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his father-in-law, invited other Moors out of Africa
into Spain. It is hardly to be supposed that he could
have committed so great an error in politics; but,
indeed, kings very often act contrary to all the rules
of probability. Be that as it may, an army of Moors
came over from Africa, and fell upon Spain, which
increased the general confusion of that kingdom.
The Miramolin, who governed Morocco, sent his
general Abenada to the assistance of the king of
Andalusia: but this general not only betrayed the
prince to whom he was sent, but also the Miramolin
in whose name he came, who, being at length
enraged at his general's perfidy, came in person to
give him battle, who was making war with the other
Vol. 24 19

290 Ancient and Modern History.

Mahometans while the Christians were as much
divided among themselves.

While Spain was thus torn in pieces by the Moors
and Christians, the Cid Don Rodriguez, at the head
of his army of knights, subdued the kingdom of
Valencia. There were at that time few kings in
Spain so powerful as himself, but whether he pre-
ferred the title of Cid, or whether his spirit of
knighthood kept him faithful to King Alphonso, his
master, he never assumed the regal title : neverthe-
less, he governed Valencia with all the authority of
a king, receiving ambassadors, and being treated
with the highest respect by all nations. After his
death, which happened in the year 1096, the kings
of Castile and Aragon continued their wars against
the Moors ; and Spain was more drenched in blood
than ever, and more desolated : the sad effects of the
ancient conspiracy between Archbishop Opas and
Count Julian, above four hundred years before,
which, for a long time after, proved the source of
numberless misfortunes to the kingdom of Spain.



HERESIES seem to be the fruit of a little knowledge
and a little leisure. We have already seen that the
state of the Church in the tenth century scarcely per-
mitted either leisure or study. Everyone was in

Religion and Superstition. 291

arms, and the whole dispute was about riches and
power. Nevertheless, during the reign of Robert,
king of France, there were several priests of that
kingdom, and among others one Stephen, confessor
to Queen Constance, accused of heresy. These peo-
ple were stigmatized with the name of Manichaeans,
only to render them more odious; for neither they
nor their judges could possibly understand anything
of the doctrine taught by the Persian philosopher
Manes. They were probably a set of enthusiasts,
who pretended to an extraordinary degree of per-
fection in order to impose on the minds of the
ignorant. This is the general character of the chiefs
of all sects. They were charged with horrible crimes
and unnatural sentiments, the common way of treat-
ing those whose doctrines are not understood. They,
in 1028, were formally accused of repeating litanies
in honor of evil spirits, with putting out the lights
afterwards and then mingling together indifferently ;
with burning the first children they had by this
incestuous commerce, and swallowing their ashes.
These are much the same kind of calumnies which
were cast upon the first Christians by the Pagans,
and which I believe were founded on the manner in
which some of them celebrated the Lord's Supper,
by eating bread made in the form of a child to
represent the body of our Saviour, as still continues
to be practised in some of the Greek churches.

The heretics of whom I am speaking were more-
over principally accused of having taught that God

292 Ancient and Modern History.

did not come down on earth, that he was not born
of a virgin, and that he neither died nor rose again.
If this is true, they were not Christians ; and, indeed,
accusations of this kind are generally found to con-
tradict one another.

All that we can gather with certainty is, that King
Robert and his queen, Constantia, went to Orleans,
where some of the people called Manichaeans had
assembled themselves, and that the bishops caused
thirteen of these poor wretches to be burned alive :
at which spectacle, so unworthy of their dignity, the
king and queen are said to have assisted. Never
before this execution was anyone put to death in
France for preaching what they did not understand.
It is true that, in the fourth century, Priscillian was
condemned to death with seven of his followers at
Trier. But this city, which then made a part of the
two Gauls, has not been annexed to France since the
declension of the house of Charlemagne. And let
it be observed that St. Martin of Tours would not
communicate with those bishops who had sought the
blood of Priscillian, declaring openly that it was a
damnable action to condemn men to death for being
mistaken. But there was no St. Martin to be found
in the time of King Robert.

After this there arose some slight disputes about
the Eucharist, but these did not break out into any
violent rupture. This subject, which ought to be
only that of adoration and respectful silence, and not
of persecution and contention, escaped even the

Religion and Superstition. 293

warm imaginations of the Greek Christians ; or, per-
haps, was neglected, from its giving no scope to
the metaphysics cultivated by the Greek doctors
after they had adopted the ideas of Plato. They
had found sufficient employment for this philosophy
in the explication of the Trinity, the consubstantial-
ity of the Word, the union of the two natures and the
two wills, and the abyss of predestination. But the
questions, whether the bread and wine are changed
into the second person of the Trinity, and conse-
quently into God? whether we eat and drink this
second person by faith only ? these questions, I say,
were of another kind, and did not appear to be
subject to the philosophy of those times. Accord-
ingly, in the first ages of Christianity, people con-
tented themselves with eating the Lord's Supper in
the evening, and with communicating at the mass
under both kinds, without having any fixed and
determinate ideas in relation to this mystery.

It appears that in many churches, and particularly,
in England, they believed that they only ate and
drank the body and blood of Christ spiritually. And
in the Bodleian library there is a homily, written in
the tenth century, in which are these words : " It is
truly by consecration the body and blood of Christ,
not corporally, but spiritually. The body in which
Jesus Christ suffered and the Eucharistical body are
entirely different. The first was composed of flesh
and bones, animated by a rational soul; but what
we call the Eucharist has neither blood, nor bones,

294 Ancient and Modern History.

nor soul. We ought, then, to understand it in a
spiritual sense."

Johannes Scotus, surnamed Erigena, because he
came from Ireland, had long before maintained the
same opinion, in the reign of Charles the Bald, and
that, too, as we are told, by the emperor's own

In the time of this Scotus, or Scot, one Ratramne,
a monk of Corbie, and others, wrote on this mystery
in such a manner as to leave room at least to doubt,
whether they believed in what has since been called
the "real presence." For this Ratramne, in his epistle
addressed to the emperor Charles the Bald, says, in
express terms, " It is the body of Jesus Christ which
is seen, received, and eaten, not by the bodily senses,
but by the eyes of the minds of the faithful."

Others, however, wrote against them, and the most
common opinion certainly was, that the true body
of Jesus Christ was eaten, since they disputed in
order to know whether it was digested and voided

At length Berenger, archdeacon of Angers, about
the year 1050, both by his writings and from the
pulpit, taught that the real body of Jesus Christ was
not, nor could possibly be, under the appearances of
bread and wine.

He affirmed that what would cause an indigestion
if eaten in too great a quantity, could be no other
than an aliment, or that what would cause drunken-
ness, when too freely drunk, was a real liquor ; that

Religion and Superstition. 295

there was no whiteness in a thing that appeared
white, nor roundness in an object that appeared
round, etc. These propositions of Berenger's could
not fail of setting many against him, and the more so
as his great reputation had raised him a number of
enemies. The person who distinguished himself
most against him was Lanfranc, of the Lombard
race, born at Pavia, who was come to seek his for-
tune in France, and whose reputation was equal to
that of Berenger. This is the method he made use
of to confute his adversary, in his treatise "De Cor-
pore Domini."

" It may truly be affirmed that the body of our
Lord, in the Eucharist, is the same as that which
was brought forth by the Virgin ; and that it is not
the same : it is the same as to the essences and prop-
erties of real nature, and it is not the same as to the
species of bread and wine ; so that it is the same as
to the substance, and it is not the same as to the

Lanfranc's opinion seems to be, in general, that
of the whole Church ; Berenger had reasoned only
as a philosopher. Here the question was about a
matter of faith, a mystery which was acknowledged
by the Church as incomprehensible. Now Berenger
was a member of the Church, and therefore ought to
have believed as she did, and, like her, have submit-
ted to reason. However, he was condemned by the
Council of Paris in the year 1050, and again at
Rome in 1079, and compelled to pronounce his

296 Ancient and Modern History.

recantation; but this, being forced, only served to
rivet his sentiments more deeply in his heart, and
he died in this opinion, which neither caused a schism,
nor a civil war. Temporalities alone were, at that
time, the grand objects which employed the ambi-
tion of mankind, the other source, which was to pro-
duce the effusion of so much blood, not having been
yet opened.

We may reasonably suppose that the ignorance of
those times strengthened the popular superstition.
I shall relate some examples, which have long
exercised human credulity. It is pretended that the
emperor Otho III. put his wife, Mary of Aragon, to
death for being guilty of adultery. It is very pos-
sible that a bigoted and cruel prince, such as Otho
III. is painted, might have punished with death a
wife less vicious than himself ; but more than twenty
authors have written, and Maimbourg has repeated
after them, and others again after Maimbourg, that
the empress, having made advances to a young
Italian count, who rejected them from a principle of
virtue, she accused this count to the emperor, her
husband, of an attempt to seduce her, and he was
punished with death. Upon this, the count's widow,
they say, came with her husband's head in her hand
to demand justice on the accuser, and to prove his
innocence. The heroic widow insisted upon being
put to the trial of the hot iron, and held in her hand
an iron bar, red-hot, as long as the judges thought
proper; and this miracle serving as a legal proof

Religion and Superstition. 297

of the empress' guilt, she was condemned to be
burned alive.

Maimbourg should have considered that this fable
is related by authors who wrote a long time after
the death of Otho, and that they do not so much as
give us the names of the Italian count, and of the
widow who handled a bar of red-hot iron with such
impunity. In short, should even contemporary
authors pretend to give authentic accounts of such an
event, they would not deserve greater credit than the
wizards who depose before a court of justice that
they have assisted at the nocturnal meetings of

The adventure of a bar of iron is alone sufficient
to discredit the punishment of Mary of Aragon,
related in so many dictionaries and histories, in
which every page is a mixture of truth and

The second event is much of the same kind. It is
pretended that Henry II., successor to Otho III.,
made trial of the fidelity of his wife, Cunegunda,
by making her walk barefooted over nine plough-
shares heated red-hot. This story, related in so many
martyrologies, deserves the same reply as that of
Otho's wife.

Didier, abbot of Monte Cassino, and several other
writers, relate a fact nearly resembling this. In 1063
the monks of Florence, displeased with their bishop,
went through the town and country crying : " Our
bishop is a Simonist, and a vile wretch ; " and they

298 Ancient and Modern History.

had the boldness, says the legend, to promise that
they would make good their accusation by ordeal
trial. A day was set apart for this ceremony, which
was on the Wednesday in the first week of Lent.
Two piles of wood were prepared, each ten feet in
length and five in breadth, separated by a path a foot
and a half broad, filled with dry wood. The two
piles being lighted, and the wood in this space
reduced to coals, a monk named Aldrobandin passed
through this path with a grave and solemn pace, and
even returned half-way back to take from the midst
of the flames his cloak, which he had let fall. This
has been related by many historians, and cannot be
denied without overturning the very foundations
of history ; but it is as certain that we cannot give
credit to it without overturning the very founda-
tions of reason.

It is doubtless very possible that a man may pass
swiftly between two burning piles of wood, and even
over hot embers, without being entirely burned ; but
to go gravely backwards and forwards, to take up a
cloak, is one of those adventures of the " Golden
Legend," which ought no longer to be mentioned by
men of common understanding.

The last proof I shall relate is that made use of in
Spain, after the taking of Toledo, to prove whether
they were to repeat the Roman Office, or that called
the Mosarabic. It was at first agreed on all hands
to terminate the dispute by single combat. Two
champions, completely armed, fought according to

Religion and Superstition. 290

all the rules of chivalry, and Don Ruis de Martanza,
knight of the Mozarabic mass-book, made his adver-
sary lose his saddle, and threw him half dead to the
ground. But the queen, who had a strong inclina-
tion to the Roman Missal, resolved that they should
make the trial of fire. All the laws of chivalry were
against it. However, the two mass-books were
thrown into the fire, where, most probably, they
were both burned ; but the king, not to give umbrage
to either party, ordered it so that some churches
prayed according to the Romish ritual and others
kept to the Mosarabic.

Whatever was most venerable and august in
religion was debased throughout the whole West by
the most ridiculous and absurd customs. There was
a festival of fools, and another of asses, observed in
most of the churches. On these days they made a
bishop of the fools, and brought an ass into the body
of the church, dressed in a cope and bonnet.

The ceremonies observed at those extravagant fes-
tivals, which continued to be in use in several
dioceses for upwards of seven centuries, consisted in
dancing in the church, feasting on the altars, and
exhibiting the most obscene and lewd farces. To
consider only the customs which I have here related,
one would imagine that one was reading a descrip^
tion of Negroes and Hottentots; and indeed it
must be confessed that in many things we have been
very little superior to them.

The Church of Rome has always condemned these

300 Ancient and Modern History.

barbarous customs, as well as the trials by single
combat and fire. And, notwithstanding all the trou-
bles and infamy which it has had to encounter, it has
always preserved a greater decency and gravity in
its worship than any of the other churches, and has
given proofs that when in a state of freedom, and
under due regulation, it was formed to give lessons
to all others.

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