« ZurückWeiter »
A SUPPLEMENT TO THE TWO FORMER VOLUMES.
Of Matters that happened in the time comprehended in the First
Book of the History of the Reformation.
BEFORE I enter on the affairs of England, I have thought it would be of great use to prepare the reader for what relates to them ; by setting before him the progress of that agreement, into which the French king's affairs carried him, by which he delivered up one great part of the liberties of the Gallican church to the pope, and invaded the rest himself. This was carried on in a course of many years; and the scene lying next us, and it being concluded in the very time in which the breach of this nation was far carried on, in the year 1532, I thought it would not be an improper beginning of my work, to set out that matter very copiously; since it is highly probable, that it had a great influence on all who were capable to reflect on it.
The greatest transaction that happened in this period being the setting up the Concordat, in the room of the Pragmatic Sanction, by Francis the First, it will be necessary, in order to the clear opening of the matter, to look back into the former ages.
(1300.). The progress the papacy had made from Pope Gregory the Seventh to Pope Boniface the Lighth's time, in little more than two hundred and thirty years, is an amazing thing: the one begun the pretension to depose kings, the Voi, III, PART I,
other, in the jubilee that he first opened, went in procession through Rome, the first day attired as pope, and the next day attired as emperor; declaring, that all power, both spiritual and temporal, was in him, and derived from him : and he cried out with a loud voice, “I am pope and emperor, and have both the earthly and heavenly empire :” and he made a solemn decree in these words, We say, define, and pronounce, that it is absolutely necessary to salvation, for every human creature to be subject to the Bishop of Rome.” The holy war, as it was called, was a great part of the business of that interval, by which the authority and wealth of the papacy received no small addition. It is true the removal of the popes to Avignon, and the schism that followed upon the popes' return to Rome, did put no small stop to that growing power, and to the many and great usurpations and inventions not known to former ages, which were set on foot to draw all people into a servile dependence on the popes.
This long schism between the popes that sat at Rome and Avignon, was the best conjuncture the bishops could ever have hoped for, to recover their authority; which had been for some ages oppressed, and indeed trodden under foot by the papacy: and if that had happened in a less ignorant age, it is very probable there would have been more effectual provisions made against it. The bishops that met at Constance, did not apprehend that the continuance of that breach was that in which their strength lay: they made too much haste to heal it; but they soon found, that, when all was again united, none of the regulations that they made, could restrain a power that pretended to know no limits. The greatest security of the church, as they thought, was in the act for perpetual general councils, which were to meet after short intervals; and in the act for subjecting the popes to the councils, requiring them to call them and the council to meet at the end of ten years, whether the pope summoned it or not.
But these proved feeble restraints ; yet the council of Basil did sit pursuant to the decree made at Constance : and the bishops who met there, endeavoured, as much as their low size of learning could direct them, to set forward a reformation of those abuses that were brought into the church, and that supported that despotic power which the popes had assumed. 'l hey reckoned a regulation of the election of bishops was the laying a good foundation, and the settling of pillais and bases upon which the fabric of the church might securely rest. Many bishops were made by papal provisions; these they simply condemned; others were pro
moted by the power and favour of princes, to which ambitious men recommended themselves by base compliances and simoniacai bargains; in opposition to these, they restored elections to the chapters, with as good provisions as they could contrive, that they should be well managed.
A contest falling in upon their proceedings, between them and Pope Eugenius the Fourth, they addressed themselves to Charles the Seventh, king of France, for his protection. They sent him the decrees they had made against annats, that is, first fruits ; a late device of Pope Boniface the Ninth, then about fisty years standing, pretending to carry on a war against the Turk by that aid. They also condemed gratius ei pectativas, or the survivances of bishoprics, and other benefices; with all clauses of reservations in bulls, by which popes reserved to themselves at pleasure, such things as were in a bishop's collation. They appointed elections to be confirmed by the metropolitan, and not by the pope. They condemned all fees and exactions upon elections, except only a salary for the writer's pains; and all appeals, except to the immediate superior ; with all appeals from a grievance, unless it was such that the final sentence must turn upon it : and when the appeal rose up by all intermediate steps to the pope, it was to be judged by delegates appointed to sit upon the place where the cause lay, or in the neighbourhood : only the causes marked expressly in the law, as greater causes, were reserved to the pope. Provision was made for the encouragement of learning, and of the universities, that the benefices that fell in any collator's gift, should be in every third month of the year given to men that had been, during a limited number of years, bred in them; and had upon due trial obtained degrees in them. If a bishop had ten benefices in his gift, the pope might name to one; and if fifty, to two, but to no more. Some of the provisions relate to the discipline and order of the cathedral churches: but the main thing of all was their declaring the council to be above the pope ; that the pope was bound to submit to it, and that appeals lay to it Trom him.
The first breach between the pope and the council was made up afterwards by the interposition of Sigismond, the emperor : the pope recalled his censures, confessed he had been misled, and ratified all that the council had done : but that lasted not long; for upon the pretence of treating a reconciliation with the Greek church, some moved for a translation of the council to Ferrara, but the majority opposed it ; yet the pope did translate it thither. Upon which, the council condemned that bull, and proceeded against
Eugenius. He, on the other hand, declared them to be no council, and excommunicated them : they, on their part, deposed him, and chose another pope, Amedee, duke of Savoy, who took the name of Felix: he had retired from his principality, and upon that, they again begged the protection of France.
The king being thus applied to by them, summoned a great assembly to meet at Bourgos (1438); where the dauphin, the princes of the blood, many of the nobility, and many bishops met. They would not approve the deposition of the pope, nor the new election of Felix: but yet they rejected the meeting of Ferrara, and adhered to that at Basil. The decrees past at Basil were by them reduced into the form of an edict, and published under the title of the Pragmatic Sanction ; which the king declared he would have to be inviolably observed, and he resolved to moderate matters between the pope and the council.
There are very different relations made of the effects that this edict had : some say that the church of France began to put on a new face upon it, and that men were advanced by merit, and not as formerly by applications to the court of Rome, nor solicitations at the court of France : “ Others give a most tragical representation of elections, as managed by faction, indirect arts, the solicitations of women, and simoniacal bargains; and in some places by open violence, out of which many suits were brought into the courts of law. The treasure of the church was, as they said, applied to maintain these ; the fabric was let go to ruin ; and bishops' houses dilapidated. Pope Leo the Tenth, in his bull that abrogates this Sanction, enumerates many evils that arose out of these elections, and that in particular, simony and perjury prevailed in them, of which he says he had undeniable evidence, in the many absolutions and reabilitations that were demanded of him.” This might be boldly alleged, because it could not be disproved, how false soever it might be.
There might be some instances of faction, which were no doubt aggravated by the flatterers of the court of Rome : for the profits which came from France being stopped by the Pragmatic, all arts were used to disgrace it.
Eneas Silvius was counted one of the ablest men of that time. He was secretary to the council of Basil, and wrote copiously in defence of it against the pope; but he was gained over to the interests of the court of Rome: he had a cardinal's lat, and was afterwards advanced to the popedom, and reigned by the name of Pius the Second. He retracted
all his former writings, but never answered them : yet he was so barefaced in setting himself to sale, that when he was reproached for changing sides, he answered, the popes gave dignities, abbeys, bishoprics, and red hats to their creatures; but he asked, how many of such good things did the council give.
He distinguished himself as deserters are apt to do, by railing at all that the council of Basil had done, and against the Pragmatic Sanction. He branded it as a heresy : and in a council that he held at Mantua, twenty years after (1458), he inveighed severely against it. He said bishops thought to have established their power, but on the contrary their authority was ruined by it; for ecclesiastical courts were brought into the secular courts, and all things were put into the king's hands : yet that Sanction was observed in France till the king's death ; and though some were persuaded to go to Rome, and to procure bulls, these were esteemed no better than traitors and enemies to the country. It is true, upon this the courts of parliament took upon them to judge in all ecclesiastical matters, and to examine whether the ecclesiastical courts had proceeded according to the laws of the church or not: and that the sentences of the temporal courts might be executed, they ordered the revenues of bishops, if they stood out in contumacy, to be seized into the king's hands, and their persons to be arrested.
When Danesius, the attorney-general, heard how Pope Pius had arraigned the Pragmatic Sanction, and that he was designing to proceed to censures against the king and his ministers, he protested against all he had said, referring the decision of the matter to a general council.
Upon that king's death he was succeeded by Louis the Eleventh ; and the bishop of Arras having great credit with him, the pope gained him, by the promise of a cardinal's hat, to use his endeavours to get the king, to abrogate the Sanction; and because he thought that which might work most on the king, was the apprehension that much money, which was now kept within the kingdom, would, upon the laying it aside, be carried to Rome; this expedient was offered, that there should be a legate resident in France, with powers to grant such bulls as were necessary; though this was never done, and it seems it was only offered as a specious concession to gain their point. King Louis the Eleventh's character is given us so fully by Philip de Comines, who knew him well, that none who have read him will wonder to find, that, when he needed any favour from the court of Rome, he made the fullest submission that any king perhaps ever made : he, in a letter that he wrote io the