Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

St. Louis of France.

71 what is more ominous, internal mutiny. Notwithstanding the awful persecutions in the South of France,-notwithstanding the establishment of auricular confession as a detective means, and the Inquisition as a weapon of punishment,-notwithstanding the influence of the French king, St. Louis, canonized by the grateful Church,-heresy, instead of being extirpated, extended itself among the laity, and even spread among the ecclesiastical ranks. St. Louis, the representative of the hie- St. Louis. rarchical party, gathers influence only from the circumstance of his relations with the Church, of whose interests he was a fanatical supporter.

So far as the affairs of his people were concerned, he can hardly be looked upon as anything better than a simpleton. His reliance for checking the threatened spread of heresy was a resort to violence—the faggot and the sword. In his opinion, a man ought never to dispute with a misbeliever except with his sword, which he ought to drive into the heretic's entrails as far as he could.” It was the signal glory of his reign that he secured for France that inestimable relic, the crown of thorns. This peerless memento of our His super

stition, Saviour's passion he purchased in Constantinople for an im: mense sum. But France was doubly and enviably enriched; for the Abbey of St. Denis was in possession of another, known to be equally authentic. Besides the crown, he also secured the sponge that was dipped in vinegar; the lance of the Roman soldier ; also the swaddling-clothes in which the Saviour had first lain in the manger; the rod of Moses; and part of the skull of John the Baptist. These treasures he deposited in the “Holy Chapel ” of Paris.

Under the Papal auspices, St. Louis determined on a crusade; And cruand nothing, except what we have already mentioned, can better show his mental imbecility than his disregard of all suitable arrangements for it. He thought that provided the troops could be made to lead a religious life, all would go

that the Lord would fight his own battles, and that no provisions of a military or worldly kind were needed. In such a pious reliance on the support of God, he reached Egypt with his expedition in June, A.D. 1249. The ever-conspicuous valour of the Its total French troops could maintain itself in the battle-field, but not

well ;

failure.

[blocks in formation]

sition at

revolt.

against pestilence and famine. In March of the following year, as might have been foreseen, King Louis was the prisoner of the Sultan, and was only spared the indignity of being carried about as a public spectacle in the Mohammedan towns by a ransom, at first fixed at a million of Byzantines, but by the merciful Sultan voluntarily reduced one-fifth. Still, for a time, Louis lingered in the East, apparently stupefied by considering how God could in this manner have abandoned a man who had come to his help. Never was there a crusade with a more

shameful end. The Inqui.

Notwithstanding the support of St. Louis in his own domi. tempts to nions, the intellectual revolt spread in every direction, and that intellectual not only in France, but throughout all Catholic Europe. In

vain the Inquisition exerted all its terrors : and what could be more terrible than its form of procedure? It sat in secret ; no witness, no advocate was present; the accused was simply informed that he was charged with heresy, it was not said by whom. He was made to swear that he would tell the truth as regarded himself, and also respecting other persons, whether parents, children, friends, strangers. If he resisted he was committed to a solitary dungeon, dark and poisonous; his food was diminished; everything was done to drive him into insanity. Then the familiars of the Holy Office, or others in its interests, were by degrees to work upon him to extort confession as to himself or accusations against others. But this fearful tribunal did not fail to draw upon itself the indignation of men. Its victims, condemned for heresy, were perishing in all directions. The usual apparatus of death, the stake and faggots, had become unsuited to its wholesale and remorseless vengeance. The

convicts were so numerous as to require pens made of stakes Burnings of and filled with straw. It was thus that, before the Bishop of heretics.

Rheins and scventeen other prelates, one hundred and eightythree heretics, together with their pastor, were burned alive. Such outrages against humanity cannot be perpetrated without bringing in the end a retribution. In other countries the rising indignation was exasperated by local causes; in England, for instance, by the continual intrusion of Italian ecclesiastics into the richest benefices. Some of them were mere boys; many

[blocks in formation]

were non-residents; some had not so much as seen the country from which they drew their ample wealth. The Archbishop of York was excommunicated, with torches and bells, because he would not bestow the abundant revenues of his Church on persons from beyond the Alps; but for all this," he was blessed by the people.” The archbishopric of Canterbury was held, A.D. 1241, by Boniface of Savoy, to whom had been granted by the Pope the first-fruits of all the benefices in his province. His rapacity was boundless. From all the ecclesiastics and ecclesiastical establishments under his control he extorted enormous sums. Some, who, like the Dean of St. Paul's, resisted him, were excommunicated; some, like the aged Subprior of St. Bartholomew's, were knocked down by his own hand. Of a military turn-he often wore a cuirass under his robes—he joined his brother, the Archbishop of Lyons, who was besieging Turin, and wasted the revenues of his see in England in intrigues and petty military enterprises against his enemies in Italy.

Not among the laity alone was there indignation against Mutiny, such a state of things. Mutiny broke out in the ranks of the the Church. Church. It was not that among the humbler classes the sentiment of piety had become diminished. The Shepherds, under the leadership of the Master of Hungary, passed by tens of thousands through France to excite the clergy to arouse for the rescue of good King Louis, in bondage to the Mussulmans. They asserted that they were commissioned by the Virgin, and were fed miraculously by the Master. Originating in Italy, The Shep

herds and the Flagellants also passed, two by two, through every city, Flagelscourging themselves for thirty-three days, in memory of the years of the Lord. These dismal enthusiasts emulated each other, and were rivals of the mendicant friars in their hatred of the clergy. The mendicants were beginning to justify that hesitation which Innocent displayed when he was first importuned to authorize them. The Papacy had reaped from these orders much good; it was now to gather a fearful evil. They had come to be learned men instead of ferocious bigots. They were now indeed among the most learned men of their times. They had taken possession of many of the seats of learning.

lants.

74

The Study of Science Prohibited.

Rome pro

hibits the

In the University of Paris, out of twelve chairs of theology, The mendi- three only were occupied by the regular clergy. The mendiare affected. cant friars had entered into the dangerous paths of heresy.

They became involved in that fermenting leaven that had come from Spain, and among them revolt broke out.

With an unerring instinct, Rome traced the insurrection to study of

its true source. We have only to look at the measures taken by the Popes to understand their opinion. Thus Innocent III., A.D. 1215, regulated, by his legate, the schools of Paris, permitting the study of the Dialectics of Aristotle, but forbidding his physical and metaphysical works and their commentaries. These had come through an Arabic channel. A rescript of Gregory XI., A.D. 1231, interdicts those on natural philosophy until they had been purified by the theologians of the Church. These regulations were confirmed by Clement IV., A.D. 1265.

science.

CHAPTER XVII.

THE AGE OF FAITH IN THE WEST-(Continued).

OVERTHROW OF THE ITALIAN SYSTEM BY THE COMBINED INTELLECTUAL

AND MORAL ATTACK.

A

BOUT the close of the twelfth century appeared among The Ever

the mendicant friars that ominous work, which, under Gospel.' the title of “The Everlasting Gospel,' struck terror into the Latin hierarchy. It was affirmed that an angel had brought it from heaven, engraven on copper-plates, and had given it to a priest called Cyril, who delivered it to the Abbot Joachim. The abbot had been dead about fifty years, when there was put Introducforth, A.D. 1250, a true exposition of the tendency of his book, the General under the form of an introduction, by John of Parma, the of the FranGeneral of the Franciscans, as was universally suspected or alleged. Notwithstanding its heresy, the work displayed an enlarged and masterly conception of the historical progress of humanity. In this introduction, John of Parma pointed out that the Abbot Joachim, who had not only performed a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but had been reverenced as a prophet, received as of unimpeachable orthodoxy, and canonized, had accepted as his fundamental position that Roman Christianity had done its work, and had now come to its inevitable termination. He proceeded to show that there are epochs or ages in the Divine government of the world ; that, during the Jewish dispensation, it had been under the immediate influence of God the Father; during the Christian dispensation, it had been under that of God the Son; and that the time had now arrived when it would be under the influence of God the Holy Ghost;

« AnteriorContinuar »