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(BAPCHILD, near Sittingbourne, Kent), Synod Of (694).

This meeting was rather a witenagemot , or Parliament, than an ecclesiastical synod, presided over by Wihtred, King of Kent. There were present at its deliberations Brihtwald, Archbishop of Canterbury, Tobias, Bishop of Rochester, besides abbots, abbesses, priests, deacons, and lay lords. The chief enactments are embodied in a charter whose terms secured to the Church forever the donations and privileges bestowed on it by the laity, since "what had once been given to God might never be resumed to man's use". Moreover, on the death of prelates, fitting successors were to be appointed with the advice and approval of the archbishop, without any royal intervention; such action would nullify the election; and lay interference was expressly disclaimed as being outside the limits of the laity's rights. The cathedral churches of Canterbury and Rochester were granted in perpetuity, immunity from royal requisitions or tribute otherwise than voluntary, and these were never to create precedent; all these privileges being secured under severe spiritual penalties for infringement. The interest and importance of this document rest on the fact that Spelman and others regard it as the most ancient English charter. Its authenticity has been called in question; but though different versions of it exist, there can be little doubt of the general genuineness of the terms common to all, as here summarized.


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