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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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by the assurance, that the invocation of saints,
prayers for the dead, a hierarchy, and many other
usages and institutions of the catholic church, had
been recognised by the primitive church even before
the council of Nice.

The reports of certain bishops are still extant,
showing the numerical proportions of the two con-
fessions which resulted from these changes. In
the diocese of Poitiers half of the inhabitants of
some cities were protestant, e, g. Lusignan and St.
Maixant ; in others, such as Chauvigny and Niort,
a third ; in Loudun a fourth ; in Poitiers itself only
a twentieth, and in the rural districts the propor-
tion w^as far sm aller f. The bishops were in imme-
diate correspondence with Rome respecting the

* Relation Catholique, inserted in the Mercure Fran9oi6, viii.

t Relatione del veecovo di Poitiers, 1623. MS.

492 FRANCE. [book VII.

conversions ; they sent regular reports and suggested
whatever they deemed desirable ; the nuncio was
admonished to lay before the king any reports or
requests they might transmit to him, and to sup-
port them by his recommendation. These docu-
ments are often filled with minute details. For
example, the bishop of Vienne complains that the
missionaries are extremely troubled and obstructed
by a preacher in St. Marcellin, who has proved quite
invincible in argument ; the nuncio is commissioned
to urge upon the court the expediency of his ba-
nishment. He is also desired to give his support
to the bishop of St. Malo, who complained that in
one castle in his diocese catholic worship was not
tolerated. He is to have ready an accomplished
converter (who is pointed out by name) for the
bishop of Xaintes. Sometimes when the bishops
met with obstacles, they are exhorted to state more
in detail what can be done to remove them, in
order that the nuncio may lay the same before the

* Instruttione all' arcivescovo di Damiata : — one example may
suffice. " Dalla relatione del vescovo di Candon si cava, che ha il
detto vescovo la terra di Neaco, ove sono molti eretici, con una
missione di Gesuiti, li quali in danno s'afFaticano se con I'autorita
temporale il re non da qualche buon ordine : ed ella potra scri-
vere al detto vescovo che avvisi cio che puo fare Sua M*», perche
nella relazione non lo specifica. Da quella del vescovo di S.
Malo s'intende che in un castello e villa del marchese di Mous-
saye h solo lecito di predicare a Calvinisti : pert) sarebbe bene di
ricordare alia M*^ del re che levasse i predicatori acciocche i mis-
sionarj del vescovo potessero far frutto : il castello e villa non e
nominate nella relazione, e pero si potra scrivere al vescovo per
saperlo. II vescovo di Monpellier avvisa di haver carestia


The striking features of this period are, a close
union between all spiritual authorities, the propa-
ganda, (which, as we have remarked, displayed per-
haps its greatest activity and vigour in the first
years of its existence,) and the pope ; zeal and effi-
cient activity in following up the advantages gained
by arms ; and sympathy on the part of the court,
which discerned its own strong political interest in
what was going on ; and, as the result of these
combined causes, the inevitable and final dowaifall
of protestantism in France.



Nor was the revolution in opinion we have just
been contemplating confined to countries in which
the government was catholic ; it displayed itself at
the same moment under protestant rulers.

We are astonished at finding that even in Benti-
voglio's time, in those very cities of the Low Coun-
tries which made so long and so heroic a resistance
to the king of Spain, chiefly on account of religion,
the majority of the great families had again become
catholic* ; but we are far more amazed when we read
the details of the spread and progress of cathoHcism
under circumstances so unfavourable, which are to

d'operarj, e che dagli eretici sono sentiti volontieri i padri Cap-
puccini, onde se gli potrebbe procurare una missione di questi

* Relatione delle provincie ubbidienti, parte ii. c. ii., in which
the state of relision in Holland is discussed.


be found in a circumstantial report of the year
1622. The priests were persecuted and exiled, yet
their numbers increased. The first Jesuit arrived
in the Netherlands in the year 1592 ; in the year
1622 there were twenty-two members of the order
in that country. The colleges of Cologne and Lou-
vaine continually sent forth nev/ labourers, and in
the year 1622, two hundred and twenty secular
priests were employed in the provinces, and were
quite insufficient for the wants of the population.
According to this report, the number of catholics in
the diocese of Utrecht amounted to 150,000; in
that of Haarlem, to which Amsterdam belonged,
to 100,000 souls, Leuwarden contained 15,000,
Groningen 20,000, and Deventer 60,000 catholics.
The vicar apostolic who was then sent by the see
of Rome to Deventer, confirmed 12,000 persons
in three cities and a few villages. The numbers in
the report may be greatly exaggerated, but it is
evident that this pre-eminently protestant country
still contained catholic elements of extraordinary
strength. Even the bishoprics which Philip II.
had tried to introduce, were constantly recognised
by the catholics*. It was probably this state of
things which excited in the Spaniards their intense
eagerness to renew the war.

* Compendium status in quo nunc est religio catholica in
Holandia et confocderatis Belgii provinciis, 1622, 2 Decemb.
" his non obstantibus — laus Deo — quotidie crescit catholicorum
numerus, prsesertim accedente dissensione höereticorum inter se."



Meanwhile more peaceful prospects had opened
upon Enejland. The son of Mary Stuart was heir
to the united crowns of Great Britain, and could
now present a more determined front than ever to
the catholic powers.

Even before James I. ascended the throne of
England, Clement VIII. sent him word "that he
prayed for him, as the son of so virtuous a mother;
that he wished him all prosperity worldly and spirit-
ual, and that he hoped still to see him a catholic."
James's accession was celebrated in Rome with
solemn services and processions.

He could not have dared to make any corre-
sponding return to these advances, even had he
been inchned ; but he permitted Parry, his ambas-
sador in France, to live on terms of intimacy with
the nuncio Bubalis. The nuncio produced a docu-
ment from the hand of the pope's nephew Aldo-
brandino, in which that cardinal exhorted the
English catholics to obey king James as their so-
vereign and natural lord, and even to pray for
him : to this Parry responded with an instruction
of James, promising to allow peaceful catholics to
live without molestation*.

In fact, in the north of England people began
openly to attend mass again ; the puritans com-
plained that within a short time fifty thousand

* Breve relatione di quanto si ^ trattato tra S. S'^ ed il re
d' Inghilterra. (MS. Rom.)


Englishmen had become proselytes to cathoUcism ;
to which James is said to have rephed, " that they
might go and convert the same number of Spa-
niards and Itahans."

These appearances might perhaps lead the catho-
lics to pitch their hopes too high : when therefore
they saw that the king still adhered firmly to the
Protestant cause; that the old acts of parliament
were again put in execution, and that new perse-
cutions were set on foot, they fell into an irritation
exasperated by disappointment ; an irritation which
found fearful vent in the gunpowder plot. With
this ended all possibility of toleration on the part
of the king. The severest laws were enacted and
enforced ; domicihary visits, imprisonment, and
fines were inflicted ; the priests, and above all the
Jesuits, were banished and persecuted; and it was
thought necessary to restrain such daring enemies
by the extremest severity.

But in private conversation the king's expres-
sions were very moderate. He said plainly to a
prince of the house of Lorraine, wdio once visited
him with the privity of Paul V., that after all there
was but little difference between the two confes-
sions; — that he, to be sure, thought his own the
best, and had embraced it from conviction, and not
for reasons of state ; but that he liked to hear the
opinions of others ; and as the convocation of
a council was attended with insuperable difficul-
ties, he washed there could be an assembly of
learned men, who might try to eftect a reconcilia-
tion ; that if the pope would set one step in ad-


vance, he was ready to set four to meet him ; that
he too acknowledged the authority of the fathers ;
that he esteemed Augustine above Luther, and St.
Bernard more than Calvin ; nay, that he saw in
the church of Rome, even in her actual state, the
true church, the mother of all others, only that she
stood in need of purification : he admitted, what
indeed he would not say to a nuncio, but might
confess to a friend and cousin, that the pope was
the head of the church, the supreme bishop * : it
was, he said, doing him great injustice to call him
a heretic or a schismatic ; a heretic he was not, for
he believed what the pope believed, only the pope
admitted some few articles of faith more than he ;
neither was he a schismatic, for he regarded the
pope as head of the church.

With such opinions, and a consequent antipathy
to the puritanical side of protestantism, it would
unquestionably have been more agreeable to the
king to come to a peaceable understanding with
the catholics, than to keep them down by means
of force and with incessant peril to himself.

In England they were still numerous and power-
ful. In spite of dreadful defeats and losses, or ra-
ther in consequence of them, Ireland was in inces-
sant fermentation, and the king had the greatest

* " Che riconosce la chiesa Romana etiandio quella d'adesso
per la vera chiesa e madre di tutte, ma ch'ella aveva bisogno
d' esser purgata, e di piü ch'egli sapeva che V. S'^ e capo di essa
chiesa e primo vescovo." — expressions which, though in other
quarters attributed to this prince, can in no way be reconciled
with the principle of the church of England. (Relatione del S""
di Breval al papa.)

VOL. II. 2 K


possible interest in putting an end to this state of
discontent and insubordination*.

It must be observed, that English and Irish ca-
tholics attached themselves to Spain. The Spanish
ambassadors in London, men of great address, pru-
dence, and at the same time magnificence, had
gathered around them a vast following ; their chapel
was always filled, and the solemnities of the holy
week were celebrated there with great pomp. Their
house was the resort of their brethren in the faith,
and, as a Venetian said, they were regarded almost
in the light of legates of the apostolic see.

To this cause, I think, may safely be attributed
king James's project of marrying his heir to a
Spanish princess. He thus hoped to attach the
catholics, and to win over the favour with which
they regarded the house of Spain to his own. His
foreign relations furnished an additional motive ;
since it might reasonably be expected that the
house of Austria, when so nearly connected with
him, would be more friendly to his son-in-law the
elector palatine.

The only question was, as to the practicability
of the scheme. The difference of religion pre-
sented an obstacle which at that time it was really
difficult to overcome.

There is a certain fantastic element inseparably

* Relatione di D. Lazzari, 1621. He founds his opinion on
the timidity of the king : " havendo io esperimentato per mani-
fest! segni che prevale in lui pin il timore che 1' ira." He says
moreover, " per la pratica che ho di lui (del re) lo stimo indif-
ferente in qualsivoglia religione."


blended with the reaUties of the world and the
common-place of life ; it finds utterance in poetry
and romantic tales, which, again, re-act upon the
character and conduct of the young. Whilst the
negotiations w^hich had been set on foot were de-
layed from day to day and from month to month,
the prince of Wales, and his intimate friend and
companion Buckingham, conceived the romantic
thought of setting out to fetch his bride*. The
Spanish ambassador Gondemar appears to have
had some share in this adventure ; at least, he told
the prince that his presence would put an end to
all difficulties.
/ What was the amazement of the English am-
bassador in Madrid, lord Digby, who had hitherto
conducted this negotiation, when on being one day
called out of his chamber to speak to two cavaliers,
he beheld the son and the favourite of his sove-
reign ! The contracting parties now applied them-
selves in earnest to remove the obstacles presented
by religion. It was necessary in the first place to
obtain the pope's consent, and king James had
displayed no repugnance to enter into direct nego-
tiation with Paul V. for that object ; but that pope

* Papers relative to the Spanish match, in the Hardwicke
Papers, i. p. 399. They contain the correspondence between
James I. and the two travellers, which excites the greatest in-
terest in the persons concerned. James's failings appear at least
those of a very humane temper. His first letter begins : " My
sweat boys and dear ventrous knights, worthy to be put in a new
romanso." — " My sweat boys," is his common mode of address :
they write, " dear dad, and gossip."

2 k2


would listen to them only under the condition that
the king should grant entire religious freedom to
his catholic subjects. The impression made on
Gregory XV., on the contrary, by the prince's ad-
venturous journey was so powerful, that he would
have been content with less extensive concessions.
In a letter to the prince, he expresses his hope that
" the ancient seed of christian piety, which had of
old borne fruit in English kings, would once more
spring up and flourish in him ; at all events, since
he intended to marry a catholic lady, he could not
desire to oppress the catholic church." The prince
answered, that he would never use any hostile
measure against the church of Rome ; on the con-
trary, he would try to bring it about, " that as we
all," to use his w^ords, " acknowledge one triune
God and one crucified Christ, we may unite in one
faith and one church*." We see how great were
the advances made by both sides. Olivarez affirmed
that he had entreated the pope with the utmost
earnestness to grant the dispensation ; that he had
declared to him that the king could refuse the
prince nothingf. The English catholics too as-
sailed the pope with entreaties ; they said that a
refusal of the dispensation would bring upon them
fresh persecutions.

* Frequently printed : I follow the copy in Clarendon and the
Hardwicke Papers, apparently taken from the original.

f In the first impulse of joy, he went so far as to say, accord-
ing to Buckingham's account, (20th of March,) " that if the
pope would not give a dispensation for a wife, they would give
the infanta to thy son Baby as his wench,"


The points which the king was required to pro-
mise were now discussed.

Not only was the infanta with her suite to he
allowed to exercise her religion in a chapel of the
palace, but the early education of all the children
of this marriage was to be entrusted to her ; no
penal law was to have any application to them, nor
to interfere with their right of succession, even if
they should remain catholic *. The king promised,
generally, not to trouble the private exercise of the
catholic religion ; not to impose upon the catholics
any oath at variance with their faith ; and to en-
deavour to obtain from parliament the repeal of all
''laws against the catholics.

In August 1623, king James swore to these ar-
ticles, and no doubt appeared to remain of the
completion of the nuptials of prince Charles.

Rejoicings took place in Spain ; the court re-
ceived congratulations ; the ambassadors were for-
mally apprised of the intended marriage ; and the
ladies and the confessor of the infanta were ad-
monished not to let fall a word which could raise
up any obstacles to it.

James admonished his son not to forget, in the
joy of this fortunate event, the wrongs of his cousin,
who was robbed of his inheritance, and the tears of

* The most important stipulation, and the source of much mis-
chief. The article runs thus : " Quod leges contra catholicos
Romanos latee vel ferendse in Anglia et aliis regnis regi magnae
Britannife subjectis non attingent liberos ex hoc matrimonio ori-
undos, et libere jure successionis in regnis et dominus magnae
Britanniae fruantur." (Merc. Franc, ix., Appendice ii. 18.)


his sister. The affair of the Palatinate was warmly
taken up. There was a plan for drawing the im-
perial house and that of the Palatinate into the new
alliance, viz. by marrying the son of the expelled
elector to a daughter of the emperor; while Bavaria
was to be concihated by the creation of an eighth
electorate. Hereupon the emperor immediately
opened a negotiation with Maximilian of Bavaria,
who testified no reluctance, and only stipulated
that the transferred palatine electorate should re-
main in his possession, and the newly-created one
be given as an indemnity to the palatine house.
This made no important difference to the interests
of the catholics, who were to enjoy religious free-
dom in the restored Palatinate, and would still pos-
sess a majority of votes in the electoral college*.

Thus did the power which, in the preceding
reign, had formed the bulwark of protestantism,
enter into the most friendly relations with those
ancient foes to whom she seemed to have sworn ir-
reconcileable hatred — the pope and Spain. The
English catholics began to receive a totally differ-
ent treatment : domiciliary visits and persecutions
ceased ; certain oaths were no longer required ;
catholic chapels arose, to the great vexation of the
protestants, while the puritan fanatics who de-
claimed against the marriage were punished. King
James doubted not that before the winter he should
embrace his son, together with his youthful bride
and his favourite ; an event, to which he appears,

* In Khevenhiller. x. 114.


from all his letters, to have looked forward with the
most affectionate longing.

The advantages attendant on the execution oi
the above-named articles are sufficiently obvious ;
but the alliance itself gave expectation of far other
consequences, the extent of which could not be
foreseen. That influence of the catholic church
over the government of England, which force had
never been able to obtain, seemed now likely to
be acquired in the most peaceable and natural


At this point of our researches, while consider-
ing the brilliant triumphs of Catholicism in Europe,
it seems expedient to turn our eyes to those re-
moter regions of the globe, in which, urged on by a
kindred impulse, the religion of Rome advanced
with mighty strides.

Religious motives entered into the first idea
which prompted the discoveries and the conquests
of the Spaniards and Portuguese : these motives
never ceased to accompany and to animate them,
and assumed prominence and force in tlieir newly-
constituted empires both in the east and west.

In the beginning of the seventeenth century we
find the proud edifice of the catholic church com-
pletely reared in South America. There were five
archbishoprics, twenty-seven bishoprics, four hun-
dred monasteries, and innumerable parish churches


and doctrinas*. Magnificent cathedrals had sprung
up, of which the most splendid of all was, perhaps,
that of Los Angeles. The Jesuits taught grammar
and the liberal arts ; a theological seminary was
united to their college of San Ildefonso in Mexico.
A complete system of theological discipline was
taught in the universities of Mexico and Lima. It
appears that the Americans of European extrac-
tion were distinguished for their remarkable acute-
ness; though, as they complain, they were too far
removed from the countenance of the king's grace to
be rewarded according to their merits. Meanwhile
the mendicant orders, more particularly, began to
diffuse Christianity with regular progress over the
South American continent. Conquests gave place
to missions, and missions gave birth to civiliza-
tion ; the monks who taught the natives to read
and to sing, taught them also how to sow and to
reap, to plant trees and to build houses ; and, of
course, inspired the profoundest veneration and
attachment. When the priest visited his parish he
was received with ringing of bells and with music ;
flowers were strewn in his way, and the women held
out their children to him to bless. The Indians
manifested singular pleasure in the externals of de-
votion. They were never weary of attending mass,
of singing vespers, and of waiting in the choir for
the performance of the service. They had a talent
for music, and took an innocent dehght in deco-
rating their churches, — an employment which ac-

* Herrera, Descriijcion de las Indias, p. SO.


corded well with the temper of their minds,
extremely susceptible to simple and fanciful im-
pressions*. In their dreams they beheld the joys
of paradise. The queen of heaven appeared to the
sick in all her glory and majesty, surrounded by
youthful attendants, who brought refreshment to
the fevered and fainting sufferer ; or she appeared
alone, and taught her worshipper a song of her
crucified son, '* whose head is bowed down, even
as the yellow ears of corn."

Such are the characteristics of Catholicism which
produced so mighty an effect in these countries.
The monks only complain that the bad example
-■ and the cruelty of the Spaniards corrupted the na-
tives, and obstructed the work of conversion.

In the East Indies, as far as the Portuguese do-
minion extended, the progress of conversion was
very similar. Goa became the grand focus of Ca-
tholicism; thousands were converted yearly, and no
later than 1 565 it was calculated that there were
three hundred thousand christians in that city and
its neighbourhood, in the mountains of Cochin, and
at Cape Comorinf. But the general relations of

* Compendio y descripcion de las Indias ocidentales, MS.
" Tienen mucha caridad con los necessitados y en particular con
los sacerdotes : que los respetan y reverencian como ministros
de Christo, abracan los mas de tal suerte las cosas de nuestra
santa fe, que solo el mal exemplo que los demos es causa de que
no aya entre ellos grandes santos, como lo experimente el tiempo
que estuve en aquellos regnos." — The Literae annuse provincise
Paraquarise missse a Nicolao Duran, Antv. 1636, are peculiarly
worthy of notice, the Jesuits having always kept the Spaniards
at a distance from that country.

t Maffei, Commentarius de rebus Indicia, p. 21.


Catholicism to the east were totally different from
those it bore to the west. In the former, a vast,
singular, and unconquered world opposed its im-
penetrable mass to their doctrine as well as to their
arms ; primeval religions, whose rites enchained
the senses and the spirit, were intimately blended
with the manners and the opinions of the inha-

Catholicism was eminently calculated to van-
quish even such a world as this.

That it was so, is the fundamental idea which
lies at the root of all the efforts and proceedings of
Francisco Xavier, who arrived in India in the year
1 542. He traversed the country in every direction ;
prayed at the tomb of the apostle Thomas at Me-
liapur ; preached to the people of Travancore from
a tree ; in the Moluccas taught spiritual songs,
which were repeated by the boys in the market-
place, and by the fishermen on the sea. Yet he
was not destined to complete the work ; his fa-
vourite expression was, ' Amplius, amplius ! ' his
zeal for converting was mingled with a sort of
passion for travelling ; he got as far as Japan, and
had formed the design to explore China, the focus

Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 33 of 39)