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^ tilt %e0l00tal ^ 

"^^ PRINCETON, N. J. ,^ 

BX 4805 .W95 v.l 

Wylie, James Aitken, 1808- 

The history of Protestantisr 

««,■- -y:--'. : 


The History 


Protestanti sm 

Rev. J. A. WYLIE, LL.D 

Anther of " The Papacy," "Daybreak in Spain,'' d-v. 



Darkness. "— Carlvk. 

Volume \. 



llJook JFirst, 


I. — PKOTEST.iXTISM .....-• 

n. — Declension of the Early Christian Chi rcii 

III. Development of the Papacy trom the times of Constantine to those or Hildebe.vnh 

IV. — Development of the Papacy from Grecory VIT. to Boniface VTII. 
V. — llEDi-iiVAL Protestant Witnesses .... 

VT. — The Waldenses — Their Valleys .... 

VII. — The Waldenses — Their JIissions ami JIartyri>o.m< 
VIII.— The Pavlicians ...... 

IX. — Crusades against the Aliiioenses .... 

X. — Erection of Tribunal of iNaL'isiTios 


XII. — Abelaed, and Rise of Modern Scepticis« 




13ook ^fcona. 
I. — WiCLiFFE : his Birth and Edvcation ..... 


III. — Wicliffe's Battle with Rome for England's Independence 
IV. — Wicliffe's Battle with the IiIendicant Friars . , . 
V. — The Fri.irs versus the Gospel in Exglanh .... 

VI. — The B.wtle of the P.vrliament with the I'ope .... 

VII. — Persecution of Wicliffe by the Pope anh the Hierarchy 
VIII. — Hierarchical Persecution of WiCliffe Kesumeu 
IX. — ^\\''icliffe's Views ox Church Proi'Ertv and Church Reforsi . 
X. — The Translation of the Scriptures, or the English Bible 
XI. — ^AVicLiFFE and Tr.\nsubstantiation . . . • 

XII. — Wicliffe's Appeal to Parlument ...... 

XIII. — AVici.iFFE before Convocation in Person, and before the lioM.ts Curia by Letter 
XIV. — Wicliffe's Last Days ....... 

XV. — Wicliffe's Theological and Church System .... 




'Booh Wtlvi, 


I.^BiRTH, Education', and First Labovks or llis 


III. — Ctkowisg Opposition of Hiss to 
IV. — Pkepabations for the Covncil of Constance 
V. — Deposition of the Rival Popes 
VI. — Imprisonment and Examination of Huss . 
VII. — Condemnation and Martvrdom of Hiss 
VIII. — -Wicliffe and Hrss compared in their Theology, 
IX. — Trial and Temptation of Jerome . 

X. — The Trial of Jerome 
XI. — Condemnation and Burning of Jerome 
XII. — Wicliffe, Hvss, and Jerome, or the Three First Witnesses of Modern Christendom 
XIII.— The Hvssite Wars .... 
XIV. — Commencemfnt or the Hissite Wars 
XV. — Marvellous Genus of Ziska as a General 
XVI. — Second Crisade against Bohemia . 
XVII. — Brilli.ant Successes of the Hussites 
XVIII. — The Council of Basle 
XIX.— Last Scenes of the Bohemian Reformation 





TBook JFourtI). 
I. — Protestantism and BIedi.ev^vlism ........ 

II.— The Empire ........... 

III. — The Papacy, or Christendom under the Tiara ...... 


TBoclk JFlftt). 


I. — Luther's Birth, Childhood, and School-d.iys ........ 226 

II. — Luther's College-life ........... 232 

III. — Luther's Life in the Convent ......,•■■ 236 

IV. — Luther thb SIonk decomes Luther the Reformer ....... 239 

V. — Luther as Priest, Professor, and Preacher ........ 243 

^n. — Luther's Journey to Rome ........... 245 

VII. — ^Luther in Rome ............ 251 

VIII. — Tetzel Preaches Indulgence.s .......... 2.55 

IX.— The "Theses" 260 

X. — Luther ATT.^CKED ry Tet/el, Pkierio, and Eck ........ 266 

XI. — Luther's Journey to Augsburg . . . . . . . . . • 272 



XII. — Luther's ArrE.utAxcE BEroiiE C.vkdinal C.uetan 
XIII. — Luther's Return to Wittemberg and L.\bours there 


XV. — The Leipsic Disput.^tion .... 



I. — Protestantism .\.\d Imperlilism ; or, the JIonk \yv the Monarch 
II. — Poi'E Leo's Bull .... 

III. — Interviews and Negoti.itions 
rV. — Luther summoned to the Diet at Worms 
V. — Luther's Journey and at Worms 
VI. — Luther before the Diet .^t Worms 
VII. — Luther tut under the Ban of the Empire 


Book ©fbtiitf). 
I. — The First Protest.ant MaetyrS in England 
II, — The Theology of the Early Engllsh Protestants 
III. — Growth of English Protestantism .... 

IV. — Efforts for the Redistribution of Ecclesiastical Property . 


VT. — Lollaedism Denounced as Treason 
VII. — Martyrdom op Lord Cobham 


IX. — Rome's Attempt to Regain Domin-vnoy in England 
X. — Resist.ince to Papal Encroachments 
XI. — Influence of the W.iks of the Fifteenth Century on the Progress of Protestantism 


TBaak (Zcigljtl). 


AT ZURICH, 1.525. 

I. — Switzerland — The Country .vsd the People 

II. — Condition of Switzerl.vnd Prior to the Reformation 
III.— Corruption of the Swiss Church . 
IV. — Zwingle's Birth .ynd School-days . 

V. — Zwingle's Progress tow.akds Emancipation 
VI. — Zwingle in Presence of the Bible 


VIII. — The Pardon-monger and the Plague 
IX. — Extension of the Eeform.vtion to Bern .vnd oiher Swias Towns 












X. — SritEAD or Protestantism ix Easterx ISwitzehi.axh 

XI. — The Question" of Forbidden Meats 

XI I. — I'lBLic Disputation at Zurich .... 

XIII. — Dissolution or Conventual and Monastic Establishments 
XIV. — Dlscussion on Images and the Mass 

XV. — Establishment ou Protest.\ntism in Zurich 

TBook i!3iJitl). 



I. — The CJerman New Testament 
II. — The Aholitiox or the Mass 
III. — PorE AiiituN .\Nii HIS Scheme of Reform . 

V. NlREMllERI; ..... 

VI. — TiiE Ratishon League and Reformation 
VII. -Ei'thek's Views on the Sacrament and iMAGE-woRsinr . 
A'lll. — Wai; of ti[E Peasants ..... 

IX. — The Pjattle of Pavia .\ni> its Influence on Protest.vntism 
X.— Diet of Sfires. 1.52(i, and League against the Emperor 
XI. — The Sack of Rome ...... 


XIII. — Constitution of the Church of IIesse ... 
XIV. — Pulitk's and Prodigies ..... 

XV.^TitE Great Pjiotest ...... 

XVI. — Conference at Marburg ..... 

XVII. — The M.utnuKG Confession ..... 

XVIII. — The Emperor, the Turk, and the Reformation . 

XTX. — Meeting hetween the Emperor .\yu Pope at Bologna . 
XX. — Preparations for the Augsrurg Diet 
XXI. — Arrival of the Emperor .\t Augsrurg .vnd Opening or the D 
XXII. — Luther in the Cohurg. and Melancthon at the Diet . 
XXIII. — Reading of the Augsburg Confession 
XXIV. — After the Diet of Augsburg .... 

XXA'. — Attempted Refutation of the Confession 
XXVI. — End of the Diet or Augsburg .... 

XXVII. — A Retrospect — 1517-1530 — Progress 


Luther before the Diet at Worms 

Illustrated front page 

The Emperor Constantmc the Great 

View of Constantinople 

Visit of Charlcniag-ne to the Pope 

I'enanco of Hem-y IV. of Lierniany 

View in JMilan . . ■ • 

View of Tm-in .... 

The VaUey of jingi'ogmi 

Monte CasteUuzzo and Xow Waldensian Tempi 

Waldensian llissionaries in Giuso of Pedlars 

The MartiTdoni of Constantino of Samosata 

Troubadour and Barbs 

Dominican Monk and Inquisitionci- 

A'iew of Toidouse 

View in Rome : the Island of the Tiber 

Albigensian Worshippeis on the Banks of the Khono 

The Orleans Martyrs .... 

Brescia ....... 

Arnold ofBrcscia Preaching 

Tomb of Abelard .... 

JohnWicliffe ..... 

Canterbury Cathedral from the East End 

King John and the Pope's Legate 

Balliol College, Oxford (about the time of WicliftV) ' 

The Coliseiuu ..... 

View in the Campagna .... 

".His eyes bui-ning witli a strange tire, he [St. Francis] 

Group of Mendicant Friar.s 

The Belfry at Bruges .... 

•Jolm of Gaunt ..... 

Altercation between John of Gaunt and the Bishop of L 

The LoUards' Tower, Lambeth Palace 

Popular Demon.stration at Lambeth Palace in favoui- of 

Avignon, a sometime Residence of the Popes 

Wiehffe and the Monks : Scene in the Bed-chambir 

luteiior of the Vatican Library 

Wayside Preadiiug from the Bilile (time of Wiclift'c) 

Lutterworth Cliurch .... 

Trial of WicUffe .... 

High Street of O.xford (time of Wiclift'c) 

Wielift'e before the Convocation at O.xford 

•John Huss ..... 

View of Prague ..... 

Soldiers Searching for Bohemian Protestants 
The Jliiaclc at Wilsnach : People flocking to the Churc 
Destruction of the Works of Wiehife at Pragu<? 
Jerome of Prague .... 

wandered about the country 


View of the City of Constanoe .... 

A'iew in the T)to1 — Innspruck .... 

Entry of Poi^e John into Constance- 
Reception of John Hiiss at Nuremherg 

Jfurcmhcrg ...... 

Bishop of Lodi Preaching- at the Trial of IIus.s . 

Trial of Huss : Degrading- the Martp- 

Kecantation of Jerome ..... 

View on the Ehine : Schaifliausen 

Jerome Speaking at his Trial .... 

Trial of Jerome ; Waiting for the Sentence 

" As they Tverc leading him out of the church .... he he 

llap oi Bohemia, Mora™, and Bavaria . 

Departiu'c of Pope Martin V. for Piome . 

The Outrage at Prague ..... 

Celebration of the Eucharist liy the Hussites in a Field near Pr 

Dresden . . ' . 

Mc(-lilin ...... 

Hussite Shield ...... 

Portrait of Procopius ..... 

Arrival of the Hussite Deputies at Basle 

Seal of the Council of Basle .... 

Cathedi-al of Basle ..... 

jEneas Sylvius (Pope Pius II.), .John Ziska, George Podichrad 
Tahorites Sclceting a Pastor .... 

Tahorites Worshipping in a Cave 
View in Frankfoi-t-on-thc-Maine 
View in Ghent ...... 

Liege ....... 

Jlartin Luther ...... 

View of Eisnach ...... 

.John Luther taldng liis Son to School 

Luther Sing-ing in the Streets of Eisnach 

The Cathedral of Erfurt ..... 

Liithcr Entering the Augustinian Convent 

The Ordin,ation of Luther to the Priesthood 

Liither Preaching in the Old Wooden Church at Wittemlierg 

View of Bologna ...... 

View of Florence ...... 

The Sehlossrkii-k, or Castle-church, at Wittcmberg 
Tctzel's Procession ..... 

Luther Nailing liis " Theses " to the Door of the Schluss-kirk at 
lAither's House at Wittembei'g .... 

Pope Leo X. . . 

In the Market-place of Wittcmhcrg : People Discussing the " 

View of Augsburg . ... 

The Old Castle at Weimar .... 

Frederick III., Elector of Saxony, sm-namcd '• Tlio Wise" 
Luther Escaping from Augshui'g .... 

Luther's Pamphlet: Scene at the Printing-house 

View of Mainz ...... of the Wittcmberg Theolog-ians at Leipsic 
Philip Melancthon ..... 

View in Aix-la-Chapellc ..... 

Charles V., Emperor of Germany 

The Conclave Electing the Emperor of Cicnnany 

View of Treves ...... 

shop Eoc 

in unum Demn 



View of Coljui-g, a Rcsldencu of LuUili- during the Diet of Augsbur 
Desiderius Erasmus ..... 

Luther Burning the Pope's Bull .... 

View of Cologne ...... 

The Catiiedi-al of 'Wonns ..... 

The Piinces Summoned before the Emperor 

Leo X. pronounciirg the " Bull of the Lord's Supper" 

Luther's House at Franlifort .... 

Luther at the Casement ..... 

View in Wittembcrg ..... 

View of AVorms ...... 

Luther Attacked by Masked Horsemen in the Thuringian ForcsS 

George Spalatin, of the Ecclesiastical Coimciil of Sa.xony 

Dr. Justus Jonas, Professor of Theology at Wittembcrg 

Water-spout on Luther's House at Eisnacli 

Interior of the Wai-tburg ..... 

Conference between Thorpe and .Uundel 

Old St. Paul's and Neighbourhood in l-')40 

The Cathedi-al and Leaning Tower of Pisa 

Archbishop Arundel at Oxford .... 

Chamber in the Lollards' Tower, Lambeth Palace, where the lie 

Facsimile of Part of a Pago of Wiclifl'c's Bible . 

Lord Cobham at a LoUard Preadiing 

View of the Tower of London fi-om the Kivcr Thames (1700) 

Friar Preaching from a Movable Pulpit (Royal Mi'., Hi', 3) 

Lord Cobham before the Bishops .... 

Henry V.'s Attack upon a Lollard Conventicle . 
Sir John Oldcastle, afterwards Lord Cobham 
Instruments of Toitiu'o ..... 

Hem-y V. and his Parliament (from the llarlc'uni J/.y6'. id the B, 

King Henry V. . 

Lollards making Abjmution of tlieu- Faitli 

View of Canterbury ..... 

Preaching at St. Paul's Cross in the Fifteenth Centmy . 

The Ai-chbishops of York and Canterbury before the PaiUamont 

Cardinal Beaufort's Chantry, Winchester Cathedral 

View of "SVestminstor Abbey from the JIall, St. Jann s's Park 

A''iew in Lucemo ...... 

View in Lausanne ...... 

UMc Zwinglo ...... 

A Swiss Peasant Family ..... 

View in Zurich ...... 

Zwingle ainong liis Friends .... 

(Ecolampadius ...... 

Francis I. of France ..... 

Zwingle Preaching in Zvuidi Cathedral . 

Hcniy Bullinger ...... 

C'athedi-al of Jlilan ..... 

Samson Selling Indulgences .... 

A Swiss Refonner Preaching to his Flock in thr ( )\,rn Field 
View of Einsiedcln Abbey .... 

Slap of Switzerland ..... 

The Councillors Dissolving the Augustine Order of Jlouks in Zmich 
Hettinger Destroying the Imago .... 

Crypt of the Cathedi-al of Basle (I.JO.5) . 

View of Lake Zug ...... 

Celebration of the Lord's Supper in the Protestant Foru; by tl 

were C 

tmiastev Abbey 


Hemy VIII. of England 

View in Thuringia : the Wartburg in the Distance 

View of Luther's Room in the Warthurg, showing the Ink-stain 

John Biigcnhagen (Pomeranus) .... 

Little Giitc of a Parish Chm-oh, Nui-emherg- 

Balcony of the Armouiy, Nuremberg 

Part of the City Walls, Nuremberg 

A Wittemboi-g Student Preaching in Lime-tree Meadow 

The Papal Nuncio Chieregato in Nuremberg 

A Gala-day in Nuremberg (time, Sixteenth Ccntui-y) 

The River Pegnitz, intersecting the City of Nm-embcrg . 

St. Scbald's Church, Nuremberg .... 

-Vlbert Diii-cr ...... 

View of Bui'gofl, showing the Cathcdi-al . 

Luther Challenging Carlstadt to Write against liim 

Death of Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony 

The Chartreuse of Pavia ..... 

Cai'dinal AVolscy ...... 

The Reformed Princes on theii- Way to the Diet at Spires 
The Cathedral of Spires ..... 

The Castle of St. Angclo, Rome .... 

John. Frederick, Elector of Saxony, sumamed " The Steadfast 
Fi-ancis Lambert Preaching .... 

View in Barcelona ..... 

King Ferdinand, afterwards Emperor of Gci-many 

Arrival of King Ferdinand at Spires 

The Elector of Saxony Reading the Protest at tlie Diet of Spires 

A'iew of Marburg ...... 

Portrait of Blartin Bucer ..... 

Luther and Zwingle Discussing at Marburg- 
Interior of the Courtyard of a Bologneso House 
Portrait of Cardinal C^ampeggio .... 

The Three Protestant Ambassadors before the Emperor Charles 

Entrance to the Imperial Castle, Nui-cmberg 

A Street in Coburg ..... 

Luther in Coburg Castle : the Diet of Jackdaws 

Meeting of the Emperor Charles and the Protestant Princes 

The Protestant Princes Signing their Confession 

The Protestant Princes Presenting their Confession to Charles 

Mew in Strasburg ..... 

The Deputies from the Imperial Cities Awaiting an Audience of 

Charles sees the Play of the Masks 

The Peller Court at Nuremberg .... 

Portrait of Philip of Ilesso . . . ■ 

Esciipe of Pliilip of Hesse from Augsbui'g 

History of Protestantism. 

mok sh'^t 





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

The History of Protestantism, wliicli 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 sprang from them. We shall speak of 
the seed and also of the tree, small at first, still 
growing, and destined one day to cover the earth. 


How that seed was deposited in the soU ; how 
the tree grew up and flourished despite the furious 
tempests that warred around it ; how, century after 
centiuy, it lifted its top higher in heaven, and 
spread its boughs wider around, sheltering liberty, 
nursing letters, fostering art, and gathering a fra- 
ternity 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 tliis 
is what we understand by the Protestantism on the 
history of which we are now entering. Viewed 
thus — and any narrower view would be \uitrue 
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 
^dewed, is simply a principle. It is not a policy. 
It is not an empii-e, having its fleets and armies, 
its ofiicers and tribunals, wherewith to extend its 
dominion and make its authority be obeyed. It is 
not even a Church with its liierarchies, and S}Tiods 
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 lieai-t and renews the indi- 
vidual. It goes down to the depths and, by its 
omnipotent but noiseless energy, vivifies and re- 
generates 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 aflairs it deems a 
sphere not too vast to fill with its spirit, and rule 
by its law. 

Whence came this principle t The name Pro- 
testantism is veiy recent : the thing itself is very 
ancient. The term Protestantism is scarcely older 
than 300 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 begim and ended with the men who 
assembled at the German town in t-he year alrcftdy 
specified. The new world that has come out of it 

is the proof that at the bottom of this protest was a 
great principle wliich it has pleased Providence to 
fertilise, and make the seed of those grand, bene- 
ficent, and enduring achievements wliich have made 
the past three centimes in many respects the 
most eventful and wonderful in history. The men 
who handed in tins protest did not wish to create a 
mere void. If they disowned the creed and threw 
ofi" the yoke of Rome, it was that they might plant 
a piu-er 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 our question — Whence came this 
principle? And we ask our readers to mark well 
oiu- 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 vii-tue of which when society 
becomes corrupt it can purify itself, and when it 
is arrested in its com-se by some external force, or 
stops from exhaustion, it can recruit its energies 
and set forward anew on its path. It ia neither 
the product of the individual reason, nor the result 
of the joint thought and energies of tlie species. 
Protestantism is a principle which has its origin 
outside human society : it is a Divine graft on 
the intellectual and moral natui'e of man, whereby 
new vitalities and forces are introduced into it, and 
the human stem yields henceforth a nobler fniit. 
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 eflbrts to nobler objects, pei-mits the highest 
development of which humanity is capable, and the 
fullest possible accomplisliment of all its grand ends. 
In a word, Protestantism is revived Christianity. 




Early Triumphs of the Truth— Causes— The Fourth Century— Early Simplicity lost— The Chm-ch remodelled 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 aU at once to receive the Gospel in its 

All through, from the fifth to the fifteenth cen- 
tury, the Lamp of Truth burned dimly in the sanc- 
tuary of Christendom. Its flame often sunk 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, Kke 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 sum- 
mits of the Alps that it was seen to burn, spread- 
ing a gi'acious morning on the mountain-tops, and 
giving promise of the sure approach of day. And 
then, anon, it woidd buiy 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 gi-owth of this truth to the days of 

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 preachei-s 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 Domitian. This, which was the most terri- 
ble of all the early persecutions, had, in the belief 
of the Pagans, utterly exterminated the " Christian 
superstition." So far from this, it had but afibrded 
the Gospel an opportunity of giving to the world a 
mightier proof of its divinity. It rose from the 
stakes and massacres of Domitian, to begin a new 
career, in which it was destined to triumph over the 
empire which thought that it had crushed it. Dig- 
nities and wealth now flowed in upon its ministers 

and disciples, and according to the uniform testi- 
mony of all the early historians, the faith which had 
maintained its piu-ity and vigour in the humble 
sanctuaries and lowly position of the fii-st age, and 
amid the fires of its pagan persecutors, became 
corrupt and waxed feeble amid the gorgeous temples 
and the worldly dignities which imperial favour had 
lavished upon it. 

From the fourth century the coiTuptions of the 
Christian Church continued to make marked and 
rapid progi-ess. 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 usm-ped 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 wi-ath of her fornication." 
The ministers of Christ began to afiect titles of 
dignity, and to extend theii- authority and jiu-isdic- 
tion to temporal matters, forgetfiil that an oflice 
bestowed by God, and sei-viceable to the highest 
interests of society, can never fail of respect when 
filled by men of exemplaiy character, sincerely 
devoted to the discharge of its duties. 

The beginning of this matter seemed innocent 
enough. To obviate pleas before the secular tribu- 
nals, ministers were frequently asked to arbitrate 
in disputes between members of the Church, and 
Constantino made a law confirming all such de- 
cisions in the consistories of the clergy, and shutting 
out the review of their sentences by the civil 
judges.' 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 
imder Constantino, and why, it was asked, should 
not a similar arrangement be introduced into the 
Chm-ch? Accordingly the Christian world was 
divided into four great dioceses ; over each diocese 

1 Eusebius, De Vita Const., lib. iv., cap. 27. 
Eccles. Hist., vol. i., p. 1G2 ; Dublin, 1723. 



was set a patriarch, who governed the whole clei'gy 
of liis domain, and thus arose four great thrones or 
princedoms in the House of God. Where there 
had been a bi'otherhood, there was now a hierarchy; 
and from the lofty chair of the Patriarch, a grada- 
tion of rank, and a subordination of authority and 
office, ran do"\vn to tlie lowly state and contracted 
sphere of the Pi-esbyter. ' It was splendour of 
rank, rather than the fame of learning and the 
lustre of virtue, that henceforward conferred dis- 
tinction on the ministers of the Chiu'ch. 

Such an arrangement was not fitted to nourish 
spii-ituality 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 conten- 
tions, which disparaged the authority and sullied 
the glory of the sacred office. The emperor him- 
self was witness to these unseemly spectacles. " I 
entreat you," we find him pathetically saying to 
the fathers of the Council of Nice, " beloved minis- 
ters of God, and servants of our Saviour Jesus 
Christ, take away the cause of our dissension and 
disagreement, establish peace among yourselves." - 

WhUe the " living oracles " were neglected, the 
zeal of the clergy began to spend itself upon rite^ 
and ceremonies borrowed from the pagans. These 
were midtiplied to siich a degree, that Augustine 
complained that they were " less tolerable than the 
yoke of the Jews under the law." ^ At this period 
the Bishops of Rome wore costly attire, gave sump- 
tuous banquets, and when they went abroad were 
carried in litters. ■• They now began to sjjeak with 
an authoritative voice, and to demand obedience 
from all the Churches. Of this the dispute between 
the Eastern and Western Chui-ches respecting Easter 
is an instance in point. The Eastern Church, fol- 
lowing the Jews, kept the feast on the 1 4th day of 
the month Nisan* — the day of the Jewish Passover. 

1 Eusebius, De Vita Const., lib. iv., cap. 24. Mosheim, 
Eccles. Hist., vol. i., cent. 4, p. 94; Glasgow, 1831. 

2 Eusebius, Ecdes. Hist., lib. iii., cap. 12, p. 490 ; 
Parisiis, 1659. Dupin, Ecdes. Hist., vol. u., p. 14; 
Lond., 1693. 

8 Baronius admits that many things have been laudably- 
translated from Gentile superstition into tlie Christian 
religion (Annal., ad An. 58). And Binnius, extolUng the 
munificence of Constantine towards the Church, speaks 
of his superstitionis gentilias justa (Emvlatio (** just emula- 
tion of the Gentile superstition "). — Condi., tom. 7, notaa 
in Donat. Constan. 

* Ammian. Marcel., lib. xxvii., cap. 3. Mosheim, vol. i., 
cent. 4, p. 95. 

« Nisan corresponds with the latter half of our March 
and the first half of our April. 

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, re- 
solved 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 theii" obedience 
in this or in any other matter, kept Easter as 
before ; and for this flagi-ant contempt, as Victor 
accounted it, of his legitimate authority, he excom- 
municated them. ' They refused to obey a human 
ordinance, and they were shut out from the king- 
dom of the Gospel. This was the fii'st peal of those 
thunders which were in after times to roU 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 hiin as 
judge in their disjiutes; heresiarchs sometimes fled 
to him for sanctuary; those who had favours to 
beg extolled his piety, or afiected to follow his 
customs ; and it is not surprising that his pride 
and ambition, fed by continual incense, continued 
to gi'ow, 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 befel him, raised 
his seat above his equals, mounted the throne of 
the patriarch, and exercised lordsliip 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 doctiine 
and worship already introduced had changed the 
brightness of the Church's morning into twilight ; 
the descent of the Northern nations, which, be- 
ginning in the fifth, continued through several 
successive centiuies, converted that twilight into 
night. The new tribes had changed their country, 
but not their superstitions ; and, imhappily, there . 

The Council of Nicaea, a.d. 325, enacted that the 21st 
of March should thenceforward be accounted the vornal 
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 wliich 
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." 


was neither zeal nor vigour in the Christianity 
of the age to effect theii- instruction and their 
genuine conversion. The Bible had been with- 
drawn ; in the pulpit fable had usurped the place 
of truth ; holy lives, whose silent eloquence might 
have won upon the barbarians, were rarely exempli- 
fied ; 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 understand- 
ing, pm-ify the heart, and em-ich the life with vir- 
tue, 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 super- 
stitions imported from the forests of Northern 
Germany, and of Christian beliefs and observances 
wliich 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 foi-m. 
They nourished their piety not at the living foun- 
tains 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 practise 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 Loi-d'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 
tlius : ' Of a truth I do not know what book this is, 
but I perceive everything in it is against us.'" ' 

Apostacy is like the descent of heavy bodies, it 
proceeds with ever-accelerating velocity. Fii'st, 
lamps were lighted at the tombs of the martyi-s ; 

1 Bennet's Memorial of the Beformaiion, p. 20; Edin., 1748. 

next, the Supper was celebrated beside their 
graves ; next, prayers were oflered /or them and to 
them;^ next, paintings and images began to dis- 
figure the walls, and corpses to pollute the floors of 
the churches. Baptism, which apostlea required 
water only to dispense, could not be celebrated 
without white robes and clu'ism, milk, honey, and 
salt ^ Then came a crowd of chtu-ch 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, choris- 
ters, and portei-s ; and as work must be found for 
tliis motley host of labourers, there came to be fasts 
and exorcisms; there were lamps to be lighted, 
altars to be arranged, and churches to be conse- 
crated ; there was the eucharist to be carried to the 
dying ; and there were the dead to be btuied, 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 him to think what a cumbrous 
array of curious macliinery 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 pi-iests." 

So fai', 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 rim its course, it must de- 
velop) itself logically ; and having, in the conrse 
of centuries, brought its fruits to maturity, it 
would then, but not till then, perish and pass 

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 

' 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 " lirst resurrection." This was 
grounded on the idea which the primitive Christians 
entertained respecting the millennium. After Gregoi-y I., 
prayers for the dead regarded their deliverance from 

s Dupin, Eccles. Hist., vol. i., cent, 3, 


in tlie 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, "good- 
will to man." Its greatest preacher, the Apostle 
Paul, had no other definition to give of it. It was 
not only a rnle of life but " grace," the " grace of 
God," and therefore sovereign, and boimdless. To 
man fallen and undone the Gosjiel oflered a full 

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 gi-ace 
and more of merit. The light wanes as we travel 
down the Patristic road, and remove ourselves 
fiirther from the Apo.stolic dawi. 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 


■, (ip/ M. Clarac.) 

forgiveness, and a comjilete spiritual renovation, 
issuing at length in the inconceivable and infinite 
felicity of the Life Eternal. But man's nai-row 
heart could not enlarge itself to God's vast bene- 
ficence. 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; 

pass upon the sun, when after contemplating him 
in a tropical hemisphere, we see him in a northern 
sky, where his beams, having to force tlieir way 
through mists and vapours, are robbed of half their 
splendour. Seen throiigh the fogs of the Patristic 
age, the Gospel scarcely looks the same which had 
buist 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 tlie 
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 odours wliich 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 eflicacy, that partly ci'eated, 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 trans- 
formations of a more portentous kind than any 
which had yet taken place had passed upon the 



Imperial Edicts— Prestifre of Eome— Fall of the "Western Empii-e— 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 Eoman Pontiif . 

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 begin- 
nings 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 wMcli 
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 h\mible pastor from 
the mitred 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 funda- 
mental, seeing it opened the door for other deterio- 
rating influences, and mightily fiivoured then- opera- 
tion. 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 cere- 
monialism and idolatry ; and, as the consequence of 
this threefold action, the clergy began to be gradu- 
ally changed, as already mentioned, from a " teach- 
ing ministry " to a " sacrificing priesthood." This 
made them no longer ministers or servants of their 
feUow-Chiistians ; 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 natm-al concomi- 
tant of the hierarchical doctrine. That polity was 
so consolidated by the time that the empire became 
Christian, and Constantino ascended the throne 
(311), that the Church now stood out as a body 
distinct from the State ; and her new organisation, 
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 Ptome was then 
a thing unheard of Manifestly the 300 Fathers 
who assembled (a.d. 325) at Nicsea knew nothing 
of it for in their sixth and seventh canons they 



expressly recognise the authority of the Churches of 
Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and others, each 
within its own boundaries, even as Rome had 
jurisdiction witliin its limits ; and enact that the 
jurisdiction and privileges of these Chui-ches shall 
be retained.' 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 recognised the Bishop of Rome as supreme 
over the Western Church, affected the authority 
and pomp of a spiritual sovereign. 

Still farther, the ascent of the Bishop of Rome 
to the supremacy was silently yet powerfully aided 
by that mysterious and subtle influence which ap- 
peared 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 
natui'ally turned to the pastor of the Tiber. They 
craved his advice, or they submitted theii- 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 wliich 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 skilfully 
availing herself of everjrthing 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 mag- 
nificence for his residence, also tended to enliance 
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 fi-uit of count- 
less victories, and of ages of dominion — had not 
depai-ted. The contest which had been going on 
for some time among the five great patriarchates — 

1 Hardouin,.4(;taComri!., torn, i., col. .325; Parisiis, 1715. 
Dupin, Ecclcs. Hist., vol. i., p. 600; Dublin edition. 

Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Constantinople, 
and Rome — the question at issue being the same as 
that which provoked the contention among the dis- 
ciples of old, " which was the greatest," was now 
restricted to the last two. The city on the Bos- 
phorus 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 Tib(;r 
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 aU 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 
centmy 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 
biuld up faU vidth it. But no ! The wave of bar- 
barism which rolled in from the North, overwhelm- 
ing society and sweeping away the empire, broke 
harmlessly at the feet of the Bishop of Rome. The 
shocks that overtm-ned dynasties and blotted out 
nationalities, left his power imtouched, his seat un- 
shaken. 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 im- 
movable 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. ' 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 Coesar 
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 

2 Hai-d. i. 1477; ii. 787, 8SS. B.irou. vi. 205. 



his office by so uncertam a tenure. He made haste, 
therefore, to place his supremacy where no future 
decree of emperor, no lapse of years, and no com- 
ing 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 doctrin- 
ally, but not as yet practically. It had to wait the 
full development of the idea of vicarship, which 
was not tin the days of Gregoiy VII. But here 
have we the embryotic seed — the vicarship to wit 
— out of which the vast structure of the Papacy 
has spiimg. This it is that plants at the centre 
of the system a pseudo-divine jiu'isdiction, and 
places the Pope above all bishops with their flocks, 
above all kings with then- 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 bii-thday of the 
Popedom. The Bishop of Rome had till now sat 
in the seat of Ctesar; 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 favoured 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 power- 
fvd 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 
Csesars, bowed down before the chair of the Popes. 
The evangelisation 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 practised ia their native forests. 
They did not much concern themselves with the study 
of Christian doctrine, or tlie practice of Christian 
virtue. The age furnished but few manuals of the 
one, and still fewer models of the other. 

The fii'st of the Gothic princes to enter the 
Roman communion was Clovis, King of the Franks. 
In fulfilment of a vow which he had made on the 
field of Tolbiac, where he vanquished the Allemanni, 
Clovis was baptised 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 thou- 
sand of his warlike subjects were baptised along 
with him. ' The Pope styled him " the eldest son 
of the Church," a title which the Kings of France, 
his successors, have worn these 1,400 yeai-s. When 
Clovis ascended fi-om the baptismal font he was the 
o'nly 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 centm-y the disposition was still gi-owing 
among the piinces of Western Europe to submit 
themselves and refer their disputes to the Pontifi" 
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 pro- 
cure enactments favourable 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. Accordisgly 
we find Sigismund, King of Burgundy, ordering 
(554) that an assembly should be held for the 
future on the 6th of September eveiy year, "at 
which time the ecclesiastics are not so much en- 
grossed with the worldly cares elf husbandry." - 
The ecclesiastical conquest of Germany was in this 
century completed, and thus the spiritual dominions 
of the Pope were still further extended. 

In the eighth centmy 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 do- 
minion. On the west the victorious Saracens, 
having crossed the Pyi-enees 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 Allioin, had 
established themselves in Central Italy two cen- 
times before — had burst the barrier of the Apen- 
nines, and were brandishing theii' swords at the 
gates of Rome. They were on the point of re- 
placing Catholic orthodoxy with the creed of 
Arianism. Having taken advantage of the icono- 
clast disputes to throw ofi" the imperial yoke, the 

' Miiller, TJniv. History, vol. ii., p. 21 ; Lend., 1S18. 
' Miiller, vol. ii., p. 23. 



Pope could expect no aid from the Emperor of Con- 
stantinople. He turned his eyes to France. The 
promjat and powerful interposition of the Frankish 
arms saved the Papal chaii', 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 colour 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 tliis 
service in the Pope's behalf The Lombards be- 
coming again troublesome, Charlemagne subdued 
them a second time. After his campaign he visited 
Eome (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 sepulchre where the 
bones of the apostles lie," he finally ceded to the 
pontifi" the territories of the conquered tribes.' 
It was in this way that Peter obtained his " patri- 
mony," the Church her dowiy, and the Pope his 
triple crown. 

Tlie 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 win ascend the sides of the moimt ; I will plant 
my throne above the stars; I vdll be as God." Not 
content with being a bishop of bishops, and so 
governing the whole spiritual affau-s 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 un- 
limited. Tliis 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 tlie Emperor Constantino. Con- 
stantine, 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 

' JliiUer, vol. ii., p. 71. 

rein, and walking all the way on foot, the emperor 
conducted Sylvester to Rome, and placed him upon 
the Papal tlu-one. But this was as nothing com- 
pared with the vast and splendid inheritance which 
Constantino 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 mitre, our 
diadem, and all our imperial vestments ; we trans- 
fer 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." - 

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 re- 
fute 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, Constan- 
tino is made to speak in the Latin of the eighth 
centiuy, and to addi-ess 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 Con- 
stantinople. 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 ftir' 
nish oil for the lamps in the Roman chiu-ches. 

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

2 We quote from the copy of the document in Pope 
Leo's letter in Hardouin's Collection. Epistola I., LeonU 
Papal IX.; Acta Conciliorum et Epistolce Decretalcs, tom. 
vi., 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. ii., Ap-- 
pendix, tr. from French ; London, 1838. 



In the follo^ving century another document of a 
like extraordinary character was given to the world. 
We refer to the " Decretals of Isidore." These 
wei'o concocted about the year 845. They pro- 
fessed to Le a collection of the letters, rescripts, and 

Greeks have reproachfully termed " the native home 
of inventions and falsifications of documents." The 
writer, who professed to be living Ln the first cen- 
tury, painted the Church of Rome in the niagniti- 
cence which she attained only in the ninth ; and 



bulls of the early pastors of the Chiu-ch of Rome — 
Anacletus, Clement, and others, down to Sylvester 
— the very men to wliom the tei'ms " rescript" and 
" bull " were unknown. The burden of this com- 
pilation was the pontifical supremacy, which it 
aflirmed had existed from the first age. It was 
the clumsiest, but the most successful, of all the 
forgeries which have emanated from what the 

made the pastors of the first age speak in the 
pompous words of the Popes of the Middle Ages. 
Abounding in absurdities, contradictions, and ana- 
chronisms, 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 impostiu'e. " Never," says Father de 
Rignon, " was there seen a forgery so audacious, 
so extensive, so solemn, so persevering."' Yet the 
discovery of the fraud has not shaken the system. 
The learned Dupiu supposes that these decretals 
were fabricated liy Benedict, a deacon of Mentz, 
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 oould have been no 
Gregory VII. The Isidorian forgeries were the 
broad foundation which the Gregorians built upon."^ 
All the while the Papacy was working on an- 
other 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.' By-aud- 
by they came to be elected by the clergy, with con- 
sent 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 fomid at Milan so late 
as the eleventh centuiy. The election of the Bishoj) 
of Rome in early times was iir no way diflerent 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 popiilar 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 



ffhe War of Investitures— Gre^'ory VII. and Henry IV.— The Mitre Triumphs over the Empire— Noon of the Papacy 
imder Innocent III.— Continued to Boniface VIII. — First and Last Estate of the Roman Pastors Contrasted — 
Seven Centiu-ies of Continuous Success — Interpreted by Some as a Proof that the Papacy is Divine — Eeasons 
erplaining.this Marvellous Success — Eclipsed by the Gospel's Progress. 

We come now to the last great struggle. There 
lacked one grade of pov/er to comi)lete and crown 
this stupendous fabric of dominion. The spiritual 
supremacy was achieved in the seventh centur}', 
the temporal sovereignty was attained in the 
eighth ; it wanted only the pontifical supremacy — 
sometimes, although impropei'ly, styled the tempo- 
ral supremacy — to make the Pope supreme over 
kings, as he had already become over peoples and 
bishojjs, and to vest in him a jurisdiction that has 
not its like on earth — a jurisdiction that is unique, 
inasmuch as it ai-rogates all powers, absorbs all 
rights, and spurns all limits. Destured, before 
terminating its career, to ci-ush beneath its iron 
foot thrones and nations, and masking an ambition 

' Etudes B^ligieitses, November, 1866. 
- The Pope and ihe Council, by "Jani's, 
London, 18G9. 

p. 10-5; 

as astute as Lucifer's with a dissimulation as pro- 
foixnd, this power advanced at first with noiseless 
steps, and stole uj)on 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 nionarchs into the seat of God. 

Tliis great war we shall now jwoceed 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, 

' The above statement regarding the mode of electing 
bishops during the first three centuries rests on the 
authority of Clement, Bishop of Home, in the first cen- 
tury; Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, in the third century; 
and of Gregory Nazianzen. See also De Dominis, Do 
Repub. Eccles.; Blondel, Apologm; Dean Waddington; 
Carrow, Supremacy ; and Mosheim, Eccl. Hist., cent. 1. 



as yet to assert it in actual fact. Their motto was 
Spes messis in semiiie. Discerning " the harvest in 
the seed," tliey were content meanwhile to lodge the 
principle of supremacy in their creed, and in the 
general mind of Europe, knowing that future ages 
would fructifj' and ripen it. Towards this they 
began to work quietly, yet skilfully and perse- 
veringly. At length came overt and open mea- 
sures. 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 pre- 
ceded, and beyond most of those who have 
followed him on the Papal thi'one, 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 realised in the sub- 
jection of all authority and power, spiritual and 
temporal, to the chair of Peter. " When he drew 
out," says Janus, " the whole system of Papal omni- 
potence in twenty-seven theses in his ' Dictatus,' 
these theses were partly mere repetitions or corol- 
laries of the Isidorian decretals ; partly ho and his 
friends sought to give them the appearance of tra- 
dition and antiquity by new fictions."' We may 
take the followng 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 liy 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 amiiiUing the allegiance of 
subjects." 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 mitre and the 
empire ; Gregory's object in this war being to wrest 
from the emperors the power of appointmg 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 Idoody 
one. The mitre, though sustaining occasional re- 
verses, continued nevertheless to gain steadily upon 
the empire. The spu-it of the times helped the 
priesthood in their struggle witli the civil power. 

■ The Pope and the Council, p. 107. 

- Binnius, C'onciKd. vol. iii, pars. 2., p. 297; Col. 
Agi-ip., 1618. 

The age was superstitious to the core, and though 
in no wise spiritual, it was very thoroughly ecclesi- 
astical. The crusades, too, broke the spirit and 
drained the wealth of the princes, while the grow- 
ing power and augmenting riches of the clergy 
cast the balance ever more and more against the 

For a brief space Gregoiy 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 ^vith 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 mo- 
ment 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 pi-omontoi-y of Salerno ; but 
his successors espovised his project, and strove by 
wiles, by arms, and by anathemas, to reduce the 
world under the sceptre of the Papal Theocracy. 
For well-nigh two dismal centuries the conflict 
was maintained. How truly melancholy the re- 
cord 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 ^vith 
blood ! 

Biit through all this confusion and misery the 
idea of Gregory was perseveringly pursued, till at 
last it was realised, and the mitre was beheld trium- 
phant 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 reixched 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, uprearmg itself 
in the person of Innocent III., on its head all the 
mitres of the Cliurch, and in its hand all the 
sceptres of the State. 

" In each of the tliree leading objects which 
Rome has pursued," says Hallam — "independent 
sovereignty, supremacy over the Chi-istian Church, 
control over the princes of the earth — it was the 
fortune of this pontiff' to conquer."' "Rome," he 
says again, " inspired during this age all the terror 
of her ancient name ; she was once more mistrass of 

3 Hallam, ii. 27G. 



the world, and kings were her vassals."' She had 
fought a gi-eat fight, and now she celebrated an un- 
equalled 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 luimble 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 
l)ontifical will. Hildebrand's idea was now fully 
realised. The pontifical supremacy was beheld in 
its plenitude — the jilenitude of spiiitual power, and 
that of tempoi'al power. It was the noon of the 
Papacy ; but the noon of the Papacy was the mid- 
night 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 nioon."^ Nor could he find words 
fitly to desciibe his own fonnidable functions, 
save those of Jehovah to his jn-ophet Jeremiah : 
" See, I have set thee over tha nations and over the 
kingdoms, to root out, and to pidl 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 sjnritual things, and the 
extent of things temporal;' the greatness and 
abundance of both. She hath given me the mitre 
in token of things spii-itual, the crown in token of 
the temporal ; the mitre for the priesthood, and 
the crown for the kingdom ; making me the lieu- 
tenant 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 fulness have Ave received.' " * " We declare," 
says Boniface VIII. (1294—1303), in his bull 
Unam Sanctam, " define, pronounce it to be neces- 
sary to salvation for every human creature to be 
subject to the Roman Pontifi"." This subjection is 
declared in the bull to extend to all afiaii-s. " 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 

' Hallam, ii. 284. 

' P. Innocent III. in Decret. Greg., lib. i., tit. 33. 
' " Spiritualium plenitudinem, et latitudinem tempo- 
^ Itinerar. Ital., jiart ii., De C'or©n. Eom. Pont. 

astray, it must be judged by the spiritual."* 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 upreai'ed itself in the midst of the astonished 
and affi'iglited nations of Christendom. 

What a contrast between the first and the last 
estate of the jtastors of the Roman Church ! — be- 
tween the humility and ^loverty of the first century, 
and the splendour 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 pastoi's 
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 moi'e amplifi- 
cation on the same theme. We quote only the first 
and last stanzas of his sonnet on the Church of 
Rome : — 

" The fire of wrathfvxl 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, 

Efijoicing in the ruin thou didst bear. 

" In former days thou wast not laid 
On down, nor under cooling shade ; 

Thou naked to tlie 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. 
Wc 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 

^ "Oportet gladium esse sub gladio, et temporalem 
authoritatem spirituali subjici potestati. Ergo, si deviat 
terrena potestas judicabitur a potestate spirituali." 
(Corp. Jur. Can. a Pitlueo, torn. II., Ertrav., lib. i., tit. 
viii., cap. 1; Paris, 1671.) 

'' Parndiso, canto xxiv. 

' Lc Biine del Petrarca, tome i., p. 325, ed. Lod. Casteh 



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 miglity potentates to it ! nay, to persuade tlie 
latter to assist in establishing a power which they 
could hardly but foresee would crush themselves ! to 
piu'sue this scheme through a succession of cen- 
turies 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 first realised 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 whicli his prede- 
cessor had gained ! — to do all this is, we repeat, 
something out of the ordinaiy course. There is 
nothing like it again in the whole history of the 

This success, continued through seven centuries, 
was audaciously interpreted into a j^roof of the 
divinity of the Papacy. Behold, it has been said, 
when the throne of Cresar was overturned, how 
the chair of Peter stood erect ! Behold, when 
the barbarous nations rushed like a torrent into 
Italy, overwhelming laws, extinguishing know- 
ledge, and dissolving society itself, how the ark 
of the Church rode in safety on the flood ! Be- 
hold, when the "^dctorious hosts of the Saracen 
approached the gates of Italy, how they were turned 
back ! Behold, when the mitre 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 centiu'ies have been added to 
its sway ! Behold, in fine, when revolution broke 
out in France, and swept like a whii-lwind over 
Europe, bearing down thrones and dynasties, how 
the bark of Peter outlived the storm, and rode 
triiunphant above the waves that engulfed appa- 
rently stronger structiu-es ! Is not this the Church 
of which Christ said, " The gates of hell shall not 
prevail against it 'I " 

What else do the words of Cardinal Baronius 
mean 1 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 temjjle 
of the universe, the sanctuary of piety, the pillar 
of truth, the immovable rock. Beholil, 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, ofl'ering not only gifts out 
of their treasures, but bringmg even kingdoms to 
her, and asking kingdoms from her. Whoso is 
■wise, and \vill record these things, even he shall 
understand the lovingkindness of the Lord." ^ 

But the success of the Papacy, when closely ex- 
amined, is not so surprising as it looks. It camiot 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 cm'e — at least, 
to alleviate — Rome has studied rather to foster 
into strength, that she might be borne to power on 
the fold current which she herself had created. 
Amid battles, bloodshed, and confusion, has her 
path lain. The edicts of subservient Councils, the 
foi-geries of hireling priests, the amis of craven 
monarchs, and the thunderbolts of excommuni- 
cation 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 Cliiu'ch i-endered certain important 
services to society — of which it will delight us to 
make mention in fitting place — when .she grew to 
matiu-ity, 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 i» not less true that behind, on her path, lie the 
■\vi-ecks of nations, and the ashes of literatm-e, of 
liberty, and of civilisation. 

Nor can we help observing that the career of 
Rome, with all the fictitious brilliance that encom- 
passes it, is utterly eclipsed when placed beside the 
silent and sublime progress of the Gospel. Tlie 
latter we see wiiming its way over mighty oljstacles 
solely by the force and sweetness of its o\vn trvith. 
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, pimfies, 
and blesses men wherever it comes, and it does all 
this so gently and unboastingly ! Reviled, it re- 
viles not agam. For curses it returns blessings. 
It imsheathes no sword ; it spills no blood. Cast 

' Baronius, Annal., ann. 1000, torn, x., col. 963 ; Col. 
Agrip., 1609. 



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 triumj)h. Compared with 
this how different has been the career of Rome ! — 

— as different, iji fact, as the thunder-cloud which 
comes onward, mantling the skies in gloom and 
scathing the earth with fiery bolts, is difi'erent fi'om 
the morning descending from the mountain-tops, 
scattering around* it the silveiy light, and awaken- 
ing at its presence songs of joy. 



Ambrose of Milan— His Diocese— His Thoology— Rufinus, Presbyt,pr of Aquiloia— Laui-entius of Milan— Tlio Bishops 
of the Grisons — Churches of Lomharily in Seventh and Eighth Centuries — Claude in the Ninth Century — His 
Labours — Outline of his Theology — His Doctrine of the Eucharist — His Battle against Images — His Views on the 
Eoman Primacy — Proof thence arising — Councils in France approve his Views — Question of the Services of the 
Eoman Church to the Western Nations. 

The apostaoy was not universal. At no time did 
God leave his ancient Gosj)el without witnesses. 
When one body of confessors yielded to the dark- 
ness, or was cut off by violence, another arose in 
some other land, so that there was no atje in 

which, ill some counti-y 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 



tliese Protesters Ls Italy. The Sec of Rome, in 
those (lays, embraced only tlie capital and the 
.surrounding provinces. The diocese of Milan, 
which included the plain of Lombardy, the Alj)S of 
Piedmont, and the southern provinces of France, 
greatly exceeded it in extent.' It is an undoubted 
historical foct that this powerful diocese wa.s not 
then tributary to the Papal chair. " The Bishops 
of Milan," says Pope Pelagius I. (555), " do not 

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 Hildelirandine 
era, the destruction of the independence of the 
diocese was not accomplished without a pi-otest 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 


come to Rome for ordination." He farther in- 
forms us that this " was an ancient custom of 
theirs."- 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.,'' in the middle of 

' AUii, Ancient Churches of Piedmont, chap. 1; LonJ., 
1690. M'Crie, Italy, p. 1 ; Edin., 183.'?. 

- " Is uios antiquus fuit." (Labbei et G.ib. Cossartii 
Concil., torn, vi., col. 482; Vcnetiis, 1729.) 

^ A mistake of the historian. It was under Nicholas II. 
(1059) that the independence of Milan was extinguished. 

Rome ; that it had been alwaijs free, and could not, 
with honour, surrender its liberties." The latter 
liroke out into clamour, and threatened violence to 
Damianus, the deputy sent to receive theii' sub- 
mission. " The people gi-ew into higher ferment," 
says Baronius ;* " the bells were rung ; the episco- 
pal palace beset ; and the legate threatened with 
death." Traces of its early independence remain 
to this day in the Rito or Culto Ambrogiano, 

Platina's words are: — " Che [chiesa di Milano] era forse 
dueento anni stata dalla chiesa di Roma separata." (His- 
ioria delle Vite dei Sommi Pontefici, p. 128; Venetia, 1600.) 
•• Baronins, Annal., ann. 1059, tom. xi., col. 277 ; Col. 
Agi-ip., 1609. 



still ill use tlu'oiigliout tlie wliole of the ancient 
Archbislioprio of Milan. 

One consequence of this ecclesiastical independ- 
ence of Northern Italy was, that the corniptions 
of wliich Rome was the source were late in being 
introduced into Milan and its diocese. The evan- 
gelical light shone there some centuries after the 
darkness had gathered in the southern pai't of the 
peninsula. Ambrose, who died A.d. 397, was 
Bishop of Milan for twenty-tlu-ee years. His 
theology, and that of his diocese, was in no essen- 
tial respects different from that wliich Protestants 
hold at this day. The Bible alone was lus rule of 
faith ; Christ alone was the foundation of the 
Churcli ; 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.' Such is a summary 
of the faith professed and tauglit by the chief 
bishop of the north of Italy in the end of the 
fourth centuiy.- 

Rufinus, of Aquileia, firat 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 catecliism of the 
Council of Trent than does the catechism of 
Protestants.' His successors at Aquileia, so far 
as can be gathered from the writings which they 
have left behind them, shared the sentiments of 

To come to the sixth century, we find Lauren- 
tius, Bishop of Milan, holding that tlie penitence 
of the heart, without tlie absolution of a priest, 
suflices 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, reject- 
ing the communion of the Pope, a.s a heretic, so 
little then was the infollibility believed in, or the 
Roman supremacy acknowledged.'' In the seventh 
century we find Mansuetus, Bishop of Milan, 
declaring that the whole faith of the Church is 
contained in the Apostle's 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 ,slie has since 
appended to the apostolic doctrine. The Ambrosian 

' Allix, Chvrches of Piedmont, chap. 3. 

- "This is not todily but spiritual food," says St. 
Ambrose, in his Booh of Mysteries and Sacraments, " for the 
body of the Lord is spiritual." (Dupiu, Eccles. Hist., 
vol. ii., cent. 4.) 

^ Allix, Churches of Piedmont, chap. 4. 

* Ibid., chap. 5. 

Liturgy, which, as we have said, continues to be 
used in the diocese of MUan, is a monument to the 
comparative purity of tlie faith and worship of the 
early Churches of Lombardy. 

In the eighth centmy we find Paulinus, Bishop 
of Aqifileia, declaring that " we feed upon the 
divine nature of Jesus Christ, which caimot be 
said but only with respect to believers, and must 
be understood metaphorically." Thus manifest is 
it that he rejected the corporal manducation of the 
Church of Rome. He also warns men against 
approaching God tlu'Ough any other mediator or 
advocate than Jesus Christ, aflSiming that he 
alone was conceived without sin ; that he is the 
only Redeemer, and that he is the one founda- 
tion of the Church. " If any one," says Allix, 
"■vvill take the pains to examine the opinions 
of this bishoji, he will tind it a hard thing not 
to take notice that he denies what the Church of 
Rome aftinns with relation to all these ai-ticle.«, 
and that he alfirms what the Church of Rome 

It must be acknowledged that these men, de- 
spite their great talents and their ardent piety, had 
not entii'ely 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 superstitions of liis 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 pastore 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 then- 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 thou- 
sands of martyi's. 

Darkness gives relief to the light, and error 
necessitates a fuller development and a clearer 
definition of truth. On this jJi'inciple the ninth 
centui-y produced the most remarkable perhaps 
of all those great champions who strove to set 

■' Allix, Churches of Piedmont, chap. 8. 



limits to the gi-owing snpei-stition, and to presence, 
pure and iindefiled, the faith which apostles had 
preached. The mantle of Ambrose descended on 
Claudivis, Archbishoii of Tui-iii. 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 wliich he so courage- 
ously waged, delayed, thoTigh it could not prevent, 
the fall of liis Church's independence, and for two 
centuiies longer the light continued to shine at the 
foot of the Alps. Claudius was an earnest and 
indefatigable stvident of Holy Scripture. That 
Book can-ied him back to the first age, and set him 
down at the feet of apostles, at the feet of One 
gi'eater than apostles ; and, while dai'kness 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. Wliere his voice 
could not reach, he laboured to convey instruction 
by his pen. He wi-ote commentaries on the 
Gospels ; he published expositions of almost all the 
epistles of Paul, and several books of tlie Old Tes- 
tament ; and thus he furni.shed 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 tliose which she was now foisting upon the 
world.^ 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 wa.s 
the first who preached the Gospel to both Jews and 
Gentiles ; that human merit is of no avail for sal- 
vation, and that faith alone saves lis. On tliis car- 
dinal point he insists with a clearness and breadth 
wliich remind one of Luther. The authority of 
tradition he repudiates, prayers for the dead he 
condemns, as also the notion that the Cluu-ch 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 gi-ave, from 
wliich they ought never to have been taken. 

' "Of all these works there is nothing printed," says 
Allix (p. 60), "but Ids commentary upon the Epistle to the 
Galatians. The monks of St. Germain have his commen- 
tary upon all the epistles in MS., in two vohimes, wliich 
were found in the librai-y of the Abbey of Fleury, near 
Orleans. They have also Ms MS. eommentarics on Levi- 
ticus, wliich formerly belonged to the library of St. Remy 
at Eheims. 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. 

Of the Eucharist, he writes in his commentary 
on Matthew (a.d. 81.5) in a way which shows tliat 
he stood at the gi-eatest distance from the o]jinions 
wliicJi Paschasius Radbertus broached eighteen 
years afterwards. Paschasius Radbertus, a monk, 
aftei-wards Abbot of Corbei, pretended to explain 
witli precision the manner in which the body and 
blood of Christ are present in the Eucharist. He 
published (831) a treatise, " Concerning the Sacra- 
ment of the Body and Blood of Christ." His doc- 
trine amounted to the two follomng propositions : 
— 1. Of the bread and wine nothing remains after 
consecration but the outward figure, under which 
the body and blood of Christ are really and locally 
present. 2. This body present in the Eucharist is 
the same body that was born of the Virgin, that 
suffered upon the cross, and was raised from the 
grave. This new doctrine excited the astonishment 
of not a few, and called forth several powerful 
opponents — amongst others, Johannes Scotus.^ 
Claudius, on the contrary, thought that the Supper 
was a memorial of Christ's death, and not a repeti- 
tion of it, and tliat the elements of bread and -wine 
were only symbols of the flesh and blood of the 
Saviour.' It is clear from this that transubstan- 
tiation was unknown in the ninth century to the 
Churches at the foot of the Alps. Nor was it the 
Bishop of Tui-in only who held this doctrine of 
the Eucharist; we are entitled to infer that the 
bishops of neighbouring 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 regiirds two leading ecclesiastics of 
that day, Jonas, Bislioj) of Orleans, and the Abbot 
Theodemii'us. Even in the centuiy following, we 
find certain bishops of the nortli of Italy saj-ing 
that " wicked men eat the goat and not the lamb," 
language wholly incomprehensible from the lips of 
men who believe in tranrmbstantiation.' 

The worsliip of images was then making rapid 
strides. The Bishop of Rome was the gi-eat advo- 
cate of this ominous innovation ; it was on tliis 
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 

- See Mosheim, Eeclcs. Hist., cent. P. 

^ " Hie [panis] ad corpus Christi mystico, illud 
[vinum] refertur ad sanguinem." (MS. of Com. on 

^ Allix, chap. Id. 


as idolatrous, and he purged those churches in his 
diocese which liad begun to admit representations 
of saints and divine persons within their walls, 
not even sparing the cross itself.' It is instructive 
to mai-k 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 gi'ound 
taken by Protestant writers still. We do not 
worship the image, say the foi-mer, 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 con- 
demns 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 mangei-s 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."^ 

On the subject of the Roman primac)', he leaves 
it in no wise doubtful what liis sentiments were. 
" We know very well," says he, " that this passage 
of the Gospel is very iU iniderstood — ' 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 pretence of wliicli words the 
stupid and ignorant common people, destitute of 
all spiritual knowledge, betake themselves to Rome 
in hopes of acquiring eternal life. The ministiy 

' 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, 79-t. Claude, in 
his letter to Tlieodemir, 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, thoy have not 
abandoned idols, but only changed their names." {Mag. 
Bib., tome iv-, part 2, p. 149.) 

2 Allix, chap. P. 

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 lumself to be seated in the chair of the 
apostle, and in the meantime doth not acquit 
himself of the chai-ge of the apostle."^ 

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 fii'st is that the Bishop 
of Rome had not yet succeeded in compelling 
iniiversal 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, aiul 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 domiaiant power it came soon 
thereafter to be. On the conti'aiy, this Protestant 
of the ninth centuiy 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 Ids brother of Turin.* 
In fact, he was as great an iconoclast as Claude 
himself* 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 sjTiods and appomted 
bishops. And when the Coimcil had assembled, 
did it wait till Peter should speak, or a Pajjal 
allocution had decided the point ? " It knew no 
other way," saj^s 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 Scriptiu-e, and the judgment of the 
Fathers."' This Coimcil at Paris justified most of 
the principles for which Claude had contended,' as 
the great Council at Frankfort (794) had done be- 
fore it. It is worthy of notice further, as bearing 
on this point, that only two men stood up publicly 
to ojjposc Claude during the twenty years he was 

^ Allii, pp. 76, 77. 

■■ Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 9. 

' Albx, chap. 9. 

^ Dupin, vol. vii., p. 2; Loud., 1093. 

7 Allix, cent. 9. 



incessantly occupied in this controversy. The first 
was Dimgulas, a i-echise of tlie Abbey of St. Denis, 
an Italian, it is believed, and biassed naturally in 
favour of the opinions of the Pojie ; 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 wor.ship — a distinction which it 
is easy to maintain in theory, but impossible to 
observe, as experience has demonstrated, in. jiractice. 
And here let us inteipose an obsei-vation. We 
speak at times of the signal benefits which the 
"Church " conferred upon the Gothic nations during 
the Middle Ages. She put herself in tlie place of a 
mother to those barljarous 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 tliose 
civUised and prosperous communities which have 
since arisen in the West. But when we so speak it 
behoves us to specify vdth some distinctness what 
wo 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 wc 
mean the former, the facts of history do not bear 

out our conclusion. The CJiurch of Rome was not 

then the Church, but only one of many Churches. 
The slow but beneficent and laborious work of 
evangelising and civilising the Northern nations, 
was the joint result of the action of all the Churches 
— of Northern Italj', of France, of Spain, of Ger- 
many, of Britain — and each performed its jjart in 
this great work vntli a measure of success exactly 
corresponding to the degree in which it retained 
the pure principles of piimitive Christianity. The 
Clnirches would have done their task much more 
efi'eotually and speedily but for the advei'se influence 
of Rome. She hung upon their rear, by her jjerpetual 
attempts to bow them to her yoke, and to seduce 
them from their fii-st pmity to her thinly disguised 
paganisms. Emphatically, the power that moulded 
the Gothic nations, and planted among them the 
seeds of religion and virtue, was Christianity — 
that same Christianity wliich apostles pi'eached to 
men in the first age, which all the ignorance and 
superetition of subsequent times had not qvute extin- 
guished, and which, with immense toil and sufl'ering 
dug up from under the heaps of iiibbish that had 
been piled above it, was anew, in the sixteenth 
century, given to the world under the name of 



Submission of the Ohiu'ches of Lombanly to Kouic — The Old Faith maintained in the Mountains— The Waldonsi an 
Oluu-clies— Question of tlieii- Antiquity— Ai^proach to their Mountains— Arrangement of theii- Valleys— Picture of 
blended Beauty and Grandeiu-. 

When Claude died it can hardly be said that his 
mantle was taken up by any one. Tlie battle, 
although not altogether dropiwd, was liencefoi-ward 
languidly maintained. Before this time not a few 
Churches beyond the Alps had sid^mitted 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 
1 ladge of spiritual vassalage, from the Pope ; but it 
was not till the middle of the eleventh ceutmy 
(1059), under Nicholas II., that these attempts were 

successful.' Petrus Damianus, Bishop of Ostia, 
and Anselm, Bishop of Lucca, were tlispatched by 
the Pontitt' to receive the sid)mission of the Lombard 
Churches, and the popular tumults amid which that 
submission was extorted sufliciently show that the 
sjjirit of Claude stUl liiigei'ed at the foot of the 
Alps. Nor did the clergy conceal the regi-et 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 

' Baronius, Annal., ann. 1059, torn. li., cols. 276, 277. 



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 jm-isdiction 
over their Church as to the government or con- 
stitution of it."' 

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 o})position in the diocese of 
Cologne, where they were branded as Manicheans, 
uid 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 respcct- 
mg 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 
necessaiy to show that missionaries were scut 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 com- 
munities from early days ; enough that they formed 
L part, as unquestionably they did, of llie gre;.t 

' Petius Damianus, O/iwsf p 5 AlUx, Churches of 
riedmont,p 113 M'Liic, Hist of Befmm m Itahj , p. 2. 




evangelical Churcli of the north of Italy. This is 
the proof at once of their apostolicity and their in- 
dependeuce. It attests their descent from apostolic 
men, if doctrine be the life of Churches. When 
their co-religionists on the plains entered witliin 
the pale of the Roman jurisdiction, they retired 
within the mountains, and, spurning alike the 
tyrannical yoke and the cori'upt tenets of the 
Church of the Seven Hills, they preserved in its 

on Christendom. There is a singular concurrence 
of evidence in favour of their high antiquity. 
Their traditions invariably point to an unbroken 
descent from the earliest times, as regards their 
religious belief. The Nobla Leyqon, which dates 
from the year 1100,' goes to prove that the Wal- 
denses 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 Leyqon, 



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 gi-ound 
the indisputably valid title of the Tnie Church. 

Beliind tJiis rampart of mountains, which Pro- 
vidence, 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 Ion" niirht which descended 

though a poem, is in reality a confession of f\iith, 
and could have been composed only after some 
considerable study of the system of Christianity, in 
contradistinction to the errore of Rome. How 
could a Church have arisen with such a docu- 
ment in her hands ? Or how could these herdsmen 
and vine-drcssers, shut up in their mountains, 
have detected the errors against which they bore 

' Recent German criticism refers the Nohla Leyr,on 
to a more recent date, but still one anterior to the 



testimony, and found their way to tlie truths of 
which they made open profession in times of dark- 
ness like these '? If we grant that their i-eligioua 
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 assei-t what approaches 
almost to a miracle. Their greatest enemies, 
Claude Seyssel of Turin (1517), and Reyneiius 
the Jesuit (1250), have admitted their antiquity, 
and stigmatised 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 repoi-t not more favourable 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 centuiy." 

Witliin the limits of her own laud did God jno- 
vide a dwelling for this venerable Church. Let us 
bestow a glance upon the region. As one comes 
from the south, aci'oss 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 g-ates 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 
wp 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 pyi'es is 
seen to burn in the evening sky. 

Dra\\'ing nearer the hills, on a line about thirty 
miles west of Turin, there opens before one what 
seems a great mountain portal. Tliis is the entrance 
to the Waldensian territor'y. A low hill drawn 
along in front serves as a defence against all who 
may come mtli hostile intent, as but too frequently 
happened in times gone by, while a stupendoiis 
monolith — the Castelluzzo — shoots up to the clouds, 
and stands sentinel at the gate of this renowned 
region. As one approaches La Torre the Castel- 
luzzo rises higher and higher, and irresistibly fixes 
the eye by the perfect beauty of its jiillar-like 
form. But to this mountain a higher interest 
belongs than any that mere symmetry can give it. 

It is indissolubly linked with martyi'-memories, 
and bon-ows a halo from the achievements of the 
past. How often, in days of old, was the con- 
fessor 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 sis 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 moiMitain mainly that called 
forth Milton's well-known sonnet : — 

" Avenge, O Lord, Thy slaughter'd saints, whose lioiica 
Lie scattcr'd on the Alpine mountains cold. 
* * * in Thy book record their groans 
Who wore Thy sheep, and in their ancient fold, 
Slain hy the bloody Picdniontese, that roU'd 
Mother with infant down the rocks. Thcu- moans 
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they 
To heaven." 

The new and elegant temple of the Waldenses 
now rises near the foot of the Castelluzzo. 

The Waldensian valleys ai'e seven in number ; 
they were more in ancient times, but the limits of 
the Vaudois territory have undergone rej^eated 
curtailment, and now only the number we have 
stated remain, lying between PigneroUo on the east 
and Monte Viso on the west — that p3ri-amidal hUl 
which forms so prominent an object fi-om 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 fii'st three valleys run out somewhat like 
the spokes of a wheel, the spot on which we 
stand — the gateway, namely — being the nave. The 
firet is Luseriwi, 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 cai-jiet- 
ing of meadows, which the waters of the Pelico 
keep ever fresh and bright. A profusion of vines, 
acacias, and mulberry-trees fleck it with their 
shadows ; and a wall of lofty moimtains encloses it 
on either hand. The second is J?ora, or Valley of 
Dews. It is a vast cup, some fifty miles in cir- 
cimafei'ence, 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. Tlie thii-d is AnrjrogTw^ 
or Valley of Groans. Of it we shall speak more 
particularly afterwards. Beyond the extremity o'l 
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 moinitains, which fonu a wall of 
defence around the entire territory. Each valley 
is a fortress, having its o%vn gate of ingress and 



egress, with its caves, and rocks, and mighty 
(.■hestuut-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 fonn one fortr-ess of amazing and match- 
less 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. "Tke Eternal, our God," says 
Leger, " having destined tliis land to be the 
theatre of his marvels, and the bulwark of his 
ark, has, by natural means, most marvellously 
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, ovcr- 
])owered 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 moun- 
tains 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 cai-jjet 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 gi-eat chestnut- 
forests and the pasture-lands, whei-e the herdsmen 
keep watch over theii- flocks all through the sum- 
mer 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-ofi" summits, tipped with sil- 
ver, to be changed at eve into gleaming gold — make 
up a picture of blended beauty and grandeur, not 
equalled perhaps, and certainly not suq^assed, 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 harhes 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 wei-e 

trained, and, after ordination, were sent forth to 
sow the good seed, as qjportunity 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 moun- 
tains 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, wliile the white peak looks down upon one 
out of heaven. A little in advance the valley 
seems shut in by a mountainous wall, drawii right 
across it ; and beyond, towering sul:)limely upward, 
is seen an assemblage of snow-clad Alps, amid 
which is placed the valley we are in quest of, 
where biu-ned 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 nan'ow 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 begin- 
ning 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. Tlie rest of Italy had turned 
aside to idols, the Waldensian territory alone had 
been resei-ved for the worehip of the true God. And 
was it not meet that on its native soil a remnant 
of the apostolic Churdi of Italy should be main- 
tained, that Rome and all Christendom niiglit 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 1. ' 

' This short description of the Waldensian valleys is 
drawn from the author's personal obseiTations. We may 
here be permitted to state that he has, in successive 
journeys, continued at intervals during the past twenty- 
five years, travelled over Christendom, and visited all 
the countries. Popish and Prptestant, of which he will 
have occasion partioidarly to speak in the coiu:se of tliis 





Tlieir Synod and College— Their Theological Tenets— Romaunt Version of the Now Testament— The Constitution of 
their Church— Their Missixjnary Labours— Wide Diifusion of their Tenets— The Stone Smiting the Image. 

One would ILkc to have a near view of the barbes 
01- 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 necessaiy to form a pictirre of this venerable 
Church, and even then the picture is not complete. 
The theology of which this was one of the fountain- 
heads was not the clear, well-defijied, and com- 
prehensive system wliich the sixteenth century gave 
lis; 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 com- 
j)lete and perfect ; nevertheless, in this as in eveiy 
other branch of knowledge, it is only by patient 
labour that man is able to extricate and arrange 
all its parts, and to come into the full possession of 
truth. The theology taught in fonner ages, in the 
peak-environed valley in which we have in imagi- 
nation placed ourselves, was drawn from the Bible. 
The atoning death and justifying righteousness of 
Christ was its cardinal truth. This, the Nobla 
Leyqon and other ancient documents abundantly 
testify. The Nobla, Leyqon sets forth with toler- 
able clearness the doctrine of the Trinity, the 
fall of man, the incarnation of the Son, the per- 
petual authority of the Decalogue as given by 
God,' 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.' This creed, its professoi-s 
exemplified in lives of evangelical virtue. Tlie 
blamelessness of the Waldenses passed into a pro- 
verl), so that one more than ordmarily exempt 
from the vices of his time was sure to bo suspected 
of being a Vaudes.' 

' This disproves the charge of Manicheism brought 
against them by their enemies. 

- Sir Samuel Morland gives the Nobla Leyron in full 
in his Hisfory of the Churches of the Wcddenses. AIIj t 
(chap. 18) gives a summary of it. 

^ The Nobla Leyi^on has the following passage : — " If 
there be an honest man, who desires to love God and fear 

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 Refoimers after it, taught. The indict- 
ment 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 one knew not 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 
eflicacious than i-ain-water ; and that prayer in a 
barn was just as eflfectual 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 Apocalyjjse.* 

There is reason to believe, from recent historical 
researches, that the Waldenses possessed the New 
Testament in the vernacular. The " Lingua Ro- 
mana " or Romaunt tongue was the common lan- 
guage of the south of Europe from the eighth to 
the fourteenth centmy. It was the language of 
the troubadours and of men of letters in the Dark 
Ages. Into this tongue — the Romamit — was 
the first translation of the whole of the New 
Testament made so early as the twelfth century. 
Tliis fact Dr. Gilly has been at great pains to prove 
in his work, Tlie Romaunt Version' of the Gospel 

Jesus Christ, who wiU neither slander, nor swear, nor lie, 
nor commit adultery, nor kill, nor steal, nor avenge him- 
self of his enemies, they presently say of such a one he is 
a Vaudcs, and worthy of death." 

< See a list of numerous heresies and blasphemies 
charged upon the "Waldenses by the Jesuit Eeynerius, 
who wrote about the year 1250, and extracted by Allix 
(chap. 22). 

* The Romcmnt Vermtx of the Gospel according to John, 
from MS. preserved in Trinity College, Dublin, and in the 
' Bibliotheque du Roi, Paris. ByWilliam Stephen Gilly, D.D., 
Canon of Durham, and Vicar of Norham. Lend., 1848. 



according lo John. The siiin of what Dr. Gilly, 
by a patient investigation into facts, and a great 
array of liistoric dociunents, maintains, is tliat 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 cen- 
tury, and was the first translation available for 
popular use. There were numerous earlier trans- 
lations, 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 conseqiience 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. GiJly, by a chain 
of proofs, shows, most probably \inder the super- 
intendence 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 at Paris. These are small, 
plain, and portable volumes, contrasting with those 
splendid and ponderous folios of the Latin Vulgate, 
pemied in characters of gold and silver, richly 
illuminated, their bindings decorated -with gems, 
inviting admiration rather than study, and unfitted 
by their size and splendour for the use of the 

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 centmies. The entire 
territory included hi 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 catechised the 
young. With him was associated in the govern- 
ment of his congi-egation 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 mountaiii-engirdled valley at the head of 
Angi-ogna. Sometimes as many as a hundred and 
fifty harbes, vnX\\ the same number of lay mcmliors, 
would assemble. We can imagine them seated — it 

may be on the gi'assy slopes of the valley — a vene- 
rable company of humble, learned, earnest men, 
presided over by a simple moderator (for liigher 
ofiice or authority was unknown amongst them), 
aaid intermitting their deliberations respecting the 
affairs of then- Churches, and the condition of their 
flocks, only to ofler 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 harbes 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 un- 
known, ancl 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 mission- 
aries. By this, and by other agencies, the seed of 
the Divine Word was scattered throughout Europe 
more widely than is connnonly 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 lajnnen 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 liad 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 jimcture, in a language 
undei-stood 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 
harbes, it was not uncommon for the Waldensian 
youth to proceed to the seminaries in the great 
cities of Lombardy, or to the Sorboime 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. 
Man)' of them became exi)ert 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 ta'uth in their o%vn mountains 
was not the only object of this people. They felt 
their relations to the rest of Christendom. They 

The ocean they did not crass. 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 pedlars. They carried silks, 


sought to drive back the darlAiess, 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, sei-ve three years 
in the mission field. The youth on whose head the 
assembled harhes laid tlieii' hands, saw in prospect 
uut a rich benefice, but a possible martyrdom. 

jewellery, and other articles, at that time not 
easUy 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 tliem entrance. They took care to carry 
■with tliem, 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 inmatee. When they saw 
a desire to j^ossess it, they would freely make a gift 
of it where the means to purchase were absent. 

There was no kingdom of Southern and Centi-al 
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 Southei'n 
France they found congenial fellow-labourers in the 
Albigenses, by whom the seeds of truth wei'e plenti- 
fully scattered over Dauphine and Languedoc. On 
the east, descending the Rhine and the Danube, 
they leavened Germany, Bohemia, and Poland ^ 
with their doctrines, their track being mai'ked 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 
woollen 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 watei'ing it with 
the blood of the men who had sowed it.^ 

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 cJbwn with contempt upon the Book and its 
humble bearei-s. She aimed at bowing the necks 
of kings, thinking if they were obedient meaner 
mgn would not dare revolt, and so she took little 
heed of a power which, weak as it seemed, was des- 
tilled at a fviture 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 labours of 
these humble men the beginning of a movement 
wliich, 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 connnenced those terrible crusades 
which wasted the sowers but watered the seed, and 
helped to bring on, at its appointed hour, the cata- 
strophe wMch he sought to avert.' 



The Paulicians tlie Protesters against the Eastern, as the 'VValdenses against the Western Apostaoy— Their Rise in 
A.D. 653— Coustantine of Samosata— Their Tenets Scriptural— Constantino Stoned to Death— Simeon Succeeds— 
Is put to Death— Sergius— His Missionary Travels— Terrible Persecutions— Tlie 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 opposi- 
tionists to Rome — Protestants before Protestantism 
— placed here as in an impregnable fortress, iipreared 
on purpose, in the very centre of Roman Christen- 

1 Stranski, apnd Lenfant's Concile de Constance, quoted 
by Count Valerian Krasinski in his History of the Rise, Pro- 
gress, and Decline of the Reformation in Poland, vol. i., p. 53; 
Lond., 1838. Ulyricus Flaccius, in his Caialogus Testixmi 
Veritatis (Amstelodami, 1679), says: "Pars Valdensium 
in Germaniam transiit atque apud Bohemos, in Polonia 
ac Livonia sedem fiiit." Leger says that the Waldenses 
had, about the year 1210, Churches in Slavonia, Sarmatia, 
and Livonia. {Histoire G^nfrale des Eqlises Evang^liqiies des 
Valleys du Piedmont OK Vaudois, vol. ii., pp. 336, 337 ; 1669.) 

dom, other communities and individuals ai'ose, 
and maintained a continuous line of Protestant 
testimony all along to the sixteenth century. These 
we .shall compendiously group and rapidly describe. 
J"irst, there are the Paiilicians. They occupy an 

- M'Crie, Hist. Ref. in Italy, p. 4. 

' Those who wish to know more of this interesting 
people than is contained in the above I'apid sketch may 
consult Leger, Des Eglises Evangi'Uques ; Perrin, Hist, de 
Vaudois; Reyneiius, Cont. Waldens.; Sir S. Morlaud, 
History of the Evangelical Churches of Piedmont; Jones, 
Hist. Waldenses; Rorenco, Narrative; besides a host of 
more modern wi-itei'S — Gilly, Waldensian Itescarclie:: : 
Muston, Israel of the Alijs; Monastier, &c. &.e. 



analogous place iii tlie East to that wliicli tli'e 
Waldenses held in the West. Some obscurity rests 
upon their origin, and additional my.stery has on 
purpose been cast upon it, but a fair and impartial 
examination of the matter leaves no doubt that the 
Paidicians are the remnant that escaped the apos- 
tacy of the Eastern Church, even as the Waldenses 
are the remnant saved from the apostacy 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 exami- 
nation of the matter satisfies us that these imputa- 
tions had no sufficient foundation, that the Paulicians 
repudiated the errors imputed to them, and that as 
a body their opinions were in substantial agi'eement 
with the doctrine of Holy Writ. Nearly all the 
infonnation we have of them is that which Petrus 
Siculus, their bitter enemy, has commimicated. He 
visited them when they were in their most flourish- 
ing condition, and the accoimt he has given of their 
distmguishing 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 doctrme of Manes,' or 
were justly liable to be styled Manicheans. 

In A.D. 6.53, a deacon returning from captivity in 
Syria rested a night in the house of an Armenian 
named Constantine, who lived in the neighbourhood 
of Samosata. On the morrow, before taking his 
departure, he presented his host with a copy of the 
New Testament. Constantiiie 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 theii- 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 consider- 
able numbers, that they adhered to the SciT[5tures, 
and especially to the writings of Paul. " I am 
Sylvanus," said Constantine, " and ye are Macedo- 
nians," intimating thereby that the Gospel wliich 

' Manes taught that there were two principles, or gods, 
the one good and the other evil ; and that the evil prin- 
ciple was the creator of this world, and the good of the 
world to come. Manichcism 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 pre- 
cedent might be pleaded. " He hath a devil and is mad," 
it was said of the Master. The disciple i.s not above his 

he would teach, and they should learn, was that 
of Paul ; hence the name of Paulicians, a designa- 
tion they would not have been ambitious to wear 
had their doctrine been Manichean." 

These disciples multiplied. A congenial soil 
favoured their increase, for in these same moun- 
tains, where are placed the sources of the Eviphrates, 
the Nestorian remnant had found a I'cfuge. The 
attention of the Government at Constantinople was 
at length turned to them ; persecution followed. 
Constantine, whose zeal, constancy, and piety had 
been amply tested by the labours of twenty-seven 
years, was stoned to death. From his ashes arose 
a leader still more powerful. Simeon, an ofticer of 
the palace who had been sent with a body of troops 
to superintend his execution, was converted by his 
mai-tyrdom, and like another Paul after the stoniug 
of Stephen, began to preach the Paulician faith, which 
he had once persecuted. Simeon ended his career, 
as Constantiue 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 ftillen, and 
neither the anathemas of the hierarchy nor tho 
sword of the State could check their growth. All 
through the eighth century they continued to 
flourish. The woi-ship of images was now the 
fashionable superstition in the Eastern Church, and 
the Paulicians rendered themselves still more ob- 
noxious 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 
satii-e, were it not for the manifest earnestness and 

•"Among the prominent charges urged against the 
Paulicians before the Patriarch of Constantinople in tha 
eighth century, and by Photius and Petrus Siculus in 
the ninth, we find the following— that they dishonoured 
the Viigin Mary, and rejected her worship; denied the 
life-giving efficacy of the cross, and refused it worsliip ; 
and gainsaid the awful mystery of the conversion of tho 
blood of Christ in the Eucharist ; while by others they 
are branded as the originators of the Iconoclastic heresy 
and the war against the s.acred images. In the first 
notice of the sectaries in Western Europe, I mean at 
Orleans, tliey were similarly accused of treating with con- 
tempt the woi'ship of martyrs and saints, the sign of the 
holy cross, and mystery of transubstantiation ; and much 
the same too at Arras." (Elliott, Horn; ApocalypHcci;, 
3rd ed., vol. ii., p. 277.) 



simj)licity of the writer. Sicuhis tells us that Satan 
appeared to Sergiiis in the shape of an old woman, 
and asked him why he did not read the New Testa- 
ment? The tempter proceeded farther to recite 
portions of Holy Writ, whereby Sergiiis 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 sheep- 
folds of Christ.' 

Dviring thirty-four years, and in the course of 
innumerable journeys, he pi-eached the Gospel from 
East to West, and converted great numbers of his 
countrymen. The result was more terrible perse- 
cutions, 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 aflirmed, 
says Gibbon, " that one hundred thousand Pauli- 
cians were extii-pated 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. - 

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 tliirty-five years (a.d. 845 — 880) the Empire of 
Constantinople was afflicted with the calamities of 
civil war. Repeated victories, won over the troojjs 
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 defence 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 lu 
favour of the troops of the emperor, and the insur- 
gents were driven back into theii- moimtains, where 
for a century afterwards they enjoyed a partial 

' " Multos ex ovibus lupoa fecit, et per eos Christi ovilia 
dissipavit." (Pet. Sic, Hist. Bib. Pair., vol. ivi., p. 761.) 

2 Gibbon, vol. x., p. 177 ; Edin., 1832. Sharon Turner, 
Hist, of England, vol. v., p. 125; Lond., 1830. 

independence, and maintained the profession of 
their religious faith. 

After this, the Paulicians were transported across 
the Bosphorus, and settled in Thrace.' This removal 
was begun by the Emperor Constantine Coprony- 
mus in the middle of the eighth centiu-y, 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 favour 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 recoitls their dispersion, 
the fact is attested by the sudden and simultaneous 
outbreak of their opinions in many of the Western 
countries.* They mingled "with the hosts of the 
Crusadei-s returning from the Holy Land through 
Hungary and Germany ; they joined themselves to 
the caravans of merchants who entered the harbont 
of Venice and the gates of Lorabardy ; or they 
followed the Byzantine standard into Southern 
Italy, and by these various routes settled themselves 
in the West.^ They incorporated with the pre- 
existing bodies of oppositionists, and from this time 
a new life is seen to animate the eflbrts of the Wal- 
denses of Piedmont, the Albigenses of Southern 
France, and of others who, in other parts of Europe, 
revolted by the gi-owing 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 king- 
doms beyond the Alps. It was soon discovered 
that many thousand Catholics of every rank, and of 
either sex, had embraced the Manichean h«resy."° 

» Pet. Sic, p. 814. 

■• EmericuB, 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 ! (AUix, p. 134.) 

' Mosheim, Eccl. Hist., cent. 11, part ii., chap. 5. 

^ Gibbon, Decline and Fall, vol. x., p. 18G. In perusing 
the chapter (54) which tliis 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. Tlie historian has too slavishly followed 
his cluef authority and their bitter enemy, Petrus Siculus. 



i'rom this point the Paulician stream becomes 
blended with that of the other early confessoi-s of 
the Truth. To these we now return. 

When we cast onr eyes over Eui-oiie 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 Chiirch, 
and it seemed now as if there awaited her ages 
of quiet and imchallenged 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 accoiuat for the powerful movement 
that begins to show itself at the feot 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 be- 
hind a triple rampart of darkness, is surely to invite 

The causes of this movement had been long in 
silent opei-ation. In fact, this was the very quarter 
of Christendom whei-e opposition to the growing 
tyramiy and superstitions of Rome might be ex- 
pected first to show itself. Hei'e it was that 
Polycarp and Irenseus had laboured. Over all 
those goodly plains which the Rhone waters, and 
in those numerous cities and villages over which 
the Alps stretch then- shadows, these apostolic men 
had planted Christianity. Hundreds of thousands 
of martyi's 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 for- 
gotten. In the Cottian Alps and the pi-ovince 
of Languedoc, VigUantius had raised his powerful 
protest against the errors of liis times. This region 
was included, as we have seen, in the diocese of 
Milan, and, as a consequence, it eiyoyed 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 Tui-in had fomid in the Archbishoj) of 
Lyons, Agobardus, a man willing to entertain his 
views and to share his conflicts. Since that time 
the night had deepened here as ever3rwhere 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 Clod 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 wa.s in fact a 
second gi^'ing of Divine Revelation to the nations 
of Europe ; for the early Saxon renderings of 
2)ortions of Holy Writ had fallen aside and gone 
utterly into disuse ; and though Jerome's transla- 
tion, the Vulgate, was still known, it was in Latin, 
now a dead language, and its use Wiis 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 
coidd 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 travelling 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 difl'usion 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 pro- 
duced by the pen; its price corresponded to the 
time and labour exjoended in its production ; it had 
to be carried long distances, often by slow and un- 
certam conveyances; and, last of all, it had to 
encounter the frowns and ultimately the prohibitory 
edicts of a hostile hierarchy. But there were com- 
pensatory advantages. Difiiculties 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 addressing it from 
its JJage. Each copy served scores and hundreds 
of readers. 

Besides, if the mechanical appliances were lacking 
to those ages, wliich the progi-ess of invention has 
confen-ed on ours, there existed a living machinery 
which worked indefatigably. The Bible was sung 
in the lays of troubadours and minnesmgers. 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 
penisal and the yet wider diffusion of it. The 
Troubadoiu-, the Barbe, and, mightiest of all, the 

order, is her yoke, to i:iduce 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 occasiou filled the Papal throne. Of remark- 


Bible, were the three missionaries that traversed 
the south of Europe. Disciples were multiplied : 
congregations were formed : barons, cities, pr'O- 
vriices, joined the movement. It seemed as if the 
Reformation was come. Not yet. Rome had not 
tilled 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 

able vigour, of dauntless spirit, and of sanguinary 
temper. Innocent III. but too truly guessed the 
character and diAaned the issue of the movement. 
He sounded the tocsin of persecution. Mail-clad 
abbots, lordly prelates, " who wielded by turns the 
crosier, the sceptre, and the sword ;"^ barons and 

Gibbon, vol. x., p. 185. 



counts ambitious of enlarging their domains, and 
mobs eager to wi-eak their savage fanaticism on 
their neighbours, whose persons they hated and 
whoso goods they coveted, assembled at the Pontifl''s 
Himimons. Fire and sword speedily did the work 

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.' 
Over wide areas not a living thing was left : all 
were given to the sword. Mounds of ruins and 


of extermination. Where before had been seen 
.smUmg provinces, flourishing cities, and a niunerous, 
virtuous, and orderly population, there was now a 
blackened and silent desert. That nothing might 
be lacking to carry on this terrible work, Inno- 
cent III. set up the tribunal of tlie Inquisition. 
Behind the soldiers of the Cross marched the monks 
of St. Dominic, and what escaped the sword of the 

ashes alone marked the spot where cities and vil- 
lages had formerly stood. But this violence recoiled 
in the end on the j)ower which had employed it. 
It did not extinguish the movement : it b\it made 
it strike its roots deeper, to spring up again and 

' Gerdesius, ffisioj-ia Evangelii Eenovati, torn, i., p. 39 ; 
GrouingEe, 1744. 



again, and each time with greater vigour and over 
a wider area, tQl at last it was seen that Rome by 
these deeds was only preparing for Protestantism 
a more glorious triumiih, 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 jJassed 
over in silence, or dismissed with a mere general 
description. We must go a little into detail. 



Kome 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 — Eaymond of Toulouse — His Territories Overrim and Devastated — Crusade against Eaymond 
Eoger of Beziers — Burning of Ms Towns — Massacre of their Inhabitants — Destraction of the Albigenses. 

The torch of persecution was fairly kindled in the 
beginning of the thirteenth century. Those baleful 
fires, which had smouldered since the fall of the 
Empii'e, were now re-lighted, but it must be noted 
that this was the act not of the State but of the 
Chiu'ch. 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 fulminat- 
ing edicts, to be followed by centuries of blazing 

It could not be but that this maxim, placed at 
the foundation of her system, should inspire and 
mould 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 teiTors eveiy 
form of worship different from her own, till she 
had chased it out of the world. The tu-st exem- 
plification, on a great scale, of her office which 
she gave mankind was the cnisades. As the 
professors of an impm'e 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 coimtry, we do not see 
what shoidd hinder Rome — unless indeed lack of 
power — sending her crossed missionaries to eveiy 
land where infidelity and heresy prevailed, emptying 
them of their evil creed and their evil inhabitants 
together, and re-peopling them anew wth a pure 
race from within her own orthodox pale. 

But now the fervour 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 suiwivors had as yet inherited little 
save woimds, 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 spiinging 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 indiflerence the 
gi-owth of these religious commimities ; they dreaded 
no harm from bodies apparently so insignificant; 
and even entertained at times the thought of graft- 
ing 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 then- nature to 
those of the Papacy, that they never could be made 
to work in concert -svith it, and that if left to de- 
velop themselves they would most surely effect its 
overthrow. Accordingly the cloud of exterminating 
vengeance which rolled hither and thither in the 
skies of the world as he was pleased to command, he 
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 formmg an entire monarchy, 



was parted into four grand divisions. It is the 
most southerly of the four, or Narbonne-Gaul, to 
which oui- attention is now to be turned. This wa.s 
an ample and goodly territory, stretching from the 
Dauphuiese Alps on the east to the Pyrenees on 
the south-west, and comprising the modern pro- 
vinces of Dauphine, Provence, Languedoc or Gas- 
cogne. It was watered throughout by the Rhone, 
which descended upon it from the north, and it 
was washed along its southern boimdary by the 
Mediterranean. Occupied by an intelligent popu- 
lation, it had become mider their skilful 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 in- 
habitants were tempted to engage by the proximity 
of the sea and the neighbourhood 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 farther embellished by 
the numerous castles of a powerful nobility, who 
spent their time in elegant festivities and gay 

But better things than poetry and feats of 
mimic war flom-ished here. The towns, formed 
into commimes, and placed under municipal insti- 
tutions, enjoyed no small measure of fi-eedom. 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 pictui-esqueness of idiom, the ProvenQal 
excelled all the languages of Europe, and promised 
to become the univei-sal tongue of Christendom. 
Best of all, a pure Christianity was developing in 
the region. It was here, on the banks of the 
Rhone, that Irenajus and the other early apostles 
of Gaul had laboured, and the seeds which their 
hands had deposited in its soil, watered by the 
blood of martyrs who had fought in the firet ranks 
iu the terriVjle 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 modem 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 skilfid cultivators of 
their lands. A cordial welcome awaited the trou- 
badour 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, con- 
cealing, not imfrequently, the colporteur and mis- 
sionaiy under the guise of the songster. The heur 

of a great revolt against Rome appeared to bo near. 
Surrounded by the fostering influences of art, in- 
telligence, and liberty, primitive Christianity was 
here powerfully developing itself It seemed verily 
that the thirteenth and not the sixteenth centuiy 
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 dis- 
covered the same feiTuentation below the sur- 
face, the same incipient revolt against the Papal 
power. He resolved ^vithout loss of time to grap])le 
^vith and crush the movement. He issued an edict 
enjoining the extermination of all heretics.' Cities 
woidd be drowned in blood, kingdoms would be 
laid waste, art and civilisation 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 pereecuting edicts and canons 
paved the way for these horrible butcheries. The 
Council of Toulouse, in 1119, presided over by Pope 
Calistus II., pronounced a general excommunication 
upon all who held the sentiments of the Albigenses, 
cast them out of the Church, delivered them to the 
swoid of the State to be punished, and included in 
the same condemnation all who should afford them 
defence or protection.- This canon was renewed 
in the second General Council of Lateran, 1139, 
under Innocent II.' 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 excommimication, any 
to relieve them, and left them to perisli without 
succour.* The third General Council of Lateran, 

' Hardouin, Concil. Avenion. (1209), torn, vi., 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 f uerit,' ' 
continues the edict, "jurare compellat sicut illi de 
Montepessulano juraverunt, praecipue circa erterminan- 
dos hsereticos." 

- " Tanquam haereticos ab ecclesia Dei pellimus et dam- 
namus: et per potostates ertcras coerceri praecipimus, 
defensores quoque ipsorum ejusdem damnationis vinculo 
donee resipuerint, mancipamus.' ' (Concilium Tolosanum 
— Hardouin, Acta Concil. et Epistoke Decreiales, torn, vi., 
pars. 2, p. 1979; Parisiis, 1714.) 

3 Acta Concil, tom. vi., pars. 2, p. 1212. 

■• "TJbi cogniti fuerint ilUus haeresis sectatores, ne re- 
ceptaculum quisquam eis in terra sua prsebere, aut prse- 
sidium imperth'e praesumat. Sed nee in venditione aut 



1171), under Alexander III., enjoined princes to 
make war upon them, to take their possessions for 
a spoil, to reduce their persons to slaveiy, and to 
withhold from them Christian burial.' The fourth 
General Comicil of Lateran bears the stem and 
comprehensive stamp of the man under whom it 
was held. The Coimcil commanded piinces to take 
an oath to extirpate heretics from their dominions. 
Feai-ing that some, from motives of self-interest, 
miglit hesitate to destroy the more industrious of 
their subjects, the CouncLL sought to quicken theii- 
obedience by appealing to their avarice. It made 
over the heritages of the excommunicated to those 
who should cany out the sentence pronoimced 
upon them. Still further to stimulate to this pious 
work, the Coimcil rewarded a service of forty days 
in it vnth 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 stUl 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 wiU or the 
j)0wer 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 then- dioceses, to insti- 
tute a very close search for heretics, and to extract 
an oath from the leading inhabitants that they would 
delate to the ecclesiastics from time to time those 
among their neighbours and acquamtances who had 
strayed from the faith.^ It is hardly necessaiy to 
say that it is Innocent III. who speaks in this 
Coimcil. 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 jjatri- 
archs, deputies, and ambassadors from all nations. 
It was opened by Innocent in person, with a dis- 
course from the words, " With desire have I desired 
to eat this passorer with yon." 

We camiot 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 cnielty 
and terror. The fearful pillagings and massacrings 
which instantly followed in the south of France, 
and which were re-enacted in follomng centuries in 
all the countries of Christendom, were but too 

emptione aliqua cum eis omnino coinmeroium habeatur : 
ut solatio saltern hiimanitatis amisso, ab errore vise suEe 
resipiscere compellantui-.' ' — Hardouin, Acta Condi,, torn. 
vi., p. 1597. 

' Ihid., can. 27, De Hsereticis, p. 1684 

2 Ihid., torn, vii., can. 3, pp. 19—23. 

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 Chiuxh is mistress of the 
conscience — that this river of blood is seen to flow. 

Three years was this storm in gathering. Its 
fii-st 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 
travelled on foot, two and two, with full jjowers 
from the Pope to search out heretics, dispute with 
them, and set a mark on those who were to 
be burned when opportimity should offer.' In 
this mission of inqriisition we see the first begin- 
nings of a tribunal which came afterwards to bear 
the terrible name of the " Inquisition." These gave 
themselves to the work with an ardour which had 
not been equalled 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 temjjta- 
tions were held out ! The foes they were to march 
against were accursed of God and the Church. To 
shed theii- 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 
instalment 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 cany them aloft, the gates of Paradise 
open for then- entrance, and the crowns and de- 
lights of the upper world waitmg their choice. 
The cnisader 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 sal- 
vation. 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 tliese 



armed fanatics were ready to march.' One body 
bad 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 marshalled in 
the north, the subjects of Philip Augustus, and at 
their head marched the Bishop of Puy." The near 
neighboiu'S of the Albigenses rose in a body, and 
swelled this already overgro^vn host The chief 
director of this sacred war was the Papal legate, the 
Abbot of Citeaux. Its chief military commander 
was Simon de Montfort, Eai-1 of Leicester, a French 
nobleman, wlio had practised war and learned 
cruelty in the cnisades of the Holy Land. In 
putting himself at the head of these crossed and 
fanaticised hordes he was influenced, it is believed, 
Huite as much by a covetous greed of the ample 
and rich tei-ritories of Raymond, Count of Toulouse, 
as by hatred of the that Raymond was sus- 
pected 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 
fonatical multitude which followed each preacher, 
armed with scythes and clubs, and jiromised 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." ' 

This overwhelming host precipitated itself upon 
the estates of Raymond VI., Count of Touloiise. 
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 recon- 
ciliation, he had to deliver up to the Pojje seven 
of his strongest towns, to appear at the door of the 
Church, where the dead body of the legate Castel- 
neau, who had been murdered in his dominions, 
lay, and to be there beaten with rods.* 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 multi- 
tude of spectators. After all this, he was obliged 
to take the cross, and join with those who were 
seizing and phmdering his cities, massacring liis 
subjects, and cari-jang fire and sword throughout 

' Sismondi, Hist, of Crusades, p. 28. 

- Petri Vallis, Cern. Hist. Alhigens., cap. 16, p. 571. 
Sismondi, p. 30. 
' Sismondi, p. 2f). 
* Hardouin, Condi. Mont'd., torn, vi., pars. 2, p. col. 1980. 

his territories. Stung by these humiliations and 
calamities, he again changed sides. But his resolu- 
tion to brave the Papal wi-ath came too late. He 
was agaiir .smitten ^\'ith interdict ; his possessions 
were given to Simon de Montfort, and in the end 
he saw himself reft of all."* 

Among the piiuces 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 Bezier-s. Every day 
this horde of murderers drew neai-er and nearer 
to his territories. Submission would only invite 
destruction. He hastened to put his kingdom into 
a posture of defence. His vassals were numerous 
and valiant, their fortified castles covered the face 
of the country ; of his to^vns, 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 
temjjest. 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 theii' young and brave liege lord. 

The castles were ganisoned and provisioned, the 
peasantry of the suri-ounding 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 defence, 
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 fii-e 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 sui-veyed 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."" 
Astonished but not daimted, the men of Beziers 
made a rash upon the jjilgi'ims before thej' should 
have time to fortify their encampment. It was all 

* Hardouin, Condi. Lateran. iv., torn, vii., p. 79. 
" Historia de los Faicts d' Armas de Tolosa, pp. 9, 10 ; 
quoted by Sismondi, p. 35. 



in vain. Tlie assault was repelled, and the crasaders, 
miiigling -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 foniied the jjlan 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 loess by the following 

assassins. Tlie wretched citizens were slaughtered 
in a trice. Their dead bodies covered the floor 
of the church ; they were piled in heaps roimd the 
altar ; their lilood 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 oft', tliey set tire to 


reply, which has since become famous : " Kill all ! 
kill all ! The Lord will know his own." ' 

The bloody work now began. The ordinaiy 
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 inhalntants of the 
coiuitry 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. They but 
the sooner drew npon themselves the swords of the 

' Caesar, Hiesferbachiensis, lib. v., cap. 21. In Bibliotheca 
Patrum Cisterdensium, tOPi. ii., p. 139. Sismondi, p. 36. 

the city in every part at once, and reduced it to a 
•i'ast funeral pile. Not a house remained standing, 
not one human being alive. Historians difi'er as 
to the number of victims. The Abbot of Citeaux, 
feeling some shame for the butchery which he had 
ordered, in his letter to Innocent III. reduces it 
to 1.5,000 ; others make it amount to G0,000."^ 

The teriible fate which had overtaken Beziers — 
in one day converted into a mound of ruins dreary 
and silent as any on the plain of Chaldea — told the 
other towns and villages the destiny that awaited 

- Hist. Gen. de Languedoc, lib. xxi., cap. 57. p. 1C9. 
Historia de los Faicts d'Armas de Tolosa, p. 10. Sismondi, 
p. 37. 



them. The inhabitants, terror-stricken, fled to 
the woods and caves. Even the strong castles 
were left tenantless, their defendei-s deeming it 
vain to think of oj)posing so furious and over- 
whelming a host. Pillaging, burning, and massa- 
cring as they had a mind, the crusaders advanced 
to Carcassonne, where they arrived on the 1st 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 de- 
fenders poured upon them streams of boiling water 
and oil, and ci-iished them with great stones and 
jjrojeotiles. The attack was again and again re- 
newed, but was as often repulsed. Meanwhile the 
forty days' service was drawing to an end, and 
bands of crusaders, having fuliilled 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 honourable 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 
oftence against the faith,' caused the young viscount 
to be arrested, with all the knights who had followed 

When the garrison saw that their leader had 
been imprisoned, they resolved, along ^vith 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 tJie towers of Cabardes. The crusaders were as- 
tonished 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 
handed. ^ 



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

The mam object of the crusades was now accom- 
plished. The j)i-incipalities of Raymond VI., 
Count of Toulouse, and Raymond Roger, Viscount 
of Beziei's, 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 over- 
run, and joined with the neighbouring provinces in 
a common desolation. The Viscount of Narboniie 
contrived to avoid a visit of the crusaders, but at 
the price of becoming himself the Grand Inquisi- 
tor of his dominions, and purging them with laws 
even more rigorous than the Church demanded.^ 

1 Hidoire de Languedoc^ lib. 
Sismondi, p. 43i 

xxi., cap. 58, p. 169. 

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 soU. Every year 
a cloud of monks issued from the convents of 
Citeaux, and, taking possession of the pulpits, 
preached a new crusade. For the same easy ser- 
vice 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 gleanmgs, left 
from the harvests of previous years, were found 

- Sismondi, History of the Ctlisades cujainst tlie Alhigenses, 
pp. 40—43, 



and made food for the gibbets and stakes that in 
such dismal aiTay covered the face of the country. 
The firat instigators of these terrible proceedings — 
Innocent III., Simon de Montfort., the Abljot 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 en- 
riched 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 leg^ate, 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 woi-k.' In the year of the fourth Lateran, 
1215, St. Dominic received the Pontiflf's commission 
to judge and deliver to punishment apostate and 
relapsed and obstinate heretics.- This was the 
Inquisition, though lacking as yet its fiiU organisa- 
tion 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 jiut 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 
organisation and developed the workmg of this 
terril^le tribunal. It erected iu'every city a council 
of Inquisitors consisting of one priest and three 
laymen,' 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 denoinioe 
them to the bishops, lords, or their bailifis. Oiice 
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 neighbours. If remiss in their 
search, the sharp admonition of the Church soon 

' Condi. Lateran. iv., can. 8, De Inquisitionibus. 
Hardouin, torn, vii., col. 26. 

- Malvenda, ann. 1215; Alb. Butler, 76. Turner, Bist. 
Eng., vol. v., p. 1*3; ed. 1830. 

3 Hardouin, Concilia, torn, vii., p. 175. 

quickened their diligence. A last \n\l and testa- 
ment was of no validity unless a priest had been 
by when it was made. A physician suspected 
was forbidden to practise. All above the age of 
foui-teen were required on oath to abjure heresy, 
and to aid in the search for heretics.* 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 wliich 
they were so intent, was deiived, 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, fi'om 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 

In 1233, Pope Gregory IX. issued a bull, by 
which he confided the working of the Inquisition 
to the Dominicans." He appointed his legate, the 
Bishop of Tournay, to carry out the bull in the 
way of completing the organisation 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 bishoj) named two Dominicans in 
Toulouse, and two in each city of the pi'ovince, to 
form the Tribunal of the Faith ;' and soon, under 
the warm patronage of Saint Louis (Louis IX.) of 
France, this court was extended to the whole 
kingdom. An instiiiction was at the same time 
furnished to the Inquisitors, ' in which the bishop 
enumerated the errors of the heretics. The docu- 
ment 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 Albi- 
genses," says Sismoudi, " we find nearly all the 
]irinciples upon which Luther and Calvin founded 
the Reformation of the sixteenth centuiy." ' 

If the crusades were now at an end as hitherto 
waged, they were continued under the more dread- 
ful foi-m 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 

■* Concilium Tolosanum, cap. 1, p. 428. Sismondi, 220. 

•' Labbe, Condi. Tolosan., torn, xi., p'. 427. Fleury, Hist. 
Ecdes., lib. kxix., n. 58. 

•^ Percini, Historia Inquisit. Tholosana:. Mosheim, vol. i., 
p. 341; Glas. edit., 18.31. 

<■ Hist, de Langucdoc, lib. xxiv., cap. 87, p. 394. 
Sismondi, 243. 

" Hist, of Crusades against the AUiigenses, j). 243. 



city, was a fate less horrible tlian to expire amid 
prolonged and excruciating tortures in the dun- 
geons of the " Holy Office." The tempests of 
the crusades, however terrible, had yet their- in- 
termissions ; they burst, passed away, and left a 
breathing-space between iheii- explosions. Not so 
the Inquisition. It worked bn 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 piUng 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 execiiting 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 faii'er 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 Sijllabus 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 haii-'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 indorsed 
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 hor- 
rible butcheries wei'e committed, every one sees to 
be wholly inadmissible. An mfaUible 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 centuiy 
are the same to her, for she is just as infaUible 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 Pro- 
testantism 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 regard- 
less of what it destroyed, j^rovided 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 ti'odden into the dust, its frait- 
ful vines and flourishmg 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 Scejstical 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, im- 
known to that age, were being prepared to give 
quicker transmission and widei- diflusion to the 
Divine principle when next it shovild show itself. 
And, further, a more robust and capable stock than 
the Romanesque — namely, the Teutonic — was si- 
lently gi-owing 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 then- fruits. 





Berengarius— The First Opponent of Transubstantiation — Numerous Councils Condemn him— His Recantation — The 
Mai'tyrs of Orleans — Theii' Confession^Their Condemnation and Martyrdom — Peter do Bruys and the Petro- 
brusians— Henry — Effects of his Eloquence— St. Bernard sent to Oppose him— Henry Apprehended — His Fate 
unknown— Ai-nold of Brescia— Birth and Education— His Picture of Ms Times— His Scheme of Eeform— Inveighs 
against the Wealth of the Hierarchy--His Popularity— Condemned by Innocent II. and Banished from Italy — 
Returns on the Pope's Death— Labours Ten Years in Kome— Demands the Separation of the Temporal and 
Spiritual Authority— Adrian IV.— Ho Supi^resses the Movement— Ai'nold is Burned. 

In piu'suing to an end the Mstoiy of the Albigensiau 
crusades, we have been carried somewhat beyond 
theVpoint of time at which we had an-ived. We 
now' return. A succession of lights which shine 
out at intervals amid the darkness of the ages 
guide our eye onward. In the middle of the 
eleventh century appears Berengarius of Tours in 
France. He is the first public opponent of tran- 
substantiation.' A century had now passed since 
the monk, Paschasius Eadbertiis, had hatched that 
astounding dogma. In an age of knowledge such a 
tenet would have subjected its author to the sus- 
picion of Imiacy, but in times of darkness like 
those in which this opinion first isstied from the 
convent of Corbel, the more mysterious the doc- 
trine 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 lis to judge of the wide extent which the 
belief in transubstantiation had already acquired. 
Everywhere in France, in Germany, in Italy, we 
tuid a commotion arising on the appearance of 
its opponent. We see bishops bestii'ring them- 
selves to oppose his "impious and sacrilegious" 
heresy, and numerous Councils convoked to con- 
demn it. The CouncU 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 

' John Duns Scotus had previously published his book 
attacking and refuting the then comparatively new and 
strange idea of Paschasius, even that by the words of 
consecration the bread and wine in the Eucharist became 
the real and veritable flesh and blood of Christ. 

Ambrose, of Augustine, and of Jerome. There 
followed a succession of Councils : at Paris, 1050 ; 
atToui-s, 1055; at Rome, 1059; at Rouen, 1063; 
at Poictiers, 1075 ; and again at Rome, 1078 : 
at all of which the opinions of Berengarius were 
discussed and condemned.- This shows us ho^v 
eager Rome was to establish the fiction of Pascha- 
sius, 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 : fii'st 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 faee with the stake he shrunk from the fii-e. A 
second and a thii'd time did he recant his opinions ; 
he even sealed his recantation, according to Diipin, 
with his subscription and oath.* But no sooner 
was he back again in France than he began pub- 
lishing his old ojiinions anew. Numbers in all 
the countries of Christendom, who had not accepted 
the fiction of Paschasius, broke silence, emboldened 
by the stand made by Berengaiius, and declared 
themselves of the same sentiments. Matthew of 
Westminster (1087) says, "that Bei'engaiius of 
Tours, being fallen into heresy, had already almost 
coiTupted all the French, Italians, and English."* 
His great opponent was Lanfranc, Ai-chbishop 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 congi-egation of the 

- Dupin, Heel. Hist., cent. 11. Concil., torn. x. ; edit. 
Lab., p. 379. 
2 Dupin, Eccl. Hist., cent. 11, chap, i., p. 9. 
4 Allix, p. 122. 



wicked, and the seat of Satan."' Brrengarivis died 
in his bed (1088), expressing deep sorrow for the 
weakness and dissinmlation which had tarnished 
his testimony for the truth. " His followers," says 
iMosheim, " were numerous, as his fame was illus- 

We come to a nobler band. At Orleans there 

hy 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 corniption 
of human nature and the renewal of the Spirit, of 
the A'anity of praying to the saints, and the folly 
of thinking to find sah'ation in baptism, or the 

flourished, in the be- 
ginning of the eleventh 
century, two canons, 
Stejjhen and Lesoie, 
distinguished by their 
rank, revered for their 
learning, and Ijeloved 
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 

literal flesh of Chi-ist 
in the Eucharist. His 
earnestness seemed to 
become yet greater 
when they promised 
him that if, forsaking 
these "broken cis- 
terns," he would come \ —^-:rz- 
to tlie Saviour himself, 

he should have living water to drink, and celestial 
bread to eat, and, filled ^vith " the treasures of 

' Among other works Berengarius published a com- 
mentary on the Apocalypse; this may perhaps explain 
liis phraseology. 

■ Mosheim, Eccl. Hist., cent. 11, part ii., chap. 3, sec. 18. 
In a foot-note Mosheim quotes the following woi-ds as 
decisive of Berengarius' sentiments, that Christ's body 
is only spirituaVy 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 
[spiritttaliter manducori^ by those only who are members 
of Christ." (Berengai-ius' Letter to Almannus in Mar- 
tene's Thesavi:, torn, ii., p. 109 ) 



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 pre- 
tended disciple now became the accuser.' The 
canons confessed boldly the truth which they had 
long held ; the arguments and threats of the Coimcil 
were alike powerless to change then- belief, or to 
shake their resolution. " As to the burning 
threatened," says one, " they made light of it even 
as if joersuaded that they would come out of it 
unhurt."^ Wearied, it would seem, with the futile 
reasonings of their enemies, and desirous of bring- 
ing the matter to an issue, they gave then- final 
answer thus — " You may say these things to 
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 Spiiit, and savour 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 om- King reigning 
in the heavenly jilaces, who with his right hand is 
conducting us to immortal triumphs and heavenly 

They were condemned as Manicheaus. Had 
they been so indeed, Rome would have visited them 
with contempt, not -with pei-secution. 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 martyi-s were not alone 
in their death. Of the citizens of Orleans there 
•Were ten,* some say twelve, who shared theii- faith, 
and who were willing to share their stake.' They 
were first stripjied of their clerical vestments, then 
buffeted like their Master, then smitten -svith rods ; 
the queen, who was present, setting the example 
in these acts of ^dolence by striking one of them, 
and putting out his eye. Finally, they were led 
outside the city, where a great fire had been 

' Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 11, chap. 13. 

- Eodulphus Glaber, a monk of Dijon, who wrote a 
liistory of the occiu-rence. 

^ " Jam Regem nosti-um in coelestibus regtlantem vide- 
mus ; qui ad immortales triumphos dertrA siiA nos suble- 
Vat, dans superna gaudia." {CharHlary of St. Pim-re en 
ValVe at Chartres.) 

^ Hard., Acta Condi., torn, vi., p. 822. 

* Mosheim, Eccles. Hist., vol. i., p. 270. Dupin, Eccles. 
Hist., cent. 11, chap. 13. 

kindled to consume tliem. They entered the flames 
■with a smile upon their faces." Together this littlo 
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 ns, 
theii'S were the first stakes planted in France since 
the era of primitive persecutions.' Illustrious 
pioneers ! They go, but they leave their inefiace- 
able 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 toiments to the same everlasting joys. 

We next mention Peter de Bniys, 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 foundei-, 
who laboured in the provinces of Dauphine, Pro- 
vence, 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 mis- 
sionary laboiu's, Peter de Bruys was seized and 
burned to death (1126)' in the town of St. Giles, 
near Toulouse. The leading tenets professed by 
his followers, the Petrobrussians, as we learn from 
the accusations of then- enemies, were — that bap- 
tism avails not without faith ; that Christ is only 
spii'itually 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 
tliis, 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 

^ " Ridentes in medio ignis." (Hard., Acta Coticil., torn. 
vi., p. 822.) 

7 Gibbon has mistakenly recorded their martyrdom 
as that of Manicheans. Of the trial and deaths of these 
mai'tyrs, four contemporaneous accounts have come down 
to us. In addition to the one referred to above, tliero is 
the biographical relation of Arefaste, their betrayer, a 
knight of Eouen; 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 
documents, are given in Baronius' Annals (tom. xi., col. 
60, 61; Colon, ed.) and Hai-douin's Councils. 

' Mosheim says 1130. Bossuet, Faber, and others have 
assigned to Peter de Bruys a Paulician or Eastern oiigin. 
We are inclined to connect liim with the Western or 
Waldensian confessors. ' 



sho^vn such an inveterate tendency to spring up amid 
the perpetual snows and icy torrents of the Alps.' 

When Peter de Bruys had finished his couree 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 command- 
ing 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, accord- 
ing to an eye-witness, the very priests to his feet, . 
dissolved in tears. Beginning at Lausanne, Henri 
ti-a\ersed the south of France, the entire pojnilation 
gathering round him wherever he came, and listen- 
ing 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 pesti- 
lence that was desolating the region, and he an-ived 
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 preachei-s spoke in this one. The 
churches were emptied, the priests were without 
flocks, and the time-honoured 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, \\Titing 
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 theii- 
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 
tliey are denied the life of Jesus Christ." - 

Such was the condition in which, as he himself 
records in his letters, St. Bernard found the popu- 
lations in the south of France. He set to work, 
stemmed the tide of apostacy, 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 

' Peter de Clugny's account of them will be found in 
Bibliotheca P. Max. ixii., pp. 1034, 1035. 

• Baron., Annal., ann. 1147, torn, xii., col. 350, 351 
Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 12, chap. 4. 

seized, carried before Pope Eugenius III., who pre- 
sided at a Council then assembled at Rheims, con- 
demned and imprisoned.^ From that time we hear 
no more of him, and his fate can only be guessed at.* 
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 Aiuold 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 
pieceded him. His pioneers had called for a puri- 
fication of the faith of the Church, Arnold demanded 
a rectification of her constitution. He was a simple 
reader in the Cliuich of his native town, and pos- 
sessed no advantages of Isiith ; but, tired with the 
love of learning, he travelled into France that he 
might sit at the feet of Abelard, whose fame was 
then tilling Christendom. Admitted a pupil of the 
great scholastic, he drank in the \visdom he im- 
parted 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, Lii practical 
piety, in resoluteness, and in entire devotion to the 
great cause of the emancipation of his fellow-men 
from a tyi-anny that was ojjpressing 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 hazai'dous 
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 down- 
wards, were engrossed in secularities. They tilled 
the oflices of State, they presided in the cabinets of 
princes, they led armies, they imposed taxes, they 
owned lordly domains, they were attended by 
sumptuous retiinies, and they sat at luxurious 
tables. Here, said Arnold, is the source of a thou- 
sand evils — the Chui'ch is dro%vned in riches ; from 
this immense wealth flow the corniption, the profli- 
gacy, the ignorance, the wickedness, the intrigues, 
the wars and bloodshed which liave ovenvhelmed 
Church and State, and are i-uining the world. _ 

A century eai'lier. Cardinal Damiani had congra- 
tulated tlie clergy of primitive times on the simjile 
lives which they led, contrasting their liappier lot 

■■' Uaion., Annal., ann. 1148, torn, xii., col. 356. 
* Mosheim, cent. 12, part ii., chap. 5, sec. 8. 



witli that of the prelates of those latter ages, who 
had to endure dignities ■which would have been 
but little to the taste of their fii'st predecessors. 
" What would the bishops of old have done," he 
asked, concurring by anticipation in the censure of 
the eloquent Brescian, " had they to endure the 
toi-ments that now attend the episcopate 1 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 aims ! 
Every day royal banquets, every day parade I The 
table loaded with delicacies, not for the poor, but 
for voluptuous guests ! while the poor, to whom 
the property of right belongs, are shut out, and 
pine away with famiiie." 

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 bad 
dra'wn 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.^ Let these be 
left to the men whose duty it is to see to them, 
even kings and statesmen. Nor do the ministei-s 
of Christ need, in order .to the discharge of their 
spiritual functions, the enomious 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 fi-ugal yet competent provision of the tithes, 
and the voluntaiy offerings of their flocks. Set free 
from occupations wluch consume their time, degi'ade 
their office, and coriiipt their heart, the clergy mil 
lead their flocks to the pa.stm'es of the Gospel, and 
knowledge and piety will again revisit the eai-th. 

Attii-ed in his monk's cloak, his countenance 
stamped ■with courage, but already wearing traces 
of care, Arnold took his stand in the streets 
of liis native Brescia, and began to thunder 
forth liis scheme of reform.^ His townsmen 
gathered roimd him. For spii-itiial Christianity 
the men of that age had little value, stUl 
Arnold had touched a chord in theii- hearts, to 
which they were able to respond. The pomp, 
profligacy, and power of Churchmen had scan- 
dalised all classes, and made a reformation so far 

welcome, even to those who were not prepared to 
sympathise in the more exclusively spii'itual 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, were assembling daily in the market- 
place, crowding round the eloquent preacher, and 
listening with applaiise to his fierce philippics, that 
he bestiiTed himself to silence the courageous monk. 
Arnold kept his coiu'se, however, and continued 
to launch his bolts, not against his diocesan, for to 
strike at one mitre was not worth liis while, but 
against that lordly hierarchy which, finding its 
centre on the Seven Hills, had stretched its cir- 
cumference 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 
jjiu-ely 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 pressnre to bear upon the Vatican as 
would compel the chiefs of the Church to institute 
tliis most necessary and most just reforjn. Nor 
was he without the coimtenance of some persons 
of consequence. Maifredus, the Consul of Brescia, 
at the first supported his movement.^ 

The bishop, deeming it hopeless to contend 
against Ai-nold on the spot, in the midst of his 
numerous followers, comjjlained 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 pleasui'es of the priesthood ; but other pretexts 
must be found on which to condemn him. "Be- 
sides this, it was said of liim that he was imsound 
ill 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 wliither lie 
pleaseth, and preserves where he pleases the body 
of Jesus Christ."'' The sum of this is that Arnold 

' Gibbon, Decline and Fall, vol. xii., p. 264. 

- The original picture of Arnold is by an opponent — 
Otho, Biahop of Frisingen {Chron. de Gestibus, Frederici I., 
lib. i., cap. 27, and lib. ii., cap. 21). 

2 Otho Frisingensis, quoted by Allix, p. 171. 
•* Allix, pp. 171, 174. See also summary of St. Ber- 
nard's letters in Dupin, cent. 12, chap. 4. 



rpjcctcd 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 
])lace of Gei-manv called Tiu-ego, or Zurich, belong- 
ing to the diocese of Constance, where he continued 
to disseminate his doctrine," the seeds of which, it 
may ))e presumed, continued to vegetate untQ the 
times of Zuinglius. 

Hearing that Imiocent II. was dead, Arnold re- 
turned to Rome in the beginning of the Pontificate 
of Eugenius III. (1144 — 45). One feels surprise, 
liordering on astonishment, to see a man with 
tlie condemnation of a Pope and CoiuicU 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,^ " 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, 
lie said to feel at this period" (the fifteenth cen- 
ttiiy, but the remark is equally applicable to the 
twelfth) " a sxiperstitious devotion to the See of 
Rome. This did not originally form a discrimi- 
nating feature of their national character; it was 
su)jerinduced, and the formation of it can be dis- 
tinctly 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 pi-oofs 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."^ In truth, nowhere was 
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 wore 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 frojn its ashes the flame of ancient liberty, 
and to restore, by cleansmg it from its many cor- 
ruptions, 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 

■ Gibbon, Hist., vol. xii., p. 266. 

2 M'Crie, Progress and Suppression of the Reformation 
in Italy, p. 41 ; 2nd edit., 1833, 

patriots of classic ages, the suflermgs of the first 
Christian martyrs, and the luimble and holy lives 
of the first Christian bishops. Might it not be 
possible to bring back these 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 thmgs 
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 foi-mer 
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 theii- senators' counsels, and 
the value and integrity of their youth, made the 
whole world then- own. Wherefore he persuaded 
them to rebuild the Capitol, to restore the dignity of 
the senate, to reform the order of knights. He main- 
tained that nothing of the go^'ermnent 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 con- 
tinued 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 
retii-ed to a foreign country ; and when they did 
venture within the walls of their capital, they en- 
ti-iisted 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 Ai-nold meanwhile was great, his party numerous, 
and had there been virtue enough among the Romans 
they might during these ten favourable years, when 
Rome was, so to speak, in theii- hands, have founded 
a movement wliicli would have had important re- 
.sults for the caiise of liberty a)id the Gospel. But 
Arnold strove in vain to recall a spirit that was fled 
for centuries. Rome was a sepulchre. 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 vigour to quell the 
tempests which for ten years had warred around the 
Papal chair. He smote the Romans with interdict. 
They were vanquished liy the ghostly terror. They 
lianished Arnold, and the portals of the churches, 
to them the gates of heaven, were re-opened to the 
l^enitent citizens. But the exile of Arnold did not 

theless, seven centuries afterwards, to i-eceive the 
favourable and all but unanimous verdict of 
Europe. Every succeeding Refomier and patriot 
took lip 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 cor- 
ruption and tyranny which afflicted both Church 

suffice to appease the angei of Adi lan The Pontiff 
bargained mth Frederic Baibarossa, who was then 
soliciting from the Pope coronation as emperor, 
that the monk should be gi\ en up Arnold \\ is 
seized, sent to Rome undei a stiong escoit, and 
burned alive. We are able to infer that his lol 
lowers in Rome were numerous to the last, from 
the reason gi\en for the order to throw his ashes 
into the Tiber, " to prevent the foolish rabble from 
expressing any A'eneration for his body."' 

Arnold had tieen burned to ashes, but the 
movement he had inaugurated was not extin- 
guished by his martyrdom. The men of his times 
had condemned his cause ; it was destined, never- 

' Allix, p. 172. "We find St. Bernard writing letters to 
the Bishop of Constance and the Papal legate, urging the 
persecution of Arnold. (See Diipin, lAfe of Si. heniard, 
cent. 12, chap. 4.) Mosheiui has touched the liistory of 
Arnold of Brescia, but not with discriminating judg- 
ment, nor sympathetic spirit. This remark applies to his 
accounts of all these early confessors. 

and State. Wiclifte made tliis demand in the four- 
teenth century; Savonarola in the tifteenth ; and 
the Reformers in the sixteenth. Political men 
in the following centuries reiterated and pro- 
claimed, with ever-gi'owing emphasis, the doctrine 
of Arnold. At last, on the 20th of September, 
1870, it obtained its crowning victory. On that 
day the Italians entei-ed Rome, the temporal sove- 
reignty of the Pope came to an end, the sceptre 
was disjoined from the mitre, and the mo-\-ement 
celebrated its triumph on the same spot where 
its first champion had been burned. 





Number and Variety of Seota-One Faith— Who gave us the Bible ?— Abelard of Paris— His Fame— Father of Modern 
Scei>ticism— The Parting: of the "Ways— Since Abelard three currents in Christendom— The Evangelical, the 
Ultramontane, the Sceptical. 

One is apt, from a cursory survey of the Christen- 
dom of those days, to conceive of it as speckled 
with an almost endless vaxdety of opinions and 
doctrines, and dotted all over "with numeroiis 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 pro\dnce, and 
tlie 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 diver- 
sity of opinion as a consequence of breaking loose 
from the " centre of unity" in Rome. Some even 
of our religious historians seem haimted by the 
idea that each one of these many bodies is repre- 
sentative of a difierent dogma, and that dogma an 
en-or. The impression is a natiiral one, we own, 
but it is entirely erroneous. In this diversity 
there was a gi-and unity. It was substantially 
the same creed that was professed by all these 
bodies. They were all agi-eed in drawing their 
theology from the same Divine fountain. The 
Bible was their one infallible ride 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 centre in the 
" one Lord," and a common bond in the " one 
faith." Through one Mediator did they all ofier 
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. Over- 
whelmed by a second irruption of Paganism, re- 
inforced by a fiood of Gothic superstitions, she was 
essaying to lay her foundations anew in the truth, 

and to build herself up by the enlightening and 
renevraig 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 

It is idle in 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, 
woidd 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 Christen- 
dom, singing it in their lays as troubadours, pi-each- 
ing it in theu' 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 woidd, ere this day, have 
disappeared from the woild. 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 instramentality, he has, in the conversion of 
souls, perpetuated from age to age. 

Biit although imder gi-eat 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 liis little book against 
heretics ; and Reynerius, the opponent of the 
Waldenses — have massed together all these dis- 
cordant sentiments, and charged them upon the 
evangelical communities. Their controversial trac- 
tates, in which they enumei'ate 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 cha^ 
racterise the age. But are we to infer that the 
Albigenses and their allies held all the opinions 
which their enemies impute to them 1 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 thei'e was neither soul nor spirit, hell 
nor heaven? No. This were to impute to them 
an impossible creed. Did these philosophical and 
sceptical opinions, then, exist only in the imagina- 
tions 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 o^vn power and to the 
existence of Christianity. Her champions, partly 
from lack of discrimination, partly from a desire 
to paint in odious colours those whom they denomi- 
nated 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 o\\ti 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 

From the twelfth century and the times of Peter 
Abelard, we can disco-s-er three currents of thought 
in Christendom. Peter Abelard was the first and 
in some respects the greatest of modern sceptics. 
Ho was the fii-st person in Christendom to attack 
publicly the doctiine of the Church of Rome from 
the side of free-thinking. His scepticism 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 pliilosophic scepticism, 
leaving the movement to gather way in the follow- 

ing ages. But that he did sow the seeds which 
future labourers took pains to cultivate, camiot bo 
doubted by those who weigh carefully his teach- 
ings 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.' 

And these seeds he sowed widely. He was a 
man of vast ei-udition, keen wit, and elegant rhe- 
toric, 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 elo- 
quence of their teacher, and completely captivated 
by the originality and subtlety of his dai-ing 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 inftillibility she boasts, she would 
have foreseen to what this would grow, and pro- 
vided an eflfectual 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'' teacher was so freely scattering 
on the opening mind of Christendom, She as- 
sembled a Council, and condemned them as erro- 
neous. But Abelard went on as before, the 
laurel round his brow, the thoni at his breast, 
l^ropounding to yet greater crowds of scholars his 
pecuKar 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 conuuunion. 

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 gi-eat parties and 
three great schools of thought in Europe. First, 
there is the Protestant, in which we behold 
the Divine princi])le struggling to disentangle it- 
self 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 Intellec- 
tual, which was just the reason of man endeavouring 
to shake off the trammels of Roman authority, and 

' P. Bayle, Dictionary, Historical and Critical, vol. i., 
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, 
sees. 18, 22 ; chap. 3, sees. 6 — 12. 

- The moral weakness that is the frequent accompani- 
ment of philosopMc scepticism has very often been re- 
marked. The case of Abelard was no exception. Wliat 
a melancholy interest invests his story, as related by 
Bayle ! 



go forth and expatiate in the fields of free inquiry. 
It did right to assert this freedom, but, iinhaji- 
pily, it altogether ignored the existence of the 
spii-itual 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 Abe- 
lard 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 not only the existence 
of the Eoman Church,' but of Christianity itself. 




The Principle and the Rite — Rapid Growth of the One — Slow Progress and ultimate Triumph of the Other — 
England — Wicliffe — His Bu-thplace— His Education — Goes to Oxford — Enters Merton College— Its Fame — The 
Evangelical Bradwardine — His Renown — Pioneers the Way for Wicliffe — The Philosophy of those Days — Wicliffe's 
Eminence as a Scholastic — Studies also the Canon and Civil Laws — His Conversion— Theological Studies — 
The Black Death — Ravages Greece, Italy, &c. — Enters England — Its awful Desolations — Its Impression on 
Wicliffe— Stands Face to Face with Eternal Death — Taught not to Fear the Death of the Body. 

With the revolving centuries we behold the world 
slowly emerging into the light. The fifth century 
brought with it a signal blessing to Christianity 
in the guise of a disaster. Like a tree that was 
growing too rapidly, it was cut down to its roots 
that it might escape a luxuriance which would have 
been its ruin. From a Principle that has its seat 
in the heart, and the fruit of which is an en- 
lightened understanding and a holy life, Religion, 
under the corrupting influences of power and riches, 
was being transformed into a Rite, which, having 
its sphere solely in the senses, leaves the soul in 
darkness and the life m Ijondage. two, the Principle and the Rite, began 
so early as the fourth and fifth centviries to draw 
apart, and to develop each after its own kind. 
The rite rapidly progressed, and seemed far to 
outstrip its rival. It built for itself gorgeous 
temples, it enlisted in its service a powerful hier- 
archy, it added year by year to the number and 
magnificence of its ceremonies, it expressed itself 
in canons and constitutions ; and, seduced by this 
imposing show, nations bowed down before it, and 
puissant kings lent their swords for its defence and 

Far otherwise was it with its ri^■al. With- 
drawing into the spiritual sphere, it appeared to 

have abandoned the field to its antagonist. Not so, 
however. If it had hidden itself from the eyes of 
men, it was that it might build up from the very 
foimdation, piling truth upon ti'uth, and ])repare 
in silence those mighty spiritual forces by which it 
was in due time to emancipate the world. Its 
progi-ess was consequently less marked, but was far 
more real than that of its antagonist. Eveiy error 
which the one pi-essed into its service was a cause 
of weakness ; eveiy tiiith which the other added 
to its creed was a source of strength. The un- 
instructed and superstitious hordes which the one 
received into its communion were dangerous allies. 
They might follow it in the day of its prosperity, 
but they would desert it and become its foes when- 
ever the tide of popular favour turned against it. 
Not so the adherents of the other. With purified 
hearts and enlightened understandings, they were 
prepared to follow it at all hazards. The number 

' Lord Macaulay, in his essay on the Church of Rome, 
has characterised the Waldensian and Albigensian move- 
ments 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 coiiscience 
quickened by the Spirit of God. It was the revival of 
the Divine principle. 



of its disciples, small at first, continually multi- 
plied. Tlie purity of their lives, the meekness 
Avith which they bore the injuries inflicted on 
them, and the heroism ^vith which their deatli was 
endured, augmented from age to age the moral 
|,)ower and the spiritual glory of theii- cause. And 
thus, while the one reached its fall through its 
very success, the other marched on thi'ongh ojipres- 
sion and proscription to triumph. 

We are arrived at the begimiing of the foui'teentli 
centur}^. We have had no occasion hitherto to 
speak of the British Isles, but now our attention 
must be turned to them. Here a greater light is 
about to appear than any that had illumined the 
darkness of the ages that had gone before. 

In the North Riding of Yorkshire, watered by the 
Tees, lies the parish of Wiclifle. In the manoi- 
house of this parish, in the year 1324,' was born a 
child, who was named John. Here his ancestors 
had lived since the time of the Conquest, and, 
according to the manner of the times, they took 
their sui'name from the place of theii' residence, 
and the son now born to them was knowir as John 
de Wiclifle. Of his boyhood nothing is recorded. 
He was destined from an early age for the Church, 
which gives us ground to conclude that even then 
he disco^■ered that penetrating intelligence which 
marked his maturer years, and that loving sym- 
pathy which drew liiin so often in after life to the 
homesteads and the sick-beds of his parish of Lut- 
terworth. Schools for rudimental instruction were 
even then pretty thickly planted over England, in 
connection with the cathedral to^vns and the re- 
ligious houses ; and it is probable that the young 
Wiclifle received his fu-st training at one of these 
seminaries iu his own neighbourhood.^ 

At the age of sixteen or thereabouts, Wiclifie 
was sent to Oxford, Here he became fii-st a 
scholar, and next a fellow of Merton College, the 
oldest foundation save one in Oxford.' The 
youth of England, athii-st for knowledge, the 
fountains of which had long been sealed up, were 
then crowding to the universities, and when 
Wiclifle entered Merton there were not fewer 
than 30,000 students at Oxford. These numbers 

' Lewis, Life of Wiclif, p. 1 ; Oxford ed., 1820. 

- Lechler thiiiks that " probably it was the pastor of 
, the same -named village who was his first teacher." 
[Johann von Wiclif, und die Vorgeschichte der Reformation, 
vol. i., p. 271 ; Leipzig, 1873.) 

■' Of the twenty and more colleges that now constitute 
Oxford University, only five then existed, viz.— Merton 
(1274), BalUol (1260-82), Exeter (1314), Oriel (1.324), and 
University College (1332). These foundations were origi- 
nally intended for the support of poor scholars, who were 
under the rule of a superior, and received both board and 

awaken surprise, but it is to be taken into 
account that many of the halls were no better 
than upper schools. The college which Wiclifle 
joined was the most distinguished at that seat of 
learnmg. The fame, unrivalled in their own day, 
which two of its scholars, WiUiam Occam and 
Duns Scotus, had attained, shed a lustre upon it. 
One of its chairs had been filled by the celebrated 
Bradwardine,* who was closing his career at 
Merton about the time that the young Wicliflx) 
was opening his in Oxford. Bradwardine was one 
of the first mathematicians and astronomers of his 
day ; but having been drawn to the study of the 
Word of God, he embraced the doctrines of free 
grace, and his chair became a fountain of higher 
knowledge than that of natural science. While 
most of his contemporaries, by the aid of a subtle 
scholasticism, were endeavouring to penetrate into 
the essence of things, and to explain all mysteries, 
Bradwardine was content to accept what God had 
revealed in his Word, and this humility was re- 
warded by his finding the path which others missed. 
Lifting the veil, he unfolded to his students, who 
crowded round him with eager attention and 
admiring reverence, the way of life, warning them 
especially against that Pelagianism which was 
rapidly substituting a worship of externals for a 
religion of the heart, and teaching men to tnist in 
then- power of will for a salvation which can come 
only from the sovereign grace of God. Bradwardine 
was greater as a theologian than he had been as a 
philosopher. The fame of his lectures filled Europe, 
and his evangelical views, diffused by his scholars, 
helped to prepare the way for Wicliffe and others 
who were to come after him. It was around his 
chair that the new day was seen first to break. 

A quick apprehension, a penetrating intellect, 
and a retentive memory, enabled the young scholar 
of Merton to make rapid progress iu the learning 
of those days. Philosophy then lay in guesses 
rather than in facts. Whatever could be known 
from having been put before man in the facts of 
Nature or the doctrines of Revelation, was deemed 
not worth further investigation. It was too 
humble an occupation to observe and to deduce. 
In the pi-ide of his genius, man turned away from 
a field lying at his feet, and ])lunged boldly into 
a region where, having no data to guide him and 
no gi-ound for solid footing, he could learn really 
nothing. From this region of vague specidation 
the explorer brought back only the images of his 
own creating, and, dressing up these fancies as 
facts, he passed them off as knowledge. 

< Lewis, Life of Wiclif, p. 2, 



Such was the philosophy that invited the study 
ot Wiclifle.' There was scarce enough in it to 
reward his labour, but he thirsted for knowledge, 
and giving himself to it " with his might," he 
soon became a master in the scholastic philosophj', 
and did not fear to encounter the subtlest of all 
the subtle disputants in the schools of Oxford. 
He was " famously reputed," says Fox, " for a 
great clerk, a deep schoolman, and no less expert 

fied.2 To his knowledge of scholastics ho added 
great proficiency in both the canon and civil laws. 
This was a branch of knowledge which stood him 
in more stead in after years than the other and 
more fashionable science. By these studies he 
became versed in the constitution and laws of his 
native country, and was fitted for taking an in- 
telligent part in the battle which soon thereafter 
arose between the usurpations of the Pontiff and 


in all kinds of jihilosophy." Walden, his bitter 
enemy, writing to Pope Martin V. respecting him, 
says that he was " wonderfully astonished " at the 
" ^■ehemency and force of his reasonings," and the 
"places of authoi'ity" with which they were forti- 

" The study of the artes liberales, from which the 
Faculty of Arts takes its name -were, first, Trivium, com- 
prehending grammar, dialectics, and rhetoric ; then 
Qaadrivium, comprehending arithmetic, geometry, astro- 
nomy, and music. It was not uncommon to study ten 
years at the university— four in the Faculty of Arts, and 
seven, or at least five, in theology. If WicUffe entered 
the university in 1335, he probably ended his studies in 
1345. He became successively Bachelor of Arts, Master 
of Arts, and, after an interval of several years. Bachelor 
of Theology, or as they then expressed it. Sacra Pagina. 

the lights of the crown of England. " He had 
an eye for the most difierent things," says Lechler, 
speaking of Wiclifle, " and took a lively interest 
in the multifarious questions."' 

But the foundation of Wiclifl'e's gieatness was 
laid in a higher teaching than any that man can give. 
It was the illumination of his mind and the re- 
newal of his heart by the instrumentality of the 
Bible that made him the Reformer — certainly, the 
greatest of all the Reformers who appeared before 
the era of Luther. Without tliis, he might have 
been remembered as an eminent scholastic of the 

- Foi, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 554 ; Lond., 1641. 
' Lechler, Johann von Wiclif, vol. i., p. 726. 




fourteenth century, whose fame has been luminous 
enough to transmit a few feeble rays to our own 
age ; but he never would have been known as the 
fii-st to bear the axe into the wilderness of Papal 
abuses, and to strike at the roots of tliat great 
tree of which others had been content to lop ofi" 
a few of the branches. The honour would not 

D'Aubigne informs us, one of the scholars of the 
evangelical Bradwardine.' As he heard the great 
master discourse day by day on the sovereignty 
of grace and the freeness of salvation, a new light 
would begin to break upon the mind of tlie young 
scholastic. He would turn to a diviner iiage than 
that of Plato. But for this Wiclifl'e might have 


liave Ijeen his to be the first to raise that Great 
Protest, which nations ^vill bear onwards till it 
shall have made the circuit of the earth, pro- 
claiming, " Fallen is every idol, razed is every 
stronghold of darkness and tyranny, and now ia 
come salvation, and the kingdom of our Lord and 
of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever." 

How Wicliffe came to the knowledge of the 
truth it is not difficult to guess. He was, 

entered the priesthood without ever having studied 
a single chapter of the Bible, for instruction in 
theology formed no part of preparation for the 
sacred office in those days. 

No doubt theology, after a fashion, was studied, 
yet not a theology whose substance was dra^vn 
from the Bible, but a man-invented system. The 

1 D'Aubigne, Hist, of Reform., -vol. v., p. 110. 



Bachelors of Theology of the lowest grade held 
raadings m the Bibls. Not so, however, the 
Bachelors of the middle and highest grades : 
these founded their j'relections upon the Sentences 
of Peter Lombard. Puffed uj) with the conceit 
of their mystical lore, they regarded it beneath 
their dignity to expound so elementary a book as 
the Holy Scriptures. The former were named con- 
temptuously Biblicists ; the latter were honourably 
designated Sententiarii, or Men of the Sentences.^ 

" There was no mention," says Fox, describing 
the early days of Wicliffe, " nor almost any word 
Spoken of Scripture. Instead of Peter and Paul, 
men occupied their time in studying Aquinas and 
Scotus, and the Master of Sentences." " Scarcely 
any other tiling was seen in the temples or 
churches, or taught or sjioken of in sennons, or 
finally intended or gone about in their whole life, 
but only heaping up of cei-tain shadowed cere- 
monies upon ceremonies ; neither was there any 
end of their heaping. The people were taught to 
worship no other thing but that which they did 
see, and they did see almost nothing which they 
did not worsliip."- 

In the midst of these grovelling superstitions, 
men were startled by the approach of a terrible 
visitant. The year 1348 was fatally signalised by 
the outbreak of a fearful pestilence, one of the most 
destructive in history. Appearing fh-st in Asia, it 
took a westerly coiirse, traversing the globe like the 
pale horse and his rider iu the Apocalypse, teiTor 
marching before it, and death following Ln its rear. 
It ravaged the shores of the Levant, it desolated 
Greece, and going on still toward the west, it strack 
Italy with terrible severity. Florence, the lovely 
capital of Etiiiria, it turned into a charnel-house. 
The genius of Boccaccio painted its hoiTors, and the 
muse of Petrarch bewailed its desolations. The 
latter had cause, for Laura was among its victims. 
Passing the Alps it entered Northern Europe, 
leaving, say some contemporary historians, only a 
tenth of the human race alive. This we know is 
an exaggeration; but it expresses the poj)ular im- 
pression, and sufficiently indicates the awful cha- 
racter of those ravages, in which all men heard, 
(IS it were, the footsteps of coming death. The sea 
as well as the land Wiis marked ydth its devastating 
prints. Shijjs voyaging afar on the ocean were 
overtaken by it, and when the winds wafted them 

1 Lechler, Johann von Wiclif, und die Vorgeschichte der 
Reformation, vol. i., p. 284 ; Leipzig, 1873. 

^ Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 555. After the Sen- 
tences of Peter Lombard, in the study of theology, came 
the patristic and scholastic divines, and especially the 
Summa of Thomas Aquinas. 

ashore, they were found to be freighted Avith none 
but the dead. 

On the 1st of August the plague touched the 
shores of England. " Beginning at Doi'che.ster," 
says Fox, " every day twenty, some days forty, 
some fifty, and more, dead coi'jises, were brought 
and laid together in one deep pit." On the 1st 
day of November it reached London, " where," says 
the same chronicler, " the vehement rage thereof 
was so hot, and did increase so much, that from the 
1st day of Febniary till about the beginning oi 
May, in a church-yard then newly made by Smith- 
field [Chai't-erhouse], about two hundred dead corpses 
every day were buried, besides those which in other 
church-yards of the city were laid also."^ 

" In those days," says another old chronicler, 
Caxton, " was death without son-ow, weddings 
without fiiendship, flying mthout succour; scarcely 
were there left living folk for to bury honestly 
tliem that were dead." Of the citizens of London 
not fewer than 100,000 perished. Tlie ravages of 
the plague were spread over all England, and a full 
half of the nation was struck down. From men 
the pestilence passed to the lower animals. Putrid 
carcases covered the fields ; the labours of the hus- 
bandman were suspended ; the soil ceased to be 
ploughed, and the harvest to be reaped ; the courts 
of law were closed, and Parliament did not meet ; 
everywhere reigned terror, mourning, and death. 

This dispensation was the harbinger of a very 
cHfierent one. The tempest that scathed the eai-tli, 
opened the way for the shower which was to fer- 
tilise it. The plague was not without its influence 
on that great movement which, beginning with 
Wicliffe, was continued in a Ime of confessors and 
mai-tyrs, tUl it issued in the Reformation of Luther 
and Calvin. Wicliffe had been a witness of the 
passage of the destroyer ; he had seen the human 
race fading from off the earth as if the ages 
had completed their cycle, and the end of the 
world was at hand. He was then in his twenty- 
fifth year, and could not but be deeply impressed 
by the awful events passing aroimd him. " This 
visitation of the Almighty," says D'Aubign6, 
" sounded like the trumpet of the judgment-day in 
the heart of Wicliffe."* Bradwardine had already 
brought him to the Bible, the plague brought him to 
it a second time; and now, doubtless, he searched 
its page more earnestly than ever. He came to 
it, not as the theologian, seeking in it a deeper 
wisdom than any mystery which the scholastic 
philosophy could open to him ; nor as the scholar, 

3 Poi, Acts and 3fon., vol. i., p. 507. 

* D'Aubigne, Hist, of Eeform., vol. v., p. 110. ' 




to refine his taste by its pure models, and enrich 
his understanding by the sublimity of its doctrines; 
nor even as the polemic, in search of weapons 
wherewith to assail the dominant superstitions ; 
he now came to the Bible as a lost sinner, seeking 
how he might be saved. Nearer every day came 
the messenger of the Almighty. The shadow 
that messenger cast before him was hourly 
deepening ; and we can hear the young student, 
who doubtless in that hour felt the barrenness and 
insufficiency of the philosophy of the schools, lifting 
up with increasing vehemency the cry, " Who shall 
deliver me from the wrath to come ? " 

It would seem to be a law that all who are to be 
reformers of their age shall first undergo a con- 
flict of soul. They must feel in their own case the 
strength of error, the bitterness of the bondage in 
which it holds men, and stand face to face with 
the Omnipotent Judge, before they can become 
the deliverers of others. This only can inspire 
them with pity for the wretched captives whose 

fetters they seek to break, and give them courage 
to brave the oppressors from whose cruelty they 
labour to rescue them. This agony of soul did 
Luther and Calvin undergo ; and a distress and 
torment similar in charactei', though perhaps 
not so gi'eat in degree, did Wicliflo endure before 
beginning his work. His sins, doubtless, were 
made a heavy burden to him — so heavy that he 
could not lift up his head. Standing on the brink 
of the pit, he says, he felt how awful it was to go 
down into the eternal night, " and inhabit ever- 
lasting burnings." The joy of escape from a doom 
so terrible made him feel how small a matter is the 
life of the body, and how little to be regarded are 
the torments which the tyrants of earth have it in 
their power to inflict, compared with the wiath of 
the Ever-living God. It is in these fires that the 
reformers have been hardened. It is in this school 
that they have learned to defy death and to sing 
at the stake. In this armour was Wiclifie clad 
before he was sent forth into the battle. 



Personal Appearance of Wicliffe — His Academic Career— Bachelor of Theology — Lectures on the Bible — England 
Quarrels with the Pope — Wicliffe Defends the King's Prerogative — Innocent III. — The Pope Appoints 
to the Sve of Canterbury — King John Resists — England Smitten with Interdict — Terrors of the Sentence — The 
Pope Deposes the King — Invites the French King to Conquer England — John becomes the Pope's Vassal — The 
Barons extort Magna Chai-ta — The Pope Excommunicates the Barons — Annuls the Charter — The Courage of 
the Barons Saves England — Demand of Urban V. — Growth of England — National Opposition to Papal Usurpations 
— Papal Abuses — Statutes of Provisors and Prremunire. 

Of the merely personal incidents of Wicliffe's life 
almost nothing is i-ecorded. The services done for 
his own times, and for the ages that were to follow, 
occupy his historians to the exclusion of all strictly 
personal matters. Few have acted so large a part, 
and filled so conspicuous a place in the eyes of the 
world, of whom so few private reminiscences and 
details have been preserved. The charm of a 
singular sweetness, and the grace of a rare humility 
and modesty, appear to have characterised him. 
These qualities were blended with a fine dignity, 
which he wore easily, as those nobly born do the 
insignia of their rank. Not blameless merely, 
but holy, was the life he lived in an age of unex- 
amjiled degeneracy. " From his portrait," says the 
younger M'Crie, " which has been preserved, some 
idea may be formed .of the personal appearance of 

the man. He must have been a person of noble 
aspect and commanding attitude. The dark 
piercing eye, the aquiline features, and firm-set 
lips, with the sarcastic smile that mantles over 
them, exactly agi'ee with all we know of the bold 
and unsparing character of the Reformer."' 

A few sentences will suffice to trace the various 
stages of Wiclifi'e's academic career. He passed 
twenty years at Merton College, Oxford — first as a 
scholar, and next as a fellow. In 1360 he was 
appointed to the Mastei-ship of Balliol College. 
This preferment he owed to the fame he had 
acquired as a scholastic. 

Having become a Bachelor of Theology, Wiclifle 

1 Tliomas M'Crie, D.D., LL.D., Annals of English 
Presbytery, p. 36; Lond., 1872. 



had now the privilege of giving public lectures in 
the university on the Books of Scripture. He was 
forbidden to enter the higher field of the Sen- 
tences of Peter of Lombardy — if, indeed, he was 
desirous of doing so. This belonged exclusively to 
the higher grade of Bachelors and Doctors in Theo- 
logy. But the expositions he now gave of the 
Books of Holy Writ proved of great use to him- 
self. He became more j^rofoundly versed in the 
Iniowledge of divLiie things ; and thus was the 
professor unwittingly prepared for the great work 
of reforming the Church, to which the labours of 
his after-life were to be directed.' 

He was soon thereafter appointed (136-5) to be 
head of Canterbury Hall. This was a new college, 
founded by Simon de Islip,^ Archbishop of Can- 
terbury. The constitution of this college ordained 
that its fellowships should be held by four monks 
and eight secular priests. The rivalship existing 
between the two orders was speedily productive 
of broils, and finally led to a conflict vvdth the 
imiversity authorities ; and the founder, finding 
the plan unworkable, dismissed the four monks, 
replaced them with seculars, and appointed Wicliffe 
as Master or Warden. Within a year Islip died, 
and was succeeded in the primacy by Langham, 
who, himself a monk, restored the expelled i-egu- 
lars, and, displacing Wiclifle from his Wardenship, 
appointed a new head to the college. Wiclifie 
then appealed to the Pope ; but Langham had the 
greater influence at Rome, and after a long delay, 
in 1370, the cause was given against Wicliffe.' 

It was pending this decision that events hap- 
pened which opened to Wiclifie a wider arena than 
the halls of Oxford. Henceforth, it was not 
against the monks of Canterbury Hall, or even the 
Primate of England — it was against the Prince 
Pontiff of Christendom that Wicliffe was to do 
battle. In order to understand what we are now 
to relate, we must go back a centuiy. 

The throne of England was then tilled by 
King John, a vicious, pusillanimous, and despotic 
monarch, but nevertheless capable by fits and 
starts of daring and brave deeds. In 120.5, 
Hubert, the Primate of England, died. The 
junior canons of Canterbuiy met clandestinely that 

1 Lewis, Ufe of Wklif, p. 10; Oxford, 1820. Vaughan, 
Life of John de Wicliffe, vol. i., pp. 268—270. 

- Tlais primate was a good man, but not exempt from 
tlie superstition of liis age. Fox tells us that he pre- 
sented one of his churches with the original vestments 
in whicli St. Peter had celebi'ated mass. Their sanctity, 
doubtless, had defended these venerable robes from the 
moths I 

^ Lechler, Jo/ianntioji TFidi/, vol. i., p. 293. Lewis, Li/c of 
WicKf, p. 17. Vaughan, Life of John dc Wicliffe, vol. i., p. 301. 

very night, and without any concje d'ellre, elected 
Reginald, their sub-prior. Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, and installed him in the archie25iscopal 
throne before midnight.* By the next dawn Regi- 
nald was on his way to Rome, whither he had 
been dispatched by his brethren to solicit the 
Pope's confirmation of his election. When the 
king came to the knowledge of the transaction, he 
was enraged at its temerity, and set about pro- 
curing the election of the Bishop of Norwich to 
the primacy. Both parties — the king and the 
canons — sent agents to Rome to i)lead their cause 
before the Pope. 

The man who then filled the chair of Peter, 
Iimocent III., was vigorously prosecuting the 
audacious project of Gregory VII., of subordi- 
nating the rights and power of princes to the 
Papal See, and of taking into his own hands the 
appointment to all the episcopal sees of Chris- 
tendom, that through the bishops and priests, now 
reduced to an absolute monarchy entirely de- 
pendent upon the Vatican, he might govern at his 
will all the kingdoms of Europe. No Pope ever 
was more successful in this ambitious jjolicy than 
the man before whom the King of England on the 
one hand, and the canons of Canterbury on the 
other, now carried their cause. Innocent annulled 
both elections — that of the canons and that of 
the king — and made his own nominee. Cardinal 
Langton, be chosen to the See of Canterbury.^ 
But this was not all. The kuig had appealed to 
the Pope ; and Imiocent saw in this a precedent, 
not to be let slip, for imtting in the gift of the 
Pontifl' in all time coming what, after the Papal 
throne, was the most important dignity in the 
Roman Church. 

John could not but see the danger, and feel the 
humiliation implied m the step taken by Imiocent. 
The See of Canterbury was the fh-st seat of dignity 
and jurisdiction in England, the throne excejjted. 
A foreign ])ower had appointed one to fill that 
august seat. In an age in which the ecclesiastical 
was a more formidable authority than the temporal, 
this was an alai-ming encroachment on the royal 
prerogative and the nation's independence. Why 
should the Pope be content to appoint to the See 
of Canterbury 1 ^Vhy should he not also appoint 
to the throne, the one other seat in the realm that 
rose above it '! The king protested ^vith many 

* Gabriel d'EmiUianne, Hist. ofMonast. Orders, Preface ; 
Lond., 1693. Hume, Hist, of England, vol. i., chap. 11, 
p. 185 ; Lond., 1826. Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 325 ; 
Lond., 1611. 

■^ Gabriel d'Emilliannc, His*. ofMonast. Orders, Preface. 
Hume, Hist, of Eng., Eeign of King Jolm. 



oftths tliat the Pope's nominee .slio\ilil never sit 
in tlie archiejjiscopal chair. He waxed bokl for 
tlie moment, and began the battle as if he meant 
to will it. He turned the canons of Canterbury 
out of doors, ordered all the prelates and abbots 
to leave the kingdom, and bade defiance to the 
Pope. It was not difficult to foresee what woidd 
be the end of a conflict carried on by the weakest 
of England's monarclis, against the hauglitiest 
and most powerful of Rome's Popes. The Poutifl" 
smote England with interdict;' the king had 
offended, and the whole nation must be punished 
along with him. Before we can realise the; terrors 
of such a sentence, we must forget all tliat the 
past three centuries have taught us, and surrender 
our imaginations to the superstitious beliefs which 
armed the interdict with its tremendous power. 

The men of those times, on whom this doom 
fell, saw the gates of heaven locked by the strong 
hand of the Pontifl', so that none might enter who 
canie from the imliappy realm lying under the Papal 
ban. All who departed this life must wander for- 
lorn as disembodied ghosts in some doleful region, 
amid unkno-wn sufferings, tOl it should please him 
who carried the keys to open the closed gates. 
As the earthly jiicture of this spirit\ial doom, all 
the symbols of grace and all the ordinances of 
religion were suspended. The chiirch-doors were 
closed ; the lights at the altar were extinguisshed ; 
the bells ceased to be rung ; the crosses and images 
were taken do^vn and laid on the gi-oimd ; infants 
were baptised in the church-porch ; marriages were 
celebrated in the church-yard ; the dead were buried 
in ditches or in the open fields. No one diu-st 
rejoice, or eat flesh, or shave his beard, or pay any 
decent attention to his person or apparel. ' It was 
meet that only signs of distress and mourning 
and woe should be visible throughout a land over 
which there rested the -wi-ath of the Almighty ; 
for so did men account the ban of the Pontiff". 

King John braved this state of matters for two 
whole years. But Pope Innocent was not to be 
turned from his purpose ; he resolved to visit and 
bow the obstinacy of the monarch by a yet more 
terrible infliction. He pronounced sentence of ex- 
commimication upon John, deposing him from his 
throne, and absohing his subjects from allegiance. 
To carry out this sentence it needed an armed force, 
and Innocent, casting his eyes around him, fixed 
on Philip Augustus, King of France, as the most 
suitable pei-son to deal the blow on John, offering 
liim the Kingdom of England for his pains. It 

was not the interest of Philip to undertake such 
an enterprise, for the same boundless and uncon- 
trollable power wliich was tumbling the King oi 
England from his throne might tlie next day, on 
some ghostly pretence or other, hurl King Philii) 
Augustus from his. But the piize was a temptin" 
one, and the monarch of France, collectuig a 
mighty armament, prepared to cross the Chamiel 
and invade England.^ 

When King John saw the brink on which he 
stood, his courage or obstinacy forsook him. He 
craved an interview with Pandolf, the Pope's 
legate, and after a short conference, he promised 
to submit himself unreservedly to the Papal See. 
Besides engaging to make full restitution to the 
clergy for the losses they had suffered, he "resigned 
England and Ireland to God, to St. Peter, and St. 
Paul, and to Pope Innocent, and to his successors 
in the apostolic chair ; he agreed to hold these 
dominions as feudatory of the Church of Rome by 
the annual payment of a thousand marks ; and he 
stipulated that if he or his successors should e^'er 
presume to revoke or infringe this charter, they 
shoidd instantly, except upon admonition they 
repented of their offence, forfeit all right to theii- 
dominions." The transaction was finished by the 
king doing homage to Pandolf, as the Pope's 
legate, with all the submissive rites which the 
feudal law required of vassals before their liege 
lord and superior. Taking off" his crown, it is 
said, John laid it on the ground ; and the 
legate, to show the mightiness of liis master, 
.spurning it with liis foot, kicked it about like a 
worthless bauble ; and then, picking it out of the 
dust, placed it on the craven head of the monarch. 
This transaction took place on the 15th May, 1213. 
There is no moment of profounder humiliation tliau 
this ill the amials of England.' 

But the barons were resolved not to be the 
slaves of a Pope ; their intrepidity and jjatriotism 
wiped off the ineffable disgrace which the baseness 
of the monarch had inflicted on the country. 
Unsheathing their swords, they vowed to maintain 
the ancient liberties of England, or die in the 
attempt. Appearing before the king at Oxford, 
April, 121.5, "here," .said they, "is the charter 
which consecrates the liberties confirmed by Henry 
II., and which you also have solemnly sworn to 
observe." The king stormed. " I will not," said 
he, " grant you liberties which would make me a 
slave." John forgot that he had already become 
a slave. But the barons were not to be daunted 

1 For, Ads and Mon., vol. i., p. 327. Hume, Hist, of 
Eng., p. 186. 

- Hume, Hist, of Eng., Eeign of King John, chap. 11, p. 189. 
•* Udd. Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 329, 



by haughty words which the king had no power to 
maintain : he was odious to the whole nation ; 
and on the 15th of June, 1215, John signed the 
Magna Charta at Runnyniede.' This was in 
effect to tell Innocent that he revoked his vow of 
vassalage, and took back the kingdom which he 
had laid at his feet. 

When tidings were carried to Rome of what 

wretched barons that they should withstand the 
Pontifical will, and place the independence of their 
country above the glory of the Church 1 Innocent 
instantly launched an anathema against these im- 
jjious and rebellious men, at the same time inhibit> 
ing the king from can-ying out the pro^■isions of 
the Charter which he had signed, or in any way 
fulfilling its stipulations.^ 

John had done, the ire of Innocent III. was 
kindled to the uttermost. That he, the vicar of 
God, who held all the crowns of Christendom in 
his hand, and stood with his foot planted upon all 
its kingdoms, should be so affronted and so defied, 
was not to be borne ! Was he not the feudal lord 
of the kingdom 1 was not England rightfully his ? 
had it not been laid at his feet by a deed and 
covenant solemnly ratified ? Who were these 

But Innocent went still farther. In the exercise 
of that singular prescience which belongs to that 
system liy which this truculent holder of the 
tiai-a was so thoroughly ins]iired, and of which he 
was so perfect an embodiment, he divined the true 
nature of the transaction at Rumiymede. Magna 
Charta was a great political protest against himself 
and his system. It inaugurated an order of poli- 
tical ideas, and a class of political rights, entirely 
antagonistic to the fundamental principles and 
claims of the Papacy. Magna Charta was consti- 
tutional liberty standing up before the face of the 
Papal absolutism, and throwing down the gage of 

> Hume, Hisi. of Sng., chap. 11, p. 194. Cobbett, Par- 
liammt. Hist. ofEng., p. 9; Loud., 1800. 

- Hume, Hist. ofEnn., vol. i., p. 19C. 



battle to it. Innocent felt that he mixst grapple 
now -with this hateful and monstrous birth, and 
strangle it in its ci-adle ; otherwise, shoxild he wait 
till it was gi'own, it might be too strong for him to 
criish. Already it had reft away from him one of 
the fairest of those realms which he had made 
dependent upon the tiara ; its assaults on the Papal 
prerog.ative would not end hei-e ; he must trample 
it down before its insolence had grown by success, 
and other kingdoms and their rulers, inoculated 
with the impiety of these audacioixs barons, had 
begun to imitate theii- example. Accordingly, 
fulminating a bull from the plenitude of his apos- 
tolic power, and from the aiithority of his com- 
mission, as set by God over the kingdoms " to 
pluck up and destroy, to build and to plant," he 
annulled and abrogated the Charter, declaring all 
its obligations and guarantees void.' 

In the signing of the Great Chai-ter we see a 
new force coming into the field, to make war 
against that tp-anny which fii-st cori-upted the 
souls of men before it enslaved their bodies. The 
divine or evangelic element came first, political 
liberty came after. The former is the ti-ue nurse 
of the latter ; for in no country can liberty endure 
and ripen its fruits where it has not had its begin- 
ning in the moral part of man. Innocent was 
already contending against the evangelical prin- 
ciple in the crusades against the Albigenses in the 
south of France, and now there ajspeared, among 
the hardy nations of the North, another antago- 
nist, the product of the first, that had come to 
sti'engthen the battle against a Power, which from 
its seat on the Seven Hills was absorbing all rights 
and enslaving all nations. 

The bold attitude of the barons saved the inde- 
pendence of the nation. Innocent went to the 
grave ; feebler men succeeded him in the Ponti- 
fical chair ; the Kings of England mounted the 
throne without taking the oath of fealty to the 
Pope, although they continued to transmit, year by 
year, the thousand marks which John had agreed 
to pay into the Papal treasury. At last, in the 
reign of Edward II., this annual payment was 
quietly dropped. No remonstrance against its dis- 
continuance came from Rome. 

But in 136.5, after the payment of the thousand 
marks had been intermitted for thii"ty-five j'ears, 
it was suddenly demanded by Pope Urban V. 
The demand was accompanied -with an intim.ation 
that should the king, Edward III., fail to make 
payment, not only of the annual tribute, but of all 
arrear.s, he would be summoned to Rome to 

' Hume, Hist. ofEng., vol. i., p. 196. 

answer before his liege lord, the Pope, for con- 
tumacy. This was in efiect to say to England, 
Prostrate yotu'self a second time l)efoi'e the Pon- 
tifical chair. The England of Edward III, was 
not the England of King John ; and this demand, 
as imexpected as it was insulting, sth'red the 
nation to its depths. During the century which 
had elapsed since the Great Charter was signed, 
England's growth in all the elements of greatness 
had been marvellously rapid. She had fused Nor- 
man and Saxon into one people ; .she had formed 
her language ; she had extended her comnierce; she 
had refoi-med her laws ; she had founded seats of 
learning, which had already become renowned ; 
she had fought great battles and won brilliant vic- 
tories ; her valour was felt and her power feared 
by the Continental nations ; and when this sum- 
mons to do homage as a vassal of the Pope was 
heard, the nation hardly knew whether to meet 
it with indignation or with derision, 

Wliat made the folly of Urban in making such 
a demand the moi'e conspicuous, was the fact that 
the political battle against the Papacy had been 
gi-adually -strengthening since the era of Magna 
Charta. Several stringent Acts had been passed 
with the ^'iew of vindicating the majesty of the 
law, and of guarding the property of the natiou 
and the liberties of the subject against the per- 
sistent and ambitious encroachments of Rome. 
Nor were these Acts unneeded. Swarm after 
swarm of aliens, chiefly Italians, had invaded the 
kingdom, and were devouring its substance, and 
subverting its laws. Foreign ecclesiastics were 
nominated by the Pope to rich livings in England ; 
and, although they neither resided in the countiy 
nor performed any duty in it, they received the 
revenues of theii- English livings, and expended 
them abroad. For instance, in the sixteenth year 
of Eilward III., two Italian cardinals were named 
to two vacancies in the dioceses of Canterbury and 
York, worth amiually 2,000 mai'ks. " The first- 
fruits and reservations of the Pope," said the men 
of those times, "are more hurtful to the realm than 
all the king's wars." ' In a Parliament held in 
London in 1246, we find it complained of, among 
other giievances, that " the Pope, not content ■with 
Peter's pence, oppressed the kingdom by extorting 
from the clergy great contributions without the 
king's consent ; that the English were forced to 
prosecute their rights out of the kingdom, ag.ainst 
the customs and ■m-itten laws thereof; that oaths, 
statutes, and privileges were enervated ; and that 
in the parishes where the Italians were beneficed, 

- Fos^ Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 551. 



there were no alms, no hospitality, no preaching, 
no divine service, no care of souls, nor any repara- 
tions done to the parsonage houses." ' 

A worldly dominion cannot .stand without re- 
venues. The ambition and the theology of Rome 
went hand in hand, and supported one another. 
Not an article was there in her creed, not a 
ceremony in her worship, not a department in 
her goveiTunent, that did not tend to advance her 
power and increase her gain. Her dogmas, rites, 
and orders were so many pretexts for exacting 
money. Images, purgatory, relics, pilgrimages, in- 
dulgences, jubilees, canonisations, miracles, masses, 
were but taxes under another name. Tithes, 
annats, investitures, appeals, reservations, expec- 
tatives, bidls, and briefs were so many drains for 
conveying the substance of the nations of Christen- 
dom to Rome. Every new saint cost the country 
of his birth 100,000 crowns. A consecrated pall 
for an English archbishop was bought for £1,200. 
In the year 1250, Walter Gi'ey, Archbishoj) of 
York, paid j£ 10,000 for that mystic ornament, 
mthout which he might not presume to call 
councils, make chrism, dedicate churches, or 
ordain bishops and clerks. According to the pre- 
sent value of money, the price of this trifle may 
amomit to £100,000. With good reason might 
the Carmelite, Baptista Mantuan, say, " If Rome 
gives anything, it is trifles only. She takes your 
gold, but gives notliing more solid in return 
than words. Alas ! Rome is governed only by 
money. "^ 

These and similar usui-pations were rapidly con- 
verting the English soil into an Italian glebe. 
The land was tilled that it might feed foreign 
monks, and Englishmen wei-e becoming hewers of 
wood and drawers of water to the Roman hier- 
archy. If the cardinals of Rome must have 
sumptuous banquets, and purple robes, and other 
and more questionable delights, it is not we, said 
the English people, that ought to be fleeced to 
furnish these things ; we demand that a stop be 
put to this ruinous game before we are utterly 
beggared by it.' To remedy these gi-ievances, 
now become intolenible, a series of enactments 
were passed by Parliament. In the twentieth 
year of Edward's reign, all alien monks were 
ordered to depart the kingdom by Michaelmas, 
and their livings were given to English scholars.* 

1 Cobbett, PaH.JTisi.En*?., vol. i., cols. 22,23; Lond.,1806. 

• " Si quid Roma dabit, nugas dabit, accipit aurum, 

Verba dat, hen ! Roma; nunc sola pecunia regnat." 
3 Hume, Hist, of Eng., Reign of Edw. III., chap. 16. 

* Fox, Acts mid Mon., vol. i., p. 551. 

By another Act, tlio revenues of all li\iuga 
held by foreign ecclesiastics, cardinals, and others, 
were given to the king durmg their lives.' 
It was further enacted — and the statute shows 
the extraordinary length to which the abuse 
had gone — " that all such alien enemies as be 
advanced to livings here in England (being 
in their own country shoemakers, tailors, or 
chamberlains to cardinals) should depart before 
Michaelmas, and their livings be disposed to poor 
English scholars."' The payment of the 2,000 
marks to the two cardinals already mentioned 
was .stopped. It was " enacted further, that no 
Englishman should bring into the realm, to any 
bishop, or other, any bull, or any other letters 
from Rome, or any alien, imless he show the same 
to the Chancellor or Warden of the Cinque Ports, 
iipon loss of all he hath." ' One person, not 
having the fear of this statute before his eyes, 
ventured to bi-ing a Papal bull into England ; but 
he had nearly paid the forfeit of his life for his 
rashness ; he was condemned to the gallows, and 
would have been hanged but for the intercession of 
the Chancellor.' 

We can hardly wonder at the ]50pular indigna 
tion against these abuses, when wc think of the 
host of evils they brought in their train. The 
jjower of the king was weakened, the jurisdiction 
of the tribunals was invaded, and the exchequer 
was impoverished. It was computed that the tax 
paid to the Pope for ecclesiastical dignities was 
five-fold that paid to the king from the whole 
realm.' And, further, as the consequence of this 
transportation to other countries of the treasure 
of the nation, learning and the arts were dis- 
couraged, hospitals were falling into decay, the 
churches were becoming dilapidated, public wor- 
ship was neglected, the lands were fiilling out ot 
tillage, and to this cause the Parliament attributed 
the frequent famines and plagues that had of late 
visited the country, and which had resulted in a 
partial depopulation of England. 

Two statutes in particular were passed during 
this period to set bounds to the Papal usurpations ; 
these were the well-kno^\^l and famous statutes of 
Provisors and Praemunire. The first declared it 
illegal to procure any presentations to any benefice 
from the Court of Rome, or to accept any living 

« Pox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 551. 

6 Ibid. 

' Ibid. 

s D'Aubigne, Hist, of Reform., vol. v., p. 103; Edln., 1853. 

' Cotton's Abridriment, p. 128, 50 Edw. III., njnid Lewis, 
Life of Wichf, p. 34; Oxford, 1820. Fox, Acts and Mon., 
vol. i., p. 552. 



otherwise than as the law dii-ected through the 
chapters and ordinary electors. All such appoint- 
ments were to be void, the parties concerned in 
them were to be punished with fine and imprison- 
ment, and no appeal was allowed beyond the king's 
court. The second statute, which came three 
years aftei-wards, forbade all appeals on questions 
uf jiroperty from the English tribunals to the 

courts at Rome, under pain of coniiscation of good^ 
and imprisonment during the king's pleasure.' 
Such appeals had become very common, but a stop 
was now put to them by the vigorous application 
of the statute ; but the law against foreign nomi- 
nations to benefices it was not so easy to enforce, 
and the enactment, although it abated, did not 
abolish the abuse. 



Impatience of the King and the Nation — Assembling of Lords and Commons — Shall England Bow to Rome ? — The 
Debate — The Pope's Claim Unanimously Kepudiated — England on the Road to Protestantism — Wicliffe's 
Influence — WicUffe Attacked by an Anonymous Monk — His Reply — Vindicates the Nation's Independence — A 
Momentous Issue — A Greater Victory than Crecy — His Appeal to Rome Lost — Begins to be regarded as the 

Centre of a New Age. 

When England began to resist the Papacy it 
began to grow in power and wealth. Loosenmg 
its neck from the yoke of Rome, it lifted up its 
head proudly among the nations. Innocent III., 
ci'owning a series of usurpations by the submission 
of King John — an act of baseness that stands 
alone in the annals of England — had sustained 
himself master of the kingdom. B\it the great 
Pontiff was bidden, somewhat gruffly, stand oflT. 
The Northern nobles, who knew little about 
theology, but cared a great deal for independence, 
would be masters in their own isle, and they let 
the haughty wearer of the tiara know this when 
they framed Magna Charta. Turning to King 
John they told him, in effect, that if he was to be 
the slave of an Italian priest, he could not be the 
master of Norman barons. The tide once turned 
continued to flow; the two famous statutes of Pro- 
■\'isors and Praemunire were enacted. These were 
a sort of double breast-work : the first was meant 
to keep out the flood of usiirpations that was 
setting in from Rome upon England ; and the 
second was intended to close the door against the 
tithes, revenues, appeals, and obedience, which 
were flowing in an ever-augmenting stream from 
England to the Vatican. Great Britain never per- 
formed an act of resistance to the Papacy but there 
came along with it a quickening of her o^vn energies 
and a strengthening of her liberty. So was it now ; 
her soul began to bound upwards. 

This was the moment chosen by Urban V. to 

advance his insolent demand. How often have 
Popes failed to read the signs of the times ! Urban 
had signally failed to do so. The nation, though 
still submitting to the spiritual burdens of Rome, 
was becoming restive under her supremacy and 
pecuniary exactions. The Parliament had entered 
on a course of legislation to set bounds to these 
avaricious encroachments. The kmg too was 
getting sore at this " defacing of the ancient laws, 
and spoiling of his crown," and with the laurels 
of Crecy fresh on his brow, he was in no mood for 
repairing to Rome as Urban commanded, and 
paying down a thousand marks for permission to 
wear the crown which he was so well able to 
defend with his sword. Edward assembled his 
Parliament in 1366, and, laying the Pope's letter 
before it, bade it take counsel and say what 
answer should be returned. 

" Give us," said the estates of the realm, " a day 
to think over the matter."^ The king willingly 
granted them that space of time. They assembled 
again on the morrow — prelates, lords, and com- 
mons. Shall England, now becoming mistress of 
the seas, bow at the feet of the Pope 1 It is a 
great crisis ! We eagerly scan the faces of the 
council, for the future of England hangs on its 
resolve. Shall the nation retrograde to the days 
of John, or shall it go forward to even higher glory 

1 Hume, Hist, of Eng., vol. i., p. 335 ; Load., 1826. 
- Fox, Acta and Mon., vol. i., p. 552. 



than it lias acliievod uuder Edwardl Wicliffe 
was present on that occa^3ioll, and has preserved a 
summary of the speeches. The record is interest- 
ing, as jierhaps the earliest reported debate in 
Parliament, and still more interesting from the 
gravity of the issues depending thei'eon.^ 

A military baron is the first to rise. " The 
Kingdom of England," said lie, opening the debate, 
" was won by the sword, and by that sword has 
been defended. Let the Pope then gii-d on liiS 
sword, and come and try to exact this tribute by 
force, and I for one am ready to resist him." This 
is not spoken like an obedient son of the Church, 
but all the moi'e a leal subject of England. Scarcely 
more encouraging to the supporters of the Papal 
claim was the .speech of the second baron. " He 
only," said he, " is entitled to secular tribute who 
legitimately exercises secular rule, and is able to 
give secular protection. The Pope cannot legiti- 
mately do either; he is a minister of the Gospel, 
not a temporal ruler. His duty is to give 
ghostly counsel, not corporal protection. Let 
us see that he abides within the Uniits of his 
s|iiritual office, where we shall obey him ; but if he 
shall choose to transgress these limits, he must 
take the consequences." "The Pope," said a third, 
following in the line of the second speaker, " calls 
himself the servant of the servants of God. Very 
well : he can claim recomjieiise only for service 
done. But where are the services which he renders 
to this land? Does he minister to us in spirituals ? 
Does he help us in temporals ? Does he not 
rather greedily drain our treasures, and often for the 
benefit of our enemies 1 I give my voice against 
this tribute." 

" On what gi-ounds was this tribute originally 
demanded?" asked another. "Was it not for 
absolving King John, and relieving the kingdom 
from interdict? But to bestow spii-itual benefits 
for money is sheer simony ; it is a jjiece of eccle- 
siastical swindling. Let the lords spii-itual and 
temporal wash their hands of a transaction so 
disgraceful. But if it is as feudal superior of the 
kingdom that the Pope demands this tribute, why 
ask a thousand marks? why not ask the throne, 
the soil, the people of England? If his title be 
good for these thousand marks, it is good for a 

' Lechlei' makes the bold supposition that Wicliffe 
was a member of this Parliament. He founds it upon 
a passage in Wicliffe's treatise. The Church, to the effect 
that the Bishop of Eochester told him (Wicliffe) in public 
Parliament, with great vehemence, that conclusions were 
condemned by the Eoman Curia. He thinks it probable 
from this that the Eeformer had at one time been in 
?arliament, (Leohler, Jolmnn von Wiclif, vol. i., p. 332.) 

great deal more. The Pope, on the same principle, 
may declare the throne vacant, and fill it with 
whomsoever he pleases." " Pope Urban tells us " — 
so spoke another — ■" that all kingdoms are Christ's, 
and that he as His vicar holds England for Christ ; 
but as the Pope is peccable, and may abuse his 
trust, it appears to me that it were better that we 
.should hold our land directly and alone of Christ." 
" Let us," said the last speaker, "go at once to 
the root of this matter. King John had no right 
to gift away the Kingdom of England -without the 
consent of the nation. That consent was never 
given. The golden seal of the king, and the seals 
of the few nobles whom John persuaded or coerced 
to join him in this transaction, do not constitute 
the national consent. If John gifted his subjects 
to Innocent like so many chattels. Innocent may 
come and take his property if he can. We the 
people of England had no voice in the matter; 
we hold the bargain null and void from the be- 
ginning. "- 

So spake the Parliament of Edward III. Not 
a voice was raised in support of the arrogant 
demand of Urban. Prelate, baron, and com- 
moner united in repudiating it as insulting to 
England ; and these men expressed themselves in 
that plain, brief, and pithy language which be- 
tokens deep conviction as well as determined reso- 
lution. If need were, these bold words woidd be 
followed by deeds equally bold. The hands of the 
barons were on the hilts of theii- swords as they 
uttered them. They were, in the first place, sub- 
jects of England ; and, in the second place, members 
of the Church of Rome. The Poi)e accounts no 
one a good Catholic who does not reveree this order 
and put his spiritual above his temporal allegiance 
—his Chm-ch before his coimtry. This firm atti- 
tude of the Parliament put an end to the matter. 
The question which Urban had really raised was 
this, and nothing less than this : Shall the Pope or 
the king be sovereign of England ? The answer of 
the Parliament was. Not the Pope, but the king ; 
and from that hour the claim of the foimer was 
not again advanced, at least in explicit terms. 

The decision at which the Parliament anived 
was unanimous. It reproduced in brief compass 
both the argument and spirit of the speeches. Few 
such replies were in those days carried to the foot 
of the Papal throne. "Forasmuch" — so ran the 
decision of the three estates of the realm — ■" na 

- These speeches are reported by WicHffe in a treatise 
preserved in the Selden MSS., and printed by the Eev. 
John Lewis in his Life V>f Wiclif, App. No. 30, p. 349; 
Oxford, 1820. 


neither King John, nor any other king, could 
bring his realm and kingdom into such thraldom 
and subjection but by common assent of Parlia- 
ment, the which was not gi\-en, therefore that 
■which he did was against his oath at his coronation, 

Thus far had England, in the middle of the 
fourteenth centur}', advanced on the road to the 
Reformation. The estates of the realm had unani- 
mously repudiated one of the two gi'eat branches 
of the Papacy. The dogma of the vicarship binds 


besides many other causes. If, therefore, the Pope 
should attempt anything against the king by pro- 
cess, or other matters in deed, the king, with all 
his subjects, should, with all their force and power, 
resist the same."' 

' Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 552. Lewis, Life of 
Wiclif, p. 19. Vauglian, Life of John de WicUffe, vol. i., 
p. 266; Lond., 1828. 

lip the sjintud ind the tempoi il 
m one anomalons juiisdiction Eng 
land had denied the latter ; and 
this was a stej) towards question- 
ing, and finally repudiating, the 
former. It was quite natural that 
the nation should first discover the 
falsity of the temporal supremacy, 
before seeing the equal falsity of 
the spiritual. Urban had put the 
matter in a light in which no one 
could possibly mistake it. In de- 
manding payment of a thousand 
marks amiually he translated, as we say, the 
theory of the temporal supremacy into a paljjable 
fact. Tlie theory might have passed a little longer 
without question, had it not been put into this 
ungracious form. The halo which encompassed 
the Papal fabric during the Middle Ages began to 
wane, and men took courage to criticise a system 
whose immense prestige had blinded them hitherto. 
Such was the state of mind in which we now find 



the English nation. It betokened a reformation at 
no very great distance. 

But largely, indeed mainly, had Wiclifle con- 
tributed to bring about this state of feeling in 
England. He had been the teacher of the barons 

foreign nations, would have made submission im- 
possible ; but without Wiclift'e the i-esistance woidd 
not have been placed on so intelligible a groimd, 
nor would it have been urged with so resolute a 
patriotism. The firm attitude assumed effectually 

and commons. He had propounded these doc- 
trines from liis chair in Oxford before they 
were proclaimed by the assembled estates of the 
realm. But for the spirit and views with which 
he had been quietly leavening the nation, the 
demand of Urban might have met a different 
reception. It would not, we believe, have been 
complied with; the position England had now 
attained in Europe, and the deference paid lier by 

extinguished the hopes of the Vatican, and lid 
England ever after of all such irritating and 
insolent demands. 

That Wicliffe's position in this controversy was 
already a prominent one, and that the sentiments 
exfiressed in Parliament were but the echo of his 
teachings in Oxford, is attested by an event wliich 
now fell out. The Pope found a supporter in 
England, though not in Parliament. A monk, 


whose name has not come down to us, stood for- 
ward to demonstrate the righteousness of the claim 
of Urban V. This controversialist laid down the 
fundamental proposition that, as vicar of Christ, 
the Pope is the feudal superior of monarchs, and 
the lord paramount of their kingdoms. Thence he 
deduced the following conclusions : — that all sove- 
reigns owe him obedience and tribute ; that vas- 
salage was specially due from the English monarch 
in consequence of the svirrender of the kingdom 
to the Pope by John ; that Edward had clearly 
forfeited his throne by the non-payment of the 
amiual tribute ; and, in fine, that all ecclesiastics, 
regulars and seculars, were exempt from the civil 
jurisdiction, and under no obligation to obey the 
citation or answer before the tribunal of the magis- 
trate. Singling out Wicliffe by name, the monk 
challenged him to disprove the jiropositions he 
had advanced. 

Wicliffe took up the challenge which had been 
thrown down to him. The task was one which 
involved tremendous hazard ; not because Wicliife's 
logic was weak, or his opponent's unanswerable ; 
but because the power which he attacked could 
ill brook to have its foimdations searched out, 
and its hollowness exposed, and because the more 
completely Wicliffe should triumph, the more 
probable was it that he would feel the heavy dis- 
pleasure of the enemy against whom he did battle. 
He had a cause pending in the Vatican at that 
very moment, and if he vanquished the Pope in 
England, how easy would it be for the Pojie to 
vanquish him at Rome ! Wicliffe did not con- 
ceal from himself tliis and other greater perils ; 
nevertheless, he stepped down into the arena. 
In opening the debate, he styles himself " the 
king's peculiar clerk,"' from which we infer that 
the royal eye had already Lighted upon him, 
attracted by his eradition and talents, and that 
one of the royal chaplaiaicies had been conferred 
upon him. 

The controversy was conducted on WicHffe's 
side with great moderation. He contents himself 
with stating the grounds of objection to the tem- 
poral power, rather than working out the argu- 
ment and pressing it home. These ai'e — the natural 
rights of men, the laws of the realm of England, 
and the precepts of Holy Writ. " Already," he 
says, " a third and more of Eusfland is in the hands 

' " But inasmuch as I am the king's peculiar clerk 
Ipeculiaris regis clcricus^, I the more willingly undertake 
the office of defending and counselling that the king 
exercises liis just rule in the realm of England when he 
refuses tribute to the Roman Pontiff." (Codd. MSS. Job. 
Seldeni; Lewis, Life of WicUf, Appendix, No. 30.) 

of the Pope. There cannot," he argues, " be two 
temporal sovereigns in one country ; either Edward 
is king or Urban is king. We make our choice. 
We accejjt Edward of England and refuse Urban 
of Rome." Then he falls back on the debate in 
Parliament, and presents a summary of the 
speeches of the spiritual and temporal lords. '^ 
Thus far Wicliffe puts the estates of the realm 
in the front, and covers himself with the shiehl 
of their authority: but doubtless the sentiments 
are his ; the stamp of his individuality and 
genius is jilainly to be seen upon them. From 
his bow was the arrow shot by which the tem- 
poral power of the Papacy in England was 
woimded. If his courage was showia iii not de- 
clining the battle, his pi-udence and ■wisdom were 
equally conspicuous in the manner in which he 
conducted it. It was the affair of the king and 
of the nation, and not his merely ; and it was 
masterly tactics to put it so as that it might be 
seen to be no contemptible quarrel between an 
imknown monk and an Oxford doctor, but a con- 
troversy between the King of England and the 
Pontiff of Rome.' 

And the service now rendered by Wicliffe was 
great. The eyes of all the European nations were 
at that moment ou England, watching with no 
little anxiety the issue of the conflict which she 
was then waging with a power that sought to 
reduce the whole earth to vassalage. If England 
should bow herself before the Papal chair, and the 
victor of Crecy do homage to Urban for his crown, 
what monarch could hope to stand erect, and what 
nation could expect to rescue its independence 
from the grasp of the tiara ? The submission of 
England would bring such an accession of prestige 
and strength to the Papacy, that the days of 
Innocent III. would return, and a temjiest of ex- 
communications and interdicts would again lower 
over every throne, and darken the sky of every 
kingdom, as during the reign of the mightiest of 
the Papal chiefs. The crisis was truly a great one. 
It was now to be seen whether the tide was to 
advance or to go back. The decision of England 
determined that the waters of Papal tyi-anny 
should henceforth recede, and every nation hailed 
the result \vith joy as a victory won for itself. 
To England the benefits which accrued from this 
conflict were lasting as well as great. The fruits 
reaped from the great battles of Crecy and Poictiers 
have long since disappeared ; but as regards this 

- The same from which we have already quoted. 
' See Wicliffe' s Tractate, which Lewis gives in hia 
Appendix, Life of WicUf, p. 349. 


victory won over Urban V., England is enjoying 
at this very hour the benefits which resulted from 
it. But it must not be forgotten that, though 
Edward III. and his Parliament occupied the fore- 
ground, the real champion in this battle was 

It is hardly necessary to say that Wicliiie was 
nonsuited at Rome. His wardenship of Canterbury 
Hall, to which he was appointed by the founder, 
and from which he had been extruded by Ai'ch- 
bishop Langham, was finally lost. His appeal to 
the Pope was made in 1367; but a long delay took 
jilace, and it was not till 1370 that the judgment 
of the com't of Rome was pronounced, ratifying 
his extrusion, and putting Langham's monks in 

sole possession of Canterbury College. Wiclifle 
had lost his wardenship, but he had largely con- 
trilnited to save the independence of his country. 
In winning this fight he had done more for it than 
if he had conquered on many battle-fields. He 
had yet greater serv-ices to render to England, and 
yet greater penalties to pay for his patriotism. 
Soon after this he took his degree of Doctor in 
Divinity — a distinction more i-are in those days 
than in ours ; and the chair of theology, to 
which he was now raised, extended the circle of 
his influence, and paved the way for the fulfil- 
ment of his great mission. From this time 
WicliSe began to be regarded as the centre of a 
new age. 


wicliffe's battle with the mendicant friars. 

Wicliffe's Mental Conflicts— Rise of the Monastic Orders— Fascinating Pictures of Monks and Monasteries- 
Early Corruption of tlae Orders — Testimony of Contemporary Witnesses — The New Monastic Orders — Reason 
for theii- Institution — St. Francis— His Early Life— His Appearance before Innocent III. — Commission to 
Found an Order — Rapid Increase of the Franciscans — St. Dominic — His Character — Founds the Dominicans — 
Preaching Missionaries and Inquisitors — Constitution of the New Orders — The Old and New Monks Compared 
—Their Vow of Poverty— How Evaded— Then- Garb— Their Vast Wealth— Palatial Edifices— Their Frightful 
Degeneracy — Their Swarms Overspread England — Their Illegal Practices — The Battle against them Begun by 
Armachanus — He Complains against them to the Pope — His Complaint Disregarded — He Dies. 

We come now to relate biiefly the second great 
liattle whicli our Refonner was called to wage ; 
and which, if we have regard to the prior date of 
its origin — for it was begim before the conclusion 
of that of which we have just spoken — ought to 
be called the first. We refer to his contest with 
the mendicant friars. It was still going on when 
his battle against the temporal power was finished ; 
in ftict it continued, moi-e or less, to the end of his 
life. Tlie controversy involved great principles. 

' WicUffe had pioneers who contested the temporal 
power of the -Pope. One of these, we have already 
seen, was Ai-nold of Brescia. Nearer home he had two 
notable precursors : the first, Marsilius Patavinus, who 
in his work, Defensor Pacis, written in defence of the 
Emperor Lewis, excommunicated by Clement VI., main- 
tains that " the Pope hath no superiority above other 
bishops, much less above the king" (Fox, Acis and 
Hon., vol. i., p. 509) ; and the second, WilUam Occam, in 
England, also a strenuous opponent of the temporal 
power. See his eight propositions on the temporal power 
of the Papacy, in Fox. 

and had a marked influence on the mind of Wiclifle 
in the way of developing his views on the whole 
subject of the Papacy. From questioning the mere 
abuse of the Papal prerogative, he began to ques- 
tion its legitimacy. At every step a new doubt 
presented itself; this sent him back again to the 
Scriptures. Every page he read shed new light 
into his mind, and discovered some new invention 
or eiTor of man, till at last he saw that the system 
of the Gospel and the system of the Papacy were 
utterly and u-reconcilably at variance, and that if 
he woidd follow the one he must finally renounce 
the other. This decision, as we gather from Fox, 
was not made without many teara and groans. 
" After he had a long time professed di\'inity in 
Oxford," says the chronicler, " and perceiving the 
true doctrine of Christ's Gospel to be adulterate, 
and defiled with so many filthy inventions of 
bishops, sects of monks, and dark erroi-s, and that 
he after long debating and deliberating with him- 
self (with many secret sighs and bewailings in his 



iniiid the general ignorance of the whole worhl) 
could no longer sufi'er or abide the same, he at the 
last determined with himself to help and to remedy 
such things as he saw to be wide and out of the 
way. But forasmuch as he saw that this dangerous 
meddling could not be attempted or stin-ed without 
great trouble, neither that these things, which had 
been so long time with use and custom rooted and 
grafted in men's minds, could be suddenly plucked 
up or taken away, he thought with hmiself that 
this matter should be done by little and little. 
Wherefore he, taking his original at small occa- 
sions, thereby opened himself a way or mean to 
greater matters. First he assailed his adversaries 
in logical and metaphysical questions ... by 
these originals the way was made imto greater 
points, so that at length he came to touch the 
matters of the Sacraments, and other abuses of the 

The rise of the monastic orders, and their rapid 
and prodigious diffusion over all Christendom, and 
even beyond it, are too well known to require 
minute or lengthy nan-ation.' The tombs of Egyjjt, 
the deserts of Thebais, the mountains of Sinai, 
the rocks of Palestine, the islands of the j3Dgean 
and Tuscan Seas, were peopled with colonies of 
hermits and anchorites, who, fleeing from the 
world, devoted themselves to a life of solitude and 
spiritual meditation. The secularity and corrujation 
of the parochial clergy, engendered by the wealth 
which flowed in upon the Church in early times, 
rendered necessary, it was supposed, a new order, 
which might exhibit a great and outstanding 
example of virtue. Here, in these anchorites, was 
the very pattern, it was believed, which the age 
needed. These men, living in seclusion, or gathei'ed 
in little fraternities, had renounced the world, had 
taken a vow of poverty and obedience, and were 
leading humble, laborious, frugal, chaste, virtuous 
lives, and exemplifying, in a degenerate time, 
the holiness of the Gosi)el. The austerity and 
povei'ty of the monastery redeemed Christianity 
from the stain which the affluence and pride of 
the cathedral had brought upon it. So the 
world believed, and felt itself editied by the 

For a while, doubtless, the monastery was the 
asylum of a piety which had been banished from 
the world. Fascinating pictures have been drawn 
of the sanctity of these establishments. Within 
their walls peaee made her abode when violence 
distracted the outer world. The land around 

' Fox, Ads and Mon., vol. i., p. 556. 

them, from the skilful and careful cirltivation of 
the brotherhood, smiled like a garden, whUe the 
rest of the soil, through neglect or barbarism, was 
sinking into a desert ; here letters were cultivated, 
and the arts of civilised life preserved, while the 
general community, engrossed in war, prosecuted 
but languidly the labours of peace. To the gates 
of the monastery came the halt, the blind, the 
deaf, and the charitable inmates never failed to 
pity their misery and supply their necessities. In 
fine, whUe the castle of the neighbouring baron 
resounded with the clang of weapons, or the noise 
of wassail, the holy chimes ascending from the 
monastery at mom and eve, told of the devotions, 
the humble pi'ayers, and the fervent praises in 
which the Fathers joassed their time. 

These pictures are so lovely, and one is so gi'ati- 
fied to think that ages so rude, and so ceaselessly 
buffeted by war, had nevertheless their qvuet I'e- 
treats, where the din of arms did not dro^vn the 
voice of the muses, or silence the song of piety, 
that we feel almost as if it were an offence against 
religion to doubt their truth. But we confess 
that our faith in them would have been gi-eater 
if they had been painted by contemporary chroni- 
clers, instead of being mostly the creation of 
poets who lived in a later age. We really do 
not know where to look in real history for the 
originals of these- enchanting descriptions. StUl, 
we do not doubt that there is a measure of truth 
in them ; that, during the early period of their 
existence, these establishments did in some degree 
shelter piety and jjreserve art, did dispense alms 
and teach industry. And we know that even down 
to nearly the Reformation there were instances of 
men who, hidden from the world, here lived alone 
with Christ, and fed their piety at the fountains of 
the Word of God. These instances were, however, 
rare, and suggested comparisons not favourable to 
the rest of the Fathers. 

But one thing history leaves in no wise doubtful, 
even that the monastic orders speedily and to a 
fearful degi-ee became corrupt. It would have 
been a miracle if*it had been otherwise. The 
system was in ■violation of the fundamental laws 
of nature and of society, as well as of the Bible. 
How can virtue be cultivated apai-t from the exei'- 
cise of it 1 If the world is a theatre of tempta- 
tion, it is still more a school of discipline, and a 
nursery of vii-tue. " Living in them," says a nun 
of Cambray, a descendant of Sir Thomas More, 
" I can speak by experience, if one be not in a 
right course of prayer, and other exercises between 
God and our soiil, one's nature groweth nmch worse 
than ever it would have been if she had lived in 



the world."' It is iii society, not in solitude, that 
we can lie trained to self-denial, to patience, to 
loving-kindness and magnanimity. In the cell 
there is nothing to be borne with or overcome, 
save cold, or hiuiger, ©r the beasts of the de- 
sert, which, however much they may develop the 
powers of the body, cannot nourish the vu'tiies 
of the soul. 

In jjoLnt of fact, these monasteries did, we 
know, become eventually more corrupt than the 
world which their inmates had foi'saken. By the 
year 1100 one of their advocates says he gives 
them up.^ The pictures which some Popish writers 
have given vis of them in the tliii-teenth century 
— Clemangis, for instance — we dare not transfer to 
our ]V-.ges. The repute of their piety multiplied the 
number of their patrons, and swelled the streani 
of their benefactions. With riches came their too 
frequent concomitants, luxury and pride. Their 
vow of povei'ty was no barrier ; for though, as indi- 
viduals, they could possess no jwoperty, they might 
as a body corporate own any amoiuit of wealth. 
Lands, houses, hunting-grounds, and forests ; the 
tithings of tolls, of orchards, of fisheries, of kine, 
and wool, and cloth, formed the dowry of the 
monastery. The vast and miscellaneous inventory 
of goods which formed the common jiroperty of 
the fraternity, included everything that was good 
for food and pleasant to the eye ; curious furniture 
for their apartments, dainty apparel for their per- 
sons ; the choice treasures of the field, of the tree, 
and the river, for their tables ; soft-paced mules by 
day, and luxurious couches at night. Their head, 
the abbot, equalled princes in wealth, and sur- 
passed them in pride. Such, from the humble 
beginnings of the cell, with its bed of stone and 
its diet of herbs, had come to be the condition of the 
monastic orders long before the days of Wiclifte. 
From being the ornament of Christianity, they 
were now its opprobrium ; and from being the 
buttress of the Church of Rome, they had now 
become its scandal. 

We shall quote the testimony of one who was 
not likely to be too severe in reproving the manners 
of his brethren. Peter, Abbot of Cluny, thus com- 

' Gertrude Miore, Confessions, p. 246. 

- "One great butt of Wicliffe's sarcasm," says Lech- 
ler, "was the monks. Once, in speaking of the prayers 
of the monks, he remarked, ' a great inducement to the 
founding of cloisters was the delusion that the prayers 
of the inmates were of more value than all worldly 
goods, and yet it does not seem as if the prayers of those 
cloistered people are so mightily powerful; nor can we 
understand why they should he so, unless God hears 
them for their rosy cheeks and fat lips.'" (Lechler, 
vol. i., p. 737.) 

plains : " Our brethren despise God, and lia\-ing 
passed all shame, eat flesh now all the days of the 
week except Friday. They run here and there, and, 
as kites and vultures, fly -\vith great swiftness where 
the most smoke of the kitchen is, aiid where they 
smell the best roast and boUed. Those that will 
not do as the rest, they mock and treat as hypo- 
crites and profane. Beans, cheese, eggs, and even 
fish itself, can no more please their nice palates ; 
they only relish the flesh-pots of Egypt. Pieces of 
boiled and roasted pork, good fat veal, otters and 
hares, the best geese and pullets, and, in a word, 
all sorts of flesh and fowl do now cover the tables 
of our holy monks. But why do I talk ? Those 
things are grown too common, they are cloyed with 
them. They must have something more delicate. 
They would have got for them kids, harts, boars, 
and wild bears. One must for them beat the bushes 
■with, a great number of hunters, and by the help of 
birds of prey must one chase the pheasants, and 
jiartridges, and ling-doves, for fear the servants of 
God (who are our good monks) should perish with 
hunger." ' 

St. Bernard, in the twelfth century, wrote an 
apology for the monks of Cluny, which he ad- 
dressed to William, Abbot of St. Thierry. The 
work was imdertaken on purjsose to recommend 
the order, and yet the author cannot restrain him- 
self from reproving the disorders which had crept 
into it,; and having broken ground on this field, he 
runs on like one who found it impossible to stop. 
" I can never enough admii-e," says he, " how so 
great a licentiousness of meals, habits, beds, equip- 
ages, and horses, can get in and be established 
as it were, among monks." After enlarging on 
the sumptuousiiess of the apparel of the Fathers, 
the extent o*" their stud, the rich trappings of 
their mules, and the luxuriovis furniture of their 
chambers, St. Bernard proceeds to speak of their 
meals, of which he gives a very lively description. 
"Are not their mouths and ears," says he, "equally 
filled with victuals and confused voices 1 And 
while they thus spin out their immoderate feasts, 
is there any one who oflers to regulate the debauch 'i 
No, certainly. Dish dances after dish, and for 
abstinence, which they profess, two rows of fat fish 
appear swimming in sauce upon the table. Are you 
cloyed with these? the cook has art sufficient to 
prick you others of no less chaniis. Thus plate is 
devoured after plate, and such natural transitions 
are made from one to the other, that they fill their 
bellies, but seldom blmit their appetites. And all 

3 Petrus Abbas Cluniaci, lib. vi., epit. 7 ; apud Gabriel 
d'Emillianne, p. 92. 



this," exclaims St. Bernard, " in tlie name of charity, 
because consumed by men who had taken a vow 
of poverty, and must needs therefore be denomi- 
nated ' the poor.' " 

From the table of the monastery, where we 
behold course following course in quick and be- 
wildering succession, St. Bernard takes us next to 
see the pomp with which the monks ride out. " I 

amiy, or for provisions to travel through a very 
large desert."' 

But this necessitated a remedy. The damage 
inflicted on the Papacy by the corruption and 
notorious profligacy of the monks must be re- 
paired — but how '( The reformation of the early 
orders was hopeless ; but new fraternities could 
be called into existence. This was the method 

must always take the liberty," says he, " to inquire 
how the salt of the earth comes to be so deprav'ed. 
Wliat occasions men, who in their lives ought to 
be examples of humility, by their practice to give 
instructions and examples of vanity 1 And to pass 
by many other things, what a proof of humility is 
it to see a vast retinue of horses with their equip- 
age, and a confused train of valets and footmen, 
so that the retinue of a single abbot outshines 
that of two bishops ! May I be thought a liar 
if it be not true, that I have seen one single 
abbot attended by above sixty horse. Wlio 
could take these men for the fathers of monks, 
and the shepherds of soidsl Or who would 
not be apt to take tliem rather for governors of 
cities and provinces 1 Why, though the master 
be four leagues off', must his train of equipage 
reach to his very doors 1 One would take these 
mighty preparations for the subsistence of an 

hit upon. The oi der 
of Franciscans was 
instituted by Inno 
cent III. in the 
year 1215, and the 
Dominicans were 
sanctioned by his 
successor Honor lus 
III. a few years 
later (121 8).^ The 
object of their in- 
stitution was to recover, by means of their 
humility, poverty, and apostolic zeal, the credit 
which had been lost to the Church through the 
pride, wealth, and indolence of the elder monks. 
Moreover, the new times on which the Church 

' Dupin, Life of St. Bernard, cent. 12, cbap. 4. 
• Dupin, EcqUs. Hist., cent. 13, chap. 10, 



felt tliat she was entering, demanded new services. 
Preachers were needed to confute the heretics, and 
this was carefully kept in view in the constitution 
of the newly-ci-eated orders. 

The founders of the,se two orders were very 
unlike in their natural disposition and temper. 

St. Francis, the founder of the Franciscans, or 
Minorites, as they came to be termed, was bom at 
Assisi, in TJmbria, in 1182. His father was a 
rich merchant of that town. The historians of St. 
Francis relate that certain signs accompanied his 
bii-th, which prognosticated Ids future greatness. 
His mother, when her time had come, was taken in 
labour so severe, and her pams were prolonged for 
so many days, that she was on the point of death. 
At that crisis an angel, in the guise of a pilgrim, 
presented himself at her door, and demanded alms. 
The charity soiight was instantly bestowed, and 
the grateful pilgrim proceeded to tell the inmates 
what they must do in order that the lady of the 
mansion might become the J03rful mother of a 
son. They were to take up her couch, carry her 
out, and lay her in the stable. The pilgrim's 
instructions were followed, the pains of labour were 
now speedily ended, and thus it came to pass that 
the child first saw the light among the " beasts." 
" This was the first prerogative," remarks one of 
his historians, " in which St. Francis resembled 
Jesus Christ — he was born in a stable."' 

Despite these auguries, betokening a more than 
ordinary sanctity, Francis grew up " a debauched 
youth," says D'Emillianne, "and, having robbed his 
father, was disiiilierited, but he seemed not to be 
very much troubled at it."^ He was seized with 
a malignant fever, and the frenzy that it induced 
appears never to have wholly left him. He lay 
down on his bed of sickness a gay profligate and 
spendthrift, and he rose up from it entirely en- 
grossed with the idea that all holiness and virtue 
consisted in poverty. 

He acted out his theory to the lettei-. He gave 
away all his property, he exchanged garments mth 
a beggar whom he met on the highway ; and, 
squalid, emaciated, covered with dirt and rags, his 
eyes burning with a strange fire, he wandered 
about the country around his native to-rni of 
Assisi, followed by a crowd of boys, who hooted 

1 Stona degli Ordini Monastici, Eeligiosi, e Militari, &c., 
tradotto dal Franzese del P. Giuseppe Francesco Fon- 
tana, Milanese, torn, vii., cap. 1, p. 2; edit. Lucca, 1739, 
con licenza de Siiperiori. 

^ Gabriel d'EDiilHanne, Bistory of Monastical Orders, 
p. 158; Lond., 1693. Francesco Foutana, Storia degli 
Ordini Monastici. torn, vii., cap. 1, pp. 6, 7. Alban Butler, 
Lives of the Saints, vol. x., p. 71 ; Lond., 1814. 

and jeered at the madman, which they believed 
him to be. Being joined by seven disciples, he 
made his way to Rome, to lay his pi'oject before 
the Pope. On arriving there he found Imiocent 
III. airing himself on the terrace of his palace of 
the Lateran. 

What a subject for a jiainter ! The haughtiest 
of the Pontifi's — the man who, like another Jove, 
had but to nod and kings were tumbled from their 
thrones, and nations were smitten down with inter- 
dict — was pacing to and fro beneath the pillared 
portico of his palace, revolving, doubtless, new 
and mightier projects to illustrate the glory and 
strengthen the dominion of the Papal throne. At 
times his eye wanders as far as the Apennines, 
so grandly walUng in the Campagna, which lies 
spread out beneath him — not as now, a blackened 
expanse, but a glorious garden, sparkling with 
villas, and gay with vineyards and olive and fig- 
trees. If in fixint of his palace was this goodly 
pi'ospect, behind it was another, forming the obverse 
of that on which the Pontifi^'s eye now rested. A 
hideous gap, covered with the fi'agments of what 
had once been temples and palaces, and extending 
from the Lateran to the Coliseum, marred the 
beauty of the Pontifical city. This unsightly spec- 
tacle was the memorial of the war of Investitures, 
and would naturally carry the thoughts of Innocent 
back to the times of Hildebrand, and the fierce 
struggles which his zeal for the exaltation of the 
Papal chair had provoked in Christendom. 

What a tide of prosperous fortune had flowed in 
upon Rome, during the century which had elapsed 
since Gregory VII. swayed the sceptre that Inno- 
cent now -svieldcd ! Not a Pontificate, not a decade, 
that had not witnessed an addition to the height 
of that stupendous Babel which the genius and 
statesmanship of all the Popes from Gregoiy to 
Imiocent had been contiiiuoiisly and successfully 
occupied in rearing. And now the fabric stood 
complete, for higher it was hardly possible to con- 
ceive of its being earned. Rome was now more 
truly mistress of the world than even in the days 
of the Cajsars. Her sway went deeper into the 
heart and soiil of the nations. Again was she 
sending forth her legates, as of old her pro-consuls, 
to govern her subject kingdoms ; again was she 
issuing her edicts, which all the world obeyed ; 
again were kings and suppliant princes waiting 
at her gates ; again were her highways crowded 
■with ambassadors and suitors from eveiy quarter 
of Christendom ; from the most distant regions 
came the pilgrim and the devotee to pray at her 
holy shrines ; night and day, without intermission, 
there flowed from her gates a spiritual stream 



to refresh the world ; crosiers and palls, priestly 
offices and mystic virtues, pardons and dispensa- 
tions, relics and amulets, benedictions and ana- 
themas ; and, in return for this, the tribute of all 
the earth was being caiiied into her treasuries. 
On these pleasurable subjects, doubtless, rested 
the thoughts of Innocent as Francis of Assisi 
drew near. 

The eye of the Pontiff lights upon the strange 
figure. Innocent halts to survey more closely the 
man. His dress is that of a beggar, his looks are 
haggard, his eye is wild, yet despite these unto- 
ward appearances there is something about him 
that seems to say, " I come with a mission, and 
therefore do I venture into this presence. I am 
here not to beg, but to give alms to the Popedom ;" 
and few kings have had it in their power to lay 
greater gifts at the feet of Rome than that which 
this man iu rags had come to bestow. Curious 
to know what he would say, Iiuiocent permitted 
his strange visitor to address him. Francis 
hurriedly described his project ; but the Pope 
failed to comprehend its importance, or to credit 
Francis with the power of carrying it out ; he 
ordered the enthusiast to be gone ; and Francis 
retired, disappointed and downcast, believing his 
scheme to be nipped in the bud.' 

The incident, however, had made a deeper im- 
pression upon the Pontiff' than he was aware. As 
he lay on his couch by night, the beggar seemed 
again to stand before him, and to plead his cause. 
A palm-tree — so Imiocent thought in his sleep — 
suddenly sprang up at his feet, and waxed into a 
goodly statiu'e. In a second dream Francis seemed 
to sti'etch out his hand to prop up the Lateran, 
which was menaced with overthrow." When the 
Pope awoke, he gave orders to seek out the 
strange man from Umbria, and bring him before 
him. Convening his cardinals, they too had an 
opportunity of hearing the project. To Innocent 
and his conclave the idea of Francis appeared to bo 
good ; and to whom, thought they, could they better 
commit the carrying of it out than to the enthusiast 
who had conceived it 'i To this man in rags did 
Rome now give her commission. Armed "with 
the Pontifical sanction, empowering him to found, 
arrange, aiul set a-working such an order as he 
had sketched out, Francis now left the presence 
of the Pope and cardinals, and departed to begin 
his work.' 

1 Storia degK Ordini Monast-ki, torn, vii., cap. 1, p. 14. 

- Ihid. Alb. Butler, Lives of the Saints, vol. x., p. 77. 

3 Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 13, vol. xi., chap. 10 ; Lend., 
1699. Storia degli Ordini Monastici, torn, vii., cap. 1, 
pp. 14, 15. 

The enthusiasm that burned so fiercely in his 
own brain kindled a similar enthusiasm in that 
of others. Soon St. Francis found a dozen men 
willing to share his views and take pai-t in his 
pi-oject. The dozen speedily multiplied into a 
hundred, and the hundred into thousands, and the 
increase went on at a rate of which history scarcely 
afibrds another such example. Before his death, 
St. Francis had the satisfaction of seeing 5,000 of 
his monks assemble in his convent in Italy to hold 
a general chapter, and as each convent sent only 
two delegates, the convocation represented 2,500 
convents.* The solitary fanatic had become an 
army ; his disciples filled all the countries of 
Christendom ; every object and idea they subor- 
dinated to that of theii- chief ; and, boimd together 
by their vow, they prosecuted with indefatigable 
zeal the service to which they had consecrated 
themselves. This order has had in it five Popes 
and forty-five cardinals.^ 

St. Dominic, the foimder of the Domuaicans, 
was bom in Arragon, 1170. He was cast in a 
dift'erent mould from St. Francis. His enthusiasm 
was as fiery, his zeal as intense ;' but to these 
qualities he added a cool judgment, a firm will, a 
somewhat stem temper, and great knowledge of 
affaii-s. Dominic had witnessed the ravages of 
heresy in the southern provinces of France ; he 
had also had occasion to mai-k the futility of those 
splendidly equipped missions, that Rome sent forth 
from time to time to convert the Albigenses. He 
saw that these missionaries left moi-e heretics on 
theii- departiu-e than they had found on their arrival. 
Mitred dignitaries, mounted on richly caparisoned 
mules, followed by a sumptuous train of priests 
and monks, and other attendants, too proud or too 
ignorant to preach, and able only to dazzle the 
gaze of the multitude by the magnificence of their 
ceremonies, attested most conclusively the wealth 
of Rome, but did not attest with equal conclusive- 
ness the truth of her tenets. Instead of bishops on 
palfreys, Dominic called for monks ui wooden soles 
to preach to the hei-etics. 

Repairing to Rome, he too laid his scheme before 
Imiocent, olTering to raise an army that would per- 
ambulate Europe in the interests of the Papal See, 
organised after a diflferent fashion, and that, he 

■* Storia degli Ordini Monastici, tom. vii., cap. 1, p. 19. 
Gabriel d'EmiUianne, Hist, of Monast. Orders, p. 171. 

■' Alb. Butler, Lioes of the Saints, v. 10, p. 100. 

= Gabriel d'Emillian'ne, Hist, of Monast. Orders. This 
author says that the mother of St. Dominic before his 
birth dreamed that she was brought to bed of a dog 
(some say a wolf) carrying a burning toi-oh in its mouth, 
wherewith it set the world on fire (p. 147). 



hoped, -would be able to give a better account of 
the heretics. Theii- garb as humble, their habits 
as austere, and their speech as plain as those of the 
peasants they were to address, these missionaries 
■would soon win the heretics from the errors into 
which they had been seduced ; and, living on alms, 
they would cost the Papal exchequer nothing. 
Innocent, for some reason or other, perhaps from 
having sanctioned *he Franciscans so recently, re- 
fused his consent. But Pope Honorius was more 
compliant ; he confirmed the proposed order of 
Dominic ; and from begumings equally small with 
those of the Franciscans, the growth of the Domi- 
nicans in popularity and numbers was equally 

The Dominicans were divided into two bands. 
The business of the one was to preach, that of the 
other to slay those whom the first were not able to 
convert.' The one refuted heresy, the other exter- 
minated heretics. This happy division of labour, 
it was tliought, would secure the work Ijeing 
thoroughly done. The preachers rapidly multiplied, 
and in a few years the sound of their voices was 
heard in almost all the cities of Europe. Their 
learning was small, but their- enthusiasm kindled 
them into eloquence, and theii- harangues were 
listened to by admu-ing crowds. The Franciscans 
and Dominicans did for the Papacy in the centuries 
that preceded the Refomiation, what the Jesuits 
have done for it in the centuries that have 
followed it. 

Before proceeding to speak of the battle which 
WiclifFe was called to wage -with the new frater- 
nities, it is necessary to indicate the peculiarities 
in their constitution and organisation that fitted 
them to cope \vith the emergencies amid which 
theu- career began, and which had made it neces- 
sary to call them into existence. The elder order 
of monks were recluses. They had no relation to 
the world which they had abandoned, and no 
duties to perform to it, beyond the example of 
austere piety which they offered for its edification. 
Their sphere was the cell, or the walls of the 
monastery, where their whole time was presimied 
to be spent in prayer and meditation. 

The new-ly-created orders, on the other hand, 
were not confined to a particular spot. They had 
convents, it is tiiie, but these were rather hotels or 
temporary abodes, where they might rest when on 

their preaching tours. Their sphere was the world ; 
they were to perambulate provinces and cities, and 
to address all who were willing to hsten to them. 
Preaching had come to be one of the lost arts. 
The secular or parochial clergy seldom entered a 
pulpit ; they were too ignorant to write a sermon, 
too indolent to preach one even were it prepared 
to theii- hand. They instructed their flocks by a 
service of ceremonials, and by prayers and litanies, 
in a language which the people did not understand. 
Wiclifie assures us that in his time " there were 
many unable curates that knew not the ten com- 
mandments, nor could read their psalter, nor could 
understand a verse of it."' The friars, on the other 
hand, betook themselves to their mother tongue, 
and, mingling familiarly with all classes of the 
community, they revived the forgotten practice of 
preaching, and plied it assiduously Sabbath and 
week-day. They held forth m all places, as well 
as on all days, erecting theii' pulpit in the market, 
at the street-corner, or in the chapel. 

In one point especially the friars stood out m 
marked and advantageous contrast to the old 
monastic ordere. The latter were scandalously 
rich, the former were sevei'ely and edifyiugly poor. 
They lived on alms, and literally were beggars ; 
hence theii' name of Mendicants. Christ and his 
apostles, it was aflimied, were mendicants ; the 
profession, therefore, was an ancient and a holy 
one. The early monastic orders, it is true, equally 
vfiih. the Dominicans and Franciscans, had taken a 
vow of poverty ; but the difference between the 
elder and the later monks lay in this, that while 
the former could not in their individual capacity 
possess property, in their corporate capacity they 
might and did possess it to an enormous amount ; 
the latter, both as individuals and as a body, 
were disqualified by theii- vow from holding any 
property whatever. They could not so much as 
jKissess a penny in the world ; and as there was 
nothing in their humble garb and frugal diet to 
belie their profession of poverty, their repute for . 
sanctity was great, and their influence with all 
classes was in proportion. They seemed the very 
men for the times in which their lot was cast, and 
for the work which had been appointed them. 
They were emphatically the soldiers of the Pope, 
the household troops of the Vatican, traversing 
Christendom in two bands, yet forming one united 

' Gabriel d'Emillianne, Hist, of Monast. Orders, p. 148. 

- Ibid. " A troop of merciless fellows, whom he [St. 
Dominic] maintained to cut the throats of heretics when 
he was a-preaching ; he called them the Militia of Jesus 

3 Lewis, Life of Wiclif, p. 40. By a council held in 
Oxford, 1222, it was provided that the archdea^-ons in 
tlieir visitations should " see that the clergy knew how 
to pronounce aright the form of baptism, and say the 
words of consecration in the canon of the mass." 



army, wliich continually increased, and which, 
having- no impedimenta to retard its march, 
advanced alertly and victoriously to combat 
heresy, and extended the fame and dominion of 
the Papal See. 

If the rise of the Mendicant orders was un- 
exampled in its rapidity, equally unexampled was 
the rapidity of their decline. The rock on which 
they split was the same which had proved so fatal 
to their predecessors — riches. But how was it pos- 
sible for wealth to enter when the door of the 
monastery was so effectually barred by a most 
strLugent vow of poverty ? Neither as individuals, 
nor as a corporation, could they accept or hold a 
penny. Nevertheless, the fact was so; their riches 
increased prodigiously, and their degeneracy, con- 
sequent thereon, was even more rapid than the 
declension which former ages had witnessed in 
the Benedictines and Augustinians. 

The original constitution of the Mendicant ordei's 
remained unaltered, then- vow of poverty still 
stood mirepealed ; they still lived on the ahns 
of the faithful, and still wore then- gown of coarse 
woollen cloth,^ white in the case of the Domini- 
cans, and girded with a broad sash ; browii in the 
case of the Franciscans, and tied with a cord of 
three knots : in both cases curiously provided 
■with numerous and capacious pouches, in which 
little images, square bits of paper, amulets, and 
rosaries, were mixed ^vith bits of bread and cheese, 
morsels of fiesh, and other victuals collected by 

But in the midst of all these signs of poverty, 
and of the professed observance of their vow, their 
hoards gi'ew richer every day. How came this 1 
Among the brothers were some subtle intellects, 
who taught them the happy distinction between 
proprietors and stewards. In the character of pro- 
prietors they could possess absolutely nothing; in 
the chai'acter of stewards they might hold wealth 
to any amount, and dispense it for the ends and 
uses of their order.* This ingenious distinction 
unlocked the gates of their convents, and straight- 

way a stream of gold, fed by the piety of their 
admirers, began to flow into them. They did not, 
like the other monastic fraternities, become landed 
proprietoi-s — this kind of property not coming 
within the scope of that interpretation by which 
they had so materially qualified their vow — but 
in other respects they claimed a very ample free- 
dom. The splendour of their edifices eclipsed those 
of the Benedictines and Augustinians. Churches 
which the skill of the architect and the genius of 
the painter did their utmost to glorify, convents 
and cloisters which monarchs might have been 
proud to inhabit,^ rose in all countries for the 
use of the friars. With this wealth came a multi- 
form corniption — indolence, insolence, a dissolution 
of manners, and a gi'ievous abuse of those vast 
privileges and powers which the Papal See, find- 
ing them so useful, had heaped upon them. " It 
is an awful presage," exclaims Matthew Paris, 
only forty years after then- institution, " that in 
300 years, nay, in 400 years and more, the old 
monastic orders have not so entii'ely degenerated 
as these fraternities." 

Such was the state in which Wiclifi'e found the 
friars. Nay, we may conclude that in his time 
the corniption of the Mendicants far exceeded what 
it was in the days of Matthew Paris, a century 
earlier. He found in fact a plague fallen upon the 
kingdom, which was daUy spreading and hourly 
intensifying its ravages. It was in 1360 that he 
began his public opposition to them. . The Domi- 
nican friars entered England in 1321. In that 
year Gilbert de Fresney and twelve of his brethren 
settled at Oxford.^ The same causes that favoured 
theii' growth on the Continent operated equally in 
England, and this little band recruited theii- ranks 
so rapidly, that soon they spread their swanns over 
all the kingdom. Forty-three houses of the Domi- 
nicans were established in England, where, from 
then- black cloak and hood, they wei-e popularly 
termed the Black Friars." 

Finding themselves now powerful, they attacked 
the laws and privileges of the University of Oxford, 

' Their habit or di-ess is described by Chaucer as con- 
sistLag of a great hood, a scapleri^, a knotted girdle, 
and a wide cope. (Jack Upland.) 

- The curiously knotted cord with which they gird 
themselves, " they say, hath virtue to heal the sick, to 
chase away the devil and all dangerous temptations, and 
serve what turn they please." (Gabriel d'Emillianne, 
Hist, of Monast. Orders, p. 174.) 

^ This distinction is sanctioned by the Constitution 
issued by Nicholas III. in 1279, explaining and confirming 
the rule of St. Francis. This Constitution is still extant 
in the Jits. Canon., lib. vi., tit. xii., cap. 3, commonly 
called Constitution Exiit, from its Gommeneing, Mxiit, &c. 

^ No traveller can have passed from Perugia to Temi 
without having his attention arrested by the convent of 
St. Francis d'Assisi, which stands on the lower slope 
of the Apennines, overlooking tlie vale of the CUtumnus. 
It is in splendour- a palace, and in size it is almost a 
little town. In this magnificent edifice is the tomb of 
the man who died under a borrowed cloak. 

•5 Vaughan, Life of Wicliffe, vol. i., pp. 250, 251. 

'' Sharon Turner, Hist, of England, vol. v., p. 101 ; 
Lond., 1830. "Tliis order hath given to the Church 5 
Popes, 48 cardinals, 23 patriarchs, 1,500 bishops, 600 arch- 
bishops, and a great number of eminent doctors and 
writers." (Alban Biitler.) 



where they had established themselves, claiming 
independence of its jurisdiction. This drew on a 
battle between them and the college authorities. 
The first to oppose their encroachments was Fitz- 
ralpli (Armachanus), who had been appointed to 
the chancellorship of Oxford in 1333, and in 1347 

the Pontiff were as follow : — That the friars were 
propagating a pestiferous doctrine, subversive of 
the testament of Jesus Christ ; that, owing to their 
machinations, the ministers of the Church were 
decreasing ; that the univereities were decaying ; 
that students coidd not find books to carry on their 


became Archbishop ot Armagh. Fitzralpli de- 
clared that under this "pestiferous canker," as he 
styled mendicancy, everything that was good and 
fair — letters, industry, obedience, morals — was being 
blighted. He carried his complaints all the way 
to Avignon, where the Popes then lived, in the 
hope of effecting a reformation of this crying evil. 
The heads of the address which he delivered before 

studies ; that the friars were recruiting their ranks 
by robbing and circumventing children ; that they 
cherished ambition \inder a feigned humility, that 
they concealed riches under a simtilated jDOverty ; 
and crept up by subtle means to be lords, arch- 
bishops, cardinals, chancelloi-s of kingdoms, and 
privy councillors of monarchs. 

We must give a specimen of his pleading before 



the Pontiff, as Fox has preserved it. " By the 
privileges," says Arinachanus, " granted by the 
Popes to the friare, great enormities do arise." 
Among other abuses, he enumerates the follow- 
ing : — "The true shepherds do not know the faces 
of their flock. Item, great contention and some- 

themselves. No less inconvenience and danger 
also by the said friars riseth to the clergy, forso- 
much as laymen, seeing their children thus to be 
stolen from them in the universities by the friare, 
do refuse therefore to send them to theii- studies, 
rather willing to keep them at home to their occu- 



times blows arise between the friars and the 
secular curates, about titles, impropriations, and 
other avails. Item, divers young men, as well in 
universities as in their fathers' houses, are allured 
craftily by the friara, their confessoi-s, to enter 
tlieir orders ; from whence, also, they cannot get 
out, though they would, to the great grief of tlieir 
parents, and no less repentance to the young men 


P'— __' pation, or to follow the 

l)lougli, than so to be 

circumvented and defeated of their 

sons at the university, as by daily 

experience doth manifestly appear. 

For, whereas, in my time there were 

in the university of Oxford 30,000 

students, now there are not to be 

found 6,000. The occasion of this 

great decay is to be ascribed to no other cause 

than the circumvention only of the friars above 


As the consequence -of these very extraordinary 
practices of the friars, every branch of science and 
study was decaying in England. " For that these 
begging friars," continues the archbishop, "through 
their pii^'ileges obtained of the Popes, to preach, 



to hear confessions, and to biuy, and through their 
charters of impropriations, did thereby grow to 
such great riches and possessions by their begging, 
ci'a\'ing, catching, and iiitermeddling -with Church 
matters, that no book couhl stir of any science, 
either of divinity, hiw, or j)hysic, bvit they were 
both able and ready to buy it np. So that every 
convent having a gi-eat library, full, stuffed, and 
fiu-nished with all sorts of books, and being so many 
convents within the realm, and in eveiy convent 
so many friars increasing daily more and more, by 
reason thereof it came to pass that veiy few books 
or none at all remain for other students." 

" He himself sent to the university four of his 
own priests or chaplains, who sent him word again 
that they neithei' could find the Bible, nor any 
other good profitable book of divinity profitable 

for their study, and so they returned to their own 
countiy." ^ 

In vain had the archbishop undertaken his long 
journey. In vain had he urged these comjJauits 
before the Pontiff at Avignon. The Pope knew 
that these charges were but too well-founded; 
but what did that avail i Tlie friai-s were indis- 
pensable to the Pope ; they had been cieated by 
him, they were dependent iipon him, they lived for 
him, they were his obsequious tools; and, weighed 
against the services they were rendering to the 
Papal throne, the interests of literature in England 
were but as dust in the balance. Not a tiiigei- 
must be lifted to curtail the privileges or check 
the abuses of the Mendicants. The archbishop, 
finding that he had gone on a bootless errand,, 
returned to England, and died three years after. 



The Joy of the Friars— Wicliffe Resumes the Battle — Demands the Abolition of the Orders— The Arrogance of tlie^ 
Friars — Their Luxury — Their Covetousness — Their Oppression of the Poor— The Agitation in England — Questions 
touching the Gospel raised thereby — Is it from the Friar or from Christ that Pardon is to be had ? Were Christ 
and the Apostles Mendicants ? — Wicliffe's Tractate, Objections to Friars — It launches him on his Career as a 
Reformer — Preaches in tliis Tractate the Gospel to England — Attack on the Power of the Keys — No Pardon but 
from God — Salvation without Money. 

The joy of the friai-s when they heard that their 
enemy was dead was great ; but it was of shoit 
duration. The same year in which the arch- 
bishop died (1.360) Wicliffe stood np and began 
that opposition to the Mendicants which he mam- 
tained more or less to the very close of his life. 
"John Wjcliffe," says an unknown writer, "the 
singular ornament of his time, began at Oxford in 
the year of our Lord 1360, in his public lectures, 
to correct the abuses of the clergy, and their open 
"wickedness, Kmg Edward III. being living, and 
contmued secure a most valiant champion of the 
truth among the tyrants of Sodom."' 

Wicliffe saw deeper into the e^dl than Amiacha- 
nus had done. The very institution of the order 
was unscriptural and coirupt, and while it existed, 
nothing, he felt, but could flow from it ; and 
therefore, not content, as his predecessor would 

have been, with the reformation of the order, he 
demanded its abolition. The friars, vested iu an 
independent jurisdiction by the Pope, were over- 
riding the canons and regulations of Oxford, where 
their head-quarters were pitched ; they were setting 
at defiance the laws of the State ; they were in- 
veigling young children into their "rotten habit;" 
they were perambulating the coiuitiy ; and while 
they would allow uo one but themselves to preach, 
their sermons were made up, Wicliffe tells us, " of 
fables, chronicles of the world, and stories from the 
siege of Troy." 

The Pope, moreover, had conferred on them the 
right of shriving men ; and they jierformed their 
office with such a hearty good-will, and gave abso- 
lution on teims so, that malefa«toi-s of eveiy 
description flocked to them for pardon, and the 
conseqiience was a frightful increase of immorality 

' MS. in Hyper. Bodl., 1G3 ; apud Lewis, Life of 
WicUf, p. 9. 

- Fox, Acts and Mon., bk. v. See there the story of 
Armachanus and his oration against the friars. 



and crime.' The alms which ought to have been 
given to the " bed-iid, the feeble, the crooked," they 
intercepted and devoured. In flagrant contempt 
of the declared intention of their founder, and 
their own vow of poverty, their hoards daily 
increased. • The wealth thus gathered they ex- 
pended in palatial buildings, in sumptuous tables, 
or other delights, or they sent it abroad to the 
impoverislung of the kingdom. Not the money 
only, but the secrets of the nation they were sus- 
pected of discovering to the enemies of the realm. 
To obey the Pope, to pray to St. Francis, to give 
alms to the friar, was the sum of all piety. This 
was better than all learning and all virtue, for it 
could open the gates of heaven. Wicliffe saw 
nothing in the future, provided the Mendicants 
were permitted to carry on theii- trade, but the 
speedy ruin of both Church and State. 

The controversy on which Wiclifle now entered 
was eminently wholesome — wholesome to himself 
and to the nation. It touched the very fomida- 
tions of Christianity, and compelled men to study 
the nature of the Gospel. The Mendicants went 
through England, selling to men the jiardons of the 
Pope. Can oui- sins be forgiven for a little money? 
men were led to ask. Is it with Innocent or with 
God that we have to do 1 This led them to the 
Gospel, to learn from it the ground of the accept- 
ance of sinnei-s before God. Thus the controversy 
was no mere quarrel between the regulars and the 
seculai-s; it was no mei-e collision between the 
jurisdiction of the Oxford authorities and the juris- 
diction of the Mendicants ; the cpiestion was one 
between the Mendicants and the Gospel. Is it 
from the friars or from Jesus Christ that we are 
to obtain the forgiveness of our sins 1 Tliis was a 
question which the England of that age eminently 
needed to have stirred. 

The arguments, too, liy which the friars endea- 
voxu-ed to cover the lucrative trade they were 
driving, helped to import a salutary element into 
the controversy. They pleaded the sanction of the 
Saviour for theii' begging. Christ and the apostles, 
said they, were mendicants, and lived on alms." 
This led men to look into the New Testament, 
to see if this reaUy were so. The friars had 

' "I have in my diocese of Ai-magh," says the Arch- 
bishop and Primate of Ireland, Armachanus, " about 
2,000 persons, who stand condemned by the censures of 
the Church denounced every year ajrainst murderers, 
thieves, and such-like malefactors, of all wliich number 
scarce foui-teen have applied to me or to my clergy for 
absolution; yet they all receive the Sacraments, as others 
do, because they are absolved, or pretend to be absolved, 
by friai-s." {Fox, Acts and Mon.) 

- Vaughan, Life of John tie Wicliffe, vol. ii., p. 288. 

made an unwtting appeal to the right of private 
judgment, and advertised a book about which, 
had they been wise for their- own interests, they 
would have been profoundly silent. WicliiFe, espe- 
cially, was led to the yet closer study of the 
Bible. The .system of truth iu Holy Scripture 
revealed itself more ;ind more to him; he saw how 
widely the Church of Rome had departed from the 
Gospel of Christ, and what a gulf separated salva- 
tion by the blood of the Lamb from salvation by 
the pardons of the Pope. It was now that the 
Professor of Divinity in Oxford grew up into the 
Reformer of England — the great pioneer and 
founder of the Reformation of Christendom. 

About this time he published his Ohjecdons to 
Friars, which fairly launched hiin on his career as 
a Reformer. In this tractate he charges the friars 
with " fifty heresies and errors, and many moe, 
if men wole seke them well out."' Let us mark 
that in this tract the Reformer does not so much 
dispute vrith the friars as preach the Gospel to his 
countr3Tnen. " There cometh," says Wiclifle, "no 
pardon but of God." " The worst abuses of these 
friars consist in then- pretended confessions, by 
means of which they afl'ect, with numberless arti- 
fices of blasphemy, to puiify those whom they 
confess, and make them clear from all pollution in 
the eyes of God, setting aside the commandments 
and satisfaction of our Lord." "There is no greater 
heresy than for a man to believe that he is absolved 
from his sins if he give money, or if a priest lay 
his hand on this head, and say that he absolveth 
thee ; for thou must be sorrowful in thy heart, 
and make amends to God, else God absolveth thee 
not." " Many think if they give a penny to a 
pardoner, they shall be forgiven the breaking of all 
the commandments of God, and therefore they take 
no heed how they keep them. But I say this for 
certain, though thou have priests and friars to 
sing for thee, and though thou, each day, hear 
many masses, and found churches and colleges, and 
go on pilgrimages all thy life, and give all thy 
goods to pardoners, this will not bring thy soul to 
heaven." " May God of his endless mercy destroy 
the pride, covetousness, hy|)ocrLsy, and heresy of 
this feigned pardoning, and make men busy to 
keep his commandments, and to set fully their 
trust in Jesus Christ." 

" I confess that the indulgences of the Pope, if 
they are what they are said to be, are a manifest 
bla.sphemy. The friars give a colour to this blas- 
phemy by saying that Christ is omnipotent, and 
that the Pope is his plenary vicar, and so possesses 

Lewis, Life of Widif, p. 22. 



Ill eveiytliing tlie same power as Christ iii liis 
Liunaiiity. Against tliis rude blaspliemy I have 
elsewhere iiiveighed. Neither the Pope nor the 
Lord Jesus Christ can grant dispensations or give 
indulgences to any man, except as the Deity has 
eternally determined hy his just counsel."' 

Thus did John Wicliffe, vlth tlie instincts of a 
trae Ptefomier, strike at that ghostly jji-iiiciple which 
serves the Pope as the foundation-stone of his ting- 
dom. Luther's first blows were iir like manner 
aimed at the same principle. He began his career 
by throwing do'wii the gauntlet to the pardon- 
mongei's of Rome. It was "the power of the 
keys " which gave to the Pope the lordship of the 
conscience; for he who can pardon sin — open or 
shut the gate of Paradise — is God to men. Wicliffe 
perceived that lie could not shake into iiiin that 
great febrio of spiiitual and temporal power which 
the Pontiffs had reared, and in which, as within a 

vast prison-house, they kept immured the souls- 
and bodies of men, otherwise than by exploding 
the false dogma on which it was founded. It was 
tins dogma therefore, first of all, wliich he chal- 
lenged. Think not, said he, in effect, to Ids coim- 
trjTnen, that God has given " the keys " to Iiuiocent 
of Rome ; think not that the fiiar carries heaven 
in his wallet ; think not that God sends his jjardons 
wrapped up in those bits of pajjer which the Men- 
dicants carry about with them, and which they sell 
for a piece of silver. Listen to the voice of the 
Gospel : "Ye are not redeemed with coniiptible 
things such as silver and gold, but with the precious 
blood of Christ, the Lamb without blemish and 
without spot." God pardons men ^vitllont money 
and without price. Tims did Wicliffe begin to 
preach " the acceptable year of the Lord," and to- 
proclaim " liberty to the captive, and the ojiening 
,of the prison to them that ai-e bound." 



Eesume of Political Progi'ess — Foreign Ecclesiastics appointed to English Benefices — Statutes of Provisors and 
Prsemunire meant to put an End to the Abuse — ^The Practice still Continued — Instances — Koyal Commissioners 
sent to Treat with the Pope concerning tliis Abuse — Wicliffe chosen one of the Commissioners— The Negotiation 
a Failure — Nevertheless of Benefit to Wicliffe by the Insight it gave him into the Papacy — Arnold Garnier — 
The "Good Parliament" — Its Battle with the Pope — A Greater Victory than Crecy — Wicliffe waxes Bolder 
— Eage of the Monks. 

We have already spoken of the encroacliments of 
the Papal See on the independence of England in 
the thii-teenth centuiy ; the cession of the kmgdom 
to Innocent III. by King John ; the promise of an 
annual payment to the Pope of a thousand marks 
by the English king ; the demand preferred by 
Urban V. after payment of this tribute had lapsed 
for tliii-ty years ; the spiiited reply of the Parliament 
of England, and the shni ; Wicliffe had in the resolu- 
tion to which the Lords temporal and spii'itual came 
to refuse the Papal impost. We have also said that 
the oj^position of Parliament to the encroachments 
of the Popes on the liberties of the kingdom did not 
stop at this point, that several stringent laws were 
passed to protect the rights of the cro'mi and the 
property of the subjects, and that more especially 

' See Lewis, lAfe of Wiclif, chap. 2. Vaughan, Life of 
John de Wicliffe. Also Wicliffe and the Huguenots, by the 
Eev. Dr. Hanna, pp. 61— G3 ; Edin., 1860. 

the Statutes of Pro\-isors and Prsemunu-e were- 
framed with this view. The abuses which these 
laws were meant to correct had long been a source 
of national irritation. There were certain benefices 
in England which the Pope, in the plenitude of his 
power, reserved to himself. These were generally 
the more wealthy livings. But it might be incon- 
venient to wait till a vacancy actually occurred, 
accordingly the Pope, by what he termed a 2)rovism; 
issued an appointment beforehand. The rights of 
the chapter, or of the crown, or whoever was 
patron, were thus set aside, and the legal presentee 
must either buy up the provisor, or permit the 
Pope's nominee, often a foreigner, to enjoy the 
benefice. The very best of these dignities and be- 
nefices were enjoyed by Italians, Frenchmen, and 
other foreigners, who were, says Le'n'is, " some of 
them mere boys ; and not only ignorant of the 
English language, but even of Latin, and who never 
so much as saw their chm-ches, but committed the 



<;are of them to those they coiikl get to serve them 
tlie cheapest ; and had the revenues of them remitted 
to them at Rome or elsewhere, by their proctors, to 
wliom they let their tithes." ' It was to check this 
abuse that the Statute of Provisors was passed ; 
and the law of Prcemuniie, by which it was 
followed, was intended to foitify it, and effectually 
to close the drain of the nation's wealth by for- 
bidding any one to bring into the kingdom any 
b\ill or letter of the Pope appointing to an 
English benefice. 

The gi'ievances were continued nevertheless, and 
l)ecame even more intolerable. The Parliament 
addressed a new remonstrance to the king, setting 
forth the unbearable nature of these oppressions, 
And the injuiy they were doing to the royal 
authorit}^ and pra3dng him to take action on the 
point. Accorihngly, in 1373, the king appointed 
four commissionei's to proceed to Avignon, where 
Pope Gregory XI. was residing, find lay the coni- 
jilaints of the English nation, before him, and re- 
quest that for the future he would forbear meddling 
mth the reservations of benefices. The ambassadors 
were courteously received, but they could obtain no 
redress.'-" Tlie Parliament renewed their complaint 
and request that " remedy be provided against the 
provisions of the Pope, whereby he I'eaps the first- 
fruits of ecclesiiistical dignities, the treasure of the 
realm being thereby conveyed away, which they 
caiuiot bear." A Royal Commission was issued in 
1374 to inquire into the nvimber of ecclesiastical 
benefices and dignities in England held by aliens, 
and to estimate their exact value. It was fomid 
that the number of livings in the hands of Italians, 
Frenchmen, and other foreigners was so gi-eat that, 
says Fox, " were it all set down, it would fill almost 
half a quire of paper."* The clergy of England was 
rapidly becoming an alien and a merely nominal 
one. The simis drained from the kingdom were 

The king resolved to make another attempt to 
arrange tliis matter with the Papal court. He 
named another commission, and it is an evidence of 
the growing influence of "Wicliffe that his name 
stands second on the list of these delegates. The 
first named is John, Bishop of Bangor, who had 
served on the former commission ; the second is John 
de Wicliffe^ S.T.P. The names that follow are 
John Outer, Dean of Sechow ; Sinaon de Moulton, 

' Lewis, Life of Wicllf, chap. 3, p. 31. 

= Barnes, Life of King Edward III., p. 8«>1. Lewis, Life 
■of Wklif, p. 32. 

3 Fox, Ads and Mon., vol. i., p. 561. Fox gives a list of 
the benefices, with the names of the incumbents and the 
■worth of their sees. (See pp. 561, 552.) 

LL.D. ; WiUiam de Burton, Knight ; Robert 
Bealknap, and John de Henyngton.* 

The Pope declined receiving the king's ambas- 
sadors at Avignon. The maimers of the Papal 
court ill that age could not bear close inspection. 
It w;is safer that foreign eyes should contemplate 
them from a distance. The Pope made choice of 
Bi-uges, in the Netherlands, and tliither he sent his 
nuncios to confer with the English delegates.^ The 
negotiation dragged on for two yeai's : the result 
was a compromise ; the Pope engaging, on his part, 
to desist from the reservation of benefices ; and the 
king promising, on his, no more to confer them by his 
wi-it " quare impedit." Tliis arrangement left the 
power of the Pope over the benefices of the Church of 
England at least equal to that of the so's-ereign. The 
Pope did not renounce his right, he simply abstained 
from the exercise of it — tixctics exceedingly common 
and very convenient in the Papal policy — and this 
was all that coi.ild be obtained from a negotiation of 
two years. Tlie residt satisfied no one in England : 
it was seen to be a hollow truce that could not last ; 
nor indeed did it, for hardly had the commissioners 
returned home, when tlie Pope began to make as 
free with English benefices and their revenues as 
though he had never tied his hands by promise or 

There' is cause, indeed, to suspect that the inte- 
rests of England were betrayed in tins negotiation. 
The Bishop of Bangor, on whom the conduct of the 
embassy chiefly devolved, on his return home was 
immediately translated to the See of Hereford, and 
in 1389 to that of St. David's. His promotion, in 
both instances the result of Papal llro^isors, bore 
the appearance of being the reward of subserviency. 
Wicliffe returned home in disgust at the time wliicli 
had been wasted, and the little fruit which had been 
obtained. But these two years were to him far 
from lost years. Wicliffe had come into communi- 
cation with the Italian, Spanish, and French digni- 
taries of the Church, who enjoyed the confidence gf 
the Pope and the cardinals. There was given him 
an msight into a cii'cle which woidd not have 
readily opened to his view in his o^vn country- 
Other lessons too he had been learning, unpleasant 
no doubt, but most important. He had not been .so 
fiir removed from the Papal coiut but he coidd .see 
the principles that reigned there, and the motives- 

* Barnes, Life of King Edward III., p. 866. Lewis, Life f 
of Wiclif, p. 33. 

■' Bruges was then a large city of 200,000 inhabitants, 
the seat of important industries, trade, wealth, municipal 
freedom, and political power. 

" Lewis, Life of Wiclif, p. 34. Vaughan, Life of John ds 
Wicliffe, vol. i., pp. 326, 327. 



tliat guided its policy. If lie liad not met the Pope 
he had met his representatives, and he had been 
able to read the master in his servants ; and when 
he retm-ned to England it was to proclaim on the 
house-tops what before he had spoken in the closet. 
Avai-ice, ambition, hypocrisj', these were the gods 
that were worahipped in the Roman curia — these 
were the >-irtues that adorned the Papal throne. 

only this proud worldly piiest's collector, by process 
of time this hill must be spended ; for he taketh 
ever money out of our land, and sendeth nought 
agen but God's cui-se for his simony."' Soon after 
his return from Bruges, Wiclilfe was appointed to 
the rectorship of Luttersvortli, in Leicestei'shii-e, 
and as this preferment came not from the Pope but 
the king, it may be taken as a sign of the royal 

JOHN- OF GAUNT. {From a Window at All Souls' ColUje, Oxford.) 

So did Wicliffe proclaim. In his public lectures he 
now spoke of the Pope as " Antichrist, the proud 
worldly priest of Rome, and the most cursed of 
clippera and pru-se-kervers." And in one of his 
tracts that remain he thus speaks : — " They [the 
Pope and his collectors] draw out of our land poor 
men's livelOiood, and many thousand marks by the 
year, of the king's money, for Sacraments and spiri- 
tual things, that is cursed heresie of simony, and 
maketh all Christendom assent and meyntene his 
heresie. And certes though our realm had a huge 
liill of gold, and never other man took thereof but 

approval of his conduct as a commissioner, and his 
gi'owing influence at the court. 

Tlie Parliament, finding that the negotiation at 
Bruges had come to nothing, resolved on more 
decisive measures. The Pope took advantage of 
the king's remissness in enforcing the statutes 
directed against the Papal encroachments, and 
promised many things, but performed nothing. 
He still continued to appoint aliens to English 

• Great Senteiu-e of Curse Expounded, c. 21 ; MSS. apud 
Lewis, Life of Wiclif. 


livings, notwithstending his treaties to tlxe con- 
trary. If these usiii-pations were allowed, he 
would soon proceed to greater liberties, and would 
appoint to secular dignities also, and end by appro- 
priating as his own the sovereignty of the realm. 
It was plain to the Parliament that a battle must 
be fought for the country's independence, and there 
were none but themselves to tight it. They drew 
up a bill of indictment against the Papal usur- 
pations. In that document they set forth the mani- 
fold miseries under which the country was groaning 
from a foreign tyranny, which had crept into the 
kingdom under spiritual pretexts, but wluch was 
rapaciously consuming the fruits of the earth and 
the goods of the nation. The Parliament went on 
to say that the revenue drawn by the Pope from 
the realm was live times that which the king 
received ; that he contrived to make one and the 
same dignity yield him six several taxes ; that to 
increase his gains he frequently sliifted bishops 
from one see to another ; that he filled livings with 
ignorant and imworthy pei'sons, while meritorious 
Englishmen were passed over, to the great dis- 
couragement of learning and virtue ; that every- 
thing was venal in " the sinful city of Rome ; " and 
that English patrons, corrupted by this pestilential 
example, had learned to practise simony without 
shame or remorse ; that the Pope's collector had 
opened an establislunent in the capital with a staff 
of officers, as if it were one of the great coiu-ts of 
the nation, "transporting yearly to the Pope twenty 
thousand marks, and most commonly more ; " that 
the Pope received a richer revenue from England 
than any prince in Christendom di'ew from his 
kingdom ; that this very year he had taken the fii'st- 
fruits of all benefices; that he often imposed a 
special tax upon the clergy, which he sometimes 
expended in subsidising the enemies of the country; 
that " God hath given his sheep to the Pope to be 
pastured, and not shorn and shaven ; " that " there- 
fore it woidd be good to renew all the statutes 
against provisions fi-om Rome," and that " no Papal 
collector or proctor should remain in England, 
upon pain of life and limb ; and that no English- 
man, on the like 2)ain, should become such collector 
or proctor, or remain at the court of Rome." ' 

In February, 1372, there appeared in England 
an agent of the Pope, named Arnold Garnier, who 
travelled with a suite of seiwants and six hoi-ses 
through England, and after remaining laninter- 
iruptedly two and a half years in the country, 

' Pox, Acts and Hon., vol. i., p. 561. Sir Kobert Cotton's 
Ahrkl^ment, p. 128. Lewis, Life of WlcUf, pp. 34-— 37. 
Hume, Edw. III., chap. 10. 

went back to Rome with no inconsiderable sum 
of money. He had a royal licence to retiu'ii to 
England, of which he afterwards made use. He 
was required to swear that in collecting the Papal 
dues he would protect the rights and interests of 
the crown and the comitry. He took the oath in 
1372 in the Palace of Westminster, in presence of 
the councillors and dignitaries of the crown. The 
fears of patriots were in no way allaj'ed by the 
ready oath of the Papal agent; and Wicliffe in 
especial wi'ote a treatise to show that he had sworn 
to do what was a contradiction and an impossibility.' 

It was Wicliffe who breathed this spirit into the 
Commons of England, and emboldened them to 
fight this battle for the prerogatives of their prince, 
and their own rights as the free subjects of an 
independent realm. We recognise his graphic and 
trenchant style in the docrunent of the Parliament. 
The Pope stormed when he found the gage of battle 
thrown down in this bold fashion. With an air of 
defiance he hastened to take it ui^, by appointing 
an Italian to an English benefice. But the Parlia- 
ment stood fii-m ; the temporal Lords sided wth the 
Commons. " We will support the cro'svn," said 
they, " against the tiara." The Lords spiritual 
adopted a like course ; reserving their judgment on 
the ecclesiastical sentences of the Pojie, they held 
that the temporal effects of his sentences were null, 
and that the Papal power availed nothmg in that 
point against the royal prerogative. 

The nation rallied in support of the Estates of the 
Realm. It pronounced no equivocal opinion when it 
styled the Pai'liament which had enacted these strin- 
gent edicts against the Papal bidls and agents " the 
Good Parliament." The Pope languidly maintained 
the conflict for a few years, but he was compelled 
rdtimately to give way before the fh'm attitude of 
the nation. The statutes no longer remained a dead 
letter. They were enforced against every attempt 
to caii-y out the Papal apjDointments in England. 
Thus were the prerogatives of the sovereign and 
the independence of the country vindicated, and a 
victory achieved more truly valuable in itself, and 
more lasting in its consequences, than the renowned 
triumplis of Crecy and Poictiers, which rendered 
illustrious the same age and the game reign. 

This was the second great defeat which Rome had 
sustained. England had refused to be a fief of the 
Papal See by withholding the tribute to Urban; 
and now, by repelling the Pontifical jurisdiction, she 
claimed to be mistress on her o^^i territory. Tlie 
clergy divined the quarter whence these rebuffs 

- Lecliler, Johann von Wiclif; MSS. in the Royal 
Library at Viemia, No. 1,337 ; vol. i., p. 341. 




proceeded. The real author of this movement, 
^^•llich was expanding every day, was at little pains 
to conceal himself. Ever since his retiu-n from 
Bruges, Wiclifle had ffelt a new power in his soul, 
propelling him onward in this war. The unscriiJ- 
tural constitution and blasphemous assiunptions of 
the Papacy had been more fully disclosed to him, and 
he began to ojipose it with a boldness, an eloquence, 
and a force of argument which he' had not till now 
been able to wield. Through many cliunnels was 
he leavening the nation — his chair in Oxford ; his 
pulpit in Lutterworth ; the Parliament, whose de- 

bates and edicts he inspired ; and the court, whose 
policy he partly moulded. His sentiments were find- 
ing an echo in public opinion. The tride was risino-. 
The hierarchy took the alarm. They criecl for hell) 
and the Pope took up their cause, which was not 
theirs only, but his as well. "The whole glut of monks 
or begging friars," says Fox, " were set in a rage or 
madness, which (even as hornets with their stings) 
did assaU this good man on every side, fighting (as 
is said) for their altars, paunches, and bellies. After 
them the priests, and then after them the archbishoj> 
took the matterinhand, being then Simon Sudbuiy."' 



Wicliffe's Writings Examined — His Teaching submitted to the Pope — Three Bulls issued against him — Cited to 
appear before the Bishop of London — John of Gaunt Accompanies liim — Portrait of Wicliffe before his Judges — 
Tiunult — Altercation between Duke of Lancaster and Bishop of London — Tlie Mo' Kushes in — The Court Broken 
up — Death of Edwarc III. — Meeting of Parliament — Wicliffe Summoned to its Councils — Question touching the 
Papal Revenue from English Sees submitted to him — Its Solution — England coming out of the House of Bondage. 

The man who was the mainspring of a movement 
so formidaljle to the Pajjacy must be struck down. 
The ^Tituigs of Wicliffe were examined. It was 
no difficult matter to extract from his works doc- 
trines which militated against the power and wealth 
of Eome. The Oxford professor had taught that 
the Pope has no more power than ordinary joriests 
to excommunicate or absolve men ; that neither 
bishop nor Pope can validly excommunicate any 
man, imless by sin he has first made himself ob- 
noxious to God ; that princes cannot give endow- 
ments in perpetuity to the Church ; that when their 
gifts are abused they have the right to recall them ; 
and that Christ has given no temporal lordship to 
the Popes, and uo supremacy over kings. These 
propositions, culled from the tracts of tlie Reformei", 
were sent to Po])e Gregory XL' 

These doctrines were found to be of peculiarly 
bad odour at the Papal court. They struck at a 
branch of the Pontifical prerogative on which the 
holders of the tiara have always put a sjiecial 
value. If the world should come to be of Wicliffe's 

' Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 557. Lewis, Life of 
Wiclif, pp. 46 — 48. Wicliffe's adversaries sent nineteen 
articles enclosed in a letter to the Pope, extracted from 
his letters and seituons. See in Lewis the copy which 
Sir Hem-y Spelman has put in liis collection of the 
English Councils. 

sentiments, farewell to the temporal power of the 
Popes, the better half of their kingdom. The matter 
poi-tended a terrible disaster to Pome, unless pre- 
vented in time. For broaching a similar doctrine, 
Arnold of Brescia had done expiation amid the 
flames. Wiclifle had been too long neglected ; he 
must be immediately attended to. 

Three separate bulls were drafted on the same 
day, May 22nd, 1377," and dispatched to England. 
These bulls hinted surprise at the snjjiiieness of the 
English clergy in not having ere now crushed this 
foi-midable heresy which was springing up on their 
soil, and they commanded them no longer to delay, 
but to take immediate steps for silencing the author 
.of that heresy. One of the bulls was addressed to 
Simon Sudbury, Ai'chljishop of Canterbury, and 
William Courtenay, Bishop of London j the second 
was addressed to the king, and the thu'd to the 
University of Oxford. They were all of the same 
tenor. The one addressed to the king dwelt on 
the greatness of England, " as glorious in power 
and richness, but more illustrious for the piety of 
its faith, and for its using to shine with the bright- 
ness of the sacred page."* The Scriptures had not 

- Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 550. 
^ Lewis, Life of Wiclif, p. 49. 
^ Ibid., p. 51. ' 



yet been translated into the vemaciilar tongue, and 
tlie Papal compliment whicli turns on tliis point is 
scarcely intelligible. 

The university was uommanded to take care that 
tares did not sjjring up among its wlieat, and that 
from its chairs jjropositions were not taught " de- 
testable and damnable, tending to subvert the state 
of the whole Church, and even of the civil govern- 
ment." The bull addressed to the bishops was 
expressed in terms still more energetic. The Pope 
could not help wishing that the Rector of Lutter- 
worth and Professor of Divinity " was not a master 
of errors, and liad run into a kind of detestable 
wickedness, not only and openly publishing, but 
also vomiting out of the filthy dimgeon of his 
brea,st divers professions, false and erroneous con- 
clusions, and most wicked and damnable heresies, 
whereby he might defile the faithful sort, and bring 
them from the right path headlong into the way of 
perdition." They were therefore to apprehend the 
said John Wicliife, to shut him up in prison, to 
send all proofs and evidence of his heresy to the 
Pope, taking care tliat the document was securely 
sealed, and entrusted to a faithful messenger, and 
that meanwhile they should retain the prisoner 
in safe custody, and await further instructions. 
Thus did Pope Gregory throw the wolfs liide over 
WicUfte, that he might let slip his Dominicans in 
full cry upon liis track.' 

The zeal of the bishops anticipated the orders of 
the Pope. Before the bulls had arrived in England 
the prosecution of Wiclifle was begun. At tlie 
instance of Courtenay, Bishop of London, Wicliffe 
was cited to appear on the 19tli of February, 1377, 
in Our Lady's Chapel in St. Paul's, to answer for liis 
teachuig. The rumour of what was going on got 
wind in London, and when tlie day came a great 
crowd assembled at the door of St. Paul's. Wicliffe, 
attended by two powerful friends — John, Duke of 
Lancaster, better known as John of Gaunt, and 
Lord Percy, Earl Marshal of England — appeared at 
the skirts of the assemblage. The Duke of Lan- 
caster and Wiclifle had fii-st met, it is probable, at 
Bruges, where it chanced to both to be on a mission 
at the same time. Lancaster held the Reformer 
in high esteem, on political if not on religious 
gromids. Favouring liis opinions, he resolved to go 
■^vith him and show liim countenance before the 
tribunal of the bishops. " Here stood Wiclifle in 
the presence of his judges, a meagre form dressed 
in a long light mantle of black cloth, similar to 
those worn at this day by doctors, masters, and 

' For, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 563. Lewis, Life of Wiclif, 
pp. 50, 51. 

students in Cambiidge and Oxford, ■with a gii'dle 
roimd the middle ; his foce, adorned with a long 
thick beard, showed sharp bold featiu'es, a clear 
piei'cing eye, firmly closed lips, which bespoke deci- 
sion ; his whole appearance fidl of great earnestness, 
significance, and character." ^ 

But the three friends had found it no matter 
to elbow their way through the crowd. In forcing 
a passage something like an ujiroar took place, 
which scandalised the court. Percy was the first to 
make liis way into the Chapel of Our Lady, where 
the clerical judges were assembled in theii- robes 
and insignia of oflice. 

" Percy," said Bishop Courtenay, sharply — moi-e 
offended, it is probable, at seeing the humble Rector 
of Lutterworth so powerfully befi'iended, than at 
the tumult which their entrance had created — " if I 
had known what masteries you would have kept in 
the church, I would have stopped you from coming 
in hither." 

" He sliall keep such masteries," said John of 
Gaunt, gruffly, " though you say nay." 

" Sit do\vn, WicUfffe," said Percy, having but 
scant reverence for a court which owed its autho- 
rity to a foreign power — " sit down ; you have many 
things to answer to, and have need to repose yoiu-- 
self on a soft seat." 

" He must and shall stand," said Courtenay, still 
more chafed ; " it is unreasonable that one on his 
trial before his ordinary. should sit." 

" Lord Percy's proposal is but reasonable," in- 
terposed the Duke of Lancaster ; " and as for you," 
said he, addressing Bishop Courtenay, " who are 
grown so arrogant and proud, I will bring down 
the piide not of you alone, but that of all the 
prelacy in England." 

To this menace the bishop calmly replied " that 
his tnist was in no friend on earth, but in God." 
This answer but the more mflamed the anger of 
the duke, .ind the altercation became yet wanner, 
till at last John of Gaunt was heard to say that 
" rather than take such words from the bishop, he 
would drag him out of the court by tlie hair of the 

It is hard to say what the strife between the 

- Lechler, Johann von Wiclif, vol. i., p. 370. In 1851 a 
remarkable portrait of Wicliffe came to light in possession 
of a family named Payne, in Leicester. It is a soi't of 
palimpsest. The original painting of Wicliffe, which seems 
to have come down from the fifteenth century, had been 
painted over before the Eeformation, and changed into 
the portrait of an unknown Dr. Robert Langton; the 
original was discovered beneath it, and tMs represents 
Wicliffe in somewhat earlier years, with fuller and 
stronger featiires than in the other and commonly known 
portraits. (British QuarterJy Rcvieie, Oct., 1858.) 



duke and the bishop might liave grown to, had 
not other parties suddenly appeared ujxjn the scene. 
The crowd at the door, hearing what was going on 
within, burst the barrier, and precipitated itself 
en masse into the chapel. The angry contention 
between Lancaster and Coiirteuay was instantly 
drowned by the louder clamoui-s of the mob. All 
was now confusion and iiproar. The bishops had 
pictured to tliemselves the humble Rector of Lutter- 
worth standing meekly if not tremblingly at their 
bar. It was their turn to tremljle. Their citation, 
like a dangerous spell which recoils upon the man 
who uses it, had evoked a tempest wliich all their 
art and authority were not able to allay. To pi'o- 
ceed with the trial was out of the cpiestion. The 
bishops hastily retreated ; Wiclifte returned home ; 
" and so," says one, "that council, being broken up 
with scolding and brawling, was dissolved before 
nine o'clock."' 

The issues of the afl'air were favourable to the 
Reformation. The hierarchy had received a check, 
and the cause of Wicliffe began to be more widely 
discussed and better understood by the nation. At 
this juncture events fell out in high places which 
tended to shield the Refomier and his opinions. 
Edward III., who had reigned ^\'ith glory, but lived 
too long for his fame, now died (June 21st, 1.377). 
His yet more renowned son, the Black Prince, had 
preceded him to the gi-ave, leaAuig as heir to the 
throne a child of eleven yeai-s, who succeeded on his 
grandfather's death, under the title of Piichard II. 
His mother, the dowager Princess of Wales, was 
a woman of spirit, friendly to the sentiments of 
Wicliffe, and not afraid, as we shall see, to avow 
them. The new sovereign, two months after his 
accession, assembled his first Parliament. It was 
composed of nearly the same men as the " Good 
Parliament " which had passed such stringent 
edicts against the " provisions " and other usurpa- 
tions' of the Pope. The new Parliament was dis- 
posed to carry the war against the Papacy a stej) 
farther than its predecessor had done. It summoned 
Wicliffe to its councils. His influence was plainly 
gi'owing. The trusted commissioner of princes, the 
counsellor of Parliaments, he had become a power 
in England. We do not wonder that the Pope 
singled him out as the man to be struck do•^\^l. 

While the bulls which were meant to crush the 
Refonner were still on their way to England, the 
Parliament \mequivocally showed the confidence it 

' Foi, Acts and 3fon. Lewis, Life of Wiclif, pp. 56—58. 
Vaushan, Life of John de Wicliffe, vol. i., pp. 3.38, 339. 
Hanna, WicKffe mid. the Huguenots, p. 83. Hume, 
Rich. II., MisceU. Trans. 

had in liis wisdom and integrity, by submitting the 
following question to liim : '• Whether the Kingdom 
of England might not Luvfully, in case of necessity, 
detain and keep back the treasure of the Kingdom 
for its defence, that it be not carried away to 
foreign and strange nations, the Pope himself de- 
manding and requiring the same, imder pain of 

This a2)peai's a very plain matter to us, but our 
ancestors of the fourteenth century found it en- 
comjiassed with great difficulties. The best and 
bravest of England at that day were scared by the 
ghostly threat -with which the Pojie accompanied 
his demand, and they dui-st not refuse it till assured 
Ijy Wicliffe that it was a matter in wliich the Pope 
had no right to command, and in which they in- 
curred no sin and no danger by disobedience. 
Nothing could better show the thraldom in which 
our fathei-s were held, and the slow and laborioiis 
steps by which they found their way out of the 
house of their bondage. 

But out of what matter did the question now 
put to Wiclifle aiise ? It related to an affair- which 
must have been peculiarly irritating to Englishmen. 
The Popes were then enduring their " Babylonish 
cajjtivity," as they called their residence at Avignon. 
All through the reign of Edward III., the Papacy. 
banished from Rome, had made its abode on the 
banks of the Rhone. One result of this was that 
each time the Papal chair became vacant it was 
filled "with a Frenchman. The sjanpathies of the 
French Pope were, of course, with his native coun- 
try, in the war now waging between France and 
England, and it was natural to suppose that part at 
lef^st of the treasure which the Popes received from 
England went to the support of the war on the 
French side. Not only was the country drained 
of its wealth, but that wealth was turned against 
the counti-y from which it was taken. Should this 
be longer endured 1 It was generally believed that 
at that moment the Pope's collectors had a lai-ge 
sum in their hands ready to send to Avignon, to 
be employed, like that sent already to the same 
quarter, in paying soldiers to fight against England. 
Had they not better keep this gold at home t 
Wicliffe's reply was in the affirmative, and the 
gi-ounds of his opinion were briefly and plainly 
stated. He did not argue the point on the canon 
law, or on the law of England, but on that of 
nature and the Bible. God, li£ said, had given to 
e\ery society the power of self-preservation; and 
any power given by God to any society or nation 
may, withovit doubt, be used for the end for which 
it was given. This gold wdH England's o"wn, and 
might unquestionably be retained for England's use 



and defence. But it miglit be objected, Was not 
tlie Pope, as God's vice-regent, supreme proprietoi" 
of all tlie temporalities, of all the sees and religious 
corporations in Christendom ? It was on tlie gi'ound 
of bis temporal supremacy that be demanded this 
money, and challenged England at its peril to 

England gave to the Papacy she gave not as a 
tribute, but as alms. But alms could not be 
righteously demanded unless when the claimant was 
necessitous. Was the Papacy so 1 Were not its 
coffers overflowing 1 Was not England the poorer 
of the two ? Her necessities were great, occasioned 

-^•^ -'"tn? ~ ^ ^ 


retain it. But who, replied the Reformer, gave the 
Pope this temporal supremacy ? I do not find it in 
the Bible. The Apostle Peter could give the Pope 
only what he himself possessed, and Peter possessed 
no temporal lordsliip. The Pope, argued WiclifFe, 
must choose between the apostleship and the kiag- 
.sliip ; if he prefers to be a king, then he can claim 
nothing of us in the character of an apostle ; or 
should he abide by his apostleship, even then he 
camiot claim this money, for neither Peter nor any 
one of the apostles ever imposed a tax upon 
Christian.? ; they were supported by the free-will 
offerings of those to whom they ministered. AVhat 

by a two-fold drain, the exactions of the Popes and 
the burdens of the war. Let charity, then, begin 
at home, and let England, instead of sending her 
money to these poor men of Avignon, who are 
clothed ill purple and fare sumptuously eveiy day, 
keep her own gold for her o^^^l uses. Thus did the 
Reformer lead on his countrymen, step by step, as 
they were able to follow. 





Ai-rival of the Three Bulls— Wicliffe's Anti-Papal Policy— Entirely Subversive of Romanism— New Citation— Appears 
before the Bishops at Lambeth— The Crowd— Its Reverent Behaviour to Wicliffe- Message from the Queeu- 
Dowager to the Court— Dismay of the Bishops— They abruptly Terminate the Sitting— English Tumults in tha 
Fourteenth Century compared with French Revolutions in the Nineteenth— Substance of Wicliffe's Defence— 
Tlie Binding ;md Looking Power. 

Meanwhile, the thiecbullbof the Pope hail ai lived 
ill England. The one addi ebbed to the kmg found 
Edward in his grave. That sent to the university 
■was but coldly welcomed. Not in vain liad Widifte 
taught so many years in its halls. Oxford, more- 
over, had too great a regard for its own fame to 
extinguish the brightest luminary it contained. 
But the bull addressed to the bishops found them 
in a difl'erent mood. Alarm and rage possessed 
these prelates. Mainly by the instrumentality of 
Wiclifle had England been rescued from sheer 
vassalage to the Papal See. It was he, too, who 
had put an extinguisher upon the Papal nomina- 
tions, thereby vmdicatLng the independence of the 
English Church. He had next defended tlie right 

of the 



by which the Popes strove to divert it into their own 

coffers. Thus, guided by his counsel, and fortified 

liy the sanction of his name, the Parliament was 

marching on and adopting one bold measure after 

another. The penetrating genius of the man, his 



Kterliiig uprightness, liis cool, cautions, yet fearless 
courage, made the hiimble Rector of Lutterworth a 
formit-lable antagonist. Besides, his deep insight into 
the Papal system enabled him to lead the Parlia- 
ment and nation of England, so that they were 
being drawn on unawares to deny not merely the 
temporal claims, but the spiritual authority also of 
Rome. The acts of resistance which had been 
offered to the Papal power were ostensibly limited 
to the political sphere, but they were done on 
principles which impinged on the spiritual autho- 
rity, and could have no other issue than the total 
overthrow of the whole fabric of the Roman power 
in England. This was what the hierarchy foresaw ; 
the an-ival of the Papal bulls, therefore, was hailed 
by them with delight, and they lost no time in 
acting upon them. 

The primate summoned Wicliffe to appear before 
him in April, 1378. The court was to sit in the 
archbishop's chapel at Lambeth. The substance of 
the Papal bulls on which the prelates acted we have 
given in the preceding chapter. Following in the 
steps of condemned heresiarchs of ancient times, 
Wicliffe (said the Papal missive) had not only 
revived their eiTors, but had added new ones of 
his own, and was to be dealt with as men deal 
with a " common thief" The latter injimction the 
prelates judged it prudent not to obey. It might 
be safe enough to issue such an order at Avignon, 
or at Rome, but not qiiite so safe to attempt to 
execute it in England. The friends of the Reformer, 
embracing all ranks from the pi'ince downward, 
were now too numerous to see ^\'ith imconcern 
Wicliffe seized and incarcerated as an ordinary 
caitiff. The prelates, therefore, were content to 
cite him before them, in the hope that this would 
lead, in regular course, to the dungeon in which 
they wished to see him immured. When the day 
came, a crowd quite as great as and more friendly 
to the Reformer than that which besieged the doors 
of St. Paul's on occasion of his first appearance, sur- 
roimded the Palace of Lambeth, on the right bank 
of the Thames, opposite Westminster, where several 
councils had been held since the times of Anselm 
of Canterbury. Wicliffe now .stood high in popular 
favour as a patriot, although his claims as a theo- 
logian and Reformer were not yet acknowledged, 
or indeed imderstood. Hence this popular demon- 
stration in his favour. 

To the primate this concourse gave anything but 
an assuring augury of a quiet termination to the 
trial. But Sudbury had gone too far to retreat. 
Wicliffe presented himself, but this time no John 
of Gaimt was by his side. The controversy was 
now passing out of the political into the spiritual 

sphere, where the stout and valorous baron, having 
a salutary dread of heresy, and especially of the 
penalties thereunto annexed, feared to follow. God 
was training His servant to walk alone, or rather 
to lean only upon Himself But at the gates of 
Lambeth, Wicliffe saw enough to convince him 
that if the barons were forsaking him, the people 
were coming to his side. The crowd ojjcned re- 
verently to permit him to pass in, and the citizens, 
pressing in after him, filled the chajjel, and tes- 
tified, by gestures and speeches more energetic 
than coui'tly, their adherence to the cause, and 
their deteiTaination to stand by its champion. It 
seemed as if every citation of Wicliffe was destined 
to evoke a tempest around the judgment-seat. The 
primate and his peers were consulting how they 
might eject or silence the intruders, when a mes- 
senger entered, who added to their consternation. 
This was Sir Lewis Clifford, who had been 
dispatched by the qiieen-mother to forbid the 
bishops passing sentence upon the Reformer. The 
dismay of the prelates was complete, and the pro- 
ceedings were instantly stopped. "At the wind of 
a reed shaken," says Walsingham, who describes 
the scene, " their speech became as soft as oil, to the 
jjublic loss of their own dignity, and the damage of 
the whole Church. They were struck with such a 
dread, that you would tliink them to be as a man 
that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no re- 
proofs."' The only calm and self-possessed man in 
all that assembly was Wicliffe. A second time he re- 
turned unhurt and uncondemned from the tribimal 
of his powerful enemies. He had been snatched 
\\p and carried away, as it were, by a whirlwind. 

A formidable list of charges had been handed 
to Wicliffe along with his citation. It were tedious 
to enumerate these ; nor is it necessary to go 
with any minuteness into the specific replies which 
he had prepared, and was about to read before the 
court when tho stonn broke over it, which brought 
its proceedings so abruptly to a close. But the 
substance of his defence it is important to note, 
because it enables us to measure the progress of 
the Reformer's own emancipation, and the stages 
of Wiclifl'e's enlightenment are just tlie .stages of 
the Reformation. We now stand beside the cradle 
of Protestantism in England, and we behold the 
nation, roused from its deep sleep by the Refonner's 
voice, making its essay to find the road of 
liberty. If a little noise accompanies these efforts, 
if crowds assemble, and raise fanatical cries, and 
scare prelates on the judgment -seat, this rude- 
ness must be laid at the door of those who had 

' "Walsingham, Hist. Angliae, p. 205. 



•withheld that instruction which would have taught 
the people to refoiin religion without violating the 
laws, and to utter their condemnation of falsehoods 
without indulging theu- passions against persons. 
Would it have been better that England should 
have lain stUl in her chains, tlian that she should 
disturb the repose of dignified ecclesiastics by her 
efforts to break them? There may be some who 
would have preferred the torpor of slavery. But, 
after all, how harmless the tumidts which accom- 
panied the awakening of the English people in the 
fourteenth centiu-y, compared wth the tragedies, 
the revolutions, the massacres, and the wars, amid 
which we have seen nations since — which slept on 
while England awoke — inaugurate then- liberties !' 
The paper handed in by Wicliffe to his judges, 
stripped of its scholastic form — for after the mamier 
of the schools it begins with a few axioms, runs 
out in numerous divisions, and reaches its con- 
clusions through a long series of nice disquisitions 
and distinctions — is in substance as follows : — That 
the Popes have no political dominion, and that 
their kingdom is one of a spuitual sort only ; that 
their spiritual authority is not absolute, so as that 
they may be judged of none but God ; on the con- 
ti'ary, the Pope may fall into sin like other men, 
and when he does so he ought to be reproved, and 
brought back to the path of duty by his cardinals ; 
and if they are remiss in calling him to account, the 
inferior clergy and even the laity " may medicinally 
reprove him and implead him, and reduce him to 
lead a better life ; " that the Pope has no supremacy 
over the temporal possessions of the clergy and the 

religious houses, in which some priests have vested 
him, the better to evade the taxes and burdens 
which their sovereign for the necessities of the State 
imposes upon their temporalities ; tliat no priest is 
at liberty to enforce temporal demands \>y sj)iritual 
censures ; that the power of the priest in absolving 
or condemning is purely ministerial ; that absolution 
will profit no one unless along with it there comes 
the pardon of God, nor will excommunication hurt 
any one unless by sin he has exposed himself to the 
anger of the great Judge.^ 

This last is a point on which Wicliffe often in- 
sists ; it goes very deep, striking as it does at one 
of the main pillars on wliich the Pope's kingdom 
stands, and plucking from his grasp that terrible 
trident which enables him to govern the world — 
the power of anathema. On this important point, 
" the power of the keys," as it has been technically 
designated, the sum of what Wiclifl'e taught is 
expressed in his fourteenth article. " We ought," 
says he, " to believe that then only does a Christian 
priest bind or loose, when he simply obeys the law 
of Christ ; because it is not lawful for him to bind 
or loose but in vii-tue of that law, and by con- 
sequence not iinless it be in conformity to it." ^ 

Could Wicliffe have dispelled the belief in the 
Pope's binding and loosing power, he would have 
completely rent the fetters which enchained the 
conscience of his nation. Knowing that the better 
half of his country's slavery lay in the thraldom of 
its conscience, Wicliffe, in setting free its soul, 
would virtually, by a single stroke, have achieved 
the emancipation of England. 


wicliffe's views ox church property and church reform. 

An Eternal Inheritance— Overgrown Riches— Mortmain— Its Kuinous Effects— These Pictured and Denounced by 
WicUffe— His Doctrine touching Ecclesiastical Property— Tithes— Novelty of his Views— His Plan of Kcform— 
How he Propos'sd to Carry it out— Eome a Market— "WicUffe's Independence and Courage— His Plan substantially 
Proposed in Parliament after his Death— Advance of En<fland— Her Exodus from the Prison-house— Sublimity 
of the Spectacle — Ode of Celebration. 

There was another matter to which Wicliffe often 
returned, because he held it as second only in ini- 

• "His [Wicliffe's] exertions," says Mr. Sharon Turner, 
" were of a value that has been always highly rated, 
but which the late events of European history con- 
siderably enhance, by showing how much the chances are 
against such a character arising. Many can demolish the 
superstructure, but where is the skill and the desire to 
rebuild a nobler fabric ? When such men as Wicliffe, 
Huss, or Luther appear, they preserve society from dark- 

portance to "the power of the keys." This was the 
property of the Church. The Church was already 
not only enormously rich, but she had even pro- 

ness and depravity j and happy would it be for the peace 
of European society, if either France, Spain, or Italy could 
produce them now." (Turner, Hist.Eng., vl. v., pp. 176, 177.) 

•-' Walsingham, Hist. AngJioc, pp. 206—208. Lewis, Life of 
WicHf, chap. 4. 

^ Lewis, LAfe o/ WicUf, chap. 4, pp. 70—75. 



claimed a dogma which was an effectual preventive 
against that wealth ever being less by so much as a 
single penny ; nay, which secured that her accumu- 
lations should go on while the world stood. What 
is given to the Church, said the canon law, is given 
to God ; it is a devoted thing, consecrated and set 
apart for ever to a holy use, and never can it be 
employed for any secular or worldly end whatever ; 
and he who shall withdraw any part thereof from 
the Church robs God, and commits the awful sin 
of sacrilege. Over the man, whoever he might be, 
whether temporal baron or spiritual dignitary, who 
shoidd presume to subtract so much as a single 
acre from her domains or a single penny from her 
coflers, the canon law suspended a curse. This 
wealth could not even be recovered : it was the 
Church's sole, absolute, and eternal inheritance. 

This grievance was aggravated by the circum- 
Btance that these large possessions were exempt 
from taxes and public burdens. The clergy kept 
no connection with the country farther than to prey 
on it. The third Council of the Lateran forbade all 
laics, under the usual penalties, to exact any taxes 
from the clergy, or lay any contributions upon them 
or upon their Churches.' If, however, the necessities 
of the State were great, and the lands of the laity 
insufficient, the priests might, of their own good 
pleasure, grant a voluntary subsidy. The fom-th 
General Council of Lateran renewed tliis canon, 
hurling excommunication against all who should 
disregard it, biit graciously permitting the clergy 
to aid in the exigencies of the Stat« if they saw fit 
and the Pope were willing.'' Here was " a kingdom 
of priests," the owners of half the .soil, every inch 
of which was enclosed within a sacred rail, so that 
no one durst lay a finger upon it, unless indeed 
their foreign head, the Pontiff, should first give his 

In these overgrown riches Wicliffe discerned the 
source of innumerable e\dls. The nation was being 
beggared and the Government was being weakened. 
The lands of the Church were continually gi-owing 
wider, and the area which supported the burdens 
of the State and furnished the revenues of the 
Crown was constantly growing narrower. Nor was 
the possession of this wealth less hurtful to the 
coqioration that owned it, than its abstraction was 
to that from whom it had been torn. Whence 
flowed the many con-uptions of the Church, the 
pride, the luxury, the indolence of Churchmen? 
Manifestly, from these enormous riches. Sacred 

' Concil. Lateran. iii., cap. 19— Hard., torn, vi., part 2, 
col. 1681. 
* Hard., torn, vii., col. 51. Vide Decret. Gregory IX., lib. Hi. 

uses ! So was it pleaded. The more that wealth 
increased, the less sacred the uses to which it was 
devoted, and the more flagrant the neglect of the 
duties which those who possessed it wei'e appointed 
to discharge. 

But Wicliffe's own words will best convey to us 
an idea of his feelings on this point, and the height 
to which the evil had Town. 

" Prelates and priests," says he, " ciy aloud and 
write that the king hath no jurisdiction or power 
over the persons and goods of Holy Church. 
And when the king and the secidar Lords, perceiv- 
ing that their ancestoi's' alms are wasted in pomp 
and pride, gluttony and other vanities, wish to take 
again the superfluity of temporal goods, and to help 
the land and themselves and their tenants, these 
worldly clerks bawl loudly that they ought to be 
cui-sed for intromitting with the goods of Holy 
Church, as if secular Lords and Commons were no 
part of Holy Church." 

And again he complains that property which was 
not too holy to be spent in " gluttony and other 
vanities," was yet accoimted too holy to bear the 
burdens of the State, and contribute to the defence 
of the realm. 

" By their new law of decretals," says he, " they 
have ordained that oiu- clergy shall pay no subsidy 
nor tax for keeping of our king and realm, without 
leave and assent of the worldly priest of Rome. 
And yet many times this proud worldly priest is 
an enemy of our land, and secretly maintains otu' 
enemies in war against us with oiu- own gold. And 
thus they make an alien priest, and he the proudest 
of all priests, to be the chief lord of the whole of 
the goods which clerks possess in the realm, and 
that is the greatest part thereof"* 

Wicliffe was not a mere corrector of abuses ; he 
was a refonner of institutions, and accordingly he 
laid down a principle which menaced the very 
foundations of this gi-eat evil. 

Those acres, now coveting half the face of Eng- 
land, those cathedral and conventual buildings, 
those tithes and revenues which constitute the 
" goods" of the Chiu'ch are not, Wicliffe affirmed, 
in any legal or strict sense the Chiu'ch's property. 
She neither bought it, nor did she win it by seiwice 
in the field, nor did she receive it as a feudal, xai- 
conditional gift. It is the alms of the English 
nation. The Church is but the administrator of 
this property ; the nation is the real proprietor, 
and the nation is bound through the king and Par- 
liament, its I'epresentatives, to see that the Church 

' See " Opinions of Wicliffe ' ' in "Vaujrhan, Life of Wicliffe, 
vol. ii., p. 267. 



devotes this wealth to the objects foi- wliich it was 
given to her ; and if it shall tind that it is abused 
or diverted to other objects, it may recall it. The 
ecclesiastic wlio becomes immoral uiwl fails to fidtil 
the duties of his office, forfeits that office wth aU its 
temporalities, and the same law which applies to 
the individual applies to the whole corporation 
or Clmrch. Such, in brief, was the doctrine of 

But farther, the Reformer distiuguishod between 
the lands of the abbacy or the monastery, and the 
acres of the neighbouring baron. The first were 
national property, the second were private ; the iirst 
were lield for spii'itual uses, the second for secular ; 
and by how much tlie issues depending on the right 
use of the first, as regarded both the temporal and 
eternal interests of mankind, exceeded those de- 
pending upon the right iise of the second, by so 
much was the nation bound closely to oversee, and 
jealously to guard against all perversion and abuse 
in the case of the former. Tlie baron might feast, 
hunt, and ride out attended by ever so many men- 
at-aniLS ; he might pass his days in labour or in 
idleness, just as suited liim. But the bishop must 
eschew these delights and worldly vanities. He 
must give himself to reading, to prayer, to the 
ministry of the Word ; he must instruct the igno- 
rant, and visit the sick, and approve liimself in aU 
things as a faithful minister of Jesus Chiist.^ 

But while Wiclifl'e made this most important 
distinction between ecclesiastical and lay projjerty, 
he held that as regarded the imposts of the king, 
the estates of the bishop and the estates of the 
baron were on a level. The sovereign had as good 
a right to tax the one as the other, and both were 
equally bound to bear their fair share of the ex- 
pense of defending the country. Farther, WicHfte 
held tlie decision of the king, ui all questions touch- 
ing ecclesiastical pi-operty, to be final. And let 
no one, said tlie Reformer in efl'eot, be afraid to 
embrace these opinions, or be deterred from acting 
on them, by terror of the Papal censui-es. The 
spu'itual thunder hurts no one whose cause is good. 

Even tithes could not now be claimed, Wiclitte 
held, on a Diraie authority. The tenth of all that 
the soil yielded was, by God's command, set apart 

' See 6tli, letli, and 17th artieles of defence as given in 
Lewis, Life of Wiclif, chap. 4, compared with the articles 
of imiDeachment in the Pope's bull. Sir James Macintosh, 
in his eloquent work Vindiaice Gallicae, claims credit for 
the philosophic statesman Turgot as the first to deliver 
tliis theory of Church-lands in the article "Fondaticn 
of the Encyclopedie." It was propounded by Wicliffe 
four centuvies before Turgot flourished. {Vide Vind. 
Gall., p. 85; Lond., 1791.) 

- Treatise on Clerks arid Possessioners. 

for the support of the Church under the economy 
of Moses. But that enactment, the Reformer 
taught, was no longer binding. The " ritual " and 
tlie " polity " of that disijeusation had passed away, 
and the " moral " only remaiueiL And that 
'• moi-al " WicUfl'e summed up in the words of the 
apostle, " Let him that is taught in the word 
minister to him that teachetli in all good things." 
And while strenuously insisting on the duty of the 
iiistiaicted to provide for their spiritual teacheis, 
he did not hesitate to avow that where the jjiiest 
notoriously failed in his office the people were under 
no obligation to support liim ; and if he should seek 
by the promise of Paradise, or the threat of 
anathema, to extort a liveliliood, for work which 
he did not do and from men whom he never taught, 
they were to hold the promise and the threat as 
alike empty and futile. " True men say," wi-ote 
Wicliffe, " that prelates are more bound to preach 
truly the Gospel than their subjects are to pay them 
dymes [tithes] ; for God chargetli that more, and it 
is more profitable to both parties. Prelates, there- 
fore, are more accursed who cease from their 
preaching than are their subjects who cease to pay 
tithes, even while theii' prelates do their office 

These were novel and startling opinions in the 
age of WicliflTe. It required no ordinary inde- 
pendence of mind to embrace such views. They 
were at war with the maxims of the age ; they- 
were opposed to the opinions on which ChiU'ches 
and States had acted for a thousand yeai-s ; and they 
went to the razing of the whole ecclesiastical settle- 
ment of Christendom. If they were to be applied, 
all existing religious institutions must be re- 
modelled. But if true, why should they not be 
carried out'? Wiclifl'e did not shrink from even 
this responsibility. 

He proposed, and not only did he propose, he 
earnestly pleaded with the king and Parliament, 
that the whole ecclesiastical estate should be i-e- 
formed in accordance with the principles he had 
enunciated. Let the Church suiTCiider all her 
possessions — her broad acres, her palatial biuldings, 
her tithes, her multiform dues— -and return to the 
simplicity of her early days, and depend only on 
the free-will offerings of the jieople, as did tlie 
apostles and first preachers of the Gospel. Such 
was the plan Wiclifl'e laid before the men of the 
fourteenth century.* We may well imagine the 
amazement with wliich he was listened to. 

3 MS. of Prelates ; a/pud Vaughan, vol. ii., p. 286. 
•* MS. Sentence of tlie Cwse Ei- pounded ; apud Vaughan, 
vol. ii., p. 289. 


Did Wicliffe really indulge the hope that his 
scheme would be carried into eftcet ! Did he really 
think that powerful abbots and wealthy prelates 
would sacrifice their principalities, their estates 
and lionours, at the call of duty, and exchang- 
ing riches for dependence, and luxurious ease for 
labour, go forth to instruct the poor and ignorant 


Reform was needed ; it must be attempted if Chm-ch 
and State were to be saved, and here was the 
reform which stood enjoined, as he believed, in 
the Scriptures, and which the example of Christ 
and his apostles confirmed and sanctioned ; and 
though it was a sweeping and comprehensive one, 
reversing the practice of a thousand years, condenin- 

nmible ministers of the 
Gospel ] There was not faith in the 
world foi- such an act of self-denial. Had it been 
realised, it would haxe been one of the most mar- 
vellous tilings in all history. Nor did Wicliffe 
himself expect it to happen. He knew too well 
the ecclesiastics of his time, and the avarice and 
pride that animated them, from their head at 
Avignon down to the bare-footed mendicant of 
England, to look for such a miracle. But his duty 
was not to be measured by his chance of success. 

ing the maxims of past ages, 
and necessarily provoking tlie hos- 
tility of the wealthiest and most powerful body 
in Christendom, yet he believed it to be practicable 
if men had only ^•irtue and courage enough. Above 
all, he believed it to be sound, and the only reform 
that would meet the evil ; and therefore, though 
princes were forsaking him, and Popes were fulmi- 
nating against him, and bishops were summoning 
him to their bar, he fearlessly did his duty by dis- 
playing his plan of reform in all its breadth before 



tlie eyes of tlie nation, and laying it at the foot of 
the throne. 

But Wioliffe, a man of action as well as of thought, 
(lid not aim at carrying this revolution by a stroke. 
All great changes, he knew, must proceed gradu- 
ally. What he proposed was that as benefices fell 
vacant, the new appointments should convey no 
right to the temporalities, and thus in a short time, 
without injury or hardship to any one, the whole 
face of England would be changed. "It is well 
known," says he, " that the King of England, in 
virtue of his regalia, on the death of a bishop or 
abbot, or any one possessing large endowments, 
takes possession of these endowments as the 
sovereign, and that a new election is not entei*ed 
upon without a new assent ; nor will the tempo- 
ralities in such a case pass from theii- last occupant 
to his successor without that assent. Let the king, 
therefore, refuse to continue what has been the 
great delinquency of his predecessors, and in a short 
time the whole kingdom will be freed from the 
mischiefs which have flowed from this source." 

It may jierhaps be objected that thus to deprive 
the Church of her property was to injure \'itally the 
interests of religion and civilisation. With the 
abstract question we have here nothing to do ; let 
us look at the matter practically, and as it must 
have presented itself to Wicliffe. The withdrawal 
of the Chui'cli's property from the service of re- 
ligion was already all but complete. So far as 
concerned the religious instniction and the spi- 
ritual interests of the nation, tins wealth profited 
about as little as if it did not exist at all. It 
served bvit to maintain the pomps of the higher 
clergy, and the excesses which reigned in the re- 
ligious houses. The question then, practically, 
was not, Shall this property be withdrawn from 
religious uses 'I but, Shall it be withdi-awn from its 
actual uses, which certainly are not religious, and 
be devoted to other objects more profitable to the 
commonwealth 1 On that point Wiclifie had a clear 
opinion ; he saw a better way of suppoi-tmg the 
clergy, and he coidd not, he thought, devise a worse 
than the existing one. " It is thus," he says, " that 
tlie wretched beings of this world are estranged 
from faith, and hope, and charity, and become 
corrupt in lieresy and blasphemy, even woi-se than 
heathens. Thus it is that a clerk, a mere collector 
of pence, who can neither read nor understand a 
verse in his psaltar, nor repeat the commandments 
of God, bringeth forth a bull of lead, testifying in 
opposition to the doom of God, and of manifest 
experience, that lie is able to govern many souls. 
And to act upon this false bull he will incur costs 
and lal>our, and often fight, and get fees, and give 

much gold out of our land to aliens and enemies ; 
and many are thereby slaughtered by the liand of 
oiu- enemies, to their comfort and our confusion." ' 

Elsewhere he describes Rome as a market, where 
the cure of souls was openly sold, and where the 
man who ofiered the highest jirice got the fattest 
benefice. In that market, virtue, piety, learning 
were nought. The only coin current was gold. 
But the men who traflicked there, and came back 
invested with a sjiiritual oflice, he thus descx'ibes : 
" As much, therefore, as God's Word, and the bliss 
of heaven in the souls of men, are better than 
earthly goods, so much are these worldly prelates, 
who withdraw the great debt of holy teaching, 
worse than thieves ; more acciu'sedly sacrilegious 
than ordinary plunderers, who break into churches, 
and steal thence chalices, and vestments, and never 
so much gold." ^ 

Whatever may be the reader's judgment of the 
sentiments of Wicliffe on this point, there can be 
but one opinion toucliing his independence of mind, 
and his fidelity to what he believed to be the 
truth. Looking back on history, and looking 
around in the world, he could see only a unani- 
mous dissent from his doctrine. AU the ages were 
against him ; all the institutions of Chiistendoni 
were against liim. The Bible only, he believed, 
■was with him. Supported by it, he bravely held 
and avowed his opinion. His peril was great, for 
he had made the whole hierarchy of Christendom 
his enemy. He had specially provoked the wrath 
of that spu-itual potentate whom few kings in that 
age could brave with impunity. But he saw by 
faith Him who is invisible, and therefore he feared 
not Gregoiy. The evil this wealth was doing, the 
disorders and weakness with which it was afliicting 
the State, the immorality and ignorance with which 
it was corrupting society, and the eternal niin in 
which it was plmiging the souls of men, deeply 
affected him ; and though the riches which he so 
earnestly entreated men to .surrender had been a 
million of times more than they were, they would 
have been in his account but as dust in the balance 
compared with the infinite damage which it cost to 
keep them, and the infinite good which would be 
reaped by parting with them. 

Nor even to the men of his own time did the 
measure of the Reformer appear, it would seem, so 
very extravagant. Doubtless it took away the 
breath from those who had touched tliis gold ; but 
the more sober and thoughtful in the nation began 

1 MS. Sentence of the Curse Expounded; apud Vaughan, 
Life of Wicliffe, vol. ii., p. 306. 
- Ibid., chap. 14. 



to spe that it was not so impracticable as it looked, 
and that instead of involving the destruction it was 
nipre likely to be the saving of the institutions of 
leaniiiig and religion. About twenty-four years 
after the Reformer's death, a gi-eat measure of 
C'liurch reform, based on the views of Wiclifle, 
was proposed by the Commons. The plan took 
shape in a petition which Parliament presented to 
the king, and which was to the following effect : — 
That the crown should take possession of all the 
jjroperty of the Church ; that it shoidd ai^point a 
body of clergy, fifteen thousand in number, for 
the religious ser^'ice of the kingdom ; that it shoidd 
assign an annual stipend to each ; and that the 
surplus of the ecclesiastical property shoidd be 
devoted to a variety of State pui-jooses, of 
which the building and support of almshouses 
was one.' 

Those who had the power could not or would not 
see the wisdom of the Eeformex-. Those who did 
see it had not the power to act upon it, and so the 
wealth of the Chui'ch remained untouched ; and, 
remaining imtouched, it continued to grow, and 
along with it all the evils it engendered, till at last 
these were no longer bearable. Then even Popish 
governments recognised the wisdom of WiclifFe's 
words, and began to act upon his plan. In Ger- 
many, under the treaty of WestphaUa, in Holland, 
in our own country, many of the richest benefices 
were secidarised. When, at a later period, most 
of the Catholic monarchies suppressed the Jesuits, 
the wealth of that opulent body was seized by the 
sovereign. In these memorable examples we dis- 
cover no trace of jwoperty, but simply the resump- 
tion by the State of the salaries of its public 
sei-vants, when it deemed their services or the mode 
of them no longer useful. 

These examples are the best testimony to the 
substantial soundness of Wicliffe's Aaews ; and the 
more we contemplate the times in which he fonned 
them, the more are we amazed at the sagacity, the 
comprehensiveness, the courage, and the faith of 
the Reformer. 

In these events we contemplate the march of 
England out of the house of her bondage. WicMe 
is the one and only leader in this glorious exodus. 
No Aaron marches by the side of this Moses. 
But the nation follows its heroic guide, and stead- 
fastly pursues the sublime path of its emancipation. 
Every year places a greater distance between it and 
the slaveiy it is leaving, and brings it nearer the 

' Walsingham. Hume, jffisf. of EngUnd, chap. 18, pp. 
366, 367. Cobbett, Parlianieiit. Hist, of EngJaml, vol. i., 
pp. 295, 296. 

liberty that lies before it. Wliat a change since the 
days of King John 1 Then Innocent III. stood ^vith 
his heel on the country. England was his himiblc 
vassal, fain to buy off liis interdicts and curses 
with its gold, and to bow down even to the dust 
before his legates ; but now, thanks to John Wiclifle, 
England stands erect, and meets the haughty Pontifi 
on at least equal tei-ms. 

And what a fine logical sequence is seen running 
through the process of the emancipation of the 
country ! The first step was to cast ofi' its political 
vassalage to the Papal chair; the second was to 
vindicate the independence of its Church against 
her who haughtily styles herself the " Mother and 
Mistress of all Churches ;" the third was to make 
good the sole and unchallenged use of its own pro- 
perty, by forbidding the gold of the nation to be 
cairied across the sea for the use of the country's 
foes. And now another step forward is taken. A 
proposal is heard to abate the power of superstition 
within the realm, by curtailing its overgi-own re- 
sources, heedless of the cry of sacrilege, the only 
weapon by which the Church attempted to protect 
the wealth that had been acquired by means not 
the most honom-able, and which was now devoted 
to ends not the most useful. 

England is the first of the European communities 
to flee from that prison-house in which the Crowned 
Priest of the Seven Hills had shut up the nations. 
That crael taskmaster had decreed an litter and 
eternal extinction of all national independence and 
of all human rights. But He who " openeth the 
eyes of the blind," and " raiseth them that are 
bowed do'svn," had pity on those whom their op- 
pressor had destined to endless captivity, and 
opened theii- prison-dooi-s. We celebrate in songs 
the Exodus of early times. We magnify the might 
of that Hand and the strength of that Arm which 
broke the power of Pharaoh ; wliich " opened the 
gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in siuider;" 
which divided the sea, and led the marshalled hosts 
of the Hebrews out of bondage. Here is the reality 
of which the other was but the figure. England 
comes forth, the first of the nations, led on Vjy 
WicUffe, and giving assurance to the world by her 
reappearance that all the captive nationalities 
which have shared her bondage shall, each in its 
appointed season, share her deliverance. 

Rightly understood, is there in all histoiy a 
grander spectacle, or a drama more sublime 1 We 
forget the wonders of the first Exodus when wc 
contemplate the mightier scale anil the more en- 
diuing glories of the second. When we think of 
the bitterness and baseness of the slavery which 
England left behind her, and the glorious heritage 



of freedom and God-given religion to which she 
now begun to point her steps, we can find no words 
in which to vent onr gratitude and praise but those 
of the Divine Ode wn-itten long before, and meant 
at once to predict and to commemorate this glorious 

emancipation : " He brought them out of darkness 
and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in 
smider. Oh that men would praise the Lord for 
his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the 
sons of men." ' 



Peril of Wicliffe— Death of Gregory XI.— Death of Edward III.— Consequent Safety of Wicliffe- Schism in the Papal 
Chair — Division in Christendom — Whieh is the True Pope ? — A Papal Thunderstorm — Wicliffe Retires to Lutter- 
worth — His Views still Enlarging — Supreme Authority of Scripture — Sickness, and Interview with the Friars — 
Eesolves to Translate the Bible— Early Translations— Bede, ic— Wicliffe' s Translation— Its Beauty— The Day of 
the Reformation hiis fairly Broken — Transcription and Pubhcation — Impression produced — Right to Read the 
Bible— Denounced by the Priests— Defended by Wicliffe— Transformation accomphshed on England. 

While Wiclifle was struggling to break first of all 
his own fetters, and next the fetters of an enslaved 
nation, God was working in the high places of the 
earth for his preservation. Every day the number 
of his enemies increased. The shield of John of 
Gaunt no longer covered his head. Soon not a 
friend would there be by his side, and he would be 
left naked and defenceless to the rage of his foes. 
But He who said to the patriarch of old, "Fear not, 
I am thy shield," protected his own chosen champion. 
Wiclift'e had offered inexpiable affront to Gregory ; 
he had plucked England as a prey out of his very 
teeth ; he had driven away his taxgatherers, who 
continually hovered like a flock of cormorants round 
the land. But not content with clipping the talons 
of the Papacy and checking her rapacity in time to 
come, he was even now meditating how he might 
make her reckon for the past, and disgorge the 
wealth which by so many and so questionable 
means she had already devoured, and send forth 
abbot and monk as poor as were the apostles and 
firet preachei'S. This was not to be borne. For a 
hundredth part of this, how many men had ere this 
done expiation in the fire ! No wonder that Wicliffe 
was marked out as the man to be struck do'nai. 
Three bulls did Gregory dispatch with this object. 
The university, the hierarch}-, the king : on all 
were the Pontifical commands laid to arrest and 
imprison the heretic — the short road to the stake. 
Wiclifle was as good as dead ; so doubtless was it 
thought at Avignon. 

Death was about to strike, but it was on Gregory 
XI. that the blow was destined to fall. Instead of 
a stake at Oxford, there was a bier at the Vatican. 

The Pope a little while before had I'eturned to 
Rome, so terminating the " Babylonish captivity;" 
but he had returned only to die (1378). But death 
struck a second time : there was a bier at West- 
minster as well as at the Vatican. When Courtenay, 
Bishop of London, was about to sunuuon Wiclifle 
to his bar, Edward III., whose seiulity the bishop 
was likely to take advantage of against the Reformer, 
died also, and John of Gaunt became regent of the 
kingdom. So now, when the Papal toils wei-e 
closing around Wiclifle, death suddenly stifl'ened 
the hand that had woven them, and the commission 
of delegates which the now defunct Gregory had 
appointed to try, and which he had commanded to 
condemn the Reformer, was dissolved.^ 

In another way did the death of the Pope give a 
breathing-time to the Reformer and the young Re- 
formation of England. On the 7th of April, 1378, 
the cardinals assembled in the Quirinal to elect a 
successor to Gregory. The majority of the sacred 
college being Frenchmen, the Roman populace, 
fearing that they would place one of their own 
nation in the vacant chair, and that the Pontifical 
court would again retii-e to Avignon, gathered 
round the palace where the cardinals were met, 
and with loud tumult and terrible threats demanded 
a Roman for tlieir Pope. Not a cardinal should 
leave the hall alive, so did the rioters threaten, 
luiless their request was complied with. An Italian, 
the Archbishop of Barl, was chosen ; the mob was 
soothed, and instead of stoning the cardinals it 

' Psalm cvii. 14, 1.5. 

= Walsingham, Hist. o/Eng., p. 205. 



saluted them -with "Vivas." But the new Pope was 
austere, pemirious, tyrannical, and selfish ; the car- 
dinals soon became disgusted, and escaping from 
Rome they met and chose a Frenchman — Robert, 
Bishop of Geneva— for the tiara, declai-ing the 
fomier election null on the plea that the choice had 
been made under compulsion. Thus was created the 
famous schism in the Papal chair which for a full 
half-century divided and scandalised the Papal world. 

Chiistendom now saw, with feelings bordei-ing on 
affiight, two Popes in the chau- of Peter. Which 
was the tnie vicar, and which carried the key 
that alone could open and shut the gates of 
Paradise"! This became the question of the age, 
and a most momentous question it was to men who 
believed that theii- eternal salvation himg upon 
its solution. Consciences were troubled ; council 
was divided against council ; bishop battled with 
bishop ; and kings and governments were com- 
pelled to take part in the quan-el. Germany 
and England, and some of the smaller States in 
the centre of Europe, .sided with the first-elected 
Pope, who took possession of the Vatican tinder 
the title of Urban VI. Spain, France, and Scot- 
land espoused the cause of the second, who installed 
himself at Avignon under the name of Clement 
VII. Thus, as the fii-st dawn of the Gospel day 
was breaking on Christendom, God clave the Papal 
head in twain, and divided the Papal world.' 

But for this schism Wiclift'e, to all human appear- 
ance, would have been strtick down, and his work in 
England stamped out. But now the Popes found 
other work than to pursue heresy. Fast and furious 
from Rome to Avignon, and from Avignon back 
again to Rome, flew the Papal bolts. Far above 
the hiimble head of the Lutterworth rector flashed 
these lightnings and rolled these thimdei-s. While 
this storm was raging AViclifie retired to his country 
charge, glad doubtless to escape for a little while 
from the attacks of his enemies, and to solace him- 
self in the bosom of his loving flock. He was not 
idle however. While the Popes were hurling 
curses at each other, and shedding torrents of 
blood — for by this time they had drawn the 
sword in support of theu- rival claims to be 
Christ's vicar — while flagrant scandals and hideous 
corruptions were ravaging the Church, and frightful 
crimes and disorders were distracting the State (for 
it would take " another Iliad,"' as Fox says, to 
narrate all the miseries and woes that afiiicted the 
world during this schism), Wicliffe was sowing by 

' Mosheim, cent. 14, part ii., chap. 2, sec. 14. Hume, 
Rich. II., MisceU. Tra«s. 
' Fox, Acts and Hon., vol. ii., p. 567. 

the peaceful waters of the Avon, and in the niral 
homesteads of Lutterworth, that Di\'ine seed which 
yields righteousness and peace in this world, and 
eternal life in that which is to come. 

It was now that the Reformer opened the second 
part of his gi-eat career. Hitherto his eflbrts had 
been mainly dii'ected to breaking the political fettei-s 
in which the Papacy had bound liis coimtrymen. 
But stronger fetters held fast their souls. These 
his countrymen needed more to have rent, though 
perhaps they galled them less, and to this higher 
object the Reformer now exclusively devoted what 
of life and strength remained to him. In this 
instance, too, his own fuller emancipation preceded 
that of his coimtr3Tiien. The " schism," with the 
scandals and crimes that flowed from it, helped to 
reveal to him yet more clearly the true character of 
the Papacy. He published a tract On the Schism 
of the Popes, in which he appealed to the nation 
whether those men who were denoimcing each other 
as the Antichrist were not, in this case, speaking 
the truth, and whether the present was not an 
opportunity given them by Providence for grasping 
those political weapons which he had wrested from 
the hands of the hierarchy, and using them in the 
destruction of those oppressive and iniquitoiis laws 
and customs under which England had so long 
groaned. " The fiend," he said, " no longer reigns 
in one but in two priests, that men may the more 
easily, in Christ's name, overcome them both."' 

We trace from this time a rapid advance in the 
views of the Reformer. It was now that he pub- 
lished his work On the Truth and Meaning ^ of 
Scripture. In this work he maintains " the 
supreme authority of Scripture," " the right of 
private judgment," and that " Christ's law sufficeth 
by itself to nde Christ's Church." This was to 
discrown the Pope, and to raze the foundations of 
his kingdom. Here he drops the first hint of his 
purpose to translate the Bible into the English ver- 
nacular — a work which was to be the crown of his 

WicUfie was now getting old, but the Reformer 
was worn out rather by the harassing attacks of 
his foes, and his incessant and ever-growing labours, 
than with the weight of years, for he was not yet 
sixty. He fell sick. With imbounded joy the 
friars heard that their great enemy was dying. Of 

' MS. of The Church and her Gox'emance, Bib. Reg. 18, 
B. ix. ; apud Vaughan, Life of Wicliffe, vol. ii., p. 6. 

< De SeTisu et Veritate Scripturm. A copy of this work 
was in the possession of Fox the martyrologist. (Fox, 
vol. i.) Two copies of it are known to be still extant, 
one in the Bodleian Library and the other in the Library 
of Trinity College, Dublin. (Vaughan, lAfe, voL ii., p. 7.) 


course lie was overwhelmed with horror and remorse 
for the e^'il he had done them, and they would 
hasten to his bedside and receive the expression of 
his penitence and sorrow. In a trice a little crowd 
of shaven crowns assembled round the couch of the 


friars." The monks rushed in astonishment and 
confusion from the chamber. ' 

As Wiclift'e had foretold so it came to pass. 
His sickness left him, and he rose from his bed t^ 
do the most daring of his impieties as liis enemies 

sick man — delegates from the four orders of friars. 
" They began fair," wishing him "health and restora- 
tion from Ills distemper;" but speedily changing theii- 
tone, they exhorted him, as one on the brink of the 
gi-ave, to make full confession, and express his un- 
feigned grief for the injuries he had inflicted on 
their order. Wiclifi'e lay silent till they should 
have made an end, then, making his servant raise 
him a little on his pillow, and fixing his keen eyes 
\ipon them, he said with a loud voice, " I shall not 
die, but live and declare the evil deeds of the 

accounted it, the most glorious of his services as 
the friends of humanity will ever esteem it. The 
work of which this very difterent estimate has been 
formed, was that of giving the Bible to the people 
of England in theii- own tongue. True, there were 
already copies of the Word of God in England, but 
they were in a language the commonalty cUd not 
understand, and so the revelation of God to man 

1 Lewis, Life of Widif, p. 82. Lewis places this occur- 
rence in the beginning of the year 1379. 



was as completely hidden from the people as if God 
had never spoken. 

To this ignorance of the will of God, Wiclifle 
traced the manifold evils that afflicted the kingdom. 
I will fill the realm of England with light, said he, 
and the ghostly terrors inspired by the priests, and 

the drama, he wove them into a poem, which 
begimiing with the Creation, ran on through the 
scenes of patriarchal times, the miracles of the 
Exodus, the journey through the desert, till it ter- 
minated at the gates of Palestine and the entrance 
of the tribes into the Promised Land. Such a book 

the bondage in which they keej) the people through 
their superstitious fears, will flee away as do the 
phantoms of the night when the .sun rises. I will 
re-open the appointed channel of holy influence 
between earth and the skies, and the face of the 
world will be renewed. It was a sublime thought. 
Till the seventh century we meet with no attemjit 
to give the Bible to the people of England in their 
mother-tongue. Csedmon, an Anglo-Saxon monk, 
was the first to give the English people a taste 
of what the Bible contained. We cannot call his 
performance a translation. Csedmon appears to 
have possessed a jjoetic genius, and deeming the 
opening incidents of inspired history well fitted for 


"i !^ 

was not of much 
account as an in- 
struction in the 
will of God and 

the way of Life. Others followed wth attempts at 
]iarai)hrasing rather than translating portions of 
the Word of God, among whom were Alfric and 
Alfred the Great. The former epitomised several 
of the books of the Old Testament ; the latter 
in the ninth century summoned a body of learned 
men to translate the Scriptures, but scarcely was 
the task begun when the great prince died, and 
the work was stopped. 

The attempt of Bede Ln the eighth century de- 



serves oui- notice. He is said to have translated 
into the Anglo-Saxon tongue the Gospel of John. 
He was seized with a fatal illness after beginning, 
but he vehemently longed to finish before breathing 
forth his spiiit. He toiled at his task day by day, 
iiJthough the malady continued, and his strength 
sank lower and lower. His life and his work were 
destined to end together. At length the morning 
of that day dawned which the venerable man felt 
would be ins last on earth. There remained yet 
one chapter to be translated. He summoned the 
amanuensis to his bed-side. "Take your pen," 
said Bede, who felt that eveiy minute was preeious 
— " quick, take yom- pen and write." The ama- 
nuensis read verse by verse from the "Vulgate, 
wliich, rendered into Anglo-Saxon by Bede, was 
taken down by the swift pen of the writer. As 
they pui'sued then- joiat labour, they were in- 
teiTupted by the entrance of some officials, who 
came to make arrangements to wliich the assent 
of the dying man was requii-ed. Tliis over, the 
loving scribe was again at his task. " Dear master," 
said he, " there is yet one verse." " Be quick," 
said Bede. It was read in Latin, repeated in 
-inglo-Saxon, and put down in writing. "It is 
finished," said the amanuensis in a tone of exulta- 
tion. "Thou hast tnily said it is finished," re- 
sponded in soft and grateful accents the dying 
man. Then gently raising his hands he said, 
" Glory bo to the Father, and to the Son, and to 
the Holy Ghost," and expii-ed.' 

From the reign of Alfred in the rdnth century 
till the age of WicliSe there was no attempt— if we 
except that of Richard Roll, Hei-niit of Hampole, 
in the same century with Wicliffe — to give a literal 
translation of any portion of the Bible. ^ And even 
if the versions of which we have spoken had been 
worthier and more complete, they did not serve 
the end then- authors sought. They were rarely 

' Cuthbert, Vita Ven. Bedce. 

- Sir Thomas More believed that there existed in MS. 
an earlier translation of the Scriptures into English than 
Wioliffe's. Thomas James, first librarian of the Bodleian 
Library, thought that he had seen an older MS. Bible in 
English than the time of Wicliffe. Thomas Wharton, 
editor of the works of Archbishop TJssher, thought he 
was able to show who the writer of these supposed pre- 
WicliiBte translations was — viz., John von Trevisa, priest 
in Cornwall. Wharton afterwards saw cause to change 
his opinion, and was convinced that the MS. which Sir 
Thomas More and Thomas James had seen was nothing 
else than copies of the translation of Wicliffe made by 
his disciples. If an older translation of the Bible had 
existed there must have been some certain tl-act,- of it, 
and the WicUffites would not have failed to bring it up in 
their own justification. They knew nothing of an older 
translation. (SeeLeohler, Jo7i«(mn;oivIFicJ^/iTol.i., p.4i31.) 

brought beyond the precincts of the cell, or they 
were locked up as ciu'iosities m the library of some 
nobleman at whose expense copies had been made. 
They did not come into the hands of the people. 

WiclifFe's idea was to give the whole Bible in 
the vernacular to the people of England, so that 
every man in the realm might read in the tongue 
wherem he was born the wonderful works of God. 
No one in England had thought of such a thing 
before. As one who turns away from the sun to 
guide his steps by the light of a taper, so did the 
men of those days turn to tradition, to the scholastic 
philosophy, to Papal infallibility ; but the more 
they followed these guides, the fai-ther they strayed 
from the true path. God was in the world ; the 
Divine Light was in the pavilion of the Word, but 
no one thoiight of drawing aside the cm-tain and 
letting that light shine upon the path of men. This 
was the achievement Wicliffe now set himself to 
do. If he could accomplish this he would do more 
to place the liberties of England on an immutable 
foundation, and to raise his country to gi-eatness, 
than would a hundred brilliant victories. 

He had not, however, many years in which to 
do his great work. There remained only the 
portion of a decade of broken health. But his 
intellectual vigour was unimpaired, his experience 
and graces were at their ripest. What had the 
whole of his past life been but a preparation for 
what was to be the glorious task of his evening ? 
He was a good Latin scholar. He set himself down 
in his quiet Rectory of Lutterworth. He opened 
the Vulgate Scriptures, that book which all his 
life he had studied, and portions of which he had 
already translated. The world around him was 
shaken with convulsions ; two Popes were hui-Ung 
their anathemas at one another. Wicliffe pursued 
his sublime work undisturbed by the roar of the 
tempest. Day by day he did his self-appointed 
task. As verse after vei-se was rendered into the 
English tongue, the Reformer had the consolation 
of thinking that another ray had been shot into the 
darkness which brooded over his native land, that 
another bolt had been forged to rend the shackles 
which bomid the souls of his countrymen. In four 
years from beginning his task, the Refoimer had 
completed it. The message of Heaven was now in 
the speech of England. The dawn of the Reforma- 
tion had faii'ly broken. 

Wiclifie had assistance in his great work. The 
whole of the Nw Testament was translated by 
himself ; but Dr. Nicholas de Hereford, of Oxfoi-d, 
is supposed to have been the translator of the Old 
Testament, which, however, was partly revised by 
Wicliffe. This version is remarkably truthful and 



gpirited. The antique Saxon gives a dramatic air 
to some passages.' Wiclitfe's version of the Bible 
rendered other services than the religious one, 
though that was pre-eminent and paramount. It 
powerfully contributed to form the English tongue, 
in the way of perfecting its structure and enlarging 
its vocabulary. Tlie sublimity and purity of the 
doctrines reacted on the language into which they 
were rendered, communicating to it a simplicity, a 
beautj^, a pathos, a precision, and a force unknown 
to it till then. Wiclifle has been called the Father 
of English Prose, as Chaucer is styled the Father of 
Englisli Poetry. No man in his day ^vl■ote so 
much as Wiclitie. Writing for the common people, 
he studied to be simple and clear. He was in 
earnest, and the enthusiasm of his soul .supplied 
him with direct and forcible terms. He -wi-ote on 
the highest themes, and his style partook of the 
elevation of his subject ; it is graphic and trenchant, 
and entirely free from those conceits and puerilities 
which disfigure the productions of all the other 
writers of his day. But his version of the Bible 
surpasses all his other compositions in tenderness, 
and grace, and dignity.' Lechler has well said on 
this point : "If we compare, however, WicUfle's 
Bible, not with his own English writings, but with 
the other English literature before and after him, 
a still mere important consideration suggests itself 
Wiclifle's translation marks in its own way quite 
as great an epoch in the development of the English 
language, as Luther's translation does in tlie history 
of the German language. Luther's Bible opened 
the period of the new high German, WiclifFe's 
Bible stands at the top of the mediajval English. 
It is true, GeofFr'ey Chaucer, the Father of English 

1 " Thus, instead of ' Paul the servant of Jesus Chi'ist,' 
Wicliffe's version gives, ' Paul, the knave of Jesus Christ.' 
' For a mightier than I cometh after me, the latchet of 
whose shoes I am not worthy to loose,' his version reads, 
' For a stalworthier than I cometh afier me, the strings 
of whose chancers I am not worthy to unlouse.'" 
(M'Crie, Annals of English Presbytery, p. 41.) 

- Luther translated the Bible out of the original Greek. 
WicUffe, who did not know Greek, translated out of the 
Latin Vulgate. That the New Testament was translated 
by himself is tolerably certain. Lechler says that the 
translation of the Old Testament, in the original hand- 
writing, with erasures and alterations, is in the Bodleian 
Library ; and that there is also there a MS. copy of tliis 
translation, with a note saying that it was the work of 
Dr. Nicholas de Hereford. Both manuscripts break off 
in the middle of a verse of the Book Baruch, which 
strengthens the probability that the translation was by 
Dr. Nicholas, who was suddenly summoned before the 
Provincial Synod at London, and did not resume his 
work. The translation itself proves that the work from 
Bai-uch onward to the end was by some one else— not im- 
probably WicUffe himself. (See Lechler, Johann von 
Wiclif, vol. i., p. MS.) 

Poetiy, and not Wicliffe, is generally considered as 
the pioneer of medifeval English literature. But 
•with much more reason have later pliilologists 
assigned that rank to the prose of Wicliffe's Bible. 
Cliaucer has certainly some rare traits — liveliness 
of description, charming grace of expression, 
genuine English humour, and masterly power of 
language — but such qualities address themselves 
more to men of culture. They are not adapted to 
be a foi-m of speech for the mass of the people. 
That which is to propagate a new language must be 
something on which the weal and woe of mankind 
depend, which therefore irresistibly seizes upon all, 
the highest as well as the lowest, and, as Luther 
says, ' tills the heart.' It must be a moral, religious 
truth, which, grasped with a new ins])ifation, finds 
acceptance and diffusion in a new form of speech. 
As Luther opened up in Geimany a higher develop- 
ment of the Teutonic language, so Wicliti'e and his 
school have become through his Bible the founders 
of the mediieval English, in which last lie the 
fmidamental features of the new English since the 
sixteenth century."^ 

The Reformer had done his great work (1.382). 
What an epoch in the liistory of England ! What 
mattei'ed it when a dungeon or a gi-ave might close 
over him 1 He had kindled a light which could 
never be put out. He had placed in the hands of 
Ills coimtrymen their true Magna Charta. That 
which the barons at Ruimymede had wrested from 
Kong John would have been turned to but little 
account had not this mightier charter come after. 
Wicliffe could now see the Saxon people, guided 
by this pillar of fire, marching steadily onward to 
liberty. It might take one or it might take five 
centuries to consummate theii' emancipation ; but, 
with the Bible in their mother-tongue, no power on 
earth could retain them in thraldom. The doors of 
the house of their bondage had been flung open. 

When the work of translating was ended, the 
nearly as diflicult work of pjibliahing began. In 
those days there was no printing-press to multiply 
copies by the thousand as in our times, and no pub- 
lishing firm to circulate these thousands over the 
kingdom. The author himself had to .see to all 
this. The methods of publishing a book in that age 
were vai-ious. The more common way was to place 
a copy in the hall of some convent or in the library 
of some college, where all might come and read, 
and, if the book pleased, order a copy to 1)6 made 
for their own use ; much as, at this day, »n artist 

^ Lechler, Johann von Wiclif, vol. i., pp. 453, 454. See 
also Friedrich Koch, Historischc Grammatik der Englischcn 
Uprache, i., p. 19; 1863. 



displays his picture in a haU or galleiy, where its 
merits find admirers and often purchasers. Others 
set up pulpits at cross-ways, and places of public 
resort, and read portions of their work in the 
healing of the audiences that gathered round them, 
and those who liked what they heard bought copies 
for themselves. But Wicliffe did not need to have 
recourse to any of these expedients. The interest 
taken in the man and in his work enlisted a 
hundred expert hands, who, though they toiled to 
multiply copies, could scarcely supply the many who 
were eager to buy. Some ordered complete copies 
to be made for them ; others were content with por- 
tions ; the same copy served several families in 
many instances, and in a very short time Wicliffe's 
English Bible had obtained a wide circulation,' and 
brought a new life into many an English home. 

As when the day opens on some weary traveller 
who, all night long, has been gi-oping his way amid 
thickets and quagmires, so was it with those of the 
English people who read the Word of Life now 
presented to them in their mother-tongue. As they 
were toiling amid the fatal pitfalls of superstition, or 
were held fast in the thoi'ny thickets of a sceptical 
scholasticism, suddenly this great light broke upon 
them. They rejoiced ■with an exceeding great joy. 
They now saw the open path to the Divine Mercy- 
seat ; and putting aside the many mediators whom 
Rome had commissioned to conduct them to it, but 
who in reality had hidden it from them, they 
entered boldly by the one Mediator, and stood in 
the presence of Him who sitteth upon the Throne. 
The hierarchy, when they learned what Wiclilfe 
had done, were stmck with consternation. They had 
comforted themselves with the thought that the 
movement would die with Wicliffe, and that he had 
but a few years to live. They now saw that an- 
other instiTimentality, mightier than even Wicliffe, 
had entered the field ; that another preacher was 
destined to take his place, when the Refonner's 
voice should be silent. This preacher they could 
not bind to a stake and burn. With silent foot 
he was already traversing the length and breadth 
of England. When head of princely abbot and 
lordly prelate reposed on pillow, this preacher, who 
" did not know sleep with his eye day nor night," 
was executing his mission, entering the homes and 

' In 1850 an edition of Wicliffe's Bible, the first ever 
printed, issued from the press of Oxford. It is in four 
octavo volumes, and contains two different texts. The 
editors, the Eev. Mr. Forshall and Sir Frederick Madden, 
in preparing it for the press, collated not fewer than 150 
manuscript copies, the most of which were transcribed, 
they had reason to think, within forty years of the first 
appearance of the translation. 

winning the hearts of the people. They raised a 
great cry. Wicliffe had attacked the Church ; he 
wished to destroy religioh itself 

This raised the question of the right of the 
people to read the Bible. The question was new 
in England, for the plain reason that till now 
there had been no Bible to read. And for the 
same reason there was no law prohibiting the use 
of the Bible by the people, it being deemed both 
useless and imprudent to enact a law against an 
offence it was then impossible to commit. The 
Romaunt version, the vernacular of the south ot 
Europe in the Middle Ages, had been in existence 
for two centuries, and the Church of Rome had 
forbidden its use. The English was tlie fii-st of the 
modern tongues into which the Word of God was 
translated, and though this version was to fall 
under the ban of the Chirrch,'' as the Romaunt 
had done before it, the hierarchy, taken unawares, 
were not yet ready with their fulmination, and 
meanwhile the Word of God spread mightUy. The 
Waters of Life were flowing through the land, and 
spots of verdure were beginning to beautify the 
desert of England. 

But if not a legal, a moral interdict was instantly 
promulgated against the reading of the Bible by the 
people. Henry de Knighton, Canon of Leicester, 
uttered a mingled wail of sorrow and denunciation. 
" Christ," said he, " delivered his Gospel to the 
clergy and doctors of the Church, that they might 
administer to the laity and to weaker persons, ac- 
cording to the state of the times and the wants of 
men. But this Master John Wicliffe translated it 
out of Latin into English, and thus laid it more 
open to the laity, and to women who could read, 
than it had fonnerly been to the most learned of 
the clergy, even to those of them who had the best 
understanding. And in this way the Gospel pearl 
is cast abroad, and trodden imder foot of swine, and 
that which was before precious to both clergy and 
laity is rendered, as it were, common jest to both."" 

- In 1408, an English council, with Ai-chbishop Anindel 
at its head, enacted and ordained "that no one hence- 
forth do, by his own authority, translate any text of Holy 
Scripture into the English tongue, or any other, by way 
of book or treatise, nor let any such book or treatise now 
lately composed in the time of John Wicliffe aforesaid, 
or since, or hereafter to be composed, be read in whole or 
in part, in public or in private, under pain of the greater 
excommunication." So far as this council could secure 
it, not only was the translation of Wicliffe to be taken 
from them, but the people of England were never, in 
any coming age, to have a version of the Word of God in 
their own tongue, or in any living language. (Wilkins, 
Concilia, iii. 317.) 

^ Knighton, De Event. Anglice ; apwl X. Scriptores, col. 
2644. Lewis, Life of Wiclif, chap. 5, p. 83. 



In short, a great clamour was raised against the 
Reformer by the priests and their followers, Tin- 
happily the bulk of the nation. He was a heretic, 
a sacrilegious man ; he had committed a crime un- 
known to former ages ; he had broken into the 
temple and stolen the sacred vessels ; he had fired 
the House of God. Such were the terms in which 
the man was spoken of, who had given to his covmtry 
the greatest boon England ever received. 

Wiclifie had to fight the battle alone. No peer 
or great man stood by his side. It woidd seem as if 
there must come, in the career of all great reformers 
— and Wiclifie stands in the first rank — a moment 
when, forsaken of all, and painfully sensible of 
their isolation, they must display the perfection 
and sublimity of faith by leaning only on One, 
even God. Such a moment had come to the Re- 
former of the fourteenth century. WicUfle stood 
alone in the storm. But he was tranquil ; he 
looked his raging foes calmly in the face. He 
retorted on them the charges they had hurled 
against himself. You say, said he, that "it is 
heresy to speak of the Holy Scriptures in English." 
You call me a heretic because I have translated 
the Bible into the common tongue of the people. 
Do you know whom you blaspheme 1 Did not the 
Holy Ghost give the Word of God at first in the 
mother-tongue of the nations to whom it was 
addressed 'I Why do you speak against the Holy 
Ghost? You say that the Church of God is in 

danger from this book. How can that ))0 ( Is it 
not from the Bible only that we learn that God has 
set up such a society as a Church on the earth ? Is 
it not the Bible that gives all her authority to the 
Church t Is it not from the Bible that we learn 
who is the Builder and Sovereign of the Church, 
what are the laws by which she is to be governed, 
and the rights and privileges of her members 'i 
Without the Bible, what charter has the Church 
to show for all these 1 It is you who place the 
Church in jeopardy by hiding the Divine warrant, 
the missive royal of her King, for the authority she 
wields and the faith she enjoins.^ 

The cu'culation of the Scriptures had arrayed 
the Protestant movement in the panoply of light. 
Wielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the 
Word of God, it was marching on, leaving behind 
it, as the monuments of its prowess, in many an 
English homestead, eyes once blind now opened ; 
hearts lately depi-aved now purified. Majestic as 
the morning when, descending from the skies, she 
walks in steps of silent glory over the earth, so 
was the progress of the Book of God. There was 
a track of light wherever it had passed in the 
crowded city, in the lofty baronial hall, in the 
peasant's humble cot. Though Wicliflfe had lived 
a thousand years, and occupied himself duiing all 
of them in preacliing, he could not have hoped for 
the good which he now saw in course of being ac- 
complished by the silent action of the English Bible. 



"WicliifcJ Old — Continues the War — Attacks Transubstantiation — History of the Dogma — Wicliffe's Doctrine on the 
Eucharist — Condemned by the University Court — Wicliffe Appeals to the King and Paiiiament, and Retires to 
Lutterworth — The InsuiTection of Wat Tyler — The Primate Sudbury Beheaded— Courtenay elected Primate — 
He cites Wicliffe before him — The Synod at Blackfriars — An Earthquake — The Primate reassures the Terrified 
Bishops— Wicliffe's Doctrine on the Eucharist Condemned — The Primate gains over the King— The First 
Persecuting Edict — Wicliffe's Friends fall away. 

Did the Reformer now rest 1 He was old and 
sickly, and needed repose. His day had been a 
stormy one ; sweet it were at its even-tide to taste 
a little quiet. But no. He panted, if it were pos- 
sible and if God were willing, to see his country's 
emancipation completed, and England a refonned 
land, before closing his eyes and descending into his 
gi'ave. It was, he felt, a day of visitation. That 
day had come first of all to England. Oh that she 

were wise, and that in this her day she knew the 
things that belonged to her peace ! If not, she 
might have to buy with many tears and much 
blood, through yeai-s, and it might be centuries, of 
conflict, what seemed now so nearly within her 
reach. Wicliffe resolved, therefore, that there 
should be no pause in the war. He had just 

> See Lewis, Lif "f WicUf, pp. 86—88. 



ended one battle, he now girded himself for an- 
other. He turned to attack the doctrinal system 
of the Church of Eome. 

He had come ere this to be of opinion that tlie 
system of Rome's doctrines, and the ceremonies of 
her worship, were anti-Christian — a " new religion, 
founded of sinful men," and opposed to " the rule 
of Jesus Christ given by him to his apostles;" but 
in beginning this new battle lie selected one parti- 

the ninth century ; it came into England in the 
train of William the Conqueror and his Anglo- 
Norman priests ; it was zealously preached by 
Lanfranc, a Benedictine monk and Abbot of St. 
Stephen of Caen in Normandy,' who was raised 
to the See of Canterbiuy under William ; and from 
the time of Lanfranc to the days of WiclitTe this 
tenet was received by the Anglo-Norman clergy 
of England.- It was hardly to be expected that 

n'TTEEwoRTii riirr.cir. 

cular dogma as the object of attack. That dogma 
was Transubstantiation. It is here that the super- 
stition of Rome culminates : it is in this more 
than in any other dogma that we find the sources 
of her prodigious authority, and the springs of her 
vast influence. In making his blow to fall here, 
Wicliffe knew that the stroke would have ten-fold 
more effect than if dii-ected against a less vital part 
of the system. If he could abolish the sacrifice 
of the priest, he would bring back the sacrifice of 
Christ, which alone is the Gospel, because through 
it is the " remission of sins," and the " life ever- 

Transubstantiation, as we have already shown, 
was invented by the monk Paschasius Radbertus in 

they woidd very narrowly or critically examine 
the foundations of a doctrine which contributed 
so greatly to their power ; and as regards tlie 

1 Gabriel crEmlUianne, Preface. 

- " It had been for near a thousand years after Christ 
the Catholic doctrine," says Lewis, "and partisularly of 
this Clmrch of England, that, as one of our Saxon liomilies 
expresses it. ' Much is bstwixt the body of Christ suffered 
in, and the body hallowed to hoiisell [the Sacrament] ; 
this lattere being only his ghostly body gathered of 
many cornes, without blood and bone, without limb, 
without soule, and therefore nothing is to be understood 
therein bodily, but aU is to be ghostly understood.' " 
(Homily published by Archbishop Parker, with attestation 
of Archbishop of York and thirteen bishops, and im- 
printed at London by John Day, Aldersgate beneath St. 
Martin's, 1567.) 



laity of those days, it was enoiigli for them if 
they had the word of the Church that this docti-ine 
was true. 

In the spring of 1381, Wicliflfe posted up at 
Oxford twelve propositions denying the dogma of 
transubstantiation, and challenging all of the con- 
tvaiy opinion to debate the matter with Mm.' The 
first of these propositions was as follows : — " The 
consecrated Host, which we see upon the altar, is 
neither Christ nor any part of him, but an effica- 
cious sign of him." He admitted that the words of 
consecration invest the elements with a mysterious 
and venerable character, but that they do in nowise 
change their substance. The bread and wine are 
as really bread and wine after as before their con- 
secration. Christ, he goes on to reason, called the 
elements "bread" and "my body;" they were 
" bread " and they were Christ's " body," as he 
himself is very man and very God, without any 
commingling of the two natures ; so tlie elements 
ar&-"ln'ead" and "Christ's body" — "bread" really, 
and " Christ's body" figuratively and spiritually. 
Such, in brief, is what Wicliffe avowed as his 
opinion on the Eucharist at the commencement of 
the controversy, and on tliis gi-ound he continued 
to stand all throughout it.' 

Great was the commotion at Oxford. Tliere were 
astonished looks, there was a buzz of talk, heads 
were laid close together in earnest and subdued 
conversation ; but no one accepted the challenge of 
Wiclifi'e. All shouted heresy ; on that point there 
was a clear unanimity of opinion, Ijut no one ven- 
tured to prove it to the only man in Oxford who 
needed to have it proved to him. The chancellor 
of the univer.sity, William de Barton, summoned 
a council of twelve — four secular doctors and 
eight monks. The council imanimously condemned 
Wicliffe's opinion as heretical, and threatened 
divers heavy penalties against any one who should 
teach it in the university, or listen to the teaching 
of iV 

1 Lewis, Life of Wiclif, chap. 6. 

- Conclusiones J. Wiclefi de Sacramento Altaris — MS. Hyp. 
Bodl. 163. The first proposition is — " Hostia consecrata 
quam videmus in Altari nee est Christus nee aliqua sui 
pars, sed effieax ejus signum." See also Confessio Magistri 
Johannis Wyclyff— Lewis, Appendix, 323. In this confes- 
sion he says : " For we believe that there is a three-fold 
mode of the subsistence of the body of Chi-ist in the 
consecrated Host, namely, a virtual, a spiritual, and a 
sacramental one " (virtualis, spirit ualis, et sacramentalis) . 

" Definitio facta per Cancellarinm et Doctores Universltatis 
Oxonii, de Sacramento Altaris contra Opiniones WycUffanas 
—MS. Hyp. Bodl. 163. Vaughan says : " Sir E. Twisden 
refers to the above censiires in support of this doctrine 
as 'the first plenary determination of the Church of 
England' respecting it, and accordingly concludes that 
' the opinion of the Chui-ch of transMbstantiation, that 

The council, summoned in haste, met, it would 
seem, in comparative secresy, for Wiclifi'e knew 
nothing of what was going on. He was in his 
class-room, expounding to his students the true 
nature of the Eucharist, when the door opened, and 
a delegate from the council made his appearance in 
the hall. He held in his hand the sentence of the 
doctors, which he proceeded to read. It enjoined 
silence on WicUfTe as regarded his opinions on 
transubstantiation, under pain of imprisonment, 
suspension from aU scholastic functions, and the 
greater excommunication. This was tantamount 
to his expulsion from the rmiversity. " But," 
interposed Wicliffe, " you ought fii-st to have 
shown me that I am in error." The only re- 
sponse was to be reminded of the sentence of 
the court, to which, he was told, he must sub- 
mit himself, or take the penalty. " Then," said 
Wicliffe, "I appeal to the king and the Parlia- 

But some time was to elapse before Parliament 
should meet ; and meanwhile the Reformer, 
watched and fettered in liis chair, thought best to 
withdraw to Lutterworth. The jurisdiction of the 
chancellor of the university could not follow him 
to his parish. He passed a few quiet months 
ministei-ing the " true bread " to his loving flock ; 
being all the more anxious, since he could no 
longer make his voice heard at Oxford, to diffuse 
through his pulpit and by his pen those blessed 
ti-utlis which he had di'awn from the foiuitains of 
Revelation. He needed, moreover', this heavenly 
bread for his own support. " Come aside with me 
and rest awhile," was the language of this Provi- 
dence. In communion with his Master he would 
efface the pain of past conflicts, and arm himself 
for new ones. His way hitherto had been far from 
smooth, but what remained of it was likely to be 
even rougher. This, however, should be as God 
willed ; one thing he knew, and oh, how transport- 
ing the thought ! — that he should find a quiet home 
at the end of it. 

New and unexpected clouds now gathered in the 
sky. Before Wicliffe could prosecvite his appeal in 
Parliament, an insurrection broke out in England. 
The causes and the issues of that insurrection do 
not here concern us, farther than as they bore on 
the fate of the Reformer. Wat Tyler, and a profli- 
gate priest of the name of Ball, traversed England, 
rousing the passions of the populace with fiery 

brought so many to the stake, had not more than a 
hundred and forty years' prescription before Martin 
Luther.'" (Vaughan, Life of John de Wicliffe, vol. ii., p. 82, 
< Lewis, Life of Wiclif, chap. G, pp. 95, 96. 



harangues preached from the text they had "nritten 
upon their banners : — ■ 

"When Adam delved and Eve span^ 
Who was then the gentleman ? " 

These tumults were not contined to England, they 
extended to France and other Continental countries, 
and like the sudden ya-\vning of a gulf, they show 
us the inner condition of society in the foui-teenth 
century. How different from its surface ! — tlie 
theatre of wars and pageants, which alone the his- 
torian thinks it worth liis while to paint. There 
was nothing in the teaching of Wicliffe to minister 
stimulus to such ebullitions of popular wi-ath, yet it 
suited his enemies to lay them at his door, and to 
say, " See what comes of permitting these strange 
and demoralising doctrines to be taught." It were 
a wholly superfluous task to vindicate Wicliffe or 
the Gosp)el on this score. 

But in one way these events did connect them- 
selves with the Reformer. The mob apprehended 
Sudbury the primate, and beheaded him.' Courte- 
nay, the bitter enemy of Wicliffe, was installed in 
the vacant see. And now we look for more 
decisive measures against him. Yet God, by what 
seemed an oversight at Rome, shielded the vener- 
able Refoi-mer. Tlie bull appointing Courtenay to 
the pi-imacy arrived, but the pall did not come with 
it. The pall, it is well known, is the most essen- 
tial of all those badges and insignia by wMch the 
Pope conveys to bishojDS the authority to act under 
liim. Courtenay was too obedient a son of the 
Pope knowingly to transgress one of the least of 
his father's commandments. He burned ■with im- 
patience to strike the head of heresy in England, but 
his scrupulous conscience would not permit him to 
proceed even against Wiclifi'e till the paU had given 
him full investiture with office." Hence the refresh- 
ing quiet and spiritual solace which the Refonner 
continued to enjoy at his coimtry rectory. It was 
now that Wicliffe shot another bolt — the Wicket. 

At last the pall arrived. The primate, in pos- 
session of the mysterious and potent symbol, coidd 
now exercise the full powers of his great oifice. He 
immediately convoked a synod to try the Rector of 
Luttei-worth. The court met on the 17th of May, 
1382, in a place of evil augury — when we take into 
account with whom Wiclifle's life-battle had been 
waged — the Monasteiy of Blackfriai-s, London. 
The judges were assembled, including eight prelates, 
fourteen doctors of the canon and of the civil law, 
six bachelors of divinity, four monks, and fifteen 

■ Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 568. 

- Lewis, Life of Wiclif, p. 97. Vaughan, Life of John tic 
Wicliffe, vol. ii., p. 89. 

Mendicant friars. They had taken their seats, and 
were proceeding to business, when an ominous sound 
filled the air, and the building in which they were 
assembled began to rock. The monastery and all 
the city of London were shaken by an earthquake. ' 

Startled and terrified, the members of the court, 
turning to the president, demanded an adjourn- 
ment. It did seem as if " the stars in their 
courees" were fighting against the primate. On 
the first occasion on which he summoned Wicliffe 
before liim, the populace forced their way into the 
hall, and the coiu't Ijroke up in confusion. Tlie 
same thing happened over again on the second occa- 
sion on which Wicliffe came to his bar ; a popular 
tempest broke over the court, and the judges were 
driven from the judgment-seat. A third time 
Wicliffe is summoned, and the court meets in a 
place where it was easier to take precautions 
against interference from the populace, when lo ! 
the gi'ound is suddenly rocked by an earthquake. 
But Courtenay had now got his pall from Rome, 
and was above these weak fears. So turning to his 
brother judges, he delivered to them a short homily 
on the earthly uses and mystic meanings of earth- 
quakes, and bade them be of good courage and go on. 
" This earthquake," said he, " portends the purging 
of the kingdom from heresies. For as there ai'e 
shut up in the bowels of the earth many noxious 
spirits, which are expelled in an earthquake, and so 
the earth is cleansed, but not without great ^T-O- 
lence : so there are many heresies shut up in the 
hearts of reprobate men, but by the condemnation 
of them the kingdom is to be cleansed, but not 
■\vithout irksomeness and great commotion."* The 
court accepting, on the archbishop's authoritj^, the 
earthquake as a good omen, went on with the trial 
of Wicliffe. 

An officer of the court read out twenty-six 
propositions selected from the writings of the 
Reformer. The court sat three days in " good 
deliberation" over them.* It unanimously con- 

' " Here is not to be passed over the great miracle of 
God's Divine admonition or warning, for when as the 
archbishops and suffragans, with the other doctors of 
divinity and lawyers, with a gi-eat company of babUng 
friars and religious persons, were gatliered together to 
consult touching John WicUffe's boolfs, and that whole 
sect; when, as I say, they were gathered together at 
tlie Grayfriars in London, to begin their business, upon 
St. Dunstan's day after dinner, about two of the cloclc, 
tlie very hour and instant that they should go forward 
with their business, a wonderful and terrible earthquake 
fell throughout all England." (For, Acts and Hon., 
vol. i., p. 570.) 

■• Lewis, Life of Wiclif, pp. 106, 107. Fox, Acts and Mon., 
vol. i., p. 570. 

•' Vaughan, Life of John de Wicliffe, vol. ii., p. 91. 



demned ten of them as heretical, and the remainder 
as erroneous. Among those specially branded as 
heresies, were the propositions relating to tran- 
substantiation, the temporal emoluments of the 
hierarchy, and the supremacy of the Pope, ■which 
last WicUife admitted might be deduced from the 
emperor, but certainly not from Christ. The sen- 
tence of the court was sent to the Bishop of London 
and all his brethren, the suffragans of the diocese 
of Canterbury, as also to the Bishop of Lincoln, 
Wicliffe's diocesan, accompanied by the commands 
of Courtenay, as " Primate of all England," that 
they should look to it that these pestiferous doc- 
trines were not taught in theii" dioceses.' 

Besides these two missives, a thii'd was dis- 
patched to the University of Oxford, which was, in 
the primate's eyes, nothing better than a hot-bed of 
heresy. The chancellor, William de Barton, who 
presided over the court that condemned Wicliffe 
the year before, was dead, and his office was now 
filled by Robert Rigge, who was friendly to the 
Reformer. Among the professors and students 
were many who had imbibed the sentiments of 
Wicliffe, and needed to be warned against the 
" venomous serpent," to whose seductions they had 
already begun to listen. When the primate saw 
that his counsel did not find the ready ear which 
he thought it entitled to from that learned body, 
but that, on the contrary, they continued to toy 
with the danger, he resolved to save them in spite 
of themselves. He carried his comjilaint to the 
young king, Richard II. " If we permit tliis 
heretic," said he, " to appeal continually to the 
passions of the people, our destruction is inevit- 
able; we must sUence these lollards."^ The king 
was gained over. He gave authority " to confine in 
the prisons of the State any who should maintain 
the condemned propositions."^ 

1 Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 569. Knighton, Be Event. 
AngUw, cols. 2650, 2651. 

- Many derivations have been found for this word; the 
following is the most probable : — "Lollen, or lullen, signifies 
to sing with a low voice. It is yet used in the same sense 
among the English, who say lull asleep, wliich signifies 
to sing any one into a slumber. The word is also used in 
the same sense among the Flemings, Swedes, and other 
nations. Among the Germans both the sense and the pro- 
nunciation of it liave undergone some alteration,, for they 
say lallen, which signifies to pronounce indistinctly or 
stammer. LoUmrcl therefore is a singer, or one who fre- 
quently sings." (Mosheim, cent. 14, pt. ii., s. 36, foot-note.) 

^ Lewis, Life of Wiclif, p. 113. D' Aubigne, Hist, of Reform., 

The Reformation was advancing, but it appeared 
at this moment as if the Reformer was on the eve 
of being crushed. He had many friends — every 
day was adding to their number — but they lacked 
courage, and remained in the backgroimd. His 
lectures at Oxford had planted the Gospel in the 
schools, the Bible which he had translated was 
planting it in the homes of England. But if the 
disciples of the Reformation midtiplied, so too did 
the foes of the Reformer. The hierarchy had all 
along withstood and persecuted him, now the maOed 
hand of the king was raised to strike him. 

When this was seen, all his friends fell away 
from him. John of Gaunt had deserted him at an 
earlier stage. This prince stood stoutly by Wicliffe 
so long as the Reformer occupied himself in simply 
repelling encroachments of the hierarchy upon 
the prerogatives of the cro'wn and independence 
of the nation. That was a branch of the con- 
troversy the duke could understand. But when 
it passed into the doctrinal sphere, when the bold 
Reformer, not content with cropping off" a few 
excrescences, began to lay the axe to the root — 
to deny the Sacrament and abolish the altai' — ^the 
valiant prince was alarmed ; he felt that he had 
stepped on ground which he did not know, and that 
he was in danger of being ch-awn into a bottondees 
pit of heresy. John of Gaunt, therefore, made all 
haste to draw off. But others too, of whom better 
things might have been expected, quailed before the 
gathering storm, and stood aloof from the Reformer. 
Dr. Nicholas Hereford, who had aided him in 
translating the Old Testament, and John Ashton, 
the most eloquent of those preachers whom Wicliffe 
Lad sent forth to traverse England, consulted their 
own safety rather than the defence of then- leader, 
and the honour of the cause they had espoused.* 
This conduct doubtless grieved, but did not dis- 
may Wicliffe. Not an iota of heart or hope did 
he abate therefoi-e. Nay, he chose this moment 
to make a forward movement, and to aim more 
ten-ible blows at the Papacy than any he had yet 
dealt it. 

vol. v., p. 130; Edin., 1853. Cobbett, Pari. Hist., vol. i., 
col. 177. Fox calls this the first law for burning the pro- 
fessors of rehgion. It was made by the clei'gy without 
the knowledge or consent of the Commons, in the fifth 
year of Kichard II. 

■• Fox, Acts o7ic! Mon., vol. i., p. 579. Vaughan, Life of 
John de Wicliffe, vol. ii., pp. 109, 110. 





Parliament meets— Wicliffe appears, and demands a Sweeping Reform — His Propositions touching tlie Monastic 
Orders— The Church's Temporalities — Transubstantiation — His growing Boldness — His Views find an echo in 
Parliament — The Persecuting Edict Repealed. 

The Parliament met on the 19th November, 1382.' 
Wiclitfe could now prosecute his appeal to the king 
against the sentence of the univei'sity court, con- 
demning liis twelve propositions. But the prelates 
had been beforehand with him. They had inveigled 
the sovereign into lending them the sword of the 
State to wield at wiU against Wiclifle, and against 
all who should doubt the tremendous mystery of 
transubstantiation. Well, they might bum him 
to-morrow, but he lived to-day, and the doors of 
Parliament stood open. Wicliffe made haste to 
enter with his appeal and complaint. The hierarchy 
had secretly accused him to the king, he oj)enly 
arraigns them before the Estates of the Realm. 

The complaint presented by Wicliffe touched on 
four heads, and on each it demanded a vei-y sweep- 
ing measure of reform. The first grievance to be 
abated or abolished was the monastic orders. The 
Reformer demanded that they should be released 
from the unnatural and immoral vow which made 
them the scandal of the Church, and the pests of 
society. " Since Jesus Christ shed his blood to free 
his Church," said Wiclifie, " I demand its 
freedom. I demand that every one may leave 
these gloomy walls [the convents] within which a 
tyrannical law prevails, and embrace a simple and 
peaceful life under the open vaidt of heaven." 

The second part of the complaint had rrference 
to the temporalities of the Church. The corruption 
and inefficiency of the clergy, Wicliffe traced largely 
to theii- enormous wealth. That the clergy them- 
selves would surrender these overgrown revenues 
lie did not expect ; he called, therefore, for the 
interference of the State, holding, despite the oppo- 
site doctrine promulgated by the priests, that both 
the property and persons of the priesthood were 
imder the jurisdiction of the king. " Magistracy," 
he affirms, is " God's ordinance ; " and he remarks 
that the Apostle Paul, " who putteth all men in 
subjection to kings, taketh out never a one." And 
analogous to this was the third part of the paper, 
wliicli related to tithes and offerings. Let these, 
said Wicliffe, be remodelled. Let tithes and offer- 

' Fox. Acts and Mon., vol. i.. p. 580. 

ings be on a scale which shall be amply sufficient 
for the support of the recipients in the discharge 
of theii' sacred duties, but not such as to ininister 
to their luxury and pride ; and if a priest shall be 
found to be indolent or vicious, let neither tithe nor 
offering be given him. " I demand," he said, " that 
the poor inhabitants of our towns and ^'illages be 
not constrained to furnish a worldly priest, often a 
vicious man and a heretic, with the means of satisfy- 
ing his ostentation, his gluttony and his licentious- 
ness — of b\iying a showy horse, costly saddles, 
bridles with tinkling bells, rich garments and soft 
furs, while they see the wives and children of 
their neighbours dying of himger." ' 

The last pai-t of the paper went deeper. It 
touched on doctrine, and on that doctrine which 
occupies a central place in the Romish system — 
transubstantiation. His own views on the dogma 
he did not pai-ticularly define in this appeal to 
Parliament, though he did so a little while aftei' 
before the Convocation ; he contented himself with 
craving liberty to have the true doctrine of the 
Eucharist, as given by Christ and his apostles, 
taught throughout England. In his Trialogus, 
which was composed about this time, he takes a 
luminous view of the dogma of transubstantiation. 
Its eflects, he believed, were peculiarly mischievous 
and far-extending. Not only was it an error, it 
was an eiTor which enfeebled the imderstanding of 
the man who embraced it, and shook his confidence 
in the testimony of his senses, and so prepared the 
way for any absurdity or eiTor, however much in 
opposition to reason or even to sense. The doctrine 
of the " real presence," understood in a corporeal 
sense, he declares to be the offspring of Satan, whom 
he pictures as reasoning thus while inventing it : 
" Should I once so far beguile the faithful of the 
Church, by the aid of Antichrist my vicegerent, 
as to persuade them to deny that this Sacrament is 
bread, and to induce them to regard it as merely 
an accident, there will be nothing then which I 
wiU not bring them to receive, since there can 

- Vaughan, vol. ii., p. 125. A Complaint of John Wicliffe: 
Tracts and Treatises edited by the Wicliffe Society, p. 268. 



HIGH sti;:,i;t or oxroiu) : time or wiclifie. 

be uotliing more opposite to the Scriptines, or to 
eoiumon disceiiiment. Let the life of a prelate be 
then what it may, let him be guilty of luxmy, 
bimony, or murdei-, the peoiJe may be led to believe 
that he is really no such man — nay, they may then 
be persuaded to admit that the Pope is infallible, 
at least with respect to matters of Christian faith ; 
and that, inasmuch as he is knowai by the name 
INIost Holy Fathei-, he is of course free from sin."' 

" It thus ap}iears," says Dr. Vaughan, conmient- 
iiig on the above, "that the object of WicliU'e was to 
H?store the mind of man to the legitimate guidance 
I'f reason and of the senses, in the study of Holy 
Writ, and in jiulging of every Christian institute ; 
.1 nd that if the doctrine of transubstantiatiou pro\"ed 
jieculiarly obnoxious to him, it was because that 
dogma was seen as in the most direct opposition to 
Ihis generous design. To him it appeared that 
while the authority of the Church was so far sub- 
mitted to as to involve the adoption of this 
monstrous tenet, no limit could possibly be assigned 
I o the schemes of clerical imposture and oppression." 

The enemies of the Reformer must have been 
confounded by this bold attack. They had ]ier- 
suaded themselves that the hour was come when 
Wicliffe must yield. Hereford, Repingdon, Ashton 
— all his friends, one after the other, had reconciled 
themselves to the hierarchy. The ])riests waited 
to see Wicliffe come forward, last of all, and bow 
his majestic head, and then they would lead liim 

1 Tmalogus, lib. iv., cap. 7. Vauglian. Life of John ie 
Wicliffe, vol. ii., 13. 131. " Hoc sacramentum venerabile," 
says Wicliffe, "est in natura sua varus panis et sacra- 
mentalitei- corpus Christi" iTrialogus, p. 192)— naturalhj 
it is bread, sacramentally it is the body of Christ. " By 
this distinction," says Sharon Turner, "he removed from 
the most venerated part of religious worship the great 
provocative to infidelity; and preserved the English 
mind from that absolute rejection of Christianity wliich 
the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation has, since the 
thirteenth century, been so fatally producing in every 
country where it predominates, even among many of its 
teachers." (Hist. o/Eng., vol. v., pp. 182, 183.) 




f boui in chains as a trophy of their victory, and a 
jjroot ol' tho complete suppression of the movement 
of Reform. He comes forward, but not to retract, 
not even to apologise, hut with heart which gi-ows 
only the stouter as his years increase and his enemies 
multiply, to reiterate his charges and again to 

proclaim in the fivce of the whole nation the cor- 
ruption, tyranny, and errors of the hierarchy. His 
sentiments found an echo in the Commons, and 
Parliament repealed the persecuting edict which 
the priests and the king liad smreptitiously passed. 
Thus the gain remained with Wiclilfe. 



Convocation at Oxford— 'VVifliffe cited— Ai-raigned on tlie Question of Transubstautiation— Wioliffe Maintains and 
Reiterates the Teacldng of his whole Life — He Arraigns Ms Judges — They are Dismayed — WicUffe Eetii-es 
Unmolested— Returns to Lutterworth — Cited by Urban VI. to Rome — Unable to go — Sends a Letter— A Faithful 
Admonition — Scene in the Vatican — Christ's and Antichrist's Portraits. 

Baffled before the Parliament, the primate turned 
to Convocation. Here he could more easily reckon 
on a subservient coiut. Courtenay had taken care 
(o assemble a goodly nvunber of clergy to give eclat 
to the trial, and to be the spectatoi-s, as he fondly 
hoped, of the victory that awaited him. There 
were, besides the primate, six bishops, many doctoi-s 
in divinity, and a host of inferior clergy. The con- 
coiu'Se was swelled by the dignitaries and youth of 
Oxford. The scene where the trial took place must 
have recalled many memoiies to Wiclifle wliich 
could not but deeply stir him. It was now forty 
years since he had entered Oxford ii,s a scholar; 
these haUs had witnessed the toils of his youth and 
the labours of his manhood. Here had the most bril- 
liant of his achievements been performed ; here had 
his name been mentioned with honour, and his re- 
nown as a man of erudition and genius formed not 
the least constituent in the glory of liis imivei-sity. 
But this day Oxford opened her venerable gates to 
i-eceive him in a new character. He came to be 
tried, perchance to be condemned; and, if his 
judges were able, to be delivered over to the civil 
power and punished as a heretic. The issue of the 
afi'air might be that that same Oxford which had 
boiTowed a lustre from his name would be lit up 
with the flames of his martyrdom. 

The indictment turned specially upon transub- 
stantiation. Did he afiu-m or deny that cardinal 
doctrine of the Chui-ch ? The Reformer raised his 
venerable head in presence of the vast assembly ; 
his eyes sought out Com-tenay, the archbishop, on 
whom he fixed a steady and searching gaze, and 
proceeded. In this, his last address before any 

com-t, he retracts nothing ; he modides nothing ; 
he reiterates and confirms the whole teaching of 
his life on the question of the Eucharist. His 
address abounded in distinctions after the manner 
of that scholastic age, but it extorted praise for its 
umivalled acuteness even from those who dissented 
from it. Throughout it WicUfi'e unmistakably 
condemns the tenet of transubstantiation, aflinniug 
that the bread still continues bread, that there is 
no fleshly presence of Cluist in the Sacrament, 
nor other presence save a sacrametvtal and spiriiical 

WicHli'e had defended himself with a rare acute- 
ness, and with a coui'age yet more rare. But 
acquittal he wiH neither crave nor accept from 
such a court. In one of those transformations 
which it is given to only majestic moral natures to 
eS'ect, he mounts the judgment^seat and jjlaces his 
judges at the bar. Smitten in their consciences, 
they sat chained to their seats, deprived of the 

' Vaughan, Life of John de WicUffe, vol. ii., chap. 4. 
Wicliffe gave in two defences or confessions to Convo- 
cation : one in Latin, suited to the taste of the learned, 
and chad-acterised by the nice distinctions and subtle 
logic of the schools ; the other in English, and adapted 
to the understandings of the common people. In both 
Wicliffe unmistakably repudiates transubstantiation. 
Those who have said that Wicliffe before the Convocation 
modified or retracted opinions he had formerly avowed, 
have misrepresented him, or, more probably, have mis- 
imderstood his statements and reasonings. He defends 
himself with the subtlety of a schoolman, but he retracts 
nothing ; on the contrary, he re-asserts the precise doc- 
trine for which William de Berton's court had condemned 
him, .and in the very terms in which he had formerly 
stated that doctrine. (See Appendix in Vaughan, Nos. 1, 2.) 



power to rise and go away, although the words of 
the bold Reformer must have gone like liurning 
nrrows to their heart. " They were tlie heretics," 
]ie said, " who affii-med that the Sacrament was an 
•accident without a subject Why did they propa- 
gate such en'ors ? Why, because, like the priests 
of Baal, they wanted to vend their masses. With 
whom, tliink you," he asked in closing, " are ye 
contending 1 with an old man on the brink of the 
grave 1 No ! with Truth — Truth which is stronger 
than you, and will overcome you."' With these 
words he turned to leave the court. His enemies 
liad not power to stop him. " Like his Divine 
JNLaster at Nazareth," says D'Aubigne, " he passed 
thi-ough the midst of them."' Leaving Oxford, he 
retired to his cure at Luttei-woi"th. 

Wiclifte must bear testimony at Rome also. It 
was Pope Urban, not knowing what he did, who 
arranged that the voice of this great witness, before 
becoming finally silent, should be heard speaking 
from the Seven HOls. One day about this time, 
as he was toiling -with his pen in his quiet rectory 
— for his activity increased as his infirmities multi- 
plied, and the night drew on in which he could not 
work — he received a summons from the Pontiff to 
repair to Rome, and answer for his heresy before 
the Papal See. Had he gone thither he certainly 
would never have returned. But that was not the 
consideration that weighed with Wiclifie. The 
hand of God had laid an arrest upon him. He had 
had a shock of palsy, and, had he attempted a 
journey so toilsome, would have died on the way 
long before he could have reached the gates of the 
Pontifical city. But though he could not go to 
Rome in person, he could go by letter, and thus 
the ends of Providence, if not the ends of Urban, 
would be equally served. The Pontiff and his con- 
clave and, in short, all Christendom were to have 
another warning — another call to repentance — 
addressed to them before the Reformer should 
descend into the tomb. 

John WiclifTe sat down in his rectory to speak, 
across intervening mountains and seas, to Urban 
of Rome. Tlian the epistle of the Rector of 
Lutterworth to the Pontiff of Chi-istendom nothing 
can be imagined keener in its satire, yet nothing 
could have been more Christian and faithful in 
its spirit. Assuming L^rban to be what Urban 
held himself to be, Wicliffe went on to say that 

' Ccn/essio Magistri Johanms TFycfi/jf— Vaughan, Life of 
John de WicKffe, vol. ii.. Appendix, No. 6. 
■ D'Aubigne, Hisi. of Reform., vol. v., p. 132; Edin., 1853. 

there was no one before whom ho coiiH so joyfidly 
appear as before Christ's Vicar, for by no one could 
ho expect Christ's law to bo more revered, or 
Christ's Gospel more loved. At no tribunal could 
he expect greater equity than that before which he 
now stood, and therefore if he had strayed from 
the Gospel, he was sure here to have his en'or 
proved to him, and the path of truth pointed out. 
Tlie Vicar of Christ, he quietly assumes, does not 
affect the greatness of this world ; oh, no ; he 
leaves its pomps and vanities to worldly men, and 
contenting himself with the lowly estate of Him 
who while on earth had not where to lay his head, 
he seeks no gloiy save the glory of resembling his 
Master. The " worldly loi'dship " he is compelled 
to bear is, he is sure, an unwelcome burden, of 
which he is fain to be rid. The Holy Father 
ceases not, doubtless, to exliort all his priests 
throughout Christendom to follow herein his own 
example, and to feed with the Bread of Life the 
flocks committed to their care. The Reformer 
closes by reiterating his willmgness, if in aught he 
liad erred, " to be meekly amended, if needs be, 
by death."' 

We can easily imagine the scowling faces amid 
which this letter was opened and read in the 
Vatican. Had Wicliffe indulged in vituperative 
terms, those to whom this epistle was addressed 
would have felt onlj' assailed ; as it was, they were 
arraigned, they felt themselves standing at the bar 
of the Reformer. With severe and truthful hand 
Wicliffe draws the portrait of Him whose sen'ants 
Urban and his cardinals professed to be, and hold- 
ing it up full in their sight, he asks, " Is this your 
likeness f Is this the poverty in which you live ? 
Is this the humility you cultivate ? " With the 
monuments of their pride on every hand — their 
palaces, their estates, their gaj' robes, their magni- 
ficent equipages, their luxurious tables — their 
tyranny the scourge and their lives the scandal of 
Christendom — they dared not say, "This is our 
likeness." Thus were they condemned : but it 
was Christ who had condemned them. This was 
all that Urban had gained by summoning Wicliffe 
before him. He had but erected a pulpit on the 
Seven Hills, from the lofty elevation of which the 
English Reformer was able to proclaim, in the hear- 
ing of all the nations of Europe, that Borne was 
the Antichrist. 

■' Dr. Wichffei Letfrr ofExcxise to Urban T/.— Bibl.Bodl. 
MS. — Lewis, Life of Wiclif, Appendix, No. 23. Foi, Acts 
and Hon., vol. i., p. 507; edit. 1681- 





Anticipation of a Violent Death— Wonderfully Shielded by Events— Sti-uck with Palsy— Dies December 31st, 1384— 
Estimate of his Position and "Work— Completeness of his Scheme of Eeform — The Father of the Refermation 
— The Founder of England's Liberties. 

When Wiclitt'e had indited and dispatched this 
letter, lie had "finished his testimony." It now 
remained only that he should rest a little while on 
earth, and then go 'ip to his everlasting rest. He 
himself expected that his death would be by \'iolence 
• — that the chariot which should cari-y him to the 
skies would be a '' chariot of tire." The primate, 
the king, the Po]ie, all were working to compass 
his destruction ; he saw the iron circle contracting 
day by day around him ; a few months, or a few 
years, and it would close and crush him. That 
a man who defied the whole hierarchy, and who 
never gave way by so much tis a foot-breadth, but 
was always pressing on in the battle, should die at 
last, not in a dimgeon or at a stake, but in his own 
bed, was truly a marvel. He stood alone ; he did 
not consult for his safety. But his very courage, 
in the hand of God, was his shield ; for while 
meaner men were apprehended and compelled to 
recant, Wiclifl'e, who would burn but not recant, was 
left at liberty. " He that loveth his life shall lose 
it." The political troubles of England, the rivaliy 
of the two Popes, one event after another 'came to 
protect the life and prolong the labours of the Re- 
former, till his work attained at last a unity, a 
completeness, and a grandeur, which the more we 
contemplate it appears the more admii'able. That 
it was the fixed purpose of his enemies to destroy 
him cannot be doubted ; they thought they saw 
the oj)portune moment coming. But while they 
waited for it, and thought that now it was near, 
Wiclitle had departed, and was gone whither they 
could not follow. 

On the last Sunday of the year 1384, he was to 
have dispensed the Eucharist to his beloved flock 
in the parish church of Lutterworth ; and as he 
was in the act of consecrating the bread and wine, 
he was struck with palsy, and fell on the pavement. 
This was the third attack of the malady. He was 
affectionately borne to the rectory, laid on his bed, 
and died on the 31st of December, his life and the 
year closing together. How fitting a conclusion to 
his noble life ! None of its years, scarcely any of 
Its days, were passed \inprofitably on the bed of 
sickness. The moment his great work was finished. 

that moment the Voice spake to him which said, 
" Come up hither." As he stood befoi'e the earthly 
symbols of his Lord's passion, a cloud suddenly 
descended upon him ; and when its darkness had 
passed, and the light had returned, sei'ener and 
more bright than ever was dawn or noon of earthly 
day, it was no memorial or symbol that he saw ; 
it was his Lord himself, in the august splendour of 
His glorified humanity; Blessed transition ! The 
earthly sanctuary, whose gates he had that morn- 
ing entered, became to Iiim the vestibule of the 
Eternal Temple ; and the Sabbath, whose services 
he had just commenced, became the dawn of a 
better Sabbath, to be closed by no evening with 
its shadows, and followed by no week-day with 
its toils. 

If we can speak of one centre where the light 
which is spreading over the eax-th, and which is 
destined one day to illuminate it all, originally 
arose, that centre is England. And if to one man 
the honoiu- of beginning that movement wliich is 
renewing the world can be ascribed, that man is 
Wiclifl'e. He came out of the darkness of the 
Middle Ages — a sort of Melchisedek, withoiit father 
or mother. He had no predecessor from whom he 
boiTOwed his plan of Chiirch refonn, and he had 
no successor in his oflice when he died ; for it was 
not till more than 100 years that any other stood 
up in England to resume the work broken off by 
his death. Wiclifl'e stands apart, distinctly marked 
ofl' from all the men in Christendom. Bm-sting 
suddenly upon a dark age, he stands before it in a 
light not borrowed from the schools, nor from the 
doctors of the Church, but from the Bible. He 
came preacldng a scheme of re-mstitution and 
refoi-mation so comprehensive, that no Refomier 
since has been able to add to it any one essential 
principle. On these solid gromids he is entitled to 
he regarded as the Father of the Reformation. 
With his rise the night of Christendom came to an 
end, and the day broke which has ever since con- 
tinued to brighten. 

Wiclifl'e possessed that combination of oj)posite 
qualities which marks the great man. As subtle 
a.s any schoolman of tliria all, he was yet as prac- 



tical as any Englishman of the nineteenth century. 
With intuitive insight he penetrated to the root 
of all the e\'ils that afflicted England, and with 
rare practical sagacity he devised and set agoing the 
true remedies. The evil he saw was ignorance, the 
remedy witli which he sought to cure it was light. 
He translated the Bible, and he organised a body of 
preachers — simple, pious, earnest men — who knew 
the Gospel, and were willing to preach it at cross- 
roads and in market-places, in city and village and 
rural lane — -everywhere, in short. Before he died 
he saw that his labours had been successful to a 
degree he had not dared to hope. " His doctrine 
spread," said Knighton, his bitter enemy, " like 
suckers from the root of a tree." Wiclifi'e liimself 
reckoned that a third of the priests of England 
were of his sentiment on the question of the 
Eucharist ; and among the common people his 
disciples were innumerable. " You could not meet 
two men on the highway," said his enemies, " biit 
one of them is a Wicliflite."' 

The political measures which Parliament adopted 
at Wiclifle's advice, to guard the country against 
the usurpations of the Popes, show how deeply 
he saw into the con.stitution of the Papacy, as a 
political and worldly confederacy, wearing a 
spiritual guise only the better to conceal its tiiie 
character and to gain its real object, which was to 
prey on the substance and devour the liberty of 
nations. Matters were rapidly tending to a sacer- 
dotal autocracy. Christendom wa-s growing into a 
kingdom of shorn and anointed men, with laymen 
as hewere of wood and drawers of water. Wicliffe 
said, "This .shall not be;" and the best proof of 
his statesmanship is the fact that since his day all 
the other States of Europe, one after the other, have 
adopted the same measures of defence to which 
England had recourse in the fourteenth century. 
All of them, following in our wake, have passed 
laws to guard their throne, to regiUate the ap- 
pointment of bishops, to prevent the accumulation 
of j)roperty by religious houses, to restrict the 
introduction of bulls and briefs. They have done, 
in short, what we did, though to less advantage, 
because they did it later in the day. England 
foresaw the evil and took precautions in time ; 
other countries suffered it to come, and began to 
protect themselves only after it had all but effected 
their undoing. 

It was under Wicliffe that English liberty had 
its beginnings. It is not the political constitution 
which has come out of the Magna Charta of King 
John and the barons, but the moral constitution 

' Knighton, De Eventibxts Anglia, col. 2663, 2665. 

which came out of that Divine Magna Charta, 
that Wicliffe gave her in the foui-teenth century, 
which has been the sheet-anchor of England. The 
English Bible wrote, not merely upon the page of 
the Statute Book, but upon the hearts of the people 
of England, the two gi-eat commandments : Fear 
God ; honour the king. These two sum up the 
whole duty of nations, and on these two hangs the 
prosperity of States. There is no mysterious or 
latent virtue in our political constitution which, as 
some seem to think, like a good genius protects us, 
and with invisible hand guides past our shores the 
tempests that cover other countries with the me- 
morials of their devastating fury. The real secret 
of England's greatness is her permeation, at the 
very dawn of her history, with the principles of 
order and liberty by means of the English Bible, 
and the capacity for freedom thereby created. This 
has permitted the development, by equal stages, of 
our love for freedom and our submission to law ; of 
our political constitution and our national genius ; 
of our power and our self-control — the two sets of 
qualities fitting into one another, and gi'owing into 
a well-compacted fabric of political and moral power 
unexampled on earth. If nowhere else is seen a 
similar structure, so stable and so lofty, it is be- 
cause nowhere else has a similar basis been found 
for it. It was Wicliffe who laid that basis. 

But above all his other qualities — above his 
scholastic genius, his intuitive insight into the 
working of institutions, his statesmanship — was hLs 
fearless submission to the Bible. It was in this 
that the strength of Wicliffe's wisdom lay. It was 
this that made him a Reformer, and that placed 
him in the first rank of Reformers. He held the 
Bible to contain a perfect revelation of the will of 
God, a full, plain, and infallible ride of both what 
man is to believe and what he is to do ; and turn- 
ing away from all other teachers, from the prece- 
dents of the thousand years which had gone before, 
from all the doctors and Coimcils of the Church, 
he placed himself before the Word of God, and 
bowed to God's voice speaking in that Word, with 
the docility of a child. 

And the authority to which he himself so im- 
plicitly bowed, he called on all men to submit to. 
His aim was to bring men back to the Bible. The 
Reformer restored to the Church, first of all, the 
principle of authority. There must be a Divine 
and infallible authority in the Church. That 
authority cannot be the Church herself, for the 
guide and those whom he guides cannot be the 
same. The Divine infallible authority which 
Wicliffe restored for the guidance of men was the 
Bible — God speaking in his Woi-d. And by 



setting up this Divine authority he displaced that 
human and thllible authoiity which the corruption 
of the ages had imposed iipon the Church. He 
turned the eyes of men from Popes and Councils 
to the inspired oracles of God.' 

Wicliife, by restoring authority to the Church, 
restored to her liiei-tt/ also. While he taught that 

Thus he taught men to east oflf that blind sub- 
mission to the teaching of mere human authority, 
which is bondage, and to submit their understand- 
ings and consciences to God speaking in his Word, 
which alone is liberty. 

These are the two first necessities of the Church 
of God — authoritij and liberty ; an infallible Guide, 

the Bible was a sufficient and all-jjerfect rule, lie 
taught also that every man had a right to interpret 
the Word of God for his own gviidance, in a de- 
pendence upon the promised aid of the Holy Spirit. 

' "The Bible i3 the foundation deed of the Church, its 
charter: Wicliffe likes, with allusion to the Magna 
Charta, the fundamental deed of the civic liberty of his 
nation, to designate the Bible as the letter of freedom of 
th« Churoh, as the deed of Ei'ace and promise given by 
Ood." (Lachler, De Ecclesia.) 

and freedom to follow him. These two must ever 
go together, the one cannot exist without the other. 
Without authority there can be no liberty, for 
liberty vvithout order becomes anarchy ; and with- 
out freedom there can be no Divine authority, for 
if the Chm-ch is not at liberty to obey the will of 
her Master, authority is overthrown. In the room 
of the rule of God is put the usurpation of man. 
Authority and freedom, like the twins of classic 
story, must together flourish or together die. 



wicliffe's theolooical and church system. 

His Theology drawn from the Bible solely— His Teaching embraced the Following Doctrines : The Fall— Man's 
Inability — Did not formulate his Views into a System— His "PostUs" — His Views on Church Order and 
Government— ApostoUc Ai-rangements liis Model— His Personal Piety — Lechler's Estimate of him as a Ecformer. 

Standing before tlie Bible, Wi- 
cliffe forgot all the teaching of 
man. For centuries before his 
day the human mind had been busy 
the field of theology. Systems had 
teen invented and built up ; the glosses of doctors, 
the edicts of Councils, and the bulls of Popes had 
been piled one above the other till tlie structui-e 
looked imposing indeed. VYicliile dug down through 
it all till he came to the first foundations, to those 
even which the hands of prophets and apostles had 
laid. Hence the apostolic simplicity and pm-ity of 
liis doctrine. ' With all the early Fathers he gave 

' Above all, Wicliffe holds up to view that the preachine 

prominence to the free grace 
of God in the matter of man's 
sahation ; in fact, he ascribed it 
entirely to grace. He taught that"' 
man was fallen through Adam's trans- 
gression ; that he was utterly unable to do the will 

of the Word of God is that instrumentality which very 
specially serves to the edification of the Church, because 
God's Word is seed (Luke viii. 11). "Oh, astonishing 
power of the Divine seed," exclaims Wicliffe, "which 
conquers the strong-armed man, softens hard hearts, 
and renews and changes into godly men those who have 
become brutalised by sin, and wandered to an infinite 
distance from God ! Evidently no priest's word could 
work such a great wonder, if the Spirit of Life and the 
Eternal Word did not co-operate." (Lechler, vol. i., p. 395.) 



of God, or to merit Divine favom- or forgiveness, by 
his own power. He taught the eternal Godhead of 
Christ — very God and very man ; his substitution 
in the room of the guilty ; his work of obedience ; 
his sacrifice upon the cross, and the free justification 
of the sinner through faith in that sacrifice. " Here 
we must know," says he, " the stoiy of the old 
law. . . . As a right looking on that adder 
of brass save<l the people from the venom of ser- 
pents, so a right looking by full belief on ChrLst 
saveth his people. Christ died not for his own 
sins as thieves do for theirs, but as our Brother, 
who himself might not sin, he died for the sins 
that others had done."' 

What Wiclifle did in tlie field of theology was 
not to compile a system, but to give a plain ex- 
position of Scripture ; to restore to the eyes of 
men, from whom they had long been hidden, those 
truths which are for the healing of theii- souls. 
He left it for those who should come after him 
to formulate the doctrines which he deduced from 
the inspired page. Traversing the field of revela- 
tion, he plucked its flowers all fresh as they grew, 
regaling himself and his flock therewith, but be- 
stowing no pains on their classification. 

Of the sermons, or " postils," of Wiclifle, some 
300 remain. The most of these liave now been 
given to the world through the press, and they 
enable us to estimate with accuracy the depth and 
comprehensiveness of the Reformer's views. The 
men of the sixteenth century had not the materials 
for judging which we possess ; and their estimate 
of Wicliflfe as a theologian, we humbly think, did 
him no little injustice. Melancthou, for instance, 
in a letter to Myconius, declared him to Ije 
ignorant of the " righteousness of faith." This 
judgment iS excusable in the cii-cumstances in 
which it was fonned ; but it is not the less imtrue, 
for the passages adduced above make it unques- 
tionable that Wiclifle both knew and taught the 
doctrine of God's grace, and of man's free justifi- 
cation through faith in the righteousness of Christ.- 

The early models of Church government and 
order Wiclifle also dug up from imdenieath the 
rubbish of thii-teen centuries. He maintained that 
the Churdi was made up of the whole bodv of the 

' Vaughan, Life of John de Wicliffe, vol. ii., p. 356. 

• The same excuse cannot be made for Domer. Hie 
brief estimate of the great English Reformer is not made 
with his usual discrimination, scarce with hia usual fair- 
ness. He says : " The deeper religious spirit is wanting 
in his ideas of reform." "He does not yet know the 
nature of justification, .and does not yet know the free 
grace of God." (History of Protestant Theology, vol. i., 
p. 66; Edin., 1871.) 

faithful ; he discarded the idea that the clergy 
alone are the Church ; the laity, he held, are 
equally an essential part of it ; nor ought them to 
be, he held, among its ministera, gi-adation of rank 
or ofiicial pre-eminence. The indolence, pride, and 
dissensions which reigned among the clergy of his 
day, he viewed as arising from violation of the law 
of the Gospel, which declares " it were better for 
the clerks to be all of one estate." " From the 
faith of the Scriptures," says he in his Trialogus, 
" it seems to me to be sufficient that there should 
be presbyters and deacons holding that state and 
ofiice which Christ has imposed on them, since it 
appears certain that these degrees and orders have 
their origin in the pride of Csesar." And again he 
observes, " I boldly assert one thing, namely, that 
in the primitive Church, or in the time of Paul, two 
orders of the clergy were sufficient — that is, a priest 
and a deacon. In like manner I affirm that in the 
time of Paul, the presbyter and bishop were names 
of the same office. This appears from the third 
chapter of the first Epistle to Timothy, and in the 
fii-st chapter of the Epistle to Titus."' 

As regards the claims of the clergy alone to 
foi-m the Church, and to wield ecclesiastical 
power, Wiclifle thus expresses himself : " When 
men speak of Holy Cihurch, anon, they understand 
prelates and priests, with monks, and canons, and 
friars, and all men who have tonsures, though they 
live accm'sedly, and never so contraiy to the law of 
God. But they call not the secidars men of Holy 
Church, though they live never so truly, according 
to God's law, and die in perfect charity. 
Christian men, taught in God's law, call Holy 
Church the congregation of just men, for whom 
Jesus Christ shed his blood, and not mere stones 
and timber and earthly dross, wliich tlie clerks of 
Antichrist magnify more than the righteousness 
of God, and the souls of men."* Before Wicliffe 
could form these opinions he had to forget the age 
in which he lived, and place himself in the midst of 
apostolic times ; he had to emancipate Iiimself from 
the prestige which a venerable antiquity gave to 
the institutions around him, and seek his model 
and principles in the Word of God. It was an act 
of stupendous obedience done in faith, but by that 
act he became the pioneer of the Refoi'mation, and 
the father of all those, in any age or country, who 
confess that, in their eflTorts after Reformation, 
they seek a " City" which hath its " foundations " 
in the teachings of prophets and apostles, and 
whose " Builder and Maker " is the Spirit of God. 

3 Vaughan, Life of John de. Wicli^ffe, vol. ii., pp. 309, 310, 

* Sentence of the Curse Erponnded, chap. 2, 



" That whole circle of questions," says Dr. Hamia, 
"concerning the canon of Scripture, the authority 
of Scripture, and the riglit of private interjire- 
tiition of Scripture, with which the later contro- 
vei-sies of tlie Reformation have made us so 
familial-, received their first treatment in this 
country at Wiclitfe's hands. In conducting this 
fundamental controversy, Wicliife had to lay all 
the foundations with his ovm unaided hand. And 
it is no small praise to render to liis work to say 
that it was even as he laid them, line for line, and 
stone for stone, that they were relaid by the master 
builders of the Reformation." ' 

Of his jjei-sonal piety there can be no doubt. 
There remain, it is true, scarce any memorials, 
written or traditional, of his private life ; but his 
public history is an enduring monument of his jjer- 
sonal Christianity. Such a life nothing could have 
sustained save a deep con\'iction of the truth, a firm 
trust in God, a love to the Saviour, and an ardent 
desii-e for the salvation of men. His private cha- 
racter, we know, was singularly pure ; none of the 
vices of the age had touched him ; as a pastor he 
was loving and faithful, and as a patriot he was 
enlightened, incorruptible, and courageous. His 
friends fell away, but the Reformer never hesitated, 
never wavered. His views continued to gi'ow, and 
his magnanimity and zeal grew \vith them. Had 
he sought fame, or wealth, or promotion, he could 
not but have seen that he had taken the wi'ong 
road : privation and continual sacrifice only coidd 
he expect in the path he had chosen. He acted on 
the maxim which he taught to others, that " if we 
look for an earthly reward our hope of eternal life 

His sermons aflbrd us a glimpse into his study 
at Lutterwoith, and show us how his hours there 
were passed, even in meditation on God's Word, 
and communion with its Author. These are re- 
markable productions, expressed in vigorous i-udi- 
mentai-y English, with no mystic haze in their 
thinking, disencumbered from the phraseology of the 
schools, simple and clear as the opening day, and 
fragrant as the breath of morning. They burst 
suddenly upon us like a ray of pure light from the 
very heart of the darkness, telli:ig us that God's 
Word in all' ages is Light, and that the Holy Spirit 
lias ever been present in the Church to discharge 
his office of leading "into all truth" those who are 
willing to submit their minds to his guidance. 

"If we look from Wiclifl'e," says Lechler, "back- 
wards, in order to compare him wth the men 

' Hauna. WicViffe ond the Hmjueii'its, p. IIU. 

before him, and arrive at a scale of measuiement 
for his own power, the fact is brought before us 
that Wiclifi'e concentratedly represented that move- 
ment towards reform of the foregoing centuries, , 
which the degeneracy of the Church, arising from \ 
its secidar possessions and simonies, rendered neces- 
sary. That which, in Gregory VII. 's time, Arnold 
of Brescia, and the community of the Waldenses, 
Francis of Assisi, and the begging orders of the 
Minorites strove after, what the holy Bernard of 
Clairvaux longed for, the return of the Church to 
apostolic order, that filled Wiclifie's soul specially 

at the beginning of his public career 

In the collective histoiy of the Church of Christ 
Wiclifie makes an epoch, in so far as he is the 
fii-st reforming personalit}^ Before him arose, it is 
true, here and there many schemes and active 
endeavoiu's, which led also to dissensions and colli- 
sions, and idtimately to the foimation of sepai-ate 
communities ; but Wicliffe is the first important 
personality who devoted himself to the work of 
Chui-ch refomi -with the whole bent of his mind, 
with all the thinking power of a superior intellect, 
and the full force of will and joyful self-devotion 
of a man in Christ Jesus. He worked at this his 
life long, out of an earnest, conscientious impulse, 
and in the confident tiiist that the work is not in 
vain in the Lord (1 Cor. xv. 58). He did not 
conceal from himself that the endeavours of evan- 
gelical men would in the fii'st place be combatted, 
persecuted, and repressed. Notwithstanding this, 
he consoled himself vfiih the thought that it would 
yet come in the end to a renewing of the Chiu'ch 
according to the apostolic pattern." 

" How far Wicliife's thoughts have been, first of 
all, rightly underetood, faithfully preserved, and 
practically valued, tUl at last all that was true and 
well proved in them deepened and strengthened, 
and were finally established in the Reformation of 
the sixteenth century, must be proved by the 
history of the follo^\•ing generations. "° 

Wiclifi'e, had he lived two centuries later, would 
very probably have been to England what Luther 
was to Gei-many, and Knox to Scotland. We do 
not regi-et that he came so soon ; he filled what, 
in some respects, was a higher office. He was the 
Forei-unner of all the Reformei-s, and the Father 
of all the Refoi-mations of Chiistendom. 

= Lechler, Johann von Widif, vol. ii., pp. 741, 742. We 
understand that an English translation of Lechler's Life 
•'/ Wicliffg is in preparation by the Rev. Dr. Loriuier, of 
the Presbyterian College, London, a gentleman whose 
scholarly acquirements and historic erudition eminently 
qualify him for tlias task. 



Book C&uli. 




Bohemia— Introduction of the Quspel — Wicliffe's Writings — Pioneers — Militz, Stiekna, Janovius — Charles TV. — Hues 
— Birth and Education — Prague — Bethlehem Chapel. 

In spring-time does the husbaudman begin to 
prepare for the harvest. He turns field after field 
■^vith the plough, and when all have been got ready 
for the processes that are to follow, he returns on 
his steps, scattering as he goes the precious seed 
on the open fun-ows. His next care is to see to 
the needful operations of weeding and cleaning. 
All the while the sun this hour, and the shower 
the next, are promoting the germination and 
growth of the plant. Tlie husbandman returns a 
third time, and lo ! over all his fields there now 
waves the yellow ripened grain. It is hai-\-est. 

So was it with the Heavenly Husbandman 
when he began his preparations for the harvest of 
Christendom. For while to the ages that came 
after it the Reformation was the spring time, it 
yet, to the ages that went before it, stood related 
as the harvest. 

We have witnessed the great Husbandman 
ploughing one of his fields, England namely, as 
early as the foui-teenth century. The war that 
broke out in that age -with France, the political 
conflicts into which the nation was plunged with 
the Papacy, the rise of the universities vi-itli the 
mental fermentation that followed, broke up the 
ground. The soil turned, the Husbandman sent 
forth a skilful and laborious servant to cast into 
the furrows of the ploughed land the seed of the 
translated Bible. So far had the woi-k advanced. 
At this stage it stopped, or appeared to do so. 
Alas ! we exclaim, that all this labour should be 
thrown away ! But it is not so. The labourer is 
■withdrawn, but the seed is not : it lies in the soU ; 
and while it is sUently germinating, and working 
its way hour by hour towards the harvest, the 
Husbandman goes elsewhere and proceeds to 
plough and sow another of his fields. Let us 
cast our eyes over %vide Christendom. What do 
we see? Lo ! yonder in the far-ofl" East is the 
same preparatory process begun which we have 

already traced in England. Verily, the Husband- 
man is wisely busy. In Bohemia the plough is at 
work, and already the sowers have come forth and 
have begmi to scatter the seed. 

In transfeiTing ouraelves to Bohemia we do not 
change our subject, although we change our country. 
It is the same gi-eat drama under another sky. 
Surely the winter is past, and the great spring 
time has come, when, in lands lying so widely 
apart, we see the flowei's beginning to appear, and 
the fountains to gush forth. 

We read in the Book of the Persecutions of 
tlie Bohemian Church: "In the year a.d. 1400, 
Jerome of Prague returned from England, bring- 
ing with him the writings of WiclLffe." ' "A 
Taborite chronicler of the fifteenth century, Nicho- 
laus von Pelhrimow, testifies that the books of the 
evangelical doctor, Master John Wiclifie, opened 
the eyes of the blessed Master John Huss, as 
several reliable men know from his own lips, 
whilst he read and re-read them together with his 

iSuch is the link tliat binds together Bohemia 
and England. Already Protestantism attests ite 
true catholicity. Oceans do not stop its progress. 
The boundaries of States do not limit its triumphs. 
On every soil is it destined to flourish, and men 
of every tongue -will it enroll among its disciples. 
Tlie spiritually dead who are in their graves are 
beginning to hear the voice of WicliflTe — yea, 
i-ather of Christ speaking through Wicliife — and to 
come forth. 

The first drama of Protestantism was acted and 
over in Bohemia before it had begun in Geinnany. 
So proHfic in tragic incident and heroic character 

' ComeniuB, Persecui. Eccles. Bohem., cap. 8, 5; Lugduni 
Batavorum, l&i7. 

2 Hoefler, Hist. Hmsite Movement, vol. ii., p. 593. Lcclilorj 
Joliann fom Wiclif, vol. ii., p. 140. 



was this second drama, that it is deserving of more 
attention than it has j^et received. It did not last 
long, but diu-ing its career it shed a re.splendent 
lustre upon the littls Bohemia. It transformed its 
people into a nation of heroes. It made theii* 
wisdom in council the admii-ation of Eiu'ope, and 
their prowess on the iield the teiror of all the 
neighbouring States. It gave, moreover, a presage 
of the elevation to which human character should 
attain, and the splendour that would gather round 
history, what time Protestantism should begin to 
display its regenerating intltience on a wider area 
than that to which until now it hatl been re- 

It is probable that Christianity first entered 
Bohemia in the wake of the armies of Charlemagne. 
But the Western missionaries, ignorant of the 
Slavonic tongue, could eifect little beyond a uomi- 
iial convei'sion of the Bohemian people. Accord- 
ingly we find the King of Moravia, a countiy 
whose religious condition was precisely similar to 
that of Bohemia, sending to the Greek emperor, 
about the year 863, and saying : " Our land is bap- 
tised, but we have sio teachei's to instruct us, and 
translate for us the Holy Scriptures. Send us 
teachei's who may explain to us the Bible."' Me- 
thodius and Cyrillus were sent ; the Bible was 
translated, and Divine worship established in the 
Slavonic language. 

The ritual in both Mora\'ia and Bohemia was 
that of the Eastern Church, from which the mis- 
sionaries had come. Methodius made the Gospel 
be preached in Bohemia. There followed a great 
harvest of converts ; families of the highest rank 
crowded to baptism, and churches and schools arose 

Though practising the Eastern ritual, the Bo- 
hemian Church remained under the jiu-isdiction of 
Rome ; for the great schism between the Eastern 
and the Western Churches had not yet been con- 
summated. The Greek liturgy, as we may imagine, 
was displeasing to the Pope, and he began to 
plot its overthi-ow. Gradually the Latin rite was 
introduced, and the Greek rite in the same propor- 
tion displaced. At length, in 1079, Gregory VII. 
(Hildebrand) issued a bull forbidding the Orientel 
ritual to be longer observed, or public worship cele- 
brated in the tongue of the country. The reasons 
assigned by the Pontifi" for the use of a tongue 

' NeBtflr, AnnaU, pp. 20—23; St. Petersburg edit., 1767 ; 
aptid Count Valerian Krasinski, Slavonia, pp. 36, 37. 

- Comenius, Persecut. Eccles. Bohem., cap. 1, 1. Centu- 
riatores Madgeburgenses, HUt Ecdes., torn, iii., p. 8; 
Basilite, 1624 

which the people did not understand, in theii' 
addresses to the Almighty, are such as would not 
readily occur to ordinary men. He tells his " dear 
son," the King of Bohemia, that after long study of 
the Word of God, he had come to see that it was 
pleasing to the Omnipotent that his worship should 
be celebrated in an unknown language, and that 
many evils and heresies had arisen from not ob- 
serving this rule.' 

This missive closed in eifect eveiy church, 
and eveiy Bible, and left the Bohemians, so far 
as any public instruction was conceiuied, in total 
night. The Christianity of the nation would 
have sunk under the blow, but for another 
occuiTence of an opposite tendency which hap- 
pened soon afterwards. It was now that the 
Waldenses and Albigenses, fleeing from the sword 
of persecution in Italy and France, arrived in 
Bohemia. Thauniis infoi-ms us that Peter Waldo 
himself was among the number of these evangelical- 

Reynerius, sjjeaking of the middle of the thir- 
teenth centui-y, says : " There is hardly any country 
in which this sect is not to be found." If the 
letter of Gregory was like a hot wind to wither 
the Bohemian Church, the Waldensian refugees 
were a secret dew to revive it. They spread 
themselves in small colonies over all the Slavonic 
countries, Poland included ; they made their head- 
quarters at Prague. They were zealous evan- 
gelisers, not daring to preach in public, but teaching 
in piivate houses, and keeping alive the tnith 
during the two centuries which were yet to ran 
before Huss should appear. 

It was not easy enforcing the commands of the 
Pope in Bohemia, Ijnng as it did remote from 
Rome. In many places worehip continued to be 
celebrated in the tongue of the people, and the 
Sacrament to be dispensed in both kinds. The 
powei-ful nobles were in many cases the protectore 
of the Waldenses and native Christians ; and for 
these benefits they received a tenfold recompense 
in the good order and prosperity which reigned on 
the lands that were occupietl by professors of the 
evangelical doctrines. All through the foui-teenth 
centuiy, these Waldensian exiles continued to 
sow the seed of a pure Christianity in the soil of 

' See the Pontiff's letter in ComeniuK, Persecut. Ecdes. 
Bohem., pp. 16, 17. Tlie following is an extract :— " Ssepe 
enim meditantes Scriptm-am Sacram, comperimus, omni^ 
potenti Deo placuisse, et placere, cultum sucnim lingua 
arcana peragi, ne h quibus vis promisciie, pi-issertiui ru- 
dioribus, uitelligatui-." .... Data; Kouia", ic;, 
Aijiio 107y. 



All great changes prognosticate themselves. The 
revolutions that happen in the political sphere 
never fail to make theii- advent felt. Is it wonder- 
ful that in eveiy country of Christendom there were 
men who foretold the approach of a great moral 
and spiritual revolution 1 In Bohemia were three 
men who were the pioneers of Huss : and who, in 

clergy rather than agamst the false docti-ines of the 
Church, and he exhorted the people to Commimion 
in both kinds. He went to Rome, in the hope of 
finding there, in a coui-se of fasting and tears, 
gi-eater rest for his soul. But, alas I the scandals 
of Prague, against which he had thundered in the 
pulpit of Hardschin, were forgotten in the greater 

of a greater champion than themseh es. The first 
of these was John MUicius, or Militz, Archdeacon 
!fud Canon of the Archiepiscopal Cathedral of the 
Hardschin, Prague. He was a man of rare learn- 
ing, of holy life, and an eloquent pieacher. When 
lie appeared in the pulpit of the cathedral church, 
where he always used the tongue of the people, 
the vast edifice was thronged vnth a most attentive 
audience. He inveighed against the abuses of the 

enormities of the Pontifical city. Shocked at what 
lie saw in Rome, he A\Tote over the door of one of 
the eardinals, " Antichrist is now come, and 
sitteth in the Church,"' and departed. The Pope, 
Gregory XL, sent after him a bull, addressed to 
the Ai'chbisliop of Prague, commanding him to 
seize and imprison the bold priest who had 
afii-onted the Pope in his ovni capital, and at 
the very threshold of the Vatican. 

No sooner had Milicius returned home than the 
archbishop proceeded to execute the Papal man- 
date. But murmurs began to be heard among the 
citizens, and fearing a popular outbreak the arch- 

1 " AntichristuB jam venit, ct in EccleBia sedet." 
(Comenius, Perseeut. Eccles. Bohcm., p. 21.) Some say 
that the words were written on the portals of St. Peter. 



bishop opened the prison doors, and Milicius, 
after a short incarceration, was set at liberty. He 
sui'vived his eightieth year, and died in jjeace, 
A.D. 1374.' 

His colleague, Conrad Stiekna — a man of similar 

They durst not openly celebrate the Communion 
in both kinds, and those who desired to jiartake 
of the "cup," could enjoy the pri\'ilege only in 
private dwellings, or in the yet gi-eater conceal- 
ment of woods and caves. It fared hard with 

hemia, preaching everywhere against the iniquities 
of the times. This drew the eyes of Rome upon 
him. At the instigation of the Pope, pei-secution 
was commenced against the confessors in Bohemia. 

' Comenius, Persecut. Eccles. Bohem., p. 21. 


them ^^ hen their places of retreat were discovered 
bj the limed bands which were sent upon their 
tiack Those who could not manage to escape 
■vveie put to the sword, or thrown into rivers. 
At length the stake was decreed (1376) against 
all -nho dissented from the established rites. 
These pei&ecutions were continued till the times 
of Huss.^ Janovius, who " taught that salvation 
was only to be found by faith in the crucified 
Saviour," when dying (1394) eonsoled his friends 
with the assurance that better times were in store. 
" The rage of the enemies of the truth," said he, 
" now prevails against us, but it wUl not be for 
ever ; there shall arise one from among the com- 
mon people, without sword or authority, and 
against him they shall not be able to prevail."^ 

Politically, too, the country of Bohemia was 
prepamig for the great |>art it was about t-o act. 
Charles I., better Jjnown in Western Europe as 
Charles IV., Emperur of Germany, and author of 
the Golden BuU, had some time before ascended the 
throne. He was an enlightened and patriotic 
ruler. The friend of Petrarch and the protector of 
Janovius, he had caught so much of the spirit of 
the great poet and of the Bohemian pastor, as to 
desire a reform of the ecclesiastical estate, espe- 
cially in the enormous wealth and overgrown 
power of the clergy. In this, however, he could 
effect nothing ; on the contrary, Rome had the art 

- Comenius, Persecut. Bccles. Bohem., p. 23. ^ Ibid., p. 24. 



to gain his coiicuiTence in lier persecuting mea- 
sures. But he had greater siicoess in his efJbrts 
for the political and material amelioration of his 
country. He repressed the turbulence of the 
nobles ; he cleared the highways of the I'obbers 
who infested themj and now the husbandman 
being able to sow and reap in peace, and the 
merchant to pass from town to town in safety, the 
country began to enjoy great prosperity. Nor did 
the labours of the sovereign stop here. He 
extended the miuiicipal liberties of the towns, and 
in 1347 he founded a imivei-sity in Prague, on the 
model of those of Bologna and Paris ; filling its 
chairs ■^•ith eminent scholars, and endowing it 'with 
ample fmids. He specially patronised those authors 
who Avi'ote in the Bohemian tongue, judging that 
there was no more effectual way of invigorating 
the national intellect, than by cultivating the 
national language and Hteratiu-e. Thus, while in 
other countries the Refonnation helped to piu'ify 
and ennolile the national language, by making it the 
vehicle of the sublimest truths, in Bohemia this 
process was reversed, and the development of tlio 
Bohemian tongue prepared the way for the entrance 
of Protestantism.' 

Although the reign of Charles IV. was an era of 
peace, and his efforts wei'e mainly dii'ected towards 
the intellectual and material jirosperity of Bohemia, 
he took care, nevertheless, that the martial spirit 
of his subjects should not decline ; and thus when 
the tempest bui'st in the beguming of the tifteentli 
century, and the anathemas of Rome were seconded 
by the armies of Gennany, the Bohemian people 
were not iinisrepared for the tremendous struggle 
which they were called to wage for then- political 
and religious liberties. 

Before detailing that struggle, we must briefly 
sketch the career of the man who so powerfully 
contributed to create in the bi'easts of his country- 
men that dauntless spirit which bore them up tUl 
victory crowned their arms. John Huss was bom 
on the 6th of July, 1373, iii the market to-svn of 
Hussinetz, on the edge of the Bohemian forest near 
the source of the Moldau river, and the Bavarian 
boundary.^ He took his name from the place of 
liis birth. His parents were jioor, but resjiectable. 
His father died when he was young. His mother, 
when his education was finished at the provincial 
school, took him to Prague, to enter him at the 
imiversity of that city. She earned a present to 
the rector, but happening to lose it by the way, and 

grieved by the misfortime, she knelt down beside 
her son, and implored upon him the blessing of the 
Almighty.' The prayers of the mother were heard, 
though the answer came in a way that would have 
pierced her heart like a sword, had she lived to 
witness the issue. 

The university career of the young student, 
whose excellent talents sharpened and expanded 
day by day, was one of great brilliance. His 
face was pale and thin ; his consuming passion 
was a desire for knowledge ; blameless in life, 
sweet and affable in address, he won upon all who 
came in contact with liim. He was made Bachelor 
of Arts in 1393, Bachelor of Theology in 1394, 
Master of Arts in 1396 ; Doctor of Theology he 
never was, any more than Melancthon. TSvo 
years after becoming Master of Arts, he began to 
hold lectures in the imiversity. Having finished 
his university course, he entered the Church, 
where he i-ose rapidly into distinction. By-and-by 
his fame reached the court of Wenceslaus, who had 
succeeded his father, Charles TV., on the tlurone of 
Bohemia. His queen, Sophia of Bavaria, selected 
Huss as her confessor. 

He was at this time a firm believer in the 
Papacy. The philosophical writings of Wicliffe he 
already knew, and had ardently studied ; but his 
theological treatises he had not seen. He was filled 
■with unlimited devotion for tlie grace and benefits 
of tlie Roman Church ; for he tells us tliat he went 
at tlie time of the Prague Jubilee, 1393, to con- 
fession in the Clmrch of St. Peter, gave the last 
four gi'oschen that he possessed to the confessor, 
and took part in the processions in order to share 
also in the absolution — an efHux of superabundant 
devotion of which he afterwards repented, as he 
himself acknowledged from the pulpit.' 

The true career of John Huss dates fiom about 
A.D. 1402, when he was appointed preacher to the 
Chapel of Bethlehem. This temple had been 
founded in the year 1392 by a certain citizen of 
Prague, Mulhamio by name, who laid gi'eat stress 
upon the preaching of the Word of God in the 
mother-tongue of the people. On the death or the 
resignation of its first pastor, Stephen of Colonia, 
Huss was elected his successor. His sermons 
formed an epoch in Prague. The moral condition 
of that capital was then deplorable. According to 
Comenius, all classes wallowed in the most abomi- 
nable vices. The king, the nobles, the prelates, the 

^ Bonnechose, Reformers before the Eefon^iafion, vol. i., 
' Krasinski, Religious Ristory of the Slavonic Nations, p. 70 ; Edin., 1844. 
pp. 49, 50 : Edit!., 1849. ■• Chronicon Universitaiis Pragensis; apud Lechler, Johann 

- Lecliler, Johann von Wiclif, vol. ii., p. 133. von Wiclif, vol. ii., p. 136. 



clergy, the citizens, indulged witliont restraint in 
avarice, pride, drunkemiess, lewdness, and every 
profligacy.' In the midst of this sunken com- 
munity stood up Huss, like an incarnate conscience. 
Now it was against the prelates, now against the 
nobles, and now against the ordinary clergy that 
he launched his bolts. These sermons seem to 
have benefited the preacher as well as the hearers, 
for it was in the coui'se of their preparation and 
deliveiy that Huss became inwardly awakened. 
A great clamour arose. But the queen and the 
archbishop protected Huss, and he continued 
preaching with indefatigable zeal in his Chapel of 
Bethlehem,^ founding all he said on the Scriptures, 
and appealing so often to them, that it may be 
tnily aflirmed of him that he restored the Word ot 
God to the knowledge of his countrymen. 

The minister of Bethlehem Chapel was then 
bound to preach on all church days early and after 
dinner (in Advent and fast times only in the morn- 
ing), to the common people in their own language. 
Obliged to study the Word of God, and left free 
from the performance of liturgical acts and pas- 
toral duties, Huss grew rapidly in the knowledge 
of Scripture, and became deeply imljued with its 
spirit. While around him was a daily-increasing 
devout community, he himself grew in the life of 
faith. By this time he had become acquainted 
with the theological works of Wicliffe, which he 
earnestly studied, and learned to admire the jnety 
of their author, and to be not wholly opposed to 
the scheme of reform he had promulgated.* 

Already Huss had commenced a movement, the 
true character of which he did not perceive, and 
the issue of which he little foresaw. He placed the 
Bible above the authority of Pope or Council, and 
thus he had entered, without knowing it, the road 
of Protestantism. But as yet he IumI no wish to 
break with the Church of Rome, nor did he dissent 
from a single dogma of her creed, the one point 
of divergence to which we have just referred ex- 
cepted ; but he had taken a step which, if he did 
not retrace it, would lead him in due time far 
enough from her communion. 

The echoes of a voice which had spoken in 
England, but was now silent there, had already 
reached the distant country of Bohemia. We have 
narrated above the arrival of a young student in 
Prague, with copies of the works of the great 
English heresiarch. Other causes favoured the 
introduction of WiclifTe's books. One of these was 
the marriage of Richard 11. of England, with Anne, 
sister of the King of Bohemia, and the consequent 
intercourse between the two covmtries. On the 
death of that princess, the ladies of her court, on 
their return to their native land, brought with them 
the ^vl■itings of the great Reformer, whose disciple 
their mistress had been. The miiversity had made 
Prague a centre of light, and the resoi-t of men of 
intelligence. Thus, despite the corruption of the 
higher classes, the soil was not unprepared for the 
reception and growth of the opinions of the Rector 
of Lutterworth, which now found euti'ance within 
the walls of the Bohemian ctipital* 



The Ttvo Frescoes — The University of Prague — Esile of Huss— Eeturn— Ai-rival of Jerome— Tlio Two Toke-fellows — 

The Eival Popes, &c. 

As incident which is said to have occurred at this 
time (1404) contributed to enlarge the views of 
Huss, and to give strength to the movement he 
had oi-iginated in Bohemia. There came to Prague 
two theologians from England, James and Conrad 
of Canterbury. Graduates of Oxford, and disciples 

' Comenius, Persecut. Eccles. Sohem., p. 25. 

- Bethlehem Chapel— the House of Bread, because its 
founder meant that there the people should be fed upon 
the Bread of Life. 

^ Hoefler, Hist, of HussUe Movement; apiid Lechler, 
Johann von Wichf, vol. ii., p. 140, foot-note. 

of the Gospel, they had crossed the sea to sjjread 
on the banks of the Moldau the knowledge they 

■* " Huss copied out Wicliffe's Trialogus for the Margrave 
Jost of Moravia, and others of noble rank, and translated 
it for the benefit of the laity, and even women, into the 
Czech language. A manuscript in Huss's handwi-iting, 
and embracing five philosophical tractates of Wiebft'e, 
is to be found in the Koyal Library at Stockholm, having 
been can-ied away with many others by the Swedes out 
of Bohemia at the end of the Tliirty Years' War. This 
MS. was finished, as the concluding remark proves, in 1398, 
the same year in wliich Jerome of Prague returned from 
England." (Lechlei-, Johann tioji Wiclif, vol. ii., p. 113.) 



had learned on those of the Isis. Their phin was 
to hold public disputations, and selecting the 
Pope's primacy, they threw down the gage of 
battle to its maintainers. The country was hardly 
ripe for such a warfare, and the affair coming to 
the ears of the authorities, they promptly jDut a 
stop to fhe discussions. Arrested in theii- work, 
the two visitors cast about to discover by what 
other way they could carry out their mission. 
They bethought them that they had studied art as 
well as theology, and might now press the pencU 
into their service. Having obtained their liost's 
leave, they proceeded to give a specimen of their 
skill in a drawing in the corridor of the house in 
which they resided. On the one wall they por- 
trayed the humble entrance of Christ into Jeni- 
salem, " meek, and riding upon an ass." On the 
other they displayed the more than royal magni- 
ficence of a Pontifical cavalcade. There was seen 
the Pope, adorned with triple crown, attired in 
robes b&spangled with gold, and all lustrous with 
precious stones. He rode proudly on a richly 
caparisoned hoise, with trumpetei-s proclaiming his 
approach, and a brilliant crowd of cardinals and 
bishops following in liis rear. 

In an age when printing was unknown, and 
preaching neai'ly sxs much so, tliis was a sermon, 
and a truly eloquent and graphic one. Many came 
to gaze, and to mark the contnvst presented be- 
tween the lowly estate of the Church's Founder, 
and the overgrown haughtiness and pride of his 
pretended vicar.' The city of Prague was moved, 
and the excitement became at last so gi-eat, that 
the English strangers deemed it pruflent to witli- 
draw. But the thoughts they had awakened 
remained to ferment in the minds of the citizens. 
Among those who came to gaze at this antithesis 
of Christ and Antichrist was John Huss ; and 
the eflect of it upon him was to lead him to 
study more carefully than ever the wiitings of 
Wicliffe. He was far from able at first to concur 
in the conclusions of the English Reformer. Like 
a strong light thrown suddenly upon a weak eye, 
the bold views of Wiclifie, and the sweeping 
measure of reform which he advocated, alarmed 
and shocked Huss. The Bohemian preacher had 
appealed to the Bible, but he had not bowed before 
it with the absolute aiid imresei-ved submission of 
the English pastor. To overturn the hierarchy, 
and replace it with the simple ministry of the 
Word; to sweep away all the teachings of tradi- 
tion, and put in their room the doctrines of the 

New Testament, was a revolution for which, thoiigh 
marked alike by its simplicity and its sublimity, 
Huss was not jirepared. It may be doubted 
whether, even when he came to stand at the stake, 
Huss's views had attained the breadth and clear- 
ness of those of Wiclifl'e. 

Lying miracles helped to open the eyes of Huss 
still farther, and to aid his movement. In the 
church at Wilsnack, near the lower Elbe, there 
was a pretended relic of the blood of Christ. 
Many wonderful cures were reported to have been 
done by the holy blood. People flocked thither, 
not only out of the neighbouring countries, but 
also from those at a greater distance — Poland, 
Hmigaiy, and even Scandinavia. In Bohemia 
itself there were not wanting numeroiis pilgrims 
who went to Wilsnack to visit the wonderful relic. 
Many doubts 'were expressed aboiit the efiicacy of 
the blood. The Archbishop of Prague ajspointed 
a commission of three masters, among whom was 
Huss, to investigate the affair, and to inquire into 
the truth of the miracles said to have been 
^\^•ought. The examination of the persons on 
whom the alleged miracles had been performed, 
proved that they were simply impostures. One 
boy was said to have had a soi-e foot cixred by 
the blood of Wilsnack, but the foot on examina- 
tion was found, instead of being cured, to be worae 
than before. Two bHnd women were said to have 
recovered their sight by the virtue of the blood; 
but, on being questioned, they confessed that they 
had had sore eyes, bvit had never been blind ; and 
so as regardefl other alleged cures. As the result 
of the investigation, the archbishop issued a man- 
date in the summer of 1405, in wliich all preachers 
were enjoined, at least once a month, to publish 
to their congregations the episcopal prohibition of 
pilgrimages to the blood of Wilsnack, under jjain 
of excommunication.^ 

Hiiss was able soon after (1409) to render 
another service to his nation, which, by extending 
his fame and deepening his influence among the 
Bohemian people, paved the waj' for his great 
work. Crowds of foreign yovith flocked to the 
University of Prague, and their numbers enabled 
them to monopolise its emoluments and honom's, to 
the partial exclusion of the Bohemian students. 
By the original constitution of the imiversity 
the Bohemians possessed three votes, and the other 
nations united only one. In process of tune this 
was reversed ; the Germans usurped three of the 
four votes, and the remaining one alone was left to 

'Comenivis, Persecui. Eccles. BoTien 
sinski, Slavonia, p. 60. 

- Hoefler^ 

Hisi. of Hussite Movement; apvd Concilia, 



the native youth. Huss protested against this 
abuse, and had influence to obtain its correction. 
An edict was passed, giving three votes to the 
Bolicmians, and only one to the Germans. No 
sooner was this decree published, than the German 
professors and students — to the number, say some, 
of 40,000 ; but according to ^neas Sylvius, a con- 
temporaiy, of 5,000 — left Prague, having previously 
Lound themselves to this step by oath, imder pain 
of having the two first fingera of their right hand 
cut oS". Among these students were not a few on 
whom had shone, through Huss, the first rays of 
Divine knowledge, and who were instrumental iir 
spreading the light over Germany. Elevated to 
the rectorship of the luiiversity, Huss was now, by 
his greater popidarity and higher position, abler 
than ever to projjagate his doctrines.' 

What was going on at Prague could not long 
remain unknown at Rome. On being informed of 
the proceecUugs in the Bohemian capital, the Pojje, 
Alexander V., fulminated a buU, in wliich he com- 
manded the Ai'chbishop of Prague, Sbinko, with 
the help of the secular authoi-ities, to proceed 
against all who preached in private chapels, and 
who read the writings or taught the opinions of 
Wiclifle. There followed a gi-eat auto da fe, not 
of persons but of books. Upwards of 200 
volumes, beautifully written, elegantly bomid, and 
ornamented with precious stones — the works of 
John Wiclifle — were, by the order of Sbinko, pUed 
upon the street of Prague, and, amid the tolling 
Ijells, publicly biu-ned.- Their beauty and costli- 
ness showed that their owners were men of high 
position ; and their number, collected in one city 
alone, attests how widely circulated wei'e tlie ^vlit- 
ings of the English Reformer on the continent of 

This act but the more inflamed the zeal of Huss. 
In his sermons he now attacked indulgences as well 
ius the abuses of the hierarchy. A second mandate 
arrived from Rome. The Pope summoned him to 
iuiswer for his doctrine in person. To obey the 
summons would have been to walk into his grave. 
The king, the cpieen, the imiversity, and many of 
the magnates of Bohemia sent a joint embassy 
requesting the Pope to dispense with Huss's ap- 
])earance in |5erson, and to hear him by his legal 
coimsel. The Pope refused to listen to this 

' Krasinski, Slavonia, pp. 56, 57. Bonnechose, Re- 
formers before the Reformation, vol. i., p. 78. Dupin, 
Ecdes. Hist., cent. 15, p. 119. 

- " Erusta igitur sunt {JSne'X Syhio-tesic) supra ducenta 
Tolumina, pulcherrime conscripta, bullis aureis tegumen- 
tisque pretiosis ornata." (Comenius, Persecul. Ecdes. 
Bohem., p. 29. Dupin, Ecdes. Hist., cent. 15, p. 118.) 

supplication. He went on with the case, con- 
demned John Huss in absence, and laid the city 
of Prague under interdict.' 

The Bohemian capital was tlirowqi into pei-jjlexitv 
and alarm. On every side tokens met the eye to 
which the imagination imparted a fearful sit'niti- 
cance. Prague looked like a city stricken with sud- 
den and tenible calamity. The closed chm-ch-doors 
— the extinguished altar-lights — the corpses waitin" 
burial by the way-side — the images whicli sanctified 
and guarded the streets, covered with sackcloth, or 
laid prostrate on the ground, as if in supplication 
for a land on which the impieties of its children 
had brought down a terrible curse — gave emphatic 
and solemn warning that every hour the citizens 
harboured witliin their- walls the man who had 
dared to disobey the Pope's summons, they but 
increased the heinousness of their guilt, and added 
to the vengeance of their doom. Let us cast out 
the rebel, was the cry of many, before we perish. 

Timiult was beginning to disturb the peace, and 
slaughter to dye the streets of Prague. What was 
Huss to do 1 Should he flee before the storm, and 
leave a city where he had many friends and not a 
few disciples ? What had his Master said ? "'The 
hii-eling fleeth because he is an hireling, and careth 
not for the sheep." This seemed to forbid his 
departvu-e. His mind was torn with doubts. But 
had not the same Master commanded, " When they 
persecute you in one city, flee ye to another " ? His 
presence could but entail calamity upon his friends ; 
so, quitting Prague, he retii-ed to his native \'illage 
of Hussinetz. 

Here Huss enjoyed the protection of the terri- 
torial lord, who was his friend. His first thoughts 
were of those he had left behind iir Prague — the 
flock to whom he had so lovingly ministered in his 
Chapel of Bethlehem. " I have retii-ed," he wrote 
to them, " not to deny the truth, for which I am 
willing to die, but because impious priests forbid 
the preaching of it."* The sincerity of this avowal 
was attested by the labours he immediately under- 
took. Making Christ his pattern, he journeyed all 
thi-ough the surrounding region, preaching in the 
towns and villages. He was followed by great 
crowds, who hung upon his words, admiring his 
meekness not less than his courage and eloquence. 
" The Church," said his hearers, " has pronoimced 
tliis man a heretic and a demon, yet his life is holy, 
and his docti'ine is pure and elevating."* 

•■ Pox, Acts a)id Mon., vol. i., p. 776. 
•• Letters of Huss, No. 11 ; Edin., 1846. 
^ Bonnechose, Reformers before the Reformation, vol. i., 
p. 87. 



The mind of Huss, at this stage of his career, 
would seem to have been the scene of a painful 
conflict. Although the Church was seeking to 
overwhelm him by her thunderbolts, he had not 
renounced her authority. The Roman Chiu'ch was 
still to him the spouse of Christ, and the Pope was 
the representative and vicar of God. What Huss 
was warring against was the ahiise of authority, 
not the jinriciple itself. This brought on a terrible 

wicked persons, and were using their lawful 
authority for unlawful ends. This led him to 
adopt for his own guidance, and to preach to 
others for theii-s, the maxim that the precepts of 
Scripture, conveyed through the understanding, 
are to lade the conscience ; in other words, that 
God speaking in the Bible, and not the Church 
speaking through the priesthood, is the one in- 
fallible guide of men. This was to adopt the 


conflict between the convictions of his understand- 
ing and the claims of his conscience. If the 
authority was just and infallible, as he believed it 
to be, how came it that he felt compelled to disobey 
it '] To obey, he saw, was to sin ; but why should 
obedience to an infallible Church lead to such an 
issue ? Tliis was the problem he could not solve ; 
this was the doubt that tortured him hour by 
hour. The nearest approximation to a solution, 
which he was able to make, was that it had hap- 
pened again, as once before in the days of the 
Saviour, that the priests of the Church had become 

fundamental principle of Protestantism, and to 
preach a revolution which Huss himself would have 
recoiled from, had he been able at that hour to see 
the length to which it would lead him. The axe 
which he had grasped was destined to lay low the 
principle of human supremacj- in matters of con- 
science, but the fetters yet on his arm did not 
permit him to deliver such blows as would be dealt 
by the champions who were to follow him, and to 
whom was reserved the honour of extirpating that 
bitter root which had j-ielded its fruits in the cor- 
rujition of the Church and the slavery of society. 



Gradually things quieted in Prague, altliougli it 
soon beaime evident that the calm was only on 
the surface. Intensely had Huss longed to appear 
again in his Chapel of Bethlehem — the scene of so 
many triumphs — and his wish was granted. Once 
moi-e he stands in the old pulpit ; once more his 
loving flock gather round him. With zeal quickened 
by his banishment, he thunders more coiu'ageously 
than ever against the tyi-anny of the priesthood in 
forbidding the free preaching of the Gospel. In 
proportion as the people grew in knowledge, the 
more, says Fox, they " complained of the com-t of 
Rome and the bishop's consistory, who plucked 
from the sheep of Christ the wool and milk, and 
did not feed them either with the Word of God or 
good examples." ' 

A great revolution was preiJaring in Bohemia, 
and it could not be ushered into the world without 
evoking a tempest. Huss was perhaps the one 
tranquil man in the nation. A powerful party, 
consisting of the doctors of the university and 
the members of the priesthood, was now fonned 
against him. Chief among these were two priests, 
Paletz and Causis, who had once been his friends, 
but had now become his bitterest foes. This 
party would speedily have silenced him and closed 
the Chaj^el of Bethlehem, the centre of the move- 
ment, had they not feared the people. Every day 
the popular indignation against the priests waxed 
strongei'. Every day the discijiles and defendere 
of the Reformer waxed bolder, and ai-oimd him 
were now powerful as well as numerous fiiends. 
The queen was on his side ; the lofty character 
and resplendent virtues of Huss had won her 
esteem. Many of the nobles declared for him — 
some of them becaaise they had felt the Divine 
jjower of the doctrines which he taught, and othere 
in the hope of sharing in the spoils which they 
foresaw would by-and-by be gleaned in the wake 
of the movement. The great body of the citizens 
were friendly. Captivated by his eloquence, and 
taught by his pure and elevating doctrine, they 
had learned to detest the pride, the debaucheries, 
and the avarice of the priests, and to take part 
with the man whom so many powerful and un- 
righteous confederacies were seeking to crush.'' 

But Huss was alone ; he had no fellow- worker ; 
and had doubtless his hours of loneliness and me- 
lancholy. One single companion of sympathising 
qiirit, and of like devotion to the same great 
cause, would have been to Huss a greater stay and 
a sweeter solace than all the other friends who 

stood around him. And it pleased God to give 
him such : a true yoke-fellow, who brought to the 
cause he espoused an intellect of great subtlety, 
and an eloquence of gi-eat fervour, combined with 
a fearless courage, and a lofty devotion. This 
friend was Jerome of Faultish, a Bohemian knight, 
who had returned some time before from Oxford, 
where he had imbibed the opinions of Wicliffe. 
As he passed through Paris and Vienna, he chal- 
lenged the learned men of these univei-sities to 
dispute with him on matters of faith ; but the 
theses which he maintained with a triumphant 
logic were held to savour of heresy, and he was 
thrown into prison. Escaping, however, he came to 
Bohemia to spread with all the enthusiasm of his 
character, and all the brilliancy of his eloquence, 
the doctrines of the English Reformer.* 

With the name of Huss that of Jerome is hence- 
forward indissolubly associated. Alike in their 
great qualities and aims, they were yet in minor 
points sufficiently diverse to be the complement 
the one of the other. Huss was the more power- 
ful character, Jerome was the more eloquent 
orator. Greater in genius, and more popular in 
gifts, Jerome maintained nevertheless towards 
Huss the relation of a disciple. It was a beau- 
tifvd instance of Chi'istian humility. The calm 
reason of the master was a salutary restraint upon 
the impetuosity of the disciple. The union of 
these two men gave a sensible imjjulse to the 
cause. Wliile Jerome debated in the schools, and 
thundered in the popular assemblies, Huss ex- 
pounded the Scriptui-es in his chapel, or toUed 
wth his pen at the refutation of some mani- 
festo of the doctors of the luiivei-sity, or some bidl 
of the Vatican. Their affection for each other 
ripened day by day, and continued unbroken till 
death came to set its seal upon it, and unite them 
in the bonds of an eternal friendship. 

The drama was no longer confined to the limits 
of Bohemia. Events were lifting up Huss and 
Jerome to a stage where they woidd have to act 
theii- part in the presence of all Chi-istendom. Let 
us cast our eyes around and survey the state of 
Europe. There were at that time three Popes 
reigning in Christendom. The Italians had elected 
Balthazar Cossa, who, as John XXIII., had set 
up his chair at Bologna. The French had chosen 
Angelo Corario, who lived at Rimini, under the 
title of Gregory XII. ; and the Spaniards had 
elected Peter de Lune (Benedict XIII.), who re- 
sided in Ai'ragon. Each claiiaed to be the legiti- 

1 Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 776. 

- Ibid., vol. i., p. 780. Bonnechose, vol. i., p. 97. 

3 Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 15, chap. 7, p. 121. Comenius, 
Persecut. Eccles. Bohem., p. 27. 



mate successor of Peter, and the ti'ue vicegerent of 
God, and each strove to make good liis claim Ijy the 
bitterness and rage vvith which he hurled his male- 
dictions against his rival. Christendom was divided, 
each nation naturally supporting the Pope of its 
choice. The schism suggested some questions which 
it was not easy to solve. " If we must obey," said 
Huss and his followers, " to whom is our obedience 
to be paid i Balthazar Cossa, called John XXIII., 
is at Bologna ; Angelo Corario, named Gregory 
XII., is at Rimini ; Peter de Lune, who calls 
Imnself Benedict XIII., is in Arragon. If all 
three are infallible, why does not theii' testimony 
agi-ee 1 and if only one of them is the Most Holy 
Father, why is it that we camiot distinguish him 
from the rest '? " ' Nor was much help to be got 
towards a solution by putting the question to the 
men themselves. If they asked Jolui XXIII. he 
told them that Gregory XII. was " a heretic, a 
demon, the Antichrist ;" Gregoiy XII. obligingly 
bore the same testimony respecting John XXIII., 
and both Gregory and John united in sounding, 
in similar fashion, the praises of Benedict XIII., 
whom they stigmatised as "an impostor and schis- 
matic," while Benedict paid back with prodigal 
interest the compliments of his two opjMnents. It 
came to this, that if these men were to be be- 
lieved, instead of three Popes there were three 
Anticlu-ists in Christendom ; and if they were not 
to be believed, where was the infallibility, and 
what had become of the apostolic succession ? 

The chroniclei-s of the time labour to describe 
the distinctions, calamities, and woes that grew out 
of this schism. Europe was plunged into anarchy ; 
every petty State was a theatre of war and rapine. 
The rival Popes sought to crush one another, not 
with the spu-itual bolts only, but with temporal 
ai-ms also. They went into the market to purchase 
swords and hire soldiers, and as this could not be 

done without money, they opened a scandalous 
traffic in spiritual things to supply themselves 
with the needful gold. Pardons, dispensations, 
and places in Paradise they put up to sale, in 
order to realise the means of equipping their 
armies for the field. The bishops and inferior 
clergy, quick to profit by the example set them by 
the Popes, enriched themselves by simony. At 
times they made war on their own account, attack- 
ing at the head of armed bands the territory of a 
rival ecclesiastic, or the castle of a temporal baron. 
A bishop newly elected to HUdesheim, having re- 
questetl to be shown the library of his predecessors, 
was led into an arsenal, in which all kinds of arms 
wei'e piled up. " Those," said his conductors, " are 
the books which they made use of to defend the 
Church; imitate their example."- How difierent 
were the words of St. Ambrose ! " My anas," 
said he, as the Goths approached his city, " are 
my tears ; with other weapons I dare not fight." 

It is distressiug to dwell on this deplorable 
picture. Of the practice of piety nothing remained 
save a few superstitious rites. Truth, justice, and 
order banished from among men, force was the 
arbiter in all things, and nothing was heard but 
the clash of arms and the sighings of oppressed 
nations, while above the strife rose the furious 
voices of the rival Popes frantically hurling 
anathemas at one another. This was tnily a 
melancholy spectacle ; but it was necessary, perhaps, 
that the evil should gi-ow to this head, if per- 
adventure the eyes of men might be opened, and 
they might see that it was indeed a " bitter 
thing " that they had forsaken the " easy yoke " 
of the Gospel, and submitted to a power that 
set no limits to its usurpations, and which, 
clothing itself with the prerogatives of God, was 
waging a war of extermination against all the 
rights of man. 



The "Six Errors "— Tlie Pope's Bull against the King of Hungary— Huss on Indulgences and Cnisades— Prophetic 
Words — Huss closes his Career in Prague. 

The frightful picture which society now presented compared these with the sad spectacles passing 
had a very powerful efiect on John Huss. He before hLs eyes, and he saw more clearly eveiy 
studied the Bible, he read the early Fathei-s, he day that " the Church " had departed far from her 

' Bonnechose, vol. i., p. 126. 

- Bonnechose, vol. i., p. 90. 



early model, not' in practice only, but in doctrine 
also. A little while ago we saw liim levelling his 
blows at abuses ; now we find liim beginning to 
sti-ike at the root on which all these abuses grew, 
if haply he might extirpate both root and branch 

It was at this time that he -wTOte his treatise 
On the Church, a work which enables us to trace 
the progress of his emancipation from the shackles 
of authority. He establishes in it the principle 
that the triie Church of Christ has not necessarily 
an exterior constitution, but that communion with 
its invisible Head, the Lord Jesus ChrLst, is alone 
necessary for it : and that the Catholic Church is 
the assembly of all the elect.' 

This tractate was followed by another under the 
title of The Six Errors. The first error was that 
of the priests who boasted of making the body of 
Jesus Christ in the mass, and of being the creator 
of their Creator. The second was the confession 
exacted of the members of the Church — " I believe 
in the Pojae and the saints " — in opposition to 
which, Huss taught that men are to believe in God 
only. The third en-or was the priestly pretension 
to remit the guilt and punishment of sm. The 
fourth was the implicit obedience exacted by ec- 
clesiastical superiors to all their commands. The 
fifth was the making no distiiaction between a valid 
excommimication and one that was not so. The 
sixtli error was simony. This Huss designated a 
heresy, and scarcely, he believed, could a priest be 
found who was not guilty of it." 

This list of errors was jilacarded on the door of 
the Betlilehem Chapel. The tract in which they 
were set forth was cii'culated far and near, and 
produced an immense impression throughout the 
whole of Bohemia. 

Another matter which now fell out helped to 
deepen the imjjression which his tract on The Six 
Errors had made. John XXIII. fulminated a bull 
against Ladislaus, King of Hiuigary, excommuni- 
cating him, and all his children to the third gene- 
ration. The offence which had drawn upon Ladislaus 
this burst of Pontifical wrath was the support he 
had given to Gregory XII., one of the rivals of 
John. The Pope commanded all emperors, kings, 
princes, cardinals, and men of whatever degree, by 
the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Cluist, to take 
up arms against Ladislaus, and utterly to extemii- 
nate him and his supporters; and he promised to all 
who should join the crusade, or who should i^reach 

' " Omnium prffidestinatoram vmiversitas." (Oe Ecdes. 
-Huss — Hist, et Mon. ) 
" Lenfant, vol. i., p. .37. 

it, or collect fmids for its support, the pardon ot all 
then- sins, and iimnediate admission into Paradise 
should they die in the war — in short, the same 
indulgences which were accorded to those who 
bore ai-ms for the conquest of the Holy Land. This 
fulmiiiation wrapped Bohemia in flames ; and Huss 
seized the opportunity of dii-ecting the eyes of his 
countrymen to the contrast, so perfect and .striking, 
between the vicar of Christ and Cluist himself; be- 
tween the destroyer and the Saviour ; between the 
commands of the bull, which proclaimed war, and 
the precepts of the Gospel, which preached peace. 

A few extracts from his refutation of the Papal 
bull will enable us to measure the progi-ess Huss 
was making in evangelical sentiments, and the 
light which through his means was breakmg upon 
Bohemia. " If the disciples of Jesus Christ," said 
he, " were not allowed to defend him who is Chief 
of the Church, against those who wanted to seize 
on him, much more will it not be permissible to a 
bishop to engage in war for a tem23oral domination 
and earthly riches." " As the secidar body," he 
continues, " to whom the temporal sword alone is 
suitable, camiot undertake to handle the spuitual 
one, in like mamier the ecclesiastics ought to be 
content ■with the spiritual sword, and not make 
use of the temporal." This was flatly to contra- 
dict a solemn judgment of the Papal chair which 
asserted the Church's right to both swords. 

Having condemned cnisades, the carnage of 
which was doubly iniquitous when done by priestly 
hands, Huss next attacks indulgences. They are 
an affront to the grace of the Gospel. " God alone 
possesses the power to forgive sins in an absolute 
manner." " The absolution of Jesus Christ," he 
says, " ought to precede that of the priest ; or, in 
other words, the priest who absolves and condemns 
ought to be certain that the case in question is one 
which Jesus Christ himself has already absolved or 
condemned." This implies that the power of the 
keys is limited and conditional, in other words 
that the priest does not pardon, but only declares 
the pardon of God to the penitent. " If," he says 
again, " the Pope uses his power according to God's 
commands, he camiot be resisted without resistmg 
God himself; but if he abuses his power by en- 
joming what is contrary to the Divine law, then it 
is a duty to resist him as should be done to the 
pale horse of the Apocalyj^se, to the cb'agon, to the 
beast, and to the Leviathan."" 

Waxing bolder as his views enlarged, he pro- 
ceeded to stigmatise many of the ceremonies of the 
Roman Church as lacking foimdation, and as being 

3 Huss— Hisi. et Mon., tom. i., pp. 215—234. 



foolish and superstitious. He denied the merit of 
abstinences ; he ridiculed the credulity of believing 
legends, and the grovelling superstition of vene- 
rating relics, bowing before images, and worshipping 
the dead. " Tliey are profuse," said he, refen'ing 
to the Latter class of devotees, " towards the saints 
in glory, who want nothing ; they an-ay bones of 
the latter with silk and gold and silver, and lodge 
them magnificently ; but they refuse clothing and 
hospitality to the poor members of Jesus Christ 
who are amongst us, at whose expense they feed 
to repletion, and drink till they are intoxicated." 
Friars he no more loved than Wicliffe did, if we 
may judge from a treatise which he wi'ote at this 
time, entitled The Abomination of Monks, and 
which he followed by another, wherein he was 
scarcely more complimentary to the Pope and his 
com-t, styling them the members C}f Antichrist. 

Plainer and bolder every day became the speech 
of Huss ; fiercer grew his invectives and denuncia- 
tions. The scandals which multiplied aromid him 
had, doubtless, roused his indignation, and the 
persecutions which he endured may have heated his 
temper. He saw Jolm XXIII., than whom a more 
infamous man never wore the tiara, professing to 
open and shut the gates of Paradise, and scattering 
simoniacal pardons over Europe that he might 
kindle the flames of war, and extinguish a rival in 
toi-rents of Christian blood. It was not easy to 
witness all this and )>e calm. In fact, the Pope's 
bull of crusade had divided Bohemia, and brought 
matters in that countiy to extremity. The king 
and the priesthood were opposed to Ladislaus 
of Hungary, and consequently supported John 
XXIII., defending as best they could his indul- 
gences and simonies. On the other hand, many of 
the magnates of Bohemia, and the gi'eat body of the 
people, sided vnth Ladislaus, condemned the cru- 
sade which the Pope was preaching against him, 
together with all the infamous means by which he 
was fm-thering it, and held the clergy guilty of 
the blood which seemed about to flow in toiTents. 
The people kept no measure in their talk about the 
priests. The latter trembled for their lives. The 
ai-ehbishop mterfered, but not to tlu'ow oil on the 
waters. He placed Prague under interdict, and 
threatened to continue the sentence so long as John 
Huss should remain in the city. The archbishop 
persuaded himself that if Huss should retire the 
movement would go down, and the war of factions 

subside into peace. He but deceived himself. It 
was not now in the power of any man, even of 
Huss, to control or to stop that movement. Two 
ages were strugglmg together, the old and the new. 
The Reformer, however, fearing that his presence 
in Prague might embarrass his friends, again with- 
di-ew to his native village of Hussinetz. 

Dui-ing his exile he wiote several letters to his 
friends in Prague. The letters discover a mind 
full of that calm courage which springs from tiiist 
in God ; and in them occur for the first time those 
prophetic words which Huss repeated aftei-wards at 
more than one important epoch in his career, the 
prediction taking each time a more exact and 
definite foim. "If the goose" (his name in the 
Bohemian language signifies goose), " which is but 
a timid bird, and cannot fly very high, has been 
able to burst its bonds, there will come afterwards 
an eagle, which will soar high into the air and 
di-aw to it all the other birds." So he wrote, 
adding, " It is in the nature of truth, that the more 
we obscure it the brighter will it become."' 

Huss had closed one career, and was bidden rest 
awliUe before opening his second and sublimest 
one. Sweet it was to leave the strifes and clamours 
of Prague for the quiet of his birth-jjlace. Here he 
coiild calm his mind in the perusal of the inspired 
page, and fortify his soul by communion -with 
God. For himself he had no fears ; he dwelt be- 
neath the shadow of the Almighty. By the teach- 
ing of the Word and the Spiiit he had been wonder- 
fully emancipated from the darkness of error. His 
native coiuitry of Bohemia had, too, by his instru- 
mentality been rescued partially from the same 
darkness. Its reformation could not be completed, 
nor indeed earned much farthei', till the rest of 
Christendom had come to be more nearly on a level 
with it in point of spii'itual enlightenment. So 
now the Reformer is withdi-awn. Never again 
was his voice to be heard in his favourite Chapel 
of Bethlehem. Never more were his living words 
to stir the hearts of his countrymen. There re- 
mains but one act more for Huss to do — the 
greatest and most enduring of all. As the 
preacher of Bethlehem Chapel he had largely con- 
tributed to emancipate Bohemia, as the martyr of 
Constance he was largely to contribute to eman- 
cipate Christendom. 

1 Letters of Huss, No. 6 j Edin. ed. 





Picture of Europe-The Emperor Sigismund-Pope John XXIII.-ShaU a Council be Convoked ?-Ass< 
Counca at Constance-Entry of the Pope-Coming of John Huss- Ar-rival of the Emperor. 

■Assembling of the 

"We ha\e now befoie us 
a -ttidei theatre tlian 
Bohemia. It is the year 
1413. Sigismund — a _^^^ 
name destined to go 

down to posterity along with that of Huss, though 
not with like fame— had a little before mounted 
the tlirone of the Empire. Wherever he cast 
his eyes the new emjieror saw only spectacles 
that distressed him. Christendom was afflicted 
■vvith a gi-ievous schism. There were three Popes, 
whose personal profligacies and official crimes were 
the scandal of that Christianity of which each 
claimed to be the chief teacher, and the scourge 
of that Church of which each claimed to be the 
supreme pastor. The most sacred things were 
put up to sale, and were the subject of simoniacal 


bargaining. The bonds of charity were disrupted, 
and nation was going to war with nation ; every- 
where strife raged and blood was flowing. The 
Poles and the knights of the Teutonic order were 
waging a war which raged only with the greater 
fury inasmuch as religion was its pretext. Bohe- 
mia seemed on the pouit of being rent in pieces 



bv intestine commotions ; Germany was convulsed ; 
Italy bad as many tyrants as pi-inces ; France was 
distracted by its factions, and Spain was embroiled 
by the machinations of Benedict XIII., whose pre- 
tensions that country had espoused. To complete 
the i-onfiision the Mussulman hordes, encoiu'aged 
by these dissensions, were gatheiing on the frontier 

graced and torn asunder by its Popes, and under- 
mined and corrupted by its heretics. The emperor 
gave his mind anxiously to the question how these 
evils were to be cured. The expedient he hit upon 
was not an original one certainly^it had come to 
be a stereotyped remedy — but it possessed a certain 
plausibility that fascinated men, and so Sigismund 


of Europe and threatening to break in and repress 
all disorders, in a common subjugation of Christen- 
dom to the yoke of the Prophet.' To the evils of 
schism, of war, andTui-kish invasion, was now added 
the worse e-^-il — as Sigismund doubtless accounted 
it^ — of heresy. A sincere devotee, he was moved 
even to tears by this spectacle of Christendom dis- 

' Lenfant, Hi, 


Coiinc. Const, vol. i., chap. 1. 

resolved to make trial of it : it was a General 

This plan liad been tried at Pisa,- and it had 
failed. This did not promise much for a second 
attempt ; but the failure had been set down to the 
fact that then the mitre and the Empire were at 
war with each other, whereas now the Pope and 

- Dupin, Ecclcs. His/., Counc. of Pisa, cent. 15, chap. 1. 



the emperor were prepared to act in concert. In 
these more advantageous circumstances Sigismnnd 
resolved to convene the whole Church, all its patri- 
archs, cardinals, bishops, and princes, aiKl to sum- 
mon before this august body the three rival Popes, 
and the leadei-s of the new opinions, not doubting 
that a General Council would have authority 
enough, more especially when seconded by the 
imperial power, to compel the Popes to adjust 
then- rival claims, and put the heretics to silence. 
These were the two objects which the emperor had 
in eye — to heal the schism and to extirpate heresy. 

Sigismund now opened negotiations with John 
XXIII.^ To the Pope the idea of a Council was 
beyond measure alarming. Nor can one wonder at 
this, if his conscience was loaded with but half the 
crimes of which Popish historians have accused him. 
But he dared not refuse the emperor. John's 
crusade against Ladislaus had not prospered. The 
King of Hungaiy was in Rome with his army, and 
the Pope had lieen compelled to flee to Bologna ; and 
terrible as a Council was to Pope John, he resolved 
to face it, rather than offend the emperor, whose 
assistance he needed against the man whcse ire 
he had wantonly provoked by his bull of crusade, 
and from whose victoiious arms he was now fain 
to seek a deliverer. Pope John was accused of 
opening his way to the tiara by the mm-der of his 
predecessor, Alexander V.,- and lie lived in con- 
tinual fear of being hurled from his chair- by the 
same dreadful means by which he had mounted to 
it. It was finally agi'eed that a General Council 
should be convoked for November 1st, 1414, and 
that it should meet in the citj' of Constance.' 

Tlie day came and the Council assembled. From 
every kingdom and state, and almost from every 
city in Europe, came delegates to swell that gi-eat 
gathering. All that numbers, and princely rank, 
and high ecclesiastical dignity, and fame in learning, 
could do to make an a.ssembly illustrious, contri- 
buted to gi^e eclat to the Council of Constance. 
Thii'ty cardinals, twenty archbishops, one hundred 
and fifty bishops, and as many prelates, a. multitude 
of abbots and doctors, and eighteen hundred priests 
came together in obedience to the joint summons of 
the emperor and the Pojie. 

' Lenfant, Hist. Counc. Const., vol. i., chap. 1, p. 6. 
Dupin, Hccles. Hist., cent. 15, chap. 1, p. 9; Lond., 169H. 

- Alexander V. was a Greek of the island of Candia ; 
he was taken up by an Italian monk, educated at Oxford, 
made Bishop of Viceuza, and chosen Pope by the Council 
of Pisa. (Dupin, Ecdes. Hist., cent. 15.) 

■"' Lenfant, Hist. C'oifnc. Const., vol. i., p. 7. Dupin, Eccles. 
Hist., cent. 15, chap. 2, p. 10. Fox, Acts and Hon., vol. i., 
p. 781. Mosheim, Errles. Hist., cent, 15, pt. ii., chnp.2, sec. i. 

Among the members of sovereign rank were the 
Eleetors of Palatine, of Mainz, and of Saxony ; the 
Dukes of Austria, of Bavaria, and of Silesia. There 
were margi-aves, counts, and barons without number.* 
But there were thi'ee men who took precedence of 
all others in that brilliant assemblage, though each 
on a different ground. These three men were the 
Emperor Sigismund, Pope John XXIII., and — 
last and gi-eatest of all — John Huss. 

The two anti-Popes had been .summoned to the 
Council. They appeared, not in person, but by dele- 
gates, some of whom were of cardinalate rank. This 
raised a weighty question in the Council, whether 
these cardinal delegates should be received in their 
red hats. To permit the ambassadors to appear in 
the insignia of then- rank might, it was argued, be 
construed into a tacit admission by the Council of 
the claims of their masters, both of whom had been 
deposed by the CouncU of Pisa ; but, for the sake of 
peace, it was agreed to receive the deputies in the 
u.sual costume of the cardinalate.^ In that as- 
sembly were the illustrious scholar, Poggio ; the 
celebi-ated Thierry de Niem, secretary to several 
Pope.s, " and whom," it has been remarked, " Pro- 
vidence )ilaced near the source of so many iniqui- 
ties for the purpose of unveiling and stigmatising 
them ; " ^Eneas Sylvius Piccolomini, gi-eater as the 
elegant historian than as the wearer of the triple 
cro\\ni ; Manuel Clirysoloras, the restorer to the 
world of some of the writings of Demosthenes and 
of Cicei'O ; the almost heretic, John Charlier 
Gerson ;" the brUUant disputant, Peter DAUly, 
Cardinal of Cambray, surnamed " the Eagle of 
France," and a host of others. 

In the train of the Council came a vast concoui'se 
of pilgi-ims from all parts of Christendom. Men 
from beyond the Alps and the Pyrenees mingled 
hei-e ^^^th the natives of the Himgarian and Bohe- 
mian plains. Room could not be found in Con- 
stance for this great multitude, and booths and 

' Lenfant, Hist. Coimc. Const., vol. i., p. 83. Bonne- 
■■•'liose. Reformers before the Beformatioii, vol. i., p. 155. 
Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 782. 

■' Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 15, chap. 2, p. 11. 

'' There was no more famous Gallicau divine than 
Gerson. His treatise on the Ecclesiastical Power which 
was read before the Council, and which has been pre- 
served in an abridged form by Lenfant (vol. ii., bk. v., 
chap. 10), shows liim to have been one of the subtlest 
intellects of his age. He draws the line between the 
temporal and the spiritual powers with a nicety which 
approaches that of modern times, and he di-ops a hint of 
a power of direction in the Pope, that may have sug- 
gested to Le Maistre his famous theory, wlxich resolved 
the Pope's temporal supremacy into a power of direction, 
and which continued to be tlie common opinion till super- 
seded by the dogma of infallibility in 1870. 



■tvooden erections rose outside the walls. Thea- 
trical representations and religious processions 
proceeded together. Here was seen a party of 
revellers and masqueradei-s busy with their cups 
and their pastimes, there knots of cowled and 
hooded devotees devoutly telling their beads. The 
orison of the monk and the stave of the bacchanal 
rose blended in one. So gi-eat an increase of the 
population of the little town — amounting, it is 
supposed, to 100,000 souls — rendered necessary a 
corresponding enlargement of its commissariat.' All 
the highways leading to Consta,nce were crowded 
with vehicles, conveying thither all kinds of pro- 
visions and delicacies:^ the wines of France, tlie 
breadstufls of Lombardy, the honey and butter of 
Switzerland ; the venison of the Alps and the fish 
of then- lakes, the cheese of Holland, and the con- 
fections of Paris and Loudon. 

The emperor and the Pope, in the matter of the 
Council, thought only of circumventing one another. 
Sigismmid professed to regard John XXIII. as 
the valid possessor of the tiara ; nevertheless he 
had formed the secret purpose of compelling him to 
renounce it. And the Pope on his part pretended 
to be quite cordial in the calling of the CouncO, but 
liis firm intention was to dissolve it as soon as it 
had assembled if, after feeling its pulse, he should 
find it to be unfriendly to himself He set out from 
Bologna, on the 1st of October, wth store of jewels 
and money. Some he would corrupt by presents, 
others he hoped to dazzle by the splendour of his 
court.' All agree in saying that he took this journey 
very much against the gi'ain, and that his heart 
misgave him a thousand times on the road. He 
took care, however, as he went onward to leave the 
way open behind for his safe retreat. As he passed 
through the T3rrol he made a secret treaty with 
Frederick, Duke of Austria, to the eflect that one 
of his strong castles should be at his disposal if he 
found it necessary to leave Constance. He made 
friends, likemse, with John, Count of ISassau, 
Elector of Mainz. When he had arrived ^vithin a 
league of Constance he prudently conciliated the 
Abbot of St. Ulric, by bestowing the m;tre upon 
liiui. This was a special prerogative of the Popes 

1 The Pope alone had 600 persona in his retinue ; the 
cardinals had fully 1,200; the bishops, archbishops, and 
abbots, between 4,000 and 5,000. There were 1,200 scribes, 
besides their servants, &e. John Huss alone had eight, 
without reckoning his vicar who also accompanied him. 
The retinue of the princes, barons, and ambassadors was 
numerous in proportion. (Lenfant, Hist. Counc. Const., 
vol. i.. pp. 83, 84.) 

'•' Bormechose, Reformers before the Reformation, vol. i., 
p. 158. See also note by translator. 

^ Lenfant, Hist. Counc. Const., lol. i., p. 17. 

of which the bishops thought they had cause to 
complain. Not a stage did John advance without 
taking precautions for his safety — all the more 
that several incidents befel him by the way which 
his fears interpreted into auguries of evil. When 
he had passed through the tovm of Trent his jester 
said to him, " The Pope who passes through Trent 
is undone."* In descending the mountains of the 
Tyrol, at that point of the road where the city of 
Constance, with the lake and plain, comes into 
view, his carriage was overtiu-ned. The Pontiff 
was thro^vn out and rolled on the highway ; he 
was not hurt the least, but the fall brought the 
colour into his face. His attendants crowded round 
him, anxiously inquiring if he had come by liarm : 
"By the devU," said he, "I am down; I had 
better have stayed at Bologna ;" and casting a sus- 
picious glance at the city beneath him, " I see how 
it is," he said, " that is the pit where the foxes are 

John XXIII. entered Constance on horseback, 
the 28th of October, attended by nine cardinals, 
several archbishops, bishops, and other prelates, and 
a numerous retinue of courtiers. He was received 
at the gates with all possible magnificence. " The, 
body of the clergy," says Lenfant, " went to meet 
him in solemn pi'otession, bearing the relics of 
saints. All the orders of the city assembled also to 
do him honour, and he was conducted to the epis- 
copal palace by an incredible multitude of people. 
Four of the chief magistrates rode by his side, 
supporting a canopy of cloth of gold, and the Count 
Radolph de Montfoi-t and tlie Count Berthold des 
Ursins hekl the bridle of his horse. Tlie Sacrament 
was carried before him upon a white pad, with a 
little bell about its neck ; after the Sacrament a 
great yellow and I'ed hat was earned, with an angel 
of gold at tlie button of the ribbon. All the cardi- 
nals followed in cloaks and red hats. Reichenthal, 
who has described this cei-emony, says there was a 
great dispute among the Pope's officers who should 
have his horse, but that Henry of Ulm jnit an end 
to it by saying that the horse belonged to him, as 
lie was burgomaster of the town, and that he caused 
him to be put into his stables. The city made the 
])resents to the Pope that are usual on these occa- 
sions ; it gave a silver-gilt cup weighing five marks, 
four small casks of Italian ^vine, four great vessels 
of wine of Alsace, eight gi'eat vessels of the country 
wine, and forty measm-es of oats, all which jiresents 
were given with great cei-emony. Henry of Ulm 

^ "Pater sante qui passo Trenta perdo." (Lenfant, 
Hist. Counc. Const., vol. i., p. 18.) 
* Ibid. 



carried the cup on horseback, accompanied by six 
councillors, who were also on horseback. When 
the Pope saw them before his palace, he sent an 
auditor to know what was coming. Being informed 
that it was presents from the city to the Pope, the 
auditor introduced them, and presented the cup to 
the Pope in the name of the city. The Pope, on 
his part, ordered a robe of black sUk to be presented 
to the consul."' 

"While the Pope was approaching Constance on 
the one side, John Huss was travelling towards it 
on the other. He did not conceal from himself the 
rianger he ran in appearing before such a tribunal. 
His judges were parties in the cause. What hope 
could Huss entertaiii that they would try him dis- 
passionately by the Scriptures to which he had 
appealed 1 Where would they be if they allowed 
such an authority to speak ^ But he must appear ; 
Sigismund had written to King Wenceslaus to send 
him thither ; and, conscious of his innocence and 
the justice of his cause, thither he went. 

In prospect of the dangers before him, he ob- 
tained, before settmg out, a safe-conduct from his 
own sovereign ; also a certificate of his oi-thodoxy 
from Nicholas, Bishop of Nazareth, Inquisitor of the 
Faith in Bohemia ; and a document cb-awn up by a 
notary, and duly signed by -witnesses, setting forth 
that he had ofliered to purge himself of heresy before 
a jnovincial Synod of Prague, but had been re- 
fused audience. He afterwards caused wi-itings 
*o be aflixed to the doors of all the churches and 
all the palaces of Prague, notifying his departiu-e, 
and inviting all persons to come to Constance who 
were prepared to testify either to his innocence or 
his guilt. To the door of the royal palace even did 
he affix such notification, addressed " to the King, 
to the Queen, and to the whole Court." He made 
papers of this sort be put up at e^-ery jJace on his 
road to Constance. In the imperial city of Nui-em- 
berg he gave public notice that he was going (,o 
the Council to give an accomit of his faith, and 
invited all who had anvtliing to lay to 1ms charge 
to meet him there. He started, not from Prague, 
but from Cralowitz. Before setting out he took 
faiewell of his friends as of those he never again 
should see. He expected to find more enemies at 
the Council than Jesus Chiist had at Jerusalem ; 
but he was lesolved to endure the last degi'ee of 
punishment rather than betray the Gospel by any 
cowardice. Tlie presentiments with which he began 
his journey attended him all the way. He felt it 
to be a pilgrimage to the stake.^ 

' Lenfant, Hist. Counc. Con 
2 Ibid., vol. i., pp. .S8— tl. 

(., vol. i., chap. 1, p. 19. 

At every village and town on his route he w-as 
met with fresh tokens of the power that attached 
to his name, and the interest liis cause had 
awakened. The inhabitants turned out to welcome 
him. Several of the countiy cures were especially 
friendly ; it was their battle which he was fighting, 
as well as his own, and heartily did they wish him 
success. At Nuremberg, and other towns through 
which he passed, the magistrates formed a guard of 
honour-, and escorted him thi-ough streets thronged 
■with spectators eager to catch a glimpse of the man 
who had begun a movement wliich was stirring 
Christendom." His journey was a triumphal pro- 
cession in a sort. He was enlistmg, at every steji, 
neAv adherents, and gaining accessions of moral 
force to his cause. He arrived in Constance on the 
3rd of November, and took up his abode at the 
house of a poor wadow, whom he likened to her of 

The emperor did not reach Constance until 
Clu'istmas Eve. His anival added a new atti-ac- 
tion to the melodramatic perfonnance proceeding 
at the little tovra. The Pope signalised the event 
by singing a Pontifical mass, the emperor assistmg, 
attii'ed in dalmiatic in his charaeter as deacon, and 
reading the Gospel — " There came an edict from 
Csesar Augustus that all the world," &.c. The 
ceremony was ended by John XXIII. presenting 
a sword to Sigismund, with an exhortation to the 
man into whose hand he jnit it to make vigoi-ous 
use of it against the enemies of the Church. The 
Pope, doubtless, had John Huss mainty in his eye. 
Little did he dream that it was upon himself that 
its first stroke was destined to descend.^ 

The Emperor Sigismund, whose pi'esence gave a 
new splendoin- to the fStes and a new dignity to the 
Council, was forty-seven years of age. He was 
noble in person, tall in stature, graceful in man- 
ners, and insinuating in address. He had a long 
beard, and flaxen liair, which fell in a profusion 
of ciuls upon his shoulders. His narrow imder- 
standiiig had been improved by study, and he wa.s 
accomplished beyond his age. He spoke with 
facility several languages, and was a patron of 
men of letters. Having one day conferred nobility 
upon a scholar, who was desii-ous of being ranked 
amo]ig nobles rather than among doctors, Sigis- 
mund daughed at him, and said that " he could 
make a thousand gentlemen in a day, but that he 

2 Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 789. Bonneohose, Re- 
formers before the Reformation, vol. i., pp. 150 — 152. 

•• Palacky informs us that the house in which Huhb 
lodged is still standing at Constance, with a bust of tbe 
Eefoi'mer in its front wall. 

■' Lenfant, Hist. Counc. Const., vol. i., p. 77. 


could not make a scliolar in a tliousaud years."' 
Tlie reverses of his maturer years liad sobered the 
impetuous and fiery spirit of his youth. He com- 
ijiitted the eri'or common to ahuost all the princes 
of liis age, in believuig that in order to reign it 
\vas necessary to dissemble, and that craft was an 
indispensable part of policy. He was a siiicere 
devotee; but just in proportion as he believed in 
the Church, was he scandalised and grieved at the 
vices of the clergy. It cost him infinite pains 
to get this Council convoked, but all had been 

willingly undertaken in the hope that assembled 
Christendom would be able to heal the .schism, and 
put an end to the scandals growing out of it. 

The name of Sigismund lias come down to pos- 
terity with an eternal blot upon it. How such 
darkness came to encompass a name which, but for 
one fatal act, might have been fair, if not illus- 
trious, we shall presently show. Meanwhile let 
us rapidly sketch the opening proceedings of the 
Council, which were but preparatory to the great 
tragedy in which it was destined to culminate. 



Canonisation of St. Bridget— A Council Superior to the Pope— Wicliffe's Writings Condemned — Tiial of Pops Jolm 
— Indictment against him — He Escapes from Constance— His Deposition — Deposition of the Two Anti-Popes — 
Vindication of Huss beforehand. 

The first act of the Coiuicil, after settling how the 
votes were to be taken — namely, by nations and not 
by persons — was to enroll the name of St. Bridget 
among the saints. This good lady, whose piety 
had been abundantly proved by her j)ilgrimages 
and the many miracles ascribed to her, was of the 
blood-royal of Sweden, and the foundress of the 
order of St. Saviour, so called because Christ him- 
self, she affirmed, had dictated the rules to her. 
She was canonised first of all by Boniface IX. 
(1.391); but this was dtu-ing the schism, and the 
validity of the act might be held doubtful. To 
place St. Bridget's title beyond question, she was, 
at the request of the Swedes, canonised a second 
time by John XXIII. But tinhappily, John him- 
self being afterwards deposed, Bridget's saintshijj 
became again dubious ; and so she was canonised 
a third time by Martin V. (1410), to prevent her 
being overtaken by a similar calamity with that of 
her patron, and expelled from the ranks of the 
heavenly deities as John was from the list of the 
Pontifical ones.- r 

While the' Pope was assigning to others theii- 
place in heaven, his own place on earth had become 
suddenly insecure. Proceedings were commenced 

> Maimbourg, Hist, of Western Schism., torn, ii., pp. 123, 
1-J4 ; Dutch ed. Theobald, Bell. Huss, p. 38. .Sneas Syl- 
vius, Hist. Bohem., p. 45. Lenfaut, Hist. Counc. Const., 
vol. i., pp. 78, 79. 

■ Leufant, Hist. Comic. Const., vol. i., pp. IOC, lu7. 

in the Coiuicil which were meant to pave the way 
for John's dethronement. In the fourth and fifth 
sessions it was solemnly decreed that a Greneral 
Council is superior to the Pope. " A Synod con- 
gregate in the Holy Ghost," so ran the decree, 
'■making a General Council, I'epresenting the whole 
Catholic Chiu-ch here militant, hath powei' of Christ 
immediately, to the which power every person, of 
what state or dignity soever he be, yea, being the 
Pope himself, ought to be obedient in all such 
things as concern the general reformation of the 
Chui'ch, as well in the Head as in the members." - 
The Council in this decree asserted its absolute and 
supreme authoiity, and afiirmed the subjection of 
the Pope in matters of faith as well as manners to 
its judgment.* 

In the eighth session (May 4th, 1415), John 
Wiclift'e was summoned from his rest, cited before 
the Council, and made answerable to it for his 
mortal wiitings. Forty - five propositions, pre- 
viously cidled from his publications, were con- 
demned, and this sentence was fittingly followed 
by a decree consigning their author to the flames. 
Wicliffe himself being beyond their reach, his 

^ Concilium Constant., Sess. v. — Hardouin, torn, vui., 
col. 258; Parisiis. 

■* Natalis Alexander^ Ecdes. Hist., sec. 15, dis. 4. Dupin, 
Eccles. Hist., cent. 15, chap. 2, pp. 14, 15. Fox, Acts and 
Man., vol. i., p. 782. Moshcim, Eides. Hist., cent. 15, pt. ii., 
chap. 2, sec. 4. 



bones, pursuant to this sentence, were afterwards 
dug up and burned.^ Tlie next labour of the 
Council was to take the cup from the laity, and to 
decree that Communion should be only in one kind. 
This prohibition was issued under the penalty of 
excommunication. - 

These matters dispatched, or rather while they 
were in course of being so, the Council entered 
upon the weightier affau- of Pope John XXIII. 
Universally odious, the Pope's deposition had been 

grievous and heinous crimes," says Fox, " wei-e 
objected and proved against him: as that he had 
hired Marcillus Permensis, a physician, to poison 
Alexander V., his predecessor. Further, that he 
was a heretic, a simoniac, a liar, a hypocrite, a 
murderer, an enchanter, a dice-player, and an 
adulterer; and linally, what crime was it that 
he was not infected with?"' When the Pontiff 
heard of these accusations he was overwhelmed with 
affright, and talked of resigning ; liut reeoverini"- 


resolved on beforehand by the emperor and the 
great majority of the menxbers. At a secret sitting 
a terrible indictment was tabled against him. " It 
contained," says his secretary, Thieriy de Niem, 
" all the mortal sins, and a multitude of others not 
fit to be named." " More than forty-three most 

' See decree of Pope John against Wicliffe, ordering 
the exhumation and burning of his bones, in Hardouin, 
Ada ConclJ., torn, viii., pp. 263—303; Parisus. Fox, Acts 
and Mon., vol. i., p. 782. Mosheim, Eccles. Hist., cent. Vo, 
pt. ii., chap. 2, sec. 8. Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 15, chap. 7, 
pp. 121, 122. 

'-' Fox. Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 783. Moaheim, Eccles. 
Hiit., cent, lo, pt. ii., chap. 2. 

from his panic, he again grasped firmly the tiara 
which he had been on the point of letting go, and 
began a struggle for it with the emperor and the 
Council. Making himself acquainted with e%ery- 
thing by his spies, he held midniglit meetings with 
his friends, bribed the cardinals, and laboured to 
sow division among the nations composing the 
Council. But all was in vain. His opponents held 
firmly to their purpose. The indictment against 
John they dared not niake public, lest the Pon- 

■' Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 782. See tenor of cita- • 
tion of Pope John — Hardouin, Acta Concil., torn, viii., 
p. 291 ; Parisiis. 



tiiicate slimilil be cNcrbistiiigly disgraced, and 
occasion given for a triumpli to the paity ol" 
Wiclifte and Hiiss ; Init the conscience of the 
inlsei'able man seconded the eftbvts of his pi'osecu- 
lors. The Pope promised to abdicate ; but reijent- 
ing immediately of liis promise, he quitte:l the city 
by stealth and fled to Schatfhausen.^ 

We have seen the pomp with whicii John 
XXIII. entered Constance. In striking contrast 
to the ostentatious display of his arrival, was the 
mean disguise in wliich he sought to conceal his 
departure. The plaai of his escajie had lieen 
arranged beforehand between himself and his good 
friend and staunch protector the Duke of Austria. 
The duke, on a certain day, was to give a tourna- 
ment. The spectacle was to come off late in the 
.afternoon ; and whUe the whole city should be 
engrossed with the fete, the lords tilting in the 
arena and the citizens gazing at the mimic war, 
and oblivious of all else, the Pope would take 
leave of Constance and of the Coimcil.- 

It was the 20th of March, the eve of St. Beiie- 
dict, the day fixed U2)on for the duke's entertain- 
ment, and now the tournament was proceeding. 
The citj' was empty, for the inhabitants had 
poured out to see the tilting juid reward the vic- 
tors with their acclamations. The dusk of evening 
was already beginning to veil the lake, the plain, 
and the mountams of the Tyrol in the distance, 
when John XXIII., disguising himself as a groom 
or postillion, and mounted on a sorry nag, rode 
through the crowd and passed on to the south. A 
coarse gi'ey loose coat was flimg over his shoulders, 
and at his saddlebow hiuig a crossbow ; no one 
suspected that this homely figure, so poorly 
mounted, was other than some peasant of the 
mountains, who had been to market with his pro- 
duce, and was now on his way back. The duke 
of Austria was at the moment fightmg in the 
lists, when a domestic approached him, and whis- 
pered into his ear what had occurred. The duke 
went on with the tournament as if nothmg had 
happened, and the fugitive held on his way till 
he had reached Schaffhausen, where, as the town 
belonged to the duke, the Pope deemed himself in 
safety. Thither he was soon followed by the duke 

When the Pope's flight became kno^^^l, all was 
in commotion at Constance. The Council was at an 

' Dupin, Eecles. Hist., cent. 15, chap. 2. Bonnechose, 
Keforviers before the Eeformation, vol. i., pp. 180 — 182. 

- Von dev Hardt, torn, i., p. 77. Niem, apud Vou der 
Hardt, torn, ii., pp. 31.S— 398, aud torn, iv., p. 60 ; apiiJ 
Lenfant, vol. i., p. 129. 

' Lenfant, Mist. Counc. Const., vol. i., p. 130. 

end, so every one thought ; the flight of the Pope 
would be followed by the departure of the princes 
and the empei'or : the merchants shut their shops 
and |>acked up their wares, only too happy if they 
could escape pillage from the lawless mob into 
whose hands, as they believed, the towni had now 
been thrown. After the first moments of conster- 
nation, however, the excitement calmed down. The 
emperor mounted his horse and rode round the city, 
declaring openly that he would protect the Covmcil, 
and mamtain order and quiet ; and thus things in 
Constance returned to their usual channel. 

Still the Pope's flight was an untowai'd event. 
It threatened to disconceit all the plans of the 
emperor for healing the schism and restoring peace 
to Christendom. Sigismund saw the labours of 
years on the point of bemg swept away. He 
hastily assembled the princes and deputies, anti 
with no little indignation declared it to be his 
purpose to reduce the Duke of Austria by foice 
of arms, and bring back the fugitive. When the 
Pope learned that a storm was gathering, and 
would follow him across the Tyrol, he 'WTote in 
conciliatory terms to the emperor, excusing his 
flight by saying that he had gone to Sohafi'hausen 
to enjoy its sweeter air, that of Constance not 
agreemg wdth him ; moi'eover, in this quiet retreat, 
and at libertj^ he would be able to show the world 
how freely he acted in fulfilling his promise of 
renouncing the Pontificate. 

Jolui, however, was in no haste, even in the pure 
air and full freedom of Schafl'hausen, to lay down 
the tiara. He procrastinated and manoeuvred ; he 
went farther away every few days, in quest, as 
suggested, of stUl sweeter air, though his enemies 
hinted that the Pope's ailment was not a vitiated 
atmosphere, but a bad conscience. His thought 
was that his flight would be the signal for the 
Council to break up, and that he would thus 
checkmate Sigismund, and avoid the humiliation 
of deposition.' But the emperor was not to be 
baulked. He put his troops in motion against 
the Duke of Austria ; and the Council, seconding 
Sigismund with its spiritual weapons, wi-ested the 
infallibility from the Pope, and took that for- 
midable engine into its own hands. " This de- 
cision of the Council," said the celebrated Galilean 
divme, Gerson, in a sermon which he preached be- 
fore the assembly, " ought to be engraved in the 
most eminent places and in all the churches of the 
woi'ld, as a ftmdamental law to crusli the monster 
of ambition, and to stop the mouths of all flattei-ers 

•* Dupin, EccZes. ifisf., cent. 15, eliap.2, pp. 12, 13. Bonne- 
chose, Refomwrs before the Refoittiation, vol. i., pp. 182—181. 



who, by virtue of cei-tain glosses, say, bhintly and 
without auy regard to the eternal law of the Gos|jel, 
that the Pope is not subject to a General Council, 
and cannot be judged by such."' 

The way being thus prepared, the Council now 
jD'oceeded to the trial of the Pope. Public criers 
;it the door of the church summoned John XXIIl. 
to appear and answer to the charges to be brought 
against him. The criers expended their breath in 
vahi ; John was on the other side of the Tyi'ol ; 
and even had he been within ear-shot, he was not 
disposed to obey their citation. Three-and-twenty 
commissionera were then nominated for the exami- 
nations of the wtnesses. The indictment contained 
seventy accusations, but only fifty were read in 
])ublic Council ; the rest were withheld from a 
regard to the honour of the Pontificate — a super- 
fluous care, one would think, after what had already 
been pennitted to see the light. Thii'ty-seveu 
\vitnesses were examined, and one of the points to 
which they bore testimony, but which the Council 
left under a veil, was the poisoning by John of his 
))redecessor, Alexander V. The charges were held 
to be proven, and in the twelfth session (May 2'Jth, 
1415) the Council passed sentence, stripping John 
XXIII. of the Pontificate, and releasing all Chiis- 
tians from their oath of obedience to liini.^ 

When the blow fell, Po]je John was as abject as 
he had before been arrogant. He acknowledged the 
justice of his sentence, bewailed the day he had 
mounted to the Popedom, and -wi-ote cringingly to 
the emperor, if haply his miserable Life might be 
spared' — which no one, by the way, thought of 
taking from him. 

The case of the other two Popes was simpler, 
and more easily disposed of They had already 

' Lenfant, Hist. Counc. Const., vol. i., p. 463. 

'■^ Concil. Const., Sess. xii. — Hardouin, toin. viii., col. 
376, 377 ; Parisiis. Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 15, chap. 2, 
p. 17. Fox, Arts and Mon., vol. i., p. 782. Mosheim, 
Eccles. Hisf., cent. 15, pt. ii., chap. 2, sec. 4. The crimes 
proven against Pope John in the Council of Constancf 
may be seen in its records. The list fills fourteen long, 
'Icsely-printed columns in Hardouin. History contains 
no more terrible assemblage of vices, and it exhibits no 
Vilaeker character tlian that of the inculpated PontiiJ'. 
It was not an enemy, but liis own friends, the Council 
(jver wliich he presid<!d, that drew this appalling portrait. 
In the Barbarini <'ulle.-tion. tlie iti'ime of poisciniuy his 
Ijiedeies.50ii, and other fuul deeds not fit liere tu be uien- 
tioned, are charged against him. (Hardouin, torn, viii., 
pp. 343-360.) 

3 Hardouin, Acta Concil., torn, viii., pp. 361, 362. 

been condemned by the Council of Pisa, which had 
put forth an earlier assertion than the Council of 
Constance of the supremacy of a Council, and its 
right to deal with heretical and simoniacal Popes. 
Augelus Corario, Gregory XII., voluntarily sent in 
his resignation ; and Peter de Lune, Benedict XIII., 
was deposed; and Otta de Colonna, being unani- 
mously elected by the cardinals, raled the Church 
under the title of Martin V. 

Before turning to the more tragic page of the 
history of the Council, we have to remark that it 
seems almost as if the Fathers at Constance were 
intent on erecting beforehand a monument to the 
innocence of John Huss, and to their own guilt in 
the tenible fate to which they wei-e about to con- 
sign him. The crimes for which they condemned 
Balthazar Cossa, John XXIIL, wei-e the same, 
only more atrocious and fouler, as those of 
which Huss accused the priesthood, and for which 
he demanded a reformation. The condemnation of 
Pope Jolm was, therefore, whether the Council 
confessed it or not, the vindication of Huss. 
" When all the members of the Council shall be 
scattered in the world like storks," said Huss, in 
a letter which he wi'ote to a friend at this time, 
" they will know when winter cometli what they 
did in summer. Consider, I pray you, that they 
have judged their head, the Pope, worthy of death 
bj' reason of his horrible crimes. Answer to this, 
you teachers who preach that the Pope is a god 
upon earth ; that he may sell and waste in what 
manner he pleaseth the holy things, as the lawyers 
say; that he is the head of the entire holy Church, 
and govemeth it well ; that he is the heai-t of the 
Church, and quickeneth it spiritually ; that he is 
the well-spring from whence floweth all virtue and 
goodness ; that he is the sun of the Church, and a 
very safe refuge to which every Christian ought to 
fly. Yet, behold now that head, as it were, severed 
by the sword ; tliis terrestrial god enchained ; his 
sins laid bare ; this never-failiag source dried up ; 
this di\-ine sun dimmed ; this heart plucked out, 
and branded with reprobation, that no one should 
seek an asylum in it."* 

^ Lenfant, Hist. Cotmc. C'oiis*., vol. i., p. 398; and Huss's 
Letters, No. 47 ; Edin. ed. Some one posted up in the 
luill of the Council, one day. tlie followinsf intimation, as 
from the Holy Uliust : " Aliis rebus oeoupati nunc uon 
adesse vobis non possumus ; " that is, " Being otherwise 
occupied at this time, we are not able to be present with 
yon." (Fox, Act'! and Mon., vol. i., p. 782.) 





The Emperor's Safe-conduct— Imprisonment of Huss— Flame in Bohemia— No Faith to be kept with Heretics — The 
Pope and Huss in the same Prison — Huss brought before tlie Council — His Second Appearance — An Eclipse — 
Husa'e Theological Views— A Protestant at Heart — He Kefuses to Retract — His Dream. 

When John Huss set out for the Council, he 
can-ied vfiih him, as we have already said, several 
important documents.' But tlie most important 
of all Huss's credentials was a safe-conduct from 
the Emperor Sigismund. Without this, he would 
liardly ha^•e undertaken the journey. We quote 
it in full, seeing it has become one of the gi-eat 
documents of history. It was addressed " to all 
ecclesiastical and secular princes, ifec, and to all 
our subjects." "We recommend to you with a full 
affection, to all in general and to each in particular, 
the honourable Master John Huss, Bachelor in 
Divinity, and Master of Arts, the bearer of these 
])resents, journeying from Bohemia to the Council of 
Constance, whom we have taken under our protec- 
tion and safeguard, and under that of the Empire, 
enjoining you to receive him and treat him kindly, 
furnishing him with all that shall be necessary to 
speed and assure his journey, as well by water as 
by land, without taking anything from him or 
his at coming in or going out, for any sort of 
duties whatsoever ; and calling on you to allow 


AND SECURELY, providing him even, if necessaiy, 
with good passports, for the honour and respect 
of the Imperial Majesty. Given at Spiers this 
18th day of October of the year 1414, the third of 
our reign in Hungary, and the fifth of that of the 
Romans."'^ In the above document, the emperor 
pledges his honour and the power of the Empu'e 
for the safety of Huss. He was to go and return, 

' These documents are given in full in Fox, Acts and 
Man., vol. i., pp. 786—788. 

- This document is given by all contemporary liistorians, 
by Von der Hardt, torn, iv., p. 12 ; by Lenfant, Hist. Comic. 
Const., vol. i., pp. Gl, 62 ; by Fra Paolo ; by Sleidan in his 
Commentones ; and, in short, by all who have written the 
history of the Council. Tlie terms are very precise: to 
pass freely and to return. The Jesuit Maimbourg, when 
writing the history of the period, was compelled to own 
the imperial safe-conduct. In truth, it was admitted by 
the Council when, in its nineteenth session, it defended the 
emperor against those " evil-speakers " who blamed him 
for violating it. The obvious and better defence would 
have been tliat the safe-conduct never existed, could the 
Council in consistency with fact have so affirmed. • 

and no man dare molest him. No promise could be 
moi'e sacred, no protection apparently more com- 
plete. How that pledge was redeemed we shall 
see by-and-by. 

Huss's trust, however, was in One more powerful 
than the kings of earth. " I confide altogether," 
wrote he to one of his friends, " in the all-powerful 
God, in my Saviour ; he will accord me his Holy 
Spirit to fortify me in his truth, so that I may face 
with courage temptations, prison, and if necessary 
a ciiiel death."* 

FuU liberty was accorded Mm during the first 
days of his stay at Constance. He made his arrival 
be intimated to the Pope the day after by two 
Bohemian noblemen who accompanied him, adding 
that he carried a safe-conduct from the emperor. 
The Pope received them courteously, and expressed 
his determination to protect H\iss.* The Pope's 
oyni position was too precarious, however, to make 
his promise of any great value. Paletz and Causis, 
who, of all the ecclesiastics of Prague, were the 
bitterest enemies of Huss, had preceded him to 
Constance, and were working day and night among 
the members of the Council to inflame them against 
him, and secure his condemnation. Their machina- 
tions were not ■without result. On the twenty- 
sixth day after his airival Huss was arrested, in 
flagrant violation of the imjiierial safe-conduct, and 
earned before the Pope and the cardinals.* After 
a conversation of some hours, he was told that he 
must remain a prisoner, and was entrusted to the 
clerk of the Cathedral of Constance. He remained 
a week at the house of this oflicial under a strong 
guard. Thence he was conducted to the prison of 
the monastery of the Dominicans on the banks of 
the Rhine. The sewage of the monastery flowed 
close to the place whei-e he was confined, and the 
damp and pestilential air of his ])rison brought on 
a raging fevei-, which had well-nigh tenninated his 

^ Hist, et Man. J. Huss., epist. i. 
' Lenfant, Hist. Connc. ConM., vol. 
•' Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 790. 
cent. 15, chap. 7, p. 121. 

., p. 13. 

Dupin, Eccles. H'/i. 



lifp.' His enemies feared that after all he -wonltl 
escape them, and the Pope sent his own physicians 
to him to take care of his health.- 

When the tidings of his imprisonment reached 
Huss's native country, they kindled a flame in 
Bohemia. Burning words bespoke the indignation 
that the nation felt at the treachery and cruelty 
vrith which their great countryman had been treated. 
The i)uissant barons united in a remonstrance to the 
Emperor Sigismund, reminding him of his safe- 
conduct, and demanding that he shoidd vindicate 
his own honour, and redress the injvistice done to 
Huss, by ordering his instant liberation. The first 
im])ulse of Sigisnumd was to open Huss's prison, 
but the casuists of the Council found means to keep 
it shut. The emperor was told that he had no 
right to gi'aut a safe-cond\ict in the circumstances 
■\vithout the consent of the Council; that the greater 
good of the Church must over-rule his promise ; 
that the Council by its supreme authority could 
release him from his obligation, and that no form- 
ality of this soit could be suffered to obstruct the 
course of justice against a heretic' The prompt- 
ings of honoiu- and humanity were stifled in the 
emperor's breast by these reasonings. In the voice 
of the a.ssembled Church he heard the voice of God, 
and delivered up John Huss to the \vill of his 

The Council afterwards put its reasonings into 
a decree, to the effect t/mt ho faith is to be kept 
with heretics to the prejudice of the Church.* 

Being now completely in their power, the enemies 
of Huss pushed on the process against him. They 
examined his waitings, thej' founded a series of 
criminatory articles upon them, and proceeding to 
his prison, where they fomid him still suffering 
severely from fever, they read them to him. He 
craved of them the favour of an advocate to assist 
him in framing his defence, enfeebled as he was in 
body and mind by the foul air of his prison, and 

' Dupin, Erdes. Hist., cent. 15, chap. 7, p. 121. Bonne- 
chose, Reformers before the Reformatio)), vol. i., pp. 170—173. 

- Tjenfant, Hist. Comic. Const., vol. i., p.' 61. 

■' Von der Hardt, torn, iv., p. 397. 

' The precise words of this decree are as follow :— "Nee 
aliqua sibi fides ant promissio de jure natural! divino et 
humano fuerit iu prejudicium Catholiea! fidei obser- 
vanda." (Concil. Const., Sess. six. — Hardouin, Acta 
Concil., torn, viii., col. 454; Parisiis.) The meaning is, 
that by no law natural or divine is faith to be kept with 
heretics to the prejudice of the Catholic faith. Tlii.s 
doctrine was pronuilsrated by the third Lateran Council 
(Alexander III., 1167), decreed by the Council of Con- 
stance, and virtually confirmed by the Council of Trent. 
The words of the third Lateran Council are— "oaths 
made against the interest and benefit of the Church arc 
not so much to be considered as oaths, but as perjuries" 
(;iOfl <i)iasij))rnmenta sed rpinsi ■perjiD-in'). 

the fever with which he had been smitten. This 
request was refused, although the indulgence asked 
was one commonly accorded to even the gi-eatest 
criminals. At this stage the proceedings against 
likn were stopped for a little while by an un- 
expected event, which turned the thoughts of tlie 
Council in another dii-ection. It was now that 
Pope John escaped, as we have already'- related. 
In the interval, the keepers of his monastic prison 
having fled along with their master the Pope, 
Huss was removed to the Castle of Goteleben, on 
the other side of the Rhine, where he was sh\(t up, 
heavily loaxled with chains.^ 

While the proceedings against Huss stood still, 
those against the Pope went forward. The flight 
of John had brought his afl'airs to a crisis, and the 
Council, \vithout more delay, deposed him from the 
Pontificate, as narrated above. 

To the delegates whom the Council sent to inti- 
mate to him his sentence, he delivered wp the 
Pontifical seal and the fisherman's i"ing. Along 
with these insignia they took possession of his 
person, brought him ])ack to Constance, and threw 
him into the prison of Goteleben," the same strong- 
hold in which Huss was confined. How solenm 
and iustnictive ! The Reformer and the man who 
had arrested him are now the inmates of the same 
jirison, yet what a gulf divides the PoutiS' from 
the martyr ! The chains of the one are the monu- 
ments of his infamy. The bonds of the other 
are the badges of his virtue. They invest their 
wearer with a lustre which is lacking to the 
dia<lem of Sigismimd. 

The Council was only tho more intent on con- 
denming Huss, that it had already conflemned Poj)e 
John. It instinctively felt that the dejiosition of 
the Pontiff was a virtual justification of the Re- 
former, and that the world would so construe it. 
It was minded to avenge itself on the man who 
liad compelled it to lay open its sores to the world. 
It felt, moreo-cer, no little pleasure in the exercise 
of its newly-acquired j)rerogative of infallibility : 
a Pope had fallen beneath its stroke, why should a 
simple priest defy its authority i 

The Council, however, delayed briiiguig John 
Huss to his trial. His two great opponents. Paletz 
and Causis — whose enmity was whetted, doubtless, 
by the discomfitures they had sustained from Huss 
in Prague — feared the eflect of his eloquence upon 
the membci-s, and took care that he shoxild not 

■' Dupiu, Eccles. Hist., cent. 15, chap. 7, p. 121. ¥ox,Acls 
n)id Mo)i., vol. i., p. 70.^. Bonnechose, Refor)nere before the 
Refor)))atio)i , vol. i., pp. 191, 192. 

° Bonnechose, vol. i., pp. 2i:)— 2JS. 



appear till they had prepared the Council for his 
condemnation. At last, on the 5th of June, 1415, 
he was put on his tiial. His books were produced, 
and he was asked if he acknowledsed bein" tlie 

wholly false, imputing to him opinions which he 
did not hold, and which he had never taiight. 
Huss naturally wished to reply, pointing out what 
was false, what was perverted, and wliat was 

writer of them. This he readily did. The articles 
of crimination were next read. Some of these were 
fair statements of Huss's opinions ; others were ex- 
aggerations or pei-versions, and others again were 

' Lenfant, Hisi. Co7()tc. Vonsl., voL i., p. 322. Dupin 
Eecles. Hist., cent. 15, chap. 7, p. 122. 

true in the indictment jn'eferred against him, as- 
f^igning the gi-ounds and adducing the proofs in 
support of those sentiments wliich he really held, 
and which he had taught. He had not uttered 
more than a few words when there arose in the hall 
a clamour so loud as completely to drown his voice. 
Huss stood motionless ; he cast his eyes aroimd on 
the excited assembly, surprise and pity rather than 
anger visible on his face. "Waiting till the tumult 
had subsided, he again attempted to proceed vnth 




his defence. He had not gone far till lie had 
occasion to appeal to the Scriptures ; the stonn was 
that moment renewed, and with greater violence 
than before. Some of the Fathers shouted out 
accusations, others broke into peals of derisive 
hiughter. Again Huss was silent. " He is dumb," 
said liis enemies, who forgot that they had come 
there as his judges. " I am silent," said Huss, 
" because I am unable to make myself audible midst 
so great a noise." " All," said Luther, referring in 
liis characteristic style to this scene, " all worked 
themselves into rage like wild boars ; the bristles 
of their back stood on end, they bent their brows 
and gnashed tlieii" teeth against John Huss."' 

The minds of the Fathers were too perturbed to 
be able to agree on the course to be followed. It 
was found impossible to restore order, and after a 
short sitting the assembly broke up. 

Some Bohemian noblemen, among whom was 
Baron de Chlum, the steady and most affectionate 
friend of the Reformer, had been witnesses of the 
tumult. They took care to infonu Sigisnnind of 
what had passed, and prayed him to be present 
at the next sitting, in the hope that, though the 
Council did not respect itself, it would yet respect 
the emperor. 

After a day's iiiter^-al the Council again assem- 
bled. The morning of that day, tlie 7th Jinie, was 
a memorable one. An all but total eclipse of the 
sun astonished and terrilied tlie venerable Fathei-s 
and the inhabitants of Constance. The darkness 
was great. The city, the lake, and the surrounding 
plains were buried in the shadow of portentous 
night. This plienomenon was remembered and 
spoken of long after in Europe. Till the inauspi- 
cious darkness liad passed the Fathers did not dare 
to meet. Towards noon the light retm-ned, and the 
Council assembled in the hall of the Franciscans, 
the emperor taking his seat in it. Jolm Huss was 
led in by a numerous body of armed men.- 

Sigismund and Huss were now face to face. 
There sat the emperor, his princes, lords, and suite 
crowding round him ; there, loaded with chains, 
stood the man for whose safety he had pvit in 
pledge his honour as a prince and his power a.s 
emperor. The irons that Huss wore were a 
strange commentary, truly, on the imperial safe- 
conduct. Is it thus, well might the prisoner have 
said, is it thus that princes on whom the oil of 

' Von der Hardt, torn, iv., p. 806. Lenfant, Hist. Counc. 
Const., vol. i., p. 323. Bonnechose, Reformers before the 
Reformatioi, vol. ii., chap. 4. Dupin, Eccles. Hist., cent. 15, 
chap. 7. Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 792. 

- Lenfant, Hist. Cotinc. Const., vol. i., p. 323. Fox, Acts 
and Mon., vol. i., p. 792. Bonnechose, vol. ii., chap. 4. 

unction has been poured, and Councils which the 
Holy Ghost inspires, keep faith l But Sigismund, 
though he could not be insensible to tlie silent re- 
proach which the chains of Huss cast ujjon him, 
consoled himself with his secret resolve to save the 
Reformer from the last extremity. He had per- 
mitted Huss to be deprived of liberty, but he would 
not permit him to be deprived of life. But tliei'e 
were two elements he had not taken into account 
in forming this resolution. The tirst was the un- 
yielding firmness of the Refonner, and the second 
was the ghostly awe in which he himself stood of 
the Council ; and so, despite Ms better intentions, 
lie suffered himself to be ch'agged along on the road 
of peiiidy and dishonour, which he had meanly 
entered, till he came to its tragic end, and the 
imperial safe-conduct and the martyr's stake had 
taken their place, side l>y side, inefl'aceably, on 
history's eternal jiage. 

Causis again read the accusation, and a some- 
what desultory debate ensued between Huss anil 
several doctors of the Council, especially the 
celebrated Peter d'Ailly, Cardinal of Cambray. The 
line of accusation and defence has been sketched 
"with tolerable fulness by all who have written on 
the Council. After comparing these statements it 
ajjpears to us that Huss differed from the Church 
of Rome not so much on dogmas as on great points 
of jurisdiction and policy. These, while they 
directly attacked certain of the principles of the 
Papacy, tended indirectly to the subversion of the 
whole system — in short, to a far gi'eater revolution 
than Huss perceived, or perhaps intended. He aji- 
pears to have believed in transubstantiation ; ' he 
declared so before the Council, although in stating 
his ^'iews he betrays ever and anon a revulsion 
from the gi'osser form of the dogma. He admitted 
the Di\ ine institution and office of the Pope and 
membere of the hierarchy, but he made the efficacy 
of their official acts dependent on their spiritual 
character. Even to the last he did not abandon 
the commiuiion of the Roman Chm'ch. Still it 
cannot be doubted that Jolm Huss was essentially 
a Protestant and a Reformer. He held that the 
supi'eme rule of faith and practice was the Holy 
Scriptures ; that Christ was the Rock on which our 
Lord said he would build liis Church ; that " the 
assembly of the Predestinate is the Holy Church, 
which has neither spot nor Avi-inkle, but is holy 
and imdefiled ; the which Jesus Chi-ist calleth his 
own ;" that the Church needed no one visible head 
on earth, that it had none such in the days of the 
apostles ; that nevertheless it was then well 

Lenfant, Hist. Counc. Const., vol. i., pp. 323, .324. 



governed, and might be so still although it should 
lose its earthly head ; and that the Church was 
not confined to the clergy, but included all the 
faithful. He maintained the principle of liberty 
of conscience so far as that heresy ought not to 
be punished by the magistrate till the heretic had 
been convicted out of Holy Scripture. He appeal's 
to have laid no weight on excommunications and 
indulgences, unless in cases in which manifestly the 
judgment of God went along with the sentence of 
the priest. Like WiclifFe he held that tithes were 
simply alms, and that of the vast temporal revenues 
of the clergy that portion only which was needful 
for their subsistence was rightfully theirs, and that 
the rest belonged to the poor, or might be other- 
wise distributed by the civil authorities.' His 
theological creed was only in course of formation. 
That it would have taken more definite foiTQ — that 
the great doctrines of the Reformation would have 
come out in full light to his gaze, diligent student 
as he was of tlie Bible — had his career been pro- 
longed, we cannot doubt. Tlie formula of "justi- 
fication by faith alone" — the foundation of the 
teaching of Martin Luther in after days— we do 
not find in any of the defences or letters of Huss ; 
but if he did not know the terms he had learned 
tlie doctrine, for when he comes to die, turning 
away from Church, from saint, from all human 
intervention, he casts himself simply upon the 
infinite mercy and love of the Saviour. " I sub- 
mit to the correction of our Divine Master, and I 
put my trust m his infinite mercy." '' " I commend 
you," says he, writing to the people of Prague, 
"to the merciful Lord Jesus Christ, om- true God, 
and the Son of the immaculate Virgin Mary, who 
hath redeemed us by his bitter death, without 
all our merits, from eternal pains, from the thral- 
dom of the devil, and from sin."' 

The members of the Council instinctively felt 
that Huss was not one of them ; that although 
claiming to belong to the Church which they con- 
stituted, he had in fact abandoned it, and renounced 
its authority. The two leading principles whicli he 
had embraced were subversive of their whole juris- 
diction in both its branches, spiritual and tempural. 
The first and great authority with him was Holy 
Scriptm-e; this stmck at the foundation of the 
spiritual ])ower of the hierarcliy ; and as regards 
1 1 leir temporal power he undermined it by his doctrine 
touching ecclesiastical revenues and possessions. 

' The ai'ticles condemned by the Council are given in 
full by Hardouin, Acta Concil, torn, viii., pp. 410—421. 

- Epist. XX. 

^ Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 824 Lenfant, Hist. 
Counc. Const., vol. i., bk. iii. 

From these two positions neither sophistry nor 
threats could make him swerve. In the judgment 
of the Council he was in rebellion. He had trans- 
ferred his allegiance from tlie Church to God speak- 
ing in his Word. This was his great crime. It 
mattered little in the eyes of the assembled Fathers 
that he still shared in some of their common beliefs ; 
he had broken the great bond of submission ; he 
had become the worst of all heretics ; he had rent 
from his conscience the shackles of the infallibility ; 
and he must needs, in process of time, become a 
more avowed and dangerous heretic than he was at 
that moment, and accordingly the mind of the 
Council was made up — John Huss must midergo 
the doom of the heretic. 

Already enfeebled by illness, and by his long im- 
prisonment — for " he was shut up in a tower, wtk 
fetters on his legs, that he could scarce walk in the 
day-time, and at night he was fastened up to a rack 
against the wall hard by his bed " * — the length of 
the sitting, and the attention demanded to rebut 
the attacks and reasonings of his accusers, left him 
exhausted and worn out. At length the Council 
rose, and Huss was led out by his armed escort, and 
conducted back to prison. His trusty friend, John 
de Chlum, followed him, and embracing him, bade 
him be of good cheei\ " Oh, what a consolation to 
me, in the midst of my trials," said Huss in one of 
his letters, " to see that excellent nobleman, John 
de Chlum, stretch forth the hand to me, miserable 
heretic, languishing in chains, and already con- 
demned by every one."' 

In the interval between Huss's second appear- 
ance before the Council, and the third and last 
citation, the emperor made an ineffectual attempt 
to induce the Reformer to retract and abjure- 
Sigismund was earnestly desirous of saving his life, 
no doubt out of regard for Huss, but doubtless also 
from a regard to his own honour, deeply at stake in 
the issue. The Council drew up a form of abjura- 
tion and submission. This was communicated to 
Huss in prison, and the mediation of mutual friends 
was employed to prevail with him to sign the paper. 
The Reformer declared himself ready to ali jure those 
errors which had been falsely imputed to him, but 
as regarded those conclusions which had been faith- 
fully deduced from his writings, and which lie had 
taught, these, by the grace of God, he ne\er would 

< Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 793. 

' Epist. xxxii. It ought also to be mentioned that a 
protest against the execution of Huss was addressed ta 
the Council of Constance, and signed by the principal 
nobles of Bohemia and Moravia. The original of this 
protest is preserved in the library of Edinburgh Uni- 



abandon. " He would rather," he said, "be cast into 
the sea vnih a mill-stone aboiit his neck, tJian ofl'end 
those little ones to whom he had preached the 
Gospel, by abjuring it."' At last the matter was 
brought very much to this point : would he submit 
himself implicitly to the Coimcil 1 The snare was 
cunningly set, but Huss had wisdom to see aud 
avoid it. " If the CouncU should even tell you," 
said a doctor, whose name has not been preserved, 
"that you have but one eye, you would be obliged 
to agree with the Council." " But," said Huss, 
" as long as God keeps me in my senses, I would 
not say such a thing, even though the whole world 
should require it, because I could not say it without 
wounding my conscience."' What an obstinate, 
self-opinionated, arrogant man ! said the Fathers. 
Even the emperor was u'ritated at what he regarded 
as stubbornness, and giving way to a burst of 
passion, declared that such unreasonable obduracy 
was worthy of death.' 

This was the great crisis of the Reformer's career. 
It was as if the Fathers had said, " We shall say 
nothing of heresy ; we specify no errors, only sub- 
mit yourself implicitly to our authority as an 
infallible Council. Burn this gi-ain of incense on 
the altar in testimony of our corporate divinity. 
That is asking no great matter surely." This was 
the liery temptation with which Huss was now 
tried. How many would have yielded — how many 
in similar circumstances have yielded, and been 
lost ! Had Huss bowed his liead before the infalli- 
bility, he never could have lifted it up again before 
liis own conscience, before liis coimtrymen, before 
his Saviour. Struck with spiritual paralysis, his 
strength would have departed from him. He would 
have escaped the stake, the agony of which is but 
for a moment, but he would have missed the crowai, 
the glory of whieli is etei-nal. 

From that moment Huss had peace — deeper and 
more ecstatic than he had ever before experienced. 
" I write this letter," says he to a friend, " in 
prison, and with my fettered hand, expecting my 
sentence of death to-morrow. . . . When, with 
the assistance of Jesus Christ, we shall meet again 

1 Concil. Const. — Hardouin, torn, viii., p. 423. 
- Lenfant, Hist. Counc. Coiut., vol. i., p. 361. 

2 Bonnechose, Bi'formers he/ore ike Refornmfioii, ii. 47. 

in the delicious peace of the future life, you >vill 
learn how merciful God has sho^vn himself towards 
me — how eflectually he lias supported me in the 
midst of my temptations and trials."* The in-ita- 
tion of the debate into which the Council had 
dragged him was foi'gotten, and he calmly began to 
prepare for death, not disquieted by the tewible 
form in which he foresaw it would come. The 
martyrs of former ages had passed by this path to 
their glory, and by the help of Him who is mighty 
he should be able to travel by the same road to 
his. He would look the lire in the face, and over- 
come the vehemency of its flame by the yet greater 
vehemency of his love. He already tasted the joys 
that awaited him within those gates that should 
open to receive him as soon as the fire should loose 
him from the stake, and set free his spu-it to begin 
its flight on high. Nay, in his prison he was 
cheered with a prophetic glimpse of the dawn of 
those better days that awaited the Church of God 
on earth, and which his own blood would largely 
contribute to hasten. Once as he lay asleep he 
thought that he was again in his beloved Chai)el 
of Bethlehem. Envious jniests were there tiying 
to efface the figures of Jesus Christ which he 
had got painted upon its walls. He was tilled 
with sorrow. But next day there came painters 
who restored the partially obliterated portraits, 
so that they were more brilliant than before. 
" ' Now,' said these artists, ' let the bishops and 
the priests come forth ; let them efface these if 
they can;' and the crowd was filled with joy, and 
I also."*^ 

" Occupy your thoughts with your defence, rather 
than ■\\ath visions," said John de Chlum, to whom 
be had told his dream. " And yet," replied Huss, 
" I firmly hope that this life of Christ, which I 
engraved on men's hearts at Bethlehem when I 
preached his Word, ■svill not be effaced ; and that 
after I have ceased to live it will be still better sho'W'n 
forth, by mightier preachers, to the great satisfac- 
tion of the people, and to my own most sincere joy, 
when I shall be again permitted to announce his 
Gospel — that is, when I shall rise from the dead."" 

■* Epist. X. 

* Ibid. xliv. 

<• Bonnechose, Reformers before the Reformation, ii. '24. 





Sig'isniuri'-l and Huss face to face— The Bishop of Locli's Sermon— Degradation of Huss — His Condemnation — Ili.-i 
Prophecy — Procession — His Behaviour at the Stake — Eeflections on his Martyrdom. 

Thirty days elapsed. Huss had languished iii 
prison, conteudiug with fetters, fetid air, and sick- 
ness, for about two months. It was now the 
Gtli of July, 1415 — the anniversary of his liirtli. 
This day was to see the wishes of his enemies 
crowned, and his own sorrows terminated. The 
li;dl of the Council was filled mth a brilliant 
assemblage. There sat the emperor ; there were 
the princes, the deputies of the sovereigns, the 
patriarchs, archbishops, liishops, and priests ; and 
there too was a vast concourse which the spectacle 
that day was to -witness had brought together. 
It was meet that a stage should be erected worthy 
of the act to be done upon it — that when the first 
cliampion in the great struggle that was just 
opening should yield up his life, all Christendom 
might see and bear witness to the fact. 

The Archbishop of Riga came to the prison to 
liring Huss to the Comicil. Mass was bemg cele- 
brated as they ai'rived at the church door, and Huss 
was made to stay outside till it was finished, lest 
tlio mysteries should be profaned by the pi-esence 
of a man who was not only a heretic, but a leader 
of heretics.' Being led in, he was bidden take his 
seat on a raised platform, where he might be con- 
spicuously in the eyes of the whole assembly. On 
sitting dowii, he was seen to engage in earnest 
prayer, but the words were not heard. Near 
hint rose a pile of clerical vestments, in readiness 
for the ceremonies that were to precede the final 
tragedy. The sermon, usual on such occasions, was 
preached by the Bishop of Lodi. He chose as his 
text the woi-ds, "That the body of sin might be 
destroyed." He enlarged on the schism as the 
suiirce of the heresies, murders, sacrileges, rob- 
beries, and wars which had for so long a period 
desolated the Church, and drew, says Lenfant, 
'• such a horrible picture of the .schism, that one 
woidd think at first he was exhorting the emjjeror 
to Ijuru the two anti-Popes, and not John Huss. 
Yet the bishop concluded in these terms, addressed 
to Sigismund : ' Destroy heresies and errors, but 

' Op. et Mon. Joan. Huss., torn, ii., p. 344 ; NoribercriB, 
1558. Lenfant, Hist. Counc. Const., vol. i., p. 412. 

cliiefly ' (pointing to John Huss) ' that Orstinate 
Heretic' '"' 

The sermon ended, the accusations against Huss 
were again read, as also the depositions of the 
witnesses ; and then Huss gave his final refusal to 
abjure. This he accompanied with a brief recapitu- 
lation of his proceedings since the commencement 
of this matter, ending by saying that he had come 
to this Council of his own free will, " confiding in 
the safe-conduct of the emperor here present." As 
he uttered these last words, he looked full at Sigis- 
mund, on whose brow the crimson of a deep blush 
was seen by the whole assembly, whose gaze was at 
the instant tirnied towards his majesty.* 

Sentence of condemnation as a heretic was now 
passed on Huss. There followed the ceremony of 
degradation — an ordeal that brought no blush upon 
the brow of the martyr. One after another the 
priestly vestments, brought thither for that end, 
were produced and put upon him, and now tlie 
prisoner stood fuU in the gaze of the Coimcil, sacer- 
dotally apparelled. They next put into his hand 
the chalice, as if he were about to celebrate mass. 
They asked him if now he were willing to alijure. 
" With what tace, then," replied he, " should 
I behold the heavens l How should I look on 
those multitudes of men to whom I have preached 
the pure Go.spel l No ; I esteem their salvation more 
than this poor body, now appointed unto death."' 

Then they took from him the chalice, saying, " O 
accursed Judas, who, having abandoned the counsels 
of peace, have taken part in that of the Jews, we 
take from you this cup filled -with the blood of 
Jesus Christ."'' 

- Lenfant, Hist. Counc. Const., vol. i., p. 413. Op. ct 
Moti. Joan. Huss., torn, ii., p. 34G. 

'■> Huss, p.QO; 3entE,17n. VouderHardt, 
torn, iv., p. 393. Lenfant, vol. i., p. 422. The circumstance 
was long after remembered in Germany. A century after, 
at the Diet of Worms, when the enemies of Luther were 
importuning Charles V. to have the Ecformer seized, not- 
witlistanding the safe-conduct lie had given him — " No," 
replied the emperor, "I sliould not like to blush like 
Sigismund." (Lenfant.) 

■• Fox, Ads and Mon., vol. i., p. 820. 

■■' Op. et Mon. Joan. Huss. .torn, ii., p. 347. Coneil. Const. 
— Hardoiun, torn, viii., p. 423. 



" I hope, by tlip mercy of God," replipJ Jolm 
Hhss, " that this very day I shall drink of his cup 
in his own kingdom ; and in one hundred years 
you shall answer before God and before me."' 

The seven bishops selected for tiie purpose now 
came round him, and jiroceeded to remove the 

arrayed liim. And as each bishop jierformed his 
office, lie bestowed his curse upon the martyr. 
Nothing now remained Vmt to erase the marks of 
the tonsure. 

On this there arose a great dispute among the 
prelates whether they should use a razor or scissor.s. 


sacerdotal garments — the alb, the stole, and other 
pieces of attire — in which in mockery they had 

' These words were noted down ; and soon after the death 
of Huss a medal was struck in Bohemia, on which they 
were inscribed : Centum revolutis annis Deo respondebitis et 
mihi. Lenfant (lib. c, p. 429, and lib. It., p. 564) says 
that this medal was to be seen in the royal archives of 
the King of Borussia, and that in the opinion of the very 
learned Sehotti, who was then antiquary to the king, it 

" See," said Huss, turning to the emperor, " they 
cannot agree among themselves how to insult me." 

was struck in the fifteenth century, before the times of 
Luther and Zwingle. The same thing has been asserted 
by Catholic historians— among others, Peter Matthias, in 
his History of Henry IV., torn, ii., lib. v., p. 46. (Vide 
Sculteti, Aimales, p. 7. Gerdesius, Hist. Evang. Renov., 
pp. 51, 52; Groningae, 1744.) Its date is guaranteed also 
by M. Bizot, author of H";.-.(, Met. de HoUande. 



They resolved to use the scissors, wliicli were in- 
stantly brought, and his hair was cut cross-wise to 
oliliterate the mark of the crown.' According to 
the canon law, the jjriest so dealt with becomes 
again a layman, anil although the operation does 
not I'eniove the r/iarac/cr, which is indelible, it yet 
rentiers him for ever incajiable of exei'cising the 
functions of the priesthood. 

There remained one other mark of ignominy. 
They ))ut on his head a cap or pyramidal-shaped 
mitre of paper, on which were painted frightful 

part in the Church of God, we leave with thee, 
delivering him up to the civil judgment and 
])ower."' Then the emperor, addressing Louis, 
Duke of Bavaria — who, as Vicar of the Empire, was 
staniling before him in his robes, holding in his 
hand tJie golden apjile, and the cross — commanded 
him to deli\ er ovev Huss to those whose duty it 
was to see tlie sentence executed. The d^ike in his 
turn abandoned him to the cliief magistrate of 
Constance, and the magistrate finally gave him into 
the hands of his officers or city sergeants. 


figures of demons, with the word Arch-Heretic 
consjjicuous in front. " Most joyfully," said Huss, 
" \nll I wear this crown of sliame for thy sake, O 
Jesus, who for me didst wear a, crown of thorns."^ 

When thus attired, the prelates said, " Now, we 
devote thy soul to the devil." " And I," said John 
Huss, lifting up his eyes toward heaven, " do 
commit my spirit into thy hands, O Lord Jesus, for 
thou hast redeemed me." 

Turning to the emperor, the bishops said, " This 
man John Huss, who has on more any office or 

' Oju. et Mott. Joan Huss, torn, ii., fol. 317. - H'li. 

The procession was now formed. Tlie martyr 
walked lietween four toisni sergeants. The jirinces 
and deputies, escorted by eight hundred men-at- 
aiins, followed. In the cavalcade, mounted on horse- 
back, were many bishops and priests delicately clad 
ill roljes of silk and velvet. The population of 
Constance followed in mass to see the end. 

As Huss passed the episcopal palace, his attention 
was attracted by a gi-eat fire which blazed and 
crackled before the gates. He was informed that 

'■' Von der Hardt, torn, iv., p, 410. Lenfant, Hisi. Counc. 
Const., vul. i., pp. 425, 426. 



on that pile his books were being eousumod. He 
smiled at this futile attempt to extinguish the 
light which he foresaw wonld one day, and that 
not very distant, fill all Christendom. 

The procession crossed tlie bridge and lialted in 
a meadow, between the gardens of the city and the 
gate of Goteleben. Here the execution was to 
take place. Being come to the spot where he was 
to die, the martyr kneeled down, and began re- 
citing the penitential psalms. He ofiered up short 
and fervent supj)lications, and oftentimes repeated, 
as the by-standers bore mtness, the words, " Lord 
Jesus, into thy hands I commend my spirit." " We 
know not," said those who were near him, " what 
his life has been, liut verily he prays after a devout 
and godly fashion." Tvirning his gaze upward in 
prayer, the paper crown fell otf. One of the soldiers 
ru.shed forward and replaced it, saying that " he 
must be burned with the devils whom he had 
served."^ Again the martyi- smiled. 

The stake was driven deep into the ground. Huss 
was tied to it with ropes. He stood facing the east. 
"This," cried some, "is not the right attitude for 
a heretic." He was again iinbound, turned to the 
west, and made fast to the beam by a chain that 
passed round his neck. "If is thus," said he, 
" that you silence the goose, but a hundred years 
hence there mil arise a swan whose singing yo\i 
shall not be able to silence."^ 

He stood with liis feet on the faggots, which were 
mixed with straw that they might the more readily 
ignite. Wood was piled all round liim \ip to the 
chin. Before applying the torch, Loiiis of Bavaria 
and the Marshal of the Empire approached, and for 
tlie last time implored hun to have a care for his 
life, and renoimce his en-el's. " What eri'ors," 
asked Huss, "shall I renounce? I know myself 
guilty of none. I call God to ■witness that all that 
I have written and preached has been \nth. the 
view of rescuing souls from sin and perdition ; and, 
therefore, most joyfully vriW I confirm "ndth my 
blood that truth which I have wi'itten and preached." 
At the hearing of these words they departed from 

1 Op. et Mon. Joan. Huss., torn, ii., fol. 348. Lenfant, 
Hist. Oounc. Const., vol. i., pp. 428—430. 

- In many principalities money was coined with a 
reference to this prediction. On one side was the effigy 
of John Huss, with the inscription. Credo unam esse 
JiccUsiam Sanctam Catholicam {" I believe in one Holy 
Catholic Church "). On the obverse was seen Huss tied to 
the stake and placed on the fire, with the inscription in 
tlie centre, Johawnes Huss, anno a ChHsto iiato 1415 con- 
demnatur ("John Huss, condemned a.d. 1415"); and on 
the circumference the inscription ali'eady mentioned, 
Centum revohdis amiis Deo respondehifis et mi}ii (" A 
hundred years hence ye sliall answer to God and to 
me").— Gerdesius, Hist. Evang. Renov., vol. i., pp. 51, 52. 

liim. and .Tolm Huss had now done talking with 

The fire was apjilied, the flames blazed upward. 
" John Huss," says Fox, " began to sing with .<i 
loud ^•oice, ' Jesus, thou 8on of Davitl, lune mercj' 
on me.' And when he began to say the same the 
third time, the wind so blew the flame in his face 
that it choked him." Poggius, who was secretary 
to the Council, and -^neas Sylvius, who afterwards 
became Pope, and whose narratives are not liable 
to the suspicion of being coloured, bear even higher 
testimony to the lieroic demeanom- of both Huss 
and Jerome at their execution. " Both," says the 
latter historian, " bore themselves with constant 
mind when their hour approached. They 
prepared for the fire as if they were going to a 
marriage feast. They uttered no cry of pain. When 
the flames rose they began to sing hymns ; and 
scarce coidd the vehemency of the fire stop their 

Huss had given up the ghost. When the flames 
had subsided, it was fomid that only the lower 
parts of his body were consumed, and that the 
upper parts, held fest by the chain, hung sus- 
pended on the stake. The executioners kindled 
the fire anew, in order to consume what remained 
of the martyr. When the flames had a second 
time subsided, the heart was found still entire 
amid the ashes. A third time had the fire to 
be kindled. At last all was burned. The ashes 
were carefully collected, the very soil was dug 
up, and all was carted away and thrown into the 
Rhine ; so anxious were Ms persecutors that not 
the slightest vestige of Jolui Huss — not even a 
thread of his raiment, for that too was burned 
along with liis Ijody — should be left upon the 

When the martyi' bowed his head at the stake 
it was the infallible Council that was vanquished. 
It was -with Huss that the victory remained ; and 
what a victory ! Heap together all the trophies of 

^ Mnens Sylvius, Hist. BoTiem., cap. 36, p. 54; apud 
Gerdesius, Hist. Evang. Renov., vol. i., p. 42. 

■• " Finally, all being consumed to cinders in the fire, the 
ashes, and the soil, dug up to a great depth, were placed 
in wagons, and thrown into the stream of the Rhine, that 
his very name might utterly perish from among the faith- 
ful." (Op.etMon. Joan. Hmss., tom.ii., fol. 348; NoribergsB.) 
The details of Huss's martyrdom axe very fully given 
by Fox, by Lenfant, by Bonnechose, and others. These 
have been faithfully compiled from the Brunswick, Leip- 
sic, and Gotha manuscripts, collected by Von der Hardt. 
and from the History of Huss's Life, published by an eye- 
witness, and inserted at the beginning of liis works. 
These were never contradicted by any of his contem- 
poraries. Substantially the same account is given by 
Catholic writers. 



Alexander and of Cassar, what are they all when 
weighed in the Ijalauce against this one glorious 
achievement 1 From the stake of Hiiss, what 
blessings have flowed, and are still flowing, t<3 the 
world ! From the moment he expii'ed amid thy 
flames, his name became a power, which will con- 
tinue to sjieed on the great cause of truth and 
light, till the last shackle shall be rent from the 
intellect, and the conscience, emancipated from 
every usurpation, shall be free to obey the au- 
thority of its rightful Lord. What a surprise to 
his and the Gospel's enemies ! " Huss is dead," 
say they, as they retire from the meadow where 
they have just seen him expii'c. Huss is dead. 

The Rhine has received his ashes, and is bearing 
them on its rushing floods to the ocean, there to 
bury them for ever. No : Huss is alive. It is not 
death, but life, that he has found in the fire ; his 
stake has given him not an eutombmont, but a 
resurrection. The winds as they blow over Con- 
stance are wafting the spiiit of tlie confessor and 
martyr to all the countries of Christendom.' The 
nations are being stirred ; Bohemia is awakening ; 
a hundred years, and Germany and all Christendom 
will shake oft' their slumber ; and then will come 
the great reckoning which the martyr's prophetic 
spii'it foretold : "In the course of a hundred years 
you will answer to God and to me." 



WiclifEc and Huss, Kepresentativcs of their Epoch : the Former the Master, the Latter the Scholar— Both Acknow- 
ledge the Scriptures to be Supreme Judge and Authority, but Wicliffe more Completely— True Church lies in 
the " Totality of the Elect "—"Wicliffe Fully and Huss more Feebly Accept the Truth of the Solo Mediatorship of 
Christ — ^Their Views on the Doctrine of the Sacraments — Lechler's Contrast between Wicliffe and Huss. 

Before advancing to the history of Jerome, let 
us glance back on the two great men, representa- 
tives of thpir epoch, who have passed before us, 
and note the relations in which they stand to each 
other. These relations are such that the two 
always come up together. The century that 
divides them is anniliilated. Every^vhere in the 
history — in the hall of the University of Pragvie, 
in the pulpit of the Bethlehem Chapel, in the 
council chamber of Constance — these two figures, 
Wicliffe and Huss, are seen standing side by side. 

Wiclifi'e is the master, and Huss the scholar. 
The latter receives his opinions from the former — 
not, however, without investigation and proof — and 
he incorporates them ^vith himself, so to speak, at 
the cost of a severe mental struggle. " Both men,'' 
says Lechler, " place the Word of God at the 
foundation of theirsystem,and acknowledge the Holy 
Sciiptures as the supreme judge and authority. 
Still they difl'er hi many respects. Wiclifle reached 
his jtruicijile gradually, and witli laborious eflur(, 
whilst Huss accepted it, and had simply to hold it 
fast, and to establish it.' To "Wicliffe the ]u-inci])le 
was an independent conquest, to Huss it came as a 

' Leeliler, Johann von Wiclif, vul. ii., p. •JOG. 

possession which another had won. The opinions 
of "Wiclifle on the head of the sole authority of 
Scripture were sharply defined, and even received 
great prominence, while Huss never so clearly 
defined his sentiments nor gave them the same 
large place in his teaching. "Wiclifle, moreo\'er, 
repudiated the limitary idea that Scripture was to 
be interpreted according to the unanimous consent 
of the Fathers, and held that the Spirit makes 
known the true sense of the "Word of God, and 
that Scripture is to be interpreted by Scripture. 

- " The pious remembrance of John Huss,"says Lechler, 
" was held sacred by the nation. The day of his death, 
6th July, was incontestably considered from that time 
onward as the festival of a saint and martyi-. It was 
called 'the day of remembrance' of the master John 
Huss, and even at the end of tlie sixteenth century the 
inhabitants of Prague laid such stress on the observances 
of the day, that the abbot of the monastery Emmaus, 
Paul Horsky, was threatened and persecuted in the 
worst manner because he had once allowed one to work 
in iiis vin(;yard on ITuss's day, as if it were .an ordinar.v 
workday." It was not uucummon to place pictures of 
Huss aiul Jerome on the altars of the parish churches 
of Bohemia and Moravia. (Lechler, Johann von Widif, 
vol. ii., p. 285.) Even at this day, as the author can 
testify from personal observation, there is no portrait 
more common in the windows of the print shops of 
Prague than that of John Huss. 



Huss, on the otlier hand, was willmg to receive the 
Scriptures as the Holy Ghost had given wisdom to 
the Fathers to explain them. 

" Both Wicliffe and Huss held that ' the true 
Church lies in nothing else than the totality of 
the elect.' His whole conceptions and ideas of the 
Church, Huss has derived from no other than the 
great English Reformer. Wicliffe based the whole 
of his Church system upon the eternal purposes of 
God I'especting the elect, building up from the 
foundations, and making his whole plan sublimely 
accordant ^Wtli the nature of God, the constitution 
of the universe, and the divine government of all 
things. Huss's concejjtion of the Church lay more 
on the surface, and the relations between God and 
his people were with him those of a disciple to his 
teacher, or a servant to his master." 

As regards the function of Christ as the one 
Mediator between God and man, Huss was at one 
•with Wicliffe. The English Reformer carried out 
his doctrine, with the strength and joy of a full 
conviction, to its logical issue, in the entire repudia- 
tion of the veneration and intercession of the saints. 
Huss, on the other hand, grasping the glorious 
trath of Christ's sole mediatorship more feebly, was 
never able to shake himself wholly free from a de- 
pendence on the intercession and good offices of the 

Nor were the views of Huss on the doctrine of 
the Sacraments nearly so well defined or so accord- 
ant with Scripture as those of Wiclitt'e ; and, as has 
been already said, he belie\ed in trausulistantiation 
to the end. On the question of the Pope's authority 
he more nearly ajiproximated Wiclifl'e's -liews; Huss 
denied the divine right of the Bishop of Rome to 
the primacy of the Church, and wished to restore 
the original equality which he held existed among 
the bishops of the Church. Wicliffe would have 
gone farther ; equality among the priests and not 
merely among the bishops would alone have con- 
tented him. 

Lechler has drawn with discriminating hand a 
contrast between these two men. The power of 
their intellect, the graces of their character, and 
the achievements of their lives are finely and 
sharply brought out in the contrasted lights of the 
following conijiarison : — 

" is indeed uot a inimitive, ereati\e, oi-igi- 
nal genius like Wicliffe, and as a thinker neither 
speculatively inclined nor of systematic talent. In 
the sphere of theological thinking Wiclifi'e is a 
kingly spirit, of an inborn power of mind, and 
through unwearied mental labour gained llie ]io- 
sition of a leader of thought ; whilst Huss ajjpears 
as a star of the second magnitude, and planet-lOcc 

revolves around Wicliffe as his sun. Both indeed 
circle round the great central Sun, which is Christ 
himself Farther, Huss is not a character like 
Wicliffe, twice tempered and sharp as steel — an 
inwardly strong natui-e, going absolutely straight 
forward, without looking on either side, following 
only his conviction, and carrying it out logically 
and energetically to its ultimate consequences, 
sometimes even with a iiiggedness and harshness 
which wounds and repulses. In comparison with 
Wicliffe, Huss is a somewhat soft personality, 
finely strimg, more receptively and passively in- 
clined than with a vocation for independent power 
and heroic conquest. Nevertheless, it is not to be 
inferred that he was a weakling, a characterless, 
yielding personality. With softness and tender- 
ness of soul it is quite possible to combine a moral 
toughness, an immutable faith, an unbending firm- 
ness, forming a union of qualities which exerts an 
attractive and winning influence, nay, challenges 
the highest esteem and veneration. 

" Added to this is the moral purity and unsel- 
fishness of the man who exercised an almost ascetic 
severity towards himself; his sincere fear of God, 
tender conscientiousness, and heai't-felt piety, where- 
by he cared nothing for himself or his o^vn honour, 
but before all put the honour of God and his 
Saviour, and next to that the honour of his fatlier- 
land, and the unblemished reputation for orthodox 
jiiety of his countrymen. In honest zeal for the 
cause of God and Jesus Christ, both men — Wicliffe 
and Huss — stand on the same footing. Only in 
Wiclitte's case the zeal was of a more fiery, manh', 
energetic kind, whUst in Huss it burned with a 
warm, sUeut glow, in union with almost feminine 
tenderness, and fervent faith and endurance. And 
this heart, with all its gentleness, unappalled by 
even the most terrible death, this unconquerable, 
this all-overcoming patience of the man in his con- 
fession of evangelical ti-uth, won for him the affec- 
tions of his cotemporaries, and made the most 
lasting impression upon his own times and on suc- 
ceeding generations. If Wicliffe was surpassingly 
a man of understanding, Huss was surpassingly a 
man of feeling ; not of a genial disposition like 
Luther, but rather of a deep, earnest, gentle nature. 
Farther, if Wiclifte was endowed with a powei'ful, 
i-esolute, manly, energetic will, Huss was gifted 
with a true, earnest, enduring will. I might say 
Wicliffe was a man of God, Huss was a child of 
God ; both, however, were heroes in God's host, 
each accordiag to the gifts which the Spirit of God 
had lent them, and in each these gifts of mind were 
used foi the good of the whole bodj'. INIeasured by 
an intellectual standard, Huss was certainly not 



equal to Wicliffe ; Wiclift'e is by far the greater ; 
lie overtops by a head not only other men, but also 
eveu a Huss. Despite that, however, John Huss, 
as far as his character was concerned, for his true 
noble personality, his conscientious piety, his con- 
ijucriug inviolable faith in the midst of suli'ering 

and oppression, was in all respects a worthy 
follower of Wiclift'e, a worthy representative 
upon the Continent of Europe of the evangelical 
principle, and of Wiclifie's true, fearless idea of 
reform, which so loftily upheld the hououi- of 



Jcrome-His Arrival in Constance—}' light and Capture— His Fall and Rerentance — He Eiscr. again. 

AVe have pursued our narrative aninterruptedly to 
the close of Huss's life. We must now retrace 
our stej)S a little way, and narrate the fate of his 
disciple and fellow-labourer, Jerome. These two 
had received the same baptism of faith, and were 
to drink of the same cup of martyrdom. When 
Jerome heard of the arrest of Huss, he flew to 
Cionstance in the hope of being able to succour, in 
some way, his beloved master. When he saw that 
without doing anything for Huss he had brought 
his own life into peril, he attempted to flee. He 
was already far on his way back to Prague when he 
was an-ested, and brought to Constance, which he 
entered in a cart, loaded ^vith chains and guarded 
by soldiers, as if he had been a malefiictor.' 

On May 23rd, HI."), he appeared before the 
Council. The Fathers were thrown into tumult 
and uproar as on the occasion of Huss's first ap- 
pearance befoie them. Jerome's assailants were 
chiefly the doctore, and especially the famous 
Gerson, with whom he had chanced to dispute in 
Paris and Heidelberg, when attending the univer- 
sities of these cities.* At night he was conducted to 

' Bonnechose, Reformers be/ore tlie Reformation, vol. i., 
p. 232. 

- "He went to England probably about 1396, studied 
some years in Oxford, and brought back copies of several 
of WicUffe's theological books, wliich he copied there. 
We know this from his own testimony before the Council 
of Constance, on April 27th. 1416. In the course of the 
trial he answered, among other things, to the accusation 
that he had published in Bohemia and elsewhere false 
doctrines from Wicliffe's books : ' I confess that in my 
youth I went out of a desire for learning to England, and 
because I heard of Wicliffe as a man of profound and 
extraordinary intellect, copied and brought with me to 
Prague his Dialorjue and Trialogue, the MSS. of which I 
could obtain.' Jerome was certainly not the first Bo- 
hemian student who went from Prague to Oxford.' 
(Lechler, Johann von Widif, vol. ii., p. 112.) 

the dungeon of a tower in the cemetery of St. Paid. 
His chains, riveted to a lofty beam, did not permit 
of his sitting down ; and his arms, crossed behind 
on his neck and tied with fetters, bent his head 
downward and occasioned him great sufl'ering. He 
fell ill, and his enemies, fearing that death woidd 
.snatch him from them, relaxed somewhat the rigour 
of his treatment ; nevertheless in that dreadful 
jirison he remained an entire year.* 

Meanwhile a letter was received from the barons 
of Bohemia, which convinced the Council that it 
had deceived itself when it fancied it had done 
■with Huss when it threw his ashes into the Rhine. 
A storm was evidently brewing, and should the 
Fathers plant a second stake, the tempest would 
be all the more sure to burst, and with the more 
awful fui-y. Instead of buniuig Jerome, it were 
better to induce him to recant. To this they now 
directed all their ertbrts, and so far they were 
successful. They brought him before them, and 
summarily offered him the alternative of i-etracta 
tioii or death liy fire. Ill in body and depressed 
in mind from his confinement of four months in a 
noisome dimgeon, cut ofl" from his friends, the 
most of whom had left Constance when Huss was 
burned, Jerome yielded to the solicitation of the 
Council. He shrank from the bitter stake and 
clinig to hfe. 

But his retractation (September 2.3rd, 141.5) was 
a very qualified one. He submitted himself to the 
Council, and subscribed to the justice of its condem- 

= Lechler, Johann von Widif, vol. ii., pp. 2G9. 270. 

' These particulars are related by Von dor Hardt, torn, 
iv., p. 218; and quoted by Bonnechose, Reformers before 
the Reformation, vol. i., pp. 236, 237. Tlio Roman writer 
( 'ophliEus also admits the severity of Jerome's imprison, 


nation of the articles of Wicliffe and Huss, saving 
and excepting the " holy truths " which they had 
taught; and he promised to live and die in the Catholic 
faith, and never to preach anything contrary to it.' 
It is as surprising that such an abjuration should 
have been accepted by the Council, as it is that it 


follow him no farther] Huss and Jerome have 
been lovely in their lives ; are they to be divided in 
their deaths 1 No ! Jerome has fallen in a moment 
of weakness, but his Master will lift him up again. 
And when he is risen the stake wll not be able to 
stop his ibllo^Wng where Huss has gone before. 

'^^ ' ^/^. l"*.* 

should have been emitted by Jerome. Doubtlesn 
the little clause in the middle of it reconciled it to 
his conscience. But one trembles to think of the 
brink on which Jerome at this moment stood. 
Hax-ing come so far after that master whom he has 
seen pass through the fire to the sky, is he able to 

' Theod. TJrie, apud Von der Hai'dt, torn, i., pp. 1(0, 
171. Hardouin, torn, iv., p. 499; torn, viii., pp. 454, 455. 
Lenfant, Hist. Counc. Cvnst., vol. i., pp. 510—512. 

To turn for a moment from Jerome to the 
Council : we must remark that the minds of the 
l>eople were, to some extent, prepared for a re- 
formation of the Church by the sermons preached 
on that subject from time to time by the members 
of the Council. On September 8th a cUscom-se 
was delivered on the text in Jeremiah, "Where 
is the word of the Lord 1 " The name of the 
]ireacher has not been preserved. After a long 
time spent in in(iuiring after the Church, she at 



length appeared to the orator iii the form of a great 
and beautifid queen, lamenting that there was no 
longer any virtue in the world, and ascrihiRg this 
to the avarice and ambition of the clergy, and 
the growth of heresy. " The Church," exclaimed 

habits." A few days later the Bishop of Lodi, 
preachmg from the words " Set thy house in order, 
for thou shalt die and not live," took occasion to 
inveigh against the Council in similar terms.' It 
seemed almost as if it was a voluntary penance 


the preacher, " has no greater enemies than the 
clergy. For who are they that are the greatest 
opposers of the Reformation 1 Are they the secular 
princes "i Veiy far from it, for they are the men 
who desire it with the greatest zeal, and demand 
and court it with the utmost earnestness. Who are 
they who rend the garment of Jesus Christ but the 
clergy I — who may be compared to hungry wolves, 
that come into the sheepfolds in lambskins, and 
conceal ungodly and wicked souls under religious 

which the Fathers had set themselves when they 
pennitted one after another of their number to 
moiuit the pul])it only to draw their likenesses and 
to publish their faults. An ugly picture it truly 
was on which they were invited to gaze, and they 
had not e\en the poor consolation of being able to . 
say that a heretic had painted it. 

The abjuration of Jerome, renouncing the errors 

' Lenfaiit, vol. i., p. 6U6. 



)jut adhering to the truths which Widitfe and 
Hnss had tauglit, was not to the mind of the 
majority of the Council. Tliere were men in it 
who were resolved that he sliould not tlais escape. 
His master had paid the penalty of his errors with 
liis life, and it was equally determined to spill 
the blood of the disciple. New accusations were 
preferi-ed against him, amountiug to the for- 
midable number of a himdred and seven. It 
wotild be extraordinary, iiideed, if iu so long a 
list the Conncil should be unable to jirove a suffi- 
cient number to bring Jerome to the stake. The 
indictment now framed against liim had reference 
mainly to the real presence, indulgences, the 
worship of images and relics, and the authority of 
the priests. A charge of disbelief in the Tiinity 
was thrown in, perhaps to give an air of greater 
gravity to the inculpation ; but Jerome piu'ged 
himself of that accusation by i-eciting the Atha- 
nasian Creed. As regarded transubstantiation, the 
Fathers had no cause to find fault with the opinions 
of Huss and Jerome. Both were believers in the 
real presence. " It is bread before consecration," 
said Jerome, "it is the body of Christ after."' 
One would think that this dogma would be the first 
part of Romanism to be renounced ; experience 
shows that it is commonly the last ; that thei'e is in 
it a strange power to bluid, or fascmate, or enthral 
the mind. Even Luther, a century later, was not 
able fully to emancipate himself from it ; and liow 
many others, some of them in almost the tii-st rank 
of Reformers, do we find speaking of the Eucharist 
with a mysticism and awe which show that 
neither was their emancijiation complete ! It is 
one of the gi'eatest marvels in the whole history 
of Protestantism that Wiclitte, in the fom-teenth 
century, should have so completely rid himself of 
this enchantment, and from the very midnight of 
supei'stition passed all at once into the clear light 
of reason and Scripture on this jioint. 

As regards the other points included iu the in- 
culpation, there is no doubt that Jerome, like his 
master John Huss, fell below the standard of the 
Roman orthodox faith. He did not believe that a 
priest, be he scandalous or be he holy, had power to 
anathematise whomsoever he would ; and pardons 
and indulgences lie held to be woi-thless unless 

' Fox, ^cis and Jlfom., vol. i., p. 835. "IdenlHieronymus 
de Sacramento altaris et transubstantione panis in corpu3 
professus est se tenere et credere, quod ecclcsia tenet" — 
that is, " Tlie same Jerome, touching the Sacrament of 
the altar and transubstantiation, professes to hold and 
believe that the bread becomes the body, which the 
Church holds." So says the Council. (Hardouin, torn, 
viii., p. 5C5.) 

they came from God.- There is reason, too, to think 
that his enemies spoke truly when they accused 
him of showing but scant reverence for relics, and 
of putting the Virgin's veil, and the skin of the ass 
on which Christ sat when he made his trimphal 
entry into Jerusalem, on the same level as regards 
then- claim to the homage of Christians. And be- 
yond doubt he was equally guilty wth Huss iu 
arraigning the jjriesthood for theii' avarice, ambition, 
tyraimy, and licentiousness. Of the truth of this 
charge, Constance itself was a monument.* That 
city had become a Sodom, and many said that a 
shower of tire and brimstone only could cleanse it 
from its manifold and ijidescribable iniquities. But 
the truth of the charge made the guilt of Jerome 
only the more heinous. 

MeanwhUe Jerome had reflected in his prison on 
what he had done. We have no recoi'd of his 
thoughts, but doubtless the image of Huss, so con- 
stant and so courageous in the fire, rose before him. 
He contrasted, too, the jjeace of muul which he 
enjoyed before his retractation, compared -\\'lth the 
doubts that now darkened liis soul and shut out 
the light of God's loving-kindness. He could not 
conceal from himself the yet deeper al>jurations that 
were before liim, before he should finish with the 
Council and reconcile himself to the Church. On 
all this he pondered deeply. He saw that it was 
a gidf that had no bottom, into wliich he was about 
to throw himself There the darkness would shut him 
in, and he should no more enjoy the society of that 
master whom he had so greatly revered on earth, nor 
behold the face of that other Master in heaven, who 
was the object of his yet higher revei'ence and love. 
And for what was he foregomg all these blessed 
hopes ? Only to escape a quarter of an hour's 
torment at the stake ! "I am cast out of thy 
sight," said he, in the words of one in a former 
age, whom danger ch-ove for a time from the path 
of duty, " but I ^^nil look again toward thy holy 
temple." Ajrd as he looked, God looked on him. 
The love of his Saviour anew filled his soul — that 
love which is better than life — and with that love 
returned strength and courage. " No," we hear 
him say, " although I should stand a hunch'ed ages 
at the stake, I will not deny my Saviour. Now 
I am ready to face the Coimcil ; it can kill the 
body, but it has no more that it can do." Thus 
Jerome rose stronger from his fall. 

- The articles of accusation arc given in full by Lenfant, 
in his Hist, Cone, vol. i., boolf iv., sec. 75. 

^ Writing from liis prison to liis friends in Prague, 
.Tohn Huss said that Constance -n-ould hardly recover in 
thii'ty years the shock its morality had sustained from 
the presence of the Council. (Fox.) 





The Trial of Jerome— Spirit and Eloquence of his Defence— Expresses his Sorrow for his Eecantation— Horrors of 
his Imprisonment— Admiration awakened by his Appearance — Letter of Secretary Pogtjio— Interview with the 
Cardinal of Florence. 

When the accusations were communicated to 
Jerome, lie refused to reply to tliem in prison ; he 
demanded to be heard in public. With this request 
his judges deemed it expedient to comply ; and on 
May 23rd, 1416, he was taken to the cathedral 
chiu-ch, where the Council had assembled to pro- 
ceed with his cause.' 

The Fathers feared exceedingly the efl'ect of the 
eloquence of their prisoner, and they strove to limit 
him in his defences to a simple " Yes " or "No." 
" What injustice ! What cruelty ! " exclaimed 
Jerome. " You have held me shut up three hun- 
dred and forty da.ys in a frightful prison, in the 
midst of tiltli, noisomeness, stench, and the utmost 
want of everything. You then bring me out be- 
fore you, and lending an ear to my mortal enemies, 
you refuse to hear me. If you be really wise men, 
and the lights of the world, take care not to sin 
against justice. As for me, I am only a feeble 
mortal ; my life is but of little importance ; and 
when I exhort you not to deliver an unjust sentence, 
I speak less for myself than for you." 

The uproar that followed these words dro^vned 
his further utterance. The fiu'ious tempest by 
which all around him were shaken left him un- 
touched. As stands the rock amid the weltering 
waves, so stood Jerome in the midst of this sea of 
passion. His face breathing peace, and lighted 
up by a noble courage, formed a prominent and 
pleasant picture amid the darkened and scowling 
visages that tilled the hall. When the storm had 
subsided it was agreed that he should be fully 
heard at the sitting of the 26th of May. 

On that day he made his defence in an oration 
worthy of his cause, worthy of the stage on which 
he pleaded it, and of the death by which he was 
to seal it. Even his bitterest enemies could not 
withhold the tribute of their admiration at the 
subtlety of his logic, the resources of his memory, 
the force of his argiunent, and the marvellous 
powers of his eloquence. With great presence of 
nund he sifted eveiy accusation preferred against 
him, admitting what was true and rebutting what 

' Foij Ads and Mon., vol. i., p. 83-1. 

was false. He varied his oration, now with a 
pleasantry so lively as to make the stern faces 
around him relax into a smile,'' now with a sar- 
casm so biting that straightway the smile was 
changed into rage, and now with a pathos so 
melting that something like " dewy pity " sat upon 
the faces of his judges. " Not once," says Poggio 
of Florence, the secretary, " during the whole time 
did he express a thought which was unworthy of a 
man of worth." But it was not for life that he 
appeared to plead ; for life he did not seem to 
care. All this eloqiience was exerted, not to res- 
cue himself from the stake, but to defend and 
exalt his cause. 

Kneeling down m presence of the Council before 
beginning his defence, he earnestly prayed that his 
heart and mouth might be so guided as that not 
one false or unworthy word should fall from him. 
Then turning to the assembly he re%-iewed the long 
roll of men who had stood before inirighteous tri- 
bunals, and been condemned, though innocent ; the 
great benefactors of the pagan world, the heroes 
and patriots of the Old Dispensation, the Prince of 
martyrs, Jesus Christ, the confessors of the New 
Dispensation — all had yielded up their life in the 
cause of righteousness, and by the sentence of mis- 
taken or prejudiced judges. He next recounted 
his own manner of life from his youth upward ; 
reviewed and examined the charges against him ; 
exposed the prevarications of the wtnesses, and, 
finally, recalled to the minds of his judges how the 
learned and holy doctors of the primitive Church 
had differed in their sentiments on certain points, 
and that these differences had tended to the expli- 
ciition ratlier than the ruin of the faith. 

The Council was not unmo^'ed by this address ; 
it awoke in some breasts a sense of justice — we 
cannot say pity, for pity Jerome did not ask — and 
not a few expressed their astonishment that a man 
who had been shut up for months in a prison, where 
he could see neither to read nor to write, should yet 

- " ' There goeth a great rumour of thee/ said one of his 
accusers, ' that tliou lioldest bread to be on the altar ; ' 
to whom he pleasantly answered, saying ' that he be- 
lieved bread to be at the bakers.' " (Fox, vol. i., p. 835.) 



be able to quote so great a number of autliorities 
and learned testimonies in support of liis opinions.' 
The CouncU forgot that it bad been promised, 
" When ye are brought before rulers and kings 
for my sake, . . . take no thought beforehand 
what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate : 
but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, 
that speak ye : for it is not ye that speak, but 
the Holy Ghost."^ 

Jerome at his former appearance before the 
Council had subscribed to the justice of Huss's 
condemnation. He bitterly repented of this wi-ong, 
done in a moment of cowardice, to a master whom 
he venerated, and he cannot close without an effort 
to atone for it.' " I knew him from his childhood," 
said he, speaking of Huss ; "he was a most excel- 
lent man, just and holy. He was condemned not- 
withstanding his innocence. He has ascended to 
heaven, like Elias, in the midst of flames, and from 
thence he will summon his judges to the dread 
tribunal of Christ. I also — I am ready to die. I 
will not recoil before the torments which are pre- 
pared for me by my enemies and false witnesses, 
who will one day have to render an account of their 
impostui'es before the great God whom nothing can 
deceive." ^ 

The Council was visibly agitated. Some desired 
to save the life of a man so learned and eloquent. 
The spectacle tnily was a grand one. Pale, en- 
feebled by long and rigorous confinement, and 
loaded with fetters, he yet compelled the homage 
of those before whom he stood, by his intellectual 
and moral grandeur. He stood in the midst of 
the Council, greater than it, throwing its assembled 
magnificence into the shade by his individual glory, 
and .showing himself more illustrious by his virtues 
and sufferings than they by their stars and mitres. 
Its princes and doctors felt humbled and abashed 
in presence of their own prisoner. 

But in the l)reast of Jerome there was no feeling 
of self-exaltation. If he speaks of himself it is to 
accuse himself 

" Of all the sins," he contiimed, " that I h.ave 
committed since my youth, none weighs so heavily 
on my mind, and causes mc such poignant remorse, 
as that which I committed in this fatal place, when 
I approved of the iniquitous sentence recorded 
against Wiclifi'e, and against the holy martyr John 

' See letter of Poggio of Florence, secretary to Pope 
Jolm XXIII., addi-essetl to Leonardo Aretino, given in 
full by Lenfant in liis Hist. Cone, vol. i., book iv., 
pp. 593—599 ; Lend., 1730. 

- St. Mark xiii. 9, 11. 

■' Lenfant, vol. i., pp. 585, 586. 

■• Ibid. i. 590, foot-note. 

Huss, my master and my friend. Yes, I confess 
it from my heart, and declare with horror that I 
disgracefully quailed when, through a dread of 
death, I condemned their doctrines. I therefore 
supplicate Almighty God to deign to pardon me 
my sins, and this one in particidar, the most 
heinous of all.^ You condemned Wiclifi'e and 
Huss, not because they shook the faith, but because 
they branded with i-eprobation the scandals of the 
clergy — their pomp, their pride, and iheir luxui-ious- 

These words were the signal for another tumult 
in the assembly. The Fathers shook with anger. 
From all sides came passionate exclamations. " He 
condemns himself. What need have we of further 
proof? The most obstinate of heretics is before us." 

Lifting up his voice — which, says Poggio, "was 
touching, clear, and sonorous, and his gesture full 
of dignity" — Jerome resumed: "What! do you 
think that I fear to die ? You have kept me a 
whole year in a frightful dungeon, more horrible 
than death. You have treated me more cruelly 
than Saracen, Turk, Jew, or Pagan, and my flesh 
has literally rotted off my bones alive ; and yet 
I make no complaint, for lamentation ill becomes 
a man of heart and spirit, but I cannot but express 
my astonishment at such great barbarity towards 
a Christian." 

The clamour burst out anew, and the sittmg 
closed in confusion. Jerome was carried back to 
his dungeon, where he experienced more rigorous 
treatment than ever. His feet, his hands, his arms 
were loaded with fetters. This severity was not 
needed for his safe-keeping, and could have been 
prompted by nothing but a -wish to add to his 

Admiration of his splendid talents made many 
of the bishops take an interest in his fate. They 
visited him in his prison, and conjured him to 
retract. " Prove to me from the Scriptures," was 
Jerome's reply to all these importunities, " that I 
am in error." The Cardmal of Florence, Zabarella, 
sent for him,' and had a lengthened conversation 
with him. He extolled the choice gifts with which 
he had been enriched; he dwelt on the great 
services which these gifts might enable him to 
render to the Church, and on the brilliant career 
open to him, would he only reconcile himself to the 
Council ; he said that there was no office of dignity, 
and no position of iufluence, to which he might not 

» Hardonin, Collect. Barhenn., torn, viii., pp. 565, 567. 
" Fox, Acts and Hon., vol. i., p. 836. Bonneohose, Tol.ii., 
p. 154. 

' Hardonin, Acta, Concil., torn, viii., p. .'jC6. 



aspire, and whicli he was not sure to win, if lie 
would but return to his spiritual obedience ; and 
was it not, he asked, the height of folly to throw 
away all these splendid opportunities and pro- 
spects by immolating himself on the heretic's pile 'i 
But Jerome was not moved l)y the words of the 
cardinal, nor dazzled by the brilliant otters he 
made him. He had debated that matter with 
himself in piisou, in tears and agonies, and he 
liad made up his mind once for all. He liad 
chosen the better part. And so he replied to this 
tempter in purple as he had done to those in lawn, 
" Prove to me from the Holy Writmgs that I am 
in error, and I will abjure it." 

" The Holy Writings ! " scornfully replied the 
cardinal; "is everything then to be judged by 
them I Wlio can \niderstand them till tlie Church 
has intei-preted them i " 

" What do I hear 'i " cried Jerome ; " are the 
traditions of men more worthy of faith than the 
Gospel of our Saviour ? Paul did not exliort those 
to whom he wi-ote to listen to the traditions of 
men, but said, ' Search the Scriptures.' " 

" Heretic," said the cardinal, fixing his eyes upon 
him and regarding him with looks of anger, " I 
repent having ])leaded so long with you. I see 
that you ai-e urged on l)y the devil,"- Jerome was 
remanded to his prison. 


.Terorae Condeumed — Apparelled for the riro— Led away — Suigs at the State— His Ashes given to the Rhine, 

On the .30th of May, 141 G, he was brought forth to 
receive his sentence. The grandees of the Empire, 
the dignitaries of the Church, and the officials of 
the Council filled the cathedral. What a transition 
from the gloom of his prison to this brilliant as- 
sembly, in then- robes of office and their stars of 
rank ! But neither star of prince nor mitre of 
blsliop was so truly glorious as the badges which 
.lerome wore — his chains. 

The troops were under ai-ms. The townspeople, 
drawni from their homes by-the rumour of what was 
about to take place, ci'owded to the cathedral gates, 
or pressed into the church. 

Jerome was asked for the last time whether he 
were -vrilling to retract ; and on intimating his 
refusal he was condemned as a heretic, and de- 
livered up to the secxilar power. This act was 
.accompanied with a request that the civil judge 
would deal leniently with him, and spare his life,' 
a recpiest scarcely intelligible when we think that 
the stake was already planted, that the faggots 

' Fox, Acts and Mon., vol. i., p. 837. Lenfant, vol. i., 
p. !)91 . This was the usual request of the inquisitors when 
delivei'ing over their victims to the executioner. No one 
would have been more astonished and displeased than 
themselves to find the request complied with. " Eundo 
ligatus per plateas versus locum supplicii in quo com- 
bustus fuit, licet prius domini prcelati supplicabaut 
potestati saecvilari, ut ipsi eum tractarent gratiose."' 
{Collect, Barherin. — Hardouin, torn, viii., p. 567.) 

were already prepared, and tliat tlie officers were 
in attendance to lead him to the pile. 

Jerome moinited on a liench that he might the 
better be heard by the whole assembly. All were 
eager to catch his last words. He again ga^e 
expression to his sorrow at ha^ mg, in a moment of 
fear, given his approval of the burning of John 
Huss. He declared that the sentence now pro- 
nounced on himself was mcked and unjust, like 
that inflicted upon that holy man, " In dying," 
said he, " I shall leave a sting in your hearts, and 
a gnawing worm in your consciences. And I cite 
you all to answer to me before the most high and 
just Judge within an hundred years," ^ 

A jiaper mitre was now brouglit in, witli red 

- Theobald, Bell. Huss., chap, 24s P- 60 ; apud Bonne- 
chose, vol. ii., p. 159. Letter of Poggio to Aretino. 
Tliis cardinal died suddenly at the Council (September 
26th, 1417). ■ Poggio pronounced his funeral oration. He 
extolled his virtue and genius. Had he lived till the 
election of a new Pope, it is said, tlie choice of the con- 
clave would have fallen upon him. Ho is reported to 
have written a Mstory of the Council of Pisa, and of 
what passed at Constance in his time. Tliese treatises 
would possess great interest, but they have never been 
discovered. Mayhap they lie buried in the dust of some 
monastic library. 

•' " Et cito vos omnes, ut respondeatis mihi coram 
altissimo et .iustissimo JuAice postcentum annos." (Fck, 
vol. i., p. 836. Op. Huss., tom. ii., fol. 357. Lenfant, 
vol. i.,p. 589.) 



devils painted upon it. Wlien Jerome saw it he 
threw his cap on tlie floor among the cardinals, 
and put the mitre upon his head, accompanying 
the act witli the woi'ds which Huss had used on a 
similar occasion : " As my Lord for me did wear 
a crown of thorn, so I, for him, do weai- with joy 
this crown of itfnominv." The sokliers now closed 

the place he kneeled down and began to pray. He 
■was still praying when his executioners raised him 
up, and with cords and chains bound him to the 
stake, which liad been carved into something like 
a rude likeness of Huss. AVhen tlie wood and 
faggots began to be piled up around him, he again 
began to sing, "Hail, happy day!" When that 

lound linu. As the> 
were leading him out 
of the church, " with 
a cheerful counte- 
nance," says Fox, 
" and a loud voice, 
lifting his eyes up 
to heaven, he began 
to sing, ' Credo in 
>innm Deiun,' as it 
is accustomed to be 
sung in the Church." As he jiassed along through 
the streets his voice was still heard, clear and 
loud, singing Church canticles. These he finished 
as he came to the gate of the city leading to 
Goteleben, and then he began a hymn, and con- 
tinued singing it all the way to the place of 
execution. The spot where he was to suffer was 
already consecrated ground to Jerome, for here 
Jolm Huss had been burned. When he came to 

lijnnn \\as ended, he sang once moie. Credo in 
unum Deum," and then he addressed the peojile, 
speaking to them in the German tongue, and say- 
ing, " Dearly-ljeloved children, as I have now 
Kiuig, so do I believe, and none otherwise ; and 
this creed is my whole faith." 

The wood was heaped up to his neck, his gar- 
ments were then thrown upon the ])ile, and last 
of all the torch was brought to light the mass. 
His Saviour, who had so graciously supported him 
amid his dreadful sufferings in prison, was with 
him at the stake. The co\u'age that sustained his 
heart, and the peace that filled his sold, were 
reflected upon his countenance, and struck the 
beholders. One short, shaii") pang, and then the 
sorrows of earth will be all behind, and the ever- 
lasting gloi-y will have come. Nay, it was already 
come ; for, as Jerome stood upon the pile, he 
looked as one who had gotten the victory over 
death, and was even now tasting the joys to which 



he was about to ascend. The executioner was 
applying the torch behind, when the martj-r 
checked liini. " Come forward," said lie, " and 
kindle the pile before my face; for had I been 
afraid of tlie fire I should not be here." ' 

When the faggots began to burn, Jerome with 
a loud voice began to sing, " Into thy hands, 

Lord, I commit my spirit." As the flame 
waxed fiercer and rose higher, and the martyr 
felt its scorcliing heat, he was heard to cry out in 
the Bohemian language, " Lord Grod, Father 
Almighty, have mercy upon me, and be merciful 
unto mine ofleuces, for thou knowest how sincerely 

1 have loved thy truth." ■ 

Soon after the flame checked his utterance, and 
his voice ceased to be heard. But the movement 
of his head and rapid motion of his lips, which con- 
tinued for about a quai-ter of an hour, showed that 
he was engaged in prayer. " So burning in the 
fire," says Fox, " he lived with great pain and mar- 
tyi'dom whilst one might easily have gone from St. 
Clement's over the bridge unto our Lady Church." ' 

When Jerome had breathed his last, the few 
things of his which had been left behind in his 
prison were brought out and burned in the same 

fire. His bedding, his boots, his hood, all were 
thrown upon the still smouldering embers and 
consumed. The heap of ashes was then cai-efully 
gathered up, and put into a cart, and thrown into 
the Rhine. Now, thought his enemies, there is an 
end of the Bohemian heresy. We have seen the 
last of Huss and Jerome. The Council may now 
sleep in peace. How short-sighted the men who 
so thought and spoke ! Listead of having stamped 
out this heresy, they had but scattered its seeds 
over the whole face of Christendom ; and, so far 
from having erased the name and memory of 
Huss and Jerome, and consigned them to an utter 
oblivion, they had placed them in the eyes of the 
whole world, and made them eternal. 

We have recorded with some minuteness these 
two martyrdoms. We have done so not only 
because of the rare qualities of the men who 
endured them, the tragic interest that belong.s to 
their, sufterings, and tlie light which their story 
throws upon their lives, but because Providence 
gave their deaths a representative character, and a 
moulding influence. These two mai-tyr-piles were 
kindled as beacon-lights in the dawn of modern 
history. Let us briefly show why. 



Great Eras and their Herald.^— Dispensation for the Approach of wliich Wioliffe was to Prepai'e the Way— The Work 
that Wicliffe liad done — Huss and Jerome follow Wioliffe, the Three Witnesses of Modern Christendom. 

Each new era, under the Old Dispensation, was 
ushered m by the ministry of some man of great 
character and splendid gifts, and the exliibition of 
miracles of stupendous graudeiu-. This was needful 
to arouse and fix the attention of men, to tell them 

' Bonnechose, vol. ii. 

- Enemies and friends unite in bearing testimony to 
the fortitude and joy with which Jerome endured the 
fire. " In the midst of the scorcliing flames," says the 
monk Tlieodoric TJrie, "he sang those words, '0 Lord, 
into thy hands I resign my spirit;' .and just as he was 
saying, ' thou hast redeemed us,' he was suffocated by 
the flame and the smoke, and gave up his wretched soul. 
Tlius did this heretical miscreant resign his miserable 
spirit to be burned everlastingly in the bottomless pit." 
(Urie, apvd Von der Hardt, tom. i., p. 202. Lenfant, 
vol. i., p. 593.) 

=• Theobald, Bell. Hns., p. 61. Von der liirdt, tom. iv., 
p. 772; apud Lenfant, vol. i., p. 592. Fox, Acts and Mon., 
vol. i., p. 838. 

that the ages were passing, that God was " chang- 
ing the times and the seasons," and bringing in a 
new oi'der of things. Gross and brutish, men 
would otherwise have taken no note of the revo- 
lutions of the moral firmament. Abi'aham stands 
at the head of one dispensation ; at tliat of 
another ; David at the head of a third ; and John 
the Baptist occupies the van in the great army of 
the j)reacliers, confessors, and martyr's of the 
Evangelic Dispensation. These are the four 
mlghtias who preceded the advent of One \\ho 
was yet mightier. 

And so was it when the time drew nigh that a great 
moral and spiritual change should jiass over the 
world, communicating a new life to Cuurches, and a 
liberty till then unknown to nations. When that 
era approached Wiclifte was raised iip. Abundantly 
anointed with that Holy Sjjirit of which Councils 



and Popes vaiiily imagined they had an exclusive 
nionojjoly, what a deep insiglit he had into tlie 
Scriptui-es ; how firmly and clearly was he able to 
lay hold of the scheme of Free Salvation revealed 
in the Bible ; how completely did he emancipate 
liimself from tlie errors that had caused so many 
ages to miss the path which he found, and which 
he found not l)}' a keener subtilty or a more pene- 
trating intellect than that of his contemporaries, 
but simply by his jirofound submission to the 
Bible. As John tlie Baptist emerged from the 
very bosom of Pharisaical legalism and tradition- 
alism to become the preacher of rejjentauce and 
forgiveness, so Wicliffe came forth fi'om the bosom 
of a yet more indurated traditionalism, and of a 
legalism whose iron yoke was a hundred times 
heavier than that of Pharisaism, to preach re- 
pentance to Christendom, and to proclaim the 
great Bible truth that Christ's merits are perfect 
and camiot be added to ; that God bestows his 
salvation upon men freely, and that " ho that 
believeth on the Son hath life." 

So had Wicliffe spoken. Thoiigh his living 
voice was now silent, he was, by his writings, at 
that hour publishing God's re-discovered message 
in all the countries of Europe. But ■witnesses 
were needed who should come after Wicliffe, and 
attest his words, and seal with their blood the 
doctrine which he had preached. This was the 
office to which Huss and Jerome were appointed. 
First came the great preacher ; after him came the 
two great martyi-s, attesting that Wicliffe had 
spoken the truth, and sealing their testimony with 
their lives. At the mouth of these Three, Chris- 
tendom had admonition tendered to it. They said 
to an age sunk in formalism and legalism, " Re- 
pent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins 
may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing 
shall come from the presence of the Lord." ' 

Such is the place which these two niartp'doms 
occupy, and such is the importance which attaches 
to them. If proof of tliis were needed, we have it 
in the proceedings of the Council of Constance. 
Tlie Fathers, not knowing what they did, first 
and with much solemnity condemned the doctrines 
of Wicliffe ; and in tlie next place, they burned 
at the stake Huss and Jerome for adhering 
to these doctrines. Yes, the Spirit of God was 
present at Constance, guiding the Council in its 
decisions, but after a different fa.shion, and to- 
wai-d another and different end, than the Fathers 
dreamed of. 

The " still .small voice," which was now heard 

speaking in Christendom after ages of silence, 
must needs be followed by mighty signs — not 
phj^sical, but moral — not changes in the sky, but 
changes still more wonderful in the hearts of men. 
And such was the phenomenon displayed to the 
eye?, of the men of that age in the testiinony of 
Huss and Jerome. All about that testimony was 
arranged by God with the view of striking the 
imagination and, if possible, convincing the un- 
derstandings of those before whom it was borne. 
It was even invested Avith dramatic effect, that 
nothing might be wanting to gain its end, and 
leave those who resisted it without excuse. A 
conspicuous stage was erected for that testimony ; 
all Christendom was assembled to hear it. The 
witnesses were illustrious for their great intellec- 
tual powers. These compelled the attention and 
extorted the admiration even of their enemies. 
Yet more illustrious were they for their .spiritual 
graces — their purity, their humility, their patience 
of suffering, their forgiveness of wrong, their 
magnanimity and noble-mindedness — the garlands 
that adorned these victims. And the splendour of 
these virtues was brought out in relief against the 
dark background of an age woefully corrupt, and 
the yet darker background of a Coiuicil whose 
turpitude rotted the very soil on which it met, 
jjoisoned the very air, and bequeathed to history 
one of the foulest blots that darken it. And to 
crown all there comes, last and highest, the glory 
of their deaths, tarnished by no dread of suffering, 
l>y no prayer for deliverance, by no tear shed over 
their fate, by no cry ■\\Tung from them by pain and 
anguish ; but, on the contrary, glorified by their 
looks of gladness as they stood at the stake, and 
the triumphant hallelujahs which they sang amid 
the fires. 

Such was the testimony of these three early wit- 
nesses of Christendom, and such the circumstances 
that adajited it to the great crisis at wliich it was 
borne. Could any portent in the sky, could even 
a preacher from the dead, have been so emphatic ? 
To a sensual age, sunk in unbelief, without faith in 
what was inward, trusting only in what it saw or 
did, and content with a holiness that was entirely 
dissevered from moral excellence and spii-itual vir- 
tue, how well fitted was this to testify that there 
was a diviner agency than the ghostly power of 
the priesthood, which could transform the soul and 
impart a new life to men — in short, that tlie early 
Gospel had retui-ned to the world, and that \nth it 
was returning the ]iiety, the self-sacrifice, and the 
heroism of early times. 

God, who brings forth the natural day by 
gradual stages — first the morning star, next the 



dawn, and next tlie great luminary whose liglit 
brightens as his orb ascends, till from his meri- 
dian height he sheds upon the earth the splendours 
of the perfect day — that same God brought in, in 
like manner, by almost imperceptible stages, the 
evangelical day. Claudius and Berengarius, and 
others, were the morning stars ; they appeared 

while as yet all was dark. With Wicliffe the 
dawn broke ; souls caught its light ui France, in 
Italy, and especially in Bohemia. They in their 
turn became light-bearers to others, and thus the 
effulgence continued to spread, till at last, " centum 
revolutis annis," the day shone out in the ministry 
of the Reformers of the sixteenth century. 



Effect of Huss's Martyrdom in Bohemia — Spread of Hussism— llie New Pope— Formalities of Election — Enthronisa- 
tion — Bull against the Hussites — Pope's Departure for Esme — Ziska— Tumults in Prague. 

Huss had been burned; his ashes, committed to 
the Rhine, had been bome away to their dark 
sepulchre in the ocean ; but his stake had sent a 
thrill of indignation and horror through Bohemia. 
His death moved the hearts of lus countrymen 
more powerfully than even his living voice had 
been able to do. The vindicator of his nation's 
wi'ongs — the reformer of his nation's religion — in 
short, the representative man of Bohemia, had 
been cruelly, treachei-ously immolated ; and the 
nation took the humiliation and insult as done to 
itself. All ranks, from the highest to the lowest, 
were stirred by what had occurred. The Uni- 
versity of Prague issued a manifesto addressed to 
all Christendom, vindicating the memory of the 
man who had fallen a victim to the hatred of the 
priesthood and the perfidy of the emperor. His 
death was declared to be murder, and the Fathers 
at Constance were styled " an assembly of the 
satraps of Antichrist." Every day the flame of 
the popular indignation was burning more iiercely. 
It was evident that a ten-ible outburst of pent-up 
wrath was about to be witnessed in Bohemia. 

The barons assumed a bolder tone. When the 
tidings of Huss's martj'rdom arrived, the magnates 
and gi-eat nobles held a full council, and, speak- 
ing in the name of the Bohemian nation, they 
addressed an energetic protest to Constance against 
the crime there enacted. They eulogised, in the 
highest terms, the man whom the Council had con- 
signed to the flames as a heretic, calling him the 
"Apostle of Bohemia; a man innocent, pious, 
holy, and a faithful teacher of the truth."' Hold- 
ing the pen in one hand, while the other lested on 

' Comcuius, Pcrsccid. Eccks. Bohem., cap. 9j p. 33. 

their sword's hilt, they said, " Whoever shall afiirm 
that heresy is spread abroad in Bohenda, lies in 
his thi'oat, and is a traitor to our kingdom ; and, 
while we leave vengeance to God, to whom it 
belongs, we shall carry our complaints to the foot- 
stool of the indubitable apostolic Pontifl', wlien the 
Church shall again be ruled by such an one ; de- 
claring, at the same time, that no ordinance of 
man shall hinder our protecting the humble and 
faithful preachers of the words of our Lord Jesus, 
and our defending them fearlessly, even to the 
shedding of blood." In this remonstrance the 
nobles of Moravia concui'red.'^ 

But deei)er feelings were at work among the 
Bohemian people than those of anger. The faith 
which had produced so noble a martyr was com- 
pared with the faith which had immolated him, 
and the contrast was found to be in no wise to the 
advantage of the latter. The doctrines which 
Huss had taught were recalled to memory now 
that he was dead. The writings of Wicliffe, which 
had escaped the flames, were read, and compared 
with such portions of Holy Wi'it as ^^ere accessible 
to the people, and the consequence was a very 
general reception of the evangelical doctrines. The 
jiew opinions struck their roots deeper every day, 
and their adherents, who now began to be called 
Hussites, miiltiplied one might almost say hourly. 

The throne of Bohemia was at that time filled 
by Wenceslaus, the son of the magnanimous and 
patriotic Charles IV. In this grave position of 
affairs much would of necessity depend on the 
course the king might adopt. The inheritor of his 
father's dignities and honour.^!, Wenceslaus did not 

• if IMS. Mon., vol. i., p. 99. 



inherit liis fatlier'« talents and virtues. A tyiunt 
and voluptuary, he had been dethroned first by liis 
nobles, next by his own brother Sigismund, King 
of Hungary ; but, regaining his throne, he dis- 
covered an altered but" not improved disposition. 
Broken in spirit, he was now as supine and le- 
thargic as formerly he had been overbearing and 
tyramiioal. If his pride was stifled and his vio- 
lence curbed, lie avenged liimself by giving the 
reuis to his low propensities and vices. Shut up 
in his palace, and leading the life of a sensualist, 
tlie religious opinions of liis subjects were to him 
matters of almost supreme indifference. He cared 
but little whether they kept the paths of ortho- 
doxy or strayed into those of heresy. He secretly 
rejoiced in the progress of Hussism, liecause he 
lioped the end would be the spoiling of the wealthy 
ecclesiastical corporations and houses, and that the 
lion's share would fall to himself. Disliking the 
jiriests, whom he called "the most dangerous of 
all the comedians," he turned a deaf ear to the 
ecclesiastical authorities when they importuned 
him to forbid the preaching of the new opinions.^ 

The movement continued to make progress. 
Within fom- years from the death of Huss, the 
bulk of the nation had embraced the faith for 
which he died. His disciples included not a few of 
the higher nobility, many of the wealthy burghers 
of the towns, some of the inferior clergy, and the 
groat majority of the peasantrj'. The accession of 
the latter, whose single-heartedness makes them 
cajjable of a higher enthusiasm and a more entire 
devotion, brought great strength to the cause. It 
made it truly national. The Bohemians now re- 
sumed in their churches the practice of Commvmion 
in both kinds, and the celebration of their worship 
in the national language. Rome had signalised 
their subjugation by forbidding the cup, aijd per- 
mitting prayers only in Latin. The Bohemians, 
by challengrng freedom in both points, threw off 
the marks of their Roman vassalage. 

A slight divergence of sentiment was already 
traceable among the Hussites. One party entirely 
rejected the authority of the Church of Rome, and 
made the Scriptures their only standard. These 
came to bear the name of Taborites, from the scene 
of one of their early encampments, which was a hill 
in the neighbourhood of Prague bearing a resem- 
blance, it Wiis supposed, to the Scriptural Tabor. 
The other party remained nominally in the com- 
munion of Rome, though they had abandoned it in 

' Krasinski, Religious History of the Slavonic Nations, 
p. GG; Eclin., 1849. John von Miillev, Universal History, 
vol. ii., r- 26-1; Lond., 1818. 

heart. Their distinctive tenet was the cup or 
chalice, meaning thereby Communion in Ijoth kinds; 
hence their name, CaUxtines."- The cuj) became the 
national Protestant symbol. It was blazoned on 
their standards and can-ied in the van of their 
armies ; it was sculptured on the portals of their 
churches, and set up over the gates of their cities. 
It was ever placed in studied contrast to the Roman 
symbol, which was the cross. The latter, the 
Hussites said, recalled scenes of suffering, and so 
was an emblem of gloom ; the former, the cup, was 
the sigir of an accomplished redemption, and so a 
symbol of gladness. Tliis divergence of the two 
parties was meanwhile only incipient. It widened 
in process of time ; but for years the great contest 
in which the Hiissites were engaged with Rome, 
and which assend_)led Taljorites autl Calixtines on 
the same battle-field, where they joined their 
prayers as well as their arms, kept them luiited 
in one body. 

We must bestow a glance on what meanwhile 
was transacting at Constance. The Council knew 
that a fire was smouldering in Bohemia, and it did 
its best to fan it into a conflagration. The sentence 
of utter extermination, pronounced by old Rome 
against Carthage, was renewed by Papal Rome 
against Bohemia, a land yet more accm'sed than 
Carthage, overrun by heresy, and peopled by men 
not worthy to enjoy the light of day.' But first 
the Council must select a new Pope. The con- 
cla^•e met; and being put upon "a thin diet,"* the 
cardinals came to an early decision. In their haste 
to announce the gi'eat news to the outer world, 
they forced a hole in the wall, and shouted out, 
"We have a Pope, and Otho de Colomia is he!" 
(November 14th, U17.) 

Acclamations of voices and the ])ealuig of bells 
followed this amiouncement, in the midst of which 
the Emperor Sigismund entered the conclave, and, 
in the first burst of his joy or superstition, falling 
(lo\TO before the newly elected Pope, he kissed the 
feet of the Roman Father. 

The doors of the conclave being now thrown open, 
the cardinals eagerly rushed out, glad to find them- 
selves again in the light of day. Their temporary 
prison was so guarded and shut in that even the 
sun's rays were excluded, and the Fathers had to 
conduct their business with the light of wax t;tpers. 
They had been shut up only from the 8th to the 
11th of November, but so thin and altered were 
their visages when they emerged, owing to the 

" Lenfant, vol. ii., p. 240. 

^ t!omenins, Pcrsecut. Feclcs. Bohem., p. ."34. 

■* Fox, vol. i., p. 847. 



meiigre diet on which they were compelled to sub- 
sist, that their acquaintances had some difficulty in 
recogiiisLiig them. There were tifty-three electors 
in all — twenty-three cardinals, and thirty deputies 
of the nations — for whom lifty-three separate cham- 
bei-s had been prepared, and distributed by lot. 
They wei-e forbidden all intercourse with theii- 
fellow-electors within the conclave, as well as with 
their friends outside, and even the dishes which 
were handed in to them at a window were carefully 
searched, lest they should conceal contraband letters 
or missives. Proclamation was made by a herald 
that no one was to come within a certain specified 
distance of the conclave, and it was forbidden, 
under pain of excommunication, to pUlage the 
house of the cardinal who might happen to be 
elected Pope. It was a custom at Rome to hold 
tlie goods of the cardinal elect a free booty, on jire- 
tence that being now arrived at all riches he had no 
further need of anything. At the gates of the con- 
clave the emperor and princes kept watch day and 
night, singing devoutly the hymn "Veni Creator," 
but in a low strain, lest the deliberations within 
sliould be disturbed. The election was finished in 
less time than is usually required to fill the Papal 
chair. The French and Spanish members of the 
conclave contended for a Pope of their own nation, 
but the matter was cut shoi-t by the Oerman de- 
puties, who united their votes in favour of the Italian 
canilidate, and so the afl'air issued in the election 
of Otho, of the most noble and ancient house of 
Colonna. His election falling on the fete of St. 
Martin of Tours, he took the title of Mai'tiu V.' 
Platina, who is not very lavish of his incense to 
Popes, commends his prudence, good-nature, love 
of justice, and his dexterity in the management of 
attkirs and of tempers.^ Windeck, one of Sigis- 
nuind's privy coimcillors, says, in his history of the 
emperor, that the Cardinal de Colomui was poor 
and modest, but that Pope Martin was very cove- 
tous and extremely rich.' 

A few hours after the election, through the same 
streets along which Huss and Jerome had been 
led in chains to the stake, there swept another and 
\'ery diffei-ent procession. The Pope was going in 
state to be enthi-oned. He rode on a white horse, 

' A decree of Nicholas II. (1059) restricts the franchise 
to the college of cardinals ; a decree of Alexander III. 
(11.59) requires a majority of votes of at least two-thirds; 
and a decree of Gregory X. (1271) requires nine days 
between the death of the Pope and the meeting of the 
cardinals. The election of Martin V. was somewhat 

- Platina, Hist. Som. Pont., 212 ; Venetia, KiOO. 

^ Von der Hardt, torn, iv., pp. 1479, 1423. Ijfutant, 
vol. ii., pp. 156—167. 




covered with ricli scarlet liousuigs. The abbots 
anil bishops, in robes of white silk, and mounted 
on horses, followed in his train. The Pontiff's 
bridle-rein was held on the right by the eniperoi-, 
and on the left by the Elector of Brandenburg,' 
these august jsersonages walking on foot. In this 
fashion was he conducted to the cathedral, where 
seated on the high altar he was incensed and 
received homage under the title of Mai-tin V.- 
Bohemia was one of the first cares of the newly 
anointed Pope. The great movement which had 
Wiclifte for its preacher, and Huss and Jerome for 
its martyrs, was rapidly advancing. The Pope 
hurled excommunication against it, but he knew 
that he must employ other and more forcible 
weapons besides sjjiritual ones before he could 
liope to crush it. He summoned the emperor to 
give to the Papal See worthier and more sub- 
stantial proofs of devotion than tlie gala service of 
liolding his horse's bridle-rein. Pope Mai'tin V., 
addressing himself to Sigismund, with all tlie kings, 
princes, dukes, barons, knights, states, and common- 
wealths of Clu'istendom, adjured them, by " the 
wounds of Christ," to unite their arms and extenni- 
nate that " sacrilegious and accursed nation."" A 
liberal distribution was promised of the customary 
rewards — crowns and high places in Paradise — 
to those who should display the most zeal against 
the obnoxious heresy by shedding the greatest 
amount of Bohemian blood. Thus exhorted, the 
Emperor Sigismund and several of the neighbouring 
German states made ready to engage in the crusade. 
The Bohemians saw the terrible tempest gathoing 
on their borders, but they wei-e not dismayed by it. 
While this storm is brewing at Prague, we shall 
return for the last time to Constance ; and there 
we find that considerable self-satisfaction is ]ji'eva- 
lent among the members of the Council, which 
has concluded its business amid general felici- 
tations and loud boastings that it had pacified 
Christendom. It had extinguished heresy by the 
stakes of Huss and Jerome. It had healed the 
schism by the deposition of the ri\'al Popes and 
the election of Martin V. It had shot a bolt at 
Bohemian discontent wliich would save all further 
annoyance on that side ; and now, as the result of 
these vigorous measui-es, an era of tranquillity to 
Europe and of grandeur to the Popedom might he 
expected henceforth to commence. Deafened by 

' Lenfant, vol. il., f- 174 

- BonnechoBC, vol. ii., p. 196. 

•* Oomcnius, PerscmU. Ecclcs. Bokan., p. 35 : " yaLi-ile- 
gamque ct inaledictam Htiitcm citerminare peiiitns." 
See also Lenfant, vol. ii., bk. vi., ch.ip. 51. C'oncil. Const. 
—Hard., torn, viii., p. OlS. 

its own praises, the Council took no note of the 
underground mutterings, which in all comitries 
betokened the coming earthquake. On the 1 8th 
of April, 1418, the Pope promulgated a bull " de- 
elaring the Coiuicil at an end, and giving every one 
liberty to return home." As a parting gift he be- 
stowed upon the members " the plenary remission 
of all their sins." If only half of what is reported 
touching the doings of the Fathers at Constance 
be true, this beneficence of Pope Martin must ha^'e 
constituted a veiy large draft indeed on the treasury 
of the Church ; but doubtless it sent the Fathers in 
good spirits to their homes. 

On the 15th of May the Pope sang his last mass 
in the cathedral church, and next day set out on 
his return for Italy. The French prelates prayed 
him to e.stablish his chair at Avignon, a request 
that had been made more than once of his pre- 
decessors without avail. But the Pope told them 
that " they must yield to reason and necessity ; 
that as he had been acknowledged by the whole 
world for St. Peter's successor, it was but just that 
he should go and seat himself on the throne of that 
apostle ; and that as the Church of Rome was the 
head and mother of all the Churches, it was abso- 
lutely necessary that the sovereign Pontiff" .should 
reside at Rome, as a ijood 2nlot ought to keep at the 
stern and not at the 2}roiu of the vessel."* Before 
turning to the tragic scenes on the threshold of 
which we stand, let lis bestow a moment's glance 
on the gaudy yet ambitious pomp that marked the 
Pope's departure for Rome. It is thus I'elated by 
Reichenthal : — 

" Twelve led horses went first, with scailct 
housings ; which were followed by four gentlemen 
on horseback, bearing four ■ cardinals' caps upon 
pikes. After them a priest marched, bearing a 
cross of gold ; who was followed by another priest, 
that carried the Sacrament. Twelve cardinals 
marched next, adorned with their red hats, and 
followed by a priest riding on a white horse, and 
offering the Sacrament to the populace, under a 
kind of canopy surroimded by men beai-ing wax 
tapers. After him followed John de Susate, a 
divme of Westphalia, who likewise carried a golden 
cross, and was encompassed by the canons and 
senators of the city, beai-ing wax tapers in their 
hands. At last the Pope appeared in his Pon- 
tificalibus, riding on a white steed. He had upon 
his head a tiara, adorned with a great number of 
jewels, and a canopy was held over his head by 
four counts — viz., Eberhard, Coiuit of Nellenbui'g; 

•' riatiua, Hisf . /S/om. Font., 213. Lenfaut, vol. ii., i). 27-1. 



William, Count of Montserrat ; Bci-tliokl, Count of 
Ursinsj ; and John, Count de Thirsteiii. The em- 
peror held the reins of the Pope's horse on the right 
hand, being followed by Le\vis, Duke of Bavaria of 
Ingolstadt, who held up the housing or horee-cloth. 
The Elector of Brandenburg held the reins on the 
left, and behind him Frederick of Austria performed 
the same office as Lewis of Ingolstadt. There were 
four other princes on both sides, who held uj) the 
horse-cloth. The Pope was followed by a gentle- 
man on horseback, who carried an umbrella to 
defend him in case of need, eitlier from the rain or 
sun. After him marched all the clergy and all the 
nobility on hoiiseback, in such numbers, that they 
who were eye-witnesses reckoned up no less than 
forty thousand, besides the multitudes of people 
tliat followed on foot. When Martin V. came to 
the gate of the town, he alighted from his horse, 
and changed his priest's vestments for a red haliit. 
He also took another hat, and pxit that which he 
woi'e upon the head of a certain prelate who is not 
named. Then he took horse again, as did also the 
emperor and the princes, who accompanied him to 
(ioteleben, where he embarked on the Rhine for 
Schaft'hausen. The cardinals and the rest of his 
court followed him by land, and tlie empei-or 
returned to Constance with the other princes."' 

Leaving Pope Martin to pvirsue his journey to 
Rome, we shall again turn our attention to Prague. 
Alas, the poor land of Bohemia ! Woe on woe 
seemed coming upon it. Its two most illustrious 
sons had expired at the stake ; the Pope had hurled 
excommunication against it ; the empei'or was col- 
lecting his forces to invade it ; and the craven 
Wenceslaus had neither heart to feel nor spirit to 
resent the affront which had been done his king- 
dom. The citizens were distractetl, for thougli on 
fire with indignation they had neither counsellor 
nor captain. At that crisis a remarkable man arose 
to organise the nation and lead its armies. His 
name was John Trocznowski, but he is better 
knpwn by the sobriquet of Ziska — that is, the one- 
eyed. The circumstances attending his birtli were 
believed to fai-eshadow his exti-aordinary destiny. 
His mother went one harvest day to visit tlie 
reapers on the paternal estates, and being suddenly 
taken with the pains of labour, she was delivered of 
a son beneath aa oak-tree in the field.'' The child 

> Lenfant, vol. ii., pp. 275—278. 

-' The trunk of this oak stood till the beginning of the 
last century. It had wellnigh been wholly carried off 
by the blacksmiths of the neighbourhood, who believed 
tliat a splinter taken from its trunk and attached to their 
hammer would give additional weight to its strokes 
(Krasinski, SJavonia, p. 69, foot-note.) 

grew to manhood, adopted the profession of arms, 
distinguished himself in the wars of Poland, and 
returning to his native country, became chamber- 
lain to King Wenceslaus. In the j>alace of the 
jovial monarch there was little from morning to 
night save feasting and revelry, and Ziska, nothing 
loth, bore his part in all the coarse humours and 
boisterous sports of his master. But his life was 
not destined to close thus ignobly. 

The shock which the martyrdom of Huss gave 
the whole nation was not unfelt by Ziska in the 
palace. The gay courtier suddenly became thought- 
liil. He might be seen traversing, with pensive 
brow and folded anus, the long corridors of the 
palace, the windows of which look down on the 
broad stream of the Moldau, on the towers of 
Prague, and the plains beyond, which stretch out 
towards that quarter of the horizon where tlie pile 
of Huss had been kindled. One day the monarch 
surprised him in this thoughtful mood. " What is 
this '!" said Wenceslaus, somewhat astonished to 
see one with a sad countenance in his palace. " I 
cannot brook the insult offered to Bohemia at 
Constance by the murder of John Huss," replied 
the chamberlain. " Where is the use," said the 
king, " of vexing one's self about it? Neither you 
nor I have the means of avenging it. But," con- 
tinued the king, thinking doubtless that Ziska's 
fit would soon pass oft", " if you are able to call 
the emperor and Council to account, you have my 
permission." " Very good, my gracious master," 
rejoined Ziska, " will you be pleased to give me 
your permission in writing J" Wenceslaus, who 
liked a joke, and deeming that such a document 
would be perfectly harmless in the hands of one 
who had neither friends, nor money, nor soldiers, 
gave Ziska what he asked under the royal seal.' 

Ziska, who had accepted the authorisation not 
in jest but in earnest, watched his opportunity. 
It soon came. The Pope fulminated his bull of 
crusade against the Hussites. There followed 
great excitement thi'oughout Bohemia, and espe- 
cially in its capital, Prague. " The burghers 
asseml)led to deliberate on the measures to be 
adopted for a-\-enging the nation's insulted honour, 
and defending its threatened independence. Ziska, 

3 Tlieobald, Bell. Huss., cap. 28, p. 68. Histoire dc la 
Guerre des Hussites et du Concile de Basic. Par .Tacques 
Lenfant. Tom. i., livr. vi.. p 91. Amsterdam, 1731. 

< It did not help to allay that excitement that the 
Pope's legate, Dominie, Cardinal of Riigusa, who had been 
sent to Bohemia to ascertain how matters stood, reported 
to his master that "the tongue and the pen were no 
longer of any use, and that without any more ado, it was 
high time to take arms against such obstinate heretics." 
(Lenfant, vol. ii , «. 'ii2,) 



armed with the royal authorisation, suddenly ap- 
peared in the midst of them. The citizens were 
emboldened when they saw one who stood so high, 
as they believed, in the favour of the king, putting 
himself at their head ; they concluded that Wen- 
ceslaus also was ■with them, and would further their 
enterprise. In this, however, they were mistaken. 
The liberty accorded their proceedings they owed, 
not to the approbation, but to the pusillanimity 

of the king. The factions became more embittered 
every day. Tumult and massacre broke out in 
Prague. The senators took refuge in the town- 
house ; they were pursued thither, thrown out at 
the window, and received on the pikes of the 
insurgents. The king, on receiving the news of 
the outrage, was so excited, whether from fear or 
anger is not known, that he had a lit of ajjoplexy, 
and died in a few days. ■ 



War Breaks out— Celebration in Both Kinds — First Success— The Turk — Ziska's Appeal— Second Hussite Victory- 
Thc Emperor Besieges Prague — Repulsed — A Second Eepulse — The Crown of Bohemia Eefused to the Emiiero 
— Valour of the Hussites — Influence of their Struggle on the Eeformation of the Sixteenth Century. 

Wenceslaus being dead, and the queen espousing 
the side of the Catholics, the tumults buret out 
afresh. There was a whole week's fighting, night 
and day, between the Romanists and the Hussites, 
on the bridge of the Moldau, leading to the royal 
castle. No little blood was shed ; the churches 
and convents were pillaged, the monks driven 
away, and in some instances massacred.^ But it 
was likely to have fared ill -with the insurgent 
Bohemians. The Emperor Sigismiuid, brother of 
the deceased Wenceslaus, now claimed the crown 
of Bohemia. A bitter partizan of Rome, for whose 
sake he had incurred the eternal disgi-ace of burn- 
ing the man to whom he had given his solemn 
liromise of safety, was not likely to stand on 
scniples or fear to strike. He was marching on 
Prague to quell the insm-rection and take posses- 
sion of the crown. Perish that crown, said the 
Bohemians, rather than that it shall sit on the 
head of one who has incurred the double odium 
of tyrant and traitor. The Bohemians resolved 
on resistance ; and now it was that the tempest 
burst. But the party to strike the first blow was 

The campaign, which lasted eighteen years, and 
wliich was signalised throughout liy the passions 
of the combatants, the carnage of its fields, and the 
marvellous, we had almost said miraculous ^•ic- 
tories which crowned the arms of the Hussites, 
owed its commencement to the following incident : — 

The Hussites had agreed to meet on Michaelmas 

' Iluss-Stoiy uf Zh.ka— .4ds and Mon., torn, i., p. SiS. 

Day, 1419, on a great plain not far from Prague, 
and celebrate the Eucharist. On the day appointed 
some 40,000, it is said, from all the towns and 
villages around, assembled at the place of rendez- 
vous. Three tables were set, the sacred elements 
were brought forth and placed upon them, and a 
priest officiated at each, and gave the Communion 
in both kinds to the peojile. The afl"air was tho 
simplest possible ; neither were the tables covered, 
nor did the priests wear their habits, nor had tho 
peoj)le arms ; they came as pilgrims with their 
walking - sta^'es. The afiair over, they made a 
collection to indemnify the man on whose gi-ound 
they had met ; and agreeing to assemble again for 
a like piirjjose before Martinmas, they separated, 
the most part taking the road to Prague, where 
they arrived at night ynth lighted torches. Such 
is the account given by an eye-witness, Benesius 
Horzowicki, a disciple and friend of Huss ; but, 
says the Jesuit Balbiirus, " though a heretic, his 
account of the aifair is trustworthy." 

The matter got wind ; and the second meeting 
was not allowed to pass off so quietly as the first. 
Several hundreds were already on their way, bear- 
ing, as before, not arms but walking-staves, when 
they wei'e met by the intelUgeuce that the troops 
of the emperor, lying in ambuscade, were waiting 
their approach. They halted on the road, and sent 
messengers to the towns in their rear begging as- 
sistance. A small body of soldiers w;is dispatched 

- Lenfant, HIsl. Oh^'i-. 1/»«s., torn, i., p. W. Krashiski, 
&l<ii'onia, pp. 70—71. 



to their aid, ami in tho conflict wliicli ibllowcrl, the 
imperial cavalry, though in superior force, were 
])ut to flight. After the Viattle, the pilgrims with 
their defenders pursued their way to Prague, which 
they enteied amid acclamations of joy. The first 
battle had been fought with the troops of the 
emperor, and the victory remained with the 

The Rubicon had been crossed. The Bohemians 
must now go forward into the heart of the conflict, 
which was destined to assiime dimensions that 
were not dreamed of by either party. The Turk, 
without intending it, came to their help. He 
attacked the Empii-e of Sigismund on the side 
opposite to that of Boliemia. This divided the 
emperor's forces, and weakened his front against 
Ziska. But for this apparently fortuitous but in 
reality pro\-idential occurrence, the Hussite move- 
ment might have been cnished before there was 
time to organise it. The prompt and patriotic 
Hussite leader saw his advantage, and made haste 
to rally the whole of Bohemia, before the emperor 
should have got the Moslem oif his hands, and 
liefore the armed bands of Germany, now muster- 
ing in obedience to the Papal summons, should 
have had time to bear down upon his little 
counti-y. He issued a manifesto, signed " Ziska of 
the Chalice," in which he invoked at once the re- 
ligion and the patriotism of his countiymen. 
'■Imitate," said he, "your ancestors the ancient 
Bohemians, who were always able to defend the 
cause of God .and their own. . . . We are 
collecting troops from all parts, in order to fight 
against the enemies of truth, and the destroyers 
of our nation, and I beseech you to inform your 
preacher that he should exhort, in his sermons, 
the people to make -war on the Antichrist, and 
that every one, old and young, should prepare 
himself for it. I also desire that when I shall be 
^vitll you there should be no want of bread, beer, 
"victuals, or provender, and that you should provide 
yourselves with good arms. . . . Eeniember 
your first encounter, when you were few against 
many, unarmed against well-armed men. Tlie 
hand of God has not been shortened. Have cou- 
rage, and be ready. May God strengthen you ! — 
Ziska of the Chalice : in the hope of God, Chief 
of the Taborites." '- 

Tliis appeal was responded to by a burst of 
enthusiasm. From all parts of Bohemia, from its 
towns and villages and rural plains, the inhabi- 

' Balbinus, Epit. Rn. Bohem., pp. 435, 43(5. Lenfaut, 
IJixt. Giier. Huss., torn, i., livr. vi., p. 9.3. 
- Krp.sinski, Slavo^ria, p. 80; opud Lenfant. 

tants rallied to tlic standiird ul Ziska, now planted 
on Mount Tabor. These ha.stily assembled masses 
were but poorly disciplined, and still more jjoorly 
armed ; but the latter defect was about to be s\ip- 
plied in a way they little dreamed of. 

They had scarce begun their marcli towards the 
capital when tliey encountered a body of imperial 
cavalry. They routed, captured, and disarmed 
them. The spoils of the enemy furnished them 
with tlie weapons they so greatly needed, and they 
now saw themselves armed. riu.shed with this 
second victory, Ziska, at the head of his now 
numerous host, a following rather than an army, 
entered Prague, where the righteousness of the 
Hussite cause, and the glory of the success that 
had so far attended it, were tarnished by tho 
violence committed on their opponents. Many 
of the Roman Catholics lost their lives, and the 
number of churches and convents taken possession 
of, according to both Protestant and Catholic his- 
torians, was about 500. The monks were specially 
obnoxious from their opposition to Huss. Their 
establishments in Prague and throughout Bohemia 
were pillaged. These were of great magnificence, 
.^neas Syhius, accustomed though he was to the 
stately edifices of Italy, yet speaks vnth admira- 
tion of the number and beauty of the Bohemian 
monasteries. A very short while saw them utterly 
wrecked, and their ti'easure, which was immense, 
and which consisted in gold and silver and precious 
stones, went a long way to defray the expenses of 
the war.' 

That the emperor could be worsted, suppoi'ted 
as he was by the wliole forces of the Empire and 
the whole influence of the Church, did not enter 
into any man's mind. Still it began to be ap- 
parent that the Hussites were not the contemptible 
opponents Sigismund had taken them for. He 
deemed it prudent to come to terms with the 
Turk, that he might be at liberty to deal with 

Assembling an army, contemporary historians 
say of 100,000 men, of various nationalities, 
he marched on Prague, now in possession of the 
Hussites, and laid siege to it. An idea may be 
formed of the strength of the besieging force from 
the rank and number of the commandei's. Under 
the emperor, who held of course the supreme com- 
mand, were five electors, two dukes, two land- 
graves, and more than fifty German pi-inces. But 
this great host, so proudly ofiicered, was destined 
to be ifitnominiously lieaten. Tlie citizens of 

•■' Tienfant, Hist. Criier. f/iiss., toui. 
Shivomo, pp. 80, 81. 

.., p. 10-1. KraKiiis 



Plague, undoi- tlio liravc Ziska, drove them with 
disgrace from Ijcfbre their walls. The imperialists 
avenged themselves for their defeat by the atrocities 
they inflicted in their retreat. Burning, rapine, and 
slanghtev marked their track, seeing as they fancied 
in eveiT Bohenii:in a Hussite and enemy.' 

successes invested the name of Ziska with great 
i-enown, and raised the expectations and courage 
of his followers to the highest pitch. It is not 
wonderful if their minds began to be heated, see- 
ing as they did the armies of the Empii-e fleeing 
before them. Mount Tabor, where the standard of 


A second attempt did tlie emperor make on 
Prague the same year (Ltid), only to suliject him- 
self and the arms of the Empire to the disgrace of 
a second repidse. Outrages again marked the 
retreating steps of the invaders.^ These repeated 

Lcnfant, Hist. Gner. Hiirs.,trjm. i.,li%T. viii., pp. 129, 130. 
Jbid , pp. 133, 1.^4. 

Ziska continued to float, was to liecome, so they 
thought, the head of the earth, more holy than 
Zion, more invulnerable than the Capitol. It was 
to be the centre and throne of a universal empire, 
which was to bless the nations with righteous laws, 
and civil and religious freedom. The armies of 
Ziska were swelled from anotlier and ditterent 
eaiKse. A report was spread throughout Eohemi* 



tliat all the towns and villages of the country (live 
only excepted) were to be swallowed np by an 
earthquake, and this prediction oljtaining general 
credence, the cities wei-e forsaken, and many of 
their inhabitants crowded to the camp, deeming 
the chance of victory under so brave and fortunate 
a leader as Ziska very much preferable to waiting 
the certainty of obscure and inglorious entomb- 
ment in the approaching fate of their native 

At this stage of the affair the Bohemians held a 
Diet at Czaslau (1521) to deliberate on theii- com-se 
for the future. The first matter that occupied them 
was tlie disposal of their crown. They declared 
Sigismund unworthy to wear it, and resolved to 
offer it to the King of Poland or to a piince of his 
dynasty. The second question was, on what basis 
should they accept a peace* The four following 
articles they declared iiadispensable in order to 
this, and they ever after adhered to them in all 
their negotiations, whether with the imperial or 
with the ecclesiastical authorities. These were as 
follow : — 1. The free preaching of the Gospel. 2. 
The celebration of the Sacrament of the Supper in 
lioth kind.s. .3. The secularisation of the eccle- 
siastical property, reserving only so much of it as 
might yield a comfortable subsistence to the clergy. 
4. The execution of the laws against all crimes, by 
whomsoever committed, whether hiics or clerics.- 
Further, the Diet established a regency for the 
government of the kingdom, composfil of magnates, 
nobles, and burghers, with Ziska as its president.' 
The Empei'or Sigismund sent proposals to the Diet, 
offering to confirm their liberties and i-edress all 
their just wrongs, provided they would accept him 
as their king, and threatening them ■with war in case 
of refusal. The promises and the threats of the 
emperor, the Diet held in equal contempt. They 
returned for answer an indignant rejection of his 
propositions, reminding Sigismund that he had 
broken his word in the matter of the safe-conduct, 
that he had inculpated himself by, participating 
in the murder of Huss and Jerome,* and that 
he had assumed the attitude of an enemy of 
Bohemia by publishing the bull of excommuni- 
cation which the Pope had fulminated against their 

' Krasinski, Slavonia, p. 82. 

- Lenfaut, Hist. Guer. Huss., torn, i., livr. ix., pp, IGl, 162. 

' Ibid., p. 162. 

■* "Vous avez permis au grand di-sliouneur do notre 
patrie qu'onbrulat Maitre Jean Hus, qui etoit alli' a Con- 
stance avec un sanf-conduit que vous lui aviez donne." 
The emperor's pledge and the public faith were equally 
violated, they affirm, in the case of Jerome, who went to 
Constance " sub simili fide, pari fide publica." (Lcnfant, 
Hisf. Guer. Hnss., tom. i., livr. ix., p. 16t.) 

native land, and by .stirring up the German nation- 
alities to invade it.^ 

The war now resumed its course. It was marked 
by the usual concomitants of military strife, rapine 
and siege, fields wasted, cities burned, and the arts 
and industries suspended. The conflict was inte- 
resting as terrible, the odds being so overwhelming. 
A little nation was seen contending single-handed 
against the nimierous armies and various nationali- 
ties of the Empire. Such a conflict the Bohemians 
never could have sustained but for theii- faith 
in God, whose aid would not be wanting, they 
believed, to their righteoixs cause. Nor can any 
one who svuweys the wonderful course of the cam- 
paign fail to see that this aid was indeed vouchsafed. 
Victory invariably declared on the side of the 
Hussites. Ziska won battle after battle, and apart 
from the character of the cause of which he was the 
champion, he may be said to have desei-ved the 
success that attended him, by the feats of valour 
which he performed in the field, and the con- 
summate ability which he displayed as a general. 
He completely outmanoeu^Ted the armies of the 
emperor ; he overwhelmed them by sui'prises, and 
bafiled them by new and masterly tactics. His 
name had now become a tower of strength to his 
friends, and a terror to his enemies. Every day his 
renown extended, and in the same proportion did 
the confidence of his soldiers in him and in them- 
selves increase. They forgot the odds arrayed 
against them, and ■with every new day they went 
forth with redoidJed courage to meet their enemies 
in the field, and to achieve new and more glorious 

The cause for which they fought had a liallomng 
effect upon their conduct in the camp, and raised 
them above the fear of death. In their marches 
they were commonly preceded by their pastors, who 
bore aloft the Cup, the .symbol in which they 
conquered. Before joining battle the Sacrament 
was administered in both kinds to the soldiei's, 
and, lia^\ing partaken, they went into action sing- 
ing hymns. The spirit with which the Hussites 
contended, combining that of confessors ■with sol- 
diers, was wholly new in the armies of that age. 
In the rear of the army came the women, who 
tended the sick and wounded, and in of 
necessity worked upon the ramparts. 

Let us pause a moment in our tragic narration. 
To this day the Hussites have never had justice 
done them. Their cause was branded with eveiy 
epitliet of condemnation and abhorrence by their 

■■ Krasin.=!ki, Slavnnia, pp. 83—85. Von Miillor, Univer, 
Hist., vol. ii., p. 326. 



contemporaries. At this we do not wonder. But 
succeeding ages even have been slow to perceive 
the sublimity of theii' struggle, and reluctant to 
acknowledge the great benefits that flowed from it 
to Christendom. It is time to remove the odiimi 
under which it has long lain. The Hussites pre- 
sent the first instance in history of a nation volun- 
tarily associating in a holy bond to maintain the 
light to worship God according to the dictates of 
conscience. True, they maintained that right with 
tlio sword; but for this they were not to blame- 
It was not left to them to choose the weapons with 
which to fight their sacred battle. The fulmi- 
uatiou of the Pope, and the in^'asiou of their 

coimtry by the armies of the emperor, left them no 
alternative but arms. But, having reluctantly un- 
sheathed the sword, the Hussites used it to such 
good purpose that their enemies long remembered 
the lesson that had been taught them. Their 
struggle paved the way for the quiet entrance of 
the Reformation upon the stage of the sixteenth 
centuiy. Had not the Hussites fought and bled, the 
men of that era would have had a harder struggle 
before they could have launclied their great move- 
ment. Charles V. long stood witli his hand upon 
his sword before he found courage to draw it, re- 
membering the terrible I'ecoil of the Hussite war 
on those who had commenced it. 



Ulindness of Ziska— Hussite mode of Warfare — The Wagenburg — Tlie 

of his Countrymen. 

OuK space does not permit us to narrate in detail movement, 
the many battles, in all of which Ziska bore him- 
self so gallantly. He was one of the most remai-k- 
able generals that ever led an army. Gochleus, 
who bore him no good-will, says, taking all things 
into account, his blindness, the peasants he had 
to transform into soldiers, and the odds he had to 
meet, Ziska was the greatest general that e-\'er 
lived. Accident deprived him in his boyhood of 
one of his eyes. At the siege of Raby he lost the 
other, and was now entii-ely blind. But his mar- 
vellous genius for arrangmg an army and directing 
its movements, for foreseeing every emergency and 
coping with every difficulty, instead of being im- 
paired by this untoward accident, seemed to be 
strengthened and enlarged, for it was only now 
that his great abilities as a military leader fully 
revealed themselves. When an action was about 
to take place, he called a few officers around 
him, and ' made them describe the nature of the 
ground and the position of the enemy. His 
arrangement was instantly made as if by intuition. 
He saw the course the battle must nm, and the 
succession of manceuvres by which victory was to 
be grasped. While the armies were fighting in the 
light of day, the great chief who mo\'ed them stood 
apart in a ]>avi]ion of darkness. But liis inner eye 
surveyed tlie -whole Held, and watclied its every 

Iron Fliiil— Successes— Ziska's Death— Giicf 

That blind giant, like Sa.msoii his eyes 
put out, but unlike Samson his hands not bound, 
smote his enemies with swift, terrible, and unerring 
blows, and having overwhelmed them in luin, 
himself retired from the field victorious.' 

What contributed not a little to this lemaikable 
success were the novel methods of defence which 
Ziska employed in the field. He conferred on his 
soldiers the advantages of men who contend behind 
walls and ramparts, while their enemy is all the 
time exposed. It is a mode of warfai-e in use 
among Eastern and nomadic tribes, from whom it 
is probable the Poles borrowed it, and Ziska in his 
turn may have learned it from them when he 
served in their wars. It consisted in the following 
contrivance : — The wagons of the commissariat, 
linked one to another by strong iron chams, and 
ranged in line, were placed in front of the host. 
This fortification was termed a Wayenhimj ; ranged 
in the form of a circle, this wooden wall sometimes 
enclosed the whole army. Behind this first ram- 
part rose a second, fonued of the long wooden 
shields of the soldiers, stuck in the ground. These 
mo\able walls were formidable obstructions to the 
German cavalry. Mounted on lieavy hoi'ses, and 
armed with pikes and battle-axes, they had to foi-ce 

Lenfant, Hisl. Guer. JIuss., torn, i., livr. x., xi. 



their way tlirougli ttis double fortilication before 
they could close with the Bohemians. All the 
while that they were hewing at the wagons, the 
Bohemian archers were plying them with their 
arrows, and it was with thiimed ranks and ex- 
hausted strength that the Germans at length were 
able to join battle with the foe. 

Even after forcing their way, with great eflbi-t 
and loss, through this double defence, they still 
found themselves at a disadvantage ; for their 
armour scarce enabled them to contend on equal 
• terms with the uncouth but formidable weapons of 
their adversaries. The Bohemians were armed 
with long iron flails, which they swung with pro- 
digious force. They seldom failed to hit, and when 
they did .so, the flail crashed through brazen helmet, 
skull and all. Moreover, they carried long spears 
which had hooks attached, and with which, clutch- 
ing the German horseman, they speedily brought 
him to the ground and dispatched him. The 
invaders found that they had penetrated the double 
rampart of their foes only to be dragged from their 
horses and helplessly slaughtered. Besides nu- 
merous skirmishes and many sieges, Ziska fought 
sixteen pitched battles, from all of which he re- 
turned a conqueror. 

The career of this remarkable man terminated 
suddenly. He did not fall Ijy the sword, nor did 
he breathe his last on the field of Ijattle ; he was 

attacked by the plague while occupied in the siege 
of Prysbislav, and died on October 11th, 1424.' 

The grief of his soldiers was great, and for a 
moment they despaired of their cause, thinking 
that with the death of their leader all was lost. 
Bohemia laid her great warrior in the tomb with 
a sorrow more universal and profound than that 
with which she had ever buried any of her kings. 
Ziska had made the little country great ; he had 
tilled Europe \vith the renown of its arms ; he had 
combatted for the faith which was now that of a 
majority of the Bohemian nation, and by his hand 
God had hiunbled the haughtiness of that power 
which had sought to trample their convictions and 
consciences into the dust. He was buried in the 
Cathedral of Czaslau, in fulfilment of his own wsh. 
His countrymen erected a monument of marble 
over his ashes, ^vith his efligies sculjitured on it, 
and an insci'iption I'ecording his great qualities and 
the exploits he had perfoimed. Perhaps the most 
touching memorial of all was his strong iron mace, 
which hung suspended above his tomb.' 

The Bohemian Jesuit Balbinus, who had seen 
numerous portraits of Ziska, speaks of him as a 
man of middle size, strong chest, In'oad shoulders, 
large round head, and aquiline nose. He dressed in 
the Polish fashion, wore a moustache, and shaved 
his head, leaving oidy a tuft of brown hair, as was 
the manner in Poland.' 



Procopius Elected Leader— The AVar Resumed— New Invasion of Bohemia— Battle of Aussig -Total Rout and 
Fearful Slaughter of the Invaders— Ballad descriptive of the Battle. 

The Hussites had lost then- great leader ; still 
the tide of success contLaued to flow. When dying 
Ziska had named Procopiu.s as his successor, and 
his choice, so amply justified by its results, attests 
that his knowledge of men was not inferior to 
liis skill in the field. When the Bohemians laid 
Ziska in the grave, they looked around with no 
hope of finding one equally great to till his place. 
In Procopius they foimd a greater, though his 
fame has been less. Nor is this surprising. A 
few great qualities intensely, and it may be dis- 
proportionately developed, strike the world even 
more than an assemblage of gifts harmoniously 

Piocopius was the son of a nobleman of small 
fortune. Besides an excellent education, which 

' It was said that on his death-bed he gave instructions 
to make a chnim of liis skin, believing that its sound 
would terrify the enemy. An old drum was wont to Iv 
shown at Prague as the identical one that Ziska had 
ordered to be made. Theobald (BeJl. Hii^s.) rejects the 
story as a fable, which doubtless it is. 

- A hundred years after, the Emperor Ferdinand, hap- 
pening to visit this cathedral, was attracted by the sight 
of an enormous mace hanging above a tomb. On making 
inquiry whose tomb it was, and being told that it was 
Ziska's, and that this was Iris mace, he exclaimed, " Fie, 
fie, cette mauvaise bete ! " and quitted Czaslau that night. 
So relates Balbinus. 

•' Leufant, Hist. Giier. Hiiss., torn, i., livr. xi., p. 212. 



]iis maturnal uncle, who had adojjted him as his 
]icii', took care ho should receive, he had travelled 
ill many foreign countries, the Holy Land among 
others, and his taste had been refined, and his 
understanding enlarged, by what he had seen and 
learned abroad. On his return he entered the 
L'hurch — in compliance with his imcle's solicita- 
tions, it is said, not from his own bent — and hence 
he was sometimes termed the Tonsured. But when 
the war broke out he entered with his whole heart 
into his comitry's quarrel, and, forsaking the 
Church, jjlaced himself under the standard of 
Ziska. His devotion to the cause was not less 
than Ziska's. If his spuit was less fiery it was 
Hot Ijecause it was less brave, but because it was 
Ijotter I'egulated. Ziska was the soldier and gene- 
lal ; Procopius was the statesman in addition. 

The enemies of the Hussites knowing that Ziska 
was dead, but not knowing that his place was filled 
by a greater, deemed the moment opportune for 
striking another blow. Victoiy they confidently 
hoped would now change sides. They did not I'e- 
11 cot that the blood of Huss and Jerome was 
weighing upon tlieii- swords. The terrible blind 
warrior, before whom they had so often fled, they 
^^'oukl never again encounter in battle ; but that 
righteous Power that had made Ziska its instru- 
ment in chastising the perfidy which had torn in 
jjicces the safe-conduct of Huss, and then burned 
his body at the stake, they should assuredly meet 
on every battle-field on Bohemian soil on which 
they shoidd draw sword. But this they had yet 
to learn, and so they resolved to resume the wai-, 
which from this hour, as they fondly believed, 
would run in a jirosperous groove. 

The new summons to arms came from Rome. 
Tlio empei'or, who was beginning to disrelish being 
continually beaten, was in no gi'eat haste to resume 
the campaign. To encourage and stimulate him, 
the Pope -WTote to the princes of Germany and the 
King of Poland, exhortuig them to unite their 
arms ^^^tll those of Sigismund, and deal a blow 
which should make an end, once for all, of this 
troublesome affair. Than the Hussite heretics, the 
Turk himself, he said, was less the foe of Chris- 
tianity ; and it was a more urgent as well as a 
more meritorious work to endeavour to bring about 
the extirpation of the Bohemian adversary than 
the overthrow of the Moslem one.' 

This letter was speedily followed by a bull, or- 
daining a new crusade against tho Hussites. In 

' Lcnfant, Hist. Gncr. Huss.. torn, i., lirr. si., p. 217. 
The Pope's letter was dated February 11th, 1424— that 
is, during the sitting of the Couneil of Sieuna. 

addition to the letter which the Pope caused to be 
forwarded to the King of Poland, exhorting him 
to extirpate the Bohemian heresy, he sent two 
legates to see after the execution of his wshes. 
He also ordered the Archbishojj of Lembourg to 
levy in his diocese 20,000 golden ducats, to aid 
the kuig in prosecuting the war. The Pontiff 
wrote to the same effect to the Duke of Lithu- 
ania. There is also a bull of the same Pojje, 
Martin V., addressed to the Archbishops of 
Mainz, of Treves, and of Cologne, coufirmmg the 
decree of the Council of Constance against the 
Hussites, and the several parties into which they 
were divided." 

At the first mutterings of the distant temjiost, 
the various sections of the Hussites drew together. 
On the death of Ziska they had unhappily divided. 
There were the Taborites, who acknowledged Pro- 
copius as leader ; there were the Orphans, who 
had lost in Ziska a father, and would accept no one 
in his room ; and there were the Calixtines, whom 
Coribut, a candidate for the Bohemian crown, 
commanded. But the sword, now so suddenly 
displayed above their heads, reminded them that 
they had a common country and a common faith 
to defend. They forgot their differences in j)re- 
sence of the danger that now menaced them, stood 
side by side, and waited the coming of the foe. 

The Pontiff's summons had been but too gene- 
rally responded to. The army now advancing 
against this devoted land numbered not less than 
70,000 picked men; some historians say 100,000.' 
They brought with them .3,000 wagons and ISO 
pieces of cannon. On Saturday, June 15th, 1426, 
they entered Bohemia in . three columns, marching 
in the direction of Aussig, which the Hussites 
were besieging, and which lies on the great plain 
between Dresden and Toplitz, on the confines of 
the Slavonic and German worlds. On Sabliath 
morning, as they drew near the Hussite camp, 
Procopius sent a jsroposal to the invaders that 
quarter should be given on both sides. The Ger- 
mans, who did not expect to need quarter for 
themselves, refused the promise of it to the Hus- 
sites, saying that they were under the curse of the 
Pope, and that to spare them would be to violate 
their duty to the Church. " Let it be so, then," 
replied Procopius, " and let no quarter be given on 
either side." 

On Sabbath forenoon, the 16th of Juuo, the 
battle begaiii The Bohemians were entrenched 
behind 500 wagons, fastened to one another by 

-' Lcnfant, Hist. Gucr. Hn 
'^ Ibid., p. 288. 

, torn, i,, livr. sii., x>, 232. 



chains, and forming a somewliat formidable ram- 
])avt. The Germans attacked with great im- 
jtetuosity. They stormed the first line of defence, 
hewing in pieces with their battle-axes the iron 
fastenings of the wagons, and lireaking through 
tli'jm. Pressing onward they threw down the 

Germans from their horses, they enacted fearful 
slaughter upon them as they lay on the ground. 
Rank after rank of the invaders pressed forward, 
only to be blended in the terrible carnage whicli 
was going on, on this fatal spot. The battle raged 
till a late hour of the afternoon. The German 

second and weaker line, which consisted of the 
wooden shields stuck into the ground. They ar- 
rived in the area witliin, weary with the labour it 
had cost them to break through into it. The Bo- 
htimians the while were resting on their arms, and 
discharging an occasional shot from their swivel 
guns on the foe as he struggled with the wagons 
Now that they were face to face with the enemy 
they raised their war-cry, they swung their tenible 
flails, they plied their long hooks, and pulling the 

knights contested the action mth great -s-alour and 
obstinacy, on a soil slippery ^vith the blood and 
cumbered with the corpses of their comrades. But 
their bravery was in vain. The Bohemian ranks 
were almost imtouclied ; the Germans were every 
moment going down in the fearful tempest of 
aiTOws and shot that beat upon them, and in the 
yet more terrible buffeting of the iron flails, which 
cmshed the hapless warrior on which they fell. 
The day closed with the total rout of the invaders. 



who fled from the field in confusion, and sought 
refuge in the mountains and woods around the 
scene of action.' 

The fugitives when overtaken implored quarter, 
but themselves had settled it, before going into 
battle, and, accordingly, no quarter was given. 

The loss in killed of the Gei-mans, according to 
Palacky, whose history of Bohemia is bas(xl ujton 
original documents, and the accuracy of which luis 
never been called in question, was fifteen thou- 
sand. The wounded and missing may have swelled 
the total loss to fifty thousand, the number given 

Twenty-four counts and barons stuck their swords 
ill the ground, and knelt before their captors, pray- 
ing that their lives might be spared. But in vain. 
In one place three himdrcd slain knights are said 
to have been foimd lying together in a single heap. 

' Balbin., Epitom. Rer. Bohem., p. 
torn, i., livr. lii., pp. 238, 239. 


IKst. Guer. Hues,, 

in the Bohemian ballad, a part ot which we are 
about to quote. The German nolsility suffered 
tremendous loss, nearly all their leaders being 
left on the field. Of the Hussites there fell in 
battle thirty men. 

A rich booty was reaped by the victors. All 
the wagons, artillery, and tents, and a large 
siipply of provisions and coin, fell into their 



liauds. " The Pope," said the Hussites jeeringly, 
" owes the Gemiaus his curse, for having en- 
riched us heretics vnili such boundless store of 
treasure." But the main advantage of this victory 
was the splendid prestige it gave the Hussites. 
From that day theii- arms were looked upon as 

The national poets of Bohemia celebrated in song 
this great triumph. The following fragment is not 
unlike the ballads in which some of the early 
conflicts of our owir coimtiy were commemorated. 
In its mingled dialogue and description, its piquant 
interrogatories and stinging retorts, it bears evi- 
dence of being contemporary, or nearly so, ^ntll 
the battle. It is only a portion of this spirited 
poem for which we can here tind room. 

" In mind let all Bolicnii;uis bear, 
How God the Lord did for them oarc, 
And victory at Aussig gave, 
Wlien -n-ar they waged their faith to save. 
The year of grace — the time to fix — 
Was fourteen hundi'ed twenty-six ; 
The Sunday after holy Vite 
The Gei-man host dispersed in flight. 

Many there were look'd on the while, 
Looked on Bohemia's risk with guUe, 
For gladsome they to see had hecn 
Bohemians suffer woe and teen. 
But thanks to God the Lord we raise. 
To God we glory give and praise, 
\^^lo aided us with mighty hand 
To diivo the Goraian from our land. 

The host doth nigh Bavaria war. 
Crusading foes to chase afar, 
Foes that the Pope of Rome had sent. 
That aU the faithful might he shent. 
The talc of woe all hearts doth rend. 
Thus to the host for aid they send : 
' Bohemia's faith doth stand upright, 
If comrade comi'ade aids in fight.' 

The Count of Meissen said in sight, 
' If the Bohemian bands unite, 
E\'il, methinks, will us betide ; 
Asunder let us keep them ^^•ide. 
Fear strikes me, when the flails I see. 
And those black lads so bold and free ! 
'Tis said that each doth crush the foe 
Upon whose mall he sets a blow.' 

Om- Marshal, good Lord Vanek, spake : 
' "^Tioe'er God's wiU imdertake, 
WTioe'cr will wage it free from guile. 
Himself with God must reconcile.' 
On Friday then, at morning light. 
The Czechians service held aright, 
Received God's body and His blood. 
Ere for their faith in fight they stood. 
Prince iSigmund did the same likewise, 
And prayed to God with tearful eyes. 
And \irged the warriors firm to stand. 
And checr'd the people of the land. 

By Predlitz, on B'eliani's height. 

The armies met and closed in fight ; 

Stout Germans there, Bohemians here, 

Like himgry lions, know no fear. 
The Germans loud prodaim'd that day. 

The Czechians must then- creed unsay, 

Submit themselves and sue for gi-ace. 

Or leave their lives npon the place. 

' 'Gainst ns ye cannot stand,' they said, 

' Against our host ye are but dead ; 

Look at our numbers ; what are ye ? 

A cask of poppy-seed are we.' ^ 
The bold Bohemians made reply : 

' Our creed we hold imtil we die. 

Our fatherland wo wUl defend. 

Though in the fight we meet om- end. 

And though a little band to see, 

A spoonful small of mustard we, 

Yet none the less we'll sharply bite. 

If Christ but aid us in the fight. 

But be this pact betwixt us twain : 

"Whoe'er 's by either army ta'en. 

Bind liim and keep him, slay hiiu not ; 

Expect from us the selfsame lot.' 

Said they : ' This thing we cannot do ; 
The Pope's droad cm-sc is laid on you. 
And we must sbiy in fm'y wild 
Both old and young, both maid and cliild.' 

The Czechians too same pact did make, 
No Gei-man prisoners to take ; 
Then each man call'd Ids God upon, 
And thought his feiith, his honour on. 

The Germans jeer'd them as they stood, 
On came their horsemen like a flood : 
' Oiu- foes,' they say, ' like geese'-' to-day 
With axe, with dirk, with mace we'U slay. 
Soon lose shall many a maid and wife. 
Sire, brother, husband in the strife. 
In sad bereavement shall remain ; 
Woe w-aits the orjjhans of the slain.' 
When each on other 'gan to full, 
The Czechians on then- God did call ; 
They saw before their van in view 
A stranger knight, whom no man knew. 
The Taborites begin the fight. 
Like men they foi-wards press and smite ; 
Where'er the Orphans took thoii- road. 
There streams of blood like brooklets How'd. 
* # * « * 

And many a Imight display'd liis might, 
And many a lord was good in fight, 
'Twere vain to strive each name to say — 
Lord ! bless them .and then- seed for aye ! 
For there with v.alour without end 
They did the truth of God defend, 
They gave their lives right valiantl_v, 
With thee, Lord 1 in hcav'n to be. 

When long the fight had fiercely biu-n'd. 
The wind against tlie Germans turn'd, 
Their backs the bold Bohemians sec. 
Quick to the woods and hiUs they flee. 

1 A figure borrowed from the cultivation of the poppy 
in Bohemia. 
' Hussi, geese, aUudini^' to .Tan IIuss, .Tolin Goose. 



And thoso that 'scaped the bloody scene 
Kight sadly told the Margravine, 
For faith and creed how fierce and wood 
The Czechian heretics had stood. 

Then fourteen counts and lords of might 
Did from their coursers all aUght, 
Their sword-points deep in earth did place 
And to the Czechians sued for grace. 
For prayers and cries they cared not aught, 
Silver and gold they set at naught. 
E'en as themselves had made reply, 
So ev'ry man they did to die. 

Thus thousands fifty, thousands twain. 
Or more, were of the Germans slain, 

Besides the youths, that did abide 
In helmets by the army's side; 
But these they kept aUvo, to tell 
Their lady how her people fell, 
That all might think the fight upon, 
At Aussig that for God was won. 

Ho ! all ye faithful Christian men ! 
Each lord and knight and citizen ! 
Follow and hold your fathers' creed 
And show ye are their sons indeed ! 
Be steadfast in God's truth always. 
And so from God ye shall have praise ; 
God on your offspring blessings poui', 
And grant you life for evermore ! " 



Another Crusade — Bishop of Winchester its Leader — The Crusaders — Panic— Booty reapad by the Hussites — 
Sigismund Negotiates for the Crown — Failure of Negotiation— Hussites Invade Germany and Austria— Papal 
Bull— A New Crusade — Panic and Flight of the Invaders. 

Scarce had this tempest passed over the Hussites 
when a more terrible one was seen rolling Tip against 
their devoted land. The vei-y next year (1427) a 
yet greater cmsade than that which had come to so 
inglorious an issue, was organised and set in motion. 
This invasion, like the former, was instigated by 
the Pope, who this time turned his eyes to a 
new quarter for a captain to lead it. He might 
well despaii- of finding a German prince willing to 
head such an expedition, after the woeful experience 
the nobles of that land had had of Bohemian war- 
fare. The English were at that time winning gi'eat 
renown in France, and why shoidd they be unwill- 
ing, thought the Pope, to win equal fame, and at 
the same time to serve the Church, by turning their 
arms against the heretics of Bohemia I Who could 
tell but the warlike Norman might know how to 
break the spell which had hitherto chained victory 
to the Hussite banners, although the Teuton had 
not found out the important secret 1 

Pope Martin, following out his idea, selected 
Heniy de Beaufort, Bishop of Winche.ster, the son 
of the celebrated John of Gaunt, and brother of 
Hemy IV., as a suitable pei-son on whom to bestow 
this mark of confidence. He first created him a 
cardinal, he next made him his legate-a-latere, 
accompanying this distinguished dignity with a 
commission equally distinguished, and which, if 
diflicult, would confer honour proportionately 
great if successfully accomplished. In short., the 

Pope put him at the head of a new Bohemian 
crusade, which he had called into existence by 
his bull given at Rome, February 16th, 1427. 
This bull the Pope sent to Henry of Win- 
chester, and the bishop had foi-thwith to provide 
the important additions of money, soldiers, and 

The bishop, now become legate-a-latere, published 
in England the bidl sanctioning the crusade, not 
doubting that he should instantly see thousands oi 
enthusiastic warriors pressing forward to figJit 
under his banner. He was mortified, however, to 
find that few Englishmen were ambitious of taking 
part in an enterjDrise beyond doubt veiy holy, 
but which beyond doubt would be very blood3% 
Beaufort crossed the sea to Belgium, where better 
fortime awaited him. In the venerable and very 
ecclesiastical city of Mechlin he published the 
Pope's bull, and waited the effect. It was all that 
the warlike legate-a-latere could wish. No such 
response had been given to any similar summons 
since the day that the voice of Peter the Hermit 
had thrUled the Western nations, and precipitated 
them in fanatical masses upon the infidels of Pales- 
tine. The whole of that vast region which extends 
from the Rhine to the Elbe, and from the shores of 
the Baltic to the summits of the Alps, seemed to 

' Hist. Guer. Hu$s., torn, i., livr. jdii., p. 254. Krasinski, 
Slavonia, p. 105. 



rise up at tlie voice of this new Petei'. Around his 
Btandard there gatliered a host of motley nation- 
alities, composed of the shepherds of the mountains, 
and the artisans ami traders of the towns, of tlie 
peasants -ttdio tilled the fields, and the lords and 

"^'''l^ ')il^'fr5lli!J'i'"i ll iL ' ■'""(nii'H"'".wli! '' i '''""- r 

HUSSITE SHIELD. (From Levfant.) 

princes that owned them. Contemporary writers 
say that the army that now assembled consisted 
of ninety thousand infantry and an equal number 
of cavalry. This doubtless is so far a guess, for 
in those days neither armies nor nations were 
accurately told, but it is without doubt that the 
numbers that swelled this the fourth crusade veiy 
much exceeded those of the former one. Here were 
swords enough surely to convert all the heretics in 

Led by three electors of the Empire, by many 
princes and counts, and headed by the legate-a- 

latere of the Poj)e, this great host marched for- 
ward to the scene, as it believed, of its predestined 
triumph. It would strike such a 1-ilow as would 
redeem all jjast defeats, and put it out of the power 
of heresy ever again to lift up its head on the soil 
of the holy Roman Empire. The very greatness of 
the danger that now threatened the Hussites 
,helped to ward it off. The patriotism of all ranks 
in Bohemia, from the magnate to the peasant, was 
roused. Many Roman Catholics who' till now had 
opposed their Protestant countrymen, feeling the 
love of coimtry stronger in then- bosom than the 
homage of creed, joined the standard of the gi-eat 
Procopius. The invadere entered Bohemia in Jihic, 
1427, and sat down before the to'WTi of Meiss 
which they meant to besiege. 

The Bohemians marched to meet their invaders. 
They were now witlmi sight of them, and the two 
armies were separated only by the river that flowrs 
past Meiss. The crusaders were in greatly suiJerior 
force, but instead of dashing across the stream, and 
closuig m battle with the Hussites whom they had 
come so far to meet, they stood gazing in silence 
at those warriors, whose features, hardened by con- 
stant exposm-e, and begrimed with the smoke and 
dust of battle, seemed to realise the pictures of 
terror which report had made familiar to their 
imagmations long befoi'e they came in contact 
with the reality. It was only for a few momenta 
that the invaders contemplated the Hussite ranka. 
A sudden panic fell upon them. They turned and 
lied in the utmost confusion. The legate was as 
one who awakens fi'om a dream. His labours and 
hopes at the very moment when, as he thought, 
they were to be crowned with victory, suddenly 
vanished in a shameful rout. The Hussites, plung- 
ing into the river, and climbing the opposite bank, 
hung upon the rear of the fugitives, slaughtering 
them mercilesslj'. The carnage was increased by 
the fury of the peasantry, who rose and avenged 
iipon the foe, in his retreat, the ravages he had 
committed in his advance. The booty taken was 
so immense that there was scarcely an individual, 
of whatever station, in all Bohemia, who was not 
suddenly made rich.' 

The Pope comforted the humiliated Henry dc 
Beaufort by sending him a letter of condolence (Oc- 
tober 2nd, 1427), in which he hinted that a second 
attempt might have a better issue. But the legate, 
who had found that if the doctrines of the Hltssites 

' Lenfant, Hist. Guer. Huss., torn i., livis xiii., p. 255. 
The liistorians of tliis affair have compared it to the 
defeat of Crassns l3y the Parthians, of Darins by the 
Scythians, and of Xerxes by the Greeks. 



were false tlioir swords were skarp, would lucddle 
no further in their ailairs. Not so the Emperor 
Sigismund. Still coveting the Bohemian cro\vii, 
Ijut despairing of gaining possession of it liy arms, 
lie now resolved to try wliat diplomacy could eftect. 
But the Bohemians, who felt tJiat the gulf between 
the emperor and themselves, first opened by the 
stake of Huss, had been vastly widened by the 
blood since shed in the wars into which he had 
foi'ced them, declined being ruled by hiiu. Such, 
at least, was the feeling of the great majority 
of the nation. But Procopius was miwilling to 
forego the hopes of peace, so greatly needed Ijy a 
stiickeu and bleeding country. He had combatted 
for the Bohemian liberties and the Hussite faith 
on the battle-field. He was ready to die for them. 
But he longed, if it were possible on anything like 
honourable and safe terms, to close these frigliiful 
wars. In this hoj)e lie assembled the Bohemian 
Diet at Prague, in 1429, and got its consent to go 
to Viemia and lay the tei-ms of the Bohemian 
people before the emperor in person. 

These were substantially the same as the four 
articles mentioned in a former chapter, and which 
the Hussites, when the struggle opened, had agreed 
on as the indispensable basis of all negotiations for 
peace that might at any time be entered upon — 
namely, the free preaching of the Gospel, Com- 
munion in both kinds, a satisfactory arrangement 
of the ecclesiastical property, and the execution of 
the laws against all crimes liy whomsoever com- 
mitted. The likelihood was small that so bigoted 
a monarch as Sigismund would agi-ee to these 
terms ; but though the journey had been ten times 
longer, and the chance of .success ten times smaller, 
I'rocopius would have done what he did if thereby 
ho might bind up his country's wounds. It was 
as might have been anticipated. Sigismund would 
not listen to the voice of a suffering but magnani- 
uiuus iind pious people ; and Procojiius returned to 
Prague, his embassy unaccomplished, but with the 
satisfaction that he had held out the olive-branch, 
and that if the sword must again be imsheathed, 
the blood which would flow would lie at the door 
of those who had spurned the overtures of a just 
and reasonable peace. 

The Hussites now assumed the offensive, and 
those nations which had so often carried war into 
Bohemia experienced its miseries on their own 
soil.' This policy might appear to the Bohemians, 
ou a large view of their affairs, the \visest that they 
could pursue. We know at least that it was 
adopted at the i-ecommendation of the enlightened 

' Hist, Guer. Huss., torn, i., llvi\ xiv. 

and patriotic man who guided their councils. 
Their overtures for peace had been haughtily 
rejected ; and it was now manifest that they could 
reckon on not a day's tranquillity, save in the waj- 
of an unconditional surrender of their crown to the 
emperor, an<l an equally unconditional surrender of 
their conscience to the Pope. Much as they loved 
peace, they were not prepai'ed to purchase it at 
such a ])rice. And instead of waiting till war 
.should come to them, they thought it better to 
anticipate it by carrying it into the countries of 
their enemies. Procopius entered Germany (1429) 
at the heiid of 80,000 wan-iors, and in the campaign 
of that and the following summers he cariied his 
conquests from the gates of Magdeburg in the nortli, 
to the further limits of Franconia in the south. 
The whole of Western Germany felt the weight 
of his sword. Some hundred towns and castles 
he converted into heaps : he exacted a heavy ran- 
som from the wealthy cities, and the barons and 
bishops he made to pay sums equally large as the 
price of their escape from capti\ity or death. Such 
towns as Bamberg and Nuremberg, and such 
magnates as the Elector of Brandenburg and the 
Bishop of Salzburg, were rated each at 10,000 
ducats. This was an enormous sum at a time when 
the gold-yielding countries were undiscovered, and 
the affluence of their mines had not cheapened 
the price of the precious metals in the markets of 
Eiu'ope. The return homeward of the army of Pro- 
copius was attended by 300 wagons, which groaned 
under the weight of the immense booty that he 
carried with him on his mai-ch back to Bohemia. 

We record this invasion without either justify- 
ing or condeuming it. Were we to judge of it, 
we should feel bound to take into account tlie 
character of the age, and the circumstances of the 
men. The Bohemians were surrounded by nation- 
alities who bitterly hated them, and who would not 
be at peace with them. They knew that their 
faith made them the objects of incessant intrigues. 
They had it in their choice, they believed, to iniiict 
these ravages or to endure them, and seeing war 
there must be, they preferred that it should bo 
abroad, not at home. 

But we submit that the lasting ti-anquillity and 
the higher interests of the nation might have been 
more effectually secui-ed in the long run by a policy 
directed to the intellectual, the moral, and especially 
the spiritual elevation of Bohemia. The heroism 
of a nation cannot be maintained apart from its 
moral and spiritual condition. The seat of valour 
is the conscience. Conscience can make of the 
man a coward, or it can wake of him a hero. 
LivinK as the Hussites did in the continual e\- 



citement of camps aud battles and victories, it those terrible tempests that had burst, one after the 

could not be but that their moral aud spuitual 
life should decline. If, confiding in that Arm which 
had hitherto so wonderfully guarded their land, 
which liad given them victory on a score of battle- 

other, over it. These are the invasions which Rome 
dreads most. It is not men clad in mail, but men 
clad in the .annour of tiiith, wielding not the swoi'd 
biit the Sci'iptures, before whom Rome trembles. 


(From Lenfant's " Hhtoire de la Guerre Sussiiique ct dit Conclle c 


fields, and which had twice chased their enemies 
from tlieir soil when they came against them in 
overwiielming numbers — if, we say, leaning on that 
Arm, they had spread, not theii' swords, but their 
opinions over Germany, they would have taken tlie 
best of all revenges, not on the Germans only, but 
on Her whose seat is on the Seven Hills, and who 
had called up aud directed against their nation aU 

But we must recall our canon of criticism, and 
judge the Hussites by the age in which they lived. 

It was not tlieir fault if the fifteenth century did 
not put them iir possession of that clear, well-defijied 
system of Truth, and of those great facilities for 
spreading it over the earth, wldch the nineteenth 
has put withm our reach. Their piety aud patriot- 
ism, as a piiaciple, may have been equal, nay, 



superior to oure, but the otliioal maxims which 
regulate the disphxy of these virtues were not then 
so fully developed. Pi'ocopius, the great leader of 
the Bohemians, lived in an age when missions were 
yet remote. 

There was trembling through all Germany. 
Alarm was felt even at Rome, for tlie Hussites had 
made their arms the terror of all Europe. The Pope 
and the emperor took counsel how they might close 
a soiirce of danger which threatened to devastate 
Christendom, and whicli they themselves in an evil 
hour had opened. They convoked a Diet at Nurem- 
bei'g. There it was resolved to organise a new 
expedition against Bohemia. The Pope — not 
Martin V., who died of apoplexy on the 30th of 
February, 1431; but Eugenius IV., who succeeded 
him on the 1 6th of March— proclaimed through his 
legate, Cardinal Julian Cesarini, a fifth crusade. 
No ordinary advantages were held foi-th as induce- 
ments to embark in this most meritorious but most 
hazardous service. Persons under a vow of pil- 
grimage to Rome, or to St. James of Compostella 
in Spain, might have release on condition of giving 
the money they would have spent on their journey 
to aid in the war. Nor were rewards wantuig to 
those who, though unable to fight, were yet willing 
to pray. Inteudiiig crusaders might do shrift for 
half a Bohemian penny, nor need the penitent pay 
even this small sum unless he chose. Confessors 
wei-e appointed to give absolution of even the most 
lieinoiis crimes, such as burning churches, and 
murdering priests, that the crusader might go into 
battle with a clear conscience. And verily he had 
need of all these aids to fortify him, when he thought 
of those with whom he was about to join battle ; 
for every Hussite was believed to have within him a 
legion of fiends, and it was no light matter to meet 
a foe Uke this. But whatever might happen, the 
safety of the crusader had been cared for. If he 
fell in battle, he went straight to Paradise; and if 
he survived, there awaited him a Paradise on earth 
in the booty he was sure to reap in the Bohemian 
land, which woiUd make him rich for life.^ 

Besides these spii'itual lures, the feeling of ex- 
asperation was kept alive in the breasts of the 
Germans, by the memoi'ials of the recent Hussite 
invasion still visible on the face of the countiy. 
Their ravaged fields and ruined cities continually 
in their sight whetted their desire for vengeance. 
Besides, German valour had been sorely tarnished 
by defeat abroad and by disaster at home, and it 

1 Csch. L., vi., pp. 136-139. Tlieob., cap. 71, p. 138. 
Bzovivis, anil. 14S1. Lenfant, Hist. Guer, Huss., torn, i., 
livr. XV., p. 299, 

was not wonderful that the Teutons should seize 
this chance of wiping out these stains from the 
national escutcheon. Accordingly, every day new 
ti'oops of crusaders arrived at the place of rendez- 
vous, which was the city of Nuremberg, and the 
army now assembled there numljered, horse and 
foot, 130,000 men.'' 

On the 1st of August, 1431, the crusaders crossed 
the Bohemian frontier, penetrating through the 
gi'eat forest which covered the country on the 
Bavarian side. They were brilliantly led, as con- 
cerned ranli:, for at then- head marched quite a host 
of princes spiritual and temporal. Chief among 
these was the legate Julian Cesarmi. The very 
Catholic Cochleus hints that these cardinals and 
archbishops might have foimd worthier employ- 
ment, and he even doubts whether the practice of 
priests appearing in mail at the head of armies 
can be justified by the Levites of old, who were 
specially exempt from serving in arms that they 
might wholly attend to their service in the Taber- 
nacle. The feelings of the Hussites as day by day 
they received tidings of the numbers, equipments, 
and near .approach of the host, we can well im.agine. 
Clouds as terrible had ere this darkened tlieii' sky, 
but they had seen an omnipotent Hand suddenly 
disperse them. They were pi-epared, a.s aforetime, 
to stand shoulder to shoulder in defence of their 
coimtry and their faith, but any army they could 
hope to bring into the field would not amount to 
half the number of tliat which was now marching 
against them. Tliey reflected, however, that \'ictory 
did not alwiiys declare on the side of the 
liattalion, and, lifting their eyes to heaven, they 
calmly awaited the ajsproach of the foe. The in- 
vading host advanced, " chanting triumph before 
victory," s.ays Lenfant, .and arriving at Tachau, it 
halted there a week. Nothing could h.ave better 
suited the Bohemians. Forming iiito three columns 
the invaders moved forward. Procopius fell back 
on their approach, sowing reports as he retreated 
that the Bohemians had quarrelled among them- 
selves, and were fleeing. His design was to lure 
the enemy farther into the country, and fall upon 
him on all sides. On the morning of the 14th 
August the Bohemians marched to meet the foe. 
That foe now became aware of the stratagem which 
had been practised upon him. The teirible Hussite 
soldiers, who were believed to be in flight, were 
advancing to ofter b.ittle. 

The enemy were encamped near the town of 
Reisenberg. The Hussites were not yet in sight, 

- Hist. 6-uei: Huss., torn, i., livr. xvi., p. 31G. Some 
historians reduce the number to 90,000, 



but the Kounds of their approacli struck upon the 
car of the Germans. The rumble of their wagons, 
and their war-hymn chanted by the whole army as 
it inarched bravety foi-\vard to battle, were distinctly 
heard. Cardinal Cesarini and a companion climbed 
a little hill to view the impending conflict. Beneath 
them was the host which they expected soon to see 
engaged in victorious fight. It was an imposing 
spectacle, this great army of many nationalities, 
with its waving banners, its maU-clad knights, its 
helmeted cavahy, its long lines of wagons, and its 
numerous artillery. The cardinal and his friend 
had gazed only a few minutes when they were 
startled by a strange and sudden movement in the 
host. As if smitten by some invisible power, it 
appeared all at once to break up and scattei-. The 
soldiers threw away their ai'mour and fled, one tliis 
Way, another that; and the wagoners, emptying 
their vehicles of their load, set ofi" across the plain 
at full galloj). Struck with consternation and 
amazement, the cardinal hurried down to the field, 
and soon learned the cause of the catastrophe. The 
army had been seized with a mysterious panic. 
That panic extended to the ofiicers equally ■with the 
soldiers. The Duke of Bavaria was one of the first 
to flee. He left behind him his carriage, in the 
hope that its spoil might temjjt the enemy and 
delay their pursuit. Behind him, also in inglorious 
flight, came the Electoi' of Brandenburg ; and follow- 
ing close on the elector were others of less note, 
chased from the field by this imseen terror. The 
army followed, if that could be styled an army 
wliich so lately had been a marshalled and bannered 
host, but was now only a rabble rout, fleeuig when 
no man pursued. 

To do him justice, the only man who did not lose 
his head that day was the Papal legate Cesarini. 
Amazed, mortified, and indignant, he took his stand 
in the path of the oi-owd of fugitives, in the hope 
of compelling them to stand and show fight. Ho 
addressed them with the spirit of a soldier, bidding 
them remember the glory of their ancestors. If 
their pagan foreftithers had shown such courage in 
fighting for dumb idols, surely it became their 
descendants to show at least equal courage in 
fighting for Christ, and the salvation of souls. 
But deeming, it may be, this style of argument 
too high-pitched for the men and the occasion, 
the cardinal pressed upon the ten-ified crowd 
the more prudential and practical consideration, 
that they had a better chance of saving their lives 
by standing and fighting than by running kuvdy ; 
that they were sure to be overtaken ))y the liglit 
cavulry of the Bohemians, and that the peasantry, 
whoiX! aiig -■ they had iiu-.inwl by tlu^ pilLigc tvud 

slaughter they had inflicted in their advai^v, would 
rise upon them and cut them down in then- flight. 
With these words he succeeded in rallying some 
bodies of the fugitives. But it was only for a few 
minutes. They stood tlieir ground only till the 
Bohemians were within a short distance of them, 
and then that strange terror again fell upon them, 
and the stampede (to use a yiodern phrase) became 
so perfectly uncontrollable, that the legate himself 
was borne away by the current of bewildered and 
hurrying men. Much did the cardinal leave behind 
liim in liis enforced flight. First and chiefly, he 
lost that great anticipated triumph of which he 
had been so sure. His experience in this respect 
was J5recisely that of another cardinal-legate, his 
predecessor, Henry de Beaufort. It was a rude 
awakening, in wliich he opened his eyes, not on 
glorious victory, but on humiliating and bitter 
defeat. Cesarini incurred other losses on this fatal 
field. He left behind him liis hat, his cross, his 
bell, and the Pope's bull jiroclaiming the crusado 
— that same cnisade wliich had come to so ridi- 
culous a termination. The booty was immense. 
Wagon-loads of coin, destined for the payment 
of the troops, became now the property of the 
Bohemians, besides the mviltifarious spoil of the 
field — artillery, arms, bannei-s, dresses, gold and 
silver plate, and utensils of all kinds ; and, adds an 
old chronicler, vntli a touch of humour, " many 
wagons of excellent wiue."' 

This was now the second time the stranga 
phenomenon of panic had been repeated in the 
Hussite wars. The Germans are naturally brave ; 
they have proved their valour on a hundred 
fields. They advanced against the Bohemians in 
vastly superior numbers ; and if panic there was to 
be, we should rather have looked for it in the little 
Hussite ai-my. When they saw the horizon filled 
with German foot and horse, it wevdd not have 
been siiriirising if the Bohemians had turned and 
fled. But that the Gemians should flee is ex- 
plicable only with reference to the moral state of 
the combatants. It shows that a good conscience 
is the best equipment of an ai-my, and vnll do 
much to win victory. But there is something 
more in the facts we have related than the cou- 
rage inspired by the consciousness of a good cause, 
and the feebleness and cowar4ice engendered by 
the consciousness of a bad one. There is here 
the touch of a Divine finger — the infusion of a 
lircteniatural teiTor. So great was the stupefaction 
with which the crusaders were smitten that manv 

' iEuoas Sylvius, cai). 4S. Tlieob., cap. /(J. Loufaut, 
Hist. Gucr. Huss., torn, i., livi-. xvi., pp- 315—320. 



of them, instead of continuing their flight into 
their own country, wandered back into Bohemia ; 
vvhile others of them, who reached their homes iii 

Nuremberg, did not know their native city when 
they entered it, and began to beg for lodgings as 
if they were among strangers. 



Negotiations— Council of Basle — Hussites Invited to the Council — Entrance of Hussite Deputies into Basle— Tlieir 
Four Articles— Debates in the Council — No Agi-eement — Eeturn of tiie Deputies to Prague— Besumption of 
NetTotiations— The Compactata — Its Equivocal Character — Sigismund accepted as King. 

Arms, wliich had served the cause of Rome so ill, 
were now laid aside, and in their room resort was 
had to wiles.^ It was now evident that those great 
armaments, raised and fitted out at an expense so 
enormous, and one after another laimched against 
Bohemia — a little country, but peopled by heroes — 
were accomplishing no end at all, save that of 
fattening with corpses and em-iching with booty 
the land they were meant to subdue. There were 
other considerations which recommended a change 
of policy on the part of the imperial and ecclesias- 
tical powers. The victorious Hussites were carry- 
ing the war into the enemy's country. They had 
driven the Austrian soldiers out of Moravia. They 
had invaded Hungary and other provinces, burning 
towns and carrying off booty. These proceedings 
were not ^vithout their efl'ect in opening the eyes of 
the Pope and the emperor to the virtue of con- 
ciliation, to which till now they had been blind. 
In the year 1432, they addressed letters to the 
Bohemians, couched in the most friendly terms, 
and evidently designed to open the way to peace, 
and to give the emperor quiet possession of the 
kingdom in which, as he said, he was bom, and 
over which his father, brother, and vmcle had 
reigned. Not otherwise than as they had reigned 
would he reign over them, should they permit him 
peaceably to entei-. So he promised. 

A General Council of the Church had been con- 
voked, and was now in session at Basle. On the 
frontier between Germany and Smtzerland, washed 
by the Rhine, skirted on the east by the hills of 
the Black Forest, while in the southern horizon 
appear the summits of the Jura Alps, is situated the 
pleasant town where the Coimcil was now assem- 

bled, and where a century later the seeds of the 
Refoi-mation found a congenial soil. Letters from 
the emperor and the legate Julian invited the 
Bohemians to come to Basle and confer on their 
points of difference.^ To induce them to accept 
this invitation, the Fathers offered them a safe-con- 
duct to and from the Coimcil, and a guarantee for 
the free celebration of their worship during their 
stay, adding the further assurance that the Coimcil 
"would lovingly and gently hear their reasons."' 

The Hussites were not at all sanguine that the 
result of the conference would be such as would 
enable them to sheathe the sword over a satis- 
factory aiTangement of their affairs. They had 
doubts, too, touching their personal safety. Still 
the matter was worth a good deal of both labour 
and risk ; and after deliberating, they resolved to 
give proof of their desire for peace by attending 
the Council. They chose deputies to represent 
them at Basle, of whom the chief were Procopius 
" the Great," William Rosea, Baron of Poscupicz, 
a valiant knight ; John Rochyzana, preacher of 
Prague ; and Nicolas Galecus, pastor of the 
Taboiites.* They were accompanied by Peter Payne, 
an Englishman, "of excellent prompt and pregnant 
will," says Fox ; and who did good service at 
Basle.^ A company of 300 in all set out on horse- 
back for the Coimcil. 

' So says Comenius : " Cssar igitur cum pontifice ut 
araiis nihil profici animadvertunt ad fraudes oonversi 
Basilea convocato iterum (anno 1432) eoncilio." (Persecut. 
Ecdes. Bohem., p. 53.) 

' Conoil. Basil.— Hard., torn, viii., pp. 1313 and 1472— 
1494. Lenfant, Hist, des Huss., torn, i., pp. 322—324 and 

3 Concil. Basil— Hard., tom.viii., p. 1472. Fox, vol. i.,862. 

■• Comenius, Persecut. Eccles. Bohem., p. 53. 

* Payne had been Principal of Edmund's Hall, Oxford. 
He enjoyed a high repute among the Bohemians. Lenfant 
says he was a man of deep learning, and devoted himself 
to the diffusion of Wicliffe's opinions, and the elucidation 
of obscure passages in his writings. Coclileus speaks of 
him as " adding his own pestiferous tracts to Wicliffe's 
books, and with inferior art, but more intense venom, 
corruptiug the purity of Bohemia." (Krasinski, p. 87.) 

The four articles PRorosED by the hussites. 


The arrival of the Bohemian deputies was looked 
forward to -svith much interest in the Sotss town. 
Tlie prodigies recently enacted upon its soU had 
made Bohemia a land of wonders, and very ex- 
traordinary pictures indeed had been circulated 
of the men by whom the victories ■svith which 
all E\u-ope was now liuging had been won. The 
inhabitants of Basle waited their arrival half in 
expectation, half in terror, not knowing whether 
they were heroes or monsters whom they were 
about to receive into their city. At length their 
approach was announced. All the inhabitants of 
Ba^e turned out to see those men whose tenets 
were so abominalile, and whose arms were so 
terrible. The streets were lined ■with spectators ; 
eveiy wndow and roof had its cluster of eager and 
anxious sight-seei's ; and even the venerable Fathers 
of the Coimcil mingled in the crowd, that they 
might have an early view of the men whom they 
w-ere to meet in theological battle. As the caval- 
cade crossed the long wooden bridge that spans the 
Rhine, and slowly climbed the opposite bank, which 
is crowned with the cathedral towers and other 
buildings of the city, its appearance was very im- 
posing. The spectators missed the " teeth of lions 
and eyes of demons" with which the Hussites were 
credited by those who had fled before them on the 
battle-field ; but they saw in them other cpialities 
which, though less rare, were more worthy of 
admiration. Their tall figures and gallant bearing, 
their faces scaiTed with battle, and their eyes lit 
with courage, were the subject of general comment. 
Pvocopius drew all eyes upon him. " This is the 
man," said they one to another, " who has so often 
jiut to flight the aimies of the faithful — who has 
destroj'ed so many cities — who has massacred so 
many thousands; the invincible — the valiant."' 

The deputies had received their instructions Ijc- 
fore leaving Prague. They were to insist on the 
four following points (which, as already mentioned, 
formed the pre-an-anged basis on which only the 
question of a satisfactory adjustment of affairs 
could be considered) as the indispensable conditions 
of peace : — I. The free preaching of the Word. 
II. The riglit of the laity to the Cup, and the use 
of the vernacidar tongue in all ]iarts of Di\'ine 
Worship. III. The ineligibility of the clergy to 
secular office and rule. IV. The execution of the 
laws in the civso of all crimes, without respect of 
persons.* Accordingly, when the deputies appeared 

before the Council, they made the Fathers aware 
that then- deliberations must be confined to these 
four points; that these were tlie fiuth of the 
Bohemian nation; that that nation had not em- 
powered them to entertain the (piestion of a remm- 
ciation of that faith, but only to ascertain how far 
it might be possible, in conformity with the four 
articles specified, to arrange a basis of peace "with 
the Churoh of Rome, and jiennit a Roman Catholic 
sovereign to wear the crown of Bohemia, and that 
they had appeared in the Council not to discuss 
with it generally the tenets of Huss and Jerome,' 


These four articles may be said to have formed 
the new constitution of the kingdom of Bohemia. 
They struck at the foundation of the Roman hier- 
archy, and implied a large measure of reformation. 
The eventual consolidation of the nation's civil and 
religious lil)erties would have been their inevitable 
result. The supreme authority of the Scriptures, 
which the Hussites maintained, implied the eman- 
cipation of the conscience, the beginning of all 
liberty. The preaching of the Gospel and the 
celebration of public worship in the language of the 
people, implied the purification of the nation's 
morals and the enlightenment of the national in- 
tellect. Communion in both kinds was a practical 
repudiation of the doctrine of the mass ; for to insist 
on the Cup as essential to the Sacrament is tacitly 
to maintain that the bread is simply bread, and not 
the literal flesh of Christ. And the articles which 
disqualified priests from civil rule, displaced them 
from the state ofhces which they filled, and sulijected 
them to the laws in common mth others. This 

' ilneas Sylvius (who was an eye-witness), Hisi. Bohcm., 
cap. 49. Pox, Acts atul Mon., vol. i., pp. 862, 803. 

- Comenius, Persecui. Eccles. Bohem., p. 54. These are 
nearly the same articles which tlie Protestants clenin.nded 
in 1551 from the C:ouncil of Tnmt. (Sleijan, lib. xxiii.) 

^ "It was an unlieard-of occurrence iu the Church," 
says Lechler, " that a General Council should take part 
in a discussion with a whole nation that demanded 
ecclesiastical reform, receive its deputies as the ambas- 
sadors of an equal, and give them liberty of speech. 
This extraordinary event lent to the idea of reform a 
consideration, and gave it an honour, which involuntarily 
worked deeper than all that heretofore had been thought, 
spoken, and treated of respecting Church reform. Even 
the journey of the ambassadors through the German 
provinces, where they were treated with kindness and 
honour, still more the public discussion in Basle, as well 
as the private intercourse of the Hussites with many of 
the princi]ial meuibers of the Council, were pf lastinsj, 
ituportance." (Vol. ii., p. 479.) 



article struck at the idea that the priesthood form a of God enters, the shackles of human authority and 

distinct and theocratic kmgdom. The four articles tradition fall off. 

as they stand, it will be oliserved, lie \vithm the Cardinal Jidian, the Papal legate, opened t'.ie 

sjjhere of administration ; they do not include any proceedings with a long and eloquent oration of a 

one principle fimdamentally subversive of the 
whole scheme of Romanism. In this respect, 
they fall short of Wicliffe's programme, wldch pre- 
ceded them, as well as of Luther's which came 
after. In Bohemia, the spiritual and intellect)!, 
forces are less powerfully developed ; the patriotic 
and the military are in the ascendant. Still, it is 
to be borne in mind that the Bohemians had 
acknowledged the gi-eat principle that the Bible is 
the only infallible authority, and where this prin- 
ciple is maintained and practically carried out, there 
the fabric of Romanism is imdermined. Put the 
priest out of court as an infallible oracle, and the 
Bible comes in his room; and the moment the Word 

conciliatory character. He cxhoitcil tlu' delegates 
from Bohemia, says Fox, to unity and peace, saying 
that "the Church was the spouse of Jesus Christ, 
and the mother of all the faithful ; that it hath the 
keys of binding and loosing, and also that it is 





(From Lenfant.) 



■white and fair, and \vitliout spot or wrinkle, and 
tliat it cannot err in tliose points necessary to 
salvation. He exhorted them also to receive the 
decrees of the Council, and to give no less credit 
luito the Council than mito the Gospel, by whose 
authority the Scriptures themselves are received 
and allowed. Also, that the Bohemians, who call 
themselves the children of the Church, ought to 
hear the voice of their mother, who is never 
numindful of her children .... that in the 
time of Noah's Hood as many as were without 
the ark perished ; that the Lord's passover was to 
be eaten in one house ; that there is no salvation 
to be sought for out of the Chux-ch, and that this is 
the famous garden and fountain of water, whereof 
whosoever shall drink shall not thirst everlastingly; 
that the Bohemians have done as they ought, in 
that they have sought the fountains of this water 
at the Council, and have now at length detei-muied 
to give ear unto their mother."' 

The Bohemians made a brief reply, saying that 
they neither lielieved nor taught anything that was 
not founded on the "Word of God ; that they had 
come to the Council to vindicate their innocence in 
open audience, and ended by laying on the table 
the four articles they had been instructed to insist 
on as the basis of peace. " 

Each of these fo\ir articles Ijccamc in its turn 
the subject of discussion. Certain of the members 
of Council were selected to impugn, and certain of 
the Bohemian delegates were appointed to defend 
them.' The Fathers strove, not without success, to 
draw the deputies into a discussion on the -wide 
subject of Catholicism. They anticipated, it may 
be, an easy victory over men whose lives had been 
passed on the battle-field ; for if the Hussites were 
foiled in the general argument, they might be ex- 
pected to yield more easily on the four points 
specially in debate. But neither on the wider field 
of Catholicism nor on the narrower ground of the 
four articles did the Bohemians show any inclina- 
tion to give way. Wherever they learned their 
theology, they proved themselves as obstinate 
combatants in the coimcil-chamber as they had 
done on the field of battle ; they could mai-shal 
arguments and proofs as well as soldiers, and the 
Fathers soon found that Rome was likely to win as 
little fame in this spiritual contest as she had done 
in her military campaigns. Tlie debates dragged 
on through three tedious months ; and at the close 
of that period the Council was as far from yielding 

' Lenfant, Hisf. Cone. Basle, torn, ii., livr. xvii., p. 2; 
Amsterdam, 17.31. 

= Ibid., pp. 2, 3. 3 Ibid., p. 4. 

the Hussite articles, and the delegates were as far 
from being convinced that they ought to refrain from 
urging them, as they had been on the first day of 
the debate. This was not a little mortifj-ing to 
the Fathers; all the more so that it was the reverse 
of what they had confidently anticipated. The 
Hussites, they thought, might cling to their errors 
in the darkness that brooded over the Bohemian 
soil ; but at Basle, in the presence of the polemical 
giants of Rome, and amidst the blaze of an CEcu- 
menioal Council, that they should continue to main- 
tain them was not less a marvel than a mortification 
to the Coimcil. Procopius esiieciaUy bore himself 
gallantly in this debate. A scholar and a theo- 
logian, as well as^ a warrior, the Fathers saw with 
mingled admiration and chagrin that he could 
■wield his logic with not less dexterity than his 
sword, and could strike as heavy a blow on the 
ecclesiastical arena as on the military. " You hold 
a great many heresies," said the Papal legate to 
him one day. " For example, you believe that the 
Mendicant orders are an invention of the devil." 
If Procopius grant this, doubtless thought the 
legate, he will mortaUy offend the Comicil ; and if 
he deny it, he will scandalise his own nation. 
The legate waited to see on which horn the leader 
of the Taborites woiild do penance. " Can you 
show," replied Procopius, " that the Mendicants 
were instituted by either the patriarchs or the 
prophets under the Old Testament, or Jesus Christ 
and the apostles under the New I If not, I ask 
you, by whom were they instituted 1 " We do not 
read tliat the legate pressed the chai-ge further.'' 

After three months' fruitless debates, the Bo- 
hemian delegates left Basle and returned to their 
own country. The Council would come to no terms 
indess the Bohemians would engage to surrender 
the faith of Huss, and submit unconditionally to 
Rome. Although the Hussites, ^-anquished and in 
fetters, had been prostrate at the feet of the Council, 
it could have proposed nothuig more humiliating. 
They forgot that the Bohemians were victorious, and 
that it was the Council that was suing for peace. 
In this light, it would seem, did the matter appear 
to them when the depiities were gone, for they 

•* Comemus, Persecut. Eccles. Bohem., p. 54. Lenfant, 
Hist. Cone. Basle., torn, ii., livr. rvii., p. 4. It is interesting 
to observe that the legate Julian, pi'esident of the 
Council, condemns among others the three following 
articles of Wicliffe:— 1. That the substance of bread and 
wine remains after consecration. 2. That the accidents. 
cannot subsist without the substance. 3. Tliat Christ is 
not really and corporeally present in the Sacrament. 
This shows conclusively what in the judgment of the 
legate was the teaching of Wicliffe on the Eucharist.. 
(Lenfant, Hisf. Cone. Basic, tom. ii., livr. xvii., p. 6.) 



sent after tiiem a proposal to renew at Prague the 
negotiations which had been broken off at Basle.' 

Shrinking from the dire necessity of again un- 
sheathing the .sword, and anxious to spare theii- 
coiuitry the calamities that attend even victorious 
warfare, the Bohemian chiefs returned answer to 
the Coraicil bidding them send forward their dele- 
gates to Prague. Many an armed embassy had 
come to Prague, or as near to it as the valour of 
its heroic sons would jiennit ; now messengers of 
peace were travelling toward the land of Jolin 
Huss. Let \is, said the Boliemians, display as gi-eat 
courtesy and respect on this occasion as we have 
si: own bravery and defiance on former ones. The 
citizens put on their best clothes, the bells were 
tolled, flags were suspended from the steeples and 
ramparts and gates, and every expression of public 
welcome gi-eeted the arrival of the delegates of the 

The Diet of Bohemia was convoked (l-iS-l)- with 
reference to the question which was about to 
be reopened. The negotiations proceeded more 
smoothly on the banks of the 3Ioldau than they 
had done on those of the Rhine. The negotiations 
ended in a compromise. It was agi'eed that the 
four articles of the Hussites should be accepted, 
but that the light of exijlaining them, that is of 
determining their precise import, should belong to 
th.e Council — in other words, to the Pope and the 
emperor. Siich was the ti'eaty now formed be- 
tween the Roman Catholics and the Hussites ; its 
basis was the four articles, explained by the Comicil 
• — obviously an arrangement wliicli promised a 

plentiful crop of misunderstandings and quarrels 
in the future. To this agreement was given the 
name of the Compaetata. As with the Bible so 
with the four Hussite articles — Rome accepted 
them, but reserved to herself the right of deter- 
mining their true sense. It might have been fore- 
seen that the IntcrprefMlon and not the Articles 
would henceforth be the rule. So was the matter 
understood by ^^neas Sylvius, an excellent judge 
of what the Comicil meant. " This formula of the 
Council," said he, " is short, but there is more in its 
meanimj than in its words. It banishes all such 
opinions and ceremonies as are alien to the faith, 
and it takes the Bohemians bound to believe and 
to maintain all that the Church CatboUc believes 
and maintains."' This was said with special i-e- 
ference to the Council's explication of the Hussite 
article of Communion in lx)th kinds. The adminis- 
trator was to teach the recipient of the Eucharist, 
according to the decree of the Council in its 
tliirtieth session, that a whole Christ was in the 
cup as well as in the bread. This was a covert 
reintroductioii of transubstantiation. 

The Compaetata, then, was but a feeble gua- 
rantee of the Bohemian faith and liberties ; ui ftxot, 
it was a surrender of both ; and thus the Pope and 
the emperor, defeated on so many bloody fields, 
triumphed at last on that of diplomacy. Many 
of the Bohemians, and more especially the party 
termed the Calixtines, now returned to their 
obedience to the Roman See, the cup bemg guaran- 
teed to them, and the Emperor Si.gismund was now 
acknowledged as legitimate sovereign of Bohemia.* 



The Two Parties, CaHxtines and Taborites— Tlu- Compaetata Accepted by the First, Eejected by the Second- 
War between the Two— Death of Procopius— Would the Bohemian Keformation have Regenerated Chi-istendom ? 
-Sigismund Violates the Compaetata— He Dies — His Character— George Podiebrad — Elected King— The 
Taborites— Visited by .SIneas Sylvius— Their Persecutions— A Taborite Ordination— Multiplication of their 

The Bohemians were now divided into two strongly 
marked and -widely separated parties, the Taborites 
and the Calixtines. This division had existed from 

the first ; but it widened in proportion as the 
strain of their great struggle was relaxed. The 

' Lenfant, Hist. Cone. Basle, tom. ii., livr. xvii., p. 14. 
- Ibid., tom. ii., livT. rvii., pp. 14 — 18. 

^ Jilneas Sylvius, Hist. Bohem., cap. lu. Lenfant, Hist. 
Cone. Basle, tom. ii., Uvr. xvii., pp. H and 69, 70. 

* Comenius, Pcrsceuf. Ecelcs. Bohcm., pp. 54, 55. Kra- 
slnski, S(ai.-07aa, pp. 120, 121. 



party that retained most of the spirit of John Huss 
■were tlie Taborites. With them the defence of their 
religion was the first concern, that of their civil 
rights and privileges the second. The latter they 
deemed perfectly safe under the regis of the former. 
The Calixtines, on the other hand, had become 
lukewarm so far as the struggle was one for 
religion. They thought that the rent between 
their country and Rome was unnecessarily wide, 
and their policy was now one of approximation. 
They had secured the cup, as they believed, not 
reflecting that they had got transubstautiatiou along 
with it ; and now the conflict, they thought, should 
cease. To the party of the Calixtines belonged the 
chief magnates, and most of the great cities, whicli 
threw the jireponderance of opinion on the side of 
the Compactata. Into this scale was thrown also 
the influence of Rochyzana, the pastor of the 
Calixtines. " He was tempted with the hope of a 
bishopric," says Comeniiis, and used his iarfluence 
both at Basle and Prague to fui-ther conciliation on 
terms more advantageous to Rome than honom-able 
to the Bohemians. " In this manner," says Come- 
nius, " they receded from the footsteps of Huss 
and returned to the camp of Ajitichrist."^ 

In judging of the conduct of the Bohemians at 
this crisis of their affiiirs, we are to bear in mind 
that the events narrated took place in the fifteenth 
century ; that the points of diflerence between the 
two Churches, so perfectly irreconcilable, had not yet 
been so clearly and shai'j)ly deflned as they came to 
be by the great contro\'ersies of the century that fol- 
lowed. But the Bohemians in accepting this settle- 
ment stepped down from a position of unexampled 
grandeur. Their campaigns are amongst the most 
heroic and brilliant of the wars of the world. A 
little country and a little army, they nevertheless 
were at this hour triumphant over all the resources 
of Rome and all the armies of the Emjiia-e. They 
had but to keep their- ground and remain united, 
and take care that then- patriotism, kindled at the 
altar, did not decline, and there was no jjower in 
Europe that would have dared attack them. From 
the day that the Bohemian nation sat down on the 
Compactata, their prestige waned, they gained no 
more victories ; and the tone of public feeling, and 
the tide of national prosperity, began to go back. 

The Calixtines accepted, the Taborites rejected 
this arrangement. The consequence was the deplor- 
able one of an appeal to arms by the two parties. 
Formerly, they had never luisheathed the sword 
except against a common enemy, and to add new 
glory to tlie gloiy already acquired; but now, alas ! 

• Comenins, Persecut. Eccles. Bohem., pp. M, 55. 

divided by that power whose wiles have ever been 
a hundred times more formidable than her arms, 
Bohemian unsheathed the sword against Bohemian. 
The Calixtines were by much the larger party, 
including as they did not only the majority of tlioso 
who had been dissentients from Rome, but also all 
the Roman Catholics. The Taborites remained 
under the command of Procopjius, who, although 
most desirous of composing the strife and letting 
Ids country have rest, would not accept of peace 
on terms which he held to be fatal to liis nation's 
faith and liberty. Bohemia, he clearly saw, had 
entered on the descending path. Greater conces- 
sions and deeper hiimiliations were before it. The 
enemy before whom she had begun to humble her- 
self would not be satisfied till he had reft from her 
all she had won on the victorious field. Rather 
than witness this hmniliation, Pi-ocopius betook 
himself once more to the field at the head of hi* 
armed Taborites. 

Bloody skirmishes marked the opening of the 
conflict. At last, the two annies met on the plain 
of Lipan, twelve English miles from Prague, the 
29th of May, 143-t, and a gi-eat battle was fought. 
The day, fiercely contested on both sides, was going 
in ftxvour of Procoinus, when the general of his 
cavahy rode ofl' the field with all under his com- 
mand.^ This decided the action. Procopius, 
gathering round him the bravest of his soldiers,, 
rushed into the thick of the foe, whei-e he con- 
tended for awliile against feai-ful odds, but at last 
sank overpowered by numbei'S. With the fall of 
Procopius came the end of the Hussite wars. 

A consummate general, a skilful theologian, an 
accomplished scholar, and an incorruptible patriot, 
Procojjius had upheld the cause of Bohemia so long 
as Bohemia was true to itself vEneas Sylvius 
Piccolomini said of liim that " he fell weary with 
conquering rather than conquered."" His death 
fulfilled the saying of the Emperor Sigismund, "that 
the Bohemians could be overcome only by Bohe- 
mians." With him fell the cause of the Hussites. 
No eftectual stand could the Taborites make after 
the loss of their great leader ; and as regards the 
Calixtines, they riveted their chains by the same 
blow that struck down Procopius. Yet one hai-dly 
can wish that this great patriot had lived longer. 
The heroic days of Bohemia were numbered, and 
the e^'il days had come in which Procopius could 
take no pleasm-e. He had seen the Bohemians 
imited and victorious. He had seen piussant 

- Lenfant, Hist. Cone. Basle, torn, ii., livr. XFii., pp. 19, 20. 
Bonnechose, vol. ii., p. 328. 
•* .Slneas Sylvius, Hist. Bohem., p. 114. 



lcin£;s and miglity armies fleeing before tliem. He 
luid seen their arts, their literature, their husljandry, 
all flom-ishing. For the intellectual energy e\-oked 
by the war did not expend itself in the camp ; it 
overflowed, and nourished every interest of the 
nation. The University of Prague continued open, 
and its class-rooms crowded, all throughout that 
stormy period. The common schools of tlie country 
were equally active, and education was universally 
diflused. ^-Eneas Sylviu^s says that every woman 
among the Taborites was well acquainted with the 
Old and New Testaments, and unwilling as he was 
to see any good in the Hussites, he yet confesses 
that they had one meiit — namely, " the love of 
letters." It was not uncommon at that era to find 
tracts written by artizans, discussing religious sub- 
jects, and characterised by the elegance of their 
diction and the vigour of their thinking.' All this 
Procopius liad seen. But now Bohemia herself had 
dug the grave of her liberties in the Compactata. 
And when all that had made Bohemia dear to 
Procopius was about to be laid in the sepulchre, it 
was fitting that he too should be consigned to the 

One is compelled to ask what would the result 
have been, had the Bohemians maintained their 
groimd i Would the Hussite Reformation have 
regenerated Christendom 'i We are disposed to say 
that it would not. It had in it no principle of 
Kitfficient power to move the conscience of mankind. 
The Bohemian Reformation had respect mainly to 
the corrnptii3ns of the Church of Rome — not those 
of doctruio, but those of aihuinistration. If the 
i-emoval of these could have been eSected, the 
Bohemians would have been content to accept 
Rome as a true and apostolic Cluu'ch. The 
Lutheran Refonnation, on the other hand, had a 
first and main respect to the principle of corrup- 
tion in the individual man. This awoke the 
conscience. " How shall I, a lost sinner, obfciin 
jiardon and life eternal I " This was the first 
question in the Reformation of Luther. It was 
because Rome could not lift ofi" the burden from the 
conscience, and not simply because her adminis- 
tration was tyrannical and her clergy scandalous, 
that men were constrained to abandon her. It was 
a matter of life and death %vith them. They must 
flee from a society where, if they remained, they 
saw they should perish everlastmgly. Had Huss 
and Jerome lived, the Bohemian Reformation might 
have worked itself into a deeper gi-oove ; but their 

' .Sueas Sylvius : " Nam perfidium genus illud hominum 
hoc solum boui habet, quod litteras amat." (Letter to 
Carvajal.) Kra,siiiski, Slai-onia, pp. 12-lr— 126. 

death desti-oyed this hope : there arose after them 
no one of eqiially commanding talents and piety ; 
and the Bohemian movement, instead of striking its 
roots deejjer, came more and more to the surface. 
Its success, in fact, might have been a misfortune to 
Christendom, inasmuch as by giving it a reformed 
Romanism, it would have delayed for some cen- 
turies the advent of a purer movement. 

The death of Procopius, as we have already 
mentioned, considerably altered the position of 
afiairs. With him died a large part of that energy 
aud vitality which had invariably sustained the 
Bohemians in ii eir resolute struggles with their 
military and ecclesiastical enemies ; and, this being 
so, the cause graclually jnned away. 

The Emperor Sigismiuid was now permitted to 
mount the throne of Bohemia, but not till he had 
sworn to observe the Compactata, and maintain the 
liberties of the nation (July 12th, U3G). A feeble 
guarantee ! The Bohemians could hardly expect 
that the man who had broken his pledge to Huss 
woidd fulfil his stipidations to them. " In striking 
this bargain with the heretics," says ^Eneas Syh"ius, 
'• the emperor yielded to necessity, being desii'ous at 
any price of gaining the crown, that lie might bring 
back his subjects to the true Church."" And so 
it turned out, for no sooner did the emperor feel 
himself firm in his seat than, forgetful of the 
Compactata, and his oath to observe it, he pro- 
ceeded to restore the dominancy of the Church of 
Rome in Bohemia.' This open treacheiy provoked 
a storm of indignation ; the country was on the 
brink of wai', and this calamity was averted only 
by the death of the emperor in 14-37, ^vithin little 
more than a year after bemg acknowledged as king 
by the Bohemians.'' 

Born to empire, not devoid of natural parts, and 
endowed with not a few good qualities, Sigismund 
might have lived happily and reigned gloiiously. 
But all his gifts were marred by a narrow bigotry 
which laid him at the feet of the priesthood. The 
stake of Huss cost him a twenty years' war. He 
wore out life in labours and perils ; he never knew 
repose, he never tasted victory. He attempted 
much, but succeeded in nothing. He subdued 
rebellion by subtle arts and deceitful promises; 
content to vvin a momentary advantage at the cost 
of incurring a lasting disgrace. His grandfiither, 
Henry VII., had exalted the fortunes of his house 
and the .splendour of the Empii-e by opposing the 

- ^neas Sylvius, Hist. Bohem., p. 120. 
2 Ki-asinski, Slavonia, p. 135. Bonnechose, vol. 
p. 330. 

■• Lenfantj Hist. Coar. Basle, torn, ii., p. 63. 



Papal See ; Sigismimd lowered both by becoming 
its tool. His misfortunes thickened as his years 
advanced. He escaped a tragical end by a some- 
what sudden death. No grateful nation mourned 
around his grave. 

There followed some chequered years. The first 

during the minority of King Vladislav, George 
Podiebrad, a Bohemian nobleman, and head of the 
CaUxtines, became regent of the kingdom, and by 
Ills great talents and upi-ight administration gave a 
breathing-space to his distracted nation. Ou the 
death of the young monarch, Podiebrad was elected 

rent in Bohemian unity, the result of declension 
from the first vigour of the Bohemian faith, was 
never healed. The Calixtines soon began to dis- 
cover that the Compactata was a delusion, and that 
it existed only on paper. Their monarchs refused to 
govern according to its provisions. To plead it as 
the charter of their rights was only to expose them- 
selves to contempt. The Council of Basle no doubt 
had appended its .seal to it, but the Pope refused to 
look at it, and ultimately annulled it. At length, 

lie now strove to make the Compactata a 
reality, and revive the extinct rights and bring 
back the vanished prestige of Bohemia ; but 
he found that the hour of opportunity had 
passed, and that the difficulties of the situation were 
greater than his strength could overcome. He 
fondly hoped that iEneas Sylvius, who had now 
assumed the tiara under the title of Pius II., would 
be more compliant in the matter of the Compac- 
tata than his predecessor had been. As secretary to 
the Council of Basle, ^neas Sylvius had drafted 
tlus document ; and Podiebrad believed that, as 
a matter of course, he would ratify as Pope what 
he had composed as seci'etary. lie was doomed 



to disappointment. Pius II. repudiated his own 
luiudiwoik, and launched excommunication against 
Podiebrad (1403)^ for attempting to govern on its 
])maciples. Eneas' successor in the Papal chair, 
Paul II., walked in his steps. He denounced the 
C'ompactata anew ; anathematised Podiebrad as an 

Podiebrad di-ove out the invaders, but he was 
not able to restore the internal peace of his nation. 
The monks had returned, and priestly machinatioua 
were continually fomenting pai-ty animosities. He 
reUiined possession of the throne ; but his efforts 
were crippled, his life was threatened, and his reign 

c.iccommunioited heretic, whose leign could onl\ 
be destiucti\e to mankmd, and published a ciusad" 
against him In puisinnce of the Papal bull a 
foreign ai-my entered Bohemia, and it became again 
the theatre of battles, sieges, and great bloodslied. 

' A wit of the time remarked, " Pius damnavit quod 
^noas amavit ' ' — that is, Pius damned what jEiieas loved. 
Platina, the historian of the Popes, holds up ^neas 
(Pius II.) as a memorable example of the power of the 
Papal chair to work a change for the worse on those who 
liave the fortune or the calamity to occupy it. As secre- 
tary to the Council of Basle, .SIneas stoutly maintained 
the doctrine that a General Council is above tlie Pope : 
when he came to be Pius II., he as stoutly maintained 
that the Pope is superior to a General Council. 

continued to be full of distractions till its very 
close, in 1471.^ The remaining yeare of the century 
were passed in similar troubles, and after this the 
Iiistory of Bohemia merges in the general stream of 
the Reformation. 

We turn for a few moments to the other brancli 
of the Bohemian nation, the Taborites. They 
received from Sigismund, when he ascended the 

" Ki-asinski, Slavonia, pp. 137 — 141. 



throne, that lenient treatment which a conqueror 
rarely denies to an enemy whom he despises. He 
gave them the city of Tabor,' with certain lands 
around, permitting them 1ho free exercise of theii- 
worship ^vithin their allotted territory, exacting in 
return only a small tribute. Here they practised 
the arts and displayed tlie virtues of citizens. Ex- 
changing the sword for the plough, their domain 
bloomed like a garden. The rich cidtivation that 
co^•ered their tields bore as conclusi^'e testimony to 
their skill as husbandmen, as their -\-ictories had 
done to their courage as warriors. Once, when on 
a tour through Bohemia, ^neas Sylvius came to 
their gtites ;'' and tliovigh " this rascally people" did 
not believe in transubstantiation, he preferred lodg- 
ing amongst them for the night to sleeping in the 
open fields, where, as he confesses, though the con- 
fession somewhat detracts from the merit of the 
actioM, he would have been exposed to robbers. 
They gave the future Pope a most cordial welcome, 
and treated him -with " Slavonic hospitality."' 

About the year 14.1.1, the Taborites formed them- 
.selves into a distinct Cliurch under the name of the 
" United Brethren." They looked around them : 
error covered the earth ; all societies needed to be 
purified, the Calixtines as well as the Romanists; 
" the evil was immedicable."* So they jiidged ; 
therefore they resolved to separate themselves from 
all other bodies, and build up truth anew from the 
foundations. This step exposed them to the bitter 
enmity of both Calixtines and Roman Catholics. 
They now became the object of a murderous per- 
secution, in which they suflered far more than they 
had done in common wth their countrymen in the 
Husvsite wars. Rochyzana, who till now had be- 
friended them, suffered himself to be alienated from 
and even incensed against them ; and Podiebrad, 
their king, tarnished his fame as a pati-iotic and 
upright ruler by the cruel persecution which he 
directed against them. They were dispersed in the 
woods and mountains ; they iidiabited dens and 
caves ; and in these abodes they were ever careful 
to prepare their meals by night, lest the ascending 
smoke should betray their lurking-places. Gather- 
ing round the fires which they kindled in these 
subterranean retreats in the cold of -winter, they 
read the Word of God, and united in social woi-ship. 
At times, when the snow lay deep, and it was 
necessary to go abroad for provisions, they dragged 

a branch behind them on theii' return, to obliterate 
their footstejts and make it impossible for theii' 
enemies to track them to their hiding-places.^ 

Were they alone of all the witnesses of tnith left 
on the earth, or were there others, companions with 
them in the foith and patience of the kingdom of 
Jesus Christ I They sent messengers into various 
countries of Christendom, to inquire secretly and 
bring them word again. These messengers re- 
turned to say that everywhere darkness covered 
the face of the eartji, but that nevertheless, here 
and there, they had fovmd isolated confessoi'S of the 
truth — a few in tlus city and a few in that, the 
object like themselves of pei-secution ; and that 
amid the mountains of the Alps was an ancient 
Church, resting on the foundations of Scriptiu'e, 
and pi-otesting against the idolatrous corruptions 
of Rome. This intelligence gave great joy to the 
Taborites ; they opened a correspondence with these 
confessors, and were much cheered by finding that 
this Alpine Church agreed with their own in the 
articles of its creed, the form of its ordi)iation, and 
the ceremonies of its worship. 

The question of ordination occasioned the Tabo- 
rites no little perplexity. They had left the Roman 
Church, they had no bishop in their ranks ; how- 
were they to perpetuate that succession of pastors 
which Christ had appointed in his Church ? After 
many anxious deliberations, " they quieted their 
minds," says Comenius, by the conclusion that " the 
ordination of presbyter by presbyter is legitimate."' 
They j)roceeded to act on their conclusion after a 
somewhat novel fashion. In the year l-tGZ their 
chief men, to the number of about seventy, out of 
all Bohemia and Mora^ia, met in a plain called 
Lhota, in the neighbourhood of the town of Rich- 
novia. Humbling themselves with many tears and 
pi'ayers before God, they resolved on an appeal by 
lot to the Divine oimiiscience as to who should be 
set over them as pastors. They selected by suffrage 
nine men from among themselves, from whom three 
were to be chosen to be ordained. They then put 
twelve schedules or voting papers into the hands 
of a boy who was kept ignoi'ant of the matter, and 
they ordered him to distribute these schedides 
among the lune pei'sons already selected. Of the 
twelve voting papers nine were blanks, and three 
were inscribed with the word Est — i.e.. It is the 
-svill of God. The boy distributed the schedules, 
and it was found that the three bearing the word 

1 Lenfant, Hist. Cone. Basle, torn, ii., livr. xviii., pp. 49, 50. 
- Ibid., torn, ii., livr. xxi., p. 155. 
•' Krasinski, Slavonia, p. 130. 

^ Comenius, Hist. Eceles. Bohem., p. 61 : " iromedicabile 
€sse hoc malum." 

■' Comenius, Hist. Eceles. BoTieni., pp. 63 — 68. 

•■' " An satis legitima foret ordinatio si presbyter pres- 
byterum crearet, non vero episcopus.' " (Comenius, Hist. 
EecJcs. Bohem., p. 69.) 



Est liiid been given to the tliree following persons : 
— ^Matthew Kunwaldiiis, " one of the most pious 
of men;" Thomas Przelaucius, "a very learned 
man;" and Elias Krzenovius, who wa.s "distin- 
guished for his great parts." The rite of ordination 
was afterwards administered to these three by 
Stephen, a Waldensian pastor in Vienne on the 
Rhone.'' They rejoiced in this, as a public recogni- 
tion of their oneness -svitli the Waldensian Chm-ch. 
The de;ith of Podiebrad and the accession of tlie 
Polish prince, Vladislav, ill 1471 brought them 
deliverance from persecution. The quiet they now 
enjoyed was followed by an increase in the number 
of their congregations. Their lot was cast in evU 
days, but thej^ knew that the appointed yeai-s of 
tlarkness must be fidlilled. They remembered the 

words fii-st uttered by Huss, and repeated by Jerome, 
that a century must revolve before the day should 
break. These were to the Taborites what the 
words of Joseph were to the tribes in the House 
of Bondage : "I die, and God will surely visit 
you, and bring you out." The prediction kept 
alive their hopes in the night of their persecution, 
and in the darkest hour their eyes were still turned 
towards the horizon like men who watch for tlio 
morning. Year passed after year. The end uf 
the century arrived : it found 200 churches of 
the "United Brethren" in Bohemia and Moravia.- 
So goodly was the remnant which, escaping the 
destiiictive fury of lii-e and sword, was permitted 
to see the dawning of that day which Hnss had 

33ook Jfoiirtft. 




Ancient Society Discarded— New Eaces brouglit on the Stage— Their Capacity for Progress— The Reformation not 
Possible before the Sixteenth Century— Mediievalism Eevivos— A Conflict— Odds — The Victory of the "Weak. 

We arc now arrived at the sixteenth century. 
For a thousand years the Great Ruler had been 
laying, in the midst of wars and great ethnical 
revolutions, the foundations of a new and more 
glorious edifice than any that former ages had seen. 
Ancient society was too enfeebled by slavery, and 
too corrupted by polytheism, to be able to bear the 
weight of the structure about to be erected. The 
experiment had been tried of rearing the new social 
edifice upon the old foundations, but the attempt 
had turned out a failure. By the fourth century, 
the Gospel, so warmly embraced at first by the 
Greek and Roman nations, had begun to decline — 
had, in fact, become greatly corrupted. It was 
seen that these ancient races were unable to ad- 
vance to the full manhood of Christianity and civil- 
isation. They were continually turning back to old 
models and established precedents. They lacked 

' Comeuius, Hist. EccUs. Bohem., pp. 68—71. 

the capacity of adapting themselves to new forms 
of life, and surrendering themsehes to the guidance 
of great principles. Wliat was to be done i Must 
the building which God purposed to erect be 
abandoned, because a foundation sufficiently strong 
and sound could not be found for it' Should 
Christianity remain the half-finished structure, or 
rather the defaced ruin, which the fourth and fifth 
centuries beheld it .' 

An answer was given to this question when the 
gates of the North were opened, and new and 
hardy races, issuing from the obscure regions of 
Gemiany, spread themselves over Southern and 
Western Europe. Aii imisible Power marched 
before these tribes, and placed each — the Huns, 
the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Franks, the 
Lombards — in that quarter of Clu-istendom which 
best suited the part each was destined to play in 

- Comonius, Hist. Eccles. Bolieut., p. "i. 



that grea,t drama of which the stamping out of the 
laws, tlie religion, and the government of the old 
world was the first iM3t. The same Power which 
guided their march from the remote lands of their 
birth, and chose for them their several habitations, 
continued to watch over the development of their 
manners, the formation of their language, and the 
growth of their literature and their art, of their 
laws and their government ; and thus, in the slow 
course of the cent<u-ies, were laid fiinn and broad 
the foundations of a new order of things. These 
tribes had no past to look back upon. They had 
no storied traditions and observances which they 
trembled to break through. There was no spell 
upon them like that which operated so mischiev- 
ously upon the Greek and Latin races. They were 
free to ent3r the new path. Daring, adventurous, 
and liberty-loving, we can trace their steady ad- 
vance, step by step, through the convulsions of the 
tenth century, the intellectual awakening of the 
twelfth, and the literary revival of the fifteenth, 
onward to the great spiritual movement of the 

It is at this gi-eat moral epoch that wc are now 
arrived. It will aid us if we pause in our narrative, 
and glance for a moment at the constitution of 
Europe, and note specially the spirit of its policy, 
the play of its ambitions, and the crisis to which 
matters were fast tending at the opening of the six- 
teenth century. This will enable us to undei-stand 
what we may term the timing of the Reformation. 
We have just seen that this great movement was 
not possible before the century we speak of, for till 
tlien tliere was no stable basis for it in the con- 
dition of the Teutonic nations. The rapid siu-vey 
that is to follow will show us further that this 
renewal of society could not, without the most 
disaf>t,rous consequences to the world, have been 
longer delayed. Had the advent of Protestantism 
been postponed for a century or two beyond its 
actual date, not only would all the preparations of 
the prei-ious ages have miscarried, but the world 
would have been overtaken, and society, it may be, 
dissolved a second time, by a tremendous e\-il, which 
had been grovving for some time, and had now 
come to a head. Without the Protestantism of the 
sixteenth century, not oiJy would the intellectual 
awakening of the twelfth and the literary revival 
of the fifteenth century have been in vain, but the 

mental torpor, and it may be the religion also, of 
the Turk, would at this day have been reigning 
in Europe. Christendom, at the epoch of which 
we speak, had only two things in its choice — to 
accept the Gospel, and fight its way through 
scafl'olds and stakes to the liberty which the Gospel 
brings with it, or to crouch down beneath the 
shadow of a universal Sjianish monarchy, to be 
succeeded in no long time by the yet gloomier 
night of iNIoslem despotism. 

It would recpiire more space than is hero at our 
disposal to pass in review tho several kingdoms of 
Europe, and note the transformation which all of 
them underwent as the era of Protestantism ap- 
proached. Nor is this necessaiy. The characteristic 
of the Christendom of that age lay in two things — 
first in the constitution and power of the Empire, 
and secondly in the organisation and supremacy of 
the Papacy. For cei-tain ends, and within certain 
limits, each separate State of Europe was indepen- 
dent ; it could pursue its own way, make war with 
whom it had a mind, or conclude a peace when it 
chose ; but beyond these limits each State was 
simply the member of a coiporate body, which was 
under the sway of a double directorate. Fii-st 
came the Empire, which in the days of Charlemagne, 
and again in the days of Charles V., assimied the 
presidency of well-nigh the whole of Europe. 
Above the Empire was the Papacy. Wielding a 
subtler influence and armed with liigher sanctions, 
it v/as the master of the Empire in even a greater 
degree than the Empire was the master of 

It is instructive to mark that, at the luoment 
when the Protestant principle was about to appeal-, 
Mediievalism stood up in a power and grandeiu' 
iinknowTi to it for ages. The former was at its 
weakest, the latter had attained its full strength 
when the battle between them was joined. To see 
how great the odds, what an array of foi'oe Mediie- 
\alism had at its service, and to be able to guess 
what would have been the future of Chiistendom 
and the world, had not Protestantism come at this 
crisis to withstand, nay, to vanquish the frightfxd 
combination of power that menaced the liberties of 
mankind, and to feel how marvellous in every point 
of view was the victory which, on the side of the 
weaker power, crowned this gi-eat contest, we must 
turn first to the Empire. 





Fall of Ancient Empire— Eevived by the Pope— Charlemagne— The Golden Bull— The Seven Electors— Eules and 
Forms of Election — Ceremony of Coronation — Insignia — Coronation Feast — Emperor's Power Limited — Charles V. 
— Capitulation — Spain — Becomes One Monarchy on the Approach of the Keformation— Its Power Increased by the 
Discoveries of Columbus — Brilliant Assemblage of States iinder Charles Y. — Liberty in Danger — Protestantism 
comes to Save it. 

The one great Empire of ancient Rome was, in the 
days of Valentinian (a.d. 364), divided into two, 
the Eastern and the Western. The Turk eventually 
made himself lieii- to the Eastern Empire, taking 
forcil lie possession of it by his great gi^ins, and savage 
but warlike hordes. The Western Empire has 
dragged out a shadowy existence to our own day. 
There was, it is true, a parenthesis in its life ; it 
succumbed to the Gotliic invasion, and for awhile 
i-eniained in abeyance ; but the Pope raised up the 
fallen falti'ic. The genius and martial spirit of the 
(_'a?sai-s, which had created this Empire at the first, 
the Pope could not revive, but the name and forms 
of the defunct government he could and did resusci- 
tate. He gi'ouped the kingdoms of Western Europe 
into a body or federation, and selecting one of their 
kings he set him over the confederated States, ■with 
the title of Emperor. This Empire was a fictitious 
or nominal one ; it was the image or likeness of 
the past reflecting itself on the face of modern 

The Empire dazzled the age which witnessed its 
sudden erection. The constiiictive genius and the 
mai'vellous legislative and administrative powers of 
Charlgmagne, its first head, succeeded in giving it 
a show of power ; but it was imjjossible by a mere 
fiat to plant those elements of cohesion, and those 
sentiments of homage to law and order, which alone 
could guarantee its efficiency and jiermanency. It 
supposed an advance of society, and a knowledge 
on the part of mankind of their rights and duties, 
which was far from being the fact. " The Empire 
of the Germans," says the historian MUller, " was 
constituted in a extraordinary manner ; it was 
a federal republic ; but its members were so diverse 
with regard to fonn, character, and jxiwer, that it 
was extremely difficult to introduce universal laws, 
or to unite the whole nation in measures of mutual 
interest."' '• The Gohleii null," says Villers, " that 
strange monument of the fourteenth century, fixed, 

' Miiller, Univ. Hist., vol. ii., p. 427; Lond., 1818. 

it is true, a few relations of the head with the 
members; but nothing could be more indistinct 
than the public law of all those States, independent 
though at the same time imited. . . . Had not 
the Turks, at that time the violent enemies of all 
Christendom, come during the first years of the 
reign of Frederick to plant the crescent in Europe, 
and menaced incessantly the Empire with invasion, 
it is not easy to see how the feeble tie which bound 
that body together could have remained imbroken. 
The teiTor inspired by Mahomet II. and his 
ferocious soldiers, was the first common interest 
which led the piinces of Germany to unite them- 
selves to one anothei-, and around the imperial 

The author last quoted makes mention of the 
Golden Bull. Let \is bestow a glance on this 
ancient and curioiTS document ; it will biing before 
us the image of the time. Its author was Charles 
IV., Emjjeror and King of Bohemia. Pope Gregory, 
about the year 997, it is believed, instituted seven 
electore. Of these, three were Churchmen and 
three lay princes, and one of kingly rank was 
added, to make up the mystic nimiber of seven, as 
some have thought, but more jirobably to jirevent 
equality of votes. The three Churchmen were the 
Archbishop of Treves, Chancellor for France ; the 
Archbishop of Mainz, Chancellor for Germany ; 
the Archbishop of Cologne, Chancellor for Italy. 
The four laymen were the King of Bohemia, the 
Duke of Saxony, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, 
and the Marquis of Brandenburg. 

The Archbishop of Mainz, by letters patent, was 
to fix the day of election, which was to take place 
not later than three months from the death of the 
former emperor. Should the archbishop fail to 
sunmion the electors, they were to meet notwith- 
standing within the appointed time, and elect one 
to the imperial dignity. Tlie electors were to afford 
to each other free passage and a safe-conduct 

- Villers, Essay on i/i€ Reformation, pp. 193— 195. 



tlirongh their tevritories wlien on their way to tlie 
discharge of their electoral duties. If an elector 
could not come in person he might send a deputy. 

The election was to take place in Frankfort-on-the- 
Maine. No elector was to be pei-mitted to enter 
the city attended by more than two hundred horse- 
men, whereof fifty only were to be armed. The 
citizens of Frankfort were made responsible for the 

safety of the electors, under the penalty of loss of 
goods and privileges. The morning after their 
aiTival, the electors, attired in their official habits, 

proceeded on 
from the 
council-hall to 
the cathedi-al 
(.'hurch of St. 
where mass 
was s u n g. 
r hen the 
of Mainz ad- 
ministered an 
oath at the 
altar to each 
elector, that 
he w o u 1 d, 
without bribe 
or reward, 
choose a tem- 
poral head for 
they met in 
secret con- 
clave. Their 
decision must 
be come to 
within thirty 
days, but if 
deferred be- 
y o n d t h a t 
period, they 
were to be fed 
on bread and 
water, and 
leaving the 
Lity till they had completed the election. A ma- 
loiity of ■votes constituted a valid election, and the 
decision was to be announced from a stage erected 
i'.ir the jiurpose m front of the choir of the cathedral. 
The person chosen to the imperial dignity took 
an oath to maintain the profession of the Catholic 
faith, to protect the Church in all her i-ights, to be 
obedient to the Pope, to administer justice, and to 
conserve all the cu.stoms and privileges of the 
electors and States of the Empire. The imperial 
insignia were then given him, consi.sting of a golden 
crown, a sceptre, a globe called the imperial applf>, 
the sword of Charlemagne, a copy of the Gospels said 
to ha^■e been found in his grave, and a rich mantle 



which was presented to one of the emperors by an 
Arabian prince.' 

The ceremonies enjoined by the Golden Bull to be 
observed at the coronation feast are curious ; the 
following minute and giuphic account of them is 
given by an old traveller : — " In solemn court the 

measure of twelve marks' ])ricc, deliver oats to the 
chief equen-y of the stable, and then, sticking his 
staff in the oats, shall depart, and the vice-marslial 
shall distribute the rest of the oats. The three 
archbishops shall say gi-ace at tlie emperor's table, 
and he of them who is cliancellor of the place shall 

emperor shall sit on his throne, and the Duke oi 
Saxony, laying a heap of oats as high as his horse's 
saddle before the court-gate, shall, with a silver 

1 The insignia were kept in one of the churches of 
Nuremberg; Misson, who travelled 200 years ago, 
describes them. Tlie diadem or crown of Cliarlemagne 
is of gold and weighs fourteen pounds. It is covered 
nearly all over with precious stones, and is surmounted 
by a cross. The sceptre and globe are of gold. " They 
say, " remai'ks I>Iisson, " that the sword was brought by an 

lay reverently the seals before the emperor, which 
the emperor shall restore to hira ; and the staff of 
tlie chancellor shall be worth twelve marks silver. 

angel from heaven. The robe called Dalmatick of Charle- 
magne is of a violet colour, embroidered witli pearls, and 
strewed with eagles of gold, and a great number of jewels. 
There are likewise the cope, tlie stole, the gloves, the 
breeches, the stockings, and the buskins." (Maximilian 
Misson, New Voyage to Italy, &,o., vol. i., pt. i., p. 117 ; 
Lond., 1739.) 




Tlie Marquis of Brandenburg, sitting upon his 
horse, with a silver basin of twelve marks' weight, 
and a towel, shall alight from his horse and give 
water to the emperor. The Count Palatine, sitting 
upon his horse, with four dishes of silver with meat, 
each dish worth three marks, shall alight and set 
the dishes on the table. The King of Bohemia, 
sitting upon his horse, with a silver cup worth 
twelve marks, filled with water and wine, shall 
alight and give it the emperor to dimk. The 
gentleman of Falkenstein, under-chamberlain, the 
gentleman of Nortemberg, master of the kitchen, 
and the gentleman of Limburch, \'ice-butler, or in 
theii- absence the ordinary officers of the coiu-t, shall 
have the said horses, basin, dishes, cup, staff, and 
measure, and shall after wait at the emperor's 
table. The emperor's table shall be sbc feet higher 
than any other table, where he shall sit alone, and 
the table of the empress shall be by his side three 
feet lower. The electors' tables shall be three feet 
lower than that of the empress, and all of equal 
height, and three of them shall be on the emperor's 
right hand, thi-ee on his left hand, and one before 
his face, and each shall sit alone at his table. 
"Wlien one elector has done his office he shall go 
and stand at his o^vn table, and so in order the 
rest, till all have performed their offices, and then 
all se\'en shall sit do-wn at one time. 

" The emperor shall be chosen at Frankfort, 
crowned at Augsbur'g, and shall hold his first court 
at Nuremberg, except there be some lawful impedi- 
ment. The electors are presumed to be Germans, 
and their sons at the age of seven years shall be 
taught the grammar, and the Italian and Slavonian 
tongues, so as at fourteen years of age they may be 
skilfiil therein and be worthy assessors to the 
emperor. "1 

The electors are, by birth, the privy councillore 
of the emperor ; they ought, in the phraseology 
of Charles IV., " to enlighten the Holy Empii-e, 
as seven shining lights, in the imity of the seven- 
fold spii'it ; " and, according to the same mon- 
arch, are " the most honoiu'able members of the 
imperial body."^ The rights which the emperor 
could exercise on his own authority, those he could 
exert with the consent of the electors, and those 
which belonged to him onlj^ -with the concurrence 
of all the princes and States of the Empire have 

1 An Itinerary written by Fyn'es Moryson, Gent., first in 
the Latin tongue, and tlien translated by Mm itito English; 
containing his ten yeers travell through the txvelve do^ninions 
of Germany, Bohmerland, Sweitnerland, Netherland, Den- 
mark, Poland, Italy, Turl-eij, France, England, Scotland, and 
Ireland. Fob ; Lond., 1617. Pt. iii., p. 191. 

- Miiller, vol. U., p. 4.32. 

been variously described. Generally, it may be said 
that the emperor could not enact new laws, nor 
impose taxes, nor levy bodies of men, nor m:dce 
wars, nor erect fortifications, nor form treaties of 
peace and alliances, except with the concurrent voice 
of the electors, princes, and States. He had no 
special revenue to support the imperial dignity, and 
no power to enforce the imperial commands. The 
pi-inces were careful not to make the emperor too 
powei-ful, lest he should abridge the independent 
sovereignty which each exercised within his o\\ai 
dominions, and the free cities were equally jealous 
lest the imperial power should encroach iipon their 
charters and privileges. The authority of the 
emperor was almost entirely nominal. We speak 
of the times jireceding the peace of Westphalia ; by 
that settlement the constitution of the Empire was 
more accurately defined. 

Its first days were its most vigorous. It began 
to declme when no longer upheld by the power and 
guided by the genius of Charlemagne. The once 
brilliant line of Pepin had now ceased to produce 
warrioi-s and legislators. By a sudden break-down 
it had degenerated into a race of .simpletons and 
imbeciles. By-and-by the Empii-e passed from 
the Frank kings to the Saxon monarchs. Under 
the latter it recovered a little strength ; but soon 
Gregorj- VII. came ■\\'ith his gi-and project of making 
the tiara supreme not only over all crowns, but 
above the imperial diadem itself. Gregory suc- 
ceeded in the end of the day, for the issue of the 
long and bloody war which he commenced was that 
the Empire had to bow to the mitre, and the 
emperor to take an oath of vassalage to the Pontift". 
The Emj)ire had only two elements of cohesion — 
Roman Catholicism within, and the terror of the 
Turk without. Its constituent princes were 
rivals rather than members of one confederacy. 
Animosities and dissensions were continually 
springing \ip amongst them. Tliey invaded each 
other's territories, regardless of the di.spleasure of 
the emperor. By these wars trade was impeded, 
knowledge repressed, and outrage and rapine 
flourished to a degree that tlu-eatened society itself 
with destruction. The authors of these calamities 
at last felt the necessity of de^-ising some other 
way of adjusting their quarrels than by the sword. 
The Imperial Council, the Aulic Diet, the Diet of the 
Empire, were the successive methods had recourse 
to for ob^•iating these freqxient and cruel resorts to 
force, which were giving to the provinces of the 
Empire the appearance of a devastated and unin- 
habited region. 

In A.D. 1.519, by the death of MaximUian, the 
imperial crown became vacant. Two illustrious 



and powerful princes came forward to contest the 
brilliant prize — Francis I. of France, and Charles 
of Austria, the gi-andson of Maximilian, and King 
of Spain. Henry VIII. of England, the third gx-eat 
monai-ch of the age, also entered the lists, but 
tinding at an early stage of the contest that liis 
oliance of success was small, he withdrew. Francis 
I. was a gallant prince, a chivalrous soldier, a friend 
of the new learning, and so frank and aflable in his 
manners that he won the affection of all wlio ap- 
proached him. But the Germans were averse to 
accept as the head of theii- Empire the king of a 
nation whose genius, language, and manners were 
so widely different from tlieir own. Their choice 
fell on Charles, who, though he lacked the brilliant 
personal qualities of Ids rival, drew his lineage 
from their own race, had his cradle in one of their 
own towns, Ghent, and was the heir of twenty- 
eight kingdoms. 

There was danger as well as safety in the vast 
power of the man whom the Germans liad elected 
to wear a ci-O'svn wliicli had in it so much grandeur 
and so little solid authority. The concjueror of the 
East, Selim II., was perpetually hovering upon 
their frontier. They needed a strong arm to repel 
the invader, and thought they had foiuid it in that 
of the master of so many kingdoms ; but the hand 
that shielded them from Moslem tyranny might, 
who could tell, crush their own libei-ties. It be- 
hoved tliem to take precautions against this possible 
catastrophe. They framed a Capitulation or claim 
of rights, enumerating and guaranteeing the privi- 
leges and immunities of the Germanic Body ; and 
the ambassadors of Charles signed it in the name of 
their master, and lie himself confirmed it by oath 
at his coronation. In this instruitient the jirinces 
of Germany unconsciously provided for the defence 
of higher rights than their own royalties and 
immunities. Tliey had erected an asylum to which 
Protestantism might retreat, when the day should 
come that the emperor would raise his mailed hand 
to cnish it. 

Charles V. was more powerful than any emperor 
had been for many an age preceding. To the im- 
perial dignity, a shadow in the case of many of his 
predecessoi-s, was added in his the substantial power 
of Spain. A singidar concurrence of events had 
made Sjiain a mightier kingdom by far than any 
that had existed in Europe since the days of the 
CiEsars. Of this magnificent monai-chy the whole 
resources were in the hands of the man who was at 
once the wearer of the imperial dignity and the 
enemy of the Reformation. This makes it im- 
perative that we sliould bestow a gliuice on the 
extent and greatness of the Spanish kingdom, when 

estimating the overwhelming force now arrayed 
against Protestantism. 

As the Reformation drew nigh, Spain suddenly 
changed its form, ;uid from being a congeries of 
diminutive kingdoms, it became one powerful 
empire. The various principalities, which up till 
this time dotted the surface of the Peninsula, were 
now merged into the two kingdoms of Arragon and 
Castile. There remained but one other step to 
make Spain one monarchy, and that step was 
taken in a.d. 1469, by the marriage of Ferdinand 
of Arragon and Isabella of Castile. In a few years 
thereafter these two royal personages ascended tlie 
thrones of An-.igon and Castile, and thus all the 
crowns of Spain wei-e united on their head. One 
monarch now swayed his sceptre over the Iberian 
Peninsula, from San Sebastian to the Rock of Gib- 
raltar, from the Pyrenees to the straits that wash 
the feet of the mountains of Mauritania. The whole 
resources of the country now found their way into 
one exchequer ; all its tribes were gathered roimd 
one standard ; and its whole power was wielded 
by one hand. 

Spain, already gi'eat, was about to become still 
greater. Columbus was just fitting out the little 
craft in which he was to explore the Atlantic, and 
add, by his skUl and adventiu-ous courage, to the 
crown of Spain the most brilliant appendage which 
suliject ever gave to monarch. Since the days of 
old Rome there had arisen no such stupendous 
political structure as that which was about to show 
itself to the world in the Spanish Monarchy. Spain 
itself was but a unit in the assemblage of kingdoms 
that made up this em]nre. The European 
dependencies of Spain were numerous. The fertile 
plains and vine-clad hills of Sicily and Naples 
were hers. The vast garden of Lombardy, which 
the Po waters and the Alps enclose, with its 
queenly cities, its plantations of oli\-e and mulberry, 
its corn and oil and silk, were liers. The Low 
Countries were hers, -vnth. their canals, their fertile 
meadows stocked with lierds, their cathedrals and 
museums, and their stately towns, the seats of 
learning and the hives of industry. As if Europe 
were too narrow to contain so colossal a power, 
Spain stretched her sceptre across the great western 
sea, and ample provinces in the New World called 
her mistress. Mexico and Peni were hei-s, and the 
products of their virgin soils and the wealtli of 
their golden mines were borne across the deep to 
replenish her bazaars and silver shops. It was not 
the Occident only that poured its treasures at lier 
feet ; Spain laid her hand on the Oiient, and the 
fragi-ant spices and precious gems of India minis- 
tered to her pleasure. The sun never set on the 



dominions of Spain. The numerovis countries that 
owned lier sway sent each whatever was most 
precious and most prized among its products, to 
stock iier markets and enricli her exchequer. To 
Spain flowed the gums of Arabia, the drugs of 
Mohicca, the diamonds of Borneo, the whejit of 
Lombardy, the ynne of Naples, the rich fabrics 
worked on the looms of Bruges and Ghent,' tlie 
arms and cutleiy forged in the factories and 
ivTouglit up iu the woi'kshops of Liege and 

This great erajjire was served by numerous 
armies and powerful fleets. Her soldiers, drawn 
fi'om every nation, and excellently disciplined, were 
brave, hardy, familiar N^-ith danger, and inured to 
every climate from, the tropics to the ai'ctic regions. 
They were led by commanders of consummate 
ability, and the flag under which they marched hail 
conquei'ed on a Inmdred battle-fields. When the 
master of all these provinces, ai-mies and fleets, 
added the imperial diadem, as Charles V. did, to 
all his other dignities, his glory was perfected. We 
may adapt to the Spanish ni9narch the bold image 
nnder which the prophet presented the greatness of 
the Assyrian power. " The" Spaniard "was a cedar 
in" Europe ''with fair branches, and with a shadow- 
ing shroud, and of an high stature ; and his top was 
among the thick boughs. The watei-s made him 
great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers 
running round about his plants, and sent out her 
little rivers unto all the trees of the field. There- 
fore his height was exalted above all the trees of 

the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his 
branches became long because of the multitude of 
waters, when he shot forth."' 

The monarch of Spain, though master of so much, 
was laying schemes for extending the limits of his 
already overgrowai dominions, and making himself 
absolute and univei-sal lord. Since the noon of the 
Roman power, the liberties of the world had at no 
time been in so gi-eat peril as now. The shallow of 
a universal despotism was persistently projecting 
itself farther and yet farther ujJon the kmgdoms 
and peoples of Western Europe. There was no 
prmciple known to the men of that age that seemed 
cajjable of doing battle with this colossus, and stay- 
ing its advance. This despotism, mto whose hands 
as it seemed the nations of Christendom had been 
delivered, claimed a Divine right, and, as such, was 
upheld by the spiritual forces of priestcraft, and 
the material aids of fleets and legions. Liberty 
was retreating before it. Literature and art had 
become its allies, and were weaving chains for the 
men whom they had promised to emancipate. As 
Liberty looked around, she could see no arm on 
which to lean, no champion to do battle for her. 
Unless Protestantism had arrived at that crisis, a 
universal despotism would have covei-ed Europe, 
and Liberty banished from the earth must ha^e 
returned to her native skies. " Dr. Martin Luther, 
a monk from the county of Mansfeld .... 
by his heroism alone, imparted to the half of 
Europe a new soul ; created an opposition wliich 
became the safeguard of freedom."" 



Complex Constitution of the Papacy— Temporal Sovereignty limited to Papal States— Pontifical Supremacy covers all 
Christendom— Governmental Machinery— Legale-a-latere— Interdict ^Tlie Concordat— Concordat with Austria— 
The Papacy in Piedmont— Indulgences—The Confessional— The Papacy Absolute in Temporals as In Spirituals 
— Enormous Strength. 

We now ascend to the summit of the European 
edifice as constituted at the beguming of the six- 
teenth century. There was a higher monarch in 
the world than the emperor, and a more powerful 
kinglom in Christendom than the Empire. That 
monarch was the Pope — that Empire, the Papacy. 
Any view of Christendom that fails to take 
note of the relations of the Papacy to its several 
kingdoms, overlooks the prominent characteristic 
of Europe as it existed when the great struggle for 

religion and liberty was begun. The relation of the 
Papacy to the other kingdoms of Christendom was, 

' Ezek. xx3d. 3—5. 

- Midler, Univ. Hist., vol. iii., sec. 1, p. 2 ; Lond., 1818. 
" If the tide of events had followed in the sixteenth 
century, and in those wliich succeeded, the course in 
which it had hitherto flowed, nothing could have saved 
Europe from approaching servitude, and the yoke of an 
universal monarchy." (ViUers, Essay on the Spirit and 
I-nflxience of the Reformation of Luther, sec. 4, p. 125; 
Lond., 1805.) 



in a word, that of dcminaucy. It was their chief, 
their ruler. It taught tliem to see in the Seven 
Hills, and the power seated thereon, the bond of 
their union, the fountain of their legislation, and 
the throne of their government. It thus knit all 
the kingdoms of Europe into one great confederacy 
or monarchy. They lived and breathed in the 
Papacy. Their fleets and armies, their constitutions 
and laws, existed more for it than for themselves. 
They were employed to advance the policy and x\\>- 
hold the power of the sovereigns vrho sat in the 
Papal chair. 

In the one Pontifical government there were 
rolled up in reality two governments, one with- 
in the other. The smaller of these covered the 
area of the Papal States ; wliile the larger, spurn- 
ing these narrow limits, embi-aced the whole of 
Christendom, making of its thrones and nations 
but one monarchy, one theocratic kingdom, over 
which was stretched the sceptre of an aljsolute 

In order to see how tliis came to pass, we must 
biiefly enumerate the various expedients by which 
the Papacy contrived to exercise jiu-isdiction outside 
its own special territory, and by wluch it became 
the temporal not less than the spiritual head of 
Christendom — the real ruler of the kingdoms of 
mediasval Europe. How a monarchy, professedly 
spii'itual, should exercise temporal dominion, and 
especially how it should make its temporal dominion 
co-extensive with Christendom, is not appaj-ent at 
first sight. Nevertheless, history attests the fact 
tliat it did so make it. 

One main expedient liy vrliich the Papacy 
wielded temporal power and comjiassed political 
ends in other kingdoms was the office of " legate- 
a-latere." The term signifies an ambassador from 
the Pope's side. The legate-a-latere was, in fact, 
the alter ego of the Pope, whose person he re- 
presented, and with whose power he was clothed. 
He was sent into all countries, not to mediate 
but to govern ; his functions beiiig analogous to 
those of the deputies or rulei-s which the pagan 
masters of the world were wont to send from 
Rome to govern the subject pro\-inces of the 

In the prosecution of his mission the legate-a- 
latere made it his first business in the particular 
country into which he entered to set up his court, 
and to try causes and pronounce judgment in the 
Pope's name. Neither the authority of the 
sovereign nor the law of the land was acknow- 
ledged in the court of the legate ; all causes were 
detei-mined by the canon law of Rome. A vast 
multitude of cases, and these by no means spiritual. 

did the legate contrive to bring under his juris- 
diction. He claimed to decide all questions of 
divorce. These decisions involved, of coui-se civil 
issues, such as the succession to landed estates, the 
ownership of other forms of wealth, and in some 
instances the right to the throne. All (uiestions 
touching the lands and estates of the convents 
monasteries, and abbeys were determined by the 
legate. This gave him the direct control of one- 
half the landed property of most of the kingdoms 
of Europe. He could impose taxes, and did levy a 
penny upon every house in France and England. 
He had jiower, moreover, to impose extraoi'dinary 
levies for special objects of the Church upoii both 
clergy and laitj". He made himself the arbiter of 
peace and war.' He meddled in all the affairs of 
jM-inces, conducted pei-jjetual intrigues, fomented 
endless quarrels, and sustained himself iimpire in 
all controvei-sies. If any one felt himself aggrieved 
by the judgment of the legate, he could have no 
redress from the courts of the countiy, nor even 
from the sovereign. He must go in person to 
Rome. Thus did the Pope, through his legate-a- 
latere, manage to make himself the grand justiciaiy 
of the kingdom. - 

The vast jurisdiction of the legate-a-latere was 
suppoited and enforced by the " interdict." The 
interdict was to the legate instead of an anny. 
The blow it dealt was more rapid, and the sub- 
jugation it effected on those on whom it fell was 
more complete, than any that could have been 
achieved by any niunber of armed men. When a 
monarch proved obdvirate, the legate misheathed 
this sword against him. The clei'gy throughoiit 
the length and breadth of his kingdom instantly 
desisted from the celeliration of the ordinances of 
religion. All the subjects were made jxirtners with 
the sovereign in this ghostly but dreadful infliction. 
In an asre when there was no salvation l.iut through 

' Sir James Melville informs us that the bloody war 
wliich broke out between France and Spain in the i-eign 
of Henry II. was preceded by the Papal legato absolvifig 
the King of France from all the oaths and treaties by 
which he had ratified the peace between the two kingdoms 
but a little before. "As legate," said Caraffa, "from 
God's Vicar [Paul IV.] he would give him fuU absolu- 
tion, he having power to bind and loose." (Memoirs of 
Sir James Mdvil, p. 38; Ediu., 1735.) 

- Details regarding tlie functions of the legate-a- 
latere, and the acts in which his powers were shown, 
will be found in Diipin, Bihlioth., torn, viii., p. 56; also 
tom. ix., pp. 220, 223; and torn, x., p. 126. Fleury, Eccl. 
Hist., tom. xviii., p. 225. JIaimbourg, H!st. du Pontijic. de 
S. Gregory U Grand; also in Words of Peace and Justice, 
&c., on the subject of " Diplomatic Relations witli the 
Holy See," by the Riglit Rev. Nicholas Wiseman, D.D., 
Bishop of Melipotamns, Pro. V.A.L.D. ; Loud., Chai-les 
Dolman, 1848. 


the priestliootl, and no grace but tlirougli the 
channel of the Sacraments, the terrors of Interdict 
were ii-resistible. All the signs of malediction 
every^vhere visible throughout the land on which 
this terrible chastisement had been laid, struck 
the imagination with all the greater force that 
they were viewed as the symbols of a doom which 
did not terminate on eai-th, but which extended 
into the other world. The interdict in those ages 

Another contrivance by which the Papacy, while 
it left to princes the name of king, took from them 
the actual government of their kingdoms, was the 
Concordat. These agreements or treaties between 
the Pope and the kings of Christendom varied in 
their minor details, but the leading provisions 
were alike in all of them, their key-note being 
the supremacy of Rome, and the subordination 
of the State with which that haughty power 

never failed to gain its end, for the people, punished 
for the fault, real or supposed, of their sovereign, 
broke out into murmurs, sometimes into rebellion, 
and the unhappy prince found in the long run that 
he must either face insurrection or make his peace 
with the Church. It was thus the shadow of 
power only which was left the king ; the substance 
of sovereignty filched from him was carried to 
Rome and vested in the chair of the Pope.' 

> The interdict began to be employed in the ninth 

century; the jfractice of missioning legates-a-latere dates 
from the tenth; both expedients were invented and 
brought into use a little before the breaking out of that 
great war between the Papacy and the Empire, which 
was to decide the question which was the stronger. The 

had deigned to enter into compact. The Concordat 
bound the government with which it was made to 
enact no law, profess no religion, open no school, 
and pemiit no branch of knowledge to be taught 
within its dominions, until the Pope had fii-st given 
Ills consent. Moreover, it bound it to keep open 
the gates of the realm for the admission of such 
legates, bishops, and nuncios as the Pope might be 
pleased to send thither for the purpose of adminis- 
tering his spiritual authority, and to receive such 
bulls and briefs as he might be pleased to pro- 

interdict and the legate materially contributed to the 
success which attended the Church in that conflict, and 
which made the mitre triumphant over the Empire. 


(From tlie poHrait (>y Lucas Cranach, painted in 1543.) 



mulgate, which were to have the force of law in 
the country whose rights and privileges these 
missives very possibly invaded, or altogether set 
aside. The advantages secured by the contracting 
parties on the other side were usually of the most 
meagre kind, and were i-espected only so long as it 
was not for the interests of the Church of Rome to 
^ iolate them. In short, the Concordat gave the 
Pope the fii-st place in the government of the 
kingdom, leaving to the sovereign and the Estates 
of the Realm only the second. It bound down the 
prince in vassalage, and the people in serfdom 
political and religious.' 

Another formidable instrumentality for com- 
passing the same ends was the hierarchy. The 
struggle commenced by Hildebrand, regarding in- 
vestitures, ended in givmg to the Pope the power 
of appointing bishops throughout all the Empire. 
This placed in the hands of the Pontifl" the better 
half of the secular government of its kingdoms. 
The hierarch}' formed a body powerful by their 
union, their intelligence, and the reverence which 
waited on their sacred office. Each member of that 
body had taken a feudal oath of obedience to the 
Pope.' The bishop was no mere priest, he was a 
ruler as well, being possessed of jurisdiction — that 
is, the power of law — the law he administered being 

' Let us, by way of illustration, look at the Concordat 
framed so recently as 18.55 with Southern Germany, then 
under the House of Austria. Besides the privileges 
specified above, that Concordat gave the bishops the sole 
government of the priests ; they could punish them ac- 
cording to canon law, and the priest liad no appeal from 
the penal jurisdiction of the Church. If any one dared 
to appeal to the civil tribunals, he was instantly smitten 
with excommunication. Equally in the power of the 
bishops were all schools and teachers, nor could one give 
religious instruction in even the university without the 
episcopal sanction. The bishops moreover had the in- 
dependent administration of all the lands and property 
of the Church and of the religious houses. They were 
guaranteed in free communication with Eome, in the 
independent exercise of their own discipline irrespective 
of the civil law, which amounted to tlie enforcement of 
canon law on all the subjects of the realm, in all cases in 
wliich the bishops saw fit to apply it. And they were, in 
fine, reinstated in their ancient penal jurisdiction. On 
the principle Ex nno disce omnes, we are forced to the con- 
clusion that the bondage of mediaeval Christendom was 
complete, and that that bondage was to a far greater 
degree spiritual than temporal. It had its origin in the 
Eoman Church; it was on the conscience and intellect 
that it pressed, and it gave its sanction to the temporal 
fetters in which the men of those ages were held. 

- We quote one or two of the clauses of the oath :-^" I 
will bo faithful and obedient to our lord the Pope and 
to Ms successors. ... In preserving and defending 
the Eoman Papacy and the regalia of St. Peter, I will be 
their assistant against all men. . . . Heretics, schis- 
matics, and rebels to our same lord, I will [pro posse per- 
sequar et impugrwbo'] persecute and attack to the utmost 
of my power." (Decretum Greg. IX., lib. ii., tit. 24.) 

the canon law of Rome. The " chapter" was but 
another tei'm for the court by which the bishop 
exercised that jurisdiction, and as it was a recog- 
nised doctrine that the jurisdiction of the bishop 
was temporal as well as spiritual, the hierarchy 
formed in fact a magistracy, and a magistracy 
planted in the country by a foreign power, under 
an oath of obedience to the jjower that had ap- 
pointed it — a magistracy Independent of the sove- 
i-eign, and wielding a combined temporal and 
spii'itual jurisdiction over every person in the 
realm, and governing him alike in his religious 
acts, in his jiolitical duties, and in his temporal 

Let us take the little kingdom of Sardinia as an 
illustration. On the 8th of January, 185.5, a bill 
was introduced into the Parliament of Turin for 
the suppression of convents and the more equal 
distribution of Church lands. The habitable portion 
of Sardinia is mostly comprised in the rich valley 
of the Po, and its population amounts only to 
about four and a half millions. Yet it appeared 
from the bDl that in tliis small territory there were 
seven archbishops, thirty-foi^r bishops, forty-one 
cha[)ters, with eight hundred and sixty canons 
attached to the bishoprics ; seventy-three simjile 
chapters, with four hundred and seventy canons ; 
eleven hundi-ed livings for the canons ; and lastly, 
four thousand two hundred and forty-seven parishes, 
with some thousands of paiish priests. The domains 
of the Church represented a capital of four hundred 
millions of francs, yielding a yearly revenue of 
seventeen millions and upwards. Nor was even 
this the whole of the ecclesiastical burden borne by 
the little State. To the secular clergy we have to 
add eight thousand five hundred and sixty-three 
persons who woi'e cowls and veils. These were 
distributed into six hundred and four religious 
houses, whose annual cost was two millions and a 
half of francs. 

There were thus from twelve to twenty thousand 
persons in Piedmont, all luider oath, or under vows 
equivalent to an oath, to obey only the orders that 
came from Rome. These held one-fourth of the 
lands of the kingdom ; they were exempt from the 
jurisdiction of the laws. They claimed the right 
of dictating to all the subjects of the realm how to 
act in every matter in which duty was involved — 
that is, in every matter absolutely — and they had 
the power of compelling obedience by penalties of a 
peculiarly forcible kind. It is obvious at a glance 
that the actual government of the kingdom was in 
the hands of these men — that is, of their master at 

Let us glance briefly at the other piincipalities 



of the peninsula — tlie Levitical State, as Italy was 
wont to be called. We leave ont of view the 
secular clergy ^vitl^ their gorgeous catliedrals, so 
rich in silver and gold, as well as in st;ituary and 
paintings ; nor do we include then- ample Church 
lands, and their numerous dues dr•a^vn from the 
people. We confine ourselves to the ranks of the 
cloister. In 1863 a " Project of Law " was tabled 
in the Italian Chamber of Deputies for their sup- 
pression.' From this "Pi'oject" it appeared that 
there were in Italy eighty-four orders of monks, 
distributed in two thousand three hundred and 
eighty-two religious houses. Each of these eighty- 
four orders had numerous affiliated bi-ainches ra- 
diating over the country. All held property, save 
the four Mendicant orders. The value of the con- 
ventual ])roperty was estimated at forty mUlion 
lire, and the number of pereons made a grand total 
of sixty -three thousand two hundred and thirty- 
nine. This does not include the conventual esta- 
blishments of the Papal States, nor the religious 
houses of Piedmont, which had been suppressed 
previous to 1863. If we take these into accoimt, 
we cannot estimate the monastic corps of Italy at 
less than a hundred thousand.^ 

Besides those we have enumerated there were a 
host of mstrumentalities all directed to the same 
end, the enforcement even of the government of 
Home, mainly in things temporal, in the dominions 
of other sovereigns. Cliief among these was the 
Confessional. The Confessional was called " the 
place of penitence ;" it was, in leality, a seat of 
jurisdiction. It was a tribunal — the highest of all 
tribunals, because to the Papist the tribunal of God. 
Its teiTors as far transcended those of the human 
judgment-seat, as the sword of eternal anathema 
transcends the gallows of tempoi'al governments. It 
afforded, moreover, unrivalled facilities for sowing 
sedition and organising rebellion. Here the piiest 

1 Progetto di Legge relativo alia Soppressione di Corpora- 
zione Religiose e Disposisione sulVasse Ecclesiastico — Camera 
dei Deputati, Sess. 1863, No. 159. Relazione della Com. 
missione composta dei Deputati, ^c, ml Progetto di Legge 
presentato dal Ministro di Grazia e Gi^istizia e dei Culti— 
Sess. 1863, No. 159, a. Resoconto dell Aministrazione della 
casa Ecclesiastica ; presentato doll Presidente dal Consiglio 
dei Ministn, Ministro dell Finanze— Sess. 1863, No. 215, A. 
Progetto di Legge. Soppressione delU decime Eccles. — Sess. 
1863, No. 158. 

- Progetto di Legge relativo alia Soppressione di Corpo- 
razione Religiose e Disposizione sxdV asse Ecclesiastico— 
Camera dei Deputati, Sess. 1863, No. 159. Rekizione della 
Commissione composta dei Depntoti, S(c., ml Progetto di Legge 
presentato dal Ministro di Grazia e Gixistizia e dei Cvlti— 
Sess. 1863, No. 159, a. These and the .ibovo-quoted 
documents were printed, but not published, and we owe 
tlie use of them to the politeness of Sig. Malan, formerly 
member of the Italian Parliament. 

sat unseen, digging, hour by hour and day after day, 
the mine beneath the prince he had marked out for 
ruin, while the latter ne\-er once suspected that his 
overthrow was being prepared till he was hurled 
from his seat. There Wiis, moreover, the demce 
of dispensations and indulgences. Never did mer- 
chant by the most daring venture, nor statesman 
by the most ingenious scheme of finance, succeed 
in amassing such store of wealth as Rome did 
simply by selling pardon. She sent the vendors of 
her wares into all countries, and as all felt that 
they needed forgiveness, all flocked to her market ; 
and thus, " as one gathereth eggs," to employ the 
language of the prophet, so did Rome gather the 
riches of all the earth. She took care, moreover, 
that these riches .shoidd not " take to themselves 
\\-ings and flee away." She invented mortmain. 
Not a penny of her accumulated hoards, not an 
acre of her ^\•ide domains, did her " dead hand" 
ever let go. Her property was beyond the reach 
of the law ; this crowned the evil. Tlie estates of 
the nobles could be dealt wth by the civil tri- 
bunals, if so overgrown as to be dangerous to the 
public good. But it was the fate of the ecclesi- 
astical property ever to grow — and with it, of 
coui-se, the pride and arrogancy of its owners — aan 
however noxious the uses to which it was turned, 
however much it tended to impoverish the re- 
soiu-ces of the State, and undermine the industry 
of the nation, no remedy could be applied to the 
mischief Centm-y after century the evil continued 
and waxed stronger, till at length the Reformation 
came and dissolved the spell by which Rome had 
succeeded in making her enormous possessions in- 
violable to the arm of the law ; covering them, 
as she did, with the sanctions of Heaven. 

Thus did Rome by these expedients, and others 
which it were tedious here to enumerate, extend 
her government over all the countries of Chris- 
tendom, alike in temporals as in spiiituals. " The 
Pojae's jurisdiction," said a Franciscan, " is uni- 
versal, embracing the whole world, its temporalities 
as well as its spiritualities."' Rome did not set 
up the chaii- of Peter bodily in these various coun- 
tries, nor did she transfer to them the machinery 
of the Papal government as it existed in her own 
capital. It was not in the least necessary that she 
should do so. She gained her end quite as effect- 
ually bj' legates-a-latere, by Concordats, by bishops, 
by bulls, by indulgences, and by a power that 
stood behind all the others and lent them its sanc- 

■* " Jurisdictionem habet universalem in toto mundo 
papa, nedum in spiritualibus sed temporalibus." (Al- 
varus Pelagiiis, De Planctii Eccles., lib. i., cap. 13.) 



tion and force — namely, the Infallibility — -a fiction, 
no doubt, but to the Romanist a reality — a moral 
omnipotence, which he no move dared disobey than 
he dared disobey God, for to him it was God. The 
Iirfallibility enabled the Pope to gather the whole 
Romanist community dispersed over the world into 
one ai-my, which, obedient to its leader, could be 
put in motion from its centre to its wide circum- 
ference, as if it were one man, foi-ming an array of 
political, spiritual, and material force, which had 
not its like on earth. 

Nor, when he entered the dominions of another 
sovereign, did the Pontiff put down the throne, 
and rale himself in person. Neither was this in 
the least necessary. He left the throne standing, 
together with the whole machinery of the govern- 
ment — tribi.uials, institutions, the army — all as 
aforetime, but he deprived them of all force, and 
convei'ted them into the instrumentalities and 
channels of Papal rule. They were made outlying 
portions of the Pontifical monarchy. Thus did 
Rome knit into one gi-eat federation the diverse 
nationalities and kingdoms of Western Europe. 
One and the same character — namely, the theo- 
cratic — did she communicate to all of them. She 
made all obedient to one will, and subservient 
to one gi-and scheme of policy. The ancient Rome 
had exhibited a marvellous genius for welding the 
nations into one, and teaching them obedience to 
her behests ; but her proudest triumphs in this 
field were eclipsed by the yet gi-eater success of 
Papal Rome. The latter found a more power- 
ful principle of cohesion wherewith to cement the 

nations than any known to the fonner, and she had, 
moreover, the art to imbue them with a spirit of 
profounder submission than was ever yielded to 
her pagan predecessor ; and, as a consequence, 
while the Empire of the Cfesars preserved its imity 
unbroken, and its strength unimpaired, for only a 
brief space, that of the Popes has continued to 
tiomish in power and great glory for well-nigh a 
thousand yeai-s. 

Such was the constitution of Christendom as 
fidly developed at the end of the fifteenth and 
beginning of the sixteenth century. The verdict 
of Adam Smith, pronounced on Rome, viewed as 
the head and mistress of this vast confederation, 
expresses only the sober tiTith : " The Chui'ch of 
Rome," said he, "is the most formidable combina- 
tion that ever was formed against the authority 
and security of civil government, as well as against 
the liberty, reason, and happiness of mankind." 
It is no mere scheme of ecclesiastical government 
that is before us, having for its aim only to guide 
the consciences of men in those matters that aj)- 
jjertain to God, and the salvation of then- souls. 
It is a so-called Superhuman Jurisdiction, a Divine 
Vicegerency, set up to govern men in their under- 
standings and consciences, in their goods, theii' 
liberties, and their lives. Against such a power 
mere earthly force would have naught availed. 
Reason and argument would have fought against 
it in vain. Philosophy and literature, raillery and 
scepticism, would have shot their bolts to no pur- 
pose. A Divine assailant only could overthi'ow it : 
that assailant was Protestantism. 



Luther's birth, childhood, and school-days. 

Geological Eras— Providential Eras— Preparations for a New Age— Luther's Parents— Birth of Martin— Mansfeld— 
Sent to School at Magdeburg— School Discipline — Removes to Eisnaeh— Sings for Bread — Madame Cotta— Poverty 
and Austei-ity of his Youth — Final Ends. 

Geologists tell us of the many revolutions, each earth was shrouded in thickest night and frozen 

occupying its cycle of ages, thi'ough which the with intensest cold : and there were ages more in 

globe passed before its prepai-ation for man was which a blazing sun shed his light and heat upon 

completed. There were ages during which the it. Periods passed in which the ocean slept in 


stagnant calm, and periods succeeded in wliioh 
tempest convulsed the deep and thunder shook the 
heavens ; and in the midst of the elemental war, 
the dry land, upheaved by volcanic fires, might 
ha^e been seen emerging above the ocean. But 
alike in the tempest and in the calm nature worked 
with ceaseless energy, and the world steadily ad- 
vanced toward its state of order. At last it 
reached it ; and then, beneath a tranquil sky, and 
upon an earth covered with a carpet of verdure, 
man, the tenant and sovereign of the world, 
stood up. 

So was it when the world was being prejxxred 
to become the abode of pure Churches and free 
nations. From the fall of the Western Empu-e to 
the eleventh century, there intervened a period of 
miexampled toi-jjor and darkness. The human 
mind seemed to have sunk into senility. Society 
seemed to have lost the \'ital principle of progress. 
Men looked back to foi-mer ages with a feeling of 
despair. They recalled the varied and lirilliant 
achievements of the early time, and sighed to think 
that the world's better days were past, that old 
age had come upon the race, and that the end of 
all things was at hand. Indeed a belief was 
generally entei-tained that the year One thousand 
woidd usher in the Day of Judgment. It was a 
mistake. The world's best days were yet to come, 
though these — its tiiie golden age — it could reach 
not otherwise than through terrible political and 
moral tempests. 

The hurricane of the crusades it was that first 
bi'oke the ice of the world's long \viuter. The 
frozen bands of Orion being loosed, the sweet in- 
fluences of the Pleiades began to act on society. 
Commerce and art, poetry and philosophy appeared, 
and like early flowei-s announced the coming of 
spring. That philosophy, it is true, was not of 
much intrinsic value, but, like the spoi-ts of child- 
hood which develop the limbs and strengthen the 
faculties of the future man, the speculations of the 
Middle Ages, wherewith the young mind of Europe 
exercised itself, paved the way for the achievements 
of its manliood. 

By-and-by came the printing-press, truly a 
Di^■ine gift ; tuid scarcely had the art of printing 
been perfected when Constantinople fell, the tomb 
of ancient' literature was burst open, and the 
treasures of the ancient world were scattered over 
the West. From these seeds were to spring not 
the old thoughts, but new ones of greater power 
and beauty. Next came the mariner's compass, 
and with tlie mariner's compass came a new world, 
or, what is the same thing, the discovery by man 
of ths large and goodly dimensions of the world he 

occupies. Hitherto he had been confined to a 
portion of it only; and on this little spot he had 
planted and built, he had turned its soil with 
the plough, but oftener reddened it with the sword, 
unconscious the whde that ampler and wealthier 
realms around him were lying xmpeopled and un- 
cultivated. But now magnificent continents and 
goodly islands rose out of the primeval night. It 
seemed a second Creation. On all sides the world 
was expanding around man, and this sudden re- 
velation of the vastness of that kingdom of which 
he was lord, awoke in his bosom new desires, and 
speedily dispelled those gloomy apprehensions by 
which he had begun to be oppressed. He thought 
that Time's career was finished, and that the world 
was descending into its sepulchre; to liis amaze- 
ment and joy he saw that the world's youth was 
come only now, and that man was as yet but at 
the beginning of liis destiny. He panted to enter 
on the new career opening before him. 

Compared with his condition in the eleventh 
century, when man was gi-oping in the thick night, 
and the rising breath of the crusades was just 
beginning to stir the lethargy of ages, it must have 
seemed to him as if he had already seen the full 
opening of the day. But the true light had not yet 
risen, if we except a feeble dawn, in the skies of 
England and Bohemia, where gathering clouds 
thi'eatened to extinguish it. Philosophy and poetry, 
e\-en when to these are added ancient learning and 
modern discoveries, could not make it day. If 
something better had not succeeded, the awakening 
of the sixteenth centuiy would have been but as a 
watch in the night. The world, after those merely 
terrestrial forces had spent themselves, would have 
fallen back into its tomb. It was necessary that 
God's own breath should vivify it, if it was to con- 
tinue to live. The logic of the schools, the perfume 
of letters, the galvanic forces of art could not make 
of the corpse a living man. As with man at fii-st, 
so with society, God must breathe into it in order 
that it might become a living soul. The Bible, so 
long buried, was resuscitated, was ti'anslated into 
the various tongues of Europe, and thus the breath 
of God was again moving over society. The light 
of heaven, after its long and disastrous eclipse, 
broke anew upon the worlcL 

Three great princes occupied the three leading 
thrones of Europe. To these we may add the 
potentate of the Vatican, in some points the least, 
but in others the gi-eatest of the four. The con- 
flicting interests and passions of these four men 
preserved a sort of balance, and resti-ained the 
tempests of war from ravaging Christendom. The 
long and bloody conflicts which had devastated 



Germany -were ended as the fifteenth century drew 
to its close. The sword rested meanwhile in 
Europe. As in the Roman world the wars of 
centuries were coneluded, and the doors of the 
temple of Janus were shut, when a gieat birth was 
to take place, and a new era to open, so was it 

Fust of the father. His name was John — John 
Luther. His family was an old one,' and had dwelt 
in these pai-ts a long while. The patrimonial in- 
hei'itance was gone, and without estate or title, I'ich 
only in the superior qualities of his mind, John 
Luther earned his daily bread by his daily labour. 


once again at the beginning of the sixteenth 
century. Protestantism was about to step upon 
the stage, and to proclaim the good news of the 
recovery of the long-lost Gospel ; and on all 
sides, from the Carpathians to the Atlantic, there 
was comparative quiet, that the nations might be 
able to listen to the blessed tidings. It was now 
that Luther was bom. 

There is more of dignity in honest labour than in 
titled idleness. 

This man married a daughter of one of the 
villagers of Neustadt, Margaret Lindemann by 
name. At the period of theii' marriage they lived 
near Eisnach, a romantic town at the foot of the 

1 Melancthon, Vita Mart. Luth., p. 4; VratLslaviae, 1819. 



Waixburg, wtb the glades of the Thuringiaii forest 
around it. Soon after their marriage they left 
Eisnach, and went to live at Eisleben, a town near 
by, belonging to the Counts of Mansfeld.' 

They were a worthy pair, and, though in humble 
condition, greatly respected. John Luther, the 
father of the Reformer, was a fearer of God, very 
upright in his dealings and very diligent in liis 
business. He was marked by his good sense, his 
manly bearing, and the firmness with which he 
held by his opinions. What was rare in that age, 

was a peasant by birth, as we have said, but she 
was truly pious, and piety lends a gi-ace to humble 
station which is often wanting in lofty rank. The 
fear of God gives a refinement to the sentiments, 
and a delicacy and grace to the manners, more 
fascinating by far than any conventional ease or 
ail's which a coronet can bestow. The purity of 
the soul shining through the face lends it beauty, 
even as the lamp transmits its radiance through 
the alabaster vase and enhances its symmetry. 
Margaret Lindemann was looked lip to by all her 


he was a lover of books. Books then were scarce, 
and consequently dear, and John Luther had not 
much money to spend on their purchase, nor much 
time to read those he was able to buy. Still the 
miner — for he was a miner by trade — managed to 
get a few, which he read at meal-times, or in the 
calm German evenings, after his return from his 

Margaret Lindemann, the mother of Luther, was 
a woman of superior mind and character.- She 

^ Melancthon, Vita Mart. Luth., p. 5. 


neighbours, who regarded her as a pattern to be 
followed for her good sense, her household economy, 
and her vii'tue. To this worthy couiile, both much 
given to prayer, there was bom a son, on the 10th 
of November, 1483." He was their first-born, and 
as the 10th of November is St. Maitin's Eve, they 
called their son Martin. Thus was usliered into 
the world the future Reformer. 

When a prince is born, bells are rung, cannons 
are discharged, and a nation's congi-atulations are 

^ Mclanctlion, Vita Mart. Luth., p. 5. Seckendorf, 
Ihid. Hist. Lutheran., lib. i., sec. 7, p. 17; Ijipda), 1694. 



carried to the foot of the throne. What rejoicings 
and siilendours around the cradle where lies the 
heii- of some gi'eat empire ! When God sends his 
heroes into tlie world there are no such ceremonies. 
They step quietly ujjon the stage where they are 
to act their great pai'ts. Like that kingdom of 
which they are the heralds and champions, their 
coming is not with observation. Let us visit the 
cottage of John Luther, of Eisleben, on the even- 
ing of Novemlier 10th, 1483 ; there slumbers the 
miller's first-born. The miner and his wife are 
pi'oud of their babe, no doubt ; but the child is just 
like other German childi-en ; there is no indication 
about it of the wondrous future that awaits the 
chUd that has come into existence in this lowly 
household. When he grows up he will toil doubt- 
less ^vith liis father as a miner. Had the Pope 
(Sextus V. was then reigning) looked in upon the 
child, and marked how lowly was the cot in which 
he lay, and how entirely absent were all signs of 
worldly power and wealth, he would have asked 
with disdain, " Can any harm to the Popedom come 
of tliis child ] Can any danger to the chair of 
Peter, that seat more august than the throne of 
kings, lurk in this poor dwelling?" Or if the 
emperor had chanced to j)ass that way, and had 
learned that there was born a son to John Luther, 
tlic miner, " Wejl, what of that?" he would have 
asked ; " there is one child more in Germany, that 
is all. Ho may one day be a soldier in my 
ranks, who knows, and help to fight my battles." 
How gi-eatly woidd these potentates, looking only 
at things seen, and beUevmg only in material 
forces, have miscalculated ! The miner's child was 
to become mightier than Pope, mightier than 
emperor. One Luther was stronger than all the 
cardinals of Rome, than all the legions of the 
Empire. His voice was to shake the Popedom, and 
his strong hands were to pull down its pillars that 
a new edifice might be erected in its room. Again 
it might be said, as at the birth of a yet greater 
Child, " He hath scattered the proud in the imagi- 
nation of their hearts. He hath put down the 
mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low 

When Martin was six months old his parents re- 
moved to Mansfeld. At that time the portion of 
this world's goods which his father possessed was 
small indeed ; but the mines of Mansfeld were lucra- 
tive, John Luther was industrious, and by-and-by 
his business began to thrive, and his table was better 
spread. He was now the o-vvner of two furnaces ; 
he became in time a member of the Town Council,' 

' Molanctlioii, Vita Mart. Lidli., p. 5. 

and was able to gratify his taste" for knowledge 
by entertaining at times the more learned among 
the clergy of his neighboiu'hood, and the conver- 
sation that passed had doubtless its influence upon 
the mind of a boy of so quick jsarts as the young 

The child grew, and might now be seen plajong 
with the other chUdren of Mansfeld on the banks 
of the Wipper. His hojoie was happier than it 
had been, his health was good, his sjjirits buoyant, 
and his clear joyous voice rung out above those of 
his playmates. But there was a cross in his lot 
even then. It was a stern age. Jolm Luther, 
with all his excellence, was a somewhat austere 
man. As a father he was a strict disciplinarian ; 
no fault of the son went \mpunished, and not tin- 
frequently was the chastisement in excess of the 
fault. This severity was not ■wise. A nature less 
elastic than Luther's would have sunk under it 
into suUenness, or it may be hardened into wicked- 
ness. But what the father on earth did for his 
own pleasure, or from a mistaken sense of duty, 
the Father in heaven oveiTuled for the lasting 
good of the future Reformer. It is good for a man 
to bear the yoke in his j'outh, for it is in youth, 
sometimes even in cliildhood, that the great turn- 
ing-points of life occur. Luther's nature was one 
of strong impulses ; these forces were all needed in 
his future work ; but, had they not been disci- 
plined and brought \mder control, they might have 
made him rash, impetuous, and headlong ; there- 
fore he was betimes taught to submit to the curb. 
His nature, moreover, rich in the finest sensi- 
bilities, might, but for tliis discipline, have become 
self-indulgent. Turning away from the harder 
tasks of life, Luther might have laid himself out 
only to enjoy the good within his reach, had not the 
hardshijjs and severities of his youth attemjsered 
liis character, and imported into it that element of 
hardness wliich was necessary for the greater trials 
before him. 

Besides the examples of piety which he daily 
beheld, Luther i-eceived a little rudimental in- 
struction under the domestic roof. But by-and-by 
he was sent to school at Mansfeld. He was yet 
a " little one," to use Melancthon's phrase ; so 
young, indeed, that his father sometimes carried 
him to school on his shoulders.' The thought that 
his son would one day be a scholar, cheered John 
Luther in his labours ; and the hope was strength- 
ened by the strong memory, the sound understand- 
ing, and the power of application which the young 
Luther already displayed. 

= Melanctlion, Vita Mart. Luth., p. 6. 



At the age of fourteen yeare (1497) Martm was 
sent to the Franciscan school at Magdeburg.' At 
school the hardships and privations amid which his 
childhood had been passed not only attended huu 
but increased. His master often flogged hini ; for 
it was a maxim of those days that notliing could 
be learned without a free use of the rod ; and wo 
can imagine that tlie buoyant or boisterous nature 
of the boy often led liim into transgressions of the 
rales of school etiiiuette. He mentions having one 
day been flogged fifteen times. What added to his 
hardships was the custom then universal in the 
German towns, and continued till a recent date, if 
even now wholly abandoned, of the scholars beg- 
ging their bread, in addition to the task of conning 
their lessons. They went, in small companies, 
singing from door to door, and receiving whatever 
alms the good burghere were jjleased to give them. 
At times it would happen that they received more 
blows, or at least more rebufi's, than alms. 

The instruction was gratis, but the young scholar 
had not bread to eat, and though the means of his 
father were am}jler than before, all were needed for 
the support of his family, now numerous ; and after 
a year Luther was withdrawn from Magdebm-g and 
sent to a school in Eisnach, where having relatives, 
he would have less difficulty, it was thouglit, in 
supporting himself These hopes were not realised, 
because perhaps his relations were poor. The 
yoimg scholar had still to earn his meals by singing 
in the streets. One day Luther was perambulating 
Eisnach, stopping before its likeliest dwellings, and 
striding with a brief hymn to woo the inmates to 
kindness. He was sore pressed with hunger, but 
no door opened, and no hand was extended to him. 
He was greatly downcast ; he stood musing \vithin 
himself what should become of him. Alas ! he 
could not endure these hardships much longer ; he 
must abandon his studies ; he must return home, 
and work with his father in the mines. It was at 
that moment that Providence opened for him a 

As he stood absorbed in these melancholy 
thoughts, a door near him was opened, and a voice 
bade him come in. He turned to see who it was 
that spoke to him. It was Ursula, the wife of 
Conrad Cotta, a man of consideration among the 
burghers of Eisnach.^ Ursula Cotta had marked 
the young scholar before. He was accustomed to 
sing in the church choir on Sundays. She had 
been struck witli the sweetness of his voice. She 

' Melancthon, Vita Mart. Luth.,-p. 6. 
- Seckendorf, Hist. Lutheran., lib. i., sec. 8, p. 20; 
Lipsiffi, 1C94. 

had heard the words with which he had been 
driven away from other doors. Taking pity, she 
took him in, and made him sit down at her board • 
and not only did she appease his hunger for the 
time, but her husband, won by the open face and 
sweet disposition of the boy, made him come and 
live with them. 

Luther had now a home ; he could eat without 
begging or smging for liis bread. He had found a 
father and mother in this worthy pair. His heart 
opened ; his yoiuig genius grew livelier and lovelier 
every day. Penury, like the chill of winter, had 
threatened to blight his powers in the bud ; but 
this kindness, like the sun, with genial warmth, 
awakened them into new vigour. He gave himself 
to study with fresh ardour; tasks diflicult before 
became easy now. If his voice was less frequently 
heard in the streets, it cheered the dwelling of his 
adopted 'parents. Madame Cotta was fond of 
music, and in what way could the young scholar 
so well repay her kindness as by cultivating his 
talent for singing, and exercising it for the delight 
of tlus " good Shunammite V Luther passed, after 
this, nearly two years at Eisnach, equally happy at 
school in the study of Latin, rhetoric, and verse- 
making, and at home where his hours of leisure 
were filled iip v/ith song, in which he not mifi-e- 
quently accompanied himself on the lute. He 
never, all his after-life, forgot either Eisnach or 
the good Madame Cotta. He was accustomed to 
speak of the former as "his own beautiful town," 
and with reference to the latter he would say, 
" There is notliing kinder than a good woman's 
heart." The incident helped also to strengthen his 
trust in God. When greater perils threatened ia 
his futui-e career, when man stood aloof, and he 
could descry no deliverance near, he remembered 
his agony in the streets of Eisnach, and how visibly 
God had come to his help. 

We cannot but mark the wisdom of God in the 
training of the future Reformer. By nature he was 
loving and trustful, with a heart ever yearning for 
human sympathy, and a mind ever planning largely 
for the happiness of othera. But this was not 
enough. These qualities must be attempered by 
others, which should enable him to confront oppo- 
sition, endure reproach, despise ease, and brave peril. 
The first without the last would have issued in mere 
benevolent scheinings, and Luther would have died 
sighing over the stupidity or malignity of those who 
had thwarted his jjhilanthropic projects. He would 
have abandoned his plans on the first appearance of 
opposition, and said, " Well, if the world won't be 
refonned, I shall let it alone." Luther, on the other 
hand, reckoned on meeting this ojipositiou ; he was 



trained to enchire and bear -witli it, and in liis early 
life we see tlie hardening and the expanding process 
going on by turns. And so is it with all whom 
God selects for rendering great services to the 
Church or to the world. He sends them to a hard 
school, and he keeps them in it till their education 
is complete. Let us mark the eagle and the bird 
of song, how dissimilar then- rearuig. The one 
is to spend its life in the groves, flitting from bough 
to bough, and enlivening the woods with its melody. 
Look what a warm nest it lies in ; the tliick 
branches cover it, and its dam sits brooding over 
it. How differently is the eaglet niu'sed ! On 
yonder ledge, amid the naked crags, open to the 

lashing rain, and the pelting hail, and the stormy 
gust, are spread on the bare rock a few twigs. 
These are the of that bii'd which is to spend 
its after-life in soaring among the clouds, battling 
^vdth the ^vinds, and gazing upon the sun. 

Luther was to spend his life in conflict with 
emperors and Popes, and the powers of temporal 
and spiritual despotism; thei'efore liis cradle was 
placed in a miner's cot, and his childhood and youth 
were passed amid hardship and peril. It was thus 
he came to know that man lives not to enjoy, 
but to achieve ; and that to achieve anything gi-eat, 
he must sacrifice self, turn away from man, and 
lean only on God. 



Erfort— City and University— Studies— Aquinas, &c.— Cicero and Virgil— A Bible— Bachelor of Ai-ts— Doctor of 
Philosopliy— Illness— Conscience awakens— Visits liis Parents— Thimderstorm— His Vow— FareTrell Supper to 
Ms Friends — Enters a Monastery. 

In 1501 Luther entered the University of Erfurt. 
He had now attained the age of eighteen years.^ 
Tliis seat of learning had been founded about a 
centiu'y before ; it owed its rise to the patronage 
of the princely houses of Brunswick and Saxony, 
and it had already become one of the more famous 
schools of Central Eurojje. Erfurt is an ancient 
town. Journeying from Eisuach eastward, along 
the Thuringian plain, it makes an imposing show 
as its steeples, cathedral towers, and' ramparts rise 
before the eye of the traveller. Thii-stmg for 
knowledge, the young scholar came hither to diink 
his fill. His father wished him to study law, not 
doubting that with his great talents he would 
speedily achieve eminence, and fill some post of 
emolument and dignity in the civic administration 
of his coimtry. In this hope Jolm. Liither toiled 
harder than ever, that he might support his son 
more liberally than heretofore. 

At Erfurt new studies engaged the attention of 
Luther. The scholastic philosophy was still in 
great repute. Aristotle, and the humbler but still 
mighty names of Aquinas, Duns, Occam, and others, 
were the great sovereigns of the schools.- So had 

1 Melancthon, VHa 3Iart. Luih., p. 7; Vratislavioe, 1819. 

' Hid., p. 11, 

the verdict of the ages jDronounced, although tlie 
time was now near when that verdict wo\ild be i-e- 
versed, and the darkness of obli^don would quench 
those lights placed, as was supposed, eternally in 
the firmament for the guidance of mankind. 

The young man threw liimself with avitUty upon 
this branch of study. It was an attemj^t to gather 
gi'apes of thorns and figs of thistles ; yet Luther 
profited by the effort, for the Aristotelian philosophy 
had some redeeming virtues. It was radically 
hostile to the true method of acquiring knowledge, 
afterwards laid open by Bacon; yet it tried the 
strength of the faculties, and the discipline to 
which it siibjected them was beneficial in propor-, 
tion as it was stringent. Not only did it minister 
to the ripening of the logical understanding, it 
gave an agility of mind, a keenness of discrimina- 
tion, a dialectic skill, and a nicety of fence which 
were of the greatest value in the discussion of 
subtle questions. In these studies Luther forged 
the weapon which he was to wield with such terrible 
effect in the combats of his after-life. . 

Two years of his university course were now 
run. From the thorny yet profitable paths of the 
scholastics, he would turn aside at times to regale 
himself in the greene]- and richer fields opened to 
him in the orations of Cicero and the lays of Vii'gil. 



\Vliat he most studied to master was not the vrords 
b\it the thinking of the ancients ; it was theii- 
wisdom wliich he -ndshed to gamer iip.' His pro- 
gi'ess was great ; he became ^^«r excellence the scholia- 
of Erfurt;^ 

It was now that an event occurred that changed 
the whole future life of the yoimg stu.dent. Fond 
of books, like his father, he went day by day to the 
library of the university and spent some hours amid 
its treasiu-es. He was now twenty years of age, and 
he revelled in the riches around him. One day, as 
he took down the books from then* shelves, and 
opened them one after another, he came to a volume 
milike all the othei-s. Taking it from its place, he 
opened it, and to his surprise fomid that it was a 
Bible — the Varlgate, or Latin translation of the 
Holy Scriptures, by Jerome.* 

The Bible he had never seen till now. His joy 
was great. There are certain portions which the 
Church pi-escribes to be read in public on Sundays 
and saints' days, and Luther imagined that these 
were the whole Bible. His surprise was great 
when, on opening the volume, he found in it 
whole books and epistles of which he had never 
before heard. He began to read with the feel- 
ings of one to whom the heavens have been 
opened. The part of the book which he read was 
the story of Samuel, dedicated to the Lord from 
his childhood by Ms mother, growing up in the 
Temple, and becoming the witness of the wicked- 
ness of Eli's sons, the priests of the Lord, who 
made the people to transgress, and to abhor the 
offering of the Lord. In all this Luther could 
fancy that he saw no very indistinct image of his 
o'WTi times. 

Day after day Luther returned to the library, 
took down the old book, devoured some Gospel of 
the New or story of the Old Testament, rejoicing 
as one that finds great store of spoil, gazing iipon 
its page as Columbus may be supposed to have 
gazed on the plains and mountains of the New 
World, when the mists of ocean opened and un- 
veiled it to him. Meanwhile, a change was jDassing 
upon Luther by the reading of that book. Other 
books had developed and streng-thened his faculties, 
this book was awakening new powers within hun. 
The old Luther was passmg awaj^, another Luther 
was coming in his place. From that moment began 
those struggles in his soul which were destined 

never to cease tUl they issued not merely in a new 
man, but a new age — a new Europe. Gut of the 
Bible at Oxford came the first dawn of the Eefor- 
mation : out of this old Bible at Erfurt came its 
second morning. 

It was the year 1503. Luther now took liis 
fii-st academic degree. But Ms Bachelorship in Arts 
had nearly cost him his life. So close had been his 
application to study that he was seized with a 
dangerous illness, and for some time lay at the 
point of death. Among others who came to see 
him was an old piriest, who seems to have had a^ 
presentiment of Luthei-'s future distinction. "My 
bachelor," said he, " take heart, you shall not die 
of this sickness ; God ■wdll make you one who 
will comfort many others ; on those whom he loves 
he lajrs the holy cross, and they who bear it 
patiently learn wisdom." Luther heard, in the 
words of the aged priest, God calling him back 
from the grave. He recovered, as had been fore- 
told, and from that hour he carried within him an 
impression that for some special purpose had his 
life been pi-olouged.* 

After an interval of two years he became Master 
of Arts or Doctor of Philosophy. The laiu-eation 
of the fii-st scholar at Erfurt University, then the 
most renowned in Germany, was no unimportant 
event, and it was celebrated by a torch-light pro- 
cession. Luther saw that he already held no mean 
place in the pubUc estimation, and might aspire to 
the highest honours of the State. As the readiest 
road to these, he devoted himself, in conformity 
with his father's wishes, to the bar, and began to 
give public lectures on the physics and ethics of 
Aristotle." The old book seems in danger of being 
forgotten, and the Reformer of Christendom of 
bemg lost in the vv'ealthy lawyer or the leai'ned 

But God visited and tried him. Two incidents 
that now befell Iiim brought back those feelings 
and convictions of sin which were beginning to be 
effaced amid the excitements of his laureation and 
the fascinations of Ai-istotle. Again he stood as it 
were on the brink of the eternal world. One 
morning he was told that his friend Alexius had 
been overtaken by a sudden and violent death." 
The intelligence stunned Luther. His companion 
had fallen as it were by his side. Conscience, 
first quickened by the old Bible, again awoke. 

I Melancthon, Vita Mart. LutJi., p. 7. 

- "His genius,'' says Melancthon, "became the ad- 
miration of the whole college" (toti Acatlemias Liitheri 
ingenium admir.itio esset). — Vita Mart. Lvih., p. 7. 

^ D'Aubigne, Hist. Reform., vol. i., p. 156 ; Edin., ISiO. 

■1 D'Aubigne, Hist. Reform., vol. i., pp. 157, 153. 

5 Melancthon, Vita Mart. Luth., p. 8. 

'' Some say Alexins was killed by lightning, others that 
he fell in a duel. 3Ielancthon says " he knows not how 
Luther'sfriendeame by his death." {VitaMart.Luth.,y.9.) 



Soon after this, he paid a visit to his parents at 
Mansfelcl. He was returning to Erfurt, and was 
now near the city gate, when suddenly black clouds 
gathered overhead, and it began to thunder and 
ligliten in an awful manner. A bolt fell at his 
feet. Some accounts say that he was thrown down. 
The Great Judge, he thought, liad descended in this 
cloud, and he lay momentarily expecting death. 

The vow must be fulfilled. To sei-ve God was to 
wear a monk's hood — so did the age underetaud it, 
and so too did Luther. To one so fitted to enjoy 
the delights of friendship, so able to win the 
honours of life — nay, with these honours all but 
already grasped — a terrible wrench it must be to 
tear himself from the world and enter a monastery 
^a li\'ing grave. But his vow was irrevocable. 

In his terror he vowed that should God spare him 
he would devote his life to His service. Tlie light- 
nings ceased, the thunders rolled past, and Luther, 
rising from the gi'ound and pursuing his journey 
with solemn steps, soon entered the gates of 

1 Melanothon, Vita Mart. Jjutli., p. 9, foot-note. 

The greater the sacrifice, the more the merit. He 
must pacify his conscience ; and as yet he knew 
not of the more excellent way. 

Once more he will see his friends, and then 

He prepares a frugal supper ; he calls together his 
acquaintances ; he regales them with music ; he 
converses with apparent gaiety. And now the 
feast is at an end, and the party has broken up. 
Luther walks straight to the Augustinian Convent, 
on the 17th vi August, 1505. He knocks at the 
gate ; the door is opened, and he enters. 

To Luther, groaning under sin, and seeking de- 
liverance by the works of the law, that monastery — 
so quiet, so holy, so near to heaven, as he thought 
— seemed a very Paradise. Soon as he had crossed 
its threshold the world would be shut out; sin, too, 
would be shut out; and that sore trouble of soul 




-wliich lie was enduring ■would be at an end. At 
this closed door the " Avenger " would be stayed. 
So thought Luther as he crossed its threshold. 

There is a city of refuge to which the sinner may 
flee when death and hell are on his track, but it is 
not that into which Liither had now entered. 



Astoniskment of his Townsmen— Anger of his Father— Luther's Hopes— Drudgery of the Convent— Begs by Day- 
Studies by Night— Eeads Augustine — Stvulies the Bible— His Agony of Soul— Needfiil Lessons. 

When his friends and townsmen learned on the 
morrow that Luther had taken the cowl, they were 
striick with stupefaction. That one with such an 
affluence of aU the finer intellectual and social 
qualities, and to whom liis townsmen had already 
assigned the highest post that genius can fill, 
should become a monk, seemed a national loss. 
His friends, and many members of the imiversity, 
assembled at the gates of the monastery, and waited 
there two whole days, in the hope of seeing Luther, 
and persuading him to retrace the foolish step 
which a fit of ca^jrice or a moment's enthusiasm 
had led liim to take. The gate remained closed ; 
Luther came not forth, though the wimes and 
entreaties of his friends were not uirknown to him. 
What to him were all the rewards of genius, 
all the high posts which the world could ofier? 
The one thing with him was how he might save 
his soul. Till a month had elapsed Luther saw 
no one. 

When the tidings i-eached Mansfeld, the sur- 
prise, disappoLutment, and rage of Luther's father 
wei-e gi-eat. He had toiled night and day to be 
able to educate his son ; he had seen him win one 
academical honour after another ; already in imagi- 
nation he saw him discharging the highest duties 
and wearing the highest dignities of the State. In 
a moment all these hopes had been swept away ; 
all had ended in a monk's hood and cowl. John 
Luther declared that xiotliing of his should his son 
ever inherit, and according to some accounts he set 
out to Erfui't, and obtaining an interview with his 
son at the convent gate, asked him sharply, " How 
can a son do right in disobeying the counsel of his 
parents ? " 

On an aftei'-occasion, when telling his father of 
the impression made upon his mind by the thunder- 
storm, and that it was as if a voice from heaven 
had called hiin to be a monk, " Take care," was 

John Luther's reply, " lest you have been imposed 
upon by an illusion of the devil. "^ 

On entering the convent Luther changed his 
name to Augustine. But in the convent life ho 
did not find that rest and peace to enjoy which 
he had fled thither. He was still seeking life, 
not from Christ, but from monastic holiness, and 
had he found rest in the convent he would have 
missed the eternal rest. It was not long till he 
was made to feel that he had carried his great 
burden with him into the monastery, that the ap- 
prehensions of wrath ^which haunted him in the 
world had followed him hither ; that, in fact, the 
convent bare had shut him in with them ; for here 
his conscience began to thunder more loudly than 
ever, and his inward torments gi-ew every day more 
insupportable. Whither shall Luther now flee ? He 
knows no holier place on earth than the cell, and 
if not here, where shall he find a shadow from this 
gi-eat heat, a rock of shelter from this terrible blast I 
God was prepaiing him for being the Reformer of 
Chiistendom, and the first lesson it was needful to 
teach him was what a heavy burden is unpardoned 
guilt, and what a teri'ible tormentor is an awakened 
conscience, and how impossible it is to iind relief 
from these by works of self-righteousness. From 
tins same bm'den Luther was to be the instru- 
ment of delivering Chiistendom, and he himself, 
first of aU, must be made to feel how a'n^'ul is its 

But let us see what sort of life it is that Luther 
leads in the monastery of the Augustmes : a very 
different life indeed from that which he had led m 
the miiversity ! 

The monks, ignorant, lazy, and fond only of good 
cheer, were incaj^able of appreciating the character 
or sjrmpathising with the tastes of their new 

' Seckendorf, Hist. Lv.tlieran., p. 19 ; Lipsise, 1694. 



brother. That one of the most distinguished 
doctors of the university should enroll himself in 
their fraternity was indeed an honour ; but did not 
his fame throw themselves into the shade 1 Besides, 
what good woidd his studies do their monastery 1 
They would replenish neither its wine-cellar nor its 
larder. His brethren found a spiteful pleasure in 
putting upon him the meanest offices of the esta- 
blishment. Luther unrepiningly complied. The 
brilliant scholar of the university had to perform 
the duties of porter, " to open and shut the gates, 
to ^vind up the clock, to sweep the church, and to 
clean oiit the cells."' Nor was that the worst; 
when these tasks were finished, instead of being 
permitted to retire to his studies, "Come, come!" 
would the monks say, " sacciim per nackum — get 
ready your wallet : away through the town, and 
get us something to eat." The book had to be 
thrown aside for the bag. " It is not by studying," 
would the friars say, " but by begging bread, corn, 
eggs, fish, meat and money, that a monk renders 
himself useful to the cloister." Luther could not 
but feel the harshness and humiliation of this : the 
pain must have been exquisite in jn-oportion as his 
intellect was cultivated, and his tastes refined. 
But having become a monk, he resolved to go 
through with it, for how otherwise could he acquire 
the humility and sanctity he had assumed the 
habit to learn, and by which he was to earn peace 
now, and life hereafter? No, he must not draw 
back, or shii-k either the labour or the shame of 
holy monkliood. Accordingly, traversing the streets, 
wallet on back — the same through which he had 
strode so often as an honoiired doctor — or knocking 
at the door of some former acquaintance or friend, 
and begging an ahns, might now be seen the monk 

In this kind of drudgery was the day passed. 
At night, when the other monks were drowned in 
sleep, or in the good things which brother Martin 
had assisted in begging for them, and when he too, 
worn out with his many tasks, ought to have laid 
himself down to rest, instead of seeking his couch 
ho trimmed his lamp, and opening the patristic and 
scholastic di-\dnes, he continued reading them till 
far into the night. St. Augustine was his especial 
favourite. In the writings of the Bishop of Hippo 
there is more of God's free grace, in contrast with 
the deep coriiiption of man, to himself inciu-able, 
than in any other of the Fathers ; and Luther was 
lieg-inning to feel that the doctrines of Augustine 
had their echo in his own experience. Among the 

' Adam, Vita Lnth., p. 103. Seckendorf, nisi. Lutheran., 
p. 21. D'Anbigne, Hist. Reform., vol. i., p. 165. 

scholastic theologians, Gerson and Occam, whom we 
have already mentioned as opponents of the Pope's 
temporal power, were the wi'iters to whom .he most 
frequently turned.^ 

But though he set great store on Augustine, there 
was another book which he prized yet more. This 
was God's own Word, a copy of which he lighted 
on in the monastery. Oh ! how welcome to Luther, 
in this dry and parched land, this well of water, 
whereat he that drinketh, as said the great Teacher, 
"shall never thirst." This Bible he could not take 
with him to his cell and there i-ead and study it, 
for it was chained in the chapel of the convent ; but 
he could and did go to it, and sometimes he spent 
whole days in meditation upon a single verse or 
word. It was now that he betook him to the study 
of the original tongues, that bemg able to read the 
Scriptures in the languages m which they were 
at first written, he might see deeper into their 
meaning. Eeuchlin's Hebrew Lexicon had recentlj- 
appeared, and with tliis and other helps he made 
rapid progress in the knowledge of the Hebrew and 
Greek.' In the ardour of this pursuit he woiild 
forget for weeks together to repeat the daily prayers. 
His conscience would smite him for transgressing 
the rules of his order, and he would neither eat nor 
sleep till the omitted sei-vices had been performed, 
and all arrears discharged. It once happened that 
for seven weeks he scarcely closed his eyes.* 

The communicative and jovial student was now 
changed into the taciturn solitary. The person as 
well as the manners of Luther had undergone a 
transformation. What with the drudgery of the 
day, the studies of the mght, the meagre meals he 
allowed himself — " a little bread and a small 
herring were often his only food"^ — the fasts and 
macerations he practised, he was more like a corpse 
than a living man. The fire within was still con- 
suming him. He fell sometimes on the floor of his 
cell in sheer weakness. " One morning, the door 
of his cell not being opened as usual, the brethren 
became alarmed. They knocked : there was no 
reply. The door was burst in, and poor Era Martin 
was found stretched on the ground in a state of 
ecstacy, scarcely breathing, well-nigh dead. A 
monk took his flute, and gently playing upon it 
one of the airs that Luther loved, brought him 
gradually back to himself."" The likelihood at that 

2 Melancthon, VUa Mari. Imth., p. 11. 

3 Seckendorf, Hist. Lutheran., p. 19. 

■i D'Aubigne, Hist. Reform., vol. 1., p. 168. Melanothou, 
Vita Mart. Luth., p. 8. Seckendorf, Hist. Lutheran., p. 21. 

5 "Eiiguo pane et halece contentum esse." (Melanc- 
thon, Vita Mart. Lnth., p. 8.) 

<^ Seckendorf, Hist. Lntheron., p. 21. 



momant was that instead of living to do battle 
with the Pope, and pull down the pillars of his 
kingdom, a quiet gi-ave, somewhere in the precincts 
of the monastery, would ere long be the only 
memorial remaining to testify that such a one as 
Martin Luther had ever existed. 

It was indeed a bitter cup that Luther was now 
drinking, but it could by no means pass from him. 
He must drink yet deeper, he must drain it to 
its dregs. Those works which he did in such 
bondage of spirit were the price with which he 
thought to buy pardon. The poor monk came 
again and again with this goodly sum to the door 
of heaven, only to find it closed. Was it not 
enough ? " I shall make it more," thought Luther. 
He goes back, resumes his sweat of soul, and in a 
little returns with a richer price in his hand. He 
is again rejected. Alas, the poor monk ! What 
shall he do ? He can think but of longer fasts, of 
severer penances, of more numerous prayers. He 
returns a third time. Surely he will now be ad- 
mitted ? Alas, no ! the sum is j'et too small ; the 
door is still shut ; justice demands a still larger 
price. He retiu-ns again and again, and always 
with a bigger sum in his hand ; but the door is not 
opened. God is teaching him that heaven is not 
to be bought by any sum, however great : that 
etei-nal life is the free gift of God. " I was indeed 
a pious monk," ^vrote he to Duke George of Saxony, 
at a future period of his life, " and followed the 
rules of my order more strictly than I can express. 
If ever monk could obtain heaven by his monkish 
works, I should certainly have been entitled to it. 
Of this all the friars who have known me can 
testify. If I had continued much longer I should 
have carried my mortifications even to death, by 
means of my watehings, pra.yers, readings, and otlier 

But the hour was not yet come when Luther 
was to enjoy peace. Christ and the redemption 
He had WTOught were not yet revealed to him, 
and till these had been made known Luther was 
to find no I'est. His anguish continued, nay, in- 
creased, and his aspect was now enough to have 
moved to pity his bitterest enemy. Like a shadow 
he glided from cell to cell of his monastery ; his 
eyes sunk, his bones protruding, his figure bowed 
down to the earth ; on his brow the shadows of 

1 Luther's "Works, six. 2299. 

those fierce tempests that were raging in his soul ; 
his tears watering the stony fioor, and his bitter 
cries and deep groans echoing through the long 
galleries of the convent, a mystery and a terror to 
the other monks. He tried to disburden his soul 
to his confessor, an aged monk. He had had no 
experience of such a case before ; it was beyond his 
skill ; the wound was too deep for him to heal. 
" ' Save me in thy righteousness ' — what does 
that meanl" asked Luther. " I can see how God 
can condemn me in his righteousness, but how can 
he save me in his righteousness ? " But that 
q\iestion his fiither confessor could not answer.^ 

It was weU that Luther neither despaired nor 
abandoned the pursuit as hopeless. He persevered 
in reading Augustine, and yet more in studying 
the chained Bilile; and it cannot be but that some 
rays must have broken in through his darkness. 
Why was it that he could not obtain peace 'I This 
question he coidd not but piit to himself — " What 
rale of my order have I neglected — or if in aught 
I have come shoi-t, have not penance and tears 
wiped out the fault 1 And yet my conscience tells 
me that my sin is not pardoned. Why is this ? 
Are these rules after all only the empirical devices 
of man ? Is there no holiness in those works 
which I am toiling to perform, and those mortifica- 
tions to which I am submitting t Is it a change 
of gaiment only or a change of heart that I need l" 
Into this train the monk's thoughts could scarce 
avoid falling. And meanwhile he persevered in 
the use of those means which have the promise 
connected with them — " Seek, and ye shall find ; 
knock, and it shall be opened unto you." " If thou 
criest after wisdom, if thou liftest up thy voice for 
understanding, then shalt tliou find the fear of the 
Lord, and understand the knowledge of thy God." 

It is not Luther alone whose cries we hear. 
Christendom is groaning in Luther, and travailing 
in pain to be delivered. The cry of those many 
captives, in all the lands of Christendom, lying in 
fetters, goes up in the cry of this captive, and has 
entered into the eai-s of the Great Ruler : alieady 
a deliverer is on the road. As Luther, hour by 
hour, is sinking in the abyss, nearer, hour by lioui', 
are heard the approaching footsteps of the man 
who is to aid him in breaking the bars of his own 
and the world's prison. 

" MelancthoBj Vita Mart. Lxdh., p. 19. 





Staupitz— Visits the Convent at Erfurt— Meets Luther— Conversations between the Vioar-Gencral and the Monlc 
— The Cross — Eepentance — A Free Salvation— The Dawn Begins — The Night Eeturns— An Old Monk — "The 
Forgiveness of Sins"'— Luther's Full Emancipation — A Rehearsal — Christendom's Burden — Hov,' Delivered. 

As in the darkest night a star will at times look 
forth, all the lovelier that it shines out amidst the 
clouds of tempest, so there appeared at intervals, 
during the long and dark night of Christendom, a 
few men of eminent piety in the Church of Rome. 
Taught of the Spuit, they trusted not in the 
Chiu'ch, but in Christ alone, for salvation ; and 
amid the darkness that surrounded them they saw 
the light, and followed it. One of tJiese men was 
John Staujjitz. 

Staupitz was Vicar-General of the Augustines of 
Germany. He knew the way of salvation, having 
learned it from the study of Augustine and the 
Bible. He saw and acknowledged the errors and 
vices of the age, and deplored the devastation they 
were inflicting on the Chm-ch. The purity of his 
o^\•n life condemned the corruptions aroimd liim, 
but he lacked the courage to be the Eeformer of 
Christendom. Nevertheless, God honoured him by 
making him signally serviceable to the man who 
was destined to be that Eeformer.' 

It chanced to the Vicar-General to be at this 
time on a tour of visitation among the convents of 
the Augusthiians in Germany, and the path he had 
traced for himself led him to that very monastery 
withm whose walls the sore struggle we have 
describe:! was going on. Staupitz came to Erfui-t. 
His eye, ti-ained to read the faces on which it fell, 
lighted on the young monk. The first glance 
awoke his interest in him. He marked the brow 
on which he thought he could see the shadow of 
some great sorrow, the eye that spoke of the anguish 
within, the frame worn to almost a skeleton by the 
wrestlmgs of the spirit ; the whole man so meek, 
so chastened, so bowed do\vii ; and yet about him 
withal an air of resolution not yet altogether van- 
quished, and of strength not yet wholly dried up. 
Staupitz himself had tasted the cup of which Luther 
was now drinking. He had been in trouble of 
soul, although, to iise the language of the Bible, he 
had liut " nm with the footmen," wliile Liither was 

' D'Auhigne, Hist. Reform., vol. i., bk. ii., chap. 4. 

Adam, Vita Staiipizii. 

contending " with horses." His own exiDerience 
enabled him to gness at the imier history of the 
monk who now stood before him. 

The Vicar-General called the monk to him, spoke 
words of kindness — accents no'w become strange tc 
Luther, for the inmates of his monastery could 
accoimt for his conflicts only by believing him 
passessed of the Evil One — and by degrees he won 
his confidence. Lvither felt Ijiat there was a mys- 
terious influence in the words of Staujiitz, which 
penetrated his soul, and was already exerting a 
soothing and mitigating efi'ect upon his trouble. 
In the Vicar-General the monk met the first man 
who really imderstood his case. 

They conversed together in the secresy of the 
monastic cell. Luther laid open his whole soul ; 
he concealed nothing from the Vicar-General. He 
told him all his temptations, all his horrible 
thoughts — liis vows a thousand times repeated and 
as often broken ; how he shrank from the sight of 
his own vileness, and how he trembled when he 
thought of the holiness of God. It was not the 
sweet jM'omise of mercy, but the fiery threatening 
of the law, on which he dwelt. " Who may abide 
the day of His coming, and who shall stand wlien 
He appeareth ? " 

The wise Staupitz saw how it was. The monk 
was standing in the presence of the Great Judge 
without a days-man. He was dwelling with 
Devouring Fire; he was transacting with God just 
as he would have done if no cross had ever been 
set up on Calvary, and no " place for repentance." 
" Why do you toi-ture yourself with these thoughts l 
Look at the woimds of Christ," said Staupitz, 
anxious to turn away the monk's eye from his 
own wounds — his stripes, macerations, fastings — 
by which he hoped to move God to pity. " Look 
at the blood Christ shed for you," continued his 
skilful counsellor; "it is there the grace of God 
will appear to you." 

" I cannot and dare not come to God," rejjlied 
Luther, in efi'ect, "till I am a better man; I have 
not yet repented sufliciently." " A better man ! " 
would the Vicar-General say in efi'ect ; " Christ 



came to save not good men, but sinners. Love 
God, and you will have repented ; there is no real 
repentance that does not begin in the love of God ; 
and there is no love to God that does not take its 
rise in an apprehension of that mercy which offers 
to sinners freedom from sin through the blood of 
Christ." " Faith in the mereies of God ! This is 

present of a Biljle, which Luther received with 
imboimded joy ; and most sacredly did he obey the 
parting injunction of Staupitz : " Let the study of 
the Scriptures be your favourite occupation."* 

But the change in Luther was not yet complete. 
It is hard to enter into life — to cast out of the 
heart that distrust and fear of God with which sin 

the star that goeth before the face of Eepentance, 
the pillar of fire that guideth her in the night of 
her sorrows, and giveth her light,"' and showeth 
her the way to the throne of God. 

These were ynse words, and " the words of the 
wise are as nails, and as goads fastened in a sure 
place by the master of assemblies." Ho was it with 
tlie words of the Vicar-GeneraJ ; a light from 
heaven accompanied them, and shone into the 
understanding of Lvither. He felt that a healing 
balm had touched his wound, that a refreshing oil 
had been poured upon his bruised spirit. Before 
leaving him, the Vicar-General made him the 

' Bishop King, Lectures on Jonah, delivered at York, 159 1, 
p. 484; Lond., 1618. 

has filled it, and take in the grand yet true idea of 
God's infinite love, and absolutely free and bound- 
less mercy. 

Luther's faith was as yet but as a grain of 
mustard-seed. After Staupitz had taken leave of 
him, he again turned his eye from the Sa\iour to 

■ D'Autiigne, B'st. Reform., vol. i., pp. 170—180. 



himself; tlie clouds of despondency and fear that 
instant gathered ; and his old conflicts, though not 
with the same \-iolence, were renewed. He fell ill, 
and in his sore sickness he lay at the gates of 
death. It pleased God on this bed, and by a very 
luimble instrument, to complete the change which 
the Vicar - Greneral had commenced. An aged 

forgiveness of David's sins, and of Peter's f:lns ; 
you must believe in the forgiveness of your own 
sins."' The decisive words had been spoke;:. A 
ray of light had penetrated the darkness that en- 
compassed Luther. He saw it all : the whole 
Gos|)el in a single phrase, the forgiveness of sins — 
not iihe payment, but ijhe forgiveness. 

brother-monk who, as Luther afterwards said, was 
doubtless a true Christian though he wore "the 
cowl of damnation," came to his bedside, and began 
to recite with much simplicity and earnestness the 
A]K)stle's Creed, " I believe in the forgiveness of 
sins." Luther repeated after him in feeble accents, 
" I believe in the forgiveness of sins." " Nay," said 
the monk, " you are to believe not merely in the 

In that hour the principle of Popery in Luther's 
soul fell. He no longer looked to himself and to 
the Church for salvation. He saw that God had 
freely forgiven him in HLs Son Jesus Christ. His 
prison doors stood open. He was in a new world. 
God had loosed his sackcloth and girded him with 
gladness. The healing of his spii-it brought health 
to his body ; and in a little while he rose from that 
bed of sickness, which had so nearly been to him 
the bed of death. The gates of destruction were, 
in God's marvellous mercy, changed into the gates 
of Paradise. 

The battle which Luther fought in this cell was 
in reality a more sviblime one than that which he 
aftei-wards had to fight before the Diet of the 
Empire at Worms. Here there is no crowd 
looking on, no dramatic lights fall upon the scene, 
the conflict passes in the obscurity of a cell ; but 
all the elements of the morally sublime are present. 

Melancthon, Yita MuH. Luth., p. 10. 




At Worms, Luther stood before the powers and 
principalities of earth, who could but kill the body, 
and had no more that they could do. Here he 
meets the powere and principalities of darkness, 
and engages in a struggle, the issue of which is 
to him eternal life or eternal death. And he 
triumphs ! This cell was the cradle of a new life 
to Luther, and a new life to Christendom. But 
before it could be the cradle of a new life it had 
fii'st to become a grave. Luther had here to 
struggle not only to tears and groans : he had to 
struggle unto death. " Thou fool, that which thou 
sowest is not quickened except it die." So did 
the Spirit of God inspire Paul to announce what 
is a universal law. In every case death must 
precede a new life. The new life of the Church 
at the beginning of the Christian era came from 
a grave, the sepialchre of Christ. Before we our- 
selves can put on immortality we must die and 
be buried. In this cell at Erfurt died Martin 
Luther the mt)nk, and in this cell was born 
Martin Luther the Christian, and the birth of 
Luther the Christian was the bii'th of the Reforma- 
tion in Germany.' 

Let us paiise here, and notice how the Reforma- 
tion rehearsed itself first of all in the cell at Erfurt, 
and in the soul of Luther, before coming foi'th to 
display its power on the public stage of Gei-many 
and of Christendom. 

The finger of God touched the human conscience, 

' The author visited Erfurt in the summer of 1871, and 
may be permitted here to give his remimscences of the 
Augustinian convent and the cell of Luther. Erfurt is a 
thriving town ; its size and importance are notified to the 
traveller by the number and elegance of its steeples and 
monuments. On a nearer approach he finds it enclosed 
by a broad moat and strong fortifications. Its principal 
streets are spacious, its ecclesiastical buildings numerous 
and superb, its population intelligent, orderly, and pros- 
perous. But the point in which the interest of the place 
centres is " Luther's Cist." The convent of the Augi\stines 
stiU remains, with the chamber of Luther much as he left 
it. It is placed in a quarter of the city wliich has not 
been touched by modern improvements. It is a perfect 
net-work of narrow and winding lanes, numerous canals, 
sweetly lined with tall poplars, and spanned at every 
short distance by a bridge. The waters of the canals are 
employed in woollen and other manufactories. In the 
heart of this region, we have said, is the convent. A 
wide postern gives you admission. You find yourself in 
an open courtyard. You ascend a single flight of steps, 
and are ushered into a chamber of about twelve feet 
in length by sis in width. It has a wooden floor, and 
roof and walls are lined with wood ; the panelling looks 
old and dingy. The window looks out upon a small 
garden. It contains a few relics of its former Ulus- 
trious occupant : an old cabinet, an arm-chair, a por- 
trait of Luther, an old Bible, and a few other things; 
but it is not what is seen, but what is unseen, that here 
engrosses one. 

and the mightiest of all forces awoke. The Re- 
formation's birth-place was not the cabinet of 
kings, nor the closet of philosophers and scholars : 
it had its beginnings in the depths of the sjau-itual 
world — in the inextinguishable needs and longings 
of the human soul, quickened, after a long sleep, 
by divinely ordamed instrumentalities. 

For ages the soul of man had "groaned, being 
burdened." That burden was the consciousness of 
sin. The method taken to be rid of that burden 
was not the forgiveness, but the 2Ml/ment of sin. 
A Church arose which, although retaining "the 
forgiveness of siirs" as an article in her creed, 
had discarded it from her practice; oi- rather, she 
had substituted her own "forgiveness of sins" for 

The Gospel came to men in the begiiming preach- 
ing a free pardon. To ofler forgiveness on any 
other terms would have been to close heaven while 
professing to open it. But the Chiu-ch of Rome 
turned the eyes of men from the salvation of the 
Gospel, to a salvation of which she assumed to be 
the excliisive and privileged owner. That on which 
the Gospel had put no price, knowing that to put 
upon it the smallest ■price was wholly to withhold 
it, the Church put a very gi-eat price on. Salva- 
tion was made a marketable commodity; it was put 
up for sale, and whoever ivished to possess it had 
to pay the price which the Church had put upon it. 
Some paid the price in good works, some paid it in 
austerities and penances, and some in money. Each 
paid in the coin that most suited his taste, or 
convenience, or ability ; but all had to pay. Chris- 
tendom, in process of time, was covered wth a vast 
apparatus for canying on this spiritual traflic. An 
order of men was established, through whose hands 
exclusively this ghostly merchandise passed. Over 
and above the great central emporium of this traflic, 
which was opened on the Seven Hills, hundreds and 
thousands of inferior marts were established all 
over Christendom. Cloisters and convents arose for 
those who chose to pay in penances ; temples and 
churches were built for those who chose to j^ay in 
prayei-s and masses ; and privileged shrines and 
confessional-boxes for those who preferred paying 
in money. One half of Christendom revelled in 
sin because they were wealth}', and the other half 
groaned under self-inflicted nioitifications becaiise 
they were poor. When at lengtli the principle of 
salvation to be purchased from the Church had 
come to its full height, it fell. 

But Christendom did not deli^'er itself on the 
principle of payment. It was :iot by remaining 
the bondsman of the Church, and toiling in its 
service of penances and works of merit, that it 



wi-ought out its emancipation. It found that this 
road would never lead to liberty. Its burden, age 
after age, was growing but the heavier. Its case 
had become hopeless, when the soimd of the old 
Gospel, like the silver trumpets of the Day of 

Jubilee, broke upon its ear : it listened : it cast 
off the yoke of ceremonies : it turned from man's 
pardon to God's ; from the Church to Christ ; from 
the penance of the cell to the sacrifice of the Ci'oss. 
Its emancipation was accomplished. 



Ordained as a Priest— Wittomberg University— Luther made Professor— Lectures on the Bible— Popularity— Concourse 
of Students— Luther Preaches at Wittemherg— A Wooden Churcli— The Audience— The Impression— The Gospel 
Resumes its March — Who shall Stop it ? 

Luther had been two years in the monastery, when 
on Sunday, 2nd May, 1.507, he was ordained to the 
priesthood. The act was performed by Jerome, 
Bishop of Brandenburg. John Luther, his father, 
was present, attended by twenty horsemen, Martin's 
old comrades, and bringing to his son a present 
of twenty guilders. The earliest letter extant of 
Luther is one of invitation to John Braun, Vicar 
of Eisnach. It gives a fine picture of the feelings 
with which Luther entered upon his new otRce. 
" Since the glorious God," said he, " holy in all his 
works, has deigned to exalt me, who am a wi-etched 
man and eveiy way an unworthy siiinei-, so emi- 
nently, and to call me to his sublime ministry by 
his sole and most liberal mercy, may I be grateful 
for the magnificence of such Divine goodness (as far 
at least as dust and ashes may) and duly discharge 
the office committed to me."' 

In the Protestant Churches, the office into which 
ordination admits one is that of ministry ; in the 
Church of Rome, in which Luther I'eceived ordi- 
nation, it is that of jjriesthood. The Bishop of 
Brandenburg, when he ordained Liither, placed the 
chalice in his hand, accompanying the action with 
the words, " Receive thou the power cf sacrificing 
for the quick and the dea<;l."^ It is one of the 
fundamental tenets of Protestantism that to offer 
sacrifice is the prerogative of Christ alone, and that, 
since the coming of this "one Priest," and the offer- 
ing of His " one s-icrifice," sacrificing priesthood 
is for ever abolished. Luther did not see this 
then ; but the recollection of the words addressed 
to him by the bishop appalled him in after years. 

' Worsley, Life of Mart. Imth., vol. i., p. 53 ; Lond., 185C. 
^ Scekendorf, Hisi. Lutheran., Lb. i., sec. 8, p. 19. 

" If the earth did not open and swallow us both 
u])," said he, " it was owing to the great patience 
and long-suffering of the Loi'd." 

Luther jiassed another year in his cell, and left it 
in haste at last, as Joseph his prison, being sum- 
moned to fill a wider sj)here. The Univei-sity of 
Wittemberg was foimded in 1.502 by Frederick the 
Wise, Elector of Saxony. He wished, as he said 
in its charier, to make it the light of his kingdom. 
He little dreamed what a fulfilment awaited his 
wish. The elector was looking round him for fit 
men for its chairs. Staupitz, whose sagacity and 
honoin-able character gave him great weight with 
Frederick, recommended the Augustinian monk at 
Erfurt. The electoral invitation was immediately 
dispatched to Luther, and accepted by him. And 
now we behold him, disciplined by God, rich in 
the experience of himself, and illumined \vith the 
knowledge of the Gospel, bidding the monasteiy a 
final adieu, though not as yet the cowl, and going 
forth to teach in the newly-founded University of 

The department assigned to Luther was "dia- 
lectics and physics" — in other words, the scholastic 
philosophy. There was a day — it had not long 
gone by — when Luther revelled iii this philo- 
sophy, and deemed it the perfection of all wisdom. 
He had since tasted the "old wine" of the 
apostles, and had lost all relish for the "new 
■svine" of the schoobuen. Much he longed to 
unseal the fountains of the Water of Life to his 
students. Nevertheless, he set about doing the 
work prescribed to him, and his labom-s in this 

3 Seckendorf, Hist. Lutheran., lib. i., sec. 8, p. 18; 

Lipsice, 1094. . 



iiiigenial field were of great use, iii tlie way of 
completing Ids o^vn preparation for coniLatLng and 
oAertlirowing the Aristotelian philosojjLy — one of 
the idols of the age. 

Soon " pliilosophy " was exchanged for "theo- 
logy," as the department of the new professor. It 
was now that Lnther was in his right place. He 
opened the New Testament; he selected for ex- 
position the Epistle to the Eomans ' — that book 
which sliines like a glorious constellation in the 
firmament of the Bible, gathering as it does into 
one group all the gi-eat themes of revelation. 

Passing from the cell to the class-room with the 
open Bible in his hand, the professor spoke as no 
teacher had spoken for ages in Christendom.'- It 
was no rhetorician, showing what a master of his 
art he was ; it was no dialectician, proud to display 
the dexterity of his logic, or the cumiing of his 
.sophistry ; it was no philosopher, expounding with 
an air of .superior wisdom the latest invention of 
the schools ; Luther spoke like one who had come 
from another sphere. And he had indeed been 
carried upwards, or, to .speak with greater accuracy, 
he had, more tndy than the great jioet of the 
Inferno, gone down into Hades, and at the cost of 
tears, and groans, and agonies of soul he had learned 
what he was now communicating so freely to others. 
Herein lay the secret of Luther's power. The 
youths crowded roimd him ; their nnmbers in- 
creased day by day ; professore and rectors sat at 
his feet ; the fame of the university went forth to 
other lands, and students flocked from foreign 
countries to hear the wisdom of the Wittemberg 
professor. The li\ing waters shut up so long 
were again let loose, and were flowing among the 
habitations of men, and promised to convert the 
dry and parched wilderness which Christendom 
had become into the garden of the Lord. 

" This monk," said Dr. Mallerstadt, the rector 
of the imiversity, himself a man of great learning 
and fame, " wiU reform the whole Church. He 
builds on the propliets and apostles, which neither 
Scotist nor Thomist can overthrow."'' 

Staupitz watched the career of the young pro- 
fessor with peculiar and lively satisfaction. He 
was even now planning a yet wider usefulness for 
him. Why, thought Staupitz, should Luther con- 
fine his light within the walls of the university? 
Around him in Wittemberg, and in all the towns 

' Melancthon, Vita Mart. Luth,, p. 13. 

- His lecture-hour was one o'clock. It should have 
been six in the morning, but was changed ob commo- 
ditaiem. (Seekendorf, Hist. Lutheran., lib. i., p. 19.) 

3 Melch. Adam, Vita Luth., p. 104. Seekendorf, Hist. 
L^Uheran., lib. i., sec. S, p. 19. 

of Germany, are midtitudes who are as sheep with- 
out a shepherd, seeking to satisfy their hunger 
with the husks on which the monks feed them ; 
why not minister to these men also the Bread of 
Life 1 The Vicar-General proposed to Luther that 
he should preach in public. He shrank back from 
so august an ofiice — so weighty a responsibility. 
" In than six months," said Luther, " I shall 
be in my grave." But Staujjitz knew the monk 
better than he knew himself; he continued to urge 
his jH'oposal, and at last Luther consented. We 
have followed him from the cell to the professor's 
chair, now we are to follow him from the chaii- to 
the pulpit. 

Luther opened his public ministry in no proud 
cathedial, but in one of the humVilest sanctuaries 
in all Germany. In the centre of the public square 
stood an old wooden chinch, thirty feet long and 
twenty broad. Par from magnificent in even its days, it was now sorely decayed. Tottering 
to its fall, it needed to be propped up on all sides. 
In tliis chapel was a pulpit of boards raised thi-ee 
feet over the level of the flooi-. This was the place 
assigned to the young preacher. In this shed, and 
from this rade pulpit, was the Gospel pi'oclaimed to 
the conunon people for the fli'st time after the 
silence of centuries. 

" This biulding," says Myconius, " may well be 
comjjared to the stable in which Christ was born. 
It was in this wretched enclosure that God willed, 
so to speak, that his well-beloved Son should be 
bom a second time. Among those thousands of 
cathedrals and paiisli churches with which the 
world is filled, there was not one at that time 
which God chose for the glorious preaching of 
eternal life."* 

If his learning and subtlety fitted Luther to 
shine in the university, not less did his powei's of 
popular eloquence enable him to command the 
attention of his coimtrymen. Before his day the 
pulpit had svoik ineffably low. At that time not a 
secular priest in all Italy ever entered a piiljnt.'' 
Preaching was wholly abandoned to the Mendicant 
friars. These pereons knew neither Inunan nor 
Divine knowledge. To retain their hearei-s they 
were under the necessity of amusing them. This 
was not diflicult, for the audience was as little 
critical as the preacher was fastidious. Gibes — the 
coarser, the more efi'ective ; legends and tales — the 
more wondei-ful and incredible, the more attentively 
listened to ; the Kves and miracles of the saints 

■* Seekendorf, Hist. Lutheran., lib. i., sec. 8, p. 17. 
^ Euchat, Hist, de la Ri<formation de la Suisse, torn, v., 
p. 192 J Lausanne, 1S36. 



vv'ere the staple of tlie sermons of tlie age. Dante 
has immortalised these productions, and the truth 
of his descriptions is attested by the reisresenta- 
tions of such scenes which have come down to us 
in the sculpture-work of the cathedrals.' But the 
preacher who now appeared in the humble pulpit 
of the wooden chapel of Wittemberg spoke ^\itll 
authority, and not as the friare. His animated 
face, his kindling eye, his thrilling tones — above all, 
the majesty of the truths which he announced — 
captivated the hearts and awed the consciences of 
lii.s hearers. He proclaimed pardon and heaven, 
not as indii-ect gifts through jjriests, but as du'ect 
from God. Men wondered at these tidings — so 
new, so strange, and yet so refreshing and welcome. 
It was evident, to use the language of Melancthon, 
that " his words had their birth-place not on his 
lips, but in his sovd."^ 

His fame a.s a preacher gi'ew. From the sur- 
rounding cities came ci'owds to hear him. The 
timbers of the old edifice creaked under the 
multitude of listeners. It was far too small 
to accommodate the numbers that flocked to it. 

The Town Council of Wittemberg now elected him 
to be theii- preacher, and gave him the use of 
the parLsh church. On one occasion the Elector 
Frederick was among his hearers, and expressed his 
admii-ation of the simplicity and force of his lan- 
guage, and the copiousness and weight of his 
matter. In presence of this larger audience his 
eloquence burst forth in new power. Still wider 
shone the light, and more numerous every dav 
were the eyes that timied towards the spot where 
it was rising. The Reformation was now fairly 
lamiched on its path. God had bidden it go on- 
wards, and man would be unable to stop it. Popes 
and emperors and mighty armies would throw 
themselves upon it ; scaSblds and stakes would 
be raised to oppose it : over all would it march in 
triumph, and at last ascend tlie throne of the 
world. Emerging from this lowly shed in the 
square of Wittemberg, as emerges the sun from 
the mists of earth, it would rise ever higher and 
shine ever brighter, till at length Truth, lilce 
a glorious noon, would shed its beams from pole 
to pole. 


Luther's journey to rome. 

A Quarrel— Luther Deputed to Arrange it— Sets out for Eome— His Dreams— Italian Monasteries— Tlieir Luiurious- 
ness— A Hint— His Illness at Bologna— A Voice— "The Just shaUiLive by Faith "—Florence— Beauty of Site and 
Buildings — The Eenaissance — Savonarola — Campagna di Eoma— Luther's First Sight of Eome. 

It was necessary that Luther should pause a little 
while in the midst of his labours. .He had been 
working for some time under high pressiu-e, and 
r.either mind nor body would long have endured 
the strain. It is in seasons of rest and reflection 
that the soul realises its gi-owtli and makes a 
new start. Besides, Luther needed one lesson 

1 " On the chapiters of the great pillars of the church 
at Strasburg thei-e is a procession represented in -which a 
hog cai-rieth the pot with the holy water, and asses and 
hogs in priestly vestments follow to make up the proces- 
sion. There is also an ass standing before an altar, as if 
he were going to consecrate, and one carrieth a case with 
relics in which one seeth a fox ; and the trains of all that 
go in tills procession are carried by monkeys." (Misson, 
Nevj Voyage to Italy, vol. ii., pt. li., p. 506; Lond., 1739.) 

" "Nou in labris nasci, sed in pectore." (Vita Mart. 
Luth., p. 13.) 

more in order to his full trauring as the future 
Reformer, and that lesson he could receive only 
in a foreign land. In his cell at Erfurt he had 
lieen shown the sinfulness of his own heart, and 
liis helplessness as a lost sinner. Tliis must be 
the fomidation of his training. At Rome he must 
be shown the vileness of that Church which he 
still regarded as the Church of Christ and the 
abode of holiness. 

As often happens, a very trivial matter led to 
what resulted in the highest consequences both to 
Luther himself and to Christendom. A quarrel 
broke out between seven monasteries of the Au- 
gustines and their Vicar-General. It was agreed 
to submit the matter to the Pope, and the sagacity 
and eloquence of Luther recommended him as the 
fittest person to undertake the task. This was iu 



the year 1510, or, according to others, 1512.' We 
now behold the young monk setting out for the 
metropolis of Christendom. We may well believe 
that his pulse beat quicker as every step brought 
him nearer the Eternal City, illustrious as the 
abode of the Caesars ; still more illustrious as the 

There dwelt the consecrated priests and ministers 
of the Lord. Thither went up, year by year, 
annies of devout pilgi'ims, and tribes of holy 
anchorites and monks, to |my their vows in her 
temples, and prostrate themselves at the footstool 
of the apostles. Luther's heart swelled with no 

abode of the Popes. To Luther, Rome was a type 
of the Holy of Holies. There stood the throne of 
God's Vicar. There resided the Oracle of Infallibility. 

1 Mathesius and Seckendorf place it in 1510, MelanctUon 
in 1.512. Some mention two journeys. Luther liims.:'lf 
speaks of only one. His object in going to Eome has also 
been variously stated. The author has followed the oldest 
authorities, who are likely to be also the best informed. 
Luther's errand is a matter of small moment ; the great 
fact is that he did visit Eome. 

common emotion when he thought that his feet 
would stand within the gates of this thrice-holy 

Alas, what a terrible disenchantment awaited 
the monk at the end of his journey; or rather, 
what a happy emancipation from an enfeebling 
and noxious illusion ! For so long as this spell 
was upon him, Luther must remain the captive 
of that power which had imprisoned truth and 
enchained the nations. An arm with a fetter 



upon it was not tlie arm to strike sucli blows 
as would emancipate Christendom. He must see 
Rome, not as his di'eams had painted her, but 
as her own corruptions had made her. And he 
must go thither to see her with his own eyes, 
for he would not have believed her deformity 
although another had told him; and the more 
profoimd the idolatrous reverence Avith which he 
approaches her, the more resolute his purpose, 
when he shall have re-crossed her threshold, to 
leave of that tyrannical and impious power not 
one stone upon anothei-. 

Luther crossed the Alps and descended on the 
fertile plains of Lombardy. Those magnificent 
highways which now conduct the traveller with so 
much ease and pleasure through the snows and 
rocks that form the northern wall of Italy did 
not then exist, and Luther would scale this ram- 
part by narrow, rugged, and dangerous tracks. 
The sublimity that met his eye and regaled him 
on his journey had, doubtless, an elevating and 
exjjanding effect upon his mind, and mingled 
something of Italian ideality with his Teutonic 
robustness. To him, as to others, what a charm 
in the rapid transition from the homeliness of 
the Grerman plains, and the ruggedness of the 
Alps, to the brilKant sky, the voluptuous air, 
and the earth teeming with flowers and fruits, 
which met his gaze when he had accomplished his 
descent ! 

Weary with his journej^ he entered a monasteiy 
situated on the banks of the Po, to refresh himself 
a few days. The splendour of the establishment 
struck him ■«-ith wonder. Its yearly revenue, 
amomiting to the enormous sum of thii-ty-si:c 
thousand ducats,' was all exjiended in feeding, 
clothing, and lodging the monks. The apartments 
were sumjituous in the extreme. They were lined 
with marble, adorned with paintings, and filled 
with rich furniture. Equally luxiirions and delicate 
was the clothing of the monks. Silks and velvet 
mostly formed their attii-e ; and every day they .sat 
down at a table loaded with exquisite and skOfully 
cooked dishes. The monk who, in his native 
Germany, had inhabited a bare cell, and whose 
day's provision was at times only a herring and 
a small piece of bread, was astonished, but said 

Friday came, and on Friday the Church has 
forbidden the Mthful to taste flesh. The table of 
the monks groaned imder the same abundance as 
before. As on other days, so on this there were 

' D'Aubigne, Hist. Beform., vol. i., p. 190. Litth. 0pp. 
(W) xxii. 1468. 

dishes of meat. Luther coidd no longer refrain. 
" On this day," said Luther, " such things may not 
be eaten. The Pope has forbidden them." The 
monks opened theii- eyes in astonishment on the 
rude Geiman. Verily, thought they, his boldness 
is great. It did not spoil then- apjjetite, but they 
began to be apprehensive that the GeiTuan might 
report their manner of life at head-quarters, and 
they consulted together how this danger might be 
obviated. The porter, a humane man, dropped a 
hint to Luther of the risk he would incur should 
he make a longer stay. Profiting by the friendly 
coimsel to depart hence while health served him, 
he took leave, -with as little delay as possible, of 
the monastery and all in it. 

Again setting forth, and travelling on foot, he 
came to Bologna, " the throne of the Eomau law." 
In this citj^ Luther fell ill, and his sickness was so 
sore that it threatened to be imto death. To sick- 
ness was added the melancholy natural to one who 
is to find his grave in a foreign land. The Judg- 
ment Seat was in view, and alarm filled his soul at 
the prospect of appearing before God. In short, the 
old anguish and terror, though in moderated force, 
returned. As he waited for death he thought he 
heard a voice crying to him and saying, " The just 
shall live by faith. "^ It seemed as if the voice 
spoke to him from heaven, so vivid was the impres- 
sion it made. This was the second time this passage 
of Scripture had been borne into his mind, as if 
one had spoken it to him. In liis chair at Wit- 
temberg, while lecturing from the Ejiistle to the 
Romans, he had come to these same words, " The 
just shall live by faith." They laid hold upon liim so 
that he was forced to pause and ponder over them. 
What do they mean 1 What can the}' mean but 
that the just have a new life, and that this new life 
springs from faith ? But faith on whom, and on 
what '/ On whom but on Chiist, and on what but 
the righteousness of Christ wrought out in the 
poor sinner's behalf? If that be so, pardon and 
eternal life are not of works but of faith : they 
are the free gift of God to the sinner for Christ's 

So had Luther reasoned when these words first 
arrested him, and so did he again reason in his 
sick-chamber at Bologna. They were a needful ad- 
monition, approaching as he now was a city where 
endless rites and ceremonies had been indented to 
enable men to live by works. His sickness and 
anguish threw him back uj)on the first elements of 
life, and the one only soiu-ce of holiness. He was 
taught that this holiness is restricted to no soil, to 

2 D'Aubigne, Hist. Reform., vol. i., pp. 190, 191. 



110 system, to no rite ; it springs up in the heart 
where faith dwells. Its source was not at Rome, 
but in the Bible ; its bestower was not the Pope, 
but the Holy Spirit. 

■' The just shall live by ftiith." As he stood at 
the gates of death a light seemed, at these words, 
to spring up around him. He arose from his bed 
healed iu body as in soul. He resumed his journey. 
He traversed the Apennines, experiencing doubt- 
less, after his sickness, the restorative power of 
theu' healthful breezes, and the fragi-ance of their 
dells gay with the blossoms of early simimer. The 
chain crossed, he descended into that delicious 
valley where Florence, watered by the Amo, and 
embosomed by olive and cypress groves, reposes 
under a sky where light lends beauty to eveiy 
object on which it falls. Here Luther made his 
next restmg-place.^ 

The " Etrariau Athens," as Florence has been 
named, was then in its first glory. Its manj' 
sumptuous edifices were of recent erection, and 
their pristine freshness and beauty were still upon 
them. Already Brviuelleschi had hung his dome — 
the lai'gest in the world — in mid-air ; already 
Giotto had raised his Campanile, maldng it, by its 
great height, its elegant fonn, and the I'ichness of 
its variously-coloured marbles, the characteristic 
feature of the city. Already the Baptistry had 
been built, with its bronze doors which INIichael 
Angelo declared to be " worthy of being the gates 
of Paradise." Besides these, other monuments and 
works of art adorned the city where the future Re- 
former was now making a brief sojourn. To these 
creations of genius Luther coidd not be indifferent, 
familiar as he had hithei'to been with only the 
comparatively homely architecture of a Northern 
hind. In Germany and England wood was then 
not mifrequently employed ui the construction of 
dwellings, whereas the Italians built with marble. 

Other things were linked mth the Etrurian 
capital, which Luther was scholar enough to appre- 
ciate. Florence was the cradle of the Renaissance. 
The house of Medici had risen to eminence in the 
pre\-ious centm-y. Cosmo, the founder of the 
family, had amassed immense riches in commerce. 
Passionately fond of lettei-s and arts, he freely ex- 
pended his wealth in the munificent patronage of 
scholai-s and artists. Lovei-s of lettei-s from every 
land were welcomed by him and by his son Lorenzo 
in liis superb \-illa on the sides of Fiesole, and were 
entertained -w-ith princely hospitalit}'. Scholars 
from the East, learned men from England and the 

' Worsley, Life of Luther, vol. i., p. 60. Miclielet, Life 
of Luther, "p. 15 ; Lond., 18-16. 

north of Europe, here met the philosophers and 
poets of Italy ; and as they walked on the terraces, 
or gathered in groups in the alcoves of the gardens 
— the city, the Arno, and the olive and cvpressclad 
vale beneath them — they would prolong then- dis- 
com-se on the new learning and the renovated ao-e 
which Uteratm-e was bringing with it, till the 
shadows fell, and dusk concealed the domes of 
Florence at their feet, and broaght out the stars in 
the calm azure overhead. Thus the city of the 
Medici became the centre of that intellectual and 
literary revival which was then radiating over 
Europe, and which heralded a day of more blessed 
light than any that philosophy and letters have 
ever shed. Alas, that to Italy, where this light 
fii-st broke, the morning should so soon have been 
turned into the shadow of death ! 

But Florence had very recently been the scene 
of events which could not be lurknown to Luther, 
and wliich must have touched a deeper chord in 
his bosom than any its noble edifices and literary 
glory could possibly awaken. Just foxtrteen years 
(1498) before Luther visited tliis city, Savonarola 
had been biu-ued on the Piazza della Gran' Ducca, 
for denouncing the coiTuptions of the Church, 
\ipholding the supreme authority of Scripture, and 
teaching that men are to be saved, not by good 
works, but by the expiatory sufferings of Christ." 
These were the very truths Luther had learned iu 
his cell ; their light had broke upon him from the 
page of the Bible ; the Spirit, with the iron pen of 
anguish, had wi-itten them on; his heart; he had 
preached them to listening crowds in his wooden 
chapel at Wittemberg ; and on this .spot, already 
marked by a statue of Neptune, had a brother-monk 
been burned alive for doing the very same thing in 
Italy wliich he had done in Saxony. The martjT- 
dom of Savonarola he could not but regard as at 
once of good and of evU augury. It cheered him, 
doubtless, to think that in this far-distant land 
another, by the study of the same book, had come 
to the same conclusion at which he liimself had 
arrived respecting the way of life, and had been 
enabled to witness for the truth unto blood. This 
showed him that the Sjnrit of God was acting 
in this land also, that the light was breaking out 

- Lecliler bears his testimony to the teaching of Savo- 
narola. He says : " Not only is faith the gift and work 
of God, but also that faith alone justifies without the 
works of the law. This Savon.arola has cleai-ly, roundly, 
and fuUy expressed. He has done so in his exposition of 
the 31st and 51st Psalms, wi-itten in prison. And he 
quotes from Eudelbach the following words in proof: 
' Haec fides sola justificat hominem, id est, apud Doum 
absque operibus legis justum facit'" (,Meditationes in. 
Psalmos). — Lechler, vol. ii., p. 542. 



at various jjoints, and tliat the day he waited for 
was not far distant.' 

But the stake of Savonarola might be differently 
interpreted ; it might be construed into a prognostic 
of many other stakes to be planted hereafter. The 
death of the Florentine confessor showed that the 
ancient hatred of the darkness to the light was as 
bitter as ever, and that tlie darkness would not 
abdicate -^vithout a terrible struggle. It was no 
peaceful scene on which Truth was about to step, 
and it was not amid the plaudits of the multitude 
that her progi-ess was to be accomplished. On the 
contrary, tempest and battle would hang upon her 
path ; every step of advance would be won over 
frightful opposition ; she must suffer and bleed 
before she could reign. These were among the 
lessons wliich Luther learned on the spot to which 
doubtless he often came to muse and pray." 

How many disciples had Savonarola left behind 
him in the city in which he had pom-ed out his 
blood? This, doubtless, was another point of 
anxious inquii-y to Luther; but the answer was 
not encouraguig. The zeal of the Florentines 
had cooled. It was hard to enter into life as 
Savonarola had entered into it — the gate was too 
narrow and the road too thorny. They praised 
him, but they could not imitate him. Florence 
was not to be the cradle of an evangelical Ee- 
mdssance. Its climate was voluptuous and its 
Chiirch was accommodating : so its citizens, who, 
when the voice of their great preacher stii'red 
them, seemed to be not far from the kingdom of 
heaven, drew back when brought face to face with 
the stake, and crouched down beneath the two- 
fold burden of sensuality and superstition. 

So far Luther had failed to discover that sanctity 
which before begimiing his journey he had pictured 
to himself, as springing spontaneously as it were 
out of this holy soil. The farther he penetrated 
into this land of Italy, the more was he shocked 

1 " Savonarola," says Kudelbaoh, " was a prophet of 
the Reformation." Lechler adds: "and the martjr of 
his prophecy ; a martyr for reform before the Reforma- 
tion." (Vol. ii., p. 546.) 

2 The author was shown, in 1864, the Bible of Savona- 
rola, wliich is preseived in the library of San Lorenzo at 
Florence. The broad margin of its leaves is written all 
over in a small elegant hand, that of Savonarola. After his 
martyrdom his disciples were accustomed to come secretly 
and kiss tlie spot where he had been burned. This coming 
to the knowledge of the reigning duke, Pietro de Medici, 
he resolved to put an end to a practice that gave him 
annoyance. He accordingly erected on the spot a statue 
of Neptune, with a fountain falling into a circular basin 
of water, and sea-nymphs clustering on the brim. The 
duke's device has but the more effectually fixed in the 
l:nowledge of mankind the martyrdom and the spot 
vrhere it took place. 

at the ii'reverence and impiety which characterised 
all ranks, especially the " religious." The re- 
laxation of morals was universal. Pride, avarice, 
luxury, abominable vices, and frightful crimes de- 
filed the land ; and, to crown all, " sacred things " 
were the subjects of contempt and mockery. It 
seemed as if the genial climate which nourished the 
fruits of the earth into a luxuriance unknown to 
his Northern home, nourished with a like luxu- 
riance the appetites of the body and passions of the 
soul. He sighed for the comparative temperance, 
frugality, simplicity, and jnety of Ids fatherland. 

But he was now near Home, and Rome, said he 
to himself, will make amends for all. In that holy 
city Christianity will be seen in the spotless beauty 
of her apostolic youth. In that city there are no 
monks bravely apparelled in silks and velvets ; 
there are no conventual cells with a luxurious 
array of couches and damasks, and curious fui-ni- 
ture inlaid with silver and mother-of-pearl, while 
their walls are aglow with marbles, paintings, and 
gilding. There are no priests who tarry by the 
^vine-cup, or sit on fast-days at boards smok- 
ing with dishes of meat and venison. The sound 
of the viol, the lute, and the harp is never heard 
in the monasteries of Rome : there ascend only the 
accents of devotion : matins gi'eet the day, and 
even-song speeds its departure. Into that holy city 
there entereth nothing that defileth. Eager to 
mingle in the devout society of the place to which 
he was hastening, and there foi'get the sights which 
had pained him on the way thither, he quitted 
Florence, and set out on the last stage of his 

We see him on his way. He is descending 
the southern slopes of the mountains on which 
Viterbo is seated. At eveiy short distance he 
strains his eyes, if haply he may descry on the 
bosom of the plain that spreads itself out at his 
feet, some signs of her who once was " Queen of 
the Nations." On his i-ight, laving the shore of 
Latium, is the blue Mediterranean ; on his left 
is the triple-topped Soracte and the " purple Apen- 
nine" — white towns hanging on its crest, and 
olive-woods and forests of pine clothing its sides — 
running on in a magnificent wall of craggy peaks, 
till it fades from the eye in the southern hoi'izon. . 
Luther is now traversing the storied Oampagna 
di Roma. 

The man wlio crosses this plain at the present 
day finds it herbless, silent, and desolate. The 
multitude of men which it once nourished have 
perished from its bosom. The numerous and popu- 
lous towns, that in its better days crowned eveiy 
conical height that dots its surface, are now buried 



ill its soil : its olive-woods and orange-groves have 
been swept away, and thistles, mry grass, and reeds 
have come in their room. Its roads, once crowded 
with armies, ambassadors, and proconsuls, are now 
deserted and all but luitrodden. Broken columns 
protruding through the soil, stacks of brick-work 
with the marble peeled off, substructions of temples 
and tombs, now become the lair of the fox or the 
lurking-j)lace of the brigand, and similar memo- 
rials are almost all that remain to testify to the 
flourishing cultivation, and the many magnificent 
structures, that once adorned this great plain. 

But in the days of Luther the C'ampagna di 
Roma had not become the blighted, treeless, devas- 
tated expanse it is now. Doubtless many me- 
morials of decay met his eye as he passed along. 
War had left some frightfid scars upon the plain : 
the indolence and ignorance of its inhabitants had 
operated with even worse effect: b\it still in the 
sixteenth century it had not become so deserted of 

man, and so forsaken of its cities, as it is at this 
day.^ The land still continued to enjoy what has 
now all but ceased upon it, seed-time and harvest. 
Besides, it was the beginning of summer when 
Luther visited it, and seen under tlie light of an 
Italian sim, and with the young verdure clothing 
its surface, the scene would be by no means an 
unjileasant one. Bvit one object mainly engrossed 
liis thoughts : he was drawing nigh to the metro- 
polis of Christendom. The heights of Monte 
Mario, adjoining the Vatican — for the cupola of 
St. Peter's was not yet built — would be the fii-st 
to catch his eye ; the long ragged line formed by 
the buildings and towers of the city would next 
come into view. Luther had had his first sight of 
her whom no one ever yet saw for tlie first time 
without emotion, though it might not be so fervent, 
nor of the same character exactly, as that which 
thrilled Luther at this moment. Falling on his 
knees, he exclaimed, ''Holy Rome, I salute thee!"" 



Eacliantment — Euins— Holy Places— Kome's Nazarites — Eome's Holiness — Luther's Eyes begin to Open — Pilate's 
Stairs — A Voice heard a Third Time — A Key that Opens the Closed Gates of Paradise — What Luther Learned 
at Eome. 

After many a weary league, Luther's feet stand at 
last within the gates of Rome. What now are his 
feelings ? Is it a Paradise or a Pandemonium ui 
which he is arrived 1 

The enchantment continued for some little wliile. 
Luther tried hard to realise the dreams which 
had lightened his toilsome jovmiey. Here he 
was breathing holier air, so he strove to persuade 
himself; here he was mingling with a righteous 
people ; while the Nazarites of the Lord were every 
moment passing by in theii- long robes, and the 
chimes pealed forth all day long, and, not silent 
e-\-en by night, told of the praj'ers and praises that 
were continually ascending in the temples of the 
metropolis of Christendom. 

The first thmgs that stnick Lutlier were the 
physical decay and iiiin of the place. Noble palaces 
and glorious monuments rose on every side of him, 
but, strangely enough, mingled with these were 
heaps of rubbish and pUes of ruins. These were 
the remains of the once imperial gloiy of the city — 
the spoils of war, the creations of genius, the laboura 

of art which had beautified it in its palmy days. 
They showed hijn what Rome had been under hei* 
pagan consuls and emperors, and they enaljled him 
to judge liow miich she owed to her Popes.' 

Luther gazed with veneration on these defaced 
and mutilated remains, associated as they were in 
his mind with the immortal names of the gi-eat 
men whose deeds had tlirilled him, and whose 
writings had instnicted him iir his native land. 
Here, too, thought Luther, the martyrs had died ; 
on the floor of this stupendous ruin, the Coliseum, 
had they contended wtli the lions ; on this spot, 
where now stands the .sumptuous temple of St. 
Peter, and where the Vicar of has erected 
liis throne, were they used " as torches to illumine 
the darkness of the night." Over this city, too, 
Paul's feet had walked, and to this city had that 

' In proof we appeal to the engravings of Piranesi, now 
nearly 200 years old. These represent the country around 
Home as tolerably peopled and cultivated. 

- Tischreden, 441. 

' lAith. 0pp. (W) xxii. 2374, 2377. 



letter been sent, and here liad it first been opened 
luid read, in wMcli occur the words that had been 
the means of imparting to him a new life — " The 
just shall live by faith." 

The fii-st weeks which Lntlier passed in Eome 
were occupied in visiting the holy places,' and 

outward course of liberty, and the ideas may be 
reformed while the old acts and habits of legal 
belief may for a time sni-vive. It was not easy for 
Luther or for Christendom to find its way out of a 
night of twelve centuries. Even to this hoin- that 
night remains brooding over a full half of Europe. 


saying mass at the altars of the more holy of its 
churches. For, although Luther was converted in 
heart, and rested on the one Mediator, his know- 
ledge was imperfect, and the darkness of his mind 
still remained in part. The law of life in the soul 
may not be able all at once to develop into an 

' Seckendorf, Hist. LvVieran., lib. i., sec. 8, p. 19. 

It it was the physical deformities of Rome — the 
scars which war or barbarism had inflicted — that 
formed the fii'st stumbling-blocks to Luther, it was 
not long till he began to see that these outward 
blemishes were as nothing to the hideous moral 
and spiritual corruptions that existed beneath the 
surface. The hixury, lewdness, and impiety that 
shocked him in the first Italian towns he had 



entered, and which had attended him in every step 
of his journey since crossing the Alps, were all 
repeated in Rome on a scale of seven-fold magni- 
tude. His practice of saying mass at all the more 
favoured churches brought him into daily contact 
with the priests ; he saw them behind the scenes ; 
he heard their talk, and he could not conceal from 
himself — though the discovery unspeakably shocked 
and pained him — that these men were simply 
playing a part, and that m private they held in 

the neighbouring altars had sung seven. '' Intake 
haste, and send Our Lady back her Son :" such 
was the horrible scofl' with which they reproved 
his delay, as they accounted it.' To them '• Lady 
and Son " were worth only the money they lirought. 
But these were the common priests. Surely, 
thought he, faith and piety still linger among the 
dignitaries of the Church ! How mistaken was 
even this belief, Luther was soon to discover. One 
day he chanced to find himself at tabic ^^■ith some 


contempt and treated with mockery the very rites 
which in public they celebrated with so great a 
show of devotion. If he was shocked at their 
proftme levity, they on their part were no less 
astonished at his solemn credulity, and jeered him 
as a dull German, who had not genius enough to 
be a sceptic, nor cunning enough to be a hypocrite 
— a fossilised specimen, in short, of a fanaticism 
common enough in the twelfth century, but which 
it amazed them to find still existing in the /six- 

One day Luther was saying mass in one of the 
churches of Rome with his accustomed solemnity. 
While he had been saying one mass, the priests at 


prelates. Taking the German to be a man of the 
same easy faith with themselves, they lifted the 
veil a little too freelj;. They openly exjiressed theii' 
disbelief in the mysteries of their (.ihurcli, and 
shamelessly boasted of their cleverness in deceiving 
and befooling the people. Instead of the words, 
" Hoc est meum corpus," ic— the words at the 
utterance of which the bread is changed, as the 
Church of Rome teaches, into the flesh and blood 
of Christ— these prelates, as they themselves told 
him, were accustomed to say, "Panis es, et panis 
manebis," &c. — Bread thou art, and bread thou 

' Tischi-eden, «1. Scckcudorf, lib. i., p. 19. 



wilt re main — and then, said they, we elevate the 
Host, and the people bow down and worship. 
Luther was literally horrified : it was as if an 
abyss had snddenly yawned beneath him. But 
the horror was salutary ; it opened his eyes. 
Plainly he must renounce belief in Christianity or 
in Rome. . His struggles at Erfurt had but too 
surely deepened his faith in tlie first to permit him 
to cast it off : it was the last, therefore, that must 
be let go; but as yet it was not Rome in her doc- 
trines and rites, but Rome in her clergy, from 
which Luther turned away. 

Instead of a city of prayers and alms, of contrite 
hearts and holy lives, Rome was full of mocking 
hypocrisy, defiant scepticism, jeering impiety, and 
shameless revelry. Borgia had lately closed liis 
infamous Pontificate, and the warlike Julius II. 
was now reigning. A powerful police patrolled 
the city eveiy night. They were empowered to 
deal summary justice on offenders, and those whom 
they caught were hanged at the next post or 
thrown into the Tibei-. But all the vigilance of 
the patrol could not secure the peace and safety 
of the streets. Robberies and mm-ders were of 
nightly occurrence. " If tjiere be a hell," said 
Luther, " Rome is built over it.'" 

And yet it was at Rome, in the midst of all tliis 
darkness, that the light shone fully into the mind 
of the Reformei', and that the gi'eat leading idea, 
that on which his own life was based, and on which 
he ba.sed the whole of that Reformation which God 
honoured him to accomjdish — the doctrine of justi- 
fication by faith alone — rose upon him in its full- 
orbed splendour. "We naturally ask, How did this 
come aljout 1 What was there in this city of Popish 
observances to reveal the reformed faith 1 Luther 
was desirous of improving every hour of his stay in 
Rome, where religioiis acts done on its holy soil, 
and at its privileged altars and shrines, had a ten- 
fold degree of merit ; accordingly he busied himself 
in miritipl3dng these, that he nlight nourish his 
piety, and return a holier man than he came ; for 
as yet he saw but dimly the sole agency of fixith in 
the justification of the sinner. 

One day he went, under the influence of these 
feelings, to the Church of the Lateran. There are 
the tScnla Saucta, or Holy Stairs, which tradition 
says Christ descended on retu'ing from the hall of 
judgment, where Pilate had passed sentence upon 
him. These stiiii's are of marble, and the work of 
conveying them from Jerusalem to Rome was 
reported to have been undertaken and executed 
by the angels, who have so often rendered similar 

1 iMth. Opp. (W) xiii. 

services to the Church — Our Ladj^'s House at Lo- 
retto for example. The staii'S so transported were 
enshrined in the Palace of the Lateran, and every 
one who climbs them on his knees merits an in- 
dulgence of fifteen years for each ascent. Luther, 
who doubted neither the legend touching the stairs, 
nor the merit attached by the bulls of the Popes to 
the act of climbing them, went thither one day to 
engage in this holy act. He was climbing the 
steps in the appointed way, on his knees namely, 
earning at every step a year's indulgence, when he 
was startled by a sudden voice, which seemed as if 
it spoke from heaven, and said, " The just shall 
live by faith." Luther started to his feet in amaze- 
ment. This was the tliii-d time these same words 
had been conveyed into his mind with such em- 
phasis, that it was as if a voice of thmider had 
uttered them. It seemed louder than before, and 
he grasped more fully the great tiiith which it 
announced. What folly, thought he, to seek an 
indulgence from the Church, which can last me but 
a few years, when God sends me in his Word an in- 
dulgence that wUl last me for ever ! ^ How idle to 
toil at these jjerformances, when God is willing to 
acquit me of all my sins not as so much wages for 
so much service, but freely, in the way of believing 
upon his Son ! " The just shall live by f