F. X. von (Franz Xaver) Funk.

A manual of church history (Volume 2) online

. (page 3 of 34)
Online LibraryF. X. von (Franz Xaver) FunkA manual of church history (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

so far as the other anti-Pope is concerned, his following was so small
that none of his contemporaries found it worth their while to
narrate his later adventures, with the result that he henceforth
disappears from history.

The words used by Martin V at the last session of the Council of
Constance — when requested by the Poles to condemn the libellous
pamphlet which had been directed against their race by the Prussian
Dominican Falkenberg — to the effect that he approved all that
the Council had decided in materiis fidei concilialiter, but not
aliter nee alio modo, cannot be interpreted as though the Pope had
thereby wished to declare his position with regard to the dealings
of the Council as a whole. The truth is that Martin V never
expressed any public opinion concerning them. Cp. Funk, A. u. U.
I. 489-98.

§ 140

The Councils of Basel and Ferrara-Florence — The Schism

of Felix V 1

In the decree Frequens (Sess. XXXIX) the Council of
Constance enacted that, in future. General Councils should
be held frequently, the next two in five years and seven years
respectively, and afterwards at intervals of not more than
ten years. In accordance with this regulation, a Council
was opened at Pavia in 1423, and owing to an epidemic was
transferred to Siena. The assembly was, however, a small one,

^ Monumenta Concil. gener. saec. XV (I-III, 1857-96) ; Concilium Basil-
tense, Siudien u. Qiiellen z. G. des Konzils v. B., ed. J. Haller, &c. I-V,
1 896-1904 ; Arnold, Pontifikat Eugens IV, 1897 {Repertorium Germanicum,
I) ; Byz. Z. V (1896), 572-86 (for the attempt at union in 1439) ; Vannutelli,
II concilio di Firenze, 1899; Hefele, CG., vol. VII; A. f. ost. G. 1890,
pp. 1-236 (on the German kings and the neutrality of the prince-electors) ;
SB. Wien, vol. 135, 1896.

The Council of Basel 19

and as soon as the question of reform had bred a conflict, this
was seized on as a pretext for dissolving it in the spring, 1424,
before anything worth speaking of had been accomplished.
The next Council was to meet at Basel. It is true that
Martin V was not disposed to look at it with a favourable
eye, for the last Councils, by assuming an influence paramount
to his o\Mi, had occasioned him not a little misgiving. At
the same time, as everywhere, save at Rome, people were
inclined to attach great importance to Councils, he did not
consider it politic to oppose it, and at the expiry of the allotted
term he accordingly appointed cardinal Giuliano Cesarini to
preside at Basel. As for the rest, the Pope died soon after and
was succeeded by cardinal Gabriel Condulmer as Eugene IV

The new Council began under auspices even more unfavour-
able than the previous. Eugene indeed confirmed the presi-
dent, though at the same time he made allusion to a change
which had occurred in the circumstances of the Council — doubt-
less thereby referring to the treaty which his predecessor had
concluded ^\dth the Greeks, according to which a Council was
to be held in the interests of reunion in some city on the coast
of Lower Italy. At Basel itself the only prelate to make his
appearance at the appointed time was the abbot of Vezelay in
Burgundy. The state of affairs in the town and neighbourhood
was also depicted in very dark colours by Beaupere, a canon of
Besangon, who had been dispatched to Rome, and all this gave
occasion to the Pope, even before the end of 1431 (December 18),
to dissolve the Council, and to call another to meet the Greeks
at Bologna in the summer, 1433. As it happened, however, the
Council already four days before this, on the return into its
midst of Cesarini from a crusade against the Husites, had held
its first pubHc session, and was now no longer disposed to
separate without having previuosly performed its dut}'. The
decree of dissolution aroused the assembled Fathers to protest
that it was apparently Rome's intention to render the Council
nugatory, in spite of its being the only means of carrying
through the necessary reforms. Even cardinal Cesarini
strongly advised the Pope to withdraw his decree. The Council
subsequently held its ground. To obviate an attack, it re-
enacted the decrees of Constance proclaiming the superiority

c 3

20 A Manual of Church History

of Councils over the Pope, and in this it was supported by the
princes, especially by Sigismund, who was then preparing to
assume the imperial crown. Eugene was, in consequence of this,
induced to yield gradually ; after failing to impose his choice
of Bologna, he agreed first that the Council should be held in a
German city, and finally allowed it to take place at Basel, after
having previously expressly excluded this city. An interesting
change is also apparent in the formulae with which the Pope
safeguards his own supremacy ; to begin with he ' willed and
commanded ' [Volumus et mandamus), or ' willed and was
pleased to allow ' {Volumus et contentamur) , the celebration of
the Council, whereas towards the end of 1433, when the situa-
tion at Rome had become one of great peril, he was content to
' decree and declare ' {Decernimus et declaramus), thus giving
his unconditional assent to the meeting. Hereby the conflict
between the two powers was at an end, and the assembled
Fathers were enabled to pass a number of useful reforming
decrees. Their ordinances, however, lacked sanction, and were
not generally observed, for the peace between Pope and Council
was not to last ; some of the reforms, by endangering his
revenues, were obnoxious to the Pope, this being especially
the case with the conciliar statutes aboHshing annates. At
the same time the Fathers themselves fell to quarrelling over the
question of the Reunion Council, the majority favouring the
choice of Avignon and the minority an Italian town, and this
dissension gave the Pope an advantage. On May 29, 1437,
Eugene confirmed the decision of the minority, and on the
Council inviting him to attend and answer for his action, he
took the simple course of dissolving the assembly (September
18), Cesarini, who had previously given timely warning to the
Pope, now endeavoured to persuade the Council to be concilia-
tory. His intervention being to no purpose, he left the Council
with all his friends, among whom was Nicholas of Cusa, and
proceeded to the Reunion Council in Italy. His departure
did not alter the attitude of the opposition, the Council
remaining in session, and instituting an inquiry concerning

The Reunion Council was opened at Ferrara in 1438. The
Greeks were well represented. Besides the patriarch Joseph II
of Constantinople, the emperor John Palseologus also attended

The Coiuicils at Basel and Florence 21

in person. Negotiations were, however, only carried on with
extreme difficulty, and the Council seemed frequently on the
point of breaking up ; the Greeks were held back only by
the fear of the Turks, and the hope of ridding themselves of the
danger with the help of the West. Follov/ing their emperor's
advice they avoided, to begin with, any reference to doctrinal
differences, and when finally the matter of the Filioque came
up for discussion, they confined themselves to questioning
the right of adding it to the Creed. At Florence, whither the
Council migrated in 1439, they consented at last to discuss the
dogmatic aspect of the question, and after much ado, united —
with the one exception of Marcus Eugenicus of Ephesus — in
acknowledging the Western doctrine as correct. After this the
other points of controversy were dealt with, purgatory, the
commencement of the Visio beatifica, the use of unleavened
bread in the Eucharist, and the primacy of the Roman Church ;
on an understanding being reached, Eugene pubhcly notified
the re-establishment of the union by the decree Laetentur coeli.
The Council had thus attained the object for which it had been
summoned, but, doubtless to act as a counterpoise against that
of Basel, it continued in session, and after the departure of the
Greeks, received the submission of other oriental Churches, of
the Armenians (autumn, 1439), the Jacobites (1442), the Meso-
potamians from between the Tigris and Euphrates (1444), the
Chaldaeans (Nestorians) and Maronites of the Island of Cyprus
(1445). It is in connection with the latter event that we last
hear of the Council, which already two years previously (1443)
had been transferred from Florence to the Lateran at Rome,
at the time when Eugene returned to the city after nine years'
absence due to a revolt.

To return to the Council of Basel, which was now sitting
under the presidency of cardinal Lewis of Arles,i at the com-
mencement of 1438 it pronounced the suspension of Eugene.
This measure was not, however, well received outside of the
assembly, the memory of the last schism with its misfortunes
being as yet too fresh to dispose people to look forward to
another. Some of the princes directly challenged the action of
the Council, and the principal Western Powers tried their be.st
to make peace, the French at the Council of Bourges (1438), and

' G, P^ROUSE, Le card. Lout's Aleman, prisident dn concile de Bale, 1902.

22 A Manual of Church History

the Germans at the Diets of Frankfort (1438) and Mainz (1439).
The conflict, however, proceeded apace. The Fathers of Basel
deposed Eugene IV, in 1439, as a heretic and schismatic for hav-
ing opposed the decrees of Constance, now considered as articles
of Faith. On the Pope's retorting by excommunicating them
as heretics for having erected their opinions into dogmas, they
elevated duke Amadeus of Savoy, a widower, to the position
of anti-Pope under the title of Felix V (1439-49). i In spite
of this, Christendom was gradually returning to the cause of
Eugene, France and other states immediately assured him of
their obedience and they were soon followed by Aragon and
Scotland (1443), the obedience of the former being secured after
king Alfonso had succeeded in defeating duke Rene of Anjou,
his rival to the throne of Naples (1442), and had received from
the Pope on the battlefield the satisfaction of all his demands.
The Germans continued to offer their mediation, and on the
proposal to call a General Council, which had been reiterated by
the Diet of Mainz in 1441, being rejected both by Basel and by
Eugene, they determined to remain neutral, though ultimately
they, too, went over to the Pope. This alteration of policy
was largely due to Frederick III (1440-93) ; in 1445 he made
overtures to the Pope, and his attitude was gradually imitated
by the princes of his empire. As late as the spring, 1446, the
college of prince-electors at the Diet of Frankfort was inclined
to deal defiantly with Eugene for having deposed two of its
members, the archbishops of Cologne and Treves, for the part
they had taken in the Council of Basel. Yet at the next Diet
in the autumn of the same year, two prince-electors (those
of Mainz and Brandenburg) and two bishops declared for the
Pope, Other princes soon followed their example, the result
being the so-called Concordat of Princes agreed to at Frankfort
in February, 1447. The completion of the work, owing to the
death of Eugene a few days later, was left to his successor,
Nicholas V (1447-55), formerly Tomaso Parentucelli of Sarzana,
Having already been employed in the negotiations with
Germany, no better choice of a peacemaker could have
been made. In 1448 the Concordat of Vienna was signed,
thereby laying the foundation for the reconciliation of the
German nation with the papacy, as the treaty was gradually

* H- Manger, Die Wahl Amadeos v, S, zum Papist, 1903.

The Councils at Basel and Florence 23

assented to by all the princes. This treaty also had an
effect on the Council of Basel. Banished from that city,
it migrated to Lausanne (1448), and after having long
been a mere shadow (it had held no solemn session since
1443), it finally ended its existence by acknowledging Nicholas
V (1449).

The danger into which the conflict between Pope and
Council had brought the unity of Western Christendom was thus
dispelled without any further evil consequences. Felix V found
supporters only in Savoy and Swdtzerland, and he was to be the
last of the anti-Popes, for the Reformation was soon to put an
end to schisms within the bosom of the Church. Whilst, how-
ever, for a while, peace reigned in the W^est, the union with the
Eastern Church was soon again dissolved. This union, like
that which had been formerly negotiated at Lyons, rested on
too shaky a foundation to be lasting. The Greeks had been
impelled to the decision they took at Florence only through
dread of the Turk. At home, both clergy and people were full
of fanatical hatred of the Westerns, and to them reunion could
not fail to be abhorrent. The union received its death-blow
when it became apparent that the West was not disposed to
perform the office which the East expected from it. The
patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, who
through their delegates had signified their support of the
Council of Florence, now withdrew their assent (1443), and
the same was done, shortly before his death, by the emperor
John Palaeologus (1448). His brother Constantine XII,
who succeeded him, indeed re-established the union, but
it did not survive the fall of Constantinople into the hands
of Mohammed II (May 29, 1453), the patriarchal see being
forthwith bestowed on Gennadius, a great foe of Western

The fall of the Eastern Empire, by removing a protecting
bulwark, threatened danger to the West. To guard against
this it was of the utmost importance that the Western States
should unite their forces, and this Nicholas strove by might
and main to effect, labouring more especially to cement the
various Italian powers ; he also decreed a crusade against
the hereditary foe of Christendom ; further proceedings were,
however^ hindered by his early death. This Pope was the

24 A Manual of Church History

first humanist to occupy the Apostohc See, was a friend of art
and learning, and was much concerned in beautifying the
city of Rome, which also owes to him the foundation of the
Vatican Library. He it was who crowned Frederick III
(1452), this being the last imperial coronation to take place
at Rome.i At one time his position at Rome was endangered
by the conspiracy of Porcaro, but the danger was averted by
timely discovery (January, 1453).

Opinions regarding the Council of Basel are apt to differ according
to the point of view under which it is considered, in its mode of
convocation, its membership, or its decisions. Some hold it not
to have been oecumenical at all, others believe that it was really
oecumenical in its earlier stages, i.e. until the dissolution pronounced
in 1437, and the latter, which is the more prevalent opinion, is
preferable, if we are to consider, as is usually done, the Council
of Ferrara-Florence as oecumenical. As the Council of Basel
was transferred by Eugene IV to Ferrara, the Council of Ferrara-
Florence must be considered as the continuation of that of Basel,
the two together constituting the Seventeenth General Council.
Cp. Hefele, I, 62-66.

§ 141

End of the Middle Ages— The so-called Political Popes —
Fifth Lateran Council'^

The Turkish danger, which had given occupation to the
closing days of Nicholas V, was to be the main concern of
the next popes also. Calixtus III (1455-58), a scion of the
Spanish house of Borgia, again proclaimed a crusade, sent
missionaries into every country to preach it, and fitted out
a fleet to fight the Turks. One of the preachers, the Franciscan
John Capistran, was pre-eminently successful in winning over
people to the cause. At the same time, it was only in Hungary,
then so sorely pressed, that any sort of enthusiasm could be
aroused. ' With the help of John Capistran and of cardinal
Carvajal, the papal legate, John Hunyadi successfully engaged
the Turks at Belgrad (1456). Unfortunately, it was impossible

^ J. Martens, Die letzte Kaiserkronung in Rom (1452), 1900.

2 Pastor, Gesch. der Pdpste, tS-c. 1886-1906, 1 899-1 904 (Engl. Trans.
Hist, of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages, 1906 ff.). Sagmuller, Die
Papstwahlen von 1447 bis 1555, 1890.

Last of the MedicBval Popes 25

to follow up the victory. Hunyadi and Capistran both died
that same year, and the rest of Christendom was deaf to the
Pope's warnings. The German bishops were wroth with the
Pope on account of the Concordat of Vienna, the Sorbonne
appealed to a General Council against the tax demanded for
a crusade, whilst Venice, the mightiest sea-power of the age,
had actually concluded a treaty with the Turks a year after
the fall of Constantinople. The salvation of Christendom
was not Calixtus's only concern ; he also put himself to much
trouble to find suitable situations for his relatives. Two of
his nephews he promoted to be cardinals, and a third he
presented with a princedom. As his example was followed
by the next popes, his pontificate may be said to have
inaugurated a new era of nepotism.

^neas Sylvius Piccolomini, known as Pius II (1458-64),!
continued the agitation for a crusade, and, soon after entering
into ofhce, summoned a conference of all Christian princes to
meet at Mantua to debate the Turkish question (1459), nor was
there any time to lose, seeing that Servia, Bosnia, and Epirus
were already in the hand of Mohammed II. The result was
that a three-year war was decided on. Matthias Corvinus, king
of Hungary (1459-90), proved himself a worthy successor of
his father ; in Albania many deeds of valour were performed
by George Castriota, known among the Turks on account of
his bravery as Scanderbeg {i.e. prince Alexander). The
majority of the sovereigns, however, carefully avoided the
risks of active service, and the Pope's design of arousing them
by putting himself at the head of the ciTisade was thwarted
by his own death. He died when on the point of embarking
at Ancona. As he had previously been on the side of the
Council of Basel and of Felix V, and had even defended in
written works opinions very different from those which he
advocated as Pope, some were not slow to point to the signi-
ficance of the alterations which had occurred in his views.
To cut short such reproaches, he issued, in 1463, a Bull of
retractation In minoribus agentes, in which with the words,
^neam reicite, Pium recipite, he recanted the opinions of his
youth, and entreated all to put their trust in him as supreme

' G. VoiGT, Enea Silvio de P. ah P. Pins IT, 3 vol. 1856-63 ; A. Weiss,
Aneas S. P. als P. Pius II, 1897.

26 A Manual of Church History

pontiff. He also published the Bull Execrabilis (1460), con-
demning the prevalent practice of appealing from the Holy
See to a General Council.

Paul II (1464-71), formerly cardinal Barbo of Venice,
had also, at the conclave, to give an undertaking to push
forward the war with the Turks. In this matter he was,
however, even less successful than his predecessors, and the
Turks continued their progress. The Pope, seeing how im-
possible was the promise he had made, refused to be any
longer bound by it, and to the great dudgeon of the cardinals,
compelled them to annul it. The officials known as Abbre via-
tors were likewise highly indignant with Paul for having
dissolved their college for certain malpractices (1466), and
loaded him with reproaches. Platina took his revenge by
drawing a most unfavourable picture of this pontificate in
his Vitae ■pontiflcum. This was, however, the w^orst that

The next conclave resulted in the bestowal of the tiara on
a Franciscan, Francesco della Rovere, who took the name of
Sixtus IV (1471-84).! He was a patron of the arts and
of learning, enriched the Vatican Library, threw it open to
the public, beautified the city of Rome, and built in the
Vatican a chapel which received his name, and is renowned
for its frescoes. The East also occupied his thoughts, and
though no more attention was paid to his appeal than to
those of his predecessors, other circumstances occasioned a
change for the better. The victorious sultan Mohammed H,
the terror of the Christians, died in 1481, and his death weakened
the Turks, owing to the family quarrels to which it gave rise.
The town of Otranto, which shortly before had been captured
by the Moslems (1480), had again to be evacuated. Prince
Jem, after an abortive attempt to secure the crown, actually
fled to Rhodes to summon the help of the Christian sovereigns
against his tyrother the sultan Bajazet. From Rhodes he was
sent to France, whence he passed into the custody of Rome
(1489). Sixtus, like the other popes of the period, was not
averse to honouring and enriching his own family. Several

1 A. V. Reumont, Lorenzo de Medici il Magnifico, 2 vol. 2nd ed. 1883 (Engl,
Trans. 1876); J. Schlecht, Andrea Zamometic tmd der Easier Konzilsversuch
VOrti Jahre, I482, I, 1903,

Last of the Mediceval Popes 27

of his nephews he appointed cardinals, and on another,
Girolamo Riario, was bestowed the vicariate of Imola. It was
the latter's ambition that drew Sixtus into several political
adventures of very questionable character. In supporting
the Pazzi in their anti-Medicean conspiracy at Florence
(1478), he may have deprecated the shedding of blood,
but the plot nevertheless cost Giuliano de' Medici his
life. His part in this business and his subsequent severity
against Lorenzo de' Medici and the Florentine republic for
punishing the offenders involved him in a war with Florence,
and soon after in others with Naples (1482) and Venice (1483-
84). The wars were made worse by the feuds existing at Rome
between the Colonna and Orsini families. There was even
some talk of assembling a council against the Pope. The
Dominican Andrew Zamometic (Zuccalmaglio), archbishop of
Granea (Krania), who for some time had been imperial ambas-
sador at Rome, to avenge himself for the treatment he had
experienced in return for certain strictures on the Curia,
sought to convoke a General Council at Basel (1482). Through-
out the pontificate dissension and confusion never ceased,
and on the Pope's death Rome was thrown into a state of

His successor Innocent VIII (1484-92), cardinal Cybo,
endeavoured to restore order, though with small success. The
worse elements rapidly gained the upper hand. War again
broke out with Naples, and at Rome itself everything seemed
obtainable for money. There even came into existence a
society of papal functionaries dealing in forged Bulls. Their
crime was indeed severely punished, but the Pope himself was
too much devoted to his relatives (besides a son whom he
married to a daughter of Lorenzo de' Medici, he also had a
daughter) to have either the strength, or the will, to uproot
the evils.

The state of things became even worse when Rodrigo
Borgia ascended the throne of Peter as Alexander VI (1492-
1503). Conspicuous as was his worldly wisdom, his morality
was shocking, even when judged by the very lax standards of
the time. He had several children, and after having by
bribery obtained his election, his one concern was to provide
for the four borne him by Vannozza Catanei. His son Csesar,

28 A Manual of ChiircJi History

who occupies a place of special importance in the history
of this pontificate, was preconised archbishop of Valencia, and
created cardinal. After the violent death of his brother Juan
(1497), and after the Pope had sufficiently recovered from the
shock caused by the crime, Caesar was relieved of the burden
of his ecclesiastical dignities, and by Lewis XII of France was
appointed duke of Valence, and married to a princess of the
French house, receiving also from the Pope the duchy of the
Romagna. The plan of both father and son was to establish
a kingdom of central Italy. Caesar set about the work by
murder and warfare, seemingly with a fair chance of success,
but before it could be achieved, Alexander had passed away.
Transactions such as these could hardly fail to affect injuriously
the prestige of the Holy See, but even yet the Pope's authority
ranked very high, as we see from the action of Spain and
Portugal in referring to his arbitration the division of the
New World which had just been discovered (1493-94).

As for the remaining children of Alexander and Catanei, Godfrey
(Juffre) received the hand of Sancia of Aragon, a natural daughter
of King Alfonso II of Naples, together with the princedom of
Squillace. Lucrezia (Mg. by GREGORavius, 3rd ed. 1875 (Engl.
Trans. Lucretia Borgia, 1903) ) was finally bestowed on Alfonso
de Este, hereditary prince of Ferrara (1501), her third husband.

Online LibraryF. X. von (Franz Xaver) FunkA manual of church history (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 34)