Westminster, Councils of

Westminster, Councils Of

(Concilium Westmonasteriense). Westminster is a city of England, county of Middlesex, forming the west part of London, having on the south and west Chelsea and Kensington, on the north Marylebone, and on the east the Thames. In 1871 the population was 246,606. It contains numerous magnificent public buildings, and is the seat of many important historic events. Several ecclesiastic councils have been held there.

I. Was held about 1070, by archbishop Lanfranc, in the presence of William I, in which Wulstan, bishop of Worcester, who alone of the Saxon bishops had withstood William, was deprived, upon the plea of want of learning. When he found that he was to be stripped of his episcopal vestments, he boldly exclaimed to William, "These I owe to a better man than thee; to him will I restore them." Whereupon he went to the tomb of Edward the Confessor, who had advanced him to his see, and there taking off his vestments he laid them down, and struck his pastoral staff so deep into the stone that, as the legend states, no human force could draw it but. This miracle or his deserved reputation for sanctity, produced a revision of the sentence of deprivation, and he retained his bishopric. See Johnson, Preface to Lanfranc's Canons at Winchester; Wilkins, Concil. 1:367; Wharton, Anglia Sacra, 2:225.

II. Was held in 1102, "in St. Peter's Church, on the west side of London," i.e., at Westminster-Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, and Gerard of York, being present, with eleven other bishops, and some abbots. In this synod, three great abbots were deposed for simony, three not yet consecrated were turned out of their abbeys, and three others deprived for other crimes. Roger the king's chancellor was consecrated to the see of Salisbury, and Roger the king's larderer to Hereford. Twenty-nine canons were published.

1. Forbids bishops to keep secular courts of pleas, and to apparel themselves like laymen.

2. Forbids to let archdeaconries to farm.

3. Enacts that archdeacons must be deacons.

4. Enacts that no archdeacon, priest, deacon, or canon shall marry, or retain his wife if married. Enacts the same with regard to subdeacons who have married after profession of chastity.

5. Declares that a priest guilty of fornication is not a lawful priest, and forbids him to celebrate mass.

6. Orders that no one be ordained subdeacon, or to any higher order, except he profess chastity.

7. Orders that the sons of priests be not heirs to their fathers' churches.

8. Orders that no clergyman be a judge in a case of blood.

9. Orders that priests go not to drinking-bouts, nor drink "to pegs."

10. Orders that their clothes be all of one color, and their shoes plain.

11. Orders monks or clerks who have forsaken their order to return, or be excommunicated.

12. Orders that the tonsure of clerks be visible.

13. Orders that tithe be paid to the Church only.

14. Forbids to buy churches or prebends.

15. Forbids to build new chapels without the bishop's consent.

16. Forbids to consecrate new churches until all things necessary for it, and the priest, have been provided.

17. Forbids abbots to create knights; orders them to eat and sleep in the same house with their monks.

18. Forbids monks to enjoin penance except in certain cases.

19. Forbids monks to be godfathers, or nuns godmothers.

20. Forbids monks to hire farms.

21. Forbids monks to accept of the impropriations of churches without the bishop's consent, and further forbids them to spoil and reduce to poverty those who minister in their parishes.

22. Declares promises of marriage made without witnesses to be null, if either party deny them.

23. Orders that those who have hair be clipped, so that their ears and eyes shall be visible.

24. Forbids those who are related within the seventh' degree to marry.

25. Forbids to defraud the priest of his dues by carrying a corpse for burial to another parish.

26. Forbids to attribute reverence or sanctity to a dead body, or fountain, etc., without the bishop's authority.

27. Forbids to sell men like beasts, as had hitherto been done in England.

28. Anathematizes persons guilty of certain horrible sins of uncleanness.

29. Orders the publication of the above excommunication in all churches every Sunday. See Johnson, Eccles. Canons, A.D. 1102; Wilkins, Conc. 1:382.

III. Was held January 13, 1126. Otto, the pope's nuncio, was present, and read a bull of Honorius containing the same proposition which the legate had made to the French clergy assembled at Bourges in November, 1225, viz., that in every cathedral church the pope should nominate to two prebends and in every monastery to two places. The bishops separated without coming to any decision. See Mansi, Concil. 11:303.

IV. Was held September 9, 1126, by William Corbeil, archbishop of Canterbury-John de Cremona, legate from Honorius II, presiding. Thurstan, archbishop of York, and about twenty bishops, forty abbots, and an innumerable assembly of clergy and people, were present. Seventeen canons were published.

1. Forbids simony.

2. Forbids to charge anything for chrism, oil, baptism, visiting and anointing the sick, communion, and burial.

3. Forbids to demand cope, carpet, towel, or basin at the consecration of bishops, or churches, or blessing of abbots.

4. Forbids investiture at the hands of lay persons.

5. Forbids any one to challenge a church or benefice by inheritance, and to appoint a successor. Ps 83:11,13 is quoted.

6. Deprives beneficed clerks who refused to he ordained (priests or deacons) in order that they might live more at liberty.

7. Orders that none but priests be made deans or priors, nor any but deacons archdeacons.

8. Forbids to ordain any one a priest without a title.

9. Forbids, under pain of excommunication, to. eject anyone from a church to which he has been instituted without the bishop's sentence.

10. Forbids bishops to ordain or pass sentence upon any. one belonging to the jurisdiction of another bishop.

11. Forbids, under pain of excommunication, to receive an excommunicated person to communion.

12. Forbids any one to hold two dignities in the Church.

13. Forbids priests, deacons, subdeacons, and canons to dwell in the same house with any woman, except a mother, sister, aunt, or unsuspected woman. Offenders to lose their order.

14. Forbids the practice of usury among clerks.

15. Excommunicates sorcerers, etc.

16. Forbids marriage within the seventh degree;

17. Declares that no regard is to be paid to husbands; who implead their wives as too near akin to them. See Wilkins, Conc. 1:406; Johnson, Eccles. Canons, A.D;, 1126.

V. Was held in 1127, by William Corbeil, arclibishop of Canterbury, the pope's legate; ten English bishops, attended, and three Welsh. It is also, said that the multitude of clergy and laity of all ranks who flocked to the council was immense, but no mention is made of abbots. The archbishop of York sent excuses, and the bishops of Durham and Worcester were also absent; the sees of London and Coventry were at that time vacant. This synod sat three several days. and ten canons were published.

1. Forbids, "by authority of Peter, prince of the apostles," and that of the archbishop and bishops assembled, the buying and selling of churches and benefices.

2. Forbids any one to be ordained or preferred by means of money.

3. Forbids all demands of money for admitting monks, canons, or nuns.

4. Orders that priests only shall be made deans, and deacon's archdeacons.

5. Forbids priests, deacons, subdeacons, and canons to live with women not allowed by law. Those that adhered to their concubines or wives to be deprived of their order, dignity, and benefice; if parish priests, to be cast out of the choir and declared infamous.

6. Requires archdeacons and others whom it concerned to use all their endeavors to root out this plague from the Church.

7. Orders the expulsion from the parish of the concubines of priests and canons, unless they are lawfully married there. If they be afterwards found faulty, directs that they shall be brought under ecclesiastical discipline, or servitude, at the discretion of the bishop.

8. Forbids, under anathema, any one to hold several archdeaconries in several bishoprics, and directs him to keep to that he first took; forbids priests, abbots, and monks to take anything to farm.

9. Orders the payment of tithe in full. Forbids churches or tithes or benefices to be given or taken without the consent of the bishop.

10. That no abbess or nun use more costly apparel than such as is made of lambs' or cats' skins. Matthew of Paris declares that the king (Henry I) eluded all these provisions (to which he had given his consent) by obtaining from the archbishop a promise that he should be intrusted with their execution; whereas, in reality, he executed them only by taking money from the priests as a ransom for their concubines. See Johnson, Eccles. Canons, A.D. 1127; Wilkins, Conc. 1:410.

VI. Was held in 1138 by Alberic, bishop of Ostia, legate of pope Innocent II, during the vacancy of the see of Canterbury; eighteen bishops and about thirty abbots attended, who proceeded to the election of Theobald to the see of Canterbury. Seventeen canons were published.

1. Forbids to demand any price for chrism, oil, baptism, penance, visitation of the sick, espousalis, unction, communion, or burial, under pain of excommunication.

2. Orders that the body of Christ be not reserved above eight days, and that it be ordinarily carried to the sick by a priest or deacon only; in case of extreme necessity by any one, but with the greatest reverence.

3. Forbids to demand a cope, ecclesiastical vestment, or anything else, upon the consecration of bishops and benediction of abbots; also foirbids to require a carpet, towel, basin, or anything beyond the canonical procuration, upon the dedication of a church.

4. Forbids to demand any extra fees when a bishop not belonging to the diocese consecrates a church.

5. Forbids lay investitures; orders every one, upon investiture by the bishop, to swear on the gosplels that he has not, directly or indirectly, given or promised anything for it, else the donation to be null.

6. Is identical with canon 5, A.D. 1126.

7. Forbids persons ordained by other than their own bishop without letters from him to exercise their office; reserves the restoration of them to their order to the pope, unless they take a religious habit.

8. Deprives concubinary clerks, and forbids any to hear their mass.

9. Deprives usurious clergymen.

10. Anathematizes him that kills, imprisons, or lays hands on a clerk, monk, nun, or other ecclesiastical person. Forbids any but the pope to grant him penance at the last, except in extreme danger of death; denies him burial if he die impenitent.

11. Excommunicates all persons violently taking away the goods of the Church.

12. Forbids any one to build a church or oratory upon his estate without the bishop's license.

13. Forbids the clergy to carry arms and fight in the wars.

14. Forbids monks after receiving orders to recede from their former way of living.

15. Forbids nuns, under anathema, to use parti-colored skins or golden rings, and to wreathe their hair.

16. Commands, under anathema, all persons to pay the tithe of all their fruits.

17. Forbids schoolmasters to hire out their schools to be governed by others. See Johnson, Ecckles. Canons, A.D. 1138; Wilkins, Conc. 1:413.

VII. Was held in 1176 by cardinal Hugo or Hugezen, who had been sent from Rome to endeavor to settle the dispute between the archbishops of Canterbury and York; the latter of whom claimed the right of having his cross borne before him in the province of Canterbury. Many prelates and clergy attended; but when Roger of York, upon entering the assembly, perceived that the seat on the right hand of the legate had been assigned to the archbishop of Canterbury, and that on the left kept for himself, he thrust himself into the lap of the archbishop of Canterbury; whereupon the servants of the latter and many of the bishops (as Hovenden writes) threw themselves upon the archbishop of York, and forced him down upon the ground, trampled upon him, and rent his cope; upon which the council broke up in confusion. Johnson, ut sup.; Wilkins, Conc. 1:485.

VIII. Was a national council held in 1200 by Hubert Walter, archbishop of Canterbury, in which fifteen canons were published.

1. Orders the priest to say the canon of the mass distinctly, and to rehearse the hours and all the offices plainly, and without clipping the words. Offenders to be suspended.

2. Forbids to celebrate two masses in one day except in case of necessity. When it is done, it directs that nothing be poured into the chalice after the first celebration, but that the least drop be diligently supped out of the chalice, and the fingers sucked and washed; the washings to be drunk by the priest after the second celebration, except if deacon be present to do so at the time. Orders that the eucharist be kept in a decent pyx, and carried to the sick with cross and candle; care to be taken not to confuse the consecrated and unconsecrated hosts.

3. Orders that baptism and confirmation shall be conferred upon those concerning whom there exists a doubt whether or not they have received them. Forbids fathers, mothers-in-law, and parents to hold the child at the font. Forbids deacons to baptize and give penance, except in case of the priest's absence, or other necessity. Permits even a father or mother to baptize their child in case of necessity, and orders that all that follows after the immersion shall be completed subsequently by the priest.

4. Relates to the administration of penance.

5. Renews the decrees of the Council of Lateran, A.D. 1179, which restrict the expenses and retinue of prelates and other ordinaries when in visitation, and declares the design of visitations to be to see to what concerns the cure of souls, and that every church have a silver chaulice, decent vestments, and necessary books, utensils, etc.

6. Orders that bishops ordaining any one without a title shall maintain him till he can make a clerical provision for him.

7. Renews the canon of Lateran, A.D. 1179, which forbids prelates to excommunicate their subjects without canonical warning. Orders the yearly pronunciation of a general excommunication against persons guilty of various specific crimes.

8. Renews canon 7, Lateran, A.D. 1179.

9. Orders the payment of tithe without abatement for wages, etc.; grants to priests the power of excommunicating, before harvest, all withholders of tithe. Orders the tithe of land newly cultivated to be paid to the parish church. Orders detainers of tithe to be anathematized.

10. Forbids to institute any persons to churches not worth more than three marks per annum who will not serve in person. Renews the 11th canon of Lateran, A.D.

11. Forbids clerks to go to taverns and drinking-booths, and so put themselves in the way of being insulted by laymen. Orders all the clergy to use the canonical tonsure and clerical habit, and archdeacons and dignified clergymen copes with sleeves.

11. Forbids marriage under various circumstances; orders that the banns be thrice published; that marriage be celebrated openly in the face of the Church.

12. Orders those who, being suspected of crimes, deny them, to undergo a purgation.

13. Renews the 23d canon of Lateran, 1179, concerning churches and priests for lepers.

14. Renews canon 9 of Lateran, which forbids the Templars and other fraternities to accept of tithes, churches, etc., without the bishop's consent.

15. Renews canon 10 of Lateran, 1179, and contains various regulations relating to the dress, etc., of the religious. See Wilkins, Conc. 1:505; Johnson, Eccles. Canons, ad ann.

IX. Was held about 1229 by Richard Wethershed, archbishop of Canterburmy. Twelve constitutions were published, eleven of which are the same with those published in the Council of London, A.D. 1175. The last refers to the duties of physicians. See Johnson, Eccles. Canons.

X. Was held in 1229 under master Stephen, chaplain and nuncio of the pope, who, sorely to the discomfort of the assembly, demanded on the part of Rome the tenths of all movables belonging to clergy and laity in England, Ireland, and Wales, in order to enable the Roman pontiff to carry on war against the excommunicated emperor Frederick. The arguments by which, assuming Rome as the head of all churches, it was asserted that her fall would involve the ruin of the members, was met on the part of the laity by a plain refusal; and the clergy, after three or four days' deliberation and no small murmuring, were at length brought to consent from fear of excommunication or an interdict being the consequence of disobedience to the demand. See Wilkins, Conc. 1:622.

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