The Doctor and Student (1518)
Christopher St. Germain
If a priest have won much goods by saying of mass, whether he may give those goods, or make a will of them
In the said sum called summa rosella, in the title clericus quartus, the 3d article, is asked this question: If a priest have won much goods by saying of mass, whether he may give those goods, or make a will of them? Whereto it is, answered there, that he may give them, or make a will of them, specially when a man bequeaths money for to have masses said for him. And the like law is of such things as a clerk winneth by the reason of an office: for it is said there, that such things come to him by reason of his own person. Which sayings I think accord with the law of the realm. But forasmuch as the said article, and in divers other places of the said chapter, and in divers other chapters of the said sum, is put great diversity between such goods as a clerk hath by reason of his church, and such goods as he hath by reason of his person; and that he must dispose such goods as he hath by reason of his church in such manner as is appointed by the law of the church, so that he may not dispose them so liberally as he may the goods that come by reason of his own person: therefore I shall a little touch what spiritual men may do with their goods after the law of the realm.
First, A bishop, of such goods as he hath with the dean and chapter, he may neither make gift nor bequest; but of such goods as he hath of his own by reason of his church, or of the gift of his ancestors, or of any other, or of his patrimony, lie may both make gifts and bequests lawfully. And an abbot of the goods of his church may make a gift, and that gift is good as to the law: but what it is in conscience, that is after the cause and intent and quality of the gift. For if it be so much that it notably hurteth the house or the covent, or if he give away the books or the chalices, or such other things as belong to the service of God, he offendeth in conscience; and yet he is not punishable in the law, ne yet by subbuena, after some men, ne in none otherwise but by the law of the church, as a waster of the goods of his monastery. But nevertheless I will not fully hold that opinion, as to that that belongeth necessarily to the service of God, whether any remedy lie against him or not, but remit it to the judgment of other. And of a dean and chapter, and a master and brethren, of goods that they have to themselves, and also of goods that they have with the chapter and brethren the same diversity holdeth, as appeareth before of a bishop and the dean and chapter; except that in the case of a master and brethren the goods shall be ordered as shall be assigned by the foundation. And moreover, of a parson of a church, vicar, or chantry priest, or such other, all such goods as they have, as well such as they have by reason of the parsonage, vicarage, or chauntry, as that they have by reason of their own person, they may lawfully give and bequeath where they will after the Common law: and if they dispose part among the parishioners, and part to the building of churches, or give part to the ordinary, or to poor men, or in such other manner, as it is appointed by the law of the church, they offend not therein, unless they think themselves bounden thereto by duty, and by authority of the law of the church, not regarding the king’s laws: for if they do so, it seemeth they resist the ordinance of God, which hath given power to princes to make laws. But there, as the pope hath sovereignty in temporal things as he hath in spiritual things, there some say that the goods of priests must in conscience be disposed as is contained in the said sum. But that holdeth not in this realm; for the goods of spiritual men be temporal in what manner soever they come to them, and must be ordered after the temporal law, as the goods of the temporal men must be. Howbeit, if there were a statute made in this case of like effect in many points as the law of the church is, I think it were a right good and a profitable statute.