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The ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) online

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did not regard austerity as an end; she employed
it only as a means of elevating the soul to an im-
mediate contemplation of the Deity, and to some
simiUtude with the divine spirit.

But experience and reflection soon taught her that
no retirement from the world, no privation, no self-
chastisement, would suffice to maintain the mind in
the requisite state of abstraction from earthly objects
without other means : these means she found in
labour ; — the business of the household, the works
which become the hands of woman, the salt which
preserves the soul of woman from corruption, the
guardian which shuts the door against the intrusion
of all w^andering thoughts. Yet this labour was
not to be costly, nor over dehcate, nor to be com-
pleted within a fixed time ; it was not to absorb
the attention. Her object was to preserve the
serenity of a soul conscious of its existence in
God ; a soul, as she says, " that ever lives as if
standing before the face of Almighty God; that
knows no sorrow nor pain but that of not enjoying
His presence." She wished to produce what she
calls the prayer of love, " in which the soul forgets
herself, and drinks in the voice of her Divine
Master*." The enthusiasm of this remarkable

* Diego de Yepes, Vita della gloriosa vergine S. Teresa di
Giesu, fondatrice de' Carmelitani scalzi, Roma, 1623, p. 303.
Constituzioni principali, § 3, p. 20S, The Exclamaciones o me-
ditaciones di S. Teresa con algunos otros tratadillos, Brusselas,
1G82, contain proofs of an enthusiasm almost too exalted for
our taste.



446 REGENERATION OF [bOOK VII.

woman was at all events pure, grand, and un-
affected, and made the strongest impression on the
whole catholic world. The persuasion soon spread
to France, that something more than mere penances
was necessary. Pierre Berulle was sent to Spain
as delegate to the order which he afterwards intro-
duced, though not without some difficulty, into
France, where it took root and brought forth the
fairest fruits.

The monasteries founded by St. Francois de Sales
was also governed by the same mild spirit. He
endeavoured to pursue every occupation with cheer-
ful serenity, without painful effort or hurry. With
the aid of his fellow-labourer, M^re de Chantal, he
established the order of Visitation expressly for
those whose delicate bodily frame prevented their
entering the austerer communities. Not only did
he avoid in his rule all acts of penance, strictly so
called, and dispense the members of the order
from the severer duties, but he warned them against
indulging in excesses of enthusiastic feeling. We
must, he says, without over-anxious self-investiga-
tion, place ourselves before the face of God our
Father, and not seek to enjoy more of his pre-
sence than he sees fit to grant us : under the garb
of religious ecstasy, arrogance and conceit easily
get possession of the soul ; we ought to walk
humbly in the strait and beaten path of virtue. On
this principle he enjoined the care of the sick on
his nuns as their first duty. The sisters were to
go out, always two together, a superior and an at-
tendant, to visit the indigent sick in their own



CH. I. § VII.] CATHOLICISM IN FRANCE. 447

houses. " We must pray by our works, by labours
of love," was the maxim of St. Francois de Sales.
His order exercised a beneficent influence on the
whole of France*.

All these changes mark an evident progress from
severity to moderation, from enthusiasm to serenity,
and from a life of ascetical seclusion to the fulfil-
ment of social duties.

The Ursuline nuns, who take a fourth vow to
devote themselves to the education of young girls,
— a duty which they performed with admirable zeal,
— had already been received in France.

As might be concluded, a similar spirit was rife
/ and active among the religious societies of men.

Jean Baptiste Romillon, who, up to his six-and-
twentieth year, had borne arms against Catholicism,
but had then become a convert to it, now, with the
assistance of a friend who shared his views, esta-
blished the order of the Fathers of Christian Doc-
trine, which laid the foundation of elementary
instruction in France.

We have already mentioned BeruUe, one of the
most distinguished French ecclesiastics of that
time. From his earliest youth he had shown
an ardent zeal to qualify himself for the service
of the church : he kept daily present to him, as he
says, " the truest and most intimate thought of his

* E. g. in Gallltia, Leben des heiligen Franz von Sales, ii.
285. His character appears in the clearest and most attractive
manner, hovi^ever, in his own works, particularly, the Introduc-
tion to a devotional Life.



448 REGENERATION OF [bOOK VII.

heart," which was to strive after the greatest at-
tainable perfection. Perhaps the difficulties which
he encountered in this work suggested to him the
paramount necessity of an institution for the edu-
cation of clergymen in the special and immediate
duties of their vocation. He took as his model
Filippo Neri, who had founded the establishment
of priests of the oratory. He allowed no vows,
only simple engagements ; he had sense and mag-
nanimity enough to wish that those who did not
feel a strong disposition for that service should quit
it. This institution had great success ; the absence
of severity attracted pupils of higher rank, and Be-
rulle soon found himself at the head of a brilliant,
able, and docile set of young men ; episcopal semi-
naries and learned schools were consigned to his
direction, and a new and active spirit animated the
clergy trained in his institution. It formed a great
number of celebrated preachers, and from that
time the character of the pulpit eloquence of France
was determined*.

It is impossible to pass over the congregation of
St. Maur. Whilst the French benedictines em-
braced the reforms which their order had undergone
in Lorraine, they added to the existing duties, that
of devoting themselves to the education of the
young nobility, and to letters. At the very com-
mencement of this change appeared the celebrated
Nicholas Hugo Menard, who directed their studies

* Tabaraud, Histoire de Pierre de Berulle, Paris, 1817.



CH. I. § VII.] CATHOLICISM IN FRANCE. 449

to ecclesiastical antiquities, and to whom the world
is indebted for so many magnificent works*.

Mary of Medicis introduced into France the
order of the brethren of mercy, founded by that
unwearied servant of the sick, Juan de Diosf, a
Portuguese, to whom that name was given, in a
moment of admiration, by a Spanish bishop. They
increased the severity of their rule, but this only
served to procure them more followers, and in a
short time we find thirty hospitals founded by them.

But what an undertaking is it to change the re-
ligious character of a whole nation, — to give a new
direction to its faith and doctrine ! In many of the
more remote districts, among the country people,
and even among the parish priests, the old abuses
still prevailed ; till at length, in the midst of this
general religious excitement, Vincent de Paul, the
great missionary of the common people, appeared,
and founded the congregation of the mission, the
members of which were to travel from place to
place, and to excite and spread the spirit of piety
through the remotest corners of the land. Vincent
himself was a peasant's son, humble, full of zeal
and of practical good sense |. The order of the
sisters of mercy also owes its origin to him ; an

* Filipe le Cerf, Bibliotheque historique et critique des auteurs
de la congregation de S. Maur, p. 355.

t Approbatio congregationis fratrura Johannis Dei, 1572. Kal.
Jan. (Bullar. Cocquel. iv. iii. 190.)

X Stolberg, Leben des heiligen Vincentius von Paulus, Mün-
ster, 1813. The worthy Stolberg ought not however to have
treated his hero as " a man by whom France had been regene-
rated." (p. 6. p. 399.)

VOL. II. 2 G



450 REGENERATION -OF [bOOK VII.

order, in which the more dehcate sex, at a time
of hfe when all the visions of domestic happiness
or worldly splendour float before their eyes, de-
voted themselves to the service of the sick, — often
of the abandoned, — without venturing to give more
than a transient expression to those religious feel-
ings which were the source and spring of all their
toils.

These efforts for the improvement or the conso-
lation of humanity are now happily become of
constant recurrence in every christian land ; the
education of the poor, the promotion of learning,
and the mitigation of human suffering, everywhere
command attention. Never will such efforts suc-
ceed without an union of varied ability and know-
ledge with religious enthusiasm. In protestant
countries they are generally left to the energy of
each successive generation, and to a sense of the
necessities of the moment. But Catholicism aims
at giving an unalterable basis to associations formed
for such objects, and a uniform direction to the re-
ligious impulse which prompts them ; in order that
every effort may be consecrated to the immediate
service of the church, and that successive gene-
rations may be trained, by a silent but resistless
process, in the same spirit.

The most important results were soon visible in
France. Already, under Henry IV., the protestants
felt that they were crippled and endangered by the
searching and boundless activity displayed by their
antagonists ; for some time protestantism made no
progress; soon after it began to lose ground, and



CH. I. §VII,] CATHOLICISM IN FRANCE, 451

even before the death of that monarch they com-
plained that desertion had commenced in their
ranks.

And yet Henry had been forced by his policy to
grant them fresh privileges, and to disregard the
suggestions of the pope, who desired that they
should be excluded from all public offices.

Mary of Medici, however, abandoned the policy
which had been hitherto pursued, and on many
points attached herself more closely to Spain. A
decidedly catholic spirit predominated in domestic
and foreign affairs, not only at court, but even in
the assembly of estates. In the year 1614, the two
first meetings expressly required the publication of
the decrees of the council of Trent, and even the
restoration of church property in Beam.

It was exceedingly fortunate for the protestants,
among whom also great zeal and activity prevailed
for the interests of their church, that they occupied
so strong a political situation, and were so formi-
dable as to render it impossible to extinguish it.
Since the government had joined their opponents,
the protestants had found support and assistance
from powerful malcontents, who have ever been,
and will ever be, numerous in France. Some time
therefore elapsed before it was possible to make a
direct attack on them.



2g2



452 BREAKING OUT [bOOK VII.



CHAPTER II.

GENERAL WAR— TRIUMPHS OF CATHOLICISM.

1G17— 1623.



§ 1. BREAKING OUT OF THE WAR.

However widely different be the circumstances
which we have thus seen developed, they combine
to form one grand result ; on every side Catholicism
has advanced with mighty strides, on every side it
has encountered a vigorous resistance. In Poland
it has not succeeded in crushing its adversary, only
because protestantism was there invincibly sus-
tained by the sympathies of the neighbouring king-
doms. In Germany a compactly cemented oppo-
sition repelled the advances of the prevailing creed,
and of the returning priesthood. The king of
Spain reluctantly consented to grant the United
Provinces an armistice which almost implied a
formal recognition. The French huguenots were
prepared against every attack by the possession of
fortified towns, by disciplined and armed troops,
and by well-considered financial arrangements. In
Switzerland the balance of parties had long been
consolidated on so firm a basis that regenerated
Catholicism had no power to derange it.



CH. II. § I.] OF WAR. 453

Europe thus appears to us divided into two
worlds which surround, hmit, expel, and assail
each other at every point.

On instituting a general comparison between
them, we are immediately struck with the far
greater unity exhibited by the catholic party. We
are indeed aware that it is not without intestine
discords, but at present these are silenced. Above
all, an amicable and even confidential intercourse
subsists between France and Spain ; the occasional
ebullitions of the old enmity of Venice or Savoy
do not materially affect the general interests of Ca-
tholicism ; and even such formidable attempts as the
conspiracy against Venice pass over without serious
disturbance. Pope Paul V., after the experience
of the early part of his reign had afforded him such
an impressive lesson, was calm and moderate ; he
found means to maintain peace between the catho-
lic powers, and occasionally gave an important
turn to the general policy of Europe.

The protestants, on the other hand, had not only
no centre of union, but since the death of Elizabeth
of England and the accession of James I., who
from the beginning of his reign maintained a
somewhat equivocal policy, they had not even a
leader. Lutherans and calvinists stood opposed
to each other with a feeling of mutual hatred
which necessarily led to opposite political mea-
sures. But the calvinists, or as they are called in
Germany the reformed church, were also divided
among themselves ; episcopalians and puritans,
arminians and gomarists, attacked each other with



454 BREAKING OUT [bOOK VII.

the fiercest hate ; and in the assembly of tlie hu-
guenots at Saumur, in the year 1611, a schism
broke out which was never radically healed.

This remarkable difference between the two
great parties is certainly not to be ascribed to any
inferiority in religious ardour and activity on the
side of the catholics ; indeed we have just remarked
the very contrary. A more probable cause is the
following. Catholicism did not possess that energy
inspired by an exclusive system of dogmas which
was the characteristic of protestantism ; there were
important and disputed questions which it left un-
determined; enthusiasm, mysticism, and that pro-
found instinct or sentiment, hardly reaching the
distinctness of thought, which from time to time
will ever spring up anew out of the religious tend-
encies of our nature, were embraced and embodied
by Catholicism ; they were reduced to a regular sy-
stem, and rendered subsidiary to the uses of religion
in the form of monastic asceticism. This spirit was,
on the contrary, repressed, condemned, and utterly
rejected by protestantism. Hence among the pro-
testants, these religious tendencies, abandoned to
their own course, broke out in the shape of innu-
merable sects, each of which sought its own narrow
but uncontrolled field of action.

In harmony with this view of the two grand
divisions of the religious world is the fact, that
literature, on the catholic side, had attained
to far greater perfection and regularity of form.
We may indeed assert that the modern classical
forms and character of literature in Italy owe their



CH. II. ^ I.] OF WAR. 455

developement and finish to the auspices of the
church ; in Spain, as considerable an approach to
them was made as the genius of the nation permit-
ted; a similar progress commenced in France, where
at a later period the classical type was so complete-
ly adopted, and with such brilliant results. Mal-
herbe appeared, who first willingly submitted to rule
and deliberately renounced all license*; and who
gave added force and currency to his opinions in fa-
vour of monarchy and Catholicism, by the epigram-
matical precision, the ease and the elegance, (some-
what prosaical indeed, but admirably adapted to
the French mind) with which he expressed them.
In the Germanic nations this classical tendency
obtained no such triumph, even on the catholic side ;
it got possession only of Latin poetry, in which it
sometimes has the air of a parody, even in the works
of a man of such remarkable talent as Bälde. All
that was written in the vernacular tongue continued
to be a genuine expression of nature. Still less
successful was the imitation of the antique among
the protestants of these nations. Shakspeare
places the whole matter and spirit of the romantic
before our eyes, in forms of imperishable beauty ;
— the free and spontaneous offspring of a mind to
which antiquity and history were but ministering
servants. From the workshop of a German shoe-
maker there issued poems, obscure, formless, and

* The genius of Malherbe and his style of writing are dis-
cussed in the recent and remarkable additions to the biography
of the poet, by Racan, in the Memoires or rather Historiettes of
Tallemant des Reaux, published by Monmerque, 1834, i.p. 195.



456 BREAKING OUT [bOOK VII.

inscrutable, but possessed of a resistless attraction,
marked by a German depth of feeling and by a re-
ligious contemplation of the world, which have ne-
ver found their equal ; — the genuine inspiration of
nature.

But I will not attempt to describe the contrasts
presented by these two intellectual worlds ; it were
impossible to embrace them all without having
devoted more attention to that of the protestant
party. I may however be permitted to enlarge
upon one aspect of this subject, which had a
direct influence on the events we are contem-
plating.

The monarchical tendencies were now predomi-
nant in the catholic world. Ideas of popular rights,
of legitimate resistance to monarchs, of the sove-
reignty of the people, of the lawfulness of putting
kings to death, &c., which thirty years before were
maintained by the most zealous catholics, were now
no longer in fashion. No considerable contest was
now going on between a catholic population and a
protestant prince ; England was quiet even under
James I. ; and the theories we have just alluded to
became wholly inapplicable to existing circum-
stances. Hence it followed that the religious prin-
ciple became more intimately connected with the
dynastical one ; and if I mistake not, this connex-
ion was greatly aided by the superiority in personal
character and qualities which distinguished the
catholic rulers. This at least was the case in Ger-
many. The aged bishop Juhus of Würzburg, the
first who attempted a thorough counter-reformation



CH. II. § I.] OF WAR. 457

in Germany, was still living. Elector Schweikard,
of Mayence, performed the functions of arch-chan-
cellor of the empire with an ability exalted by his
warm and sincere interest in public affairs, and re-
stored to that dignity its high influence*. The two
other Rhenish electors were resolute, active men ;
by their side stood the manly, acute, indefati-
gable Maximilian of Bavaria, an able administrator,
filled with lofty political objects ; and archduke
Ferdinand, invincible in the strength of the faith
which he held with all the fervour of an energetic
soul; almost all of them disciples of the Jesuits, who
had the art of instilling a certain grandeur and ele-
vation of views into the minds of their pupils ; all
of them reformers, in their way, who had brought
about that state of things which now existed, by their
ardent exertions and their religious enthusiasm.

The Protestant princes, on the contrary, were ra-
ther heirs to the labours of others, than originators
of new enterprises ; they stood in the second or
third generation. In a few there were marks of
some activity, but I think rather prompted by am-
bition and restlessness, than by energy of character
or genuine strength of mind.

On the other hand, there now appeared a mani-
fest inclination towards a republican form of go-
vernment, or at least towards the independence of

* Montorio, Relatione di Germania, 1624 : "Di costumi gravi,
molto intento alle cose del governo cosi spirituale come tempo-
rale, molto bene afFetto verso il servigio di cotesta santa sede,
desideroso del progresso della religione, una do' primi prelati
della Germania."



458 BREAKING OUT [bOOK VII.

the aristocracy. In many countries, as for instance
in France, in Poland, and in all the Austrian domi-
nions, a powerful protestant nobility was engaged
in an open struggle with the catholic government ;
and the republic of the Netherlands, which daily
rose to a higher pitch of prosperity, afforded a bril-
liant example of what might be attained by such a
resistance. It was certainly matter of debate among
the nobles at that time in Austria, whether they
should not emancipate themselves from the reign-
ing family, and frame a constitution like that of
Switzerland or the Netherlands. The success of
such plans afforded the only chance to the imperial
cities of once more rising to importance, and they
accordingly took a lively share in them. The in-
ternal organization of the huguenot party was al-
ready republican, and indeed not devoid of demo-
cratic elements. In England these were represented
by the puritans arrayed against a protestant king.
There is extant a little treatise by an imperial am-
bassador to Paris of that time, in which he earnestly
calls the attention of the sovereigns of Europe to
the common danger which threatened them from
the growth of this spirit.*

At the moment in question the catholic world
was united, classical, monarchical ; the protestant,
divided, romantic, republican.

* Advis sur les causes des mouvemens de I'Europe, envoye
aux roys et princes pour la conservation de leurs royaumes et
principautes, fait par Messir Al. Cunr. baron de Fridemburg, et
presente an roy trös chrestien par le comte de Furstemberg,
ambassadeur de Terapereur. Inserted in the JMercure Fran9ois,
torn. ix. p. 342.



CH. II. § I.] OF WAR. 459

In the year 1G17, everything tended towards a
decisive struggle between them. It appears that
the cathoUc party felt its own superiority ; at any
rate it was the first aggressor.

On the 15th June 1617, an edict was published
in France, in virtue of which the church property
in Beam was restored. This had long been de-
manded by the catholic clergy, but had constantly
been refused by the court, out of a prudential defer-
ence to the interests and wishes of the huguenot
chiefs, and to the general power of that party.
It was obtained from Luines, who, although the
protestants had at first relied upon him*, had
gradually attached himself to the Jesuit or papal
party. In several places, the mob, encouraged by
this disposition on the part of the government, had
risen tumultuously, sounded the tocsin, and at-
tacked the protestants ; the parliaments, too, took
part against them.

The Polish prince Wladislaus once more took
arms in the confident expectation that he should
now occupy the throne of Moscow. It was thought
that designs upon Sweden were connected with
his enterprise, and war between Poland and Swe-
den immediately broke out afreshf.

* This, amongst other pieces of information, is to be gathered
from a letter by Duplessis Mornay, Saumur, 26 Avril, 1617,
" sur ce coup de majorite," as he styles the murder of the mare-
chal d'Ancre. La vie de du Plessis, p. 465.

t Hiärn, Esth-Lyf- und Lettländische Geschichte, p. 418.
" The Swedes knew that the king of Poland had sent his son
into Russia accompanied by a considerable force, with the inten-



460 BREAKING OUT [bOOK VII.

But the events of far the greatest importance
were preparing in the hereditary dominions of the
house of Austria. The archdukes had been recon-
ciled and cordially reunited. With the magnanimity
and sense which that house has often displayed in
moments of danger, the other brothers relinquish-
ed to archduke Ferdinand the claims which na-
turally devolved on them after the death of the
emperor Matthias, who had no issue ; and in a short
time he was actually recognised as successor to the
throne in Hungary and Bohemia. This was indeed
only an adjustment of personal claims, but its ef-
fects on the public interests were not the less im-
portant.

From so determined a zealot as Ferdinand, no-
thing could be expected, but that he would imme-
diately endeavour to secure an absolute and undi-
vided supremacy to his own creed at home, and
would then apply the whole collective strength of
these countries to the propagation of Catholicism
abroad ; — designs pregnant with danger to all pro-
testants in his hereditary dominions, in Germany,
and indeed throughout Europe.

tion of surprising the fortresses which had been yielded up by
the Moscovites to the Swedes, in order that, should this scheme
be successful, he might, with the greater ease, himself attack the



Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 30 of 39)