Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/714

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burden of fees and other exactions. The Fifth Council of the Lateran assembled a little later than the time appointed, and its earlier sessions were devoted to obliterating the traces of the schism and attacking the Pragmatic Sanction of France. Julius died, February 21, 1513, and to his successor, Leo X, was transferred the management of the Council. To him Gianfrancesco Pico addressed a memorial recapitulating the evils to be redressed. The worship of God, he said, was neglected; the churches were held by pimps and catamites; the nunneries were dens of prostitution; justice was a matter of hatred or favour; piety was lost in superstition; the priesthood was bought and sold; the revenues of the Church ministered only to the vilest excesses, and the people were repelled from religion by the example of their pastors. The Council made at least a show of attacking these evils. On May 3, 1514, it approved a papal decree which, if enforced, would have cured a small portion of the abuses; but all subsequent efforts were blocked by quarrels between the different classes to be reformed. The Council sat until March, 1517, and the disappointment arising from its dissolution, without accomplishing anything of the long-desired reform, may well have contributed to the eagerness with which the Lutheran revolt was soon afterwards hailed; for thoughtful men everywhere must have been convinced that nothing short of revolution could put an end to corruption so inexpugnably established. It was the emphatic testimony of interested observers that the Roman Curia, in its immovable adherence to its evil ways, was the real cause of the uprising. The papal nuncio Aleander, writing from the Diet of Worms in 1521, says that the priests are foremost in the revolt, not for Luther’s sake but because through him they can gratify their long-cherished hatred of Rome; nine Germans out of ten are for Luther, and the tenth man longs for the destruction of the Roman Curia. Cardinal Albrecht of Mainz, about the same time, wrote to Pope Leo that it was rare to find a man who favoured the clergy, while a large portion of the priests were for Luther, and the majority were afraid to stand forth in support of the Roman Church,—so deep was the hatred felt for the Curia and the papal decrees. When Dr Eck found that his disputatious zeal was a failure, he told Paul III that the heresy had arisen from the abuses of the Curia, that it had spread in consequence of the immorality of the clergy, and that it could only be checked by reform. Adrian VI, in his instructions to his legate at the Diet of Nürnberg in 1522, admitted the abominations habitual to the Holy See and promised their removal, but added that it would be a work of time; for the evil was too complex and too deeply rooted for a speedy cure. Meanwhile he demanded the execution of the papal sentence against Luther without awaiting the promised reform; but the German princes replied that this would simply cause rebellion, for the people would then despair of amendment.

While thus the primary cause of the Reformation is to be sought in