Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

in excuse of the heretic, a vision, in which the Virgin Mary had asserted the orthodoxy of Berengar; but, as his quarrel with King Henry went on to new excommunications and depositions, a synod of bishops presumed to condemn him as a partisan of Berengar and a necromancer. On the election of Gilbert of Ravenna as antipope, Gregory, without hesitation, pushed his principles to their consequences, denouncing kingship as a wicked and diabolical usurpation, an infraction of the equal rights of man.

mon Hereupon Henry determined to destroy him or The German contest re- to be destroyed; and descending again into Italy, sumed.

A.D. 1081, for three successive years laid siege to Rome. In vain the amorous Matilda, with more than the devotion of an ally, endeavoured to succour her beleaguered friend. The city surrendered to Henry at Christmas, A.D. 1084. With his antipope he entered it, receiving from his hands the imperial crown. The Norman allies of Hildebrand at last approached in strength. The emperor was compelled to retreat. A feeble attempt to hold the city was made. The Normans took it by surprise, and released Gregory from his imprisonment in the Castle of St. Angelo. An awful scene ensued. Some conflicts between the citizens and the Normans occurred; a battle in the streets was the consequence, and Rome was pillaged, sacked, and fired. Streets, churches, palaces, were left a heap of smoking ashes. The people by thousands were massacred. The Saracens, of whom there were multitudes

in the Norman army, were in the Eternal City The Mohammedans

at last, and, horrible to be said, were there as support the hired supporters of the Vicar of Christ. Hildebrand.

Matrons, nuns, young women, were defiled. Crowds of men, women, and children were carried off and Sack of Rome, sold as slaves. sold as slaves.

It

It was the treatment of a city and death of' taken by storm. In consternation, the pontiff the pope with his infidel deliverers retired from the ruined capital to Salerno, and there he died, A.D. 1085.

He had been dead ten years, when a policy was entered upon by the papacy which imparted to it more power than

wow all the exertions of Gregory. The Crusades were

mcm instituted by a French pope, Urban II. Unpopular in Italy, perhaps by reason of his foreign birth,

usade

he aroused his native country for the recovery of the Holy Land. He began his career in a manner not now unusual, interfering in a quarrel between Philip of France and his wife, taking the part of the latter, as experience had shown it was always advisable for a pope to do. Soon, however, he devoted his attention to something more important than these matrimonial broils. It seems that a European crusade was first distinctly conceived of and its value most completely comprehended by Gerbert, to whom, doubtless, his Mohammedan experiences had suggested it. In the first year of his pontificate, he wrote an epistle, in the name of the Church of Jerusalem, to the Church throughout the world, exhorting Christian soldiers to come to her relief either with arms or money. It had been subsequently contemplated by Gregory VII. For many years, pilgrimages to Palestine had been on the increase; a very lucrative export trade in relics from that country had arisen ; crowds from all parts of Europe had of late made their way to Jerusalem, for the singular purpose of being present at the great assize which the Scriptures were supposed to prophesy would soon take place in the Valley of Jehosha phat. The Mohammedans had inflicted on these pious persons much maltreatment, being unable to comprehend the purport of their extraordinary journey, and probably perceiving a necessity of putting some restriction upon the influx of such countless multitudes. Peter the Hermit, who had witnessed the barbarities to which his Christian brethren were exposed, and the abominations of the holy places now in the hands of the infidel, roused Europe, by his preaching, to a frantic state; and Urban, at the Council of Clermont, A.D. 1095, .

The Council gave authority to the Holy War. “It is the will of C of God," was the unanimous shout of the coun- authorizes a

a necessity o

Peter the upon the ind

of Clermont

shooting stars was seen with remarkable brilliancy on April 25th, and mistaken by the council for a celestial monition that the Christians must precipitate themselves in like manner on the East. From this incident we may perceive how little there was of inspiration in these blundering and violent ecclesiastical assemblages; the moment that they can be brought to a scientific test their true nature is detected. As a preliminary exercise, a ferocious persecution of the Jews of France had burst forth, and the blood and tortures of multitudes offered a tardy expiation for the crimes that their ancestors had committed at the Crucifixion in Jerusalem, more than a thousand years previously.

It does not fall within my plan to give a detailed description of the Crusades. It is enough to say that, though the clergy had promised the protection of God to every one who would thus come to his assistance an ampl reward for their pious work in this life, and the hapThe first cru- piness of heaven in the next-Urban's crusade sade. failed not only disastrously, but hideously, so far as the ignorant rabbles, under Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless, were concerned. Nevertheless, under the better-organized expeditions that soon followed, Jerusalem was captured, July 15th, A.D. 1099. The long and ghastly line of bones whitening the road through Hungary to the East showed how different a thing it was for a peaceable and solitary pilgrim, with his staff, and wallet, and scallop-shell, to beg his way, and a disorderly rabble of thousands upon thousands to rush forward without any subordination, any organization, trusting only to the providence of God. The van of the Crusades consisted of two hundred and seventy-five thousand men, accompanied by eight horses, and preceded by a goat and a goose, into which some one had told them that the Holy Ghost had entered. Driven to madness by disappointment and famine-expecting, in their ignorance, that every town they came to must be Jerusalem-in their extremity they laid hands on whatever they could. Their track was marked by robbery, bloodshed, and fire. In the first crusade more than half a million of men died. It was far more disastrous than the Moscow retreat.

But still, in a military sense, the first crusade accomStorming of plished its object. The capture of Jerusalem, Jerusalem. as might be expected under such circumstances, was attended by the perpetration of atrocities almost beyond belief. What a contrast to the conduct of the Arabs! When the Khalif Omar took Jerusalem, A.D. 637, he rode into the city by the side of the Patriarcb

re

Sophronius, conversing with him on its antiquities. At the hour of prayer, he declined to perform his devotions in the Church of the Resurrection, in which he chanced to be, but prayed on the steps of the Church of Constantine; “ for,” said he to the patriarch,“ had I done so, the Musselmen in a future age would have infringed the treaty, under colour of imitating my example.” But, in the capture by the Crusaders, the brains of young children were dashed out against the walls; infants were thrown over the battlements; every woman that could be seized was violated; men were roasted at fires; some were ripped open, to see if they had swallowed gold; the Jews were driven into their synagogue, and there burnt; a massacre of nearly 70,000 persons took place; and the pope's legate was seen “partaking in the triumph.”

It had been expected by the politicians who first projected these wars that they would heal the divisions of Dali the Latin and Greek churches, and give birth to sults of the a European republic, under the spiritual presi- cru dency of the pope. In these respects they proved a failure. It does not appear that the popes themselves personally had ever any living faith in the result. Not one of them ever joined a crusade; and the Church, as a corporation, took care to embark very little money in these undertakings. But, though they did not answer to the original intention, they gave, in an indirect way, a wonderful stimulus to the papal power. Under the plausible pretences offered by them, the pope obtained Give to Rome control over the person of every Christian man the control of from the highest to the lowest. The cross once money in Eutaken, all civil control over the Crusader ceased rope. - he became the man of the Church. Under those pretences, also, a right was imperceptibly acquired of raising revenue in all parts of Europe ; even the clergy might be assessed. A drain was thus established on the resources of distant nations for an object which no man dared to gainsay; if he adventured on any such thing, he must encounter the odium of an infidel-an atheist. A steady stream of money flowed into Italy. Nor was it alone by this taxation of every Christian nation without permission of its government-this empire within every empire-immense wealth accrued to the projectors, while the infatuation could be kept up, by the diminished rate at which land could be obtained. Domains were thrown into the market; there were few purchasers except the Church. Immense domains were also given away by weak-minded sinners, and those on the point of death, for the salvation of their souls. Thus, all things considered, the effect of the Crusades, though not precisely that which was expected, was of singular advantage to the Church, giving it a commanding strength it had before possessed.

rusades.

men and

In their resistance to the German attack the popes never hesitated at any means. They prompted Prince Henry to revolt against their great antagonist, his father; they intervened, not to rebuke, but to abet him, when he threw his father into prison and deprived him of the necessaries of life. They carried their vengeance beyond the grave. When the aged emperor, broken in heart, escaped from their torment, and was honourably buried by the Bishop of Liège, that prelate was forthwith excommunicated and compelled to disinter the corpse. But crimes like these, against which human nature revolts, Resistance of meet with retribution. This same Prince Henry V. Henry, becoming Henry V., was forced by circumstances to resume his father's quarrel, and to refuse to yield his right of granting investitures. He marched upon Rome, and at the point of the sword compelled his adversary, Pope Paschal II., to surrender all the possessions and royalties of the Church--compelled him to crown him emperor-not, however, until the pontiff had been subjected to the ignominy of imprisonment, and brought into condemnation among his own party.

Things seemed to be going to ruin in Rome, and such must inevitably have been the issue, had not an extraBernard of neous influence arisen in Bernard of Clairvaux, Clairvaux to whom Europe learned to look up as the stimulates tbe second beater down of heresies, theological and political. crusade.

He had been a pupil of William of Champeaux, the vanquished rival of Abelard, and Abelard he hated with a religious and personal hate. He was a wonderworker. He excommunicated the flies which infested a

« AnteriorContinuar »