Commentary notes can be accessed by clicking on a blue square. The Latin text can be accessed by clicking on a green square.
ACT V, SCENE i
THE CHURCH, PATIENCE, CONSTANCY
CHURCH. In my uncertainty I am anxious, I hope, and yet my sense of horror fails to abate. Where, God, where are you summoning me? My lot is never undiluted joy. This peace recently gained the return of my Archbishop have excited my mind, and yet now my hand slackens, my will fails me, and a heavy torpor creeps into me. O Phoebus who brings the day with your bright countenance, who brings about the changing seasons with your shining chariot, do you always behold my sufferings? Moon who governs the fires of night-time once you have arisen and who brings sleep with your movement, will you behold my weeping and the dreads of my anxious heart.? O Christ, if You command me, Your bride, to continue enduring such a fate, fortify this heart of mine, fortify it against sorrow. Perhaps something overhangs me at which I can never adequately fear albeit I tremble and shudder in my uncertainty. Oh I fear for my Archbishop!
PAT. You are afraid albeit peace has now been gained.
CHURCH I fear this peace.
PAT. A peace created by your Archbishop?
Which he will not live to behold. I am being carried away by my foreboding mind, and hence my heart is panic-stricken.
PAT. Perhaps it can strike, but it can never overcome you. Allied with you, I always fend off all the darts of misfortune.
CONST. Thanks to me, you remain unmoved, bearing up against vengeful threats. Thanks to me you endure abuses and torments.
CHURCH So great is the support offered me by my kindly Bridegroom. Surely neither the man who is defending my right or myself shall be required to offer up our persons to the sword? Heaven help me now, and my heart will be able to withstand whatever evil remains. If my nation cannot preserve me save by the shedding of blood, this Archbishop will sacrifice his.
CONST. He seeks that glorious death. The Archbishop’s mind is unmoved, whether the king rages with threats or deals out a harsh death.
PAT. He who seeks to buy his way to heaven by dying a beautiful death cannot be defeated.
CHURCH Let heaven decide. Behold, the Archbishop is now resuming his labors. What beauty lies up on his face! The brilliance of his virtue illuminates his soul. @@@@
ACT V, SCENE ii
THOMAS OF CANTERBURY, ALARDUS, LUCAS, CONRARDUS, THE LORDS
THOM. Great Governor of this world, Who powerfully moderates the spaces of the etherial sky by Your nod, Whom our salvation and Your love for us have wrested from your Father’s bosom, Who have delivered the ample spoils of the defeated Styx to Your heavenly temple, come, behold this heart of mine. Now I thank You and resume this office I have sought for and the care of your flock. Aid my mind and and also my efforts, which I desire to undertake for Your sake.
ALARD. Now that it is possible I too thank the Lord, blessed Archbishop, that, peace having been obtained, you return your splendor to England. May the Lord bring it about that how a serene day of peacetime dawn.
LUC. Now a well-disposed nation greatly hopes to embrace its returned father. Archbishop of your country, now open your heart, be returned for the benefit of us all. Let all men experience the splendor of tranquility.
CONR. For thus your return is welcome, our king being appeased. You to must bring calm to your fellow countrymen, by your arrival. I am happy to behold your face.
THOM. As the fathers of our Church can do. I too rejoice. Having been born to our England, I seek its peace and security, and my efforts will not be wanting.
FIRST LORD Receive the praise of England, blessed Archbishop, together with my own. It gains this peace all the more happily with you returned.
SECOND LORD I congratulate you, blessed Archbishop. Now our happy fates reveals themselves, the day we have longed for will come a-running and a united concord of our orders will be our salvation.
THIRD LORD Indeed you have come, your great task completed, but the kindly countenance of your king has purged it of its guilt. You too, father, must gladden our nation by displaying a calmer face.
FOURTH LORD So let this return be fruitful for your people. Let all men rejoice and revere their returned father. Let this salvation of us all be reborn by your action.
THOM. As far as I am concerned let there be salvation. Let it even be allowed that I provide this salvation for all men by the shedding of my blood. No man will call me a coward or lacking in faith. It remains, my brothers, as long as the Pope wields his thunderbolt and commands you all to abstain from the Sacraments, that you place nothing more uppermost in your minds. You need to atone. You are familiar with our father’s commandments regarding holy things, that you need to atone, and he has transmitted these by means of myself. These things come from the City.
ALARD. They are familiar but you, father, must remove this obstacle and take away that which binds us.
THOM Would that I could! Whatever a Pope binds cannot be loosened by an Archbishop.
LUC. Indeed indeed you can, and the Pope will approve whatever you desire.
THOM. So a lesser judge can annul the decision of a greater? I cannot. Brothers, it behooves you to atone for whatever has perhaps been done amiss in the past. The Pope will grant his pardon.
CONR. You will grant it yourself if you wish, Archbishop. Then you will be called a hoped-for returnee. Forgive whatever has been done. Do away with it, the sure way of achieving peace is to forget it all.
FIRST LORD Why deny this to your flock, Archbishop. Since you have made peace with the king, let it also exist with your people.
SECOND LORD Absolve these fathers. Whatever has been done was done for the king’s sake. Let there be a single peace for all men.
THOM. No power can undo what the Holy See has decided in accordance with its law.
THIRD LORD By absolve us as much as is within your power, father. You see Parliament also beseeching you on behalf of these men.
FOURTH LORD You can command whatever you want. The supreme Pope will gratify it. These holy fathers, together with Parliament, are begging you.
THOM. Only the Pope can do this, I have no power. Nevertheless, brothers, I shall do what I can (saving the honor of the Holy See), but I call upon your faith. You must swear to obey the commandments of our supreme pontiff, decide as he may.
ALARD. This is impossible, no bishop can take the oath you require. We are bound to our king, for us it is foremost to preserve the customs of England.
THOM. It is the duty of bishops to agree to obey the Holy See. I swear by the everlasting God of heaven and earth, I do not want the king’s rights to be diminished, and I leave to king and country the enjoyment of their customs.
LUC. What you are now requiring is repugnant to our customs.
ALARD. Enough, let us all go to the king. This man is demanding something impossible, that no man should require.
FIRST LORD You are entering into new troubles with the king. Why demand a thing that is unlawful?
THOM. It’s illegal to swear allegiance to the Holy See? It is unlawful to comply? I wish for peace. Heaven bear me witness, I am only asking for what is lawful.
SECOND LORD Here is a new reason for fury, the king’s mind will be enraged
THIRD LORD Presumably you desire peace, the king’s affection for you has been lavish. How are you now repaying him? You see the bishops’ entreaties and thus rebuff them?
FOURTH LORD You should never refuse to do what is within your power, and no prudent man is in the habit of provoking kings, and their wrath arises even more after they have been loving.
THOM. Let me hear what the king has to say. I wish to see the king.
ACT V, SCENE iii
KING HENRY, ALARDUS, LUCAS, CONRARDUS
HEN. What is it? Why again, my bishops. What new reason has brought you here now? I fear that peace for my realm is not assured.
ALARD. Great king, peace is not assured for your realm. The newly-returned Archbishop is unconcerned about peace. He is making an impassioned assault on its rights.
HEN What does he want/ Why is he growing so passionate?
ALARD. He wills that all men should swear an oath to obey the Pope’s orders. He refuses to absolve those whom Rome has lately placed under interdict on your account. Nobody wishes to take that oath unless such is your command.
LUC. As our king will you gave that command? The honor of your realm has been damaged, its laws have no force, the Pope will impose his rights and laws upon your kingdom. The Archbishop wants this. If he is able to hate his nation he nevertheless wants it.
CONR. In seeking these rights he overturns yours. If you wish to retain your kingdom you must retain the realm’s customs and rights.
HEN. Ah, Archbishop, where are you taking me? Are you deceiving, ah deceive, your king with a false show of affection? Whatever affection you had, I repaid you in kind. Whatever your error was, I forgave you. If you cannot tolerate peace leave, depart.
ALARD. Great king, command us as you will, for all men are minded to obey your orders. If you wish us bishops to take that oath we are at your service.
LUC. Thus far what has been done by us, but he denies that was done for your benefit is ratified. What rights can your heir apparent expect to inherit?
HEN. My son will inherit the rights which now are mine, I shall ratify them and the crown’s glory will adorn h is head.
CONR. Oh would that he mighty reign, mighty in his untroubled rule after the fates suffered by his father! Such has been the object of our effort, but this recalcitrant Archbishop disapproves.
HEN. He must not attack the rights of the government. I swear this by my head, a man in the habit of deceiving kings risks his life. It is never permissible to trouble the public peace.
ALARD. Be careful of his considerable power, this Archbishop will never relax. Overturning all things, he will shape this realm, this prosperity, these laws and customs according to his own whim.
HEN. Oh the the loyalty of his false heart, never to be taken for granted! Oh his treacherous way of life! Now all England bows its head to my scepter, all men dread and worship my hand. A single priest (alas) disturbs my peace. A single priest opposes his king! Oh Thomas, where are you taking me? Was his smile only temporary? Was his humility false and fictitious? When he put on a modest face was this part of his deception? Does my court maintain so many idlers, has my favor promoted so many lowborn men, and no loyalty is repaid to this insulted sovereign. Am I being deceived? And they see their king being deceived? Enough. Depart, you bishops. Now chagrin troubles all my concern, my chagrin knows no solutions. Perhaps my rested mind will suggest some.
ACT V, SCENE iv
RICHARDUS BRITO, HUGH DE MORVILLE, WILLIAM DE TRACY, REGINALD
RICH. Should he continue to live, a burden on our king? Should he trouble him? Should he deceive him with his trickery? I am minded to display due loyalty to my king, nobody who likes me will accuse me of cowardice.
MORV. Now the king’s attitude is well known, now let this man fall as a sacrificial victim to the realm and relieve his nation by shedding his blood.
WILL. Our loyalty must be seen during these troubled times. Let the king show what he wants, the chagrin of his royal mind needs to be relieved.
REG. What about the king? What about them? Alas, a single priest is troubling my own peace. I have never been a coward, let no man accuse these hands of mine of being timid. I shall be daring, my friends. Join your minds and your hands.
RICH. I join my mind and hands.
MORV. I shall not fail you, I do too.
WILL. Your intent is to my liking, so do I do. Bah! That our loyalty should be lacking to our insulted sovereign? That this priest (oh the shame!) should harm us for being miserable, helpless, disloyal and timid?
RICH. Now my spirit is stirred and weighs heavier on me. Anybody who insults my king owes me his blood. Here may I repay his trust in me. If I cannot, I’ll sacrifice my life, overcome by death.
REG. Form a plan, my friends. Here we have need of deceit.
MORV. Not of deceit, but rather of force. Now the king has contemned the Archbishop as a traitor, we are equipped with a stout spirit and a sword in hand, let our steel be dyed wit his blood.
WILL. In whatever way it is lawful I shall strike with my sword, and in whatever way it is right I shall redden this hand with is blood. Let us all make the assault, our heat grows in its intensity. That anguish of our angry king will be abated.
REG. Let none of us shrink, let timidity, excluded out by our passion, never worry us. I shall go, I shall lead the way and there is much I shall need to pretend. My friends, I’ll take the lead in calling the Archbishop to us.
RICH. Go ahead, we will stand firm. It behooves us to accuse him of much, let him stand his trial. And see, he comes. Stand steady, let he see the cruel threats in our faces and experience fear.
ACT V, SCENE v
THOMAS OF CANTERBURY, REGINALD, RICHARDUS, MORVILLE, WILLIAM
THOM. Who are you and whence do you come?
REG. Archbishop, you are looking at royal servants sent to you.
THOM. Whoever serves my king is welcome.
RICH. You traitor to the king, you plague and pestilence upon his realm.
MORN. You depraved madman.
WILL. You crackpot, clown, thief and trickster.
THOM. What is it?
RICH. You say “what is it?” and remain alive to behold the light of day?
THOM. What’s the reason for my death?
RICH. You betray the royal honor and you betray this realm, you are attempting to uncrown the king (an unspeakable crime).
THOM. The Lord is my witness that my will is not such. Why accuse me of treachery? Would that I could place more crowns on his regal head!
MORN. Free the excommunicated fathers, absolve everybody.
THOM. Since the Pope bound them I am unable unbind. First the reason needs to be removed, and the fathers atone for their sin.
WILL. So the king commands. Go away, depart, free the kingdom from fear.
THOM. I shall never retreat, I shall never abandon a flock already entrusted to me.
WILL. You guilty prelate, are even defrocking consecrated priests.
THOM. When they are unwilling to obey their primate. For every priest is guilty who sinfully flouts the laws of Rome.
RICH. May he perish, may his blood stain the sword that strikes him.
REG. Well then, either let this hand butcher this traitor or let him quickly learn to obey.
THOM. I am untroubled by your threats, nor do your swords fill my heart with dread. Strike with your steel,
with my breast I shall accept death. I am present, I am ready, it’s a sweet thing to die for Christ. I hope for that honor, with this blood I shall sanctify the ancient laws of the Church.
RICH. You seek death?
THOM. If it is necessary for God and for the Church. If your fury rages against my innocent self I enjoin you that non of you should likewise harm any of my servants with his steel.
REG. Continue. (They kill Thomas.) Ah, comrades, that’s enough. Let this criminal bloody my sword, let this impious man fall.
THOM. Oh Christ, Christ, to You I bequeath the care of the flock entrusted to me. Oh saintly Mother of Christ, come to the aid of my abandoned flock.
MORN. Now he is fallen, spewing forth his life.
THOM. Oh Christ, accept this death I offer up to You,
WILL. He defiles this entire place with his spilt brains. Let us go for his throat. Trample on his impious, impious head.
RICH. Enough, he’s fallen. This traitor will rise up no more. For your sake,, England, and for yours, great king, we offer up this sacrifice.
ACT V, SCENE vi
THE CHURCH, THE VIRGINS, THE PEOPLE
CHURCH O great Author of heaven, are You witnessing this crime? Oh land and sea, will you tolerate this great outrage? Fall down on the earth, you great dome of the sky. Fall down on it, hide it, remove it. Let night come down densely on the sky, let a long night conceal this wrong. Ah, ah Thomas! Ah ah, you glory of Archbishops, you lie prostrate!
VIRGINS Our duty is to mourn. Oh the sorrow, he must be mourned. Now set no limits on yourself, we need all our tears, yet all will not be enough.
PEOPLE Behold that death of our nation, and this death of our Church. We all die together with Thomas, all of us who love the Church.
CHURCH Mourn, you citizens, the helper of our citizenry is perished. That man, whose holy majesty refreshed all men, the words of whose mouth daunted all men, he is dead, alas, he is dead! Ah, ah, Thomas, is dead, that helper of our citizenry are dead!
VIRGINS Our holy Archbishop is dead to us. For us that standard-setter of our life, that man who illuminated our way, that model of holiness and example of sacred virtue, that holy Archbishop is dead.
PEOPLE He is to be mourned by his fellow citizens. He loved them like his sons, he cared for them like his children, he taught them like his folk, he watched over them like his flock.
CHURCH Come hither, you citizenry, the pillar of England is dead, but at the time his splendor has gained the citadels of heaven. Heaven has received this worthy martyr Thomas. Ease your minds, there Thomas shines forth. Oh holy martyr, where is holy liberty? Now live on happily, mindful of your people.
VIRGINS Oh holy martyr, in the eyes of these folk you are now England’s patron saint. Not every Englishman is guilty of sin. Behold, you are dead thanks to the deceit of a few.