James Bryce Bryce.

The book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) online

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he was forced to declare his renunciation
of those errors ascribed to him. Such,
too, was the teaching of the influential
preacher, John Tauler of Strasburg, who
continued to preach although the Pope
had interdicted him. His teaching was
followed by the pupil of Ekkehard, Henry
Suso of Ueberlingen.

These men did not attempt to contradict
Church doctrine, but they involuntarily
represented the Church as superfluous,
" Th o i anc ^ *ki s view received greater
Tr n y emphasis from those who pos-
ChrLians" ***** any theological training
and drew their spiritual nourish-
ment from these mystical writings. As
a substitute for that communion which
they missed in the Church, they formed
associations, calling themselves " the
friends of God," and regarding themselves
as the only true Christians, who might
hope by their prayers to avert the judg-
ment threatening the Church.

In the convents of nuns a similar
visionary tendency became obvious. The
famous Margaret Ebner, in the nunnery
of Medingen, near Donauworth, described
the manifestations vouchsafed to her,
and continued a zealous correspondence
with her spiritual friend, Henry of Nord-
lingen. By their efforts the " spiritual
manifestations of grace " of St. Mechthildis
were published in the High German
language. This mysticism found accept-
ance, as may be easily understood, among
many of those men and women who had
been given separate houses to secure
their social position, in which they worked,
or from which they went out to work,
for their daily life the so-called Beghins
and Beghards. Possibly the first founda-
tions of these unions on the Lower Rhine

about 1180 may have been inspired by

a religious idea of renunciation. In any

case these half-monastic unions of pious

souls, removed from the strict discipline

of the monastery, ran the danger of

becoming conventicles and of cherishing a

mystical piety more or less repugnant to

the Church. Hence the Church found it

advisable to take proceedings

against them more than once.

ls The desire for Christian liberty


and freedom from authority
rose to open hostility to the Church in the
sect of the " free spirit . ' ' From the outset of
the thirteenth century a strange fusion of
freethinking and enthusiasm had existed
in France, and now began to grow with
great rapidity. The theory was that the
free spirit of <man knew no superior
authority : man was God, even as Christ
was. His actions were performed as a
result; of rinward divine freedom, which
he.nce raised him above all rules and pre-
scriptions. Work was not fitting for him,
and all .belonged to him, so that he might
take what he would. These mystics
wandered in bands, making life insecure
by .their translation of these principles
into practice. The sect was especially
numerous in Switzerland, and on the
Rhine as far as Cologne ; it also appeared
in Upper Italy and Bohemia. Its members
were persecuted by the Church, which
merely confirmed their opposition ; nor
could the Church alleviate this malady,
being herself sick unto death.

The friends of the Church began with
greater impetuosity to demand the return
of the papacy to the chair of St. Peter ;
and at length Gregory XL re-entered
Rome in the year 1377. After his death,
in the following year, a new election
brought yet greater misery upon the
Church than the exile of the papacy had
produced. The newly appointed Pope
proposed to attack the disorders prevail-
ing in the Curia. The French cardinals
then left the city and elected
wo opes a Frenchman, who again took

^ t X*? e refuge in Avignon, under the
Each Other . , , , T-. , , . ~,

?egis of the French king. Two

representatives of Christ thus existed in
opposition, and the allegiance of the
national kingdoms was divided between
them. The one cursed the other and all his
adherents, so that the whole of Christianity
lay under an interdict. Whenever a Pope
died, Christianity hoped for the con-
clusion of the schism ; but on every



The seventy years' voluntary exile of the papacy from Rome began in the year 1309, when the Pope and cardinals,
preferring to live under French protection, took up their residence at Avignon. According to prevailing ideas, the
papacy and Rome were indivisible, and the withdrawal of the Popes from the headquarters of all their predecessors
profoundly impressed the Christianity of the age. When at last, in 1377, Gregory XI. re-entered Rome, the trouble was
by no means over. After his death there arose two rival Popes, one of whom, a Frenchman, took refuge in Avignon.

such occasion a new election continued
this miserable state of affairs. Even
those who cared little for the honour of
the Church and the papacy groaned under
the results of this disruption.

There were two papal Curias to maintain.
It seemed that the papacy would leave
no stone unturned to destroy the proud
Gregorian theory of its divine supremacy
and its inviolability.

The consequences were inevitable, for
the spectacle of two Popes excommuni-
cating one another led men to ask whether
there was no higher authority in the
Church than the papal power. The world
resounded with complaints of papal op-
pression, and it seemed that the papal
power must be limited, and Christianity
secured against further malpractices. A
General Council might possibly bring
salvation. The scholars of the Paris
University, especially Gerson, vigorously
championed this hope of safety.

The immediate necessity, however, was
the reformation of the Church in head
and members alike. The ecclesiastical
and religious conditions which had arisen
beneath the guidance of the Church in
the last forty or fifty years were absolutely
indescribable. The local clergy had de-
generated, owing to the fiDing of spiritual
posts with utterly unsuitable candidates,
and to the practice of plurality. Episco-
pal organisation was completely shattered,
as a steadily increasing number of ecclesi-
astical institutions and fraternities
obtained from the papacy the right of
exemption from episcopal supervision and
jurisdiction ; an increasing number also
demanded what they considered to be
their rights from the Curia, and secured
them. For thirty years this miserable
schism was endured with all its conse-
quences, until the world gained courage
to break with the theories concerning the
unlimited nature of papal supremacy. , ; ( r


In March, 1409, the much-desired council
Was opened at Pisa. Neither of the
Popes was present, and both protested
against the illegality of the council.
Gerson, however, was able to
convince the assembly of
the principle that a council
could represent the Universal
Church even without the
presence of a Pope. For
centuries general councils had
been nothing more than the
Pope's obedient tools ; opinion
now ventured to ascribe sup-
reme authority to the council.
The two Popes were deposed
and a new appointment was

to prepare thoroughly for the necessary
reform, and meanwhile ecclesiastical
affairs remained in a state of confusion.
All hopes of a reformation seemed t6
have gone for ever in the
year 1410, when John XXIII.
became Pope. He had be-
gun his career as a sailor.
He had amassed such wealth
that he was able to en-
list an army, to conquer
Bologna, and to rule as
a despot. The council for
which the world was calling
was not to be expected
from this Pope ; and in
consequence the old theory

made Alexander V. Thede- POPE JOHN xxm. was revived that the em-
posed, however, had no idea of Beginning his career as a sailor, peror was the protector of
resignation, and each of them
enjoyed the support of several
princes and peoples. Christianity thus
possessed three Popes, a " papal trinity,"
as the mocking phrase ran, and was
broken into three camps. Alexander V. pro-

the Church. By' a fortunate
turn of affairs, John was
forced to flee from Rome and take
refuge with Sigismund. In his complete
helplessness he agreed to a council upon
German soil, and this was summoned by

.IILJJJ. j. ij.^^vo.ii.vj.^i r .jjivy- 3U11, tUMl UUS Wd.S) bUIIllIlUIlcQ UV

rogued the council for three years in order Sigismund, as " protector of the Church,"

Forced to flee from Rome, Pope John took refuge with the Emperor Sigismund of Germany, and was compelled to
agree to a council upon German soil, which Sigiamund, as "Protector of the Church," summoned for November 1st,
1414, at Constance. The Council of Constance thus met as a synod under a Pope. Thwarted in his attempt to
, maintain the theory of his inviolability, the Pope fled from Constance, thinking that this step would deprive the
council of i<* jurisdiction for further action. Bat the council, holding its power to be from God, deposed the Pope.



for November ist, 1414, at Constance ; idea. This is only too clearly proved by

John's invitation followed.

the decisions of the Council of Constance

Thus the Council of Constance met as a upon the burning doctrinal questions of

synod under a Pope. Relying upon
the large number of Italian bishops de-

the day.

From the year 1376 John Wycliffe of


pendent upon himself who were present, Oxford had publicly opposed the papacy
_ _ John attempted to maintain and its policies. He had begun the
D p ' | n the theory of his inviolability, struggle, as he believed, in the interests of
Constance ^ was n res l ve d that the his nation, but in the course of it he was led
voting should be, not by heads, beyond the limits he had proposed. It
but by nations ; that is, that each one seemed to him impossible that a hierarchy,
of the four nations present should be seeking for worldly honour, wealth, and
regarded as a whole, and that scholars and power, with its Pope in Avignon, or its
royal ambassadors should also have seats two or three Popes, could be the Church of
and votes. In order to deprive the council God. The Church could consist only of
of its jurisdiction for further action, the those who were found worthy of eternal
Pope fled from Constance. The council
responded by resolving that it repre-
sented the Universal Church
earth, and derived its power
immediately from God ; that
everyone, including the Pope,
was bound to obey it, and
that everyone who refused
obedience was to be duly
punished, whatever might be
his rank. John was deposed.
One of the two remaining
Popes voluntarily resigned,
and the third was abandoned
by his previous adherents.
In this way the schism came
to an end. ^^^^^

It was indeed a remarkable -W-S-CLIFF^TH^TEFORMER inspired to correct the evils
change of ecclesiastical theory . John Wycliffe publicly opposed existing as he believed. On
Since the third century, when tranffioToTth?mbie^t g the the authority of the Bible he
Cyprian had regarded the epis- laity might be inspired to correct rejected transubstantiation,
copate as representing the the evils eating as he believed. auricular confession, connrma-
unity of the Church, the councils which in- tion, and extreme unction, the worship of
carnatedthat unity were formed of bishops.
In the Western Empire the Bishop of
Rome had then advanced and made
good the claim that the whole Church
was incorporated in himself, and that

salvation the predestined. The Popes
of the schism showed by their behaviour
that they belonged not to the Church of
Christ, but to that of Anti-
christ. It was impossible that
the will of such a hierarchy
could pass as the law of
the Church.

" The divine law," the holy
Scripture, must decide all,
and commands discordant
with this law, even if origi-
nating with the Pope, were
illegal. For this reason Wy-
cliffe began his English
translation of the Bible in
order that the laity might be

he alone could conduct and confirm

Now the council had again asserted its

saints, images and relics; the pilgrimages,
brotherhoods, and indulgences, and, in
particular, the worldly power and pos-
sessions of the clergy.

According to the Bible, tithes and alms
were to be the priest's sole source of main-
tenance. The king, as the supreme ruler
after God, was to take from the clergy all

superiority to the Pope, and it was a that was not theirs by God's law. To
council formed by no means exclusively
of bishops ; the princes, as the heads of
the laity, had their official votes in it.
Individualism thus invaded the theory
of Church government ; but the idea
that the whole could command the in-
dividual was still as powerful as of yore.
This synod demanded with the same

provide for the spiritual needs of the
w .. , people, Wycliffe sent out his
.. p " poor priests," who con-

Priests" stantly travelled, preaching
as opportunity served them;
he also sent out laymen, who were given
full powers by God Himself, but by no
bishop. In this way the religious movement

decision that blind obedience which the rapidly spread. The University of Oxford

Pope had previously required. Religious
toleration was as yet an inconceivable


was horrified by Wycliffe 's attacks upon the
orthodox doctrine of the sacrament, and

The religious movement initiated by Wycliffe quickly spread throughout England. By his published writings the
reformer was able to influence all classes, and through his "poor priests," who are shown in the illustration, his
doctrines found many adherents To provide for the spiritual needs of the people, Wycliffe sent out these men, who
travelled over the land and preached whenever and wherever the opportunity arose, thus winning many adherents.

forbade such criticism. He was able,
however, from his parish of Lutterworth,

was the community of those predestined
to salvation, and had not been influenced

of Bible

to influence high and low by the number by the schism. Matthias also shared the
of his published writings. He ended his veneration of the English reformer for
days in peace in 1384 ; it was not until the Bible ; and German Bohemia in that
1399 that the reaction began, with the age was zealously occupied with the task

translation. Manuscripts are
still in existence which once
belonged to the citizens of
Prague or Eger. One of
these German psalters is not
derived from the Latin Vul-
gate, but is taken directly,
or indirectly, from the original
Hebrew. In Bohemia was
also composed the German
Bible, which appeared in
fourteen editions after the
invention of printing. An-
other German text exists in

help of a new ruler placed upon the throne
by the superior clergy, and
Lollardry was ruthlessly

This fire, however, had
already lighted a mighty
conflagration in Bohemia. A
new religious spirit had been
aroused in that country by
zealous archbishops and by
Waldensians and other
heretics who had migrated

thither These were rein- popE ALEXANDER v .
forced by powerful preachers Anenemyofthereformmovem e n t,

who fulminated against re- it was through his influence that the shape of the Wenzel Bible,


ligious indifference and dead

which is famous for its illus-

ecclesiasticism, and against palace on the Hradschin in Prague, trations, and was composed

the secularisation of the clergy. Of these the
chief were Militsch of Kremsier, who died in
1347, an d Matthias of Janof. The papal
schism had induced these latter to arrive
at Wycliffe's theories independently. They
asserted that only the Church of Antichrist
had been divided, that the true Church

about 1391 for Wenzel, the Bohemian king
and German emperor.

The marriage of the daughter of a
Bohemian king with Richard II. of England
in 1382 promoted a vigorous interchange
of thought between the universities of
Oxford and Prague. Many Bohemian



students brought Wycliffe's ideas and writ-
ings home from England. Master John
Huss founded his first lectures after 1396
upon Wycliffe's writings. The leaders in
this religious movement were almost exclu-
sively Czechs ; thus the whole movement
gained a national character. This desire,
however, for national independence was
primarily an ti- Roman, and
e f aimed at liberation from Rome.

W elite When Kin S Wenzel desired
to induce the Bohemian
Church to promise subjection to neither
of the two disputing Popes he was sup-
ported only by Czechs and not by the
Germans ; he therefore determined that
the Germans in the university should have
only one vote, the Czechs three, and in
consequence more than two thousand
German teachers and students left the
town in 1409. Huss now became rector of
the university, which was entirely Czech,
and his reputation steadily increased, in
spite of the many attacks upon him.

The archbishop, inspired by the new
Pope, Alexander V., now interfered, and
burnt more than two hundred volumes
of Wycliffe's writings in the court of his
palace on the Hradschin in Prague. He
excommunicated Huss and his adherents ;
and when this measure was answered with
scorn, violent measures were taken to
place the city under an interdict. The
excitement increased, and the efforts of
King Wenzel at pacification proved fruit-

In order to save the honour of the
Bohemian Church, Sigismund invited Huss
to appear personally before the Council
of Constance, and promised him a safe con-
duct in his own name and in that of the
empire. With foreboding of evil, but
ready for death, Huss set forth, and after
a few weeks his opponents in Constance

., were able to take him prisoner,
Sigismund s ,, , ..

notwithstanding the promise
Broken , , c*-

p. . of sate conduct. Sigismund s

anger blazed up; he ordered
that the prisoner should be immediately
released, and threatened to break open
the prison. He was told that any
measures of his which might hinder the
efficacy of the council would result in its im-
mediate dissolution. This he was anxious
to avoid at any price ; he therefore
sacrificed the witness of the truth and

his royal word in the cause of the
reforms for which he hoped from the
council. Thus it was possible to pro-
ceed with the accusation of heresy ; and
the fate of Huss was decided in May 1414,
when the council issued their condemnation
of Wycliffe.

The trial of Huss brought out the deep
difference between himself and the
fathers of the council to an extent of
which he was himself hardly conscious.
He asserted that he could not recant until
he had been convinced of the erroneous
nature of his doctrine. He was told that
a recantation would lay no blame on him,
but upon the superiors who demanded it
from him. The main point of difference
was the question whether a man had a
conscience of his own, or whether he should
allow his conscience to be ruled by other
men and by the Church. Huss thought
differently from the council ; he had an
independent personal conviction of re-
ligious faith, and this he rated higher
than his life. Though he was no pro-
found thinker, no pioneer of a new doctrine,

_ f and in some respects inferior to

Reformers w diff this fact has made
Perish , . J ,, , t i

t L him the hero of a new epoch
at the Stake , ....

and a martyr. The men who,

led by Gerson, had been the most violent
opponents of the unlimited power of the
papacy, and most anxious for a so-called
reformation, did not hesitate until they
had silenced for ever this exponent of a
new reformation. On July 6th, 1415, he
perished at the stake, a fate shared by
Jerome of Prague in 1416.

The judges of Huss made a great mistake
when they thought that these tokens
of strong Catholicism would enable them
the more certainly to secure a permanent
reformation. The appointment of a new
Pope was delayed, as they feared that
attempts at reformation might be thus
frustrated. However, through the influence
of political powers, the Italians and
cardinals who were opposed to reform
succeeded in carrying out a papal election.
The friends of reform thought something
had been achieved when the new Pope
was pledged to carry out the reforms and
to reassemble the council after a definite
period, which was first fixed at five years.

The election of Martin V., in November,
1417, brought the Great Schism to an end,










DOPE MARTIN V. was a prudent and
* kindly character. He saw that every
nation had its own special views upon the
subject of reform, which were generally
conditioned by the nature of its immediate
dependence upon Rome. This fact he
was able to explain to the council. He
induced them to abandon as impossible
any promulgation of general principles,
and to rest contented with separate
concordats for each nation. These con-
cordats consisted in fair promises on the
side of the Pope, and in the abolition of
certain flagrant abuses. In some cases
they secured the papacy in the possession
of new privileges. Moreover, by the decree
of the council they were concluded not
permanently, but only for five years.

The council was dissolved in April, 1418,

and an actual reformation was as far

distant as ever. The old unpopular

practices soon resumed their

. prevalence at the papal Curia.
Pope Treated \ , r L

n,..:.* A After two years.a German from

Christendom -.-. , T-

Rome wrote, Every action of
the court at Rome is cheating, greed, and
pride " ; and another wrote, " Livings are
sold in Rome as publicly as pigs at market."
The general hopes were set upon the council
to be summoned after five >oars. The
Pope convoked it in 1424 at Pavia, trans-
ferred it to Siena before proceedings began,
and dissolved it speedily. Christendom
was everywhere divided ; the indignation
of the lower clergy and the people increased.
Pope Eugene IV. was obliged to promise
to summon a council in Basle in 1431.

The first step of this council was to
invite the adherents of Huss to Basle for
negotiations. The martyrdom of Con-
stance had aroused the Bohemian move-
ment to wild fanaticism, the outward sign
of which was the demand of the cup for the
laity in the Communion service. Wenzel
expelled the priests who dispensed the
Communion in both kinds, sub idraque

of the

specie, from which phrase came their title
of Utraquists ; they then fled to a moun-
tain, which they called Tabor, and the
people flocked to them in bands of excited
enthusiasts to prepare for battle by receiv-
ing the Communion. A social movement
was amalgamated with that for
* religious reform. An end was
to be made of all tyranny, and
a furious storm broke upon the
churches and monasteries. At the desire
of Sigismund, Martin V. summoned the
whole of Christendom to battle with these
heretics. But the crusading army sent
against them was utterly defeated, and
the Hussite forces devastated the neigh-
bouring territories with fire and sword.
Their invincibility made them the terror
of the West ; and a fresh crusading army,
accompanied by the cardinal, who had
been appointed president of the council
at Basle, was annihilated. Christianity
breathed a sigh of relief when the more
moderate of the Hussites professed their
readiness to negotiate with the council.

The Pope, however, was irritated that
the council should attempt to conclude
an independent peace with the heretics
whose destruction he had demanded, and
thus to claim the government of the
Church. He therefore dissolved the
council, which, however, referred with
great decision to the principle that a
general council was supreme even over
the Pope. The council passed the most
sweeping measures for the limitation of
the papal power. In 1433 they
concluded peace with the Bohe-
mians, conceding the four
demands which the Hussites
had advanced in 1420, though in a miti-
gated form ; these were the cup for the
laity, free preaching of the Word of God,
the reformation of the clergy, and the
restoration of the Christian discipline. The
Pope was eventually compelled to declare


The Pope
to Yield


his order of dissolution null and void, in a
Bull drawn up by the council itself. His
legates were forced to swear that they
would work for the honour of the council,
would submit to its decrees, and would
help to secure its triumph. Thus the
council triumphed over the Pope.

Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) → online text (page 35 of 55)