The Age of Gregory VII, 1073-85

Letters of Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury

ed & trans. H Clover and M. Gibson (Oxford Medieval Texts 1979)

38 Lanfranc to Pope Gregory VII summer 1080

To the reverend Gregory, the supreme pastor of the holy and universal Church, Lanfranc, a sinner and unworthy bishop, offers his service and due obedience.

I have received with fitting humility your Excellency's letter, brought by Hubert, a subdeacon of your holy court. Throughout almost its entire length you were concerned to rebuke me — gently, as a father — for showing less devotion to the holy Roman Church, and to yourself for the Church's sake, now that I am established in a bishopric than I showed formerly before I received that honor, the more so that I do not doubt that it was with the support of the apostolic see that I reached this pinnacle of honor; I think no one doubts that. Honored father, I neither desire to cast doubt on what you have said, nor have I the right to do so. But as my conscience is witness I cannot myself understand that either personal absence or the great distance separating us or even honors, however lofty, can have the least bearing on this question: my mind submits to your commands in all respects and in all matters according to canon law. If with God's help I were ever able to speak with you in person, I should demonstrate by events themselves as much as by words that my devotion has increased whereas you (if it may be said with respect) have declined somewhat from your original cordiality.

I presented the text of your message and your above-mentioned legate with what skill I could to my lord the king; I commended it to him, but without success. Why he has not complied with your wishes in all respects the legate himself is explaining to you both orally and in a letter.

39 King William I to Pope Gregory VII summer 1080

To Gregory, the most exalted pastor of holy Church, William by the grace of God king of the English and duke of the Normans, sends greetings and the assurance of friendship.

Your legate Hubert, who came to me, holy father, has on your behalf directed me to do fealty to you and your successors and to reconsider the money payment which my predecessors used to send to the Roman Church. The one proposition I have accepted; the other I have not. I have never desired to do fealty, nor do I desire it now; for I neither promised on my own behalf nor can I discover that my predecessors ever performed it to yours. As to the money, for almost three years it has been collected without due care, while I was engaged in France. But now that by God's mercy I have returned to my kingdom, the sum already collected is being sent to you by the above-named legate and the balance will be conveyed, when the opportunity arises, by the legates of our faithful servant archbishop Lanfranc.

Pray for us and for the welfare of our kingdom, for we held your predecessors in great regard and it is our desire to show to you above all men unfeigned respect and obedient attention.

52 Lanfranc to Hu(go Candidus) 25 June 1080-25 May 1085

Lanfranc to Hugo Candidus

I have received and read the letter which you sent me by the messenger who brought you mine: certain passages which I found in it displeased me. I disapprove of your attacks on Pope Gregory, calling him Hildebrand and labeling his legates 'thick-heads', and your readiness to laud Clement with such a paean of praise. It is written that a man should not be praised in his lifetime, nor his neighbor slandered. What men are like now in the sight of God and what they shall be like hereafter is still unknown to them. But it is my conviction that the glorious emperor did not undertake such a mighty achievement without good cause, nor could he have gained so notable a victory without great assistance from God. I am not in favor of your coming to England unless you first get permission to come from the king of the English. Our island has not yet repudiated the one nor decided whether to obey the other. When the case for both sides has been heard (if that should happen), it will be possible to see more clearly what is to be done.

text encoded by The Leeds Electronic Text Centre   January 2001