I brought before you the first sitting of this term the cause of duels; but now this last sitting I shall bring before you a cause concerning the great duel which is in the Christian world, the duel and conflict between the lawful authority of sovereign kings, which is God's ordinance for the comfort of human society, and the swelling pride and usurpation of the see of Rome in temporalibus, tending altogether to anarchy and confusion. Wherein if this pretence in the Pope of Rome, by cartels to make sovereign princes as the banditti, and to proscribe their lives, and to expose their kingdoms to prey; if these pretences, I say, and all persons that submit themselves to that part of the Pope's power in the least degree, be not by all possible severity repressed and punished, the state of Christian kings will be no other than the ancient torment described by the poets in the hell
p.421of the heathen; a man sitting richly robed solemnly attended, delicious fare, etc. with a sword hanging over his head, hanging by a small thread, ready every moment to be cut down by an accursing and accursed hand. Surely I had thought they had been the prerogatives of God alone, and of his secret judgements: Solvam cingula regum, I will loosen the girdles of kings: or again, He poureth contempt upon princes; or I will give a king in my wrath, and take him away again in my displease; and the like: but if these be the claims of a mortal man, certainly they are but the mysteries of that person which exalts himself above all that is called God, supra omne quod dicitur Deus. Note it well, not above God, though in a sense be true, but above all that is called God; that is, lawful kings and magistrates.
But, my lords, in this duel I find this Talbot, that is now before you, but a coward; for he hath given ground, he hath gone backward and forward; but in such a fashion, and with such interchange of repenting and relapsing, as I cannot tell whether it doth extenuate or aggravate his offence. If he shall more publicly in the face of the court fall and settle upon a right mind, I shall be glad of it; and he that would be against the king's mercy; but nevertheless the court will proceed by rules of justice.
The offence therefore wherewith I charge this Talbot, prisoner at the bar, is this in brief and in effect: That he hath maintained and maintaineth under his hand, a power in the Pope for deposing and murdering of kings. In what sort he doth this, when I come to the proper and particular charge, I will deliver it in his own words without pressing or straining.
But before I come to the particular charge of this man, I cannot proceed so coldly; but I must express unto your lordships the extreme and imminent danger wherein our dear and dread Sovereign is, in him we all; nay, all princes of both religions, for it is a common cause, do stand at this day, by the spreading
p.422and inforcing of this furious and pernicious opinion of the pope's temporal power: which though the modest sort would blanch with the distinction of in ordine ad spiritualia yet that is but an elusion; for he that maketh the distinction, will also make the case. This peril, though it be in itself notorious, yet because there is a kind of dullness, and almost a lethargy in this age, give me leave to set before you two glasses, such as certainly the like never met in one age; the glass of France, and the glass of England. In that of France the tragedies acted and executed in two immediate kings; in the glass of England, the same, or more horrible, attempted likewise in a queen and king immediate, but ending in a happy deliverance. In France, Henry III, in the face of his army, before the walls of Paris, stabbed by a wretched Jacobine friar. Henry IV, a prince that the French do surname the Great, one that had been a saviour and redeemer of his country from infinite calamities, and a restorer of that monarchy to the ancient state and splendour, and a prince almost heroical, except it be in the point of religion, at a time when he was as it were to mount on horseback for the commanding of the greatest forces that of long time had been levied in France, this king likewise stillettoed by a rascal votary, which had been enchanted and conjured for the purpose.
In England, Queen Elizabeth, of blessed memory, a Queen comparable and to be ranked with the greatest kings, oftentimes attempted by like votaries, Sommerville, Parry, Savage, and others, but still protected by the watchman that slumbereth not. Again, our excellent sovereign King James, the sweetness and clemency of whose nature were enough to quench and mortify all malignity, and a king shielded and supported by posterity; yet this king in the chair of Majesty, his vine and olive branches about him, attended by his nobles and third estate in parliament; ready in the twinkling of an eye, as if it had been a particular doomsday, to have been brought to ashes, dispersed to the four winds. I noted the last day,
p.423my lord chief justice, when he spoke of this powder treason, he laboured for words; though they came from him with great efficacy, yet he truly confessed, and so must all men, that that treason is above the charge and report of any words whatsoever.
Now, my lords, I cannot let pass, but in these glasses which I spoke of, besides the facts themselves and danger, to show you two things; the one, the ways of God Almighty, which turneth the sword of Rome upon the kings that are the vassals of Rome, and over them gives it power; but protecteth those kings which have not accepted the yoke of his tyranny, from the effects of his malice: the other, that, as I said at first, this is a common cause of princes; it involveth kings of both religions; and therefore his Majesty did most worthily and prudently ring out the alarm-bell, to awake all other princes to think of it seriously, and in time. But this is a miserable case the while, that these Roman soldiers do either thrust the spear into the sides of God's anointed, or at least they crown them with thorns; that is, piercing and pricking cares and fears, that they can never be quiet or secure of their lives or states. And so this peril is common to princes of both religions, so princes of both religions have been likewise equally sensible of every injury that touched their temporals.
Thuanus reports in his story, that when the realm of France was interdicted by the violent proceedings of Pope Julius the Second, the king, otherwise noted for a moderate prince, caused coins of gold to be stamped with his own image, and this superscription, Perdam nomen Babylonis e terra. Of which Thuanus saith himself had seen divers pieces thereof. So as this catholic king was so much incensed at that time, in respect of the Pope's usurpation, as he did apply Babylon to Rome. Charles the Fifth, emperor, who was accounted one of the Pope's best sons, yet proceeded in matter temporal towards Pope Clement with strange rigour: never regarding the pontificality, but kept him prisoner thirteen months in a pestilent prison: and was hardly dissuaded by his council from
p.424having sent him captive into Spain: and made sport with the threats of Frosberg the German, who wore a silk rope under the cassock, which he would show in all companies; telling them that he carried it to strangle the Pope with his own hands. As for Philip the Fair, it is the ordinary example, how he brought Pope Boniface the Eighth to an ignominious end, dying mad and enraged; and how he styled his rescript to the Pope's bull, whereby he challenged his temporals, Sciat fatuitas vestra, not your beatitude, but your stultitude; a style worthy to be continued in the like cases; for certainly that claim is mere folly and fury. As for native examples, here is too long a field to enter into them. Never kings of any nation kept the partition-wall between temporal and spiritual better in times of greatest superstition: I report me to King Edward I that set up so many crosses, and yet crossed that part of the Pope's jurisdiction, no man more strongly. But these things have passed better pens and speeches; here I end them.
But now to come to the particular charge of this man, I must inform your lordships the occasion and nature of this offence: There hath been published lately to the world a work of Suarez, a Portuguese, a Professor in the university of Coimbra, a confident and daring writer, such an one as Tully describes in derision; nihil tam verens, quam ne dubitare aliqua de re videratur: one that fears nothing but this, lest he should seem to doubt of any thing. A fellow that thinks with his magistrality and goose-quill to give laws and menages to crowns and sceptres. In this man's writing this doctrine of deposing or murdering kings seems to come to a higher elevation than heretofore; and it is more arted and positived than in others.
For in the passages which your lordships shall hear read anon, I find three assertions which run not in the vulgar track, but are such as wherewith mens ears, as I suppose, are not much acquainted; whereof the first is, That the Pope hath a superiority over kings, as subjects, to depose them; not only for spiritual crimes, as heresy and schism,
p.425but for faults of a temporal nature; forasmuch as a tyrannical government tendeth ever to the destruction of souls. So by this position, kings of either religion are alike comprehended, and none exempted. The second, that after a sentence given by the Pope, this writer hath defined of a series, or succession, or substitution of hangmen, or bourreaux, to be sure, lest an executioner should fail. For he saith, that when a king is sentenced by the Pope to deprivation or death, the executioner, who is first in place, is he to whom the Pope shall commit the authority, which may be a foreign prince, it may be a particular subject, it may be general to the first undertaker. But if there be no direction or assignation in the sentence special nor general, then, de jure, it appertains to the next successor, a natural and pious opinion; for commonly they are sons, or brothers, or near of kin, all is one; so as the successor be apparent; and also that he be a Catholic. But if he be doubtful, or that he be no catholic, then it devolves to the commonalty of the kingdom; so as he will be sure to have it done by one minister or other. The third is, he distinguisheth of two kinds of tyrants, a tyrant in title, and a tyrant in regiment; a tyrant in regiment cannot be resisted or killed without a sentence precedent by the Pope; but a tyrant in title may be killed by any private man whatsoever. By which doctrine he hath put the never so clean but that some vain quarrel or exception may be made unto them, upon the fancy of every private man; and also couples the judgement and execution together, that he may judge him by a blow, without any other sentence.
Your lordships see what monstrous opinions these are, and how both these beasts, the beast with seven heads and the beast with many heads, Pope and people, are at once let in, and set upon the sacred persons of kings.
Now to go on with the narrative; there was an extract made of certain sentences and portions of this book, being of this nature that I have set forth, by a
p.426great prelate and counsellor, upon a just occasion; and there being some hollowness and hesitation in these matters, wherein it is a thing impious to doubt, discovered and perceived in Talbot; he was asked his opinion concerning these assertions, in the presence of the best; and afterwards they were delivered to him, that upon advice, and sedato animo, he might declare himself. Whereupon, under his hand, he subscribes thus:
May it please your honourable good lordships.
Concerning this doctrine of Suarez, I do not perceive, by what I have read in this book, that the same doth concern matter of faith, the controversy growing upon exposition of Scripture and councils, wherein being ignorant and not studied, I cannot take upon me to judge; but I do submit my opinion therein to the judgement of the catholic Roman church, as in all other points concerning faith I do. And for matter concerning my loyalty, I do acknowledge my Sovereign liege Lord King James, to be lawful and undoubted king of all the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland; and I will bear true faith and allegiance to his Highness during my life.William Talbot.
My lords, upon these words I conceive Talbot hath committed a great offence, and such a one, as if he had entered into a voluntary and malicious publication of the like writing, it would have been too great a offence for the capacity of this court. But because it grew by a question asked by a council of estate, and so rather seemeth, in a favourable construction, to proceed from a kind of submission to answer, than from any malicious or insolent will; it was fit, according to the clemency of the times, to proceed in this manner before your lordships: and yet let the hearers take these things right; for certainly, if a man be required by the council to deliver his opinion whether King James be king or no? and he deliver his opinion that he is not, this is high treason: but I do not say that these words amount to that; and therefore let me upon them truly to your lordships, and therein open
p.427also the understanding of the offender himself, how far they reach.
My lords, a man's allegiance must be independent and certain, and not dependent and conditional. Elizabeth Barton that was called the holy maid of Kent, affirmed, that if King Henry VIII, did not take Catharine of Spain again to his wife within a twelvemonth, he should be no king: and this was treason. For though this act be contingent and future, yet the preparing of the treason is present.
And in like manner, if a man should voluntarily publish or maintain, that whensoever a bull of deprivation shall come forth against the king, that from thenceforth he is no longer king; this is of like nature. But with this I do not charge you neither; but this is the true latitude of your words, That if the doctrine touching the killing of kings be matter of faith, then you submit yourself to the judgement of the catholic Roman church: so as now, to do you right, your allegiance doth not depend simply upon a sentence of the Pope's deprivation against the king; but upon another point also, if these doctrines be already, or shall be declared to be matter of faith. But, my lords, there is little won in this: there may be some difference to the guilt of the party, but there is little danger to the king. For the same Pope of Rome may, with the same breath, declare both. So as still, upon the matter, the king is made but a tenant at will of his life and kingdoms; and the allegiance of his subjects is pinned upon the Pope's acts. And certainly, it is time to stop the current of this opinion of acknowledgement of the Pope's power in temporalibus; or else it will sap and supplant the seat of kings. And let it not be mistaken, that Mr. Talbot's offence should be no more than refusing the oath of allegiance. For it is one thing to be silent, and another thing to affirm. As for the point of matter of faith, or not of faith, to tell your lordships plain, it would astonish a man to see the gulf of this implied belief. Is nothing excepted of it? If a man should ask Mr. Talbot, whether he do condemn
p.428murder, or adultery, or rape, or the doctrine of Mahommet, or of Arius, instead of Suarez? Must the answer be with this exception, that if the question concern matter of faith, as no question it doth, for the moral law is matter of faith, that therein he will submit himself to what the church shall determine? And, no doubt, the murder of princes is more than simple murder. But to conclude, Talbot, I will do you right, and I will not be reserved in this, but to declare that, that is true; that you came afterwards to a better mind; wherein if you had been constant, the king, out of his great goodness, was resolved not to proceed with you in course of justice; but then again you started aside like a broken bow. So that by your variety and vacillation: you lost the acceptable time of your first grace, which was not to have convented you.
Nay, I will go farther with you: your last submission I conceive to be satisfactory and complete; but then it was too late, the king's honour was upon it; it was published and a day appointed for the hearing; yet what preparation that may be to the second grace of pardon, that I know not: but I know my lords, out of their accustomed favour, will admit you not only to your defence concerning that that hath been charged; but to extenuate your fault by any submission that now God shall put into your mind to make.