The Cambridge Modern History/Volume I/Chapter XVIII
So far back as the Council of Vienne in 1311, William Durandus, nephew of the "Resolute Doctor," when commissioned by Clement V to advise him on the method of holding that assembly, had answered in a volume which we may still consult that "the Church ought to be reformed in head and members." The phrase was caught up, was echoed during the Great Schism at Pisa (1409), in the stormy sessions of Constance (1414-18), at Basel (1431-49), and to the very end of the fifteenth century. It became a watchword, not only in the manifestos of French or German princes at issue with the Apostolic See, but on the lips of Popes themselves and in official documents. But though searching and sweeping, the formula had its limits. Reformation was conceivable of persons, institutions and laws; it could not, on Catholic principles, be admitted within the sphere of dogma, or identified with Revelation; it must leave untouched the root-idea of medieval Christendom that the priesthood possessed a divine power in the Mass and in the Sacraments, conferred by the episcopal laying-on of hands. It affected nothing beyond discipline or practice; and only that portion of the Canon Law might be revised which was not implicitly contained in the Bible or in the unanimous teaching of the Fathers as expounded by the Church. Foxe of Winchester, writing to Wolsey in 1520, well defined the scope of amendment; he had found, he says, that everything belonging to the primitive integrity of the clergy, and especially to the monastic state, was perverted either by dispensations or corruptions, or else had become obsolete from age or depraved by the iniquity of the times. Thus even Alexander VI, startled into momentary penitence by the murder of his son, the Duke of Gandia, appointed a committee of Cardinals in 1497, to draw up a scheme for the reformation of morals which, he declared, must begin with the Roman Curia. The mere summary of abuses to be corrected, or of better dispositions to be taken, in the government of the Church, extends to one hundred and twenty-eight heads, as set forth in the papal Letters beginning, "In apostolicae sedis specula." Julius II, addressing the Fifth Lateran Council (1512) reckons among its chief objects ecclesiastical reform; before its opening he had named a commission which was to set in order the officials of his Court. Leo X, in 1513, accepted the rules which had been laid down by these Cardinals with a view to redressing the grievances of which complaint was made, and published them during the eighth session of Lateran as his own. Nevertheless, not until the Fathers at Trent had brought their labours (1545-64) to an end did the new discipline, promulgated by them in twenty-five sessions and explicitly termed a reformation, take effect in the Roman Church. By that time the Northern peoples had fallen away; Christendom was rent into many pieces, and the hierarchy, the religious Orders, and the Mass, had been abolished wherever Lutherans or Calvinists prevailed.
It does not enter into the scope of the present chapter to enlarge upon a subject treated elsewhere in this volume,—the causes which led up to the Protestant Reformation. But, as was made clear by the rise of the Jesuits, the decrees of Trent, the acts and virtues of a multitude of Saints, the renewed austerity of the papal Court, and the successful resistance to a further advance on the part of Lutheranism in Germany, and of Calvinism in France and the Belgic Provinces, there also existed a Catholic Reformation, within the Church, not tinged with heresy, but founded on a deeper apprehension of the dogmas in dispute, and on a passionate desire for their triumph. In one sense, this great movement might be described as a reaction, since it aimed at bringing back the past. In another, it was merely a development of principles or a more effectual realisation of them, whose beginnings are discernible long before Trent. Thus we may regard the fifteenth century as above all an era of transition. It exhibits violent contrasts, especially among the high clergy and in religious associations, between a piety which was fruitful in good works and a worldliness which has never been surpassed. Corruption on a scale so wide as, in the opinion of many, to justify revolt from Pope and bishops, was matched by remarkable earnestness in preaching necessary reforms, by devotion to learning in the service of religion, by an extraordinary flow of beneficence, attested by the establishment of schools, hospitals, brotherhoods, gilds, and asylums for the destitute, no less than by the magnificent churches, unrivalled paintings, and multiplied festivals, and by the new shrines, pilgrimages, miracle-plays, and popular gatherings for the celebration of such events as the Jubilees of 1475 and 1500, which fling over the whole period an air of gaiety and suggest that life in the days of the Renaissance was often a public masquerade.
Catholic tradition, in the shape of an all-pervading and long-established Church, towered high above the nations. It was embodied in a vast edifice of laws. It kept its jurisdiction intact, its clergy exempt, and held its own Courts all over Christendom. It owned from a fifth to a third of the soil in mortmain. It had revenues far exceeding the resources of kings, to which it was continually adding by fresh taxation. It offered enormous prizes to the well-born in its bishoprics, abbacies, and cathedral Chapters, which carried with them feudal dominion over lands, serfs, and tribute-yielding cities. It opened a career to clever ambitious lads of the middle and lower class. Within its cloisters women might study as well as pray, and rule their own estates, wielding the crozier and equalling prelates in dignity and power. The Church, too, maintained her pre-eminence, though shaken once and again, in the old Universities, at Paris, Oxford, and Bologna, while founding new seats of learning at Louvain (1426) or along the Rhine; as far east as Ingolstadt (1472) or even Frankfort-on-the-Oder (1506), and as far south as Alcalä (1499). Her authority was still strong enough to put down the Hussites for a time, though not without conceding to them points of discipline. It showed no dismay at the light which was dawning in humanism. And it gave back to ruined and desolate Rome the Augustan glory of a capital in which letters, arts, manners, attained to a fulness of life and splendour of expression, such as had not been witnessed in Europe since the fall of the Empire.
From the days of Nicholas V down to those of Leo X, Rome was the world's centre. The Popes held in their hands the key of religion; they aspired to possess the key of knowledge. Along every line of enterprise and from every point of the compass, except one, they were visible. They would not dedicate themselves to the long-sought reformation in head and members, although they allowed its necessity again and again in the most emphatic terms. The plans which were laid before them by ardent churchmen like Cesarini we shall consider as we proceed. But they declined to take those measures without which no lasting improvement of the Curia was to be anticipated. They were loth to summon a representative Council; they refused to cross the Alps and meet the German people, or to listen when it drew up its grievances in formal array. Had the Fifth of Lateran fulfilled its task, instead of leaving it to the Council of Trent half a century later, the Diet of Worms might have never met, and Luther would perhaps have lingered out his years in a cell at Wittenberg.
Two series of considerations may explain why the papacy shrank from calling a fresh parliament of Western prelates and sovereigns, and why it relegated these questions of discipline to a secondary place. One was that the Holy See felt itself engaged in the necessary and therefore just enterprise of recovering its temporal independence, shattered since the migration to Avignon. That plea has been urged on behalf of Sixtus IV, and still more of Julius II. The other was that it had not long emerged from a period of revolution. In Rome the Church had been constantly regarded as a monarchy with the Pope at its head; he was the supreme judge of spiritual causes, from whom there could be no appeal. But in the fourth and fifth sessions of Constance (1415) another view had prevailed,—a view unknown to earlier ages and impossible to carry out in practice,—that of the superiority to the Pope of the Church in Council assembled. This doctrine, put forward by Cardinal d'Ailly, by Gerson, and by the followers of William Occam, might be welcome to lawyers; but it had no roots among the people; it had never flourished in the schools deemed orthodox; and it irritated as much as it alarmed the Pontiff. At Basel it led to repeated and flagrant violations of the ancient canons. During the eighteen years of its existence (1431-49) this convention had deposed one Pope, Eugenius IV, elected by lawful scrutiny; it had chosen another, Felix V, Duke of Savoy, who was hardly recognised beyond the valley of the Rhone. It had compelled bishops to sit and vote, not only with simple priests but with laymen, on questions which concerned the Catholic faith. It had submitted to the feeble Emperor Sigismund; its president was D'Allemand, the Cardinal of Avignon-an ominous title; and for ten years it sat in permanent schism. Professing to do away with abuses, it enacted them once more in the shape of commendam, annates, and pluralities. When the large-minded reformers, Cardinal Julian Cesarini and Nicholas of Cusa, forsook its tumultuous sittings; when Aeneas Sylvius, that politic man of letters, looked round for a wealthier patron and joined himself to Eugenius; and when the German prelates could no longer hold it up as a shield against the strokes of the Curia, the Council came to an end, and with it all hopes of reform on the parliamentary system. Felix V, last of the anti-Popes, laid down the keys and the tiara (April, 1449) in the house called La Grotte at Lausanne, under the roof of which Gibbon was afterwards to complete his History of The Decline and Fall. Henceforth it was evident that the spiritual restoration of Christendom would come, if ever it came, from the zeal of individuals. For the Council had failed; no Pope would risk his supreme authority by a repetition of Basel; and the rules of the Roman Chancery which Martin V had confirmed were, as a matter of course, approved by his successors.
Private effort could do much, so long as it refrained from calling dogma in question or resisting the legal claims of Pope and bishops. But the creed was not in danger. So far as we can judge from the local Councils and the literature of the years before us, in no part of Europe did men at this time cast away their inherited beliefs, with the exception of a humanist here and there, like Pomponazzo at Rome-and even these kept their denials to themselves or acquiesced in the common practices of religion. In 1466 groups of the Fraticelli were discovered and put down by Pius II at Poli near Palestrina. In the same year a German sect, of which the chiefs were Brothers Janko and Livin von Wirsberg, was denounced to Henry, Bishop of Ratisbon, by the papal Legate. The Fraticelli appeared again in 1471 on the coast of Tuscany; and notices are extant of heretics in the diocese of Reims and at Bologna. The Maranos, or crypto-Jews, in Spain deserve separate consideration. Nor did the Waldensians ever cease to exist in Italy. But obstinate unbelief was rare: even a reprobate like Sigismondo Malatesta, the monstrous tyrant of Rimini, would not die without the last Sacraments. Machiavelli, who writes as if the Christian faith were an exploded superstition, had a priest with him when he expired. Of Caterina Sforza, whose crimes and profligacies were notorious, it is on record that, while she sinned, she endowed convents and built churches. Other examples of repentant humanists are Giovanni Pontano and Antonio Galatea. Among Germans who, after quarrelling with the papal authorities or questioning articles of the creed, came back to offer their submission, may be remarked Gregor Heimburg and in the next generation Conrad Mutianus of Erfurt. It has been stated elsewhere that the famous Wessel spent his last days in the cloister of the Agnetenberg. Revolt, followed by repentance, was a common feature in the Italian genius. But indeed the rules of the Inquisition, which allowed of easy retractation, imply that few heretics would persist in their opinion after once being called to account. During the ninety years with which we are concerned no popular uprising against the authorities of the Church on purely dogmatic grounds is recorded to have taken place anywhere outside Bohemia.
Intolerance was not a characteristic feature of an age abounding in hope, dazzled with discoveries and inventions, and far from ascetic in its habits of life, its outdoor spectacles, its architecture, painting, music, and popular diversions. The later fifteenth century was eclectic rather than critical. At Rome itself, an "incredible liberty" of discussion was allowed under all the Popes of the Renaissance. And though Paul II dealt severely with Platina and the Roman Academicians, whom he accused of unbelief, his motives seem to have been personal or political rather than religious. Philosophy, too, was undergoing a serious change. Plato had supplanted Aristotle in his influence over men's minds; and the high Doctors of the School-Aquinas, Bonaventura, and Scotus- had lost no little of their power since Occam brought into repute his logic of scepticism, which fixed between religion and metaphysics an impassable gulf where every human system disappeared in the void.
It is not, therefore, without significance that the chief reformer of the age, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, exhibits in his action and writings not only the pious enthusiasm which he learned from the Brethren of the Common Life, but a passion for every kind of knowledge; or that his method of apologetics sought in every form of religion its affinities with the Christian, as we learn from his Dialogue of' Peace, or The Concord of Faith. His speculations, afterwards used or abused by Giordano Bruno in building up a system of pantheism, cannot be drawn out here. Nicholas Krebs was the son of a fisherman, born, probably in 1401, at Cues on the Mosel. He belonged to that Low-Dutch race, first cousins, so to speak, of the English, which has done such notable things for science, religion, and government, by its tenacious grasp of realities, its silent thought and moderation of speech, its energetic action that scorns the trammels of paper logic. Dwelling along the rivers of Germany and on the edge of the North Sea, this trading people had amassed riches, cultivated a Fine Art of its own which vies with the Italian, created a network of municipal liberties, and lived a deep religious life, sometimes haunted by visions, which might be open to the suspicion of unsoundness when the formal Inquisitor from Cologne looked into it with his spying-glass.
Yet no one has ventured to brand with that suspicion Thomas ä Kempis. From this Low-Dutch people we have received the Imitation of Christ; when a Catholic Reformation is spoken of, that little volume, all gold and light, will furnish its leaders with a standard not only of spiritual illumination but of piety towards the Sacrament of the Altar which took for granted the whole Catholic system. Since it was finally given to the world in 1441 it has been the recognised guide of every generation in the Western Church. But with its author we must associate Cusanus and Erasmus, both of the same stock; these three fill the spaces of transition between the decadent luxury of Avignon and the stern reaction which followed hard upon Trent. By their side appears Cardinal Ximenes, who attempted among Spaniards the same work of renovation that Cusanus set on foot among Germans and Netherlander s. To the Imitation corresponds, almost as an art to its theory, the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola. And if Erasmus left no successor equal to himself, he trained a host of disciples or plagiarists in the Company of Jesus, where his memory has always evoked a fierce antagonism, and his writings have been put to the ban.
Spain and the Netherlands thus became rival centres in a movement which was profoundly Catholic. It sprang up in Northern Europe under the influence of the Dominican Friars; south of the Pyrenees it was due to the Benedictines and Franciscans. A third element, derived from the writings of St Augustine and the Rule called after his name, is more difficult to estimate. St Augustine had ever been the chief Western authority in the Schools as in the Councils. He, though no infallible teacher, formed the intellect of medieval Europe. But the Cathari or Waldensians were fond of quoting him as the patron of their anti-sacerdotal principles, and in the vehement polemics of Luther he is set up against Aquinas. From Deventer, then, we may trace the origin of a reforming tendency which, passing by Alcalä and Toledo, takes us on to the Council of Trent. In that assembly Spanish divines, Laynez or Salmeron, vindicated the scholastic tradition, while Popes under Spanish protection tightened discipline and recovered, though late, their lost moral dignity. But from Deventer likewise another movement issued forth, in which John of Goch, Wesel, and Gansfort led up to Erfurt and Wittenberg-to the new doctrine of justification by faith alone, and to an independent type of religion.
In these two Reformations, Catholic and Protestant, it will be observed that England, France and Italy play secondary parts. To the ideas which inspired Thomas ä Kempis, Luther, or Loyola-creative or revolutionary as they might be-no English thinker except Occam contributed. Nor did a single French writer anticipate Calvin. And the Italians, almost wholly given up to art or letters, and at no time much troubled with the problems which divided the Schools in Paris, might seem to have been incapable of grasping a spiritual principle in its pure form, until they were subjugated by the Jesuit masters who came in with the Spanish dominion.
Yet, as in England religion had no quarrel with learning but was revived in its train, so among Italians the impressive figure of Savonarola warns us that prophets after the manner of the Old Testament were not wanting, even to the heyday of a Classical Renaissance. True, the English humanism did but serve to usher in a period, Elizabethan or Jacobean, which was not Catholic according to the Roman style; and Savonarola was burnt. Yet on the eve of the Reformation these more spiritual influences were not extinct in the Church; they might have been turned to a saving use; and for a while the orthodox hoped it would be so. Frä Girolamo, Bishop Fisher, Sir Thomas More, have always been regarded by those who shared their faith as martyrs in the cause of a true Christian morality and as harbingers of a reform which they did not live to see.
In the Low Countries, therefore, from the appearance of Tanchelin, about 1100, and after the growth of Waldensian opinions, though these were by no means peculiar to the Netherlands, much had been done by authority to suppress or convert dissidents. The Black Friars of St Dominic were called to Antwerp as early as 1247. They acquired almost at once a power which was chiefly exercised in spiritual direction; their many disciples followed a way of life pure, detached, and simple-the way of the heart rather than the intellect. Another sign which accompanied them was the multiplying of Third Orders, in which men and women, not bound by vow or shut up within a cloister, strove to lead the higher life. These sodalities must not be confounded with the Turlupins, Beghards, or Brethren of the Free Spirit-ecstatic, perhaps antinomian fraternities-condemned by Pope John XXII and abhorred of all good Catholics. If we would understand what precisely was the Dominican training, a delightful instance has been left us in the correspondence of Christine de Stommelin (1306). But the finest example as the most celebrated of Flemish masters in the fourteenth century is the "admirable" Ruysbroek, an earlier Thomas ä Kempis, who adorns the period which lies between 1283 and 1381, and whose son in the spirit, Gerard Groot, gave a new and lasting significance to the school of Deventer.
That "flight of the alone to the Alone," which we call Christian mysticism, had found no unworthy expression in St Thomas Aquinas, the Angel of the Schools, who reasons by set syllogism on all things in heaven and earth. He had sealed with his authority the books, translated by Scotus Erigena, which were long attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, but which are now known to be a production of the fifth century and of the Alexandrian, or even Monophysite, metaphysics. With severe negations, not wholly foreign to Plotinus, they limit, by exceeding them, the affirmations of the School theology; in the paradoxical phrase of Cusanus, their teaching is a "learned ignorance"; but they exalt the earthly as a shadow of the heavenly hierarchy; and they leave to our adoring worship the man Christ Jesus. From the defilements of sense, the scandals of history, the misuse of holy things, they turn to an inward, upward vision and celebrate the hidden life. It is well known that Eastern hermits joined the work of their hands to prayer; that cenobites under the Rule of St Basil copied manuscripts, studied the Scriptures, and taught in schools, especially the children of the poor. Brought from the plains of the Euphrates to the wild heaths or grassy meadows of Rhine and Yssel, this secret doctrine found in Ruysbroek an Areopagite, in Gerard Groot and Florentius Radevynzon the masters of its practice, who combined meditation with handicraft, and both with sacred and secular studies.
Of these men mention has already been made in another chapter of the present volume, which deals with the Netherlands. Groot's institution, closely resembling in idea the first thought of St Francis, was at Constance opposed by the Dominican Grabo, but defended by Gerson. It may be remarked in passing, that Gerson-unfairly according to the best judges-criticised the language of Ruysbroek's Ornament of the Spiritual Marriage as tainted with pantheism. In 1431 Eugenius IV approved the Brethren of the Common Life. Pius II and Sixtus IV showed them much kindness. Florentius, after establishing his Austin Canons at Windeshem, died in 14<00; but his scheme of education prospered. Gerard Zerbold of Zutphen governed and taught in a similar spirit. The communities of Sisters fell off in some measure. On the other hand, Groot's foundation at Zwolle developed into a house of studies under John Cele, and drew scholars from every side-from Brabant, Westphalia, and even Saxony. In 1402 seven monasteries looked up to Windeshem as their mother-house. The congregation spread into Germany. In 1409 tumults at Prague, with which University Groot's leading disciples had been associated, drove out thence a multitude of students who had embraced the system of Nominalism. They flocked to Deventer, Zwolle, and the other Flemish towns where that system was upheld against the extravagances of an overbearing Realism. The convent and library of le Rouge Cloitre, in the Forest of Soignies, became very celebrated. In these retreats of contemplatives, kept wholesome by hard manual labour, the Scriptures were copied and read; the text of the Vulgate was corrected; a treasure of devout wisdom was silently gathered up, whose most precious jewel is the book written by Thomas ä Kempis, though it did not bear his name. Within thirty years Windeshem had given rise to thirty-eight convents, of which eight were sisterhoods and the rest communities for men of a strict yet not unreasonable observance. To the Austin Canons established by Florentius we may trace a main current in the Catholic Reformation; the Austin Hermits ended in Staupitz and Luther.
Education was the daily work of many among the Brethren. Their school at Hertogenbosch is said to have numbered twelve hundred pupils. In Deventer they taught in the grammar-school, and "here in the mother-house I learned to write," says Thomas Bemerken, who came thither from Kempen as a lad of twelve. Florentius gave him books, paid his school fees, was a father to him. Unlike Groot, who had taken his degree at Paris, Thomas attended no University. He was taught singing; he practised the beautiful hand-in which he copied out the whole Bible; he travelled on business for the monastery, but was away only three years altogether; at Mount St Agnes he spent just upon seventy years. The key-note of his life was tranquillity; he perhaps called his book not, as we do, the Imitation of Christ, but the Ecclesiastical Music. A reformer in the deepest sense, he accepted Church and hierarchy as they existed, and never dreamed of resisting them. Everything that the sixteenth century called into question is to be found in his writings. He availed himself of an indulgence granted by Boniface IX; he held the Lateran teaching on the Eucharist; he speaks without a shadow of misgiving of the veneration of Saints, of masses for the dead, lay Communion in one kind, auricular confession and penance. To him the system under which he lived was divine, though men were frail and the world had fallen upon evil days. Those, therefore, who seek in The Imitation vestiges of Eckhart's pantheism, or pro-phesyings of Luther's justification by faith alone, fail to apprehend its spirit, nor have they mounted to its origin. For Ruysbroek is emphatic in asserting free-will, the necessity of works as fruits of virtue, the Grace which makes its recipient holy. Such is the very kernel of Thomas a. Kempis, in whom no enthusiast for antinomian freedom would find an argument. And in a temper as active, though retiring, as dutiful though creative, the movement went on which had begun at Deventer. Thomas records in a series of biographical sketches how his companions lived and wrought. When we arrive at Cusanus, we feel that there could have been no worthier preparation for measures of amendment in the Church at large than this quiet process of self-discipline.
As a pupil of Deventer, Nicholas Krebs had been brought up in a devout atmosphere. The times drove reformers to take sides with a Council which was certain, against a Pope who was doubtful; and while Archdeacon of Lüttich, Cusanus at Basel in 1433 repeated and enforced the deposing maxims which he had learnt from Pierre d'Ailly. His pamphlet On Catholic Concord gave the Fathers in that assembly a text for their high-handed proceedings. But events opened his eyes. Though he had contributed not a little to the "Compact" by which peace was made with the Bohemians, yet, like Cesarini, this learned and moderate man felt that he could no longer hold with a democratic party pledged to everlasting dissensions. He submitted to Eugenius IV. At Mainz and Vienna in 1439 he appeared as an advocate of the papal claims. Two years later Eugenius associated him with Carvajal, of whom more will be said below, on the like errand. Nicholas V in 1451 gave him a legatine commission to Bohemia; and again he was united with a vehement Church reformer, the Neapolitan Capistrano, who was preaching to great multitudes in Vienna and Prague.
This renowned progress of Cusanus which, beginning in Austria, was extended to Utrecht, certainly sheds lustre on the lowly-born Pope, who had invested him with the Roman purple, appointed him Bishop of Brixen, and bestowed on him the amplest powers to visit, reform, and correct abuses. Yet the Council of Basel, so anarchical when it attempted to govern the Church, must share in whatever credit attaches to the work of the Legate. For the Conciliar decree which ordered Diocesan Synods to be held every year and Provincial every three years, set on foot a custom fraught in the sequel with large and admirable consequences. We possess information with regard to some two hundred and twenty Synods which were held in various parts of Europe between 1431 and 1520. Of these Germany claims the larger number; France follows no long way behind; but Italy reckons few in comparison, nor are these so important as the Councils which were celebrated beyond the Alps. At Florence, indeed, East and West for a moment joined hands. But the union of the Churches was one of name rather than of fact; it melted away before popular hatred in the Greek provinces; and its gain to Latins may be summed up in the personality, the scholarship, and the library of Bessarion, who spent his days on the futile embassies by which he hoped to bring about a new crusade. The reform of discipline, which in almost every diocesan or provincial Synod became the chief subject of argument and legislation, was not undertaken at Florence.
Not doctrine but canon law occupied the six local assemblies at Terguier between 1431 and 1440; the two held at Beziers in 1437 and 1442; and that which met at Nantes in 1445 and 1446. Italy had its Council of Ferrara in 1436; Portugal in the same year met in Council at Braga under Archbishop Fernando Guerra. German Synods were held frequently about this period, at Bamberg, Strassburg, Ratisbon, and Constance. At Salzburg in 1437 a code of reform was drawn up which other Councils repeated and enforced. It dealt with Reservations,—that deadly plague of papal and episcopal finance; with the moral disorders of the clergy; and with many abuses the effects of which have been strongly depicted in Protestant satires. The Synod of Freising in 1440 condemned usury and was loud in its denunciation of Jew money-lenders. There was a Synod of London in 1438; Edinburgh held another in 1445. The numerous and well-considered statutes of Söderköping, over which the Archbishop of Upsala presided in 1441, and of other assemblies in Scandinavia between 1443 and 1448, reveal the widespread evils from which religion was suffering; they insist on prayers in the vernacular, on frequent preaching, on a stricter discipline among the clergy. A French Synod at Rouen in 1445, which enacted forty-one canons, condemned in emphatic terms witchcraft and magic and many other popular superstitions, together with the non-residence of beneficiaries and the tax which prelates were not ashamed to gather in from priests who kept concubines. At Angers in 1448 a severe attack was made upon the traffic in spurious relics and false indulgences. Many strokes might be added to this picture; but there is an inevitable monotony, as in the abuses painted, so in the remedies proposed for them, none of which laid the axe to the root. Unless princes and nobles could be hindered from masquerading as bishops, though destitute of piety, learning, and vocation, the ancient evils must continue to flourish. The odious charges laid on a poverty-stricken clergy, at once too numerous and too heavily burdened, which took from them their first-fruits, their tenths, their fifteenths, were not abolished in a single one of these Councils. Nor was the abominable practice of charging money-dues on every office of religion abandoned, until the floods came and the great rains fell which threatened the house with destruction. The master-idol which it was impossible to pull down was Mammon. Culture was ruined by immorality, and religion itself by simony; while for the sake of a living crowds professed rules of perfection which they made little or no attempt to observe.
Yet Cusanus showed them a more excellent way. In February, 1451, he began to execute his legatine commission at Salzburg, where he presided over a local Synod. He travelled in unpretending guise, preached wherever he came, and displayed zeal and even tact, which was not his special quality, in reconciling the parish clergy with the Mendicants, and in bringing back monastic discipline to its former purity. At Vienna, in March, he appointed three visitors to the Austrian houses of St Benedict, then by no means attached to Rome. Fifty convents, in due time, accepted the reform. Cusanus took in hand the Augustinian Canons, held a Synod at Bamberg, and endeavoured to regulate the troublesome question of Easter Confession to the parish priest, on which strife was constantly arising with the friars. At Würzburg he received the homage of seventy Benedictine Abbots, who promised obedience to his decrees; though all did riot keep their engagement. The Bursfelde Congregation, which brought under strict observance as many as eighty-eight abbeys and several nunneries, was already nourishing. It had been set up by John Dederoth of Minden, who became Abbot of Bursfelde in 1433, and was closely allied with another zealous reformer, John Rode of St Matthias at Trier. But the original impulse appears to have been derived from the Augustinian houses which had adopted the rule of Windeshem, and the famous John Busch may be named in the present connexion. This indefatigable preacher visited and succeeded in reforming a large number of convents in Thuringia and the adjacent parts. Cusanus examined and approved the statutes of Bursfelde in May, 1451. He appointed visitors to the convents of Thuringia, and in June opened the Synod of Magdeburg, which passed the usual decrees touching reform of the monasteries, concubinary priests, and economic oppression as practised by Hebrew money-lenders. But his next proceeding, an attempt to put down the pilgrimage to the "Miraculous Host" of Wilsnack, was the beginning of great troubles and met with no success.
Archbishop Frederick of Magdeburg, who had supported the Cardinal in this attempt, was however an opponent of John Busch, and in 1454 the latter returned to Windeshem, so that the decrees of Cusanus were not in the end carried out. He, meanwhile, continued his visitation at Hildesheim and Minden. In August he was at Deventer, whither much business followed him. The Holy See extended his legatine powers to Burgundy and England; but in what manner this part of his mission was fulfilled does not seem clear. That he fell into a serious illness, from which he did not recover until February, 1452, may be ascribed to his apostolic labours and journeyings. It had been his intention to preside at the Synod of Mainz, which was opened in his absence by Archbishop Dietrich, in March, 1452, and which repeated the enactments of Magdeburg against usury, clerical concubines, vagrant collectors of alms, and the holding of markets on feast-days. Other decrees imply that superstition was rife, and that crime was not unknown in holy places. The Cardinal confirmed these statutes, which were published in many diocesan Synods. In March, 1452, he presided over a gathering at Cologne in which twenty-one decrees were published, all indicating how deep and wide were the wounds of religion in the German Church, the wealthiest and the most feudalised in Christendom, and how little prospect there was of healing them. It is not the way of religious Councils to legislate for evils which do not exist or have attained only slender proportions; and we must conclude from the reiterated acts of authority that all over the West the bonds of discipline were loosened; that clerics in various places broke their vows with the connivance of bishops; that into some convents vice had found an entrance; and that many more had lapsed into ease and sloth. Yet in the largest houses immorality was rare; nor did Lutheranism receive its first impulse from the relaxation of conventual rule. That the clergy as a body were throughout this period corrupt or immoral, is an assumption unsupported by definite evidence.
When the century was ending, Trithemius, Abbot of Sponheim, celebrated Cusanus as an angel of light appearing to the fatherland. He restored, said Trithemius, the unity of the Church and the dignity of her Head; his mind embraced the whole circle of knowledge. The Cardinal, while not disdaining the tradition of the Schools, had busied himself in Italy with Plato and Aristotle; he encouraged the study of the classics, during his embassy to Constantinople collected Greek manuscripts, and won a reputation in astronomy and physics which entitles him to be named as a forerunner of Copernicus. With George Peurbach and John Müller of Königsberg, who died Bishop of Ratisbon, he kept up a correspondence on scientific and literary topics. His designs for the exaltation of the imperial power, though somewhat chimerical, stamp him as a patriot who would have prevented by timely changes the disorders which Charles V, a Fleming or a Spaniard rather than a true German Emperor, could not overcome. But he failed in politics, and his other reforms bore little fruit. Of the hundred and twenty-seven abbeys which accepted his statutes, not more than seventy observed them in 1493.
Cusanus had been appointed Bishop of Brixen directly by the Pope, without the local Chapter being consulted. This was a violation of the Concordat, and the Chapter appealed to Archduke Sigismund, Count of Tyrol. But the Cardinal was peacefully installed; and when he came back from his legatine mission in 1452, he set about reforming his diocese, which stood greatly in need of it. He began with a visitation of the convents. At Brixen he turned the unruly Sisters out of their, house. The Benedictine nuns of Sonnenburg pleaded exemption and, like the Chapter, called upon Sigismund who, though notorious for his profligacies, took up their defence. Very unwisely, Cusanus, by way of answering the Duke, laid claim to a temporal jurisdiction and enforced it by anathema and interdict, which were little heeded. The Tyrolese detested strangers and wanted no reform. In 1457 the Cardinal fled from Wilten, declaring that his life was in danger: Calixtus III interdicted Sigismund; and the Duke, prompted by Heimburg, a lifelong enemy of the Holy See, appealed to the Pope better informed. This did not avail with Cusanus. He proceeded with his censures, hired troops out of Venetia, and cut to pieces a band of forty men who were in the pay of the Sonnenburg Sisters. In 1459, Pius II undertook to mediate. He was not successful. On the contrary, Sigismund, who had pleaded his own cause in Mantua, went away dissatisfied and was preparing an appeal to a future Council, when Pius launched the bull Execrabilis (January, 1460), by which all such appeals were condemned and forbidden. Here, we may remark, is evidence of the motives on which the Popes distrusted Conciliar action, because, if it could be invoked at any time and for any reason against them, their jurisdiction was paralysed.
A year later the Duke made the Cardinal his prisoner at Bruneck, and demanded a surrender of the points in dispute. Cusanus yielded, escaped, fled to Pius at Siena, and cried aloud for satisfaction. The Pope, after fruitless negotiations, excommunicated Sigismund, laid his dominions under interdict, and brought Gregor Heimburg once more into the field, who drew up a formal appeal to the Council. A war of pamphlets followed, bitter in its personalities on all sides, but especially damaging to Pius II, whose earlier years were little fitted to endure the fierce light of criticism now turned upon them. Heimburg's language, though moderate, was unsound from the papal point of view; it was coloured also by his personal dislike of Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, with whomlhe had a long-standing quarrel. "Prelates of Germany," he exclaimed, "insist on the Council as the stronghold of your freedom. If the Pope carries it, he will tax you at his good pleasure, take your money for a Crusade, and send it to Ferrante of Naples." The Bishop of Feltre replied on behalf of Pius, while the German princes took part with Sigismund. No one regarded the interdict. Diether of Mainz, after being excommunicated and deposed, took up arms against the Curia, and a miserable war laid waste Germany. The Cardinal's death brought his troubles to an end in 1464. Heimburg passed over to George Podiebrad and the Bohemians, only at last to seek reconciliation with Rome. Sigismund received absolution. The Curia triumphed in the conflict at Mainz. An interval of quiet followed, during which the movement of learning went its way prosperously and religion kept the peace with humanism.
This humanism or, as it may be termed, the earlier Renaissance, flourished at many centres. Realist and Nominalist were of one mind in promoting classical studies, although Ulrich von Hütten has persuaded the world that Cologne, the head-quarters of monasticism and the Inquisition, loved to dwell in Egyptian darkness. The inveterate quarrel, which is as old as Plato, between poets, or men of letters, and philosophers who seek wisdom by process of dialectic, must not be overlooked, when we read the judgments of the later humanists on a scholasticism that they despised without always understanding it. To them technical terms were a jargon, and the subtle but exquisite distinctions of Aquinas spelt barbarism. But now printing with move-able types had been invented. From Mainz it was with incredible rapidity carried over Europe to Rome, London, Lisbon, and even Constantinople. The clergy-to quote the words of Archbishop Berthold of Mainz (Henneberg)-hailed it as a divine art. They endowed printing-presses, crowded the book-markets, almost impoverished themselves by the purchase of their productions-if we may believe Coberger's unwilling testimony; they composed as well as distributed innumerable volumes of which the purport was to teach, to explain, and to enforce the duties of religion. The first book printed by Gutenberg was the Latin Bible. We will pursue the story of its editions and translations in due course. Here it is seasonable to record that many prelates, like Dalberg at Worms and Heidelberg, were munificent patrons of the new art; that others, like Scherenberg and
Bibra, published indulgences for the benefit of those who bought and sold printed books; but that if we would measure the depth and extent of civilisation as due to the diffusion of literature through the press, we must look to the wealthy middle class and the Free Cities of Germany, to Augsburg, Nürnberg, Ratisbon, and the Rhine bishoprics.
Once more Deventer solicits our attention. Its occupation with the copying of manuscripts was to be ruined by Gutenberg's types; but so long as the Brethren lasted they did no small service to education, whether we regard its matter or its methods. To their school has been referred the illustrious Rudolf Agricola. Alexander Hegius presided over it; and among its disciples were Rudolf von Langen and Desi-derius Erasmus of Rotterdam. Agricola is often called the German Petrarch on the ground that he laboured incessantly during a short life (1443-85) to spread classical learning north of the Alps. With a passionate love of the ancients he combined deep devotion to the Sacred Scriptures; his last years were spent in religious meditation. Hegius, though an older man, looked up to him as a guide in all learning. And while it must be admitted that Hegius did not understand Greek, and was not an accomplished Latin scholar, yet, in the thirty-three years (1465-98) during which he ruled as headmaster at Deventer, he led the way to better things by his improvement of the German manuals. As is elsewhere told, he died poor, leaving only his books and his clothes. Rudolf von Langen, provost of the cathedral in Deventer, new-modelled the schools of Westphalia, drew crowds of students to Münster, and sent out teachers as far as Copenhagen, in which capital a University had been founded in 1479. He was sent on a mission to Rome in 1486, where his amazing knowledge of Latin excited the admiration of Sixtus IV. Not only the ancient classics, but their native antiquities, poetry and topography, engaged the attention of these Teutonic masters; but they were zealous above all to diffuse the knowledge of the Bible in the vernacular as in the Latin Vulgate, and are aptly termed the Christian Humanists.
None among them was more celebrated than Wimpheling. Born at Schlettstadt in 1450, living down to the tumultuous period of the Reformation, he is a fine example of the priest, scholar, teacher, journalist, and patriot, as Germans then conceived of such a figure. Strassburg was proud to own him; Reuchlin became his pupil; with equal heat and eloquence he denounced unworthy friars, the greedy 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 compiled about 1208; its first appearance as a corporation is traced to Innocent III and the year 1211. In perpetual conflict with Chancellor, Bishop, and Cathedral-chapter, the University owed its triumph to the Popes, one of whom, Gregory IX, in his bull Parens Scientiarum of 1231, established the right of the several Faculties to regulate their own constitution. Down to the Great Schism in 1378, the Pontiffs were on amicable terms with Paris and did not encourage the erection of chairs of theology elsewhere, except in Italy, where they were introduced at Pisa, Florence, Bologna, and Padua. But they encouraged the Faculties of Roman or Canon Law on the pattern of Bologna, as extending their own jurisdiction. With a divided papacy came the rise of Gallicanism, already foreshadowed by the writings of Occam and Marsilius of Padua, the Defensor Pacts. It was Paris that directed the antipapal measures of Constance and Basel. The Holy See replied by showing favour to other academies such as Cologne, which from its foundation in 1388 had always been ultramontane. Some four-and-twenty Universities were established during the period under review, of which those of Wittenberg and Frankfort-on-the-Oder were the last. That their organisation was not independent of the Church, or opposed to its authority, is clear on the evidence of the diplomas and papal bulls to which they owe their origin. Even Wittenberg, though set up by an imperial decree, received an endowment from Alexander VI; and the Curia showed everywhere remarkable zeal in helping forward the new centres of learning.
In France, Poitiers was founded by Charles VII in 1431, by way of retort on Paris which had declared for the English King. Caen, Bordeaux, Nantes disputed the monopoly of the French capital, which was further lessened by long and venomous wranglings between the Realist divines who were conservative in temper as they were Roman in doctrine, and the Nominalists, or King-and-Council men, determined at all costs to support the Crown. Prague, also, which had become the Studium Generale of Slavonia, drew to itself students from Paris; and Louvain exercised no small influence even on the banks of the Seine. A striking episode is the journey of Wessel to Paris (1452) in the hope of converting from their Nominalist errors his fellow-countrymen, Henry van Zomeren and Nicholas of Utrecht. But they converted him from Realism; Wessel adopted the philosophy of Plato and plunged into the quarrels of the day as to the extent of the Pope's jurisdiction and the abuses of the Curia. He lived in his new home sixteen years. Among his associates were Guillaume de Phalis, John of Brussels, and Jean Haveron the Picard, who in 1450 became Rector of the University. In 1473 Wessel after a tour in Italy returned to Paris. That was the year in which Louis XI proscribed the doctrines of Nominalism as unedifying to the Church, dangerous to faith, and unfitted for the training of youth. That Occam's principles ended in a system sensuous at once and sceptical, it would not be easy to deny; and this consideration furnished a sufficient 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 settled in his native city of Strassburg. John Müller, otherwise Regio-montanus (from his birthplace Königsberg, in Thuringia), lectured on physical science in Vienna and Nürnberg, prepared the maps and calendars of which Colombo made use in crossing the Atlantic, and died Bishop of Ratisbon. He met at Rome in 1500 Copernicus, already a member of the Chapter of Frauenburg, and at the time engaged in mathematical teaching. These names, to which many might be added, will serve to indicate the union of orthodoxy with erudition, and of a devotion to science with the spirit of Christian reform. In none of these men do we perceive either dislike or opposition to the sacerdotal system, to sacraments, or to the papacy. Sebastian Brant, in particular, published his widely-read and popular poem with intent to counteract the party of rebellion which was then rising. He defended the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; and in the height of his satire he is careful to spare the priesthood. On the whole, it appears that the German Universities flourished rather in the years which immediately preceded the Reformation than in those which followed it; and if we except Wittenberg and Erfurt, they almost all took sides with the ancient religion and the Holy See. The spirit of literature, as of science, is however, in its nature, obviously distinct from the dogmatic method cultivated by all theologians in the sixteenth century.
"In papal times," said Luther towards the close of his life, "men gave with both hands, joyfully and with great devotion. It snowed of alms, foundations, and testaments. Our forefathers, lords and kings, princes and other folk, gave richly and compassionately, yea, to overflowing,—to churches, parishes, schools, burses, hospitals." Examination in detail proves that this witness of Luther is true. There never had been in Germany, since the days of St Boniface, such a season of beneficence directed to the fostering of scholarship and piety. Churches, of which a long list remains, were built in towns and villages, often on a splendid scale. German architects, like German printers, invaded all countries; they were found in Spain at Barcelona and Burgos; they were called in to complete the Duomo at Milan. The Gothic style in Italy was recognised to be of German origin. But it was especially on works of benevolence or education that gifts were lavished. Endowments, no small portion of which came from the clergy, provided for universities and almshouses, for poor scholars and public preachers, for the printing of works by well-known authors, such as Wimpheling and Brant. Cloisters became the home of the press; friars themselves turned printers. Among other instances may be cited Marienthal (1468), St Ulrich in Augsburg (1472), the Benedictines in Bamberg (1474), the Austin Hermits in Nürnberg (1479), and the Minorites and Carthusians who assisted Amerbach in Basel. Typography was introduced in 1476 at Brussels by the Brethren of the Common Life and also at Rostock. They were energetic in spreading the new art; they called themselves preachers not in word but in type, rum verbo sed scripto predicantes. Their activity extended through the dioceses of Lübeck, Schleswig, and Denmark; they gave out books to be printed, which betokens a demand that they could scarcely satisfy; and in Windeshem and other houses lending-libraries were opened. In the district of Utrecht alone, wrote John Busch the reformer, more than a hundred free congregations of Sisters or Beguines had a multitude of German books for their daily reading. This was earlier than 1479.
The demand fell into five or six large categories. The public wanted grammars and aids to learning. They were eager to be told about their own history and antiquities. They welcomed every edition of a Latin classic. But above all they cried out for books of devotion and the Bible in their mother-tongue. To sum up with one of the biographers of Erasmus, the early printed books of Germany were in the main of a popular educational or a religious character.
All that is left from the immense shipwreck of libraries and literature which happened during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries bears out this statement. It may be convenient to introduce at this point a brief general survey of the first Bibles printed, whether in Latin or the vernacular, down to the eve of the Reformation. As the educated classes read and corresponded on learned topics in the language of Rome, and monasteries were great consumers of religious works in Latin, we should expect frequent publication and large editions of the Vulgate which had been from before St Jerome's day the authorised Western version. Accordingly, Gutenberg set it up in type as his first production. It was finished by 1456; under the name of the Mazarin Bible, it still survives in several copies. The Mainz Psalter is the first printed volume with a date, 1457. The first dated Bible (fourth Latin) came out at Mainz from the office of "Fust and Schoeffer" in 1462. No book was more frequently republished than the Latin Vulgate, of which ninety-eight distinct and full editions appeared prior to 1500, besides twelve others which contained the Glossa Ordinaria or the Postils of Lyranus. From 1475, when the first Venetian issue is dated, twenty-two complete impressions have been found in the city of. St Mark alone. Half a dozen folio editions came forth before a single Latin classic had been printed. This Latin text, constantly produced or translated, was accessible to all scholars; it did not undergo a critical recension; but it might be compared with the Hebrew Psalms printed in 1477; the Pentateuch printed in 1482; the Prophets in 1485; the Old Testament in 1488, by Abraham ben Chayim at Soncino in the duchy of Milan. The Hebrew Hagiographa had come out at Naples in 1486. The Rabbinic Bible, from the Bomberg press at Venice, was edited in four parts by Felix Pratensis and dedicated to Leo X in 1517. The firm of Aldus in 1518 published the Septuagint; Erasmus had brought out the Greek New Testament in 1516. But it was first printed in 1514 in the Polyglot of Cardinal Ximenes at Alcalä (Complutum) which, however, did not appear until 1520.
The earliest Bibles printed in any modern language were in German, issued by Mentelin and Eggesteyn of Strassburg not later than 1466. In 1471 appeared at Venice two Italian translations, the first by Malermi, a Camaldulese monk who died as far back as 1421, the second by Nicholas Jenson. Buyer at Lyons is responsible for the first French New Testament in 1477; the Old Testament in Dutch came out at Delft the same year. In 1480 the Low German Bible appeared at Cologne. The entire Bible, done into French paraphrase by Guiars de Moulin in the thirteenth century, was committed to type in 1487, and went through sixteen editions. The Bohemian version belongs to 1488. The Spanish had been made about 1405 by Boniface, brother of St Vincent Ferrer; it was printed at Valencia in 1478, and republished in 1515, of course with the imprimatur of the Inquisition. The standard French version of Jacques Lefevre (1512 to 1523-7) was revised by Louvain theologians and passed through forty editions down to the year 1700. Fourteen translations of the Vulgate into German, and five into Low Dutch, are known to have existed before Luther undertook the task; from a collation of these with his Bible, it is evident that the reformer consulted previous recensions, and that his work was not entirely original. Prior to his first complete edition in 1534 no fewer than thirty Catholic impressions of the entire Scriptures or portions of them had appeared in the German vernacular. Eleven full Italian editions, with permission of the Holy Office, are counted before 1567. The Polish Bible was printed at Cracow in 1556 and many times afterwards with approbation of the reigning Popes.
Translations of the Psalms and Sunday Gospels had long been in use. From the Council of Constance, or even earlier, provincial synods laid the duty on priests of explaining these portions during Mass; and Postils or Plenaria which comment upon them in the vernacular meet us everywhere. Metrical versions, such as that of de Moulins in France, or of Maerlant in the Netherlands (1225-1300), were well-known among all classes. But to what an enormous extent the Bible was now read the above dates and figures may indicate, not to mention the forms in which it was speedily issued, pocket or miniature editions for daily use. It is not until we come within sight of the Lutheran troubles, that preachers like Geiler of Kaisersberg hint their doubts on the expediency of unrestrained Bible-reading in the vernacular. One remarkable fact would seem to tell the other way. In this extensive catalogue we have not been able to discover a solitary English Bible. How did it happen, we must ask, that before Tyndale's New Testament of 1526 none was printed in our native tongue?
A dense darkness hangs over the origin and authorship of the translation ascribed to Wyclif. It is certain that Archbishop Arundel, at the Council of Oxford in 1408, prohibited the making or keeping of unauthorised English versions, and that he condemned "any book, booklet, or tract of this kind made in the time of the said John Wyclif or since." It is equally certain that manuscript copies of an English Bible were in possession of such orthodox Catholics as Thomas of Woodstock, Henry VI, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, and the Brigittine nuns of Syon. English Bibles were bequeathed by will, and given to churches or religious houses. From all this it has been argued, on the one hand, that authority tolerated the use of a version which was due to Wycliffite sources; on the other, that a Catholic version must have existed, and that the copies mentioned above contain it. Sir Thomas More, disputing against Tyndale, affirms that no translations executed prior to the Lollards were forbidden. "I myself have seen and can show you," he says in his Dynlogue, "Bibles fair and old, written in English, which have been known and seen by the bishop of the diocese, and left in the hands of lay men and women whom he knew to be good and Catholic people." More himself was decidedly in favour of vernacular versions; but "the New Testament newly-forged by Tyndale, altered and changed in matters of great weight," he judged worthy of the fire. The extant copies of an earlier Bible, to whomsoever due, exhibit no traces of heretical doctrine. Cranmer and Foxe the martyrologist both allude to translations of the whole body of Scripture, "as well before John Wyclif was born as since," says the latter. In the destruction of libraries these have perished and nothing of them is now known.
To Latin readers the Bible would be familiar. Coberger of Nürnberg had set up in London a warehouse for the sale of the Vulgate as early as 1480. To English readers Caxton offered the Golden Legend in 1483; it contained nearly the whole of the Pentateuch and a large portion of the Gospels. The Liber Festival(tm) included Scripture paraphrases. But it was in Germany that the printer had become the evangelist. No censorship interfered with the ordinary course of instruction; and this contemplated the whole duty of a Christian man; it was a comment on Holy Writ which all were at liberty to keep in their hands. Fifty-nine editions of the Imitation of Christ were brought out in less than fifty years. Prayer-books in heartfelt and instructive speech, the Gate of Heaven, the Path to Paradise, and a hundred more, were sold in all book-markets. Numerous as are the specimens that survive, those who have examined them agree that on points afterwards violently disputed,—as the doctrine of indulgences and prayers to the Saints,—they lend no countenance to superstition or excess. Were we to form our view of German religion from these prayers, hymns, and popular manuals, it would be eminently favourable. In language as in sentiment they have never been surpassed. The Deutsche Theologie, named and published in part by Luther (1516-18) is an admirable instance, perfectly orthodox and profoundly spiritual, by an unknown author, perhaps of the fourteenth century. We must look to other sources of information- among them Innocent VIIFs bull Summis desiderantes qffectibus against witchcraft (1484) and the Malleus Maleficarum of Jacob Sprenger and Heinrich Krämer (Institoris) (before 1487) hold a conspicuous place-if we would understand that with much outward ceremony and not a little genuine devotion, the phenomena of diseased fancies, ancient heathenism and growing luxury, were mingled in unequal proportions. But there is no reason for alleging that the Hierarchy or the religious Orders in general directly opposed themselves to the progress of learning. They considered that the Christian faith had much to gain and nothing to lose by the arts, inventions, and discoveries which the new inspiration called the Renaissance had carried to so marvellous a height. The enemy was not erudition but unbelief.
It would be as unreasonable to suppose that the rank and file of the monks were classical scholars, as that the personal influence of the prelates was for the most part edifying. But bishops who lived in open defiance of decency enacted excellent laws in synod; and there were few monasteries in which a serious effort to attain learning would be absolutely in vain. The scholastic philosophy was now overladen with futile expositions and had sunk to unprofitable wrangling. But Erasmus, the glory of Deventer, is a witness beyond exception to the spirit which prevailed among churchmen of high degree, from Oxford to Basel, and from Cambray to Rome. In his Colloquies, his Encomium Moriae, and throughout his correspondence, he mocks or argues against many superstitions, irregularities, and fantastic opinions, which he had observed in the course of his travels. But nowhere does he hint, under no provocation is he tempted to imagine, that authority frowns upon "good letters," while he addresses the Archbishop of Mainz and the Pope himself in favour of reform. On these subjects the evidence of his residence in England is particularly instructive.
Erasmus (1466-1536) owed a little to Hegius; he had been remarked by Rudolf Agricola; his patron was the Bishop of Cambray. After making trial in Paris of the student's joys and sufferings, since he despaired of reaching Italy, he came in 1499 to Oxford, and tarried there two or three months. He won the friendship of Colet and More; he became acquainted with Grocyn and Linacre. These were the lights of English learning, the chief guides in English religion, before the King's "great matter" brought in a new world. "Colefs erudition, More's sweetness," to which an Erasmian letter alludes, have become proverbial. But the movement had not begun with them. Out of the new impulse, during or after the mid-course of the century, colleges at Oxford had sprung into existence or received a fresh life. They were rivalling or surpassing the monastic hospitia. In the classic revival Oxford rather than Paris took the lead. Grocyn, More's teacher, was not the first Englishman who studied Greek. He received lessons, indeed, from the exile Chalcondylas in 1491; but twenty-five years earlier two monks of Canterbury, Hadley and Selling, were students at Padua, Bologna, and Rome (1464-7). According to Leland, Selling attended the lectures of Politian; at Bologna the Greek masters appear to have been Lionorus and Andronicus. To Canterbury the Benedictine monk brought Greek manuscripts and converted his monastery into a house of studies, from which the knowledge of Hellenic literature was carried in more than one direction.
His most celebrated pupil was Linacre. Sent to Oxford about 1480, Linacre studied in Canterbury College, became Fellow of All Souls', and went with Selling in 1486 on an embassy from Henry VII to Pope Innocent. At Florence he shared in the lessons given by Politian to the children of Lorenzo de Medici. From Chalcondylas he learned more Greek than Selling had taught him. It was when Linacre had passed a year in Italy that he persuaded William Grocyn, whom he had known in Oxford, to come out and share his studies. Such was the origin of those famous lectures attended by Sir Thomas More. Of the names we have mentioned two, therefore, represent the Benedictine cloister at Canterbury; Grocyn was a doctor in theology, "almost superstitiously observant," says Erasmus, "of ecclesiastical custom"; Linacre, after graduating in the medical schools at Padua, became physician to Henry VIII, and in the decline of life took priest's orders. Selling translated a sermon of Chrysostom's from Greek into Latin as early as 1488. And the complete Homer as well as the plays of Euripides, once associated with the memory of Archbishop Theodore, which are still preserved in the library of Corpus Christi, Cambridge, may have been among the manuscripts which Selling brought from Italy. In like manner the Livy, the Greek Psalter of the fifteenth century, and the Hebrew and Latin Psalms, in Trinity College Library, were Benedictine treasures.
With this learned Prior we may reckon his friend Langton, in 1483 Bishop of Winchester, from whose "domestic school" came the still more learned Robert Pace, well known as a diplomatist and man of letters. Langton sent Pace to study at Padua and Rome; he was assisted by Cuthbert Tunstal and William Latimer, and was taught by Leonicus. Few among Englishmen, except the clergy, were, as a Venetian traveller observed in 1500, at this time addicted to literature. In religious houses, as at Reading, Ramsey, and Glastonbury, distinct evidence is forthcoming of zeal in scholarship. To these examples may be added Richard Charnock, Prior of St Mary's, Oxford, with whom Erasmus stayed. The registers of the University from 1506 to 1535, the era of Dissolution, prove that the Benedictines kept up a high average of graduates. To the same effect are details gleaned elsewhere, as at Gonville Hall, Cambridge, between 1500 and 1523. Help was constantly given to poor students by monastic houses; hence, when these were swept away, not only did the secular clergy lack recruits, but the Universities showed a falling off in their scholars. It is remarked that in 1547 and 1550 not a single degree was taken at Oxford. In 1545 Cambridge petitioned the Crown for fresh privileges in apprehension of the total decay of learning. Latimer in Edward YTs time, and Edgeworth under Mary, contrast this lamentable change with former flourishing years. Under Henry VIII the numbers fell off; the spirit of independence was broken; the Universities lay at the King's mercy. True, the Reformation had allied itself with Humanism; but these two great movements were not destined to follow the same path. Erasmus had complained of the harm which Luther was inflicting on letters; Bembo was all astonishment at the piety of Melanchthon. Neither the literary nor the scientific spirit was in its essence Protestant.
Colet (1466-1519), who strikes us as entirely English, downright, straightforward, and impatient of scholastic subtleties and pagan license, had come home from Italy in 1498 with a contempt for its ungodly refinements. He lectured without stipend in Oxford on the Epistles of St Paul, after a new method which attracted many, but was a stone of offence to some of the elders. Colet preached a return to primitive discipline; he preferred the Fathers before their commentators; and he despised much of the current usage as tending to overlay the Gospel with human inventions. In 1504 Henry VII named him Dean of St Paul's. Here he endowed the public school of which he made William Lilly headmaster; its governors were to be married citizens, not monks or clerics. It furnished a pattern to other foundations, including the grammar-schools of Edward VI and Elizabeth, but was much decried by teachers of the ancient stamp. In Archbishop Warham Colet, as afterwards Erasmus, found an unfailing friend and benefactor. By him the Dean was enabled to address the Convocation of Canterbury, in 1512. Colet inveighed against the worldliness of bishops, the accumulation of benefices, the evils of non-residence. He attacked no dogma. But he was at once accused before the Primate as disparaging celibacy and as being himself a heretic. Warham dismissed the charges. If we consider who Colet's friends were the accusations against him seem scarcely probable. He had been for a number of years More's spiritual director. He strongly approved of Erasmus when he brought out his Greek New Testament. But he praised quite as strongly Melton's jExhortation to Young Men entering- on Orders, printed by Wynkin de Worde, in which it is laid down that a priest should say his Hours and his Mass every day, as well as meditate on the writings of the Fathers and read the Scriptures. It was not dogma, but the superfluous contendings of "neoteric divines" which provoked the indignation of those moderate reformers with whom Colet thought and acted. As a patristic student he is termed by Erasmus "the assertor and champion of the old theology,"—a phrase which defines his position, but which does not exhibit him as favouring the Reformation. Foxe, Bishop of Winchester, founded Corpus Christi, Oxford, in 1516, with special reference to the study of Greek. Three years later, sermons and speeches were made against this innovation, but More and Pace engaged the King easily on their own side, and the "Trojans" were laughed out of court. At Cambridge, Fisher, the Chancellor, recalled his protege Richard Croke from Leipzig in 1519 to carry on the work of Erasmus, who had taught Greek in the University between 1511 and 1513. In the great humanist's flattering judgment, Cambridge had become equal to the best academy abroad since it had discarded the old exercises in Aristotle and put away Scotus. On the appearance of his New Testament, Warham assured Erasmus in an all but official letter that it had been gladly received by all the bishops to whom he had shown it. Fisher and More in 1519 helped in the correction of the second edition. Leo X accepted its dedication. The alarm which was raised in some parts, as if Greek studies were a prelude to Lutheranism, found no echo in England. Few signs of an approaching catastrophe in Church and State can be noted until the fall of Wolsey. The Lollards were extinct. Benevolence still continued to flow in ecclesiastical channels. As in Germany, schools, colleges, and gilds were multiplied. The people, who had during the last fifty or sixty years rebuilt so many parish churches, now adorned, endowed, and managed them. Printing-presses were set up under clerical patronage. Religious literature was in constant demand. Missals, manuals, breviaries, for the use of the clergy; special treatises like Pars Oculi, dealing with their duties; and primers, prayer-books, Dives et Pauper, for the laity, were printed in great abundance. Sermons were much in request. Paul's Cross attracted famous preachers and vast audiences. But there was another side to the picture.
That religious men in England had somewhat degenerated from their ancient strictness and fervour of spirit, is one reason alleged by Cresacre More why Sir Thomas did not join the Carthusians or Franciscans. Unlike Erasmus, who suffered from the intemperate zeal which thrust vows upon him in his youth, More was a devoted adherent of monasticism. His biographer's judgment, however, is far too mild; on the other hand, the sweeping inferences which have been drawn from the indictment laid before Cardinal Morton in 1489 against the Abbot of St Albans, cannot be accepted without proof.
Disorder and dilapidation enough were shown to justify Wolsey in taking out the Legatine commission in 1518, which later on was turned against the clergy, whom it did not amend, as bringing them into a praemunire. Wolsey could have reformed others, himself not at all,—or not until his dignities were stripped off and death stared him in the face. A magnificent pluralist ill-famed for his unclerical living, and a Cardinal who did not shrink from proposing to buy the papal tiara, he had always been the friend of learning since he completed Magdalen Tower at Oxford in his bursar's days. With a revival of monastic discipline he intended to combine large schemes of study founded on the classics. Bishops as severe as Foxe of Winchester welcomed his clerical reform, which could not imply designs on the Catholic Faith. The nation did not repulse an English Legate. Various Benedictine houses put into Wolsey's hands the election of their superiors. The Dominicans would not resist. But with the Observantines there was great difficulty. For his own Province of York Wolsey drew up a Constitution (1515 or 1518) which has been termed a model of ecclesiastical government; how far it was carried out we have scanty means of determining. His measures with regard to education are better known. In 1515 the University of Oxford surrendered to him all its powers. He proceeded to found seven lectureships, one of which was held by Ludovico Vives. He planned the "College of Secular Priests" for five hundred students, which was then styled Cardinal College and is now Christ Church. It was to be fed from a richly-endowed school at Ipswich, where only a gateway remains to tell of that splendid undertaking. Twenty-two small convents, with less than six inmates apiece, were suppressed and their revenues applied to defray these enterprises. It was remarked afterwards that Wolsey's Legatine autocracy had paved the way for Henry's assumption of the Supreme Headship; and that a precedent had been given in dissolving the small monasteries for the pillage and spoliation that speedily followed by Act of Parliament. On the other side, if reformation was necessary, Wolsey's dealing can scarcely be judged inhumane; his hand would have been lighter than Thomas Cromwell's; and while he protected the ancient creed he was lenient with such dissenters as fell under his jurisdiction.
In truth, it was not the Revival of Learning that shook Europe to its base, but the assault on a complicated and decaying system in which politics, finance and privileges, were blended with religion. Of the twelve Popes who sat in St Peter's Chair between 1420 and 1520 not one was a man of transcendent faculty or deep insight. Martin V broke his solemn engagement to reform the Curia. Eugenius IV trifled with the Council of Basel and squandered a great opportunity. Cesarini warned him in vain that the German clergy were dissolute, the lay people scandalised; that the Holy See had fallen from its high estate. He pleaded for a serious amendment, if, "the entire shame were not to be cast on the Roman Curia, as the cause and author of all these evils." When the anarchy of Basel drove him from it he did what in him lay at Florence (1439) to promote the short-lived union with the Greeks. And he perished in Hungary at the battle of Varna, still fighting on behalf of a united and reformed Christendom. Nicholas V, though intent chiefly on restoring literature, sent Cusanus with ample powers, as we have seen, into the North. But his own desire was that Rome should be a missionary of culture, when what the world needed was an economic and moral restoration. Pius II, whose character stands forth so individually in the long succession, had been a dissolute young man, but as a Pontiff he was grave and enthusiastic; his zeal for the Crusade denoted some far-off touch of greatness. He, too, spoke of reform. The learned Venetian, Domenichi, drew up a project which was to cure the ills of simony, to correct the vices of churchmen, and "other uncleanness and indecency." Cusanus, on being consulted, took a wider range in his fourteen Articles; primitive discipline should be restored, and three visitors, clothed in dictatorial power, were to deal with the whole Church, beginning from the Pope and Curia. At least, he observed significantly, their state need not be worse than in the time of Martin V. Of all this nothing-whatever came.
Pius II began once more the bad old custom of nepotism. He advanced his kinsfolk to high positions in the Church, regardless of their age or attainments. But he distinguished some good men, as Calandrini, the Grand Penitentiary; the two Capranicas; Oliva, General of the Augustinians, known as the Angel of Peace; and the stern Carvajal, who survived as an example of austere virtue into the shameful years which tolerated Cardinals like Borgia and della Rovere. Judged by ethical standards, Italy exhibited during the whole of the fifteenth century a deeper decline than any other country in Europe. Private depravity and political debasement followed the most brilliant culture like a shadow; violence, craft, cruelty, were mingled with the administration of holy things. Yet the descent was broken, though not arrested, by religious revivals, especially in the north and centre, of which the credit is due to the Observantine Friars, the Austin Hermits, and the Benedictines. A catalogue of eighty Saints, men and women, chiefly in these communities, has been made out; it covers the period from 1400 to 1520. None are of the first rank; but Bernardino of Siena (1444) and Giovanni Capistrano (1456), Observantines, preached repentance with great if not lasting effect, to multitudes. Antoninus, Archbishop of Florence (1459), taught Christian doctrine successfully; denounced usury; and was a welcome peacemaker. Lorenzo Giustiniani, Patriarch of Venice (1456), abounded in good works. Frä Angelico da Fiesole, the Dominican (1455), perhaps the most purely religious painter that ever lived, was himself a vision of innocence and joy. Bernardino da Feltre (1494), by way of rescuing the poor from usurers, against whom he waged an incessant warfare, established in Rome the first Monte di Pietä, with the concurrence of Innocent VIII. The whole story of his benevolent campaigns is replete with interest. A series of preachers- the most famous were Franciscans-from Roberto da Lecce to Gabriele da Barletta, thundered against the vices of the age and its growing paganism. The Third Order of St Francis counted thousands of members, especially in the middle class, not so tainted as nobles or clergy. For, whatever may be said in defence of the priesthood elsewhere, in the Italian Peninsula it had lost its savour. Documentary evidence from almost every district and city leaves no doubt on this melancholy subject. The clergy were despised; so patent was their misconduct that proposals to abrogate the law of celibacy began to be put forward. Pius II may have entertained such a thought. But he contented himself with an endeavour to correct the religious Orders. The Observantines, who were strict, deserved and obtained his favour. But continual strife for precedence, which meant disciples and influence, raged between these and the Conventuals, nor could any Pope reconcile them. Santa Giustina, the Benedictine house at Padua (1412), became an Italian Bursfelde; its reform was accepted in Verona, Pavia, Milan; Pius II brought under it many monasteries which required better discipline. He deposed Auribelle, the unworthy General of the Dominicans. He took severe measures with the convents of Vallombrosa, the Humiliati in Venice, the Carmelites in Brescia, the Religious in Siena and Florence. Other Popes, Paul II, Sixtus IV, even Alexander VI did in like manner. Such efforts had been stimulated by earnest and cultivated men, of whom the most capable were Traversari, General of the Camaldulese (1386-1439), Baptista Mantuanus (1448-1516), and Aegidius of Viterbo, Augustinian and Cardinal, whose decrees in the synod of Santa Sabina afforded a scheme of reformation to the Fifth Lateran.
The correspondence of Alessandra degli Strozzi (1406-71), the biographies of Bisticci, the note-books of Rucellai, Landucci's Diary, Domenichi's work on the government of the household, reveal a sincere spirit of piety in many families, and correct the hard impression we should otherwise receive, especially of life at Florence under the Medici. Vittorino da Feltre's school at Mantua is estimated in another chapter. With him as a Christian teacher may be named Agostini Dati of Siena (1479), and Maffeo Vigeo, the latter of whom wrote six books on education and was a friend of Pius II, devout, cultivated, and practical. St Antoninus published a manual of confession, which is but a specimen of a very large class, and which instructs all professions, from magistrates to weavers and day-labourers, in their several duties. Gilds and brotherhoods were a feature of the time. Their objects were mainly secular, but religious and charitable foundations were almost invariably associated with them. Strict rules, enjoining daily prayer, the use of the Sacraments, the observance of Sundays and holidays, are incorporated in their statutes. Care of the poor and sick members was obligatory; every gild had its physician; pensions were often provided for widows and children, and dowries for maidens. The wealthier brotherhoods built each their Scuola, and embellished or erected churches. In Italy, even more than among Germans, church-building was a passion and an art, lending itself sometimes to strange ends,—witness the Isotta Chapel at Rimini,—but serving religion on a grand scale, according as it was then interpreted. Plague and sickness called forth many confraternities, such as the great Misericordia dating from 1244, revived at Florence in 1475; San Rocco at Venice (1415); the Good Men of St Martin (1441) due to Archbishop Antoninus; and the Sodality of the Dolorosa yet existing in Rome (1448). Torquemada in 1460 established in the Minerva dowries for girls,—the Annunziata. Florence towards 1500 had seventy-three municipal associations, and at Rome there were many more, dedicated to religious observances, but likewise to charity. Such was the Brotherhood in the Ripetta established in 1499 by Alexander VI, which had its own hospital and took charge of sailors. Again, trade-gilds of every description flourished, native and even foreign; and these were accustomed to act the miracle-plays called divozioni, which had sprung up in Umbria. The great hospitals, of which there were thirty-five in Florence alone, are the special honour of the fifteenth century. In Rome, the Popes Martin, Eugenius, and Sixtus, the latter of whom rebuilt Santo Spirito, showed them constant favour. Most of the old foundations were kept up, many new ones added. Over the whole of Italy, in the period between 1400 and 1524, fresh hospitals, alms-houses, orphanages, schools, and other institutions of a charitable nature, have been reckoned up to the number of three hundred and twenty-four; but this calculation does not exhaust the list.
From these things it is clear that Savonarola (1452-98), as happens to great men, did no more than sum up in his preaching a world of ideas and aspirations with which his audience,—the early contemporaries of Michelangelo,—were already familiar. Converted to the Order of St Dominic by a sermon which he heard from the lips of an Austin hermit at Faenza (1474); filled with a lofty Platonism learned from Aquinas; sickened by the public depravity, and prescient as his poem De Ruina Mundl shows of coming disasters, he nourished himself on the Bible and the Apocalypse; fasted, prayed, wept, and became a visionary. At Florence, to which he was transferred in 1484, he saw the Brethren of San Marco losing themselves in the pedantries of the old school, and the upper classes of society in the frivolities of the new. His rudeness of speech and violence of gesture told against him in the pulpit at first. He was always sighing for "that peace which reigned in the Church when she was poor." Then at San Gemignano there came to the Friar his large prophetic vision, "the Church will be scourged and renewed, and that in our day." He made no allowance for perspective. He came back, took Florence by storm, and ruled it like a king. His mind grew to be a place of dreams. This was not astonishing in the countryman of Dante and Buonarotti. Italians saw their religion painted and sculptured; for them it lay outside books and filled their eyes. But Florence was before all things a city of political scheming. The papacy aimed at temporal dominion; it was capable, so Machiavelli judged, of becoming the first power in the land. The pulpit was at once platform and newspaper. Spiritual censures were employed as weapons of war; Sixtus IV laid an interdict on Florence for the conspiracy of the Pazzi, with which his remembrance is indelibly bound up. How should a prophet not be a politician? Savonarola could not see his way to an answer in the negative. He foretold the coming of the French under Charles VIII. He did his utmost to keep Florence in a line of policy which Alexander VI rejected with disdain, although he accepted it two years after Savonarola's death. In this confusion of ideas and interests the preacher of righteousness fell under excommuni cation; he was tortured, degraded, hanged, and burnt, by a coup d'État. Savonarola had invoked a General Council to depose Alexander VI. He fell back upon Pierre d'Ailly and the decrees of Constance. For his prophesyings he never claimed infallible authority. His moral teaching was taken from Aquinas; in expounding the Scriptures he followed the allegorical method; on points of dogma he was at one with his Dominican masters. Like the Brethren of Deventer he was friendly to learning, art, and science. Among his disciples were Pico della Mirandola, Frä Bartolommeo, Michelangelo. It would not be impossible to demonstrate that the sublime and simple grandeur with which the mightiest of Florentines has painted his Prophets and Sibyls on the vault of the Sistine chapel is in perfect accord with the melancholy and majesty of Savonarola's teaching. Nor in the "Burning of the Vanities" are we to imagine a spirit resembling that of John Knox. It was an auto defe of vicious or unseemly objects, not a judgment on Christian art. Frä Girolamo was, in a word, the last of the great medieval Friars. But the restoration which he longed for began in Spain. Flushed with her victory over Jews and Muslims; baptised a nation by her unity in the faith; exalted in a moment to the foremost place among European Powers, Spain was destined to rule, and sometimes to tyrannise over, Catholicism. The telling names here are Ferdinand and Isabel, Ximenes and Loyola. Feudal rights went down before the monarchy in Castile; the Estates of Aragon were no match for Ferdinand. The great Military Knighthoods were absorbed by the Sovereign. From Barcelona the Inquisition was carried to Seville and Toledo. By papal bull, yet in despite of papal protests, it became the Supreme Court before which nobles and prelates lost countenance. Spiritual, orthodox, independent, politic, and cruel, it played with lives and properties, but created one Spain as it upheld one Church. Thus it exercised an authority from which there was no escape. Even Sixtus IV lodged his appellate jurisdiction in the hands of the Archbishop of Seville (1488). No Church could be more arrogantly national than the Spanish, fenced round as it was with exemptions, royal, episcopal, monastic. But none was more Catholic. It bred neither heresy nor schism. The reform which it needed came by the hands of a saintly Queen, and of her ascetic director-Cisneros or Ximenes (1436-1517). Other names deserve honourable mention. Cardinal Mendoza, Primate of Spain, had lived up to his high duties. Corillo, his predecessor, at the Synod of Aranda in 1473, had laid down twenty-nine chapters of reformation. Talavera, who held the see of Granada, would have converted the Moors by kindness and put into their hands a vernacular Bible, for which he fell under grave suspicion and was censured by Ximenes. Yet this ascetic Franciscan, who had been a secular priest, was himself a lover of learning, not cruel by temperament, though severe with the ungodly as in his own person. He lived like a hermit on the throne of Toledo, which he had accepted only out of obedience to the Pope. In 1494, with the aid of Isabel, against Alexander VTs terrified protestations, he corrected the Observantines with such rigour that thousands fled to Morocco sooner than obey. Of Arabic manuscripts deemed antichristian he made a famous holocaust. He risked his life at Granada in 1499; offered the Moors baptism or death; and brought over many thousands. His services to sacred and secular erudition were perpetuated in the restored University of Alcalä and the Polyglot Bible, first of its kind since Origen's Hexapla. Like Wolsey, the Spanish Cardinal obtained unlimited legatine faculties; he would hear of no exemptions and, being Primate, Grand Inquisitor, and chief of the government, he became irresistible. In two synods, of Alcalä in 1497 and Talavera in 1498, he published his regulations. Spain had been suffering from ruffianly nobles, undisciplined monks, immoral and insolent clerics. Bishops attempted to withstand Queen and Cardinal; they were compelled to give way. The result may be briefly stated. The worst abuses were purged out of the Iberian Church; and while other European clergy were accused of gross licentiousness, the Spanish priests became for the most part virtuous and devout.
As early as 1493 the Benedictine Abbey of Monserrat accepted under compulsion the stricter rule of Valladolid. Its new Abbot, Garcias Cisneros, nephew of the Cardinal, composed a Book of Spiritual Exercises, from which Ignatius of Loyola may have borrowed the title for his very different and much more scientific treatise, when he retired to this convent and was guided by the Benedictine Chanones. As is well known, he received his celebrated wound in fighting the French, who were then at war with the Pope, at the siege of Pampeluna in 1512. The pseudo-Council of Pisa was shortly to be answered by the Fifth of Lateran. In 1511 King and Bishops at Burgos uttered a series of demands which came to this;-that reformation must begin at Rome, the reign of simony end, dispensations no longer make void the law of God; that learning must be encouraged, Councils held at fixed times, residence enforced, pluralities abolished. An unsigned Spanish memorial of the same date is bolder still. It paints in darkest hues the evils tolerated by successive Pontiffs; it proposes sweeping measures which were at last carried into execution by the Council of Trent, aided by the course of events. For the Fifth of Lateran came to naught. Though admonished by Cajetan and Aegidius of Viterbo, dissolute prelates could not reform disorderly monks; Leo X cared only to rid himself of the Pragmatic Sanction. Popes, Cardinals, Curia went forward headlong to the double catastrophe of the Diet of Worms and the sack of Rome.
That which revolutionaries aimed at,—John of Goch, John Rucherath of Oberwesel, Gansfort of Groningen, and finally, Luther, was the pulling down of the sacerdotal, Sacramental system;-hence the abolition of the Mass and the Hierarchy. That which Catholic reformers spent their lives in attempting, was to make the practice of clergy and faithful harmonise with the ideals inherited from their past. Shrines, festivals, pilgrimages, devotions, brotherhoods, new religious Orders like the Minims of St Francis of Paola, and the Third Orders of Regulars, had no other design except to carry on a tradition which came down from St Benedict, St Augustine, St Jerome, the Fathers of the Desert, the ancient Churches. Justification by faith alone, the unprofitableness of Christian works and virtues, the right of free enquiry, with no appeal to a supreme visible tribunal, were all ideas unknown to the Catholic populations, abhorrent and anarchic in their eyes. From the general view which has been taken we may conclude that no demand for revolution in dogma was advanced save by individuals; that the daily offices and parochial ministrations were fulfilled with increasing attention; that abuses, though rife, were not endured without protest; that the source of mischief was especially in the Roman Court, which encouraged learning but made no strenuous effort to restore discipline; that the true occasions, whether of rebellion or reform, were not the discoveries and inventions of a progressive age, but deep-seated moral evils, and above all the avarice and ambition of worldly-minded prelates, thrust upon the sees of Christendom against the express injunctions of Canon Law; that the Bible was open, antiquity coming to be understood, an immense provision of charity laid up for the sick, the indigent, the industrial classes, for education and old age; that decrees of many Synods in every country of the West pointed out the prevailing diseases and their various remedies; and that if in course of time the Council of Trent yielded the essence and the sum of all these efforts, it is entitled to the glory of the Catholic Reformation.