CLERICIS LAICOS INFESTOS
BULL OF BONIFACE VIII
February 25, 1296
Boniface Bishop, servant of the servants of God, for the perpetual memory of the matter.
That laymen have been very hostile to clerks antiquity relates, which too the experiences of the present times manifestly declare, whilst not content with their own bounds they strive for the forbidden and loose the reins for things unlawful. Nor do they prudently consider how power over clerks or ecclesiastical persons or goods is forbidden them; they impose heavy burdens on the prelates of the churches and ecclesiastical persons regular and secular, and tax them, and impose collections: they exact and demand from the same the half, tithe or twentieth, or any other portion or proportion of their revenues or goods; and in many ways they essay to bring them under slavery, and subject them to their authority.
And, as we sadly relate, some prelates of the churches and ecclesiastical persons, alarmed where there should be no alarm, seeking transient peace, fearing more to offend the temporal majesty than the eternal, acquiesce in such abuses, not so much rashly as improvidently, authority or licence of the Apostolic See not having been obtained. We therefore, desirous of presenting such wicked actions, do with apostolic authority decree with the advice of our brethren that whatsoever prelates and ecclesiastical persons, religious or secular, of whatsoever orders, condition or standing shall pay or promise, or agree to pay to lay persons collections or taxes for the tithe, twentieth or hundredth of their own rents or goods or those of the churches . . . without the authority of the same see:
And also whatsoever Emperors, kings . . . who shall impose, exact or receive the things aforesaid . . . by this same should incur sentence of excommunication. Universities, too, which may have been to blame in these matters, we subject to ecclesiastical interdict. The prelates and ecclesiastical persons above-mentioned, we strictly command, in virtue of their obedience, and under pain of deposition, that they in no wise acquiesce in such things without express licence of the said see. . . . Moreover, let no one be absolved from the aforesaid sentences of excommunication and interdict, save at the moment of death, without authority and special licence of the Apostolic See. . . .
Let it then be lawful to none at all to infringe this page of our constitution . . . and if anyone presume to attempt this, let him know that he will incur the indignation of Almighty God, and of His blessed apostles Peter and Paul . . .