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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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 36 of 55)
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However, in the consciousness of this
triumph the council was unable to act
with moderation.
It cut off from
the papacy most
of the existing
sources of income,
or appropriated
them to itself, so
that the Pope
could reasonably
ask how he was
to keep up his
court for the

however, that the Pope had secured from
the Greeks a recognition of his apostolic
supremacy over the whole of Christendom
considerably strengthened his prestige,
and by concessions of every kind he was
able to bring one prince after another to
his side.

The Council of Basle entirely forfeited
the general sympathy by its action in

electing an anti-
Pope, Felix V. in
1439. It seemed
that the result of
this council was
merely a new
schism. Hence

the nations at-
tempted to
secure the
reforms deter-


future in aCCOrd- In 1439 the Council of Basle deposed Pope Eugene IV. and set though they did

with his up an anti-Pope in the person of Felix V. This produced a new not break away

7 Or to paV sc k' sm > general sympathy being against the council in its action, from the Roman

J,^-ft;~;^1o Felix voluntarily resigned, and the council was finally dissolved in 1449. p

his many officials.

Many, moreover, who had derived their
incomes from the former financial position
of the papacy were irritated with the
council. The council, indeed, seemed
determined to appropriate the Pope's
position, as it issued dispensations of
marriage, granted absolutions and gifts of
tithes, interfered in purely secular affairs,
and disposed of the electoral dignity
against the
decision of the

The Greek
emperor was at
that moment
anxious to secure
the help of the
West in order to
save his empire
from complete
destruction by
the infidel, and

Felix V.

voluntarily resigned, and the council was
finally dissolved in 1449. All who knew
the nature of the papacy were bound to
admit that the last remnants of the success
of the anti-papal movement would soon
disappear. The " reformation " was not
inspired by purely religious motives.
Though entirely justified, it was chiefly
selfish reasons that had inspired its action

and hindered its
Towards the close
of this period,
about 1450, a
feeling of bitter
was shared by all
who had the wel-
fare of the Church
at heart. A 1 1
attempts at im-

One of the most successful opponents of the papacy at the Council of prOVCment had

for that reason Basle was i /Eneas .Silvius, but as ^the power of the council dwindled failed, all hopes

he receded from his former attitude and turned a zealous supporter of ' , \

proposed tO enter .the papal chair. He became Pope, as Pius II., in 1458. Sixtus was a OI a reformation

upon negotia- P atronofartandlearnm > andbuuttheSistineC hapei in the Vatican, had Dassed and

tions for union with the Western Church ; the end of the world was thought to be at

the Pope thus secured the transference of

the council to Ferrara on the ground

that he desired to spare the Greek

ambassadors the task of crossing the

Alps. The majority of the synod declined



hand ; thus all complained with one voice
in bitter disappointment. Every pious

to surrender their freedom of movement
by removal to Italy, and finally proposed
the deposition of the Pope. The fact,


soul felt assured that existing conditions
could no longer continue.

The papacy had completely defeated
the desire for a reformation, whether
ecclesiastical or anti-ecclesiastical. It had
also lost all sympathy with the religious


movement. The process was thus complete
which had begun nearly a century before ;
the papacy was no longer conducted upon
one principle, but was guided also by
motives of self-interest, which appealed
with varying force to different Popes, for
unity of effort disappeared when the
principles were swept away. Upon one
point only were the Popes agreed that a
reformation ought to be averted.

Enea Silvio de Piccolomini (Aeneas
Silvius) had been one of the most success-
ful opponents of the papacy at the Council
of Basle. As the power of the council
dwindled, he became an equally zealous
adherent of the papacy in 1445. In his
new career he steadily gained ecclesiastical

when his elevation had made him supreme
head of the Church, and had thus given
him power to loose whom he would, he
immediately released himself from his
promises. The Church owed to him the
profitable innovation that the jubilee,
originally intended to celebrate the outset
of every new century, should
be celebrated every twenty-

five y ears - Sixtus IV - (w-

1484) did not employ the
spiritual weapons of excommunication
and interdict to advance his secular aims ;
but apart from this he was undistinguish-
able from the ordinary run of immoral and
faithless Italian princes. He improved his
finances by renting houses in Rome,

honours, until he secured the papal tiara which brought him in a yearly income of

in 1458, as Pius II. He
wished to revive papal
supremacy according to
the old models ; not, how-
ever, with the intentions
of such men as Innocent
III., who really thought
that the only salvation for
souls consisted in general
submission to Peter. Pius
was inspired by purely
secular ideas. He was in
the position of a prince
wishing to revive the de-
parted glory of a crown
which he had inherited. It
was his destiny to learn
that he was aiming at the
impossible, and that the
general lack of confidence
in the papacy was now
invincible. He condemned
the " accursed abuse that
men should be driven by the spirit of
rebellion presumptuously to appeal from
the Bishop of Rome to a future council,"
and he found that men revolted from every
one of his unpopular rules by means of such
appeals. He took the utmost trouble to
organise a crusade against the Turks, who
had conquered Constantinople
Abortive in 5 but Christendom

En * crpnscs declined to follow him. For
ms ' the same purpose he founded
new orders of knights, but these soon

Paul II. had signed a document before


The humble Dominican frair Savonarola
preached in Florence on penitence, and
succeeded in founding a republic in
which God was to be the sole king.

80,000 ducats. Innocent
VIII. excommunicated
Ferdinand, the King of
Naples, in 1489 as he had
refused to pay the papal
dues. While he was in-
spiring Christendom with
lofty words to fight
against the infidel, he
kept in imprisonment an
enemy of the sultan who
had fled to the West,
instead of placing him
at the head of a crusad-
ing army, for the reason,
it was alleged, that the
sultan paid him 40,000
dollars a year for this
service. His successor, in
1492, was the Borgia
Alexander VI., who died
in 1503. His enemies,
and they were many,
said that Alexander had secured his
election by force from the cardinals,
but his greed extorted their money
with such rapidity that they were
forced to flee or succumb to his ex-
actions ; in either case their treasures
came into the Pope's possession. He
hoped to subjugate the whole of Italy
to his family, and he did not shrink
from concluding an alliance with
" the hereditary enemy of Christianity "
against " the most Christian king " of
A further attempt at reformation was

his election pledging himself to continue ventured. The Dominican friar, Savona-

the war against the Turks, to maintain
strict morality, to convoke a council of
reform, and to carry out other measures ;

rola, created a profound impression in
Florence by his preaching of penitence,
and succeeded in founding a republic in



which God was to be the sole king. His
brilliant success afforded some prospect
of rehabilitating the whole Church, and
he therefore attacked the well-spring of
the evil, Rome, and its unpopular Pope,
Alexander. The Pope consequently ex-
communicated him and placed Florence
under an interdict. In 1498 Savonarola
and his most faithful friends were hanged
as " persecutors of the holy Church," and
their bodies were afterwards burnt. This
was a second disappointment. However,
in his cell the martyr gained so firm a con-
viction of evangelical theory that Luther
was able to republish the work which he
had composed on the
eve of execution.
Immediately after his
death, Savonarola's
writings were so
eagerly printed and
read that, in 1501,
the Pope considered
it necessary to place
them on the Index
in order that " only
such seed should be
sown in the vine-
yard of the Lord
of Sabaoth as would
provide spiritual
food for the souls of
the faithful."

Once again the
princes gathered
courage and de-
manded a council ;
complaints of the
undue demands
of the Curia had
become too loud and

that he does and keeps God's command-
ments that he may obtain salvation."

The same council considered it necessary
to pass a resolution forbidding any doubt
to be cast upon the immortality of the
soul. The spirit of free thought, which
had existed among the educated classes
of Christianity for nearly three centuries,
had reappeared, and was manifested
principally in the form of pure enthusiasm
for classical antiquity.

In the fourteenth century, the general
authority of the Church had collapsed ;
the spiritual power of its head had been
shattered by the exile of the papacy and
the schism, and the
ecclesiastical science
of scholasticism was
fading, while the
religious spirit
became more in-
dividual. In Italy
at that time men's
minds were no longer
satisfied by the
mediaeval ideals of
submission to
authority and re-
nunciation of the
world ; they there-
fore turned to class-
ical antiquity, to the
enjoyment of that
personal freedom
and that appreciation
of life which are
prominent in those
memorials of the past.
The new culture,
the Renaissance and

T , THE CELL OF SAVONAROLA humanism, advanced

too universal. The The reformer advanced the cause of pure religion by his steadily, and were

result Of these noble writings as well as by his impassioned preaching:. He carried to the north

rr ,, was also an earnest student, and his prior s cell at the r ,1 i u J.-L

ettOrtS Was the ISSUe, monastery of St. Mark in Florence was the scene of OI the Alps by the

in December, 1516, Of tir eless study as well as of prolong-ed and fervent prayer. Councils of Constance

the Bull " Pastor aeternus " at the Lateran and Basle, while the invention of printing
Council opened in 1512 ; this document ap-
pealed to the infamous Bull of Boniface
VIII. (Unam sanctam), and asserted, " he
who does not hear the representative of

Christ shall die the death. The Roman
bishop has sole authority over all councils."
The ambitions which Christendom had
cherished for centuries were now to all
appearance completely destroyed. Geiler
of Kaisersperg, whose death occurred in
1510, preached " there is no hope of im-
provement in Christianity, therefore let
every man hide his head in a corner and see


facilitated their wider dissemination. A
spirit long extinct was thereby revived,
the spirit of historical inquiry, especially
and naturally into the history of the
Church. This was a tendency which was
conscious neither of its true impulses nor
of its final results, and was for these reasons
pursued without preoccupation. Almost
all the Popes who ruled in the last decades
of the Middle Ages allowed themselves
to follow the movement without reserve.
No one suspected that they were driving
the ship of St. Peter towards the whirlpool



of destruction. Yet in this land where upon the immortality of the soul, and

humanjsm originated a tendency soon for continuing the traditional piety of

arose which made it an extraordinary language in the composition of their

danger to the mediaeval Church and to all decrees, seeing that they derived their

true religious spirit When a Church living from Christian belief. Leo X.,

demanded simple assent to its every 'Cardinal Giovanni de Medici, was the

assertion, and had founded its second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and

T e omaa p OWer U p On so m any falsifica- showed himself during the seven years of

Church , . r T i -r- . . A.

i Dan er tlons > lts ver Y existence was his occupancy a munificent pontiff.

menaced by men who, like What, again, were the effects when
Laurentius Valla, who died in 1457, studied Christendom read the writings of such a
the New Testament in the original, and man as Poggio, who lived in close friend-
showed the inaccuracy of the Latin Vulgate ship with eight Popes as apostolic private
used by the Church. He and other investi- secretary at the Roman court, and com-
gators showed the falsity of the " Dona- posed the " Facetiae," which, with incred-
tion of Constantine," on which Popes had ible frivolity, glorified selfish living, and

poured cynical mockery, not only upon


based their power for centuries, demon-
strated by the words of -
the apostles themselves
the later date of the
supposed composition of
the " Apostles' Creed,"
which was generally
believed, and cast doubts
upon the False Decretals,
which were the props and
foundations of ecclesiast-
ical law as a whole. It
was a danger, also, to the
prestige of a Church which
had long been honoured
by countless numbers as
a teacher provided with
infallible power, when
ecclesiastical Latin was
compared with the lan-
guage of the ancient

individual monks
priests, but also upon the
general aversion from
common sins. This work
was first printed in the
Holy City, ran through
some twenty-five editions,
and was translated into
many foreign languages.
The author could boast
of its circulation in Italy
and France, Spain, Ger-
many, and England, and
even further. The great
minority of the educated
classes, who had long been
in doubt as to the truth of
Church doctrine, were now
forced to break entirely
with Christianity by their


anH it harhar As a P** of learning Leo X. deserves arrpr> t a nrp r>f tViP

, ana its oar oar- ^gi, pra i se . He made Rome the centre of acceptance 01 i ie

isms held up to scorn. **&. world in art and scholarship as well view of life which inspired

T>U i. 11 j. i r as in religion. He showed himself a pontiff , , , . ,

The intellectuahsm of O f enlightened views, while his foreign classical literature,

the time, in its enthusiasm P lic y was characterised by foresight, others, who were not
for classical literature, entirely adopted inclined to abandon the faith of their

this spirit and appropriated the heathen
theories of life, with results that might have

fathers, in spite of their classical enthu-
siasm, were forced sooner or later to

been expected, and are especially obvious admit the duplicity of their intellectual
among the Italian humanists. They secretly life; and eventually their beliefs in
renounced their allegiance to the Church authority and in the renunciation of the
and to religion, and abandoned themselves world gave way before the joyfulness of
to the most shameless sensuality. In paganism with its love of life. In
order to avoid any inconvenience that , Germany the powers of personal
might result from declared infidelity, they " ers piety were as yet too strong
announced their readiness " to believe HumanUm to ac ^ m ^ t the introduction of
everything that the Church believed"; so great a change. The leaders
one of them said jestingly among his of German humanism admired the
friends that he would even believe in a classics chiefly for their educational in-
quadruple unity of the Godhead to fluence. But here also is heard the
avoid a death at the stake. Popes and mockery of the representatives of the
their servants, in view of such disbelief, Church of the scholastic form in which
had every reason for forbidding doubt their doctrines were expounded, and of



the monks who had realised the Christian
ideal according to mediaeval theory. Even in
Germany a divergence from the dominant
ideas of the Middle Ages appeared in many
circles. A solution of their difficulties was
to be found, not in submission to authority,
but in individual freedom ; not in renun-
ciation, but in appreciation of the world.
A new theory of life and a new epoch had
arrived, and religion, which still wore its
mediseval dress, had to be remodelled.

doctrines of the Church, and others to
throw an exaggerated emphasis upon
truths which these men had not entirely
denied. Some pleaded earnestly for per-
sonal and mystical piety ; this was to be
shown in a practical manner and not ex-
pended in speculation, for which the age
was too serious and the excitement too
intense. They began to form corporations
of a semi-monastic nature, such as the
" Brothers and Sisters of the Common

The doom of Savonarola, though delayed, was sealed at last. Taken prisoner, he was tried for heresy and sedition,
and under the daily cruelty of his torturers he made every admission which they desired of him. On May 23rd, 1498,
Savonarola and other Dominicans were hanged as " persecutors of the Holy Church," and their bodies were after-
wards burned. The scene of the martyrdom was in the square outside the Palazzo Vecchio, or the palace of the
Florentine guilds, where Savonarola had once supreme authority, and where he passed his last night a captive.

The danger was lest men should reject
religion in their scorn for its tattered

It is not, however, the educated classes
alone that make history. Notwith-
standing the evils of the Church, the faith
of the German nation remained un-
impaired, though new views were to
be found even among the lower classes.
Men came forward to attack particular

Life," an order originated in the Nether-
lands by Gerhard Groot. In their opinion
poverty and beggary were no longer
sacred. They wished to work for their
living and to influence others ; not to
be satisfied with mere ecclesiasticism, but
to improve or to produce personal religion.
The most famous work of this school, the
" Imitation of Christ," by Thomas a
Kempis, disregards the whole fabric of the



ecclesiastical system, urging that a man
should sacrifice all to gain all, and should
ideny the whole world to win God.

Even among those who still clung to the
Church and her institutions we can
observe a peculiar dissatisfaction, which
was simply a repetition of the mediaeval
yearning for religious certainty. Numbers
of brotherhoods were founded,
n ge which obliged the members to
" P er f rm an enormous amount

of devotional exercises, and
enabled them to share an infinite wealth
of prayers, almsgiving, masses, dispensa-
tions, and services, with the object of
securing their personal salvation as far as
possible. Crowds thronged to the mirac-
ulous images of the saints, to bleeding
wafers and to relics, the veneration of which
brought full indulgence. Thus on one day
no fewer than 142,000 pilgrims entered
Aix-la-Chapelle. The Church showed the
utmost readiness to satisfy the
desires of the Geiman people
for some guarantee of salva-
tion. Extraordinary miracles
were related of sick men
healed, of raining of crosses,
of nuns marked with the stig-
mata. Indulgences were issued
in increasing numbers. The
foreign pilgrims in Rome
received an indulgence for

14,000 years when the heads THOMAS A KEMPIS

of the princes of the apostles Bom in 1379, he wrote various sparing

arid; the handkerchief

The movement of revolt against the
Church was also apparent among the
pious. The Church made it her duty to
oppose by force these premonitions of
reform in doctrine. Thus the writings of
John of Wesel were condemned to be
burnt, and the author was immured in a
monastery. A more dangerous portent
was the popular contempt for the repre-
sentatives of the Church and their ideals,
and the manifestations of bitter anger
against the clergy and monks. If pro-
verbs reflect popular opinion, those of this
age are certainly portentous, such as
" To keep the house clean, beware of
monks, priests, and pigeons " ; or " When
the devil can find no servants for his
purpose, he makes use of a monk " ;
or, again, " Monks have two hands,
one to take and the other to keep." In
fact, the reverence of the clergy had sunk
to so appalling a depth that many, and
in particular certain princes,
attempted more than once
without success to introduce
a reformation.

In the year 1476 it seemed
that violence was about to
break out. In the village of
Niklashausen, in the Tauber-
grund, a shepherd, Nans
Bohm, preached with wild
enthusiasm against the in-

fluence of the clergy, not
the Pope himself.

O f books of meditations, and is known -phe people Came to him
, T . T principally by his "Imitation of . ,. ,, T r

Veronica were shown. In- Christ," the most famous work of m masses from the Hartz
dulgences were to be procured the school to which he belonged. Mountains to the Alps, and
by visiting certain churches, by repeating 70,000 are said to have listened to his

message in one day. On J uly I3th thousands
of his excited followers were to gather round
him with arms ; but before he could carry
out his attempt at founding a republic
free from priests, he was imprisoned, and
ended his life at the stake. In the year
1514 a bloody revolt broke out in Wiirtem-
berg, raised in the name of Poor Kunz.
H This was suppressed, but the

e p ess re con t. mue d to burn in secret,
* ri L n less ominously. The Church

the Church , , ^ i i r

seemed utterly incapable of re-

certain prayers, and by many other means.
Anyone who died in the habit of a Fran-
ciscan or with the scapular of the Carmel-
ites was removed from purgatory to
paradise in a short time.

The very fact that the Church was
obliged continually to increase the extent
of these favours proves that the pre-
vailing desire for religious satisfaction
and peace could not be thereby satisfied ;
so does the mass of religious writings
which were now spread abroad by the art
of printing. Up to the year 1522 there
appeared fourteen editions of the Bible in
High German and four in Low German,
many books of sermons, countless works
of edification, sometimes of great length,
sometimes of contracted form. Especially
popular were the books dealing " with
the art of making a good death."


covering the fidelity of those she had
alienated, or of satisfying the desires of
her friends. The best that she could give
was inadequate to satisfy this age, which
disregarded mediaeval ideals, and if
Christianity should fail to adapt itself to
new conditions, its complete rejection
seemed inevitable. WILHELM WALTHER




THE first of the French rulers of the
Carolingian family, Charles the Bald,
preserved the external unity of his state,
but during the thirty-four years of his
reign was greatly occupied by the invasions
of the Northmen and by quarrels with the
East Prankish kingdom. So early as 841,
the Danes had advanced to Rouen, con-
quered the town and carried off the inhabi-
tants, from whom they exacted a tribute.
Some fifteen years later in 857 they
reached the outskirts of Paris. In 858
they were granted a strip of land extending
from the mouth of the Seine as far as
the capital. They then seized Meaux, but
were forced by King Charles to evacuate
West Francia. Notwithstanding occasional
defeats in the open field, they steadily
renewed their raids, especially after the
death of Charles, in 877, when France was
divided by the quarrels of factions.

The grandson of Charles, Louis III.,

conquered the invaders in January, 881, at

Saucourt in Picardy, a victory glorified

in the old High German " Ludwigslied " ;

but in 882 they captured Laon. In 884

they again invaded France, made

' Amiens the base of their plunder-

1 ing raids, and were to some extent

( r pacified by a payment of tribute,

nege while a band was engaged in the

conquest of Louvain. In the following

year they were defeated by the united forces

of the West and East Prankish armies

under the command of King Charles the

Fat at Louvain. They were, however,

able to besiege Paris, which was defended



from November, 885, to the autumn of 886

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 36 of 55)