Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/671

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Curia, Jewish financiers, and the "poets" or literary pagans, as he deemed them, who were leading the Renaissance astray from orthodox paths. But education in theory and practice was his proper mission. Of his writings on the subject forty thousand copies, it is estimated, had been thrown into circulation by the year 1500. His Isidoneus Germanicus (Guide of the German Youth), dated 1497, is accounted the first methodical treatise on teaching by a German hand. It was followed three years later by a second work entitled Adolescentia, which marks an era in the science of pedagogics. His pamphlet On the Art of Printing (1507), offers a lively sketch of German culture; warns his countrymen against perils which were then rapidly approaching; and contains a hearty expostulation with princes, nobles, and lawyers, who were unprincipled enough to sacrifice the old freedom of their people to the Roman Law, and the national prosperity to their own covetousness.

Wimpheling offended many interests. As an Alsatian, he sounded the alarm against French ideas and French invasions. It was not to be expected that he would find favour in the eyes of Hebrews whom he charged with usury, of Roman courtiers, Lutheran controversialists, or self-indulgent men of letters, all of whom he assailed. Somewhat narrow in his views, and pedantic or harsh in expressing them, this vigorous partisan has suffered in the esteem of posterity. He may, nevertheless, be classed with Reuchlin as an enthusiastic student whose researches left his religion intact. He desired to see Germany free and independent, neither enslaved to the King of France nor burdened with the hundred gravamina, due to a bad ecclesiastical system of taxation, to papal nepotism, and other enormities, against which he reiterated the strong national protest of 1457. Had such men as Wimpheling been admitted to the confidence of the Roman Court; had their knowledge of German law and custom been turned to good account by Julius II or Leo X, a peaceful reformation might still have been effected. They resisted the encroachments of the new imperial legislation which was destroying the liberties of their towns, and the comfort of their yeomanry; they desired to protect the farmer from the money-lender; they abhorred paganism, even when it brought the gift of culture; and they taught every rank to read, to pray, to make fuller acquaintance with the open Bible. When the Church parted asunder and the War of the Peasants broke out, many must have looked up to Wimpheling as a true prophet. But his day was gone by.

Meanwhile, the clergy had education in their hands. Scholars flocked wherever Churchmen ruled, along the Rhine as in Rome itself; freedom to learn, to teach, to print, was unbounded. The greatest of medieval Universities had been Paris. Not to pursue its earlier and informal beginnings, it had grown up on the Isle de la Cite since 1155, when the Abbot of Ste Genevieve appointed a Chancellor whose duty it was to license teachers of schools in that district. Its statutes were