M. (Paul) Rapin de Thoyras.

The history of England : written in French (Volume 1) online

. (page 294 of 360)
Online LibraryM. (Paul) Rapin de ThoyrasThe history of England : written in French (Volume 1) → online text (page 294 of 360)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

had artfully evaded the decifion of this important Point,
either by breaking up the Council, or by confirming
whatever was done with regard to the Doctrines, without
meddling with any of the other Articles. He knew, it
would be very prejudicial for him, if the queftion was de-
cided by the Council, as it would be for the Council
the moment they broke up. At length, the Council of
Bafil had occafion to take this Queftion into conlidera-

The Council had been called by Martin V, who had
now appointed Cardinal 'Julian Cafarini to prefide as
Legate. Martin dying in 1431, before the Council was
affembled, Eugenius IV was chofen in his room. The
new Pope oppofed not the opening of the Council, but
intended it fhould not continue long. For fome time,
the neceffity of reforming the Church both in the Head
and Members, had been every where talked of. Now as
fuch a Reformation muft have been made by a General
Council, fuch a Council could not but terrify a Pope,
who had not yet had time to tafte the fweets of the
Pontificate. The Council of Bafil was no fooner affem-
bled, but Eugenius fought means to diffolve it. He found
a pretence in the Council's Invitation of the Hujfites to
Bafil, during the firft Seffion. He affirmed, thefe Here-
ticks having been condemned in the Council of Ccnjiance,
ought not to be allowed a re-hearing. Upon this fri-
volous pretence he publifhed a Bull for dilfolving the

Inftead of fubmitting to the Pope's pleafure, the Coun-
cil refolved to continue their Seffions. Hence fprung a
quarrel, which produced a real Schifm, fome maintaining
the authority of the Council, and others remaining at-
tached to the Pope. The Council made feveral Decreesj
which placed the authority of a General Council above
that of the Pope, and the Pope annulled thefe Decrees,
affirming, the body could aft but by the directions of
the head. The Emperor, the King of France, and moft
of the other Princes declaring immediately for the Coun-
cil, Eugenius faw himfelf under a neceffity to approve the
Council, and confent that the Seffions fhould be continued.
But having fent other Legates to prefide in his name, the
Council refufed to receive them as Prefidents. This was
a frefh occafion of diffenfion. The Pope threatened to
diffolve the Council, and the Council threatened to fufpend
the Pope. Accordingly, they made fome advances to ac-
complifh it. Whereupon Eugenius finding himfelf the
weakeft, was obliged gnce more to approve and confirm
the Council.


6 9 6

the H I StO RT of ENGLAND.

Vol. I.

The forced compliance of the Pope appeafed the quar-
rel for fome time. But in 1435, the Council having
fhewn, they would ferioufly endeavour a reformation of
the Church in the Head and Members, and made, for
that purpofe, Decrees to abolifh the Firft-fruits, and fet-
tle the rights of the Apoftolick Chamber, the Pope faw
hiinfelf ruined, unlefs he found fome way to flop their
proceedings. On the other hand, the Cardinals eafily
perceived, that fince the Pope was begun with, their turn
would loon come. There were Bifhops too, who were
forry to fee a Reformation going forward, which would
be to their prejudice in many things, tho' thev might hope
to be gainers by it in fome refpedts. This occafioned
the forming of two oppolite patties in the Council ; but
however, the reformers had the majority. Mean while,
the Pope continued to gain ground, fince the Cardinals,
and feveral Bifhops thought it for their Intereft to fupport

Another thing helped likewife to fet the Pope's affairs
upon a good foot. Some time fince, [John Emanuel
PaLeologus] Emperor of Conjlantinople, had been vigo-
roufly attacked by the Turks. As he wanted affiftance,
he imagined, if he could unite the Greek Church with
the Latin, the Pope and Princes of Europe would afiift
him with all their Forces, in defence of his Empire. This
affair had been already propofed to Martin V, and it was
chiefly with defign to accomplifh this Union, that Pope
Martin had called the Council of Bafil, where the Greek
Emperor was to come in perfon, with the Biftiops of his
Church. Eugenius IV failed not to improve this oppor-
tunity to ftrengthen his party. He fent Nuntio's to this
Emperor, to acquaint him, that the time was come to
perform his promife ; but, as it might be inconvenient
for him and his Attendants to repair to Bafil, he pro-
mifed to remove the Council to fome good Town in
Italy, provided he would ingage to be prefent. On the
other hand, the Council fent likewife Ambaffadors to
Conjlantinople, to diffuade the Emperor from coming to
any other place than Bafil. But the Emperor had al-
ready refolved to repair wherever the Pope fhould ap-
point. The Fathers of Bafil plainly perceiving, the Pope
intended to remove tile Council clfewhere, made hafte
and nailed feveral Decrees, which very much leffened the
Papal Authority, and at length cited the Pope before

Eugenius little regarded the proceedings againft him at
Bafil. When he heard the Greeks, were arrived at Venice,
lie publifhed a Bull for tranflating the Council of Bafil
to Ferrara. The Council rcfufed to comply with the
Bull, and by a majority of Votes fufpended the Pope till
lie fhould come in perfon and make his defence. Mean
while, Cardinal Julian Prefident of the Council, and the
reft of the Cardinals, except one, left Bafil, carrying
with them a good number of Bifhops, and repaired to
Ferrara, where the Pope opened his Council the 10th of
February 1438. Thus arofe a new fort of Schifm be-
tween the Councils, which both called themfelves Gene-
ral, and mutually condemned each other. But the Pope's
had loon a contiderable advantage of the other, by the
arrival of the Greek Emperor at Ferrara, with a great many
Prelates of his Nation. The next year Eugenius tranftat-
ed the Council to Florence, were a fort of Union was
made between the Greeks and Latins, which lafted not

Mean time, the Council of Bafil Hill continuing their
proceedings againft Eugenius IV, came at laft to depofe
him, and elect another Pope in his room, namely, Ame-
ileus Duke of Savoy, who having refigned the Govern-
ment of his Dominions, was retired to the folitudes of
liipaille. The new Pope affumed the name of Felix V.
Hence was formed in the Church a double Schifm, be-
tween two General Councils, and two Popes, who thun-
dered their Anathema's againft one another, to the great
li andal of Chrijlendom. It was no fmall embarraffment to
moll people, to fee thus two Popes and two Councils con-
demning one another, and each excommunicating the Ad-
herents of the other party, without fparing even thofe
who thought to efcape by ftanding neutral.

Charles VII, who then reigned in France, caufed a
Synod to be held on this occafion, in which it was re-
folved, that France fhould own the Council of Bafil for
lawful, but fhould remain however in the obedience of
Pope Eugenius. Another embarraffment to the French.
Indeed, it is pretty hard to conceive, how two fuch oppo-
lite things could be reconciled.

In 1 441 was held in Germany another fuch Affembly,

where no better expedient was found, than the cabling
a new Council fomewhere elfe than at Bafil and Flo-
rence ; and that Germany fhould remain neuter till this
new Council was aflembled. A Diet held at Francfort,
in 1442, approved of this expedient, and the Council
of Bafil oonfented to it, though with reluctance. But
obftacles occurred, that prevented the execution of this

Mean while, Felix V, not being pleafed with the
Council of Bafil for taking fo much upon them, refolved
to withdraw to Laufanne, on pretence that Bafil Air
did not agree with him. On the other hand, Eugenius
translated the Council of Florence to Rome, in the Church
of St. John of Latcran, where they began their Seflions
in 1444.

At length, in 1446, the Princes of Germany, affem-
bled at Francfort, unanimoufly refolved, that if Eugenius
would not redrefs the Grievances complained of, they
would all recognize Pope Felix. Eugenius demurred at
firfh B.it the Emperor teliing him, he muft comply, or
refolve to lofe ail La many, he granted whatever the Ger-
mans delired, whereupon an Agreement was made.

This was a rerrible blow to the Council of Bafil, who
had now loft Italy, Arragon, and feveral other States. As
for France, they could not much rely upon her, fince fhe
ftill continued in obedience to Pope Eugenius. England
had -likewife fo far declared for that Pope, as that we
find, in the Collection of the Publick Acls, Henry VI fent
an Embaffv t< make a leaeue with him.

Eugenia, IV died v.'hilft thefe things were traniacling,
and had for Succeflor Nicholas \ .

The Council of Bafil lofmg great part of their Autho-
rity, and Felix V having but very few friends, the King
of France held a Sv nod at Lyons, to feek means to put
an end to the Schifm. Felix\ fending Legates thither, it
was relolved, with his conlent, that if Nicholas V would
grant him certain conditions, he would refign the Ponti-
ficate. This was the fubjetSt of a Negotiation, which
lafted the whole year 1448. Mean while, the Council
of Bafil, finding themfelves forfaken by almoft all the
world , and defpairing of farther protection at Bafil,
fince the Emperor and Germany had declared for Eugenius,
refolved to remove to Laufanne.

At iaft, Felix having obtained moft of his defires, re-
figned the Papal Dignity in 1449. But it was with the
confent of his Council, who found means to preferve ftill
fome remains of Authority. By their laft Decree, they
approved of Felix's refignation, created him Cardinal and
Legate a latere (z) in Savoy and the Tarentaife, and al-
lowed him to wear the papal Habit all his Life. Nicho-
las V confirmed this Decree according to Agreement.
Thus ended at length the Schifm, in which there was
a complication of three Schifms : Firft, between Euge-
nius IV, and the Council of Bafil ; then between two
General Councils ; and laftly, between two Popes. The
firft may be faid not to be yet ended, fince the difpute
which occafioned it, ftill fubfifts. The Court of Rome's
Adherents perpetually inveigh againft the Council of Bafil,
for decreeing, that a General Council is ab»ve the Pope.
On the other hand, their oppofers reft upon the Decrees-
of this Council to fupport their opinion. Very probablv,
this queftion will remain long undecided.

I have a little enlarged upon what palled in the two
famous Councils ot Conflance and Bafil, becaufe nothing,
in my opinion, is more proper to difcover the wretched
ftate of the Church of thole days. From the clofe of the
laft Schifm, to the end of the XVth Century, the papal
Chair was filled with Popes cruelly bent upon the de-
ftruclion of the Hujfites, contrary to the Faith of the
Agreement, or wholly employed in maintaining the ex-
orbitant power ufurped by their Predeceffors, and gene-
rally to have an opportunity to fatisfy their Avarice.

Calixtus III, Succeffor of Nicholas V, fo oppreffed the 145c.
Germans, that they were forced at length to break the CtaraSers
Concordat (3) made with Eugenius IV, plainly perceiving °^ \ b \ ^
it was entirely ufelefs. Century.

Pius II, lately canonized, was fo far from confenting 1458.
to a reformation in the Head of the Church, that he ex-
communicated by a Bull, all perfons that fhould dare to
appeal from the Pope to a General Council.

Paul II was no fooner chofen, than he broke the 1464,
Oath taken before his Election, concerning the redrefs of
certain abufes, which himfelf, with the reft of the Cardi-
nals, had deemed neceffary. Never were the Gratia Ex-
peclativa: [or Bulls for Church-Pieferments before they
become voidj more frequent, than whilft he fat in the

(1) The Emperor, in order to cortlpafs his ends, compelled the Creek Fathers to aflint to the four Articles: I. That then is a Purgatcry. z. Ti.it
lie Pope n IIuJ of the Chvcb. 3. That the Holy Gboft proceeds f, in tl ■ Father and the Son. a.. That mleawntd Bread v.ay be ufed in tie Eutbanjl.
But when they came home, liny declaimed againlt the Council, and recanted their Subfcriptions.

(z) Legates a tattrt are properly the Pope's extraordinary AmbaiTad. is to Emperors and Kings.

(31 Or Agreement. Whereby the Pope refcrved to himfdr the Collation ol all Bencliccsin R.me, and two Jivs J- urney from it: The Confirmation
of Metropolitans, E.lhips, Sfr, The Dil'pofal of certain Benefices ; and ihc Annates.

2 Papal

Book XIV.

The State of the C h u r 6 i-r.






Papal Chair. He fpent the whole time of his Pontifi-
cate in frriving to abolifh the pragmatic* Sattion (i) in
France, which debarred him of the liberty of doing there
whatever he pleafed.

Sixius IV, raifed, by one of his Bulk, the Hierarchy
to the higheft degree it could be carried, at a time when
the exceffive power ufurped by the Clergy was generally
complained of.

Innocent VIII, quarrelled with Ferdinand of Arragon,
King of Naples, and by his Sollicitations inclined Charles
VIII, to carry his Arms into Italy.

Alexander VI, was one of the mod corrupt Men of his
age. 'Tis of him a famous Roman Catholick writer gives
this fine Character, that he would have been the wickedeft
Man in the world, if his Baftard Son (2) had not been
more wicked than himfelf.

I pafs over in filence the cruel eagcrnefs of all thefe
Pupes, to pcrfecu te the Bohemians, contrary to the Faith

of their Concordat. The Crufades againft the Turks, in were given him. Had he held the reigns of the Govcrr
which they would have engaged all the Princes of Europe, ment himfelf, very probably the Clcrsry would have gain-
appeared very fpecious ; but Sovereigns were fo well fa- ed much ground in his Reign. But the directors of his

affairs, as well during his minority, as after, were,, Mi :
of a very different character. Befidcs, tho Frinch War,
the difturbances at Court after the King's marriage, and
the Civil Wars which quickly followed, gave thole at the
Helm no time to think much of Religious affairs. For
the fame realbn, the Reign of Edward IV, was not dif-
turbed either by the Lollards, or their adverfaries. It is
true, Edward fhowed a great condelcenfion for the Cfer-

Slalt of the
Church of


jects, that his Subjects fhould be ready to aflift him with
their purfes. But on the other hand, he wa, no lcf^
concerned to live in a good underftanding with the Court
of Rome, Ieaft fhc fhould hinder his enterprise. Me knew
what fhe was capable of, when II, c thought herfelf in
jured. So, artfully managing both the Pope and his Sub-
jects, he prevented the firft from ahufing his power too
much, without depriving him, however, of what he pof-
feflcd. By this prudent conduct, he made his Reign
peaceable, with refpect to Religion. We mult except,
however, what lie did in the beginning againft the Lui-
lardt. He had fuftered himfelf to be prcpoffclfed, that
they had compiled againft his life ; and that belief made
him at firft a little fevere. But as he was endowed with
an excellent judgement, he foon difcerned the intcrclts of
the Clergy from thofe of Religion, and put a flop to the
perfections of the unhappy Lollards. Henry VI, was a
weak Man, ever ready to receive the imprcflions that

gy, m granting them a favour conffantly denied by the
former Kings. But his complaifance did not go fo far as
to indulge perfecution. The Reigns of Edward V, and
Richard III, were wholly fpent in domefrick troubles,
which had no influence upon the affairs of the Church.

tisfied, that in publifhing Crufades, the Popes had only
their own private Intereft in view, that they could never
confide in them.

Such in general was the ftate of the Chriftian Church
in the xvth Century, upon which I fhall make but one
fingle remark, leaving my Readers at liberty to add as
many as they pleafe. What I would obferve is, that
the abftract I have given, evidently (hows, how trifling
their opinion is, who fay, it is not the bufinefs of private
perfons to endeavour a reformation of the Church, but it
mull be left to the care of the Church herfelf. What
then is this Church , from which we are to expect this
hippy Reformation ? Doubtlefs, this is not what is meant

by the word Church. It is the Pope with his Cardinals ? As for Henry VII, he made it a rule, to keep the Church
But thefe are the very Men who have all along hindered upon the fame foot he found it when he mounted the
it, and very probably, will, to the utmoft of their power Throne. He ever avoided, as a Rock, all innovations
hinder it for ever. Shall a General Council undertake which might obftruct the execution of his two fole dc-
this Reformation : But what has hitherto palled in thefe figns ; namely, to fecure the Crown to himfelf and his
Aflemblies, affords no room to expect fo great a benefit. Heirs, and to heap up Money. Such was, with regard
Befides, who fhall call this General Council ? of whom to Religion, the difpofition of the Kings that reigned in
ftiall it be compofed ? who fhall prefide ? Can the Pope England during the Fifteenth Century.
be perfwaded to convene a General Council to reform As for the Englijh Nation, it is certain, it was eene-
the Church ? will he give the Precedency to another, rally TVickliffttc in fome refpects. Wic Miff's opinions Tma-
that himfelf and Court may be with more freedom re- nifeftly tended to thefe two principal ends \ p'irft, to re-
formed ? In a word, will it not be the Pope, the Car- form the Government of the Church, and to fet bounds
dinals, the Prelates that will have the deliberative vote to the power of the Pope and Clergy. Secondly, to alter
iri this Council ? but thefe are fo many perfons concerned the Church's Creed concerning fome Doctrines long fince
to leave things as they are. received, and which he thought contrary to Scripture,

Will it be laid with lome, that the Church has no need Now as he found it almoft impoffible, that Chriftians
of reformation ? that file is innocent and pure, without fhould return to what he believed the antient Faith of the

fpot or wrinkle, or any thing like it ? that ail the Pre-
rogatives enjoyed by the Popes, the Cardinals, the Bifhops,
belong to them by divine Right ? that the Pope exercifes
only the power committed to him by Chrift ? that his
decifions are infallible, as well in point of fact, as of
right ; and the fame obedience muft be paid to his De-
crees, as to thofe of God himfelf ? but if, purfuant to

Church, becaufe the Clergy were concerned to maintain
the eftablifhed errors, he ftrongly infifted upon the firft
point, as being absolutely neceflary to the attainment of
the fecond. It is certain, that with refpect to his general
aim, in the firft of thefe two Articles, not only his pro-
felled Followers, but all the reft of the People did, as it
were, join with him. For many Ages the Englijh had

this principle, the Popes fhould unhappily enlarge their felt the oppreflion wherein the Pone and Clergy had kept
Phylacteries, and every day form new pretentions, as it them. In all Chri/lcndom no Nation had more experienced
has bu: too frequently happened, how fhall they be flop- the rigour of this Dominion. The Hiftory of England

ped, if 'tis confelfed, the Church has no need of refer
■nation, or muft be left to reform herfelf ?

After viewing the ftate of the Church in general, it is
time to proceed to that of the Church of England in par-
ticular. England, with regard to Religion, was in the
fame condition with the reft of Europe. The people paf-
fionately wifhed for a reformation of fundry abides crept
into the Church. The Clergy ftrenuoufly oppofed it,
as every change would be to their prejudice. As for the
Kings, they made Religion fubfervient to their Intereft.

fhows it fo manifeftly, that a Man would be blind not
to fee it. But though the Hiftory were fufpected, the
Statutes of Previjors and Praemunire, fo frequently revived,
leave no room to queftion, that the Englijh thought them-
selves opprcfled. So, it may be faid, that in general the
Englijh Nation was U'ickliffitc as to the firft point, though
many believed, I! ickliff would have carried the reforma-
tion a little too far, and, to correct the abufes of the Hie-
rarchy, had run into the contrary extreme. But the na-
tion was not generally JVickliffle, with refpect to the fe-

W.hen they imagined they wanted the Clergy, they found cond Article ; namely, the alteration of belief concerning
ways enough to evade the people's defiles. But when the Doctrines. Indeed, I) 'ickliff had in this refpect ma-
the Parliament's favour was requifite, they affented to ny Followers, but they were not the Majority. Thus
the Statutes, by which the Incroachments of the Pope the name of Wickliffite, or Lollard, was an equivocal term,
and Clergy were reftrained. capable of being undcrftood in two different fenfes. Some-
In the beginning of the Century, Henry IV, whole times it fignified a Man, who fepirating from the Church,
chief aim was to fix himfelf in the Throne, and who embraced all Wickl',ff , % opinions. It might likewife be en-
thought he could not effect it without the Clergy, feemed derftood of one, who remaining in the Church, as it was

throughout his whole Reign to have a great deference for
them. Hence proceeded all the Statutes paffed in thofe days
againft the Lollards. Henry V, fhowed at fiift threat in-
clination to ftrip the Clergy of their riches, according to
the Parliament's defire ; but afterwards, turning his
thoughts to the Conqueft of France, carefully avoided that
Religion fhould caufe any troubles in his Kingdom. It
was highly neceflary, in order to execute his grand pro-

then, and adhering to the received Doctrines, was, how-
ever, of JVickliffs opinion concerning the temporal and
fpiritual Jurifdiction of the Clergy. In this laft fenfe
there were more Lollards in England than can be ima-
gined. This diftinction may fcrve to account for divers
proceedings of the Parliaments in the beginning of the
XVth Century, which feem to be contrary one to another.
Sometimes they were feen to fpeak and act like Lollards,

1 Tins is an Edict, paired in the Council of Bcarga in the Reign of CharUt VII. It was levelled againft Papal Provifins, the payment of

Firft-rrulCS, an. I other incroachments of the Court cj Rome, In a word, it contains the Privileges ot the G.ilh;.:n Chinch, and was taken out of
the .<W\- ..!' the Co'incilsof Corjlime and Bj/:/.

[»j C.rftr Borgia, S=e the Hiftory of them lately publiflied by Mr Gordon.


V o L. I.

s o




Vol. I.

c;rncftly demanding, that the Clergy fhould be ftript of
their richer, and fometimes to condemn thefe fame Lol-
lards to the flames, when they confidered them in the
firft fenfe before- mentioned. The Clergy knew how to
take advantage of the ambiguity of that term. When a
Man was fo hardy as to (how that it were to be wilhed,
fome alteration were made in the Government ot the
Chureh, he was infallibly accufed of being a Lollard, and
charged with all Wickliff's opinions. Hence he became
odious, becaufe the true Lollards maintained Doctrines-re-
pugnant to the Faith of thole days. The firft Parliament
which petitioned Henry IV, to feize the Church-Lands,
could not efcape that imputation, which made a ilccp
impreflion in the King's mind. Thus it often happened,
dare openly to approve Ji>'ickHff's firft
alio with holding the

that People ilk! not
opinions, for fear of being taxed
others, and expofed to fiiffer for Tenets they received not,
as it happened to John Hufs and "Jerome of Prague. It"
was not without caufe that the Clergy profecuted the Lol-
lards with fucli animofity, fince their Principles tended to
no lei's than to deprive them of all their Prerogatives. At
this very day, the Church of England, though embracing
Il'ickUfpi opinions,

concerning the Doctrines, cannot for-

fween Ei
l.i lid J«</

bear expreffing very little efteem for that Doc~tor, becaufe
he has combated the Hierarchy, which fhe has thought
proper to retain.

The Lollards were perfecuted, fometimes more, fome-
times lefs, according to the character of the Kings, the
Archbifhops, and tlic reft of the Prelates, but chiefly ac-
cording to the circumftances of affairs. In general, the
beginning of the XVth Century was much more fevere
for them, than the middle or the end. The reafon is evi-
dent. For as their number continually increafed, their
enemies found much lefs fupport, and themfelves more
protection. In the beginning of the XVth Century,

Online LibraryM. (Paul) Rapin de ThoyrasThe history of England : written in French (Volume 1) → online text (page 294 of 360)