Non Angli Sed Angeli


George


We offer unto Thee, O Lord, the wonted Sacrifice on the death of Thy Martyr St George, entreating of Thy Mercy that through these holy Mysteries we may in Thy victory overcome the temptations of the Old Enemy, and of Thy bounty obtain an everlasting recompense of reward; through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth one God, world without end. Amen.

 

Bede: The Life and Miracles of Saint Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindesfarne (721)

CHAPTER XXXIII

HOW, AT A TIME OF SICKNESS, HE RESTORED A DYING BOY IN HEALTH TO HIS MOTHER

AT the same time the plague made great ravages in those parts, so that there were scarcely any inhabitants left in villages and places which had been thickly populated, and some towns were wholly deserted. The holy father Cuthbert, therefore, went round his parish, most assiduously ministering the word of God, and comforting those few who were left. But being arrived at a certain village, and having there exhorted all whom he found there, he said to his attendant priest, ” Do you think that any one remains who has need that we should visit and converse with him? or have we now seen all here, and shall we go elsewhere? ” The priest looked about, and saw a woman standing afar off, one of whose sons had died but a little time before, and she was now supporting another at the point of death, whilst the tears trickling down her cheek bore witness to her past and present affliction. He pointed her out to the man of God, who immediately went to her, and, blessing the boy, kissed him, and said to his mother, ” Do not fear nor be sorrowful; for your child shall be healed and live, and no one else of your household shall die of this pestilence.” To the truth of which prophecy the mother and son, who lived a long time after that, bore witness.

 

Yorkshire

Now here It is clear that before the sin of man earth produced nothing harmful – no poisonous plant, no unfruitful tree. Since it is plainly said that every plant and all trees were given to men and to birds and to all the living creatures of the earth for food, it is clear that those birds did not live by stealing the food of weaker animals, nor did the wolf search out an ambush around the sheepfold, nor was the dust the serpent’s food, but all things in harmony feed upon the green plants and the fruits of the trees.

– St Bede, Commentary on Genesis (1:30)

dignare-me-laudare

The ‘Archbishop of Canterbury’ has let out Canterbury Cathedral to the Masons to perform their blasphemies at the same moment as the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster will be Consecrating England to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

https://www.ewtn.co.uk/news/latest/canterbury-cathedral-to-hold-masonic-service-on-someday-as-national-consecration-to-immaculate-heart

O Immaculate Virgin Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Mother of Grace,
and Queen of the kingdom of thy Son,
humbly kneeling before thee,
we offer thee this country in which we live.
It once was thine.
Before it was robbed of the holy Faith
all its children were thy children,
and thou wast honoured throughout its length and breadth
as its Protectress and its Queen.
Again do we consecrate it to thee;
again do we dedicate it as thine own Dowry.
We offer our own hearts,
that their love and service
may ever grow and increase.
We offer all our brethren
those multitudes who know thee so little
or know thee not at all.
May thy prayer bring back the country’s ancient faith.
May thy intercession lead us to a closer union
with thy divine Son.
We consecrate ourselves to Him through thee.
Obtain for us,
and for England thy Dowry,
every grace and blessing,
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O Holy Mother of God, Virgin ever blest,
O Mary Immaculate, pray for us,
intercede for us, disdain not to help us.
For we are confident and know for certain
that thou canst obtain all thou wiliest from thy Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
God Almighty, the King of ages,
who liveth with the Father and the Holy Ghost,
for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

stitching_the_standard_leightonI was re-reading the De Regno the other day and pondering an odd remark St Thomas makes when describing the various social forms that develop in the course of man’s search for the perfect community (that society which possesses within itself all the necessary means for the attainment of its end). St Thomas deals, as one might expect, with the family, the city, the province (what we might call the ‘country’) and ultimately with Christendom or the Church. However, between the family and the city, in the space moderns would likely call ‘civil society’, he places the vicus.

Now since man must live in a group, because he is not sufficient unto himself to procure the necessities of life were he to remain solitary, it follows that a society will be the more perfect the more it is sufficient unto itself to procure the necessities of life. There is, to some extent, sufficiency for life in one family of one household, namely, insofar as pertains to the natural acts of nourishment and the begetting of offspring and other things of this kind. Self-sufficiency exists, furthermore, in one street with regard to those things which belong to the trade of one guild. In a city, which is the perfect community, it exists with regard to all the necessities of life. Still more self-sufficiency is found in a province because of the need of fighting together and of mutual help against enemies. Hence the man ruling a perfect community, i.e. a city or a province, is antonomastically called the king. The ruler of a household is called father, not king, although he bears a certain resemblance to the king, for which reason kings are sometimes called the fathers of their peoples.

Vicus is here translated ‘street’ as is reasonable given the context although ‘quarter’ might give the sense a little better. He clearly means the district of a city where the members of one guild ply their trade. How could such an area be supposed to have any kind of self sufficiency? One can hardly live off shoes or ironmongery. I think St Thomas must suppose that one guild represents the group responsible for providing one particular element necessary for the temporal live of the city and being thus indispensable is always in a position to trade for the rest. One could, with relative ease, divide up human life into the relevant sectors:

Area of Temporal Life Example of Traditional Guild
Information Scriveners
Energy Chandlers
Water Plumbers
Food Mercers
Furniture Carpenters
Clothing Taylors
Tools Smiths
Buildings Masons
Transportation Farriers
Weapons Fletchers
Learning University (Faculty of Arts)
Health University (Faculty of Medicine)
Organisation University (Faculty of Law)
Salvation University (Faculty of Divinity)

This would seem (with one obvious exception) to divide human life into the necessary areas in all societies in the wayfaring state. Of course, the mediaeval guilds were more diversified than the examples I give in the second column because they were diversified by the natures of their crafts as well as by their ends. However, by St Thomas’s logic, the vicus would be diversified only by the end (for this is what gives it its quasi self-sufficiency). I would suggest that in a society conformed to the tenets of Thomistic social doctrine society ought to be organised in this way. Indeed in England (the Regnum Thomisticum) and then Britain until the nineteenth century it was so organised. The Corporations of each Borough and City (the Masters of all the Guilds) ran the Towns and elected their representatives to Parliaments and the Masters of Oxford, Cambridge and the Scottish Universities governed those Universities and elected their Members of Parliament. The University seats and business vote remained features of British public law up to the nineteen sixties. Earlier still the guilds (at least) provided the non-charitable welfare and insurance functions now usurped by the state and financial institutions. The charitable welfare functions were, of course, provided by the hierarchy and the monastic orders.

What is the obvious exception? It is the manor. In fact, another meaning of the word vicus is village, manor, hamlet or suburban settlement. The knight or lord of the manor is to the urban vicus what the master is in a guild or university. Just as membership of the  University is divided into scholar, bachelor and master and membership of the Guild into apprentice, journeyman and master so membership of the order of chivalry is divided into page, squire and knight. The knight emerged in the chaos which followed the collapse of the Carolingian Empire in the ninth century. The knight was a local hard-man who controlled an autarchic minimum of agricultural territory farmed by others for whom he provided security and lower governmental functions. His control of this territory was legitimised by military service offered to the ruler of a larger area responsible for higher governmental functions. The guilds and universities found themselves in a similar relationship with the King or Emperor. As Chivalry emerged in the socio-economic-military sense so Chivalry as a code of behaviour and spirituality emerged as the Gospel, the Monastic Orders and the Hierarchy interacted with and elevated this natural phenomenon. Knighthood as such was quite independent of the aristocratic system and was meritocratic. One could even be fined (distraint of knighthood) for failing to be knighted when in possession of the relevant feudal territory. To this day the feudal system in Britain is quite independent of the honours system. Although almost immediately the aristocracy tried to assimilate knighthood reducing it to the lower rung on the table of honours they never truly succeeded. Emperors, Kings and Princes have always fallen over themselves to draw attention to their status as knights rarely do they allude to the fact that they happen to also be a count or a baron.

This other form of vicus also found expression in the Regnum Thomisticum. The Writ of summons to the Model Parliament of 1295 expressly requires that “without delay you cause two knights, of the more discreet and more capable of labour, to be elected from the aforesaid county… and that you have them come to us on the day and at the place aforesaid ; so that the said knights shall then and there have full and sufficient authority on behalf of themselves and the community of the county aforesaid.” In a way therefore the vicus is the basic unit of society in Thomas’s vision, and in fact in Mediaeval England, for the next highest unit is already (in some degree) perfect. The vicus that is the manor or guild (or university) provides something indispensable to society as a whole and thus cannot be eradicated without eradicating the perfection of that society. Its disappearance from the constitutional landscape is a sign that slavery has crept again from out its unquiet grave and slithered its rotting fingers once more around the neck of western man.

 

Westminster

 

Now the wretch [Tyndale] raileth by name upon that holy doctor Saint Thomas, a man of that learning that the great excellent wits and the most cunning men that the Church of Christ hath had since his days, hath esteemed and called him the very flower of theology, and a man of that true perfect faith and Christian living thereto, that God hath himself testified his holiness by many a great miracle, and made him honoured here in his Church in earth as he hath exalted him to great glory in heaven.

– St Thomas More

The English Speaking World is different. It is superior to the rest of the world. The English Speaking world has liberty under the rule of law. It has what was called in ancient times Isonomia: equality under the law, equality in making the law. It perfected isonomia, it saved it and preserved it. Taxation is lower, the state is limited, the law is obeyed. It is prosperous, it is independent, it is composed of victorious and free peoples.  Why is this?

The English Speaking World is different because of one man: St Gregory the Great. St Gregory summoned the English from paganism to the faith of the Church of Rome. Loyalty to Christian Rome created and defined England. By his words ‘non Angli sed Angeli’ St Gregory ensured that the tribes his mission would save would define themselves as one nation and call themselves the English. It was not unknown for an Anglo-Saxon king to end his reign by abdicating and going on pilgrimage to Rome. Alfred the Great the first King of the English would be personally anointed and invested as Consul by the Pope himself. England drank deep of Latin Christian culture and drank it pure and from the source. It took its theory of law from Isidore of Seville untouched by the absolutism of Justinian’s Code. When the rediscovered Law of Justinian flooded the west in the twelfth century, England stood firm beside the laws it had made for itself founded upon the republicanism of the Latin Christian West. Finally, on 20th January 1265, Simon de Montfort, the son of the great commander of the Albigensian Crusade, summoned to Westminster a Parliament of Lords Temporal and Spiritual, of the Commons of Shire and Borough after the model of the Dominican Constitutions. The genius of St Dominic, who resolved the weaknesses of ancient republicanism, was poured into the public law of England.

Two hundred years later when Sir John Fortescue, the Lord Chief Justice, came to defend the Laws of England (which now embodied the traditions of Greece, Rome and Israel) against those of France corrupted by decadent Byzantine law he turned to the greatest doctor of the Dominican Order. It is upon the doctrine of St Thomas that the Dominican constitution of England was defended. The mixed monarchy, trial by Jury, the prohibition of torture, the dependence of the Monarch on Parliament for subsidy and statute, all is here. Rightly did Luther (though he said it with scorn) call the English monarch ‘Rex Thomisticus’. The liberties of the English Speaking Peoples have nothing to do with Protestantism. Non Angli sed Angeli, the English constitution breathes the pure doctrine of the Angelic Doctor.

Protestantism has rather corrupted and unbalanced our constitution concentrating all executive and legislative power in the same part of that constitution. As Charles I said (faithfully reflecting the doctrine of St Thomas),

There being three kindes of Government amongst men, Absolute Monarchy, Aristocracy and Democracy, and all these having their particular conveniencies and inconveniencies. The experience and wisdom of your Ancestors hath so moulded this out of a mixture of these, as to give to this Kingdom (as far as human prudence can provide) the conveniencies of all three, without the inconveniencies of any one, as long as the Balance hangs even between the three Estates, and they run jointly on in their proper Chanell (begetting Verdure and Fertilitie in the Meadows on both sides) and the overflowing of either on either side raise no deluge or Inundation.The ill of absolute Monarchy is Tyrannie, the ill of Aristocracy is Faction and Division, the ills of Democracy are Tumults, Violence and Licentiousnesse. The good of Monarchy is the uniting a Nation under one Head to resist Invasion from abroad, and Insurrection at home.The good of Aristocracie is the Conjuncion of Counsell in the ablest Persons of a State for the publike benefit.The good of Democracy is Liberty, and the Courage and Industrie which Libertie begets.

The United States of America, which has preserved this balance, has won for itself the global power that fell to Britain in the eighteenth century precisely because the USA’s interpretation of the Dominican model of government has ended up more faithful to the original than that which now prevails in England. This not because the USA is not a monarchy and Britain is, but because the USA is a monarchy and Britain is not. Those who think otherwise are as Belloc pointed out “making the common error of thinking in words instead of ideas” they foolishly “contrast America as a ‘republic’ with England as ‘monarchy,’ whereas, of course, the Government of the United States is essentially monarchic and the Government of England is essentially republican and aristocratic.”

For centuries protestants have perpetrated the fraud of ascribing the English constitutional tradition to their religion when the opposite is the case. The Leviathan of the absolute state is the protestant invention, the Dominium Politicum et Regale of freedom and the rule of law is the supreme achievement of English Catholicism. The proof is there for all to read in the writings of the great fifteenth century English Thomist Sir John Fortescue. There should be no English speaking Catholic who does not possess a copy of this book:

Fortescue

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