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already observed that the age of Hildebrand practic-
ally ends with Innocent III. ; but before closing our
task it will be interesting to note a few events in
connection with the collapse of the Hildebrandian
structure under Boniface VIIL

Benedetto Gaetani succeeded to the apostolic
throne in January, 1295, on the abdication of the
feeble Ccelestine V., with the title of Boniface VIIL
He would seem to be an illustration of the old saying,
"Whom the gods mean to destroy they first deprive
of reason." The closing scene of the Hildebrandian
Papacy is a succession of madman's freaks. Of a
noble family, thoroughly versed m ecclesiastical juris-
prudence, of commanding ability, with a large and
varied experience acquired as a papal representative,


41 2 Age of Hildebraiid,

and with a personal acquaintance with most of the
monarchy of Europe, Boniface was crafty, rapacious,
ambitious, with a conception of the papal prerogative as
exaggerated as that of Hildebrand or of Innocent III.,
and a reckless arrogance in asserting it which surpassed
even their insolent pretensions. Contemporary Christ-
endom wrote him down in the words, " He came in
like a fox, he ruled like a lion, he died like a dog."

In the magnitude of his papal conceit, in his rapa-
cious greed for power, and in his blind and headstrong-
obstinacy, he preferred claims at which even the most
daring of his predecessors would have hesitated, and
thereby paved the way for his own ruin. With all
his native ability and intimate acquaintance with the
secular and ecclesiastical movements of his age, he
seemed to be utterly blind to the intellectual and so-
cial forces which were gradually transforming Euro-
pean society. Among these were the growth of the
royal power in France, the movement towards civil
and religious freedom in England, the new intellectual
energy and wider range of thought generated by the
universities, and the growing power of the legal fra-
ternity, who were fast trenching on the ground once
occupied wholly by ecclesiastics, and were formidable
at once by their learning and their esprit de corps.

The English common law was ranging itself along-
side of the canon law; the clergy had been slowly
pushed back from the civil administration ; in France
the lawyers had begun to get the upper hand in the
parliaments, and as a class were the partisans of the
royal as against the papal prerogative. They were
110W opposing to the hierarchy an erudition equal if

• Boniface and the Colonnas. 4 1 3

not superior to their own, and confronting the canons
of the church with civil canons of greater antiquity ;
and the clergy were beginning to abandon their
secular immunities for the chartered liberties of the
realm. These things Boniface either could not or
would not see. He incurred the dangerous enmity
of the great Franciscan order, not only by refusing to
annul the provision of their charter which disqualified
them from holding property, but also by seizing for
his own use a large sum which they had deposited
with bankers as the offered price of such abrogation.
He thus alienated a society compactly united along
its whole extent throughout Europe, with a great
command over the popular mind and a close affilia-
tion with the profoundest theology of the age.

Among the first incidents of his pontificate was his
collision with the Colonnas, a powerful Ghibelline
family of Rome, and represented by two cardinals in
the conclave. The result was their overthrow and the
destruction of their city, Palestrina; but their long-
cherished and deadly vengeance never slumbered from
that moment until it had accomplished the ruin of
Boniface. In England and France the Pontiff had
to deal with sovereigns of a very different type from
John Lackland and Philip I. Edward I. of England
was a politic and warlike king, brave, vigilant, and
enterprising, a legislator who vigorously maintained
the laws of his realm, and who has passed into history
as the English Justinian. He was arbitrary, wilful,
and imperious, able to keep a firm hand on his barons,
an excellent organizer, tenacious of his rights, dogged,
stubborn, and proud. Philip the Fair, like Edward,

414 -^^^ 0/ Hilde brand.

was a man of determined will and boundless ambition,
wily, selfish, rapacious, remorseless, unscrupulous, and

To these two Boniface threw down the gauntlet.
He began by interfering in the war between them,
which broke out about the time of his accession, de-
claring their alliances void, and imperiously enjoining
a truce of a year. He then came to a clash with Ed-
ward on the taxation of the clergy, which Edward
had carried to the extent of demanding a subsidy of
half of their annual revenues. Philip also, probably
emboldened by Edward's example, included the
clergy in the common assessment. Boniface there-
upon proceeded to an act which is phenomenal even
in the voluminous history of human infatuation. He
determined to sever the property of the church from
all secular obligations, and to declare himself the one
exclusive trustee of all property held throughout
Christendom by the clergy, the monastic bodies, and
even the universities; so that, without his consent,
no grant or subsidy, aid or benevolence, could be
raised on those properties by any sovereign in the

It may be easily conceived how such a claim was
met by the kings of England and France. Edward's
clergy proved refractory under his cruel assessment,
and were outlawed in a body ; while Philip struck the
Papacy in a sensitive place by practically cutting off
all French revenue to Rome. France was far too
valuable an ally for Boniface to relinquish, and he
adroitly explained his decree so as practically to an-
nul it with reference to that kingdom. England had

The Great Jubilee. 415

organized a powerful league against France. • Neither
party had paid the smallest attention to the truce
commanded by the Pope, but both exhausted their
resources in the strife ; the limit of taxation had been
reached in both countries, and both finally resorted
to Boniface as mediator, and agreed to a treaty which
practically recognized his authority. Scotland, too,
sought his protection against Edward, and appealed
to him as its liege lord and feudal proprietor, Ed-
ward, however, though ordered by Boniface to desist
from the war with Scotland, took no notice of the
command and accomplished the defeat of Wallace.
The bull of Boniface addressed to Edward in 1299
affirmed that the kingdom of Scotland belonged in
full right to the Roman Church and had never been
a fief of England.

At this period occurred the famous Jubilee at
Rome. Christendom was in a state of comparative
peace. Palestine was irrecoverably lost, the holy
places were once more in the hands of the infidels,
and the West was now seized with a paroxysm of
devotion to the shrines of Peter and Paul at Rome — a
devotion not entirely disinterested, since it was stim-
ulated by the hope of obtaining by pilgrimage to
those shrines all the remissions and indulgences for-
merly granted to the crusaders. The Pope finally
proclaimed from the pulpit of St. Peter's the desired
privileges, and granted full absolution of all their sins
to all Romans who, during the centenary year, should
visit once a day, for thirty days, the churches of the
apostles, and to all strangers who should do the same
for fifteen days.

41 6 Age of Hildebra7id.

The roads from Germany, Britain, and Hungary
were thronged with pilgrims. At times there were
two hundred thousand strangers at Rome. To those
who had made the long and weary journey to the
East a pilgrimage to Rome seemed easy. The chron-
icler Ventura declares that the total number of pil-
grims was not less than two millions. He describes
the high price of lodgings, the scarcity of forage, and
how men and women were trampled under the feet
of the crowds. For the protection of pilgrims a bar-
rier was erected along the middle of the bridge of St.
Angelo, dividing those going towards St. Peter's and
those returning. Dante, who was at this time about
thirty-four years old, may have been one of the
crowd. At any rate, he preserves a memorial of the
occasion in the eighteenth ** Inferno," where he uses
the scene on the bridge to illustrate the two bands
of sinners moving in opposite directions in the first
circle of Malebolge. The Pope, Ventura continues,
received from the pilgrims money past counting {iJt-
numerabilem pccimiani) ; for day and night two priests
stood at the altar of St. Paul with rakes in their
hands, raking in the treasure, all of which was at the
absolute and irresponsible disposal of the Pope.

The Jubilee marked the zenith of the power and
fame of Boniface. Everything seemed to favor the
accomplishment of his vast schemes. Christendom
had apparently submitted ; the Colonnas were exiles.
Sicily, it is true, was still in rebellion.

At this point we may briefly digress to sketch the
course of events in Sicily after the death of Frederick
n. After the death of Manf icd, Frederick's son, Sicily

Events in Sicily, 417

passed, by the papal gift, into the hands of Charles
of Anjou, the brother of Louis IX. of France ; and
the outrages of the French in the island ended in the
Sicilian Vespers, in March, 1282, in which they were
ruthlessly massacred. The kingdom was then offered
by the Sicilians to Peter of Aragon, the husband of
Manfred's daughter, and the dominion of Charles of
Anjou was restricted to Naples. Through the long
series of complications between the houses of Aragon
and Anjou, in which the popes maintained the cause
of the Angevines, the throne of Sicily finally devolved
on Frederick, the younger son of Peter of Aragon.
Boniface endeavored to accomplish Frederick's prac-
tical surrender of Sicily by arranging a marriage be-
tween him and Catherine Courtenay, the daughter of
Philip, titular Latin Emperor of the East. By a confed-
eration of the western powers, Frederick and Catherine
were to be placed on the throne of Constantinople.

This bait, however, did not tempt Frederick. The
Pope also concluded a treaty with Charles of Valois
and James of Aragon, by which James abandoned
the claim of Aragon to Sicily. Frederick refused to
be bound by this treaty, and baffled all the attempts
of the Pope, of whom James was only the half-hearted
agent against his brother. Boniface finally summoned
Charles of Valois to undertake the conquest, and was
now, at the time of the Jubilee, hoping that his inter-
vention would terminate the obstinate conflict with
Sicily, and that Charles, by his marriage with the
heiress of the Latin Emperor Baldwin, would restore
the throne of Constantinople to the West and to the
Roman see.

41 8 Age of Hilde brand.

But Boniface was cordially hated. The Francis-
cans, as we have seen, were his enemies, and Charles
of Valois proved a broken reed which pierced his
hand. The Pope found in him a master instead of a
vassal. Instead of driving Frederick from the throne
of Sicily he concluded a peace with him, by which
Frederick was to be left in undisturbed possession
during his lifetime. He crushed the liberties of
Florence and made the name of Boniface execrated
throughout Italy. The Pope's interference in Scot-
tish affairs was repudiated both by Edward and the
English nation ; and the quarrel with Philip, which
had long been smouldering, now at last broke out
into a furious flame. It has been truthfully said that
this quarrel " is one of the great epochs of the papal
history, the turning-point, after which, for a time at
least, the Papacy sank into a swift and precipitate
descent, and from which it never rose again to the
same commanding height."

A bull concerning the dispute between France
and England and the affairs of Gascony, and con-
taining certain peremptory demands on Philip, was
thrown by him into the fire, and Philip entered into
alliance with the excommunicated Albert of Austria
by a marriage contract between his sister Blanche and
Albert's son Rodolph. Saisset, Boniface's legate to
France, was seized and imprisoned on a charge of
treason. Boniface issued a series of four bulls, the
last of which practically contemplated a league of the
entire French clergy against their King. Another,
proclaimed early in the following year, rebuked
Philip's oppression of his subjects, denied his right to

Meeting of the States- Genera I, 419

the bestowment of benefices, and censured his pre-
sumption in subjecting ecclesiastics to civil jurisdic-
tion. This document was publicly burned at Paris in
the King's presence. All France espoused the cause
of its sovereign. The States-General was summoned
for the first time, and the chancellor, Peter Flotte,
submitted several bulls issued by the Pope which
withdrew the privileges conceded by him to the realm
of France, summoned all the bishops and doctors of
theology and law in France to Rome as his subjects
and spiritual vassals, and asserted that the King held
the realm of France, not of God, but of the Pope.

Each order of the States- General — the nobles, the
clergy, and the commons — drew up its own address
to the Pope. That of the nobles declared that they
would never endure the Pope's claim of the temporal
subjection of the King and the kingdom to Rome,
nor his summons of the prelates of the realm to ap-
pear before him at Rome. The address of the clergy
also protested, though in milder terms, against these
claims as dangerous novelties. They had felt them-
selves embarrassed between their allegiance to the
King and their allegiance to the Pope, and had asked
permission to go to Rome to represent the whole
case ; but this had been peremptorily refused.

The Pope returned a wrathful answer to the ad-
dress of the clergy, and rebuked them for their cow-
ardice. About the same time a consistory was held
at Rome, from which issued the famous bull defining
the powers assumed by the Pope:^ "There are two
swords, the spiritual and the temporal ; our Lord said

1 The bull " Unam Sanctam," November i8, 1302.

420 Age of Htldebrand.

not of these two swords, ' It is too much,' but, * It is
enough.' Both are in the power of the church: the
one, the spiritual, is to be used by the church ; the
other, the material, foj' the church. . . . One sword
must be under the other, the temporal under the
spiritual. . . . We assert, define, and pronounce that
it is necessary to salvation to believe that every
human being is subject to the Pontiff of Rome."
Finally the Pope's legate presented twelve articles to
which the King's immediate assent was demanded,
articles asserting the extreme papal claims and
couched in insulting and menacing terms.

On the 1 2th of March, 1303, a parliament was
convened at the Louvre, at which many of the French
barons were present. William of Nogaret, an eminent
professor of civil law, presented a catalogue of charges
against Boniface, laying down the four following
propositions : the Pope is not the true Pope ; the
Pope is a heretic ; the Pope is a simoniac ; the Pope
is guilty of pride, iniquity, treachery, and rapacity.
The document appealed to a general council, which
Nogaret declared it to be the King's right and office
to summon, and before which he professed his own
readiness to substantiate the charges. To this bold
proceeding — the arraignment of a Pope before a gen-
eral council — the Pope replied with instructions to
the Cardinal of St. Marcellinus to declare the King
excommunicate ; but the bearers of the letters were
seized- and imprisoned, and the legate was closely
watched and allowed to receive no paper or visit
without the King's knowledge. A second parliament
was held at the Louvre, on the 13th of June, which

The Vengeance of tJic Colonnas. 421

declared that Christendom was in the utmost danger
and misery through the rule of Boniface. Detailed
charges of the most startling and repulsive character,
some of them flagrantly false, were preferred against
him, and the parliament gave its formal approval of
the call of a general council for his arraignment.

Meanwhile the wrath and hatred of the Colonnas
I. ad never slumbered, and they had been patiently
biding their time. Two of them had been openly
received at the French court, and were in active co-
operation with the lawyers ; and it is not improbable
that the charges against the Pope had emanated
largely from them. Boniface retired to Anagni for
the summer, and issued several bulls, among which
was one depriving the French universities of the right
to teach, or to grant any degree in theology or in
canon or civil law. This privilege he declared to be
derived entirely from the apostolic see, and to have
been forfeited by their adhesion to the King. He
then prepared to launch the sentence of excommuni-
cation. The document had been prepared and had
received the papal seal ; but Nogaret and Sciarra
Colonna were in Italy, on the borders of Tuscany,
not far from Rome, and had their secret emissaries
in Anagni, and a band of lawless soldiers at their

On the 7th of September, Sciarra Colonna, with
three hundred horsemen under the banner of France,
swept through the streets of Anagni, with the cry,
"Death to Pope Boniface!" They attacked the
Pope's palace and set on fire a church by which it
was protected. Boniface was seized, placed back-

42 2 Age of Hildeb7'a7id.

wards upon a horse, and thus led through the town.
His palace was plundered, and an enormous amount
of treasure fell into the hands of Colonna's troops.
Boniface was at last rescued by a company of horse-
men from Rome, and was conveyed to the city, but
only to be thrown into prison, and to die, baffled,
broken-hearted, old, and execrated, on the iith of
October, 1303.

Dante, who had seen the liberties of Florence ex-
tinguished by Charles of Valois, and who had himself
been driven into exile thereby, never loses an oppor-
tunity to lash Boniface VIII. , though he distinguishes
between the Pope and the man, and deprecates the
outrage at Anagni upon the person of the Vicar of
Christ. He has devised for him a unique and ingen-
ious punishment in hell, where his legs appear pro-
truding from a narrow stone well with an eternal
flame playing along the soles of his feet. Every
reader of the *' Paradiso " will recall that tremendous
passage where the whole heaven reddens with shame
as St. Peter thunders his denunciation of Boniface :

" Quegli ch' usurpa in terra il luogo mio,
II luogo mio, il luogo mio, che vaca
Nella presenza del Figliuol di Dio,
Fatto ha del cimiterio mio cloaca
Del sangue e della puzza, onde '1 perverso,
Che cadde di quassu, laggiu si placa.
Di quel color, che, per lo Sole averse,
Nube dipinge da sera e da mane,
Vid' io allora tutto '1 ciel cosperso." l

1 " He that usurps on earth my place, my place, my place, which is
vacant in the sight of the Son of God, has made of my burying-place a
sewer of blood and stench, whereby the Perverse One who fell from
here above is appeased down there. With that color which by reason

** The Babylonish Captivity'' 423

Thus fell the Papacy of the middle ages. Thus
the " stately palace-dome " decreed by Hildebrand
collapsed and sank. Benedict XI., the immediate
successor of Boniface, occupied the chair for only a
few months, and was succeeded by Clement V. in
1 305* who was committed to carry out the policy of
France, and with that view fixed his seat at Avignon,
where he and six succeeding popes resided for the
sixty-eight years following. The papal court was
the vassal of France. Its dissoluteness, luxury, pride^
and rapacity were the talk of Europe, and its sub-
servience to the political aims of the French crown
alienated from it the sympathy of England and Ger-
many. It is not strange that Roman Catholic histor-
ians should have given to this period the name of
"the Babylonish captivity."

of the sun over against it paints a cloud at even or at morn, I beheld
then the whole of heaven suffused." — Paradiso, xxvii., 22-30. See
also" Inferno," xix., 13 ff. ; xxvii., 70-85, 96-111; " Purgatorio,"
XX., 86 ff. ; xxxii., 150; " Paradiso," xii., 90; xvii., 50.



E have been following the history of a
theory, and the outcome of the history
is a stupendous failure. Around the
death-couch of Boniface VIII. the stately
edifice of Hildebrand lies in ruins. For
the larger part of the next century the Roman Church,
its throne removed from its ancient seat of empire,
plays the part of a vassal to the power against which
it has so often thundered its interdicts.

We have seen that the idea of the Holy Roman
Empire survived with more or less potency long after
the reality had vanished ; but the idea had taken on
a new dress. There was still an empire ; its centre
was still at Rome ; its spirit was the spirit of imperial
absolutism ; its aim was to grasp the world. But the
Emperor wore the tiara instead of the crown ; the
state counsellors were cardinals ; the praetors, arch-
bishops ; the lictors, monks. The Hildebrandian ideal
was as truly that of universal dominion as was the
ideal of the Antonines. The Pope was Pope not only
of Rome, but of France, Spain, Hungary, Africa, Sar-
dinia, and Cyprus.

The church-empire was essentially and intensely


The Papa I Doni in ion Sec n la r. 425

secular, as much so as the empire of the Caesars. It
was rehgious chiefly as a means of secular acquisition.
Religion was its second business, not its first. The
orders of friars, with their extensive and often splendid
establishments, were diffused over Europe, an army
obedient to the call of the Pope. The Pope's legates
penetrated into the cabinets of kings, and manipulated
their civil policy. The Pope claimed the right to
enthrone and dethrone kings, and emperors must kiss
his feet and hold his stirrup. Armies of knights and
infantry moved at his summons to subdue refractory
provinces, and orders of prieslly soldiers in mail
marched at his bidding against the strongholds of the
East. His treasury was plentifully supplied ; revenue
from the great kingdoms of the West and costly pres-
ents from Byzantine usurpers flowed into his coffers;
knights and barons and petty princes held their pos-
sessions by his investiture, and swore fealty to him
as their feudal lord. Feudalism was taken up into
papal imperialism, and utilized for its aggrandizement.
The secret of the failure of Hildebrandianism lies
in this claim to secular absolutism. This is the tap-
root in which all other causes of failure converge. As
Miiller well says:" With Gregory appear for the first
time the terrible consequences of a development in
which the church becomes a power of this world,
which must maintain itself among other powers and
subject them to herself In virtue of her divine calling,
a task for which the instruments of the kingdoms of
this world are indispensable, so long as the relation
of the constant silent or open warfare between them
subsists." The churcli was a " visible divinity," car-

426 Age of Hildebi^and,

rying the whole power and majesty of Christ. Its
form and its essence were aUke monarchical. As the
church was universal, her rightful dominion was uni-
versal. The logic was simple : God is the rightful
sovereign of the world ; the church represents God ;
therefore the church is rightfully supreme over the
world. The Pope is the divinely commissioned head
of the church, therefore the Pope is above all earthly
rulers: Q. E. D.

The conflict was between papal absolutism and
imperial absolutism. The Papacy must be independ-
ent of the power of the state. The prohibition of lay
investiture was designed to free the church from
feudal alliance with the empire. The decree which
abrogated the right of investiture by the temporal sov-
ereign, which deposed and interdicted every bishop or
abbot who received investiture from any layman, and
imposed the same penalty on the Emperor or other
secular ruler who should confer investiture with a
bishopric, created a revolution in the whole feudal
system throughout Europe in respect of the relation
of the church to the state. It annulled the power of
the sovereign over a large part of his subjects, and
that the most influential part ; it made all the great
prelates and abbots, who were also secular princes, to
a great degree independent of the crown, placed
every benefice practically in the power of the Pope,
and made him lord, temporal and spiritual, of half the

Hildebrand gives voice to this policy in one of his
epistles:^ "When God gave to Peter chiefly the

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