POPE INNOCENT Ill TO KING JOHN, 1214

Innocent, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his well-beloved son in Christ, John illustrious king of the English, and to his legitimate freeborn heirs for ever.

The King of kings and lord of lords, Jesus Christ, a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech, has so established in the Church his kingdom and His priesthood that the one is a kingdom of priests and the other a royal priesthood, as is testified by Moses in the law and by Peter in his Epistle; and over all He has set one whom he has appointed as His Vicar on earth, so that, as every knee is bowed to Jesus, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, so all men should obey this Vicar and strive that there may be one fold and one shepherd. All secular kings for the sake of God so venerate this Vicar, that unless they seek to serve him devotedly they doubt if they are reigning properly. To this, dearly beloved son, you have paid wise attention ; and by the merciful inspiration of him in whose hand are the hearts of kings which he turns whithersoever He wills, you have decided to submit in a temporal sense yourself and your kingdom to him to whom you knew them to be spiritually subject, so that kingdom and priesthood, like body and soul, for the great good and profit of each, might be united in the single person of Christ's Vicar. He has deigned to work this wonder, who being alpha and omega has caused the end to fulfill the beginning and the beginning to anticipate the end, so that those provinces which from of old have had the Holy Roman Church as their proper teacher in spiritual matters should now in temporal things also have her as their peculiar sovereign. You, whom God has chosen as a suitable minister to effect this, by a devout and spontaneous act of will and on the general advice of your barons have offered and yielded, in the form of an annual payment of a thousand marks, yourself and your kingdoms of England and Ireland, with all their rights and appearances, to God and to SS Peter and Paul His apostles and to the Holy Roman Church and to us and our successors, to be our right and our property.