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ACT IV, SCENE i
POPE ALEXANDER III, BISHOPS LUCAS AND ALARDUS
ALEX. He whom the Lord has chosen to rule His Church and exercise control over all men regarding sacred affairs must always be vigilant in maintaining a concerned mind less the security of his subjects suffer a downfall. This divided world rests upon my shoulders, my anxious concern is always for the peace of all men, nor am I permitted to abandon this concern. The honor of being first among bishops is an effortful burden, its dignity is troublesome but nonetheless must be tolerated. Oh would that the Lord would unite the world in an everlasting bond! If there is no hope for this, if my effort is required, I refuse nothing, I shall endure it, my indomitable mind continues its struggle. Thus far, England, I have sought peace for you, I have offered counsels of peace, what I have written you have seen. Nevertheless you are falling into troublesome upheavals while its king strives to subordinate the sacred clergy to his secular government. But what cause brings you here, my brothers? Explain the reason, I am at leisure.
ALARD. Blessed master, whose care and concern governs the world and who supports men of prudence while suppressing those who have lapsed into error lest, while you by your authority supply guidance to all things, the Church be thrown into confusion and perish, the pious king of England has sent us to you. You should not place credence in a man who persistently rages with his passion and troubles the peace of England and vexes our king. This is Canterbury, who now comes to the Eternal City as a runaway from his nation. While attempting to be wise, this hot-headed primate is waxing insolent. When this disturbance was minor and he was still guiding our clergy it could have been extinguished, but whereas this primate persisted in his onslaught, whereas he regarded himself as the only one of us endowed with wisdom and fiercely disregarded our advice, he enraged our king and exposed all pious men to destruction.
England is divided into two camps. Our noblemen sided with the king and our commoners are obliged to heed their master. But at the same time our clergy has been thrown into confusion. Now no manner of moral uprightness is to its liking, a sense of shame is banished from all our minds. This Archbishop refuses to defer to the times or make any concession to his king, and when we meet in council he condemns our advice. Meanwhile he has betaken himself here in shameful flight in order to take refuge in your bosom and make accusations against us. Now, father of the world, it is up to you to restrain whatever this Archbishop who cannot control himself does. Send him home, let him learn how to endure his king. Let him learn how to endure a courtroom, while he lives as a guilty man.
ALEX. Have mercy, brother.
ALARD. I’ll have mercy on him when he becomes willing, father.
ALEX. Not on him, brother, but on yourself. You are carried away by your emotion. Now what? You stop and fall silent?
ALARD. Blessed Pope, since you sit at the pinnacle of the world it is your responsibility to ensure that no fraud mislead our faith and no madness split England apart and a schism occur. This runaway Archbishop is the cause of this new upheaval. When he wants to be the only wise man among us and trusts in himself, he incites the king’s hatred of our clergy and lives as a burden on our citizens and realm. Whoever is wise in this manner is a madman. Therefore, father, if you are minded to preserve our England, dispatch somebody to investigate Thomas’ cause its entirety and send the man home since our king requests this. Let him submit to trial by our king and his realm.
ALEX. This heat of yours is sinful. For I sit in judgment on bishops, not your king and not the court of his realm. He will plead his case here.
ALARD. He cannot plead his case, he is bound by the laws of the realm.
ALEX. But most of all by ours. Let him be present, have him summoned.
ALARD. This is unbecoming. By English custom a felon cannot exist at Rome.
LUC. There’s no delaying this. Let us depart, here no Englishman is ever deemed a felon.
ACTUS IIII, SCENA ii
THOMAS OF CANTERBURY, POPE ALEXANDER
THOM. May heaven favor you, father, and the Lord support your See.
ALEX. You are welcome, Archbishop Thomas And now my affection is moved by your suffering when it silently considers all your efforts and all the evils of your exile. But since you have emerged victorious over many such, you must also overcome these. You must tell me the reason for your journey and effort.
THOM. I shall begin when you command me.
ALEX. You will speak sitting down, such is my wish. Take a chair.
THOM. Your Holiness, it has never been my way to dissimulate. In me resides sincere candor, nor does any false dealing betray itself. Once I was the leading man in England and lived for the king’s sake, when as Chancellor I upheld the rights of my nation. I pleased all men and enjoyed the support of my fellow citizens and my king. But when the position of primate of my nation was bestowed on me and the miter adorned my reluctant head (for so the king commanded), it brought with it a high station which provoked the malign envy of good men. For I have energetically defended the rights of the Church entrusted to me. No fear could deter this spirit, at that time for me nothing could have been more welcome than to die. Meanwhile, while the king, filled with rage against our clergy, desired to assert his rights and dictated novel laws and rights, our sacred liberty, on the verge of collapse, was under attack (heaven bear witness for me), I stoutheartedly stood in opposition and admonished the king. The rest of the bishops signified their approval but I resisted. Hence the king’s wrath against myself and the dislike of his court. And so, Your Holiness, this is the reason for my journey See what laws he enacted, if they can be erased by shedding of blood I shall offer it up.
ALEX. Come, Archbishop, read out the laws he has enacted.
THOM. No priest shall depart the realm save by royal command. Let it be a crime to lodge an appeal with the Holy See. No bishop shall exercise authority over the royal household. Whoever may chance to be accused of treason shall submit to the king’s court and likewise the entire clergy must submit to it. Let the royal will constitute supreme law for all men, whether secular or religious.
ALEX. That’s madness, not law. It’s fraud and tyranny. Is this impious prince truly overthrowing the Faith within his borders? This is how kings crave to issue commands to the Church. And among all your bishops none is willing to submit his neck to the sword?
THOM. In my heart I have always been ready to die.
ALEX. But you have always been the single such one. This is praiseworthy and the Lord will give you His blessing in abundance
THOM. And now, father, since I am freed of my labor and compelled to endure exile, to you I resign whatever remains of my office. Bid whomever you wish be primate, I was the primate when my then-friendly king promoted me to be his. Since he is treating me savagely, I resign. You, father, need to consult for what remains of our flock, for now that is your right. Behold, this is my ring, I remove it and yet I do not refuse to die for this flock.
ALEX. Your attitude, Archbishop, is well known to me, as is your ardor. Come, take back your dignity, now being made primate by my word and hand. Remain steadfast, heaven will help you, and at the same time I shall issue a warning to the King of England.
THOM. If such is your command, father, I shall soon leave here and seek out the kingdom of France. Let your holy hand bestow its seal upon your subject.
ALEX. May heaven preserve you and the Lord favorably confirm you in your faith. Leave the other bishops to my care, punishment will requite their transgression.
ACT IV, SCENE iii
KING HENRY, NIGEL, RICHARD
HEN. The disease is abating and yet my cares remain. Whether the stars glitter with their lights in the night time or Phoebus drives his chariot bringing daylight, they scourge my mind. A single bishop disturbs it, always hovering above my eyes, always disrupting my sleep with his presence. Rulers have no peace. Where is he?
RICH. The Archbishop abandoned your soil when he went off to the Eternal City.
HEN. The holy Pope will make him my enemy, and perhaps will condemn the bishops.
RICH. Your bishops are returned from the City. The Pope condemns and nullifies your laws. Meanwhile the Archbishop has gone off to a new land, seeking the realm of France
HEN. In search of my enemy the French king? Oh you stubborn bishop, how much you disrupt my peace! You will go without delay and visit the King of France. Demand that he must send back the Archbishop and not shelter this rebel. I myself shall soon follow. I am minded to visit my overseas holdings.
RICH. I shall go as your envoy and demand the return of your Archbishop. Exit.
HEN. My mind is thrown into a new turmoil, its senses disturbed, and it scarcely recognizes itself. Oh Thomas, where are you taking me?
NIG. This is punishment, your majesty. The Lord often punishes this, so that cares will torment one in strange ways.
HEN. What kind of punishment when I am free of sin?
NIG. Your sin is what has been done. Punishment brings with it a confusion of cares.
HEN. Must I yield to my primate?
NIG. At least you should not compel him, lest sacred liberty not perish by your act of daring. The everlasting Lord always restrains a man who oppresses His clergy. Grant peace.
HEN. I suppose he has earned it?
NIG. Grant peace anyway. In this man you will perceive whatever adorns a man: chastity, uprightness, a sense of shame, sincere ardor, honesty, steadfast faith and patriotism. The endowments of Archbishop Thomas confer upon him an unusual brilliance.
HEN. I for my part will admit that. Thomas’ saintliness is considerable, but he opposes me.
NIG. He is not resisting you but rather defending the rights of the clergy. Do not compel him and he will take the lead in supporting you, he craves peace for England.
HEN. Must I yield once more?
NIG. Do not place the clergy under compulsion, he will stand up for his rights and also for his king.
HEN. Let him do so and he will experience his king’s favor. Now I need to go, I must travel to my lands in France. I shall visit the far shores of my realm.
ACT IV, SCENE iv 0
KING LOUIS OF FRANCE, THOMAS OF CANTERBURY
LOUIS Come, holy Archbishop, the kingdom of France and its sovereign are at your service. Being so great a man, you are welcome in our lands, if heaven grants me the favor of your presence. In accordance with your desire, you have the friendly king you crave. Your virtue and all your glory are already familiar to me. I embrace this heart of yours, I worship you as a holy citadel of virtue.
THOM. So may heaven bless you, great king. Thus may the Lord decorate your happy realm and enrich you with good things. You see a man who is at once a primate and an exile.
LOUIS Your cause is well known to me, and the world is on your side. And I would go so far as to say that heaven blesses my kingdom on account of you, I am aware of my unusual degree of happiness: while heaven supports you Christ is bestowing His support on myself. Would that He would support the realm of England for your sake!
THOM. There’s little hope of that. Men who harshly oppress the rights of our churches are guiding the will of our king. Since my desire is to protect these (for such has been my duty), the fires of our angry king are aimed at me, the Court is aroused against me, every bishop is joining their party, my head is sought by their edicts, and on every man’s lips I am becoming a criminal primate.
LOUIS. I am already aware of your cause, I have seen the new laws of your king and his realm, and you have endured everybody’s hatred although you are an innocent primate. And yet heaven is creating grounds for hope. I swear by this lofty crown upon my head and everything that it embodies, I shall gladly defend your cause. If I can, I shall go to the English king. At first your cause did not strike me as just. Forgive me, primate, this was my mistake. See how I am begging your pardon for this error that worked against you.
THOM. If there is any error, may heaven forgive you, for you are blameless. Look here, the English king’s ambassador comes. I realize this concerns myself, he seeks an audience with you.
LOUIS Let him come, let him speak, for your sake I am glad to give him a hearing. Enter Richard.
ACT IV , SCENE v
RICHARD, KING LOUIS, THOMAS OF CANTERBURY
RICH. Great king, whose mighty good fortune all France adores, long may you live. May the Ruler of heaven preserve this French kingdom for you. I am present as an ambassador. The puissant sovereign of the English has sent me. The reason for my journey, if you trust me, is no insignificant matter. He seeks Archbishop Thomas, a rebel against his government. Every malefactor deserves to be sent home when the king’s insulted majesty seeks him. Your majesty, I call on your good faith, I seek the right common to all kings. It is never agreeable to harbor kings’ subjects when they impiously attack their sovereigns .
LOUIS I am not supporting a rebel, only a man whom has been accused. Your realm ought to be accessible for so great a man, as should your king. An accused man is often innocent. Behold the man who your king asks for and demands. Let the good favor of your king and his realm be returned to him and he himself will be returned. He scarcely desires to insult his king, he’s no rebel.
THOM. I owe fidelity to my king, and I’ll display it. I’ll shed my blood on his behalf if he wishes, I’m no rebel.
RICH. And so Archbishop, surrender yourself to the king.
THOM. When he wishes, always saving God’s honor and that of my clergy.
RICH. Why do you insist once more on the clergy’s honor? A humble soul abases himself without any reservation. Here too the honor of the king ought to be respected.
LOUIS Let both the king’s honor and that of Thomas be respected. There remains a single way to make peace, if the Lord looks on me kindly, for now I perceive a means and am minded to bring it to pass. Go and tell your king that I shall undertake to make peace (since he possesses this coastline) and shall soon come myself bringing this Archbishop back to his king together with that peace.
RICH. Long may you live, your majesty. I shall go before you to my king, he will arrange for you to bring a peace. Exit.
LOUIS Come, Archbishop, you will join me in going to your king, for I shall make the journey.
THOM. I shall join you in going to my king, for my heart is blameless. Would what the king is favorable towards me! My sole prayer is for amity, let there be peace.
LOUIS You must humble yourself before your king, for so you should do. Often rage is mollified when he who fears his sovereign is submissive.
THOM. I shall cheerfully submit.
ACT IV, SCENE vi
KING HENRY, RICHARD, KING LOUIS, THOMAS OF CANTERBURY
HEN. Once more I’m troubled. Behold, the Pope rises up against me with threats, and possibly will condemn my realm by wielding his thunderbolt. What now? A great chill is now suffusing my limb. I want to obtain what peace I can, my restless mind cannot bear such great upheavals. Let the Archbishop return and resume his honors. A primate defeat his king? So will my law have no validity? I do not care, I crave peace.
RICH. And the King of France, the author of that piece, will soon be present. He’ll bring back the Archbishop and find some means of making peace.
HEN. I am glad, he’ll restore the easy state for which I hope. Let him come, I’ll go to meet him. Be present, my lords.
RICH. Behold, the puissant King of France has arrived.
HEN. I hasten, now let there be no delay, join me. I am happy to embrace you, great sovereign.
THOM And treated to your embrace I rejoice. Have a look at your Archbishop.
HEN. Venerable Archbishop, your return is welcome to me, resume your courage.
THOM. Your sacred majesty is dear to heaven, may the everlasting Lord favor you.
LOUIS Here here is, the Archbishop who is the foremost glory and model for your realm. It behooves you, your majesty, to cherish him with your affection. He is the father of his king and country, so keep him as your father. If something has chanced to damage your former affection, let your new one erase it. You you stand up for the rights of your realm and the Archbishop defends his, your minds immediately became over-heated. It does not befit kings to hinder sacred privileges, nor is it fitting for holy primates never to obey their kings. Let that former love which conjoined you return and you, your majesty, play the part of a judge.
THOM. You remain the king and can be the judge, you see your Archbishop being submissive and loyal. Dictate the law, but with God’s honor always upheld.
HEN. Is this the way to assured peace, Archbishop? Why this “honor always upheld” once more?
LOUIS. We bishops must attend to God’s honor.
HEN. Concede to your king as much as former Archbishops have granted theirs
LOUIS Archbishop, you should imitate the saints you revere. Sovereigns have always revered their saints, and the royal title is adored by all nations.
THOM. I adore the royal title and I venerate its lofty station. I owe just as much to my king as Archbishops have owed to theirs in the past, and I shall loyally give my obedience, loyalty and first honors to my king.
LOUIS Let that suffice. You, my king, should also observe the rights of bishops, for such is fitting and you owe it to yours. He who wields the scepter in his hand is a teacher to his clergymen.
HEN. I shall protect your rights, being a teacher to your clergymen. Now take back your dignity and whatever it embraces. You have a friend whom you imagine to be an enemy.
THOM. You have a loving Archbishop and, if you wish, a father. At least be aware how often my tears have flowed for you, as they will continue to do as long as I live.
HEN. Come, let us vie with each other in affection, you love me and I shall love you in return.
THOM. You alone possess mine.
LOUIS May heaven prosper the peace of your England. A genuine peace is restored since love exists between the two of you.
HEN. (To Louis.) And you are a witness to the peace you have created. Live long and happy, your majesty.
CHEERS Long may them live, long may they survive and reign. and long live the Archbishop and may he happily govern.
THE CHURCH AND THE PEOPLE
CHURCH Oh lucky day! Oh happy day! Enough, my tears, you may cease. Now sure safety has returned to our nation.
PEOPLE Oh holy Archbishop, return now. Oh great father of the poor, oh single glory of our realm, return to your people, return to us all.
CHURCH Thus the blessed Author of nature protects the innocent and preserves them for a happy ending. Where there is no sin there can be no punishment. Thus when God tests the faith of His faithful He compels them to suffer adversity, but kindly grants them His grace.
PEOPLE. This is the happiness of our nation, when bishops rule conjoined in amity with their king. The downfall of our nation occurs when bishops do not always agree with their king.
CHURCH The evil deceit of courtiers embitters good kings. Thus they credulously harden their minds and rush about with blind impulsiveness. What they want to do beforehand they later wish had gone undone.
PEOPLE So happiness will return and bless our England. Any nation with so great a primate cannot be unhappy. Our hope for joys has been returned for us. Long live these sovereigns, let them endure and reign. Long live our Archbishop, may he reign with happiness.
Go to Act V