Joseph Priestley.

A general history of the Christian church, from the fall of the western empire to the present time (Volume 2) online

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from any order of a pope, or the recommendatiojj
of any perfon of particular eminence, but began
with the common people, and others followed their
example. It extended to Germany, Poland, and
many other countries. Their cuflom was to whip
themfelves every day for thirty- three days together,
becaufe Chrift, they thought, lived fo many years
upon earth ; and they fung hymns concerning his
death and pafTion. No perfon,' they faid, could
be abfolved from their fins if they did not perform
this penance, at lead one month, and they con-
feffed to one another, and gave formal abfolution,
tho' they were laymen. They even pretended
that this practice was ufeful to the dead. This
company of P'lagellants, as they were called, at
length gave alarm to feveral princes, fo that they
were fuppreffed by force; and in a Ihort time the
pra6lice ceafed. But we ftiall find it renewed in a
later period.

Perhaps the perfon the mofl diflinguifhed for
his habitual devotion in this period was Lewis IX



king of Frarxe, if we may depend upon the account
of his confeffor and chaphain, both Dominicans.
Every day he heard the canonical raafs, even the
hours of the virgin, -wiih. ih.Q chaunt. If he was tra-
velling on horfeback, he contented himfelf witli
reciting it along with his chaplain. Every day,
alfo, he recited the oflBce of the dead at nine lef-
fons, even on the moH folemn feflivals. He never
failed to hear two itiaffes every day, and fometimcs
three or four. He was fond of hearing fermons,
and when they pleafed him, he retained them in
memory, and repeated them to others. Having
heard that fome of his lords complained of his
hearing fo many malTes and fermons, he faid, " If
*' I had fpent twice as much time in playing at
" dice, or hunting, no body would have fpoken
" of it."

It was his cuftom for fome time to rife at mid-
night, to afTifl at the matims which were chaunted
in his chapel, and at his return to have leifure to
pray by his bed fide, faying, " if God fhould then
•' give me any pious motion I am not afraid of
*' being interrupted." But this exercife weakening
*him too much, he was perfuaded to omit it. After
fupper complines were folemnly chaunted in his
chapel, and when he retired to his chamber, a
prieft came and fprinkled the room, and efpeciallv'
the bed, with holy water. With the confent of

U 2 the

308 THE HlSTOKi uF i*ek. XIX.

the queen, he abftained from any matrimonal in-
tercouife, according to the antient cuftom of the
church, during the whole of advent and lent, alfo
on certain days in the week, on the vigils and
grand feftivafs ; and when he was to receive the
communion he abftained feveral days before and
after the fervice. His abftinence with refpecl to
food was very great. He fafted every friday, he
ate no flefh meat on wednefdays, and for fome
time on mondays alfo, till on account of his weak-
nefs he was advifed to omit it. On fridays in lent
arid advent he ate neither fruit nor fifti. On ho-
ly friday he fafted on bread and water, and 'alfo on
the vigils and principal feftivals of the virgin, and
fome other days in the year. He confefTed every
friday, and after confeflion he always received the
difcipline at the hand of his confeflbr with five iron
chains faftened to the bottom of a little ivory box,
which he carried in his purfe, and he fometimes
made prefents of fuch boxes to his children and
particular friends. He wore haircloth on fri-
days in lent, advent, and at the vigils of the vir-
gin, but by the advice of his confeffor he left this

On good friday, after aftifting at matins, which
began at midnight, he returned to his chamber,
where, either alone, or accompanied by a chaplain,
he repeated the whole pfalter. Then, without



going to bed, or fleeping any more, he v/ent out
at funrife, barefooted, and meanly drefled, walked
thro' the moll frequented ftreets, on the pavement
and in the dirt. He went into the churches, and
prayed in them, followed by an almoner, who gave
liberally to the poor. After his return, tho' gene-
rally much fatigued, he heard the fermon of the
paffion, then he aflifted at the office, which was
celebrated in a folemn manner ; and v/hen he came
to the adoration of the crofs, he rofe from his place,
bareheaded, and barefooted, and meanly drelTed,
and went a good diftance on his knees, followed
by his children, with fuch marks of humility, that
thofe who were prefent fhed tears. The fervice
being over, he took a flight repaft of bread and

On holy thurfday he wafhed the feet of feme
poor people, and thofe of three poor old men
every faturday. After this I need not mention his
alms, and benefactions ol every kind, efpecially
his liberality to the mendicants. When the ex-
pence attending thefe things was complained of,
he faid, " Since I mull be at fome expence, I had
*' rather do it for God, than for the world, and va-
*' nity, and thus balance the exceffive expences
*' that are unavoidable in temporal things." Can
we doubt the real piety and virtue of this man,
even tho' he was a perfecutor of heretics, and would

U o without


without remorfe have fhed the blood of all the in-
fidels in the Eaft. He would, however, have re-
ceived more pleafure from their converfion. Whea
this prince v/as dangeroufly ill in a. d. 1244,
they brought out the relicks of the martyrs belong-
ing to the church of St. Denis, placed them on
altar, carried them in proceflion thro' the church,
and the cloillers, walking barefoot, and fhedding
many tears ; and. from that time it was obferved
thathebtfgart to recover. Fleury, Vol. 17. p. 289.
The hiftory of the conveyance of what was fup-
pofed to be the crown of thorns, that was put on
the head of Jefus, from Conftantinople to France,
in A. D. 1247, will ferve to give an idea of the fpi-
lit of the times, as well as of the religion of this
particular prince. The probability is that the
crown that was really put on the head of our Sa-
viour was not of thorns, but of the herb acanthus^
the intention ol the foldiers, in this as well as in
putting on him (he purple robe, having been to
mock, and not to torture him ; and none of the an-
tients fpeak of this as painful to him. In after
times, however, it was fuppofed that this crown
was of real thorns, and being thought to have
been a£lually found, as well as the crofs, and every
thiuT elle belonging to the crucifixion, it was kept
at Conftantinople; and when that city was taken
by the Latins, it was confidercd as one of the moH



valuable articles found in the place. This crown,
the lords, being much in debt, had pawned to the
Venetians for a large fum ; but the emperor Bald-
win, willing to lay on obligation on Lewis, to
whom he had pawned the county of Namur, pro-
pofed to make a prefent of it to the king. Ac-
cordingly two Dominicans were fent to receive the
facred depofit, and the box in which it was con-
tained was delivered to them, carefully fealed ; and
tho' thofe who had the caie of it put to fea in the
moll dangerous feafon, and the Greek emperor
lay in wait to intercept them, they arrived without
any accident at Venice. The king and the em-
peror Baldwin then fent ambailadors to Venice,
with money to redeem the facred pledge, and
other precautions were taken for the lafe convey-
ance of it ; and it was obferved that during their
journey, tho' they had heavy rains in the night,
iiot one drop fell upon them, while they were on
the road. V/hen they were arrived at Troyes in
Champaigne, they lent to inform the king, who
immediately let out, accompanied with the queen
mother, his brothers, the archbiihop cf Sens, the
bilhop of Auxerre, and fome other lords, and met
the relick at Villeneuve.

Having opened the outer box of wood, and
verified the feals of the French lords and the doge
ol Venice, which were fixed to a cafe of lilver,

U 4 they


they opened that, arid in it found anbther of gold,
which contained the facred crown. This bein^
Ihewn to the king and his fuite, they fhed many-
tears, imagining they faw Chrift himfelf crowned
with (horn?. This was St. Lawrence's day. The
next day, Auguft 8, it was carried to Sens, and at
the gates of the city the king, and Robert count
of Artois, the eldeflof his brothers, took it on their
fhoulders, both of ihem being barefooted, and in
their fhirts, and carried it to the metropohtati
church of St. Stephen, in the midflofall the clergy
of the city, who came in folemn proceffion to meet


The next day the king fet out for Paris, and
the eighth day after he arrived there, and near the
abbey of St. Anthony a fcafiFold was prepared on
v/hich were many prelates in their robes, and from
this the box was fhewn to the people. Then the
km<r and the count of Artois, barefooted, and in their
Ihirts, carried it on their flioulders to the cathedral
church of Notre Dame, and thence to the palace,
when it was placed in the royal chapel.

But fome years after this, the king, having re-
ceived from Condantmople a confiderable part of
the true crofs, and feveral other relicks, built
another chapel of the richell and mofl; elegant
archite£lure then known, and there founded a
chapter to recite the office before thefe holy rehcks.



The church of Paris celebrates the feflival of ths
reception of this holy crown on the i ith of Auguft,
and the hiftory of it was then written by Gautier
archbifhop of Sens. Fleiiry, Vol. ij. p. 200.

The hiftory of the reception of fome of the
blood of Chrijt by king Henry III ot England is as
carious as the preceding. This prince wrote to
all his lords to meet him in London the I3':h of
October a. d. 1247, to hear "the pleafing news
*•' of a new favour that God had granted them."
Accordingly they met at Weflminder on the day
appointed, when they were informed that the
triafters of the Templars and Hofpitallcrs had fent
them a portion of the blood of our Saviour, in a
very antient cryilal vafe, with the altcftation of the
patriarch of Jerufalem, and that of the bifi:iops, ab-
bots and lords of the holy land. On this occafion
the king, defirous of imitating what St. Lewis had
done to honour the true crofs, fafted on bread and
water the eve of the fi;{lival, which was that of the
tranflation of St. Edward ; and on that day he
carried the relick in folemn procefiion from the
cathedral church of St. Paul to that of St. Peter at
Wellminfter, where it was depohted. The bifhop
of Norwich then performed mafs, and delivered a
fermon, in which he faid that this relick was more
precious than any other, even that of the true crofs,
which was only valuable on account of this, blood

U 5 that


that was (hed upon it. He then declared, in the
name of all the prelates, that fix years and one
hundred and forty days indulgence would be grant-
ed to thofe who would honour the precious blood.

Some, however, who were prefent exprefled
their doubt of the reality of the relick. To this
thebifhopof Lincoln, Robert Groflhead, anfwered
in a difcourfe, in which he laid, tho' on the au-
thority of a book which he owned to be apocry-
phal, that Jofeph of Arimathia, when he loofed
the body of Chrid from the crofs, carefully gattered
up the blood from his wounds, and efpecially that
from his fide, and even the water with which he
wafhed the body ; that he gave part of it to Nico-
deraus, who had afiifted him in conveying the bo-
dy to the fepuichre, and that thus this treafure had
been prcferved from father to fon till it came into
the poiTcffion of the patriarch Robert, who then
held the fee of Jerufalem.

To this fabulous relation I Ihall add another,
compofed in this period, by Bonaventure, from
apocryphal writings, as Fleury fays, which then
paifed for true, or revelations not much to be de-
pended on, of the deliveiy of the virgin Mary,
which is as follows. When her hour was come,
which was funday at midnight, the virgin got up,
and leaned againfl a pillar, while Jofeph was fit-
ting, concerned that he could not provide what



was rcouired in her circumftances. However he
rofe, and taking fome hay from the manger, laid
it at her feet ; and then as he was looking another
way, the Son of God came out of the womb of the
virgin, without giving her any pain, and lay on
the hay that was at her teet. She then took him
up, embraced him tenderly, placed him on her
knees, and wafhed him with her milk which flowed
from her in great abundance, then wrapped him in
a vail, which fhe took from her head, and placed
him in the manger. After this an ox and an afs,
falling on their knees, put their mouths to the
manger, and breathed on the child, to warm him,
as if they had known who he was. The mother
then fell on her knees, and adored him, giving
thanks to God, and Jofeph did the fame. Bona-
venture laid he had thefe particulars from a friar of
his order, to whom the virgin herfelf had revealed
them. Flcury, Vol. 18. p. 122.

I fhall clofe this fedion with an account of an
inflance of fuperflition in the Greeks. On Fe-
bruary A. D. 1284 a Greek priefb found the con-
fecrated bread which had by accident been \&k in
the place where it was kept from the lafl year, then
quite corrupted, and not having the appearance of
bread. On feeing this he was terrified, and
trembled; and confuUing with thofe vt' ho were
prefent, they agreed to throw it into v/hat they



called tht f acred furnace, and which Fleury fays
the Latins cdllpifcina. Vol. 18. p. 366.


Of the Jews in this Period,


NT this, as in the preceding period, the
Jews were expofed to much and various ill ufage.
At the council of Lateran in a. d. 1215, they
were required to wear a badge, to diftinguifh them
from Chriftians. In a. d, 1234 the kingdom of
Hungary was laid under an interdift for admitting
Jews as well as Mahometans into public employ-
ments, and having Chriftian flaves ; and it was not
taken off till the king and his fon engaged to allow
of that abufe no longer; but, fays the hiftorian, it
was ill obferved.

In A. D. 1206 there was a great carnage made
of the Jews in many places, efpecially in Spain.
In France the crufaders againfl the Albigenfes
killed them in great numbers, without fparing
children or Women with child ; many were tramp-
led to death by horfes, and their bodies expofed
to the beads. Their books were burned, their
goods plundered, and great mifchiets were threatened



becaufe they refafed to be baptized. On this oc-
cafion the Jews applied to the pope, who wrole in
their favour; faying that, no perfon Ihould be
compelled to receive baptifm ; that as man fell by
his free will, he ought to recover by the fame
means, with the aiTiftance of grace. He alfo wrote
to the king, defiring that he would reftrain thofe

John king of EnglandharraflTed the Jews with
the mofl- grievous exaSions, applying corporal pu-
nifliment when they refufed to give him money.
It is faid that he de^nanded of a Jew of Briflol a
thoufand marks of filver, and on his refufal to pay
he ordered a tooth to be drawn every day till he
Ihould pay, and this, it is faid, he bore till he had
loft feven of them. The hiftorian Trivet fays that
he confifcated the property of all the Jews in his
kingdom, and banifhed them by a public edid.
Bafnage, Vol. 9. p. 619.

The crufades farnifiied Henry III of England
wilh a pretence for taking from the Jews what re-
mained of their property from former exa6lions.
Having demanded eight thoufand marks, they re-
prefented to him that, being unable to raife that
fum, they wifhed to leave the kingdom. This
provoked him fo much that he fold them to his
brother Richard, who advanced a lar^e fum on
that account. But when it was expe6led that he



would have reimburfed himfelf by exa6ling twice
as much, he was fo moved by the reprefentation of
their poverty and diflrefs, that he forbore to do it.

In A. D. 1239 the Jews of Norwich being ac-
cufed of intending to murder a Cbriflian child,
they were all apprehended, and lour of them were
torn in pieces by horfes, and their limbs expofed
on a gibbet. Bajnage, Vol.- 9. p. 621.

The Jews of Lincoln being accufed of the
fame crime^ eighteen of the richeft of them were
put to death, at the folicitation of the mother. Ibi
Vol. 9. p. 634. At length, njwevcr, giving the
kincr a fum of money they obtained a proclamation
forbidding to ufe them ill. Fleury, Vol. 17. p. 129.

After the death of the king, the nation being
vifited with the plague, it was faid to be owing to
the indulgence fhewn to the Jews ; and
after pretending to give them liberty to chufc
which religion they preferred, all that did not adopt
the Chridian were put to death. Tho' there is
fomething that has the air of fable in the circum-
flances of this ftory, as related by the monkifh
hiftorians, it is certain that the Jews '.vere banifhed
the kingdom by Edward III, who allowed them to
go to France, but confifcated their property. Their
number in England was then very great, and they
did not obtain leave to return till the time of




In A. D. 1238, a converted Jew informing the
pope concerning the Talmud, as the principal
caufe of keeping his brethren true to their religion,
orders were given that in all ChriPiian countries
the Jews fliould deliver up their books, and that
thofe of them that contained any errors fliould ba
burned. In confequence of this, and the exami-
nation of fome ot them, twenty cart loads were
burned in France, in the prefence of the univerfi-
ty, the clergy, and the people of Paris. Many
Chriftians at this time were able to read Hebrew.
Befides thofe in France, mention is made by Mat-
thew Paris of Robert Arundel, probably an Eng-
lifliman, as well fkilled in that language.

In A. D. 1247, pope Innocent IV wrote to
the bifhops of Germany in favoui" of the Jews, whb
were cruelly treated, and fometimes put to death,
on pretence that they had killed the children of
Chriflians, eaten thd?*^ear(s, and been guilty
of other crimes, of which they were innocent, de-
firing that their wrongs might be redrelTed, and
that they fhould not be condemned without reafon.

In A. D. 1248, John duke of Tufcany, at the
requefl of the bifhops and lords, drove all the Jews
from his territories.

At the council of Vienne in a. d. 1267, the
Jews were required to wear a cap of horn, to pay



Jy^thes to the cure, and all other duties that were
exacted oi the Chriflians who lodged with them.

In A. D. 1291 it was faid that a Jew at Paris,
getting poffeffion of a confecrated wafer, pricked it
with a penknife ; that on this blood came out of it,
arid that, tho' he abufed it in various ways, it al-
ways inewed marks of fenfibility ; that at length it
took its place on a crucifix, in the form of Chrifl
upon the crofs. The confequence of this ridiculous
notion was very ferious. For the Jew was appre-
hended, and burned, ar^d the people called the
houfe in which this fcene was fuppofed to have
been tranfa6ied, the houfe of miracles, and a chapel
was afterwards built on the fpot.

Notwithftanding the great odium under which
the Jews generally lay, there is abundant evidence,
that in fome of the fouthern parts of France, the
common people were prejudiced in their favour,
and leaned to their rites. In Provence, and the
neijThbouring places, the intercourfe with the Jews
had introduced many fuperflitious pradices. Many
perfons in their illnefifes held lamps and lighted
candles in the fynagogues, and made offerings
there, to procure good journeys, and fafe deliveries
for women with child ; and they fhewed the fame
refpe6l that the Jews did to the book of the law,
which Chriflians in general confidered as a kind of
idolatry. The pope, to put a flop to thefe abufes,

wrote .


wrote to the Francifcans, who exercifed the office
of inquifitors in that part of the country, to pro*
fceed againfl thpfe who were guilty of thofe things,
as againfl: idolatry and herefy. This letter is dated
February 20th, a. d. 1290.


Mifcdlaneous Articles,


ITTLE was done in this period
towards extending the bounds of Chriflendom,
and that little not very folid. In a. d. i2^t^ a
great army of German crufaders, about iixty thou-
fand, attacked that part of Pruffia which continued
Pagan, and killing all who refufed to be baptized,
reduced the whole to the profeffion of Chriftianity.
In the fame year, Mondag, whom the pope on his
profeffion of Chriftianity had made king of Lithua-
nia, turned his arms againtt the Chrillians, fo
that there was nothing, as the hiftorian fays, in his
converlion, and his fucceffors continued heathen
one hundred and thirty years after.

This was an age in which much attention was
given to liieratiire, and which produced many emi-
nent men. At the council of Lateran in a. d.
Vol. IV. X 1215,


1215, an order given in a council of a. d, 1179
under Alexander III, mentioned in the preceding
feftion, that in every cathedral church there fhould
be a raafler, who fhould teach gratis, but which
had not been obferved, was confirmed. He was
to teach not only grammar, but any branch of
fcience that he was capable of teaching, and in
every metropoli-an church, thenf was to be a theo-
logian to teach the priefts the holy' fcript'ires, and
what related to the care of fouls, each of thefe
maflers was to have the falary of a prebend, as
lon'T as he taught, but without becommg a c.inon.

Frederic II was well verfed irtthe Latin. Greek,
and Arabic languages, befidcs I alun and Fret:cb,
his native tongue being the German. He com-
pofed poems in Italian. He was a great promo. er
of literature in his dominions, elpecially b) tlie
enablifhment of an univerfity at Naples, and pro-
curing many bo^ ks to be Iranflated from Arabic
into Latin- Giannone, Vol. 1. p. 729. Alfo Al-
phonfus king of Caftile and Leon diftinguifhed
himfelf both by his own attainments in literature,
and his zeal in promoting it. He is particularly
famous for his aftronomical tables. MoJ/uim, Vol.
3. p. 17.

Lewis IX hearing, when he was in Paleftine,
of a Mahometan pnnce getting all. uleful books
tranfcribed tor the ufe ot learned men, did the fame



on his return to France, efpecially all books re-
lating to religion^ and from them Vincent de Beau-
■"ais compofed his Grand Mirror, which was a col-
leftion of every thing that he thought ufeful to a

This was the period in which the Ariflotelian
philofophy was moft triumphant, being taught in
all the fchools till its tendency to favour infidelity
was perceived. It was particularly adopted by
he Dominican ahd Francifcan friars, among whom
.he moft diftinguifhed teachers were Alexander
Hales, a Francifcan and an Englifhman, who
! aught at Paris, and obtained the title of the irre-
fragable do5tor, Albert furnamed the Great, a Do-
minican and a German, bifhop of Ratifbon, the
di£lator, as it were, of all literature in his time ;
but efpecially his difciple Thomas Aquinas, a Do-
minican likewife, and furnamed the Angelic doBor.
In the pontificate of Clement IV, he compofed
his Sum of theology, which was confidered in the
fchools as the moft complete fyftem for do6lrine
and method. It is indeed a wonderfully elaborate

The college for the ftudy of divinity in Paris
was ereded and endowed in a. d. 1250 by Ro-
bert de Sorbonne, a friend and favourite of king
Lewis, and it retained his name ever after. Mof
hem, Vol. 3. p. 19. In all the univerfities in this

X 2 period


period it was neceflfery to go thro' a ftri6l examina-
tion before any perfon could be intitled to teach
the fciences, and then arofe the cuflom of o^iving
academical degrees, as that of majler and do6ior, in, -
all t\\& faculties, as they were called ; an inflitution
which had its ufe in thefe times, while it might
be fairly conlidered as a mark of real merit, but it
is now no longer fo, and therefore ought to be

But the whole fyftem of Ariftotelian philofo*
phy, as taught in thefe fchools, was feverely cen*

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