Page images

pre-eminence, and the internal hostilities no less bitter of the Franciscans among themselves, they not only reigned unrivalled in the unintelligible jargon of scholastic divinity, but almost monopolized until the Reformation the chief offices in the church and in the state. The popes, whose policy had long been accustomed to favour the monks, in order to press down into due subordination the influence and authority of bishops, warmly patronised the Dominicans and the Franciscans. The protection was abundantly repaid by ceaseless exertions for the extension of the papal power.1 These exertions came very opportunely. Heretics, that is to say, opponents of Rome, consisting partly of the Albigenses and similar sects, partly of blind or criminal fanatics, swarmed on all sides.

1 In this place it may be useful to quote some of the blasphemous expressions, by which Roman Catholics have laboured to magnify the Pope. "Dominus Deus noster Papa. Alter Deus in terrâ. Rex Regnum, Dominus Dominorum. Idem est dominium Dei et Papæ. Credere Dominum Deum nostrum Papam non potuisse statuere prout statuit, hæreticum censeretur. - Papæ potestas est major omni potestate creatâ ; extenditque se ad cælestia, terrestria, et infernalia. Papa facit quiquid libet etiam, illicita; et est plusquam Deus." -"Our Lord God the Pope. Another God upon earth. King of kings and Lord of lords. The same is the dominion of God and of the Pope. To believe that our Lord God the Pope might not decree as he has decreed, were heresy. · - The power of the Pope is greater than all created power; and extends itself to things celestial, terrestrial, and infernal. - The Pope doth whatever he pleaseth, even things unlawful; and is more than God."-"Such blasphemies," says Bishop Newton, from whom I quote them, (vol. ii. p. 398.) "are not only allowed, but are even approved, encouraged, rewarded, in the writers of the church of Rome; and they are not only the extravagances of private writers, but are the language even of public Decretals, and Acts of Councils."

[ocr errors]

Against these enemies the Dominicans in particular, whose avowed object was to extirpate error and to destroy heretics, declared war. This expression was by no means figurative. Innocent III., exasperated at the unwillingness or the incapacity of the bishops to repress the numerous adversaries of popery in Savoy, Dauphiné, and the rest of the dominions of Raymond Earl of Thoulouse, despatched thither special legates for the extirpation of heresy. They were joined, A.D. 1206, by Dominic; and by the sole authority of the pope inflicted capital punishment on those whom they could not reclaim. They were speedily distinguished by the appellation of Inquisitors. Succeeding pontiffs, sensible of the value of their services, established similar officers in every suspected city, and reduced the system into form. Gregory IX., however, A. D. 1233, committed the inquisitorial office and jurisdiction exclusively to the Dominicans. Thus arose the tremendous tribunal of the Inquisition; which, soon renouncing the common forms of trial, borrowed at first from courts of justice, arrayed itself in darkness, and let loose its merciless tortures on the slightest suspicion of guilt. But with respect to the heretics of Thoulouse, Innocent waited not for the tardy operations of these ministers of vengeance. Taking advantage of the death of a turbulent monk, whom he had commissioned to preach near Narbonne, and who probably had been murdered at the instigation of Earl Raymond, he committed, A. D. 1207, to the King of France and his armies the extirpation by fire and sword of the devoted victims. He promised paradise to all who should bear arms in the cause during forty days, together with all indulgences bestowed on those who undertook the conquest of Palestine; and shortly

afterwards commissioned the Cistercian monks to proclaim, as from himself, throughout France, this

crusade against Christians. 1 A formidable army of cross-bearers took the field, A. D. 1209, under the eye of a papal legate, and the command of Simon Earl of Montfort. Raymond, at one time trembling under excommunication, at another provoked to desperation by the ambitious designs of Montford, was alternately the destroyer and the defender of his subjects. The war, in which Louis IX. ultimately embarked with the utmost ardour, continued many years with various success, but with unrelenting barbarity against the opposers of the pontiff. Victory at length crowned the supporters of the church. And the Earl of

Thoulouse saw the pious labours of the pope and the French king rewarded with no small portions of his dominions. 2

1 The following extracts from a Bull which he published on this occasion afford a specimen of the claims and spirit of the popedom :-"We moreover promise to all, who shall take up arms to revenge the said murder, the pardon and remission of their sins. And since we are not to keep faith with those, who do not keep it with God, we would have all to understand that every person who is bound to the said Earl Raymond by oath of allegiance, or in any other way, is absolved by apostolical authority from such obligations. And it is lawful for any Roman Catholic to persecute the said Earl, and to seize upon his country.


exhort you that you would endeavour to destroy the wicked heresy of the Albigenses. Do this with more rigour than you would use towards the Saracens themselves. Persecute them with a strong hand; deprive them of their lands and possessions; banish them, and put Roman Catholics into their place."— See Milner's History, vol. iii. p. 552.

2 In this century Robert Greathead, Bishop of Lincoln, distinguished himself by his exertions against papal tyranny and the

vices of ecclesiastics. Matthew Paris, a contemporary monk of St. Alban's, relates his dying discourses, in which the prelate stigmatised the pope as an heretic and antichrist; and concludes with styling him "the refuter of the pope, reprover of prelates, corrector of monks, director of priests, instructor of the clergy, and the hammer to beat down the Romans into contempt." When exmunicated by the pope, he appealed to the tribunal of Christ. See Bishop Newton's Dissertations, vol. iii. p. 181.





THOUGH the Christian world had still continued, during the two preceding centuries, overwhelmed with the darkness of papal night, some glimmerings of twilight had begun to appear. We now advance to times in which the indications of approaching dawn continually grew stronger; until at length it broke forth, and brightened into the radiance of perfect day.

During the fourteenth century several pontiffs laboured to rekindle the flame of the crusades against the Saracens. But after several antecedent disappointments they had the mortification to see the last of the armies about to be embarked for Palestine dispersed, A. D. 1363, by the death of its leader John, King of France. In China, whose capital, Cambalu, the present city of Pekin, had been constituted an archbishoprick, A.D. 1307, by Pope Clement V., the Christian faith was nearly, if not totally, extinguished by the irruptions of new invaders from Tartary; and, on the expulsion of the last emperor of the race of Genghis Chan, by the establishment on the Chinese throne of another dynasty, which, prohibiting, A. D. 1369, the entrance of foreigners into its dominions, precluded any future succession of prelates and missionaries from Italy. The Mahometan power in different quarters daily became more formidable. Among the Asiatic Tartars, one of whose chans had


« PreviousContinue »