York, Councils of

York, Councils OF

(Concilium Eboracense). York is the second city of England in point of rank, though not in size or in commercial importance, a parliamentary and municipal borough, and county of itself, capital of the county of the same name (Yorkshire), near its centre, at the junction of the Three Ridings on the Ouse, at the influx of the Foss, one hundred and seventy-five miles north-north-west of London. The ecclesiastical authority of the archbishop extends over the province of York, consisting, with the archbishopric, of the bishoprics of Durham, Carlisle, Chester, Manchester, Ripon, and Sodor and Man. It contains York cathedral, the finest structure of the kind in England, mostly built in the 13th and 14th centuries. Several ecclesiastical councils have been held there, as follows:

I. Was held June 14 and 15, 1195, in the Church of St. Peter, at York, by Hubert Walter, archbishop of Canterbury, legate and chancellor of England. No other bishop was present in the council, which was attended by Simon, dean of the Church, the 'precentor,' the archdeacons of Nottingham and Cleveland, the chancellor, Robert, the provost of Beverley, and some of the canons, with almost all the abbots, priors, officials, deans, and pastors of the churches in the diocese of York. Pope Celestine III appears to have suspended Geoffry, archbishop of York (son of the fair Rosamond), from the exercise of all his episcopal functions, and a few years before had cut off from his province the whole of Scotland, which he made immediately subject to the see of Rome. Nineteen constitutions were published.

1. Relates to the administration of the holy communion: directs that the minister shall take camp that bread, wine, and water be provided for the sacrifice, that it shall not be celebrated without a lettered minister, that the host be kept in a decent Pyx, and renewed every Lord's day.

2. Directs that the host be carried to the sick with suitable solemnity.

3. Orders archdeacons to take care that the canons of the mass be corrected according to some approved copy.

4. Forbids to impose masses as part of penance, in order to obtain money for saying them. Forbids also priests to make bargains for celebrating masses.

5. Ordains that no more than two or three persons shall take a child out of the sacred font; that a child found exposed shall be baptized, whether it be found with salt or without, for that cannot be said to be iterated which was not known to have been done before.

6. Forbids deacons, except in cases of urgent necessity, to baptize, administer the body of Christ, or enjoin penance at confession. Charges priests, when desired to baptize a child, or administer the communion to the sick, to make no delay.

7. Directs that parsons land vicars shall take care that their churches are kept in proper repair.

8. Directs that in all ministrations the proper ornaments shall be used.

9. Orders that the chalice shall be of silver.

10. Orders all clerks to preserve their crown and tonsure, under pain of losing their benefices, if they have any, and of being forcibly clipped by the archdeacon or dean, if they have not.

11. Forbids priests to go about in copes with sleeves; orders them to wear suitable apparel.

12. Forbids any money to be taken by the judge in ecclesiastical causes.

13. Orders that the tithe be paid to the Church first, before the wages of the harvestmen, etc.

14. Forbids monks to take estates to farm, and to leave their houses without reasonable cause.

15. Forbids nuns to leave the verge of their monastery, unless in the company of their abbess or prioress.

16. Forbids laymen to farm churches or tithes.

17. Orders that every priest shall annually excommunicate, with candles and bells, those who forswear themselves.

18. Requires priests to abstain from drinking-bouts and taverns. Forbids them, under pain of suspension, to keep concubines in their own houses, or in the houses of others.

19. Orders that when any one is suspected of a crime on public report, the dean of the place shall familiarly admonish him thrice; if he do not thereupon reform, the dean shall reprove him in conjunction with two or three more with whom he has lost his remutation; if he cannot be reformed by this means, the dean shall bring the matter before the chapter, in order that the accused may be either punished or canonically purged. See Wilkins, Concil. 1:501; Johnson, Eccl. Canons, 10:1791.

II. Was held about the year 1363, by John Thorsby, archbishop of York. Five fresh constitutions were published, and seven constitutions published by archbishop Zouche. in a provincial synod held at Thorp, in 1347.

1. Forbids to hold markets, pleadings, etc., in churches, churchyards, and other holy places, on the Lord's day, or other holy days.

2. Forbids the performance of plays and vanities in churches on vigils.

3. Relates to the salaries to be assigned to stipendiary priests and chaplains, and renews a constitution made by William Greenfield, archbishop of York, which assigns a salary of not less than five marks. Also renews the seven constitutions made by archbishop Zouche, at Throrp, in 1347, viz.

1. Relating to the stipends to be assigned to assisting priests, etc.

2. Concerning the overlaying of children.

3. Concerning the obstruction offered by tithe payers to those who take it, and declares that some hindered the tithe-owner from carrying it by the accustomable way, and compelled him to take it by intricate and roundabout paths; others forbade him to carry it until all their own corn was carried, and maliciously permitted the tithe to be trampled upon and destroyed.

4. Forbids to give away property at death to the injury of the Church's rights, and those of the king's relations, etc.

5. Forbids priests to wear ridiculous clothes, and to seek glory from their shoes; declares that many priests did, "out of an affection to show their shapes," in defiance of the cannons, wear clothes so short as not to come down to the knees.

6. Relates to the trying of matrimonial causes.

7. Forbids clandestine marriages, and orders that the banns be published on three several solemn days.

4. States how the above statute was in some particulars modified in another provincial council.

5. Specifies for the guidance of rectors, vicars, and other confessors, thirty- seven cases, which were to be reserved, either for the judgment of the archbishop, and his penitentiary, or for that of the pope; and orders that, in each of these cases, the offender shall be sent to the archbishop or his penitentiary, unless he be in danger of death, with letters granted to him free of cost, explaining his case. See Johnson, Eccl. Canonis, 11:2482.

III. Was held in 1444, by John Kemp, archbishop of York, and cardinal of Balbina, in a provincial synod. Two constitutions were published.

1. Is with little variation the same with the fifth constitution of Merton, A.D. 1305.

2. Lays certain restrictions upon the sale of trees, woodlands, etc., and upon the granting of rights, rents, pensions, etc., by abbots, priors, and other administrators of Church goods. See Johnson, Eccl. Canons.

IV. Was held April 26, 1466, in the metropolitan church of York, by George Neville, archbishop. From various causes connected with the state and liberty of the Church, it was assembled without a royal brief. Eleven constitutions were published..

1. Is the same with the ninth constitution of Lambeth, A.D. 1281.

2. Is the same with the fifth constitution of London, A.D. 1343.

3. Is the same with the ninth constitution of London, A.D. 1343.

4 and 5. Are the same with the twelfth constitution of London, A.D. 1343, mutatis mutandis, against the obstructers of ecclesiastical process.

6. Is the same with the last constitution of London, A.D. 1343.

7. Declares that some quaestors, in defiance of the decrees of the Council of Lateran, in 1215, had, with extreme impudence, granted indulgences to the people of their own will, had dispensed with vows, absolved for murders; had, for a sum of money, relaxed a third and fourth part of the penance enjoined, had falsely affirmed that they had drawn out of purgatory three or more souls of the parents or friends of those who had given them alms, and conveyed them to the joys of paradise; that they had, moreover, absolved such as had been excommunicated by the ecclesiastical judges, buried suicides in the churchyards, and done in sorts of like abominations. Orders, in consequence, that the decrees of Lateran and Vienne (A.D. 1312), which restricted the operations of the quaestors, be rigidly enforced, and subjects to a fine of forty shillings any rector, vicar, etc., who shall admit any such quiestotor to preach contrary to the form prescribed. The fine to be applied to the fabric of the cathedral church of York.

8. Declares parishioners who attend a chapel of ease instead of their parish church, and contribute to the repair of it, shall nevertheless be bound to contribute to the fabric of the mother Church, and to support the other burdens thereof, at the discretion of the ordinary; and orders further, that if they refuse so to contribute, the said chapels shall be interdicted, and no service performed in them.

9. Forbids abbots, priors, and provosts to permit any of the religious belonging to their several houses to dwell alone out of the verge of their monasteries, in their manors, or churches, under penalty of paying forty shillings towards the fabric of York Minster. The religions vaganbond himself to be deemed an apostate.

10. Forbids, under pain of excommunication, any ecclesiastical or secular person to arrest, cite, fire out, or cause to be arrested, cited,. or forced out, any man that is in church, during the celebration of the divine offices.

11. Is the same with the fifth constitution of Merton, A.D. 1305, except that no mention is made of the tithe of wine, whereas it speaks of the tithe of coal where it is dug, and of the tithe of saffron.

After these constitutions follow the constitutions of archbishop Kemp, published in 1444, as given in the preceding council. See Johnson, Eccl. Canons 13:1423, Wilkins, Concil. 3:599.

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