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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ftanccs, they determined not to inform him of the
decree of fabiraciion, left it fhould prevent the pro-
poled interview betvveen the two popes, tho' the
kin^ perceived nothing but evafion in the conver-
fation they had with him. At length Savonawas
the place fixed upon for the conference, and every
precaution was taken to make it f.;fe for both the
parties. But Gregory, tho* at firft fo zealous fo-
the union, abfolutely refufed, on a variety of idle
pretence,s, to go to the place ; and tho' the am.



baffadors of the king of France anfwered all his
objeftions. and offered ihemfelves as hoftages for
Lis lafety, they could not prevail upon him. Una-
ble to gaihi anv thing from Gregory, they then
appii'ed to the fenatois of Rome, and the cardinals;
and thefe promifed that, in caft of his death, they
■tt'ould mtt proceed to a new ck6lion, till both
tbe oHeges were united.

In \ke mean time Beneditl:, be;rng informed
of tht: fcheme of T'lbfraiflion, drew up a bull of ex-
communication and interdrfl againfl all who fhould
concur in that meafare ; and perceiving thaf Gre-
gory declined the propofed interview at Savona,
he went thither, and profcffed his readincfs to go
to any other place that fhould be fixed upon.
Gregory now unable altogether to recede from his
repeated prafeffions, went firfl to Viterbo, where
be flayed three weeks, and then to Sienna where he
continued the reft of the year, amufiDg his cardi-
nals with a propofal of ceflion, on canditioh that
during his lite he ihould have the title of patri-
arch of Conftantinople, hold the bifboprick of
Moden and Croten in the (late of Venice, a prio^.
ry v/hich he had held in commendam before he
was "elected pope, and the archbiflioprick of York
in Englai^d. At length, however, he went to Luc-
ca; but tho' Benedi61; was then advanced as far as
P-orto Venere, and informed him that he would



not wait any longer, Gregory only anfwered in
terms of reproach for not coming to Pifa or Leg-
horn, which he had propofed, inftead of Savona.
Bemg at this time farther encouraged by Ladif-
las taking poffeffion of Rome, he openly refufed
every overture for a compromife; and becaufe a
Carmelite exhorted him to it in a public fermon^
he not only put him in prifon for his prefumption,
but ordered that for the future no perfon fhould
preach before him till the fermon had been exa-
mined. This condu6l, fo very different from what
be had given them reafon to expeft from him,
gave fo much offence to his cardinals that they
ieft him and went to Pifa, where they fignified their
appeal to a general council. In anfwer to this,
Gregory, tho' attended only by his four new car-
dinals, excommunicated them all, and deprived
them of their dignities. But they made light of
his cenfures, and in a public writing treated him
as a fchifmatic, a heretic, and a forerunner of Anti-
chrift, and moreover loaded him with every kind
of perfonal abufe.

On the publication of the bull of Benedidl in
A. D. 1408, the king and parliament of France or-
dered it to be torn in pieces, and confirmed the
fubtraflion of their obedience. At the fame time
they made an application to the cardinals of Gre-
gory, without knowing what they had done, to



join them in an appeal to a general council. Be-
iiedi6l hearing of this, and that the king had given
orders to feize his perfon, durfl not return to
France ; but went by fea to Perpignan^ where he
called a council to meet that year ; and as four of
his old cardinals had left him to join thofe of
Gregory at Pifa, he created five others in their
place. Now again both the popes appealed to
the world, laying the blame of the continuance of
the fchifm on their adverfaries ; and to countera£t
the efFe6t ofthe council called by Bencdidl, Gre-
gory appointed one for the year following in the
province ofAquileia; but not daring to return
to Rome, where the people were irritated againll
him on account of his connexion with Ladiflas,
he went to Sienna, where, however, he could not
flay long. ., i.,

The cardinals of Benedict, to the number of
eight, having joined thofe of Gregory, appointed
a council to meet at Pifa, to which they iurnmon-
cd both the popes, whofe condu6l they cenfured
with much feverity ; and in the mean time the
clergy of France, in a national council, made re-
gulations for the government of their church.
There was at this time much difFerence of opinion
in fo new a ftate of things, about the power, and
the mode, of calling a general council, now that
this meafure appeared evidently neceffary, without



the concurrence of any pope. But in a folemn
confultation at Bologna and Florence, it was agf-eed,
that it muft be done by the cardinals of both obe-
diences. And what had more weight, this fchemfi
v/as approved by the ambaffadors from France,
Sicily, Portugal, England, Hungary, and Pob.nd,
who were by this time affembled at Pifa. The
Venetians alfo declared for it. Gregory, as might
have been expeflid, protefted againft it, biit with-
out anyneffe^t. Till the meeting of the propofed
council,' cardinal Balthazar Coffa, who had been
appointed vicar of the church by both the colleges,
forbad the acknowledgment of cither of the popes.
At the fame time Gregory's nephew, the bifhop of
Bologna, was driven from that city, and even in
Rome itfelf no perfon called Gregory pope.

Benedia having made no reply to the firft
fummons of his cardinals, they wrote to him again ;
but, in anfwer, he fummoned them to attend his
council at Perpignan, which met at All Saints,
and was well attended by prelates from Spain, and
even from France, notwithftanuing the guards that
were placed to prevent any perfon going thither
from that country. Thefe prelates, however, dif-
fering about the beft method of relloring the pea(*e
of the church, they all left the place, except
eitihteen, who advifed the fending of legates to Pi^
Til, and to agree to the meafure that fhould be



adopted there. To this Benedi6l confented, and
accordingly he appointed feven legates from feven
different nations. As to Gregory, he could not
find any place in which to hold his council.

About this time the people of Liege being di-
vided between bifhops appointed by each of the
two popes, one of them retired to Maiftri6l. where
he was beliegcd by his rival with an anny confiftsng
of fifty thoufand men ; but he was relieved by the
duke of Burgundy with another army, and a battle
being fought, not lefs than thirty-fix thoufand men
were killed on the fpot, and among them the
biftiop him fell and his father, who were found
among the flain, koldingeach other by the hand.
This calamitous event had the good effed to alarm
all Germany, and to quicken their proceedings to
put an end to the fchifm ; and for this purpofe a
great aflembly was held at Frankfort, where de-
puties from the cardinals at Pifa attended, and
where it was agreed to approve of that council,
tho' the emperor was adverfe to it.

On the 25th of March a. d. 1409 the council
of Pifa was opened. It was then attended by twen-
ty-two cardinals, twelve archbilliops in perfon, and
foul teen by deputies, eighty biihops, and the de-
puties of one hundred and two more, ninety ab-
bots, the deputies of one hundred others, the pro-
curers oi two hundred more abbeys, forty-one
Vol. IV. C c priors,


priors, the generals of the Dominicans, Francif-
cans, Carnrfelites, and Augullines, the grandmafler
of Rhodes, and thofe of the other miHtary orders,
the deputies of all the univerfities, and thofe of
more than an hundred cathedral churches, more
than three hundred doftors of theology, and canon
law, and by ambafiadors from almoft all the
princes of Europe. The cardinal of Poitiers pre-

After the ufual folemn forms of opening the
council, the two popes were fummoned, and neither
of them appearing, they were, in the third feffion,
(March 30th) declared to be contumacious. At
that time, in anfwer to thofe who faid that a coun-
cil could not be called without a pope, Gerfon,
chancellor of the univerfity of Paris, delivered a
difcourfe, in which he fliewed that the unity of the
church confifted in Chrift its head; and that if
there be no vicar, in confequence of his natural or
civil death, the church has a right to chufe an in-
dubitable one, and that nothing is due to aa
ufurper, a heretic, or a fchifmatic.

The fourth feffion was attended by many other
perfons of confequence, fome of them from a great
diftance, as the archbifhop of Riga,fome from Jeiufa-
lem, others from Sicily, the cardinal Landolf from his
embafly to Germany, and many more doftors of
theolog.y and law from France and Italy. A



queftion having arifen about the power of the new-
ly made cardinals, it was faid that, in all cafes of
the ele6iion of a pope, the cardinals have a rigl:^
to confult with whom they pleafe, and 60 give them
a right of voting • that the fame was done in pro-
vincial councils, and that they who have embraced
a neutrality are more proper judges in the cafe
than thofe who adhere to one or other of the op-
ponents. However, the ambalTidors of the emperor
Robert maintained that it belonged to the em-
peror only to call a general council, and appeal-
ing to a future one, properly callfd, they departed.
At the fifth fefTion, April 24th, there arrived am-
baffadors from England, fiom the duke of Bur-
gundy, the count of Holland, and many oibers.

In the fifth feflion, June 5, the council, after
examining every thing relating to the fchifm, de-
clared both Benedia and Gregory notorious fclaf-
matics, heretics, and guilty of perjury, that they had
•fcandalized the whole church by their obflinacy,
that they were fallen from their dignity, and fe-
parated from the church j and they "therefore for-
bad all the faithful, under pain of excommunica-
tion, acknowledging or favouring them. And on
the 26th they unanimoufly chofe Peter Philar-TJ,
of the ifle ofCandia, a Francifcan, who took the
name of Alexander V, who immediately confirm,
cd all that had been done in the council, and

^ <^ 2 united


united all the cardinals in one college. He alfo
appointed another general council for the reforma-
tion of the church in its head and its members, for
April A. D. 1412; after this, the council clofed
the 27th of July.

The proceedings of this council did not extin-
fguifli the fchifm. For, befides that many perfons
quefli.oned its authority, the two former popes were
flill acknowledged, Benedift in the kingdoms of
Arragon, Caftile, and Scotland, and Gregory by
king Ladiflas, and fome cities of Italy ; fo that
there were now three popes, inftead of two. The
emperor Robert alfo declared againft Alexander,
on account of his giving the title of king of the
Romans to Wincellas, when he had been feveral
years depofed.

Both Bene^3i6l and Gregory created new car-
dinals, and the latter now held his council at Udi-
na, on Whitfuntide a. d. 1409; and tho* very
lew perfons attended it, he declared the eledion of
Alexander, as well as that of all the popes at
Avignon, unlawful. He promifed, however, to
refign his dignity if the two other popes would do
the fame; and if Robert king of the Romans, La-
diflas king of Naples, and Sigrfraond king of Hun?,
gary, would jointly call anotiier council. This
was univerfally conlidered as an evafion ; fincc
thofe three princes were at variance, and therefore



not likely to agree in any meafure of the kind.
The Venetians being more particularly offended at
his condu6l, and having given orders for appre-
hending him, he fled in difguife to Gaieta in the
dominions of Ladiflas. On this Alexander pub-
lilhed a bull againfl; Ladiflas for keeping up the
fchifm, and by means of his legate, Balthazar Cof-
fa, he drove him out of Rome.

Alexander v/as far from making the reforma-
tions that were expefted of him in his court, and
in allrefpe6ls he conduced himfeit in a very ini-
prudent manner, being governed intirely by Bal-
thazar CofTa, who was fuppofed to have procured
his death by a poifoned clyfter at Bologna, whither
he had perfuaded him to go, contrary to the
carnell requeft of the people of Rome. He dying
however, May 13th, a. d. 1410, Balthazar Coii'a
was chofen to fuccced him, and he took the,; namp
of John XXIII. He was a man of the mQ^ pra-
fligaie morals, and was faid to have gair.dd his
eledlion by bribing fome of the cardinal, and
threatening others ; but his elevation was chiefly
owing to the recommendation of Lewis of AnjoU,
the opponent of Ladiflas.

In A. D. 141 1 Joan fummoned a general coun-
cil to meet at Rome la April the year toUowing,
for the reformation ^of the church, and to o;ppbfe

G c 3 Ladiflas



Ladiflas and Gregory. * But foon after this he
jr-^cie his peace vvi lb La"?ifl<TSj acknovvkdffing him
•kinji ofN.-Dles, -'^W he hd'l before admitted the
cla'T'W of l.e^vis ol Anjou. For a fum cf money
Livriifl haci agiced to abandon Gregory, making,
ho^ * V - :, fome ftipulaiioiis in his favour. On this
Gregory rttlttd to Rimini, where he was protefted
by Charles Ma^itefla, who never abandoned him.

As the council called by John was not well at-
tended, in confequence of Ladiflas oppofing ^it,
it was prefently diffolved, or rather prorogued,
.and no place or time was fixed for its meeting


* A laughable circumftance is faid to have happen-
ed at a council held by John XXIII at Rome, in A. d.
1412. An owl flew from fome obfcure corner of the
church, and featcd itfelf in the middle ol the dome,
\rith itJi'eyes fixed on the pope. At this fome were ter-
rified, as at an unlucky omen, and others laughed, fay-
ing the Holy Ghoft appeared in a Ilrange fliape ; while
the, pope, changed colour, and was fo difcompofed, that
he broke up the alTcmbh'. HoAvever, at the next feffion
the owl appeared again, and, as before, fixed its eyes
on the pope ; when by his order, the prelates left
their feats to drive away the owl, and. at length it was
killed.' 'This-is related by Clemangis as certainly true,
tho' the faft ia queftipned fey others. L'Enfunt's Fiscy

Vol. 2;p. ee.


It now appeared that Ladiflas had only amufed
the pope with a treaty, while he took the oppor-
tunity offeizing and plundering the city of Rome,
in confequence of which John, who had made hmi-
felf odious by his exaftions, fled to Florence,
from which place he addreffed letters to all the
princes of Europe, to acquaint them with his fi-
tuation. Not thinking himfelf fafe in Florence, he
went to Bologna, and in the mean time he nego-
tiated with the emperor Sigifmond about the call-
ing of another general council, as the only effectual
remedy for the evils of the church. For this pur-
pofe, in his public inflrudions he gave his legates
unlimited powers to agree with the emperor on the
place where it Ihould be held, tho' he intruded
them privately to obje6l to ceitain places that were,
(oo much in the power ol the emperor. This
prince fixed upon Conflance, and the legates, hav-
ing full powers, acquleCced in the nomination, tho'
that v/as a city of the empire, and on this account
the pope was exceedingly mortified. He had af-
terwards a conference with the emperor at Lodi,
but not being able to prevail upon him to fix upon
any other place, he fuinmoned the council in the
ufual forms, to meet there on the firft of Novem-
ber A. D. 1 41 4.

In the mean time John Vv^as relieved from the
pcifccution of Ladiflas by the death of that prince,

C c 4 who


who when he was in purfuit of him, on the way to
Bologna, fell fick, and returning to Naples, died
th-ere on the i6th of Augiift a. d. 1414. The pope
having noiv no wiih to call any council, he was ve-
ry unwilling to go to Con fiance j but his cardi-
nals encouraging him, and having taken every pre-
caution for his fafety, efpecially the affu ranee of
protedion from the archduke of Auftria, he kt out,
and arrived there on the 28th of Oftober. At this
lime there were in that city not lefs than thirty
tlioufand horfes belonging to perfons who v/ero
come to attexid the council, and many more ar-
rived afterwards.

This famous council was opened on the i^th
of November, when John and his friends were very
defirous of beginning with a confirmation of the
council of Pi fa, on which his authority depended.
But the French prt'Iates inlifted upon it that the
council of Pifa having failed of anfwering its end,
which was to prmnote the union of the church,
thty were not botind its decrees, and that the a'u-
thori-ty of the prefent council was independent of
it. This was particularly urged by Peter D'Ailli
the cardinal and aichbilhop of Cambray. This
was tne fi'rft circumRance unfavourable to John,
and feveral others followed. On the 24th of De-
G&mber -the em-peror, who was by no means his
i?kndji arru'ed, and by liis means fuch excellent

. regu-


rcgulatioais were imde, that tlio' there were not
fewer than a hundred thcufand flrangers in the ci-
ty, there was no diforder attending it, and the
price of every thing was moderate.

It was another mortifiGation to John, that the
a^mbaffadors of Bene^ici and Gregory, who werd
now anived^ were, by the advice qI' the c^idin^l of
Cambray, and of the emperor, received ivith every
mark of refpefl. Thofe of Gregory £i i that
their raafter would reiign if Benedift and John
wou-lddo tlie farae, and the eiedor Pakuiic added
for him, that he would do any thing to promote
the union, provided that John did not prt^fide in
the council, and was notprefent at it. This J-^hn
rejedled abfolutely, as, in the chara£ler of pope,
he had convoked th« council, and was there in per-
fon, for the purpofe of reforming the church.

Had John been a man of a rerpe£lablecharafter,
he had fo much the advantage of his antagonifts in
the authority of the council of Pifa, and the felfifli
avarice of his competitors, that he would eauly
have tlood his ground ; but the infamy of his con-
du61; was his ruin. There were feveral meetings
of the cardinals and other perfons at which John
was not prefent, and in thefe great liberties were
taken with his charaftcr, and his cefiion, as well
as that of his opponents, was recommended, as the
belt method of promoting the union. Two other

C c 5 cir-


circutnftances relating to the conduft cf the coun-
cil deprived him of all influence in it. and puthini
wholly in the power of his enemies. It was agreed
that lecular do6lors, and other laymen, fhould
have votes in the council, and not the r relates on-
ly ; and what was flill more againll him, it was
agreed that the votes fhould be by nations, and not
by individua-s, tho' this had never been pradiced

Thofe who were bent upon his ejcpulfion alfo
drew up a long lift of accufations againll him, con-
taining, as Theodoric de Niem fays, all the mortal
fins, and an infinity of abominliions.beiides. They
were, however, unwilling, as they laid, to produce
it, and much approved the mode of voluntary cef-
fion. At length John, perceiving their objecl;,
and thefir power, after leveral attempts to make a
conditional ceffion, to avoid the difgrace of a formal
condenination, on account of his vices, was induced
to make an abfoiuts one ; bat, as he refufed to do
i^ia the form of a bull, he vv^as fufpefted of a de-
f];m to make his efcapc, and meafurcs were taken
to prevent it. However, by the, affiltance oi the
duke of Auaria, he eluded their- vigilance, and
went 10 Schaffhaufen, whence he wrote to the em-
peror and the college of cardinals, affuring them
that he had not come thither to evade his promife
to cede the pontificate, but to give it the appear-
ance of being more free. Not-

Sbc.1V. the christian church. 411

. Notwithftanding the flight of the pope, the
emperor encouraged the council to proceed,
and Gerfon delivered a difcourfe to prove that a
council is fuperior to the pope, and may aft with-
out him. Accordingly it was decreed that, being
lawfully convened, they would not difcontinue
their fittings till the fchifm was extin6l, and the
church reformed in its head and its members. It
foon appeared that the pope had no intention to
refu'tt, and the cardinals iliewed a difpolition to
favour his prerogatives; but the council, voting by
nations, adhered to their purpofe.

The emperor being at war with the duke of
Auftria, to whom Schaffhaufeh belonged, John
was afraid to continue there, and went to Lauffen-
burg ; and there, in the prefence of a notary, and
a few wimeffes, he protefted againfl all that he
had done at Conllancc, as done under conflraint ;
tho' at the fame time he continued in public to
declare the contrary. Upon this the council, in
their fourth feffion, alTerted their right to a61: inde-
pendently of hirn, and that all perfons, the popes
not excepted, were obliged to obey them, that
John had no power to remove the council or its
officers, and that whatever he fliould do to the
prejudice of the council in his abfence, w^as null.

The duke of Auftria, the protedor of John,
being put under the ban of the empire, the pope



fled to Fribiirgh, and thence he wrote to the em-
peror, pronjifing to cede the pontificate, provided
he might be perpetual cardinal legate of the whole
church, that he might enjoy for his life the terri-
tory of Bologna, and the county of Avignon, a
pennon of thirty thoufand florins, and give no
account of his conduct. This extravagant propo-
Ul convincing the council that he was not to be
treated with, they addrefltd a letter to all the prin-
ces and Hates, jullifying their own condud, and
accufmg bim. They fent, however, a deputation
to him, requiring him to return to the council, or
fend a bull of rehgnation, being determined, in
cafe of his refufal, to proceed againft him as a
fchifmatic, and a heretic. The deputies found
bim at Biifac, and he promifed to give them an
anfwer the next day ; but in the night he retired
to Neuenburgh, a place in the neighbourhood ;
but the commandant of the place obliged him to
return to Brifac; and there, after having an inter-
view widi the duke of Aullria, and other friends,
and finding that it was not in their power to fup-
port hun, he gave the count Berthold de Urfm a
writing, in which he fignified his reijgnation in
the proper form, but with exprefs orders not to
deliver it till he received another order for that



On the return of the deputies, the council per^
ceived that John meant nothing but toarnufe them,
and the duke of Auftria liaving made his peace
with the emperor, John faw that he muft provide
jbr his fafety in the beft manner that he could. He
therefore gave the count his final orders to deliver
his bull of cefTion. But his propofals were fo ex-
travagant, that they paid no attention to it, and
iffued another citation for him to appear before
them in their next feffion, the 4th of May. They
then fent the burgrave of Nuremberg to take the
charge of him. Witneffes vrere then formally
examined againfl him, and in their Henth feffion
May 14th he was declared a diffipator of thegoods
of the church, a fimoniac, a fcandalous perfon, a
difturber of the faith, and as fuch fufpend^d from
the government of the church, both in temporals
and fpirituals.

Not content with this, in order to his depofi-
tion, articles of accufation confiding of feventy
heads, were drawn up ugainil him, confirmed by
the oaths of thirty- feven witneiTes, araoDg whom
were ten bilhops. Among other things he was ao-
cufed of poifoning his predecelTor Alexander V,
of having committed adultery, fornication, inceft,
and every crime of impurity ; of having fold bene-
fices, exercifed an intolerable tyranny at Bologna,
and defpifed the olSces of religion ; and on thefe



accounts he was judged to be altogether unworthy
of the pontificate.

In the mean time John, not having been pre-
vailed upon to attend the council, had been con-
du6ted to Ratolfall, where two legates from the
council intormed him of the decree for his fuf-
penfion. He received it with marks of humility,

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 23 of 30)