Saturday, May 2, 2009

Treaty on the Establishment of Peace throughout Christendom

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We A B C. Let this be known to one and all for eternity: We learn from the writings of ancient historians that Christianity once flourished and was blessed with men and goods, spreading so far and wide that it held in its womb one hundred and seventeen rich kingdoms, that it also brought forth so many people that for a long time it held a large part of pagandom including the Holy Sepulchre; in those days there was no nation in the world which would have dared to challenge Christian rule. But we all know how lacerated it is today, how broken, impoverished and deprived of all its former brilliance and splendour it is. For not long ago Christendom passed through such a change that if any of the ancient kings, princes or notables were to rise from the dead and visit the Christian countries, he would not recognise his very own land. When almost the whole world was strong with the holiness of the Christian religion, the astute Mohammed first led astray the exiguous Arab nation. However, when his first attempts were not opposed, he gradually acquired so many of the lost people that he subjugated very large regions of Africa and Asia and incited them to commit a most detestable treachery. And then the utterly despicable Turks, who had most recently subjugated first the famous Greek Empire and then very many Christian lands and kingdoms, abducted an almost innumerable multitude of souls from the Christian parts, took away everything as bounty, destroyed and defiled many convents and large churches, and perpetrated very many other evils.
Oh, golden land! Oh, Christianity, Thou jewel of all lands, how could all Thy glory disappear in such a way, how couldst Thou lose all Thy most magnificent brilliance? Where is the vigour of all Thy people, where is the reverence shown to Thee by all nations, where is Thy royal glory, Thy fame? What good were Thy many victories when so soon Thou werest to be led in a triumphal march? What good does it serve that Thou hast resisted the power of pagan leaders when now Thou art unable to resist the attacks of Thy neighbours? Woe to fate! Woe to vicissitude! How quickly empires change, how quickly kingdoms succeed each other, how quickly governments deteriorate! It is indeed not easy to understand the cause of such change and ruin because the Lord´s designs are hidden. The fields are still as ripe as they used to be, just as prolific are the herds, the vineyards are fruitful, profits flow in from the goldfields and silver mines, men are sensible, industrious, brave and expert in many things, letters flourish as never before. What is it, then, that has so depraved Christianity that only sixteen of the said one hundred and seventeen kingdoms are left in the womb of Christendom? It must be the many sins that God wants to punish as so often before, to which the Old Testament bears witness. Therefore it seems to us that due consideration should be paid to amending what may be erroneous and to mollifying His Divine Majesty with pious acts, as it apparently must be ired by some ill deed. However, since we know that God deals justly and mercifully with those whose wrongs He punishes in this world and that He considers men his sons and those whom He loves He corrects, castigates and leads to virtue through many adversities, we hold, turning our hopes to our Lord whose cause is at stake, that we can do nothing more pious in our integrity, nothing more compatible with our honesty and nothing more glorious for our praise than to strive diligently for the establishment among Christians of true, pure and lasting peace, unity and love, and to defend the faith of Christ against the most vicious Turk. For we have been entrusted with the rule of kingdoms and principalities in order to glorify peace with all possible care and diligence, to uphold the position of Christendom, to bring the wars against the infidel to a successful end, and to guard and extend the frontiers of Christendom; these aims should and must be striven for by all men, all nations and all kings and princes with a joyous and ready mind. For if we call ourselves Christians, we must see to it that the Christian religion is protected; if we do not want to be against Christ, we must fight for His faith and stand with Him. For the Holy Spirit damns those who do not fight on His side, who do not oppose the enemy, who do not stand up like a wall to protect the House of Israel. And no man must be detracted from service to God by the sweetness of his land or magnificent palaces or a multitude of wealth. For we must serve Him, who was not afraid to die for us on the cross, who will reward every believer with the heavenly realm which is our true home, offering and endless abode, incomparable riches and eternal life. And thus, although the fate of the Greeks at this time is sorrowful and although we must loudly mourn the disaster of Constantinople and other lands, we can but rejoice, if we crave for glory, in this opportunity which will allow us to call ourselves defenders and preservers of the Christian name. Therefore, desiring that such wars, plunder, tumult, fires and murders which, alas, have engulfed Christendom almost on all sides, which devastate fields, destroy towns, lacerate lands and ruin through endless miseries kingdoms and principalities, should end and be completely eradicated and that such kingdoms and principalities may be brought through praiseworthy unity into a state of mutual charity and fraternity, we have decided on the basis of reliable knowledge, after thorough preliminary consideration, having prayed to the Holy Spirit for guidance and after consulting and gaining the consent of our prelates, princes, notables, noblemen and doctors of divine and human law, to create such a bond of alliance and degree of fraternity and concord as would endure and last forever for us, our heirs and future successors in the forms indicated bellow:
Article 1.First of all, we hereby declare and pledge on the honour of the Catholic faith and upon our royal and princely word that from this hour and day on we shall extend to one another and maintain pure, true and sincere fraternity, that we shall not resort to arms or allow any man to resort to them in our name due to any dissension, quarrel or complaint, but rather that we shall support one another, in accordance with the letter and spirit of the further described provisions, against any living man who might try to attack us or any one of us by a hostile act and without a legitimate edict.
Article 2.Secondly, that none of us shall grant assistance or advice, or associate against the person of any other of us, and that we neither ourselves nor through another or others shall in any manner whatsoever conspire to endanger or cause the death of any other of us, nor shall we associate with those who would plot unlawful machinations, but that we shall care as much as possible for the maintenance of the health, life and honour of the others.
Article 3.Thirdly, we pledge in the aforesaid manner that if one or some of the subjects of any one of us commit some devastation, plunder, robbery, arson or other crimes in the kingdoms, principalities or provinces of any other of us, our will is that the said peace and unity will thereby not be abolished or broken, but that such malefactors will be forced by him within whose area of jurisdiction they reside or on whose territory they are discovered as delinquents to give satisfaction voluntarily or in court, so that the damage caused by them will be compensated from their property, they themselves to be duly punished in accordance with the nature of their crime; those criminals held in contempt of court shall be pursued and prosecuted by their lords, both according to their domicile and the place of the committed crime, without such lords waiting for the other to take action. If any of us, in whose territory the delinquent is domiciled or on whose territory the crime is committed and the delinquent detained, neglects and fails to proceed as provided above, the person who has suffered injustice or damage may prosecute and sue such one of us in the below described parliament or consistory, because under the law he and the delinquent should suffer the same penalty.
Article 4.Fourthly, we provide that if some person or persons standing outside this covenant and our charity and fraternity, without having been injured by us or without having been provoked, should begin war against any of us, or intend to begin it (which we need not fear, if this amity and charity persist), our below described assembly shall dispatch in the name of all the parties to the present covenant and at our joint expense, even if the attacked companion does not so request, its solemn envoys to settle the dispute and restore peace to a place suitable to the parties, and there, in the presence of the parties in dispute or their envoys invested with full powers, they shall diligently strive to bring the parties in dispute to concord and peace through friendship, if possible, or persuade them to appoint arbitrators or seek justice before a competent judge or parliament or consistory in the below described manner. And if owing to the person who started the war, or through his fault, peace and unity cannot be obtained by negotiation, all of us shall help our attacked or self-defending companion by unanimous and concordant decision to defend himself from the tithes of our kingdoms and from the incomes, profits, and yields of our subjects which they spend on their homes and households on the average in three days of every year, in such a sum and for such a time as this our assembly or its majority may decide and determine as being proportionate and suitable for our attacked companion to obtain peace.
Article 5.In order to facilitate the suppression of dissidence and wars, the very thoughts of which pains those who have to experience them, and in order to strengthen peace also among others faithful to Christ who are not parties to the present covenant, we hereby provide and order that if discord or war should occur between other Christian princes and magnates who are not included in our fraternity, our below described assembly shall dispatch in our name and at our mutual expense envoys whose task will be to restore concord between the parties in dispute, if possible by friendly means, or by way of law, as stated above; if both parties or one of them do not wish to be reconciled and to desist from fighting and wars, the person who started the war or who does not wish to desist from it shall be brought to order in the manner and forms described in the preceding article.
Article 6.We provide further that those who dare in any manner whatsoever disturb our present peace must not and cannot be received, employed, protected, supported or granted any favour under any pretense whatsoever in any of our kingdoms, principalities, estates, territories and districts, castles, towns, villages or forts; instead, irrespective of any letter of safe conduct they may possess, they shall be arrested, captured and punished as violators of general peace in accordance with the nature of their crime or excess, as each of them merits.
Article 7.Furthermore, we provide and hereby order our officials and subjects, all and each separately, never to take any man under their protection and tuition - jointly or individually - and in no manner whatsoever to grant him a general or special letter of safe conduct without reserving in advance, particularly and expressly, that such letter of safe conduct or protection will not protect and guard the person to whom it is issued against the measures of our present peace, so that if he is accused and suspected of or indicted for violating the peace, action may be taken against him in the above stated manner without any hindrance, including the process of justice.
Article 8.Whosoever knowingly associates with a violator of the present peace and under any pretense whatsoever grants him counsel, assistance or favour, or receives him, or dares to protect or defend him or issue him a letter of safe conduct contrary to our present union, shall himself be punished by the same penalty as the culprit.
Article 9.As the cult of peace is unthinkable without justice, and justice without such endeavours, because peace is born of justice and is upheld by it, and because we and our subjects cannot subsist in peace without justice, we link justice with the cause of peace; however, because the law written on judicial matters has undergone many changes in the passing of time, having reached the stage where it has gradually lost all its significance and has been given a completely different interpretation in practice, we consider judicial procedure to be utterly confused and hold that in accordance with the customs, usages and conditions of the new times and of our various provinces, kingdoms and principalities, new laws drawn from the heart of the nature must be introduced and that new evils must be opposed by new remedies under which the virtuous will be rewarded and the vicious constantly crushed under the hammer of penalties. And in order to settle individual matters in proper order, we have decided, first of all, to establish a single general consistory which will sit in the name of all of us and our whole assembly at the place where the assembly is sitting at that time, and from it, as from a spring, rivulets of justice will flow to all sides. This court shall be established in accordance with what our below described assembly or its majority may conclude and decide with respect to the number of its members, their qualification, and the rules of its procedure.
Article 10.And in order that disputes be brought to an end in this court and not be protracted indefinitely, we hereby will that in accordance with the nature of the dispute, the judge himself and the assessors conduct the proceedings for the parties in dispute and find justice simply and clearly, without formalities and judicial clamour, by disposing of all subterfuges and frustrating delays.