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needed. He seemed to have an instinctive horror of a council, and the history of his pontificate records little more than repeated attempts on the part of the German states to procure one, and his successful opposition to their wishes. Diets of the empire were held nearly every year, and they scarcely ever closed without a strong expression of anxiety for the assembling of a council, which the continued progress of the reformers rendered increasingly necessary. The Emperor, too, became very desirous for the adjustment of the religious differences that agitated Germany, but could obtain nothing from the pontiff except a promise to employ all the machinery of spiritual terror, if he on his part would unsheath the sword, and save himself the trouble of convincing heretics by destroying them.* During all this time Luther and his coadjutors were diffusing their opinions with remarkable success, and evangelical religion daily gained new triumphs in Sweden, Denmark, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, and even in Italy and Spain.t At a diet held at Spire in 1529, the reformers acquired the name of “ Protestants,” from their protesting against an iniquitous decree which declared unlawful all changes in doctrine or worship which should be introduced previous to the decision of a general council. I
* This was seriously proposed to the Emperor in a memorial addressed to him by Cardinal Campeggio, in which, after expressing his concern on account of the progress of Protestant opinions, he suggests the formation of a league between the Emperor and the Roman-catholic princes and states, for the avowed purpose of putting down protestantism. Promises and threatenings were to be first tried ; if these failed, force was to be employed, the books of the heretics burned, their property confiscated, and “the poisonous plants destroyed by fire and sword !” This was genuine Romish policy. See Ranke's “ Histoire de la Papauté,” (Paris, 1838,) vol. i. p. 156—158.
+ See Dr. M‘Crie's two interesting volumes, containing the history of the progress and suppression of the Reformation in Spain and Italy.
I Le Plat, ii. 301-321. The princes who entered this protest were, John, Elector of Saxony, George, Elector of Brandenburg, Ernest and Francis, Dukes of Lunenburg, the Landgrave of Hesse, and the Prince of Anhalt. They were joined by thirteen imperial towns,—viz. Strasburg, Ulm, Nuremburg, Constance, Reutlingen, Windsheim, Memmingen, Nortlingen, Lindaw, Kempten, Heilbron, Weissemburg, and St. Gall. Pallavacini remarks that by “ Protestants” was meant “ enemies both to the Pope and the Emperor.” Hist. lib. ii. c. 18. s. 6. This is a stale calumny : see Amos vii. 10; John xix. 12; Acts xvii. 7.
The Emperor left no means untried to restore the Protestants to the church of Rome. At the diet of Augsburg, in 1530, they presented their confession of faith, written by the elegant pen of Melancthon. It was read in the presence of the Emperor and the assembled princes. The Roman-catholic divines replied to it: conferences were held; but it was now evident that a re-union of the parties was no longer to be expected, as the points of difference were held by each to be of vital interest. Charles was enraged at the result. In compliance with his opinions and remonstrances, the diet issued a decree, condemning most of the peculiar tenets held by the Protestants; forbidding any person to protect or tolerate such as taught them; enjoining a strict observance of the established rites; and prohibiting any further innovation under severe penalties. All orders of men were required to assist, with their persons and fortunes, in carrying this decree into execution; and such as refused to obey it were declared incapable of acting as judges or of appearing as parties in the Imperial Chamber, the supreme court of judicature in the empire; to all which was subjoined a promise, that an application should be made to the Pope, requiring him to call a general council within six months, in order to terminate all controversies by its sovereign decisions.”*
In pursuance of this promise, Charles corresponded with the Pope respecting a council. Clement, as usual, hesitated and objected. Still the Emperor urged the matter, and at length the Pope signified that he was willing to convene the longdesired assembly, on the following conditions:—that the objects for which it should be called should be, to obtain subsidies against the Turks, restore the Lutherans to the faith, suppress heresies, and punish the refractory, but not a word about reformation; that the Emperor himself should be present; that it should be holden in Italy, at Bologna, Placentia, or Mantua; that none should have the right of suffrage but those who had enjoyed it by prescription already; and that the Lutherans should both desire it and engage to obey its decrees.
It was easy to see that the Pope was insincere. Nevertheless, to save appearances, he dispatched letters to the European
* Robertson, book v. Le Plat, ii. 479----501.
princes and states, informing them of his determination, and requesting their assistance, either in person or by their ambassadors, whenever the council should be summoned.* It seems that at Rome it was seriously believed that his Holiness was in earnest, and so great was the panic in consequence that the price of public offices fell in the market to almost nothing !t
The number and power of the Protestants continued to increase, and for the present Charles was obliged to relinquish the hope of forcing them back to popery. By the peace of Nuremburg, established in July, 1532, it was arranged that the decree of the diet of Augsburg should be suspended, and that all molestations on account of religion should cease till the convocation of a general council, which the Emperor once more promised should take place within six months : but that if it did not, another diet should be summoned, to determine on some mode of settling the religious differences of Germany. I In the latter end of the year, the Pope and Emperor met at Bologna. The result of their conference was, that the former sent a nuncio, and the latter an ambassador, to the German princes, to negotiate with them respecting the place, mode of proceeding, &c. of the proposed council.S But the wily pontiff had offered such conditions as he well knew the Protestant princes would not accept. In fact, Clement had resolved that a council should not be assembled while he possessed the power to prevent it. He succeeded : by pretexts, excuses, and artifices, he deferred the dreaded meeting, and kept all Europe at bay till his death, which took place Sept. 25, 1534.
Paul III., who succeeded Clement, professed great zeal for the reformation of abuses, and would have it believed that he was extremely desirous of a council. Scarcely ever did the cardinals meet in consistory but the Pope harangued them on the necessity of reform, which, he said, must begin with themselves. But his own conduct gave very little hope that any
* Le Plat, ii. 501—503. On one occasion Clement had sent the Emperor two bulls, either of which might be used by him at his discretion. By the one, he deprived the Elector of Saxony, a Protestant, of his right of suffrage in the choice of an Emperor, because he was a heretic; by the other, he granted him the right, although he was a heretic! Pallav. lib. iii. c. 9. s. 2.
† “ Vilissimum pretium,” says Pallavicini, to whom we are indebted for this curious fact. Lib. iii. c. 7. s. 1. | Le Plat, ii. 503-510.
Le Plat, ii. 510_515.
efficient measures would be adopted. Only two months after his elevation to the pontificate he gave cardinals' hats to two lads, one aged fourteen, the other sixteen, the sons of his own illegitimate children !*
Early in 1535 nuncios were sent to all the European sovereigns, announcing the Pope's intention respecting a council, and soliciting their co-operation. Peter Paul Vergerio was selected for Germany. He was instructed to confine himself to one point,—viz., the place where the council should be held ; for the Pope judged that if the Protestants would allow him the right to summon the meeting, and the choice of time and place, everything else would be easily settled. Vergerio met the Protestant princes at Smalcald, but they refused to accept his proposals, and declared that they would not submit to any council unless it were free, and held in Germany.
The bull for the convocation of the council was issued in June, 1536, and May 23 in the following year was appointed for the meeting of the assembly; the place was Mantua.[ Nuncios were dispatched to the European courts with the intelligence. Vorstius, who was sent to the German Protestant princes, was specially enjoined to avoid all disputations with the heretics; such proceedings were found to be dangerous.
The princes were again assembled at Smalcald, and they again rejected the council, for the same reasons as before. The Pope was further mortified by the refusal of the Duke of Mantua to receive the assembly in his city unless an extra garrison were sent, to be placed absolutely under his control, and supported by his Holiness. In consequence, the council was prorogued till November 1, and afterwards till May 1, 1538, on which day the prelates were summoned to meet at Vicenza, a city in the Venetian territories. || Three legates were deputed to preside in the name of the Pope, the cardinals Campeggio, Simonetta, and Aleander. They repaired to Vicenza at the time appointed, but not a single bishop appeared; for the
* Sarpi, lib. i. c. 52; Pallav. lib. iji. c. 17. s. 5.
+ Le Plat, ü. 519. An interesting account of an interview between Luther and Vergerio, and of the conversion of the latter to Protestantism, is given by Mr. Scott in his continuation of Milner's History, vol. i. p. 407—415, 452 -457.
| Le Plat, ii. 526. Le Plat, 575–584. || Le Plat, 588—591.
Emperor and the King of France were at war, and travelling was unsafe. Consequently, the council was prorogued till the following Easter, and afterwards during the good pleasure of the Pope,* who, it may be supposed, was heartily glad of an opportunity to postpone to an indefinite period a meeting which the pontiffs seemed to hold in the utmost dread.
It was probably with a wish to prevent the council entirely, that Paul appointed a commission, consisting of four cardinals, (Contarini, Sadolet, Caraffa, and Reginal Pole,) and five other eminent ecclesiastics, to examine all. abuses and ascertain where reform was most needed. Their report, which proved a most important document, by some means got abroad, and was immediately printed and widely circulated in Germany, where it greatly aided the reformation. It presented a deplorable view of the corruptions and vices of the papal court.t
During the next three years the Roman Catholics and Protestants were busily employed in supporting their respective interests. Attempts were made from time to time to recon
* Le Plat, 630—632. + Le Plat, ii. 596—605. Preservative against Popery, vol. i. p. 79—84. “ The reformation proposed in this place was indeed extremely superficial and partial : yet it contains some particulars which scarcely could have been expected from the pens of those that composed it. They complained, for instance, of the pride and ignorance of the bishops, and proposed that none should receive orders but learned and pious men; and that, therefore, care should be taken to have proper masters to instruct the youth. They condemned translations from one benefice to another, grants of reservation, non-residence, and pluralities. They proposed that some convents should be abolished ; that the liberty of the press should be restrained and limited; that the Colloquies of Erasmus should be suppressed ; that no ecclesiastics should enjoy a benefice out of his own country ; that no cardinal should have a bishopric; that the questors of St. Anthony, and several other saints, should be abolished; and, which was the best of all their proposals, that the effects and personal estates of ecclesiastics should be given to the poor. They concluded with complaining of the prodigious number of indigent and ragged priests that frequented St. Peter's church ; and declared that it was a great scandal to see the whores lodged so magnificently at Rome, and riding through the streets on fine mules, while the cardinals and other ecclesiastics accompanied them in a most courteous and familiar manner.”—Mosheim, cent. 16, sect. 1.
Caraffa, one of the cardinals mentioned above, was chosen Pope seventeen years afterwards, and is known in history as Paul IV. In 1559, he published an Index of prohibited books, among which was found the very Report to which his own name was attached ! It is entitled “Consilium de emendanda Ecclesia,” and is still placed in the condemned catalogue.