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Medieval Sourcebook:
Raimon de Cornet (14th cent. troubadour):
Poem Criticizing the Avignon Papacy

I see the pope his sacred trust betray,
For while the rich his grace can gain alway,
His favors from the poor are aye withholden.
He strives to gather wealth as best he may,
Forcing Christ's people blindly to obey,
So that he may repose in garmets golden.
The vilest traffickers in souls are all
His chapmen, and for gold a prebend's stall
He'll sell them, or an abbacy or miter.
And to us he sends clowns and tramps who crawl
Vending his pardon briefs from cot to hall--
Letters and pardons worthy of the writer,
Which leaves our pokes, if not our souls, the lighter.

No better is each honored cardinal.
From early morning's dawn to evening's fall,
Their time is passed in eagerly contriving
To drive some bargain foul with each and all.
So if you feel a want, or great or small,
Or if for some perferment you are striving,
The more you please to give the more 't will bring,
Be it a purple cap or bishop's ring.
And it need ne'er in any way alarm you
That you are ignorant of everything
To which a minister of Christ should cling,
You will have revenue enough to warm you--
And, bear in mind, the lesser gifts won't harm you.

Our bishops, too, are plunged in similar sin,
For pitilessly they flay the very skin
From all their priests who chance to have fat livings.
For gold their seal official you can win
To any writ, no matter what's therein.
Sure God alone can make them stop their theivings,
'T were hard, in full, their evil works to tell,
As when, for a few pence, they greedily sell
The tonsure to some montebank or jester,
Whereby the temporal courts are wronged as well,
For then these tonsured rogues they cannot quell,
Howe'er their scampish doings may us pester,
While round the church still growing evils fester.


from J. H. Robinson, Readings in European History (Boston: 1904), pp. 375-377

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, July 1998


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