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II. The Papal power in full exercise—On the decease of Paul I., A. D. 768, the papal chair was filled for a year by Constantine, who condemned the worship of images, and was, therefore, tumultuously deposed, and Stephen IV. substituted in his room, who was a furious defender of them. He immediately assembled a council in the Lateran church, where the renowned fathers abrogated all Constantine's decrees, deposed all the bishops that had been ordained by him, annulled all his baptisms and chrisms, and, as some historians relate, after having beaten and used him with great indignity, made a fire in the church and burnt him to death. After this they annulled all the decrees of the synod of Constantinople, ordered the restoration of statues and images, and anathematised that execrable and pernicious synod, giving this curious reason for the use of the images: that if it was lawful for emperors, and those who had deserved well of their country, to have their images erected, but not lawful to set up those of God, the condition of the immortal God would be worse than that of man. Thus the reign of superstition strengthened and enlarged itself until the time of Irene, the empress of Constantinople and her son Constantine, about the close of this century. Irene was the wife of Leo IV., who, in 775, after the death of Constantine, was declared emperor. Having strenuously exerted himself for the extirpation of idolatry out of the Christian church, he was poisoned by his perfidious wife, who was a zealous supporter of image worship. Under Irene's influence and authority was convened what is termed the seventh general council, held at Nice, the number of bishops present being about 350. They pronounced anathemas upon all who should not receive images, or who should apply what the Scriptures say against idols to the holy images, or who should call them idols, or who should wilfully communicate with those who rejected and despised them; adding, according to custom, “Long live Constantine, and Irene his mother,' and anathematising all heretics, and the council that roared against venerable images. “The holy trinity,' it said, ‘hath deposed them.’ Irene and Constantine approved and ratified these decrees, the result of which was, that idols and images were erected in all the churches, and those who opposed them were treated with great severity.
On the death of Pepin, king of France, in the year 768, his dominions were divided between his two sons, Charles and Carloman, the latter of whom dying two years afterwards, Charles became sole monarch of that country. In his general character he somewhat resembled our English Alfred, and is deservedly ranked amongst the most illustrious sovereigns that have appeared—a rare instance of a monarch who united his own glory with the happiness of his people.
In private life he was amiable; an affectionate father, a fond husband, and a generous friend. Though engaged in many wars, he was far from neglecting the arts of peace, the welfare of his subjects, or the cultivation of his own mind. But, with all these amiable traits in
the character of Charlemagne, a superstitious attachment to the see of Rome unhappily mingled itself, and led him to engage in theological disputes and quibbles unworthy of his character. He distinguished himself in the controversy concerning the worship of images, and sought to withdraw Adrian from an approval of the decrees of the second Nicene council. With this view he, in the year 794, assembled at Frankfort on the Main a council of 300 bishops, in order to reexamine this important question, by which the worship of images was unanimously condemned. At this period a new attack was made upon the patrimony of St. Peter. Adrian, who had succeeded Stephen in the papal chair, maintained a steady attachment to Charlemagne, which provoked Dideric, king of the Lombards, to invade the state of Ravenna, and to threaten Rome itself. Charlemagne recompensed his attachment, by marching with a large army to his succor; and having gained many considerable advantages over Dideric, and recovered the cities which he had taken, he visited the pope at Rome, confirming the grants made by his father Pepin, to which he added new donations, and formed a perpetual league of friendship between the growing power of France and the established supremacy of the western church. On this occasion he expressed his piety, by the humiliating ceremony of kissing each of the steps as he ascended to the church of St. Peter. By thus consulting the favor of the Roman pontiffs, clergy, and consequently that of the people, Charlemagne opened for himself a passage to the empire of the west and to the supreme dominion over the city of Rome and its territory, upon which the western empire seemed to depend. In the year 796 Leo III., who had succeeded Adrian in the papacy, transmitted to Charles the Roman standard, requesting him to send some erson to receive the oath of fidelity from the tomans, an instance of submission with which that monarch was highly flattered. Accordingly, in the year 800, we find Charles at Rome, where he passed six days in private conferences with the pope. On Christmas day, as the king assisted at mass in St. Peter's church in the midst of the ecclesiastical ceremonies, and upon his knees before the altar, the pope advanced, and put an imperial crown upon his head. As soon as the people perceived it, they exclaimed, * Long life and victory to Charles Augustus, crowned by the hand of God,” “Long live the great and pious emperor of the Romans.’ The supreme pontiff then conducted him to a magnificent throne, which had been prepared for the occasion, and, as soon as he was seated, paid him those honors which his predecessors had been accustomed to |. to the Roman emperors. Leo now presented him with the imperial mantle, on being invested with which, Charles returned to his palace amidst the acclamations of the multitude. Succeeding generations, grateful for the services which Charlemagne had rendered to Christianity, canonized his memory and turned this bloody warrior into an eminent saint. . In the twelfth century Frederick I, emperor of the Romans, ordered Pascha! II., whom he had
raised to the pontificate, to enrol the name of this mighty conqueror among the tutelary saints of the church. Indeed Charlemagne merited this honor; for to have enriched the clergy with large and magnificent donations, and to have extended the boundaries of the church, no matter by what methods, was then considered as the highest merit, and as a sufficient pretension to the honor of saintship. But, in the esteem of those who judge of the nature and character of sanctity by the decisions of the gospel, the sainted emperor will appear utterly unworthy of that object. The favors that were conferred by the pontiff on the French monarch imperiously called for an adequate return; and it is due to Charlemagne to say that he was by no means deficient in gratitude. The Greek emperor had abdicated or forfeited his right to the exarchate of Ravenna, and the sword of Pepin, the father of Charles, had no sooner wrested it from the grasp of Aistulphus, than he conferred it on the Roman pontiff, as a recompense “for the remission of his sins, and the salvation of his soul.” The splendid donation was granted in supreme and absolute dominion, and the world beheld a Christian bishop invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince;—the choice of magistrates, and the exercise of justice, the imposition of taxes, and the wealth of the palace of Rawenna. “Perhaps,’ says Gibbon, “the humility of a Christian priest should have rejected an earthly kingdom which it was not easy for him to govern without renouncing the virtues of his Profession; but humility does not appear to have been a very prominent trait in ... chatacters of the Roman pontiffs; and the profuse liberality of the French kings at this time was not much calculated to promote it among them.’
Before we narrate those events which, during the ninth and succeeding centuries, raised the papal see to its greatest height of power and arrogance, we must observe that, although hitherto the approbation of the emperor was necessary in order to the consecration of the person chosen to the pontificate, after the time of Charles the Bald, a new scene of things arose. That prince, having obtained the imperial dignity by the good offices of the bishop of Rome, returned this eminent service by delivering the succeeding pontiffs from the obligation of waiting for the consent of the emperors, in order to their being installed in their office. And thus we find that from the time of Eugenius II., who was raised to the pontificate A. D. 824, the election of the bishop of Rome was carried on without the least regard to law, order, and decency; and was generally attended with civil tumults and dissensions, until the reign of Otho the Great; who put a stop to these disorderly proceedings. Among the prelates that were raised to the pontificate in the ninth century there were very few who distinguished themselves by their learning, prudence, or virtue; or, who were studious of those particular qualities that are essential to the character of a Christian bishop. On the contrary, the greatest part of them are only known by the flagitious actions that have transmitted their names with infamy to our times; and all seem to have vied with each other in their ambitious
efforts to extend their authority, and render their dominion unlimited and universal. It is here that we may place, with propriety, an event which is said to have interrupted the much vaunted succession of regular bishops in the see of Rome, from the first foundation of that church to the present time. Between the pontificate of Leo IV., who died in the year 855, and that of Benedict III. a certain woman, who artfully disguised her sex for a considerable time, is said, by learning, genius, and dexterity, to have made good her way to the papal chair, and to have governed the church with the title and dignity of pontiff about two years. This extraordinary person is yet known by the title of Pope Joan. The period was now arrived in which the clergy aspired to the right of disposing of crowns, which they founded on the ancient Jewish practice of anointing kings. They had recourse to the most miserable fictions and sophisms to render themselves independent. They refused to take the oath of fidelity, because sacred hands could not without abomination, submit to hands impure! One usurpation led to another; abuse constituted right; a quibble appeared a divine law; ignorance sanctified every thing, and the most enormous usurpations of the clergy obtained a ready sanction from the slavish superstition of the laity. The history of the following ages shows in a multitude of deplorable examples the disorders and calamities that sprung from the ambition of the aspiring pontiffs; it represents these despotic lords of the church laboring, by the aid of their impious frauds, to overturn its ancient government, to undermine the authority of its bishops, to engross its riches and revenues into their own hands; nay, what is still more horrible, it represents them aiming perfidious blows at the thrones of princes, and endeavouring to lessen their Yower and to set bounds to their dominion. The ignorance and corruption that dishonored the Christian church in this century were great beyond measure. About the year 877 pope John VIII. convened a council at Troyes in France, one of the canons of which is sufficiently remarkable to be adduced as a specimen of the spirit of the times. It expressly asserts that “the powers of the world shall not dare to seat themselves in the presence of the bishops unless desired.' Thus the power and influence of the pontiffs, in civil affairs, rose, in a short time, to an enormous height, through the favor and protection of the princes in whose cause they had employed the influence which superstition had given them over the minds of the people. The increase of their authority in religious matters was not less rapid or less considerable; and it arose from the same causes. The Roman pontiffs, elate with their overgrown prosperity and the daily accessions that were made to their authority, were eagerly bent upon persuading all, and had indeed the good fortune to persuade many, that the bishop of Rome was constituted, by Jesus Christ, supreme legislator and judge of the church universal; and that, therefore, the bishops derived all their authority from the Roman pontiff, nor could the councils determine any thing without his permission and consent. After the death of Lando, who only enjoyed the dignity for a short time in the year 914, John X. obtained the pontifical chair through the intrigues of a celebrated rostitute, Theodora, with whom he had long |. intimate, notwithstanding his elevated station in the church. As John was indebted for his rank and elevation in the church to the intrigues of one infamous woman so he lost his dignity and life through those of another. This was Marozia, the daughter of his former mistress Theodora. Marozia, exasperated that she did not succeed her mother in the confidence of the pe, resolved to destroy him and his brother eter; who, at this time, was in habits of the strictest intimacy with him. She communicated the bloody design to her husband, and prevailed on him not only to approve but to be the instrument of carrying it into execution. Accordingly this wretch, on a certain day, when this pope and his brother were together in the Lateran palace, broke in at the head of a band of ruffians, killed Peter before his brother's face; and then, seizing the pope, dragged him to prison, where he soon afterwards died. This licentious pontiff was succeeded by Leo VI, who sat but seven months in the apostolic chair, which was filled after him by Stephen VII. The death of the latter, which happened in the year 931, presented to the ambition of Marozia an object worthy of its grasp ; and accordingly she raised to the papal dignity John XI., who was the fruit of her lawless amours with one of the pretended successors of St. Peter, Sergius III., whose adulterous commerce with that infamous woman gave an infallible guide to the Roman church. John XI., who was thus placed at the head of the church by the credit and influence of his mother, was o down from this summit of o graneur, A. D. 933, by Alberic his half brother. Upon the death of Agapetus II., which happened in the year 956, Alberic II., who, to the dignity of Roman consul joined a degree of authority and opulence which nothing could resist, raised to the pontificate his son Octavian, who was yet in the early bloom of youth, and destitute of every j." that was required for discharging the uties of that high and important office. This unworthy pontiff, who assumed the name of John XII., was as unhappy as hisso had been scandalous. Being degraded in the most ignominious manner from his high office by Otho the Great, Leo VIII. was appointed to fill his place. After this he several times conspired against the life of the new pope, and was as frequently pardoned; till at length he contrived to set himself again on the papal throne. John instantly assembled a council of prelates and cardinals, who condemned the council that had deposed him, and passed different sentences of condemnation on all those who had been accessary to the elevation of his rival. John did not long survive the holding of this council; for, having engaged in a criminal connexion with a married woman, the injured husband, who caught him in the act, put an end to the life and debaucheries of his holiness by some violent blows which he gave him on his temples. The Roman pontiff, who before this period
had pretended to the right of creating saints by his sole authority, gave in this century the first specimen of this ghostly power—for in the preceding ages there is no example of his having exercised this privilege alone. This specimen was given in the year 993 by John XV., at a council held at the Lateran palace, who, after hearing read an account of the life and supposed miracles of Ulderic, bishop of Augusta, declared, with the o of his bishops, that from thenceforth Ulderic might be worshipped and invoked as a saint in heaven reigning with Christ. This is the first instance on record of the solemn canonisation of a pretendedly meritorious character, a practice which soon contributed to crowd the Roman calendar with saints, and loaded the church with wealth by the rich offerings with which the superstitious multitude were encouraged to propitiate the favor of these new mediators between God and man. The administration of John XV. was as happy as the troubled state of the Roman affairs ...' permit; but the tranquillity he enjoyed was not so much the effect of his wisdom and prudence as of his being a Roman by birth and a descendant from noble and illustrious ancestors. Several learned writers have observed that, in this century, certain bishops mentioned publicly that the Roman pontiffs were not only bishops of Rome, but of the whole world; an assertion which hitherto none had ventured to make; and that even among the French clergy it had been affirmed by some that the authority of the bishops, though divine in its origin, was conveyed to them by St. Peter, the prince of the apostles. It was no doubtful mark of the progress and strength of the Christian cause that the European kings and princes began so early as this century to form the project of a holy war against the Mahometans, who were masters of Palestine; they considered it as an intolerable reproach upon Christians that the very land in which the divine author of their religion had received his birth, exercised his ministry, and made expiation for the sins of mortals, should be abandoned to the enemies of the Christian name. They also looked upon it as highly just and suitable to the majesty of the Christian religion to avenge the calamities and injuries, the persecution and reproach, which its professors had suffered under the Mahometan yoke. The bloody signal was accordingly given towards the conclusion of this century by the Roman pontiff Sylvester II., and that in the first year of his pontificate; and this signal was an epistle, written in the name of the church of Jerusalem, to the church universal throughout the world; in which the European powers are solemnly exhorted and entreated to succor and deliver the Christians in Palestine. The exhortations of the pontiff were, however, without effect, except upon the inhabitants of Pisa, who are said to have obeyed the papal summons with the utmost alacrity, and to have prepared themselves, immediately for a holy campaign. The see of Rome after the death of Sylvester II, which happened in the year 1003, was filled successively by John XVII, John XVIII., Benedict VIII., and John XIX., none of whose pontificates were distinguished by any memorable events; they were not, however, chargeable with dishonoring their high stations by that licentiousness and immorality that rendered so many of their successors infamous; their lives were virtuous; at least their conduct was decent. But their examples had little effect upon Benedict IX., a most abandoned profligate and a wretch capable of the most horrid crimes, whose flagitious conduct drew upon him the just resentment of the Romans; who, in the year 1038, degraded him from his office. A. D. 1048 Bruno, bishop of Toul, was appointed to the pontificate. This prelate is known in the list of the popes by the name of Leo IX., and his private virtues, as well as his public acts of zeal and piety in the government of the church, were deemed meritorious enough to entitle him to a place among the saintly order. But, if we deduct from these pretended virtues his vehement zeal for augmenting the opulence and authority of the church of Rome, and his laudable severity in correcting and punishing certain enormous vices which were common among the clergy during his pontificate, there will remain little in the life and administration of this pontiff that could give him any pretensions to his distinction. Being taken prisoner by his enemies, and led captive to Benevento, dismal reflections upon his unhappy fate preyed upon his spirits, and threw him into a dangerous illness: so that after a year's imprisonment he was sent to Rome, where he concluded his days on the 19th of April 1054. Before the pontificate of Nicholas II., A. D. 1058, the popes were chosen not only by the suffrages of the cardinals, but also by those of the whole Roman clergy, the nobility, the burgesses, and the assembly of the people. To increase the papal influence, and to limit that of the lower clergy and of the people as far as was possible, this artful and provident pontiff had a law passed by which the cardinals were empowered, upon a vacancy in the see of Rome, to elect a new pope without any prejudice to the ancient privileges of the Roman emperors in this important matter. Not that the rest of the clergy, with the burgesses, and people, were wholly excluded from all part in this election, since their consent was solemnly demanded, and also esteemed of much weight; but, in consequence of this new regulation, the cardinals acted the principal part in the creation of the new pontiff; though they suffered for a long time much opposition both from the sacerdotal order and the Roman citizens, who were constantly either reclaiming their ancient rights, or abusing the privilege they yet retained, of confirming the election of every new pope by their approbation and consent. n the following century an end was put to all these disputes by Alexander II., who was so fortunate as to complete what Nicolas had only begun, and who transferred and confirmed to the cardinals the right of electing to the apostolic see, excluding the nobility, the people, and the rest of the clergy, from all concern in this important matter. Passing over the contentions between Henry IV. and Alexander we come to the turbulent pontificate of Hildebrand, originally a monk of the order of Clugny, who found means
to obtain a cardinal's hat. He was a man of a restless, fiery, and enterprising disposition; but chiefly remarkable for his furious zeal for the go." of the church. He was born at
oana, in Tuscany, of obscure parents, brought up at Rome, and had been frequently employed by that court to manage various political concerns which required dexterity and resolution; and he rendered himself famous in all parts of Italy for his zeal and intrepidity. Hildebrand had interest enough to procure himself to be elected to the pontifical chair in 1073, on the same day that Alexander was interred, by the title of Gregory VII. ; and the papacy has not produced a more extraordinary character. “All that the malice or flattery of a multitude of writers have said of this pope,’ says Voltaire, ‘is concentrated in a portrait drawn of him by a Neapolitan artist, in which Gregory is represented as holding a crook in one hand and a whip in the other, trampling sceptres under his feet, with St. Peter's net, and fishes on either side of him.' Gregory was installed by the people of Rome, without consulting the emperor, as had hitherto been customary. But, though Henry had not been consulted upon the occasion, Gregory prudently waited for his confirmation of the choice before he assumed the chair. He obtained it by this mark of submission: the emperor confirmed his election: and the new pontiff was not dilatory in pulling off the mask; for in a little time he raised a storm which fell with violence upon the head of Henry, and shook all the thrones in Christendom. He began his pontificate with excommunicating every ecclesiastic who should receive a benefice from a layman, and every layman by whom such benefice should be conferred. This was engaging the church in an open war with all the sovereigns of Europe. It was evident, indeed, that Gregory formed the project of making himself lord of Christendom, by at once dissolving the jurisdiction which kings and emperors had hitherto exercised over the various orders of the clergy, and by subjecting to the papal authority all temporal princes, rendering their dominions tributary to the see of Rome: and, however romantic the undertaking may appear, it was not altogether without success. The pretensions of the Romish church had at this time, says Mr. Southey, been carried to the highest pitch by Gregory VII., one of those restless spirits who obtain an opprobrious renown in history for disturbing the age in which they live. The Romanists themselves acknowledge now the inordinate ambition of this haughty pontiff, who may be deemed the founder of the papal dominion; but, during many centuries, he was held up as an object of admiration to the Christian world, and still holds his place as a saint in the Romish calendar. His sanctity, the legends of that church relate, was prefigured in childhood, by sparks proceeding from his garments and a lanbent light which appeared to issue from his head. He himself affirmed that, in a dream, there went forth fire from his mouth and set the world in flames; and his enemies, who vilified him as a sorcerer, admitted that such a vision was appropriate to one who was indeed a firebrand. Another of his dreams was that he saw St. Paul clearing out dung from his church, wherein cattle had taken shelter, and calling upon him to assist him in the work; and certain persons who were keeping vigils in St. Peter's church beheld, in a waking vision, St. Peter and Hildebrand laboring at the same task. By such artifices his reputation for sanctity was established among the people, while he obtained promotion for his activity and talents; till at length, rather by intrigue and ol. outcry than by canonical election, he was chosen pope. Hitherto the popes had recognised the supremacy of the emperors, by notifying to them their election before they were consecrated, and having that ceremony performed in the presence of an imperial envoy. Hildebrand conformed to this, being conscious that his elevation was informal, and glad to have it thus ratified. The first use he made of the power which he had thus obtained was to throw off all dependence upon the temporal authority, and establish a system whereby Rome should again become the mistress of the world. A grander scheme never was devised by human ambition, and, wild as it may appear, it was at that time, in many points, so beneficial that the most upright man might conscientiously have labored to advance it. Whether the desire of benefiting mankind had any place among the early impulses of Hildebrand may be well doubted, upon the most impartial consideration of his conduct; but in preparing the way for an intolerable tyranny, and for the worst of all abuses, he began by reforming abuses and vindicating legal rights. Such a government Hildebrand would have founded; and Christendom, if his plans had been accomplished, would have become a federal body, the kings and princes of which should have bound themselves to obey the vicar of Christ, not only as their spiritual, but their temporal lord; and their disputes, instead of being decided by the sword, were to have been referred to a council of prelates annually assembled at Rome. Unhappily, the personal character of this extraordinary man counteracted the pacific part of his schemes; and he became the firebrand of Europe, instead of the peacemaker. Hitherto the princes of Christendom had enjoyed the right of nominating bishops and abbots, and of giving them investiture by the ring and crosier. The popes, on their part, had been accustomed to send legates to the emperors to entreat their assistance, to obtain their confirmation, or to desire them to come and receive papal sanction. Gregory, now resolving to push the claim of investitures, sent two of his legates to summons Henry to appear before him as a delinquent, because he still continued to bestow investitures, notwithstanding the papal decree to the contrary: adding that, if he failed to yield obedience to the church, he must expect to be excommunicated and dethroned. This arrogant message, from one whom he regarded as his vassal, greatly provoked Henry, who abruptly dismissed the legates, and lost no time in convoking an assembly of princes and dignified ecclesiastics at Worms; where, after mature deliberation they came to this, conclusion : that, Gregory having usurped the chair of St. Peter by indirect means, infected the church of God with
many novelties and abuses, and deviated from his duty to his sovereign in several instances, the emperor, by the supreme authority derived from his predecessors, ought to divest him of his disnity, and appoint a successor. In the articles of accusation it was, among other things, imputed to Gregory that he was an apostate monk, an incendiary, a sacrilegist, a murderer, a liar, an abettor of adultery and incests. Henry, consequently, sent an ambassador to Rome, with a formal deprivation of Gregory: who, in his turn, convoked a council, at which were present 110 bishops, who unanimously agreed that the pope had just cause to depose Henry, to annul the oath of allegiance which the princes and states had taken in his favor, and to prohibit thera from holding any correspondence with him on pain of excommunication. Hildebrand's hanguage was, that, if kings presumed to disobey the edicts of the apostolic see, they were cut off from participating in the body and blood of Christ, and forfeited their dignities. For if that see had power to determine and judge in things celestial and spiritual, how much more in things earthly and secular ! The church, he affirmed, had power to give or take away all empires, j. duchies, principalities, marquisates, countries, and possessions of all men whatsoever. A sentence of deprivation was immediately fulminated against the emperor and his adherents: “In the name of Almighty God and by your althority,' said Gregory, addressing the members of his council, ‘I prohibit Henry from governing the Teutonic kingdom and Italy; I release all Christians from their oath of allegiance to him; and I strictly forbid all persons to serve or attend him as king.' This is the first instance of a pope presuming to deprive a sovereign of his crown; but, unhappily, it was too flattering to ecclesiastical pride to be the last. Gregory well knew what consequences would result from the thunders of the church. The bishops in Germany immediately came over to his T.'. and drew with them many of the nobles. The Saxons took the opportunity of revolting: even the emperor's favorite Guelf, a nobleman to whom he had given the duchy of Bavaria, supported the malcontents with that very power which he owed to his sovereign's bounty; and the princes and prelates who had assisted in deposing Gregory gave up their monarch to be tried by the pope, who was requested to come to Augsburg for that purpose. To avoid the odium of this impending trial Henry submitted to the degradation of preparing to throw himself at the feet of the pontiff, to solicit absolution. It was some time before the pontiff would admit the monarch into his presence; and when the order was issued for that purpose, it was on the condition that he should enter at the outer gate of the fortress without attendants; and at the next gate he was required to divest himself of the ensigns of royalty, and put on a coarse woollen tunic, in which dress, and barefooted, he was suffered to stand for three whole days at the third gate, exposed to the severity of the weather, fasting and imploring the mercy of God and the pope. The pope from one of the windows of his castle, where he was seated with the countess Matilda,