Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/673

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


motive, though by no means the only one on which its adversaries went. All professors were now bound by oath to teach the old scholastic tradition. Jean Bochard, Bishop of Avranches, who had been the adviser of Louis in this proceeding, still however sought the aid of Wessel; it is said that the Flemish divine was appointed Rector and by judicious measures restored the credit of the great School, endangered during a long intellectual anarchy. Peace was secured; the edict which forbade the teaching of Nominalist views was repealed in 1481. Reuchlin studied Greek in Paris, where the first professor of that language had been nominated in 1458; and in the College Montaigu Erasmus underwent those experiences of which he has left us so amusing an account. But the Renaissance can scarcely be described as having made a commencement in France until Charles VIII came back from his Italian expedition; its foremost leader and representative, the mighty-mouthed Rabelais, belongs to a period many years beyond the limits of this chapter. Neither saints nor scholars adorned an age which wasted itself in political strife, in contentions between the Crown-lawyers and the champions of Church-privileges, in the abortive Council of Pisa, in the enforcement or the revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction. No serious thought of reform occupied the public mind in France. Local synods denounced abuses which they were powerless to remedy. But though Erasmus did not conceive a high opinion of German culture in his youth, the new era had dawned with Agricola and his contemporaries across the Rhine.

An immense number of schools, elementary or advanced, are known to us from these years as existing in German regions. Nine Universities were opened. Brandenburg alone lagged behind; Berlin had no printing-press until 1539. Cologne, which was Realist and Dominican, the first among older foundations, still deserved its fame; Ortuin Gratius, despite the Letters of Obscure Men, was not only a good scholar but in his own way liberal-minded. John von Dalberg, appointed in 1482 Curator of Heidelberg and Bishop of Worms, divided his time between the University and the bishopric; he helped to establish the first chair of Greek, and he began the famous Palatine library. Reuchlin came to Heidelberg in 1496; he was made librarian and in 1498 professor of Hebrew. The Palatinate was likewise the head-quarters of the Rhenish Literary Sodality, set on foot in 1491 by Conrad Celtes. At Freiburg in the Breisgau, Zasius, an exceedingly zealous Catholic, taught jurisprudence. Gabriel Biel, last of the medieval Schoolmen (though by no means of the scholastic philosophers), an admirable preacher, occupied for many years the pulpit at Tübingen (1495). At Basel resided John Heynlin, who persuaded Gering, Cranz, and Freiburger to set up a printing-press within the walls of the Sorbonne in 1470, while he was Rector of Paris University. Sebastian Brant, author of The Ship of Fools, an ardent defender of papal claims, dwelt at Basel until he