What Saith the Scripture?


Phila delphia > The History of Protestantism by J. A. Wylie

The History of Protestantism
Volume First - Book First

J. A. Wylie

James A. Wylie

A Voice from the Philadelphian Church Age
  Wisdom is justified.

J. A. Wylie As I Knew Him ---New Window
by C. A. Salmond, M.A., Edinburgh, 1890

by Rev. James Aitken Wylie, LL.D.

Author of "The Papacy," "Daybreak in Spain," &c.

"Protestantism, the sacred cause of God's Light and Truth
against the Devil's Falsity and Darkness."

Cassell & Company, Limited:
London, Paris & New York.

by Tom Stewart
James A. Wylie: Earnest Contender for the Faith

James Aitken Wylie was born in Scotland in 1808. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD" (Psalm 37:23). His collegiate preparation was at Marischal College, Aberdeen (a North Sea port city and industrial center of northeastern Scotland) and at St. Andrews (Fife, East Scotland). "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth" (Lamentations 3:27). Though we could find no account of his conversion, he entered the Original Seccession Divinity Hall, Edinburgh (Scotland, the land of John Knox) in 1827, and was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1831; hence, the name "Rev. J. A. Wylie" is affixed to most of his written works. "And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2Timothy 3:15).

His disposition to use the pen as a mighty
"Sword of the LORD" (Judges 7:18) is evidenced by his assumption of the sub-editorship of the Edinburgh "Witness" in 1846. "My tongue is the pen of a ready writer" (Psalm 45:1). In 1852, after joining the Free Church of Scotland-- which was only inaugurated in 1843 (Dr. Chalmers as moderator), insisting on the Crown Rights of King Jesus as the only Head and King of the Church-- Wylie edited their "Free Church Record" until 1860. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). The Protestant Institute appointed him Lecturer on Popery in 1860. He continued in this role until his death in 1890. "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2Corinthians 10:5).

Aberdeen University awarded him an honorary doctorate (LL.D.) in 1856.
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my LORD: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:8). His travels took him to many of the far-flung places, where the events of Protestant history transpired. "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also" (Romans 1:15). As a prominent spokesman for Protestantism, Dr. Wylie's writings included "The Papacy: Its History, Dogmas, Genius, and Prospects"-- which was awarded a prize by the Evangelical Alliance in 1851-- and, his best known writing, "The History of Protestantism" (1878). "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the Common Salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the Faith which was once delivered unto the Saints" (Jude 3).

It is a solemn and sad reflection on the spiritual intelligence of our times that J. A. Wylie's classic, "The History of Protestantism" went out of publication in the 1920's.
"Little children, it is the Last Time: and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the Last Time" (1John 2:18). But-- "we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul" (Hebrews 10:39). And, we continue to "look for Him" (Hebrews 9:28) to come for us to cause us to "escape all these things" (Luke 21:36) in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, while we intently "occupy" (19:13) for Him in the Gospel fields, which are "white already to harvest" (John 4:35). "Even so, come [quickly], LORD Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).

Amen, and Amen.

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Table of Contents



Protestantism – The Seed of Arts, Letters, Free States, etc. – Its History a Grand Drama – Its Origin – Outside Humanity – A Great Creative Power – Protestantism Revived Christianity.
Early Triumphs of the Truth – Causes – The Fourth Century – Early Simplicity lost – The Church remodeled on the Pattern of the Empire – Disputes regarding Easter-day – Descent of the Gothic Nations – Introduction of Pagan Rites into the Church – Acceleration of Corruption – Inability of the World all at once to receive the Gospel in its greatness.
Imperial Edicts – Prestige of Rome – Fall of the Western Empire – The Papacy seeks and finds a New Basis of Power – Christ's Vicar – Conversion of Gothic Nations – Pepin and Charlemagne – The Lombards and the Saracens – Forgeries and False Decretals – Election of the Roman Pontiff.
The Wax of Investitures – Gregory VII. and Henry IV. – The Miter Triumphs over the Empire – Noon of the Papacy under Innocent III. – Continued to Boniface VIII. – First and Last Estate of the Roman Pastors Contrasted – Seven Centuries of Continuous Success – Interpreted by Some as a Proof that the Papacy is Divine – Reasons explaining this Marvelous Success – Eclipsed by the Gospel's Progress
Ambrose of Milan – His Diocese – His Theology – Rufinus, Presbyter of Aquileia – Laurentius of Milan – The Bishops of the Grisons – Churches of Lombardy in Seventh and Eighth Centuries – Claude in the Ninth Century – His Labors – Outline of his Theology – His Doctrine of the Eucharist – His Battle against Images – His Views on the Roman Primacy – Proof thence arising – Councils in France approve his Views – Question of the Services of the Roman Church to the Western Nations.
Submission of the Churches of Lombardy to Rome – The Old Faith maintained in the Mountains – The Waldensian Churches – Question of their Antiquity – Approach to their Mountains – Arrangement of their Valleys – Picture of blended Beauty and Grandeur.
Their Synod and College – Their Theological Tenets – Romaunt Version of the New Testament – The Constitution of their Church – Their Missionary Labors – Wide Diffusion of their Tenets – The Stone Smiting the Image.
The Paulicians the Protesters against the Eastern, as the Waldenses against the Western Apostasy – Their Rise in A.D. 653 – Constantine of Samosata-Their Tenets Scriptural – Constantine Stoned to Death – Simeon Succeeds – Is put to Death – Sergius – His Missionary Travels – Terrible Persecutions-The Paulicians Rise in Arms – Civil War – The Government Triumphs – Dispersion of the Paulicians over the West – They Blend with the Waldenses – Movement in the South of Europe – The Troubadour, the Barbe, and the Bible, the Three Missionaries – Innocent III. – The Crusades.
Rome founded on the Dogma of Persecution – Begins to act upon it – Territory of the Albigenses – Innocent III. – Persecuting Edicts of Councils – Crusade preached by the Monks of Citeaux – First Crusade launched – Paradise – Simon de Montfort – Raymond of Toulouse – His Territories Overrun and Devastated – Crusade against Raymond Roger of Beziers – Burning of his Towns – Massacre of their Inhabitants – Destruction of the Albigenses.
The Crusades still continued in the Albigensian Territory – Council of Toulouse, 1229 – Organizes the Inquisition – Condemns the Reading of the Bible in the Vernacular – Gregory IX., 1233, further perfects the Organization of the Inquisition, and commits it to the Dominicans – The Crusades continued under the form of the Inquisition – These Butcheries the deliberate Act of Rome – Revived and Sanctioned by her in our own day – Protestantism of Thirteenth Century Crushed – Not alone – Final Ends.
Berengarius– The First Opponent of Transubstantiation – Numerous Councils Condemn him – His Recantation – The Martyrs of Orleans – Their Confession – Their Condemnation and Martyrdom – Peter de Bruys and the Petrobrusians – Henri – Effects of his Eloquence – St. Bernard sent to Oppose him – Henri Apprehended – His Fate unknown – Arnold of Brescia – Birth and Education – His Picture of his Times – His Scheme of Reform – Inveighs against the Wealth of the Hierarchy – His Popularity – Condemned by Innocent II. and Banished from Italy – Returns on the Pope's Death – Labors Ten Years in Rome – Demands the Separation of the Temporal and Spiritual Authority – Adrian IV. – He Suppresses the Movement – Arnold is Burned
Number and Variety of Sects – One Faith – Who gave us the Bible? – Abelard of Paris – His Fame – Father of Modern Skepticism – The Parting of the Ways – Since Abelard three currents in Christendom – The Evangelical, the Ultramontane, the Skeptical.


A feature of our version of "The History of Protestantism" is an index to the entire 24 books of J. A. Wylie's prodigious account of Christianity's remonstrance against the errors of the Church of Rome. The index will assist you in finding the location of KEY words in the text, so that you may research Wylie's library without the time and difficulty of reading every single book. "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11).



CHAPTER 1 Back to Top


Protestantism – The Seed of Arts, Letters, Free States, etc. – Its History a Grand Drama – Its Origin – Outside Humanity – A Great Creative Power – Protestantism Revived Christianity.

THE History of Protestantism, which we propose to write, is no mere history of dogmas. The teachings of Christ are the seeds; the modern Christendom, with its new life, is the goodly tree which has sprung from them. We shall speak of the seed and then of the tree, so small at its beginning, but destined one day to cover the earth.

How that seed was deposited in the soil; how the tree grew up and flourished despite the furious tempests that warred around it; how, century after century, it lifted its top higher in heaven, and spread its boughs wider around, sheltering liberty, nursing letters, fostering art, and gathering a fraternity of prosperous and powerful nations around it, it will be our business in the following pages to show. Meanwhile we wish it to be noted that this is what we understand by the Protestantism on the history of which we are now entering. Viewed thus – and any narrower view would be untrue alike to philosophy and to fact – the History of Protestantism is the record of one of the grandest dramas of all time. It is true, no doubt, that Protestantism, strictly viewed, is simply a principle. It is not a policy. It is not an empire, having its fleets and armies, its officers and tribunals, wherewith to extend its dominion and make its authority be obeyed. It is not even a Church with its hierarchies, and synods and edicts; it is simply a principle. But it is the greatest of all principles. It is a creative power. Its plastic influence is all-embracing. It penetrates into the heart and renews the individual. It goes down to the depths and, by its omnipotent but noiseless energy, vivifies and regenerates society. It thus becomes the creator of all that is true, and lovely, and great; the founder of free kingdoms, and the mother of pure churches. The globe itself it claims as a stage not too wide for the manifestation of its beneficent action; and the whole domain of terrestrial affairs it deems a sphere not too vast to fill with its spirit, and rule by its law.

Whence came this principle? The name Protestantism is very recent: the thing itself is very ancient. The term Protestantism is scarcely older than 350 years. It dates from the protest which the Lutheran princes gave in to the Diet of Spires in 1529. Restricted to its historical signification, Protestantism is purely negative. It only defines the attitude taken up, at a great historical era, by one party in Christendom with reference to another party. But had this been all, Protestantism would have had no history. Had it been purely negative, it would have begun and ended with the men who assembled at the German town in the year already specified. The new world that has come out of it is the proof that at the bottom of this protest was a great principle which it has pleased Providence to fertilize, and make the seed of those grand, beneficent, and enduring achievements which have made the past three centuries in many respects the most eventful and wonderful in history. The men who handed in this protest did not wish to create a mere void. If they disowned the creed and threw off the yoke of Rome, it was that they might plant a purer faith and restore the government of a higher Law. They replaced the authority of the Infallibility with the authority of the Word of God. The long and dismal obscuration of centuries they dispelled, that the twin stars of liberty and knowledge might shine forth, and that, conscience being unbound, the intellect might awake from its deep somnolency, and human society, renewing its youth, might, after its halt of a thousand years, resume its march towards its high goal.

We repeat the question – Whence came this principle? And we ask our readers to mark well the answer, for it is the key-note to the whole of our vast subject, and places us, at the very outset, at the springs of that long narration on which we are now entering.

Protestantism is not solely the outcome of human progress; it is no mere principle of perfectibility inherent in humanity, and ranking as one of its native powers, in virtue of which when society becomes corrupt it can purify itself, and when it is arrested in its course by some external force, or stops from exhaustion, it can recruit its energies and set forward anew on its path. It is neither the product of the individual reason, nor the result of the joint thought and energies of the species. Protestantism is a principle which has its origin outside human society: it is a Divine graft on the intellectual and moral nature of man, whereby new vitalities and forces are introduced into it, and the human stem yields henceforth a nobler fruit. It is the descent of a heaven-born influence which allies itself with all the instincts and powers of the individual, with all the laws and cravings of society, and which, quickening both the individual and the social being into a new life, and directing their efforts to nobler objects, permits the highest development of which humanity is capable, and the fullest possible accomplishment of all its grand ends. In a word, Protestantism is revived Christianity.

CHAPTER 2 Back to Top


Early Triumphs of the Truth – Causes – The Fourth Century – Early Simplicity lost – The Church remodeled on the Pattern of the Empire – Disputes regarding Easter-day – Descent of the Gothic Nations – Introduction of Pagan Rites into the Church – Acceleration of Corruption – Inability of the World all at once to receive the Gospel in its greatness.

ALL through, from the fifth to the fifteenth century, the Lamp of Truth burned dimly in the sanctuary of Christendom. Its flame often sank low, and appeared about to expire, yet never did it wholly go out. God remembered His covenant with the light, and set bounds to the darkness. Not only had this heaven-kindled lamp its period of waxing and waning, like those luminaries that God has placed on high, but like them, too, it had its appointed circuit to accomplish. Now it was on the cities of Northern Italy that its light was seen to fall; and now its rays illumined the plains of Southern France. Now it shone along the course of the Danube and the Moldau, or tinted the pale shores of England, or shed its glory upon the Scottish Hebrides. Now it was on the summits of the Alps that it was seen to burn, spreading a gracious morning on the mountain-tops, and giving promise of the sure approach of day. And then, anon, it would bury itself in the deep valleys of Piedmont, and seek shelter from the furious tempests of persecution behind the great rocks and the eternal snows of the everlasting hills. Let us briefly trace the growth of this truth to the days of Wicliffe.

The spread of Christianity during the first three centuries was rapid and extensive. The main causes that contributed to this were the translation of the Scriptures into the languages of the Roman world, the fidelity and zeal of the preachers of the Gospel, and the heroic deaths of the martyrs. It was the success of Christianity that first set limits to its progress. It had received a terrible blow, it is true, under Diocletian. This, which was the most terrible of all the early persecutions, had, in the belief of the Pagans, utterly exterminated the "Christian superstition" So far from this, it had but afforded the Gospel an opportunity of giving to the world a mightier proof of its divinity. It rose from the stakes and massacres of Diocletian, to begin a new career, in which it was destined to triumph over the empire which thought that it had crushed it. Dignities and wealth now flowed in upon its ministers and disciples, and according to the uniform testimony of all the early historians, the faith which had maintained its purity and rigor in the humble sanctuaries and lowly position of the first age, and amid the fires of its pagan persecutors, became corrupt and waxed feeble amid the gorgeous temples and the worldly dignities which imperial favor had lavished upon it.

From the fourth century the corruptions of the Christian Church continued to make marked and rapid progress. The Bible began to be hidden from the people. And in proportion as the light, which is the surest guarantee of liberty, was withdrawn, the clergy usurped authority over the members of the Church. The canons of councils were put in the room of the one infallible Rule of Faith; and thus the first stone was laid in the foundations of "Babylon, that great city, that made all nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." The ministers of Christ began to affect titles of dignity, and to extend their authority and jurisdiction to temporal matters, forgetful that an office bestowed by God, and serviceable to the highest interests of society, can never fail of respect when filled by men of exemplary character, sincerely devoted to the discharge of its duties. The beginning of this matter seemed innocent enough. To obviate pleas before the secular tribunals, ministers were frequently asked to arbitrate in disputes between members of the Church, and Constantine made a law confirming all such decisions in the consistories of the clergy, and shutting out the review of their sentences by the civil judges.[1] Proceeding in this fatal path, the next step was to form the external polity of the Church upon the model of the civil government. Four vice-kings or prefects governed the Roman Empire under Constantine, and why, it was asked, should not a similar arrangement be introduced into the Church? Accordingly the Christian world was divided into four great dioceses; over each diocese was set a patriarch, who governed the whole clergy of his domain, and thus arose four great thrones or princedoms in the House of God. Where there had been a brotherhood, there was now a hierarchy; and from the lofty chair of the Patriarch, a gradation of rank, and a subordination of authority and office, ran down to the lowly state and contracted sphere of the Presbyter [2] It was splendor of rank, rather than the fame of learning and the luster of virtue, that henceforward conferred distinction on the ministers of the Church.

Such an arrangement was not fitted to nourish spirituality of mind, or humility of disposition, or peacefulness of temper. The enmity and violence of the persecutor, the clergy had no longer cause to dread; but the spirit of faction which now took possession of the dignitaries of the Church awakened vehement disputes and fierce contentions, which disparaged the authority and sullied the glory of the sacred office. The emperor himself was witness to these unseemly spectacles. "I entreat you," we find him pathetically saying to the fathers of the Council of Nice, "beloved ministers of God, and servants of our Savior Jesus Christ, take away the cause of our dissension and disagreement, establish peace among yourselves."[3]

While the, "living oracles" were neglected, the zeal of the clergy began to spend itself upon rites and ceremonies borrowed from the pagans. These were multiplied to such a degree, that Augustine complained that they were "less tolerable than the yoke of the Jews under the law."[4] At this period the Bishops of Rome wore costly attire, gave sumptuous banquets, and when they went abroad were carried in litters[5] They now began to speak with an authoritative voice, and to demand obedience from all the Churches. Of this the dispute between the Eastern and Western Churches respecting Easter is an instance in point. The Eastern Church, following the Jews, kept the feast on the 14th day of the month Nisan [6] – the day of the Jewish Passover. The Churches of the West, and especially that of Rome, kept Easter on the Sabbath following the 14th day of Nisan. Victor, Bishop of Rome, resolved to put an end to the controversy, and accordingly, sustaining himself sole judge in this weighty point, he commanded all the Churches to observe the feast on the same day with himself. The Churches of the East, not aware that the Bishop of Rome had authority to command their obedience in this or in any other matter, kept Easter as before; and for this flagrant contempt, as Victor accounted it, of his legitimate authority, he excommunicated them.[7] They refused to obey a human ordinance, and they were shut out from the kingdom of the Gospel. This was the first peal of those thunders which were in after times to roll so often and so terribly from the Seven Hills.

Riches, flattery, deference, continued to wait upon the Bishop of Rome. The emperor saluted him as Father; foreign Churches sustained him as judge in their disputes; heresiarchs sometimes fled to him for sanctuary; those who had favors to beg extolled his piety, or affected to follow his customs; and it is not surprising that his pride and ambition, fed by continual incense, continued to grow, till at last the presbyter of Rome, from being a vigilant pastor of a single congregation, before whom he went in and out, teaching them from house to house, preaching to them the Word of Life, serving the Lord with all humility in many tears and temptations that befell him, raised his seat above his equals, mounted the throne of the patriarch, and exercised lordship over the heritage of Christ. The gates of the sanctuary once forced, the stream of corruption continued to flow with ever-deepening volume. The declensions in doctrine and worship already introduced had changed the brightness of the Church's morning into twilight; the descent of the Northern nations, which, beginning in the fifth, continued through several successive centuries, converted that twilight into night. The new tribes had changed their country, but not their superstitions; and, unhappily, there was neither zeal nor vigor in the Christianity of the age to effect their instruction and their genuine conversion. The Bible had been withdrawn; in the pulpit fable had usurped the place of truth; holy lives, whose silent eloquence might have won upon the barbarians, were rarely exemplified; and thus, instead of the Church dissipating the superstitions that now encompassed her like a cloud, these superstitions all but quenched her own light. She opened her gates to receive the new peoples as they were. She sprinkled them with the baptismal water; she inscribed their names in her registers; she taught them in their invocations to repeat the titles of the Trinity; but the doctrines of the Gospel, which alone can enlighten the understanding, purify the heart, and enrich the life with virtue, she was little careful to inculcate upon them. She folded them within her pale, but they were scarcely more Christian than before, while she was greatly less so. From the sixth century down-wards Christianity was a mongrel system, made up of pagan rites revived from classic times, of superstitions imported from the forests of Northern Germany, and of Christian beliefs and observances which continued to linger in the Church from primitive and purer times. The inward power of religion was lost; and it was in vain that men strove to supply its place by the outward form. They nourished their piety not at the living fountains of truth, but with the "beggarly elements" of ceremonies and relics, of consecrated lights and holy vestments. Nor was it Divine knowledge only that was contemned; men forbore to cultivate letters, or practice virtue. Baronius confesses that in the sixth century few in Italy were skilled in both Greek and Latin. Nay, even Gregory the Great acknowledged that he was ignorant of Greek. "The main qualifications of the clergy were, that they should be able to read well, sing their matins, know the Lord's Prayer, psalter, forms of exorcism, and understand how to compute the times of the sacred festivals. Nor were they very sufficient for this, if we may believe the account some have given of them. Musculus says that many of them never saw the Scriptures in all their lives. It would seem incredible, but it is delivered by no less an authority than Amama, that an Archbishop of Mainz, lighting upon a Bible and looking into it, expressed himself thus: 'Of a truth I do not know what book this is, but I perceive everything in it is against us.'"[8]

Apostasy is like the descent of heavy bodies, it proceeds with ever-accelerating velocity. First, lamps were lighted at the tombs of the martyrs; next, the Lord's Supper was celebrated at their graves; next, prayers were offered for them and to them;[9] next, paintings and images began to disfigure the walls, and corpses to pollute the floors of the churches. Baptism, which apostles required water only to dispense, could not be celebrated without white robes and chrism, milk, honey, and salt.[10] Then came a crowd of church officers whose names and numbers are in striking contrast to the few and simple orders of men who were employed in the first propagation of Christianity. There were sub-deacons, acolytes, exorcists, readers, choristers, and porters; and as work must be found for this motley host of laborers, there came to be fasts and exorcisms; there were lamps to be lighted, altars to be arranged, and churches to be consecrated; there was the Eucharist to be carried to the dying; and there were the dead to be buried, for which a special order of men was set apart. When one looked back to the simplicity of early times, it could not but amaze one to think what a cumbrous array of curious machinery and costly furniture was now needed for the service of Christianity. Not more stinging than true was the remark that "when the Church had golden chalices she had wooden priests."

So far, and through these various stages, had the declension of the Church proceeded. The point she had now reached may be termed an epochal one. From the line on which she stood there was no going back; she must advance into the new and unknown regions before her, though every step would carry her farther from the simple form and vigorous life of her early days. She had received a new impregnation from an alien principle, the same, in fact, from which had sprung the great systems that covered the earth before Christianity arose. This principle could not be summarily extirpated; it must run its course, it must develop itself logically; and having, in the course of centuries, brought its fruits to maturity, it would then, but not till then, perish and pass away.

Looking back at this stage to the change which had come over the Church, we cannot fail to see that its deepest originating cause must be sought, in the inability of the world to receive the Gospel in all its greatness. It was a boon too mighty and too free to be easily understood or credited by man. The angels in their midnight song in the vale of Bethlehem had defined it briefly as sublimely, "goodwill to man." Its greatest preacher, the Apostle Paul, had no other definition to give of it. It was not even a rule of life but "grace," the "grace of God," and therefore sovereign, and boundless. To man fallen and undone the Gospel offered a full forgiveness, and a complete spiritual renovation, issuing at length in the inconceivable and infinite felicity of the Life Eternal. But man's narrow heart could not enlarge itself to God's vast beneficence. A good so immense, so complete in its nature, and so boundless in its extent, he could not believe that God would bestow without money and without price; there must be conditions or qualifications. So he reasoned. And hence it is that the moment inspired men cease to address us, and that their disciples and scholars take their place – men of apostolic spirit and doctrine, no doubt, but without the direct knowledge of their predecessors – we become sensible of a change; an eclipse has passed upon the exceeding glory of the Gospel. As we pass from Paul to Clement, and from Clement to the Fathers that succeeded him, we find the Gospel becoming less of grace and more of merit. The light wanes as we travel down the Patristic road, and remove ourselves farther from the Apostolic dawn. It continues for some time at least to be the same Gospel, but its glory is shorn, its mighty force is abated; and we are reminded of the change that seems to pass upon the sun, when after contemplating him in a tropical hemisphere, we see him in a northern sky, where his slanting beams, forcing their way through mists and vapors, are robbed of half their splendor. Seen through the fogs of the Patristic age, the Gospel scarcely looks the same which had burst upon the world without a cloud but a few centuries before.

This disposition – that of making God less free in His gift, and man less dependent in the reception of it: the desire to introduce the element of merit on the side of man, and the element of condition on the side of God – operated at last in opening the door for the pagan principle to creep back into the Church. A change of a deadly and subtle kind passed upon the worship. Instead of being the spontaneous thanksgiving and joy of the soul, that no more evoked or repaid the blessings which awakened that joy than the odors which the flowers exhale are the cause of their growth, or the joy that kindles in the heart of man when the sun rises is the cause of his rising – worship, we say, from being the expression of the soul's emotions, was changed into a rite, a rite akin to those of the Jewish temples, and still more akin to those of the Greek mythology, a rite in which lay couched a certain amount of human merit and inherent efficacy, that partly created, partly applied the blessings with which it stood connected. This was the moment when the pagan virus inoculated the Christian institution.

This change brought a multitude of others in its train. Worship being transformed into sacrifice – sacrifice in which was the element of expiation and purification – the "teaching ministry" was of course converted into a "sacrificing priesthood." When this had been done, there was no retreating; a boundary had been reached which could not be recrossed till centuries had rolled away, and transformations of a more portentous kind than any which had yet taken place had passed upon the Church.

CHAPTER 3 Back to Top


Imperial Edicts – Prestige of Rome – Fall of the Western Empire – The Papacy seeks and finds a New Basis of Power – Christ's Vicar – Conversion of Gothic Nations – Pepin and Charlemagne – The Lombards and the Saracens – Forgeries and False Decretals – Election of the Roman Pontiff.

BEFORE opening our great theme it may be needful to sketch the rise and development of the Papacy as a politico-ecclesiastical power. The history on which we are entering, and which we must rapidly traverse, is one of the most wonderful in the world. It is scarcely possible to imagine humbler beginnings than those from which the Papacy arose, and certainly it is not possible to imagine a loftier height than that to which it eventually climbed. He who was seen in the first century presiding as the humble pastor over a single congregation, and claiming no rank above his brethren, is beheld in the twelfth century occupying a seat from which he looks down on all the thrones temporal and spiritual of Christendom. How, we ask with amazement, was the Papacy able to traverse the mighty space that divided the humble pastor from the mitered king?

We traced in the foregoing chapter the decay of doctrine and manners within the Church. Among the causes which contributed to the exaltation of the Papacy this declension may be ranked as fundamental, seeing it opened the door for other deteriorating influences, and mightily favored their operation. Instead of "reaching forth to what was before," the Christian Church permitted herself to be overtaken by the spirit of the ages that lay behind her. There came an after-growth of Jewish ritualism, of Greek philosophy, and of Pagan ceremonialism and idolatry; and, as the consequence of this threefold action, the clergy began to be gradually changed, as already mentioned, from a "teaching ministry" to a "sacrificing priesthood." This made them no longer ministers or servants of their fellow-Christians; they took the position of a caste, claiming to be superior to the laity, invested with mysterious powers, the channels of grace, and the mediators with God. Thus there arose a hierarchy, assuming to mediate between God and men.

The hierarchical polity was the natural concomitant of the hierarchical doctrine. That polity was so consolidated by the time that the empire became Christian, and Constantine ascended the throne (311), that the Church now stood out as a body distinct from the State; and her new organization, subsequently received, in imitation of that of the empire, as stated in the previous chapter, helped still further to define and strengthen her hierarchical government. Still, the primacy of Rome was then a thing unheard of. Manifestly the 300 Fathers who assembled (A.D. 325) at Nicaea knew nothing of it, for in their sixth and seventh canons they expressly recognize the authority of the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and others, each within its own boundaries, even as Rome had jurisdiction within its limits; and enact that the jurisdiction and privileges of these Churches shall be retained.[1] Under Leo the Great (440 – 461) a forward step was taken. The Church of Rome assumed the form and exercised the sway of an ecclesiastical principality, while her head, in virtue of an imperial manifesto (445) of Valentinian III., which recognized the Bishop of Rome as supreme over the Western Church, affected, the authority and pomp of a spiritual sovereign.

Still further, the ascent of the Bishop of Rome to the supremacy was silently yet Powerfully aided by that mysterious and subtle influence which appeared to be indigenous to the soil on which his chair was placed. In an age when the rank of the city determined the rank of its pastor, it was natural that the Bishop of Rome should hold something of that pre-eminence among the clergy which Rome held among cities. Gradually the reverence and awe with which men had regarded the old mistress of the world, began to gather round the person and the chair of her bishop. It was an age of factions and strifes, and the eyes of the contending parties naturally turned to the pastor of the Tiber. They craved his advice, or they submitted their differences to his judgment. These applications the Roman Bishop was careful to register as acknowledgments of his superiority, and on fitting occasions he was not forgetful to make them the basis of new and higher claims. The Latin race, moreover, retained the practical habits for which it had so long been renowned; and while the Easterns, giving way to their speculative genius, were expending their energies in controversy, the Western Church was steadily pursuing her onward path, and skillfully availing herself of everything that could tend to enhance her influence and extend her jurisdiction.

The removal of the seat of empire from Rome to the splendid city on the Bosphorus, Constantinople, which the emperor had built with becoming magnificence for his residence, also tended to enhance the power of the Papal chair. It removed from the side of the Pope a functionary by whom he was eclipsed, and left him the first person in the old capital of the world. The emperor had departed, but the prestige of the old city – the fruit of countless victories, and of ages of dominion – had not departed. The contest which had been going on for some time among the five great patriarchates – Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Rome – the question at issue being the same as that which provoked the contention among the disciples of old, "which was the greatest," was now restricted to the last two. The city on the Bosphorus was the seat of government, and the abode of the emperor; this gave her patriarch Powerful claims. But the city on the banks of the Tiber wielded a mysterious and potent charm over the imagination, as the heir of her who had been the possessor of all the power, of all the glory, and of all the dominion of the past; and this vast prestige enabled her patriarch to carry the day. As Rome was the one city in the earth, so her bishop was the one bishop in the Church. A century and a half later (606), this pre-eminence was decreed to the Roman Bishop in an imperial edict of Phocas. Thus, before the Empire of the West fell, the Bishop of Rome had established substantially his spiritual supremacy. An influence of a manifold kind, of which not the least part was the prestige of the city and the empire, had lifted him to this fatal pre-eminence. But now the time has come when the empire must fall, and we expect to see that supremacy which it had so largely helped to build up fall with it. But no! The wave of barbarism which rolled in from the North, overwhelming society and sweeping away the empire, broke harmlessly at the feet of the Bishop of Rome. The shocks that overturned dynasties and blotted out nationalities, left his power untouched, his seat unshaken. Nay, it was at that very hour, when society was perishing around him, that the Bishop of Rome laid anew the foundations of his power, and placed them where they might remain immovable for all time. He now cast himself on a far stronger element than any the revolution had swept away. He now claimed to be the successor of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and the Vicar of Christ. The canons of Councils, as recorded in Hardouin, show a stream of decisions from Pope Celestine, in the middle of the fifth century, to Pope Boniface II. in the middle of the sixth, claiming, directly or indirectly, this august prerogative.[2] When the Bishop of Rome placed his chair, with all the prerogatives and dignities vested in it, upon this ground, he stood no longer upon a merely imperial foundation. Henceforward he held neither of Caesar nor of Rome; he held immediately of Heaven. What one emperor had given, another emperor might take away. It did not suit the Pope to hold his office by so uncertain a tenure. He made haste, therefore, to place his supremacy where no future decree of emperor, no lapse of years, and no coming revolution could overturn it. He claimed to rest it upon a Divine foundation; he claimed to be not merely the chief of bishops and the first of patriarchs, but the vicar Of the Most High God.

With the assertion of this dogma the system of the Papacy was completed essentially and doctrinally, but not as yet practically. It had to wait the full development of the idea of vicarship, which was not till the days of Gregory VII. But here have we the embryotic seed – the vicarship, namely – out of which the vast structure of the Papacy has sprung. This it is that plants at the center of the system a pseudo-divine jurisdiction, and places the Pope above all bishops with their flocks, above all king with their subjects. This it is that gives the Pope two swords. This it is that gives him three crowns. The day when this dogma was proclaimed was the true birthday of the Popedom. The Bishop of Rome had till now sat in the seat of Caesar; henceforward he was to sit in the seat of God. From this time the growth of the Popedom was rapid indeed. The state of society favored its development. Night had descended upon the world from the North; and in the universal barbarism, the more prodigious any pretensions were, the more likely were they to find both belief and submission. The Goths, on arriving in their new settlements, beheld a religion which was served by magnificent cathedrals, imposing rites, and wealthy and powerful prelates, presided over by a chief priest, in whose reputed sanctity and ghostly authority they found again their own chief Druid. These rude warriors, who had overturned the throne of the Caesars, bowed down before the chair of the Popes. The evangelization of these tribes was a task of easy accomplishment. The "Catholic faith," which they began to exchange for their Paganism or Arianism, consisted chiefly in their being able to recite the names of the objects of their worship, which they were left to adore with much the same rites as they had practiced in their native forests. They did not much concern themselves with the study of Christian doctrine, or the practice of Christian virtue. The age furnished but few manuals of the one, and still fewer models of the other.

The first of the Gothic princes to enter the Roman communion was Clovis, King of the Franks. In fulfillment of a vow which he had made on the field of Tolbiac, where he vanquished the Allemanni, Clovis was baptized in the Cathedral of Rheims (496), with every circumstance of solemnity which could impress a sense of the awfulness of the rite on the minds of its rude proselytes. Three thousand of his warlike subjects were baptized along with him.[3] The Pope styled him "the eldest son of the Church," a title which was regularly adopted by all the subsequent Kings of France. When Clovis ascended from the baptismal font he was the only as well as the eldest son of the Church, for he alone, of all the new chiefs that now governed the West, had as yet submitted to the baptismal rite.

The threshold once crossed, others were not slow to follow. In the next century, the sixth, the Burgundians of Southern Gaul, the Visigoths of Spain, the Suevi of Portugal, and the Anglo-Saxons of Britain entered the pale of Rome. In the seventh century the disposition was still growing among the princes of Western Europe to submit themselves and refer their disputes to the Pontiff as their spiritual father. National assemblies were held twice a year, under the sanction of the bishops. The prelates made use of these gatherings to procure enactments favorable to the propagation of the faith as held by Rome. These assemblies were first encouraged, then enjoined by the Pope, who came in this way to be regarded as a sort of Father or protector of the states of the West. Accordingly we find Sigismund, King of Burgundy, ordering (554) that all assembly should be held for the future on the 6th of September every year, "at which time the ecclesiastics are not so much engrossed with the worldly cares of husbandry."[4] The ecclesiastical conquest of Germany was in this century completed, and thus the spiritual dominions of the Pope were still farther extended.

In the eighth century there came a moment of supreme peril to Rome. At almost one and the same time she was menaced by two dangers, which threatened to sweep her out of existence, but which, in their issue, contributed to strengthen her dominion. On the west the victorious Saracens, having crossed the Pyrenees and overrun the south of France, were watering their steeds at the Loire, and threatening to descend upon Italy and plant the Crescent in the room of the Cross. On the north, the Lombards – who, under Alboin, had established themselves in Central Italy two centuries before – had burst the barrier of the Apennines, and were brandishing their swords at the gates of Rome. They were on the point of replacing Catholic orthodoxy with the creed of Arianism. Having taken advantage of the iconoclast disputes to throw off the imperial yoke, the Pope could expect no aid from the Emperor of Constantinople. He turned his eyes to France. The prompt and powerful interposition of the Frankish arms saved the Papal chair, now in extreme jeopardy. The intrepid Charles Martel drove back the Saracens (732), and Pepin, the Mayor of the palace, son of Charles Martel, who had just seized the throne, and needed the Papal sanction to color his usurpation, with equal promptitude hastened to the Pope's help (Stephen II.) against the Lombards (754). Having vanquished them, he placed the keys of their towns upon the altar of St. Peter, and so laid the first foundation of the Pope's temporal sovereignty. The yet more illustrious son of Pepin, Charlemagne, had to repeat this service in the Pope's behalf. The Lombards becoming again troublesome, Charlemagne subdued them a second time. After his campaign he visited Rome (774). The youth of the city, bearing olive and palm branches, met him at the gates, the Pope and the clergy received him in the vestibule of St. Peter's, and entering "into the sepulcher where the bones of the apostles lie," he finally ceded to the pontiff the territories of the conquered tribes.[5] It was in this way that Peter obtained his "patrimony," the Church her dowry, and the Pope his triple crown.

The Pope had now attained two of the three grades of power that constitute his stupendous dignity. He had made himself a bishop of bishops, head of the Church, and he had become a crowned monarch. Did this content him? No! He said, "I will ascend the sides of the mount; I will plant my throne above the stars; I will be as God." Not content with being a bishop of bishops, and so governing the whole spiritual affairs of Christendom, he aimed at becoming a king of kings, and so of governing the whole temporal affairs of the world. He aspired to supremacy, sole, absolute, and unlimited. This alone was wanting to complete that colossal fabric of power, the Popedom, and towards this the pontiff now began to strive.

Some of the arts had recourse to in order to grasp the coveted dignity were of an extraordinary kind. An astounding document, purporting to have been written in the fourth century, although unheard of till now, was in the year 776 brought out of the darkness in which it had been so long suffered to remain. It was the "Donation" or Testament of the Emperor Constantine. Constantine, says the legend, found Sylvester in one of the monasteries on Mount Soracte, and having mounted him on a mule, he took hold of his bridle rein, and walking all the way on foot, the emperor conducted Sylvester to Rome, and placed him upon the Papal throne. But this was as nothing compared with the vast and splendid inheritance which Constantine conferred on him, as the following quotation from the deed of gift to which we have referred will show: – "We attribute to the See of Peter all the dignity, all the glory, all the authority of the imperial power. Furthermore, we give to Sylvester and to his successors our palace of the Lateran, which is incontestably the finest palace on the earth; we give him our crown, our miter, our diadem, and all our imperial vestments; we transfer to him the imperial dignity. We bestow on the holy Pontiff in free gift the city of Rome, and all the western cities of Italy. To cede precedence to him, we divest ourselves of our authority over all those provinces, and we withdraw from Rome, transferring the seat of our empire to Byzantium; inasmuch as it is not proper that an earthly emperor should preserve the least authority, where God hath established the head of his religion."[6]

A rare piece of modesty this on the part of the Popes, to keep this invaluable document beside them for 400 years, and never say a word about it; and equally admirable the policy of selecting the darkness of the eighth century as the fittest time for its publication. To quote it is to refute it. It was probably forged a little before A.D. 754. It was composed to repel the Longobards on the one side, and the Greeks on the other, and to influence the mind of Pepin. In it, Constantine is made to speak in the Latin of the eighth century, and to address Bishop Sylvester as Prince of the Apostles, Vicar of Christ, and as having authority over the four great thrones, not yet set up, of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. It was probably written by a priest of the Lateran Church, and it gained its object – that is, it led Pepin to bestow on the Pope the Exarchate of Ravenna, with twenty towns to furnish oil for the lamps in the Roman churches.

During more than 600 years Rome impressively cited this deed of gift, inserted it in her codes, permitted none to question its genuineness, and burned those who refused to believe in it. The first dawn of light in the sixteenth century sufficed to discover the cheat.

In the following century another document of a like extraordinary character was given to the world. We refer to the "Decretals of Isidore." These were concocted about the year 845. They professed to be a collection of the letters, rescripts, and bulls of the early pastors of the Church of Rome – Anacletus, Clement, and others, down to Sylvester – the very men to whom the terms "rescript" and "bull" were unknown. The burden of this compilation was the pontifical supremacy, which it affirmed had existed from the first age. It was the clumsiest, but the most successful, of all the forgeries which have emanated from what the Greeks have reproachfully termed "the native home of inventions and falsifications of documents." The writer, who professed to be living in the first century, painted the Church of Rome in the magnificence which she attained only in the ninth; and made the pastors of the first age speak in the pompous words of the Popes of the Middle Ages. Abounding in absurdities, contradictions, and anachronisms, it affords a measure of the intelligence of the age that accepted it as authentic. It was eagerly laid hold of by Nicholas I. to prop up and extend the fabric of his power. His successors made it the arsenal from which they drew their weapons of attack against both bishops and kings. It became the foundation of the canon law, and continues to be so, although there is not now a Popish writer who does not acknowledge it to be a piece of imposture. "Never," says Father de Rignon, "was there seen a forgery so audacious, so extensive, so solemn, so persevering."[7] Yet the discovery of the fraud has not shaken the system. The learned Dupin supposes that these decretals were fabricated by Benedict, a deacon of Mainz, who was the first to publish them, and that, to give them greater currency, he prefixed to them the name of Isidore, a bishop who flourished in Seville in the seventh century. "Without the pseudo-Isidore," says Janus, "there could have been no Gregory VII. The Isidorian forgeries were the broad foundation which the Gregorians built upon."[8]

All the while the Papacy was working on another line for the emancipation of its chief from interference and control, whether on the side of the people or on the side of the kings. In early times the bishops were elected by the people.[9] By-and-by they came to be elected by the clergy, with consent of the people; but gradually the people were excluded from all share in the matter, first in the Eastern Church, and then in the Western, although traces of popular election are found at Milan so late as the eleventh century. The election of the Bishop of Rome in early times was in no way different from that of other bishops – that is, he was chosen by the people. Next, the consent of the emperor came to be necessary to the validity of the popular choice. Then, the emperor alone elected the Pope. Next, the cardinals claimed a voice in the matter; they elected and presented the object of their choice to the emperor for confirmation. Last of all, the cardinals took the business entirely into their own hands. Thus gradually was the way paved for the full emancipation and absolute supremacy of the Popedom.

CHAPTER 4 Back to Top


The Wax of Investitures – Gregory VII. and Henry IV. – The Miter Triumphs over the Empire – Noon of the Papacy under Innocent III. – Continued to Boniface VIII. – First and Last Estate of the Roman Pastors Contrasted – Seven Centuries of Continuous Success – Interpreted by Some as a Proof that the Papacy is Divine – Reasons explaining this Marvelous Success – Eclipsed by the Gospel's Progress

WE come now to the last great struggle. There lacked one grade of power to complete and crown this stupendous fabric of dominion. The spiritual Supremacy was achieved in the seventh century, the temporal sovereignty was attained in the eighth; it wanted only the pontifical supremacy – sometimes, although improperly, styled the temporal supremacy to make the Pope supreme over kings, as he had already become over peoples and bishops, and to vest in him a jurisdiction that has not its like on earth – a jurisdiction that is unique, inasmuch as it arrogates all powers, absorbs all rights, and spurns all limits. Destined, before terminating its career, to crush beneath its iron foot thrones and nations, and masking an ambition as astute as Lucifer's with a dissimulation as profound, this power advanced at first with noiseless steps, and stole upon the world as night steals upon it; but as it neared the goal its strides grew longer and swifter, till at last it vaulted over the throne of monarchs into the seat of God.

This great war we shall now proceed to consider. When the Popes, at an early stage, claimed to be the vicars of Christ, they virtually challenged that boundless jurisdiction of which their proudest era beheld them in actual possession. But they knew that it would be imprudent, indeed impossible, as yet to assert it in actual fact. Their motto was Spes messis in semine. Discerning "the harvest in the seed," they were content meanwhile to lodge the principle of supremacy in their creed, and in the general mind of Europe, knowing that future ages would fructify and ripen it. Towards this they began to work quietly, yet skillfully and perseveringly. At length came overt and open measures. It was now the year 1073. The Papal chair was filled by perhaps the greatest of all the Popes, Gregory VII., the noted Hildebrand. Daring and ambitious beyond all who had preceded, and beyond most of those who have followed him on the Papal throne, Gregory fully grasped the great idea of Theocracy. He held that the reign of the Pope was but another name for the reign of God, and he resolved never to rest till that idea had been realized in the subjection of all authority and power, spiritual and temporal, to the chair of Peter. "When he drew out," says Janus, "the whole system of Papal omnipotence in twenty-seven theses in his 'Dictatus,' these theses were partly mere repetitions or corollaries of the Isidorian decretals; partly he and his friends sought to give them the appearance of tradition and antiquity by new fictions."[1] We may take the following as samples. The eleventh maxim says, "the Pope's name is the chief name in the world;" the twelfth teaches that "it is lawful for him to depose emperors;" the eighteenth affirms that "his decision is to be withstood by none, but he alone may annul those of all men." The nineteenth declares that "he can be judged by no one." The twenty-fifth vests in him the absolute power of deposing and restoring bishops, and the twenty-seventh the power of annulling the allegiance of subjects.[2] Such was the gage that Gregory flung down to the kings and nations of the world – we say of the world, for the pontifical supremacy embraces all who dwell upon the earth.

Now began the war between the miter and the empire; Gregory's object in this war being to wrest from the emperors the power of appointing the bishops and the clergy generally, and to assume into his own sole and irresponsible hands the whole of that intellectual and spiritual machinery by which Christendom was governed. The strife was a bloody one. The miter, though sustaining occasional reverses, continued nevertheless to gain steadily upon the empire. The spirit of the times helped the priesthood in their struggle with the civil power. The age was superstitious to the core, and though in no wise spiritual, it was very thoroughly ecclesiastical. The crusades, too, broke the spirit and drained the wealth of the princes, while the growing power and augmenting riches of the clergy cast the balance ever more and more against the State.

For a brief space Gregory VII. tasted in his own case the luxury of wielding this more than mortal power. There came a gleam through the awful darkness of the tempest he had raised – not final victory, which was yet a century distant, but its presage. He had the satisfaction of seeing the emperor, Henry IV. of Germany – whom he had smitten with excommunication – barefooted, and in raiment of sackcloth, waiting three days and nights at the castle-gates of Canossa, amid the winter drifts, suing for forgiveness. But it was for a moment only that Hildebrand stood on this dazzling pinnacle. The fortune of war very quickly turned. Henry, the man whom the Pope had so sorely humiliated, became victor in his turn. Gregory died, an exile, on the promontory of Salerno; but his successors espoused his project, and strove by wiles, by arms, and by anathemas, to reduce the world under the scepter of the Papal Theocracy. For well-nigh two dismal centuries the conflict was maintained. How truly melancholy the record of these times! It exhibits to our sorrowing gaze many a stricken field, many an empty throne, many a city sacked, many a spot deluged with blood!

But through all this confusion and misery the idea of Gregory was perseveringly pursued, till at last it was realized, and the miter was beheld triumphant over the empire. It was the fortune or the calamity of Innocent III. (1198-1216) to celebrate this great victory. Now it was that the pontifical supremacy reached its full development. One man, one will again governed the world. It is with a sort of stupefied awe that we look back to the thirteenth century, and see in the foreground of the receding storm this Colossus, uprearing itself in the person of Innocent III., on its head all the miters of the Church, and in its hand all the scepters of the State. "In each of the three leading objects which Rome has pursued," says Hallam – "independent sovereignty, supremacy over the Christian Church, control over the princes of the earth it was the fortune of this pontiff to conquer."[3] "Rome," he says again, "inspired during this age all the terror of her ancient name; she was once more mistress of the world, and kings were her vassals."[4] She had fought a great fight, and now she celebrated an unequaled triumph. Innocent appointed all bishops; he summoned to his tribunal all causes, from the gravest affairs of mighty kingdoms to the private concerns of the humble citizen. He claimed all kingdoms as his fiefs, all monarchs as his vassals; and launched with unsparing hand the bolts of excommunication against all who withstood his pontifical will. Hildebrand's idea was now fully realized. The pontifical supremacy was beheld in its plenitude – the plenitude of spiritual power, and that of temporal power. It was the noon of the Papacy; but the noon of the Papacy was the midnight of the world.

The grandeur which the Papacy now enjoyed, and the jurisdiction it wielded, have received dogmatic expression, and one or two selections will enable it to paint itself as it was seen in its noon. Pope Innocent III. affirmed "that the pontifical authority so much exceeded the royal power as the sun doth the moon."[5] Nor could he find words fitly to describe his own formidable functions, save those of Jehovah to his prophet Jeremiah: "See, I have set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down." "The Church my spouse," we find the same Pope saying, "is not married to me without bringing me something. She hath given me a dowry of a price beyond all price, the plenitude of spiritual things, and the extent of things temporal;[6] the greatness and abundance of both. She hath given me the miter in token of things spiritual, the crown in token of the temporal; the miter for the priesthood, and the crown for the kingdom; making me the lieutenant of him who hath written upon his vesture, and on his thigh, 'the King of kings and the Lord of lords.' I enjoy alone the plenitude of power, that others may say of me, next to God, 'and out of his fullness have we received.'"[7] "We declare," ,says Boniface VIII. (1294-1303), in his bull Unam Sanetam, "define, pronounce it to be necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." This subjection is declared in the bull to extend to all affairs. "One sword," says the Pope, "must be under another, and the temporal authority must be subject to the spiritual power; whence, if the earthly power go astray, it must be judged by the spiritual."[8] Such are a few of the "great words" which were heard to issue from the Vatican Mount, that new Sinai, which, like the old, encompassed by fiery terrors, had upreared itself in the midst of the astonished and affrighted nations of Christendom.

What a contrast between the first and the last estate of the pastors of the Roman Church! – between the humility and poverty of the first century, and the splendor and power in which the thirteenth saw them enthroned! This contrast has not escaped the notice of the greatest of Italian poets. Dante, in one of his lightning flashes, has brought it before us. He describes the first pastors of the Church as coming–

"barefoot and lean,
Eating their bread, as chanced, at the first table."

And addressing Peter, he says: –

"E'en thou went'st forth in poverty and hunger
To set the goodly plant that,
from the Vine It once was,
now is grown unsightly bramble."

Petrarch dwells repeatedly and with more amplification on the same theme. We quote only the first and last stanzas of his sonnet on the Church of Rome: –

"The fire of wrathful heaven alight,
And all thy harlot tresses smite,
Base city! Thou from humble fare,
Thy acorns and thy water, rose
To greatness, rich with others' woes,
Rejoicing in the ruin thou didst bear."
"In former days thou wast not laid
On down, nor under cooling shade;
Thou naked to the winds wast given,
And through the sharp and thorny road
Thy feet without the sandals trod;
But now thy life is such it smells to heaven."

There is something here out of the ordinary course. We have no desire to detract from the worldly wisdom of the Popes; they were, in that respect, the ablest race of rulers the world ever saw. Their enterprise soared as high above the vastest scheme of other potentates and conquerors, as their ostensible means of achieving it fell below theirs. To build such a fabric of dominion upon the Gospel, every line of which repudiates and condemns it! to impose it upon the world without an army and without a fleet! to bow the necks not of ignorant peoples only, but of mighty potentates to it! nay, to persuade the latter to assist in establishing a power which they could hardly but foresee would clash themselves! to pursue this scheme through a succession of centuries without once meeting any serious check or repulse – for of the 130 Popes between Boniface III. (606), who, in partnership with Phocas, laid the foundations of the Papal grandeur, and Gregory VII., who tint realized it, onward through other two centuries to Innocent III. (1216) and Boniface VIII. (1303), who at last put the top-stone upon it, not one lost an inch of ground which his predecessor had gained! – to do all this is, we repeat, something out of the ordinary course. There is nothing like it again in the whole history of the world. This success, continued through seven centuries, was audaciously interpreted into a proof of the divinity of the Papacy. Behold, it has been said, when the throne of Caesar was overturned, how the chair of Peter stood erect! Behold, when the barbarous nations rushed like a torrent into Italy, overwhelming laws, extinguishing knowledge, and dissolving society itself, how the ark of the Church rode in safety on the flood! Behold, when the victorious hosts of the Saracen approached the gates of Italy, how they were turned back! Behold, when the miter waged its great contest with the empire, how it triumphed! Behold, when the Reformation broke out, and it seemed as if the kingdom of the Pope was numbered and finished, how three centuries have been added to its sway! Behold, in fine, when revolution broke out in France, and swept like a whirlwind over Europe, bearing down thrones and dynasties, how the bark of Peter outlived the storm, and rode triumphant above the waves that engulfed apparently stronger structures! Is not this the Church of which Christ said, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it?"

What else do the words of Cardinal Baronius mean? Boasting of a supposed donation of the kingdom of Hungary to the Roman See by Stephen, he says, "It fell out by a wonderful providence of God, that at the very time when the Roman Church might appear ready to fall and perish, even then distant kings approach the Apostolic See, which they acknowledge and venerate as the only temple of the universe, the sanctuary of piety, the pillar of truth, the immovable rock. Behold, kings – not from the East, as of old they came to the cradle of Christ, but from the North – led by faith, they humbly approach the cottage of the fisher, the Church of Rome herself, offering not only gifts out of their treasures, but bringing even kingdoms to her, and asking kingdoms from her. Whoso is wise, and will record these things, even he shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord."[11]

But the success of the Papacy, when closely examined, is not so surprising as it looks. It cannot be justly pronounced legitimate, or fairly won. Rome has ever been swimming with the tide. The evils and passions of society, which a true benefactress would have made it her business to cure – at least, to alleviate – Rome has studied rather to foster into strength, that she might be borne to power on the foul current which she herself had created. Amid battles, bloodshed, and confusion, has her path lain. The edicts of subservient Councils, the forgeries of hireling priests, the arms of craven monarchs, and the thunderbolts of excommunication have never been wanting to open her path. Exploits won by weapons of this sort are what her historians delight to chronicle. These are the victories that constitute her glory! And then, there remains yet another and great deduction from the apparent grandeur of her success, in that, after all, it is the success of only a few – a caste – the clergy. For although, during her early career, the Roman Church rendered certain important services to society – of which it will delight us to make mention in fitting place when she grew to maturity, and was able to develop her real genius, it was felt and acknowledged by all that her principles implied the ruin of all interests save her own, and that there was room in the world for none but herself. If her march, as shown in history down to the sixteenth century, is ever onwards, it is not less true that behind, on her path, lie the wrecks of nations, and the ashes of literature, of liberty, and of civilization.

Nor can we help observing that the career of Rome, with all the fictitious brilliance that encompasses it, is utterly eclipsed when placed beside the silent and sublime progress of the Gospel. The latter we see winning its way over mighty obstacles solely by the force and sweetness of its own truth. It touches the deep wounds of society only to heal them. It speaks not to awaken but to hush the rough voice of strife and war. It enlightens, purifies, and blesses men wherever it comes, and it does all this so gently and unboastingly! Reviled, it reviles not again. For curses it returns blessings. It unsheathes no sword; it spills no blood. Cast into chains, its victories are as many as when free, and more glorious; dragged to the stake and burned, from the ashes of the martyr there start up a thousand confessors, to speed on its career and swell the glory of its triumph. Compared with this how different has been the career of Rome! – as different, in fact, as the thunder-cloud which comes onward, mantling the skies in gloom and scathing the earth with fiery bolts, is different from the morning descending from the mountain-tops, scattering around it the silvery light, and awakening at its presence songs of joy.

CHAPTER 5 Back to Top


Ambrose of Milan – His Diocese – His Theology – Rufinus, Presbyter of Aquileia – Laurentius of Milan – The Bishops of the Grisons – Churches of Lombardy in Seventh and Eighth Centuries – Claude in the Ninth Century – His Labors – Outline of his Theology – His Doctrine of the Eucharist – His Battle against Images – His Views on the Roman Primacy – Proof thence arising – Councils in France approve his Views – Question of the Services of the Roman Church to the Western Nations.

The apostasy was not universal. At no time did God leave His ancient Gospel without witnesses. When one body of confessors yielded to the darkness, or was cut off by violence, another arose in some other land, so that there was no age in which, in some country or other of Christendom, public testimony was not borne against the errors of Rome, and in behalf of the Gospel which she sought to destroy.

The country in which we find the earliest of these Protesters is Italy. The See of Rome, in those days, embraced only the capital and the surrounding provinces. The diocese of Milan, which included the plain of Lombardy, the Alps of Piedmont, and the southern provinces of France, greatly exceeded it in extent.[1] It is an undoubted historical fact that this powerful diocese was not then tributary to the Papal chair. "The Bishops of Milan," says Pope Pelagius I. (555), "do not come to Rome for ordination." He further informs us that this "was an ancient custom of theirs."[2] Pope Pelagius, however, attempted to subvert this "ancient custom," but his efforts resulted only in a wider estrangement between the two dioceses of Milan and Rome. For when Platina speaks of the subjection of Milan to the Pope under Stephen IX.,[3] in the middle of the eleventh century, he admits that "for 200 years together the Church of Milan had been separated from the Church of Rome." Even then, though on the very eve of the Hildebrandine era, the destruction of the independence of the diocese was not accomplished without a protest on the part of its clergy, and a tumult on the part of the people. The former affirmed that "the Ambrosian Church was not subject to the laws of Rome; that it had been always free, and could not, with honor, surrender its liberties." The latter broke out into clamor, and threatened violence to Damianus, the deputy sent to receive their submission. "The people grew into higher ferment," says Baronius;[4] "the bells were rung; the episcopal palace beset; and the legate threatened with death." Traces of its early independence remain to this day in the Rito or Culto Ambrogiano, still in use throughout the whole of the ancient Archbishopric of Milan.

One consequence of this ecclesiastical independence of Northern Italy was, that the corruptions of which Rome was the source were late in being introduced into Milan and its diocese. The evangelical light shone there some centuries after the darkness had gathered in the southern part of the peninsula. Ambrose, who died A.D. 397, was Bishop of Milan for twenty-three years. His theology, and that of his diocese, was in no essential respects different from that which Protestants hold at this day. The Bible alone was his rule of faith; Christ alone was the foundation of the Church; the justification of the sinner and the remission of sins were not of human merit, but by the expiatory sacrifice of the Cross; there were but two Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and in the latter Christ was held to be present only figuratively.[5] Such is a summary of the faith professed and taught by the chief bishop of the north of Italy in the end of the fourth century.[6]

Rufinus, of Aquileia, first metropolitan in the diocese of Milan, taught substantially the same doctrine in the fifth century. His treatise on the Creed no more agrees with the catechism of the Council of Trent than does the catechism of Protestants.[7] His successors at Aquileia, so far as can be gathered from the writings which they have left behind them, shared the sentiments of Rufinus.

To come to the sixth century, we find Laurentius, Bishop of Milan, holding that the penitence of the heart, without the absolution of a priest, suffices for pardon; and in the end of the same century (A.D. 590) we find the bishops of Italy and of the Grisons, to the number of nine, rejecting the communion of the Pope, as a heretic, so little then was the infallibility believed in, or the Roman supremacy acknowledged.[8] In the seventh century we find Mansuetus, Bishop of Milan, declaring that the whole faith of the Church is contained in the Apostles' Creed; from which it is evident that he did not regard as necessary to salvation the additions which Rome had then begun to make, and the many she has since appended to the apostolic doctrine. The Ambrosian Liturgy, which, as we have said, continues to be used in the diocese of Milan, is a monument to the comparative purity of the faith and worship of the early Churches of Lombardy.

In the eighth century we find Paulinus, Bishop of Aquileia, declaring that "we feed upon the divine nature of Jesus Christ, which cannot be said but only with respect to believers, and must be understood metaphorically." Thus manifest is it that he rejected the corporeal manducation of the Church at Rome. He also warns men against approaching God through any other mediator or advocate than Jesus Christ, affirming that He alone was conceived without sin; that He is the only Redeemer, and that He is the one foundation of the Church. "If any one," says Allix, "will take the pains to examine the opinions of this bishop, he will find it a hard thing not to take notice that he denies what the Church of Rome affirms with relation to all these articles, and that he affirms what the Church of Rome denies."[9]

It must be acknowledged that these men, despite their great talents and their ardent piety, had not entirely escaped the degeneracy of their age. The light that was in them was partly mixed with darkness. Even the great Ambrose was touched with a veneration for relics, and a weakness for other superstitious of his times. But as regards the cardinal doctrines of salvation, the faith of these men was essentially Protestant, and stood out in bold antagonism to the leading principles of the Roman creed. And such, with more or less of clearness, must be held to have been the profession of the pastors over whom they presided. And the Churches they ruled and taught were numerous and widely planted. They flourished in the towns and villages which dot the vast plain that stretches like a garden for 200 miles along the foot of the Alps; they existed in those romantic and fertile valleys over which the great mountains hang their pine forests and snows, and, passing the summit, they extended into the southern provinces of France, even as far as to the Rhone, on the banks of which Polycarp, the disciple of John, in early times had planted the Gospel, to be watered in the succeeding centuries by the blood of thousands of martyrs. Darkness gives relief to the light, and error necessitates a fuller development and a clearer definition of truth. On this principle the ninth century produced the most remarkable perhaps of all those great champions who strove to set limits to the growing superstition, and to preserve, pure and undefiled, the faith which apostles had preached. The mantle of Ambrose descended on Claudius, Archbishop of Turin. This man beheld with dismay the stealthy approaches of a power which, putting out the eyes of men, bowed their necks to its yoke, and bent their knees to idols. He grasped the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and the battle which he so courageously waged, delayed, though it could not prevent, the fall of his Church's independence, and for two centuries longer the light continued to shine at the foot of the Alps. Claudius was an earnest and indefatigable student of Holy Scripture. That Book carried him back to the first age, and set him down at the feet of apostles, at the feet of One greater than apostles; and, while darkness was descending on the earth, around Claude still shone the day.

The truth, drawn from its primeval fountains, he proclaimed throughout his diocese, which included the valleys of the Waldenses. Where his voice could not reach, he labored to convey instruction by his pen. He wrote commentaries on the Gospels; he published expositions of almost all the epistles of Paul, and several books of the Old Testament; and thus he furnished his contemporaries with the means of judging how far it became them to submit to a jurisdiction so manifestly usurped as that of Rome, or to embrace tenets so undeniably novel as those which she was now foisting upon the world.[10] The sum of what Claude maintained was that there is but one Sovereign in the Church, and He is not on earth; that Peter had no superiority over the other apostles, save in this, that he was the first who preached the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles; that human merit is of no avail for salvation, and that faith alone saves us. On this cardinal point he insists with a clearness and breadth which remind one of Luther. The authority of tradition he repudiates, prayers for the dead he condemns, as also the notion that the Church cannot err. As regards relics, instead of holiness he can find in them nothing but rottenness, and advises that they be instantly returned to the grave, from which they ought never to have been taken.

Of the Eucharist, he writes in his commentary on Matthew (A.D. 815) in a way which shows that he stood at the greatest distance from the opinions which Paschasius Radbertus broached eighteen years afterwards.

Paschasius Radbertus, a monk, afterwards Abbot of Corbei, pretended to explain with precision the manner in which the body and blood of Christ are present in the Eucharist. He published (831) a treatise, "Concerning the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ." His doctrine amounted to the two following propositions: –

This new doctrine excited the astonishment of not a few, and called forth several powerful opponents – amongst others, Johannes Scotus.[11] Claudius, however, thought that the Lord's Supper was a memorial of Christ's death, and not a repetition of it, and that the elements of bread and wine were only symbols of the flesh and blood of the Savior.[12] It is clear from this that transubstantiation was unknown in the ninth century to the Churches at the foot of the Alps. Nor was it the Bishop of Turin only who held this doctrine of the Eucharist; we are entitled to infer that the bishops of neighboring dioceses, both north and south of the Alps, shared the opinion of Claude. For though they differed from him on some other points, and did not conceal their difference, they expressed no dissent from his views respecting the Sacrament, and in proof of their concurrence in his general policy, strongly urged him to continue his expositions of the Sacred Scriptures. Specially was this the case as regards two leading ecclesiastics of that day, Jonas, Bishop of Orleans, and the Abbot Theodemirus. Even in the century following, we find certain bishops of the north of Italy saying that "wicked men eat the goat and not the lamb," language wholly incomprehensible from the lips of men who believe in transubstantiation.[13]

The worship of images was then making rapid strides. The Bishop of Rome was the great advocate of this ominous innovation; it was on this point that Claude fought his great battle. He resisted it with all the logic of his pen and all the force of his eloquence; he condemned the practice as idolatrous, and he purged those churches in his diocese which had begun to admit representations of saints and divine persons within their walls, not even sparing the cross itself.[14] It is instructive to mark that the advocates of images in the ninth century justified their use of them by the very same arguments which Romanists employ at this day; and that Claude refutes them on the same ground taken by Protestant writers still. We do not worship the image, say the former, we use it simply as the medium through which our worship ascends to Him whom the image represents; and if we kiss the cross we do so in adoration of Him who died upon it. But, replied Claude – as the Protestant polemic at this hour replies in kneeling to the image, or kissing the cross, you do what the second commandment forbids, and what the Scripture condemns as idolatry. Your worship terminates in the image, and is the worship not of God, but simply of the image. With his argument the Bishop of Turin mingles at times a little raillery. "God commands one thing," says he, "and these people do quite the contrary. God commands us to bear our cross, and not to worship it; but these are all for worshipping it, whereas they do not bear it at all. To serve God after this manner is to go away from Him. For if we ought to adore the cross because Christ was fastened to it, how many other things are there which touched Jesus Christ! Why don't they adore mangers and old clothes, because He was laid in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes? Let them adore asses, because He, entered into Jerusalem upon the foal of an ass."[15]

On the subject of the Roman primacy, he leaves it in no wise doubtful what his sentiments were. "We know very well," says he, "that this passage of the Gospel is very ill understood – 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church: and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,' under pretense of which words the stupid and ignorant common people, destitute of all spiritual knowledge, betake themselves to Rome in hopes of acquiring eternal life. The ministry belongs to all the true superintendents and pastors of the Church, who discharge the same as long as they are in this world; and when they have paid the debt of death, others succeed in their places, who enjoy the same authority and power. Know thou that he only is apostolic who is the keeper and guardian of the apostle's doctrine, and not he who boasts himself to be seated in the chair of the apostle, and in the meantime doth not acquit himself of the charge of the apostle."[16]

We have dwelt the longer on Claude, and the doctrines which he so powerfully advocated by both voice and pen, because, although the picture of his times – a luxurious clergy but an ignorant people, Churches growing in magnificence but declining in piety, images adored but the true God forsaken – is not a pleasant one, yet it establishes two points of great importance. The first is that the Bishop of Rome had not yet succeeded in compelling universal submission to his jurisdiction; and the second that he had not yet been able to persuade all the Churches of Christendom to adopt his novel doctrines, and follow his peculiar customs. Claude was not left to fight that battle alone, nor was he crushed as he inevitably would have been, had Rome been the dominant power it came soon thereafter to be. On the contrary, this Protestant of the ninth century received a large amount of sympathy and support both from bishops and from synods of his time. Agobardus, the Bishop of Lyons, fought by the side of his brother of Turin [17] In fact, he was as great an iconoclast as Claude himself.[18] The emperor, Louis the Pious (le Debonnaire), summoned a Council (824) of "the most learned and judicious bishops of his realm," says Dupin, to discuss this question. For in that age the emperors summoned synods and appointed bishops. And when the Council had assembled, did it wait till Peter should speak, or a Papal allocution had decided the point? "It knew no other way," says Dupin, "to settle the question, than by determining what they should find upon the most impartial examination to be true, by plain text of Holy Scripture, and the judgment of the Fathers."[19] This Council at Paris justified most of the principles for which Claude had contended,[20] as the great Council at Frankfort (794) had done before it. It is worthy of notice further, as bearing on this point, that only two men stood up publicly to oppose Claude during the twenty years he was incessantly occupied in this controversy. The first was Dungulas, a recluse of the Abbey of St. Denis, an Italian, it is believed, and biased naturally in favor of the opinions of the Pope; and the second was Jonas, Bishop of Orleans, who differed from Claude on but the one question of images, and only to the extent of tolerating their use, but condemning as idolatrous their worship – a distinction which it is easy to maintain in theory, but impossible to observe, as experience has demonstrated, in practice.

And here let us interpose an observation. We speak at times of the signal benefits which the "Church" conferred upon the Gothic nations during the Middle Ages. She put herself in the place of a mother to those barbarous tribes; she weaned them from the savage usages of their original homes; she bowed their stubborn necks to the authority of law; she opened their minds to the charms of knowledge and art; and thus laid the foundation of those civilized and prosperous communities which have since arisen in the West. But when we so speak it behooves us to specify with some distinctness what we mean by the "Church" to which we ascribe the glory of this service. Is it the Church of Rome, or is it the Church universal of Christendom? If we mean the former, the facts of history do not bear out our conclusion. The Church of Rome was not then the Church, but only one of many Churches. The slow but beneficent and laborious work of evangelizing and civilizing the Northern nations, was the joint result of the action of all the Churches – of Northern Italy, of France, of Spain, of Germany, of Britain – and each performed its part in this great work with a measure of success exactly corresponding to the degree in which it retained the pure principles of primitive Christianity. The Churches would have done their task much more effectually and speedily but for the adverse influence of Rome. She hung upon their rear, by her perpetual attempts to bow them to her yoke, and to seduce them from their first purity to her thinly disguised paganisms. Emphatically, the power that molded the Gothic nations, and planted among them the seeds of religion and virtue, was Christianity – that same Christianity which apostles preached to men in the first age, which all the ignorance and superstition of subsequent times had not quite extinguished, and which, with immense toil and suffering dug up from under the heaps of rubbish that had been piled above it, was anew, in the sixteenth century, given to the world under the name of Protestantism.

CHAPTER 6 Back to Top


Submission of the Churches of Lombardy to Rome – The Old Faith maintained in the Mountains – The Waldensian Churches – Question of their Antiquity – Approach to their Mountains – Arrangement of their Valleys – Picture of blended Beauty and Grandeur.

WHEN Claude died it can hardly be said that his mantle was taken up by any one. The battle, although not altogether dropped, was henceforward languidly maintained. Before this time not a few Churches beyond the Alps had submitted to the yoke of Rome, and that arrogant power must have felt it not a little humiliating to find her authority withstood on what she might regard as her own territory. She was venerated abroad but contemned at home. Attempts were renewed to induce the Bishops of Milan to accept the episcopal pall, the badge of spiritual vassalage, from the Pope; but it was not till the middle of the eleventh century (1059), under Nicholas II., that these attempts were successful.[1] Petrus Damianus, Bishop of Ostia, and Anselm, Bishop of Lucca, were dispatched by the Pontiff to receive the submission of the Lombard Churches, and the popular tumults amid which that submission was extorted sufficiently show that the spirit of Claude still lingered at the foot of the Alps. Nor did the clergy conceal the regret with which they laid their ancient liberties at the feet of a power before which the whole earth was then bowing down; for the Papal legate, Damianus, informs us that the clergy of Milan maintained in his presence, "That the Ambrosian Church, according to the ancient institutions of the Fathers, was always free, without being subject to the laws of Rome, and that the Pope of Rome had no jurisdiction over their Church as to the government or constitution of it."[2]

But if the plains were conquered, not so the mountains. A considerable body of Protesters stood out against this deed of submission. Of these some crossed the Alps, descended the Rhine, and raised the standard of opposition in the diocese of Cologne, where they were branded as Manicheans, and rewarded with the stake. Others retired into the valleys of the Piedmontese Alps, and there maintained their scriptural faith and their ancient independence. What we have just related respecting the dioceses of Milan and Turin settles the question, in our opinion, of the apostolicity of the Churches of the Waldensian valleys. It is not necessary to show that missionaries were sent from Rome in the first age to plant Christianity in these valleys, nor is it necessary to show that these Churches have existed as distinct and separate communities from early days; enough that they formed a part, as unquestionably they did, of the great evangelical Church of the north of Italy. This is the proof at once of their apostolicity and their independence. It attests their descent from apostolic men, if doctrine be the life of Churches. When their co-religionists on the plains entered within the pale of the Roman jurisdiction, they retired within the mountains, and, spurning alike the tyrannical yoke and the corrupt tenets of the Church of the Seven Hills, they preserved in its purity and simplicity the faith their fathers had handed down to them. Rome manifestly was the schismatic, she it was that had abandoned what was once the common faith of Christendom, leaving by that step to all who remained on the old ground the indisputably valid title of the True Church.

Behind this rampart of mountains, which Providence, foreseeing the approach of evil days, would almost seem to have reared on purpose, did the remnant of the early apostolic Church of Italy kindle their lamp, and here did that lamp continue to burn all through the long night which descended on Christendom. There is a singular concurrence of evidence in favor of their high antiquity. Their traditions invariably point to an unbroken descent from the earliest times, as regards their religious belief. The Nobla Leycon, which dates from the year 1100, [3] goes to prove that the Waldenses of Piedmont did not owe their rise to Peter Waldo of Lyons, who did not appear till the latter half of that century (1160). The Nobla Leycon, though a poem, is in reality a confession of faith, and could have been composed only after some considerable study of the system of Christianity, in contradistinction to the errors of Rome. How could a Church have arisen with such a document in her hands? Or how could these herdsmen and vine-dressers, shut up in their mountains, have detected the errors against which they bore testimony, and found their way to the truths of which they made open profession in times of darkness like these? If we grant that their religious beliefs were the heritage of former ages, handed down from an evangelical ancestry, all is plain; but if we maintain that they were the discovery of the men of those days, we assert what approaches almost to a miracle. Their greatest enemies, Claude Seyssel of Turin (1517), and Reynerius the Inquisitor (1250), have admitted their antiquity, and stigmatized them as "the most dangerous of all heretics, because the most ancient."

Rorenco, Prior of St. Roch, Turin (1640), was employed to investigate the origin and antiquity of the Waldenses, and of course had access to all the Waldensian documents in the ducal archives, and being their bitter enemy he may be presumed to have made his report not more favorable than he could help. Yet he states that "they were not a new sect in the ninth and tenth centuries, and that Claude of Turin must have detached them from the Church in the ninth century."

Within the limits of her own land did God provide a dwelling for this venerable Church. Let us bestow a glance upon the region. As one comes from the south, across the level plain of Piedmont, while yet nearly a hundred miles off, he sees the Alps rise before him, stretching like a great wall along the horizon. From the gates of the morning to those of the setting sun, the mountains run on in a line of towering magnificence. Pasturages and chestnut-forests clothe their base; eternal snows crown their summits. How varied are their forms! Some rise strong and massy as castles; others shoot up tall and tapering like needles; while others again run along in serrated lines, their summits torn and cleft by the storms of many thousand winters. At the hour of sunrise, what a glory kindles along the crest of that snowy rampart! At sunset the spectacle is again renewed, and a line of pyres is seen to burn in the evening sky.

Drawing nearer the hills, on a line about thirty miles west of Turin, there opens before one what seems a great mountain portal. This is the entrance to the Waldensian territory. A low hill drawn along in front serves as a defense against all who may come with hostile intent, as but too frequently happened in times gone by, while a stupendous monolith – the Castelluzzo – shoots up to the clouds, and stands sentinel at the gate of this renowned region. As one approaches La Torre the Castelluzzo rises higher and higher, and irresistibly fixes the eye by the perfect beauty of its pillar-like form. But; to this mountain a higher interest belongs than any that mere symmetry can give it. It is indissolubly linked with martyr-memories, and borrows a halo from the achievements of the past. How often, in days of old, was the confessor hurled sheer down its awful steep and dashed on the rocks at its foot! And there, commingled in one ghastly heap, growing ever the bigger and ghastlier as another and yet another victim was added to it, lay the mangled bodies of pastor and peasant, of mother and child! It was the tragedies connected with this mountain mainly that called forth Milton's well-known sonnet: –

"Avenge, O Lord, Thy slaughter'd saints, whose bones
Lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains cold.
* * *
In Thy book record their groans
Who were Thy sheep, and in their ancient fold,
Slain by the bloody Piedmontese,
That roll'd Mother with infant down the rocks. their moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To heaven."

The elegant temple of the Waldenses rises near the foot of the Castelluzzo. The Waldensian valleys are seven in number; they were more in ancient times, but the limits of the Vaudois territory have undergone repeated curtailment, and now only the number we have stated remain, lying between Pinerolo on the east and Monte Viso on the west – that pyramidal hill which forms so prominent an object from every part of the plain of Piedmont, towering as it does above the surrounding mountains, and, like a horn of silver, cutting the ebon of the firmament.

The first three valleys run out somewhat like the spokes of a wheel, the spot on which we stand – the gateway, namely – being the nave. The first is Luserna, or Valley of Light. It runs right out in a grand gorge of some twelve miles in length by about two in width. It wears a carpeting of meadows, which the waters of the Pelice keep ever fresh and bright. A profusion of vines, acacias, and mulberry-trees fleck it with their shadows; and a wall of lofty mountains encloses it on either hand. The second is Rora, or Valley of Dews. It is a vast cup, some fifty miles in circumference, its sides luxuriantly clothed with meadow and corn-field, with fruit and forest trees, and its rim formed of craggy and spiky mountains, many of them snow-clad. The third is Angrogna, or Valley of Groans. Of it we shall speak more particularly afterwards. Beyond the extremity of the first three valleys are the remaining four, forming, as it were, the rim of the wheel. These last are enclosed in their turn by a line of lofty and craggy mountains, which form a wall of defense around the entire territory. Each valley is a fortress, having its own gate of ingress and egress, with its caves, and rocks, and mighty chestnut-trees, forming places of retreat and shelter, so that the highest engineering skill could not have better adapted each several valley to its end. It is not less remarkable that, taking all these valleys together, each is so related to each, and the one opens so into the other, that they may be said to form one fortress of amazing and matchless strength – wholly impregnable, in fact. All the fortresses of Europe, though combined, would not form a citadel so enormously strong, and so dazzlingly magnificent, as the mountain dwelling of the Vaudois. "The Eternal, our God," says Leger "having destined this land to be the theater of His marvels, and the bulwark of His ark, has, by natural means, most marvelously fortified it." The battle begun in one valley could be continued in another, and carried round the entire territory, till at last the invading foe, overpowered by the rocks rolled upon him from the mountains, or assailed by enemies which would start suddenly out of the mist or issue from some unsuspected cave, found retreat impossible, and, cut off in detail, left his bones to whiten the mountains he had come to subdue.

These valleys are lovely and fertile, as well as strong. They are watered by numerous torrents, which descend from the snows of the summits. The grassy carpet of their bottom; the mantling vine and the golden grain of their lower slopes; the chalets that dot their sides, sweetly embowered amid fruit-trees; and, higher up, the great chestnut-forests and the pasture-lands, where the herdsmen keep watch over their flocks all through the summer days and the starlit nights: the nodding crags, from which the torrent leaps into the light; the rivulet, singing with quiet gladness in the shady nook; the mists, moving grandly among the mountains, now veiling, now revealing their majesty; and the far-off summits, tipped with silver, to be changed at eve into gleaming gold – make up a picture of blended beauty and grandeur, not equaled perhaps, and certainly not surpassed, in any other region of the earth.

In the heart of their mountains is situated the most interesting, perhaps, of all their valleys. It was in this retreat, walled round by "hills whose heads touch heaven," that their barbes or pastors, from all their several parishes, were wont to meet in annual synod. It was here that their college stood, and it was here that their missionaries were trained, and, after ordination, were sent forth to sow the good seed, as opportunity offered, in other lands. Let us visit this valley. We ascend to it by the long, narrow, and winding Angrogna. Bright meadows enliven its entrance. The mountains on either hand are clothed with the vine, the mulberry, and the chestnut. Anon the valley contracts. It becomes rough with projecting rocks, and shady with great trees. A few paces farther, and it expands into a circular basin, feathery with birches, musical with falling waters, environed atop by naked crags, fringed with dark pines, while the white peak looks down upon one out of heaven. A little in advance the valley seems shut in by a mountainous wall, drawn right across it; and beyond, towering sublimely upward, is seen an assemblage of snow-clad Alps, amid which is placed the valley we are in quest of, where burned of old the candle of the Waldenses. Some terrible convulsion has rent this mountain from top to bottom, opening a path through it to the valley beyond. We enter the dark chasm, and proceed along on a narrow ledge in the mountain's side, hung half-way between the torrent, which is heard thundering in the abyss below, and the summits which lean over us above. Journeying thus for about two miles, we find the pass beginning to widen, the light to break in, and now we arrive at the gate of the Pra.

There opens before us a noble circular valley, its grassy bottom watered by torrents, its sides dotted with dwellings and clothed with corn-fields and pasturages, while a ring of white peaks guards it above. This was the inner sanctuary of the Waldensian temple. The rest of Italy had turned aside to idols, the Waldensian territory alone had been reserved for the worship of the true God. And was it not meet that on its native soil a remnant of the apostolic Church of Italy should be maintained, that Rome and all Christendom might have before their eyes a perpetual monument of what they themselves had once been, and a living witness to testify how far they had departed from their first faith?[4]

CHAPTER 7 Back to Top


Their Synod and College – Their Theological Tenets – Romaunt Version of the New Testament – The Constitution of their Church – Their Missionary Labors – Wide Diffusion of their Tenets – The Stone Smiting the Image.

ONE would like to have a near view of the barbes or pastors, who presided over the school of early Protestant theology that existed here, and to know how it fared with evangelical Christianity in the ages that preceded the Reformation. But the time is remote, and the events are dim. We can but doubtfully glean from a variety of sources the facts necessary to form a picture of this venerable Church, and even then the picture is not complete. The theology of which this was one of the fountainheads was not the clear, well-defined, and comprehensive system which the sixteenth century gave its; it was only what the faithful men of the Lombard Churches had been able to save from the wreck of primitive Christianity. True religion, being a revelation, was from the beginning complete and perfect; nevertheless, in this as in every other branch of knowledge, it is only by patient labor that man is able to extricate and arrange all its parts, and to come into the full possession of truth. The theology taught in former ages, in the peak-environed valley in which we have in imagination placed ourselves, was drawn from the Bible. The atoning death and justifying righteousness of Christ was its cardinal truth. This, the Nobla Leycon and other ancient documents abundantly testify. The Nobla Leycon sets forth with tolerable clearness the doctrine of the Trinity, the fall of man, the incarnation of the Son, the perpetual authority of the Decalogue as given by God,[1] the need of Divine grace in order to good works, the necessity of holiness, the institution of the ministry, the resurrection of the body, and the eternal bliss of heaven.[2] This creed, its professors exemplified in lives of evangelical virtue. The blamelessness of the Waldenses passed into a proverb, so that one more than ordinarily exempt from the vices of his time was sure to be suspected of being a Vaudes.[3] If doubt there were regarding the tenets of the Waldenses, the charges which their enemies have preferred against them would set that doubt at rest, and make it tolerably certain that they held substantially what the apostles before their day, and the Reformers after it, taught. The indictment against the Waldenses included a formidable list of "heresies." They held that there had been no true Pope since the days of Sylvester; that temporal offices and dignities were not meet for preachers of the Gospel; that the Pope's pardons were a cheat; that purgatory was a fable; that relics were simply rotten bones which had belonged to no one knew whom; that to go on pilgrimage served no end, save to empty one's purse; that flesh might be eaten any day if one's appetite served him; that holy water was not a whit more efficacious than rain water; and that prayer in a barn was just as effectual as if offered in a church. They were accused, moreover, of having scoffed at the doctrine of transubstantiation, and of having spoken blasphemously of Rome, as the harlot of the Apocalypse.[4] There is reason to believe, from recent historical researches, that the Waldenses possessed the New Testament in the vernacular. The "Lingua Romana" or Romaunt tongue was the common language of the south of Europe from the eighth to the fourteenth century. It was the language of the troubadours and of men of letters in the Dark Ages. Into this tongue – the Romaunt – was the first translation of the whole of the New Testament made so early as the twelfth century. This fact Dr. Gilly has been at great pains to prove in his work, The Romaunt Version [5] of the Gospel according to John. The sum of what Dr. Gilly, by a patient investigation into facts, and a great array of historic documents, maintains, is that all the books of the New Testament were translated from the Latin Vulgate into the Romaunt, that this was the first literal version since the fall of the empire, that it was made in the twelfth century, and was the first translation available for popular use. There were numerous earlier translations, but only of parts of the Word of God, and many of these were rather paraphrases or digests of Scripture than translations, and, moreover, they were so bulky, and by consequence so costly, as to be utterly beyond the reach of the common people. This Romaunt version was the first complete and literal translation of the New Testament of Holy Scripture; it was made, as Dr Gilly, by a chain of proofs, shows, most probably under the superintendence and at the expense of Peter Waldo of Lyons, not later than 1180, and so is older than any complete version in German, French, Italian, Spanish, or English. This version was widely spread in the south of France, and in the cities of Lombardy. It was in common use among the Waldenses of Piedmont, and it was no small part, doubtless, of the testimony borne to truth by these mountaineers to preserve and circulate it. Of the Romaunt New Testament six copies have come down to our day. A copy is preserved at each of the four following places, Lyons, Grenoble, Zurich, Dublin; and two copies are at Paris. These are plain and portable volumes, contrasting with those splendid and ponderous folios of the Latin Vulgate, penned in characters of gold and silver, richly illuminated, their bindings decorated with gems, inviting admiration rather than study, and unfitted by their size and splendor for the use of the People.

The Church of the Alps, in the simplicity of its constitution, may be held to have been a reflection of the Church of the first centuries. The entire territory included in the Waldensian limits was divided into parishes. In each parish was placed a pastor, who led his flock to the living waters of the Word of God. He preached, he dispensed the Sacraments, he visited the sick, and catechized the young. With him was associated in the government of his congregation a consistory of laymen. The synod met once a year. It was composed of all the pastors, with an equal number of laymen, and its most frequent place of meeting was the secluded mountain-engirdled valley at the head of Angrogna. Sometimes as many as a hundred and fifty barbes, with the same number of lay members, would assemble. We can imagine them seated – it may be on the grassy slopes of the valley – a venerable company of humble, learned, earnest men, presided over by a simple moderator (for higher office or authority was unknown amongst them), and intermitting their deliberations respecting the affairs of their Churches, and the condition of their flocks, only to offer their prayers and praises to the Eternal, while the majestic snow-clad peaks looked down upon them from the silent firmament. There needed, verily, no magnificent fane, no blazonry of mystic rites to make their assembly august.

The youth who here sat at the feet of the more venerable and learned of their barbes used as their text-book the Holy Scriptures. And not only did they study the sacred volume; they were required to commit to memory, and be able accurately to recite, whole Gospels and Epistles. This was a necessary accomplishment on the part of public instructors, in those ages when printing was unknown, and copies of the Word of God were rare. Part of their time was occupied in transcribing the Holy Scriptures, or portions of them, which they were to distribute when they went forth as missionaries. By this, and by other agencies, the seed of the Divine Word was scattered throughout Europe more widely than is commonly supposed. To this a variety of causes contributed. There was then a general impression that the world was soon to end. Men thought that they saw the prognostications of its dissolution in the disorder into which all things had fallen. The pride, luxury, and profligacy of the clergy led not a few laymen to ask if better and more certain guides were not to be had. Many of the troubadours were religious men, whose lays were sermons. The hour of deep and universal slumber had passed; the serf was contending with his seigneur for personal freedom, and the city was waging war with the baronial castle for civic and corporate independence. The New Testament – and, as we learn from incidental notices, portions of the Old – coming at this juncture, in a language understood alike in the court as in the camp, in the city as in the rural hamlet, was welcome to many, and its truths obtained a wider promulgation than perhaps had taken place since the publication of the Vulgate by Jerome.

After passing a certain time in the school of the barbes, it was not uncommon for the Waldensian youth to proceed to the seminaries in the great cities of Lombardy, or to the Sorbonne at Paris. There they saw other customs, were initiated into other studies, and had a wider horizon around them than in the seclusion of their native valleys. Many of them became expert dialecticians, and often made converts of the rich merchants with whom they traded, and the landlords in whose houses they lodged. The priests seldom cared to meet in argument the Waldensian missionary. To maintain the truth in their own mountains was not the only object of this people. They felt their relations to the rest of Christendom. They sought to drive back the darkness, and re-conquer the kingdoms which Rome had overwhelmed. They were an evangelistic as well as an evangelical Church. It was an old law among them that all who took orders in their Church should, before being eligible to a home charge, serve three years in the mission field. The youth on whose head the assembled barbes laid their hands saw in prospect not a rich benefice, but a possible martyrdom. The ocean they did not cross. Their mission field was the realms that lay outspread at the foot of their own mountains. They went forth two and two, concealing their real character under the guise of a secular profession, most commonly that of merchants or peddlers. They carried silks, jewelry, and other articles, at that time not easily purchasable save at distant marts, and they were welcomed as merchants where they would have been spurned as missionaries. The door of the cottage and the portal of the baron's castle stood equally open to them. But their address was mainly shown in vending, without money and without price, rarer and more valuable merchandise than the gems and silks which had procured them entrance. They took care to carry with them, concealed among their wares or about their persons, portions of the Word of God, their own transcription commonly, and to this they would draw the attention of the inmates. When they saw a desire to possess it, they would freely make a gift of it where the means to purchase were absent.

There was no kingdom of Southern and Central Europe to which these missionaries did not find their way, and where they did not leave traces of their visit in the disciples whom they made. On the west they penetrated into Spain. In Southern France they found congenial fellow-laborers in the Albigenses, by whom the seeds of truth were plentifully scattered over Dauphine and Languedoc. On the east, descending the Rhine and the Danube, they leavened Germany, Bohemia, and Poland [6] with their doctrines, their track being marked with the edifices for worship and the stakes of martyrdom that arose around their steps. Even the Seven-hilled City they feared not to enter, scattering the seed on ungenial soil, if perchance some of it might take root and grow. Their naked feet and coarse woolen garments made them somewhat marked figures, in the streets of a city that clothed itself in purple and fine linen; and when their real errand was discovered, as sometimes chanced, the rulers of Christendom took care to further, in their own way, the springing of the seed, by watering it with the blood of the men who had sowed it.[7]

Thus did the Bible in those ages, veiling its majesty and its mission, travel silently through Christendom, entering homes and hearts, and there making its abode. From her lofty seat Rome looked down with contempt upon the Book and its humble bearers. She aimed at bowing the necks of kings, thinking if they were obedient meaner men would not dare revolt, and so she took little heed of a power which, weak as it seemed, was destined at a future day to break in pieces the fabric of her dominion. By-and-by she began to be uneasy, and to have a boding of calamity. The penetrating eye of Innocent III. detected the quarter whence danger was to arise. He saw in the labors of these humble men the beginning of a movement which, if permitted to go on and gather strength, would one day sweep away all that it had taken the toils and intrigues of centuries to achieve. He straightway commenced those terrible crusades which wasted the sowers but watered the seed, and helped to bring on, at its appointed hour, the catastrophe which he sought to avert.[8]

CHAPTER 8 Back to Top


The Paulicians the Protesters against the Eastern, as the Waldenses against the Western Apostasy – Their Rise in A.D. 653 – Constantine of Samosata-Their Tenets Scriptural – Constantine Stoned to Death – Simeon Succeeds – Is put to Death – Sergius – His Missionary Travels – Terrible Persecutions-The Paulicians Rise in Arms – Civil War – The Government Triumphs – Dispersion of the Paulicians over the West – They Blend with the Waldenses – Movement in the South of Europe – The Troubadour, the Barbe, and the Bible, the Three Missionaries – Innocent III. – The Crusades.

BESIDES this central and main body of oppositionists to Rome – Protestants before Protestantism – placed here as in an impregnable fortress, upreared on purpose, in the very center of Roman Christendom, other communities and individuals arose, and maintained a continuous line of Protestant testimony all along to the sixteenth century. These we shall compendiously group and rapidly describe. First, there are the Paulicians. They occupy an analogous place in the East to that which the Waldenses held in the West. Some obscurity rests upon their origin, and additional mystery has on purpose been cast over it, but a fair and impartial examination of the matter leaves no doubt that the Paulicians are the remnant that escaped the apostasy of the Eastern Church, just as the Waldenses are the remnant saved from the apostasy of the Western Church. Doubt, too, has been thrown upon their religious opinions; they have been painted as a confederacy of Manicheans, just as the Waldenses were branded as a synagogue of heretics; but in the former case, as in the latter, an examination of the matter satisfies us that these imputations had no sufficient foundation, that the Paulicians repudiated the errors imputed to them, and that as a body their opinions were in substantial agreement with the doctrine of Holy Writ. Nearly all the information we have of them is that which Petrus Siculus, their bitter enemy, has communicated. He visited them when they were in their most flourishing condition, and the account he has given of their distinguishing doctrines sufficiently proves that the Paulicians had rejected the leading errors of the Greek and Roman Churches; but it fails to show that they had embraced the doctrine of Manes,[1] or were justly liable to be styled Manicheans.

In A.D. 653, a deacon returning from captivity in Syria rested a night in the house of an Armenian named Constantine, who lived in the neighborhood of Samosata. On the morrow, before taking his departure, he presented his host with a copy of the New Testament. Constantine studied the sacred volume. A new light broke upon his mind: the errors of the Greek Church stood clearly revealed, and he instantly resolved to separate himself from so corrupt a communion. He drew others to the study of the Scriptures, and the same light shone into their minds which had irradiated his. Sharing his views, they shared with him his secession from the established Church of the Empire. It was the boast of this new party, now grown to considerable numbers, that they adhered to the Scriptures, and especially to the writings of Paul. "I am Sylvanus," said Constantine, "and ye are Macedonians," intimating thereby that the Gospel which he would teach, and they should learn, was that of Paul; hence the name of Paulicians, a designation they would not have been ambitious to wear had their doctrine been Manichean.[2]

These disciples multiplied. A congenial soil favored their increase, for in these same mountains, where are placed the sources of the Euphrates, the Nestorian remnant had found a refuge. The attention of the Government at Constantinople was at length turned to them, and persecution followed. Constantine, whose zeal, constancy, and piety had been amply tested by the labors of twenty-seven years, was stoned to death. From his ashes arose a leader still more powerful. Simeon, an officer of the palace who had been sent with a body of troops to superintend his execution, was converted by his martyrdom; and, like Paul after the stoning of Stephen, forthwith began to preach the faith which he had once persecuted. Simeon ended his career, as Constantine had done, by sealing his testimony with his blood; the stake being planted beside the heap of stones piled above the ashes of Constantine.

Still the Paulicians multiplied; other leaders arose to fill the place of those who had fallen, and neither the anathemas of the hierarchy nor the sword of the State could check their growth. All through the eighth century they continued to flourish. The worship of images was now the fashionable superstition in the Eastern Church, and the Paulicians rendered themselves still more obnoxious to the Greek authorities, lay and clerical, by the strenuous opposition which they offered to that idolatry of which the Greeks were the great advocates and patrons. This drew upon them yet sorer persecution. It was now, in the end of the eighth century, that the most remarkable perhaps of all their leaders, Sergius, rose to head them, a man of truly missionary spirit and of indomitable energy. Petrus Siculus has given us an account of the conversion of Sergius. We should take it for a satire, were it not for the manifest earnestness and simplicity of the writer. Siculus tells us that Satan appeared to Sergius in the shape of an old woman, and asked him why he did not read the New Testament? The tempter proceeded further to recite portions of Holy Writ, whereby Sergius was seduced to read the Scripture, and so perverted to heresy; and "from sheep," says Siculus, "turned numbers into wolves, and by their means ravaged the sheepfolds of Christ."[3]

During thirty-four years, and in the course of innumerable journeys, he preached the Gospel from East to West, and converted great numbers of his countrymen. The result was more terrible persecutions, which were continued through successive reigns. Foremost in this work we find the Emperor Leo, the Patriarch Nicephorus, and notably the Empress Theodora. Under the latter it was affirmed, says Gibbon, "that one hundred thousand Paulicians were extirpated by the sword, the gibbet, or the flames." It is admitted by the same historian that the chief guilt of many of those who were thus destroyed lay in their being Iconoclasts.[4] The sanguinary zeal of Theodora kindled a flame which had well-nigh consumed the Empire of the East. The Paulicians, stung by these cruel injuries, now prolonged for two centuries, at last took up arms, as the Waldenses of Piedmont, the Hussites of Bohemia, and the Huguenots of France did in similar circumstances. They placed their camp in the mountains between Sewas and Trebizond, and for thirty-five years (A.D. 845 – 880) the Empire of Constantinople was afflicted with the calamities of civil war. Repeated victories, won over the troops of the emperor, crowned the arms of the Paulicians, and at length the insurgents were joined by the Saracens, who hung on the frontier of the Empire. The flames of battle extended into the heart of Asia; and as it is impossible to restrain the ravages of the sword when once unsheathed, the Paulicians passed from a righteous defense to an inexcusable revenge. Entire provinces were wasted, opulent cities were sacked, ancient and famous churches were turned into stables, and troops of captives were held to ransom or delivered to the executioner. But it must not be forgotten that the original cause of these manifold miseries was the bigotry of the government and the zeal of the clergy for image-worship. The fortune of war at last declared in favor of the troops of the emperor, and the insurgents were driven back into their mountains, where for a century afterwards they enjoyed a partial independence, and maintained the profession of their religious faith.

After this, the Paulicians were transported across the Bosphorus, and settled in Thrace.[5] This removal was begun by the Emperor Constantine Copronymus in the middle of the eighth century, was continued in successive colonies in the ninth, and completed about the end of the tenth. The shadow of the Saracenic woe was already blackening over the Eastern Empire, and God removed His witnesses betimes from the destined scene of judgment. The arrival of the Paulicians in Europe was regarded with favor rather than disapproval. Rome was becoming by her tyranny the terror and by her profligacy the scandal of the West, and men were disposed to welcome whatever promised to throw additional weight into the opposing scale. The Paulicians soon spread themselves over Europe, and though no chronicle records their dispersion, the fact is attested by the sudden and simultaneous outbreak of their opinions in many of the Western countries.[6] They mingled with the hosts of the Crusaders returning from the Holy Land through Hungary and Germany; they joined themselves to the caravans of merchants who entered the harbor of Venice and the gates of Lombardy; or they followed the Byzantine standard into Southern Italy, and by these various routes settled themselves in the West.[7] They incorporated with the preexisting bodies of oppositionists, and from this time a new life is seen to animate the efforts of the Waldenses of Piedmont, the Albigenses of Southern France, and of others who, in other parts of Europe, revolted by the growing superstitions, had begun to retrace their steps towards the primeval fountains of truth. "Their opinions," says Gibbon, "were silently propagated in Rome, Milan, and the kingdoms beyond the Alps. It was soon discovered that many thousand Catholics of every rank, and of either sex, had embraced the Manichean heresy."[8] From this point the Paulician stream becomes blended with that of the other early confessors of the Truth. To these we now return.

When we cast our eyes over Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, our attention is irresistibly riveted on the south of France. There a great movement is on the eve of breaking out. Cities and provinces are seen rising in revolt against the Church of Rome. Judging from the aspect of things on the surface, one would have inferred that all opposition to Rome had died out. Every succeeding century was deepening the foundations and widening the limits of the Romish Church, and it seemed now as if there awaited her ages of quiet and unchallenged dominion. It is at this moment that her power begins to totter; and though she will rise higher ere terminating her career, her decadence has already begun, and her fall may be postponed, but cannot be averted. But how do we account for the powerful movement that begins to show itself at the foot of the Alps, at a moment when, as it seems, every enemy has been vanquished, and Rome has won the battle? To attack her now, seated as we behold her amid vassal kings, obedient nations, and entrenched behind a triple rampart of darkness, is surely to invite destruction.

The causes of this movement had been long in silent operation. In fact, this was the very quarter of Christendom where opposition to the growing tyranny and superstitions of Rome might be expected first to show itself. Here it was that Polycarp and Irenaeus had labored. Over all those goodly plains which the Rhone waters, and in those numerous cities and villages over which the Alps stretch their shadows, these apostolic men had planted Christianity. Hundreds of thousands of martyrs had here watered it with their blood, and though a thousand years well-nigh had passed since that day, the story of their terrible torments and heroic deaths had not been altogether forgotten. In the Cottian Alps and the province of Languedoc, Vigilantius had raised his powerful protest against the errors of his times. This region was included, as we have seen, in the diocese of Milan, and, as a consequence, it enjoyed the light which shone on the south of the Alps long after Churches not a few on the north of these mountains were plunged in darkness. In the ninth century Claude of Turin had found in the Archbishop of Lyons, Agobardus, a man willing to entertain his views and to share his conflicts. Since that time the night had deepened here as everywhere else. But still, as may be conceived, there were memories of the past, there were seeds in the soil, which new forces might quicken and make to spring up. Such a force did now begin to act. It was, moreover, on this spot, and among these peoples – the best prepared of all the nations of the West – that the Word of God was first published in the vernacular. When the Romance version of the New Testament was issued, the people that sat in darkness saw a great light. This was in fact a second giving of Divine Revelation to the nations of Europe; for the early Saxon renderings of portions of Holy Writ had fallen aside and gone utterly into disuse; and though Jerome's translation, the Vulgate, was still known, it was in Latin, now a dead language, and its use was confined to the priests, who though they possessed it cannot be said to have known it; for the reverence paid it lay in the rich illuminations of its writing, in the gold and gems of its binding, and the curiously-carved and costly cabinets in which it was locked up, and not in the earnestness with which its pages were studied. Now the nations of Southern Europe could read, each in "the tongue wherein he was born," the wonderful works of God.

This inestimable boon they owed to Peter Valdes or Waldo, a rich merchant in Lyons, who had been awakened to serious thought by the sudden death of a companion, according to some, by the chance lay of a traveling troubadour, according to others. We can imagine the wonder and joy of these people when this light broke upon them through the clouds that environed them. But we must not picture to ourselves a diffusion of the Bible, in those ages, at all so wide and rapid as would take place in our day when copies can be so easily multiplied by the printing press. Each copy was laboriously produced by the pen; its price corresponded to the time and labor expended in its production; it had to be carried long distances, often by slow and uncertain conveyances; and, last of all, it had to encounter the frowns and ultimately the prohibitory edicts of a hostile hierarchy. But there were compensatory advantages. Difficulties but tended to whet the desire of the people to obtain the Book, and when once their eyes lighted on its page, its truths made the deeper an impression on their minds. It stood out in its sublimity from the fables on which they had been fed. The conscience felt that a greater than man was speaking from its page. Each copy served scores and hundreds of readers.

Besides, if the mechanical appliances were lacking to those ages, which the progress of invention has conferred on ours, there existed a living machinery which worked indefatigably. The Bible was sung in the lays of troubadours and minnesingers. It was recited in the sermons of barbes. And these efforts reacted on the Book from which they had sprung, by leading men to the yet more earnest perusal and the yet wider diffusion of it. The Troubadour, the Barbe, and, mightiest of all, the Bible, were the three missionaries that traversed the south of Europe. Disciples were multiplied: congregations were formed: barons, cities, provinces, joined the movement. It seemed as if the Reformation was come. Not yet. Rome had not filled up her cup; nor had the nations of Europe that full and woeful demonstration they have since received, how crushing to liberty, to knowledge, to order, is her yoke, to induce them to join universally in the struggle to break it.

Besides, it happened, as has often been seen at historic crises of the Papacy, that a Pope equal to the occasion filled the Papal throne. Of remarkable vigor, of dauntless spirit, and of sanguinary temper, Innocent III. but too truly guessed the character and divined the issue of the movement. He sounded the tocsin of persecution. Mail-clad abbots, lordly prelates, "who wielded by turns the crosier, the scepter, and the sword;"[9] barons and counts ambitious of enlarging their domains, and mobs eager to wreak their savage fanaticism on their neighbors, whose persons they hated and whose goods they coveted, assembled at the Pontiff's summons. Fire and sword speedily did the work of extermination. Where before had been seen smiling provinces, flourishing cities, and a numerous, virtuous, and orderly population, there was now a blackened and silent desert. That nothing might be lacking to carry on this terrible work, Innocent III. set up the tribunal of the Inquisition. Behind the soldiers of the Cross marched the monks of St. Dominic, and what escaped the sword of the one perished by the racks of the other. In one of those dismal tragedies not fewer than a hundred thousand persons are said to have been destroyed.[10] Over wide areas not a living thing was left: all were given to the sword. Mounds of ruins and ashes alone marked the spot where cities and villages had formerly stood. But this violence recoiled in the end on the power which had employed it. It did not extinguish the movement: it but made the roots strike deeper, to spring up again and again, and each time with greater vigor and over a wider area, till at last it was seen that Rome by these deeds was only preparing for Protestantism a more glorious triumph, and for herself a more signal overthrow.

But these events are too intimately connected with the early history of Protestantism, and they too truly depict the genius and policy of that power against which Protestantism found it so hard a matter to struggle into existence, to be passed over in silence, or dismissed with a mere general description. We must go a little into detail.

CHAPTER 9 Back to Top


Rome founded on the Dogma of Persecution – Begins to act upon it – Territory of the Albigenses – Innocent III. – Persecuting Edicts of Councils – Crusade preached by the Monks of Citeaux – First Crusade launched – Paradise – Simon de Montfort – Raymond of Toulouse – His Territories Overrun and Devastated – Crusade against Raymond Roger of Beziers – Burning of his Towns – Massacre of their Inhabitants – Destruction of the Albigenses.

THE torch of persecution was fairly kindled in the beginning of the thirteenth century. Those baleful fires, which had smoldered since the fall of the Empire, were now re-lighted, but it must be noted that this was the act not of the State but of the Church. Rome had founded her dominion upon the dogma of persecution. She sustained herself "Lord of the conscience." Out of this prolific but pestiferous root came a whole century of fulminating edicts, to be followed by centuries of blazing piles. It could not be but that this maxim, placed at the foundation of her system, should inspire and mold the whole policy of the Church of Rome. Divine mistress of the conscience and of the faith, she claimed the exclusive right to prescribe to every human being what he was to believe, and to pursue with temporal and spiritual terrors every form of worship different from her own, till she had chased it out of the world. The first exemplification, on a great scale, of her office which she gave mankind was the crusades. As the professors of an impure creed, she pronounced sentence of extermination on the Saracens of the Holy Land; she sent thither some millions of crusaders to execute her ban; and the lands, cities, and wealth of the slaughtered infidels she bestowed upon her orthodox sons. If it was right to apply this principle to one pagan country, we do not see what should hinder Rome – unless indeed lack of power – from sending her missionaries to every land where infidelity and heresy prevailed, emptying them of their evil creed and their evil inhabitants together, and re-peopling them anew with a pure race from within her own orthodox pale.

But now the fervor of the crusades had begun sensibly to abate. The result had not responded either to the expectations of the Church that had planned them, or to the masses that had carried them out. The golden crowns of Paradise had been all duly bestowed, doubtless, but of course on those of the crusaders only who had fallen; the survivors had as yet inherited little save wounds, poverty, and disease. The Church, too, began to see that the zeal and blood which were being so freely expended on the shores of Asia might be turned to better account nearer home. The Albigenses and other sects springing up at her door were more dangerous foes of the Papacy than the Saracens of the distant East. For a while the Popes saw with comparative indifference the growth of these religious communities; they dreaded no harm from bodies apparently so insignificant; and even entertained at times the thought of grafting them on their own system as separate orders, or as resuscitating and purifying forces. With the advent of Innocent III., however, came a new policy. He perceived that the principles of these communities were wholly alien in their nature to those of the Papacy, that they never could be made to work in concert with it, and that if left to develop themselves they would most surely effect its overthrow. Accordingly the cloud of exterminating vengeance which rolled in the skies of the world, whithersoever he was pleased to command, was ordered to halt, to return westward, and discharge its chastisement on the South of Europe.

Let us take a glance at the region which this dreadful tempest is about to smite. The France of those days, instead of forming an entire monarchy, was parted into four grand divisions. It is the most southerly of the four, or Narbonne-Gaul, to which our attention is now to be turned. This was an ample and goodly territory, stretching from the Dauphinese Alps on the east to the Pyrenees on the south-west, and comprising the modern provinces of Dauphine, Provence, Languedoc or Gascogne. It was watered throughout by the Rhone, which descended upon it from the north, and it was washed along its southern boundary by the Mediterranean. Occupied by an intelligent population, it had become under their skillful husbandry one vast expanse of corn-land and vineyard, of fruit and forest tree. To the riches of the soil were added the wealth of commerce, in which the inhabitants were tempted to engage by the proximity of the sea and the neighborhood of the Italian republics. Above all, its people were addicted to the pursuits of art and poetry. It was the land of the troubadour. It was further embellished by the numerous castles of a powerful nobility, who spent their time in elegant festivities and gay tournaments.

But better things than poetry and feats of mimic war flourished here. The towns, formed into communes, and placed under municipal institutions, enjoyed no small measure of freedom. The lively and poetic genius of the people had enabled them to form a language of their own – namely, the Provencal. In richness of vocables, softness of cadence, and picturesqueness of idiom, the Provencal excelled all the languages of Europe, and promised to become the universal tongue of Christendom. Best of all, a pure Christianity was developing in the region. It was here, on the banks of the Rhone, that Irenaeus and the other early apostles of Gaul had labored, and the seeds which their hands had deposited in its soil, watered by the blood of martyrs who had fought in the first ranks in the terrible combats of those days, had never wholly perished. Influences of recent birth had helped to quicken these seeds into a second growth. Foremost among these was the translation of the New Testament into the Provencal, the earliest, as we have shown, of all our modern versions of the Scriptures. The barons protected the people in their evangelical sentiments, some because they shared their opinions, others because they found them to be industrious and skillful cultivators of their lands. A cordial welcome awaited the troubadour at their castle-gates; he departed loaded with gifts; and he enjoyed the baron's protection as he passed on through the cities and villages, concealing, not unfrequently, the colporteur and missionary under the guise of the songster. The hour of a great revolt against Rome appeared to be near. Surrounded by the fostering influences of art, intelligence, and liberty, primitive Christianity was here powerfully developing itself. It seemed verily that the thirteenth and not the sixteenth century would be the date of the Reformation, and that its cradle would be placed not in Germany but in the south of France.

The penetrating and far-seeing eye of Innocent III. saw all this very clearly. Not at the foot of the Alps and the Pyrenees only did he detect a new life: in other countries of Europe, in Italy, in Spain, in Flanders, in Hungary – wherever, in short, dispersion had driven the sectaries, he discovered the same fermentation below the surface, the same incipient revolt against the Papal power. He resolved without loss of time to grapple with and crush the movement. He issued an edict enjoining the extermination of all heretics.[1] Cities would be drowned in blood, kingdoms would be laid waste, art and civilization would perish, and the progress of the world would be rolled back for centuries; but not otherwise could the movement be arrested, and Rome saved.

A long series of persecuting edicts and canons paved the way for these horrible butcheries. The Council of Toulouse, in 1119, presided over by Pope Calixtus II., pronounced a general excommunication upon all who held the sentiments of the Albigenses, cast them out of the Church, delivered them to the sword of the State to be punished, and included in the same condemnation all who should afford them defense or protection.[2] This canon was renewed in the second General Council of Lateran, 1139, under Innocent II.[3] Each succeeding Council strove to excel its predecessor in its sanguinary and pitiless spirit. The Council of Tours, 1163, under Alexander III., stripped the heretics of their goods, forbade, under peril of excommunication, any to relieve them, and left them to perish without succor.[4] The third General Council of Lateran, 1179, under Alexander III., enjoined princes to make war upon them, to take their possessions for a spoil, to reduce their persons to slavery, and to withhold from them Christian burial.[5] The fourth General Council of Lateran bears the stern and comprehensive stamp of the man under whom it was held. The Council commanded princes to take an oath to extirpate heretics from their dominions. Fearing that some, from motives of self-interest, might hesitate to destroy the more industrious of their subjects, the Council sought to quicken their obedience by appealing to their avarice. It made over the heritages of the excommunicated to those who should carry out the sentence pronounced upon them. Still further to stimulate to this pious work, the Council rewarded a service of forty days in it with the same ample indulgences which had aforetime been bestowed on those who served in the distant and dangerous crusades of Syria. If any prince should still hold back, he was himself, after a year's grace, to be smitten with excommunication, his vassals were to be loosed from their allegiance, and his lands given to whoever had the will or the power to seize them, after having first purged them of heresy. That this work of extirpation might be thoroughly done, the bishops were empowered to make an annual visitation of their dioceses, to institute a very close search for heretics, and to extract an oath from the leading inhabitants that they would report to the ecclesiastics from time to time those among their neighbors and acquaintances who had strayed from the faith.[6] It is hardly necessary to say that it is Innocent III. who speaks in this Council. It was assembled in his palace of the Lateran in 1215; it was one of the most brilliant Councils that ever were convened, being composed of 800 abbots and priors, 400 bishops, besides patriarchs, deputies, and ambassadors from all nations. It was opened by Innocent in person, with a discourse from the words, "With desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you."

We cannot pursue farther this series of terrific edicts, which runs on till the end of the century and into the next. Each is like that which went before it, save only that it surpasses it in cruelty and terror. The fearful pillagings and massacrings which instantly followed in the south of France, and which were re-enacted in following centuries in all the countries of Christendom, were but too faithful transcripts, both in spirit and letter, of these ecclesiastical enactments. Meanwhile, we must note that it is out of the chair of the Pope – out of the dogma that the Church is mistress of the conscience – that this river of blood is seen to flow.

Three years was this storm in gathering. Its first heralds were the monks of Citeaux, sent abroad by Innocent III. in 1206 to preach the crusade throughout France and the adjoining kingdoms. There followed St. Dominic and his band, who traveled on foot, two and two, with full powers from the Pope to search out heretics, dispute with them, and set a mark on those who were to be burned when opportunity should offer. In this mission of inquisition we see the first beginnings of a tribunal which came afterwards to bear the terrible name of the "Inquisition." These gave themselves to the work with an ardor which had not been equaled since the times of Peter the Hermit. The fiery orators of the Vatican but too easily succeeded in kindling the fanaticism of the masses. War was at all times the delight of the peoples among whom this mission was discharged; but to engage in this war what dazzling temptations were held out! The foes they were to march against were accursed of God and the Church. To shed their blood was to wash away their own sins – it was to atone for all the vices and crimes of a lifetime. And then to think of the dwellings of the Albigenses, replenished with elegances and stored with wealth, and of their fields blooming with the richest cultivation, all to become the lawful spoil of the crossed invader! But this was only a first installment of a great and brilliant recompense in the future. They had the word of the Pope that at the moment of death they should find the angels prepared to carry them aloft, the gates of Paradise open for their entrance, and the crowns and delights of the upper world waiting their choice. The crusader of the previous century had to buy forgiveness with a great sum: he had to cross the sea, to face the Saracen, to linger out years amid unknown toils and perils, and to return – if he should ever return – with broken health and ruined fortune. But now a campaign of forty days in one's own country, involving no hardship and very little risk, was all that was demanded for one's eternal salvation. Never before had Paradise been so cheap! The preparations for this war of extermination went on throughout the years 1207 and 1208. Like the mutterings of the distant thunder or the hoarse roar of ocean when the tempest is rising, the dreadful sounds filled Europe, and their echoes reached the doomed provinces, where they were heard with terror. In the spring of 1209 these armed fanatics were ready to march,[7] One body had assembled at Lyons. Led by Arnold, Abbot of Citeaux and legate of the Pope, it descended by the valley of the Rhone. A second army gathered in the Agenois under the Archbishop of Bordeaux. A third horde of militant pilgrims marshaled in the north, the subjects of Philip Augustus, and at their head marched the Bishop of Puy.[8] The near neighbors of the Albigenses rose in a body, and swelled this already overgrown host. The chief director of this sacred war was the Papal legate, the Abbot of Citeaux. Its chief military commander was Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester a French nobleman, who had practiced war and learnt cruelty in the crusades of the Holy Land. In putting himself at the head of these crossed and fanatical hordes he was influenced, it is believed, quite as much by a covetous greed of the ample and rich territories of Raymond, Count of Toulouse, as by hatred of the heresy that Raymond was suspected of protecting. The number of crusaders who now put themselves in motion is variously estimated at from 50,000 to 500,000. The former is the reckoning of the Abbot of Vaux Cernay, the Popish chronicler of the war; but his calculation, says Sismondi, does not include "the ignorant and fanatical multitude which followed each preacher armed with scythes and clubs, and promised to themselves that if they were not in a condition to combat the knights of Languedoc, they might, at least, be able to murder the women and children of the heretics."[9]

This overwhelming host precipitated itself upon the estates of Raymond VI., Count of Toulouse. Seeing the storm approach, he was seized with dread, wrote submissive letters to Rome, and offered to accept whatever terms the Papal legate might please to dictate. As the price of his reconciliation, he had to deliver up to the Pope seven of his strongest towns, to appear at the door of the Church, where the dead body of the legate Castelneau, who had been murdered in his dominions, lay, and to be there beaten with rods.[10] Next, a rope was put about his neck, and he was dragged by the legate to the tomb of the friar, in the presence of several bishops and an immense multitude of spectators. After all this, he was obliged to take the cross, and join with those who were seizing and plundering his cities, massacring his subjects, and carrying fire and sword throughout his territories. Stung by these humiliations and calamities, he again changed sides. But his resolution to brave the Papal wrath came too late. He was again smitten with interdict; his possessions were given to Simon de Montfort, and in the end he saw himself reft of all.[11]

Among the princes of the region now visited with this devastating scourge, the next in rank and influence to the Count of Toulouse was the young Raymond Roger, Viscount of Beziers. Every day this horde of murderers drew nearer and nearer to his territories. Submission would only invite destruction. He hastened to put his kingdom into a posture of defense. His vassals were numerous and valiant, their fortified castles covered the face of the country; of his towns, two, Beziers and Carcassonne, were of great size and strength, and he judged that in these circumstances it was not too rash to hope to turn the brunt of the impending tempest. He called round him his armed knights, and told them that his purpose was to fight: many of them were Papists, as he himself was; but he pointed to the character of the hordes that were approaching, who made it their sole business to drown the earth in blood, without much distinction whether it was Catholic or Albigensian blood that they spilled. His knights applauded the resolution of their young and brave liege lord.

The castles were garrisoned and provisioned, the peasantry of the surrounding districts gathered into them, and the cities were provided against a siege. Placing in Beziers a number of valiant knights, and telling the inhabitants that their only hope of safety lay in making a stout defense, Raymond shut himself up in Carcassonne, and waited the approach of the army of crusaders. Onward came the host: before them a smiling country, in their rear a piteous picture of devastation – battered castles, the blackened walls and towers of silent cities, homesteads in ashes, and a desert scathed with fire and stained with blood.

In the middle of July, 1209, the three bodies of crusaders arrived, and sat down under the walls of Beziers. The stoutest heart among its citizens quailed, as they surveyed from the ramparts this host that seemed to cover the face of the earth. "So great was the assemblage," says the old chronicle, "both of tents and pavilions, that it appeared as if all the world was collected there."[12] Astonished but not daunted, the men of Beziers made a rush upon the pilgrims before they should have time to fortify their encampment. It was all in vain The assault was repelled, and the crusaders, mingling with the citizens as they hurried back to the town in broken crowds, entered the gates along with them, and Beziers was in their hands before they had even formed the plan of attack. The knights inquired of the Papal legate, the Abbot of Citeaux, how they might distinguish the Catholics from the heretics. Arnold at once cut the knot which time did not suffice to loose by the following reply, which has since become famous; "Kill all! kill all! The Lord will know His own.[13] "

The bloody work now began. The ordinary population of Beziers was some 15,000; at this moment it could not be less than four times its usual number, for being the capital of the province, and a place of great strength, the inhabitants of the country and the open villages had been collected into it. The multitude, when they saw that the city was taken, fled to the churches, and began to toll the bells by way of supplication. This only the sooner drew upon themselves the swords of the assassins. The wretched citizens were slaughtered in a trice. Their dead bodies covered the floor of the church; they were piled in heaps round the altar; their blood flowed in torrents at the door. "Seven thousand dead bodies," says Sismondi, "were counted in the Magdalen alone. When the crusaders had massacred the last living creature in Beziers, and had pillaged the houses of all that they thought worth carrying off, they set fire to the city in every part at once, and reduced it to a vast funeral pile. Not a house remained standing, not one human being alive. Historians differ as to the number of victims. The Abbot of Citoaux, feeling some shame for the butchery which he had ordered, in his letter to Innocent III. reduces it to 15,000; others make it amount to 60,000."[14]

The terrible fate which had overtaken Beziers – in one day converted into a mound of ruins dreary and silent as any on the plain of Chaldaea – told the other towns and villages the destiny that awaited them. The inhabitants, terror-stricken, fled to the woods and caves. Even the strong castles were left tenantless, their defenders deeming it vain to think of opposing so furious and overwhelming a host. Pillaging, burning, and massacring as they had a mind, the crusaders advanced to Carcassonne, where they arrived on the lst of August. The city stood on the right bank of the Aude; its fortifications were strong, its garrison numerous and brave, and the young count, Raymond Roger, was at their head. The assailants advanced to the walls, but met a stout resistance. The defenders poured upon them streams of boiling water and oil, and crushed them with great stones and projectiles. The attack was again and again renewed, but was as often repulsed. Meanwhile the forty days' service was drawing to an end, and bands of crusaders, having fulfilled their term and earned heaven, were departing to their homes. The Papal legate, seeing the host melting away, judged it perfectly right to call wiles to the aid of his arms. Holding out to Raymond Roger the hope of an honorable capitulation, and swearing to respect his liberty, Arnold induced the viscount, with 300 of his knights, to present himself at his tent. "The latter," says Sismondi, "profoundly penetrated with the maxim of Innocent III., that 'to keep faith with those that have it not is an offense against the faith,' caused the young viscount to be arrested, with all the knights who had followed him."

When the garrison saw that their leader had been imprisoned, they resolved, along with the inhabitants, to make their escape overnight by a secret passage known only to themselves – a cavern three leagues in length, extending from Carcassonne to the towers of Cabardes. The crusaders were astonished on the morrow, when not a man could be seen upon the walls; and still more mortified was the Papal legate to find that his prey had escaped him, for his purpose was to make a bonfire of the city, with every man, woman, and child within it. But if this greater revenge was now out of his reach, he did not disdain a smaller one still in his power. He collected a body of some 450 persons, partly fugitives from Carcassonne whom he had captured, and partly the 300 knights who had accompanied the viscount, and of these he burned 400 alive and the remaining 50 he hanged.[15]

CHAPTER 10 Back to Top


The Crusades still continued in the Albigensian Territory – Council of Toulouse, 1229 – Organizes the Inquisition – Condemns the Reading of the Bible in the Vernacular – Gregory IX., 1233, further perfects the Organization of the Inquisition, and commits it to the Dominicans – The Crusades continued under the form of the Inquisition – These Butcheries the deliberate Act of Rome – Revived and Sanctioned by her in our own day – Protestantism of Thirteenth Century Crushed – Not alone – Final Ends.

THE main object of the crusades was now accomplished. The principalities of Raymond VI., Count of Toulouse, and Raymond Roger, Viscount of Beziers, had been "purged" and made over to that faithful son of the Church, Simon de Montfort. The lands of the Count of Foix were likewise overrun, and joined with the neighboring provinces in a common desolation. The Viscount of Narbonne contrived to avoid a visit of the crusaders, but at the price of becoming himself the Grand Inquisitor of his dominions, and purging them with laws even more rigorous than the Church demanded,[1]

The twenty years that followed were devoted to the cruel work of rooting out any seeds of heresy that might possibly yet remain in the soil. Every year a crowd of monks issued from the convents of Citeaux, and, taking possession of the pulpits, preached a new crusade. For the same easy service they offered the same prodigious reward – Paradise – and the consequence was, that every year a new wave of fanatics gathered and rolled toward the devoted provinces. The villages and the woods were searched, and some gleanings, left from the harvests of previous years, were found and made food for the gibbets and stakes that in such dismal array covered the face of the country. The first instigators of these terrible proceedings – Innocent III., Simon de Montfort, the Abbot of Citeaux – soon passed from the scene, but the tragedies they had begun went on. In the lands which the Albigenses – now all but extinct – had once peopled, and which they had so greatly enriched by their industry and adorned by their art, blood never ceased to flow nor the flames to devour their victims. It would be remote from the object of our history to enter here into details, but we must dwell a little on the events of 1229. This year a Council was held at Toulouse, under the Papal legate, the Cardinal of St. Angelo. The foundation of the Inquisition had already been laid. Innocent III. and St. Dominic share between them the merit of this good work.[2] In the year of the fourth Lateran, 1215, St. Dominic received the Pontiff's commission to judge and deliver to punishment apostate and relapsed and obstinate heretics.[3] This was the Inquisition, though lacking as yet its full organization and equipment. That St. Dominic died before it was completed alters not the question touching his connection with its authorship, though of late a vindication of him has been attempted on this ground, only by shifting the guilt to his Church. The fact remains that St. Dominic accompanied the armies of Simon de Montfort, that he delivered the Albigenses to the secular judge to be put to death – in short, worked the Inquisition so far as it had received shape and form in his day. But the Council of Toulouse still further perfected the organization and developed the working of this terrible tribunal. It erected in every city a council of Inquisitors consisting of one priest and three laymen,[4] whose business it was to search for heretics in towns, houses, cellars, and other lurking-places, as also in caves, woods, and fields, and to denounce them to the bishops, lords, or their bailiffs. Once discovered, a summary but dreadful ordeal conducted them to the stake. The houses of heretics were to be razed to their foundations, and the ground on which they stood condemned and confiscated – for heresy, like the leprosy, polluted the very stones, and timber, and soil. Lords were held responsible for the orthodoxy of their estates, and so far also for those of their neighbors. If remiss in their search, the sharp admonition of the Church soon quickened their diligence. A last will and testament was of no validity unless a priest had been by when it was made. A physician suspected was forbidden to practice. All above the age of fourteen were required on oath to abjure heresy, and to aid in the search for heretics.[5] As a fitting appendage to those tyrannical acts, and a sure and lasting evidence of the real source whence that thing called "heresy," on the extirpation of which they were so intent, was derived, the same Council condemned the reading of the Holy Scriptures. "We prohibit," says the fourteenth canon, "the laics from having the books of the Old and New Testament, unless it be at most that any one wishes to have, from devotion, a psalter, a breviary for the Divine offices, or the hours of the blessed Mary; but we forbid them in the most express manner to have the above books translated into the vulgar tongue."[6] In 1233, Pope Gregory IX. issued a bull, by which he confided the working of the Inquisition to the Dominicans.[7] He appointed his legate, the Bishop of Tournay, to carry out the bull in the way of completing the organization of that tribunal which has since become the terror of Christendom, and which has caused to perish such a prodigious number of human beings. In discharge of his commission, the bishop named two Dominicans in Toulouse, and two in each city of the province, to form the Tribunal of the Faith;[8] and soon, under the warm patronage of Saint Louis (Louis IX.) of France, this court was extended to the whole kingdom. An instruction was at the same time furnished to the Inquisitors, in which the bishop enumerated the errors of the heretics. The document bears undesigned testimony to the Scriptural faith of the men whom the newly-erected court was meant to root out. "In the exposition made by the Bishop of Tournay, of the errors of the Albigenses," says Sismondi, "we find nearly all the principles upon which Luther and Calvin founded the Reformation of the sixteenth century."[9]

Although the crusades, as hitherto waged, were now ended, they continued under the more dreadful form of the Inquisition. We say more dreadful form, for not so terrible was the crusader's sword as the Inquisitor's rack, and to die fighting in the open field or on the ramparts of the beleaguered city, was a fate less horrible than to expire amid prolonged and excruciating tortures in the dungeons of the "Holy Office." The tempests of the crusades, however terrible, had yet their intermissions; they burst, passed away, and left a breathing-space between their explosions. Not so the Inquisition. It worked on and on, day and night, century after century, with a regularity that was appalling. With steady march it extended its area, till at last it embraced almost all the countries of Europe, and kept piling up its dead year by year in ever larger and ghastlier heaps. These awful tragedies were the sole and deliberate acts of the Church of Rome. She planned them in solemn council, she enunciated them in dogma and canon, and in executing them she claimed to act as the vicegerent of Heaven, who had power to save or to destroy nations. Never can that Church be in fairer circumstances than she was then for displaying her true genius, and showing what she holds to be her real rights. She was in the noon of her power; she was free from all coercion whether of force or of fear; she could afford to be magnanimous and tolerant were it possible she ever could be so; yet the sword was the only argument she condescended to employ. She blew the trumpet of vengeance, summoned to arms the half of Europe, and crushed the rising forces of reason and religion under an avalanche of savage fanaticism. In our own day all these horrible deeds have been reviewed, ratified, and sanctioned by the same Church that six centuries ago enacted them: first in the Syllabus of 1864, which expressly vindicates the ground on which these crusades were done – namely, that the Church of Rome possesses the supremacy of both powers, the spiritual and the temporal; that she has the right to employ both swords in the extirpation of heresy; that in the exercise of this right in the past she never exceeded by a hair's breadth her just prerogatives, and that what she has done aforetime she may do in time to come, as often as occasion shall require and opportunity may serve. And, secondly, they have been endorsed over again by the decree of Infallibility, which declares that the Popes who planned, ordered, and by their bishops and monks executed all these crimes, were in these, as in all their other official acts, infallibly guided by inspiration. The plea that it was the thirteenth century when these horrible butcheries were committed, every one sees to be wholly inadmissible. An infallible Church has no need to wait for the coming of the lights of philosophy and science. Her sun is always in the zenith. The thirteenth and the nineteenth century are the same to her, for she is just as infallible in the one as in the other.

So fell, smitten down by this terrible blow, to rise no more in the same age and among the same people, the Protestantism of the thirteenth century. It did not perish alone. All the regenerative forces of a social and intellectual kind which Protestantism even at that early stage had evoked were rooted out along with it. Letters had begun to refine, liberty to emancipate, art to beautify, and commerce to enrich the region, but all were swept away by a vengeful power that was regardless of what it destroyed, provided only it reached its end in the extirpation of Protestantism. How changed the region from what it once was! There the song of the troubadour was heard no more. No more was the gallant knight seen riding forth to display his prowess in the gay tournament; no more were the cheerful voices of the reaper and grape-gatherer heard in the fields. The rich harvests of the region were trodden into the dust, its fruitful vines and flourishing olive-trees were torn up; hamlet and city were swept away; ruins, blood, and ashes covered the face of this now "purified" land.

But Rome was not able, with all her violence, to arrest the movement of the human mind. So far as it was religious, she but scattered the sparks to break out on a wider area at a future day; and so far as it was intellectual, she but forced it into another channel. Instead of Albigensianism, Scholasticism now arose in France, which, after flourishing for some centuries in the schools of Paris, passed into the Skeptical Philosophy, and that again, in our day, into Atheistic Communism. It will be curious if in the future the progeny should cross the path of the parent.

It turned out that this enforced halt of three centuries, after all, resulted only in the goal being more quickly reached. While the movement paused, instrumentalities of prodigious power, unknown to that age, were being prepared to give quicker transmission and wider diffusion to the Divine principle when next it should show itself. And, further, a more robust and capable stock than the Romanesque – namely, the Teutonic – was silently growing up, destined to receive the heavenly graft, and to shoot forth on every side larger boughs, to cover Christendom with their shadow and solace it with their fruits.

CHAPTER 11 Back to Top


Berengarius– The First Opponent of Transubstantiation – Numerous Councils Condemn him – His Recantation – The Martyrs of Orleans – Their Confession – Their Condemnation and Martyrdom – Peter de Bruys and the Petrobrusians – Henri – Effects of his Eloquence – St. Bernard sent to Oppose him – Henri Apprehended – His Fate unknown – Arnold of Brescia – Birth and Education – His Picture of his Times – His Scheme of Reform – Inveighs against the Wealth of the Hierarchy – His Popularity – Condemned by Innocent II. and Banished from Italy – Returns on the Pope's Death – Labors Ten Years in Rome – Demands the Separation of the Temporal and Spiritual Authority – Adrian IV. – He Suppresses the Movement – Arnold is Burned

IN pursuing to an end the history of the Albigensian crusades, we have been carried somewhat beyond the point of time at which we had arrived. We now return. A succession of lights which shine out at intervals amid the darkness of the ages guides our eye onward. In the middle of the eleventh century appears Berengarius of Tours in France. He is the first public opponent of transubstantiation.[1] A century had now passed since the monk, Paschasius Radbertus, had hatched that astounding dogma. In an age of knowledge such a tenet would have subjected its author to the suspicion of lunacy, but in times of darkness like those in which this opinion first issued from the convent of Corbei, the more mysterious the doctrine the more likely was it to find believers. The words of Scripture, "this is my body," torn from their context and held up before the eyes of ignorant men, seemed to give some countenance to the tenet. Besides, it was the interest of the priesthood to believe it, and to make others believe it too; for the gift of working a prodigy like this invested them with a superhuman power, and gave them immense reverence in the eyes of the people. The battle that Berengarius now opened enables us to judge of the wide extent which the belief in transubstantiation had already acquired. Everywhere in France, in Germany, in Italy, we find a commotion arising on the appearance of its opponent. We see bishops bestirring themselves to oppose his "impious and sacrilegious" heresy, and numerous Councils convoked to condemn it. The Council of Vercelli in 1049, under Leo IX., which was attended by many foreign prelates, condemned it, and in doing so condemned also, as Berengarius maintained, the doctrine of Ambrose, of Augustine, and of Jerome. There followed a succession of Councils: at Paris, 1050; at Tours, 1055; at Rome, 1059; at Rouen, 1063; at Poitiers, 1075; and again at Rome, 1078: at all of which the opinions of Berengarius were discussed and condemned.[2] This shows us how eager Rome was to establish the fiction of Paschasius, and the alarm she felt lest the adherents of Berengarius should multiply, and her dogma be extinguished before it had time to establish itself. Twice did Berengarius appear before the famous Hildebrand: first in the Council of Tours, where Hildebrand filled the post of Papal legate, and secondly at the Council of Rome, where he presided as Gregory VII.

The piety of Berengarius was admitted, his eloquence was great, but his courage was not equal to his genius and convictions. When brought face to face with the stake he shrank from the fire. A second and a third time did he recant his opinions; he even sealed his recantation, according to Dupin, with his subscription and oath.[3] But no sooner was he back again in France than he began publishing his old opinions anew. Numbers in all the countries of Christendom, who had not accepted the fiction of Paschasius, broke silence, emboldened by the stand made by Berengarius, and declared themselves of the same sentiments. Matthew of Westminster (1087) says, "that Berengarius of Tours, being fallen into heresy, had already almost corrupted all the French, Italians, and English."[4] His great opponent was Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, who attacked him not on the head of transubstantiation only, but as guilty of all the heresies of the Waldenses, and as maintaining with them that the Church remained with them alone, and that Rome was "the congregation of the wicked, and the seat of Satan."[5] Berengarius died in his bed (1088), expressing deep sorrow for the weakness and dissimulation which had tarnished his testimony for the truth. "His followers," says Mosheim, "were numerous, as his fame was illustrious."[6]

We come to a nobler band. At Orleans there flourished, in the beginning of the eleventh century, two canons, Stephen and Lesoie, distinguished by their rank, revered for their learning, and beloved for their numerous alms-givings. Taught of the Spirit and the Word, these men cherished in secret the faith of the first ages. They were betrayed by a feigned disciple named Arefaste. Craving to be instructed in the things of God, he seemed to listen not with the ear only, but with the heart also, as the two canons discoursed to him of the corruption of human nature and the renewal of the Spirit, of the vanity of praying to the saints, and the folly of thinking to find salvation in baptism, or the literal flesh of Christ in the Eucharist. His earnestness seemed to become yet greater when they promised him that if, forsaking these "broken cisterns," he would come to the Savior himself, he should have living water to drink, and celestial bread to eat, and, filled with "the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," would never know want again. Arefaste heard these things, and returned with his report to those who had sent him. A Council of the bishops of Orleans was immediately summoned, presided over by King Robert of France. The two canons were brought before it. The pretended disciple now became the accuser.[7] The canons confessed boldly the truth which they had long held; the arguments and threats of the Council were alike powerless to change their belief, or to shake their resolution. "As to the burning threatened," says one, "they made light of it even as if persuaded that they would come out of it unhurt."[8] Wearied, it would seem, with the futile reasonings of their enemies, and desirous of bringing the matter to an issue, they gave their final answer thus – "You may say these things to those whose taste is earthly, and who believe the figments of men written on parchment. But to us who have the law written on the inner man by the Holy Spirit, and savor nothing but what we learn from God, the Creator of all, ye speak things vain and unworthy of the Deity. Put therefore an end to your words! Do with us even as you wish. Even now we see our King reigning in the heavenly places, who with His right hand is conducting us to immortal triumphs and heavenly joys."[9]

They were condemned as Manicheans. Had they been so indeed, Rome would have visited them with contempt, not with persecution. She was too wise to pursue with fire and sword a thing so shadowy as Manicheism, which she knew could do her no manner of harm. The power that confronted her in these two canons and their disciples came from another sphere, hence the rage with which she assailed it. These two martyrs were not alone in their death. Of the citizens of Orleans there were ten,[10] some say twelve, who shared their faith, and who were willing to share their stake.[11] They were first stripped of their clerical vestments, then buffeted like their Master, then smitten with rods; the queen, who was present, setting the example in these acts of violence by striking one of them, and putting out his eye. Finally, they were led outside the city, where a great fire had been kindled to consume them. They entered the flames with a smile upon their faces [12] Together this little company of fourteen stood at the stake, and when the fire had set them free, together they mounted into the sky; and if they smiled when they entered the flames, how much more when they passed in at the eternal gates! They were burned in the year 1022. So far as the light of history serves us, theirs were the first stakes planted in France since the era of primitive persecutions.[13] Illustrious pioneers! They go, but they leave their ineffaceable traces on the road, that the hundreds and thousands of their countrymen who are to follow may not faint, when called to pass through the same torments to the same everlasting joys.

We next mention Peter de Bruys, who appeared in the following century (the twelfth), because it enables us to indicate the rise of, and explain the name borne by, the Petrobrussians. Their founder, who labored in the provinces of Dauphine, Provence, and Languedoc, taught no novelties of doctrine; he trod, touching the faith, in the steps of apostolic men, even as Felix Neff, five centuries later, followed in his. After twenty years of missionary labors, Peter de Bruys was seized and burned to death (1126)[14] in the town of St. Giles, near Toulouse. The leading tenets professed by his followers, the Petrobrussians, as we learn from the accusations of their enemies, were – that baptism avails not without faith; that Christ is only spiritually present in the Sacrament; that prayers and alms profit not dead men; that purgatory is a mere invention; and that the Church is not made up of cemented stones, but of believing men. This identifies them, in their religious creed, with the Waldenses; and if further evidence were wanted of this, we have it in the treatise which Peter de Clugny published against them, in which he accuses them of having fallen into those errors which have shown such an inveterate tendency to spring up amid the perpetual snows and icy torrents of the Alps.[15]

When Peter de Bruys had finished his course he was succeeded by a preacher of the name of Henri, an Italian by birth, who also gave his name to his followers – the Henricians. Henri, who enjoyed a high repute for sanctity, wielded a most commanding eloquence. The enchantment of his voice was enough, said his enemies, a little envious, to melt the very stones. It performed what may perhaps be accounted a still greater feat; it brought, according to an eye-witness, the very priests to his feet, dissolved in tears. Beginning at Lausanne, Henri traversed the south of France, the entire population gathering round him wherever he came, and listening to his sermons. "His orations were powerful but noxious," said his foes, "as if a whole legion of demons had been speaking through his mouth." St. Bernard was sent to check the spiritual pestilence that was desolating the region, and he arrived not a moment too soon, if we may judge from his picture of the state of things which he found there. The orator was carrying all before him; nor need we wonder if, as his enemies alleged, a legion of preachers spoke in this one. The churches were emptied, the priests were without flocks, and the time-honored and edifying customs of pilgrimages, of fasts, of invocations of the saints, and oblations for the dead were all neglected. "How many disorders," says St. Bernard, writing to the Count of Toulouse, "do we every day hear that Henri commits in the Church of God! That ravenous wolf is within your dominions, clothed with a sheep's skin, but we know him by his works. The churches are like synagogues, the sanctuary despoiled of its holiness, the Sacraments looked upon as profane institutions, the feast days have lost their solemnity, men grow up in sin, and every day souls are borne away before the terrible tribunal of Christ without first being reconciled to and fortified by the Holy Communion. In refusing Christians baptism they are denied the life of Jesus Christ."[16]

Such was the condition in which, as he himself records in his letters, St. Bernard found the populations in the south of France. He set to work, stemmed the tide of apostasy, and brought back the wanderers from the Roman fold; but whether this result was solely owing to the eloquence of his sermons may be fairly questioned, for we find the civil arm operating along with him. Henri was seized, carried before Pope Eugenius III., who presided at a Council then assembled at Rheims, condemned and imprisoned.[17] From that time we hear no more of him, and his fate can only be guessed at.[18]

It pleased God to raise up, in the middle of the twelfth century, a yet more famous champion to do battle for the truth. This was Arnold of Brescia, whose stormy but brilliant career we must briefly sketch. His scheme of reform was bolder and more comprehensive than that of any who had preceded him. His pioneers had called for a purification of the faith of the Church, Arnold demanded a rectification of her constitution. He was a simple reader in the Church of his native town, and possessed no advantages of birth; but, fired with the love of learning, he traveled into France that he might sit at the feet of Abelard, whose fame was then filling Christendom. Admitted a pupil of the great scholastic, he drank in the wisdom he imparted without imbibing along with it his mysticism. The scholar in some respects was greater than the master, and was destined to leave traces more lasting behind him. In subtlety of genius and scholastic lore he made no pretensions to rival Abelard; but in a burning eloquence, in practical piety, in resoluteness, and in entire devotion to the great cause of the emancipation of his fellow-men from a tyranny that was oppressing both their minds and bodies, he far excelled him.

From the school of Abelard, Arnold returned to Italy – not, as one might have feared, a mystic, to spend his life in scholastic hair-splittings and wordy conflicts, but to wage an arduous and hazardous war for great and much-needed reforms. One cannot but wish that the times had been more propitious. A frightful confusion he saw had mingled in one anomalous system the spiritual and the temporal. The clergy, from their head downwards, were engrossed in secularities. They filled the offices of State, they presided in the cabinets of princes, they led armies, they imposed taxes, they owned lordly domains, they were attended by sumptuous retinues, and they sat at luxurious tables. Here, said Arnold, is the source of a thousand evils – the Church is drowned in riches; from this immense wealth flow the corruption, the profligacy, the ignorance, the wickedness, the intrigues, the wars and bloodshed which have overwhelmed Church and State, and are ruining the world.

A century earlier, Cardinal Damiani had congratulated the clergy of primitive tunes on the simple lives which they led, contrasting their happier lot with that of the prelates of those latter ages, who had to endure dignities which would have been but little to the taste of their first predecessors. "What would the bishops of old have done," he asked, concurring by anticipation in the censure of the eloquent Breseian, "had they to endure the torments that now attend the episcopate? To ride forth constantly attended by troops of soldiers, with swords and lances; to be girt about by armed men like a heathen general! Not amid the gentle music of hymns, but the din and clash of arms! Every day royal banquets, every day parade! The table loaded with delicacies, not for the poor, but for voluptuous guests! while the poor, to whom the property of light belongs, are shut out, and pine away with famine."

Arnold based his scheme of reform on a great principle. The Church of Christ, said he, is not of this world. This shows us that he had sat at the feet of a greater than Abelard, and had drawn his knowledge from diviner fountains than those of the scholastic philosophy. The Church of Christ is not of this world; therefore, said Arnold, its ministers ought not to fill temporal offices, and discharge temporal employments.[19] Let these be left to the men whose duty it is to see to them, even kings and statesmen. Nor do the ministers of Christ need, in order to the discharge of their spiritual functions, the enormous revenues which are continually flowing into their coffers. Let all this wealth, those lands, palaces, and hoards, be surrendered to the rulers of the State, and let the ministers of religion henceforward be maintained by the frugal yet competent provision of the tithes, and the voluntary offerings of their flocks. Set free from occupations which consume their time, degrade their office, and corrupt their heart, the clergy will lead their flocks to the pastures of the Gospel, and knowledge and piety will again revisit the earth.

Attired in his monk's cloak, his countenance stamped with courage, but already wearing traces of care, Arnold took his stand in the streets of his native Brescia, and began to thunder forth his scheme of reform.[20] His townsmen gathered round him. For spiritual Christianity the men of that age had little value, still Arnold had touched a chord in their hearts, to which they were able to respond. The pomp, profligacy, and power of Churchmen had scandalized all classes, and made a reformation so far welcome, even to those who were not prepared to sympathize in the more exclusively spiritual views of the Waldenses and Albigenses. The suddenness and boldness of the assault seem to have stunned the ecclesiastical authorities; and it was not till the Bishop of Brescia found his entire flock, deserting the cathedral, and assembling daily in the marketplace, crowding round the eloquent preacher and listening with applause to his fierce philippics, that he bestirred himself to silence the courageous monk.

Arnold kept his course, however, and continued to launch his bolts, not against his diocesan, for to strike at one miter was not worth his while, but against that lordly hierarchy which, finding its center on the Seven Hills, had stretched its circumference to the extremities of Christendom. He demanded nothing less than that this hierarchy, which had crowned itself with temporal dignities, and which sustained itself by temporal arms, should retrace its steps, and become the lowly and purely spiritual institute it had been in the first century. It was not very likely to do so at the bidding of one man, however eloquent, but Arnold hoped to rouse the populations of Italy, and to bring such a pressure to bear upon the Vatican as would compel the chiefs of the Church to institute this most necessary and most just reform. Nor was he without the countenance of some persons of consequence. Maifredus, the Consul of Brescia, at the first supported his movement.[21]

The bishop, deeming it hopeless to contend against Arnold on the spot, in the midst of his numerous followers, complained of him to the Pope. Innocent II. convoked a General Council in the Vatican, and summoned Arnold to Rome. The summons was obeyed. The crime of the monk was of all others the most heinous in the eyes of the hierarchy. He had attacked the authority, riches, and pleasures of the priesthood; but other pretexts must be found on which to condemn him. "Besides this, it was said of him that he was unsound in his judgment about the Sacrament of the altar and infant baptism." "We find that St. Bernard sending to Pope Innocent II. a catalogue of the errors of Abelardus," whose scholar Arnold had been, "accuseth him of teaching, concerning the Eucharist, that the accidents existed in the air, but not without a subject; and that when a rat doth eat the Sacrament, God withdraweth whither He pleaseth, and preserves where He pleases the body of Jesus Christ."[22] The sum of this is that Arnold rejected transubstantiation, and did not believe in baptismal regeneration; and on these grounds the Council found it convenient to rest their sentence, condemning him to perpetual silence.

Arnold now retired from Italy, and, passing the Alps, "he settled himself," Otho tells us, "in a place of Germany called Turego, or Zurich, belonging to the diocese of Constance, where he continued to disseminate his doctrine," the seeds of which, it may be presumed, continued to vegetate until the times of Zwingle.

Hearing that Innocent II. was dead, Arnold returned to Rome in the beginning of the Pontificate of Eugenius III. (1144-45). One feels surprise, bordering on astonishment, to see a man with the condemnation of a Pope and Council resting on his head, deliberately marching in at the gates of Rome, and throwing down the gage of battle to the Vatican – "the desperate measure," as Gibbon calls it,[23] "of erecting his standard in Rome itself, in the face of the successor of St. Peter." But the action was not so desperate as it looks. The Italy of those days was perhaps the least Papal of all the countries of Europe. "The Italians," says M'Crie, "could not, indeed, be said to feel at this period" (the fifteenth century, but the remark is equally applicable to the twelfth) "a superstitious devotion to the See of Rome. This did not originally form a discriminating feature of their national character; it was superinduced, and the formation of it can be distinctly traced to causes which produced their full effect subsequently to the era of the Reformation. The republics of Italy in the Middle Ages gave many proofs of religious independence, and singly braved the menaces and excommunications of the Vatican at a time when all Europe trembled at the sound of its thunder."[24] In truth, nowhere were sedition and tumult more common than at the gates of the Vatican; in no city did rebellion so often break out as in Rome, and no rulers were so frequently chased ignominiously from their capital as the Popes.

Arnold, in fact, found Rome on entering it in revolt. He strove to direct the agitation into a wholesome channel. He essayed, if it were possible, to revive from its ashes the flame of ancient liberty, and to restore, by cleansing it from its many corruptions, the bright form of primitive Christianity. With an eloquence worthy of the times he spoke of, he dwelt on the achievements of the heroes and patriots of classic ages, the sufferings of the first Christian martyrs, and the humble and holy lives of the first Christian bishops. Might it not be possible to bring back those glorious times? He called on the Romans to arise and unite with him in an attempt to do so. Let us drive out the buyers and sellers who have entered the Temple, let us separate between the spiritual and the temporal jurisdiction, let us give to the Pope the things of the Pope, the government of the Church even, and let us give to the emperor the things of the emperor – namely, the government of the State; let us relieve the clergy from the wealth that burdens them, and the dignities that disfigure them, and with the simplicity and virtue of former times will return the lofty characters and the heroic deeds that gave to those times their renown. Rome will become once more the capital of the world. "He propounded to the multitude," says Bishop Otho, "the examples of the ancient Romans, who by the maturity of their senators' counsels, and the valor and integrity of their youth, made the whole world their own. Wherefore he persuaded them to rebuild the Capitol, to restore the dignity of the senate, to reform the order of knights. He maintained that nothing of the government of the city did belong to the Pope, who ought to content himself only with his ecclesiastical." Thus did the monk of Brescia raise the cry for separation of the spiritual from the temporal at the very foot of the Vatican.

For about ten years (1145-55) Arnold continued to prosecute his mission in Rome. The city all that time may be said to have been in a state of insurrection. The Pontifical chair was repeatedly emptied. The Popes of that era were short-lived; their reigns were full of tumult, and their lives of care. Seldom did they reside at Rome; more frequently they lived at Viterbo, or retired to a foreign country; and when they did venture within the walls of their capital, they entrusted the safety of their persons rather to the gates and bars of their stronghold of St. Angelo than to the loyalty of their subjects. The influence of Arnold meanwhile was great, his party numerous, and had there been virtue enough among the Romans they might during these ten favorable years, when Rome was, so to speak, in their hands, have founded a movement which would have had important results for the cause of liberty and the Gospel. But Arnold strove in vain to recall a spirit that was fled for centuries. Rome was a sepulcher. Her citizens could be stirred into tumult, not awakened into life.

The opportunity passed. And then came Adrian IV., Nicholas Breakspear, the only Englishman who ever ascended the throne of the Vatican. Adrian addressed himself with rigor to quell the tempests which for ten years had warred around the Papal chair. He smote the Romans with interdict. They were vanquished by the ghostly terror. They banished Arnold, and the portals of the churches, to them the gates of heaven, were re-opened to the penitent citizens. But the exile of Arnold did not suffice to appease the anger of Adrian. The Pontiff bargained with Frederic Barbarossa, who was then soliciting from the Pope coronation as emperor, that the monk should be given up. Arnold was seized, sent to Rome under a strong escort, and burned alive. We are able to infer that his followers in Rome were numerous to the last, from the reason given for the order to throw his ashes into the Tiber, "to prevent the foolish rabble from expressing any veneration for his body."[25]

Arnold had been burned to ashes, but the movement he had inaugurated was not extinguished by his martyrdom. The men of his times had condemned his cause; it was destined, nevertheless, seven centuries afterwards, to receive the favorable and all but unanimous verdict of Europe. Every succeeding Reformer and patriot took up his cry for a separation between the spiritual and temporal, seeing in the union of the two in the Roman princedom one cause of the corruption and tyranny which afflicted both Church and State. Wicliffe made this demand in the fourteenth century; Savonarola in the fifteenth; and the Reformers in the sixteenth. Political men in the following centuries reiterated and proclaimed, with ever-growing emphasis, the doctrine of Arnold. At last, on the 20th of September, 1870, it obtained its crowning victory. On that day the Italians entered Rome, the temporal sovereignty of the Pope came to an end, the scepter was disjoined from the miter, and the movement celebrated its triumph on the same spot where its first champion had been burned.

CHAPTER 12 Back to Top


Number and Variety of Sects – One Faith – Who gave us the Bible? – Abelard of Paris – His Fame – Father of Modern Skepticism – The Parting of the Ways – Since Abelard three currents in Christendom – The Evangelical, the Ultramontane, the Skeptical.

ONE is apt, from a cursory survey of the Christendom of those days, to conceive it as speckled with an almost endless variety of opinions and doctrines, and dotted all over with numerous and diverse religious sects. We read of the Waldenses on the south of the Alps, and the Albigenses on the north of these mountains. We are told of the Petrobrussians appearing in this year, and the Henricians rising in that. We see a company of Manicheans burned in one city, and a body of Paulicians martyred in another. We find the Peterini planting themselves in this province, and the Cathari spreading themselves over that other. We figure to ourselves as many conflicting creeds as there are rival standards; and we are on the point, perhaps, of bewailing this supposed diversity of opinion as a consequence of breaking loose from the "center of unity" in Rome. Some even of our religious historians seem haunted by the idea that each one of these many bodies is representative of a different dogma, and that dogma an error. The impression is a natural one, we own, but it is entirely erroneous. In this diversity there was a grand unity. It was substantially the same creed that was professed by all these bodies. They were all agreed in drawing their theology from the same Divine fountain. The Bible was their one infallible rule and authority. Its cardinal doctrines they embodied in their creed and exemplified in their lives.

Individuals doubtless there were among them of erroneous belief and of immoral character. It is of the general body that we speak. That body, though dispersed over many kingdoms, and known by various names, found a common center in the "one Lord," and a common bond in the "one faith" Through one Mediator did they all offer their worship, and on one foundation did they all rest for forgiveness and the life eternal. They were in short the Church – the one Church doing over again what she did in the first ages. Overwhelmed by a second irruption of Paganism, reinforced by a flood of Gothic superstitions, she was essaying to lay her foundations anew in the truth, and to build herself up by the enlightening and renewing of souls, and to give to herself outward visibility and form by her ordinances, institutions, and assemblies, that as a universal spiritual empire she might subjugate all nations to the obedience of the evangelical law and the practice of evangelical virtue.

It is idle for Rome to say, "I gave you the Bible, and therefore you must believe in me before you can believe in it." The facts we have already narrated conclusively dispose of this claim. Rome did not give us the Bible – she did all in her power to keep it from us; she retained it under the seal of a dead language; and when others broke that seal, and threw open its pages to all, she stood over the book, and, unsheathing her fiery sword, would permit none to read the message of life, save at the peril of eternal anathema.

We owe the Bible – that is, the transmission of it – to those persecuted communities which we have so rapidly passed in review. They received it from the primitive Church, and carried it down to us. They translated it into the mother tongues of the nations. They colported it over Christendom, singing it in their lays as troubadours, preaching it in their sermons as missionaries, and living it out as Christians. They fought the battle of the Word of God against tradition, which sought to bury it. They sealed their testimony for it at the stake. But for them, so far as human agency is concerned, the Bible would, ere this day, have disappeared from the world. Their care to keep this torch burning is one of the marks which indubitably certify them as forming part of that one true Catholic Church, which God called into existence at first by His word, and which, by the same instrumentality, He has, in the conversion of souls, perpetuated from age to age.

But although under great variety of names there is found substantial identity of doctrine among these numerous bodies, it is clear that a host of new, contradictory, and most heterogeneous opinions began to spring up in the age we speak of. The opponents of the Albigenses and the Waldenses – more especially Alanus, in his little book against heretics; and Reynerius, the opponent of the Waldenses – have massed together all these discordant sentiments, and charged them upon the evangelical communities. Their controversial tractates, in which they enumerate and confute the errors of the sectaries, have this value even, that they present a picture of their times, and show us the mental fermentation that began to characterize the age. But are we to infer that the Albigenses and their allies held all the opinions which their enemies impute to them? that they at one and the same time believed that God did and did not exist; that the world had been created, and yet that it had existed from eternity; that an atonement had been made for the sin of man by Christ, and yet that the cross was a fable; that the joys of Paradise were reserved for the righteous, and yet that there was neither soul nor spirit, hell nor heaven? No. This were to impute to them an impossible creed. Did these philosophical and skeptical opinions, then, exist only in the imaginations of their accusers? No. What manifestly we are to infer is that outside the Albigensian and evangelical pale there was a large growth of sceptical and atheistical sentiment, more or less developed, and that the superstition and tyranny of the Church of Rome had even then, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, impelled the rising intellect of Christendom into a channel dangerous at once to her own power and to the existence of Christianity. Her champions, partly from lack of discrimination, partly from a desire to paint in odious colors those whom they denominated heretics, mingled in one the doctrines drawn from Scripture and the speculations and impieties of an infidel philosophy, and, compounding them into one creed, laid the monstrous thing at the door of the Albigenses, just as in our own day we have seen Popes and Popish writers include in the same category, and confound in the same condemnation, the professors of Protestantism and the disciples of Pantheism.

From the twelfth century and the times of Peter Abelard, we can discover three currents of thought in Christendom. Peter Abelard was the first and in some respects the greatest of modern skeptics. He was the first person in Christendom to attack publicly the doctrine of the Church of Rome from the side of free-thinking. His Skepticism was not the avowed and fully-formed infidelity of later times: he but sowed the seeds; he but started the mind of Europe – then just beginning to awake – on the path of doubt and of philosophic Skepticism, leaving the movement to gather way in the following ages. But that he did sow the seeds which future laborers took pains to cultivate, cannot be doubted by those who weigh carefully his teachings on the head of the Trinity, of the person of Christ, of the power of the human will, of the doctrine of sin, and other subjects.[1] And these seeds he sowed widely. He was a man of vast erudition, keen wit, and elegant rhetoric, and the novelty of his views and the fame of his genius attracted crowds of students from all countries to his lectures. Dazzled by the eloquence of their teacher, and completely captivated by the originality and subtlety of his daring genius, these scholars carried back to their homes the views of Abelard, and diffused them, from England on the one side to Sicily on the other. Had Rome possessed the infallibility she boasts, she would have foreseen to what this would grow, and provided an effectual remedy before the movement had gone beyond control.

She did indeed divine, to some extent, the true character of the principles which the renowned but unfortunate [2] teacher was so freely scattering on the opening mind of Christendom. She assembled a Council, and condemned them as erroneous. But Abelard went on as before, the laurel round his brow, the thorn at his breast, propounding to yet greater crowds of scholars his peculiar opinions and doctrines. Rome has always been more lenient to sceptical than to evangelical views. And thus, whilst she burned Arnold, she permitted Abelard to die a monk and canon in her communion.

But here, in the twelfth century, at the chair of Abelard, we stand at the parting of the ways. From this time we find three great parties and three great schools of thought in Europe. First, there is the Protestant, in which we behold the Divine principle struggling to disentangle itself from Pagan and Gothic corruptions. Secondly, there is the Superstitious, which had now come to make all doctrine to consist in a belief of "the Church's" inspiration, and all duty in an obedience to her authority. And thirdly, there is the Intellectual, which was just the reason of man endeavoring to shake off the trammels of Roman authority, and go forth and expatiate in the fields of free inquiry. It did right to assert this freedom, but, unhappily, it altogether ignored the existence of the spiritual faculty in man, by which the things of the spiritual world are to be apprehended, and by which the intellect itself has often to be controlled. Nevertheless, this movement, of which Peter Abelard was the pioneer, went on deepening and widening its current century after century, till at last it grew to be strong enough to change the face of kingdoms, and to threaten the existence not only of the Roman Church,[3] but of Christianity itself.





[1] Eusebius, De Vita Const., lib. 4, cap. 27. Dupin, Eccles. Hist., vol. 1, p. 162; Dublin. 1723.
[2] Eusebius, De Vita Const., lib. 4, cap. 24. Mosheim, Eccles. Hist., vol. 1, cent. 4, p. 94; Glasgow, 1831.
[3] Eusebius, Eccles. Hist., lib. 3, cap. 12, p. 490; Parisiis, 1659. Dupin, Eccles. Hist., vol. 2, p. 14; Lond., 1693.
[4] Baronius admits that many things have been laudably translated from Gentile superstition into the Christian religion (Annal., ad An. 58). And Binnius, extolling the munificence of Constantine towards the Church, speaks of his superstitionis gentiliae justa aemulatio ("just emulation of the Gentile superstition"). – Concil., tom. 7, notae in Donat. Constan.
[5] Ammian. Marcel., lib. 27, cap. 3. Mosheim, vol. 1, cent. 4, p. 95.
[6] Nisan corresponds with the latter half of our March and the first half of our April.
[7] The Council of Nicaea, A.D. 325, enacted that the 21st of March should thenceforward be accounted the vernal equinox, that the Lord's Day following the full moon next after the 21st of March should be kept as Easter Day, but that if the full moon happened on a Sabbath, Easter Day should be the Sabbath following. This is the canon that regulates the observance of Easter in the Church of England. "Easter Day," says the Common Prayer Book, "is always the first Sunday after the full moon which happens upon or next after the 21st day of March; and if the full moon happens upon a Sunday, Easter Day is the Sunday after."
[8] Bennet's Memorial of the Reformation, p. 20; Edin., 1748. 986
[9] These customs began thus. In times of persecution, assemblies often met in churchyards as the place of greatest safety, and the "elements" were placed on the tombstones. It became usual to pray that the dead might be made partakers in the "first resurrection." This was grounded on the idea which the primitive Christians entertained respecting the millennium. After Gregory I., prayers for the dead regarded their deliverance from purgatory.
[10] Dupin, EccIes. Hist., vol. 1, cent. 3.

[1] Hardouin, Acta Concil., tom. 1, col 325; Parisiis, 1715. Dupin, Eccles. Hist., vol. 1, p. 600; Dublin edition.
[2] Hard. 1. 1477; 2. 787,886. Baron. 6. 235.
[3] Muller, Univ. History, vol. 2, p. 21; Lond., 1818.
[4] Muller, vol. 2, p. 23.
[5] Muller, vol. 2, p. 74.
[6] We quote from the copy of the document in Pope Leo's letter in Hardouin's Collection. Epistola I., Leonis Papoe IX.; Acta Conciliorum et Epistoloe Decretales, tom. 6, pp. 934, 936; Parisiis, 1714. The English reader will find a copy of the pretended original document in full in Historical Essay on the Power of the Popes, vol. 2, Appendix, tr. from French; London, 1838.
[7] Etudes Religieuses, November, 1866.
[8] The Pope and the Council, by "Janus," p. 105; London, 1869.
[9] The above statement regarding the mode of electing bishops during the first three centuries rests on the authority of Clement, Bishop of Rome, in the first century; Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, in the third century; and of Gregory Nazianzen. See also De Dominis, De Repub. Eccles.; Blondel, Apologia; Dean Waddington; Barrow, Supremacy; and Mosheim, Eccl. Hist., cent. 1.

[1] The Pope and the Council, p. 107.
[2] Binnius, Concilia, vol. 3, pars. 2, p. 297; Col. Agrip., 1618. 987
[3] Hallam, 2. 276.
[4] Hallam, 2. 284.
[5] P. Innocent III. in Decret. Greg., lib. 1, tit. 33.
[6] "Spiritualium plenitudinem, et latitudinem temporalium."
[7] Itinerar. Ital., part 2, De Coron. Rom. Pont.
[8] "Oportet gladium esse sub gladio, et temporalem authoritatem spirituali subjici potestati. Ergo, si deviat terrena potestas judicabitur a potestate spirituali." (Corp. Jur. Can. a Pithoeo, tom. 2, Extrav., lib. 1, tit. 8, cap. 1; Paris, 1671.)
[9] Paradiso, canto 24.
[10] Le Rime del Petrarca, tome 1, p. 325. ed. Lod. Castel.
[11] Baronius, Annal., ann. 1000, tom. 10, col. 963; Col. Agrip., 1609.

[1] Allix, Ancient Churches of Piedmont, chap. 1; Lond., 1690. M'Crie, Italy, p. 1; Edin., 1833.
[2] "Is mos antiquus fuit." (Labbei et Gab. Cossartii Concil., tom. 6, col. 482; Venetiis, 1729.)
[3] A mistake of the historian. It was under Nicholas II. (1059) that the independence of Milan was extinguished. Platina's words are: – "Che [chiesa di Milano] era forse ducento anni stata dalla chiesa di Roma separata." (Historia delle Vite dei Sommi Pontefici, p. 128; Venetia, 1600.)
[4] Baronius, Annal., ann. 1059, tom. 11, col. 277; Col. Agrip., 1609.
[5] Allix, Churches of Piedmont, chap. 3.
[6] "This is not bodily but spiritual food," says St. Ambrose, in his Book of Mysteries and Sacraments, "for the body of the Lord is spiritual." (Dupin, Eccles. Hist., vol. 2, cent. 4.)
[7] Allix, Churches of Piedmont, chap. 4.
[8] Ibid., chap. 5.
[9] Allix, Churches of Piedmont, chap. 8. 988
[10] "Of all these works there is nothing printed," says Allix (p. 60), "but his commentary upon the Epistle to the Galatians. The monks of St. Germain have his commentary upon all the epistles in MS., in two volumes, which were found in the library of the Abbey of Fleury, near Orleans. They have also his MS. commentaries on Leviticus, which formerly belonged to the library of St. Remy at Rheims. As for his commentary on St. Matthew, there are several MS. copies of it in England, as well as elsewhere." See also list of his works in Dupin.
[11] See Mosheim, Eccles. Hist., cent. 9.
[12] "Hic [panis] ad corpus Christi mystice, illud [vinum] refertur ad sanguinem" (MS. of Com. on Matthew.)
[13] Allix, chap. 10.
[14] Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 9. The worship of images was decreed by the second Council of Nice; but that decree was rejected by France, Spain, Germany, and the diocese of Milan. The worship of images was moreover condemned by the Council of Frankfort, 794. Claude, in his letter to Theodemir, says: – "Appointed bishop by Louis, I came to Turin. I found all the churches full of the filth of abominations and images... If Christians venerate the images of saints, they have not abandoned idols, but only changed their names." (Mag. Bib., tome 4, part 2, p. 149.)
[15] Allix, chap. 9.
[16] Allix, pp. 76, 77.
[17] Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 9.
[18] Allix, chap. 9.
[19] Dupin, vol. 7, p. 2; Lond., 1695.
[20] Allix, cent. 9.

[1] Baronius, Annal., ann. 1059, tom. 11, cols. 276, 277.
[2] Petrus Damianus, Opusc., p. 5. Allix, Churches of Piedmont, p. 113. M'Crie, Hist. of Reform. in Italy, p. 2. 989
[3] Recent German criticism refers the Nobla Leycon to a more recent date, but still one anterior to the Reformation.
[4] This short description of the Waldensian valleys is drawn from the author's personal observations. He may here be permitted to state that he has, in successive journeys, continued at intervals during the past thirty-five years, traveled over Christendom, and visited all the countries, Popish and Protestant, of which he will have occasion particularly to speak in the course of this history.

[1] This disproves the charge of Manicheism brought against them by their enemies.
[2] Sir Samuel Morland gives the Nobla Leycon in full in his History of the Churches of the Waldenses. Allix (chap. 18) gives a summary of it.
[3] The Nobla Leycon has the following passage: – "If there be an honest man, who desires to love God and fear Jesus Christ, who will neither slander, nor swear, nor lie, nor commit adultery, nor kill, nor steal, nor avenge himself of his enemies, they presently say of such a one he is a Vaudes, and worthy of death."
[4] See a list of numerous heresies and blasphemies charged upon the Waldenses by the Inquisitor Reynerius, who wrote about the year 1250, and extracted by Allix (chap. 22).
[5] The Romaunt Version of the Gospel according to John, from MS. preserved in Trinity College, Dublin, and in the Bibliotheque du Roi, Paris. By William Stephen Gilly, D.D., Canon of Durham, and Vicar of Norham. Lond., 1848.
[6] Stranski, apud Lenfant's Concile de Constance, quoted by Count Valerian Krasinski in his History of the Rise, Progress, and Decline of the Reformation in Poland, vol. 1, p. 53; Lond., 1838. Illyricus Flaccins, in his Catalogus Testium Veritatis (Amstelodami, 1679), says: "Pars Valdensium in Germaniam transiit atque apud Bohemos, in Polonia ac Livonia sedem fixit." Leger says that the Waldenses had, about the year 1210, Churches in Slavonia, Sarmatia, and Livonia. (Histoire Generale des Eglises Evangeliques des Vallees du Piedmont ou Vaudois. vol. 2, pp. 336, 337; 1669.) 990
[7] M'Crie, Hist. Ref. in Italy, p. 4.
[8] Those who. wish to know more of this interesting people than is contained in the above rapid sketch may consult Leger, Des Eglises Evangeliques; Perrin, Hist. De Vaudois; Reynerius, Cont. Waldens.; Sir. S. Morland, History of the Evangelical Churches of Piedmont; Jones, Hist. Waldenses; Rorenco, Narative; besides a host of more modern writers – Gilly, Waldensian Researches; Muston, Israed of the Alps; Monastier, etc. etc.

[1] Manes taught that there were two principles, or gods, the one good and the other evil; and that the evil principle was the creator of this world, the good principle of the world to come. Manicheism was employed as a term of compendious condemnation in the East, as Heresy was in the West. It was easier to calumniate these men than to refute them. For such aspersions a very ancient precedent might be pleaded. "He hath a devil and is mad," was said of the Master. The disciple is not above his Lord.
[2] "Among the prominent charges urged against the Paulicians before the Patriarch of Constantinople in the eighth century, and by Photius and Petrus Siculus in the ninth, we find the following – that they dishonored the Virgin Mary, and rejected her worship; denied the life-giving efficacy of the cross, and refused it worship; and gainsaid the awful mystery of the conversion of the blood of Christ in the Eucharist; while by others they are branded as the originators of the Iconoclastic heresy and the war against the sacred images. In the first notice of the sectaries in Western Europe, I mean at Orleans, they were similarly accused of treating with contempt the worship of martyrs and saints, the sign of the holy cross, and mystery of transubstantiation; and much the same too at Arras." (Elliott, Horoe Apocalypticoe, 3rd ed., vol. 2, p. 277.)
[3] "Multos ex ovibus lupos fecit, et per eos Christi ovilia dissipavit." (Pet. Sic., Hist. Bib. Patr., vol. 16, p. 761.)
[4] Gibbon, vol. 10, p. 177; Edin., 1832. Sharon Turner, Hist. of England, vol. 5, p. 125; Lond., 1830.991
[5] Pet. Sic., p. 814.
[6] Emericus, in his Directory for Inquisitors, gives us the following piece of news, namely, that the founder of the Manicheans was a person called Manes, who lived in the diocese of Milan! (Allix, p. 134.)
[7] Mosheim, Eccl. Hist., cent. 11, part 2, chap. 5.
[8] Gibbon, Decline and Fall, vol. 10, p. 186. In perusing the chapter (54) which this historian has devoted to an account of the Paulicians, one hardly knows whether to be more delighted with his eloquence or amazed at his inconsistency. At one time he speaks of them as the "votaries of St. Paul and of Christ," and at another as the disciples of Manes. And though he says that "the Paulicians sincerely condemned the memory and opinions of the Manichean sect," he goes on to write of them as Manicheans. The historian has too slavishly followed his chief authority and their bitter enemy, Petrus Siculus.
[9] Gibbon, vol. 10, p. 185.
[10] Gerdesius, Historia Evangelii Renovati, tom. 1, p. 39; Groningae, 1744.

[1] Hardouin, Concil. Avenion. (1209), tom. 6, pars. 2, col. 1986. This edict enjoins bishops, counts, governors of castles, and all men-at-arms to give their aid to enforce spiritual censures against heretics. "Si opus fuerit," continues the edict, "jurare compellat sicut illi de Montepessulano juraverunt, praecipue circa exterminandos haereticos."
[2] "Tanquam haereticos ab ecclesia Dei pellimus et damnamus: et per porestates exteras coerceri praecipimus, defensores quoque ipsorum ejusdem damnationis vinculo donec resipuerint, mancipamus." (Concilium Tolosanum – Hardouin, Acta Concil. et .Epistoloe Decretales, tom. 6, pars. 2, p. 1979; Parisiis, 1714.)
[3] Acta Concil., tom. 6, pars. 2, p. 1212.
[4] "Ubi cogniti fuerint illius haeresis sectatores, ne receptaculum quisquam eis in terra sua praebere, aut praesidium impertire praesumat. Sed nec in venditione aut eruptione aliqua cum eis omnino commercium habaetur: ut solatio saltem humanitatis amisso, ab errore viae suae resipiscere compellantur." – Hardouin, Acta Concil., tom. 6, p. 1597. 992
[5] Ibid., can. 27, De Haereticis, p. 1684.
[6] Ibid., tom. 7, can. 3, pp. 19-23.
[7] Sismondi, Hist. of Crusades, p. 28.
[8] Petri Vallis, Cern. Hist. Albigens., cap. 16, p. 571. Sismondi, p. 30.
[9] Sismondi, p. 29.
[10] Hardouin, Concil. Montil., tom. 6, pars. 2, p. col. 1980.
[11] Hardouin, Concil. Lateran. 4., tom. 7, p. 79.
[12] Historia de los Faicts d'Armas de Tolosa, pp. 9, 10. quoted by Sismondi, p. 35.
[13] Caesar, Hiesterbachiensis, lib. 5, cap. 21. In Bibliotheca Patrum Cisterciensium, tom. 2, p. 139, Sismondi, p. 36.
[14] Hist. Gen. de Languedoc, lib. 21, cap. 57, p. 169. Historia de los Faicts d'Armas de Tolosa, p. 10. Sismondi, p. 37.
[15] Sismondi, History of the Crusades against the Albigenses, pp. 40-43.

[1] Histoire de Languedoc, lib. 21, cap. 58, p. 169. Sismondi, p. 43.
[2] Concil. Lateran. 4, can. 8, De Inquisitionibus. Hardouin, tom. 7, col. 26.
[3] Malvenda, ann. 1215; Alb. Butler, 76. Turner, Hist. Eng., vol 5, p. 103; ed. 1830.
[4] Hardouin, Concilia, tom. 7, p. 175.
[5] Concilium Tolosanum, cap. 1, p. 428. Sismondi, 220.
[6] Labbe, Concil. Tolosan., tom. 11, p. 427. Fleury, Hist. Eccles., lib. 79, n. 58.
[7] Percini, Historia Inquisit. Tholosanoe. Mosheim, vol. 1, p. 344; Glas. edit., 1831.
[8] Hist. de Languedoc, lib. 24, cap. 87, p. 394. Sismondi, 243.
[9] Hist. of Crusades against the Albigenses, p. 243.

[1] John Scotus Erigena had already published his book attacking and refuting the then comparatively new and strange idea of Paschasius, viz., that 993
by the words of consecration the bread and wine in the Eucharist became the real and veritable flesh and blood of Christ.
[2] Dupin, Eccl. Hist., cent. 11. Concil., tom. 10; edit. Lab., p. 379.
[3] Dupin, .Eccl. Hist., cent. 11, chap. 1, p. 9.
[4] Allix, p. 122.
[5] Among other works Berengarius published a commentary on the Apocalypse; this may perhaps explain his phraseology.
[6] Mosheim, Eccl. Hist., cent. 11, part 2, chap. 3, sec. 18. In a foot-note Mosheim quotes the following words as decisive of Berengarius' sentiments, that Christ's body is only spiritually present in the Sacrament, and that the bread and wine are only symbols: – "The true body of Christ is set forth in the Supper; but spiritual to the inner man. The incorruptible, uncontaminated, and indestructible body of Christ is to be spiritually eaten [spiritualiter manducari] by those only who are members of Christ." (Berengarius' Letter to Almannus in Martene's Thesaur., tom. 2, p. 109.)
[7] Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 11, chap. 13.
[8] Rodulphus Glaber, a monk of Dijon, who wrote a history of the occurrence.
[9] "Jam Regem nostrum in coelestibus regnantem videmus; qui ad immortales triumphos dextra sua nos sublevat, dans superna gandia." (Chartuulary of St. Pierre en Vallee at Chartres.)
[10] Hard., Acta Concil., tom. 6, p. 822.
[11] Mosheim, Eccles. Hist., vol. 1, p. 270. Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 11, chap. 13.
[12] "Ridentes in medio ignis." (Hard., Acta Concil., tom. 6, p. 822.)
[13] Gibbon has mistakenly recorded their martyrdom as that of Manicheans. Of the trial and deaths of these martyrs, four contemporaneous accounts have come down to us. In addition to the one referred to above, there is the biographical relation of Arefaste, their betrayer, a knight of Rouen; there is the chronicle of Ademar, a monk of St. Martial, who lived at the time of the Council; and there is the narrative of John, a monk of Fleury, near Orleans, written probably within a few weeks of the transaction. Accounts, taken from these original 994
documents, are given in Baronius' Annals (tom. 11, col. 60, 61; Colon. ed.) and Hardouin's Councils.
[14] Mosheim says 1130. Bossuet, Faber, and others have assigned to Peter de Bruys a Paulician or Eastern origin. We are inclined to connect him with the Western or Waldensian confessors.
[15] Peter de Cluny's account of them will be found in Bibliotheca P. Max. 22, pp. 1034, 1035.
[16] Baron., Annal., ann. 1147, tom. 12, col. 350, 351. Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 12, chap. 4
[17] Baron., Annal., ann. 1148, tom. 12, col. 356.
[18] Mosheim, cent. 12, part 2, chap. 5, sec. 8.
[19] Gibbon, Decline and Fall, vol. 12, p. 264.
[20] The original picture of Arnold is by an opponent – Otho, Bishop of Frisingen (Chron. de Gestibus, Frederici I., lib. 1, cap. 27, and lib. 2, cap. 21).
[21] Otho Frisingensis, quoted by Allix, p. 171.
[22] Allix, pp. 171, 174. See also summary of St. Bernard's letters in Dupin, cent. 12, chap. 4.
[23] Gibbon, Hist., vol. 12, p. 266.
[24] M'Crie, Progress and Suppression of the Reformation in Italy, p. 41; 2nd edit., 1833.
[25] Allix, p. 172. We find St. Bernard writing letters to the Bishop of Constance and the Papal legate, urging the persecution of Arnold. (See Dupin, Life of St. Bernard, cent. 12, chap. 4.) Mosheim has touched the history of Arnold of Breseia, but not with discriminating judgment, nor sympathetic spirit. This remark applies to his accounts of all these early confessors.

[1] P. Bayle, Dictionary, Historical and Critical, vol. 1, arts. Abelard, Berenger, Amboise; 2nd edit., Lond., 1734. See also Dupin, Eccl. Hist., cent. 12, chap. 4, Life of Bernard. As also Mosheim, Eccl. Hist., cent. 12, chap. 2, secs. 18, 22; chap. 3, secs. 6 – 12. 995
[2] The moral weakness that is the frequent accompaniment of philosophic scepticism has very often been remarked. The case of Abelard was no exception. What a melancholy interest invests his story, as related by Bayle!
[3] Lord Macaulay, in his essay on the Church of Rome, has characterized the Waldensian and Albigensian movements as the revolt of the human intellect against Catholicism. We would apply that epithet rather to the great scholastic and pantheistic movement which Abelard inaugurated; that was the revolt of the intellect strictly viewed. The other was the revolt of the conscience quickened by the Spirit of God. It was the revival of the Divine principle.


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