The Popes presume to depose Civil Heads of State

Pope Gregory VII: First Deposition and Banning of King Henry IV (Feb 22, 1076)

O St. Peter, chief of the apostles, incline to us, I beg, thy holy ears, and hear me thy servant whom thou has nourished from infancy, and whom, until this day, thou hast freed from the hand of the wicked, who have hated and do hate me for my faithfulness to thee. Thou, and my mistress the mother of God, and thy brother St. Paul are witnesses for me among all the saints that thy holy Roman Church drew me to its helm against my will; that I had no thought of ascending thy chair through force, and that I would rather have ended my life as a pilgrim than, by secular means, to have seized thy throne, for the sake of earthly glory.

And therefore I believe it to be through thy grace and not through my own deeds that it has pleased and does please thee that the Christian people, who have been especially committed to thee, should obey me. And especially to me, as thy representative and by thy favour, has the power been granted by God of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth. On the strength of this belief therefore, for the honour and security of thy Church, in the name of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I withdraw, through thy power and authority, from Henry the king, son of Henry the Emperor, who has risen against thy Church with unheard of insolence, the rule over the whole kingdom of the Germans and over Italy.

And I absolve all Christians from the bonds of the oath which they have made or shall make to him; and I forbid any one to serve him as king. For it is fitting that he who strives to lessen the honour of thy church should himself lose the honour which belongs to him. And since he has scorned to obey as a Christian, and has not returned to God whom he had deserted - holding intercourse with the excommunicated; practising manifold iniquities; spurning my commands which, as thou dost bear witness, I issued to him for his own salvation; separating himself from thy church and striving to rend it - I bind him in thy stead with the chain of the anathema. And, leaning on thee, I so bind him that the people may know and have proof that thou art Peter, and above thy rock the Son of the living God hath built His church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

Pope Gregory VII, Reg. III, No. 10 a, translated in Ernest F. Henderson,
Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), 376-377

Gregory VII:

Second Banning and Dethronement of Henry IV (March 7, 1080)

After the failed effort at reconciliation at Canossa, Pope Gregory excommunicated Henry a second time in 1080.

St. Peter, chief of the Apostles, and thou St. Paul, teacher of the nations, deign, I beg, to incline your ears to me and mercifully to hear me. Do ye who are the disciples and lovers of truth aid me to tell the truth to ye without any of the falsehood which we together detest: to the end that my brothers may better acquiesce with me and may know and learn that, after God and his mother the ever virgin Mary, it is in ye I trust when I resist the wicked and unholy but lend aid to your faithful followers.

For ye know that I did not willingly take holy orders. And unwillingly I went with my master Gregory beyond the mountains; but more unwillingly I returned with my master Pope Leo to your especial Church, in which I served ye as always. Then, greatly against my will, with much grieving and groaning and wailing I was placed upon your throne, although thoroughly unworthy. I say these things thus because I did not choose ye but ye chose me and did place upon me the very heavy burden of your Church. And because ye did order me to go up into a high mountain and call out and proclaim to the people of God their crimes and to the sons of the earth their sins, the members of the devil have commenced to rise up against me and have presumed, even unto blood, to lay their hands upon me.

For the kings of the earth stood by, and the secular and ecclesiastical princes; the men of the palace, also, and the common herd came together against the Lord and against ye His anointed, saying: "Let us break their chains and cast off their yoke from us." And they have in many ways attempted to rise up against me in order to utterly confound me with death or with exile.

Among them, especially, Henry whom they call king, son of Henry the emperor, did raise his heel against your Church and strive, by casting me down, to subjugate it, having made a conspiracy with many ultramontane bishops. But your authority resisted and your power destroyed their pride. He, confounded and humbled, came to me in Lombardy and sought absolution from the bann. I seeing him humiliated, having received many promises from him concerning the bettering of his way of living, restored to him the communion. But only that; I did not reinstate him in his kingdom from which I had deposed him in a Roman synod, nor did I order that the fealty from which, in that synod, I have absolved all those who had sworn it to him, or were about to swear it, should be observed towards him. And my reason for not doing so was that I might do justice in the matter or arrange peace - as Henry himself, by an oath before two bishops, had promised me should be done - between him and the ultramontane bishops or princes who, being commanded to do so by your Church, had resisted him. But the said ultramontane bishops and princes, hearing that he had not kept his promise to me, and, as it were, despairing of him, elected for themselves without my advice - ye are my witnesses - Duke Rudolf as king.

This king Rudolf hastily sent an envoy to intimate to me that he had been compelled to accept the helm of state but that he was ready to obey me in every way. And to make this the more credible, he has continued from that time to send me words to the same effect, adding also that he was ready to confirm what he had promised by giving his own son and the son of his faithful follower duke Bertald as hostages. Meanwhile Henry commenced to implore my aid against the said Rudolf. I answered that I would willingly grant it if I could hear the arguments on both sides so as to know whom justice most favoured. But he, thinking to conquer by his own strength, scorned my reply. But when he found that he could not do as he had hoped he sent to Rome two of his partisans, the bishops, namely, of Verdun and of Osnabruck, who asked me in a synod to do justice to him. This also the envoys of Rudolf pressed me to do. At length, by God's inspiration as I believe, I decreed in that synod that an assembly should take place beyond the mountains, where either peace should be established or it should be made known which side justice the most favoured.

For I - as ye, my fathers and masters, can testify-have taken care up to this time to aid no party save the one on whose side justice should be found to be. And, thinking that the weaker side would wish the assembly not to take place, whereas justice would hold its own, I excommunicated and bound with the anathema the person of one-whether king, duke, bishop or ordinary man - who should by any means contrive to prevent the assembly from taking place. But the said Henry with his partisans, not fearing the danger from disobedience, which is the crime of idolatry, incurred the excommunication by impeding the assembly. And he bound himself with the chain of the anathema, causing a great multitude of Christians to be given over to death and of churches to be ruined, and rendering desolate almost the whole realm of the Germans.

Therefore, trusting in the judgment and mercy of God and of his most holy mother the ever-virgin Mary, armed with your authority, I lay under excommunication and bind with the chains of the anathema the oft-mentioned Henry - the so-called king - and all his followers.

And again, on the part of God Almighty and of yourselves, I deny to him the kingdom of the Germans and of Italy and I take away from him all royal power and dignity. And I forbid any Christian to obey him as king, and absolve from their oath all who have sworn or shall swear to him as ruler of the land.

May this same Henry, moreover, as well as his partisans, be powerless in any war-like encounter and obtain no victory during his life. Whereas I grant and concede in your name that Rudolf, whom, as a mark of fidelity to ye, the Germans have chosen to be their king, may rule and defend the land of the Germans. To all of those who faithfully adhere to him, trusting in your support, grant absolution of all their sins and your benediction in this life and the life to come. For as Henry, on account of his pride, disobedience and falseness, is justly cast down from his royal dignity, so to Rudolf, for his humility, obedience and truthfulness, the power and dignity of kingship are granted.

Proceed now, I beg, O fathers and most holy princes, in such way that all the world may learn and know that, if ye can bind and loose in Heaven, so ye can on earth take away empires, kingdoms, principalities, duchies, margravates, counties and all possessions of men, and grant them to any man ye please according to his merits. For often have ye taken away patriarchates, primateships, archbishoprics and bishoprics from the wicked and unworthy and given them to devout men. And if ye judge spiritual offices what are we to believe of your power in secular ones? And if ye shall judge angels, who rule over all proud princes, how will it be with those subject to them? Let kings and all secular princes now learn how great ye are and what your power is; and let them dread to disregard the command of your Church.

And, in the case of the said Henry, exercise such swift judgment that all may know him to fall not by chance but by your power. Let him be confounded; - would it were to repentance, that his soul may be safe at the day of the Lord!

Given at Rome, on the Nones of March, in the third indiction.

translated in Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages,
(London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), pp. 388-391

Bull Deposing The Emperor Frederick II


Bishop, servant of the servants of God, in the presence of the holy council, for an everlasting record.

Raised, though unworthy, to the highest point of the apostolic dignity, by the will of the divine majesty, we ought to exercise a watchful, diligent and wise care of all Christians, to examine with close attention the merits of individuals and to weigh them in the balance of prudent deliberation, so that we may raise by suitable favours those whom a rigorous and just examination shows to be worthy, and depress the guilty with due penalties, weighing always the merit and the reward in a fair scale, repaying to each the amount of penalty or favour according to the nature of his work. Indeed since the terrible conflict of war has afflicted some countries of the Christian world for a long time, as we desired with our whole heart the peace and tranquillity of the holy Church of God and of all the Christian people in general, we thought that we should send special ambassadors, men of great authority, to the secular prince who was the special cause of this discord and suffering. He was the man whom our predecessor of happy memory, Pope Gregory, had bound by anathema because of his excesses. The ambassadors we sent, men eager for his salvation, were our venerable brethren Peter of Albano, at that time bishop of Rouen, William of Sabina, at that time bishop of Modena, and our beloved son William, Cardinal-priest of the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles and at that time Abbot of Saint Facundus. Through them we proposed to him, because we and our brethren desired to have peace with him and with all people, as far as lay in our power, that we were ready to grant peace and tranquillity to him and also to the rest of the whole world.

Because the restitution of the prelates, clerics and all others whom he kept in captivity, and of all both clerics and laymen whom he had taken in the galleys, could especially lead the way to peace, we asked and begged him through our said ambassadors to set these prisoners free. This both he and his envoys had promised before we had been called to the Apostolic office. Further we informed him that our ambassadors were ready on our behalf to hear and treat of peace, and even of satisfaction, should the emperor be ready to make it with regard to all those things for which he had incurred excommunication; and besides to offer him that if the Church had injured him in anything contrary to justice - though it did not believe it had done so - it was ready to put it to rights and restore the proper position. If he said that he had harmed the Church in nothing unjustly, or that we had harmed him contrary to justice, we were ready to call the kings, prelates and princes, both ecclesiastical and lay, to some safe place where either by themselves or by official representatives they might come together, and that the Church was ready on the advice of the council to satisfy him if in anything it had harmed him, and to recall the sentence of excommunication if it had been brought unjustly against him, and with all clemency and mercy, in so far as it could be done without offence to God and its own honour, to receive satisfaction from him for the injuries and wrongs done to the Church itself and its members through him.

The Church also wished to secure peace for his friends and supporters and the enjoyment of full security, so that for this reason they should never incur any danger. But though in our relations with him, for the sake of peace, we have always taken care to rely on paternal admonitions and gentle entreaty, yet he, following the hardness of Pharaoh and blocking his ears like an asp, with proud obstinacy and obstinate pride has despised such prayers and admonitions. Furthermore on the Maundy Thursday previous to that which has just passed, in our presence and that of our brother cardinals, and in the presence of our dear son in Christ, the illustrious Emperor of Constantinople, and of a considerable gathering of prelates, before the senate and people of Rome and a very large number of others, who on that day because of its solemnity had come to the Apostolic See from different parts of the world, he guaranteed on oath, through the noble count Raymond of Toulouse, and Masters Peter de Vinea and Thaddaeus of Suessa, judges of his court, his envoys and proctors who had in this matter a general commission, that he would keep our commands and those of the Church. However afterwards he did not fulfil what he had sworn. Indeed it is likely enough that he took the oath, as can be clearly gathered from his following actions, with the express intention of mocking rather than obeying us and the Church, since after more than a year he could not be reconciled to the bosom of the Church, nor did he trouble to make satisfaction for the losses and injuries he had caused it, even though he was asked to do this. For this reason, as we are unable without giving offence to Christ to bear any longer his wickedness, we are compelled, urged on by our conscience, justly to punish him.

To say nothing about his other crimes, he has committed four of the greatest gravity, which cannot be hidden by evasion. For, he has often failed to keep his oath; he deliberately broke the peace previously established between the Church and the Empire; he committed a sacrilege by causing the arrest of cardinals of the holy Roman Church and of prelates and clerics of other churches, both religious and secular, who were coming to the council which our predecessor had decided to summon; he is also suspect of heresy, by proofs which are not light or doubtful but clear and inescapable.

It is clear that he has often been guilty of perjury. For, once when he was staying in Sicily, before he had been elected to the dignity of emperor, in the presence of Gregory of happy memory, cardinal deacon of Saint Theodore and legate of the Apostolic See, he took an oath of loyalty to our predecessor Pope Innocent of happy memory and his successors and the Roman Church, in return for the grant of the kingdom of Sicily made to him by this same church. Likewise, as is said, after he had been elected to that same dignity and had come to Rome, in the presence of Innocent and his brother cardinals and before many others, he renewed that oath, making his pledge of hommage in the Pope's hands. Then, when he was in Germany he swore to the same Innocent, and on his death to our predecessor Pope Honorius of happy memory and his successors and the Roman Church itself, in the presence of the princes and nobles of the Empire, to preserve as far as was in his power, the honours, rights and possessions of the Roman Church, and loyally to protect them, and without difficulty to see to the restoration of whatever came into his hands, expressly naming the said possessions in the oath: afterwards he confirmed this when he had gained the imperial crown. But he has deliberately broken these three oaths, not without the brand of treachery and the charge of treason. For against our predecessor Gregory and his brother cardinals, he has dared to send threatening letters to these cardinals, and in many ways to slander Gregory before his brother cardinals, as is clear from the letters which he then sent to them, and almost throughout the whole world, as it is said, he has presumed to defame him.

He also personally caused the arrest of our venerable brother Otto, Bishop of Porto, at that time cardinal deacon of Saint Nicholas in Carcere Tulliano, and James of happy memory, bishop of Palestrina, legates of the Apostolic See, noble and important members of the Roman Church. He had them stripped of all their goods, and after more than once being led shamefully through different places, committed to prison. Furthermore this privilege which our lord Jesus Christ handed to Peter and in him to his successors, namely, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, in which assuredly consists the authority and power of the Roman Church, he did his best to diminish or take away from the Church itself, writing that he did not fear Pope Gregory's condemnations.

For, not only by despising the Keys of the Church he did not observe the sentence of excommunication pronounced against him, but also by himself and his officials he prevented others from observing that and other sentences of excommunication and interdict, which he altogether set at nought. Also without fear he seized territories of the said Roman Church, namely the Marches, the Duchy, Benevento, the walls and towers of which he has caused to be demolished, and others with few exceptions in parts of Tuscany and Lombardy and certain other places which he holds, and he still keeps hold of them. And as if it were not enough that he was clearly going against the aforesaid oaths by such presumption, either by himself or through his officials he has forced the inhabitants of these territories to break their oath, absolving them in fact, since he cannot do it in law, from the oaths of loyalty by which they were bound to the Roman Church, and making them nonetheless forswear the said loyalty and take an oath of loyalty to himself.

It is absolutely clear that he is the violator of the peace. For, previously at a time when peace had been restored between himself and the Church, he took an oath before the venerable John of Abbeville bishop of Sabina, and Master Thomas, Cardinal priest of the title of Saint Sabina, in the presence of many prelates, princes and barons, that he would observe and obey exactly and without reserve all the commands of the Church with regard to those things for which he had incurred excommunication, after the reasons of that excommunication had been set out in order before him. Then, when remitting every sanction and penalty to the Teutonic knights, the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Sicily and any others who had supported the Church against him, he guaranteed on his soul through Thomas, Count of Acerra, that he would never wrong them or cause them to be wronged on the ground that they had supported the Church. But he did not keep the peace and violated these oaths without any sense of shame that he was guilty of perjury. For afterwards he caused some of these very men, both nobles and others, to be captured; and after stripping them of all their goods, he had their wives and children imprisoned; and contrary to the promise he had made to Bishop John of Sabina and Cardinal Thomas, he invaded the lands of the Church without hesitation, even though they promulgated in his presence that henceforth he would incur sentence of excommunication if he broke his promise. And when these two ecclesiastics, by their apostolic authority, ordered that neither by himself nor through others should he hinder postulations, elections or confirmations of churches and monasteries in the Kingdom of Sicily from being held freely in future according to the statutes of the general council; that henceforth nobody in the same kingdom should impose taxes or collections on ecclesiastical persons or their property; that in the same kingdom no cleric or ecclesiastical person should in future be brought before a lay judge in a civil or criminal case, except for a suit in civil law over feudal rights; and that he should make adequate compensation to the Templars, Hospitallers and other ecclesiastical persons for the loss and injury inflicted upon them; he nevertheless refused to obey these commands.

It is clear that in the kingdom of Sicily eleven or more archiepiscopal and many episcopal sees, abbacies and other churches are at present vacant, and through his agency, as is patent, these have long been deprived of prelates, to their own grave loss and the ruin of souls. And though perhaps in some churches of the kingdom elections have been held by chapters, since however they have elected clerics who are Frederick's dependants, it can be concluded in all probability that they did not have a free power of choice. Not only has he caused the possessions and goods of churches in the kingdom to be seized at his pleasure, but also the crosses, thuribles, chalices and other sacred treasures of theirs, and silk cloth, to be carried off, like one who sets at nought divine worship, and although it is said that they have been restored in part to the churches, yet a price was first exacted for them. Indeed clerics are made to suffer in many ways by collections and taxes, and not only are they dragged before a lay court but also, as it is asserted, they are compelled to submit to duels and are imprisoned, killed and tortured to the disturbance and insult of the clerical order. Satisfaction has not been made to the said Templars, Hospitallers and ecclesiastical persons for the loss and injury done to them.

It is also certain that he is guilty of sacrilege. For when the aforesaid bishops of Porto and Palestrina, and many prelates of churches and clerics, both religious and secular, summoned to the apostolic see to hold the council which Frederick himself had previously asked for, were coming by sea, since the roads had been entirely blocked at his command, he stationed his son Enzo with a large number of galleys and, by means of many others duly placed long beforehand, he laid an ambush against them in the parts of Tuscany on the coast; and so that he might vomit forth in more deadly fashion the poison which had long gathered within him, by an act of sacrilegious daring he caused them to be captured; during their seizure some of the prelates and others were drowned, a number were killed, some were put to flight and pursued, and the rest were stripped of all their possessions, ignominiously led from place to place to the kingdom of Sicily, and there harshly imprisoned. Some of them, overcome by the filth and beset by hunger, perished miserably.

Furthermore, he has deservedly become suspect of heresy. For, after he had incurred the sentence of excommunication pronounced against him by the aforesaid John, Bishop of Sabina, and Cardinal Thomas, after the said Pope Gregory had laid him under anathema, and after the capture of cardinals of the Roman Church, prelates, clerics and others coming at different times to the Apostolic See; he has despised and continues to despise the Keys of the Church, causing the sacred rites to be celebrated or rather, as far as in him lies, to be profaned, and he has consistently asserted, as said above, that he does not fear the condemnations of the aforesaid Pope Gregory. Besides, he is joined in odious friendship with the Saracens; several times he has sent envoys and gifts to them, and receives the like from them in return with expressions of honour and welcome; he embraces their rites; he openly keeps them with him in his daily services; and, following their customs, he does not blush to appoint as guards, for his wives descended from royal stock, eunuchs whom it is seriously said he has had castrated. And what is more loathsome, when he was in the territory overseas, after he had made an agreement, or rather had come to a wicked understanding with the sultan, he allowed the name of Mahomet to be publicly proclaimed day and night in the Lord's temple. Recently, after the Sultan of Babylon and his followers had brought serious loss and untold injury to the Holy Land and its Christian inhabitants, he caused the envoys of the sultan to be honourably received and lavishly entertained throughout the kingdom of Sicily with, it is said, every mark of honour being paid to the sultan. Using the deadly and hateful service of other unbelievers against the faithful, and securing a bond by friendship and marriage with those who, wickedly making light of the Apostolic See, have separated from the unity of the church, he brought about by assassins the death of the famous duke Ludwig of Bavaria, who was specially devoted to the Roman Church, with disregard of the Christian religion, and he gave his daughter in marriage to Vatatzes, that enemy of God and the Church who, together with his counsellors and supporters, was solemnly separated by excommunication from the communion of the faithful.

Rejecting the customs and actions of Christian princes and heedless of salvation and reputation, he gives no attention to works of piety. Indeed to say nothing of his wicked acts of destruction, though he has learnt to oppress, he does not care mercifully to relieve the oppressed, and instead of holding out his hand in charity, as befits a prince, he sets about the destruction of churches and crushes religious and other ecclesiastical persons by constant affliction. Nor is he seen to have built churches, monasteries, hospitals or other pious places. Surely these are not light but convincing proofs for suspecting him of heresy?

The civil law declares that those are to be regarded as heretics, and ought to be subject to the sentences issued against them, who even on slight evidence are found to have strayed from the judgment and path of the Catholic religion. Besides this the kingdom of Sicily, which is the special Patrimony of blessed Peter and which Frederick held as a fief from the Apostolic See, he has reduced to such a state of utter desolation and servitude, with regard to both clergy and laity, that these have practically nothing at all; and as nearly all upright people have been driven out, he has forced those who remain to live in an almost servile condition and to wrong in many ways and attack the Roman Church, of which in the first place they are subjects and vassals. He could also be rightly blamed because for more than nine years he has failed to pay the annual pension of a thousand gold pieces, which he is bound to pay to the Roman Church for this kingdom.

We therefore, after careful discussion with our brother cardinals and the sacred council on his wicked transgressions already mentioned and many more besides, since though unworthy we hold on earth the place of Jesus Christ, and to us in the person of the blessed Apostle Peter has been said, whatever you bind on earth etc., denounce the said prince, who has made himself so unworthy of the empire and kingdoms and every honour and dignity and who also, because of his crimes, has been cast out by God from kingdom and empire; we mark him out as bound by his sins, an outcast and deprived by our Lord of every honour and dignity; and we deprive him of them by our sentence.

We absolve from their oath for ever all those who are bound to him by an oath of loyalty, firmly forbidding by our Apostolic authority anyone in the future to obey or heed him as emperor or king, and decreeing that anyone who henceforth offers advice, help or favour to him as to an emperor or king, automatically incurs excommunication.

Let those whose task it is to choose an emperor in the same Empire, freely choose a successor to him. With regard to the aforesaid kingdom of Sicily, we shall take care to provide, with the counsel of our brother cardinals, as we see to be expedient.

Given at Lyons on 17 July in the third year of our Pontificate.

From the Council of Lyons

Regnans in Excelsis

A Papal Bull deposing Queen Elizabeth I of England
By Pope Pius V

Pius V

Pius, Bishop, servant of the servants of God, in lasting memory of the matter.

He that reigneth on high, to whom is given all power in heaven and earth, has committed one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which there is no salvation, to one alone upon earth, namely to Peter, the first of the apostles, and to Peter's successor, the Pope of Rome, to be by him governed in fullness of power. Him alone He has made ruler over all peoples and kingdoms, to pull up, destroy, scatter, disperse, plant and build, so that he may preserve His faithful people (knit together with the girdle of charity) in the unity of the Spirit and present them safe and spotless to their Saviour.

I. In obedience to which duty, we (who by God's goodness are called to the aforesaid government of the Church) spare no pains and labour with all our might that unity and the Catholic religion (which their Author, for the trial of His children's faith and our correction, has suffered to be afflicted with such great troubles) may be preserved entire. But the number of the ungodly has so much grown in power that there is no place left in the world which they have not tried to corrupt with their most wicked doctrines; and among others, Elizabeth, the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime, has assisted in this, with whom as in a sanctuary the most pernicious of all have found refuge. This very woman, having seized the crown and monstrously usurped the place of supreme head of the Church in all England together with the chief authority and jurisdiction belonging to it, has once again reduced this same kingdom - which had already been restored to the Catholic faith and to good fruits - to a miserable ruin.

II. Prohibiting with a strong hand the use of the true religion, which after its earlier overthrow by Henry VIII (a deserter therefrom), Mary, the lawful Queen of famous memory, had with the help of this See restored, she has followed and embraced the errors of the heretics. She has removed the royal Council, composed of the nobility of England, and has filled it with obscure men, being heretics; oppressed the followers of the Catholic faith; instituted false preachers and ministers of impiety; abolished the sacrifice of the mass, prayers, fasts, choice of meats, celibacy, and Catholic ceremonies; and has ordered that books of manifestly heretical content be propounded to the whole realm and that impious rites and institutions after the rule of Calvin, entertained and observed by herself, be also observed by her subjects. She has dared to eject bishops, rectors of churches and other Catholic priests from their churches and benefices, to bestow these and other things ecclesiastical upon heretics, and to determine spiritual causes; has forbidden the prelates, clergy and people to acknowledge the Church of Rome or obey its precepts and canonical sanctions; has forced most of them to come to terms with her wicked laws, to abjure the authority and obedience of the Pope of Rome, and to accept her, on oath, as their only lady in matters temporal and spiritual; has imposed penalties and punishments on those who would not agree to this and has exacted then of those who perserved in the unity of the faith and the aforesaid obedience; has thrown the Catholic prelates and parsons into prison where many, worn out by long languishing and sorrow, have miserably ended their lives. All these matter and manifest and notorius among all the nations; they are so well proven by the weighty witness of many men that there remains no place for excuse, defence or evasion.

III. We, seeing impieties and crimes multiplied one upon another the persecution of the faithful and afflictions of religion daily growing more severe under the guidance and by the activity of the said Elizabeth - and recognising that her mind is so fixed and set that she has not only despised the pious prayers and admonitions with which Catholic princes have tried to cure and convert her but has not even permitted the nuncios sent to her in this matter by this See to cross into England, are compelled by necessity to take up against her the weapons of juctice, though we cannot forbear to regret that we should be forced to turn, upon one whose ancestors have so well deserved of the Christian community. Therefore, resting upon the authority of Him whose pleasure it was to place us (though unequal to such a burden) upon this supreme justice-seat, we do out of the fullness of our apostolic power declare the foresaid Elizabeth to be a heretic and favourer of heretics, and her adherents in the matters aforesaid to have incurred the sentence of excommunication and to be cut off from the unity of the body of Christ.

IV. And moreover (we declare) her to be deprived of her pretended title to the aforesaid crown and of all lordship, dignity and privilege whatsoever.

V. And also (declare) the nobles, subjects and people of the said realm and all others who have in any way sworn oaths to her, to be forever absolved from such an oath and from any duty arising from lordshop. fealty and obedience; and we do, by authority of these presents, so absolve them and so deprive the same Elizabeth of her pretended title to the crown and all other the above said matters. We charge and command all and singular the nobles, subjects, peoples and others afore said that they do not dare obey her orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the like sentence of excommunication.

VI. Because in truth it may prove too difficult to take these presents wheresoever it shall be necessary, we will that copies made under the hand of a notary public and sealed with the seal of a prelate of the Church or of his court shall have such force and trust in and out of judicial proceedings, in all places among the nations, as these presents would themselves have if they were exhibted or shown.

Given at St. Peter's at Rome, on 27 April 1570 of the Incarnation; in the fifth year of our Pontificate

A Declaration of the Sentence and Deposition of Elizabeth,

the usurper and pretensed Queen of England.

(Translated from the Latin)

Sixtus the Fifth,

by God's providence the universal pastor of Christ's flock, to whom by perpetual and lawful succession, appertaineth the care and government of the Catholic Church, seeing the pitiful calamities which heresy hath brought into the renowned countries of England and Ireland, of old so famous for virtue, Religion, & Christian obedience; and how at this present, through the impiety and perverse government of Elizabeth the pretensed Queen, with a few of her adherents, those kingdoms be brought not only to a disordered and perilous state in themselves, but are become as infected members, contagious and troublesome to the whole body of Christendom; and not having in those parts the ordinary means, which by the assistance of Christian Princes he has in other provinces to remedy disorders, and keep in obedience and ecclesiastical discipline the people, for that Henry the 8th late king of England, did of late years, by rebellion and revolt from the See Apostolic, violently separate himself and his subjects from the communion and society of the Christian commonwealth; and Elizabeth the present usurper, does continue the same, with perturbation and peril of the countries about her, showing herself obstinate and incorrigible in such sort, that without her deprivation and deposition there is no hope to reform those States, nor keep Christendom in perfect peace & tranquility:

Therefore our Holy Father, desiring as his duty is, to provide present & effectual remedy, inspired by God for the universal benefit of his Church, moved by the particular affection which himself and many his predecessors have had to these nations, and solicited by the zealous and importunate instance of sundry the most principal persons of the same, hath dealt earnestly with divers Princes, and specially with the mighty and potent King Catholic of Spain, for the reverence which he beareth to the See Apostolic, for the old amity between his house and the Crown of England, for the special love that he hath showed to the Catholics of those places, for the obtaining of peace and quietness in his countries adjoining, and for the augmenting and increase of the Catholic faith, and finally for the universal benefit of all Europe; that he will employ those forces which Almighty God hath given him; to the deposition of this woman, and correction of her complices, so wicked and noisome to the world; and to the reformation and pacification of these kingdoms, whence to create good, and so many-fold public commodities, are like to ensue.

And to notify to the world the justice of this act, and give full satisfaction to the subjects of those kingdoms and others whosoever, and finally to manifest God's judgments upon sin; His Holiness hath thought good, together with the declaratory sentence of this woman's chastisement, to publish also the causes, which have moved him to proceed against her in this sort.

First, for that she is an heretic and schismatic, excommunicated by two His Holiness's predecessors, obstinate in disobedience to God and the See Apostolic, presuming to take upon her, contrary to nature, reason, and all laws both of God and man, supreme jurisdiction and spiritual authority over men's souls.

Secondly for that she is a bastard, conceived and born by incestuous adultery, and therefore uncapable of the kingdom, as well by the several sentences of Clement the 7th and Paul the 3rd of blessed memory, as by the public declaration of king Henry himself.

Thirdly for usurping the Crown without right, having the impediments mentioned, and contrary to the ancient accord made between the See Apostolic and the realm of England, upon reconciliation of the same after the death of Saint Thomas of Canterbury, in the time of Henry the second, that none might be lawful king or queen thereof, without the approbation and consent of the supreme Bishop: which afterwards was renewed by king John, and confirmed by oath, as a thing most beneficial to the kingdom, at request and instance of the Lords and Commons of the same. And further for that with sacrilege and impiety, she continues violating the solemn oath made at her coronation, to maintain and defend the ancient privileges and ecclesiastical liberties of the land. For many and grievous injuries, extorsions, oppressions, and other wrongs, done by her, and suffered to be done against the poor and innocent people of both countries. For stirring up to sedition and rebellion the subjects of other nations about her, against their lawful and natural princes, to the destruction of infinite souls, overthrow and desolation of most goodly cities and countries.

For harbouring and protecting heretics, fugitives, rebels, and notorious malefactors, with great injury and prejudice of divers commonwealths: and procuring for the oppression of Christendom and disturbance of common peace, to bring in our potent and cruel enemy the Turk. For so long and barbarous persecution of God's saints, afflicting, spoiling and imprisoning the sacred bishops, tormenting, and pitifully murdering numbers of holy priests, and other Catholic persons. For the unnatural and unjust imprisonment, and late cruelty used against the most gracious Princess Mary Queen of Scotland, who under promise and assurance of protection and succour, came first into England. For abolishing the true Catholic religion; prophaning holy sacraments, monasteries, churches, sacred persons, memories of Saints, and what else soever might help or further to eternal salvation: and in the Commonwealth, disgracing the ancient nobility, erecting base and unworthy persons to all the civil and ecclesiastical dignities, selling of laws and justice, and finally exercising an absolute tyranny, with high offence to Almighty God, oppression of the people, perdition of souls, and ruin of those countries.

Wherefore, these things being of such nature and quality, that some of them make her unable to reign, others declare her unworthy to live; His Holiness, in the almighty power of God, and by apostolical authority to him committed, doth renew the sentence of his predecessors Pius 5th and Gregory the 13th touching the excommunication and deposition of the said Elizabeth: and further anew doth excommunicate, and deprive her of all authority and princely dignity, and of all title and pretension to the said Crown and kingdom of England and Ireland; declaring her to be illegitimate, and an unjust usurper of the same; and absolving the people of those States, and other persons whatsoever, from all obedience, oath, and other band of subjection unto her, or to any other in her name. And further, doth straightly command, under the indignation of almighty God, and pain of excommunication, and the corporal punishment appointed by the laws, that none, of whatsoever condition or estate, after notice of these presents, presume to yield unto her, obedience, favour, or other succourse; but that they and every of them concur by all means possible to her chastisement. To the end that she which so many ways has forsaken God and his Church, being now destitute of wor[l]dly comfort, and abandoned of all, may acknowledge her offence, and humbly submit herself to the judgments of the Highest.

Be it therefore notified to the inhabitants of the said countries, and to all other persons, that they observe diligently the premisses, withdrawing all succour public and private, from the party pursued and her adherents, after they shall have knowledge of ths present: And that forthwith they unite themselves to the Catholic army conducted by the most noble and victorious prince, Alexander Farnesius, Duke of Parma and Placentia, in name of his Majesty, with the forces that each one can procure, to help and concur as is aforesaid (if need shall be) to the deposition and chastisement of the said persons, and restitution of the holy Catholic faith. Signifying to those which shall do the contrary or refuse to do this here commanded, that they shall not escape condign punishment.

Moreover be it known that the intention of His Holiness, of the King Catholic, and the Duke's Highness in this enterprise, is not to invade and conquer these kingdoms, change laws, privileges or customs, bereave of liberty or livelihood any man (other than rebels and obstinate persons) or make mutation in anything, except such, as by common accord, between His Holiness, the King Catholic, and the states of the land, shall be thought necessary, for the restitution and continuance of the Catholic religion, and punishment of the usurper and her adherents.

Assuring all men, that the controversies which may arise by the deprivation of this woman, or upon other cause, either between particular parties, or touching the succession to the Crown, or between the Church and Commonwealth, or in other wise whatsoever, shall be decided and determined wholly according to justice and Christian equity without any injury or prejudice to any person. And there shall not only due care be had, to save from spoil the Catholics of these countries, which have so long endured, but mercy also shown to such penitent persons, as submit themselves to the Captain general of this army. Yea, for so much as information is given, that there be many, which only of ignorance or fear be fallen from the faith, and yet notwithstanding are taken for heretics: Neither is it purposed, presently to punish any such persons, but to support them with clemency, till they by conference with learned men and better consideration, they may be informed of the truth, if they do not show themselves obstinate.

To prevent also the shedding of Christian blood, and spoil of the country, which might ensue by the resistance of some principal offenders:

Be it known by these presents, that it shall not only be lawful for any person public or private (over and besides those which have undertaken the enterprise) to arrest, put in hold, and deliver up unto the Catholic part, the said usurper, or any of her complices, but also holden for very good service and most high rewarded, according to the quality and condition of the parties so delivered. And in like manner, all others, which heretofore have assisted, or hereafter shall help and concur to the punishment of the offenders, and to the establishment of Catholic religion in these provinces, shall receive that advancement of honour and estate which their good and faithful service to the commonwealth shall require; in which, respect shall be used, to preserve the ancient and honourable families of the land, inasmuch as is possible. And finally by these presents, free passage is granted to such as will resort to the Catholic camp, to bring victuals, munition, or other necessaries promising liberal payment for all such things, as shall be received from them for service of the army. Exhorting withall, and straightly commanding, that all men according to their force and ability, be ready and diligent to assist herein; to the end no occasion be given to use violence, or to punish such persons as shall neglect this commandment.

Our said Holy Father, of his benignity, and favour to this enterprise, out of the spiritual treasures of the Church committed to his custody and dispensation, grants most liberally, to all such as assist, concur, or help in any wise, to the disposition and punishment of the abovenamed persons, and to the reformation of these two countries, Plenary Indulgence and pardon of all their sins, being duly penitent, contrite and confessed, according to the law of God, and usual custom of Christian people.

Laus Deo.

Actually, it was the Roman Catholic Queen Mary that had shed blood when she tried to re-introduce the Inquisition into England during her reign previously.

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