Letters I to IX is in Letters of Royal And Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain Volume 1.
1103 Letter I. Edith aka Matilda Dunkeld Queen Consort England 1080 1118 to Anselm Archbishop of Canterbury 1033 1109
1103. Letter I. Edith aka Matilda Dunkeld Queen Consort England 1080-1118 (23) to Anselm Archbishop of Canterbury 1033-1109.
To her piously remembered father and worthily reverenced lord, Anselm the archbishop, Matilda, by the grace of God qaeen of England, the least of the handmaidens of his holiness, wishes perpetual health in Christ.
I give unnumbered thanks to your unceasing goodness, which, not unmindful of me has condescended, by your letters presented to me, to shew forth your mind, though absent. The clouds of sadness in which I was wrapped being expelled, the streamlet of your words has glided through me like a ray of new light. I embrace the little parchment sent to me by you, as I would my father himself: I cherish it in my bosom, I place it as near my heart as I can; I read over and over again the words flowing from the sweet fountain of your goodness; my mind considers them, my heart broods over them; and I hide the pondered treasures in the very secret place of my heart. Yet, while I praise all you have said, at one thing alone I wonder; that is, at what your discreet excellency has said about your nephew. Yet I do not think I can deal otherwise with your friends than my own. I might say with mine than my own, for all who are yours by kindred are mine by love and adoption. Truly the consolation of your writing strengthens my patience, gives and preserves my hopes, raises me when falling, sustains me when sliding, gladdens me when sorrowful, softens me when angry, pacifies me when weeping. Farther, frequent, though secret, consultation promises the return of the father to his daughter, of the lord to his handmaiden, of the pastor to his flock. I am encouraged to hope the same thing from the confidence which I have in the prayers of good men, and from the good will which, by skillfully investigating, I find to be in the heart of my lord. His mind is better disposed towards you than many men think; and, I favouring it, and suggesting wherever I can, he will become yet more courteous and reconciled to you. As to what be permits now to be done, in reference to your return, he will permit more and better to be done in future, when, according to time and opportunity, you shall request it. But even though he should persist in being an unjust judge, I entreat the affluence of your piety, that, excluding the bitterness of human rancour, which is not wont to dwell in you, you turn not from him the sweetness of your favour, but ever prove a pious intercessor with God for him and me, our common offspring, and the state of our kingdom. May your holiness ever fare well.
1103. Letter II. Edith aka Matilda Dunkeld Queen Consort England 1080 1118 to Pope Paschal II.
1103. Letter II. Edith aka Matilda Dunkeld Queen Consort England 1080-1118 (23) to Pope Paschal II.
To the highest pontiff and universal pope, Paschal, Matilda, by God's grace queen of the English, trusting that he will so dispense in this life the rights of the apostolic dignity, that he may deserve to be numbered among the apostolic senate in the joys of perpetual peace with the companies of the just.
I give all the thanks and praise I can to your sublime holiness, O apostolic man, for the things which your paternal charity, as though for admonition, has deigned to send to me and to my lord the king, both frequently by the words of your legates and also by your own writings. I visit the threshold of the most holy Roman apostolic seat, and as far as it is lawful and I am able, clasping your paternal knees with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, praying with importune and opportune petition, 1 cease not, nor will I cease, to entreat, till I know that my submissive humility, or rather the persevering importunity of my application, is heard by you. Yet let not your excellency be angry, let not the prudent Roman clergy, people, or senate, be amazed at this my rashness, that thus I presume to speak. Once, once, I say, we and the English people, — then how happy! — had, under your apostolic dignity, Anselm our archbishop, a foster-child of the Holy Ghost, the most prudent counsellor and pious father of us and the aforesaid people. From the most opulent treasures of his Lord, whereof we knew him to hold the keys, he took abundantly, and bestowed them upon us more abundantly; for this same faithful minister and prudent dispenser of the Lord seasoned those things which he bestowed with the most excellent salt of wisdom, softened them with the sweetness of eloquence, and sweetened them by the wonderful conceits of rhetoric. And so it was that neither did the tender lambs lack the abundant milk of the Lord, nor the sheep the richest fatness of the pastures, nor the pastors the most opulent satiety of aliments. But now, when all these things are otherwise, no thing remains but that the pastor wanting food, the flock pasture, the young milk, utter forth the heaviest groans. Since, by the absence of the chief pastor, Anselm, each is deprived of something, or rather all of all things. In such lugubrious mournings in such opprobrious grief, in such deformity and loss of our kingdom, nothing remains to me, stunned as I am, but, shaking off my stupor, to fly to the blessed Apostle Peter, and his vicar the apostolic man. Therefore, my lord, I fly to your benignity, lest we and the people of the kingdom of England perish in such a defect and lapse. What good will our life do us when we go down to corruption? Let your paternity take good counsel concerning us, and deign, within the term which my lord the king asks of your goodness, to let your paternal bowels be moved towards us, that we may both rejoice at the return of our dearest father. Archbishop Anselm, and preserve, uninjured, our subjection to the holy apo8tolic see. I, indeed, taught by your most sound and gracious advice, will as far as woman's strength may suffice, and with the help of worthy men, which I shall procure, endeavour, with my whole power, that my humility may, as far as possible, fulfil what your highness advises. May your paternity enjoy eternal happiness!
1130 Letter III. Adela Countess of Blois to Theobald Earl of Blois her Son
1130. Letter III. Adela Countess of Blois (63) to Theobald Earl of Blois, her Son (40).
To her dearest Earl of Blois, Adela the nun of Marcigny sends the affections of maternal love.
I remember, dearest son, that while yet I wore a secular habit, the canons of St. Carilef complained about the tithe of the almsgift of Francville, which my consort, namely, the earl your father, and I gave to the monks of Marmoutier. About which be it known to your grace, that these canons, in our presence, dismissed their complaints against the said monks, that this quarrel might be set to rest for ever without further renewal. Therefore I entreat you, dearest son, that our alms which we freely gave to the monks you will as freely keep for them, nor let the church of Marmoutier be teased with any further controversy about this affair. Farewell.
1165. Letter IV. Empress Matilda Duchess Normandy 1102 1167 to Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury 1119 1170
1165. Letter IV. Empress Matilda Duchess Normandy 1102-1167 (62) to Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury 1119-1170 (45).
To Thomas archbishop of Canterbury, Matilda the empress.
My lord pope sent to me, enjoining me, for the remission of my sins, to interfere to renew peace and concord between you and the king, my son (31), and to try to reconcile you to him. You, as you well know, have asked the same thing from me; wherefore, with the more good-will, for the honour of God and the Holy Church, I have begun and carefully treated of that affair. But it seems a very hard thing to the king, as well as to his barons and council, seeing he so loved and honoured you, and appointed you lord of his whole kingdom and of all his lands, and raised you to the highest honours in the land, believing he might trust you rather than any other; and especially so, because he declares that you have, as far as you could, roused his whole kingdom against him; nor was it your fault that you did not disinherit him by main force. Therefore I send you my faithful servant, Archdeacon Laurence, that by him I may know your will in these affairs, and what sort of disposition you entertain towards my son, and how you intend to conduct yourself, if it should happen that he fully grants my petition and prayer on your behalf. One thing I plainly tell you, that you cannot recover the king's favour, except by great humility and most evident moderation. However, what you intend to do in this matter signify to me by my messenger and your letters.
1168. Letter V. Marie Blois I Count Boulogne 1136 1182 to Louis VII King Franks 1120 1180
1168. Letter V. Marie Blois I Count Boulogne 1136-1182 (32) to Louis VII King Franks 1120-1180 (48).
Let it be known to your highness that Henry, king of England (34) has sent his ambassadors to the emperor. It is certain that he has for the most part, succeeded in obtaining what he wished; for the emperor shews himself kindly disposed to the king, and his (the king's) ambassadors being on their return, he has not hesitated to send his own with them to him, which he thought the best course, lest the aforesaid king should doubt whether he was sincere in his assistance against you. The returning ambassadors passed through my territories, and I spoke with them, and well I perceived from their words that the English king ceases not, day nor night, to devise mischief against you. Wherefore I thought it fitting to send to your grace, and to give you the necessary forewarning, that you may take counsel with your wise men, and act as is most fitting, lest the impetuous presumption of the fraudulent king should inflict violent injury upon you. Fare you well.
1192. Letter VI. Eleanor of Aquitaine Queen Consort Franks and England 1122 1204 to Pope Celestine
1192. Letter VI. Eleanor of Aquitaine Queen Consort Franks and England 1122-1204 (70) to Pope Celestine.
To the reverend father and lord Celestine, by God's grace highest pontiff, Eleanora the miserable, and I would I could add the commiserated, queen of England, duchess of Normandy, countess of Anjou, entreating him to shew himself a father of mercy to a miserable mother.
I am prevented, O holiest pope, by the great distance which parts us, from addressing you personally; yet I must bewail my grief a little, and who shall assist me to write my words?.
I am all anxiety, internally and externally, whence my very words are full of grief. Without are fears, within contentions; nor have I a moment wherein to breathe freely from the tribulation of evils, and the grief occasioned by the troubles which ever find me out. I am all defiled with grief, and my bones cleave to my skin, for my flesh is wasted away. My years pass away in groanings, and 1 would they were altogether passed away. O that the whole blood of my body would now die, that the brain of my head and the marrow of my bones were so dissolved into tears that I might melt away in weeping ! My very bowels are torn away from me; I have lost the light of my eyes, the stafi^ of my old age : and, would God accede to my wishes, he would condemn me to perpetual blindness, that my wretched eyes might no longer behold the woes of my people. Who will grant me the boon of dying for thee, my son ? O mother of mercy ! look upon a mother so wretched; or if thy Son, the inexhausted fount of mercy, is avenging the sins of the mother on the son, let him exact vengeance from her who has alone sinned : let him punish me, the wicked one, and not amuse himself with the punishment of an innocent person. Let him who hath begun the task, who now bruises me, take away his hand and slay me; and this shall be my consolation, that, afflicting me with grief, he spares me not. O wretched me, yet pitied by none! why have I, the mistress of two kingdoms, the mother of two kings, reached the ignominy of a detested old age ?.
My bowels are torn away, my very race is destroyed and passing away from me. The young king and the Earl of Bretagne sleep in the dust, and their most unhappy mother is compelled to live that she may be ever tortured with the memory of the dead. Two sons yet survived to my solace, who now survive only to distress me, a miserable and condemned creature : King Richard (34) is detained in bonds, and John (25), his brother, depopulates the captive's kingdom with the sword, and lays it waste with fire. In all things the Lord is become cruel towards me, and opposes me with a heavy hand. Truly his anger fights against me, when my very sons fight against each other, if, indeed, that can be called a fight in which one party languishes in bonds, and the other, adding grief to grief, tries, by cruel tyranny to usurp the exile's kingdom to himself.
O good Jesus! who will grant me thy protection, and hide me in hell itself till thy fury passes away, and till thy arrows whiqh are in me, by whose vehemence my very spirit is drunk up, shall cease ? I long for death, I am weary of life; and though I thus die incessantly, I yet desire to die more fally; I am reluctantly compelled to live, that my life may be the food of death and a means of torture. O happy ye who pass away by a fortunate abortion, without experiencing the waywardness of this life and the unexpected events of an uncertain condition ! What do I? why do I remain ? why do I wretched, delay? why do I not go, that I may see him whom my soul loves, bound in beggary and irons? as though, at such a time, a mother could forget the son of her womb ! Affection to their young softens tigers, nay, even the fiercer sorceresses.
Yet I fluctuate in doubt : for, if I go away, deserting my son's kingdom, which is laid waste on all sides with fierce hostility, it will in my absence be destitute of all counsel and solace; again, if I stay, I shall not see the face of my son, that face which I so long for. There will be none who will study to procure the liberation of my son, and, what 1 fear still more, the most delicate youth (34) will be tormented for an impossible quantity of money, and, impatient of so much affliction, will easily be brought to the agonies of death. Oh, impious, cruel, and dreadful tyrant ! who hast not feared to lay sacrilegious hands on the anointed of the Lord ! nor has the royal unction, nor the reverence due to a holy life, nor the fear of God, restrained thee from such inhumanity!
Yet the prince of the apostles still rules and reigns in the apostolic seat, and his judicial rigour is set up as a means of resort : this one thing remains, that you, O father, draw against these evildoers the sword of Peter, which for this purpose is set over people and kingdoms. The cross of Christ excels the eagles of Ceasar, the sword of Peter the sword of Constantine, and the apostolic seat is placed above the imperial power. Is your power of God or of men ? Has not the God of gods spoken to you by the Apostle Peter, that whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven? Wherefore, then, do you so long negligently, nay, cruelly, delay to free my son (34), or rather do not dare to do it ? You will, perhaps, say that this power is given to you over souls, not over bodies : be it so; it will certainly suffice me if you will bind their souls who hold my son bound in prison. It is your province to loose my son, unless the fear of God has given way to human fear. Restore my son to me, then, O man of God, if indeed thou art a man of God and not a man of blood; for know that, if thou art sluggish in the liberation of my son, from thy hand will the Most High require his blood. Alas, alas for us, when the chief shepherd has become a mercenary, when he flies from the face of the wolf, when he leaves the little sheep committed to him, or rather the elect ram, the leader of the Lord's flock, in the jaws of the bloody beast of prey! The good Shepherd instructs and informs other shepherds not to fly when they see the wolf coming, but to lay down their lives for the sheep. Save, therefore, I entreat thee, thine own soul, whilst, by urgent embassies, by salutary advice, by the thunders of excommunication, by general interdicts, by terrible sentences, thou endeavourest to procure the liberation, I will not say of thy sheep merely, but of thy son. Though late, you ought to give your life for him, for whom, as yet, you have refused to write or speak a single word. The Son of God, as testifies the prophet, came down from heaven that he might bring up them that were bound from the pit in which was no water. Now, would not that which was fitting for God to do become the servant of God ? My son is tormented in bonds, yet you go not down to him, nor send, nor are moved by the sorrow of Joseph. Christ sees this and is silent; yet at the last there shall be fearful retribution for those who do the work of God negligently. Ambassadors have been promised to us three times, but never sent; so that« to speak the truth, they are bound rather than sent. If my son were in prosperity, they would eagerly hasten at his lightest call, because they would expect rich handfuls for their embassy from his great munificence and the public profit of the kingdom. But what profit could be more glorious to them than to liberate a captive king, to restore peace to the people, quiet to the religious, and joy to all? Now, truly, the sons of Ephraim, who bent and sent forth the bow, have turned round in the day of battle; and in the time of distress when the wolf comes upon the prey, they are dumb dogs who either cannot or will not bark. Is this the promise you made me at the castle of Ralph with such protestations of favour and good faith ? What availed it to give words only to my simplicity, and to illude by a fond trust the wishes of the innocent ? So, in olden time, was King Ahab forbidden to make alliance with Ben-hadad, and we have heard the fatal issue of their mutual love.*^ A heavenly providence prospered the wars of Judas, John, and Simon, the Maccabsean brothers, under happy auspices; but when they sent an embassy to secure the friendship of the Romans, they lost the help of God, and, not once alone, but often was their venal intimacy cause of bitter regret.* You alone, who were my hope after God, and the trust of my people, force me to despair. Cursed be he who trusteth in man. Where is now my refuge?.
Thou, O Lord my God. To thee, O Lord, who considerest my distress, are the eyes of thine handmaid lifted up. Thou, O King of kings and Lord of lords, look upon the face of thine Anointed, give empire to thy Son, and save the son of thine handmaid, nor visit upon him the crimes of his father or the wickedness of his mother!
We know by certain and public relation that the emperor, after the death of the Bishop of Liege (26) (whom he is said to have slain with a fiital sword, though wielded by a remote hand (42)), miserably imprisoned the Bishop of Ostia and four other provincials, the Bishop of Salerno, and the Archbishop of Treves; and the apostolic authority cannot deny that, to the perpetual prejudice of the Roman church, he has, in spite of embassies, supplications, and threats of the apostolic seat, taken possession of Sicily, which from the times of Constantine has been the patrimony of St. Peter. Yet with all this his fury is not yet turned away, but yet is his hand stretched forth. Fearful things he has already done, but worse are still certainly to be expected; for those who ought to be the Pillars of the church are swayed with reed-like lightness by every wind. Oh, would they but remember that it was through the negligence of Eli, the priest ministering in Shiloh, that the glory of the Lord passed away from Israel I. Nor is that a mere parable of the past, but of the present. For the Lord drove from Shiloh the tabernacle, his tabernacle, where he had dwelt amongst men, and gave their strength into captivity and , their beauty into the hands of the enemy.
It is imputed to your pusillanimity that the church is trampled upon, the faith perilled, liberty oppressed, deceit encouraged by patience, iniquity by impunity. Where is the promise of God when be said to his church, 'Thou shalt suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breasts of kings ? I will make thee the pride of ages, and a joy from generation to generation. Once the church, by its own strength, trod upon the necks of the proud and the lofty, and the laws of emperors obeyed the' sacred canons. But things are changed, and not only the canons, but the very formers of the canons, are restrained by base laws and execrable customs. The detestable crimes of the powerful are borne with. None dare murmur, and canonical rigour falls on the sins of the poor alone. Therefore, not without reason did Anachar^is the philosopher compare laws and canons to spiders' webs, which reti^in weaker animals but let the stronger go. ^* The kings of the earth have set themselves, and the rulers have taken counsel together/*^ against my son, the anointed of the Lord. One binds him in chains, another devastates his lands with cruel hostility, or, to use a vulgar phrase. One clips and another plunders; one holds the foot and another skins it. The highest pontiff sees these things, and yet bids the sword of Peter slumber in its scabbard; so he adds boldness to the sinner, his silence being presumed to indicate consent. He who corrects^ not when he can and ought seems even to consent, and his dissimulating patience shall not want the scruple of hidden companionship.'* The time of dissension predicted by the apostle draws on, when the son of perdition shall be revealed; dangerous times are at hand, when the seamless garment of Christ is cut, the net of Peter is broken, and the solidity of Catholic unity dissolved. These are the beginnings of sorrows. We feel bad things; we fear worse. I am no prophetess, nor the daughter of a prophet, but grief has suggested many things about future disturbances; yet it steals away the very words which it suggests. A sob intercepts my breath, and absorbing grief shutS' up by its anxieties the vocal passages of my soul. Farewell.
27 May 1208. Letter VII. Eleanor Plantagenet 1184 1241 to her subjects in Brittany
27 May 1208. Letter VII. Eleanor Plantagenet 1184-1241 (24) to her subjects in Brittany.
Eleanora, duchess of Bretagne and countess of Richmond, to her dear and faithful lords the bishops of Nantes, Vannes, and Cornwall, and to Eudo de Poule, and Geoffry Espine, and Oliver de Rugy, and Pagan de Mal-Estrail, and all other her barons and faithful subjects of Bretagne, greeting.
We give you manifold thanks concerning the things of which you have informed us, and earnestly entreat you that you, the above-named, come to England to my lord and uncle the king of England (41); and know you, certainly, that your advent will, God willing, tend to your and our great honour and convenience, and, by God's grace, to our liberation.
We have spoken with our said uncle (41) about affording you a safe-conduct, and he is glad of your coming, and sends you his letters patent of safe-conduct; and you may all come safely by means of those letters — or as many of you as can, if all cannot come.
Witness myself, at Sarum, the 27th day of May.
To her dearest son Henry, by the grace of God king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, earl of Anjou, Isabella (20), by the same grace queen of England, lady of Ireland, duchess of Normandy and Aquitaine, countess of Anjou and Angoulême, sends health and her maternal benediction.
We hereby signify to you that when the Earls of March (45) and Eu (48) departed this life, the lord Hugh de Lusignan (25) remained alone and without heirs in Poitou, and his friends would not permit that our daughter should be united to him in marriage, because her age is so tender, but counselled him to take a wife from whom he might speedily hope for an heir; and it was proposed that he should take a wife in France, which if he had done, all your land in Poitou and Gascony would be lost. We, therefore, seeing the great peril that might accrue if that marriage should take place, when our counsellors could give us no advice, ourselves married the said Hugh earl of March (25); and God knows that we did this rather for your benefit than our own. Wherefore we entreat you, as our dear son, that this thing may be pleasing to you, seeing it conduces greatly to the profit of you and yours; and we earnestly pray you that you will restore to him his lawful right, that is Niort, the castles of Exeter and Rockingham, and 3500 marks, which your father, our former husband (41), bequeathed to us; and so, if it please you, deal with him, who is so powerful, that he may not remain against you, since he can serve you well — for he is wdl-disposed to serve you faithfully with all his power; and we are certain and undertake that he shall serve you well if you will restore to him his rights, and, therefore, we advise that you take opportune counsel on these matters; and, when it shall please you, you may send for our daughter, your sister, by a trusty messenger and your letters patent, and we will send her to you.