Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/473

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reform. Few protests against the doctrines and usages of the Church are noticeable in the course of the fifteenth century.

A more lasting influence was however being quietly exercised by a school of religious thinkers, to which in the latter half of the century two notable Netherlander belonged. The theology of John (Pupper) of Goch in the duchy of Cleves, who is believed to have been educated in one of the Brethren's schools, and who for nearly a quarter of a century presided over a priory of Austin canonesses founded by him at Malines in 1451, rejected the pretensions of mere outward piety and dead formalism. There is no proof that his writings which were read by few were known to Luther; but they must have come under the notice of Erasmus. The step to the assertion of the universal priesthood of Christian believers was taken by a bolder thinker, John Wessel (Goesevort), who, born at Groningen about the year 1420, was educated in the school of the Brotherhood at Zwolle, but afterwards studied in most of the chief universities of Europe. He was honoured by both Luther and Melanchthon, but he never took Orders, and his academic distinction is his chief title to fame (magister contradictionum). He enjoyed the patronage of Bishop David of Utrecht; but his favourite residence seems to have been the Frisian convent of Adwert, to which a species of high school was attached. Lover of truth as he was, and in one respect at least (viz. as to the doctrine of the Eucharist) even further advanced than Luther, he disliked any appeal to the passions of the people, and had as little thought as Bishop David himself of an open rupture with the Church.

II.

When the death of Charles the Bold at Nancy was ascertained, Louis prepared to seize those parts of the ducal dominions which were nearest to his hand and indispensable for the future of the French monarchy, while keeping in view the ultimate acquisition of them all. He proclaimed his anxiety for the interest of Charles1 daughter and heiress whom he had held at the font; but the project of a marriage between Mary, now close upon her twenty-first year, and the Dauphin, a boy of eight, was full of difficulty, more especially as the suit of Maximilian had already reached an advanced point. This prince's father was naturally not less anxious to preserve the cohesion of the Burgundian inheritance than Louis XI had been prompt to impair it; and from him no revival was to be apprehended of those questions as to male or female fiefs which had of old divided the Netherlands. All the more important was the attitude of the country itself towards the French intervention.

Almost simultaneously with the prompt mission of the Count of Craon into Burgundy, Louis had despatched to Picardy and Artois the