Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages/Book IV/Letter of Adrian IV. to the Emperor

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(e.) Letter of Adrian IV. to the Emperor, Feb., 1158.

From the time when, God disposing as it pleased himself, we received the charge of the universal church, we have so taken care to honour thy Highness that, from day to day, thy mind ought to have been inflamed more and more with love for us and with veneration for the apostolic see. Wherefore we can not hear without great astonishment that when—having heard from the suggestions of certain men that thy anger was somewhat aroused against us—in order to learn thy will we sent to thy presence two of our best and greatest brothers, the chancellor Roland, namely, of the title of St Mark, and Bernard of the title of St Clement, cardinal presbyters, who had always been most concerned for the honour of thy Majesty in the Roman church: they were treated otherwise than was becoming to the imperial magnificence. On account of a certain word, indeed,—"beneficium," namely— thy mind is said to have been moved to anger; which word ought not by any means to have aroused the ire of so great a man, nor even of any lesser man. For although this word—namely, "beneficium"—is used by some in a sense different from that which it has by derivation, it should, nevertheless, have been accepted in that sense which we ourselves attributed to it and which it is known to retain from its origin. For this word is derived from "bonus" and "factum," and a " beneficium " is called by us not "a fief" but a "bonum factum." It is found in this signification in the whole body of Holy Scripture, where it speaks of the "beneficium" of God not as of a fief but as a benediction and good deed of His by which we are said to be governed and nourished. And thy Magnificence, indeed, clearly recognizes that we did so well and so honourably place the mark of the imperial dignity upon thy head that it may be considered by all a "bonum factum." Wherefore when some have tried to distort from its own to another signification this word and that other one, namely: "we have conferred (contulimus) upon thee the distinction of the imperial crown," they have done this not upon the merits of the case, but of their own will and at the suggestion of those who by no means cherish the peace of the kingdom and the church. For by this word "contulimus" we mean nothing else than what we said above, "imposuimus."

But that thou didst afterwards, as it is said, order ecclesiastics to be restrained from visiting, as they ought, the holy Roman church,—if this is so, thy discretion, as we hope, O dearest Son in Christ, recognizes how wrongly this was done. For if thou didst have against us anything of bitterness, thou should' st have intimated it to us through thy envoys and letters and we would have taken care to provide for thy honour, as for that of our dearest son. Now, indeed, at the instigation of our beloved son, Henry duke of Bavaria and Saxony, we send into thy presence two of our brothers, Henry of the title of Sts. Nereus and Achilles, presbyter, and Jacinctus deacon of St. Mary in Cosmide—both cardinals, prudent and honest men, indeed. And we urge and exhort thy Highness in the Lord to receive them honestly and kindly. And thy Excellency may know that what shall be intimated by them on our part to thy Magnificence has proceeded from the sincerity of our heart; and, on the ground of this, through the mediation of the aforesaid duke, our son, may thy Highness strive to come to an agreement with them, so that between thee and thy mother the holy Roman church no soil for the seeds of discord may henceforth remain.