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way to the execution the condemned wore the Sanbenito, a pecu-
liar dress, on which they were represented burning in the flames,
and surrounded by devils ; moreover a high cap, painted over also
with demons ; finally they had a rope around the neck, and carried
a burning candle in the hand. In this attire they were paraded in
the streets, and had to pass by a stage on which the King and his
Court-Officers and Court-Ladies were seated. For such an execu-
tion was for the barbarians of those ages a kind of play in which
their hearts and senses delighted. At last the sentenced victims
were brought to the place of execution, where funeral piles were
raised. There they were the last time summoned to forswear their
faith, and if they persevered in it, put on the wood-piles. At a
given signal these were kindled, and the unhappy victims slowly
burned. Their torments sometimes lasted many hours; sometimes
their skin burst, and througli the scalds the intestines gushed forth.
Generally they were burnt alive. It was considered to be a partic-
ular grace if they first were strangled, and then thrown on the



•42

wood-stack. If the executed were authors, their writings were
burnt at the same time.

This infernal tribunal was established in most of the countries
of Europe, and even in Asia and America. Especially it subsisted
in Spain and Portugal, in France and Italy. In America many In-
dians were burned, if they would not be converted to Christianity.
They were shown the gospel, and required to believe in its con-
tents, though they could not read it ; if they refused to obey, they
were to expire in the flames. No rank, no sex, no age was pro-
tected against the power of the Tribunal ; even Kings and Bishops
were subjected to it.

Most of the victims of the Inquisition were sacrificed in the
Spanish Dominions during the Governments of Ferdinand, the
Catholic, and of Philip II. Isabella, Ferdinand's wife, had prom-
ised to her confessor to exterminate all heretics, if the royal crown
would fall to her share. She became Queen. Now all Jews and
Moors, who then formed a great part of the inhabitants in Spain,
had to consent to be baptized, or to leave the country ; but as
many of them who submitted to baptism, secretly remained at-
tached to their former creed, she induced her husband to establish
the Inquisition Tribunal. In this country 10,000 men were burned
alive in the course of eighteen years. Even more dreadful was the
rage of Philip II., who persecuted the Protestants in the Nether-
lands (see § 29). The last combustion happened 1782 in Seville.
They have computed that the number ot all individuals who since
the institution of the Inquisition have been burned in the different
countries of the earth, amounts to nine millons.

^ 21. Concluded— The Clergy— The Popes— Gregory VII.—
Innocent III.

During this period the clergy was the most powerful caste in
State ; but its members indulged in ambition, luxury and indolence.
Even the Bishops set out on feuds, or were used to hunting and
military exercises. Frequently priests returning from hunting went
accompanied by their hounds, immediately to church, in order to
say mass. The Monks grew wild and savage; many clergymen
did not even know how to read. The Popes, in particular, [were



43

greedy for more dominions, ambitious, cruel and perfidious. They
shunned no fraud, if it served to increase their authority, e. g.,
they frequently appealed to the canon law, a collection, partly of
fictitious or adulterated laws of the oldest Synods and Roman
Bishops, and partly of later Papal edicts. They introduced it as
the statute-book of the Church. By it they were declared to be
the sovereigns of the Church, the Bishops being only their repre-
sentatives.

With Gregory VII. (1073 — 1085), the universal sovereignty of
the Popes begins. He demanded of the Bishops an oath, like
that of allegiance, and declared most countries to be fiefs of
the Roman See. He asserted that the Papal power resembles the
sun, the Royal the moon ; as the moon gets her light from the sun,
in the same manner Emperors and Kings do not exist but by the
Pope ; consequently those are obliged to obey him. He robbed
the sovereigns of the right to nominate the prelates of the Church,
and to invest them with tracts of land, and usurped it for himself.
Moreover he instituted celibacy (the unmarried state of life) of
priests, forbidding them matrimony, and separating them forcibly
from their wives and children. Namely in the former ages of the
Church the priests were not forbidden to marry, and even in
Gregory's age many of them had wives. Therefore they opposed
the introduction of celibacy, and even caused revolts against the
Pope ; however, he carried his prohibition through by dint of force.

Next to Gregory, Innocent III (1198 — 1216) was the most im-
perious and most powerful Pope. During the war between Otto
of Brunswick and Philip of Suabia, he contrived to augment con-
siderably the Papal dominions; he deprived the laymen of the
chalice of the Holy Supper; he censured them severely for reading
the Bible, introduced the auricular confession by law, and set the
interdict at work. Proof of his cruelty is the persecution of the
Albigenses.



44

THIRD PERIOD (I300-I518).



From the End of the Crusades Unto the Reformation of
the Church,



§ 22. "War of the Hussites— Philip 17. of France.

Under the reign of Emperor Sigismond IV., in Constance, the
great Synod was held, by which John Hiiss and Jerome of Prague
were burnt. From their ashes one of the most dreadful religious
wars flashed up (1419 — 1433)- Their adherents^ the Hussites in
Bohemia and Moravia, already exasperated, because they were for-
bidden to confess the doctrine of their teacher, and to use the
chalice at the Lord's Supper, and now enraged by his fearful exe-
cution, united close to the town Kniss, upon a mountain which
they called Tabor, where they also founded a town of the same
name, and celebrated the divine service. Their General was the
nobleman of Trocznowa, called Ziska, that means, the one-eyed.
The Pope summoned all Christendom to wage a crusade against
them, and Emperor Sigismond came (1422) to Prague with an
immense army; but Ziska repelled him. A second army was also
vanquished, and the Emperor had to flee from Bohemia. x\fter
Ziska's death the two Frokop became the Generals of the Hussites.
They vanquished still several Imperial armies, and spread the
flames of war over Germany. Everywhere terror preceded them.
Finally, the Council in Basil invited them to negotiations. Procop
the Great made his appearance there at the head of a large em-
bassade. The Synod granted to the moderate party of the Hussites
the chalice and tlie free sermon. They would have obtained still
more important rights if they had lived in concord instead of
quarreling with each other.

Philip IV., King of France, with the surname of the Beautiful,
was a scourge of the Popes. Boniface VIII. forbade him to assess
the clergy, and as the King yet carried his will into execution,
sent a bull (decree) wherein he declared himself to be the Supreme
Judge of the King, France being a Papal fief. Philip ordered the
Papal letter to be burned at an assembly of the States. Then the



45

Pope excommunicated him, and dispensed his subjects with their
oath of allegiance, the King held (1303) another assembly of the
States, which protested against all Papal decrees. In order to
chastise the Pope yet more severely, he intended to have him seized
secretly, and conducted to France. Boniface was suddenly at-
tacked in Anagni, put on the back of a miserable nag, which had
neither bridle nor saddle, and imprisoned. The people, indeed,
delivered him and carried him to Rome ; but he was so much en-
raged by the suffered insult that he smashed his own head on the
wall of his own room. Philip then got Clement V., by birth a
Frenchman, elected Pope, because he hoped that he being a
native, would be suppler ; in order that he might the more easily
rule him, he bound him by the condition that he should take up
his residence in France. From that time Avigfwn was the seat of
the Popes during seventy years (1307 — 1377).

Through covetousness Philip attained also the abolishment of
the Order of the Templars. This Order had been lounded during
the Crusades, and was originally destined to protect the pilgrims
in Palestine against the attacks of their enemies. Upon the same
day all Knights of the Temple in France were seized, then, under
the pretext of having committed secret crimes and vices, put to
the rack, and forced to make untrue confessions. Fifty-nine of
them, and James Molay their Grand-Master, too, were by a slow
fire burnt (1310). In the hour of death they retracted their con-
fessions ; Molay himself had never declared himself to be guilty.
The King confiscated the large dominions of the Order, and di-
vided the booty with the Pope, who abolished the Order of the
Templars also in the other countries.

§ 23. State of the Church— Wycliffe— John Huss— The Popes.

Public morals were in this period barbarous and corrupted ;
cruelty and debauchery generally prevailed. To this evil were
also joined the belief in witches and ghosts, exorcisms, persecu-
tions of the infidels and heretics. The Jews, e. g., were generally
ill-treated, even by the magistrates; their testimony against
Christians was null and void ; they were not entitled to acquire
landed property ; their children were precluded from the public



46

schools ; in larger towns they were confined to special districts,
and by capital punishment forbidden to educate a Christian child
in their faith, or to marry a Christian maid.

/ohn Wycliffe, professor of theology in England, was excommunica-
ted and suspended, because he censured the Popes and the Monastic
Orders, and admitted the Bible alone as the rule of Christian faith.
He translated the latter into the language of his country, and
continued, till he died (,1385), to teach with candid courage.
Some of his disciples were burned, others exiled. The latter
propagated his doctrine in Germany and Bohemia.

In the latter country, soon dS.itx,John Huss, professor of theology
in Prague, was teaching with Wicleff's spirit, whose books he was
assiduously reading. His writings and sermons were anathematized.
Still, even the anathema of the Pope did not diminish the author-
ity which he enjoyed with the people. He burned the Papal bull
of indulgence amidst great tumult. Large crowds accompanied
him, and listened to the sermons he delivered in the open air.

He was summoned to the Synod of Consfa?ice, at which Emperor
Sigismond, Pope John XXHL, and many other Princes, Bishops,
Abbots and Doctors were present. He was ordered to recant his
doctrine. He attempted to defend himself; but the priests did
not allow him to speak, preventing him by clamor ; they thrust
him into a marshy dungeon, in which he languished during seven
months, and fell sick. As he would not retract, he was sentenced
to the stake (141 5). He appealed in vain to the safe conduct he
had received from the Emperor, and to the promise of security
given to him by the Pope ; the Synod declared that people are not
bound to keep their word to heretics. First his writings were
burned, then he himself, and his ashes dispersed in the Rhine.
One year later his ivitwd Jerome of Prague suffered the same fate.

In order to extort money from the credulous, the Popes em-
ployed many different means : they disposed of the prebends by
auction, sold the indulgences, dispensed with the ecclesiastic laws,
and imposed contributions for fighting Turks, the Peter's pence
and other taxes. For money they were ready to sell the remission
of any crime ; this was extended even to the defunct. After the
introduction of the inquisition the execution of the heretics was



47

one of their ordinary functions. Their thirst for more dominions"
involved them in wars continually. For a time two Popes reigned.
one in Rome, the other in Avignon ; finally, even three were ruling
(1409). In order to end the schism of the Church, and to reform
both its head and members, that great Synod of Constance was
held (1414 — 1418). The three Popes were deposed, and a new one,
Martin V., elected ; but he was not more energetic than the
others, and dismissed the assembly with his benediction. Since
that time the Popes pursued their scandalous life, oppressed the
National Churches, and charged the nations with taxes for the ben-
efit of their own families and relations.



FOUETH PEEIOD (1518-1648).



From the Eeformation Unto the Westphalian Peace.



§ 24. Causes of the Eeformation of the Church— Martin Luther.

In the preceding period the condition of the Christian Church
had been so wretched that the outcry for its reform universally re-
sounded. But this was neither heeded by the Popes, nor by the
prelates of the Church generally, and the great Synods of Con-
stance and Basle passed without success ; therefore the laymen
themselves must set to the work of reformation

In Germany there were some additional reasons for it. The
sovereigns of this Empire depended much upon Rome. Even the
Emperors were obliged to obey the Popes, because they were
crowned by them. The German prelates and churches possessed
the larger and finer part of the public property, and were exempt
from all civil charges and duties. The corruption and tyranny of
the clergy was unbounded. The assurance of impunity encouraged
them to perpetrate the gravest crimes. They indulged in the
grossest luxury. The Popes extorted from Germany immense
sums under the titles of dispensations, indulgences, taxes for the
Turkish wars, etc. They reserved half of the benefices for them-



48

selves, and let them out to the highest bidders, who sold them
again to others. By their notorious viciousness they had already
lost a good deal of their authority and power. Finally, the print-
ing press diffused the rays of enlightenment wider and wider, and
public opinion gained more and more importance.

But the next cause which excited the religious revolution, was
the scandalous traffic of indulgences of Leo X. In Germany,
especially, this Pope hoped to acquire by them the sums he wanted
to satisfy his love of splendor and his luxury. He asserted that
the money paid over to him would make amends for the lack of
morality, and deliver the guilty ones from their civil and divine
penalties. For a trifling sum the remission of all, even the grossest
sins, could be purchased, and Heaven was thrown open to every
criminal. Of the Papal agents the Archbishop of Metz, and the
Dominican yo/z« Tezel carried on this traffic the most successfully.
''Now," cried Tezel, and his fellow-preachers, "now Heaven is
open ; when will he enter who does not come in by such a cheap
bargain? What mind must he have who does not hurry to release
his father from the torments of purgatory ? As soon as theshrove-
money jingles in the chest, the soul jumps out of purgatory."

Every intelligent man was disgusted by this scandal ; the most
so was Dr. Martm Luther, an Augustine friar, and professor of
theology at Wittenberg. He was born in Eiselben (1483), where
his father was a poor miner. He was destined by him to study
jurisprudence. One day he took a walk with a friend, who was
killed by lightning at his side. The youth grew melancholy, and
joined the Order of the Augustine Monks. Here he had to perform
the lowest work, to open and shut the church doors, pass with the
beggar-boy through the town, etc. His melancholy increased;
nothing but music was able to divert him. Still he was assiduously
studying, and was graduated as Doctor of Philosophy. He liked
best to study the Bible. From this gloomy state of mind which
wasted his mental and physical forces, the Prior of the Convent,
Dr. Staupitz, delivered him, by proposing to Frederick the Wise^
Elector-sovereign of Saxe, to api)oint him Professor in the Univer-
sity of Wittenberg. Here Luther entered into a sphere of
activity, which was better suited to his erudition (1508). Soon



49

after he became also town preacher. During a journey on which
he went to Rome (1510), by order of his convent, he became
better acquainted with the infamous life of the Popes, and with
the immorality of their Court.

After having in vain complained in a missive he had addressed
to the Archbishop of Metz, of the mischief of the indulgences,
he affixed on the church of the castle of Wittenberg those famous
ninety-five theses, by which he declared the indulgences to have
been merely invented by the Popes with the design to make money.
The theses were translated into the German, and spread abroad in
innumerable copies. Luther was summoned to Rome, and only
with difficulty could his sovereign procure him a trial in Augsburg.
Luther appeared with a safe conduct, which Frederick had
provided, in the presence of the Papal legate (1818). This digni-
tary demanded unconditional recantation, and threatened him with
anathema. Luther quickly departed, for the legate made prepara-
tions to take him prisoner. A second attempt which another
legate made in order to induce him to recant, had no better suc-
cess.

Afterwards the Papal excommunication bull directed against Lu-
ther arrived from Rome (1520), but without great effect. In Leipsic
the students nearly killed its bearer. Dr. EcK. Luther assembled all
the teachers of the University of Wittenberg outside of the town ;
the students raised a wood-pile, a teacher kindled it, and Luther
threw, amidst general exultation, the bull, the canon law, and
Eck's writings in the fire.

§ 25. Diet of Worms— Confession of Augsburg— War of Smal-
kalden— Eeligious Peace of Augsburg.

Meanwhile the lately-elected Emperor, Charles V., came to
Germany, in order to hold a Diet in Worms, and Luther was sum-
moned to be present at it (15 21). Though suffering from the
effects of a fever, he resolved to set out immediately. A friend
warned him against Worms ; but he answered : ^'I shall go. even
if as many devils are in town as tiles on the roofs." However,
his sovereign did not consent to his journey until the Emperor
had promised him a safe conduct, and a secure return. Luther's



50

journey resembled a triumphal procession ; whatever town he passed
through, there crowds of people met him, and hailed him as their
deliverer. The Papal legate, on the contrary, though traveling in
the train of the Emperor, was only scoffed at and derided ; hardly
anybody would receive him. Worms re-echoed Luther's praise,
and abounded with apologies for him, and with menaces against
his enemies. A great many noblemen swore to assist him.

Luther stepped forth in the Diet ; intimidated by the aspect of
the large, resplendent assembly, he asked them to grant him one
day for consideration ; but on the second day he defended his
doctrine with resoluteness and courage, declined absolutely to re-
tract as they ordered him to do, and concluded by saying : " Now,
because they demand a plain, simple answer from me, I will give one
which has neither horns nor teeth. I do neither believe the Pope,
nor his synods ; for both have often erred, and contradicted them-
selves. Therefore, I cannot and shall not recant, unless they re-
fute me by testimonies of the Holy Writ, or by evident reasons;
for it is not advisable to do anything against conscience. Here I
stand, I cannot do otherwise ! God help me ! If this be human
work, it will fall to ruins by itself; but if it be from God, you will
never destroy it."

Luther's numerous friends were delighted by this bold answer.
He was indeed excommunicated ; but his sovereign Frederick had
already taken precaution to protect the Reformer. On his return,
accordingly, Luther was suddenly stopped in a forest by masked
riders, and safely carried by them to the fortified castle Wartdurg,
near to Eisenach.

In the profound concealment in which he lived here, he com-
posed new writings, especially the excellent translation of the New
Testament. But hearing that in Wittenberg turbulent crowds
were violently throwing out the images from the churches, that
they were destroying the altars, and perpetrating other mischief,
he suddenly appeared there, and restored order (1522).

Meanwhile the anathema, inflicted on him, was forgotten, and
the work of reformation speedily advanced. Many convents were
abolished, and a large part of their revenues set aside for the min-
istry of the gospel, for the instruction of the youth, and for poor-



51

institutions. The priests were permitted to marry. Mass and con-
fession were abrogated. Luther himself put off the habit of his
Order, and married (1525) Catherine Bora, who had left the con-
vent with other nuns. His faithful friend and associate in the re-
formatory task was the meek and learned Philip Melanchtofi.

When some Catholic Princes concluded an alliance for the pro-
tection of their creed, the Lutheran States did the same for the
defense of their belief (1526). At the Diet of Speier (1529) some
restrictions on their faith were decreed ; but they protested
solemnly against them ; whence they received the nanae
Protestants. At the Diet of Augsburg (1530) they presented
a memorial, containing their religious confession : therefore they
were called the relatives of the Augsburg Confession. The Catho-
lic States of the T^mpire rejected it, and summoned the heretics
(as they called them) to return into the fold of the orthodox
Church. Indignantly the Protestants left the Diet, whereupon their
belief was declared to be heresy, and its propagation forbidden
under the severest penalties. Therefore all the Protestant Princes
confederated at Smalkalden, in order to defend their religious
liberty, if necessary, with open force. Neither was the Council,
which the Pope held in Triente, able to restore peace; the Protest-
ants did not even attend it, but refused to submit to its decisions.
Finally, Charles prepared war against them. They also took up
arms. Luther, who in vain had recommended peace, died shortly,
before the war broke out (1546).

Both parties were fighting during several years with alternate
fortune; at last the Protestants became victors, and at the Diet of
Augsburg a treaty was effected, which granted them the free prac-
tice of their religion. Still, if in future, States and prelates should
convert to the Protestant Church, their prebends ought to be re-
served to the Catholic Church. This article of the ecclesiastic re-
servation, which the Emperor had arbitrarily added, became, in
later time, the cause of indescribable sufferings for all Germany.

§ 26. The Thirty- Years War— Eestitution— Edict.

Emperor Rodolf II. had accorded to the Bohemian Protestants a
charter by which he had granted them religious liberty, and es-



52

pecially the right to build churches and school houses. According
to this right the evangelic inhabitants of the towns Klostergrab and
Bra'nnah built churches, but by order of Emperor Matthias, who
meanwhile had succeeded Rodolf, one church was demolished, the
other locked up. The States of the country addressed a petition
to him, but with no success. Therefore they called the nation to
arms, expelled the Jesuits, and took possession of the Government
of their country (1618). Moreover the Bohemians even besieged
the new Emperor, Fe7-di?iand 11.^ in Vienna. But he unawares got
aid, formed an alliance with Maxiitiiiian, electoral Prince of Ba-
varia, and vanquished the Bohemians. Educated by cunning
Jesuits, he had vowed long ago the extirpation of the Protestants .
now the hapless country must feel his full revenge. Twenty-seven
leaders of the rebellion, and besides an uncounted number of com-
mon citizens were cruelly executed, their property confiscated, the
Protestant preachers and school teachers ill-treated and exiled, the
Catholic religion, and with it the Order of Jesuits re-established,
over 30,000 families driven into exile, and free religious exercise
suspended. His Generals Tilly and Wallensiein vanquished all
his adversaries, and now it depended upon him to terminate the
the pernicious war, which for ten years had devastated Germany ;
but he, believing that now the moment had arrived to strike the
decisive blow on the Protestant Church, issued the ill-famed Edict
of Restitution, and by it prolonged the terrors of war for twenty
years. Appealing to the treaty of Augsburg (§ 25), he ordered
the Protestants to restore all the ecclesiastic possessions they had
confiscated since the conclusion of that treaty. To these belonged


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Online LibraryHermann Marcus KottingerThe youth's liberal guide for their moral culture and religious enlightenment → online text (page 14 of 28)