Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/665

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a devout atmosphere. The times drove reformers to take sides with a Council which was certain, against a Pope who was doubtful; and while Archdeacon of Lüttich, Cusanus at Basel in 1433 repeated and enforced the deposing maxims which he had learnt from Pierre d'Ailly. His pamphlet On Catholic Concord gave the Fathers in that assembly a text for their high-handed proceedings. But events opened his eyes. Though he had contributed not a little to the "Compact" by which peace was made with the Bohemians, yet, like Cesarini, this learned and moderate man felt that he could no longer hold with a democratic party pledged to everlasting dissensions. He submitted to Eugenius IV. At Mainz and Vienna in 1439 he appeared as an advocate of the papal claims. Two years later Eugenius associated him with Carvajal, of whom more will be said below, on the like errand. Nicholas V in 1451 gave him a legatine commission to Bohemia; and again he was united with a vehement Church reformer, the Neapolitan Capistrano, who was preaching to great multitudes in Vienna and Prague.

This renowned progress of Cusanus which, beginning in Austria, was extended to Utrecht, certainly sheds lustre on the lowly-born Pope, who had invested him with the Roman purple, appointed him Bishop of Brixen, and bestowed on him the amplest powers to visit, reform, and correct abuses. Yet the Council of Basel, so anarchical when it attempted to govern the Church, must share in whatever credit attaches to the work of the Legate. For the Conciliar decree which ordered Diocesan Synods to be held every year and Provincial every three years, set on foot a custom fraught in the sequel with large and admirable consequences. We possess information with regard to some two hundred and twenty Synods which were held in various parts of Europe between 1431 and 1520. Of these Germany claims the larger number; France follows no long way behind; but Italy reckons few in comparison, nor are these so important as the Councils which were celebrated beyond the Alps. At Florence, indeed, East and West for a moment joined hands. But the union of the Churches was one of name rather than of fact; it melted away before popular hatred in the Greek provinces; and its gain to Latins may be summed up in the personality, the scholarship, and the library of Bessarion, who spent his days on the futile embassies by which he hoped to bring about a new crusade. The reform of discipline, which in almost every diocesan or provincial Synod became the chief subject of argument and legislation, was not undertaken at Florence.

Not doctrine but canon law occupied the six local assemblies at Terguier between 1431 and 1440; the two held at Beziers in 1437 and 1442; and that which met at Nantes in 1445 and 1446. Italy had its Council of Ferrara in 1436; Portugal in the same year met in Council at Braga under Archbishop Fernando Guerra. German Synods were held frequently about this period, at Bamberg, Strassburg, Ratisbon, and Constance. At Salzburg in 1437 a code of reform was drawn up which