Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/662

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


likewise another movement issued forth, in which John of Goch, Wesel, and Gansfort led up to Erfurt and Wittenberg-to the new doctrine of justification by faith alone, and to an independent type of religion.

In these two Reformations, Catholic and Protestant, it will be observed that England, France and Italy play secondary parts. To the ideas which inspired Thomas ä Kempis, Luther, or Loyola-creative or revolutionary as they might be-no English thinker except Occam contributed. Nor did a single French writer anticipate Calvin. And the Italians, almost wholly given up to art or letters, and at no time much troubled with the problems which divided the Schools in Paris, might seem to have been incapable of grasping a spiritual principle in its pure form, until they were subjugated by the Jesuit masters who came in with the Spanish dominion.

Yet, as in England religion had no quarrel with learning but was revived in its train, so among Italians the impressive figure of Savonarola warns us that prophets after the manner of the Old Testament were not wanting, even to the heyday of a Classical Renaissance. True, the English humanism did but serve to usher in a period, Elizabethan or Jacobean, which was not Catholic according to the Roman style; and Savonarola was burnt. Yet on the eve of the Reformation these more spiritual influences were not extinct in the Church; they might have been turned to a saving use; and for a while the orthodox hoped it would be so. Frä Girolamo, Bishop Fisher, Sir Thomas More, have always been regarded by those who shared their faith as martyrs in the cause of a true Christian morality and as harbingers of a reform which they did not live to see.

In the Low Countries, therefore, from the appearance of Tanchelin, about 1100, and after the growth of Waldensian opinions, though these were by no means peculiar to the Netherlands, much had been done by authority to suppress or convert dissidents. The Black Friars of St Dominic were called to Antwerp as early as 1247. They acquired almost at once a power which was chiefly exercised in spiritual direction; their many disciples followed a way of life pure, detached, and simple-the way of the heart rather than the intellect. Another sign which accompanied them was the multiplying of Third Orders, in which men and women, not bound by vow or shut up within a cloister, strove to lead the higher life. These sodalities must not be confounded with the Turlupins, Beghards, or Brethren of the Free Spirit-ecstatic, perhaps antinomian fraternities-condemned by Pope John XXII and abhorred of all good Catholics. If we would understand what precisely was the Dominican training, a delightful instance has been left us in the correspondence of Christine de Stommelin (1306). But the finest example as the most celebrated of Flemish masters in the fourteenth century is the "admirable" Ruysbroek, an earlier Thomas ä Kempis, who adorns the period