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to introduce into the cburch, Wrre almost to a man, adverse to his proceedings. All those archhishops who had been threatened with deposition by Gregory, either for their scandalous lives, or for their simonical practices; all those prelates and abbots who were in the enjoyment of ill-got benefices, or who lived in a state of open concubinage with women; all those of the superior clergy, who feared the emperor's displeasure, or expected the reward of subserviency, failed not to be present at it.
While this council sat, even in the very first days of their convocation, a certain priest, named Hugo Blancus, appeared before them, and entered on a long series of the most atrocious accusations against Gregory. He charged him with heresy, with perjury, with regicide; he accused bim of simony, of magic, and of altering, to suit his own purposes, the text of the Holy Scriptures ; he undertook to prove him guilty of falsely prophesying, of persecution, and of treason to the church; and these grave charges were not only listened to, but eagerly entertained, by the assembled fathers. It is, however, but justice to Gregory to state, that his accuser had been some time previously excommunicated by him for scandalous prartices. Ostensibly, on the strength uf these accusations, though in reality at the instigation of Henry, and in pursuance of an organised plan to defeat the papal pretensions, the council proceeded to excommunicate Gregory, to depose him from the papal throne, and to issue a rescript for the election of another pontiff.
The sentence of the council was then despatched to Rome; and a requisition from the emperor ac
companied it, that Gregory should submit at once, or prepare to receive the condign punishment of his refractoriness. The bearer of these despatches was an Italian priest named Roland ; and he fearlessly presented them to Gregory in the presence of the synod which had been called by him for the trial of Henry. Such, however, was the excitement produced in that reverend assembly by their perusal, that the pope had great difficulty in saving his life from the fury of the epraged prelates who composed it. The letter of Henry has been preserved; it is characteristic of the man and of the times.
“Henry, not by violence nor presumption, but by the grace of God and the holy ordinance, king, to Hildebrand, not the pope, but the false monk.
“This greeting hast thou deserved, through thy arrogance and thy errors, for thou hast left no condition in the church undebased — no state, however bumble, untouched with thy accursed intermeddling. We would discuss with thee various weighty matters. To win the applause of the common people, hast thou not only unrighteously attacked and attempted to degrade the heads of the church-the archbishops, the bishops, and the priests the Lord's anointed, but thou hast also treated them as thy serfs, as though they knew not the Lord's word as well as thee, and tried to trample them under thy feet. Thou effectest to believe that they know nought, that thou knowest all; and thou hast dared to act accordingly. But thy knowledge has been used, not in the work of edification, but in the work of destruction. The holy Gregory, whose name thou
bast so arrogantly assumed, rightly presaged of thee, when he spoke these memorable words :
through the submission of the disciple is the pride of the master made great; for he thinks be knows all, when be sees that he may do every thing he desires.' We have endured much at thy hands, that the honour due to the holy Roman church might not to he denied it, nor the reverence which all Christians owe to it be withheld, But thou hast beld our magnanimity to be the fear of thy power; thou hast ventured to raise thy rebellious voice against us whom God has appointed his vicegerent over our people; and thou hast even most audaciously dared to threaten to drive us from our throne, and dispossess us of our crown, as if our kingdom and state were in thine, and not in God's own hand, and as if thou wert not called to the high priesthood, as we have been called to the sovereignty of this realm, solely through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Thou last thus reached the last degree of treachery and treason; and therefore by every law, divine and human, art thou accursed. Good-will hast thou won by gold; by good-will thou hast acquired power; by power hast thou possessed thyself of the throne of peace, from which thy first act bas been to hurl peace down: thou hast armed our subjects against our rightful authority; thou hast excited them to contempt and scorn of their pious instructors-our wellbeloved prelates and priests, appointed by God to teach his word; and thou hast deprived even the laity, whoin thou affectest to serve, of all voice in the election of their ecclesiastical conductors. Even we, all unworthy as we are, but still by the grace of God the
Lord's highest anointed, hast thou presumed to touch, and claimed to judge, though the words of the holy fathers expressly say, that to God only are we responsible for our actions; that he . alone is our Judge in all temporal things; and that, for no other than a departure from the true faith of Christ, may our sovereignty be infringed upon, or our sacred person profaned. Yea, even for that crime, is it doubtful whether we may be punished; for did not the fathers of the church decline to depose the apostate Emperor Julian, and leave his punishment entirely to the justice of heaven? The blessed Leo, a true pope, says thereon, 'Fear God, and honour the king. But thou neither fearest the Lord, nor doth honour his anointed. Descend thou then thou anathematised and excommunicate of our pious prelates in soleinn council assembled-descend thou then at once from thy usurped dignity, and vacate, without delay, the throne of the, prince of the apostles. Another shall occupy thy place-one who will not make of our holy faith a cloak for his ambition, his turbulence, and his profligacy; one who will teach to the Chrislian world the true doctrines of the holy St. Peter. We, Henry, by the grace of God, king, and all our archbishops, bishops, abbots, and other ecclesiastical dignitaries , bid thee descend from that throne-descend ! descend !”
On the following day, at the first meeting of the council, Gregory's answer was given to the ambassador of Henry. It was a sentence of excommunication, by which that monarch was not only cut off from all Christian communion, but by which, also, all his subjects , of every
grade and condition, were released from their allegiance to him. This brutum fulmen has also been preserved, as well as the preceding; and it is equally characteristic of the period and of the priest who launched it.
“ Holy Peter!" thus it began; “prince of the apostles, graciously incline thine ear to us, we pray thee, and listen to me, thy servant, whom from childhood to this time thou hast cherished, and from the hands of the godless preserved, who hated me for the fealty I bore to thee, and who still hate me for the same deep devotion! Thou art my witness, and the mother of God, and St. Paul, thy brother and co-peer among the princes of heaven, that thy church - the holy Roman church against my own desire, hath raised me up to its governance : that I have never held it in the light of an object for my personal advantage, to sit in thy sacred seat; and that I would much prefer to end my life in exile and in misery, than for worldly purposes, or through vain-glory, to assume the functions of thy successor. Through thy favour and great grace, and not for my merits, do I believe tbat it hath pleased thee to place me over the Christian church -- to make me the shepherd of the flock intrusted to thy care-to make that flock obedient to my behests : through thee only do I inherit, from heaven, the power conferred on thee by Christ, to bind and to loose from sin the soul of man. Supported by this firin belief, and acting on my consciousness of thy approval, I do hereby, and from henceforward and bereafter for ever, for the honour and safety of thy church, in the name of the Triune and only