INTELLECT AND FAITH.
THE only heresies which really troubled the Church were those which obtained currency among the people unassisted by the ingenious quodlibets of dialecticians. Possibly there may be an exception to this in the theories of the Brethren of the Free Spirit, which apparently owed their origin to the speculations of Amaury of Bène and David of Dinant; but, as a whole, the Cathari and the Waldenses, the Spirituals and the Fraticelli, even the Hussites, had little or nothing in common with the fine-spun cobwebs of the schoolmen. For a heresy to take root and bear fruit, it must be able to inspire the zeal of martyrdom; and for this it must spring from the heart, and not from the brain. We have seen how, during centuries, multitudes were ready to face death in its most awful form rather than abandon beliefs in which were entwined their sentiments and feelings and their hopes of the hereafter; but history records few cases, from Abelard to Master Eckart and Galileo, in which intellectual conceptions, however firmly entertained, were strong enough to lead to the sacrifice. It is sentiment rather than reason which renders heretics dangerous; and all the pride of intellect was insufficient to nerve the scholar to maintain his thesis with the unfaltering resolution which enabled the peasant to approach the stake singing hymns and joyfully welcoming the flames which were to bear him to salvation.
The schools, consequently, have little to show us in the shape of contests between free thought and authority pushed to the point of invoking the methods of the Inquisition. Yet the latter, by the system which it rendered practicable of enforcing uniformity of belief, exercised too potent an influence on the mental development of Europe for us to pass over this phase of its activity without some brief review.
There were two tendencies at work to provoke collisions between the schoolmen and the inquisitors. The ardor of persecution, which rendered the purity of the faith the highest aim of the Christian and the most imperative care of the ruler, secular and spiritual, created an exaggerated standard of orthodoxy, which regarded the minutest point of theology as equally important with the fundamental doctrines of religion. We have already seen instances of this in the questions as to the poverty of Christ, as to whether he was dead when lanced on the cross, and as to whether the blood which he shed in the Passion remained on earth or ascended to heaven; and Stephen Paleez, at the Council of Constance, proved dialectically that a doctrine in which one point in a thousand was erroneous was thereby rendered heretical throughout. Moreover, erroneous belief was not necessary, for the Christian must be firm in the faith, and doubt itself was heresy. *
The other tendency was the insane thirst which inflamed the minds of the schoolmen for determining and defining, with absolute precision, every detail of the universe and of the invisible world. So far as this gratified itself within the lines of orthodoxy laid down by an infallible Church it resulted in building up the most complex and stupendous body of theology that human wit has ever elaborated. The Sentences of Peter Lombard grew into the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, an elaborate structure to be grasped and retained only by minds of peculiar powers after severe and special training. When this was once defined and accepted as orthodox, theology and philosophy became the most dangerous of sciences, while the perverse ingenuity of the schoolmen, revelling in the subtleties of dialectics, was perpetually rearguing doubtful points, raising new questions, and introducing new refinements in matters already too subtle for the comprehension of the ordinary intellect. The inquirer who disturbs the dust now happily covering the records of these forgotten wrangles can only feel regret that such wonderful intellectual acuteness and energy should have been so wofully wasted when, if rightly applied, it might have advanced by so many centuries the progress of humanity.
The story of Roger Bacon, the Doctor Mirabilis, is fairly illustrative of the tendencies of the time. That gigantic intellect
* Von der Hardt I. XVI. 829.-- Bernardi Comens. Lucerna Inquisit, s. v. Dubius.
bruised itself perpetually against the narrow bars erected around it by an age presumptuous in its learned ignorance. Once a transient gleam of light broke in upon the darkness of its environment, when Gui Foucoix was elevated to the papacy, and, as Clement IV., commanded the Englishman to communicate to him the discoveries of which he had vaguely heard. It is touching to see the eagerness with which the unappreciated scholar labored to make the most of this unexpected opportunity; how he impoverished his friends to raise the money requisite to pay the scribes who should set forth in a fair copy the tumultuous train of thought in which he sought to embody the whole store of human knowledge, and how, within the compass of little more than a single year, he thus accomplished the enormous task of writing the Opus Majus, the Opus Minus, and the Opus Tertium. Unfortunately, Clement was more concerned at the moment with the fortunes of Charles of Anjou than with the passing fancy which had led him to call upon the scholar; in little more than two years he was dead, and it is doubtful whether he even repaid the sums expended in gratifying his wishes. *
It was inevitable that Bacon should succumb in the unequal struggle at once with the ignorance and: the learning of his age. His labors and his utterances were a protest against the whole existing system of thought and teaching. The schoolmen evolved the universe from their internal consciousness, and then wrangled incessantly over subtleties suggested by the barbarous jargon of their dialectics. It was the same with theology, which had usurped the place of religion. Peter Lombard was greater than all the prophets and evangelists taken together. As Bacon tells us, the study of Scripture was neglected for that of the Sentences, in which lay the whole glory of the theologian. He who taught the Sentences could select his own hour for teaching, and had accommodations provided for him. He who taught the Scriptures had to beg for a time in which to be heard, and had no assistance. The former could dispute, and was held to be a master; the latter was condemned to silence in the debates of the schools. It is impossible, he adds, that the Word of God can be understood, on account of the abuse of the Sentences; and whoso seeks in Script-
* R. Bacon Opp., M. R. Series, J. S. Brewer Preface, p. xlv.
ure to elucidate questions is stigmatized as whimsical, and is not listened to. Worse than all, the text of the Vulgate is horribly corrupt, and where not corrupt it is doubtful, owing to the ignorance of would-be correctors and their presumption, for every one deemed himself able to correct the text, though he would not venture to alter a word in a poet. First of moderns, Bacon discerned the importance of etymology and of comparative philology, and he exposed unsparingly the wretched blunders customary among the so-called learned, who only succeeded in leading their pupils into error. Bacon's methods were strictly scientific. He wanted facts, actual facts, as a basis for all reasoning, whether on dogma or physical and mental experiences. To him all study of nature or of man was empirical; to know first, and then to reason. Mathematics was first in the order of sciences; then metaphysics; and to him metaphysics was not a barren effort to frame a system on postulates assumed at caprice and built up on dialectical sophisms, but a solid series of deductions from ascertained observations, for, according to Avicenna, "the conclusions of other sciences are the principles of metaphysics." *
The vast labors of the earnest life of a great genius were lost to a world too conceited of its petty vanities to recognize how far he was in advance of it. It was enamored of words; he dealt in things: the actual was rejected for the unsubstantial, and an intellectual revolution of priceless value to mankind was stifled in its inception. It was as though Caliban should chain Prospero and cast him into the ocean. How completely Bacon was unappreciated by an age unable to understand him and his antagonism towards its methods is evidenced by the scarcity of manuscripts of his works, the fragmentary condition of some of them, and the utter disappearance of others. "It is easier," says Leland, "to collect the leaves of the Sibyl than the titles of the works of Roger Bacon." The same evidence is furnished by the absence of detail as to his life no less than by the vulgar stories of his proficiency in magic arts. Even the tragic incident of his imprisonment by his Franciscan superiors and the prohibition to pursue his studies is so obscure that it is told in contradictory fashion, and its truth has been not
* Op. Minus, M. R. Series I. 326-30.--Compend. Studii Philosoph. VII.-Brewer, Preface, p. li.
unreasonably denied. According to one account he was accused of unorthodox speculations, in 1278, to Geronimo d'Ascoli, General of the Order; his opinions were condemned, the brethren were ordered scrupulously to avoid them, and he himself was cast into prison, doubtless because he did not submit as serenely as Olivi to Geronimo's sentence. He must have had followers and sympathizers, for Geronimo is said to have prevented their complaints by promptly applying to Nicholas III. for a confirmation of the judgment. How long his imprisonment lasted is not known, though there is a tradition that he perished in jail, either through sickness or the ill-treatment which we have seen was freely visited by the Franciscans on their erring brethren. Another statement attributes his incarceration to the ascetic Raymond Gaufridi, who was General of the Order from 1289 to 1295. In either case it would not be difficult to explain the cause of his disgrace. In the fierce passions of the schools, one who antagonized so completely the prevailing currents of thought, and who exposed so mercilessly the ignorance of the learned, could not fail to excite bitter enmities. The daring scholar who preferred Scripture to the Sentences, and pronounced the text of the Vulgate to be corrupt, must have given ample opportunity for accusations of heresy in a time when dogma had become so intricate, and mortal heresy might lurk in the minutest aberration. The politic Geronimo might readily listen to enemies so numerous and powerful as those whom Bacon must have provoked. The ascetic Raymond, whose aim was to bring back the Order to its primitive rudeness and simplicity, would regard Bacon's labors with the same aversion as that manifested by the early Spirituals to Crescenzio Grizzi's learning. It was a standing complaint with his section of the Order that Paris had destroyed Assisi. As Jacopone da Todi sang:
"Tal'è, qual'è, tal'è,
Non c'è religione.
Mal vedemmo Parigi
Che n' a destrutto Assisi,"
and the Spiritual General might well like to strike a blow at the greatest scholar of the Order. *
* Brewer, Pref. p. xcviii.-- Wadding. ann. 1278, No. 26; ann. 1284, No. 12.--
While Bacon suffered because he antagonized the thought of his time, there was much of scholastic bitterness which escaped animadversion because it was the development of the tendencies of the age, and the schoolmen were allowed to indulge in endless wrangling for the most part without censure. The great quarrel between the Nominalists and the Realists occupies too large a space in the intellectual history of Europe to be wholly passed over, although its relation to our immediate subject is not intimate enough to justify detailed consideration.
In the developed theory of the Realists, genera and species-the distinctive attributes of individual beings, or the conceptions of those attributes--are real entities, if not the only realities. Individuals are ephemeral existences which pass away; the only things which survive are those which are universal and common to all. In man this is humanity, but humanity again is but a portion of a larger existence, the animate, and the animate is but a transitory form of an Infinite Being, which is All and nothing in particular. This is the sole Immutable. These conceptions took their origin in the Periphyseos of John Scot Erigena in the ninth century, whose reaction against the prevailing anthropomorphism led him to sublimated views of the Divine Being, which trenched closely on Pantheism. The heresy latent in his work lay undiscovered until developed by the Amaurians, when the book, after nearly four centuries, was condemned by Honorius III., in 1225. *
Nominalism, on the other hand, regarded the individual as the primal substance; universals are only abstractions or mental conceptions of qualities common to individuals, with no more of reality than the sounds which express them. Even as Realism in the bands of daring thinkers led to Pantheism, so, step by step, Nominalism could be brought to recognize the originality of the individual and finally to Atomism. †
The two antagonistic schools were first clearly defined in the beginning of the twelfth century, with Roscelin, the teacher of
Wood's Life of Bacon ( Brewer, pp. xciv.-xcv.).-- C. Müller, Die Anfänge des Minoritenordens, pp. 104-5.
* Tocco, L'Heresia nel Medio Evo, p. 2.--J. Scoti Erigenæ de Divis. Naturæ I. 14; IV. 5.--Alberic. Trium Font. ann. 1225.
† Tocco, p. 4.
Abelard, as the leader of the Nominalists, and William of Champeaux at the head of the Realists. Discussion continued in the schools with constantly increasing bitterness, though neither side dared to push their own views to their ultimate conclusions. Realism in a modified form achieved a triumph with the immense authority of Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas. Duns Scotus was a Realist, though he differed with Aquinas on the problem of individuation, and the Realists became divided into the opposing factions of Thomists and Scotists. While they were thus weakened with dissension, William of Ockham revived Nominalism, and it became bolder than ever. The perennial hostility between the Dominicans and Franciscans tended to range the two Orders under the opposing banners, while Ockham's defence of Louis of Bavaria in his quarrel with the papacy served to impress upon the new school of Nominalists his views upon the relations between Church and State. *
The schools continued to resound with the clangor of disputation, occasionally growing so hot that blows supplied the deficiency of words, and even murder is said to have not been wanting. Under Peter d'Ailly and John Gerson the ' University of Paris was Nominalist. With the English domination the Realists triumphed and expelled their adversaries, who were unable to return until the restoration of the French monarchy. In 1465 there arose in the University of Louvain a strife which lasted for ten years over some propositions of Pierre de la Rive on fate and divine foreknowledge, in which the rival sects took sides. The University of Paris was drawn in; the Nominalists triumphed in condemning de la Rive, and the Realists took their revenge by procuring from Louis XI. an edict prohibiting the teaching of Nominalist: doctrines in the University and in all the schools of the kingdom; all Nominalist books were boxed up and sealed until 1481, when Louis was persuaded to recall his edict, and the university rejoiced to regain her liberty. One tragic incident in the long quarrel has been already alluded to in the trial of John of Wesel which led to his death in prison, and it illustrates how readily scholastic ardor assumed that in gratifying its vindictiveness it was vindicating the faith. The contemporary reporter of the trial assumes that the persecution
* Johann. Saresberiens. Metalog. II. 17.-- Tocco, 26, 39, 40, 57.
was caused by the antagonism of the Dominican Realists to the Nominalism of the victim, and he deplores the rage which led the Thomists to regard every one who denied the existence of universals as though guilty of the sin against the Holy Ghost, and as a traitor to God, to the Christian religion, to justice, and to the State. *
The annals of the schools are full of cases which show how the recklessness of disputatious logic led to subtleties most perilous in minute details of theology, and also how sensitive were the conservators of the faith as to anything that might be construed by perverse ingenuity as savoring of heresy . Duns Scotus did not escape, nor Thomas Bradwardine; William of Ockham and Buridan were enveloped in a common condemnation by the University of Paris, of which the latter had been rector. The boundaries between philosophy and the theology which sought to define everything in the visible and invisible world were impossible of definition, and it was a standing grievance that the philosophers were perpetually intruding on the domains of the theologians. When their daring speculations were unorthodox they sought to shelter themselves behind the assertion that according to the methods of philosophy the Catholic religion was erroneous and false, but that it was true as a matter of faith, and that they believed it accordingly. This only made matters worse, for, as the authorities pointed out, it assumed that there were two opposite truths, contradicting each other. It was not merely that orthodox sensitiveness was called upon to condemn, as was done in 1447 by the University of Louvain, such vain sophisms as the assertion that it is possible to conceive of a line a foot long which shall yet have neither beginning nor end, and that a whole may be in England while all its parts are in Rome; or those of Jean Fabre, condemned by the University of Paris in 1463, that any part of a man is a man, that one man is infinite men, that no man is ever corrupted, though sometimes a man is corrupted--propositions in which lurked the possibilities of heretical development--or the apparently yet more innocent grammatical obtuseness which recognized no difference between the phrases "the pot boils" and "pot, thou boilest "--an obtuseness which Erasmus tells us was regarded as an infallible
* Bruckeri Instit. Hist. Philos. Ed. 1756, p. 530.-- D'Argentré I. II. 258-84, 298, 302-4.-- Baluz. et Mansi, II. 293-6.-- Isambert, X. 664-72.
sign of infidelity. Philosophers were not satisfied unless they could prove by logic the profoundest and holiest mysteries of theology, and, however zealous they were in the faith, the intrusion of reason into the theological preserves was not only resented as an interference, but was rightfully regarded with alarm at its possible consequences. When the Arab philosophers were disputing as to the nature and operation of the Divine Knowledge, the clam wisdom of Maimonides interposed, saying, "To endeavor to understand the Divine Knowledge is as though we endeavored to be God himself, so that our perception should be as his. . . . It is absolutely impossible for us to attain this kind of perception. If we could explain it to ourselves we should possess the intelligence which gives this kind of perception." Ambitious schoolmen, however, as well as orthodox theological doctors, refused to admit that the finite cannot grasp the infinite, and their pride of reason awakened, not unnaturally, the jealousy of those who considered it their exclusive privilege to guard the Holy of Holies and to explain the will of God to men. This feeling finds expression as early as 1201 in the story told of the learned doctor, Simon de Tournay, who proved by ingenious arguments the mystery of the Trinity, and then, elated by the applause of his hearers, boasted that if he were disposed to be malignant, he could disprove it with yet stronger ones, whereupon he was immediately stricken with paralysis and idiocy. The self-restraint of such men was a slender reliance, and yet slenderer was the chance that the interposition of Heaven would always furnish so salutary a warning. *
The audacity of these rash intruders upon the sacred precincts increased immeasurably with the introduction of the works of Averrhoes in the second quarter of the thirteenth century, constituting a real danger of the perversion of Christian thought. In the hands of the Arab commentators the theism of Aristotle became a transcendental materialism, carried to its furthest expression by the latest of them, Ibn Roschd or Averrhoes, who died in 1198. In his system matter has existed from the beginning, and
* D'Argentré I. I. 275, 285-90, 323-30, 337-40; I. II. 249, 255.-- R. Lullii Lamentatio Philosophiæ (Opp. Ed. 1651, p. 112).-- Erasmi Encom. Moriæ (Ed. Lipsiens. 1828, p. 365).-- Maimonides, Guide des Égarés P. III. ch. xxi. (Trad. Munk, III. 155).--Matt. Paris ann. 1201 (Ed. 1644, p. 144).
the theory of creation is impossible. The universe consists of a hierarchy of principles, eternal, primordial, and autonomous, vaguely connected with a superior unity. One of these is the Active Intellect, manifesting itself incessantly and constituting the permanent consciousness of humanity. This is the only form of immortality. As the soul of man is a fragment of a collective whole, temporarily detached to animate the body, at death it is reabsorbed into the Active Intellect of the universe. Consequently there are no future rewards or punishments, no feelings, memory, sensibility, love, or hatred. The perishable body has the power of reproducing itself and thus enjoys a material immortality in its descendants, but it is only collective humanity that is immortal. * To those whose conceptions of paradise and the resurrection were as material as the Swarga of the Brahman or the Kama Loka heavens of the Buddhist, such collective and insensible immortality, like the Moksha and Nirvana, was virtually equivalent to annihilation, and the Averrhoists were universally stigmatized as materialists.
Such theories as these necessarily induced the loftiest indifferentism as to religious formulas, although a wholesome dread of the rising Moslem fanaticism, from which Averrhoes had not escaped scathless, rendered him cautious as to assailing the established faith. "The special religion of philosophers," he says, "is to study what exists, for the most sublime worship of God is the contemplation of his works, which leads us to a knowledge of him in all his reality. In the eye of God this is the noblest of actions, while the vilest is to accuse of error and presumption him who pays to divinity this worship, nobler than all other worship; who adores God by this religion, the best of all religions." At the same time the received religions are an excellent instrument of morality. He who inspires among a people doubts as to the national religion is a heretic, to be punished as such by the established penalties. The wise man will utter no word against the national religion, and will especially avoid speaking of God in a manner equivocal to the vulgar. When several religious confront each other, one should select the noblest. Thus all religions are of human origin, and the choice between them is a matter of opinion or policy--but policy, if nothing else, must have prevented
* Renan, Averrhoès et l'Averrhoïsme, 3e Éd. 1866, pp. 152-3, 156-60, 168.
Averrhoes from uttering the phrase commonly attributed to him --"The Christian faith is impossible; that of Judaism is a religion of children, that of Islam, a religion of hogs." *
Still less credible is the popular assertion which assigns to him the famous speech referring to Moses, Christ, and Mahomet as the three impostors who had deluded the human race. This saying became a convenient formula with which the Church horrified the faithful by attributing it successively to those whom it desired to discredit. Thomas of Cantimpré fathered it upon Simon de Tournay, whose paralytic stroke in 1201 he ascribed to this impiety. Gregory IX., when in 1239 he arraigned Frederic II. before the face of Europe, did not hesitate to assert that he was the author of this utterance, which Frederic made haste to deny in the most solemn manner. A certain renegade Dominican named Thomas Scot, who was condemned and imprisoned in Portugal, was said to have been guilty of this blasphemy among others, and the phrase drifted through the centuries until there was a current belief that an impious book existed under the title De Tribus Impostoribus, the authorship of which was attributed variously to Petrus de Vineis, Boccaccio, Poggio, Machiavelli, Erasmus, Servetus, Bernadino Ochino, Rabelais, Pietro Aretino, Étienne Dolet, Francesco Pucci, Muret, Vanini, and Milton. Queen Christina of Sweden vainly caused all the libraries of Europe to be searched for it, but it remained invisible until, in the eighteenth century, various scribblers put forth volumes to gratify the popular curiosity. †
Yet to Frederic II. may be attributed the introduction of Averrhoism in central Europe. In Spain it was so prevalent that about 1260 Alonso X. describes heresies as consisting of two principal divisions, of which the worst was that which denies the immortality of the soul and future rewards and punishments, and in
* Renan, pp. 22, 29-36, 167-9, 297.
† Th. Cantimpr. Bon. Univers. Lib. II. c. Matt. Paris ann. 1238.--Hist. Diplom. Frid. II. T. V. pp. 339, 349.--Pelayo, Heterodoxos Españoles, I. 507-8, 782-3.
One of these supposititious Traité des Trois Imposteurs, published at Yverdon in 1768, is written from a pantheistic standpoint, and not without a certain measure of learning. Although it quotes Descartes, there is a somewhat clumsy attempt to represent it as a translation of a tract sent by Frederic II. to Otho of Bavaria.
1291 we find the Council of Tarragona ordering the punishment of those who disbelieved in a future existence. It was from Toledo that Michael Scot came with translations of Aristotle and Averrhoes, and was warmly welcomed at the court of Frederic, whose insatiable thirst for knowledge and whose slender reverence for formulas led him to grasp eagerly at these unexpected sources of philosophy. It was probably these translations which formed the body of Aristotelism distributed by him to the universities of Italy. Hermannus Alemannus continued Michael's work at Toledo and brought versions of other books to Manfred, who inherited his father's tastes, so that by the middle of the century the principal labors of Averrhoes were accessible to scholars. *
The infection spread with rapidity almost incredible. Already, in 1243, Guillaume d'Auvergne, Bishop of Paris, and the Masters of the University condemned a series of scholastic errors, not indeed distinctively Averrhoist, but manifesting in their bold independence the influence which the Arab philosophy was beginning to exercise. In 1247 the papal legate Otto, Bishop of Frascati, condemned Jean de Brescain for certain heretical speculations concerning light and matter; he was banished from Paris and forbidden to teach, or dispute, or to live where there was a college. At the same time a certain Master Raymond who had been imprisoned for his erroneous views was found to be contumacious and was ordered back to prison, while, for the future, logicians were forbidden to argue theologically and theologians logically, as they were growing accustomed to do. This accomplished little, and as little was effected by Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, who employed their keenest dialectics to check the spread of these dangerous opinions. Bonaventura likewise denounced the audacious philosophy which denied immortality and asserted the unity of intellect and the eternity of matter, showing that Dominicans and Franciscans could co-operate against a common enemy. In 1270, Étienne Tempier, Bishop of Paris, was called upon to condemn a series of thirteen errors, distinctively Averrhoist, which found defenders among the schools, to the effect that the intellect of all men is the same and is one in number; that human will is
* Partidas, P. VII. Tit. xxvi. 1. 1.--Concil. Tarraconens. ann. 1291 c. 8 (Martene Ampliss. Coll. VII. 294).-- Renan, pp. 205-16.
controlled by necessity; that the world is eternal and there never was a first man; that the soul is corrupted with the corruption of the body and does not suffer from corporeal fire; that God does not know individual things, he knows nothing but himself, and cannot give immortality and incorruptibility to that which is mortal and corruptible. *
This availed as little as the previous effort. In 1277 it was deemed necessary to invoke the authority of John XXI., under which Bishop Tempier condemned a list of two hundred and nineteen errors, mostly the same as the previous ones, or deductions drawn from them, tending to systematize materialism and fatalism. The daring progress made by free-thought is shown by the sharply defined antagonism proclaimed between philosophy and theology: The philosopher must deny the creation of the world because he relies upon natural causes alone, but the believer may assert it because he relies upon supernatural causes; the utterances of the theologians are based upon fables, and theology is a study unworthy the pursuing, for philosophers are the only sages and the Christian law impedes the progress of learning: prayer, of course, is unnecessary, and sepulture is not worth consideration by the wise man, but confession may be practised to save appearances. The Averrhoist theory of the universe and the celestial spheres was fully expressed, as well as the controlling influences of the stars upon human will and fortunes, for which, as we have seen, Peter of Abano and Cecco d'Ascoli subsequently suffered. In addition we have the speculation that with every cycle of thirty-six thousand years the celestial bodies returned to the same relative positions, producing a repetition of the same series of events. †
About the same time Robert Kilwarby, Archbishop of Canterbury, together with the Masters of Oxford, condemned some errors evidently originating from the same source, but not asserting materialism in a manner so absolute, and this condemnation was confirmed in 1284 by Archbishop Peckham, but the only punishment threatened was deposition for a Master, and for a Bachelor expulsion with disability for promotion. These articles were combined
* Matt. Paris ann. 1243 (p. 415).--S. Bonaventuræ Serm. de decem Præceptis II. (Opp. Venct. 1584, II. 617).--D'Arcrentré I. I. 158-9, 186-88.
† D'Argentré I. I. 177-83.
with those of Bishop Tempier, and together the collection had wide currency, as shown by the number of MSS. containing it. That the opinions thus condemned continued to be regarded as a source of real danger to the Church is manifested by the articles being customarily printed during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries at the end of the fourth book of the Sentences, and also in an edition each of Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and Bonaventura. *
Yet after the death of Bishop Tempier these articles aroused considerable complaint as interfering with freedom of discussion, and they became the object of no little debate. In fact, in so long a list of errors, many of them scarce apprehensible save by the scholastic mind, it was almost impossible to avoid trenching upon positions held to be orthodox in a theology of which the complexity had grown beyond the grasp of finite intelligence and finite memory. Considerable trouble was occasioned by the fact that some of the articles assailed positions held by Thomas Aquinas himself; others were attacked by William of Ockham and Jean de Poilly. How perilous, indeed, was the position of the theological expert in the war of dialectics is seen in the case of the Doctor Fundatissimus, Egidio Colonna, better known as Egidio da Roma. There was no more earnest and active opponent of Averrhoism, and his list of its errors long continued to be the basis of its condemnation. Yet he translated a commentary on Aristotle, and in 1285 he was accused in Paris of entertaining some of the errors condemned in 1277. After considerable discussion the matter was carried before the Holy See, and Honorius IV. referred him back to the University of Paris for sentence. He made his peace so effectually that Philippe le Bel, whose tutor he had been, presented him to the great archbishopric of Bourges. †
At the close of the thirteenth and the commencement of the fourteenth century the principal figure in the contest with Averrhoes is Raymond Lully--aptly styled by Renan the hero of the crusade against it--but the career of Lullism was so remarkable that it must be considered independently hereafter. All efforts failed to suppress a philosophy which offered such attractions to the rising energies of the human intellect. An avowed school of
* D'Argentré I. I. 185, 212-13, 234.
† D'Argentré I. I. 214-15, 235-6.-- Renan, pp. 467-70.-- Eymeric. pp. 238, 241.
Averrhoists arose, whose tenets, introduced in the University of Padua seemingly by Peter of Abano, reigned there supreme until the seventeenth century. The University of Bologna likewise adopted them. Jean de Jandun, the collaborator of Marsilio of Padua, was a modified Averrhoist, as were Walter Burleigh, Buridan, and the Ockhamists. John of Baconthorpe, who died in 1346 as General of the Carmelites, rejoiced in the title of Prince of Averrhoists, and through him the philosophy became traditional in the Order. These men might conceal to themselves the dangerous irreligion which lurked under their cherished theories, but when these spread among the people, divested of the subtle dialectics of the schools, they developed into frank materialism. Dante's description of the portion of hell where
"Suo cimitero da questa parte hanno
Con Epicuro tutti i suoi seguaci
Che l'anima col corpo morta fanno"
( INFERNO, X.)
manifests by its occupants that Averrhoism in its crudest form was openly professed by men high in station; and some proceedings of the Inquisitions of Carcassonne and Pamiers in the first quarter of the fourteenth century indicate that even in the lower strata of society such opinions were not uncommon. The indignation of Petrarch shows us how fashionable and how outspoken by the middle of the century this indifferentism had become in the Venetian provinces, where men did not hesitate to ridicule Christ and to regard Averrhoes as the fountain of wisdom. In Florence the tradition of the same philosophic contempt for dogma is indicated by Boccaccio's story of the Three Rings, wherein Melchisedech the Jew, by an ingenious parable, conveys to Saladin the conclusion that all three religions are on the same plane, with equal claims for reverence. In Spain, although philosophy was little cultivated, Morisco tradition seems to have kept Averrhoism alive. The revolted nobles who, in 1464, presented their complaints to King Enrique IV., declare him suspect in the faith because he keeps about his person enemies of Catholicism, and others who, while nominally Christians, boast of their disbelief in the immortality of the soul. *
* Renan, pp. 318-20, 322, 325, 339, 342, 345-6.--Molinier, Études sur quelques MSS. des Bibliothèques d'Italie, p. 103.--Petrarchi Lib. sine Titulo Epist. XVIII.
Averrhoism had thus fairly conquered a position for itself, and it is one of the inscrutable problems why the Inquisition, so unrelenting in its suppression of minor aberrations, should have conceded impunity to speculations which not only sapped the foundations of Christian faith, but by plain implication denied all the doctrines on which were based the wealth and power of the hierarchy. Even the University of Paris, so vigilant in its guard over orthodoxy, seems during the remainder of the fourteenth century to have abstained from condemning Averrhoism and its deductions, although there were numerous decisions against minute errors of scholastic theology. Yet to Gerson Averrhoes was still the most insolent adversary of the faith; he was the man who had condemned all religions as bad, but that of the Christians as worst of all, for they daily ate their God; and, in the allegorical paintings of Orcagna, Traini, Taddeo Gaddi, and their successors, Averrhoes commonly figures as the impersonation of rebellious unbelief. *
It was not till 1512 that Averrhoism had its first recorded victim since Peter of Abano, in the person of Hermann of Ryswick, who, in 1499, had been condemned for teaching its materialistic doctrines--that matter is uncreated and has existed with God from the beginning, that the soul dies with the body, and that angels, whether good or bad, are not created by God. He abjured and was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment, but escaped and persisted in propagating his errors. When again apprehended, in 1512, the inquisitor at The Hague had no hesitation in handing him over as a relapsed to the secular arm, and he was duly burned. †
In northern Europe, where scholastic theology was engaged in mortal combat with Humanism, rigor like this is to be looked for, but the case was different in Italy. There letters had long before got the better of faith. The infection of culture and philosophy, of elegant paganism, pervaded all the more elevated ranks of society. A succession of cultured popes, who were temporal princes rather than vicars of Christ, and who prided themselves on the patronage of scholars, could turn aside from the affairs of state to
Ejusd. contra Medicum Lib. II. ( Ed. Basil. 1581, p. 1098).--Decamerone, Giorn. I. Nov. 3.-- Marina, Théorie des Cortès, Trad. Fleury, Paris, 1822, II, 515.
* Gerson. sup. Magnificat. Tract. IX. (Ed. 1489, 89f, 91f).-- Renan, p. 314.
† D'Argentré I. II. 342.--Alph. de Castro adv. Hæreses, Lib. II. s. v. Angelus.
stimulate the burning of miserable witches, but not to condemn the errors of the philosophers who adorned their courts. If Rome was to remain the mistress of the world under the New Learning, she could not afford to be relentless in repressing the aspirations and speculations of scholars and philosophers. * The battle had been fought and lost over Lorenzo Valla. It is true that his destructive criticism of the Donation of Constantine was written at Naples about 1440, when Alfonso I. was in conflict with Eugenius IV. Yet, as he not only swept away the foundations of the temporal power, but argued that the papacy should be deprived of it, the impunity which he enjoyed is a remarkable proof of the freedom of speech permitted at the period. His troubles arose from a different cause, and even these he would probably have escaped but for the quarrelsome humor of the man, and his unsparing ridicule of the horrible jargon of the schools and even of the earlier Humanists. He made enemies enough to conspire for his ruin at the court of Naples, where Alfonso had studied Latin under his teaching, and he soon gave occasion for their attack. Becoming involved in a contest with an ignorant priest who asserted that the Symbol was the production of the Apostles, the discussion spread to the authenticity of the communications between Christ and King Abgar of Edessa. Valla posted a list of the propositions assailed,' and hired a hall in which to defend them against all comers, when his enemies procured from the king a prohibition of disputation. Valla then posted on the hall-door a triumphant distich:
"Rex pacis miserans sternendas Marte phalanges, Victoris cupidum continuit gladium."
Then the Inquisition interposed, but Alfonso exercised the royal Neapolitan prerogative of putting a stop to the prosecution, Valla
* For a luminous presentation of the influence of Humanism on the policy of the Church in the fifteenth century, see Creighton History of the Popes, II. 333 sqq. It was one of the complaints of Savonarola that learning and culture had supplanted religion in the minds of those to whom the destinies of Christianity were confided until they had become infidels--" Vattene a Roma e per tutto il Cristianesimo; nelle case de' gran prelati e de' gran maestri non s' attende se non a poesie e ad arte oratoria. . . . Essi hanno introdotto fra noi le feste del diavolo; essi non credono a Dio, e si fanno beffe dei misteri della nostra religione" ( Villari, Storia di Savonarola, Ed. 1887, I. 197, 199).
being only forced to make a general declaration that he believed as Holy Mother Church believed--the sincerity of which appeared when, attacked on a point of dialectics, he defended himself by saying: "In this, too, I believe as Mother Church believes, though Mother Church knows nothing about it." When, in 1443, Alfonso and Eugenius were reconciled, Valla sought to go to Rome, but was unable to do so; but when the monkish Eugenius was succeeded by the humanist Nicholas V., the way was opened. Nicholas not only welcomed him, but gave him a position among the papal secretaries and rewarded his translation of Thueydides with a gift of five hundred ducats. Calixtus III. provided him with a prebend in the pope's own church of St. John Lateran, and here he was honorably buried. So little reverence, indeed, existed at the time for the most sacred subjects that Æneas Sylvius relates with admiration, as an illustration of Alfonso's keenness, that when he had been wearied with a sermon by Frà Antonio, a Sicilian Dominican, on some questions concerning the Eucharist, he put to the preacher the following puzzle: A man enclosed a consecrated. host in a vase of gold; a month later, on opening it, he found only a worm; the worm could not have been formed from the pure gold, nor from the accidents which were there, without the subject; it was therefore produced from the body of Christ; but from the substance of God nothing but God can proceed, therefore the worm was God. In such a spiritual atmosphere it was in vain that Lorenzo's enemy Poggio, whom he had mercilessly ridiculed and abused, urged that his errors as to the nature of God and the vow of chastity should be reproved by fire rather than by argument. His annotations on the New Testament, in which he corrected the errors of the Vulgate by the aid of the Greek text, although subsequently put in the index by Paul IV. in 1559, was not condemned at the time. Nicholas V. saw it, Bessarion contributed to it, Nicholas of Cusa begged a copy of it, and Erasmus, in 1505, published it with enthusiastic encomiums, under the patronage of Christopher Fischer, papal prothonotary. We have seen from Bacon how hopelessly corrupt the text of the Vulgate had become; Valla's attempt to purify it was warmly contested, but in his controversy over it with Poggio he won the victory, and the right to do so was thenceforth conceded. *
* Laurent. Vallæ in Donat. Constant. Declam. (Fasciculus Rer. Expetendar. I.
After this, scholarship, however heretical, had little to fear in Italy; and the toleration thus extended to the most daring speculations offers abundant food for thought, when we remember that at this very time the Franciscans and Dominicans were turbulently endeavoring to burn each other over the infinitesimal question as to whether the blood of Christ shed in the Passion remained on earth or not. It is true that in 1459 the Lombard inquisitor, Jacopo da Brescia, condemned to degradation and perpetual imprisonment Doctor Zanino da Solcia, Canon of Bergamo, who entertained some crazy theories that the end of the world was approaching, and that God had created another world populated by human beings, so that Adam was not the first man, together with some Averrhoistic tenets that it was the power of the stars, and not love for humanity that led Christ to the cross, and that Christ, Moses, and Mahomet governed mankind at their pleasure; but
* 132, Ed. 1690).-- Bayle, s. v. Valle.--Raynald. ann. 1446, No. 9.--Paramo de Orig. Offic. S. Inq. p. 297.-- Wagenmann, Real-Encykl. VIII. 492-3.-- Creighton Hist. of the Popes, II. 340.
--Æn. Sylv. Comment. in Dict. et Fact. Alfonsi Regis Lib. I.
--Erasmi Epistt. Lib. IV. Ep. 7; Lib. VII. Ep. 3.-- Reusch, Der Index der Verbotenen Bücher, I. 227.
The immediate conviction wrought by Valla's criticism of the Donation of Constantine is shown in Æneas Sylvius's defence of the temporal power, where he abandons Constantine entirely, basing the territorial claims of the Holy See on the gifts of Charlemagne, and its authority over kings on the power of the keys and the headship granted to Peter (Æn. Sylvii Opp. inedd. pp. 571-81). Yet the Church soon rallied and renewed its claims. Arnaldo Albertino, Inquisitor of Valencia, in alluding to the Donation of Constantine, says, in 1533, that Lorenzo Valla endeavored to dispute its truth, but that every one else is united in maintaining it, so that to deny it is to come near heresy (Arn. Albertini Repetitio nova, Valentiæ, 1534, col. 32-3). Curiously enough, he adds that it is asserted in the bull Unam Sanctam, which is not the case (I. Extrav. Commun. Lib. I. Tit. viii.). In fact, Boniface VIII. founded his claims on Christ, and a reference to Constantine would only weaken them.
Valla's bitter and captious criticisms provoked sundry epigrams after his death.
"Nune postquam manes defunctus Valla petivit, Non audet Pluto verba Latina loqui. Jupiter hune cæli dignatus parte fuisset, Censorem linguæ sed temet esse suæ."
"Ohe ut Valla silet solitus qui parcere nulli est! Si quæris quid agat nunc quoque mordet humum."--( Bayle, 1. c.).
Pius II., in confirming the sentence, moderated it with the evident purpose in due time of remedying the over-zeal of the inquisitor. He also interfered when the Inquisition had condemned a high official of Udine for virtually denying immortality by asserting that the blood is the soul: the sentence was set aside, and the offender was offered the easy opportunity of escaping punishment as a heretic by publicly declaring this to be an error. Pius, however, showed his orthodoxy by reproving the laxity of Eugenius IV. in the case of Braccio da Montone, the condottiere lord of Perugia, an avowed infidel, whose body, on his death in 1424 at the siege of Aquila, was brought to Rome and thrust into unconsecrated ground until Eugenius had it translated and honorably buried in the cathedral of Perugia. A more typical case is that of Gismondo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini. He was a man of high culture, and an ardent adept of the new philosophy, who manifested his zeal by bringing from the Peloponnesus and burying with a laudatory inscription, in the cathedral of Rimini, Gemistus Plethon, the half-pagan founder of a new philosophical religion. All this might have escaped animadversion had not his ambition led him to extend his dominions at the expense of papal territory. In the quarrel which ensued his heterodoxy served as a convenient object of attack, and in 1461 Pius II. condemned him as a heretic who denied the immortality of the soul, and in default of his body burned his effigy before a Roman crowd. So little effect had this that the Venetians maintained their alliance with Gismondo, and the Bishop of Treviso incurred imminent risk of losing his see by reason of publishing the sentence. More efficacious was a crusade, in 1463, under the Cardinal of Theane and Federigo d' Urbino, when Gismondo was stripped of nearly all his possessions and was forced to sue for peace. His heresy then was so little regarded that he was allowed to abjure by deputy, and was reconciled under the trifling penance of Friday fasting on bread and water. *
In fact, as Gregory of Heimburg bitterly declares, it was safer to discuss the power of God than that of the popes. This was very clearly demonstrated in the persecution of the "Academy"
* Raynald. ann. 1459, No. 31; ann. 1461, No. 9, 10. Æn. Sylvii Opp. inedd. pp. 453, 506-7, 524, 653.--B. Platinæ Vit. Pauli III.--Creighton, Hist. of the Popes, II. 440; III. 39.
by Paul II. Pius II. had formed in the curia a college of sixty "abbreviators" for the expedition of papal briefs, which became for the most part a refuge for needy men of letters. Platina, the papal biographer, who was one of them, tells us that it was customary among both philosophers and theologians to dispute about the soul, the existence of God, the separated essences, and other matters, and he seeks to palliate the evil repute thence arising by saying that people confounded search for the truth with heretical doubt. The people probably had ample cause for scandal in such debates among papal officials, which was not diminished when Pomponio Leto founded in honor of Plato an academy of the leading Humanists, who bestowed on their leader the title of Pontifex Maximus, offered sacrifices on the anniversary of the foundation of Rome, and discarded their baptismal names in favor of classical ones. Pomponio himself would study nothing later than the golden age of Roman literature, thus dismissing with contempt the Scriptures and the Fathers, and he daily knelt before an altar dedicated to Romulus. All this might have passed unrepressed had these classical zealots borne with philosophy the withdrawal of papal patronage. One of the early acts of Paul II., in his effort to reform abuses, was the suppression of the College of Abbreviators in consequence of ugly rumors as to the venality and extortion of its members. The men of letters, many of whom had purchased their positions, were indignant at this deprivation of their means of livelihood. Platina was hardy enough to ask the pope to have their rights decided by the Auditors of the Rota, and was refused with abundant emphasis. He then had the incredible audacity to write to Paul threatening him with an appeal to the princes of Christendom to call a council on the subject. After Constance and Basle, the word council was not one to be safely uttered within earshot of a pope; Platina was promptly arrested on a charge of high-treason and thrown into jail, where he lay in chains, without fire, during four winter months, until released on the intercession of Cardinal Gonzaga.
All this was not likely to create harmony between Paul and the Humanists; we can readily imagine that epigrams and satires on the pope were freely circulated and that the breach grew wider, but the men of letters, if allowed to remain hungry, were not molested until, early in 1468, Paul was informed that the members of the Academy were conspiring against him. That a crazy admiration of antiquity should culminate in an effort to restore the liberty of Rome was not improbable, and the situation in Italy was such as to render an effort of the kind abundantly capable of causing trouble. Paul was thoroughly alarmed, and at once imprisoned the suspected conspirators. The unlucky Platina, who was one of them, has given us an account of the relentless tortures to which, for two days, about twenty of them were subjected, while Pomponio, who chanced to be in Venice, was dragged to Rome like another Jugurtha. No criminating evidence of treason was discovered, but they were kept in durance for a year, and, in order to find some justification for the affair, which had excited much comment, they were accused of heresy, of disputing about the immortality of the soul, and of venerating Plato. It proves how leniently such aberrations were regarded that they were finally acquitted of all heresy and discharged; and that although Paul abolished the Academy, prohibiting even the mention of its name, his successor, Sixtus IV., as a patron of letters, permitted its re-establishment and appointed Platina librarian of the Vatican library which he founded. *
The tolerance thus extended to the paganism of the enthusiastic votaries of the New Learning produced a curious development of religious sentiment among them as insidiously dangerous to the faith, except in its lack of popular attractiveness, as the dogmas so ruthlessly exterminated by Peter Martyr and François Borel. Marsilio Ficino, the Platonist, evidently regarded himself, and was regarded, as a champion of Christianity and a most deserving son of the Church, and yet he kept a lamp lighted in honor of Plato, whom he repeatedly declared to be a Greek-speaking Moses. He brought all religions upon the same level. The worship of the pagan gods of antiquity was a worship of the true God, and not, as the Church held, an adoration of demons. He found Para-
* Gregor. Heymburg. Confut. Primatus Papæ (Fascic. Rer. Expetend. II. 117). --B. Platinæ Vit. Pauli II.--Cantù, I. 186-7, 198.
Creighton (Hist. of the Popes, III. 276 sqq.) has printed from a Cambridge MS. a curious correspondence between Pomponio, while imprisoned in the Castle of Saut' Angelo, and his jailer, Rodrigo de Arevalo, afterwards Bishop of Zamora, It shows how fragile was the philosophy of the Platonists when exposed to real privations.
dise in the Elysian Fields, and Purgatory in Hades. Zoroaster, Orpheus, Hermes Trismegistus, Socrates, Plato, and Virgil were prophets on whose evidence he relies to prove the divinity of Christ. The Crito confirms the Evangel and contains the foundation of religion. Even the Neo-Platonists, Plotinus and Proclus, and Iamblichus, are shown to have been supporters of the faith which they so earnestly combated while alive. For teachings far less dangerous than this hundreds of men had been forced to the alternative of recantation or the stake, but Marsilio was honored as a light of his age. It is true that he avoided the errors of Averrhoism, but as these were likewise tolerated his impunity is not to be ascribed to this. While admitting the importance of astrology, he held that the stars have no power of themselves; they can merely indicate, and their indication of the future by their regular revolutions shows that affairs are not abandoned to chance, but are ruled by Providence. So, while human character. is affected by the position of the stars at the hour of birth, it is much more the result of heredity and training. Perhaps the most curious illustration which Marsilio gives us of the confusion and upturning of religious ideas in the Renaissance is a letter addressed to Eberhard, Count of Wirtemberg, in which he seriously proves that the sun is not to be worshipped as God. In one respect he was more orthodox than most of his brethren of the New Learning, for he believed in the immortality of the soul, and maintained it in a laborious treatise, but he could not convince his favorite pupil, Michele Mercato, and made with him a compact that the one dying first should return, if there was a future life, and inform the other. One morning Mercato was awakened by the trampling of a horse and a voice calling to him: on rushing to the window the horseman shouted, "Mercato, it is true!" Marsilio had that moment died. *
An exception to this prevalent tolerance is commonly said to
* Marsil. Ficin. Epistt. Libb. VIII., XI., XII. (Opp. Ed. 1561, I. 866-7, 931, 946, 962-3); De Christ. Relig. c. 11, 13, 22, 24, 26 ( I. 15, 18, 25, 29); De Vita Cœlitus comparanda Lib. III. c. 1, 2 ( I. 532-33); In Platonem ( II. 1390); In Plotinum c. 6, 7, 12, 15 ( II. 1620-22, 1633, 1636).--Cantù, I. 179.
Yet we find him attributing a fever and diarrhœa to the influence of Saturn in the house of Cancer, for Saturn had been in his geniture from the beginning; and his cure he ascribes to a vow made to the Virgin.--Epistt. Opp. I. 644, 733.
be found in the case of Matteo Palmiere of Pisa, reported to have been burned in 1483 for maintaining in his poem, the Città di Vita, that the souls of men are the angels who stood neutral in the revolt of Satan. In reality, however, although the Inquisition disapproved his book, the author was not persecuted; he was honorably buried in Florence, and his portrait by Sandro Botticelli was placed over the altar of San Pietro Maggiore. *
That it was not, however, always safe to presume on this favor shown to humanism is evident by the case of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, the wonder of his age, who in 1487, when but twentyfour years old, published a series of nine hundred propositions which he offered to defend in Rome against all comers, paying the expenses of scholars who might travel for the purpose from distant lands. The list was virtually de omni scibili, comprising everything recognized as knowable in theology, philosophy, and science, even including the mysteries of the East. It was doubtless the pretentiousness of the young scholar which provoked enmity leading to animadversion on his orthodoxy, and it was not difficult in so vast an array of conclusions to find some thirteen which savored of heresy. To us it might appear a truism to say that belief is independent of volition; we might hesitate to affirm positively whether Christ descended into hell personally or only effectively; we might even agree with him that mortal sin, limited and finite, is not to be visited with chastisement unlimited and infinite; and we might hesitate to embark with him in investigating too narrowly the mysteries of transubstantiation; but these speculative assumptions of the self-sufficient thinker were condemned as heretical by the theologians appointed for their examination by Innocent VIII., who quietly remarked: "This youth wishes to end badly, and be burned some of these days, and then be infamous forever like many another." Pico was urged to resist and raise a schism, but nothing was further from his thoughts. His few remaining years were passed in the assiduous study of Scripture; he designed, after completing certain works in hand, to wander barefoot over Europe preaching Christ; then, changing his purpose, he intended to enter the Dominican Order, but his projects were cut short, at the age of thirty-two, by the fever
* D'Argentré I. II. 250.--Cantù, I. 182, III. 699-700.
which carried him off, gratified in his last hours with a vision of the Virgin. Such a man was an easy victim; the voluminous apology which he wrote to explain his errors availed him nothing, and he was compelled to make a full submission, which earned from Alexander VI., in 1493, not long before Pico's death, a bull declaring his orthodoxy and forbidding the Inquisition to trouble him. *
In curious contrast to this exceptional rigor was the toleration manifested towards the Averrhoists. It is true that Leo X., in the Council of Lateran, December 21, 1513, procured the confirmation of a bull in which he deplored the spread of the doctrine of the mortality of the soul and of there being but one soul common to mankind. He also condemned the opinions which maintained the eternity of the earth and that the soul has not the form of the body, and in prohibiting their teaching in the schools he especially alluded to the ingenious device adopted by professors of arguing against them so equivocally as to lead to the conviction of their truth. In 1518, moreover, when commissioning Master Leonardo Crivelli as Inquisitor-general of Lombardy, he calls his appointee's special attention to those who seek to know more than it is well to know, and who think ill of the Holy See; these he is to repress with the free use of torture, incarceration, and other penalties, and to pay over their confiscated property to the papal camera, no matter of what condition or dignity they might be. Yet debates on points of Averrhoistic philosophy were the favorite amusement of the semi-pagan philosophers who gathered in Leo's court, and who deemed that all that was necessary to preserve them from the Inquisition was to present arguments on both sides, pronounce the questions insoluble to human reason, and conclude with a hypocritical submission to the Church. Such was the device of Pomponazio ( 1413-1525), under whom Averrhoism became more popular than ever, although he ridiculed Averrhoes and called himself an Alexandrian, from Alexander of Aphrodisias, the Aristotelian commentator, from whom Averrhoes had derived much. Pomponazio invented the dilemma, "If the three religions are false, all men are deceived: if only one is true, the majority of men are
* J. Pic. Mirand. Vita, Conclusiones, Apologia, Alexand. PP. VI. Bull. Omnium Catholicor. (Opp. Basil. 1572). Cf. Cantù, I. 185.
deceived." He argued, "If there is a will superior to mine, why should I be responsible for my acts and deeds? Now a will, a superior order exists, therefore all that happens must be in accordance with a preordaimed cause: whether I do right or wrong there is neither merit nor sin." In his treatise De Incantationibus he argued away all miracles. The bones of a dog would effect cures as readily as the relies of a saint if the patient's imagination entertained the same belief in them. Like Peter of Abano, moreover, he held that everything is according to the order of nature; revolutions of empires and religions follow the course of the stars; thaumaturgists are but skilful physicists who foresee the occult influences at work and profit by the suspension of ordinary laws to found new religions; when the influences cease, miracles cease, religions decay, and incredulity would triumph if renewed conjunctions of the planets did not cause fresh prodigies and new thaumaturgists. All this was far worse than anything for which Cecco d'Ascoli suffered, but Pomponazio escaped his fate by cautiously excepting the Christian faith. *
In fact, the only work which gave him serious trouble was his treatise De Immoptalitate, Animæ, written after the Lateran denunciation, in 1516, which Prierias informs us ought rather to have been entitled "De Mortalitate." In this it is true that he rejects the Averrhoist theory of a universal intelligence as unworthy of refutation through its monstrous and unintelligible fatuity;
* Concil. Lateran. V. Sess. VIII. (Harduin. IX. 1719).--Ripoll IV. 373.--Renan, pp. 53, 363.--P. Pomponattii Tract. de Immort. Animæ c. xiv.--Cantù, I. 179-81. --Bayle, s. v. Pomponace, Note D.
The device by which philosophers escaped responsibility for their philosophy is illustrated by the concluding words of Agostino Nifo treatise De Caœlo et Mundo, in 1514: "In qua omnibus pateat me omnia esse locutom ut phylosophum: quæ veto viderentur Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ dissonare illico revocamus, asserentes ea ineuria nostra proficisci non autem a malitia, quare nostras has interprætations omnes et quaseunque alias in quibusvis libris editis Sanctæ Romance Ecelesiæ submittmus."
And so Marsilio Ficino-- "Nos autem in omnibus quæ scribimus eatenus affirmari a nobis aliisque volumus quatenus Christianorum theologorum concilio videatur"--De Immort. Animæ, Lib. XVIII. c. 5.
Pomponazio winds up his treatise on the immortality of the soul with "Hæc itaque sunt quæ minhi in hae materia dicenda videntur. Semper tamen in hoc et in aliis subjiciendo sedi Apostolicæ"--De Immort. Animæ c. XV. but, after stating the various arguments for and against immortality, with an evident bearing towards the latter, he sums up by declaring the problem to be "neutral," like that of the eternity of the earth; there are no natural reasons proving the soul either to be immortal or mortal, but God and Scripture assert immortality, and therefore reasons proving mortality must be false. He evidently seeks to indicate that immortality is a matter of faith, and not of reason; and he even goes so far as to attribute much of the popular belief in departed spirits and in visions to the frauds of corrupt priests, examples of which he says were not uncommon at the time. The thin veil thus cast over its infidelity did not save the book in Venice, where the patriarch had it publicly burned, and wrote to Cardinal Bembo to have it condemned in Rome. Bembo read it with gusto, pronounced it conformable with the faith, and gave it to the Master of the Sacred Palace, who reached the same opinion. The latter's successor in office, however, Prierias, was less indulgent. In his treatise on witches ( 1521) he declares that the example of the Venetians ought to be everywhere followed, while his elaborate argumentation to prove the immortality of the soul, and that the souls of brutes are not the same as those of men, shows how widespread were irreligious opinions, and how freely the questions were debated at the time. This is further illustrated in the confession of Eugenio Tarralba before the Spanish Inquisition in 1528, when he testified that as a youth he had studied in Rome, where his three masters, Mariana, Avanselo, and Maguera, all taught him that the soul was mortal, and he was unable to answer their arguments. *
Pomponazio did not remain unanswered. In 1492 Agostino Nifo, professor at Padua, in his work De Intellectu et Dæmonibus, had contended for the Averrhoist theory of the unity of intelligence; a single intellect pervades the universe, and modifies all things at its will. He had already had trouble with the Domiicans, and this gave them the advantage; it would have fared ill with him had not Pietro Barozzi, the enlightened Bishop of Padua, saved him, and induced him to modify his teachings. Despite his philosophy, he was a skilful courtier, and became a favor-
* P. Pomponatii Tract. de Immort. Animæ c. iv., viii., xiv., xiv.--Prieriat. de Strigimagar. Lib. I. c. iv., V.--Llorente, Hist. de l'Inq. d'Espagne, ch. xv. Art. ii. No. 4.
ite with Leo X., who made him count of the palace, and paid him to prove against Pomponazio that Aristotle maintained the immortality of the soul. He became the accepted interpreter of Averrhoes throughout Italy, and his mitigated Averrhoism remained the doctrine taught at Padua during the remainder of the century. *
It was impossible that the ministers of the Church should escape the contagion of this fashionable infidelity, however little, in their worldly self-seeking, they might trouble themselves about the theories of Averrhoism. In his sermons on Ezekiel, in the Lent of 1497, Savonarola describes the priests of the period as slaying the souls of their flocks by their wicked example; their worship, he says, is to spend the night with strumpets and the day in singing in the choir; the altar is their shop; they openly assert that the world is not ruled by the providence of God, but that everything is the result of chance, and that Christ is not in the Eucharist. † It was no wonder, then, that the more thoughtful of the laity, conscious of the evils of the dominant faith, and yet powerless, under the watchful eye of the Inquisition, to apply a corrective short of indifferentism or practical atheism; striving helplessly for something better than they saw around them, and yet unable to release the primal principles of Christianity from the incrustations of scholastic theology, should find their only refuge in these philosophical speculations which virtually reduced Christianity to nothingness. Had not the Reformation come, the culture of Europe would inevitably have been atheistic, or devoted to sublimated deism, scarce distinguishable from atheism. The Church would permit no dissidence within its pale, and yet was singularly tolerant of these aberrations of the fashionable Humanism. It persecuted the Fraticelli who dared to uphold the poverty of Christ, yet it allowed the paganism of the revived Hellenism to be disseminated almost without interference. Occasionally some zealous Dominican, eager to defend the inspired doctrines of the Angelic Doctor, would threaten trouble, and would burn a too daring book, but the author could readily find protectors high in the Church, some Barozzi or Bembo, who conjured the storm.
* Renan, pp. 367-72.--Cantù, I. 183.
† Villari Frà Girolamo Savonarola, Ed. 1887, T. II. p. 3.
The Reformation served a double purpose in checking this tendency to dangerous speculation. It destroyed the hard-and-fast lines of the rigid scholastic theology, and gave to active intellects a wide field for discussion within the limits of the Christian faith. The assaults of Luther and Melanchthon and Calvin were not to be met with the dialectics of the schools, but with a freer and wider scope of reasoning. The worn-out debates over Aristotle and Alexander and Averrhoes , over Nominalism and Realism, were replaced with new systems of Scriptural exegesis and an earnest inquiry into man's place in the universe and his relations to his fellows and to his God. Then the counter-Reformation aroused a zeal which could no longer tolerate the philosophical quodlibets leading to speculations adverse to the received faith. Servetus and Giordano Bruno belong to a period beyond our present limits, but their fate shows how little either Protestant or Catholic, in the fierce strife which enkindled such uncompromising ardor, were disposed to listen to philosophical discussions upon religious beliefs.
Before leaving this branch of our subject we must recur to the curious episode of the career of Raymond Lully, the Doctor Illuminatus, of whom Padre Feyjoo truly says, "Raymond Lully, looked upon from every side, is a very problematical object. Some make him a saint, others a heretic; some a most learned man, others an ignoramus; some regard him as illuminated, others as hallucinated; some attribute to him a knowledge of the transmutation of metals, others deny it; finally, some applaud his Ars Magna, others depreciate it." *
This enigmatical being was born in Palma, the capital of Majorca, January 25, 1235. Sprung from a noble family, he was* bred in the royal court, where he rose to the post of seneschal. He married and had children, but followed a gay and dissolute career until, like Peter Waldo and Jacopone da Todi, he was suddenly converted by an experience of the nothingness of life. He was madly in love with Leonor del Castello, and his reckless temper manifested itself by pursuing her on horseback into the church of Santa Eulalia during a Sunday service, to the great scandal of priest and congregation. To rid herself of such importunate pur-
* Cartas de D. Fr. Feyjoo, Carta XXII. (T. L. p. 180).
suit, Leonor, with consent of her husband, exhibited to him her bosom, which was ravaged by a foul and mortal cancer. The shock brought to him so profound a recognition of the vanity of earthly things that he renounced the world and distributed his wealth in charity, after making provision for his family; and the same indomitable ardor which had rendered him extravagant in his pleasures sustained him to the end in his new vocation. Thenceforth he devoted his life to the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre, to the conversion of the Jews and Saracens, and to the framing of a system which should demonstrate rationally the truth of the Christian faith, and thus overcome the Averrhoism in which he recognized its most dangerous adversary. *
Ten years or more were spent in preparation for this new career. We hear of a pilgrimage to Compostella in 1266, and of his retirement to the Monte de Randa, near Palma, in 1275. He was so ignorant of letters that he was not even acquainted with Latin, the key to all the knowledge of the age. This he studied, and also Arabic, from a Saracen slave purchased for the purpose, and the earnest labors of an indefatigable mind can account for the enormous stores of learning which he subsequently displayed; so wonderful that to his followers they appeared necessarily the result of inspiration. In his retreat on Monte de Randa, where he conceived his Ars Universalis, he is said to have had repeated visions of Christ and the Virgin, which illuminated his mind; and the mastic-tree under which he habitually wrote bore testimony to the miracle, in its leaves inscribed with Latin, Greek, Chaldee, and Arabic characters. It continued to put forth such leaves. In the seventeenth century Vicente Mut vouches for the fact, and says he has some of them, while Wadding tells us that in his time they were carried to Rome, where they excited much wonder. When his work was completed an angel in the guise of a shepherd appeared, who kissed the book many times, and predicted that it would prove an invincible weapon for the faith. †
Emerging from his retreat, for forty years he led a wandering
* Historia General de Mallorca, III. 40-2 ( Palma, 1841).-- Pelayo, Heterodoxos Españoles, I. 514-15.--Nic. Anton. Bibl. Hispan. Lib. IX. c. iii. No. 73.
† Mariana, Hist. de España, Lib. XV. c. 4.--Hist. Gen. de Mallorca, I. 601, III. 44-6.--Nic. Anton. l. c. No. 74.-- Wadding. ann. 1275, No. 12.
life of incessant activity, now stimulating popes and kings to renewed crusades, or to found colleges of the Oriental tongues to aid in missionary labors, now pouring forth volume after volume with incredible fecundity, now disputing and teaching against Averrhoism at Montpellier, Paris, and elsewhere, and now venturing himself among the infidel to spread among them the light of Christianity. In any one of these fields of action his labors would seem enough to exhaust the energies of an ordinary man. While on his way, in 1311, to the Council of Vienne, with projects for founding schools of Oriental tongues, for uniting in one all the military Orders, for a holy war against the infidel, for suppressing Averrhoism, and for teaching his art in all universities, he summed up his life: "I was married and a father, sufficiently rich, worldly, and licentious. For the honor of God, for the public weal, and for the advancement of the faith I abandoned all. I learned Arabic, and I have been repeatedly among the Saracens to preach to them, where I have been beaten and imprisoned. For forty-five years I have labored to excite the rulers of the Church and the princes of Christendom for the public good. Now I am old, I am poor, and I still have the same purpose, which, with the help of God, I will retain till I die." At Vienne his only success was in obtaining a decree founding schools of Hebrew, Arabic, and Chaldee in the papal court and in the Universities of Paris, Oxford, Bologna, and Salamanca. Thence he went, for the second time, to Algiers, where, at Bugia, he made many converts, until thrown into prison and starved; then he was released and ordered out of the country, but continued proselyting. With wonderful forbearance the Moors contented themselves with placing him on board a ship bound for Genoa, and warning him not to return. Shipwrecked in sight of land, he saved his life by swimming, but lost his books. Determined to win the palm of martydom, in August, 1314, he again embarked at Palma for Bugia. Promptly recognized, he was thrown into jail, beaten, and starved; but in prison he continued to preach to his fellow-captives, until the Moors, finding him unconquerable, took him out, June 30, 1315, and stoned him. Some Genoese merchants about to sail carried his yet breathing body on board their ship and laid their course for Genoa, but to their surprise found themselves at the entrance of the port of Palma. In vain they endeavored to leave the spot till, recognizing the will of Heaven, they carried the body ashore. Immediately it shone in miracles, and the cult of the martyr began. In 1448 a splendid chapel was erected in his honor in the church of the Franciscans, of which Order he was a Tertiary, and another one was dedicated to him in the beginning of the seventeenth century. In 1487 his bones were deposited in a richly carved alabaster urn, standing in a niche in the church-wall over an elaborate sepulchral monument, where they still remain. *
Slender were the results achieved at the moment by the selfdevotion of this noble and indefatigable intellect. Averrhoism continued to gain strength, the Christian princes could not be stimulated to a new crusade, the conversion of Jew and infidel made no progress, and the only reward of labor so strenuous and so prolonged were Oriental schools established in Majorca and Sicily, and the foundation of others commanded by the Council of Vienne. Yet the prodigious literary activity of Lully left behind him a mass of writings destined to exercise no little influence on succeeding generations. He was perhaps the most voluminous author on record. Juan Llobet, who in the middle of the fifteenth century taught the Art of Lully in the University of Palma, had read five hundred of his books; some authors assert that their total number reached a thousand, others three thousand. Many have been lost, many spurious ones have been attributed to him, and the bibliography of his works is hopelessly confused; but Nicolas Antonio, after careful sifting, gives the titles of three hundred and twenty-one which may safely be ascribed to him. Of these there are sixty-one on the art of learning and general subjects, four on grammar and rhetoric, fifteen on logic, twenty-one on philosophy, five on metaphysics, thirteen on various sciences-astrology, geometry, politics, war, the quadrature of the circle, and the art of knowing God through grace--seven on medicine, four on law, sixty-two on spiritual contemplation and other religious subjects, six on homiletics, thirteen on Antichrist, the acquisition of the Holy Land, and other miscellaneous subjects, forty-six controversial works against Saracens, Jews, Greeks, and Averrhoists, and sixty-four on theology, embracing the most abstruse points,
* Wadding. ann. 1293, No. 3; ann. 1215, No. 2, 5.--C. 1 Clement. v. 1.--Nic. Anton. l. c. No. 76.--Hist. Gen. de Mallorca, II. 1058-9, 1063; III. 64-5, 72.
and religious poetry. The great collective edition of his works printed in Mainz from 1721 to 1742 forms ten folios. Like all other great scholars of his day, his name was a convenient one to affix to books on alchemy and magic, but all such are supposititious. His reputation as an alchemist is seen in the tradition that in England he made six million gold florins, and gave them to the king to stimulate him to a crusade, but his own opinion of alchemy is expressed in a passage of his Ars Magna: "Each element has its own peculiarities so that one species cannot be transmuted to another, wherefore the alchemists grieve and have occasion to weep," and in other equally outspoken expressions. *
For our purpose we need consider but one phase of his marvellous productiveness. In the solitude of Monte de Randa he conceived the Art which passes by his name--a method in which, by diagrams and symbols, the sublimest truths of theology and philosophy can be deduced and memorized. Of this the Ars Brevis is a compend, while the Ars Magna describes it in greater detail and proceeds to build upon it a system of the universe. As the product of a man untinctured with culture till after the age of thirty it is a wonderful performance, revealing a familiar acquaintance with all the secrets of the material and spiritual worlds, the powers, attributes, motives, and purposes of God and his creatures logically deduced, which the Lullists might well hold to be inspired. This Art he himself taught at Montpellier and Paris, and in 1309 forty members of the latter University joined in a cordial recommendation of it as useful and necessary for the defence of the faith. At home it had great and enduring vogue. Favored by successive monarchs, it was taught in the Universities of Aragon and Valencia. In the middle of the fifteenth century the Estudio Lulliano was founded at Palma, subsquently enlarged into the Universidad Lulliana, where the tradition of his teaching was preserved almost to our own days. Cardinal Ximenes was its great admirer; Angelo Politiano says that to it he owed his ability to dispute on any subject; Jean Fabred'Etaples prized it
* Nic. Anton. l. c. No. 87-154.--Hist. Gen. de Mall. III. 68, 70, 96-8.--R. Lullii Art. Mag. P. IX. c. 52 (Opp. Ed. Argentorati, 1651, p. 438).
For an account of Lully's poetical works, see Chabaneau ( Vaissette Éd. Privat, X. 379).
highly, as likewise did other men of note. On the other hand, it was condemned by Gerson and its use forbidden in the University of Paris; it was ill thought of by Cornelius Agrippa and Jerome Cardan; and Mariana tells us that in his time many considered it useless and even harmful, while others praised it as a gift from heaven to remedy ignorance, and in 1586 its use was prohibited in the University of Valencia. *
In this and in many of his other works Lully's object was to prove by logical processes of thought the truths of Christianity and the positions of theology. We have already seen how the Church recognized the risk involved in this and forbade it, and Lully felt that he was treading on dangerous ground. He therefore lost no opportunity of declaring that faith is superior to reason, and that they were mistaken who held that faith proved by reason lost its merit. Devoting his life to combating Averrhoism and converting the infidel, he had felt that Christianity could only be spread by argument--that to convert men he had to convince them. Without this the work must stop, and he urged that the heathen might logically complain of God if it were impossible to convince their reason of the truth. † It was the same effort as that made two centuries later by Savonarola in his Crucis Triumphus, to combat the incredulity of the later Averrhoists and of the Renaissance.
The result showed the danger which lurked in his singleminded efforts. As his reputation spread and his disciples multiplied, Nicholas Eymerich, the Inquisitor of Aragon, to whom I have so often had occasion to refer, undertook to condemn his memory. Perhaps among the Lullists there were men whose zeal outran their discretion. Eymerich speaks of one, named Pedro Rosell, whose errors are a curious echo of the Joachites and Olivists, for he taught that, as the doctrine of the Old Testament was attributable to the Father and that of the New to the Son, so was that of Lully to the Holy Ghost, and that in the time of Antichrist
* Hist. Gen. de Mall. III. 71, 78.-- Pelayo, I. 530, 535, 537, 539.--Nic. Anton. l. c. No. 82.--Gersoni Epist. ad. Bart. Carthus; Ejusd. De Exam. Doctr. P. II. Consid. 1.--Corn. Agrippæ de Vanitate Scient. c. 9.--Hieron. Cardan. de Subtil. Rer. Lib. XV.-- Mariana, Lib. XV. c. 4.
† Pelayo, I. 519-23.--R. Lullii Lamentat. Philosoph.
all theologians would apostatize, when the Lullists would convert the world, and all theology but that of their master would disappear. Perhaps also, Eymerich, as a Dominican, was eager to attack one in whom the Franciscans gloried as one of their greatest sons. Doubtless, too, there is truth in the assertion of the Lullists that their defence of the Immaculate Conception rendered Eymerich desirous of suppressing them. Be this as it may, in a mass of writings embracing every conceivable detail of doctrine and faith, set forth with logical precision, it was not difficult for an expert to find points liable to characterization as errors. A royal privilege for the teaching of Lullism, issued by Pedro IV. in 1369, shows that already opposition had been aroused, and in 1371 Eymerich went to Avignon, where he obtained from Gregory XI. an order for the examination of Lully's writings. On his return the king peremptorily forbade the publication of the papal mandate, but the irrepressible inquisitor in 1374 sent twenty of the inculpated books to Gregory, and in 1376 he had the satisfaction of exhibiting a bull reciting that these works bad been carefully investigated by the Cardinal of Ostia and twenty theologians, who had found in them two hundred (or, according to Eymerich, five hundred) errors manifestly heretical. As the rest of Lully's writings must presumably be erroneous, the Archbishop of Tarragona was ordered to cause all of them to be surrendered and sent to Rome for examination. Then King Pedro again interposed, and asked the pope to have any further proceedings carried on in Barcelona, as Lully's works were mostly in Catalan, and could best be understood there. *
Eymerich triumphed for a time, and in his Directorium Inquisitorum he gives full rein to his hatred. Lully, he says, was taught his doctrine by the devil, but, to avoid prolixity, he enumerates only a hundred of the five hundred errors condemned by Gregory. Some of these trench on mystic illuminism, others are merely extravagant modes of putting ordinary propositions. For the most part they hinge on the assertion, condemned in the ninetysixth error, "that all points of faith and the sacraments and the power of the pope can be and are proved by reasoning, neces-
* Pelayo, I. 499, 528.--Hist. Gen. de Mall. III. 85.--D'Argentré I. I. 256-7, 259--Pegnæ Append. ad Eymeric. pp. 67-8.-- Bofarull, Documentos, VI. 360.
sary, demonstrative, and evident;" for they consist of efforts to define logically the mysteries of faith in a manner of which conceptions so subtle are incapable. Two or three, however, are manifestly heretical--that faith can err, but not reason, that it is wrong to slay heretics, and that the mass of mankind will be saved, even Jews and Saracens who are not in mortal sin. The Lullists had not been disposed to submit quietly. Eymerich describes them as numerous and impudent, and guilty of the error of holding that Gregory erred grossly in condemning their master, whose doctrine had been divinely revealed and excelled all other doctrine, even that of St. Augustin; that it is not to be gained by study, but by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, in thirty, forty, fifty, or sixty hours; that modern theologians know nothing of true theology, for, on account of their sins, God has transferred all knowledge to the Lullists, who are to constitute the Church in the times of Antichrist. *
There was in all this evidently the material which only needed nursing and provocation to develop into a new and formidable heresy under inquisitorial methods. Fortunately the king and a large part of the population were in sympathy with the Lullists; the Great Schism broke out in 1378, and Don Pedro acknowledged neither Urban VI. nor Clement VII. The kingdom was thus virtually independent; the Lullists boldly claimed that the bull of Gregory XI. had been forged by Eymerich; in 1385 an investigation was held which resulted in driving him from Aragon, when he was succeeded by his enemy, Bernardo Ermengaudi, who was devoted to the king, and who hastened to make a formal declaration that in Lully Philosophia Amoris there were not to be found the errors attributed to it by Eymerich. The banishment of the latter, however, did not long continue. He returned and resumed his office, which he exercised with unsparing rigor against the Lullists. This excited considerable commotion. In 1391 the city of Valencia sent to the pope Doctor Jayme de Xiva to com-
* Eymeric. Direct. pp. 255-61.
Pegna says (p. 262) that in the MSS. of Eymerich's work the list of errors is fewer than in the printed text, and this is confirmed by Father Denifle (Archiv. für Litt.- u. K. 1885, p. 143). Apparently the Dominicans of the fifteenth century, when they printed the Directorium, interpolated errors to aid them in the controversy over Lully.
plain of Eymerich's enormous crimes, and to supplicate his removal. The envoy stopped at Barcelona to solicit the co-operation of that powerful community, and the town council, after listening to him, resolved that if the action of Valencia was general and not special, they would make "one arm and one heart" with their sister city; and, moreover, they begged the pope to command some prelate of the kingdom to examine and declare, under papal authority, whether the articles attributed to Lully had been justly or unjustly condemned by Eymerich. *
The popular effervescence grew so strong that in 1393 Eymerich was again banished by Juan I. He ended his life in exile, maintaining to the end the enormity of Lully's heresy and the genuineness of Gregory's bull. Antonio Riera, a Lullist who was active in the matter, he denounced as a heretic who foretold that before the end of the century all divine service would cease, and churches be converted into stables, and the laws of Christian, Jew, and Saracen would be converted into one; but which of these three it would be he could not tell. Meanwhile, in 1395, the Holy See granted the prayer of the Lullists for an examination, and the Cardinal de San Sexto was sent as special commissioner for the purpose. Gregory's registers for 1386 were carefully examined, and the archivists testified that no record of the bull in question could be found. Still the question would not remain settled, for the honor of the Dominican Order and the Inquisition was at stake, and again, in 1419, another investigation was held. The papal legate, Cardinal Alamanni, deputed Bernardo, Bishop of Città di Castello, to examine the matter definitely. His sentence pronounced the bull to be evidently false, and all action taken under it to be null and void, but expressed no opinion on the writings of Lully, which he reserved for the decision of the Holy See. From that time forth the genuineness of the bull remained a matter hotly contested. Father Bremond prints it as authentic, and declares that after a dispassionate examination he is convinced that it is so; that the original autograph is preserved in the archives at Girona, and he quotes Bzovius to the effect that the Lullists themselves admit that it is in the archives of Barcelona, Tarragona, and Valencia, whose bishops would not have admitted
* D'Argentré I. I. 258, 260.--Hist. Gen. de Mall. III. 82-4.-- Pelayo, I. 784-5.
it if false; but Bzovius was a Dominican whose bitterness on the subject is seen in his stigmatizing Lully as a vagabond swindler. Certain it is that in the prolonged and ardent contest which raged over the question of Lully's orthodoxy in the papal court, the Dominicans, with successive popes on their side, were never able to produce the original nor offer any evidence of its authenticity. *
In Aragon the decision of 1419 was regarded as settling the question. Royal letters in favor of Lullism were issued by Alonso V. in 1415 and 1449, by Ferdinand the Catholic in 1483 and 1503, by Charles V. in 1526, and by Philip II. in 1597; the latter monarch, indeed, had great relish for Lully's writings, some of which he habitually carried with him on his journeys to read on the way, and in the library of the Escorial many copies of them were found annotated with his own hand. This royal favor was needed in the curious controversy which followed. Lully's name had passed into the received catalogues of heretics, and as late as 1608 it was included in the list published by the Doctor of Sorbonne, Gabriel du Préau. Paul IV., in 1559, put it in the first papal Index Expurgatorius. When this came to be published in Spain, Bishop Jayme Cassador and the inquisitors suspended it and referred the matter to the consejo de la suprema, which ordered the entry to be borrado, or expunged. At the Council of Trent, Doctor Juan Villeta, acting for Spain, presented a petition in favor of Lully, which was considered in a special congregation, September 1, 1563, and a unanimous decision was reached, confirming all the condemnations passed on Eymerich for falsehood, and ordering the Index of Paul IV. to be expurgated by striking out all that related to Lully. This was a secret determination of the council, and was not allowed to appear in the published acts. It settled the matter for a time, but the question was revived in 1578, when Francisco Pegna reprinted Eymerich's book with the special sanction of Gregory XIII., bringing anew before the world the bull of Gregory XI. and the errors condemned in Lully's writings. Gregory XIII. ordered Pegna to examine the papal registers for the contested bull. Those in Rome were found imperfect, and the missing portions were sent for from Avignon, but the most
* Hist. Gen. de Mall. III. 59, 83-6.-- Pelayo, I. 498, 787-88.--D'Argentré I. I. 259-61.--Nic. Anton. I. c. No. 78.--Ripoll II. 290.
diligent search failed to find the desired document, though it was alleged that two volumes of the year 1386 could not be found. Battle was now fairly joined between the partisans of Eymerich and those of Lully. In 1583 the Congregation of the Index determined to include Lully among the prohibited writers, but again Spanish influence was strong enough to prevent it; Under Sixtus V. there was another attempt, but Juan Arce de Herrera, in the name of Philip II., presented an Apologia to the Congregation of the Index, and again the danger was conjured. When the Index of Clement VIII. was in preparation the question was again taken up, June 3, 1594, and rejected out of respect for Spain; at the request of the Spanish ambassador the pope was asked to order a complete set of Lully's works to be sent to Rome for examination, that the matter might be definitely settled; but this was not done, and in March, 1595, it was announced that his name was omitted from the Index. In 1611 Philip III. revived the controversy by applying to Paul V. for the canonization of Lully and the expurgation of Eymerich Directorium; a request which was repeated by Philip IV. After a confused controversy, it was determined that certain articles admittedly extracted from his books were dangerous, audacious, and savoring of heresy, and some of them manifestly erroneous and heretical. At a sitting, under the presidency of the pope himself, held August 29, 1619, it was resolved to send this censure to the Spanish nuncio, with instructions to inform the king and the inquisitors that Lully's books were forbidden. Then came an appeal from the kingdom of Majorca begging that the books might be corrected, to which Paul replied, August 6, 1620, imposing silence; and on August 30 Cardinal Bellarmine drew up for the Inquisition a final report that Lully's doctrine was forbidden until corrected, adding his belief that correction was impossible, but that the condemnation was thus phrased so as to mitigate its severity. Thus Lully was branded by the Holy See as a heretic, but, out of respect for the Spanish court, the sentence was never published: the matter was supposed by the public to be undecided, and the worship of him as a saint continued uninterruptedly. Raynaldus, in fact, writing in 1658, states that the question is still sub judice. About the same time certain Jesuits took up his cause against the Dominicans, and in 1662 a translation of his "Triumph of Love" appeared in Paris, on the title of which he was qualified as " SaintRaymond Lully, Martyr and Hermit."
The Dominican ire was aroused: appeal was made to the Congregation of Rites, which reported that Lully was included in the Franciscan martyrology under March 29, but that he must not be qualified as a saint, and that a careful examination should be made of his works, to prohibit them if necessary-a recommendation which was never carried out. Yet when, in 1688, Doctor Pedro Bennazar issued at Palma a book in praise of Lully, it was condemned by the Inquisition in 1690; and a compendium of his theology, by Sebastian Krenzer in 1755, was put on the Index, although this was not done with the numerous controversial writings which continued to appear, nor with the great edition of his works published from 1721 to 1742, in the title of which he was qualified as Beatus. Benedict XIV., in his work De Servorum Dei Beatificatione, after carefully weighing the authorities on both sides, says that his claims to sanctity are to be suspended until the decision of the Holy See. That decision was postponed for a century. In 1847 Pius IX. approved an office of "the holy Raymond Lully" for Majorca, where he had been immemorially worshipped; the office reciting that so fully was he imbued with the divine wisdom that he who had previously been uncultured was enabled to discourse most excellently on divine things. In 1858, moreover, Pius permitted the whole Franciscan Order to celebrate his feast on November 27. Yet the Dominicans had not forgotten their old rancor, for in 1857 there appeared in a Roman journal, published under the approbation of the Master of the Sacred Palace, an argument to prove that the alleged bull of Gregory XI, is still in force, and consequently that Lully's books are forbidden, although they do not appear in the Index. This case and that of Savonarola serve to indicate how dangerously nebulous are the boundaries between heresy and sanctity. *
* Hist. Gen. de Mall. III. 65-6, 92, 94-5.-- Gabrieli Prateoli Elenchus Hæret. Colon. 1608, p. 423.-- D'Argentré I. I. 259, 261.-- Reusch, Der Index der verbotenen Bücher, I. 27-33.-- Benedict. PP. XIV. De Servorum Dei Beatif. Lib. I. c. xl. § 4.--Raynald. ann. 1372, No. 35.
In 1533 Arnaldo Albertino, Inquisitor of Valencia, complained bitterly of the injustice which ranked as a heretic such a man as Lully, who was inspired by
The example of Raymond Lully illustrates the pitfalls which surrounded the footsteps of all who ventured on the dangerous path of theology. That science assumed to know and define all the secrets of the universe, and yet it was constantly growing, as ingenious or daring thinkers would suggest new theories or frame new deductions from data already settled. Hosts of these were condemned; the annals of an intellectual centre like the University of Paris are crowded with sentences pronounced against novel points of faith and their unlucky authors. Occasionally, however, some new dogma would arise, would be vehemently debated, would refuse to be suppressed, and would finally triumph after a more or less prolonged struggle, and would then take its place among the eternal verities which it was heresy to call in question. This curious process of dogmatic evolution in an infallible Church is too instructive not to be illustrated with one or two examples.
It might seem a question beyond the grasp of finite intelligence to determine whether the souls of the blessed are wafted to heaven and at once enjoy the ineffable bliss of beholding the Divine Essence, or whether they have to await the resurrection and the Day of Judgment. This was not a mere theoretical question, however, but had a very practical aspect, for in the existing anthropomorphism of belief, it might well be thought that the efficacy of the intercession of saints depended on their admission to the presence of God, and the guardians of every shrine boasting of a relic relied for their revenues on the popular confidence that its saint was able to make personal appeals for the fulfilment of his worshippers' prayers. The desired conclusion was only reached by gradual steps. The subject was one which had not escaped the attention of the early Fathers, and St. Augustin assumes that the full fruition of the Vision of God can only be enjoyed by the soul after it has been clothed in the resurrected body. Among the errors condemned in 1243 by Guillaume d'Auvergne and the University of Paris were two, one of which held that the Divine Essence is not and will not be seen by either
God and was rather to be worshipped as a saint.--Albertini Repetitio nova, Valentia, 1534, col. 406.
The publication of a complete critical edition of Lully's works has recently been commenced at Padua by D. Jerón. Roselló, under the patronage of the Archduke Ludwig Silvator of Austria.
angels or glorified souls; the other, that while angels dwell in the empyrean heaven, human souls, even including the Virgin, will never advance beyond the aqueous heaven. The decision of the bishop and University was cautious as regards the Divine Vision, which was only asserted in the future and not in the present tense, both as regards angels and human souls, but there was no hesitation in declaring that all occupied the same heaven. Thomas Aquinas argues the question with an elaborateness which shows both its importance and its inherent difficulty, but he ventures no further than to prove that the Blessed will, after the resurrection, enjoy the sight of God, face to face. It must be borne in mind that the prevalent expectation in each successive generation that the coming of Antichrist and the second advent were not far off, rendered of less importance the exact time at which the Beatific Vision would be bestowed, while the development of mystic theology tended to bring into ever more intimate relations the intercourse between the soul and its Creator. Bonaventura does not hesitate to treat as an accepted fact that the souls of the just will see God, and he asserts that some of them are already in heaven, while others wait confidently in their graves for the appointed time. The final step seems to have been taken soon after this by the celebrated Dominican theologian, Master Dietrich of Friburg, who wrote a tract to prove that the Blessed are immediately admitted to the Beatific Vision, a fact revealed to him by one of his penitents who, by order of God to solve his doubts, appeared to him ten days after death and assured him that she was in sight of the Trinity. *
Yet the doctrine was not formally accepted by the Church, and the mystical tendencies of the time rendered dangerous a too rapid progress in this direction. The Illuminism of the Brethren of the Free Spirit was a contagious evil, and the Council of Vienne in 1312 refrained from an expression of opinion on the subject, except to condemn the error of the Beghards, that man does not
* S. Augustin, De Genesi ad litteram Lib. XII. c. 35, 36; De Civ. Dei Lib. XXII. c. 29. Cf. De Doctr. Christ. Lib. I. c. 31; Epistt. cxviii. § 14, clxix. § 3 ( Ed. Benedict.).--Matt. Paris ann. 1243 (p. 415).--Th. Aquinat. Sum. Suppl. Q. xcii. -- S. Bonavent. Breviloq. VII. 5, 7; Centiloq. III. 50; Pharetræ IV. 50.-- W. Preger, Zeitschrift für die histor. Theol. 1869, pp. 41-2.
need the light of glory to elevate him to the sight of God--thus only by implication admitting that with the light of glory the soul is fitted to enjoy the Beatific Vision. When and how the dogma spread that the souls of the just are admitted at once to the presence of God does not appear, but it seems to have become generally accepted without any definite expression of approbation by the Holy See. In October, 1326, John XXII. treats as a heresy to be extirpated among the Greeks the belief that the saints will not enter paradise until the Day of Judgment, but not long afterwards he changed his mind, and his pride in his theological skill and learning would not let him rest until he had forced Christendom to change with him. He expressed his doubts as to the truth of the new dogma and indicated an intention of openly condemning it. His temper rendered opposition perilous, and none of the cardinals and doctors of the papal court dared to discuss it with him until, in 1331, an English Dominican, Thomas Walleys, in a sermon preached before him, boldly maintained the popular opinion and invoked the divine malediction on all who asserted the contrary. John's wrath burst forth. Walleys was seized and tried by the Inquisition, cast into jail and almost starved to death, when Philippe de Valois intervened and procured his liberation. Having thus silenced his opponents, John proceeded to declare his opinions publicly. In the Advent of 1331 he preached several sermons in which he asserted that the saints in heaven will not have distinct vision of the Divine Essence before the Resurrection of the body and the Day of Judgment, until which time they will only see the humanity of Christ. "I know," he said, that some persons murmur because we hold this opinion, but I cannot do otherwise." *
It shows the peculiar condition of the human mind engendered by the persecution of heresy that this was a political event of the gravest importance. We have seen how much stress was laid, in the quarrel between the empire and papacy, upon John's innova-
* C. 3, Clem. v. iii.-- Ripoll II. 172.--Wadding. ann. 1331, No. 5.-- Paul Lang. Chron. Citicens. ( Pistor, I. 1207, 1210).-- Gob. Person. Cosmodr. Æt. VI. c. 71.-D'Argentré I. I. 315 sqq.--P. de Herenthals Vit. Joann. XXII. ann. 1333 (Muratori S. R. I. III. II. 501).--Guill. Nangiac. Contin. ann. 1331.-- Villani, X. 226.-Chron. Glassberger ann. 1331.
tion on the accepted belief as to Christ's poverty, and the manner in which his resolute purpose had carried that dogma against all opposition. On this occasion he was the conservator of the previously received faith of the Church, but the political conjuncture was against him. Not only was Louis of Bavaria consolidating the empire in resistance to the aggressiveness of the papacy, but France, the main support of the Avignonese popes, was indisposed. Philippe de Valois had been offended by the rejection of his excessive demands in compensation of fulfilling his vows of a new crusade, and had been alienated by John's yielding to the schemes of John of Bohemia, who was endeavoring to secure the imperial territories in Italy. Both monarchs took active steps to turn to the fullest account the papal heresy. It was a received principle that, as a dead man was no longer a man, so a pope detected in heresy was no longer a pope, seeing that he had ipso facto forfeited his office. Nothing better could serve the purpose of Louis of Bavaria and his junto of exiled Franciscans. Under the advice of Michele da Cesena he took steps to call a German national council, for which Bonagrazia drew up a summons based upon the papal heresy, and the plan was approved by Cardinal Orsini and his dissatisfied brethren. This came to nought, however, through the still greater promptness of Philippe de Valois to avail himself of the situation. He made the celebrated William Durand, Bishop of Mende, write a treatise in opposition to the papal views, and protected him when John sought to punish him. He assembled the University of Paris, which, January 3, 1333, pronounced emphatically in favor of the Beatific Vision, and addressed to the pope a letter asserting it without equivocation. Gerard Odo, the time-serving Franciscan General, was despatched, ostensibly to make peace between England and Scotland, but instructed to dally in Paris and endeavor to win over public opinion. He ventured to preach in favor of John's conservative views, but only succeeded in arousing a storm before which he was forced to bow and humbly to declare that his argument was only controversial and not assertive. Philippe took the boldest and most aggressive position. He wrote to John that to deny the Beatific Vision was not only to destroy belief in the intercession of the Virgin and saints, but to invalidate all the pardons and indulgences granted by the Church, and so firmly was he convinced of its truth that he would take steps to burn all who denied it, including the pope himself. Even Robert of Naples joined in remonstrance. Haughty and obstinate as John had proved himself, he could not resist single-handed the indignation of all Europe, and he yielded. He purchased peace by political concessions, and wrote humbly to Philippe and Robert that he had never positively denied the Beatific Vision, but had treated it simply as an open question, subject to discussion. Even this was not enough. All his ambitious schemes had broken down. In Germany, Louis of Bavaria was posing as the defender of the faith. In France, even the weal Philippe de Valois had resumed his ascendency over Avignon. In. Italy, John's son, Cardinal Bertrand, had been forced to fly, and Lombardy had freed itself. For the wretched old man there was nothing left but to recant and die. He had convoked a consistory for December 2, 1234, to choose a successor to Louis of Bavaria, but before daybreak he was seized with a fatal flux which stretched him hopeless on his bed. Towards evening of the next day he assembled the cardinals and exhorted them to select a worthy successor to the chair of St. Peter, when his kindred urged him to save his soul and the reputation of the Church by withdrawing from his opinions as to the Beatific Vision. The secrets of that awful death-bed have never been revealed, but after he passed away on the 5th, a bull was promulgated over his name in which he professed his belief as to the Divine Vision, and, if he had in that or anything else held opinions in conflict with those of the Church, he revoked all that he might have said or done, and submitted himself to its judgment. Humiliating as was this, Michele da Cesena pronounced it insufficient, as he made no formal confession of error and recantation, whence it was to be inferred that he died a contumacious heretic. Even Paris was not satisfied, although conclusions were not expressed so openly. *
* W. Preger, Die Politik des Pabstes Johann XXII. pp. 14, 66, 69.--Alphons. de Spina Fortalic. Fidei Lib. II. Consid. xii.-- Vitodurani Chron. ( Eccard. Corp. Hist. I. 1806-7).-- Martene Thesaur. I. 1383.-- D'Argentré I. I. 316-17, 319-22.-Isambert, Anc. Loix Franç. IV. 387.--Guillel. Nangiac. Contin. ann. 1333.--Raynald. ann. 1334, No. 27, 37, etc.--Wadding. ann. 1334, No. 14.-- Villani, XI. 19.-Baluz. et Mansi, III. 350.--Grandes Chroniques, ann. 1334 ( V. 97).
Benedict XII., who was elected December 20, was a zealous defender of the faith who had manifested his determination to extirpate all forms of heresy when, as Bishop of Pamiers, he had personally conducted for years a very active episcopal Inquisition in co-operation with the labors of Jean de Beaune and Bernard Gui. Such a man was not likely to underrate the importance of his predecessor's error, and in fact he lost no time in correcting it. On the 22d a significant threat to Gerard Odo to beware, for he would tolerate no heresy, was a notice to all who had yielded to John's imperiousness. On February 2, 1335, he preached a sermon on the text, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh," in which he clearly enunciated the doctrine that the saints have a distinct vision of the Divine Essence. Two days later he summoned before the consistory all who had given in their adhesion to the opinion of John and demanded a statement of their motives, by way, we may presume, of admitting them back into the fold as easily as possible. A twelvemonth later, January 29, 1336, he held a public consistory in which he published decisively that the saints enjoy the Beatific Vision, and decreed that all holding the contrary opinion should be punished as heretics. Benedict had earned the reputation of a ruthless upholder of orthodoxy and persecutor of dissent, and no victims were necessary to enforce the reception of the new article of faith. So thoroughly was it received that it passed into the formulas of the Inquisition as one of the points on which all suspected heretics were interrogated; and when, at the Council of Florence, in 1439, a nominal union was patched up with the Greek Church, one of the articles enunciated for the acceptance of the latter asserts that souls which after baptism incur no sin, or after sinning have been duly purged, are received at once into heaven and enjoy the sight of the Triune God. Thus a new dogma was adopted by the Church in spite of the opposition of one of the most arbitrary and headstrong of the successors of St. Peter. *
* Molinier, Études sur quelques MSS. des Bibliothèques d'Italie, p. 116.-Chron. Glassberger ann. 1334.-- Benedict. XII.
Vit. Tert. ann. 1335-6 ( Muratori S. R. I. III. II. 539-41).--Ejusd. Vit. Prim. ann. 1338 (Ibid. p. 534).--Eymeric. p. 421.--Concil. Florent. ann. 1439 P. II. Union. Decret. ( Harduin. IX. 986).
A remark of Æneas Sylvius in 1453 shows that, notwithstanding these au-
An even more instructive instance of the development of theological doctrine is to be found in the history of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. Up to the twelfth century it was not questioned that the Virgin was conceived and born in sin, and doctors like St. Anselm found their only difficulty in explaining how Christ could be born sinless from a sinner. With the growth of Mariolatry, however, there came a popular tendency to regard the Virgin as free from all human corruption, and towards the middle of the twelfth century the church of Lyons ventured to place on the calendar a new feast in honor of the Conception of the Virgin, arguing that as the Nativity was feasted as holy, the Conception, which was a condition precedent to the Nativity, was likewise holy and to be celebrated. St. Bernard, the great conservative of his day, at once set himself to suppress the new doctrine. He wrote earnestly to the canons of Lyons, showing them that their argument applied equally to the nativity and conception of all the ancestors of the Virgin by the male and female lines; he begged them to introduce no novelties in the Church, but to hold with the Fathers; he argued that the only immaculate conception was that of Christ, who was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and proved that Mary, who was sprung of the union between man and woman, must necessarily have been conceived in original sin. He admitted that she was born sanctified, whence the Church properly celebrated the Nativity, but this sanctification was operated in the womb of St. Anne, even as the Lord had said to Jeremiah, "Before thou camest out of the womb I sanctified thee" ( Jer. I. 5). It illustrates the recklessness of theological controversy to find St. Bernard subsequently quoted as sustaining the Immaculate Conception. Peter Lombard, the great Master of Sentences, was not willing to concede even as much as St. Bernard, and quotes John of Damascus to show that the Virgin was not cleansed of original sin until she accepted the duty of bearing Christ. To this view of the question Innocent III. lent the authority of his great name by asserting it in the most positive manner. *
thoritative definitions, the old belief still lingered that the glory of the Saints was postponed till the Day of Judgment (Opp. inedd.-- Atti della Accad. dei Lincei, 1883, p. 567).
* S. Anselmi Cur Deus Homo Lib. II. c. xvi.; Ejusd. Lib. de Conceptu Virginali.
These irresistible authorities settled the question for a while as one of dogma, but the notion had attractiveness to the people, and in the constant development of Mariolatry anything which tended to strengthen her position as a subordinate deity and intercessor found favor with the extensive class to whom her cult was a source of revenue. There is something inexpressibly attractive in the mediæval conception of the Virgin, and the extension of her worship was inevitable. God was a being too infinitely high and awful to be approached; the Holy Ghost was an abstraction not to be grasped by the vulgar mind; Christ, in spite of his infinite love and self-sacrifice, was invoked too often as a judge and persecutor to be regarded as wholly merciful; but the Virgin was the embodiment of unalloyed maternal tenderness, whose sufferings for her divine Son had only rendered her more eagerly beneficent in her desire to aid and save the race for which he had died. She was human, yet divine; in her humanity she shared the feelings of her kind, and whatever exalted her divinity rendered her more helpful, without withdrawing her from the sympathy of men. "The Virgin," says Peter of Blois, "is the sole mediator between man and Christ. We were sinners and feared to appeal to the Father, for he is terrible, but we have the Virgin, in whom there is nothing terrible, for in her is the plenitude of grace and the purity of human life;" and he goes on to virtually prove her divinity by showing that if the Son is consubstantial with the Father, the Virgin is consubstantial with the Son. In fact, he exclaims, "if Mary were taken from heaven there would be to mankind nothing but the blackness of darkness." God, says St. Bonaventura, could have made a greater earth and a greater heaven, but he exhausted his power in creating Mary. Yet Bonaventura, as a doctor of the Church, was careful to limit her sinlessness to sin arising with herself, and not to include the absence of inherited sin. She was sanctified, not immaculately conceived. *
--S. Bernardi Epist. 174, ad Canon. Lugdun. -- D'Argentré I. II. 60. -- Pet. Lombardi Sententt. Lib. III. Dist. iii. Q. 1.
-- Innoc. PP. III. Sermo XII. in Purif. S. Mariæ.
* Pet. Blesens. Sermo XII., XXXIII., XXXVIII.-- S. Bonavent. Speculi Beatæ Virginis c. i., ii., viii., ix.--The mediæval conception of the Virgin, as the intercessor
In spite of St. Bernard's remonstrance, the celebration of the Feast of the Conception 'gradually spread. Thomas Aquinas tells us that it was observed in many churches, though not in that of Rome, and that it was not forbidden, but he warns us against the inference that because a feast is holy therefore the conception of Mary was holy. In fact, he denies the possibility of her immaculate conception, though he admits her sanctification at some period which cannot be defined. This settled the question for the Dominicans, whose reverence for their Angelic Doctor rendered it impossible for them to swerve from his teachings. For a while, strange to say, the Franciscans agreed with their rivals. There is a tradition that Duns Scotus, in 1304, defended the new doctrine against the Dominicans in the University of Paris, and that in 1333 the University declared in its favor by a solemn decree, but this story only makes its appearance about 1480 in Bernardinus de Bustis, and there is no trace in the records of any such action, while Duns Scotus only said that it was possible to God, and that God alone knew the truth. There were few more zealous Franciscans than Alvaro Pelayo, penitentiary to John XXII., and he, in refuting the illuminism of the Beghards, makes use of the Virgin's conception in sin as an admitted fact which he employs as an argument; and he adds that this is the universal opinion of the received authorities, such as Bernard, Aquinas, Bonaventura, and Richard de Saint Victor, although some modern theologians, abandoning the teachings of the Church, have controverted it through a false devotion to the Virgin, whom they thus seek to assimilate to God and Christ. Yet as, about this very time, the Church of Narbonne commenced, in 1327, to celebrate the Feast of the Conception, and in 1328 the Council of London ordered its observance in all the churches of the Province of Canterbury; we see how rapidly the new dogma was spreading. *
between God and man and the source of all good, is expressed by Fazio degli Uberti--
"Tu sola mitigasti la discordia
Che fu tra Dio e l' uomo; e tu cagione
Sei d' ogni bene che quaggiù si esordia."
* Thom. Aquin. Summ. I. ii. Q. 81, Art. 4; III. Q. 14, Art. 4, Q. 27. -- D'Argentré I. I. 275. -- Alvar. Pelag. de Planctu Eccles. Lib. II. Art. 52. -- Chron. de Saint-
As it was impossible for the Dominicans to change their position, it was inevitable that in time the Franciscans should range themselves under the opposite banner. The clash between them first came in 1387, when the struggle was carried on with all the ferocity of the odium theologicum. Juan de Monçon, a Dominican professor in the University of Paris, taught that the Virgin was conceived in sin. This aroused great uproar, and he fled to Avignon from impending condemnation. Then, at Rouen, another Dominican preached similar doctrine, and, as we are told, was generally ridiculed. The University sent to Avignon a deputation headed by Pierre d'Ailly, who claimed that they procured the condemnation of Juan, but he escaped to his native Aragon, while the Dominicans of Paris declared that the papal decision had been in their favor. If the chronicler is to be believed, they preached on the conception of the Virgin in the grossest terms and indulged in the most bestial descriptions, till the fury of the University knew no bounds. The Dominicans were expelled from all positions in the Sorbonne, and the Avignonese Clement VII. was too dependent upon France to refuse a bull proclaiming as heretics Juan and all who held with him. Charles VI. was persuaded not only to force the Dominicans of Paris to celebrate every year the Feast of the Conception, but to order the arrest of all within the kingdom who denied the Immaculate Conception, that they might be brought to Paris and obliged to recant before the University. It was not until 1403 that the Dominicans were readmitted to the Sorbonne, to the disgust of the other Mendicants, who had greatly profited by their exile. It was natural that where the Dominicans had authority they should indulge in reprisals. The Lullists were ardent defenders of the Immaculate Conception, which accounts in part for the hostility which they incurred. *
Just ( Vaissette, Éd. Privat, VIII. 225).--Concil. Londin. ann. 1328 c. 2 ( Harduin. VII. 1538).
The epitaph of Duns Scotus gives him the credit of defending the Immaculate Conception.
"Concepta est virgo primi sine labe parentis Hie tulit--" ( Mosheim de Beghardis, p. 234.)
* Religieux de S. Denis, Hist. de Charles VI. VII. 5; VIII. 2, 14; XXIII. 5.-Pelayo, Heterodoxos Españoles, I. 536.
The University of Paris was the stronghold of the new doctrine, and as its activity and influence were greatly curtailed by the disturbances which preceded the invasion of Henry V. and by the English domination, we hear little of the question until the restoration of the French monarchy. The belief, however, had continued to spread. In 1438 the clergy and magistrates of Madrid, on the occasion of a pestilence, made a vow thereafter to observe the Feast of the Conception. The next year the Council of Basle, which had long been discussing the matter in a desultory fashion, came to a decision in favor of the Immaculate Conception, forbade all assertions to the contrary, and ordered the feast to be everywhere celebrated on December 8, with due indulgences for attendance. As the council, however, had previously deposed Eugenius IV., its utterances were not received as the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and the doctrine, though strengthened, was not accepted by the Church. In fact, the rival Council of Florence, in 1441, in its decree of union with the Jacobines, although it spoke of Christ assuming his humanity in the immaculate womb of the Virgin, showed that this was but a figure of speech, by declaring as a point of faith that no one born of man and woman has ever escaped the domination of Satan except through the merits of Christ. *
A new article could not be introduced without creating a new heresy. Here was one on which the Church was divided, and the adherents on each side denounced the other as heretics and persecuted them as far as they dared where they had the power. In this the Dominicans were decidedly at a disadvantage, as their antagonists had greatly the preponderance and were daily growing in strength. In 1457 the Council of Aviginon, presided over by a papal legate, the Cardinal de Foix, who was a Franciscan, confirmed the decree of Basle, and ordered under pain of excommunication that no one should teach to the contrary. The same year the University of Paris was informed that a Dominican in Britanny was preaching the old doctrine. Immediately it held an assembly, wrote to the Duke of Britanny asking that the friar, if
* Wadding. Addit. ad T. V. No. 16 ( T. VII. p. 491); ann. 1439, No. 47-8.-Concil. Basil. Sess. XXXVI.
( Harduin. IX. 1160).--Concil. Florent. Deer. pro Jacobinis ( Harcluin. IX. 1024-5).
guilty, should be punished as a heretic, and declared its intention of formulating an article on the dogma. *
Thus far the popes had skilfully eluded compromising themselves on the subject. In the quarrels between the Mendicant Orders they could not afford to alienate either, and we have seen how, in the wrangle over the blood of Christ, they avoided entanglements and managed to let the dispute die out. The present debate was far too bitter and too extended for them to escape being drawn in, and they endeavored to follow the same line of policy as before. In 1474 Vincenzo Bandello, a Dominican, who was subsequently general of the Order, provoked a fierce discussion on the subject in Lombardy by a book on the Conception. The strife continued for two years with so many scandals that in 1477 Sixtus IV. evoked the matter before him, when it was hotly debated by Bandello for the Dominicans, or "Maculistæ," and Francesco, General of the Franciscans, in defence of the Immaculate Conception. The only result seems to have been that Sixtus issued a bull ordering the Feast of the Conception to be celebrated in all the churches, with the grant of appropriate indulgences. This was a decided defeat for the Dominicans, who found it excessively galling to celebrate the feast, and thus admit before the people that they were wrong. They endeavored to elude it in some places by qualifying it as the Feast of the Sanctification of the Virgrin, but this was not permitted, and they were forced to submit. In 1481, at Mantua, Frà Bernardino da Feltre was formally accused of heresy before the episcopal court for preaching the Immaculate Conception, but defended himself successfully; and the next year, at Ferrara, the Franciscans and Dominicans preached so fiercely on the subject, and denounced each other as heretics so bitterly, that popular tumults were excited. To quiet matters Ercole d'Este caused a disputation to be held before him, which proved fruitless, and Sixtus IV. was again obliged to intervene. After listening to both sides he issued another bull, in which he excommunicated all who asserted that the feast was in honor of the Sanctification of the Virgin, and also all who on either side should denounce the other as heretics. †
* Concil. Avenionens. ann. 1457 ( Harduin. IX. 1388).-- D'Argentré I. II. 252.
† Wadding. ann. 1477, No. 1; inn. 1479, No. 17-18.--C. 1, 2, Extrav. Commun. III. xii.
As a means of evading a decision without exasperating either Order this policy was successful, but as a measure of peace it was an utter failure. Renewed disturbances forced Alexander VI. to confirm the bull of Sixtus IV., with a clause calling upon the secular arm to keep the peace, if necessary; but in France the University of Paris wholly disregarded the prescriptions of both popes and treated as heretics all who denied the Immaculate Conception. In 1495, on the Feast of the Conception, December 8, a Franciscan named Jean Grillot so far forgot his fealty to his Order as to deny the dogma in preaching in Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois. He was immediately laid bold of and so energetically handled that by the 25th of the same month he made public recantation in the same church. This put the University on its mettle, and on March 3, 1496, it adopted a statute, signed by a hundred and twelve doctors in theology, affirming the doctrine and ordering that in future no one should be admitted into its body without taking an oath to maintain it, when if he proved recreant he should be expelled, degraded from all honors, and treated as a heathen and a publican. This example was followed by the Universities of Cologne, Tübingen, Mainz, and other places, arraying nearly all the learned bodies against the Dominicans, and training the vast majority of future theologians in the doctrine. Most of the cardinals and prelates everywhere gave in their adhesion; kings and princes joined them; the Carmelites took the same side, and the Dominicans were left almost alone to fight the unequal battle. When in 1501, at Heidelberg, the Dominicans offered a disputation on the subject which the Franciscans eagerly accepted, the aspect of public opinion grew so threatening that they were obliged to get the palsgrave and magistrates to forbid it. *
So sensitive did the supporters of the Immaculate Conception become that a Dominican preaching on December 8 had needs be wary in the allusions to the Virgin which were unavoidable on that day of his humiliation. At Dieppe, on the feast of 1496, Jean de Ver, a Dominican, made use of expressions which were thought to oppose the dogma indirectly; he was at once brought to account and forced to confess publicly, and swear that in future
* D'Argentré I. II. 331-5, 342-3.--Trithem. Chron. Hirsaug. ann. 1498.--Wadding. ann. 1500, No. 29.--Chron. Glassberger ann. 1501.
he would uphold it. On the next anniversary Frère Jean Aloutier argued that the Virgin had never sinned even venially, although St. John Chrysostom said that she had done so out of vain-glory on her wedding-day. This was regarded as a covert attack, and Frère Jean was disciplined, though not publicly. Soon afterwards another Dominican, Jean Morselle, in a sermon, said it was a problem whether Eve or the Virgin was the fairer; it was apocryphal whether Christ went to meet the Virgin when she was raised to paradise; and that it was not an article of faith that she was assumed to heaven, body and soul, and that to doubt it was not mortal sin. All this sounds innocent enough as to matters incapable of positive assertion, but Frère Jean was compelled publicly to declare the first article to be suspect of heresy, the second to be false, and the third to be heretical. It is only this hyperæsthesia of doctrinal sensibility that will explain the rigorous measures taken with Piero da Lucca, a canon of St. Augustin, who, in 1504, at Mantua, in a sermon, said that Christ was not conceived in the womb of the Virgin, but in her heart, of three drops of her purest blood. At once he was seized by the Inquisition, condemned as a heretic, and came near being burned. A controversy arose which greatly scandalized the faithful. Baptista of Mantua wrote a book to prove the true place of Christ's conception. Julius II. evoked the matter to Rome and committed it to the cardinals of Porto and San Vitale, who called together an assembly of learned theologians. After due deliberation, in 1511 these condemned the new theory as heretical, and the purity of the faith was preserved. *
The position of the Dominicans was growing desperate. Christendom was uniting against them. Only the steady refusal of the papacy to pronounce definitely on the question saved them from the adoption of a new article of faith which Aquinas had proved to be false. Aquinas was their tower of strength, whom the received tradition of the Order held to be inspired. It never occurred to them, as to his modern commentators, to prove that he did not mean what he said, and, in default of this, to yield on the Point of the Immaculate Conception was to admit his fallibility.
* Trithem. Chron. Hirsang. ann. 1497.-- D'Argentré I. II. 336-40, 347.-- Ripoll IV. 267.--Bernardi Comens. Lucerna Inquis. s. v. Hæresis, No. 23.
The alternative was a cruel one, but they had no choice. They could only hope to secure the neutrality of the papacy and to prolong the hopeless fight against the growing strength of the new doctrine, which their banded enemies propagated with all the enthusiasm of approaching victory. The perplexity of the position was all the more keenly felt, as they claimed the Virgin as the peculiar patroness of their Order; the devotion of the Rosary, in her special honor, was a purely Dominican institution. They who had always worshipped her with the most extravagant devotion were forced to become her apparent detractors, and were everywhere stigmatized as "maculistæ." Would she not condescend to save her devotees from the cruel dilemma into which they had fallen?
Suddenly, in 1507, the rumor spread that in Berne the Virgin had interposed to save her servants. In a convent of Observantine Dominicans she had repeatedly appeared to a holy friar and revealed to him her vexation at the guilt of the Franciscans in teaching the Immaculate Conception. After conception she had been three hours in original sin before sanctification; the teaching of St. Thomas was true and divinely inspired; Alexander Hales, Duns Scotus, and many other Franciscans were in purgatory for asserting the contrary. Julius II. would settle the question and would institute in honor of the truth a greater feast than that of December 8. To help towards this consummation the Virgin gave the friar a cross tinged with her son's blood, three of the tears which he had shed over Jerusalem, the cloths in which he was wrapped in the flight to Egypt, and a vial of the blood which he had shed for man, together with a letter to Julius II. in which he was promised glory equal to that of St. Thomas Aquinas in return for what was expected of him, and this letter, duly authenticated by the seals of the Dominican priors of Berne, Basle, and Nürnberg, was sent to the pope. The reports of these divine appearances produced an immense sensation; countless multitudes assembled in the Dominican Church to look upon the friar thus favored, and he performed feats of fasting, prayer, and scourging, which increased the reputation for sanctity acquired by the visitations. After a trance he appeared with the stigmata of Christ; the church was arranged to enable him in his devotions to represent the various acts of the Passion, and an immense crowd looked on with awe- struck admiration. Then an image of the Virgin wept, and it was explained that her grief arose from the disregard of her warnings of what would befall the city unless it ceased to receive a pension from France, unless it expelled the Franciscans, and unless it ceased to believe in the Immaculate Conception.
People flocked from all the region around, and the fame of the miraculous apparitions spread, when the magistrates of Berne were surprised by Letser, the favored recipient of the visitations, taking refuge with them, and begging protection from his superiors, who were torturing and endeavoring to poison him. An investigation developed the whole plot. Wigand Wirt, Master of the Observantine Dominicans, and professor of theology, had had, in 1501, a quarrel with a parish priest in Frankfort, in which they abused each other from their respective pulpits. In a sermon the priest thanked God that he did not belong to an Order which had slain the Emperor Henry VII. with a poisoned host, and which denied the Immaculate Conception. Wirt, who was present, shouted to him that he was a liar and a heretic. An uproar followed, in which the Order sustained Wirt and appealed to Julius II., who appointed a commission. The result was adverse to Wirt, who left Frankfort filled with wrath, and published a savage attack upon his adversaries, which the Archbishop of Mainz caused to be publicly burned, while all his suffragans prohibited its circulation. Greatly excited, the Dominicans, in a chapter held at Wimpffen, resolved to prove by miracle the falsity of the Immaculate Conception. Frankfort was at first selected as the theatre, but was abandoned through fear of the archbishop; then Nürnberg, but the number of learned men there was an obstacle, and Berne was finally chosen as a city populous and powerful, but simple and unlearned. The officials of the Dominican convent there, John Vetter the prior, Francis Ulchi the sub-prior, Stephen Dolshorst the lector, and Henry Steinecker the procurator, undertook to carry out the design, and selected as an instrument a tailor of Zurzach, John Letser, who had been recently admitted to the Order. To suit the taste of the age, it was proved on the trial that they had commenced by invoking the assistance of the devil and had signed compacts with him in their blood, but their own ingenuity was sufficient for what followed, though we are told that when they produced the stigmata on Letser they first rendered him insensible with a magic potion formed of blood from the navel of a new-born Jew and nineteen hairs from his eyelashes. The victim was carefully prepared by a series of apparitions, commencing with an ordinary ghost and ending with the Virgin. According to his own account he believed in the visions till one day entering Bolshorst's room suddenly he found him in female attire like that of the Virgin, preparing for making an appearance. By threats and promises he had been prevailed upon to continue the imposture a while longer, till, fearing for his life, he escaped and told his tale.
Letser was sent to the Bishop of Lausanne, who heard his story and authorized the magistrates of Berne to act. The four Dominicans were confined separately in chains, and envoys were sent to Rome, where, only after the greatest difficulty, they obtained audience of the pope. A papal commission was sent, but with insufficient powers, and prolonged delays were experienced in procuring another, but finally it came, having at its head Achilles afterwards Cardinal of San Sexto, one of the most learned jurists of the age. Torture was freely used on both Letser and the accused, and full confessions were obtained. These were so damaging that the commissioners desired to keep then secret even from the magistrates, and when the latter were dissatisfied it was determined that they should be shown to a select committee of eight under pledge of secrecy, and that, to satisfy the people, only certain articles sufficient to justify burning should be publicly read. These were four, viz., renouncing God, painting and reddening the host, falsely representing the weeping Virgin, and counterfeiting the stigmata. The four culprits were abandoned to the secular arm, and eight days afterwards, as Nicholas Glassberger piously hopes, they were sent to heaven through fire, for they were burned in a meadow beyond the Arar, their ashes being thrown into the river to prevent their being reverenced as relics--not without reason, for the Order promptly pronounced them to be martyrs. It is worthy of note that in the published sentence the Immaculate Conception was kept wholly out of sight. In the existing tension between the Mendicant Orders the papal representatives evidently deemed it wise to keep this question in the background. Paulus Langius tells us that the story made an immense sensation, and. that the "maculistæ" endeavored in vain to suppress it, and circu- lated all manner of distorted and false accounts of it. Julius II., so far from obeying the visions of Letser, confirmed in 1511 the religious order of the Immaculate Conception founded at Toledo in 1484 by the zeal of Beatriz de Silva. *
Wigand Wirt did not wholly escape, though he does not seem to have been directly implicated in the fraud. The Observantine Franciscans prosecuted him before the Holy See for his savage tract against his adversaries. The case was beard by two successive commissions of cardinals, until, October 25, 1512, Wirt abandoned the defence and was sentenced to make the most humiliating of retractions. In public he revoked, abolished, repudiated, and extirpated his book as scandalous, insulting, defamatory, useless, and prejudicial; he confessed that in it he had injured theological doctrine and wounded the fraternal charity of many, including the venerable Franciscans, and the honor and fame of Conrad Henselin, Thomas Wolff, Sebastian Brandt, and Jacob of Schlettstadt (Wimpheling); and he declared his belief that those who upheld the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception did not err. Moreover, under penalty of perpetual imprisonment, he promised, within four months after November 1, to repeat his recantation publicly in Heidelberg, after giving three days' notice to the Franciscan convent there; he begged pardon of all whom he had injured, and he obligated himself to undergo perpetual imprisonment if he should in any way, directly or indirectly, repeat the offence. The Dominican general who took part in the sentence, commanded all priors and prelates of the Order to confine him for life, wherever he might be found, in case of non-fulfil-
* I have followed a contemporary account of this curious affair-- "De Quatuor Hæresiarchis in civitate Bernensi nuper combustis, A.D. 1509," 4to, sine nota ( Strassburg, 1509), attributed to Thomas Murner. It accords sufficiently with the briefer reports of Trithemius (Chron. Hirsaug. ann. 1509) and Sebastian Brandt (Pauli Langii Chron. Citicens. ann. 1509), and that of the Chron. Glassberger ann. 1501, 1506, 1507, 1509.-- Garibay, Compendio Historial de España, Lib. xx. cap. 13. The Bernese community was piously devoted to the Virgin. In 1489 a certain Nicholas Rotelfinger was inconsiderate enough to declare that she helped the wicked as well as the good. For this he was obliged to stand a whole day in an iron collar and to make oath that he would personally seek the pope and bring home a written absolution.-- Valerius Anshelm, Berner- Chronik, Bern, 1884, I. 355. ment of his pledges. In due course, on Ash-Wednesday, February 24, 1513, in the church of the Holy Spirit of Heidelberg, when the concourse of the faithful was greatest, Wirt appeared and repeated the humiliating retraction. So bitter was the trial that he could not repress an ejaculation that it was hard to endure. The Franciscans had a notary present who recorded officially the whole proceeding, which was forthwith printed and spread abroad so as to publish far and wide the degradation of the unlucky disputant. *
Despite the fate of the martyrs of Berne the Dominicans still held out gallantly against the constantly increasing preponderance of their antagonists. I have before me a little tract, evidently printed by a Dominican about this time as a manual for disputants, in which the opinions of two hundred and sixteen doctors of the Church are collected in proof of the conception of the Virgin in original sin. It presents a formidable array of all the greatest names in the Church, including many popes; and the compiler doubtless felt peculiar pleasure in grouping together the most revered authorities of the Franciscan Order--St. Antony of Padua, Alexander Hales, St. Bonaventura, Richard Middleton, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, Nicholas de Lyra, Jacopone da Todi, Alvaro Pelavo, Bartolomeo di Pisa, and others. In spite of this preponderance of authority the Dominicans had a hard struggle in the Council of Trent, but they possessed strength enough, after a keen discussion, to have the question left open, with a simple confirmation of the temporizing bull of Sixtus IV. Still the controversy went on, as heated as ever, causing tumults and scandals, which the Church deplored but could not cure. In 1570 Paul IV. endeavored to suppress them by suppressing public discussion. He renewed the bull of Sixtus IV., pointed out that the Council of Trent permitted every one to enjoy his own opinion, and he allowed learned men to debate it in universities and chapters until it should be decided by the Holy See. All public disputation or assertion on either side in sermons or addresses was, however, forbidden under pain of ipso facto deprivation and perpetual disability. This endeavor to preserve the peace of the Church was as futile as its predecessors. In 1616 Paul V. deplored that, in spite of the salutary provisions existing on the subject, quarrels
* Revocatio fratris Vuygandi Vuirt (apud Trebotes, sine anno).
and scandals continued and threatened to grow more dangerous. He therefore added to the existing penalties perpetual disability for preaching or teaching, and ordered the bishops and inquisitors everywhere to punish severely all contraventions of these regulations. Yet the scale continued to incline against the Dominicans. A twelvemonth later, in August, 1617, Paul, in a general congregation of the Roman Inquisition, issued another constitution, in which he extended these penalties to all who in public should assert the Virgin to have been conceived in original sin. He did not reprove the opinion, but left it as before, and ordered those who asserted publicly the Immaculate Conception to do so simply, without assailing the other side, and, as before, bishops and inquisitors were instructed to punish all infractions. In 1622 Gregory XV. went a step further in suppressing the perpetual discord by a further extension of the penalties to all who in private asserted the Virgin's conception in sin; but at the same time he forbade the use of the word "immaculate" in the office of the Feast of the Conception. The Dominicans grew restive under this gagging, and in a couple of months procured a relaxation of the prohibition in so far as to allow them privately with each other to maintain and defend their opinion. These bulls brought considerable business to the Inquisition, for disputatious ardor could not be restrained. A contemporary manual informs us that in spite of the prohibition of discussion it still continued, and that offenders on both sides were sent to Rome for judgment by the supreme tribunal, care being taken, as far as possible, not to have Dominican witnesses when the offender was Franciscan, and vice versa. In spite of this the Dominican, Thomas Gage, who wandered through the Spanish colonies about 1630, speaks of holding public discussions on the subject in Guatemala, in which he maintained the Thomist doctrine against the Franciscan, Scotist, and Jesuit opinions. *
* De Beatæ Virginis Conceptione Ducentorum et sexdecim Doctorum vera, tuta, et tenenda Sententia (sine nota, sed c. 1500).-- Concil. Trident. Sess. v. Decr. de Orig. Peccat. § 5.--Pauli PP. IV. Bull. Super speculum (Mag. Bull. Rom. II. 343).-- Pauli PP. V. Bull. Regis pacifici (Ibid. p. 392) .--Ejusd. Constit. Sanctissimus (Ib. p. 400).-- Gregor. PP. XV. Constit. Sanctissimus (Ib. p. 477).--Ejusd. Bull. Eximii (Ib. p. 478).--Prattica del Modo da procedersi nelle Cause del S. Offitio, cap. xix. (MSS. Bib. Reg. Monachens. Cod. Ital. 598. -- MSS. Bib. Nat., fonds italien, 139).-- Gage, New Survey of the West Indies, London, 1677, p. 266.
So minutely was the question reasoned out that it became heresy to assert that one would undergo death in defence of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. In 1571 Alonso de Castro, although a Franciscan, uses this as an illustration that it is heretical thus to declare adhesion to a point which is not an article of faith. In the heated controversy everywhere raging ardent polemics showed their zeal by offering to stake their existence upon it, and the question became a practical one for the Inquisition to deal with. A vow or oath to defend the doctrine was declared to be valid, but in 1619 the inquisitors of Portugal, with the assent of Paul V., condemned as heretical the opinion that one who should die in defence of the Immaculate Conception would be a martyr. As the Inquisition was largely in Dominican hands, it doubtless was used effectually to persecute the too zealous assertors of the doctrine, and to this probably is attributable the rule that in all such cases the denunciation should be sent to the supreme Inquisition in Rome and its decision be awaited, thus tying the hands of the local inquisitors. From Carena's remarks, it is evident that these cases were not infrequent and that they gave much trouble. *
The Jesuits threw the immense weight of their influence in favor of the Immaculate Conception, and in time it became not
* Alph. de Castro de justa Hæret. Punitione Lib. I. C. viii. Dub. 4.-- Carenæ Tract . de Modo procedendi Tit. XVII. § 9.
Yet in Spain the intense popular devotion to the Virgin rendered the Inquisition very sensitive in its reverence for her. In 1642 an inquisitor, Diego de Narbona , in his Annales Tractatus Juris alluded to an assertion of Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, Lib. VII.) that some persons believed that after the Nativity the Virgin was inspected by the midwife to prove her virginity. Although he condemned the statement as most indecent and dishonoring to the Virgin, his work was denounced to the Inquisition of Granada, which referred it to the Inquisitor-general. Narbona in vain endeavored to defend himself. It was shown that in the Index Expurgatorius of 1640 the passage of Clement, as well as those in all other authors alluding to it, had been ordered to be borrado, or expunged, so that the very memory of so scandalous a tale might be lost. Narbona alleged in his defence a passage in Padre Basilio Ponce de Leon, but the Inquisition showed that this had likewise been barrado, and, as every one who possessed a copy of a book containing a prohibited passage was bound to blot it out and render it illegible, he was culpable in not having done so.--MSS. Bibl. Bodleian. Arch S. 130.
uncommon among them, at least in certain places, to take the heretical vow to defend it with life and blood. In 1715 Muratori, under the cautious pseudonym of Lamindus Pritanius, published a book attacking this practice. This drew forth a reply, in 1729, from the Jesuit Francesco Burgi, which Muratori answered under the name of Antonius Lampridius. A lively controversy arose which lasted for a quarter of a century or more, and Muratori's second book was in 1765 placed on the Spanish Index. Benedict XIV., in his great work De Beatificatione, says that the Church inclines to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, but has not yet made it an article of faith, and he even leaves the question undecided whether one who dies in its defence is to be reckoned as a martyr. Yet when, in 1840, Bishop Peter A. Baines, the Apostolic Vicar in England, spoke inconsiderately on the subject in a pastoral letter, he was sharply reproved and obliged to sign a pledge that on the first fitting occasion he would publicly declare his adhesion to whatever the Holy See might define on the subject. The decision was not long in coming. In 1849 Pius IX. consulted all the bishops as to the expediency of proclaiming the Immaculate Conception as a dogma of the Church. Those of Italy, Spain, and Portugal, about four hundred and ninety in number, were almost unanimously in its favor, while many in other lands hesitated and deprecated such action. The latter were not heeded; December 8, 1854, Pius issued a solemn definition declaring it to be an article of faith, and thus, after a gallant struggle, protracted through five centuries with unyielding tenacity, the Dominicans were finally defeated, and could only console themselves with ingenious glosses on Thomas Aquinas to prove that he had never really denied the doctrine. *
It is interesting thus to trace the evolution of dogma, even though the result cannot be regarded as a finality. In the insatiable desire to define every secret of the invisible world every decision is only a stepping-stone to a new discussion. The next point is to ascertain how the Immaculate Conception took place, and this has already been mooted. In 1876 a condemnation was pronounced on Joseph de Félicité (Vercruysse?) among whose
* Reusch, Der Index der verbotenen Bücher, II. 843, 986.--Addis and Arnold's Catholic Dictionary s. v. Immaculate.
errors was the assertion that Mary was conceived by the operation of the Holy Ghost, without the intervention of St. Joachim. * Yet who can say that in the centuries to come this dogma may not also win its place, and the Virgin thus be elevated to an equality with her Son?
One function of the Inquisition remains to be considered--the censorship of the press--although its full activity in this direction belongs to a period beyond our present limits. We have seen how Bernard Gui burned Talmuds by the wagon-load, and the special training of the inquisitors would seem to point them out as the most available conservators of the faith from the dangerous abuse of the pen. Yet it was long before any definite system was adopted. The universities were almost the only centres of intellectual activity, and they usually exercised a watchful care over the aberrations of their members. When some work of importance was to be condemned the authority of the Holy See was frequently invoked, as in the case of Erigena Periphyseos, the Everlasting Gospel, William of St. Amour's assault upon the Mendicants, and Marsilio of Padua Defensor Pacis. On the other hand, as we have seen, in 1316 the episcopal vicar of Tarragona had no hesitation in assembling some monks and friars and condemning a number of Arnaldo de Vilanova's writings, and about the same time the inquisitors of Bologna took similar action with respect to Ceeco d'Ascoli's commentary on the Sphæra of Sacrobosco. Yet no thought seems to have occurred of using the Inquisition for this purpose as a general agency with power of immediate decision, before Charles IV. endeavored to establish the Holy Office in Germany. The heresy of the Brethren of the Free Spirit was largely propagated by means of popular books of devotion; to check this and the forbidden use by the laity of translations of Scripture in the vernacular, the emperor, in 1369, empowered the inquisitors and their successors to seize and burn all such books, and to employ the customary inquisitorial censures to overcome resistance. All the subjects of the empire, secular and clerical, from the highest to the lowest, were ordered to lend their aid, under pain of the imperial displeasure. In 1376 Gregory XI. fol-
* Reusch, op. cit. II. 989.
lowed this with a bull in which he deplored the dissemination of heretical books in Germany, and directed the inquisitors to examine all suspected writings, condemning those found to contain errors, after which it became an offence punishable by the Inquisition to copy, possess, buy, or sell them. No trace remains of any results of these regulations, but they are interesting as the first organized literary censorship. About the same period Eymerich was engaged in condemning the works of Raymond Lully, of Raymond of Tarraga, and others, but he seems always to have referred the matter to the Holy See and to have acted only under special papal authority. When, as we have seen, Archbishop Zbinco burned Wickliff's writings in Prague, a papal commission decided that his act was not justified, and their final condemnation was pronounced by the Council of Rome in 1413. *
With the gradual revival of letters books assumed more and more importance as a means of disseminating thought, and this increased rapidly after the invention of printing. It became a recognized rule with the Inquisition that he into whose hands an heretical book might fall and who did not burn it at once or deliver it within eight days to his bishop or inquisitor was hold vehemently suspect of heresy. The translation of any part of Scripture into the vernacular was also forbidden. It was not, however, until 1501 that any organized censorship of the press seems to have been thought of, and even then Germany was the only land where the issue of dangerous and heretical books was considered to require it. All printers were ordered in future, under pain of excommunication and of fines applicable to the apostolic chamber, to present to the archbishop of the province or to his ordinary all books before publication, and only to issue those for which a license should be granted after examination, the prelates being commanded on their consciences to make no charge for such license. All existing books in stock, moreover, were to be subject to similar inspection, and of such as should be found to contain errors all copies accessible were to be delivered up for burning.†
It shows to what a state of contempt the German Inquisition
* Moshcim de Beghardis, pp. 368, 378,.-- Eymeric. pp. 311-16.
† Albertini Repertor. Inquis. s. vv. Libri, Scriptura.-- Raynald. ann. 1501, No. 36.
had fallen, that in this comprehensive measure to restrict the license of the press it seems not to have been even thought of as an instrumentality, and that dependence was placed on the episcopal organization alone. The archbishops, however, were as usual too much engrossed in the temporal concerns of their princely provinces to pay attention to such details, and there is apparently no result to be traced from the effort. The evil continued to increase, and in 1515, at the Council of Lateran, Leo X. endeavored to check it by general regulations still more rigid in a bull which was unanimously approved, except by Alexis, Bishop of Amalfi, who said that he concurred in it as to new books, but not as to old ones. After an allusion to the benefits conferred by the art of printing, the bull proceeded to recite that numerous complaints reached the Holy See that printers in many places printed and sold books translated from the Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Chaldee, as well as in Latin and the vernaculars, containing errors in faith and pernicious dogmas, and also libels on persons of dignity, whence many scandals had arisen and more were threatened. Therefore forever thereafter no one should be allowed to print any book or writing without a previous examination, to be testified by manual subscription, by the papal vicar and master of the sacred palace in Rome, and in other cities and dioceses by the Inquisition, and the bishop or an expert appointed by him. For neglect of this the punishment was excommunication, the loss of the edition, which was to be burned, a fine of a hundred ducats to the fabric of St. Peters, and suspension from business for a year. Persistent contumacy was further threatened with such penalty as should serve as a warning deterrent to others. * The precaution came too late.
* Concil. Lateran. V. Sess. IX. ( Harduin. IX. 1779-81).
These rules were probably enforced only where there was an Inquisition in working order. In the edition of Nifo work, De Cælo et Mundo, printed at Naples in 1517, there is an imprimatur by Antonio Caietano, prior of the Dominican convent, reciting the conciliar decree, and stating that in the absence of the inquisitor he had been deputed by the Vicar of Naples to examine the work, in which he found no evil.
In the Venice editions of Joachim of Flora, printed in 1516 and 1517, there is not only the permission of the inquisitor and of the Patriarch of Venice, but also that of the Council of Ten, showing that the press was subjected to no little impediment.
In the contemporaneous Lyons edition of Alvaro Pelayo De Planctu Ecclesiæ
Except with regard to witches, the machinery of persecution was too thoroughly disorganized to curb the rising tide of human intelligence which speedily swept away all such flimsy barriers. We have seen how prolonged and unsatisfactory was the attempt to silence Reuchlin. The printing-press multiplied indefinitely the satires of Erasmus and Ulric Hutten, and when Luther appeared it scattered far and wide among the people his vigorous attacks on the existing system. It required time and the exigencies of the counter-reformation to perfect a plan by which, in the lands of the Roman obedience, the faithful could be preserved from the insidious poison flowing from the fountain of the printing-press.
(1517), however, there is no imprimatur, and evidently there was no censorship, and the same is the case in such German books of the period as I have had an opportunity of examining.
HAVING thus considered with some fulness what the Inquisition accomplished, directly and indirectly, it only remains for us to glance at what it did not do.
The relations of the Greek Church to the Holy See would almost justify the assumption that persecution of heresy, far from being a matter of conscience, was one of expediency, to be enforced or disregarded as the temporal interests of the papacy might dictate. The Greeks were not only schismatics, but heretics, for, as St. Raymond of Pennaforte proved, schism was heresy, as it violated the article of the creed "unam sanctam Catholicam ecclesiam." We have repeatedly seen that to deny the supremacy of Rome and to disregard its commands was heresy. Boniface VIII., in the bull "Unam sanctam," proclaimed it to be an article of faith, necessary to salvation, that every human creature is subject to the Roman pontiff, and he especially includes the Greeks in this. Besides this, there was the Procession of the Holy Ghost from both the Father and the Son, in which Charlemagne forced Leo III. to modify the Nicene symbol, and which the Greeks persistently refused to receive, rendering them heretics on a doctrinal point assumed to be of the greatest importance. Yet the Church, when it seemed desirable, could always establish a modus vivendi, and exercise a prudent toleration towards the Greek Church. It was thus in southern Italy, which had been withdrawn from Rome and subjected to Constantinople in the eighth century by Leo the Isaurian during the iconoclastic controversy. In 968 the Patriarch of Constantinople substituted the Greek for the Roman rite in the churches of Apulia and Calabria, and though some resisted, most of them submitted and retained it even after the conquest of Naples by the Normans. Thus in the see of Rossano in 1092, when a Latin bishop was introduced, the people recalcitrated and obtained from Duke Roger permission to retain the Greek rite. This lasted until 1460, when the Observantine Bishop Matteo succeeded in changing it to the Latin rite. *
The Greek churches, which long continued to exist throughout the Slavic and Majjar territories, were subjected to greater pressure, though it was fitful and intermittent. In 1204 Andreas II. of Hungary applied to Innocent III. to appoint Latin priors for the Greek monasteries in his dominions. In the settlement of 1233, after the kingdom had been placed under interdict, an oath was exacted of Bela IV. that he would compel all his subjects to render obedience to the Roman Church, and Gregory IX. forthwith summoned him to enforce his promise with regard to the Wallachians, who were addicted to the Greek rite. In 1248 we find Innocent IV. sending Dominicans to Albania to convert the Greeks, and it would indicate that persuasion rather than force was relied upon, when we see these missionaries empowered to grant the ecclesiastics dispensation for all irregularities, including simony. A hundred years later Clement VI. and Innocent VI. were more energetic, and ordered the prelates of the Balkan Peninsula to drive out all schismatics, calling in the aid of the secular arm if necessary. We have already seen how fruitless were the efforts to exterminate the Cathari in these regions, and that the only result of the effort to enforce uniformity of faith was to facilitate the advance of the Turkish conquest. †
The possessions of the Crusaders in the Levant offered a more complex problem. Although Innocent III. had protested against the conquest of Constantinople in 1204, when it was successful he
* S. Raymondi Summ. I. VI. i.--I. Extrav. Commun. I. viii.--Lib. Carolin. III. 1, 3.--Harduin. Concil. IV. 131, 453-4, 747, 775, 970.--Hartzheim Concil. German. I. 390-6.--Eymeric. p. 325.--Tocco, L'Eresia nel Medio Evo, pp. 389-90.--C. 9, 11, Extra, I. xi.
When Sigismund of Austria, in his quarrel with Nicholas of Cusa over the bishopric of Brixen, refused to observe the interdict cast on his territories, Pius II., in 1460, summoned him to trial within sixty days as a heretic, because his disobedience showed him to be notoriously guilty of that heresy of heresies, disbelief in the article of the Creed, "Credo in unam sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam ecclesiam" (Freher et Struv. II. 192).
† Innoc. PP. III. Regest. VII. 47.--Batthyani Legg. Eccles. Hung. II. 355-6.-Ripoll I. 70-1, 186.--Wadding. ann. 1351, No. 8; ann. 1354, No. 4, 5.
was ardent in his recognition of the mysterious wisdom of God in thus overthrowing the Greek heresy, and he took prompt action to secure the utmost advantage to be expected from it. He ordered the crusaders to suspend all priests ordained by Greek bishops, and to provide Latin priests for the churches seized, taking care that their property was not dissipated. A hungry horde of clerics speedily precipitated itself on the new possessions, embarrassing those in charge, and Innocent, in answer to inquiries, advised that only those who brought commendatious letters should be allowed to officiate in public. Thus, in the Latin kingdoms of the East a new hierarchy was imposed upon the churches, but the people were not converted, and an embarrassing situation arose concerning which no clearly defined policy could be preserved. *
Strictly speaking, all schismatics and heretics were under ipso facto excommunication, but this could be disregarded if it was politic to do so, as when, in 1244, Innocent IV., in sending Dominican missionaries to the Greeks, Jacobines, Nestorians, and other heretics of the East, gave full authority to participate with them in all the offices of religion. Where the Greek churches were independent efforts were made to win them over by persuasion and negotiation, as in the mission sent in 1233 by Gregory IX. to Germanus, Patriarch of Nicæa, and in 1247 by Innocent IV. to the Russians; but when these endeavors failed there was no hesitation in resorting to force, and the disappointed Gregory preached a crusade for the purpose of reducing the schismatics to obedience. So, in 1267, when the measureless ambition of Charles of Anjou, inflamed by the conquest of Naples, dreamed of reconquering Constantinople, his treaty with the titular emperor, Baldwin II., recites the uniting of the Eastern. Empire with the Church of Rome as the impelling motive. Charles's enterprise was postponed by the submission of Michael Palæologus at the Council of Lyons in 1274, but this only stirred up rebellion among his subjects; Michael Comnenus was placed at the head of the party sustaining the national church, and war broke out in 1279. Although Charles hastened to take advantage of this, the Sicilian Vespers, in 1283,
* Innoc. PP. III. Regest. VII. 2-12, 121, 152-4, 164, 203-5; IX. 243-6; X. 49-51.
gave him ample occupation at home, and his projects were, perforce, laid aside. *
In the territories subjected to Latin domination the conditions were somewhat different. It was impossible to uproot the native Church, and the two rites were necessarily permitted to coexist, with alternations of tolerance and persecution, of persuasion and coercion. In 1303 Benedict XI., when ordering the Dominican prior of Hungary to send missionaries to Albania and other provinces, speaks of the Latin churches and monasteries in a manner to show that the two rites were allowed side by side, and only intrusions of the Greeks were to be resisted. Documents which chance to have been preserved concerning the kingdom of Cyprus illustrate the perplexities of the situation and the varying policy pursued. In 1216 Innocent III. reduced the bishoprics of the island from fourteen to four--Nicosia, Famagosta, Limisso, and Baffo--and provided in each a Greek and Latin bishop for the respective rites, which was an admission of equality in orthodoxy. Forty years later we find the Greek monasteries subjected to the Latin, Archbishop of Nicosia, and there seems to have been some ascendency claimed by the Latin prelates, for in 1250 the Greek archbishop petitioned Innocent IV. for permission to reconstitute the fourteen sees and consecrate bishops to fill them; that they should all be independent of the Archbishop of Nicosia, and that all Greeks and Syrians be subjected to them and not to the Latins. This prayer was rejected. Alexander IV. gave an express power of supervision to the Latin prelates, which naturally led to quarrels, and at times the Greeks were treated as heretics by zealous churchmen and by those whose authority was set at nought, as we learn from some appeals to Boniface VIII. in 1295. John XXII. energetically endeavored to extirpate certain heresies and heretical practices of the Greeks, but seems to have allowed the regular observance of their rites. Yet about the same time Bernard Gui, in his collection of inquisitorial formulas, gives two forms of abjuration of the Greek errors and reconciliation from the excommunication pronounced by the canons against the schismatic
* C. 35 Decr. P. II. Caus. XXIV. Q. 9.--Berger, Registres ?'Innoc. IV. No. 573, 1817.--Raynald. ann. 1233, No. 1-15.--Epistt. Sæculi XIII. T. I. No. 725 (Pertz). --Buchon, Recherches et Matériaux, pp. 31, 40-2.
Greeks, showing that the inquisitors of the West were accustomed to lay hold of any unlucky Greek who might be found in the Mediterranean ports of France. Their fate was doubtless the same in Aragon, for Eyv bmerich does not hesitate to qualify them as heretics. The persecuting spirit grew, for about 1350 the Coun-s cil of Nicosia, although it allowed the four Greek bishops of Cyprus to remain, still ordered all to be denounced as heretics who did not hold Rome to be the head of all churches and the pope to be the earthly vicar of Christ, and in 1351 a proclamation was issued ordering all Greeks to confess once a year to a Latin priest and to take the sacrament according to the. Latin rite. If this was enforced, it must have provided the Inquisition with abundant victims, for in 1407 Gregory XII. defined that any Greek who reverted to schism after participating in orthodox sacraments was a relapsed, and he ordered the inquisitor Elias Petit to punish him as such, calling in if necessary the aid of the secular arm. *
The Venetians, when masters of Crete, endeavored to starve out the Greek Church by forbidding any bishop of that rite to enter the island, and any inhabitant to go to Constantinople for ordination. Yet, in 1373, Gregory XI. learned with grief that a bishop had succeeded in landing, and that ordination was constantly sought by Cretans in Constantinople. He appealed to the Doge, Andrea Contareni, to have the wholesome laws enforced, but to little purpose, for in 1375 he announced that nearly all the inhabitants were schismatics, and that nearly all the cures were in the hands of Greek priests, to whom he offered the alternative of immediate conversion or ejection. †
* Theiner Monument. Slavor. Meridional. I. 120.--Berger, Registres d'Innoc. IV. No. 2058, 4053, 4750, 4769.--Barb. de' Mironi, Hist. Eccles. di Vicenza II. 102.--Thomas, Registres de Boniface VIII. No. 613-4.--Raynald. ann. 1318, No. 57.--Ripoll II. 172, 482.--B. Guidon. Practica P. II. No. 9; P. V. No. 11.--Eymeric. p. 303.--Harduin. VII. 1700, 1709, 1720. The relations between the races in the Levant were not such as to win over the Greeks. A writer of the middle of the thirteenth century, who was zealous for the reunion of the churches, repeatedly alludes to the repulsion caused by the tyranny and injustice of the Latins towards the Greeks. Even the lowest of the former treated the Greeks with contempt, pulling them by the beard and stigmatizing them as dogs.--Opusc. Tripartiti P. II. c. xi., xvii. (Fascic. Rer. Expetend. et Fugiend. II. 215, 216, 221).
† Raynald. ann. 1373, No. 18; ann. 1375, No. 25.
Efforts so spasmodic were of course unavailing. So far from suppressing the Greek Church it was found that many Catholics living in a schismatic population became perverts. To this, in 1449, Nicholas V. called the attention of the inquisitor of the Greek province, telling him that although the Oriental rite was praiseworthy, it must be kept distinct from the Latin, and that all such cases must be coerced, even if the assistance of the secular arm was necessary. There was scant encouragement for the Inquisition in those lands, however, for when, in 1490, Innocent VIII. appointed Frà Vincenzo de' Reboni as Inquisitor of Cyprus, where there were many heretics, and ordered the Bishops of Nicosia, Famagosta, and Baffo each to give him a prebend for his support, there was so energetic a remonstrance from the prelates that Innocent withdrew the demand. From all this it is evident that in its relations with the Greek Church Rome was governed by policy; that it could exercise toleration whenever the occasion demanded, and that the Inquisition was practically quiescent in its dealings with these heretic populations, although their heresy was of a dye so much deeper than that of many sectaries who were ruthlessly exterminated, *
During the Middle Ages there were few greater pests of society than the quæstuarii, or pardoners--the sellers of indulgences and pardons, who wandered over the face of Europe with relics and commissions, with brazen faces and stout lungs, vending exemptions from penance and purgatory, and prospective admission to paradise; telling all manner of lies, and at once disgracing the Church and impoverishing the credulous. Sometimes they were the authorized agents of Rome or of a bishop of a diocese; sometimes they farmed out a district for a fixed price or for a portion of the spoils; sometimes they merely bought from the curia or a local prelate the letters which authorized them to ply their trade.
* Raynald. ann. 1449, No. 10.--Ripoll IV. 72.
In 1718 the congregation of the Propaganda permitted the erection of a Greek episcopate in Calabria, to supply the spiritual needs of the Greek population. The Greeks in the Island of Sicily complained of the expense of sending their youths to Calabria or to Rome for ordination, and in 1784, at the instance of Ferdinand III., Pius VI. authorized the establishment of another Greek bishop in Palermo.--Gallo, Codice Ecclesiastico Siculo, IV. 47(Palermo, 1852).
Tetzel, who stirred the indignation of Luther to rebellion, was only a representative of a horde of vagabonds who for centuries had fleeced the populations and had done all in their power to render religion contemptible in the eyes of thinking men. The Dominican Thomas of Cantimpré bitterly compares the trifling sums which purchased salvation from papal emissaries collecting funds for the Italian wars of the Holy See with the endless labors and austerities of his brethren and of the Franciscans--the sleepless vigils and the days spent in ministering to the spiritual needs of fellow-creatures, without obtaining assured pardon for their sins. The character of these peddlers of salvation is summed up in a tract presented to the Council of Lyons in 1274 by Umberto de' Romani, who had resigned the generalate of the Dominican Order in 1263. He declares that they expose the Church to derision by their lies and filthiness; they bribe the prelates and thus obtain what privileges they want; the frauds of their letters of pardon are almost incredible; they find a fruitful source of gain in false relics, and though they collect large sums from the people, but little inures to the ostensible objects for which the collections are made. *
These creatures were not to be reached by the ordinary jurisdiction, for they either bore papal commissions or those of the bishop of the diocese; their trade was too profitable to all parties to be suppressed, and the only way of curbin their worst excesses seemed through the Inquisition. Accordingly the Inquisition had hardly been fully organized when Alexander IV. had recourse to it for this purpose, and included in the powers conferred on inquisitors that of restraining the quæstuarii and of forbidding their
* Th. Cantimprat. Bonum Universale, Lib. II. c. 2.--Humb. de Roman. Tract. in Concil. Lugdun. P. III. c. 8. (Martene Ampl. Coll.VII. 197). Cf. Opusc. Tripart. P. III. c. viii. (Fascic. Rer. Expetend. et Fugiend. II. 227).
William Langland sets forth the popular appreciation of the Quæstuarii with sufficient distinctness--
"Here preched a Pardonere as he a prest were,
Broughte forth a bulle with bishopes seles,
And seide that hym-selfe myghte asoilen hem alle
Of falshed of fastyng of vowes ybroken.
Lewed men leued hym well and lyked his wordes . . .
. . . Were the bischop yblissed and worth bothe his eares
His seel shulde not be sent to deceyue the peple."
Piers Plowman, Prologue, 68-79.
preaching. This was repeated by successive popes; it came to be embodied in the canon law, and was customarily included in the enumeration of duties recited in the commissions issued to inquisitors. A tithe of the energy shown in hunting down Waldenses and Spirituals would have effectually suppressed the worst features of this shameful traffic, but that energy was wholly lacking. In all the annals of the Inquisition I have met with but a single case, occurring in 1289, when Berenger Pomilli was brought before the inquisitor Guillaume de Saint-Seine. He was a married clerk of Narbonne, who stated that for thirty years he had followed the trade of quæstuarius in the dioceses of Narbonne, Carcassonne, and elsewhere, collecting the alms of the pious for the building of churches, bridges, and other objects. He was wont to preach to the people during the celebration of mass, and confessed to telling the most outrageous lies--that the cross which Christ carried to the place of crucifixion was so heavy that it would be a burden for ten men; that when the Virgin stood at the foot of the cross it bent over so that she kissed the Saviour's hands and feet, after which it arose again, and many fables concerning purgatory and the liberation of souls--the latter, which were the real frauds of his trade, being prudently suppressed in the official report of his confession. A question as to his belief in these stories revealed to him his danger, for to admit it would have been to stamp himself a heretic. He humbly replied that he knew that he had been habitually uttering lies, but he told them to move the hearts of his hearers to liberality, and he at once begged to be penanced. What penance was awarded him does not appear. *
That trials of this sort were rare is evident from the complaint of the Council of Vienne, in 1311, that these vagabonds were in the habit of granting plenary indulgences to those who made donations to the churches which they represented, of dispensing from vows, of absolving for perjury, homicide, and other crimes, of relieving their benefactors from a portion of any penance assigned them, or the souls of their relations from purgatory, and granting immediate admission to paradise. All this was forbidden for the future, but the Inquisition was no longer relied upon to coerce the par-
* C. xi. § 2 Sexto v. ii.--Bern. Guidon. Practica P. v. (Ed. Douais, p. 199).-Eymeric, pp. 107, 564.--Coll. Doat, XXVI. 314.
doners to obedience; the bishops were ordered to take the matter in hand and punish the evil-doers. They proved as inefficient as might have been expected. The abuse continued until it became the proximate cause of the Reformation, after which the Council of Trent abolished the profession of pardoner, avowedly because it was the occasion of great scandal among the faithful, and that all efforts to reform it had proved useless. *
More important was the nonfeasance of the Inquisition with respect to simony. This was the corroding cancer of the Church throughout the whole of the Middle Ages--the source whence sprang almost all the evils with which she afflicted Christendom. From the highest to the lowest, from the pope to the humblest parish priest, the curse was universal. Those who had only the sacraments to sell made a trade of them. Those whose loftier position gave them command of benefices and preferment, of dispensations and of justice, had no shame in offering their wares in open market, and preferment thus obtained filled the Church with mercenary and rapacious men whose sole object was to swell their purses by extortion and to find enjoyment in ignoble vices. Berthold of Ratisbon, about the middle of the thirteenth century, preaches that simony is the worst of sins, worse than homicide, adultery, perjury, but it now so crazes men that they think through it to serve God. † Instinctively all eyes turned to the Holy See as the source and fountain of all these evils. A quaint popular satire, current in the thirteenth century, shows how keenly this was felt:
"Here beginneth the Gospel according to the silver Marks. In those days the pope said to the Romans: When the Son of Man shall come to the throne of our majesty, first say to him: Friend, why comest thou? And if he continue to knock, giving you nothing, ye shall cast him into outer darkness. And it came to pass that a certain poor clerk came to the court of the lord pope and cried out, saying: Have mercy on me, ye gate-keepers of the pope, for the hand of poverty hath touched me. I am poor and hungry, I pray you to help my misery. Then were they wroth and said: Friend, thy poverty perish with thee; get thee behind me Satan, for thou knowest not the odor of money. Verily, verily, I say unto thee that thou shalt not enter into the joy of thy Lord until thou hast given thy last farthing.
* 2Clement. V. ix.--Concil. Senonens. ann. 1485, Art. II. c. 8 (D'Achery, I. 758). --C. Trident. Sess. xxi. De Reform. c. 9.
† Bertholdi a Ratispona Sermones, Monachii, 1882, p. 93.
"Then the poor man went away and sold his cloak and his coat and all that he had, and gave it to the cardinals and gate-keepers and chamberlains. But they said: What is this among so many? And they east him beyond the gates, and he wept bitterly and could find nought to comfort him. Then came to the court a rich clerk, fat and broad and heavy, who in his wrath had slain a man. First he gave to the gate-keeper, then to the chamberlain, then to the cardinals; and they thought they were about to receive more. But the lord pope, hearing that the cardinals and servants had many gifts from the clerk, fell sick unto death. Then unto him the sick man sent an electuary of gold and silver, and straightway he was cured. Then the lord pope called unto him the cardinals and servants, and said unto them: Brethren, take heed that no one seduce you with empty words. I set you an example; even as I take, so shall ye take." *
Vainly the intrepid energy and inflexible will of Hildebrand in the eleventh century strove to extirpate the ineradicable curse. It only grew wider and deeper as the Church extended its powers and centralized them in the Holy See. Simony was recognized in the canon law as a heresy, punishable as heresy with perpetual seclusion, and as such was justiciable by the Inquisition. With that organization at the command of the Holy See the untiring energy which through so many generations pursued the Cathari and Waldenses could in time have cured this spreading ulcer and purified the Church, but the Inquisition was never instructed to
* Carmina Burana, Breslau, 1883, pp. 22-3.--This was a favorite theme with the poetasters of the time--
Cardinales ut prædixi -- Petrus foris, intus Nero,
novo jure crucifixi -- intus lupus, foris vero
vendunt patrimoniam. -- sicut agni ovium"
(Ib. p. 18),
and this pervaded the whole Church --
cum sit nugatoria
--(Ib. p. 41).
The honest Franciscan, John of Winterthur, attributed all the evils which oppressed the Church to its venality--
"Ecclesiam nummus vilem fecit meretricem,
Nam pro mercede scortum dat se cupieuti.
Nummus cuncta facit nil bene justitia,
Cunctis prostituens pro munere seque venalem,
Singula facta negat vel agit pro stipite solo;
Divino zelo nulla fere peragit."
Vitodurani Chron. ann. 1343.
prosecute simoniacs, and there is no trace in its records that it ever volunteered to do so. In fact, had any overzealous official attempted such uncalled-for work he would speedily have been brought to his scenses, for simony was not only the direct source of profit to the curia in the sale of preferment, but indirectly so in the sale of dispensations to those who had incurred its disabilities. It seems almost a contradiction in terms to speak of the Holy See issuing dispensations for heresy, and yet this was habitual. Legates and nuncios, when despatched abroad, were empowered to gather a harvest among the faithful by issuing dispensations for all manner of disabilities and irregularities, and among these simony is conspicuously noted. This ceased when John XXII. systematized the sale of absolutions and drew everything to the papal penitentiary, when pardon for simony in a layman could be had for six grossi, in a cleric for seven, and in a monk for eight. It is easy to see why the Inquisition was not used to suppress a heresy so profitable in every aspect. Indeed, while under the canon law it was held to be a heresy, yet it was practically never treated as such. Guillaume Durand, in his Speculum Juris, written in 1271, gives formulas for the accusation, by private individuals, of simoniacal bishops and priests and monks, but neither he nor his numerous commentators make the slightest allusion to it as subject to the procedure against heresy. *
* C. 7, 20, 21 Decr. P. II. Caus. 1, Q. 1.--Th. Aquin. Summ. Sec. Sec. Q. 100, Art. 1.--Gloss. Bernardi; Gloss. Hostiens. (Eymeric. pp. 138, 143, 165).--Eymeric. p. 318.--Berger, Registres d'Inn. IV. No. 2977, 3010, 4668, 4718.-- Thomas, Reg. de Boniface VIII. No. 547, 554, 557-8, 644, 726, 747.--Taxæ Sac. Pœnitent. Ed. Friedrichs, p. 35; Ed. Gibbings, p. 3 (cf. Van Espen, Dissert. in Jus Canon. noviss. P. III. p. 699).--Durandi Specul. Juris Lib. IV. Partic. iv. Rubr. de Simonia.
Clement IV. was exceptional in seeking to repress the acquisitiveness of the curia. When, in 1266, Jean de Courtenai was elected Archbishop of Reims, and encumbered his see with a debt of twelve thousand livres to pay the Sacred College, Clement promptly excommunicated him and summoned him to reveal the names of all who participated in the spoils. Yet Clement had no scruple in following the example of his predecessor, Urban IV., in the negotiations which resulted in the crusade of Charles of Anjou against Manfred. Simon, Cardinal of S. Cecilia, sent to France for the purpose, was furnished with special powers to dispense for defects of age or birth or other irregularities in the acquisition of benefices, for holding pluralities, and for marriage within the prohibited grades,
It would be impossible to exaggerate the corruption which from this cause interpenetrated every fibre of the. Church, filling benefices with ignorant and worldly men, eager to wring from the unfortunates committed to their cure the sums with which they had bought the preferment. Stephen Paleez, in a sermon preached before the Council of Constance, declares that there is scarce a church in Christendom free from the stain of simony, owing to the desperate struggle of all kinds of men to obtain the honors, wealth, and luxury attending an ecclesiastical preferment, and resulting in the promotion of the ignorant, weak, and wicked, who could not find employment as shepherds or swineherds. So unblushing was the venality of the Holy See that dialecticians and jurists of high authority seriously argued that the pope could not commit simony. This is scarce surprising when popes were found who could do a sharp stroke of business, like Boniface IX. In want of money to pay his troopers and defray the cost of his vast buildings, he suddenly deposed nearly all the prelates who chanced to be at the papal court, and many absent ones, or he translated them to titular sees, and then sold to the highest bidder the places thus vacated. Many unlucky ones, who were unable to buy back their preferment, wandered around the court without bread to eat, and the confusion and discord caused in many provinces was indescribable. Theodore a Niem, to whom we are indebted for this fact, was himself a papal official for thirty-five years, and knew whereof he spoke when he compared the splendid liberality of the German prelates with the stingy avarice of the Italians, who gave nothing in charity, but bent their whole energies to enriching themselves and their families. But when they die, he says, the collectors of the apostolic camera seize the whole spoil, and through this depredation and rapine it would be impossible to exaggerate the destruction of the Italian cathedrals and monasteries, which are left almost tenantless. As for the camera itself, its officials have hard heads and stony bosoms, and hearts more impenetrable to mercy than steel itself. They are as pitiless to Christians as Turks or Tartars could be, stripping all newly pro-
and was instructed to distribute these favors so as to remove obstacles to the enterprise ( Urbani PP. IV. Epistt. 32-35, 40, 64-5, 68; Clement. PP. IV. Epistt. 8, 19, 20, 41, 383.--ap. Martene Thesaur. II.).
moted prelates of everything. If the latter cannot pay their demands, forbearance for a time is sold at an immoderate price under terrible oaths, and if anything has been kept back for the expenses of the homeward journey it is extorted, so that whoever escapes from their clutches can truly say, Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator. If you go there to pay a thousand florins and a single one is light, you are not allowed to depart till you have replaced it with a heavier one, or made good in silver twice the deficiency. And if, within a year, the promised sum is not paid, the bishop becomes a simple priest again, and the abbot a simple monk. Never satiated, the proper place of these officials is with the infernal furies, with the harpies, and with the unsatisfied Tantalus. Poggio, who was papal secretary for forty years, describes the applicants for preferment as worthy of these officials. They were idle, ignorant, sordid men, useless for all good purposes, who hung around the curia, clamoring for benefices or any other favor which they could get. Another papal official tells us that Boniface IX. filled the German sees with unfit and useless persons, for he who paid the most obtained the preferment. Many paid ten times more than it had cost their predecessors, for some archbishoprics fetched forty thousand florins, others sixty thousand, and others eighty thousand. *
* Von der Hardt, I. XVI. 841.--D'Argentré I. II. 228.--Theod. a Niem de Schismate Lib. II. c. xiv.; Ejusd. Nemor. Unionis Tract. VI. c. 36, 107, 39.-Poggii Bracciol. Dialogus contra Hypocrisim.--Gobelini Personm Cosmodrom. Æt. V. c. 85.
The question as to the possibility of a pope committing simony was long under discussion. At the Council of Lyons, in 1245, Guiard, Bishop of Cambrai, was asked by a cardinal if he believed it possible, when he rendered a most emphatic answer in the affirmative (Th. Cantimprat. Bonum Universale, Lib. II. c. 2). Thomas Aquinas not only asserts it, but adds that the higher the position of the offender the greater the sin (Summ. Sec. Sec. Q. 100, Art. 1, No. 7). Yet the venality of the Holy See was too notorious for concealment, and arguments were framed to prove that the pope had a right to sell preferments, for which see the Aureum Speculugn Papa, P. II. c. 1, written in 1404, under Boniface IX., and the laborious effort of William of Ockham to controvert the assertion. The ingenious methods of the curia to extract the last penny from applicants are described in P. J. C. V. of the Speculum. The author has no hesitation in pronouncing the curia to be in a state of damnation (Fascic. Rer. Expetend. et Fugiend. II. 63, 70, 81, 461). All who deplored the condition of the Church instinctively turned to the Holy See as the source of corruption and demoralization. Nothing can well
It was in vain that Gerson proved that the papal demand of first-fruits of preferments was simony. It was in vain that the councils of Constance and of Siena complained and protested, and that of Basle endeavored to frame reformatory regulations. Equally vain was the attempt of Charles VII. and the Emperor Albert II. in the Pragmatic Sanctions of 1438, against the protests of Eugenius IV., to declare the annates and first-fruits to be simony. The papal system was too strong for its grasp to be thrown off, and up to the time of the Reformation simony continued to be the all-pervading curse. *
In addition to this source of infection from above there was an equally potent cause of demoralization from below in the immunity enjoyed by the clergy from secular jurisdiction. Not only were the people scandalized by seeing clerical homicides and criminals of all sorts set free after the mockery of a trial in the ecclesiastical courts, but the impunity thus enjoyed drew into the ranks of the Church hosts of vile and worthless men, who sought in the tonsure security from justice. †
Under such a system it is easy to conceive the character of the prelates and priests with which the Church was everywhere afflicted.
be conceived more terrible than the account of it given about this time by Cardinal Matthew of Krokow in his tract De Squaloribus Romanæ Curiæ (Ib. II. 584-607).
* Gersoni Tract. de Symonia.--D'Argentré I. II. 234.--Goldast. Constit. Imp. I. 402.
In La déploration de l'Église militante of Jean Boucher, in 1512, simony is described as the chief source of trouble--
"Ceste sixte gloute et insatiable
Du sanctuaire elle a fait ung estable,
Et de mes loys coustume abhominable.
Ha, ha, mauldicte et fausse symonic!
Tu ne cessas jamais de m'infester . . . .
Pour ung courtault on baille ung bénéfice;
Pour ung baiser ou aultre malefice
Quelque champis aura ung evesché;
Pour cent escus quelque meschant novice,
Plein de luxure et de tout aultre vice,
De dignitez sera tout empesché."
(Bull. de la Soc. de l'Hist. du Prot. Frangais, 1856, pp. 268-9).
† Vaissette, Éd. Privat, X. Pr. 242, 254.--See the author's "Studies in Church History," 2 Ed. pp. 210 sqq.
Making some allowance for rhetorical enthusiasm, the invective of Nicholas de Clemangis must be received as true. As for the bishops, he says, as they have to spend all the money they can raise to obtain their sees, they devote themselves exclusively to extortion, neglecting wholly their pastoral duties and the spiritual welfare of their flocks; and if, by chance, one of them happens to pay attention to such subjects, he is despised as unworthy of his order. Preaching'is regarded as disgraceful. All preferment and all sacerdotal functions are sold, as well as every episcopal ministration, laying on of hands, confession, absolution, dispensation; and this is openly defended, as they say they have not received gratis, and are not bound to give gratis. The only benefices bestowed without payment are to their bastards and jugglers. Their jurisdiction is turned equally to account.
The greatest criminals can purchase pardon, while their proctors trump up charges against innocent rustics which have to be compounded. Citations under excommunication, delays and repeated citations, are employed, until the most obstinate is worn out and forced to settle, with enormous charges added to the original trifling fine. Men prefer to live under the most cruel tyrants rather than undergo the judgments of the bishops. Absenteeism is the rule. Many of the bishops never see their dioceses; and these are more useful than those who reside, for the latter contaminate their people by their evil example. As no examination is made into the lives of aspirants to the priesthood, but only as to their ability to pay the stipulated price, the Church is filled with ignorant and immoral men. Few are able to read. They haunt the taverns and brothels, consuming time and substance in eating, drinking, and gambling; they quarrel, fight, and blaspheme, and hasten to the altar from the embraces of their concubines. Canons are no better; since, for the most part, they have bought exemption from episcopal jurisdiction, they commit all sorts of crimes and scandals with impunity. As for monks, they specially avoid all to which their vows oblige them--chastity, and obedience--and are licentious and undisciplined vagabonds. The Mendicants, who pretend to make amends for the neglect of duty by the secular clergy, are pharisees and wolves in sheep's clothing. With incredible eagerness and infinite deceit they seek everywhere for temporal gain; they abandon themselves beyond all other men to the pleas- ures of the flesh, feasting and drinking, and polluting all things with their burninng lusts. As for the nuns, modesty forbids the description of the nunneries, which are mere brothels; so that to take the veil is equivalent to becoming a public prostitute. *
We might suspect this to be the exaggeration of a soured ascetic if it were not for the unanimous testimony of all who describe the condition of the Church from the thirteenth century on. When St. Bonaventura defended the Mendicants against the charge of assailing, in their sermons, the vices of the secular clergy, he denied their doing so for the reason that any such arraignment would be superfluous; and, moreover, that if they were to unveil the full turpitude of the clerical class these would all be expelled, and there would be no hope of seeing their places more worthily filled, for the bishops would not select virtuous men. To do so, moreover, would deprive the people of all faith in the Church, and heresy would become uncontrollable. In another tract he declares that almost all priests were legally incapable of performing their functions, either through the simony attendant on their ordination or through the commission of crimes entailing suspension and deprivation. It was not infrequent, he says, for priests to persuade women that there was no sin in intercourse with a clerk. †
In 1305 Frederic of Trinacria, in a confidential letter to his brother, Jayme II. of Aragon, says that he has been led to doubt whether the Gospel was divine revelation or human invention, for three reasons. The first is the character of the secular clergy, especially of the bishops, abbots, and other prelates, who are detitute of all spiritual life, and are pestiferous in their influence through the public display of their wickedness. The second reason is the character of the regular clergy, and especially of the Mendicants, whose morals and lives stupefy all observers; they are so alienated from God that they justify the seculars and the laity by the comparison; their wickedness is so notorious that he fears that some day the people will rise against them, for they bring infection into every house which they frequent. The third
* Nic. de Clemangis de Ruina Ecclesiæ, cap. xix.-xxxvi.
† S. Bonaventuræ Libell. Apologet. Quæst i.; Tractatus quare Fr. Minores prædicent.
reason is the negligence of the Holy See, which of old, as we are told, used to send legates through the kingdoms to look after the condition of religion; but now this is never done, and they are sent only for worldly objects. We see, he says, that it labors without ceasing to slay schismatics, but we never see it solicitous to convert them. The eloquence of Arnaldo de Vilanova was required to persuade Frederic that all this was compatible with the truth of Christianity, and he undertook to introduce a reformation in his own kingdom, commencing with himself. *
Marsiglio of Padua may be a suspected witness when he assumes, as a universally recognized fact, the corruption of the mass of ecclesiastics. They despoiled the poor, they were insatiable in their greed, and what they wrung from their flocks was wasted in debauchery. Boys, unlettered men, unknown persons, were promoted to benefices, and the bishops, by their example, carried to destruction more souls than they saved by their teaching. But his contemporary, Alvaro Pelayo, the Franciscan penitentiary of John XXII., is beyond suspicion, and he describes the Church of his time as completely secularized. There is no act of secular of his time as completely secularized. There is no act of secular life in which priests and monks are not busy. As for the prelates, he can only compare them to the fabled Lamia, with a human head and the body of a beast--a monstrous fury which tears its own offspring to pieces and destroys all within its reach. The prelates, he says, give no teaching to their people, but flay and rend them. The bread due to the poor is lavished on jesters and dogs. Faith and justice have abandoned the earth; there is no humanity or kindness; the voracious flame of wrath and envy destroys the Church and skins the poor with fraud and simony. Scripture and the canons are regarded as fables. Through the iniquity of the priests and prelates the evils gather, for they publicly pervert the law, they render false judgments, they add blood to blood, for many perish through their frauds and machinations. They gloss and declare the law as they choose. The doctors and prelates and priests shed the blood of the just. They take the broad path that leads to destruction, and will not enter, nor permit others to enter, the narrow way that conducts to eternal life. This description is fully borne out by a letter of Benedict XII. to
* Pelayo, Heterodoxos Españoles, I. 721-3, 735-6.
the Archbishop of Narbonne, describing the utter demoralization of the clergy of his province, so lately purified of heresy by the tireless labors of the Inquisition. *
Benedict's well-intentioned effort at reformation was fruitless, and after his death matters only became worse, if possible. Under Clement VI. vices of all kinds flourished more luxuriantly than ever. In 1351 a Carmelite, preaching before the pope and cardinals, inveighed against their turpitude in terms which terrified every one, and caused his immediate dismissal. Shortly afterwards a letter was affixed to the portals of the churches addressed to the pope and his cardinals. It was signed Leviathan, Prince of Darkness, and was dated in the centre of hell. He saluted his vicar the pope and his servants the cardinals, with whose help he had overcome Christ; he commended them for all their vices, and sent them the good wishes of their mother, Pride, and their sisters, Avarice, Lust, and the rest, who boast of their well-being through their help. Clement was sorely moved, and fell dangerously sick, but the writer was never discovered. When Clement died, the next year, a majority of the cardinals were disposed to cast their votes for Jean Birel, Prior of the Grande Chartreuse, but the Cardinal of Périgord warned them that their favorite had such zeal for the Church, and was a man of such justice, equity, and disregard of persons, that he would speedily bring them back to their ancient condition, and that in four months their coursers would be converted into beasts of burden. Frightened at this prospect, they incontinently elected Innocent VI. †
These stories are verified by Petrarch's descriptions of the papal court at Avignon, wherein even his glowing rhetoric fails to satisfy the vehemence of his indignation, while the details which he gives to justify his ardor are unfit to repeat. It is the Western Babylon, and nothing which is told of Assyria or Egypt, or even of Tartarus, can equal it, for all such are fables by comparison. Here you find Nimrod and Semiramis, Minos and Rhadamanthus, Cerberus consuming all things, Pasiphaë under the bull, and
* Marsil. Patav. Defensor Pacis II. xi. Cf. cap. xxiii., xxiv.--Alvar. Pelag. de Planet. Eccles. Lib. II. Art. vii.--Baluz. et Mansi, III. 24-5.
† Chron. Glassberger ann. 1335.--Albert. Argentinens. Chron. ann. 1351.-Hist. Ordin. Carthus. (Martene Ampl. Coll. VI. 187).
her offspring, the monster Minotaur. Here you see confusion, blackness, and horror. It is not a city, but a den of spectres and goblins, the common sink of all vices, the hell of the living. Here God is despised, money is worshipped, the laws are trodden under foot, the good are ridiculed till there scarce is one left to be laughed at. A deluge is necessary, but there would be no Noah, no Deucalion to survive it. Avignon is the woman clothed in purple and scarlet, holding the golden bowl of her abominations and the uncleanness of her fornications. He returns to the subject again and again with undiminished wrath, and he casually alludes to one of the cardinals as a man of a nobler soul, who might have been good had he not belonged to the sacred college. The mocking spirit of Boccaccio is equally outspoken. From the highest to the lowest, every one in the papal court is abandoned to the most abominable vices. The sight of it converts a Jew, for he argues that Christianity must be of God, seeing that it spreads and flourishes in spite of the wickedness of its head.*
Gregory XI. was the fiercest persecutor of heresy in the fourteenth century, incessantly active against Brethren of the Free Spirit, Waldenses, and Fraticelli. He could boast that even as his namesake and prototype, Gregory IX., had founded the Inquisition, so he had restored it and had extended it into Germany. Yet, with all this zeal for compelling unity of faith, St. Birgitta was divinely commissioned to convey to him this message from the Lord:
"Hear, O Gregory XI., the words I say to thee, and give unto them diligent attention! Why dost thou hate me so? Why are thy audacity and presumption so great against me that thy worldly court destroys my heavenly one? Proudly thou despoilest me of my sheep. The wealth of the Church which is mine, and the goods of the faithful of the Church, thou extortest and seizest, and givest to thy worldly friends. Thou takest unjustly the store of the poor and lavishest it without shame on thy worldly friends. What have I done to thee, O Gregory? Patiently have I suffered thee to rise to the high-priesthood, and I have foretold to thee my will by letters divinely sent to thee, warning thee of
* Petrarchi Lib. sine Titulo Epistt. vii., viii., ix., xii., xvi.--Decamerone, Giorn. I. Nov. 2.
Petrarch wrath at the papal court is explicable if there is truth in the disgusting story alleged in explanation of the enigmatical allusions in his Canzonexxii.--"Mai non vo' più cantar com' io soleva."
the salvation of thy soul, and reproaching thy recklessness. How then dost thou repay my many favors? Why in thy court dost thou suffer unchecked the foulest pride, insatiable avarice, wantonness execrable to me, and all-devouring simony? Moreover, thou dost seize and carry away from me innumerable souls, for well-nigh all who go to thy court thou plungest into the fire of hell. . . . . Gird up thy loins, then, and fear not. Arise and bravely seek to reform the Church which I have purchased with my blood, and it will be restored to its former state, though now a brothel is more respected than it is. If thou dost not obey my command, know verily that thou wilt be condemned, and every devil of hell will have a morsel of thy soul, immortal and inconsumable."
In another vision St. Birgitta was ordered to represent to the pope the deplorable state of all orders of the clergy. Priests were rather pimps of the devil than clerks of God. The monasteries were well-nigh abandoned, mass was only celebrated in them intermittently, while the monks resided in their houses and had no shame in acknowledging their offspring, or wandered around, frequently clad in armor under their frocks. The doors of the nunneries were open night and day, and they were rather brothels than holy retreats. Such is the burden of St. Birgitta's repeated revelations, and nothing that Wickliff or Huss could say of the depravity of the clergy could exceed the bitterness of her denunciation. *
The inspiration of St. Catharine of Siena was equally outspoken. In her letters to Gregory XI., Urban VI., and the dignitaries who listened respectfully to her enunciations of the voice of God, her constant theme is the corruption of every rank in the hierarchy and the immediate necessity for reform. To Gregory she announces that God will sharply rebuke him if he does not cleanse the Church of its impurities; God demands of him to cast aside lukewarmness and fear, and to become another man, that he may eradicate the abundance of its iniquity. To Urban she says that it is not possible for him to put an end to the evil everywhere committed throughout Christendom, and especially by the clergy, but at least he can do what lies within his power. The prelates she describes as caring for nothing but pleasure and ambition; they
St. Birgitta was canonized in 1391 by Boniface IX., and I after the Schism was healed this was confirmed in 1419 by Martin IV. Both popes ascribe her revelations to the Holy Ghost.
* Revelat. S. Brigittæ Lib. I. c. 41; Lib. IV. c. 33, 37, 142.
are infernal demons carrying off the souls of their subjects, they are wolves and traffickers in the divine grace. As for the priests, they are the exact opposites of what they should be, injuring all who come in contact with them; all their lives are corrupt, and they are not worthy to be called men, but, rather, beasts, wallowing in filth and indulging in all the wickedness craved by their bestial appetites; they are not guardians of souls, but devourers, delivering them up to the Wolf of Hell. * All these warnings fell upon deaf ears, and the Church, during the Great Schism, plunged, if possible, deeper into the pit of abominations.
In 1386 Telesforo, the hermit of Cosenza, could only explain the Schism by the wealth and worldliness of the clergy, whom God could only reform by stripping them of their temporalities and thus forcing them to live according to the gospel. Although Henry of Hesse disputed the prophetic gifts of Telesforo, he, too, had no hesitation in ascribing the. Schism to the simony, avarice, pride, luxury, and vanity of the Church, and he can only explain it by God sometimes in his wrath allowing his servants to act according to their own evil desires. Even should the Schism be healed, he can only look forward to the Church falling from bad to worse until the coming of Antichrist. This he anticipates speedily, for all the prophetic signs are present in the extreme iniquity of the world. The insatiable avarice and ambition of clergy and laity will lead them to support any one who promises them worldly advantage, and they will unite in aiding Antichrist to conquer the world. Bad as were the attacks of heresy, he says, the peace now enjoyed by the Church after overcoming the heretics is even worse, for in it the evil spirits succeed in excluding virtues and substituting vices--a significant admission from an enthusiastic churchman of the result of the labors of the Inquisition. †
Henry wrote a letter to the princes of the Church in the name of Lucifer, Prince of Darkness and Emperor of Acheron, similar to that which agitated Clement VI. in 1351 ( Pez, Dissert. p. lxxix.).
* Epistole della Santa Caterina da Siena, Lett. 9, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 21, 35, 38, 39, 41, 44, 50, 91, etc. ( Milano, 1843).
† Telesphori de magnis Tribulationibus (Venet. 1516, fol. 11).--Henrici de Hassia Lib. contra Thelesphori Vaticinia c. i., ii., x., xx., xxxvi., xxxvii., xli., xlii., ( Pez, Thesaur. Anecd. T. I. P.11.).
These deplorable statements are confirmed by the supplication of the Council of Pisa in 1409 to Alexander V., and by the reformers who gathered around the Council of Constance in hopes of seeing it fulfil its functions of purifying the Church in its head and members--John Gerson, Cardinal d' Ailly, Cardinal Zabarella, Bernhardus Baptizatus, Theodoric Vrie. I have already quoted Nicholas de Clemangis, and need only say that the others were equally outspoken and equally full of detail, while the reformatory projects drawn up for consideration by the council are eloquent as to the evils which they were designed to remove. At first Sigismund and the Germans, with the French and English nations, were united in demanding that reformation should precede the election of a pope in place of the deposed John XXIII., but the close alliance formed between Sigismund and Henry V. alienated the French; by a skilful use of this they were won over, and the prospects of reform grew so desperate that Sigismund seriously contemplated seizing all the cardinals, as the main obstacle to the wished-for action, and removing them from Constance. On learning this, far from yielding, they put on their red hats and wore them in the streets as a token of their readiness to undergo martyrdom, and a paper was drawn up stigmatizing the English and Germans as Wickliffites and Hussites. The Germans responded in a vigorous protest, officially describing the condition of the Church in terms as decided as those employed by Nicholas de Clemangis. For this state of things they hold the Holy See solely responsible, for they date back these abuses to a time, a century and a half before, when the increasing pretensions of the curia enabled it to infect all Christendom with its vices, and they allude with special horror to the use of the papal penitentiary, worse than ordinary simony, whereby crimes were taxed in proportion to their heinousness and villainous traffic was made in sin. The Church, they concluded, had forfeited the reverence of the laity, which regarded it with contempt, as rather Antichristian than Christian. The steadfast attitude of the Germans, however, was weakened by the death of their strongest ally, Robert Hallam, Bishop of Salisbury, and two of Sigismund's most trusted prelates were bribed to betray the cause. The Archbishop of Riga, who was tired of his constant quarrels with the Teutonic knights, was promised the rich bishopric of Liège, and the Bishop of Coire was promised the archbishopric of Riga. The opposition crumbled away, and Martin V. was elected. The French quickly saw their mistake, and appealed to Sigismund, who curtly referred them to the pope whom they had chosen, and who now had full power of granting or refusing reform. The council hurriedly adjourned after passing a few canons of little worth, and providing for a succession of general councils at short intervals. *
We have seen how reform was skilfully eluded at the Council of Siena in 1424. At Basle it fared no better. In 1435 Andreas, Bishop of Minorca, addressed to the Cardinal-legate Cesarini an exhortation in which he said, "Evils, sins, and scandals have so increased, especially among the clergy, that, as the prophet says, already accursed lying and theft, and adultery and simony, and murder and many other crimes have deluged the earth. . . . The avarice and lust of domination and the foul and abominable lives of the ecclesiastics are the cause of all the misfortunes of Christendom. The infidel and the heretic say that if the Christian faith and gospel law were true and holy, the prelates and priests would not live as they do, nor would the spiritual rulers work such confusion and scandal in Christendom without instant punishment from the Lord Jesus Christ, the founder of the gospel and the Church." Bishop Andreas further urged that the council condemn by an irrefragable decision the impious doctrine of some canonists that the pope cannot commit simony. Two years later, in 1437, John Nider, the Dominican, declared that the general reformation of the Church was hopeless, on account of the wickedness of the prelates and the lack of good-will of the clergy. Partial reforms might be practicable, but even in this the difficulty was almost insuperable. The council, he said, in its six years of existence had been unable to reform a single nunnery, although aided by all the force of the secular power. †
The council, indeed, attempted some reformation, but Eugenius IV. and his successors refused to observe its canons. Even in Germany and France the old abuses were reinstated, with their de-
* Libellus Supplex oblatus Papæ in Concilio Pisano (Martene Ampl. Coll. VII. 1124-32).--Von der Hardt, IV.1414, 1417-18, 1422-3, 1426-7, 1432.--Rymer, X. 433-6.--Gobelini Personæ Cosmodrom. Æt. VI. cap. 96.
† Andreæ Gubernac. Concil. P. II., III., V. cap. 2 ( Von der Hardt, VI, 175, 179, 209).--Nideri Formicar. Lib. I. c. vii.
plorable consequences. The writers of the period are as emphatic as their predecessors in describing the superabounding and universal turpitude of the Church during the remainder of the century. That they do not exaggerate may be assumed from one or two instances. In 1459 there died at Arras, at the age of eighty, Nicaise le Vasseur, canon and head of the chapter of Arras. He not only had daughters and committed incest with them, but also with a daughter-granddaughter whom he had by one of them. Yet so blunted was the moral sense of Church and people that, as we are told, this monster officiated "très honorablement" in divine service on all feasts and holidays, and the only comment of the chronicler is that he did it most becomingly. When, in 1474, the death of Sixtus IV. was received in Rome with a pæan of joy, people commented not so much upon his selling benefices to the highest bidder and his other devices of extorting money, as upon the manner in which he rewarded the boys who served his unnatural lusts by granting to them rich bishoprics and archbishoprics. Under such men as Innocent VIII. and Alexander VI., there could only be deeper degradation expected. Julius II. was a condottiere rather than a priest; but when political exigencies led him to summon the Lateran Council, earnest souls like Jacob Wimpfeling permitted themselves to hope that he would set bounds to the moral plague which pervaded all the churches. When he died, and Leo X. conducted the labors of the assembled fathers, Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola addressed him an epistle describing the evils for which reformation was requisite. It is a repetition of the old complaints. The worship of God was neglected, the churches were held by pimps and catamites; the nunneries were dens of prostitution, justice was a matter of hatred or favor; piety was lost in superstition; the priesthood was bought and sold; the revenues of the Church ministered only to the foulest excesses, and the people were repelled from religion by the example of their pastors, The author of a little anonymous tract printed about the year 1500 feels obliged to prove by laborious citations that fornication is forbidden to the clergy, and he attributes the contempt generally entertained for the Church to the openly scandalous lives of its members. To appreciate fully the effect on the popular mind of this degradation of the Church, we must keep in view the supernatural powers claimed and exercised by the priesthood, which made it the arbiter of every man's destiny, for salvation depended not so much on individual desert as on the ministrations of those who controlled the sacraments. How benumbing was this influence on the moral faculties is visible in the confession of Anna Miolerin, one of the Tyrolese witches burned in 1506, where the spread of witchcraft is attributed to the sensual and drunken priests who are unable to confess their penitents properly, or to baptize children, so that the latter, unprotected by the sacrament, are easily betrayed to Satan. The priests, she says, ought to baptize children reverently and repeat all the words of the ceremony. *
As for monasticism, Abbot Trithemius gives us a vigorous sketch of its demoralization. The great Benedictine Order, the mother and exemplar of the rest, had been founded on a wise and comprehensive system, including productive labor in the fields and religious observances in the houses: but he tells us that the monks when abroad were idle and vain, and when inside the walls were abandoned to carnal delights, with nothing of decorous to show but the habit, and even this was mostly neglected. No one thought of enforcing the forgotten discipline. The monasteries had become stables for clerks, or fortresses for fighting-men, or markets for traders, or brothels for strumpets, in which the greatest of crimes was to live without sin. The abbots thought of nothing but of satisfying their appetites and vanities, their lusts, their ambition, and their avarice, while the brethren were monks only in name, and were vessels of wrath and sin. A confirmatory glimpse at the interior life of these establishments is afforded by Angelus Rumpherus, elected Abbot of Formbach in 1501, in his account of his immediate predecessor, Leonhard, who had ruled the abbey since 1474. He was especially fond of using torture, of which he had infinite ingenious varieties at his service. Unable to endure his tyranny, a monk named Engelschalk, a man of good natural parts and disposition, fled, but was taken sick and brought back. He
* Fascic. Rer. Expetend. et, Fugiend. I. 68, 417; II. 105 (Ed. 1690).--Herm. Ryd de Reen de Vita Clericor. (Ib. II. 142).--Mém. de Jacques du Clercq, Liv. III. ch. 43.--Steph. Infessuræ Diar. Urb. Roman. ann. 1474 (Eccard. Corp. Hist. II. 1939).--Wimpfeling de vita et moribus Episcoporum, Argentorati, 1512.--De Munditia et Castitate Sacerdotum (sine nota, sed Parisiis c. 1500).-- Rapp, Die Hexenprocesse und ihre Gegner aus Tirol, p. 148.
was thrown into the dungeon of the abbey, a building without light and ventilation, except a narrow slit through which to pass in food. Here he died, without even the viaticum, his request for a confessor being refused, and when, as he was dying, the abbot and some of the monks entered, the blood flowed copiously from his nose, showing that they were his murderers. *
Under the guidance of a Church such as this, the moral condition of the laity was unutterably depraved. Uniformity of faith had been enforced by the Inquisition and its methods, and so long as faith was preserved, crime and sin were comparatively unimportant except as a source of revenue to those who sold absolution. As Theodoric Vrie tersely puts it, hell and purgatory would be emptied if enough money could be found. The artificial standard thus created is seen in a revelation of the Virgin to St. Birgitta, that a pope who was free from heresy, no matter how polluted by sin and vice, is not so wicked but that he has the absolute power to bind and loose souls. There are many wicked popes plunged in hell, but all their lawful acts on earth are accepted and confirmed by God, and all priests who are not heretics administer true sacraments, no matter how depraved they may be. Correctness of belief was thus the sole essential; virtue was a wholly subordinate consideration. How completely under such a system religion and morals came to be dissociated is seen in the remarks of Pius II. quoted above, that the Franciscans were excellent theologians, but cared nothing about virtue.†
This, in fact, was the direct result of the system of persecution embodied in the Inquisition. Heretics who were admitted to be patterns of virtue were ruthlessly exterminated in the name of Christ, while in the same holy name the orthodox could purchase
* Joann. de Trittenheim Lib. Lugubris de Statu et Ruina Monast. Ord. c. i., iii. --Angeli Rumpheri Hist. Formbach. Lib. 11. ( Pez, I. iii. 446, 451-2).
This is by no means a solitary case. In 1329 the Abbot of La Grasse was by a judgment of the Parlement of Paris deprived for life of haute justice, and the abbey condemned in a fine of thirty thousand livres to the king and six hundred livres damages to victims, for murders committed, illegal tortures, and other crimes. -- A. Molinier, Vaissette, Éd. Privat, IX. 417.
† Gersoni de Reform. Eccles. c. xxiv. ( Von der Hardt, I. v. 125-8). -- Theod. Vrie Hist. Concil. Constant. Lib. IV. Dist. vii.--Revel. S. Brigittæ Lib. VII. cap. vii.
absolution for the vilest of crimes for a few coins. When the only unpardonable offence was persistence in some trifling error of belief, such as the poverty of Christ; when men had before them the example of their spiritual guides as leaders in vice and debauchery and contempt of sacred things, all the sanctions of morality were destroyed and the confusion between right and wrong became hopeless. The world has probably never seen a society more vile than that of Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The brilliant pages of Froissart fascinate us with their pictures of the artificial courtesies of chivalry; the mystic reveries of Rysbroek and of Tauler show us that spiritual life survived in some rare souls, but the mass of the population was plunged into the depths of sensuality and the most brutal oblivion of the moral law. For this Alvaro Pelayo tells us that the priesthood were accountable, and that, in comparison with them, the laity were holy. What was that state of comparative holiness he proceeds to describe, blushing as he writes, for the benefit of confessors, giving a terrible sketch of the universal immorality which nothing could purify but fire and brimstone from heaven. The chroniclers do not often pause in their narrations to dwell on the moral aspects of the times, but Meyer, in his annals of Flanders, under date of 1379, tells us that it would be impossible to describe the prevalence everywhere of perjuries, blasphemies, adulteries, hatreds, quarrels, brawls, murder, rapine, thievery, robbery, gambling, whoredom, debauchery, avarice, oppression of the poor, rape, drunkenness, and similar vices, and he illustrates his statement with the fact that in the territory of Ghent, within the space of ten months, there occurred no less than fourteen hundred murders committed in the bagnios, brothels, gambling-houses, taverns, and other similar places. When, in 1396, Jean sans Peur led his crusaders to destruction at Nicopolis, their crimes and cynical debauchery scandalized even the Turks, and led to the stern rebuke of Bajazet himself, who as the monk of Saint-Denis admits, was much better than his Christian foes. The same writer, moralizing over the disaster of Agincourt, attributes it to the general corruption of the nation. Sexual relations, he says, were an alternation of disorderly lusts and of incest; commerce was nought but fraud and trickery; avarice withheld from the Church her tithes, and ordinary conversation was a succession of blasphemies. The Church, set up by God as a model and protector for the people, was false to all its obligations.
The bishops, through the basest and most criminal of motives, were habitual accepters of persons; they anointed themselves with the last essence extracted from their flocks, and there was in them nothing of holy, of just, of wise, or even of decent. Luke Wadding is a witness above suspicion; his conscientious study of original sources entitles his opinions to weight, and we may accept his description of Italy in the early part of the fifteenth century: "At that time Italy was sunk in vice and wickedness. In the Church there was no devotion, in the laity no faith, no piety, no modesty, no discipline of morals. Every man cursed his neighbor; the factions of Guelf and Ghibelline flooded the streets of the towns with fraternal blood, the roads were closed by robbers, the seas infested with pirates. Parents slew with rejoicing their children who chanced to be of the opposite faction. The world was full of sorcery and incantations; the churches deserted, the gambling-houses filled." The testimony is too uniform to explain it away with the assumption that it represents only the disenchantment of puritanism. Æneas Sylvius was no puritan, and his adventurous life had made him, perhaps, better acquainted with the whole of Christendom than any other man of his time, and in 1453 he says: "It is for this that I dread the Turks. Whether I look upon the deeds of princes or of prelates I find that all have sunk, all are worthless. There is not one who does right, in no one is there pity or truth. There is no recognition of God upon earth; you are Christians in name, but you do the work of heathen. Execration and falsehood and slaughter and theft and adultery are spread among you, and you add blood to blood. What wonder if God, indignant at your acts, places on your necks Mahomet, the leader of the Turks, like another Nebuchadnezzar, for you are either swollen with pride, or rapacious with avarice, or cruel in wrath, or livid with envy, or incestuous in lust, or unsparing in cruelty. There is no shame in crime, for you sin so openly and shamelessly that you seem to take delight in it." To what extent the Church was responsible for this may be judged by the terrible condition of Rome under Innocent VIII. as pictured in the diary of Infessura. Outrages of all kinds were committed with impunity so long as the criminal had wherewith to compound with the papal chancery; and when Cardinal Borgia, the vice-chancellor, was reproached with this, he piously replied that God did not desire the death of the sinner, but that he should pay and live. A census of the public women showed them to number sixty-eight hundred, and when the vicar of the city issued a decree ordering all ecclesiastics to dismiss their concubines, Innocent sent for him and ordered its withdrawal, saying that all priests and members of the curia kept them, and that it was no sin. *
This was the outcome of the theocracy whose foundation had been laid by Hildebrand in the honest belief that it would realize the reign of Christ on earth. Power such as was claimed and exercised by the Church could only be wielded by superhuman wisdom. Human nature was too imperfect not to convert it into an instrumentality for the gratification of worldly passions and ambition, and its inevitable result was to plunge society deeper and deeper into corruption, as unity of faith was enforced by persecution. In this enforcement, as I have said, faith became the only object of supreme importance, and morals were completely subordinated, tending naturally to the creation of a perfectly artificial and arbitrary standard of conduct. If, to win the favor of Satan, a man trampled on the Eucharist believing it to be the body of Christ, he was not liable to the pains of heresy; but if he did so out of disbelief, he was a heretic. If he took interest for money believing it to be wrong, he was comparatively safe; if believing it to be right, he was condemned. It was not the act, but the mental process, that was of primary importance, and wilful wrong-doing was treated more tenderly than ignorant consciousness. Thus the divine law on which the Church professed to be founded was superseded by human law administered by those who profited by its abuse. As Cardinal d' Ailly tells us, the doctors of civil law regarded the imperial jurisprudence as more binding than the commands of God, while the professors of canon law taught that the papal decretals were of greater weight
* Alvar. Pelag. de Planctu Eccles. Lib. II. Art. i., ii. -- Meyeri Annal. Flandriæ Lib. XIII. ann. 1379. -- Religieux de S. Denys, Hist. de Charles VI. Liv. XVI. ch. 10; Liv. XXXV. ch. 8.--Wadding. ann. 1405, No. 7.--Æn. Sylvii opp. inedd. (Atti della Accad. dei Lincei, 1883, pp. 558-9).--Steph. Infessuræ Diar. ( Eccard. II. 1988, 1996-7).
than Scripture. Such a theocracy, practically deeming itself as superior to its God, when it had overcome all dissidence, could have but one result. *
When we consider, however, the simple earnestness with which such multitudes of humble heretics endured the extremity of outrage and the most cruel of deaths, in the endeavor to ascertain and obey the will of God in the fashioning of their lives, we recognize what material existed for the development of true Christianity, and for the improvement of the race, far down in the obscurer ranks of society. We can see now how greatly advanced might be the condition of humanity had that leaven been allowed to penetrate the whole mass in place of being burned out with fire. Unorganized and unresisting, the heretics were unable to withstand the overwhelming forces arrayed against them. Power and place and wealth were threatened by their practical interpretation of the teachings of Christ. The pride of opinion in the vast and laboriously constructed theories of scholastic theology, the conscientious belief in the exclusive salvation obtainable through the Church alone, the recognized duty of exterminating the infected sheep and preserving the vineyard of the Lord from the ravages of heretical foxes, all united to form a conservatism against which even the heroic endurance of the sectaries was unavailing. Yet there are few pages in the history of humanity more touching, few records of self-sacrifice more inspiring, few examples more instructive of the height to which the soul can rise above the weaknesses of the flesh, than those which we may glean from the fragmentary documents of the Inquisition and the scanty references of the chroniclers to the abhorred heretics so industriously tracked and so pitilessly despatched. Ignorant and toiling men and women -- peasants, mechanics, and the like -- dimly conscious that the system of society was wrong, that the commands of God were perverted or neglected, that humanity was capable of higher development, if it could but find and follow the Divine Will; striving each in his humble sphere to solve the inscrutable and awful problems of existence, to secure in tribulation his own salvation, and to help his fellows in the arduous task--these forgotten martyrs of
* Pet. Alliacens. Principium in Cursum Bibliæ (Fascic. Rer. Expetend. II. 516). --Bernardi Comens. Lucerna Inquis. s. v. Hæeresis, No. 21.
the truth drew from themselves alone the strength which enabled them to dare and to endure martyrdom. No prizes of ambition lay before them to tempt their departure from the safe and beaten track, no sympathizing crowds surrounded the piles of fagots and strengthened them in the fearful trial; but scorn and hatred and loathing were their portion to the last. Save in cases of relapse, life could always be saved by recantation and return to the bosom of the Church, which recognized that even from a worldly point of view a converted heretic Was more valuable than a martyred one, yet the steadfast resolution, which the orthodox characterized as satanic hardening of the heart, was too common to excite surprise. *
This inestimable material for the elevation of humanity was plucked up as tares and cast into the furnace. Society, so long as it was orthodox and docile, was allowed to wallow in all the wickedness which depravity might suggest. The supreme object of uniformity in faith was practically attained, and the moral condition of mankind was dismissed from consideration as of no importance. Yet the incongruity between the ideal of Christianity and its realization was too unnatural for the situation to be permanent. In the Church as well as out of it there was a leaven working. While St. Birgitta was thundering her revelations in the unwilling ears of Gregory IX., William Langland, the monk of Malvern, sharpened his bitter denunciations of friar and prelate by remind-
* It would scarce seem possible that, in the full light of the nineteenth century, men could still be found hardy enough to defend the position of the Church towards heretics, but it is a sign of the progress of humanity that this is no longer done by justifying the irrefragable facts of history, but by boldly denying them. In a recent work by M. le Chanoine Claessens, "Camérier secret de Sa Saintété," who informs us that after long and serious study of the original sources he writes with scrupulous impartiality and with the calmness befitting history we are told that the penalty of the Church for public and obstinate heretics is simply excommunication, and that it has never allowed itself to employ any direct constraint, whether for the conversion of Jews and Pagans or to bring back wandering Christians to unity. At the same time be is careful to make the reservation that the Church possesses an incontestable right to use physical means to compel those who have been baptized to fulfil the obligations thus assumed.-Claessens, L'Inquisition et le régime pénal pour la répression de l'hérésie dans les Pays-Bas du passé, Tournhout, 1886, p. 5.
ing the common-folk that love and truth were the sole essentials of Christianity--
"Loue is leche of lyf and nexte owre lorde selve,
And also the graith gate that goth in-to lieuene;
For-thi I sey as I seide ere by the textis,
Whan alle tresores ben ytryed treuthe is the beste.
Now haue I tolde the what treuthe is, that no tresore is bettere,
I may no lenger lenge the with, now loke the owre lorde!"
( Vision, I. 202-7.)
All such warnings, however, were disregarded, and in the hour of its unquestionable supremacy the sacerdotal system, which seemed impregnable to all assaults and to have no assailants, was on the eve of its overthrow. The Inquisition had been too successful. So complete had been the triumph of the Church that the old machinery was allowed to become out of gear and to rust for want of daily use. The Inquisition itself had ceased to inspire its old-time terror. For a century it had little to do save an occasional foray upon the peasants of the Alpine valleys, or an extortion on the Jews of Palermo, or the fomenting of a witchcraft craze. It no longer had the stimulus of active work or the opportunity of impressing the minds of the people with the certainty of its vengeance and the terrors of its holocausts.
At the same time the Great Schism had inflicted a serious blow upon the veneration entertained for the Holy See by both clergy and laity, which found expression in the great councils of Constance and Basle. Dexterous management, it is true, averted the immediate dangers threatened by these parliaments of Christendom, and the Church remained in theory an autocracy instead of being converted into a constitutional monarchy, but nevertheless the old unquestioning confidence in the vicegerent of God was gone, while the aspirations of Christendom grew stronger under repression. The invention of printing came to stimulate the spread of enlightenment, and a reading public gradually formed itself, reached and influenced by other modes than the pulpit and the lecture-room, which had been the monopoly of the Church. No longer was culture virtually the sole appanage of ecclesiastics. The New Learning spread among a daily increasing class the thirst for knowledge and the critical spirit of inquiry, which in- sensibly undermined the traditional claims of the Church on the veneration and obedience of mankind.
Save in Spain, where racial divisions furnished peculiar factors to the problem, everything conspired to disarm the Inquisition and render it powerless when it was most sorely needed. Orthodox uniformity had been so successfully enforced that the popes of the fifteenth century, immersed in worldly cares beyond the capacity of the Inquisition to gratify, scarce gave themselves the trouble to keep up its organization; and, save when some madness of witchcraft called for victims, the people and the local clergy made no demand for vindicators of the faith. Scholastic quarrels, for the most part, were settled by the universities, which arrogated to themselves much of the jurisdiction of the Holy Office; and the episcopal ordinaries seemed almost to have forgotten the functions which were theirs by immemorial right.
Although German orthodoxy had been so uniform that the Inquisition there had always been weak and unorganized, yet Germany was the inevitable seat of the revolt. In England and France the power of a monarchy, backed by a united people, had set some bounds to papal aggression and assumption. In Italy the pope was regarded more as a temporal prince than as the head of the Church, and the Ghibellines had never hesitated to oppose his schemes of political aggrandizement. In Germany, however, the papal policy of disunion and civil strife had proved fatally successful, and since the untimely death of Louis of Bavaria there had been no central power strong enough to defend the people and the local churches from the avarice and ambition of the representatives of St. Peter. Luther came when the public mind was receptive and insubordinate, and when there was no organized instrumentality for his prompt repression. As I have already pointed out, his scholastic discussion as to the power of the keys seemed at first too insignificant to require attention; when the debate enlarged there were no means at band for its speedy suppression, and, by the time the Church could marshal its unwieldy forces, the people had espoused his cause in a region where, as the Sachsenspiegel shows, there was no hereditary or prescriptive readiness to venerate the canon law. The hour, the place, and the man had met by a happy concurrence, and the era of modern civilization and unfettered thought was opened, in spite of the fact that the reformers were as rigid as the orthodox in setting bounds to dogmatic independence.
The review which we have made of the follies and crimes of our ancestors has revealed to us a scene of almost unrelieved blackness. We have seen how the wayward heart of man, groping in twilight, has under the best of impulses inflicted misery and despair on his fellow-creatures while thinking to serve God, and how the ambitious and unprincipled have traded on those impulses to gratify the lust of avarice and domination. Yet such a review, rightly estimated, is full of hope and encouragement. In the unrest of modern society, where immediate relief is sought from the mass of evils oppressing mankind, and impatience is eager to overturn all social organization in the hope of founding a new structure where preventable misery shall be unknown, it is well occasionally to take a backward view, to tear away the veil which conceals the passions and the sufferings of bygone generations, and estimate fairly the progress already effected. Human development is slow and irregular; to the observer at a given point it appears stationary or retrogressive, and it is only by comparing periods removed by a considerable interval of time that the movement can be appreciated. Such a retrospect as we have wearily accomplished has shown us how, but a few centuries since, the infliction of gratuitous evil was deemed the highest duty of man, and we learn how much has been gained to the empire of Christian love and charity. We have seen how the administration of law, both spiritual and secular, was little other than organized wrong and injustice; we have seen how low were the moral standards, and how debased the mental condition of the populations of Christendom. We have seen that the Ages of Faith, to which romantic dreamers regretfully look back, were ages of force and fraud, where evil seemed to reign almost unchecked, justifying the current opinion, so constantly reappearing, that the reign of Antichrist had already begun. Imperfect as are human institutions to-day, a comparison with the past shows how marvellous has been the improvement, and the fact that this gain has been made almost wholly within the last two centuries, and that it is advancing with accelerated momentum, affords to the sociologist the most cheer- ing encouragement. Principles have been established which, if allowed to develop themselves naturally and healthfully, will render the future of mankind very different from aught that the world has yet seen. The greatest danger to modern society lies in the impatient theorists who desire to reform the world at a blow, in place of aiding in the struggle of good with evil under the guidance of eternal laws. Could they be convinced of the advance so swiftly made and of its steady development, they might moderate their ardor and direct their energies to wise construction rather than to heedless destruction.
A few words will suffice to summarize the career of the mediæval Inquisition. It introduced a system of jurisprudence which infected the criminal law of all the lands subjected to its influence, and rendered the administration of penal justice a cruel mockery for centuries. It furnished the Holy See with a powerful weapon in aid of political aggrandizement, it tempted secular sovereigns to imitate the example, and it prostituted the name of religion to the vilest temporal ends. It stimulated the morbid sensitiveness to doctrinal aberrations until the most trifling dissidence was capable of arousing insane fury, and of convulsing Europe from end to end. On the other hand, when atheism became fashionable in high places, its thunders were mute. Energetic only in evil, when its powers might have been used on the side of virtue, it held its hand and gave the people to understand that the only sins demanding repression were doubt as to the accuracy of the Church's knowledge of the unknown, and attendance on the Sabbat. In its long career of blood and fire, the only credit which it can claim is the suppression of the pernicious dogmas of the Cathari, and in this its agency was superfluous, for those dogmas carried in themselves the seeds of self-destruction, and might more wisely have been left to self-extinction. Thus the judgment of impartial history must be that the Inquisition was the monstrous offspring of mistaken zeal, utilized by selfish greed and lust of power to smother the higher aspirations of humanity and stimulate its baser appetites.
[Continue to VOL. III - Appendix]
[ Vol. 3 - APPENDIX ]