S. Laurent. Leodiens. Lib. v. c. 62, 121-3. — Chron. Cornel. Zantfliet ann. 1305.
    A story very similar to that of Philip Augustus is told of the Chancellor of Roger of Sicily and three competitors for the see of Avellana — Joann. Saresberiens. ubi sup.