Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/716

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said to have looked back with a sigh to the days before the Reformation as to a time when there was freedom of thought. It is true that there was occasional spasmodic repression. Pico della Mirandola, because of thirteen heretical propositions among the nine hundred which he offered to defend in 1487, was obliged to fly to Spain and to make his peace by submission; but, as a rule, the humanists were allowed to air their fancies in peace. When the disputations of the schools on the question of the future life became overbold and created scandal, the Lateran Council, in 1513, forbade the teaching of Averrhoism and of the mortality of the soul; but it did so in terms which placed little restraint on philosophers who shielded themselves behind a perfunctory declaration of submission to the judgment of the Church.

In the intellectual ferment at work throughout Europe, it was, however, impossible that many devout Christians should not be led to question details in the theology on which the Schoolmen had erected the structure of sacerdotal supremacy. Gregor Heimburg was a layman who devoted his life to asserting the superiority of the secular power to the ecclesiastical, lending the aid of his learning and eloquence to the anti-papal side of all the controversies which raged from the time of the Council of Basel until he died in 1472, absolved at last from the excommunication which he had richly earned. In 1479 the errors of Pedro de Osma, a professor of Salamanca, were condemned by the Council of Alcalà; they consisted in denying the efficacy of indulgences, the divine origin and necessity of confession, and the infallibility and irresponsible autocracy of the papacy. The same year witnessed the trial at Mainz, by the Cologne inquisitor, of Johann Rucherath of Wesel, a professor in the University of Erfurt and one of the most distinguished theologians of Germany. Erfurt was noted for its humanism and for its adherence to the doctrine of the superiority of Councils over Popes, and Johann Rucherath had been uttering his heretical opinions for many years without opposition. He would probably have been allowed to continue in peace until the end but for the mortal quarrel between the Realists and the Nominalists and the desire of the Dominican Thomists to silence a Nominalist leader. He rejected the authority of tradition and of the Fathers; he carried predestination to a point which stripped the Church of its power over salvation and he even struck the word Filioque from the Creed. He was of course condemned and forced to recant; but the contemporary reporter of the trial apparently considers that his only serious error was the one concerning the procession of the Holy Ghost, and he cites various men of learning who held that most of the condemned articles could be maintained. More fortunate was Johann Wessel of Groningen, a prominent theological teacher who entertained heretical notions as to confession, absolution, and purgatory, and denied that the Pope could grant indulgences, for God deals directly with man—doctrines as