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125.: Innocent III Commands the Archbishop of Messina to Receive the Oaths of Bailiffs in Sicily, 1203. - Oliver J. Thatcher, A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age 
A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age, ed. Oliver J. Thatcher and Edgar Holmes McNeal (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905).
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Innocent III Commands the Archbishop of Messina to Receive the Oaths of Bailiffs in Sicily, 1203.
See introductory note to no. 123. This document is an evidence that the government of Sicily was administered by the pope. According to the Constitutions of Sicily, 1231, the bailiffs had jurisdiction over thefts, the use of false weights and measures, and the less important civil cases.
Knowing your orthodoxy and your faithfulness we do not hesitate to commit to your charge those things which will advance the honor of the apostolic see. Accordingly, by this apostolic writing, we command you to demand and receive, in our name, the bailiff’s oath from all counts, barons, citizens, and others who have not yet taken it.
Innocent III Commands the English Barons to pay their Accustomed Scutage to King John, 1206.
Innocent III presumed to dictate to the whole Christian world in all matters, temporal as well as spiritual. The following documents, nos. 126-129, are offered merely to illustrate by a few specific cases the authority which he assumed. They explain themselves.
Innocent . . . . to his beloved sons, the great nobles, barons, and knights in England, greeting and apostolic benediction. Our most dear son, John, the illustrious king of England, has informed us that, although your ancestors were accustomed from ancient times to pay the king scutage for the baronies which they held from him, and although you yourselves have paid this scutage up to very recent times, you have now arbitrarily refused to pay scutage for the army which he led last year into Poitou. In order that your king’s plans may not be interfered with by such action, we earnestly admonish and exhort you, and by this letter we command you to pay promptly and without further resistance or objection the said scutage in accordance with your obligation. For without judicial procedure he cannot be despoiled of this scutage because his ancestors and he have been accustomed to receive it, and besides, provided his right to it is admitted, he is ready to hear any just complaints that may be made to him about it.
Innocent III to Peter of Aragon, 1211.
See introductory note to no. 126.
Since you say that while you were still a minor you did yourself great damage by making grants which now involve a large part of your income, and that, although you are very poor, you incur heavy expenses in fighting the enemies of Christianity [that is, the Mohammedans in Spain], I hereby give you the authority to revoke all the grants you made during your minority; but with this proviso, that if you wish to revoke any grants which you made to churches or to other places which are put to a religious use, such revocations shall be passed on by an ecclesiastical judge.
Innocent III Grants the Title of King to the Duke of Bohemia, 1204.
See introductory note to no. 126 and to no. 56.
Although there have been many in Bohemia who have worn a royal crown, yet they never received the papal permission to call themselves king in their documents. Nor have we hitherto been willing to call you king, because you were crowned king by Philip, duke of Suabia, who himself had not been legally crowned, and therefore could not legally crown either you or anyone else. But since you have obeyed us, and, deserting the duke of Suabia, have gone over to the illustrious king, Otto, emperor elect, and he regards you as king, we, at his request and out of consideration of your obedience, are willing hereafter to call you king. Now that you know why this favor has been granted you, strive to shun the vice of ingratitude. And show that you have deserved our favor which we have so graciously shown you, and try also to retain it. See to it that you are solemnly crowned by Otto as soon as possible.
Innocent III Rebukes the English Barons for Resisting King John of England, 1216.
See introductory note to no. 126.
Innocent, etc., to his beloved sons, the magnates and barons of England, greeting and apostolic benediction.
We are gravely troubled to learn that a quarrel has arisen between our most beloved son, John, king of Egland, and some of you, about certain questions that have recently been raised. Unless wise counsel prevails and diligent measures are taken to end this quarrel, it will cause injury. It is currently reported that you have rashly made conspiracies and confederacies against him, and that you have insolently, rebelliously, presumptuously, and with arms in your hands, said things to him, which, if they had to be said, should have been said humbly and submissively. We utterly condemn your conduct in these matters. You must no longer try, by such means, to hinder the king in his good plans. By our apostolic authority we hereby dissolve all conspiracies and confederacies that have been made since the quarrel between the crown and the church began, and forbid them under threat of excommunication. We order you to endeavor by clear proofs of humility and devotion to placate your king and to win his favor by rendering him those customary services which you and your ancestors have paid him and his predecessors. And in the future, if you wish to make a request of him, you shall do it, not insolently, but humbly and reverently, without offending his royal honor; and thus you will more readily obtain what you wish. We ask and beseech the king in the Lord and command him, in order to obtain forgiveness of his sins, to treat you leniently, and graciously to grant your just petitions. And thus you yourselves may rejoice to know that he has changed for the better, and on this account you and your heirs may serve him and his successors more promptly and devotedly. We ask, and, by this apostolic writing, command you to bear yourselves in such a way that England may obtain the peace she so earnestly longs for, and that you may deserve our aid and support in your times of trouble.
Decision of Innocent III in Regard to the Disputed Election of Frederick II, Philip of Suabia, and Otto of Brunswick, 1201.
At the death of Henry VI, 1197, his brother, Philip of Suabia, tried to persuade the princes to elect the infant son of Henry, Frederick, as king. While some were in favor of this, others refused on the ground that it would be ruinous to elect a child king. They offered the crown to Philip, but he refused it because he was unwilling to appear to be false to his little nephew. In spite of Philip’s persistent refusal a party of the princes elected him. The Guelf party elected Otto, son of Henry the Lion. Under these circumstances Innocent III declared that it was his right as pope to decide the disputed election. His reasons for deciding in favor of Otto are given in the following document.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
It is the business of the pope to look after the interests of the Roman empire, since the empire derives its origin and its final authority from the papacy; its origin, because it was originally transferred from Greece by and for the sake of the papacy, the popes making the transfer in order that the church might be better protected; its final authority, because the emperor is raised to his position by the pope who blesses him, crowns him, and invests him with the empire. Henry [VI] recognized this truth in respect to our predecessor, pope Celestine of blessed memory, for although for a little while after he had received the crown from the pope, he refused to admit this, later he came to his senses and besought the pope to invest him with the golden mantle of the empire. Therefore, since three persons have lately been elected king by diferent parties, namely, the youth [Frederick II], Philip, and Otto, so also three things must be taken into account in regard to each one, namely: the legality, the suitability, and the expediency of his election.
In respect to the youth, the son of emperor Henry, at first glance it does not seem lawful to oppose his election, because it was supported by the oaths which his father received from the princes before his death. For although that oath may have been extorted from them by force, nevertheless it is not thereby rendered void; in the case of the oath which the children of Israel swore to Gibeon, they decided that, although it had been secured by fraud, it ought still to be kept. Moreover, if the oath of the princes was originally extorted from them, the emperor later recognized his sin, and released them from their oath, sending back the letters in which they promised to elect his son; then the princes, in the emperor’s absence, of their own accord elected his son, and almost all of them promised him fidelity and some did him homage. Therefore it does not appear that they may lawfully break that oath. It does not seem proper for us to deprive him of his kingdom, because he has been intrusted to our guardianship and protection, and moreover it is written: “Defend the fatherless” [Ps. 82:3]. It does not seem expedient to oppose him, because, when the youth shall arrive at years of discretion and shall learn that he was deprived of his kingdom by the pope, not only will he not show us reverence, but even as far as he is able he will attack the church, and withhold from her the allegiance and dues which she should receive from the kingdom of Sicily. On the other hand, there are good reasons why it should be lawful, fitting, and expedient to oppose his election. It is lawful because the oaths of the princes were illegal, and the election was unwise. For they elected as emperor a person unsuited not only to that, but to any other office, for he was then scarcely two years old and was not yet baptized. It appears then that such illegal and unwise oaths should not be kept. The case of the oath sworn to Gibeon does not apply, for that oath could be kept without working injury to the people of Israel, while the observance of these oaths will not only injure one race, but will cause great loss and damage to the church and the whole Christian people. Nor can it be said that these oaths are legal if interpreted according to the intention of the princes who swore them. They meant that if they elected him emperor, he was not to rule immediately, but later when he came of age. But how then could they judge of his fitness to rule? Might he not turn out to be so foolish and simple as to be utterly unworthy even less honor? Suppose that they meant he should rule only when he was fitted to, and that in the meantime his father should govern the state. But later an event occurred which the princes had not thought of, and which made it neither right nor possible for the princes to keep their oaths; that is, the sudden death of the father. Now since the empire cannot be governed by a deputy, and an emperor cannot be elected for a temporary term, and since the church neither wishes nor is able to do without an emperor, it is lawful to elect some one else. It is not fitting that he should rule. For how can he rule who is himself under the rule of others? How can he protect the Christian people who is himself under the tutelage of others? It is no sufficient answer to this to say that it was to our guardianship that he was intrusted, because this was done not that we might give him the empire, but that we might hold the kingdom of Sicily for him. The Scripture says: “Woe to thee, oh land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning” [Eccles. 10:16]. It is not expedient that he should become emperor, because thereby the kingdom of Sicily would be united with the empire to the danger of the church; for, to say nothing of other dangers, he would, like his father before him, be unwilling to prejudice the dignity of the empire by taking the oaths of fidelity and homage to the pope for the kingdom of Sicily. And it is no answer to this to say that he would later oppose the church if we deprived him of the empire, for it is not we who are depriving him of his empire, but his uncle [Philip] who has attempted to seize not only the empire, but his maternal possessions as well, while we have been defending them for him at great expense and with great labor.
As to Philip, it does not seem lawful to oppose his election. In deciding the legality of elections, account has to be taken of the zeal, the rank, and the number of the electors. It is not easy to determine the zeal, but, in respect to the other considerations, it is clear that Philip was elected by many princes of high rank, and that many others have since given him their support. Therefore his election seems to be legal, and not to be opposed. It would seem also that it is not proper for us to oppose his election, for we would appear thereby to be taking revenge for our injuries, if, because his father [Frederick I] and his brother [Henry VI] persecuted the church, we should persecute him and visit upon him the punishment incurred by the sins of others; whereas our Lord has said: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” [Matt. 5:44]. It would seem also not to be expedient to oppose his election. To oppose a man so strong in wealth and supporters is like battling with the torrent with the bare arms. We would only make an enemy of him and create even greater strife in the church. We ought rather to seek peace and pursue it, which we could do by supporting him. But on the other hand it seems lawful to oppose his election, for he was excommunicated lawfully and in solemn form by our predecessor. Lawfully, because he had seized the lands of St. Peter [Tuscany], and ravaged and burned them, refusing to make satisfaction after being warned to do so once and again by our brothers; in solemn form, for it was done at mass in the church of St. Peter on a great feast-day, and he himself recognized the validity of the excommunication by sending a messenger to us to beseech absolution, and by having himself absolved later after his election, by our legate, although contrary to our commands. So it is evident that he was elected while under sentence of excommunication, and some believe that he is not yet released from it. For in giving him absolution, the former bishop of Sutri did not observe the conditions laid down by us; namely, that Philip should first release the archbishop of Salerno from captivity, and should then be freed from the necessity of coming to Rome for absolution if he would take oath publicly to obey us in respect to the deeds for which he had been excommunicated, and then only should be given absolution. But the bishop of Sutri attempted to absolve him secretly while the said archbishop was still a prisoner, and without requiring any oath at all; for which disobedience he was deprived of his bishopric by us and ended his days in a monastery. Moreover, since we have frequently excommunicated Markwald and all other German and Italian supporters of Philip, Philip himself, the author of their sins, is surely subject to the same sentence. Moreover, it is notorious that he swore fidelity to the youth [Frederick], and yet has seized his kingdom and tried to seize the empire; therefore he is guilty of perjury. It is objected that we have already declared such oath to be illegal, and that he is not guilty of perjury in not keeping it, because we have said it ought not to be kept. But even if the oath was unlawful, he should not have broken it on his own authority, but should first have consulted us, after the example of the children of Israel, in the case of the oath which they swore to Gibeon; for although the oath had been won from them by fraud they did not break it of their own accord, but decided to consult the Lord. Moreover since whatever is done against the conscience leads to hell (according to the words of the apostle: “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” [Rom. 14:23]), and since Philip excuses himself in this matter by saying that he would not have taken the kingdom if he had not known that otherwise some other persons would have seized it, it is clear that he believed he ought to have kept the oath, and that in violating it he went against his own conscience. So it seems that we ought to oppose him and resist his attempt to hold the empire, since he is legally under excommunication and is guilty of perjury. It appears also that we may properly oppose his election, for by his succession, brother will be succeeding brother, just as formerly son succeeded father when Frederick handed on the crown to his son [Henry VI] and Henry tried to do the same for his son [Frederick II]; and thus the empire tends to become hereditary, the abuse becoming law by long custom. Also it appears expedient to oppose him, for he is a persecutor, and of a race of persecutors, and if we do not oppose him now we shall be arming our enemy against ourselves.
As for Otto, at first it does not seem lawful to favor him, because he was elected by only a few electors; it does not seem fitting, because we should have the apearance of supporting him out of hate to another; it does not seem expedient, because in comparison to the other his party is small and weak. But there are better reasons on the other side. In the first place, the rank of the electors and the fitness of the candidate must be considered, as well as the number of electors; and Otto was elected by as many or more of those princes that have the best right to elect the emperor, and is himself much better fitted to rule than is Philip. Then again the Lord visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him; that is, upon those that continue in the evil way of their fathers, and Philip has certainly persisted in the wicked persecution of the church which his father began. Finally, although we ought not to return evil for evil, but ought rather to bless them that curse us, yet we should not return good for injury to those who persist in their wickedness or put weapons in the hands of those who rage against us, for God himself exalted the lowly to overthrow the mighty. Therefore it is lawful, proper, and expedient for the pope to favor the election of Otto.
Far be it from us that we should defer to man rather than to God, or that we should fear the countenance of the powerful, since, according to the apostle, we should abstain not only from evil, but also from all appearance of evil [1 Thess. 5:22]. For it is written: “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm” [Jer. 17:5]. On the foregoing grounds, then, we decide that the youth should not at present be given the empire; we utterly reject Philip for his manifest unfitness, and we order his usurpation to be resisted by all. As to the rest, we have commanded our legate to persuade the princes either to choose some suitable person or to refer the matter to us for final decision. If they cannot come to a decision, since we have waited long, have frequently urged them to agree, have instructed them as to our desires by letters and legates [we shall take the matter into our own hands], that we may not seem to foster discord, and that we may say with Hezekiah: “There shall be peace and truth in my days” [Is. 39:8], and that we may not be forced, like Peter, to deny the truth, which is Christ, by following afar off, to see the end [Matt. 26:58]. But since the affair will not brook delay, and since Otto is not only himself devoted to the church, but comes from devout ancestors on both sides (on his mother’s side from the kings of England, and on his father’s from the dukes of Saxony, all of whom were faithful servants of the holy see, especially his great-grandfather the emperor Lothar, who twice came down to Apulia on behalf of the papacy and died in the service of the Roman church), therefore we decree that he [Otto] ought to be accepted and supported as king, and ought to be given the crown of the empire, after the rights of the Roman church have been secured.
Treaty between Philip, King of Germany, and Philip II, King of France, 1198.
About 1200 Europe was divided into two hostile camps, as is apparent from this and the following number. They also show the parties to this struggle which culminated in the battle of Bouvines, 1214.
Philip, by the grace of God, king of the Romans, Augustus. Let all men know that because of the love which existed between our father, Frederick [I] and our brother, Henry [VI], emperors of the Romans, and Philip, king of France, and for the sake of peace, and for the public good, we have made the following peace with the said Philip, king of France.
(1) We will aid him especially against Richard, king of England, and his nephew, Otto [IV], and Baldwin of Flanders, and Adolf, archbishop of Cologne, and against all his other enemies. We will aid him in good faith and without treachery, whenever the opportunity is offered, if it is not against our honor.
(2) If any of our subjects wrongs him, or his kingdom, we will warn him to make reparation within forty days after we hear of it. If we are in Italy, the bishop of Metz shall warn him. If he does not make good the damage which he has inflicted on the king or his realm within the forty days, the said king may take vengeance on him and we will aid him to do so.
(3) We will not keep in our realm any vassal, whether lay or cleric, of the king of France, contrary to the will of the said king.
(4) The said king, whenever he wishes, may take vengeance on the count of Flanders, by attacking the lands of the said count which he holds in the empire, whether they are fiefs or allodial lands.
(5) We promise in good faith that, if we learn that anyone is trying to injure the king of France or his realm, we will try to prevent him from doing so. If we cannot, we will inform the king of France about it. . . .
Alliance between Otto IV and John of England, 1202.
See introductory note to no. 131.
John, by the grace of God king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, count of Anjou, etc. . . . We wish all to know that, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have made a league with our beloved nephew, Otto, by the grace of God illustrious king of the Romans, Augustus, for the purpose of guarding and defending his empire and his rights, and of giving him faithful counsel and aid in maintaining his rights. By this league all quarrels and differences which existed between us have been settled and we have mutually pardoned each other. . . .
Concessions of Philip of Suabia to Innocent III, 1203.
In the beginning of the war between Philip of Suabia and Otto IV, it seemed that Philip would easily be the victor. But things began to go against him and toward the end of 1202, he secretly sent messengers to the pope to see what terms he could secure. Innocent was at least willing to negotiate and sent Martin to him to discuss the situation. In the presence of Martin Philip drew up the concessions which he was willing to make. These concessions were not sufficient for Innocent, and, besides, Otto IV began to have greater success in the field against Philip. So Innocent repudiated what Martin had done and gave his support to Otto again. But the success of Otto was brief. In 1204-5, Philip began to prevail over Otto, who soon found himself without support. Then Innocent, deserting Otto for his more successful rival, renewed the negotiations with Philip. In 1208 they agreed to a treaty, but its terms were not made public, and the negotiations were not entirely completed when Philip was murdered.
I, Philip, king of the Romans, Augustus, etc. Before Martin, Camaldolensian prior, and brother Otto, monk of Salem, came to me to negotiate about making peace with the church, I had already vowed to God and to his saints to go across the sea to liberate the land of promise from the cruelty of the Gentiles [Turks]; and again after they came and told me of the peace negotiations and of the concessions which the pope was willing to make, I vowed and promised to God and to his saints and to the said prior and brother, representatives of the pope, that, at a suitable time, in good faith and without fraud, I would go on a crusade, to the support of the church and of the empire, and do all I could to liberate the said land. The following persons were witnesses of my vow: Diethelm, bishop of Constance, etc. Besides, I promised that I would do all the following things: I will restore to all churches all the possessions which my predecessors, or I, have unjustly seized or held, and I will no longer disturb them in their possessions. I will cease from all the abuses which my predecessors have practised toward the church, as for example, when a bishop or abbot dies, I will not seize his possessions [spolia]. I will permit the elections of bishops and other prelates to take place in a canonical way, and I surrender control in spiritual matters to the pope. With the help of the pope I will endeavor, as far as my imperial office will permit, to subject all independent monasteries to some one of the regular orders, such as the Cistercian, Camaldolensian, or Premonstratensian. And I will try to compel the clergy as well as the monks to lead a decorous life, such as is becoming to their profession. As far as I can, I will compel advocates and patrons of churches to cease from oppressing the churches with exactions, such as angariæ and parangariæ.1 If God shall subject the empire of the Greeks to me or to my brother-in-law, I will subject the Greek church to the Roman church. I will always be a faithful and devoted son and defender of the Roman church. I will make a general law and cause it to be observed always and everywhere in my empire that whoever shall be excommunicated by the pope shall be under the ban of the empire. Furthermore, in order that this league of peace and friendship between the pope and me may be observed forever, and that all grounds for suspicion may be removed, and that he may always be to me a most gracious father and I a most faithful son to him, I will give my daughter to his nephew in marriage, and any other members of my family, male or female, I will cause to be joined in marriage to members of his family, as the pope may desire. I will make full satisfaction to God and to the church for all my offences, as the pope may command. These things were done in the presence of the bishop of Constance, etc.
Promise of Frederick II to Innocent III, 1213.
The powerful personality of Innocent III impressed itself deeply on the young king, Frederick II. The boy was truly devoted to Innocent, who was his guardian, and was willing to do whatever the pope required of him. In 1213 he wrote the following letter to Innocent in which he concedes practically everything for which the popes had been struggling. If the emperor had kept these promises, there would have been no further contest between the papacy and the empire. But as he grew older, and became conscious of his position, and learned what the imperial claims were, he gradually reasserted them and so renewed the conflict which ended in the destruction of his family.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Frederick II, etc. . . . To you, most holy father, and to all your successors, and to the holy Roman church, who has been a true mother to us, with a humble heart and devout spirit we will always show all obedience, honor, and reverence, such as our ancestors, catholic kings and emperors, have shown your predecessors. And in order that our devotion to you may be shown to be greater than theirs we will pay you greater obedience, honor, and reverence than they did. Wishing therefore to abolish that abuse which some of our predecessors are said to have practised, we grant that the election of bishops may be free and canonical, so that he whom the whole chapter, or the majority of it, may elect may be established over the vacant church, provided there is nothing in the canon law against his election. Appeals in all ecclesiastical matters may freely be made to Rome, and no one shall attempt to interfere with them. We also will cease from that abuse which our predecessors practised, and will no longer seize the property [spolia] of deceased bishops or of vacant churches. Jurisdiction in all spiritual matters we yield to you and the other bishops, that those things which are Cæsar’s may be rendered to Cæsar, and those which are God’s to God. Moreover we will give our best help and aid in the destruction of heresy. We grant to the Roman church the free and undisturbed possession of all those lands which she has recovered from our predecessors who had despoiled her of them. If there are any such lands which she has not yet succeeded in recovering, we will, with all our strength, aid her to recover them; and if any of them shall fall into our hands we will freely restore them to her. In this we understand that the following lands are included: All the land from Radicofano to Ceperano, the march of Ancona, the duchy of Spoleto, the land of the countess Matilda, the county of Bertinoro, the exarchate of Ravenna, the Pentapolis, with the other lands lying adjacent to them, as described in many documents given by kings and emperors from the time of Ludwig, in which it is said that these lands shall belong forever to the jurisdiction and control of the Roman church. And whenever we shall be called by the pope to come and receive the imperial crown or to render any service to the church, we will receive from them fodrum and other entertainment only as the pope shall give his consent. As a devoted son and catholic prince we will aid the Roman Catholic church to keep and defend the kingdom of Sicily and all other rights which she possesses. . . .
Promise of Frederick II to Resign Sicily After his Coronation as Emperor, 1216.
The pope had with difficulty succeeded in maintaining his ownership of Sicily. Now a new danger was threatening. He feared that, if Sicily should be held by the emperor, it would lead to the revival of the imperial claims to Sicily. In order to prevent this he persuaded Frederick II to promise that as soon as he should be crowned emperor he would resign Sicily to his little son, Henry.
To his most holy father in Christ, Innocent, bishop of the holy Roman church, Frederick, by the grace of God and of Innocent king of the Romans, Augustus, and king of Sicily, offers due obedience in all things, and reverence with filial subjection.
Desiring to provide for the welfare of both the Roman church and the kingdom of Sicily, we firmly promise that as soon as we shall be crowned emperor we will release from our paternal authority our son Henry, whom we, at your command, have had crowned king [of Sicily], and we will entirely relinquish all the kingdom of Sicily on both sides of the strait [of Messina] to be held by him from the Roman church alone, just as we have held it from her. From that time we will neither regard nor call ourselves king of Sicily, but until our son becomes of age we will have the kingdom ruled by some suitable person who shall in all respects be subject to the Roman church, because the government of that kingdom is known to belong to her. We promise to do this because, if we should become emperor and at the same time be king of Sicily, it might be inferred that the kingdom of Sicily belonged to the empire. And such an inference would do injury to the Roman church as well as to our heirs. In order that this our promise may be carried into effect we have caused a golden seal to be affixed to this document.
Concessions of Frederick II to the Ecclesiastical Princes of Germany, 1220.
Frederick II had agreed that Sicily and Germany should never be held by the same person, but in 1220 he was scheming to have his son Henry [VII] elected and crowned king of Germany. Now Henry [VII] was already king of Sicily. If he were to be elected king of Germany, he would, in accordance with his father’s oath, be compelled to resign the crown of Sicily. But this Frederick did not intend that he should do. Frederick’s pretext for having his son made king of Germany was that he could not go on a crusade without leaving his son as king to care for the government of Germany in his absence. His real purpose was to evade his oath to the pope and secure both crowns in the possession of his family. In spite of the protests of the pope Frederick secured the election and coronation of his son. He bought the aid of the German clergy by granting them large regalian rights. These concessions which he made to the clergy bought their support for the moment and made it impossible for the pope to proceed to extreme measures against him for having his son crowned king of Germany, contrary to his oath. The policy which Frederick followed here was ruinous to the German crown. He made of each ecclesiastical prince a little king in fact, though not in name, thus stripping the crown of its rights and powers. For the logical and ruinous effects of this policy on the royal power, see the Golden Bull, no. 160.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Frederick II, by the grace of God king of the Romans, Augustus, and king of Sicily.
We bear in grateful remembrance the fidelity of the ecclesiastical princes to us, and their help in raising us to the empire, and supporting us in that station, and in electing our son Henry as king, and we propose to promote their interests as they have promoted ours, and to support them as they have supported us.
Therefore since certain injurious customs, or rather abuses, have grown up during the long conflicts of the empire (which now by the favor of God have ceased), in the way of new tolls, the minting of coins which led to confusion by their similarity to existing coins, private wars of advocates, and other evils without number, we now remove these abuses by the following decrees:
1. We promise that we will never henceforth lay claim to the personal property of a prelate at his death [the right to the spolia], but that, if a prelate dies intestate, his possessions shall go to his successors, and that no layman shall lay claim to them on any pretext whatsoever. If the prelate made a will it shall be valid in the law.
2. We will never grant any new tolls or new mints within the territory or jurisdiction of any one of the princes except by his consent and desire. We will preserve and defend the ancient tolls and mints which have been granted to their churches, neither infringing these rights ourselves nor permitting anyone else to do so. We forbid anyone to cheapen or confuse the coinage of the princes by making coins of similar appearance.
3. We will never admit to citizenship in our cities the subjects of any of the ecclesiastical princes, who have left the services of their lord for any cause. We desire that the same consideration be shown by the ecclesiastical princes to one another, and by the lay princes to the ecclesiastics.
4. We forbid advocates to injure the property of churches committed to their care. If they do so they shall restore the damage twofold, and pay 100 marks of silver to the royal treasury as a fine.
5. If the vassal of any of the ecclesiastical princes has been convicted of offence against his lord by feudal law and has been ejected from his fief, we will protect the lord in his retention of the fief, and if he wishes to give the fief to us we will accept it without regard to the love or hate of anyone. If the fief of an ecclesiastical lord has become vacant by the above process or by the death of the holder, we will never lay claim to it unless it is given to us by the will and desire of the lord, and we will defend him in his possession of it.
6. If any of the ecclesiastical princes has excommunicated anyone and has notified us of this by word of mouth or letter or by reliable messengers, we will refuse to have any dealings with the excommunicated person. Such a person shall be deprived of his rights before the law, this deprivation not freeing him from the obligation of answering the accusations against him, but destroying his right to bear testimony or give judgment, or to bring suit against others.
7. And since the secular sword is intended to support the spiritual sword, we declare that our ban shall follow upon the excommunication pronounced by an ecclesiastical prince, if the excommunicated person is not absolved within six weeks; the ban of the empire shall not be revoked until the excommunication is withdrawn.
8. We have promised also to support and defend the princes by our authority in all cases, and they have promised on their faith to aid us to the best of their ability against any man who resists our authority.
9. We decree also that no buildings, castles, or cities shall be erected upon ecclesiastical lands through the interests of the advocate or through any other pretext. If such are erected without the consent of those to whom the lands belong they shall be destroyed by the royal authority.
10. Following the example of our ancestor, the emperor Frederick of blessed memory, we forbid any of our officials to claim jurisdiction in the matter of tolls, mints, or other rights, in any of the cities of the ecclesiastical princes, except during the time of the public diet and eight days before and eight days after. During that time the officials of the emperor shall exercise jurisdiction in accordance with the customs of the city and the laws established by its prince. If we come into any of their cities at any other time, we will not exercise any rights in it, but the authority of the prince or the lord of the city shall continue unimpaired.
11. Finally, since the acts of men are wont to sink into oblivion through the lapse of time, we hereby decree that these benefits and privileges shall be perpetually granted to the churches, and that our successors shall preserve them and enforce them on behalf of the church. . . .
Decision of the Diet Concerning the Granting of new Tolls and Mints, 1220.
The ecclesiastical princes promptly demanded that the emperor’s concessions to them (no. 136) be put into force. To illustrate the effect of his grant, we give two documents, one in response to complaints about some new tolls established by the count of Gelder, the other to the patriarch of Aquileia who had presented a long list of grievances for redress. Frederick revoked the charter which he had given the count of Gelder and gave the patriarch a charter confirming him in the possession of many regalian rights (no. 138). This latter document shows that the patriarch was in the possession of a high degree of sovereignty. It also throws light on the movement in the cities, which were throwing off the rule of their lords and establishing local self-government (see section X).
Frederick, etc. We wish all to know that while we were holding a diet at Frankfort the following decision was rendered with the consent of the princes, namely: That we have not the right to empower anyone to establish new tolls or mints to the damage or disadvantage of another. Since we have heard many complaints about the tolls and mint which the count of Gelder has established, as he says, with our permission, we inform you all that we do not grant him the permission for these tolls and this mint. We forbid him to interfere in any way with the tolls at Arnheim, or Oesterbeke, or Lobith, or in any other place on the Rhine, or with any mint. We do this regardless of the fact that he says he has our permission, and regardless of any letters, from us or any of our predecessors, which he may have.
Frederick II Gives a Charter to the Patriarch of Aquileia, 1220.
See introduction to no. 137.
Frederick II, etc. . . . We wish all to know that in a full diet a decision was rendered by our princes that (1) the patriarch of Aquileia has the authority to take whatever action he wishes in regard to establishing a market in any of the cities, towns, villages, and in all other places, where he has jurisdiction. (2) He may put under the ban any of his subjects, and also release them from it. (3) The cities, towns, and villages, which are under his jurisdiction, have no right to elect their rulers, or consuls, or rectors, contrary to the will of the patriarch. (4) No city, commune, or organization of any kind, whether lay or cleric, over which the said patriarch has jurisdiction, has the right to interfere with the bishopric after the death of the bishop, or with any of the things which belong to the bishopric. (5) No one has the right to establish new tolls, mints, or markets, in the lands over which the patriarch has jurisdiction, without his consent. (6) No one shall build mills on any of the streams without his consent. (7) No official shall confer freedom on anyone, or sell or alienate any vineyards, fields, meadows, roads, or anything else which belongs to the regalia, without the patriarch’s consent. (8) The Venetians have no right to levy a tax on the lands or anything else belonging to the patriarch, or to compel his vassals to take an oath of fidelity to them. (9) No one under the jurisdiction of the patriarch, whether free, vassal, or ministerial, has the right to make a league or alliance without the consent of the patriarch. If any such league is made, it is invalid and the parties to it shall be proscribed. (10) No one has the right to establish new cities, towns, or markets, on land which is under the jurisdiction of the patriarch, without his consent.
Statute of Frederick II in Favor of the Princes, 1231-2.
Henry [VII], being a mere child when he was crowned, was under the control of regents until 1229, when he began to rule in his own name. But he fell under the influence of princes who persuaded him to grant them many regalian rights. When Frederick II came into Germany, 1231, the princes asked him to confirm the grants which his son had made them. He consented to do so and the following document was given them. Like the grant to the ecclesiastical princes in 1220, it diminished the rights of the crown and increased the independence of the princes.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Frederick II, by divine mercy emperor of the Romans, Augustus, king of Jerusalem, king of Sicily.
(Introduction stating the occasion for the statute, which confirms the grants of his son Henry.)
1. No new castles or cities shall be erected by us or by anyone else to the prejudice of the princes.
2. New markets shall not be allowed to interfere with the interests of former ones.
3. No one shall be compelled to attend any market against his will.
4. Travellers shall not be compelled to leave the old highways, unless they desire to do so.
5. We will not exercise jurisdiction within the ban-mile of our cities.
6. Each prince shall possess and exercise in peace according to the customs of the land the liberties, jurisdiction, and authority over counties and hundreds which are in his own possession or are held as fiefs from him.
7. Centgrafs shall receive their office from the prince or from the person who holds the land as a fief.
8. The location of the hundred court shall not be changed without the consent of the lord.
9. No nobleman shall be amenable to the hundred court.
10. The citizens who are known as phalburgii [i.e., persons or corporations existing outside the city, but possessing political rights within it] shall be expelled from the cities.
11. Payments of wine, money, grain, and other rents, which free peasants have formerly agreed to pay [to the emperor], are hereby remitted, and shall not be collected henceforth.
12. The serfs of princes, nobles, ministerials, and churches shall not be admitted to our cities.
13. Lands and fiefs of princes, nobles, ministerials, and churches, which have been seized by our cities, shall be restored and shall never again be taken.
14. The right of the princes to furnish safe-conduct within the lands which they hold as fiefs from us shall not be infringed by us or by anyone else.
15. Inhabitants of our cities shall not be compelled by our judges to restore any possessions which they may have received from others before they moved there.
16. Notorious, condemned, and proscribed persons shall not be admitted to our cities; if they have been, they shall be driven out.
17. We will never cause any money to be coined in the land of any of the princes which shall be injurious to his coinage.
18. The jurisdiction of our cities shall not extend beyond their boundaries, unless we possess special jurisdiction in the region.
19. In our cities the plaintiff shall bring suit in the court of the accused.
20. Lands or property which are held as fiefs shall not be pawned without the consent of the lord from whom they are held.
21. No one shall be compelled to aid in the fortifying of cities unless he is legally bound to render that service.
22. Inhabitants of our cities who hold lands outside shall pay to their lords or advocates the regular dues and services, and they shall not be burdened with unjust exactions.
23. If serfs, freemen subject to advocates, or vassals of any lord, shall dwell within any of our cities, they shall not be prevented by our officials from going to their lords.
Treaty of San Germano, 1230.
[1 ] See no. 103, note 2.