Henry VIII, the Reign
Barons' Letter to the Pope 1301
The Holy Roman Mother Church, by whose ministry the Catholic faith is governed in its acts, proceeds, as we firmly believe and hold, with that gentleness that she wishes to prejudice no one, but, like a gracious mother, to preserve the rights of individuals, not less in other countries than in her own body, unimpaired.
At a general Parliament lately summoned at Lincoln by the most serene Lord Edward, by the grace of God, illustrious King of England, the same our Lord the King caused lately to be displayed in our midst and to be explained to us certain Apostolic letters which he had received on your part concerning certain matters affecting the condition and state of the kingdom.
And when we had heard and carefully understood them we found that they contained matters which caused as much wonder to our feelings as they were unheard of hitherto. For we know, most Holy Father, and it is notorious in our country and not unknown to many, that from the first foundation of the kingdom of England, the kings of that kingdom, as well in the times of the Britons as of the Angles, had in their possession superiority and direct dominion over the kingdom of Scotland, or were captains of the sovereignty and rightful lordship of the same at successive periods, nor at any time did the same kingdom in temporalities belong, nor does it now belong in any way, to the aforesaid Church.
Moreover, the same kingdom of Scotland has existed from ancient times as fief to the progenitors of our said king, themselves kings of England, and to the king himself. Nor were even the kings of the Scots and their kingdom subject or wont to be subject to any other than to the kings of England, nor have the kings of England answered, or ought they to answer, concerning their rights in the kingdom aforesaid or concerning any other their temporalities, before any judge ecclesiastical or secular, because of the pre-eminence of the state of their royal dignity, and custom in all times irrefrangibly observed. Wherefore, after discussion and careful deliberation on the contents of your letter mentioned, the common, concordant, and unanimous consent of all and singular of us has been, is and will be, by favour of God, unshakeably fixed for the future, that our aforesaid Lord the King do not answer in any way touching the rights of the kingdom of Scotland or other their temporalities before you, nor undergo judgment in any way, nor bring his aforesaid rights in question, nor send to your presence proctors or ambassadors for that purpose, especially since such proceeding would tend to the disinheritance of the right of the Crown of England, and of the royal dignity, and to the notorious overturning of the state of the same kingdom, as well as to the prejudice to the liberty, customs, and the laws of our fathers, to the observance and defence of which we are bound by the due regard of our oaths, and which we will keep in our hands with all our power, and will defend, by God's help, with all our might.
Nor do we even permit, nor will we in any way permit, for we cannot and ought not to do so, our aforesaid Lord the King to do or in any way attempt (even if he himself wished it) the premises so strange, so undeserved and prejudicial, and hitherto unheard of. Wherefore we beg your Holiness, reverently and humbly, to graciously permit the same our Lord the King, who, among other princes of the world, displays himself a Catholic and devoted to the Church of Rome, to possess in peace his rights, liberties, customs and laws aforesaid, without diminution or disturbance, and to hold the same uninjured. In testimony whereof our seals, as well for ourselves here present as for the whole aforesaid Communities of the Kingdom of England, are appended collectively to these present letters.
Dated at Lincoln, 12 February, A.D. 1300.[Old Style Date]