Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/721

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on the church-door at Wittenberg, they were, as he tells us, known in a fortnight throughout Germany; and in a month they had reached Rome and were being read in every school and convent in Europe—a result manifestly impossible without the aid of the printing-press. The reformers took full advantage of the opportunities which it afforded, and, for the most part, they had the sympathies of the printers themselves. The assertion of the Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum

Sed in domo Frobenii
Sunt multi pravi haeretici

is doubtless true of all the great printing offices. It was a standing grievance with the papalists that the printers eagerly printed and circulated everything on the Lutheran side, while the Catholics had difficulty in bringing their works before the public, and had to defray the cost themselves; but this is doubtless rather attributable to the fact that there was a steady demand for the one and not for the other.

It had not taken the Church long to recognise the potential dangers of the printing-press. In 1479, Sixtus IV empowered the University of Cologne to proceed with censures against the printers, purchasers, and readers of heretical books. In 1486, Berthold, Archbishop of Mainz, endeavoured to establish a crude censorship over translations into the vernacular. Alexander VI, in 1501, took a more comprehensive step, reciting that many books and tracts were printed containing various errors and perverted doctrines, wherefore in future no book was to be printed without preliminary examination and license, while all existing books were to be inspected and those not approved were to be surrendered. The fifth Lateran Council adopted, with but one dissenting voice, a decree laid before it by Leo X constituting the Bishop and Inquisitor of each diocese a board of censors of all books: printers disregarding their commands were visited with excommunication, suspension from business and a fine of a hundred ducats applicable to the fabric of St Peter’s. In obedience to this, Cardinal Albrecht of Mainz, in 1517, appointed his vicar, Paul, Bishop of Ascalon, and Dr Jodocus Trutvetter as inquisitors and censors of the Press. These measures, which were the precursors of the Index, were in vain. When, in 1521, Charles V, in the Edict of Worms, ordered all Luther’s books to be surrendered and burnt, Cochlaeus tells us that they were only the more eagerly sought for and brought better prices.

The dissemination of the Scriptures and the propagation of the anti-sacerdotal views of the humanists naturally led to questioning the conclusions of scholastic theology and to increased impatience of the papal autocracy, these being regarded as the source of the evils so generally and so grievously felt. The new teachings found a wide and receptive audience, fully prepared to carry them to their ultimate