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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fured by Roger Bacon, Peter de Abana, a phyfi-
cian of Padua, and other fenfible men. The
former, in one ot his writings, fays, " There never
** was fuch an appearance of learning, or fo much
*' time given to ftudy, as in thefe lall forty yearsi
*' There are doftors in every city, camp, and viU
*' lai e, efpecially of the two orders of mendicants,
*' but never was there fo much ignorance and er^
*' ror. The generality of lludents fpend their time,
" and their money, on bad tranflations" (meaning
from the Arabic) " They are deceived by appear-
*' ances, not caring what they know, but only
" what they may feem to know, in the opinion of
" the flupid multitude." Mojlieim, Vol. 3. p. 26.
• Several things occurred in this period relating
to the difcipline of the church, which defcrve to be




At the council of Lateran in a. d. 1215, it
was ordered, that every perfon fhould confefs all
his fins at lead once a yeav, to his proper prieft,
difcharge the penance enjoined him, and receive
the eucharifl at Eafter, or be excommunicated,
and deprived of Chriftian burial. Raimond de
Pegnafert, general of the Dominicans, who died in
A. D. 1274, pub'ilhed a fumof cafes ofconfcience,
for the ufe ot confeffors, which was the firft work
of this nature.

It appears from the decrees of the fynod of
Exeter in A. d. 1287, that after baptifm children
were confirmed, at leaft within three years. But
it appears from the decrees of the council of Aries
in A. D. 1260, that confirmation was given to
children at the breaft, as Fleury fays they ftill did
in many churches,

A fuperflitious refpe6l for ihe elements of the
eucharill appears in this period to have begun to
take the cup from the laity. We find in the writ-
in;TS of Alexander Hales, who died in a. d. 1244,
that in his time the laify commonly communicated
wit!i the bread only. At a council held at Lam-
beth in a. d. 1281, it is faid that, in giving the com-
munion, they informed the communicants, that
what they received in the cup was only fimple
wine, to enable them to fvvallow with more eafy
the precious body ; and in the inferior churches it

X 3, was


was permitted only to thofe who celebrated to take
the precious blood ; but in cathedral churches the
communion was flill adminiftered in both kinds.
At a council of Bourdeaux in a. d. 1255, it was
ordered that infants, inftead of the confccrated
wafer, fhould only have pain beni given them, a
remains, fays Fleury, of the antient cuftom of
giving the eucharifl; to children, which is flill kept
up in the Greek church.

The cup was not wholly laid alide till the
council of Conftance. Bingham, p. 789.

The ufe of wafers and unleavened bread were
not known in the church till the eleventh or twelfth
century, when the oblation of common bread be-
gan to be left off by the people. Then the clergy
provided the elements themfelves, and gradually
brought it to a nice and delicate wafer, in the form
of a denarius, to reprefent, they faid, the pieces of
money for which our Saviour was betrayed ; and
the people were ordered to offer a denarius, to be
given to the poor, or to be applied to fome facred
ufe. lb. p. 737. &c.

The mendicants introduced the cuftom of
keeping the confecrated elements for private per-
fons to communicate out of the time of public fer-
vice in the church. This is acknowledged to be a
novelty, and againft the rule of the Roman ritual,



ivhich orders the elements to be kept in the church
only for the fick. Bi"gham, p. 782.

It was not till the twelfth century that the
cuftom of communicating infants was difcontinued
in France lb p. 776.

I'he mi/fa /icca was the communion without
the confecrarion of the elements. St. Lewis had
this fervice performed in this manner on board his
fhips. It was fomt-iimes called mi^ffa nautica, and
was approved by Leo X. /^. p. 772. &c.

Mijfa bifaciaca, or tnfaciatj^ Sec. was when a
prieft, for the fake of getting the price of more
malfes than one in a day, recited the fervice feveral
tim€S, till he came to the words of confecration ;
which by ufing only once he made to ferve for
them all. Ih. p. yi^.

In A. D. 1264 pope Urban inflituted the
feflival of the holy facrament, from a vifionof one
Juliana, a nun in the neighbourhood of Liege^
where Urban had been archdeacon. It was to be
celebrated the firfl thurfday after the oclave of
Whitfuntide, This Juliana declared that when-
ever ftie prayed fbe had before her an ima^e of the
full moon with a fifTure in it, and was informed
by the Holy Spirit, that this fiflfure fignified the
want of this annual feftival in the church which
was reprefeated by the moon. The office was
cqmpofed b^ Thomas Aquinas,

X 4, TiU


Till the twelfth century the fafl; of lent was
kept by abflaining from all food till evening. Binsr.
ham, Vol. 2. p. 347.

In this period we find the origin of indulgent
ces. They began with the bifhops, and were af-
terwards adopted by the popes. When the bilhops
wanted money they remitted theufual penances for
certain fums to be applied to religious ufes. This
J)ower of the bifliops was reftri6led by the popes,
and in time they appropriated it to themfelves;
and going far beyond what the bifhops had ever
done, pretended to releafe men from the penalties
due to fm even in a future flate. The great pre-
tence for the papal indulgences was to promote the
crufades, but it was afterwards extended to every
purpofe that the popes thought fubfervient to their
views. Mojlieim, Vol. 2. p. 420.

At the council of Lateran in a. d. 1215, fu-
perfluous indulgences granted by feme bifhops
were forbidden, and it was ordered that, in the
dedication of churches, the indulgence fhould not
be for more than a year, whether the ceremony
Was perfoimed by one bifhop or more; and that
for the anniverfary of a dedication, or any other
caufe, the indulgence fhould not be for more than
forty days.

By this time great abufes had been made of in-
dulgences. They who preached the crufade in



Germanv in a. d. 1225 advanced fuch things,
fays the hiftorian, or encouraged perfons in their
crimes. For fome of them faid, " I will commit
*' crimes ; for on taking the crofs I (hall be inno-
" cent, and even make Hitisfadion for the crimes
•' of others ;" and fome perfons who had died im-
penitent, and had been buried in the high ways,
were by this means taken up, and buried like

During the twelfth or the thirteenth century
religious plays were introduced into churches, and
thefe prepared the way for facred oratorios. The
firft was a fpiritual comedy in the church of Padua
in A. D. 1243. About twenty years after was in-
flituted at Rome ih^ fraternity of Gonf alone, whofe
principal bufmefs was to reprefent the fufFeringsof
Jefus in the paffion week. Tiie fame fubje6l was
a£led at Friuli in a. d. 1298, and near the Arno
in A. D. 1304, when the people were entertained
with the exhibition of the parable of Dives and
Lazarus, a machine reprefenting hell being fixed
on boats for the purpofe. Williams, p. 42. In a.
D. 1322 the myfteries began to be exhibited in Ger-
many. In A. D. 1378 is the firfl, mention made
of their exhibition in England. While thefe
myfteries were in fafliion, fcarce any fcripture
hiftory efcaped being burlefqued in them. None
of therji were wholly without mufic. Hymns and

X 5 chorus's


chorus's were introduced into all of them, and
fometimes inftrumental mufic was introduced be-
tween the a£ls. Williams, p. 43.

About A. D. 1290 Marinus Sanutus brought
wind inftruments into the church, Bingham,




From the Termination of the Cru-
sades A. D. 1291 TO THE Conclusion
OF THE Council of Constance a. d,


OJ the Power of the Popes, and the OppofUion
that was made to it.


HE claims of the popes to poiver,
temporal and fpiiitual, were much oppofed in the
courfe of this period ot our hiftory ; but they
abated nothing of their arrogance, and on the
whole, perhaps rather gained than loft ground.
Neither their long refidence at Avignon, nor the
great fchifm which took place immediately after it,
tho' feemingly very hazardous for them, were of
any m.aterial differvice. The eyes of princes and
others were opened with refpetl to many abufes of
the papal power; but, notwithflanding this, fuch
a power was almoft univerfally thought to be ne-
ceflary in the Chriflian world. The ground of



their claims as the vicars of Chriji was never called
in queftion by any who had the power to oppofe

When Edward III of England remonflrated to
Clement VI againfl: his dirpofal of bifliopricks by
way of referve, aS contrary to an afl of his parlia-
ment, he anf'vvered, " ConGder it is not the
'• apoftles, but Chrifl. himfelf, who has given to
" the church of Rome the fupremacy over all the
*' churches in the world. It is he that inftituted
*•' all the patriarchates, metropolitans, and cathe-
« dral churches, and all the dignities that are in
«' them. It is to the pope that the difpofal of all
'•' thcfe dignities, offices, and benefices, belongs."

Alphonfo king of CaRile, complaining to the
fame pope in a. d. 1348, of his giving the bifliop-
rick of Coriae to a foreigner, he anfwcred, " Did
" not the apoillcs, of whom the bifhops are the
»' facceilbrs, receive a commifl:on from our Saviour
"'to preach to all nations ? Was St. James, from
*« whom the Spaniards received the gofpel, a native
*' ofSoain? Can you be furprized then, if the
** pope follow the example of him whofe place he
*« occupies on earth, and before whom there is no
" diftin6lion of nations, or acceptance of perfons,
*' and if he chufe capable perfons, tho' (hangers,
«' to condu6l the flack of Chrifl ?" However,
Fleury well obferves, that a thoufand years before



this pope Juliu5> reproached the Orientals for mak-
ing Gregory of Cappadocia biHiop of Alexandria,
who was not a native ofihe place. When the fame
pope made many referves of prelacies, and abbeys,
making no account of the eledions of chapters and
communities, and was told that his predeceffors
had not done fuch things, he faid they did not
know what it was to be popes. Fleury, Vol. 20.

p. 31.

The popes did not even think ihemfelves bound
by what ihemfelves had fworn to before their eleft-
ion. In A. D. 1353 Innocent VI rcfufed to abide
by the reftrictions that he himfelf, as well as the
other cardinals, had agreed to and fjgned daring
the vacancy of the fee. *' That wriling," he faid,
" is a prejudice to the pleniiude ol power which
*' God himfelf with his own mouth gave to the
" pope only, fmce it bounds and rellrains it within
*' certain limits. This power," he faid, *' could
" not be complete, if it depended upon the con-
*' fent, difcretion, and agreement of any others;
«' and thofe rafh oaths wotild be prejudicial to other
" churches." He therefore declared that the car-
dinals had no power to make fuch agreements ;
and faid, " We and our fucceiTors the popes are
" not obliged to obferve them, or the oaths made
" in confecjuence of them."



Tho*, in order to put an end to the great
fchifm which had fo long divided the church, of
which an account will be given hereafter, it was
neceffary that a general council ftiould affert a right
of depofing them, and its fuperiority to them,
which the council of Conflancedid in the mofl ex-
plicit manner, and Martin himfelf, who was elefted
pope in confequence of that council, had affented
to it, he was no fooner inflated in that dignity,
than he claimed the fame power that his prede-
ceffors had done. Having refufed to condemn a
treatife which had given oflFence ro the Poles, they
appealed to a council. But he immediately pub-
lifhed a bull, forbidding all appeals from the fo-
vereign judge, or the apoftolic fee, or to decline
its d^ecifion in matters of faith. This is the more
extraordinary, as this pope, in his bull againH; the
IIufiTites in a. d. 1418, obliged them to fwear that
what had been approved or condemned by all the
general councils, and efpecially that of Conftance,
ought to be approved or condemned by all the
faithful ; and the fuperiority of the council to the
pope was among the decrees of this council. On
this occafion Gerfon, the chancellor of the univer-
lity of Paris, and who was much looked up to in
ail the proceedings of the council, publirtied a
treatife, in which he maintained that there is no
fovereign judge upon earth in matters of faith be-



ides a general council, alleging the decrees of this
<'try council of Conftance in his fupport. Kot-
withftanding this, the queftion remained undecided
among the Catholics. The Gallican church, how-
ever, held the do£lrinc of Gerfon. *

It is fomething remarkable, however, that no
pope in this period pretended to perfonal infalli-
bility in matters of faith. On occafion of the dif-
ferent decrees of Nicolas III and John XXII,
oardinal Fournier, afterwards Benedid XII, main-
tained that *' Nicolas did not prove from the
*' fcriptures that what he advanced was true, but
" that the authority of the fcriptures had determined
*•' John in what he had decided. And, with
" refped to faith and manners, it is not true that

" what

* Clement V made additions to tl»e pontifical con-
ftltuti»ns, which from him were called Clementines.
John XXII and fome of the fucceeding popes added
others, which, being mifcellaneous, and without order,
wevc cslW-cA extravagantes, Giannone, Vol. 2. pi 233.

Clement VI is faid to have claimed more power
with refpe£l to a future world than had been done, at
leafl in fo diredl a manner, by any of his predeceffors.
In his bull for the celebration of the jubilee he expreCt-
ly commands the angels of paradice to admit thofe
who Piiould die on their jouiiiey to Rome for that pur-
pofe dire6lly to the perfe6l glory of paradise, without
ktting them go thro' purgatory. But Baluzius fays
the bull is apocryphal. 3. Vol. 2. p. 230.


*• what hns been decreed by one pope cannot bs
<• revoked by anoiher," On this occaGon Fleury
obferves, that the doi^nne of the infalHhihty of
the popes v/as not introduced into the fchools till
more than a century after this.

John XXII fubmittcd to the judgment of the
church with rerpe6l: to his favourite do61rine con-
cerninor the ilate of the d?ad, and in a. d. 1351
Clement VI, apprehending that he was at the
point of death, pubhfhed a conRitution, in which
he fa;d that, if in teaching, preaching, or other-
wife, any thing had efcaped him contrary to the
Catholic faith, or good morals, he revoked it, and
fubmitted to the corrcaion of the holy fee. Alfo,
when Uiban V was upon his d.ath bed, affer pro-
fefTing his belief of the Catholic iai' h, he faid that,
if he had advanced any thing contrary to it, he
revoked it, and fubmitted to the corredion of the


The power of the popes in temporals feems to
have been as gene-ally acknowledged as m fpiri-
tuals, at leaft when it was favourable to the intercfts
of the perfons concerned. Bat certainly no re-
courfe would have b.en had to it if his right to
interfere had not been generally allowed.

Boniface VI IL in his mftruaions to his le.
aates whom he had fer.t into Hungary, to fupport
the intereft o\ Charles Robert, grandfcn of Charles


Sec.I. the christian church. 35Z

king of Naples, having heard that the lords had
given the kingdom to the king of Bohemia, fays,
•* The fovcreign pontiff, eftabliflied by God over
*' kings and kingdoms, and holding the firfl rank
** over all mortals, judges, tranquilly from liis
*•' throne, and diflSpates evils by his look. The
** firfl king of Hungary," he faid, *' gave his king-
" dom to the church of Rome, and would not take
*' his crown but from the vicar of Jefus Chrift ;:
" knowing that no perfon fhould take to himfelf
*' honour if he be not called of God." He cited
all the parties to appear before him, and he re-
proved the king of Hungary for calhng himfelf
king of Poland ; faying that that kingdom belonged
to the holy fee, and forbidding him to ufe that
title, or exercife any power in that country. This
pontiff took for his devife tw) /words intimating
that all temporal as well as all fpiritual power be-
longed to him. Giannone, Vol. 2. p. 225.

The popes claimed the fovereignty of all hea-
then countries, and affumed the right of difpohng
of them as they pleafed to chriflian princes. Thus
Clement VI, in a. d. 1344, made Lewis fon of
Alphonfo king of Caflile, king of the tartunate i-
Hands, he engaging to conquer them, and eftablifii
in them the chriflian religion.

The popes, notwithllanding their long and

hard flrug§l«6 with the emperors, abated nothing

Vol. IV. Y J . of


of their claims with refped to them, and flill leHj
with refpeft to Naples and Sicily. On the death
of the emperor Henry VII in a. d. 1313, who
had declared Robert king of Naples a rebel, pope
Clement V publifhed a bull, in which he fays
that the emperoi's oath to himfelf at his coronation
was an oath of fealty, and that Robert, being his
vaffai, could not be gnilfy of treafon to the empe-
ror. " We therefore," he fays, *' by the fupe-
*' rity which we have over the empire, the
^'^ower by which we fucceed to the empire during
*' a vacancy, and, by the plenitude of power given
'« by Jefus Chrift in the perfon of St. Peter, de-
*' clare that fentence null and without cfFe£l."

The papal excommunications and interdi^^s,
tho', as we fhall fee, they were often difregarded,
were perhaps more frequent in this period than in
any other. The king of Denmaik having ill ufed
the archbifhop of Lunden, Boniface Vl 1 1 excom-
municated him, and laid his kingdom under an in-
terdi6l in a. d. 1297; and this meafurc brought
the king to make his fubmiflion, and give fatis-
fadion to the prelate. In a. d. 1324 John XXII
publifhed a crufade againft Galeas Vifconti, the
fon of Matthew, who difpofed of the benefices in
the dutchy of Milan at his own pleafure ; promif-
ing the f^^me indulgence to thofe who would en-
gage in this expedition as to thofe v>'ho went to



fight for the recovery of the holy land from the in-
fidels. This family was almoft conftantly at va-
riance with the popes ; and tho' they often madet
very light ot the papal cenfures, they found it ne-
ceffary to compromife their differences, and buy
their peace at the laft.

The popes, befides alTerting their own rights^
were in no want of fl:renuous advocates. Alvar
Pelagius, a Spaniih Francifcan, in a treatife pub-
lifhed in a. d. 1329, of the complaints 0/ the churchy
maintained that, " as Jefus Chrift is the fole pon-
*' tiff, king and lord of all, fo he has but one vicar
** on earth for all purpofes. Chrift." he faid, " has
" not divided his power, but has given it, as he had
" it himfelf ; the pope is vicar not of man, but of
" God, and all the earth is the Lord's and the full-
" nefs thereof; fo that every king is the pope's,
" The Pagan emperors," he faid, *' never fheld
" the empire jufl:ly j for he that isfofar from God,
" as ari idolater, or a heretic, cannot poffefs any
" thing juftly under him." I do not remember to
have met with any other argument in fupport of
the papal power that goes quite fo far as this*

The pope's power in matters of literature Was
fomething more plaufible than over kingdoms;
and in this period it feems to have been taken for
granted, tho' the origin of the power cannot well
be traced, that no univerfity could be eft.ablifhed

y 2 - - . withouC


widiout the papal authority. Thus in a. d. 1339
Eenedift XIT inftitutcd an univerfity at Verona,
for teaching lav/, medicine, and the arts.

The exorbitant claims of the popes were far
horn paflTing wi'hout oppofiiion in this period,
either with rr-fp ct to argument, or mefhods more
forcible and cff 6lijal. Marlilius of Padua, and
John of ]anflun, who were fupported by Lewis of
Bavaria ('.vhofe contefl with the popes will be re-
citfd in another feftion) maintained in their pub-
licaiions, that Peter was no more the he^.d of the
church than the other apoflles. that he had no
more authority than they, and that Jefus Chrill
made no man his vicar on earth ; that it was the
bufmefs ot ihe emperor to corre6i and punifh the
pope, to appoin? him, and to ("et him a fide ; that
popes, archbifhops. and fimple priells, have all
equal authority by the inftivution of Jcfus Chrift ;
and that nHrher the pope, nor the whole church,
can punifh any perfon without the authority of the
emperor. Thefe propofirions were cenfured as
heretical by pope John XXII, in a. d. 1327.

But fpirited princes oppofed the papal claims
with more cffctl than writers, and the hau^htieft
of the popes wire often obliged to give way to them.
Boniface VIII, findmg what oflFence he had given
by a bull of ins, forbidding the clergy to give to
the princes without the confent of the pope, li-


mited it to forced exaBions, leaving them at liberty
to make voluntary contributions for the defence of
the kingdom, and even allowing the kmgs to re-
quire fuch contributions, and to be the judges of
the neceflity of them, which was in fatl undoing
what he had done before.

Edward 1 of E>^gland having demanded a fifth
of the revenues of the dergv, they refufed to pny
it, pjeadmg this bull oi Boniface; but he inhfted
upon his demand, and feized their goods. During
thecontrfts between Bruce and Buliol for the kin r-
dom of Scotland Edward claimed, and cotiqucred,
the country; when this pops alleged that it be-
longed to him, and informed him that, if he had
any pretenfions to it, he inuft plead his caufe at
Rome. " For," faid he, " we referve the cogniz-
*' ance of all contefts that are, or may be, moved
*' upon this fubje<^ to ourfelves." Edv/ard replied
that this was not a caufe to be brought before. any
court of jullice ; and giving the realbns for his
claim, the pope did not thiuk proper to urge his
pretenfions any farther.

During the civil wars in Hungary when Buda
was laid under an interdict by thofe prelates who
joined the party of the pope, others paid no re-
gard to it. They even affcmbled the people, and
excommunicated the pope and all the bifliops and
monks in Hungary.

Y 3 When


When the emperor Henry VII was crowned
at Rome in a. d. 1312, he had a quarrel with Ro-
bert king of Naples, and their troops fought in
the city. Upon this pope Clement V ordered
them to make peace. But the emperor faid, that
tho' Robert was the vaflal of the pope, he, as em-
peror, did not hold his power of him ; he only
owed the pope proteftiou ; and if he did not af-
fert his power to do himfelf juftice, he fliould di-
minifh the rights of that empire which he had
fworn to maintain. The pope was much offen-
ded at this anfwer, but made no further oppofition.

When Innocent VI in a. d. 1358, fent the
bifhop of Cavaillon into Germany, to levy the
tenth of all church livings for the ufe of the apof-
tolic chamber, the clergy of the three provinces of
Treves, Maycnce, and Cologn, alfembled, and
abfolutely refufed to contribute any thing. They
wrote to the pope to give their reafons, and he, for
f?arof making a fchifm in the church, acquiefced.
On this occafion alfo the emperor convoked tht
princes of the empire, where the demands of the
pope were confidered, and with great indignation
refufed. " the Romans" it was faid, " have al-
*' ways confidered Germany as a mine of gold, and
*' they have invented many ways of exhaufting it.
** Every year great fums of money are carried
*'from Germany to Rome, for the confirmation of

*' pre-


*• prelates, the folicitation of livings, the profecu-
** tion of appeals to the holy fee, difpenfations,ab-
" folutions, indulgences, privileges, and other fa-
" yours. Formerly the archbifliops confirmed the
*' ele£lion of the bifiiops their fufiFragans ; but in
" our times pope [ohn has taken their right from
*« them, and now he demands of the clergy a new

Online LibraryJoseph PriestleyA general history of the Christian church, from the fall of the western empire to the present time (Volume 2) → online text (page 19 of 30)