Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/295

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AS POLITICAL AGENTS.

quired secured for them popular sympathy and support, and gave them an enormous advantage in any contest with local churches.[1]

Their efficiency, when directed against temporal opponents, was thoroughly tried in the long and mortal struggle of the papacy with Frederic II., the most powerful and dangerous enemy whom Rome has ever had. As early as the year 1229 we hear of the banishment of all the Franciscans from the kingdom of Naples, as papal emissaries seeking to withdraw from the emperor the allegiance of his subjects. In 1234 we find them raising money in England to enable the pope to carry on the struggle, and using every device of persuasion and menace with a success which realized immense sums and reduced numbers to beggary. When, in the solemnities of Easter, 1239, Gregory fulminated an excommunication against the emperor, it was to the Franciscan priors that he communicated it, with a full recital of the imperial misdeeds, and ordered them to publish it with ringing of bells on every Sunday and feast-day. It was the most effective method that could be devised to create public opinion against his adversary, and Frederic retorted with another edict of expulsion. When Frederic was deposed by the Council of Lyons, in 1244, it was the Dominicans who were selected to announce the sentence in all accessible public places, with an indulgence of forty days for all who would gather to listen to them, and plenary remission of sins to the friars who might suffer persecution in consequence. Soon afterwards we find them playing the part, which the Jesuits filled in Jacobean England, of secret emissaries engaged in hidden plots and fomenting disturbances. Frederic always declared that the conspiracy against his life in 1244 was the work of Franciscans who had been commissioned to preach a secret crusade against him in his own dominions, and who encouraged his enemies with prophecies of his speedy death. When, as the result of papal intrigues, Henry Raspe of Thuringia was elected, in 1246, as King of the Komans,


  1. Potthast No. 11040, 11041. — The usefulness of the Mendicants in aiding the papacy to unlimited domination is seen in the condemnation, by the University of Paris, in 1429, of the Franciscan Jean Sarrasin for publicly teaching that the whole jurisdiction of the Church is derived from the pope. He was forced to admit that it was bestowed by God on the several classes of the hierarchy, and that the authority of councils rested, not on the pope, but on the Holy Ghost and the Church (D'Argentré, Coll. Judic. de nov. Error. I. ii. 227).