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Regnans in Excelsis was a papal bull issued on 25 February 1570 by Pope Pius V declaring "Elizabeth, the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime" to be a heretic and releasing all her subjects from any allegiance to her and excommunicating any that obeyed her orders.[1]

The bull, written in Latin, is named from its incipit, the first three words of its text, which mean "ruling from on high" (a reference to God).[2] Among the queen's offences, "She has removed the royal Council, composed of the nobility of England, and has filled it with obscure men, being heretics."

The Papacy had previously reconciled with Mary I, who returned the Church of England to Roman Catholicism. After Mary's death in November 1558, Elizabeth's Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy of 1559, which re-established the Church of England’s independence from Rome. This bull can be seen as an act of retaliation for the religious settlement, but as it was delayed by eleven years it was most likely instigated by pressure from Philip II of Spain, the Duke of Norfolk or Mary, Queen of Scots, all of whom had a vested interest in overthrowing Elizabeth. The delay was caused in part by a number of royal Catholic suitors who hoped to marry Elizabeth, and because she had tolerated Catholic worship in private. The Bull was issued in support of, but following, the 1569 "Northern Rebellion" in England, and the first Desmond Rebellion in Ireland, with foreign Catholic support, and hardened her opinion against her landowning Roman Catholic subjects.

Contents

Aftermath of the bull

The bull provoked the English government into taking more repressive actions against the Jesuits, whom they feared to be acting in the interests of Spain and the papacy. This reaction soon seemed justified: it was the publication in England of Pius's exhortation that gave the impetus to the Ridolfi plot, in which the Duke of Norfolk was to kidnap or murder Queen Elizabeth, install Mary Queen of Scots on the throne and then become de facto king by marrying her.[3]

To relieve the pressures on Roman Catholics in England, Pope Gregory XIII issued a clarification in 1580, explaining that Catholics should obey the queen in all civil matters, until such time as a suitable opportunity presented itself for her overthrow. Soon after the start of the Anglo-Spanish war (1585-1604) an Act "against Jesuits, seminary priests and other such like disobedient persons" was passed into law.

In 1588 Pope Sixtus V, in support of the Spanish Armada, renewed the solemn bull of excommunication against Queen Elizabeth I, for the regicide of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587 as well as the previously catalogued offences against the Roman Catholic Church.[4] During the threat of invasion by the Spanish Armada, it transpired that most of the Roman Catholic residents in England remained loyal, and that those who were a real threat to the throne, like Cardinal William Allen and Robert Parsons, were already exiles.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ McGrath, Patrick (1967). Papists and Puritans under Elizabeth I. Poole, England: Blandford Press. p. 69.  
  2. ^ Text of Regnans in excelsis, 1570.
  3. ^ Haynes, Alan (2004). Walsingham: Elizabethan Spymaster and Statesman. Stroud, England: Sutton Publishing. pp. 13. ISBN 0-7509-3122-1.  
  4. ^ Text of Sixtus V's 1588 Bull against Queen Elizabeth in support of the Armada

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Regnans in Excelsis
by Pope Pius V
Regnans in Excelsis was a papal bull issued on February 25, 1570 by Pope Pius V declaring Elizabeth I to be a heretic and releasing all her subjects from any allegiance to her. It also declared any subject of Elizabeth who was loyal to her excommunicated from the Catholic Church. The name of the bull is taken from the first three words of its text, written in Latin and meaning "ruling from on high" (a reference to God).Excerpted from Regnans in Excelsis on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Pius Bishop, servant of the servants of God, in lasting memory of the matter.

He who reigns on high, to whom is given all power in heaven and earth, has committed one holy Catholic and apostolic Church, outside of which there is no salvation, to one alone upon earth, namely to Peter, the first of the apostles, and to Peter's successor, the Pope of Rome, to be by him governed in fullness of power. Him alone He has made ruler over all peoples and kingdoms, to pull up, destroy, scatter, disperse, plant and build, so that he may preserve His faithful people (knit together with the girdle of charity) in the unity of the Spirit and present them safe and spotless to their Saviour.

1. In obedience to which duty, we (who by God's goodness are called to the aforesaid government of the Church) spare no pains and labour with all our might that unity and the Catholic religion (which their Author, for the trial of His children's faith and our correction, has suffered to be afflicted with such great troubles) may be preserved entire. But the number of the ungodly has so much grown in power that there is no place left in the world which they have not tried to corrupt with their most wicked doctrines; and among others, Elizabeth, the pretended queen of England and the servant of crime, has assisted in this, with whom as in a sanctuary the most pernicious of all have found refuge. This very woman, having seized the crown and monstrously usurped the place of supreme head of the Church in all England together with the chief authority and jurisdiction belonging to it, has once again reduced this same kingdom - which had already been restored to the Catholic faith and to good fruits - to a miserable ruin.

2. Prohibiting with a strong hand the use of the true religion, which, after its earlier overthrow by Henry VIII (a deserter therefrom), Mary, the lawful queen of famous memory, had with the help of this See restored, she has followed and embraced the errors of the heretics. She has removed the royal Council, composed of the nobility of England, and has filled it with obscure men, being heretics; oppressed the followers of the Catholic faith; instituted false preachers and ministers of impiety; abolished the sacrifice of the mass, prayers, fasts, choice of meats, celibacy, and Catholic ceremonies; and has ordered that books of manifestly heretical content be propounded to the whole realm and that impious rites and institutions after the rule of Calvin, entertained and observed by herself, be also observed by her subjects. She has dared to eject bishops, rectors of churches and other Catholic priests from their churches and benefices, to bestow these and other things ecclesiastical upon heretics, and to determine spiritual causes; has forbidden the prelates, clergy and people to acknowledge the Church of Rome or obey its precepts and canonical sanctions; has forced most of them to come to terms with her wicked laws, to abjure the authority and obedience of the Pope of Rome, and to accept her, on oath, as their only lady in matters temporal and spiritual; has imposed penalties and punishments on those who would not agree to this and has exacted them of those who perservered in the unity of the faith and the aforesaid obedience; and has thrown the Catholic prelates and parsons into prison where many, worn out by long languishing and sorrow, have miserably ended their lives. All these matter and manifest and notorious among all the nations; they are so well proven by the weighty witness of many men that there remains no place for excuse, defence or evasion.

3. We, seeing impieties and crimes multiplied one upon another the persecution of the faithful and afflictions of religion daily growing more severe under the guidance and by the activity of the said Elizabeth - and recognising that her mind is so fixed and set that she has not only despised the pious prayers and admonitions with which Catholic princes have tried to cure and convert her but has not even permitted the nuncios sent to her in this matter by this See to cross into England, are compelled by necessity to take up against her the weapons of juctice, though we cannot forbear to regret that we should be forced to turn upon one whose ancestors have so well deserved of the Christian community. Therefore, resting upon the authority of Him whose pleasure it was to place us (though unequal to such a burden) upon this supreme justice-seat, we do out of the fullness of our apostolic power declare the foresaid Elizabeth to be a heretic and favourer of heretics, and her adherents in the matters aforesaid to have incurred the sentence of excommunication and to be cut off from the unity of the body of Christ.

4. And moreover (we declare) her to be deprived of her pretended title to the aforesaid crown and of all lordship, dignity and privilege whatsoever.

5. And also (declare) the nobles, subjects and people of the said realm and all others who have in any way sworn oaths to her, to be forever absolved from such an oath and from any duty arising from lordship, fealty and obedience; and we do, by authority of these presents, so absolve them and so deprive the same Elizabeth of her pretended title to the crown and all other the abovesaid matters. We charge and command all and singular the nobles, subjects, peoples and others aforesaid that they do not dare obey her orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the like sentence of excommunication.

6. Because in truth it may prove too difficult to take these presents wheresoever it shall be necessary, we will that copies made under the hand of a notary public and sealed with the seal of a prelate of the Church or of his court shall have such force and trust in and out of judicial proceedings, in all places among the nations, as these presents would themselves have if they were exhibted or shown.

Given at St. Peter's at Rome, on 27 April 1570 of the Incarnation, and in the fifth year of our pontificate.


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