Pope Sixtus V – A Declaration of the Sentence and Deposition of Elizabeth, 1588

[Pope Sixtus V]
Sixtus the fifth, by God’s providence the universal pastor of Christ’s flock, to whom by perpetual and lawful succession, appertaineth the care and government of the Catholic Church, seeing the pitiful calamities which heresy hath brought into the renowned countries of England and Ireland, of old so famous for virtue, Religion, and Christian obedience; and how at this present, through the impiety and perverse government of Elizabeth the pretended Queen, with a few of her adherents, those kingdoms be brought not only to a disordered and perilous state in themselves, but are become as infected members, contagious and troublesome to the whole body of Christendom; and not having in those parts the ordinary means, which by the assistance of Christian Princes he has in other provinces to remedy disorders, and keep in obedience and ecclesiastical discipline the people, for that Henry the 8th late king of England, did of late years, by rebellion and revolt from the See Apostolic, violently separate himself and his subjects from the communion and society of the Christian commonwealth; and Elizabeth the present usurper, does continue the same, with perturbation and peril of the countries about her, showing herself obstinate and incorrigible in such sort, that without her deprivation and deposition there is no hope to reform those States, nor keep Christendom in perfect peace & tranquility: Therefore our Holy Father, desiring as his duty is, to provide present & effectual remedy, inspired by God for the universal benefit of his Church, moved by the particular affection which himself and many his predecessors have had to these nations, and solicited by the zealous and importunate instance of sundry the most principal persons of the same, hath dealt earnestly with divers Princes, and specially with the mighty and potent King Catholic of Spain, for the reverence which he beareth to the See Apostolic, for the old amity between his house and the Crown of England, for the special love that he hath showed to the Catholics of those places, for the obtaining of peace and quietness in his countries adjoining, and for the augmenting and increase of the Catholic faith, and finally for the universal benefit of all Europe; that he will employ those forces which Almighty God hath given him; to the deposition of this woman, and correction of her complices, so wicked and noisome to the world; and to the reformation and pacification of these kingdoms, whence to create good, and so many-fold public commodities, are like to ensue.

And to notify to the world the justice of this act, and give full satisfaction to the subjects of those kingdoms and others whosoever, and finally to manifest God’s judgments upon sin; His Holiness hath thought good, together with the declaratory sentence of this woman’s chastisement, to publish also the causes, which have moved him to proceed against her in this sort. First, for that she is an heretic and schismatic, excommunicated by two His Holiness’s predecessors, obstinate in disobedience to God and the See Apostolic, presuming to take upon her, contrary to nature, reason, and all laws both of God and man, supreme jurisdiction and spiritual authority over men’s souls. Secondly for that she is a bastard, conceived and born by incestuous adultery, and therefore uncapable of the kingdom, as well by the several sentences of Clement the 7th and Paul the 3rd of blessed memory, as by the public declaration of king Henry himself. Thirdly for usurping the Crown without right, having the impediments mentioned, and contrary to the ancient accord made between the See Apostolic and the realm of England, upon reconciliation of the same after the death of Saint Thomas of Canterbury, in the time of Henry the second, that none might be lawful king or queen thereof, without the approbation and consent of the supreme Bishop: which afterwards was renewed by king John, and confirmed by oath, as a thing most beneficial to the kingdom, at request and instance of the Lords and Commons of the same. And further for that with sacrilege and impiety, she continues violating the solemn oath made at her coronation, to maintain and defend the ancient privileges and ecclesiastical liberties of the land. For many and grievous injuries, extorsions, oppressions, and other wrongs, done by her, and suffered to be done against the poor and innocent people of both countries. For stirring up to sedition and rebellion the subjects of other nations about her, against their lawful and natural princes, to the destruction of infinite souls, overthrow and desolation of most goodly cities and countries. For harbouring and protecting heretics, fugitives, rebels, and notorious malefactors, with great injury and prejudice of divers commonwealths: and procuring for the oppression of Christendom and disturbance of common peace, to bring in our potent and cruel enemy the Turk. For so long and barbarous persecution of God’s saints, afflicting, spoiling and imprisoning the sacred bishops, tormenting, and pitifully murdering numbers of holy priests, and other Catholic persons. For the unnatural and unjust imprisonment, and late cruelty used against the most gracious Princess Mary Queen of Scotland, who under promise and assurance of protection and succour, came first into England. For abolishing the true Catholic religion; prophaning holy sacraments, monasteries, churches, sacred persons, memories of Saints, and what else soever might help or further to eternal salvation: and in the Commonwealth, disgracing the ancient nobility, erecting base and unworthy persons to all the civil and ecclesiastical dignities, selling of laws and justice, and finally exercising an absolute tyranny, with high offence to Almighty God, oppression of the people, perdition of souls, and ruin of those countries.

Wherefore, these things being of such nature and quality, that some of them make her unable to reign, others declare her unworthy to live; His Holiness, in the almighty power of God, and by apostolical authority to him committed, doth renew the sentence of his predecessors Pius 5th and Gregory the 13th touching the excommunication and deposition of the said Elizabeth: and further anew doth excommunicate, and deprive her of all authority and princely dignity, and of all title and pretension to the said Crown and kingdom of England and Ireland; declaring her to be illegitimate, and an unjust usurper of the same; and absolving the people of those States, and other persons whatsoever, from all obedience, oath, and other band of subjection unto her, or to any other in her name. And further, doth straightly command, under the indignation of almighty God, and pain of excommunication, and the corporal punishment appointed by the laws, that none, of whatsoever condition or estate, after notice of these presents, presume to yield unto her, obedience, favour, or other succourse; but that they and every of them concur by all means possible to her chastisement. To the end that she which so many ways has forsaken God and his Church, being now destitute of wor[l]dly comfort, and abandoned of all, may acknowledge her offence, and humbly submit herself to the judgments of the Highest.

Be it therefore notified to the inhabitants of the said countries, and to all other persons, that they observe diligently the premisses, withdrawing all succour public and private, from the party pursued and her adherents, after they shall have knowledge of ths present: And that forthwith they unite themselves to the Catholic army conducted by the most noble and victorious prince, Alexander Farnesius, Duke of Parma and Placentia, in name of his Majesty, with the forces that each one can procure, to help and concur as is aforesaid (if need shall be) to the deposition and chastisement of the said persons, and restitution of the holy Catholic faith. Signifying to those which shall do the contrary or refuse to do this here commanded, that they shall not escape condign punishment.

Moreover be it known that the intention of His Holiness, of the King Catholic, and the Duke’s Highness in this enterprise, is not to invade and conquer these kingdoms, change laws, privileges or customs, bereave of liberty or livelihood any man (other than rebels and obstinate persons) or make mutation in anything, except such, as by common accord, between His Holiness, the King Catholic, and the states of the land, shall be thought necessary, for the restitution and continuance of the Catholic religion, and punishment of the usurper and her adherents. Assuring all men, that the controversies which may arise by the deprivation of this woman, or upon other cause, either between particular parties, or touching the succession to the Crown, or between the Church and Commonwealth, or in other wise whatsoever, shall be decided and determined wholly according to justice and Christian equity without any injury or prejudice to any person. And there shall not only due care be had, to save from spoil the Catholics of these countries, which have so long endured, but mercy also shown to such penitent persons, as submit themselves to the Captain general of this army. Yea, for so much as information is given, that there be many, which only of ignorance or fear be fallen from the faith, and yet notwithstanding are taken for heretics: Neither is it purposed, presently to punish any such persons, but to support them with clemency, till they by conference with learned men and better consideration, they may be informed of the truth, if they do not show themselves obstinate.

To prevent also the shedding of Christian blood, and spoil of the country, which might ensue by the resistance of some principal offenders: Be it known by these presents, that it shall not only be lawful for any person public or private (over and besides those which have undertaken the enterprise) to arrest, put in hold, and deliver up unto the Catholic part, the said usurper, or any of her complices, but also holden for very good service and most high rewarded, according to the quality and condition of the parties so delivered. And in like manner, all others, which heretofore have assisted, or hereafter shall help and concur to the punishment of the offenders, and to the establishment of Catholic religion in these provinces, shall receive that advancement of honour and estate which their good and faithful service to the commonwealth shall require; in which, respect shall be used, to preserve the ancient and honourable families of the land, inasmuch as is possible. And finally by these presents, free passage is granted to such as will resort to the Catholic camp, to bring victuals, munition, or other necessaries promising liberal payment for all such things, as shall be received from them for service of the army. Exhorting withall, and straightly commanding, that all men according to their force and ability, be ready and diligent to assist herein; to the end no occasion be given to use violence, or to punish such persons as shall neglect this commandment.

Our said Holy Father, of his benignity, and favour to this enterprise, out of the spiritual treasures of the Church committed to his custody and dispensation, grants most liberally, to all such as assist, concur, or help in any wise, to the disposition and punishment of the abovenamed persons, and to the reformation of these two countries, Plenary Indulgence and pardon of all their sins, being duly penitent, contrite and confessed, according to the law of God, and usual custom of Christian people.

Laus Deo.