Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

What the council did.

what his elocution, what his reasoning, what his countenH18 singalar ance, his voice, his action I must affirm, however eloquence. much we may admire the ancients, that in such a cause no one could have approached nearer to the model of their eloquence."

John XXIII. was compelled to abdicate. Gregory XII. died. Some time after, Benedict XIII. followed him. The council had elected Martin V., and in him found a master who soon put an end to its doings. It had deposed one pope and elected another; it had cemented the

dominant creed with blood ; it had authorized

the dreadful doctrine that a difference in religious opinion justifies the breaking of plighted faith between man and man; it had attempted to perpetuate its own power by enacting that councils should be held

every five years; but it had not accomplished its great objectecclesiastical reform.

In a room attached to the Cathedral of Basle, with its roof of green and parti-coloured tiles, the modern traveller reads on a piece of paper this inscription : "The room of

the council, where the famous Council of Basil

was assembled. In this room Pope Eugene IV. was dethroned, and replaced by Felix V., Duc of Savoie and Cardinal of Repaile. The council began 1431, and lasted 1448.” That chamber, with its floor of little red earthen flags and its oaken ceiling, witnessed great events.

The democratic influence pervading the Church showed no symptoms of abatement. The fate of Huss had been avenged in blood and fire by the Bohemian sword. Eugenius IV., now pontiff, was afraid that negotiations would be entered upon with the Hussite chiefs. Such a treaty, he affirmed, would be blasphemy against God and an insult to the pope. He was therefore bent on the prorogation of the council, and spared no means to accomplish his purpose. Its ostensible object was the reformation of the clergy; its real intent was to convert the papal autocracy into a constitutional monarchy. To this end it cited the

pope, and, on his non-appearance, declared him the pope in and seventeen of the cardinals in contumacy.

He had denounced it as the Synagogue of Satan; on its part, it was assuming the functions of the Senate

The Council of Basle.

It declares

contumacy.

tions.

of Christendom. It had prepared a great seal, and asserted that, in case of the death of the pope, the election of his successor was vested in it. It was its firm purpose never again to leave that great event in the hands of a conclavo of intriguing Italian cardinals, but to intrust it to the representatives of united Christendom. After a due delay since he was declared in contumacy, the council suspended the pope, and, slowly moving towards its object, elected Amadeus of Savoy, Felix V.,

his successor. It was necessary that its

pope should be a rich man, for the council had buť slender means of offering him pocuniary support. Amadeus had that qualification. And perhaps it was far from being, in the eyes of many, an inopportune circumstance that he had been married and had children. Wo may discern, through the shifting scenes of the intrigues of the times, that the German hierarchy had come to the resolution that the election of the popes should be taken from the Italians and given to Europe; that his Its real intenpower should be restricted; that he should no longer be the irresponsible vicar of God upon earth ; but the accountable chief executive officer of Christendom; and that the right of marriage should be conceded to the clergy. These are significantly Teutonic ideas.

We have pursued the story of these events nearly as far as is necessary for the purpose of this book. We shall not, therefore, follow the details of the new close of these schism. It fell almost without interest on Europe. Æneas Sylvius, the ablest man of the day, in three words gives us the true insight into the state of things: “Faith is dead.” On the demise of Eugenius IV., Nicolas V. succeeded. An understanding was had with those in the interest of the council. It was dissolved. Felix V. abdicated. The morality of the times had im. proved. The anti-pope was neither blinded nor murdered. The schism was at an end.

Thus we have seen that the personal immoralities and heresy of the popes brought on the interference of the King of France, who not only shook the papal system toits basis but destroyed its prestige Influence of by inflicting the most conspicuous indignity apon it. For seventy years Rome was disfranchised, and

Cause and

troubles.

End of the intellectual

the papacy.

the rivalries of France and Italy produced the great schism, than which nothing could be more prejudicial to the papal power. We have seen that, aided by the pecuniary difficulties of the papacy, the rising intellect of Europe made good its influence and absolutely deposed the pope. It was in vain to deny the authenticity of such a council ; there stood the accomplished fact. At this moment there seemed no other prospect for the Italian system than utter ruin; yet, wonderful to be said, a momentary deliverance came from a quarter whence no man would have expected. The Turks were the saviours of the papacy.

At this point is the true end of the Italian system that system which had pressed upon Europe like a nightmare. The great men of the times—the statesmen, the philosophers, the merchants, the lawyers, the governing classes, those whose weight of opinion is recognized by the uneducated people at last, had shaken off the incubus and opened their eyes. A glimmering of the true state of things was breaking upon the clergy. No more with the vigour it once possessed was the papacy again to domineer over human thought and be the controlling agent of European affairs. Convulsive struggles it might make, but they were only death-throes. The sovereign pontiff must now descend from the aụtocracy he had for so many ages possessed, and become a small potentate, tolerated by kings in that subordinate position only because of the remnant of his influence on the uneducated multitude and those of feeble minds

CHAPTER IV.

THE AGE OF FAITH IN THE WEST—(Concluded).

HTECT OF THE EASTERN OR MILITARY ATTACK.-GENERAL REVIEW OT

THE AGE OF FAITH.

The Fall of Constantinople—]ts momentary Efect on the Italian System. GENERAL REVIEW OF THE INTELLECTUAL CONDITION IN THE AGE OF

FAITH.-Supernaturalism and its Logic spread all over Europe.--It is destroyed by the Jews and Arabians.Its total Extinction. The Jewish Physicians. Their Acquirements and Influence. Their

Collision with the Imposture-medicine of Europe.Their Effect on the higher Classes.- Opposition to them. Two Impulses, the Intellectual and Moral, operating against the Mediæval state of Thing8.Downfall of the Italian System through the intellectual Impulse from the West and the moral from the North. - Action of the former through Astronomy.--Origin of the moral Impulse.Their conjoint irresistible Effect. Discovery of the state of Affairs in Italy.

The Writings of Machiavelli.- What the Church had actually done. Entire Movement of the Italian System determined from a consideration

of the four Revolts against it.

From the West I have now to return to the East, and to describe the pressure made by Mohammedanism The Eastern on that side. It is illustrated by many great pressure. events, but, above all, by the fall of Constantinople. The Greek Church, so long out of sight that it is perhaps almost forgotten by the reader, comes for a moment hefore us like a spectre from the dead.

A wandering tribe of Turks had found its way into Asia Minor, and, under its leader Ertogrul and Invasions of his son Othman, consolidated its power and the Turks. commenced extending its influence by possessions taken from the sultans of Iconium and the Byzantine empire. The third prince of the race instituted the Janissaries, a

Extension of

remarkable military force, and commenced driving the Greeks out of Asia Minor. His son Soliman crossed the Hellespont and captured Gallipoli, thus securing a foothold in Europe, A.D. 1358. This accomplished, the Turkish influence began to

extend rapidly. Thrace, Macedon, and Servia their power in were subdued. Sigismund, the King of HunEurope.

gary, was overthrown at the battle of Nicopolis by Bajazet. Southern Greece, the countries along the Danube, submitted, and Constantinople would have fallen had it not been for the unexpected irruption of Tamerlane, who defeated Bajazet and took him prisoner. The reign of Mohammed I., who succeeded, was occupied in the restoration of Turkish affairs. Under Amurath II., the possession of the Euxine shore was obtained, the fortifications across the Isthmus of Corinth were stormed, and the Peloponnesus entered.

Mohammed II. became the Sultan of the Turks A.D. 1451. From the moment of his accession, he turned all his powers to the capture of Constantinople. Its sovereigns had long foreseen the inevitable event, and had made

repeated attempts to secure military aid from The Byzan

the West. They were ready to surrender their reigns apply religious belief. On this principle, the monk

Barlaam was despatched on an embassy to Bene dict XII. to propose the reunion of the Greek and Latin Churches, as it was delicately termed, and to obtain, as an equivalent for the concession, an army of Franks. As the danger became more urgent, John Palæologus I. sought an interview with Urban V., and, having been purified from his heresies respecting the supremacy of the pope

and the double procession of the Holy Ghost, was presented before the pontiff in the Church of St. Peter. The Greek monarch, after three genuflexions, was permitted to kiss the feet of the holy father and to lead by its bridle his mule. But, though they might have the will, the popes had lost the power, and these great submissions were productive of no good. Thirty years subsequently, Manuel, the son and successor of Palæologus, took what might hare seemed a moro certain course. He travelled to Paris and to London to lay his distress before the kings of

tine bove

to the West.

« AnteriorContinuar »