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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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and birth-place of the opinions which there en-
countered him, when he died^.

It is in human nature, that his example, and
even the very difficulties of his undertaking, rather
allured to imitation than deterred. The early part
of the seventeenth century exhibits varied and in-
cessant activity in the east.

* Maffei, Historiarum Indicarum lib. xiii. et xiv.


In. 1606 we find father Nobili in Madaura. He
expresses his astonishment at the small progress
Christianity had made in so long a time ; and thinks
this can only be explained by the fact that the Por-
tuguese had addressed themselves to the Parias, in
consequence of which Christ was regarded as the
especial God of that degraded caste. He therefore
took a totally different course ; and as he was per-
suaded that an effectual conversion must begin with
the higher classes, he declared that he was of the
first order of nobility, (of which he had brought
the proofs) attached himself to the bramins,
adopted their dress and modes of living, submitted
" to their penances, learned Sanscrit, and entered
into their ideas*. They had a tradition that in
former times there had been four roads to truth
in India, and that one had been lost. He affirmed
that he had come to show them this lost but
straitest way to immortality. As early as the year
1609 he had converted seventy bramins. He was
cautious not to wound their prejudices ; not only
tolerating their distinction of castes (giving them
another signification), but separating the castes in
the churches ; he changed the expressions in which

* Juvencius, Historiae Societ. Jesu jjars v. torn. ii. lib. xviii.
§ ix. No. 49. " Brachmanum instituta omnia caeiimoniasque
cognoscit : linguam vernaculam, dictam vulgo Tamulicam, quae
latissime pertinet, addiscit : addit Baddagicam, qui principum et
aulse sermo, denique Grandonicam sive Samutcradam, quae lin-
gua eruditorum est, ceterum tot obsita difficultatibus, nulli ut
EuropcEO bene cognita fuisset ad earn diem, atque inter ipsosmet
Indos plurimum scire videantur qui hanc utcunque norint etsi
aliud nihil norint."


former missionaries had taught the doctrines of
Christianity, for more elegant and classical lan-
guage. His whole conduct was so admirably
adapted to its end, that he was soon surrounded by
crowds of converts ; and although his method of in-
struction at first gave great offence and scandal at
home, it seemed to be the only one fitted to advance
the cause. In the year 1621, Gregory XV. ex-
pressed his approbation of it.

Not less remarkable are the labours of the mis-
sionaries at the court of the emperor Akbar about
the same time.

We must remember that the ancient Mongolian
Khans, the conquerors of Asia, for a long time oc-
cupied a singularly undecided position between the
two religions which divided the world. We are
almost tempted to think that the emperor Akbar
was of a similar way of thinking. In his invitation
to the Jesuits he tells them, " that he had endea-
voured to understand all the religions of the earth,
and that now, by the help of the fathers, whom he
respected and honoured, he wished to become ac-
quainted with the christian religion." The first
who established himself at his court was Gero-
nimo Xavier, the nephew of Francisco, in the year
1595, at which period the insurrections of the
mahommedans tended to dispose the emperor in
favour of the christians. In the year 1599, Christ-
mas-eve was celebrated with the greatest solemnity
at Lahore : the holy manger was exposed to view
for twenty days ; numerous catechumens, with
palm-branches in their hands, went in procession


to the churches and received baptism. The em-
peror read with great interest a life of Christ in
Persian, and caused a picture of the Virgin, copied
from the Madonna del Popolo at Rome, to be
brought into his palace and shown to his women.
The christians inferred from these facts far more
than they really warranted, but they undoubtedly
contributed very greatly to their success ; in the
year 1610, after Akbar's death, three princes of the
blood-royal solemnly received baptism. They rode
to church upon white elephants and were received
by father Geronimo with a flourish of trumpets*.
Christianity seemed gradually to assume a charac-
ter of stability ; although here also opinions and
dispositions fluctuated according as the political
relations of the country to Portugal were more or
less amicable. In 1621 a college was founded in
Agra and a station in Patna, and in the year 1624
the emperor Dschehangir gave hopes that he would
become a convert.

The Jesuits had at the same time penetrated into
China, where they endeavoured to conciliate the
skilful, scientific, and instructed population of that
empire by a display of the inventions and the sci-
ences of the west. The progress made by Ricci is
to be imputed to his power of teaching mathema-
tics, and to his learning by heart and reciting stri-
king passages from the writings of Confucius. He
gained admittance to Pekin by means of a present
of a striking clock to the emperor, in whose favour
and estimation, however, nothing raised him so

* Juvencius, 1. 1. No. 1 — 23.


highly as a map which he drew, and which far sur-
passed any attempt of that kind by the Chinese.
It is a characteristic trait of Ricci, that when the
emperor ordered that ten similar maps should be
drawn on silk and hung round his chamber, he
seized the opportunity of rendering even these sub-
sidiary to the cause of Christianity, and filled the
margins and vacant spaces with christian symbols
and maxims. Such was the general character of
his teaching ; he began with mathematics and fi-
nished with religion ; his scientific talents and
attainments secured respect to his religious doc-
trine. Not only did he win over his immediate
disciples, but many mandarins, whose garb he had
assumed, went over to him ; and in the year 1605 a
society of the Blessed Virgin was already established
in Pekin. Ricci died in 1610 ; worn out not only
by excessive labour, but still more by the numerous
visits, the long dinners, and all the other duties of
Chinese society. After his death, his successors
followed the advice he had given, to proceed in
their work without ostentation or noise, and in this
tempestuous sea to keep near the shore ; they also
imitated his example as to the aid to be derived
from science. In the year 1610 there was an
eclipseof the moon : the predictions of the native
astronomers differed by a full hour from those of
the Jesuits ; and when the latter were verified by the
event, the popular respect for the fathers was
greatly raised*. Not only were they entrusted, in

* Jouvency has dedicated the whole of his 19th book to the
Chinese enterprise, and has joined, p. 5G1, a dissertation, "Im-


connexion with certain mandarins, their disciples,
with the rectification of the astronomical tables, but
the cause of Christianity was thjis promoted. In
1611 the first church was consecrated in Nankin ;
in 1616 there were christian churches in five pro-
vinces of the empire. When assailed by opposition,
which not unfrequently happened, they found their
best and most effectual defence lay in the produc-
tion of works by their pupils, which enjoyed the
approbation of the learned ; they knew how to
elude the threatening storm ; they conformed as
nearly as possible to the customs of the country,
and in the year 1619 received the pope's sanction
to several concessions of this kind. Accordingly,
' not a year passed in which they did not convert
thousands, wiiile their opponents gradually be-
came extinct ; in 1624 Adam Schall appeared, and
the accurate description of two eclipses of the moon
which happened in that year, and a work of Lom-
bardo's on earthquakes, gave fresh brilliancy to
the reputation they enjoyed*.

peril Sinici recens et uberior notitia," which is still worthy of

* Relatione dellaCina dell' anno 1621. " Lo stato presente di
questa chiesa mi pare in universale molto simile ad una nave a
cui e li venti e le nuvole minaccino di corto grave borasca, e per
cio li marinari ammainando le vele e calando le antenne fermino
ü corso, e stiano aspettando che si chiarisca il cielo e cessino li
contrasti de' venti : ma bene spesso avviene che tutto il male si
risolve in paura e che sgombrate le furie de' venti svanisce la
tempesta contenta delle sole minaccie. Cos! appunto pare che sia
accaduto alia nave di questa chiesa. Quattro anni fa se le levo
contro una gagharda borasca, la quale pareva che la dovesse

512 MISSrONS. JAPAN. [book VII.

The course pursued by the Jesuits among the
warlike and divided Japanese was totally different.
From the very first they took part with one of the
hostile factions. In the year 1554 they had the
good fortune to find themselves on the side of the
conqueror, under whom, secure of his favour, they
made extraordinary progress. Not later than the
year 1 579 the number of christians in Jaj^an was
estimated at three hundred thousand. Father Va-
lignano, who died in 1606^ a man whose advice
Philip II. valued very highly on eastern affairs,
founded three hundred churches and thirty Jesuits'
houses in Japan.

The connexion of the Jesuits with Mexico and
Spain, however, excited at length the jealousy of
the native authorities ; fresh civil wars broke out
in which they had not their former good fortune ;
the party to which they had attached themselves
was defeated; and after the year 1612 they were
assailed by fearful persecutions.

But they stood their ground well. Their converts
courted martyrdom ; they founded a brotherhood
of martyrs for the purpose of affording each other
mutual encouragement under every possible suffer-
ing ; they designate those years as the ' ' sera mar-
tyrum." Notwithstanding the vast increase of per-
secution, say their historians, new converts were

sommergere ad nu tvatto : li piloti accommodandosi al tempo
raccolsero le vele delle opere loro e si ritirarono alquanto, ma in
modo che potevano essere trovati da chiunque voleva I'ajuto loro
per aspettare donee aspiret dies et inclinentur umbrse. Sin' hora
il male non e stato di altro che di timore."


daily added to them*. They assert that from 1G03
to 1622, 239,339 Japanese were (according to ac-
curate calculation) converted to Christianity.

In all these countries we find therefore that the
Jesuits maintained the same character for ahility,
adaptation to circumstances, and at the same time
perseverance and endurance. Their progress out-
went all expectation, and they succeeded in over-
coming, at least to a certain extent, the resistance
of those national systems of religion which arc the
immemorial growth of the east.

While engaged in the work of conversion, they
/ did not neglect to provide for the union of the ori-
ental christians with the church of Rome.

They had found even in India those primitive
Nestorian churches, known under the name of the
christians of St. Thomas, and as these regarded the
patriarch of Bahylon (at Mosul) as their chief and
the pastor of the universal church, and not the
pope of Rome (of whom indeed they knew nothing),
preparations were soon made to bring them within
the pale of the Roman church. Neither force
nor persuasion was spared. In the year IGOl the
chief men among them seemed to be won over,
and a Jesuit was appointed bishop over them. The
Roman ritual was printed in Chaldaic, the errors of

■'' The Lettcrc annue del Giappone dell* anno 1 622', afford an
example : " I gloriosi campioni che morirono quest' anno furon
121 : gll adulti, che per opera de' padri dclla compagnia a vista
di cosi crudele persecutione hanno ricevuto il santo battesimo
arrivano il numero di 2236 senza numerar quelli che per mezzo
d'altri rcligiosi e sacerdoti Giapponesi si battezzano."
VOL. II. 2 L


Nestorius were anathematized in a diocesan coun-
cil; a Jesuits' college was established in Cranganor,
and the new appointment to the episcopal see in
the year 1624, took place with the consent of those
who had hitherto been its most obstinate oppo-

It is evident that the weight of the Spanish and
Portuguese power in the east greatly facilitated
these religious successes ; its influence was also
powerfully felt about the same time in Abyssinia,
where all previous attempts of the kind had been
unavailing. It was not till the year 1G03, that the
Portuguese of Fremona, by affording essential aid
to the Abyssinians in a battle with the CafFres,
gained greater respect for themselves and their reli-
gion. Just then father Paez appeared ; a Jesuit of
great ability, who preached in the language of the
country, and gained access to the court. The vic-
torious sovereign wished to establish a nearer con-
nexion with the king of Spain, mainly with the view
of having an ally against his enemies in the inte-
rior ; upon which Paez represented to him that his
only means of accomplishing this object was to re-
nounce his schismatical doctrines and go over to
the church of Rome. His representations had the
greater weight in consequence of the fidelity and
courage displayed by the Portuguese in the inter-
nal wars of the country. Disputations were set on
foot, in which the ignorant monks were easily de-
feated ; Sela-Christos, the bravest man of the em-

* Cordara, Historia SocJesu, vi. ix. p. 535.


pire and brother of the emperor Seltan -Segued
(a socinian) , was converted ; countless numbers fol-
lowed his example, and a connexion was soon
formed with Paul V. and Phihp III. As might be
expected, the representatives of the established reh-
gion bestirred themselves in opposition to this
change, and civil war in Abyssinia, as in Europe,
assumed the garb of religion ; the Abuna and his
monks being always on the side of the rebels, Sela-
Christos, the Portuguese, and the converts, on the
side of the emperor. Battles were fought, year after
year, with changing fortune ; at length the em-
peror and his party were triumphant. It was a
triumph at once of Catholicism and of the Jesuits.
In the year 1621, Seltan-Segued decided the con-
troversies which had so long existed on the two
natures in Christ, in favoi^r of the scheme of the
church of Rome ; he forbade his subjects to pray
for the patriarch of Alexandria, and caused catholic
churches and chapels to be erected in his cities and
even in his gardens* In the year 1622, after con-
fessing to Paez, he received the sacrament accord-
ing to the catholic rite. The court of Rome had
long been requested to send a Latin patriarch to
Abyssinia, but hesitated to do so, so long as the
disposition or the power of the emperor were doubt-
ful ; but now, as he had overcome all his enemies,
and had given unquestionable and unequalled proofs
of submission and attachment, Gregory XV. ap-
pointed a Portuguese whom king Philip had recom-

* Juvencius, p. 705. Cordara, vi. 6. jo. 320. Ludolf calls the
emperor Susneus.



mended, — doctor Alfonzo Mendez, of the society
of Jesus, to be patriarch of Ethiopia* (19th Dec.
1622). After the arrival of Mendez, the emperor
solemnly promised obedience to the pope of Fvome.

Meanwhile the catholics never lost sight of the
Greek christians inhabiting the Turkish empire ;
the popes sent mission after mission amongst them.
The Roman " professio fidei " was introduced
among the Maronites by some Jesuits ; in 1614 we
find a Nestorian archimandrite in Rome, who ab-
jured the doctrines of Nestorius in the name of a
great number of followers. In Constantinople a
Jesuit mission was established, and through the in-
fluence of the French ambassador, attained to a
certain stability and credit ; among other tri-
umphs, it succeeded in the year 1621, for a time
at least, in procuring the removal of the patriarch
Cyril Lucaris, who inclined to protestant opinions.

How boundless was the activity of which we
have now taken a rapid and cursory survey ! ex-
tending at once from the Alps to the Andes; send-
ing forth its scouts and pioneers to Thibet and to
Scandinavia ; insinuating itself into the favour of
the governments of China and of England : yet
on every part of this wide arena, vigorous, entire,
and indefatigable ; the spirit which was at work
in the centre animating, perhaps with increased
vivacity and intensity, the labourers at its extremest

* Sagripanti, Discorso della religione dell' Etiopia, MS, from
tlie Atti Consistoriali.






A GROWING power is seldom, if ever, arrested
in its progress solely by resistance from without ;
in general, such a reverse, if not entirely caused, is
at least greatly aggravated by internal divisions.

Had Catholicism remained unanimous, — had it
gone forward to its end with united and compacted
forces, — it is not easy to see how the northern or
Germanic part of Europe, which was to a consider-
able extent implicated in its interests, and entan-
gled in its policy, could in the long run have held
out against it.

But was it not to be expected, that at this rapid
aggrandizement of Catholicism, those antagonist
principles which had formerly risen up against it, —
which had been stifled but not extinguished, and
had been incessantly smouldering at the heart of
society, would burst forth anew ?

The peculiar characteristic of the state and pro-
gress of religious opinions at this epoch was, that
they everywhere reposed on the basis of political


and military superiority. Missions followed in the
rear of armies. Hence we find that the greatest
political changes were connected with those suc-
cesses of a religious party, which had also some
substantive importance, and necessarily occasioned
re-actions, upon which it was imi^ossible to calculate.

Of all these changes, the most momentous un-
questionably was, that the German line of the
house of Austria, which hitherto, embarrassed by
the troubles existing in its hereditary dominions,
had taken little share in the general affairs of
Europe, suddenly attained to the independence,
importance, and vigour of a great European power.
It was in consequence of the elievation of German
Austria, that Spain, which since the time of Philip
II. had remained pacific, now, animated with fresh
eagerness for war, revived her former hopes and
claims. The two powers had come into immediate
connexion in consequence of the affair of the Gri-
sons ; the passes of the Alps were occupied on the
Italian side by Spain, on the German by Austria ;
and on the summit of these mountains they ap-
peared to pledge each other mutual faith and sup-
port in projects which embraced every part of the

Unquestionably, this connexion opened, on the
one hand, wide and brilhant prospects for Catho-
licism, to which both lines had devoted themselves
with inviolable attachment ; but, on the other, it
was pregnant with danger of internal dissension.
The Spanish monarchy under Phihp II. had excited
universal jealousy ; the collective powder of the


house, now immensely increased and consolidated
by the addition of its German forces, could not fail
therefore to awaken the old antipathies in greater
violence than ever.

This first became apparent in Italy.

The small Italian states, which could not pos-
sibly exist self-sustained, had the most urgent need
of the protection afforded by the balance of power,
and at the same time the quickest sense of any-
thing that disturbed it. Their present position,
hemmed in as it were between two great powers,
cut off from all external help by the occupation of
/ the passes of the Alps, they regarded as imminently
threatening. Little influenced by the advantages
which this combination promised to their common
faith, they turned to France, who indeed alone
could help them, to entreat her to endeavour to
break it. Louis XIII., who was alarmed for the
continuance of his influence over Italy, readily
listened to their petition, and immediately after the
peace of 1622, even before his return to his capi-
tal, concluded a treaty with Savoy and Venice, in
virtue of which the house of Austria was to be
compelled by a union of their common forces to
give up the Grisons passes and fortresses* ; — a pur-
pose, which though directed exclusively to a single
point, might easily affect the general interests of

Of this Gregory XV. was abundantly aware ; he
distinctly perceived the danger to the peace of the

* Nani, Storia Veneta, p. 255.


catholic world, to the interests of religion, and
hence to the renovation of the papal dignity, which
was threatened from this point : with the same zeal
with which he promoted missions and conversions,
he now sought to prevent the breaking out of hos-
tilities, the consequences of which were vividly
before his eyes.

The authority of the jDapal see, — or rather the
feeling of the unity of the catholic world, — had
still so much of vitality and power, that both Spain
and France declared themselves willing to leave the
decision of this affair to the pope. Nay, he was even
petitioned to take possession of the fortresses which
excited so much jealous alarm, as a deposit, until
the terms of agreement could be fully settled, and
to garrison them with his own troops*.

For a moment pope Gregory hesitated whether
or not he should undertake this active, and doubt-
less costly share in distant quarrels ; but as it
was obvious how important to the peace of the*
catholic world was his compliance with this re-
quest, he at length ordered a few companies to be
raised, and sent them under the command of his
brother, the duke of Fiano, to the Orisons. The
Spaniards were desirous of retaining at least Riva
and Chiavenna ; but even these they now delivered
up to the papal trcopsf. Archduke Leopold of
Tyrol also finally consented to cede to them all

* Dispaccio Sillcry, 28 Nov. 1622. Coisini, 13. 21 Gen. 1G23,
in Siri, Memorie recondite, torn. v. p. 435, 442. Sciittura del
dcposito dclla Valtellina, ib. 459.

t Siri, Memorie recondite, v. 519.


the districts and fortified towns, to which he
did not lay claim as part of his own hereditary

In this way the danger which had created the
greatest agitation in the Italian states seemed
averted. The main consideration now was to make
arrangements for the protection of catholic inter-
ests. To this end, it was proposed, that as the
ValtelUne was not to be suffered to fall again into
the hands of Spain, so neither should it be allowed
to return under the dominion of the Orisons ; since
in the latter case the progress of catholic restora-
^ ation there would, in all probability, be interrupted ;
it was therefore to be attached to the three ancient
Rheetian confederate states, as a fourth, with equal
rights and equal independence. From the same
prudent regard to the interests of the church, the
pope would not entirely break up the alliance of
the two Austrian lines, which appeared necessary
* to the prosperity of Catholicism in Germany. The
passages through Worms and the Valtelline were
to remain open to the Spaniards ; always under-
stood, for the passage of troops into Germany, not
for their entrance into Italy*.

Thus far had things proceeded, — not indeed ab-
solutely concluded, but all ripe for a conclusion, —
when Gregory XV. died (8th of July, 1623). He
had however the satisfaction of seeing the dissen-
sions which threatened the safety of the church,
appeased, and her authority constantly increasing.

* Art. ix. of the scheme of the convention.


In the course of these negotiations there had even
been a talk of a new alliance between France and
Spain, with a view to an attack on La Rochelle and

But after the death of Gregory, these projects
were far from being realized.

In the first place, the new pope, Urban VIII.,
did not enjoy that confidence which is inspired by
the presumption, founded on experience, of perfect
impartiality ; in the next, the Italians were far
from satisfied with the agreement entered into ;

Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 34 of 39)