Frank Diplomacy

Pope Boniface VIII to King Philip the Fair of France:

We shall indeed explain more clearly, son, why, moved by urgent necessity and prompted by conscience, we are directing these complaints to you. For, though our merits are insufficient, God has placed us above kings and kingdoms, and He has imposed upon us the yoke of apostolic service: to uproot and destroy, to disperse and to scatter, to build and to plant, in His name and according to His teaching… And so let no one persuade you, dearest son, that you have no superior and that you are not subject to the head of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. For anyone who thinks this is a fool; and, if he obstinately affirms it, he is convicted as an unbeliever and is outside the fold of the Good Shepherd.

King Philip’s reply:

Philip, by the Grace of God king of the French, to Boniface, conducting himself as Supreme Pontiff, little greeting or none. Let Your Very Great Foolishness know that we are subject to no one in temporals; that the collation of vacant churches and prebends belongs to us as of royal right and that their revenues are ours; that the collations which we have made in the past and shall make in the future are valid; and that we shall manfully defend their holders against anyone.  All who hold otherwise we deem to be fools and madmen.

Both quotations are taken from R. W. Dyson’s Introduction to Giles of Rome’s On Ecclesiastical Power, pp. xiv-xv. Dyson notes that Philip’s reply was probably meant more for the French clergy, among whom he circulated it, than for the Pope; he wanted them to think that he was protecting their income against Rome.

One thought on “Frank Diplomacy

  1. Pingback: French Nationalism, The Karlskirche, the Empire, and the Meaning of Europe | Sancrucensis

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