HISTORY of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH*
§ 61. Literature of the Renaissance.
For an extended list of literature, see Voigt: Wiederbelebung des elam. Alterthums, II. 517–529, bringing it down to 1881, and Pastor: Gesch. der Päpste, I., pp. xxxii-lxiii, III., pp. xlii-lxix. Also this vol., pp. 400 sqq. Geiger adds Lit. notices to his Renaissance und Humanismus, pp. 564 sqq. The edd. of most of the Humanists are given in the footnotes.—M. Whitcomb: A Lit. Source-Book of the Ital. Renaiss., Phila., 1898, pp. 118.
Genl. Works.—*G. Tiraboschi, a Jesuit and librarian of the duke of Modena, d. 1794: Storia della Letteratura Italiana, 18 vols., Modena, 1771–1782; 9 vols., Roma, 1782–1785; 16 vols., Milan, 1822–1826. Vol. V. of the Roman ed. treats of Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio.—Heeren: Gesch. d. class. Lit., etc., 2 vols., Götting., 1797–1802.—Roscoe: Life of Lorenzo De’ Medici and Life and Pontificate of Leo X. — J. Ch. L. Sismondi, d. 1842: Hist. des Républiques Itat., Paris, 1807–1818, 5th ed., 10 vols., 1840–1844. Engl. trsl., Lond., 1832, and Hist. de la renaiss. de la liberté en Italie, 2 vols., 1832.—J. Michelet, d. 1874: Renaissance, the 7th vol. of his Hist. de France, Paris, 1867.—*J. Burckhardt, Prof. in Basel, d. 1897: Die Cultur der Renaissance in Italien, Basel, 1860; 3rd ed. by L. Geiger, 1878. 9th ed., 1904. A series of philosophico-historical sketches on the six aspects of the Italian Renaissance, namely, the new conception of the state, the development of the individual, the revival of classic antiquity, the discovery of the world and of man, the new formation of society and the transformation of morals and religion. Engl. trsl. by Middlemore from the 3rd ed., 2 vols., Lond., 1878, 1 vol., 1890. Also his Cicerone; Anleitung zum Genuss der Kunstwerke Itat., 4th ed. by Bode, Leipz., 1879; 9th ed., 2 vols., 1907.—*G. Voigt: Wiederbelebung des classischen Alterthums oder das erste Jahrhundert des Humanismus, 1859; 2 vols., 3rd ed., 1893.—T. D. Woolsey, Pres. of Yale Col., d. 1889: The Revival of Letters in the 14th and 15th Centuries. A series of valuable articles in the line of Voigt’s first ed., in the New Englander for 1864 and 1865.—M. Monnier: La Renaiss. de Dante à Luther, Paris, 1884. Crowned by the French Acad.—*P. Villari: Nic. Machiavelli e i suoi tempi, 3 vols., Flor., 1877–1882; Engl. trsl. by the author’s wife, 4 vol., Lond., 1878–1883. An introd. chap. on the Renaiss. New ed., 2 vols. 1891.—J. A. Symonds: Renaissance in Italy, Lond., 1877 sqq.; 2d, cheaper ed., 7 vols., 1888. Part I., The Age of the Despots; Part II., The Revival of Learning; Part III., The Fine Arts; Part IV., Ital. Literature, 2 vols.; Part V., The Cath. Reaction, 2 vols. The most complete Engl. work on the subject and based upon the original sources, but somewhat repetitious. Also his Life of Michelangelo, etc. See below.—G. Koerting: Gesch. der Lit. Italiens im Zeitalter der Renaiss., Leipz., Vol. I., 1878, Petrarca; Vol. II., 1880, Boccaccio; Vol. III., 1884, the forerunners and founders of the Renaissance.—*L. Geiger, Prof. in Berlin: Renaissance u. Humanismus in Ital. und Deutschland, Berlin, 1882, 2nd ed., 1899. Part of Oncken’s Allg. Gesch.—Mrs. Oliphant: The Makers of Florence, Lond., 1888. Sketches of Dante, Giotto, Savonarola, Michelangelo.—P. Schaff: The Renaissance, N. Y., 1891, pp. 182.—*Gregorovius: Hist. of the City of Rome, vols. vi-viii.—*Pastor: Gesch. d. Päpste, especially vols. I. 3–63; III. 3–172.—Creighton: Hist. of the Papacy.—P. and H. van Dyke: The Age of the Renascence, 1377–1527, N. Y., 1897.—K. Brandi: D. Renaiss. in Florenz u. Rom 2nd ed., Leipz., 1900.—W. S. Lilly: Renaiss. Types, Lond., 1901.—E. Steinmann: Rom u. d. Renaiss., von Nik. V.—Leo X., 2nd ed., Leipz., 1902. *John Owen: The Skeptics of the Ital. Renaiss., Lond., 1893.—J. Klaczko: Rome and the Renaiss., trsl. by Dennie, N. Y., 1903.—P. van Dyke: Aretino, Th. Cromwell and Maximilian I, N. Y., 1905.—L. Schmidt: D. Renaiss. in Briefen v. Dichtern, Künstlern, Staatsmännern u. Frauen.—J. S. Sandys — Hist. of Class. Scholarship, 3 vols.—A. Baudrillart: The Cath. Ch., the Renais. and Protestantism, Lond., 1908.—Imbart de la Tour: L’église cathol: la crise et la renaiss., Paris, 1909.
For § 63.—For Dante. Best Italian text of the Div. Commedia is by Witte. The ed. of Fraticelli, Flor., 1881, to used In this vol. See also Toynbee’s text, Lond., 1900. The latest and best Ital. commentaries by Scartazzini, Leipz., 3 vols., 1874–1894, 3rd, small ed., 1899, P. G. Campi, Turin, 1890 sqq., and W. W. Vernon, based on Benvenuto da Imola, 2 vols., Lond., 1897,—Engl. trsll. of Dante’s Div. Com.: In verse by Rev. H. F. Cary, 1805, etc., amended ed. by O. Kuhns, N. Y., 1897.—J. C. Wright, Lond., 1843, etc.; Longfellow, 3 vols., 1867, etc.; E. H. Plumptre, 2 vols., Lond., 1887 sqq.; T. W. Parsons, Bost, 1896.—H. K. Haselfoot, Lond., 1899.—M. R Vincent, N. Y., 1904.—In prose: J. A. Carlyle Lond., 1848, etc.; W. S. Dugdale, Purgatorio, Lond., 1883.—A. J. Butler, Lond., 1894.—G. C. Norton, Boston, 1892, new ed., 1901.—P. H. Wicksteed, Lond., 1901 sqq.—H. P. Tozer, Lond., 1904.—*G. A. Scartazzini, a native of the Grisons, Reformed minister: Prolegomeni della Div. Com., etc., Leipz., 1890. Engl. trsl. A Companion to Dante, by A. J. Butler, Lond., 1893; Dante Handbuch, etc., Engl. trsl. Hdbook. to Dante, etc., by T. Davidson, Bost., 1887.—E. A. Fay: Concordance to the Div. Com., Cambr., Mass., 1880.—P. Schaff: Dante and the Div. Com., in Literature and Poetry, 1890, pp. 279–429, with list of Dante lit, pp. 328–337.—Tozer: Engl. Concordance on Dante’s Div. Com., Oxf., 1907.—*E. Moore: Studies in Dante, 3 vols., Lond., 1896–1903.—Lives of Dante: Dante and his Early Biographers, being a résumé by E. Moore of five, Lond., 1880. A trsl. of Boccaccio’s and Bruni’s Lives, by Wicksteed, Hull, 1898.—F. X. Kraus, Berl., 1897.—P. Villari: The First Two Centt. of Florent. Hist. The Republic, and Parties at the Time of Dante. Engl. trsl. by L. Villari.—*Witte: Essays on Dante, trsl. by Lawrence and Wicksteed.—Essays on Dante by *R. W. Church, 1888, and *Lowell.—M. F. Rossetti: Shadow of Dante, Edin., 1884.—Owen: Skeptics of the Ital. Renaiss.—J. A. Symonds: Introd. to the Study of Dante, Lond., 1893.—D. G. C. Rossetti: Dante and Ital. Poets preceding him, 1100–1300, Boston, 1893.—C. A. Dinsmore: The Teachings of Dante, Bost., 1901.—C.E. Laughlin: Stories of Authors’ Loves, Phila., 1902.—A. H. Strong: Dante, in Great Poets and their Theol., Phila., 1897, pp. 105–155.—Art. Dante with Lit. in the Schaff-Herzog, III. 853 sqq. by M. R. Vincent.
For Petrarca: Opera omnia, Venice, 1503; Basel, 1554, 1581.—Epistolae ed. in Lat. and Ital. by Fracasetti, Flor., 1859–1870, in several vols. The Canzoniere or Rime in Vita e Morte di Mad. Laura often separately edited by Marsand, Leopardi, Carducci and others, and in all collections of the Ital. classics.—Sonnets, Triumphs and other Poems, with a Life by T. Campbell Lond., 1889–1890.—Lives by Blanc, Halle, 1844.—Mézières, Paris, 1868, 2d ed., 1873.—Geiger, Leipz., 1874,—Koerting, Leipz., 1878, pp. 722.—Mary A. Ward, Bost., 1891.—F. Horridge, 1897.—*J. H. Robinson and R. W. Rolfe, N. Y., 1898.—L. O. Kuhns, Great Poets of Italy, 1904.—E. J. Mills: Secret of Petr., 1904.—R. de Nolhac: Petr. and the Art World, 1907.
For Boccaccio: Opere volgari, ed. by Moutier, 17 vols., Flor., 1827–1834, Le Lettere edite ed inedite, trsl. by Fr. Corragini, Flor., 1877.—Lives of Boccaccio by Manetti, Baldelli, Landau, Koerting, Leipz., 1880. Geiger: Renaissance, pp. 448–474.—*Owen: Skeptics, etc., pp. 128–147.—N. H. Dole: Boccaccio and the Novella in A Teacher of Dante, etc., N. Y., 1908.
For § 64.—For Lives of the popes, see pp. 401–403. Lives of Cosimo de’ Medici by Fabroni, Pisa, 1789; K. D. Ewart, Lond., 1899; and of Lorenzo by Fabroni, 2 vols., Pisa, 1784; Roscoe; von Reumont; B. Buser Leipz., 1879;Castelnau, 2 vols., Paris, 1879.—Vaughan: The Medici Popes, 1908.—G. F. Young: The Medici, 1400–1743, Lond., 1909.—Lor. de’ Medici: Opere, 4 vols., Flor., 1825, Poesie, ed. by Carducci, Flor., 1859.—E. L. S. Horsburgh: Lor. the Magnificent, Lond., 1909.
For § 66.—G. Vasari, pupil of Michelangelo, d. 1574; Lives of the More Celebrated Painters, Sculptors and Architects, 1550; best ed. by Milanesi, 9 vols., Flor., 1878–1885. Small ed., 1889. Engl. trsl., new ed., 1878, 5 vols. in Bohn’s Library. Vasari is the basis of most works in this department.—Benvenuto Cellini, goldsmith and sculptor at Florence, d. 1570: Vita scritta da lui medesimo. An autobiog. giving a lively picture of the life of an Ital. artist of that period. German trsl. by Goethe; Engl. trsll. by Roscoe and Symonds, Lond., 1890.—A. Luigi Lanza, d. 1810: The Hist. of Painting in Italy, from the Period of the Revival of the Fine Arts to 1800. Trsl. by T. Roscoe, 3 vols., Lond., 1852.—W. Lübke: Hist. of Sculpture, Engl. trsl. by Bunnett, 2 vols., 1872; Outlines of the Hist. of Art, ed. by R. Sturgis, 2 vols., N. Y., 1904.—J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle: Hist. of Painting in Italy, etc., to the 16th Cent., Lond., 1864–1867, ed. by Douglass, Lond., 3 vols., 1903–1908.—Mrs. Jameson and Lady Eastlake: Hist. of our Lord as exemplified in Works of Art.—Mrs. Jameson: Legends of the Madonna as repres. in the Fine Arts; Sacr. and Leg. Art; Legends of the Monastis Orders as expressed in the Fine Arts.—H. Taine: Lectures on Art, Paris, 1865 sq.—1st series: The Philos. of Art. 2nd series: Art in Italy, etc. Trsl. by Durand, N. Y., 1875.—A. Woltmann and K. Woermann: Hist. of Anc., Early Christian and Med. Painting. Trsl. by Colvin, Lond., 1880, iIIus.—E. Müntz: Hist. de l’Art pendant la Renaiss., 5 vols., Paris, 1889–1905. The first 3 vols. are devoted to Italy, the 4th to France, the 5th to other countries. Les Antiquités de la ville de Rom, 1300–1600, Paris, 1886.—Histt. of Archit. by Ferguson and R. Sturgis.—C. H. Moore: Character of Renaiss. Archit., N. Y., 1905.—R. Lanciani: Golden Days of the Renaiss. in Rome, 1906.—A. K. Porter: Med. Archit. Its Origin and Development, 2 vols., N. Y., 1909.—Lives of Michelangelo by *H. Grimm, 2 vols., Berl., 1860, 5th ed., 1879. Engl. trsl. by Bunnett, 12th ed., 2 vols., Bost., 1882; A. Sprenger: Raffaele u. Michelangelo, 2nd ed., 1883; C. Clement, Lond., 1883; J. A. Symonds, 2 vols., N. Y., 1892; F. Horridge, 1897; C. Holroyd, 1903.—Lives of Raphael by Ruland, Lond., 1870; Lübke, Dresden, 1881; Müntz, trsl. by Armstrong, 1888; Crowe and Cavalcaselle, 2 vols., Lond., 1882–1888; Minghetti, Ger. ed., Breslau, 1887; *H. Grimm trsl. by S. H. Adams, Bost, 1888; Knackfuss, trsl. by Dodgson, N. Y., 1899.
For §§ 68, 69.—K. Hagen: Deutschland literarische und religiöse Verhältnisse im Reformations-Zeitalter, Erlang., 1841–1844, 38 vols., 2d ed., Frankf., 1868.—T. Janssen-Pastor: Gesch. des deutschen Volkes, 18th ed., I. 77–166, II. Comp. his alphab. list of books, I., pp. xxxi-lv.—Geiger: Renaiss. u. Humanismus, pp. 323–580.—Zarncke: D. deutschen Universitäten im MA., Leip., 1857.—Paulsen: Germ. Universities, etc., trsl. by Perry, Lond., 1895.—G. Kaufmann: Gesch. d. deutschen Universitäten, 2 vols., Stuttg., 1888–1896.—For monographs on the universities, see Lit. in Rashdall and Schmid, pp. 51–54.
For Reuchlin: Briefwechsel, ed. L. Geiger, Tübing., 1875. Monographs on Reuchlin by Mayerhof, Berl., 1830; Lamay, Pforzheim, 1855; Geiger, Leipz., 1871; A. Horawitz, Vienna, 1877.—On Reuchlin’s conflict with the Dominicans of Cologne and Hutten’s part in it, see Strauss: U. von Hutten, pp. 132–164; Böcking, II. 55–156.—N. Paulus: D. deutschen Dominikaner im Kampfe mit Luther, Freib., 1903, p. 94 sqq., 119 sqq.—Janssen, II. 40 sqq.
For Erasmus: Opera, ed. B. Rhenanus, 9 vols., Basel,1540, by Le Clerc, 10 vols., Leyden, 1703–1706.—Epistolä, ed. Allen, Oxf., 1906. In Engl. trsl. by *F. M. Nichols, 2 vols., Lond., 1901–1904. In Engl. trsl., Praise of Folly, Lond., 1876. Colloquies, Lond., 1724, new ed., 2 vols., 1878. Enchiridion, Lond., 1905.—Bibl. Erasmania, 5 vols, Ghent, 1897–1907 sqq. Lives of Erasmus, by H. Durand de Laur: Er. précurseur et initiateur de l’esprit mod., 2 vols., Paris, 1872.—*R. B. Drummond, 2 vols., Lond., 1873.—*F. Seebohm: The Oxf. Reformers, Lond., 1887, etc.—Amiel, Paris, 1889.—J. A. Froude, 1896.—*E Emerton, N. Y., 1899.—A. B. Pennington, Lond., 1875, 1901.—E. F. H. Capey, Lond., 1903.—*J. A. Faulkner, Cin’ti, 1907.—A. Richter: Erasmienstudien, Dresden, 1901.—Geiger, 526 sqq.—Janssen, II. 1–24.
For general education: Rashdall Universities, II., pp. 211–285—K. A. Schmid: Gesch. d. Erziehung, Stuttg., 1892, II. 51–126.—J. Müller: Quellenschriften zur Gesch. d. deutschsprachl. Unterrichts his zur Mitte d. 16. Jahrh., Gotha, 1882.
For Ulrich von Hutten: E. Böcking: Ulrichi Hutteni opp., 7 vols., Leipz., 1859–1870.—S. Szamatolski: Huttens deutsche Schriften, 1891.—D. F. Strauss, author of the Life of Jesus: U. von Hutten, 3vols., Leipz., 1858, 1 vol., 1871, Engl. trsl., Lond., 1874. Also Gespräche von U. von Hut., the Epp. obscurorum virorum in German, Leipz., 1860.—J. Deckert: Ul. v. Hutten’s Leben u. Wirken, Vienna, 1901.
For § 70.—Imbart de la Tour, Prof. at Bordeaux: L’église catholique: la crise et la renaissance, Paris, 1909, being vol. II. of Les origines de la réforme, vol. I., La France moderne, 1905. To be completed in 4 vols.—Schmid: Gesch. d. Erziehung, II., 40 sqq.—H. M. Baird: Hist. of the Huguenots, I. 1–164.—Bonet Maury, art. Faber In Herzog, V. 715 sqq.—Works on the Univ. of Paris and French Lit.; H. van Laun: Hist. of French Lit., 3 vols. in one, N. Y., 1895, pp. 259–296.—The Histt. of France by Martin and Guizot.
For § 71.—F. Seebohm: The Oxford Reformers, Colet, Erasmus, More, Lond., 1887.—Colet’s writings ed. with trsl. and notes by Lupton, 5 vols., Lond., 1867–1876.—Lives of Colet, by S. Knight, 1823.—J. H. Lupton: Life of Dean Colet, Lond., 1887, new ed., 1908.—Artt. in Dict. Natl. Biogr., Colet, Fisher, etc.—Histt. of Engl. by Lingard and Green.—Histt. of the Engl. Ch. by Gairdner and by Capes.—Ward-Waller: Cambr. Hist. of Engl. Lit., vol. III., Cambr., 1909.—H. Morley: Engl. Writers, vol. VII., 1891.—Mullinger: Hist. of Univ. of Cambridge.—For edd. of Sir Thos. More’s Works, see Dict. Natl. Biogr., XXXVIII., 445 sqq.—Lives of More by Roper, written in Mary Tudor’s reign, publ. Paris, 1626, Stapleton, Douay, 1588; E. More, a grandson, 1627; T. E. Bridgett, Rom. Cath., 2nd ed., 1892: W. H. Hutton, 1895.—W. S. Lilly: Renaiss. Types, 1901, III., Erasmus, IV., More.—L. Einstein: The Ital. Renaiss. in England.—a.d. Innes: Ten Tudor Statesmen, Lond., 1906. More is treated pp. 76–111.—A. F. Leach: Engl. Schools at the Reformation, Lond., 1896.—Eng. Works of Bp. J. Fisher, ed. Major, Lond., 1876.—Life of Fisher, by Bridgett, 1888.
§ 62. The Intellectual Awakening.
The discussions, which issued in the Reformatory councils and which those councils fostered, were a worthy expression of an awakening freedom of thought in the effort to secure relief from ecclesiastical abuses. The movement, to which the name Renaissance has been given, was a larger and far more successful effort, achieving freedom from the intellectual bondage to which the individual man had been subjected by the theology and hierarchy of the Church. The intelligence of Italy, and indeed of Western Europe as a whole, had grown weary of the monastic ideal of life, and the one-sided purpose of the scholastic systems to exalt heavenly concerns by ignoring or degrading things terrestrial. The Renaissance insisted upon the rights of the life that now is, and dignified the total sphere for which man’s intellect and his aesthetic and social tastes by nature fit him. It sought to give just recognition to man as the proprietor of the earth. It substituted the enlightened observer for the monk; the citizen for the contemplative recluse. It honored human sympathies more than conventual visions and dexterous theological dialectics. It substituted observation for metaphysics. It held forth the achievements of history. It called man to admire his own creations, the masterpieces of classical literature and the monuments of art. It bade him explore the works of nature and delight himself in their excellency. How different from the apparent or real indifference to the beauties of the natural world as shown, for example, by the monk, St. Bernard, was the attitude of Leon Battista Alberti, d. 1472, who bore testimony that the sight of a lovely landscape had more than once made him well of sickness.984
In the narrower sense, the Renaissance may be confined to the recovery of the culture of Greece and Rome and the revival of polite literature and art, and it is sometimes designated the Revival of Letters. After having been taught for centuries that the literature of classic antiquity was full of snares and dangers for a Christian public, men opened their eyes and revelled with childlike delight in the discovery of ancient authors and history. Virgil sang again the Aeneid, Homer the Iliad and Odyssey. Cicero once more delivered his orations and Plato taught his philosophy. It was indeed an intellectual and artistic new birth that burst forth in Italy, a regeneration, as the word Renaissance means. But it was more. It was a revolt against monastic asceticism and scholasticism, the systems which cramped the free flow of bodily enthusiasm and intellectual inquiry.985 It called man from morbid self-mortifications as the most fitting discipline of mortal existence here below, and offered him the satisfaction of all the elements of his nature as his proper pursuit.
Beginning in Italy, this new enthusiasm spread north to Germany and extended as far as Scotland. North of the Alps, it was known as Humanism and its representatives as Humanists, the words being taken from literae humanae, or humaniores, that is, humane studies, the studies which develop the man as the proprietor of this visible sphere. In the wider sense, it comprehends the revival of literature and art, the development of rational criticism, the transition from feudalism to a new order of social organization, the elevation of the modern languages of Europe as vehicles for the highest thought, the emancipation of intelligence, and the expansion of human interests, the invention of the printing-press, the discoveries of navigation and the exploration of America and the East, and the definition of the solar system by Copernicus and Galileo,—in one word, all the progressive developments of the last two centuries of the Middle Ages, developments which have since been the concern of modern civilization.
The most discriminating characterization of this remarkable movement came from the pen of Michelet, who defined it as the discovery of the world and man. In this twofold aspect, Burckhardt, its leading historian for Italy, has treated the Renaissance with deep philosophical insight.
The period of the Renaissance lasts from the beginning of the 14th to the middle of the 16th century, from Roger Bacon, d. 1294, and Dante, d. 1321, to Raphael, d. 1520, and Michelangelo, d. 1564, Reuchlin, d. 1522, and Erasmus, d. 1536. For more than a century it proceeded in Italy without the patronage of the Church. Later, from the pontificate of Nicolas V. to the Medicean popes, Leo X. and Clement VII., it was fostered by the papal court. For this reason the last popes of the Middle Ages are known as the Renaissance popes. The movement in the courts may be divided into three periods: the age of the great Italian literati, Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio, the age from 1400–1460, when the interest in classic literature predominated, and the age from 1460–1540, when the pursuit of the fine arts was the predominant feature. The first age contributed immortal works to literature. In the second, Plato and the other classics were translated and sedulously studied. In the last, the fine arts and architecture offered their array of genius in, Italy.
To some writers it has occurred to go back as far as Frederick II. for the beginnings of the movement. That sovereign embodied in himself a varied culture and a versatility of intellect rare in any age. With authorship and a knowledge of a number of languages, he combined enlightened ideas in regard to government and legislation, the patronage of higher education and the arts. For the varied interests of his mind, he has been called the first modern man.986 However, the literary activity of his court ceased at his death. Italy was not without its poets in the 13th century, but it is with the imposing figure of Dante that the revival of culture is to be dated. That a Renaissance should have been needed is a startling fact in the history of human development and demands explanation. The ban, which had been placed by the Church upon the study of the classic authors of antiquity and ancient institutions, palsied polite research and reading for a thousand years. Even before Jerome, whose mind had been disciplined in the study of the classics, at last pronounced them unfit for the eye of a Christian, Tertullian’s attitude was not favorable. Cassian followed Jerome; and Alcuin, the chief scholar of the 9th century, turned away from Virgil as a collection of lying fables. At the close of the 10th century, a pope reprimanded Arnulf of Orleans by reminding him that Peter was unacquainted with Plato, Virgil and Terence, and that God had been pleased to choose as His agents, not philosophers and rhetoricians, but rustics and unlettered men. In deference to such authorities the dutiful churchman turned from the closed pages of the old Romans and Greeks. Only did a selected author like Terence have here and there in a convent a clandestine though eager reader.
In the 12th century, it seemed as if a new era in literature was impending, as if the old learning was about to flourish again. The works of Aristotle became more fully known through the translations of the Arabs. Schools were started in which classic authors were read. Abaelard turned to Virgil as a prophet. The Roman law was discovered and explained at Bologna and other seats of learning. John of Salisbury, Grosseteste, Peter of Blois and other writers freely quoted from Cicero, Livy, Tacitus, Suetonius, Ovid and other Latin authors. But the head of Western Christendom discerned in this movement a grave menace to theology and religion, and was quick to blight the new shoot with his curse, and in its early statutes, forced by the pope, the University of Paris excluded the literature of Rome from its curriculum.
But this arbitrary violence could not forever hold the mind of Europe in bonds. The satisfaction its intelligence was seeking, it did not find in the subtle discussions of the Schoolmen or the dismal pictures of the monastics. When the new movement burst forth, it burst forth in Italy, that beautiful country, the heir of Roman traditions. The glories of Italy’s past in history and in literature blazed forth again as after a long eclipse, and the cult of the beautiful, for which the Italian is born, came once more into free exercise. In spite of invasion after invasion the land remained Italian. Lombards, Goths, Normans had occupied it, but the invaders were romanized much more than the Italians were teutonized. The feudal system and Gothic architecture found no congenial soil south of the Alps. In the new era, it seemed natural that the poets and orators of old Italy should speak again in the land which they had witnessed as the mistress of all nations. The literature and law of Greece and Rome again became the educators of the Latin and also of the Teutonic races, preparing them to receive the seeds of modern civilization.
The tap-root of the Renaissance was individualism as opposed to sacerdotal authority. Its enfranchising process manifested itself in Roger Bacon, whose mind turned away from the rabbinical subtleties of the Schoolmen to the secrets of natural science and the discoveries of the earth reported by Rubruquis or suggested by his own reflection, and more fully in Dante, Marsiglius of Padua and Wyclif, who resisted the traditional authority of the papacy. It was active in the discussions of the Reformatory councils. And it received a strong impetus in the administration of the Lombard cities which gloried in their independence. With their authority the imperial policy of Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II. had clashed. Partly owing to the loose hold of the empire and partly owing to the papal policy, which found its selfish interests subserved better by free contending states and republics than by a unified kingdom of Italy under a single temporal head, these independent municipalities took such deep root that they withstood for nearly a thousand years the unifying process which, in the case of France, Great Britain and Spain, resulted in the consolidation of strong kingdoms soon after the era of the Crusades closed. Upon an oligarchical or a democratic basis, despots and soldiers of fortune secured control of their Italian states by force of innate ability. Individualism pushed aside the claims of birth, and it so happened in the 14th and 15th centuries that the heads of these states were as frequently men of illegitimate birth as of legitimate descent. In our change-loving Italy, wrote Pius II., "where nothing is permanent and no old dynasty exists, servants easily rise to be kings."987
It was in the free republic of Florence, where individualism found the widest sphere for self-assertion, that the Renaissance took earliest root and brought forth its finest products. That municipality, which had more of the modern spirit of change and progress than any other mediaeval organism, invited and found satisfaction in novel and brilliant works of power, whether they were in the domain of government or of letters or even of religion, as under the spell of Savonarola. There Dante and Lionardo da Vinci were born, and there Machiavelli exploited his theories of the state and Michelangelo wrought. The Medici gave favor to all forms of enterprise that might bring glory to the city. After Nicolas V. ascended the papal throne, Rome vied with its northern neighbor as a centre of the arts and culture. The new tastes and pursuits also found a home in Ferrara, Urbino, Naples, Milan and Mantua.
Glorious the achievement of the Renaissance was, but it was the last movement of European significance in which Italy and the popes took the lead. Had the current of aesthetic and intellectual enthusiasm joined itself to a stream of religious regeneration, Italy might have kept in advance of other nations, but she produced no safe prophets. No Reformer arose to lead her away from dead religious forms to living springs of spiritual life, from ceremonies and relics to the New Testament.
In spreading north to Germany, Holland and England, the movement took on a more serious aspect. There it produced no poets or artists of the first rank, but in Reuchlin and Erasmus it had scholars whose erudition not only attracted the attention of their own but benefited succeeding generations and contributed directly to the Reformation. South of the Alps, culture was the concern of a special class and took on the form of a diversion, though it is true all classes must have looked with admiration upon the works of art that were being produced.
It was, then, the mission of the Renaissance to start the spirit of free inquiry, to certify to the mind its dignity, to expand the horizon to the faculties of man as a citizen of the world, to recover from the dust of ages the literary treasures and monuments of ancient Greece and Rome, to inaugurate a style of fresh description, based on observation, in opposition to the dialectic circumlocution of the scholastic philosophy, to call forth the laity and to direct attention to the value of natural morality and the natural relationships of man with man. To the monk beauty was a snare, woman a temptation, pleasure a sin, the world vanity of vanities. The Humanist taught that the present life is worth living. The Renaissance breathed a cosmopolitan spirit and fostered universal sympathies. In the spirit of some of the yearnings of the later Roman authors, Dante exclaimed again, "My home is the world."988
§ 63. Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio.
Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio represent the birth and glory of Italian literature and ushered in the new literary and artistic age. Petrarca and Boccaccio belong chiefly to the department of literary culture; Dante equally to it and the realm of religious thought and composition. The period covered by their lives extends over more than a hundred years, from Dante’s birth in 1265 to Boccaccio’s death, 1375.
Dante Alighieri, 1265–1321, the first of Italian and the greatest of mediaeval poets, has given us in his Divina Commedia, the Divine Comedy, conceived in 1300, a poetic view of the moral universe under the aspect of eternity,—sub specie aeternitatis. Born in Florence, he read under his teacher Brunetto Latini, whom in later years he praised, Virgil, Horace, Ovid and other Latin authors. In the heated conflict of parties, going on in his native city, he at first took the side of the Guelfs as against the Ghibellines, who were in favor of the imperial régime in Italy. In 1300, he was elected one of the priori or chief magistrates, approved the severe measures then employed towards political opponents and, after a brief tenure of office, was exiled. The decree of exile threatened to burn him alive if he ventured to return to the city. After wandering about, going to Paris and perhaps further west, he settled down in Ravenna, where he died and where his ashes still lie. After his death, Florence accorded the highest honors to his memory. Her request for his body was refused by Ravenna, but she created a chair for the exposition of the Divine Comedy, with Boccaccio as its first occupant, and erected to her distinguished son an-imposing monument in the church of Santa Croce and a statue on the square in front. In 1865, all Italy joined Florence in celebrating the 6th centenary of the poet’s birth. Never has study been given to Dante’s great poem as a work of art by wider circles and with more enthusiasm than to-day, and it will continue to serve as a prophetic voice of divine judgment and mercy as long as religious feeling seeks expression.
Dante was a layman, married and had seven children. An epoch in his life was his meeting, as a boy of nine years, with Beatrice, who was a few months younger than himself, at a festival given in her father’s house, where she was tenderly called, as Boccaccio says, Bice. The vision of Beatrice—for there is no record that they exchanged words—entered and filled Dante’s soul with an effluence of purity and benignity which cleared away all evil thoughts.989 After an interval of nine years he saw her a second time, and then not again till, in his poetic dream, he met her in paradise. Beatrice married and died at 24, 1290.
With this vision, the new life began for Dante, the vita nuova which he describes in the book of that name. Beatrice’s features illuminated his path and her pure spirit was his guide. At the first meeting, so the poet says, "she appeared to me clothed in a most noble color, a modest and becoming crimson, garlanded and adorned in such wise as befitted her very youthful age." The love then begotten, says Charles Eliot Norton, "lasted from Dante’s boyhood to his death, keeping his heart fresh, spite of the scorchings of disappointment, with the springs of perpetual solace."990 The last glimpse the poet gives of her was as he saw her at the side of Rachel in the highest region of heaven.
The third in order, underneath her, lo!
Rachel with Beatrice.—Par., xxxii. 6.
Had Dante written only the tract against the temporal power of the papacy, the De monarchia, his name would have been restricted to a place in the list of the pamphleteers of the 14th century. His Divine Comedy exalts him to the eminence of the foremost poetic interpreter of the mediaeval world. This immortal poem is a mirror of mediaeval Christianity and civilization and, at the same time, a work of universal significance and perennial interest. It sums up the religious concepts of the Middle Ages and introduces the free critical spirit of the modern world.991 It is Dante’s autobiography and reflects his own experiences: —
All the pains by me depicted, woes and tortures, void of pity,
On this earth I have encountered—found them all in Florence City.992
It brings into view the society of mediaeval Italy, a long array of its personages, many of whom had only a local and transient interest. At the same time, the Comedy is the spiritual biography of man as man wherever he is found, in the three conditions of sin, repentance and salvation. It describes a pilgrimage to the world of spirits beyond this life, from the dark forest of temptation, through the depths of despair in hell, up the terraces of purification in purgatory, to the realms of bliss. Through the first two regions the poet’s guide is Virgil, the representative of natural reason, and through the heavenly spaces, Beatrice, the type of divine wisdom and love. The Inferno reflects sin and misery; the Purgatorio, penitence and hope; the Paradiso, holiness and happiness. The first repels by its horrors and laments; the second moves by its penitential tears and prayers; the third enraptures by its purity and peace. Purgatory is an intermediate state, constantly passing away, but heaven and hell will last forever. Hell is hopeless darkness and despair; heaven culminates in the beatific vision of the Holy Trinity, beyond which nothing higher can be conceived by man or angel. Here are depicted the extremes of terror and rapture, of darkness and light, of the judgment and the love of God. In paradise, the saints are represented as forming a spotless white rose, whose cup is a lake of light, surrounded by innocent children praising God. This sublime conception was probably suggested by the rose-windows of Gothic cathedrals, or by the fact that the Virgin Mary was called a rose by St. Bernard and other mediaeval divines and poets.
Following the geocentric cosmology of the Ptolemaic system, the poet located hell within the earth, purgatory in the southern hemisphere, and heaven in the starry firmament. Hell is a yawning cavity, widest at the top and consisting of ten circles. Purgatory is a mountain up which souls ascend. The heavenly realm consists of nine circles, culminating in the empyrean where the pure divine essence dwells.
Among these regions of the spiritual and future world, Dante distributes the best-known characters of his and of former generations. He spares neither Guelf nor Ghibelline, neither pope nor emperor, and gives to all their due. He adapts the punishment to the nature of the sin, the reward to the measure of virtue, and shows an amazing ingenuity and fertility of imagination in establishing the correspondence of outward condition to moral character. Thus the cowards and indifferentists in the vestibule of the Inferno are driven by a whirling flag and stung by wasps and flies. The licentious are hurried by tempestuous winds in total darkness, with carnal lust still burning, but never gratified.
The infernal hurricane, that never rests
Hurtles the spirits onward in its rapine,
Whirling them round; and smiting, it molests them;
It hither, thither, downward, upward, drives them.
Inferno, V. 31–43.
The gluttonous lie on the ground, exposed to showers of hail and foul water; blasphemers supine upon a plain of burning sand, while sparks of fire, like flakes of snow in the Alps, slowly and constantly descend upon their bodies. The wrathful are forever tearing one another.
And I, who stood intent upon beholding,
Saw people mud-besprent in that lagoon,
All of them naked and with angry look.
They smote each other not alone with hands,
But with the head and with the breast and feet
Tearing each other piecemeal with their teeth.
Inferno, VII. 100 sqq.
The simonists, who sell religion for money and turn the temple of God into a den of thieves, are thrust into holes, head downwards, with their feet protruding and tormented with flames. The arch-heretics are held in red-hot tombs, and tyrants in a stream of boiling blood, shot at by the centaurs whenever they attempt to rise. The traitors are immersed in a lake of ice with Satan, the arch-traitor and the embodiment of selfishness, malignity and turpitude. Their very tears turn to ice, symbol of utter hardness, and Satan is forever consuming in his three mouths the three arch-traitors, Judas, Brutus and Cassius. Milton represents Satan as the archangel who even in hell exalts himself and in pride exclaims, "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven," and the poet leaves the mind of the reader disturbed by a feeling of admiration for Lucifer’s untamed ambition and superhuman power. Dante’s Satan awakens disgust and horror, and the inscription over the entrance to hell makes the reader shudder: —
Through me ye enter the abode of woe;
Through me to endless sorrow are brought;
Through me amid the souls accurst ye go.
* * * * * * *
All hope abandon—ye who enter here!
Per me si va nella città dolente;
Per me si va nell’ eterno dolore;
Per me si va tra la perduta gente.
* * * * * * *
Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’ entrate.
Passing out from the domain of gloom and dole, Virgil leads the poet to purgatory, where the dawn of day breaks. This realm, as has been said, comes nearer to our common life than hell or paradise.993 Hope dwells here. Song, not wailing, is heard. A ship appears, moved by an angel and filled with spirits, singing the hymn of redemption. Cato approaches and urges the guide and Dante to wash themselves on the shore from all remainders of hell and to hurry on. In purgatory, they pass through seven stages, which correspond to the seven mortal sins, the two lowest, pride and envy, the highest, wantonness and luxury. All the penitents have stamped on their foreheads seven P’s,—the first letter of the word peccata, sins,—which are effaced only one by one, as they pass from stage to stage, "enclasped with scorching fire," until they are delivered through penal fire from all stain. A similar correspondence exists between sin and punishments as in the Inferno, but with the opposite effect, for here sins are repented of and forgiven, and the woes are disciplinary until "the wound that healeth last is medicined." Thus the proud, in the first and lowest terrace, are compelled to totter under huge weights, that they may learn humility. The indolent, in the fourth terrace, are exercised by constant and rapid walking. The avaricious and prodigal, with hands and feet tied together, lie with their faces in the dust, weeping and wailing. The gluttons suffer hunger and thirst that they may be taught temperance. The licentious wander about in flames that their sensual passions may be consumed away.
Arriving at paradise, the Roman poet can go no further, and Beatrice takes his place as Dante’s guide. The spirits are distributed in glory according to their different grades of perfection. Here are passed in review theologians, martyrs, crusaders, righteous princes and judges, monks and contemplative mystics. In the 9th heaven Beatrice leaves the poet to take her place at the side of Rachel, after having introduced him to St. Bernard. Dante looks again and sees Mary and Eve and Sarah,
… and the gleaner-maid
Meek ancestress of him, who sang the songs
Of sore repentance in his sorrowful mood;
Gabriel, Adam, Moses, John the Baptist, Peter, St. Augustine and other saints. Then he is led by the devout mystic to Mary, who, in answer to his prayer, shows him the Deity in the empyrean, but what he saw was not for words to utter. Alike are all the saints in enjoying the same reward of the beatific vision.
Dante was in full harmony with the orthodox faith of his age, and followed closely the teachings of Thomas Aquinas’ great book of divinity.994 He accepted all the distinctive tenets of mediaeval Catholicism—purgatory, the worship of Mary, the intercession of saints, the efficacy of papal indulgences and the divine institution of the papacy. He paid deep homage to the monastic life and accords exalted place to Benedict, St. Francis and Dominic. But he cast aside all traditions in dealing freely with the successors of Peter in the Apostolic see. Here, too, he was under the direction of the beloved Beatrice. The evils in the Church he traced to her temporal power and he condemned to everlasting punishment Anastasius II. for heresy, Nicolas III., Boniface VIII. and Clement V. for simony, Coelestine V. for cowardice in abdicating the pontifical office, and a squad of other popes for avarice.
Following the theology of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, he put into hell the whole heathen world except two solitary figures, Cato of Utica, who sacrificed life for liberty and keeps watch at the foot of purgatory, and the just emperor, Trajan, who, 500 years after his death, was believed to have been prayed out of hell by Pope Gregory I. To the region of the Inferno, also, though on the outer confines of it, a place is assigned to infants who die in infancy without being baptized, whether the offspring of Christian or heathen parents. Theirs is no conscious pain, but they remain forever without the vision of the blessed. In the same vicinity the worthies of the old dispensation were detained until Christ descended after his crucifixion and gave them release. There, John the Baptist had been kept for two years after his pains of martyrdom, Par. xxxii. 25. In the upper regions of the hopeless Inferno a tolerably comfortable place is also accorded to the noble heathen poets, philosophers, statesmen and warriors, while unfaithful Christians are punished in the lower circles according to the degrees of their guilt. The heathen, who followed the light of nature, suffer sorrow without pain. As Virgil says: —
In the right manner they adored not God.
For such defects, and not for other guilt,
Lost are we, and are only so far punished,
That without hope we live on, in desire.
Dante began his poem in Latin and was blamed by Giovanni del Virgilio, a teacher of Latin literature in Bologna, because he abandoned the language of old Rome for the vulgar dialect of Tuscany. Poggio also lamented this course. But the poet defended himself in his unfinished book, Eloquence in the Vernacular, De vulgari eloquio,995 and, by writing the Commedia, the Vita nuova, the Convivio and his sonnets in his native Florentine tongue, he became the father of Italian literature and opened the paths of culture to the laity. Within three years of the poet’s death, commentaries began to be written on the Divina Commedia, as by Graziuolo de’ Bambagliolo, 1324, and within 100 years chairs were founded for its exposition at Florence, Venice, Bologna and Pisa.
A second service which Dante rendered in his poem to the coming culture was in bringing antiquity once more into the foreground and treating pagan and Christian elements side by side, though not as of the same value, and interweaving mythological fables with biblical history, classical with Christian reminiscences. By this tolerance he showed himself a man of the new age, while he still held firmly to the mediaeval theology.996
Dante’s abiding merit, however, was his inspiring portrayal of the holiness and love of God. Sin, the perversion of the will, is punished with sin continuing in the future world and pain. Salvation is through the "Lamb of God who takes away our sins and suffered and died that we might live." This poem, like a mighty sermon, now depresses, now enraptures the soul, or, to use the lines of the most poetic of his translators, Longfellow,
Thy sacred song is like the trump of doom;
Yet in thy heart what human sympathies,
What soft compassion glows.
Francesco Petrarca, 1304–1374, was the most cultured man of his time. His Italian sonnets and songs are masterpieces of Italian poetic diction, but he thought lightly of them and hoped to be remembered by his Latin writings.997 He was an enthusiast for the literature of antiquity and gave a great impulse to its study. His parents, exiled from Florence, removed to Avignon, then the seat of the papacy, which remained Francesco’s residence till 1333. He was ordained to the priesthood but without an inward call. He enjoyed several ecclesiastical benefices as prior, canon and archdeacon, which provided for his support without burdening him with duties. He courted and enjoyed the favor of princes, popes and prelates. He abused the papal residence on the Rhone as the Babylon of the West, urged the popes to return to Rome and hailed Cola da Rienzo as an apostle of national liberty. His writings contain outbursts of patriotism but, on the other hand, the author seems to contradict himself in being quick to accept the hospitality of the Italian despots of Mantua, Padua, Rimini and Ferrara, and the viconti of Milan. In 1350, he formed a friendship with Boccaccio which remained warm until his death.
In spite of his priestly vows, Petrarca lived with concubines and had at least two illegitimate children, Giovanni and Francesca, the stain of whose birth was removed by papal bulls. In riper years, and more especially after his pilgrimage to Rome in the Jubilee year, 1350, he broke away from the slavery of sin. "I now hate that pestilence," he wrote to Boccaccio, "infinitely more than I loved it once, so that in turning over the thought of it in my mind, I feel shame and horror. Jesus Christ, my liberator, knows that I say the truth, he to whom I often prayed with tears, who has given to me his hand in pity and helped me up to himself." He took great delight in the Confessions of St. Augustine, a copy of which he carried about with him.
In his De contemptu mundi,—the Contempt of the World, written in 1343, Petrarca confesses as his greatest fault the love of glory and the desire for the immortality of his name. This, the besetting sin of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Humanists inherited. It became with them a ruling passion. They found it in Cicero, the most read of all the Latin classics. Dante strove after the poet’s laurel and often returned to the theme of fame as a motive of action—lo grand disio della eccelenza.998 Petrarca, after much seeking on his own part, was offered the poet’s crown by the University of Paris and the Roman senate. He took it from the latter, and was crowned on the Capitoline Hill at Rome, April 8, 1341, Robert, king of Sicily, being present on the occasion. This he regarded as the proudest moment of his life, the excelling glory of his career. In ostentatious piety the poet carried his crown to St. Peter’s, where he laid it on the altar of the Apostle.
Petrarca has been called the first modern scholar and man of letters, the inaugurator of the Italian Renaissance. Unlike Dante, he despised scholastic and mystic learning and went further back to the well of pagan antiquity. He studied antiquity, not as a philologist or antiquarian, but as a man of taste.999 He admired the Greek and Roman authors for their eloquence, grace and finish of style. Cicero and Virgil were his idols, the fathers of eloquence, the eyes of the Latin language. He turned to Plato. He made a distinction between the religion of the New Testament as interpreted by Augustine and as interpreted by the Schoolmen. Petrarca also opened the period of search and discovery of ancient books and works of art. He spared no pains to secure old manuscripts. In 1345, he found several of Cicero’s letters at Verona, and also a portion of Quintilian which had been unknown since the 10th century. A copy of Homer he kept with care, though be could not read its contents. All the Greek he knew was a few rudiments learned from a faithless Calabrian, Barlaam. He was the first to collect a private library and had 200 volumes. His first thought in passing old convents was to hunt up books. He accumulated old coins and medals and advocated the preservation of ancient monumenta. He seems also to have outlined the first mediaeval map of Italy.1000
Few authors have more fully enjoyed the benefit of their labors than Petrarca. He received daily letters of praise from all parts of Italy, from France, Germany and England. He expressed his satisfaction that the emperor of Byzantium knew him through his writings. Charles IV. invited him three times to Germany that he might listen to his eloquence and learn from him lessons of wisdom; and Pope Gregory XI. on hearing of his death, ordered good copies of all his books. The next generation honored him, not as the singer of Laura, the wife of another, whose beauty and loveliness he praised in passionate verse,1001 but as the scholar and sage.
The name of Giovanni Boccaccio, 1313–1375, the third of the triumvirate of the Italian luminaries of the 14th century, has also a distinct place in the transition from the Middle Ages to the age of the Renaissance. With his two great predecessors he was closely linked, with Dante as his biographer, with Petrarca as his warm friend. It was given to him to be the founder of easy and elegant Italian prose. The world has had few writers who can equal him in realistic narration.1002 There is ground for the saying that Dante is admired, Petrarca praised, Boccaccio read. He also wrote poetry, but it does not constitute his claim to distinction.
Certaldo, twenty miles from Florence, was probably Boccaccio’s birthplace. He was the illegitimate son of a Florentine father and a Parisian mother. After spending six years in business and giving six to the law,—the whole period being looked upon by him later as lost time,—he devoted himself to literature. Several years he spent at the court of Naples, where he fell in love with Maria, the married daughter of King Robert, who yielded her honor to his advances. Later, he represented her passion for him in L’amorosa Fiammetta. Thus the three great Italian literati commemorate the love of women who were bound in matrimony to others, but there is a wide gulf between the inspiring passion of Dante for Beatrice and Boccaccio’s sensual love.1003 Boccaccio was an unmarried layman and freely indulged in irregular love. His three children of unknown mothers died before him.
In his old age he passed, like Petrarca, through a certain conversion, and, with a preacher’s fervor, warned others against the vanity, luxury and seductive arts of women. He would fain have blotted out the immoralities of his writings when it was too late. The conversion was brought about by a Carthusian monk who called upon him at Certaldo. Upon the basis of another monk’s vision, he threatened Boccaccio with speedy death, if he did not abandon his godless writing. Terrified with the prospect, he determined to renounce the pen and give himself up to penance. Petrarca, on hearing of his state of mind, wrote to him to accept what was good in the monk’s advice, but not to abandon studies which he pronounced the nutriment of a healthy mind.
In zeal for the ancient classics, Boccaccio vied with his contemporary. Many of them he copied with his own hand, and bequeathed them to his father-confessor in trust for the Augustinian convent of the Holy Spirit in Florence. He learned the elements of Greek and employed a Greek of Calabria, Leontius Pilatus, to make a literal translation of the Iliad and Odyssey for learners. An insight into his interest in books is given to us in his account of a visit to Monte Casino. On asking to see the library, a monk took him to a dusty room without a door to it, and with grass growing in its windows. Many of the manuscripts were mutilated. The monks, as his guide told him, were in the habit of tearing out leaves to be used by the children as psalters or to be sold to women for amulets for their arms.
In 1373, the signoria of Florence appointed him to the lectureship on the Divina Commedia, with a salary of 100 guldens gold. He had gotten only as far as the 17th canto of the Inferno when he was overtaken by death.
Boccaccio’s Latin works are mostly compilations from ancient mythology—De genealogia deorum — and biography, and also treat the subject of geography—De montium, silvarum, lacuum et marium nominibus. In his De claris mulieribus, he gave the biographies of 104 distinguished women, including Eve, the fictitious popess, Johanna, and Queen Johanna of Naples, who was still living. His most popular work is the Decamerone, the Ten Days’ Book—which in later years he would have destroyed or purged of its immoral and frivolous elements. It is his poetry in prose and may be called a Commedia Humana, as contrasted with Dante’s Commedia Divina. It contains 100 stories, told by ten young persons, seven ladies and three men of Florence, during the pestilence of 1348. After listening to a description of the horrors of the plague, the reader is transferred to a beautiful garden, several miles from the city, where the members of the company, amid laughter and tears, relate the stories which range from moral tales to indecent love intrigues. One of the well-known stories is of the Jew, Abraham, who, refusing to comply with the appeals to turn Christian, went to Rome to study the question for himself. Finding the priestly morals most corrupt, cardinals with concubines and revelling in riches and luxury, he concluded Christianity must have a divine origin, or it would not have survived when the centre of Christendom was so rotten, and he offered himself for baptism. The Decamerone reveals a low state of morals among priests and monks as well as laymen and women. It derides marriage, the confessional, the hypocrisy of monkery and the worship of relics. The employment of wit and raillery against ecclesiastical institutions was a new element in literature, and Boccaccio wrote in a language the people understood. No wonder that the Council of Trent condemned the work for its immoralities, and still more for its anticlerical and antimonastic ridicule; but it could not prevent its circulation. A curious expurgated edition, authorized by the pope, appeared in Florence in 1573, which retained the indecencies, the impure personages, but substituted laymen for the priests and monks, thus saving the honor of the Church.1004
Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio led the way to a recognition of the worth of man’s natural endowment by depicting the passions of his heart. To them also it belonged to have an ardent love for nature and to reproduce it in description. Thus Petrarca described the mountains and the gulfs of the sea as well as Rome, Naples and other Italian places where he loved to be.1005 His description of his delight in ascending a mountain near Vaucluse, it has been suggested, was the first of its kind in literature. In these respects, the appreciation of man and the world, they stood at the opening of the new era.
§ 64. Progress and Patrons of Classical Studies in the 15th Century.
The enthusiasm for classical studies and the monuments of antiquity reached its high pitch in Italy in the middle and latter half of the 15th century. Many distinguished classical students appeared, none of whom, however, approached in literary eminence the three Italian literati of the preceding century. Admirable as was their zeal in promoting an acquaintance with the writers of Greece and Rome, they were in danger of becoming mere pedants and imitators of the past. The whole field of ancient literature was searched, poetry and philosophy, letters and works of geography and history. Italy seemed to be bent on setting aside all other studies for the ancient classics. Cicero was taken as the supreme model of style, and his age was referred to as "that immortal and almost heavenly age."1006
The services of the Italian Humanists in reviving an interest in ancient literature and philosophy were, however, quite enough to give distinction to their era, though their own writings have ceased to be read. One new feature of abiding significance was developed in the 15th century, the science of literary and historical criticism. This was opened by Salutato, d. 1406, who contended that Seneca could not have been the author of the tragedies ascribed to him, and culminated in Laurentius Valla and the doubts that scholar cast upon the authorship of the Apostles’ Creed and the Donation of Constantine. The Fall of Constantinople in 1453, with which the middle of the century was signalized, cannot be regarded as more than an incident in the history of the spread of Greek letters in the West, which would have been accomplished had the city remained under the Greek emperors.
To the discovery and copying of manuscripts, led by such men as Poggio or the monk Nicolas of Treves, who in 1429 brought to Rome 12 hitherto unpublished comedies of Plautus, were added the foundation of princely libraries in Florence, Rome, Urbino and other cities. Numerous were the translations of Greek authors made into Latin, and more numerous the translations from both languages into Italian. By the recovery of a lost or half-forgotten literature, the Italian Renaissance laid the modern world under a heavy debt. But in its restless literary activity, it went still further, imitating the literary forms received from antiquity. Orations became a marked feature of the time, pompous and stately. The envoys of princes were called orators and receptions, given to such envoys, were opened with classical addresses. Orations were also delivered at the reception of relics, at funerals and—the epithalamials—and even at the consecration of bishops. At a betrothal, Filelfo opened his address with the words, "Aristotle, the peripatetic teacher." The orations of this Latinist, most eminent in his day, are pronounced by Geiger a disgusting mixture of classic and biblical quotations.1007 Not seldom these ornate productions were extended to two or three hours. Pius II.’s fame for oratory helped him to the papal throne.
All forms of classic poetry were revived—from the epic to the epigram, from tragedy to satire. Petrarca’s Africa, an epic on Scipio, and Boccaccio’s Theseid led the way. Attempts were even made to continue or restore ancient literary works. Maffeo Vegio, under Martin V., composed a 13th book of Virgil, Bruni restored the second decade of Livy. The poets not only revived the ancient mythologies but peopled Italy with new gods and nymphs. Especially active were they in celebrating the glories of the powerful men of their age, princes and popes. A Borgiad was dedicated to Alexander VI., a Borsead to Borso, duke of Este, a Sforzias to one of the viconti of Milan and the Laurentias to Lorenzo de’ Medici. The most offensive panegyric of all was the poetical effusion of Ercole Strozzi at the death of Caesar Borgia. In this laudation, Roma is represented as having placed her hopes in the Borgias, Calixtus III. and Alexander VI., and last of all in Caesar, whose deeds are then glorified.
In historic composition also, a new chapter was opened. The annals of cities and the careers of individuals were studied and written down. The histories of Florence, first in Latin by Lionardo Bruni and then down to 1362 by the brothers Villani, who wrote in Italian, and then by Poggio to 1455, were followed by other histories down to the valuable Diaries of Rome by Infessura and Burchard, the History of Venice, 1487–1513, by Bembo, and the works of Machiavelli and Guicciardini, who wrote in Italian. In 1463, Flavio Biondo compiled his encyclopaedic work in three parts on the history, customs, topography and monuments of Rome and Italy, Roma instaurata, Roma triumphans and Italia illustrata. Lionardo Bruni wrote Lives of Cicero and Aristotle in Latin and of Dante and Petrarca in Italian. The passion for composition was displayed in the despatches of Venetian, Mantuan and other ambassadors at the courts of Rome or Este and by the elaborate letters, which were in reality finished essays, for the most part written in Latin and introducing comments on books and matters of literary interest, by Politian, Bembo and others, a form of writing revived by Petrarca. The zeal for Latin culture also found exhibition in the habit of giving to children ancient names, such as Agamemnon and Achilles, Atalanta and Pentesilea. A painter called his daughter Minerva and his son Apelles. The habit also took root of assuming Latin names. A Sanseverino, howbeit of illegitimate birth, proudly called himself Julius Pomponius Laetus. This custom extended to Germany, where Schwarzerd gave up his original German patronymic for Melanchthon, Hausschein for Oecolampadius, Reuchlin for Capnio, Buchmann for Bibliander; Hutten, Luther, Zwingli, who were more patriotic, adhered to their vernacular names. Pedants adopted a more serious change when they paganized sacred terms and substituted mythological for Christian ideas. The saints were called dii and deae; their statues, simulacra sancta deorum; holy images of the gods, Peter and Paul, dii titulares Romae or S. Romulus and S. Remus; the nuns, vestales virgines; heaven, Olympus; cardinals, augurs, and the College of Cardinals, Senatus sacer; the pope, pontifex maximus, and his thunders, dirae; the tiara, infula Romulea; and God, Jupiter optimus Maximus!1008 Erasmus protested against such absurd pedantry as characterizing Humanism in its dotage. Another sign of the cult of the ancients was the imitation of Roman burial usages even in the churches. At Bruni’s death in 1443, the priors of Florence decreed him a public, funeral "after the manner of the ancients." Before the laying-away of his body in S. Croce, Manetti pronounced a funeral oration and placed the crown of laurel on the deceased author’s head.
The high veneration of antiquity was also shown in the regard which cities and individuals paid to the relics of classical writers. Padua thought she had the genuine bones of Livy, and Alfonso of Naples considered himself happy in securing one of the arms of the dead historian. Naples gloried in the real or supposed tomb of Virgil. Parma boasted of the bones of Cassius. Como claimed both the Plinies, but Verona proved that the elder belonged to it. Alfonso of Naples, as he was crossing over the Abruzzi, saluted Sulmona, the birthplace of Ovid.
The larger Italian towns were not without Latin schools. Among the renowned teachers were Vittorino da Feltre, whom Gonzaga of Mantua called to his court, and Guarino of Verona. Children of princes from abroad went to Mantua to sit at the feet of Feltre, who also gave instruction to as many as 70 poor and talented children at a time. Latin authors were committed to memory and translated by the pupils, and mathematics and philosophy were taught. To his literary curriculum Feltre added gymnastic exercises and set his pupils a good example by his chastity and temperance. He was represented as a pelican which nourishes her young with her own blood. Pastor, who calls this teacher the greatest Italian pedagogue of the Renaissance period, is careful to notice that he had mass said every morning before beginning the sessions of the day.
The Humanists were fortunate in securing the encouragement of the rich and powerful. Literature has never had more liberal and intelligent patrons than it had in Italy in the 15th century. The munificence of Maecenas was equalled and surpassed by Cosimo and Lorenzo de’Medici in Florence and Nicolas V. in Rome. Other cities had their literary benefactors, but some of these were most noted for combining profligacy with their real or affected interest in literary culture. Humanists were in demand. Popes needed secretaries, and princes courted orators and poets who could conduct a polished correspondence, write addresses, compose odes for festive occasions and celebrate their deeds. Lionardo Bruni, Valla, Bembo, Sadoleto and other Humanists were secretaries or annotators at the papal court under Nicolas V. and his successors.
Cosimo de’ Medici, d. 1464, the most munificent promoter of arts and letters that Europe had seen for more than a thousand years, was the richest banker of the republic of Florence, scholarly, well-read and, from taste and ambition, deeply interested in literature. We have already met him at Constance during the council. He travelled extensively in France and Germany and ruled Florence, after a temporary exile, as a republican merchant-prince, for 30 years. He encouraged scholars by gifts of money and provided for the purchase of manuscripts, without assuming the air of condescension which spoils the generosity of the gift, but with a feeling of respect for superior merit. His literary minister, Nicolo de’ Niccoli, 1364–1437, was a centre of attraction to literary men in Florence and collected and, in great part, copied 800 codices. Under his auspices, Poggio searched some of the South German convents and found at St. Gall the first complete Quintilian. Niccoli’s library, through Cosimo’s mediation, was given to S. Marco, and forms a part of the Medicean library. With the same enlightened liberality, Cosimo also encouraged the fine arts. He was a great admirer of the saintly painter, Fra Angelico, whom he ordered to paint the history of the crucifixion on one of the walls of the chapter-house of S. Marco. Among the scholars protected in Florence under Cosimo’s administration were the Platonist Ficino, Lionardo Bruni and Poggio. During the last year of his life, Cosimo had read to him Aristotle’s Ethics and Ficino’s translation of Plato’s The Highest Good. He also contributed to churches and convents, and by the erection of stately buildings turned Florence into the Italian Athens.
Cosimo’s grandson and worthy successor, Lorenzo de’ Medici, d. 1492, was well educated in Latin and Greek by Landino, Argyropulos and Ficino. He was a man of polite culture and himself no mean poet, whose songs were sung on the streets of Florence. His family life was reputable. He liked to play with his children and was very fond of his son Giovanni, afterwards Leo X. Michelangelo and Pico della Mirandola were among the ornaments of his court. By his lavish expenditures he brought himself and the republic to the brink of bankruptcy in 1490.
Federigo da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino, d. 1482, and Alfonso of Naples also deserve special mention as patrons of learning. Federigo, a pupil of Vittorino da Feltre, was a scholar and an admirer of patristic as well as classical learning. He also cultivated a taste for music, painting and architecture, employed 30 and 40 copyists at a time, and founded, at an expense of 40,000 ducats, a library which, in 1657, was incorporated in the Vatican.
Alfonso was the special patron of the skeptical Laurentius Valla and the licentious Beccadelli, 1394–1471, and also had at his court the Greek scholars, George of Trebizond and the younger Chrysoloras. He listened with delight to literary, philosophical and theological lectures and disputes, which were held in his library. He paid large sums for literary work, giving Beccadelli 1000 gold guldens for his Hermaphrodita, and Fazio, in addition to his yearly stipend of 500 guldens, 1,500 guldens for his Historia Alphonsi. When he took Manetti to be his secretary, he is reported to have said he would be willing to divide his last crust with scholars.
With Nicolas V., 1447–1455, Humanism triumphed at the centre of the Roman Church. He was the first and best pope of the Renaissance and its most liberal supporter. However, Humanism never struck as deep root in Rome as it did in Florence. It was always more or less of an exotic in the papal city.1009 Nicolas caught the spirit of the Renaissance in Florence, where he served as private tutor. For 20 years he acted as the secretary of Cardinal Niccolo Abergati, and travelled in France, England, Burgundy, Germany and Northern Italy. On these journeys he collected rare books, among which were Lactantius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Irenaeus, 12 epistles of Ignatius and an epistle of Polycarp. Many manuscripts he copied with his own hand, and he helped to arrange the books Cosimo collected. His pontificate was a golden era for architects and authors. With the enormous sums which the year of Jubilee, 1450, brought to Rome, he was able to carry out his double passion for architecture and literature. In the bank of the Medici alone, 100,000 florins were deposited to the account of the papacy. Nicolas gave worthy scholars employment as transcribers, translators or secretaries, but he made them work night and day. He sent agents to all parts of Italy and to other countries, even to Russia and England, in search of rare books, and had them copied on parchment and luxuriously bound and clasped with silver clasps. He thus collected the works of Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Appian, Philo Judaeus, and the Greek Fathers, Eusebius, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, Chrysostom, Cyril and Dionysius the Areopagite. He kindled a feverish enthusiasm for the translation of Greek authors, and was determined to enrich the West with versions of all the surviving monuments of Hellenic literature. As Symonds puts it, Rome became a factory of translations from Greek into Latin. Nicolas paid to Valla 500 scudi for a Latin version of Thucydides and to Guarino 1,500 for his translation of Strabo. He presented to Nicolas Perotti for his translation of Polybius a purse of 500 new papal ducats,—a ducat being the equivalent of 12 francs,—with the remark that the sum was not equal to the author’s merits. He offered 5,000 ducats for the discovery of the Hebrew Matthew and 10,000 gold gulden for a translation of Homer, but in vain; for Marsuppini and Oratius only furnished fragments of the Iliad, and Valla’s translation of the first 16 books was a paraphrase in prose. He gave Manetti, his secretary and biographer, though absent from Rome, a salary of 600 ducats. No such liberal and enlightened friend of books ever sat in the chair of St. Peter.
Nicolas found an enduring monument in the Vatican Library, which, with its later additions, is the most valuable collection in the world of rare manuscripts in Oriental, Greek, Latin and ecclesiastical literature. Among its richest treasures is the Vatican manuscript of the Greek New Testament. There had been older pontifical libraries and collections of archives, first in the Lateran, afterwards in the Vatican palace, but Nicolas well deserves to be called the founder of the Vatican Library. He bought for it about 5,000 volumes of valuable classical and biblical manuscripts,—an enormous collection for those days,—and he had besides a private library, consisting chiefly of Latin classics. No other library of that age reached 1,000 volumes. Bessarion had only 600 volumes, Niccoli in Florence 800, Federigo of Urbino 772. The Vatican now contains 30,000 manuscripts and about 100,000 printed works. Free access was offered to its archives for the first time by Leo XIII.
The interest of the later popes of the Renaissance period was given to art and architecture rather than to letters. The Spaniard, Calixtus III., according to the doubtful report of Vespasiano, regarded the accumulation of books by his predecessor as a waste of the treasures of the Church of God, gave away several hundred volumes to the old Cardinal Isidore of Kiew and melted the silver ornaments, with which many manuscripts were bound, into coin for his proposed war against the Turks.
From the versatile diplomatist and man of letters, Pius II., the Humanists had a right to expect much, but they got little. This, however, was not because Eneas Sylvius had reason to fear rivalry. After being elected pope, he was carried about the city of Rome and to Tusculum, Alba, Ostia and other localities, tracing the old Roman roads and water conduits and examining other monuments. He was a poet, novelist, controversialist, historian, cosmographer. He had a heart for everything, from the boat-race and hunting-party to the wonders of great cities, Florence and Rome. His faculty of observation was as keen as his interests were broad. Nothing seems to have escaped his eye. Everything that was human had an interest for him, and his description of cities and men, as in his Frederick III and History of Bohemia, hold the reader’s attention by their clever judgments and their appreciation of characteristic and entertaining details.1010 Pius’ novels and odes breathe a low moral atmosphere, and his comedy, Chrisis, in the style of Terence, deals with women of ill-repute and is equal to the most lascivious of the Humanistic productions. His orations fill three volumes, and over 500 of his letters are still extant.
Under Paul II., the Humanists of the papal household had hard times, as the treatment of Platina shows. Sixtus IV., 1471–1484, has a place in the history of the Vatican library, which he transferred to four new and beautiful halls. He endowed it with a permanent fund, provided for Latin, Greek and Hebrew copyists, appointed as librarians two noted scholars, Bussi and Platina, and separated the books from the archives.1011 The light-hearted Leo X., a normal product of the Renaissance, honored Bembo and other literati, but combined the patronage of frivolous with serious literature. In a letter printed in the first edition of the first six books of the Annals of Tacitus, 1515,—discovered in the Westphalian convent of Corbay, 1508,—he wrote that "from his earliest years he had been accustomed to think that, if we except the knowledge and worship of God Himself, nothing more excellent or more useful had been given by the Creator to mankind than classical studies which not only lead to the ornament and guidance of human life, but are applicable and useful to every particular situation."
As a characteristic development of the Italian Renaissance must be mentioned the so-called academies of Florence, Rome and Naples. These institutions corresponded somewhat to our modern scientific associations. The most noted of them, the Platonic Academy of Florence, was founded by Cosimo de’ Medici, and embraced among its members the principal men of Florence and some strangers. It celebrated the birthday of Plato, November 13, with a banquet and a discussion of his writings. It revived and diffused the knowledge of the sublime truths of Platonism, and then gave way to other academies in Florence of a more literary and social character.1012 Its brightest fame was reached under Lorenzo.
The academy at Rome, which had Pomponius Laetus for its founder, did not confine itself to the study of Plato and philosophy, but had a more general literary aim. The meetings were devoted to classical discussions and the presentation of orations and plays. Although Laetus was half a pagan, Alexander VI. was represented at his funeral, 1498, by members of his court. Cardinal Sadoleto in the 16th century reckoned the Roman academy among the best teachers of his youth. The academy at Naples, developed by Jovianus Pontanus, devoted itself chiefly to matters of style. The Florentine academy has been well characterized by Professor Jebb as predominantly philosophic, the Roman as antiquarian and the Neapolitan as literary.1013
§ 65. Greek Teachers and Italian Humanists.
The revival of the study of Greek, which had been neglected for eight centuries or more, was due, not to an interest in the original text of the New Testament, but to a passion to become acquainted with Homer, Plato and other classic Greek authors. Not even had Gregory the Great any knowledge of the language. The erection of chairs for its study was recommended by the Council of Vienne, but the recommendation came to nothing. The revival of the study of the language was followed by the discovery of Greek manuscripts, the preparation of grammars and dictionaries and the translation of the Greek classics.
If we pass by such itinerating and uncertain teachers as the Calabrians, from whom Petrarca and Boccaccio took lessons, the list of modern teachers of Greek opens with Emanuel Chrysoloras, 1350–1415. He taught in Florence, Milan, Padua, Venice and Rome and, having conformed to the Latin Church, was taken as interpreter to the council at Constance, where he died. He wrote the first Greek grammar, printed in 1484. The first lexicon was prepared by a Carmelite monk, Giovanni Crastone of Piacenza, and appeared in 1497. Provided as we are with a full apparatus for the study of Greek, we have little conception of the difficulty of acquiring a book-knowledge of that language without the elementary helps of grammar and dictionary.
A powerful impetus was given to Greek studies by the Council of Ferrara, 1439, with its large delegation from the Eastern Church and its discussions over the doctrinal differences of Christendom. Its proceedings appeared in the two languages. Among those who attended the council and remained in the West for a period or for life, were Plethon, whose original name was Georgios Gemistos, 1355–1450, and Bessarion, 1403–1472. Cosimo de’ Medici heard Plethon often and was led by his lectures on Plato to conceive the idea of the Platonic Academy in Florence.
Bessarion, bishop of Nicaea, became a fixture in the Latin Church and was admitted to the college of cardinals by Eugenius IV. The objection made in conclave to his candidacy for the papal chair by the cardinal of Avignon was that he was a Greek and wore a beard. He died in Ravenna. Like all Greeks, Bessarion was a philosophical theologian, and took more interest in the metaphysical mystery of the eternal procession of the Spirit than the practical work of the Spirit upon the hearts of men. He vindicated Plato against the charges of immorality and alleged hostility to orthodox doctrines, pointed to that philosopher’s belief in the creation and the immortality of the soul, quoted the favorable opinions of him given by Basil, Augustine and other Fathers, and represented him as a bridge from heathenism to Christianity. Bessarion’s palace in Rome was a meeting-place of scholars. At an expense of 15,000 ducats or, as Platina says, 30,000, he collected a valuable library which he gave, in 1468, to the republic of Venice.1014
George of Trebizond, 1395–1484, came to Italy about 1420, conformed to the papal church, taught eloquence and the Aristotelian philosophy in Venice and Rome, and was appointed an apostolic scribe by Nicolas V. He was a conceited, disputatious and irascible man and quarrelled with Valla, Poggio, Theodore of Gaza, Bessarion and Perotti. The 50 scudi which Sixtus IV. gave him for the translation of Aristotle’s History of Animals, he contemptuously threw into the Tiber. His chief work was a comparison of Aristotle and Plato, to the advantage of the former.
Theodore of Gaza, George’s rival, was a native of Thessalonica, reached Italy 1430, taught in Ferrara and then passed into the service of Pope Nicolas. He was a zealous Platonist, and translated several Greek works into Latin and some of Cicero’s works into Greek and also wrote a Greek grammar.
John Argyropulos, an Aristotelian philosopher and translator, taught 15 years with great success at Florence, and then at Rome, where Reuchlin heard him lecture on Thucydides. His death, 1486, was brought about by excess in eating melons.
The leading Greeks, who emigrated to Italy after the fall of Constantinople, were Callistus, Constantine Lascaris and his son John. John Andronicus Callistus taught Greek at Bologna and at Rome, 1454–1469, and took part in the disputes between the Platonists and Aristotelians. Afterwards he removed to Florence and last to France, in the hope of better remuneration. He is said to have read all the Greek authors and imported six chests of manuscripts from Greece. Constantine Lascaris, who belonged to a family of high rank in the Eastern empire, gave instruction in the Greek language to Ippolita, the daughter of Francis Sforza, and later the wife of Alfonso, son of Ferdinand I. of Naples. He composed a Greek grammar for her, the first book printed in Greek, 1476. In 1470, he moved to Messina, where he established a flourishing school, and died near the close of the century. Among his pupils was Cardinal Bembo of Venice.
His son, John Lascaris, 1445–1535, was employed by Lorenzo de’ Medici to collect manuscripts in Greece, and superintended the printing of Greek books in Florence. He accompanied Charles VIII. to France. In 1513, he was called by Leo X. to Rome, and opened there a Greek and Latin school. In 1518, he returned to France and collected a library for Francis I. at Fontainebleau.
Among those who did distinguished service in collecting Greek manuscripts was Giovanni Aurispa, 1369–1459, who went to Constantinople in his youth to study Greek, and bought and sold with the shrewdness of an experienced bookseller. In 1423, he returned from Constantinople with 238 volumes, including Sophocles, Aeschylus, Plato, Xenophon, Plutarch, Lucian. Thus these treasures were saved from ruthless destruction by the Turks, before the catastrophe of 1453 overtook Constantinople.
The study of Greek suffered a serious decline in Italy after the close of the 15th century, but was taken up and carried to a more advanced stage by the Humanists north of the Alps.
The study of Hebrew, which had been preserved in Europe by Jewish scholars, notably in Spain, was also revived in Italy in the 15th century, but its revival met with opposition. When Lionardo Bruni heard that Poggio was learning the language, he wrote contending that the study was not only unprofitable but positively hurtful. Manetti, the biographer of Nicolas V., translated the Psalms out of Hebrew and made a collection of Hebrew manuscripts for that pontiff. The Camalduensian monk, Traversari, learned the language and, in 1475, began the printing of Hebrew books on Italian presses. Chairs for the study of Hebrew were founded at Bologna, 1488, and in Rome 1514.
Passing from the list of the Greek teachers to the Italian Humanists, it is possible to select for mention here only a few of the more prominent names, and with special reference to their attitude to the Church.
Lionardo Bruni, 1369–1444, a pupil of Chrysoloras, gives us an idea of the extraordinary sensation caused by the revival of the Greek language. He left all his other studies for the language of Plato and Demosthenes. He was papal secretary in Rome and for a time chancellor of Florence, and wrote letters, orations, histories, philosophical essays and translations from the Greek, among them Aristotle’s Ethics, Politics and Economies, and Plato’s Phaedo, Crito, Apology, Phaedrus and Gorgias and his Epistles and six of Plutarch’s Lives. Foreigners went to Florence expressly to see his face. He was a pious Catholic.1015
Francesco Poggio Bracciolini, 1380–1459, was secretary of Martin V., then of Nicolas V., and lived mostly in Florence and Rome.1016 He was the most widely known Humanist of his day and had an unbounded passion for classical antiquity and for literary controversy. He excelled chiefly in Latin, but knew also Greek and a little Hebrew. He was an enthusiastic book-hunter. He went to Constance as papal secretary and, besides discovering a complete copy of Quintilian’s Institutes, made search in the neighboring Benedictine abbeys of Reichenau and Weingarten for old manuscripts. In Cluny and other French convents he discovered new orations of Cicero. He also visited "barbarous England." Although in the service of the curia for nearly 50 years, Poggio detested and ridiculed the monks and undermined respect for the church which supported him. In his Dialogue against Hypocrisy, he gathered a number of scandalous stories of the tricks and frauds practised by monks in the name of religion. His bold description of the martyrdom of the heretic Jerome of Prag has already been cited. When Felix was elected, Poggio exhausted the dictionary for abusive terms and called the anti-pope another Cerberus, a golden calf, a roaring lion, a high-priest of malignity; and he did equally well for the Council of Basel, which had elected Felix. Poggio’s self-esteem and quick temper involved him in endless quarrels, and invectives have never had keener edge than those which passed between him and his contestants. To his acrid tongue were added loose habits. He lived with a concubine, who bore him 14 children, and, when reproached for it, he frivolously replied that he only imitated the common habit of the clergy. At the age of 54, he abandoned her and married a Florentine maiden of 18, by whom he had 4 children. His Facetiae, or Jest-Book, a collection of obscene stories, acquired immense popularity.
The general of the Camalduensian order, Ambrogio Traversari, 1386–1439, combined ascetic piety with interest in heathen literature. He collected 238 manuscripts in Venice and translated from the Greek Fathers. He was, perhaps, the first Italian monk from the time of Jerome to his own day who studied Hebrew.
Carlo Marsuppini, of Arezzo, hence called Carlo Aretino, belonged to the same circle, but was an open heathen, who died without confession and sacrament. He was nevertheless highly esteemed as a teacher and as chancellor of Florence, and honorably buried in the church of S. Croce, 1463, where a monument was erected to his memory.
Francesco Filelfo, 1398–1481, was one of the first Latin and Greek scholars, and much admired and much hated by his contemporaries. He visited Greece, returned to Italy with a rich supply of manuscripts, and was professor of eloquence and Greek in the University of Florence. He combined the worst and best features of the Renaissance. He was conceited, mean, selfish, avaricious. He thought himself equal if not superior to Virgil and Cicero. In malignity and indecency of satire and invective be rivalled Poggio. His poisonous tongue got him into scandalous literary feuds with Niccolo, Poggio, members of the Medici family and others. He was banished from Florence, but, recalled in his old days by Lorenzo, he died a few weeks after his return, aged 83. He was always begging or levying contributions on princes for his poetry, and he kept several servants and six horses. His 3 wives bore him 24 children. He was ungrateful to his benefactors and treacherous to his friends.1017
Marsilio Ficino, 1433–1499, one of the circle who made the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent famous, was an ordained priest, rector of two churches and canon of the cathedral of Florence. He eloquently preached the Platonic gospel to his "brethren in Plato," and translated the Orphic hymns, the Hermes Trismegistos, and some works of Plato and Plotinus,—a colossal task for that age. He believed that the divine Plotinus had first revealed the theology of the divine Plato and "the mysteries of the ancients," and that these were consistent with Christianity. Yet he was unable to find in Plato’s writings the mystery of the Trinity. He wrote a defence of the Christian religion, which he regarded as the only true religion, and a work on the immortality of the soul, which he proved with 15 arguments as against the Aristotelians. He was small and sickly, and kept poor by dishonest servants and avaricious relations.
Politian, to his edition of Justinian’s Pandects, added translations of Epictetus, Hippocrates, Galen and other authors, and published among lecture-courses those on Ovid, Suetonius, Pliny and Quintilian. His lecture-room extended its influence to England and Germany, and Grocyn, Linacre and Reuchlin were among his hearers.
Three distinguished Italian Humanists whose lives overlap the first period of the Reformation were cardinals, Pietro Bembo, 1470–1547, Giacopo Sadoleto, 1477–1547, and Aleander, 1480–1542. All were masters of an elegant Latin style. For 22 years Bembo lived in concubinage, and had three children. Cardinal Sadoleto is best known for his polite and astute letter calling upon the Genevans to abandon the Reformation, to which Calvin replied.1018
Not without purpose have the two names, Laurentius Valla, 1406–1457, and Pico della Mirandola, 1463–1494, been reserved for the last. These men are to be regarded as having, among the Humanists of the 15th century, the most points of contact with our modern thought,—the one the representative of critical scholarship, the other of broad human sympathies coupled with a warm piety.
Laurentius Valla, the only Humanist of distinction born in Rome, taught at Pavia, was secretary to the king of Naples, and at last served at the court of Nicolas V.1019 He held several benefices and was buried in the Lateran, but was a sceptic and an indirect advocate of Epicurean morality. He combined classical with theological erudition and attained an influence almost equal to that enjoyed by Erasmus several generations later. He was a born critic, and is one of the earliest pioneers of the right of private judgment. He broke loose from the bondage of scholastic tradition and an infallible Church authority, so that in this respect Bellarmin called him a forerunner of Luther. Luther, with an imperfect knowledge of Valla’s works, esteemed him highly, declaring that in many centuries neither Italy nor the universal Church could produce another like him.1020 He narrowly escaped the Inquisition. He denied to the monks the monopoly of being "the religious," and attacked their threefold vow. In his Annotations to the New Testament, published by Erasmus, 1505, he ventured to correct Jerome’s Vulgate. He doubted the genuineness of the writings attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite and rejected as a forgery Christ’s letter to King Abgarus which Eusebius had accepted as genuine. When he attacked the Apostolic origin of the Apostles’ Creed and, about 1440, exposed the Donation of Constantine as a fiction, he was calling in question the firm belief of centuries. In pronouncing the latter "contradictory, impossible, stupid, barbarous and ridiculous,"1021 he was wrenching a weapon, long used, out of the hand of the hierarchy. His attack was based on the ground of authentic history, inherent improbability and the mediaeval character of the language. Not satisfied with refuting its genuineness, Valla made it an occasion of an assault upon the whole temporal power of the papacy. He thus struck at the very bulwarks of the mediaeval theocracy. In boldness and violence Valla equalled the anti-papal writings of Luther. He went, indeed, not so far as to deny the spiritual power and divine institution of the papacy, but he charged the bishop of Rome with having turned Peter into Judas and having accepted the devil’s offer of the kingdoms of this world. He made him responsible for the political divisions and miseries of Italy, for rebellions and civil wars, herein anticipating Machiavelli. He maintained that the princes had a right to deprive the pope of his temporal possessions, which he had long before forfeited by their abuse. The purity of Valla’s motives are exposed to suspicion. At the time he wrote the tract he was in the service of Alfonso, who was engaged in a controversy with Eugenius IV.
Unfortunately, Valla’s ethical principles and conduct were no recommendation to his theology. His controversy with Poggio abounds in scandalous personalities. In the course of it, Valla was charged with seduction and pederasty.1022 His Ciceronian Dialogues on Lust, written perhaps 1431, are an indirect attack upon Christian morality. Valla defended the Platonic community of wives. What nature demands is good and laudable, and the voice of nature is the voice of God. When he was charged by Poggio with having seduced his brother-in-law’s maid, he admitted the charge without shame.
Pico della Mirandola, the most precocious genius that had arisen since Duns Scotus, was cut down when he was scarcely 30 years of age. The Schoolman was far beyond him in dialectic subtlety, but was far inferior to him in independence of thought and, in this quality, Pico anticipated the coming age. He studied canon law, theology, philosophy and the humanities in Ferrara and learned also Hebrew, Chaldee and Arabic.1023 In his twenty-third year, he went to Rome and published 900 theses on miscellaneous topics, in which he anticipated some of the Protestant views; for example, that no image or cross should be adored and that the words "This is my body" must be understood symbolically,—significative,—not materially. He also maintained that the science of magic and the Cabbala confirm the doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of Christ. These opinions aroused suspicion, and 13 of his theses were condemned by Innocent VIII. as heretical; but, as he submitted his judgment to the Church, he was acquitted of heresy, and Alexander VI. cleared him of all charges.
To his erudition, Pico added sincere faith and ascetic tendencies. In the last years of his short life, he devoted himself to the study of the Bible with the purpose of preaching Christ throughout the world. He was an admirer of Savonarola, who blamed him for not becoming a full monk and thought he went to purgatory. Of all Humanists he had the loftiest conception of man’s dignity and destiny. In his De dignitate hominis, he maintained that God placed man in the midst of the world that he might the more easily study all that therein is, and endowed him with freewill, by which he might degenerate into the condition of the beast or rise to a godlike existence. He found the highest truth in the Christian religion. He is the author of the famous sentence: Philosophia veritatem quaerit, theologia invenit, religio possidet,—philosophy seeks the truth, theology finds it, religion has it.
Mirandola had a decided influence on John Reuchlin, who saw him in 1490 and was persuaded by him of the immense wisdom hid in the Cabbala. He also was greatly admired by Zwingli. He was the only one, says Burckhardt, "who, in a decided voice, fought for science and the truth of all the ages against the one-sided emphasis of classic antiquity. In him it is possible to see what a noble change Italian philosophy would have undergone, if the counter-Reformation had not come in and put an end to the whole higher intellectual movement."1024 Giordano Bruno, one of the last representatives of the philosophical Renaissance, was condemned as a heretic by the Roman Inquisition and burnt on the Campo de’ Fiori in 1600. To the great annoyance of Pope Leo XIII., his admirers erected a statue to his memory on the same spot in 1889.
§ 66. The Artists.
Haec est Italia diis sacra.—Pliny.
Italian Humanism reproduced the past. Italian art was original. The creative productions of Italy in architecture, sculpture and painting continue to render it the world’s chief centre of artistic study and delight. Among Italian authors, Dante alone has a place at the side of Michelangelo, Raphael and Lionardo da Vinci. The cultivation of art began in the age of Dante with Cimabue and Giotto, but when Italian Humanism was declining Italian painting and sculpture were celebrating their highest triumphs. Such a combination and succession of men of genius in the fine arts as Italy produced, in a period extending over three centuries, has nowhere else been known. They divided their triumphs between Florence and Rome, but imparted their magic touch to many other Italian cities, including Venice, which had remained cold to the literary movement. Here again Rome drew upon Florence for painters such as Giotto and Fra Angelico, and for sculptors such as Ghiberti, Donatello, Brunelleschi and Michelangelo.
While the Italy of the 15th century—or the quattrocento, as the Italians call it—was giving expression to her own artistic conceptions in color and marble and churchly dome, masterpieces of ancient sculpture, restless, in the graves where for centuries they had had rude sepulture, came forth to excite the admiring astonishment of a new generation. What the age of Nicolas V. was for the discovery of manuscripts, the age of Julius II. was for the discovery of classic Greek statuary. The extensive villa of the Emperor Hadrian at Tivoli, which extended over several miles and embraced a theatre, lyceum, temple, basilica, library, and race-course, alone furnished immense treasures of art. Others were found in the bed of the Tiber or brought from Greece or taken from the Roman baths, where their worth had not been discerned. In Alexander VI.’s pontificate the Apollo Belvedere was found; under Julius II. the torso of Hercules, the Laocoön group1025 and the Vatican Venus. The Greek ideals of human beauty were again revealed and kindled an enthusiasm for similar achievements.
Petrarca’s collections were repeated. Paul II. deposited his rich store of antiquities in his palace of San Marco. In Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici was active in securing pieces of ancient art. The museum on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, where Nicolas V. seems to have restored the entire palace of the senate, dates from 1471, one of its earliest treasures being the statue of Marcus Aurelius. The Vatican museum was the creation of Julius II. To these museums and the museums in Florence were added the galleries of private collectors.
In architecture, the Renaissance artists never adopted the stern Gothic of the North. In 1452, Leon Battista Alberti showed to Nicolas V. a copy of his De re aedificatoria, a work on architecture, based upon his studies of the Roman monuments. Nicolas opened the line of great builders in Rome and his plans were on a splendid scale.
The art of the Renaissance blends the glorification of mediaeval Catholicism with the charms of classical paganism, the history of the Bible with the mythology of Greece and Rome. The earlier painters of the 14th and 15th centuries were more simple, chaste and devout than those of the 16th, who reached a higher distinction as artists. The Catholic type of piety is shown in the preponderance of the pictures of the Madonna holding the infant Saviour in her arms or on her lap and in the portraiture of St. Sebastian and other saints. Heavenly beauty and earthly sensuality meet side by side, and the latter often draws attention away from the former. The same illustrious painters, says Hawthorne, in the Marble Faun, "seem to take up one task or the other—the disrobed woman whom they called Venus, or the type of highest and tenderest womanhood in the mother of their Saviour—with equal readiness, but to achieve the former with far more satisfactory success." One moment the painter represented Bacchus wedding Ariadne and another depicted Mary on the hill of Calvary. Michelangelo now furnished the Pietà for St. Peter’s, now designed the Rape of Ganymede for Vittoria Colonna and the statue of the drunken Bacchus for the Roman Jacopo Galli. Titian’s Magdalen in the Pitti gallery, Florence, exhibits in one person the voluptuous woman with exposed breasts and flowing locks and the penitent saint looking up to heaven. Of Sandro Botticelli, Vasari said that "in many homes he painted of naked women a plenty." If, however, the Christian religion furnished only to a single writer, Dante, the subject of his poem, it furnished to all the painters and sculptors many subjects from both Testaments and also from Church history, for the highest productions of their genius.
In looking through the long list of distinguished sculptors, painters and architects who illuminated their native Italy in the Renaissance period, one is struck with the high age which many of them reached and, at the same time, with the brief period in which some of them acquired undying fame. Michelangelo lived to be 89, while Correggio died before he was 44. Titian, had he lived one year longer, would have rounded out a full century, while death took the brush out of Raphael’s hand before he was 37, a marvellous example of production in a short period, to be compared with Mozart in the department of music and Blaise Pascal in letters. And again, several of the great artists are remarkable examples of an extraordinary combination of talents. Lionardo da Vinci and Michelangelo excelled alike as architects, sculptors, painters and poets. Lionardo was, besides being these, a chemist, engineer, musician, merchant and profound thinker, yea, "the precocious originator of all modern wonders and ideas, a subtle and universal genius, an isolated and insatiate investigator," and is not unjustly called, on his monument at Milan, "the restorer of the arts and sciences."1026 His mural picture of the Last Supper in Milan, best known by the engraving of Raphael Morghen, in spite of its defaced condition, is a marvellous reproduction of one of the sublimest events, adapted to the monks seated around their refectory table (instead of the reclining posture on couches), and every head a study. As for Michelangelo, he has been classed by Taine with Dante, Shakespeare and Beethoven among the four great intellects in the world of art and literature.
Distinguishing in the years between 1300–1550 two periods, the earlier Renaissance to 1470 and the high Renaissance, from that date forward, we find that Italian art had its first centre in Florence, and its most glorious exhibition under Julius II. and Leo X. in Rome.1027 The earlier period began with Cimabue, who died about 1302, and Giotto, 1276–1336, the friend of Dante. According to the story, Cimabue found Giotto, then ten years old, drawing sheep on a stone with a piece of charcoal and, with his father’s consent, took the lad to Florence. These two artists employed their genius in the decoration of the cathedral erected to the memory of St. Francis in Assisi. The visitor to S. Croce and other sacred places in Florence looks upon the frescos of Giotto. His Dante, like Guido Reni’s Beatrice Cenci, once seen can never be forgotten. Symonds has remarked that it may be said, without exaggeration, that Giotto and his scholars, within the space of little more than half a century, painted upon the walls of the churches and the public places of Italy every great conception of the Middle Ages.1028 Fra Angelico da Fiesole, 1387–1455, is the most religious of the painters of this period, and his portraiture of saints and angels is so pure as to suggest no other impression than saintliness.
The mind is almost stunned by the combination of brilliant artistic achievement, of which the pontificate of Julius II. may be taken as the centre. There flourished in that age Perugino, 1446–1524,—Raphael’s teacher,—Lionardo da Vinci, 1452–1519, Raphael, 1483–1520, Michelangelo, 1475–1564, Correggio, 1493–1534, Andrea del Sarto, 1487–1531, and Titian, 1477–1576, all Italians.
Of Raphael, his German biographer has said his career is comprised in four words, "he lived, he loved, he worked, he died young."1029 He was an attractive and amiable character, free from envy and jealousy, modest, magnanimous, patient of criticism, as anxious to learn as to teach, always ready to assist poor artists. Michelangelo and he labored in close proximity in the Vatican, Michelangelo in the Sistine chapel, Raphael in the stanze and loggie. Their pupils quarrelled among themselves, each depreciating the rival of his master; but the masters rose above the jealousy of small minds. They form a noble pair, like Schiller and Goethe among poets. Raphael seemed almost to have descended from a higher world. Vasari says that he combined so many rare gifts that he might be called a mortal god rather than a simple man. The portraits, which present him as an infant, youth and man, are as characteristic and impressive as Giotto’s Dante and Guido Reni’s Beatrice Cenci.
Like Goethe, Raphael was singularly favored by fortune and was free from the ordinary trials of artists—poverty, humiliation and neglect. He held the appointment of papal chamberlain and had the choice between a cardinal’s hat and marriage to a niece of Cardinal Bibbiena, with a dowry of three thousand gold crowns. But he put off the marriage from year to year, and preferred the dangerous freedom of single life. His contemporary and admirer, Vasari, says, when Raphael felt death approaching, he "as a good Christian dismissed his mistress from his house, making a decent provision for her support, and then made his last confession."
The painter’s best works are devoted to religious characters and events. On a visit to Florence after the burning of Savonarola, he learned from his friend Fra Bartolomeo to esteem the moral reformer and gave him, as well as Dante, a place among the great teachers of the Church in his fresco of the Theologia in the Vatican. His Madonnas represent the perfection of human loveliness and purity. In the Madonna di San Sisto at Dresden, so called because Sixtus IV. is introduced into the picture, the eye is divided between the sad yet half-jubilant face of the Virgin Mother, the contemplative gaze of the cherubs and the pensive and sympathetic expression of the divine child.
Grimm says, Raphael’s Madonnas are not Italian faces but women who are lifted above national characteristics. The Madonnas of da Vinci, Correggio, Titian, Murillo and Rubens contain the features of the nationality to which these painters belonged. Raphael alone has been able to give us feminine beauty which belongs to the European type as such.1030
The last, the greatest, and the purest of Raphael’s works is the Transfiguration in the Vatican. While engaged on it, he died, on Good Friday, his birthday. It was suspended over his coffin and carried to the church of the Pantheon, where his remains repose in his chosen spot near those of his betrothed bride, Maria di Bibbiena. In that picture we behold the divinest figure that ever appeared on earth, soaring high in the air, in garments of transparent light, and with arms outspread, adored by Moses on the right hand and by Elijah on the left, who represent the Old Covenant of law and promise. The three favorite disciples are lying on the ground, unable to face the dazzling splendor from heaven. Beneath this celestial scene we see, in striking contrast, the epileptic boy with rolling eyes, distorted features, and spasmodic limbs, held by his agonized father and supported by his sister; while the mother imploringly appeals to the nine disciples who, in their helplessness, twitted by scribes, point up to the mountain where Jesus had gone. In connecting the two scenes, the painter followed the narrative of the Gospels, Matt. xvii. 1–14; Mark ix. 2–14; Luke ix. 28–37. The connection is being continually repeated in Christian experience. Descending from the Mount of Transfiguration, we are confronted with the misery of earth and, helpless in human strength, we look to heaven as the only source of help.
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.
Michelangelo Buonarroti was 10 years older than Raphael, and survived him 44 years. He drew the inspiration for his sculptures and pictures from the Old Testament, from Dante and from Savonarola. He praised Dante in two sublime sonnets and heard Savonarola’s thrilling sermons against wickedness and vice, and witnessed his martyrdom. Vasari and Condivi both bear witness to his spotless morality. He deplored the corruptions of the papal court.
For Rome still slays and sells Christ at the court,
Where paths are closed to virtue’s fair increase.1031
The artist’s works have colossal proportions, and refuse to be judged by ordinary rules. They are divided between painting, as the frescos in the Sistine chapel of St. Peter’s, architecture as in St. Peter’s dome, and works of statuary, as Moses in Rome and David in Florence. His Pietà in St. Peter’s, a marble group representing the Virgin Mary holding the crucified Saviour in her arms, raised him suddenly to the rank of the first sculptor of Italy.1032 His Last Judgment, on the altar wall of the Sistine chapel, represents the dominant conception of the Middle Ages of Christ as an angry judge, and is as Dantesque as Dante’s Inferno itself.1033 The artist’s last work in marble was the unfinished Pietà, in the cathedral of Florence; his last design a picture of the crucifixion. In his last poems, he took farewell of the fleeting pleasures of life, turned to God as the only reality and found in the crucified Saviour his only comfort. This is the core of the evangelical doctrine of justification rightly understood.
The day of Michelangelo’s death was the day of Galileo Galilei’s birth in Florence. The golden age of art had passed: the age of science was at hand.
Among the greater churches of Italy,—the cathedrals of Milan, Venice, Pisa, Siena, Florence and Rome,—St. Peter’s stands pre-eminent in dimensions, treasures of art and imposing ecclesiastical associations.1034 This central cathedral of Christendom was not dedicated till 1626 by Urban VIII. Its reconstruction was planned on a colossal scale by Nicolas V., but little was done till Julius II. took up the work. Among the architects who gave to the building their thought, Bramante and Michelangelo did most. On April 18, 1506, Julius II. laid the first stone according to Bramante’s design. A mass being said by Cardinal Soderini, the old pope descended by a ladder into the trench which had been dug at the spot where the statue of St. Veronica now stands. There was much fear, says Paris de Grassis, that the ground would fall in and the pope, before consecrating the foundations, cried out to those above not to come too near the edge. Under Leo X., Raphael was appointed sole architect, and was about to deviate from Bramante’s plan, when death stayed his hand. Michelangelo, taking up the task in 1535, gave to the structure its crowning triumph in the dome, the noblest in Western Europe, and the rival of the dome of St. Sophia.
That vast and wondrous dome,
To which Diana’s marvel was a cell, —
Christ’s mighty shrine above his martyr’s tomb.1035
§ 67. The Revival of Paganism.
The revival of letters and the cultivation of art brought no purification of morals to Italy nor relief from religious formalism. The great modern historians of the period,—Voigt, Burckhardt, Gregorovius, Pastor, Creighton and Symonds,—agree in depicting the decline of religion and the degeneracy of morals in dark colors, although Pastor endeavors to rescue the Church from the charge of total neglect of its duty and to clear the mediaeval hierarchy and theology from the charge of being responsible for the semi-paganism of the Renaissance.
The mediaeval theology had put the priesthood in the place of the individual conscience. Far from possessing any passion to rescue Italy from a religious formalism which involved the seeds of stagnation of thought and moral disintegration, the priesthood was corrupt at heart and corrupt in practice in the highest seats of Christendom.1036 Finding the clerical mind of Italy insincere and the moral condition of the Church corrupt, Humanism not only made no serious effort to amend this deplorable state but, on the contrary, it contributed to the further decadence of morals by a revival of paganism, now Epicurean, now Stoical, attested both in the lives and the writings of many of its chief leaders. Gregorovius has felt justified in pronouncing the terrible sentence that the sole end of the Italian Renaissance was paganism.1037
The worship of classical forms led to the adoption of classical ideas. There were not wanting Humanists and artists who combined culture with Christian faith, and devoted their genius to the cause of truth and virtue. Traversari strictly observed the rules of his monastic order; Manetti, Lionardo Bruni, Vittorino da Feltre, Ficino, Sadoleto, Fra Angelico, Fra Bartolomeo, Michelangelo and others were devout Christian believers. Traversari at first hesitated to translate classic authors and, when he did, justified himself on the ground that the more the Pagan writers were understood, the more would the excellence of the Christian system be made manifest. But Poggio, Filelfo, Valla and the majority of the other writers of the Renaissance period, such as Ariosto, Aretino, Machiavelli, were indifferent to religion, or despised it in the form they saw it manifested. Culture was substituted for Christianity, the worship of art and eloquence for reverence for truth and holiness. The Humanists sacrificed in secret and openly to the gods of Greece and Rome rather than to the God of the Bible. Yet, they were not independent enough to run the risk of an open rupture with orthodoxy, which would have subjected them to the Inquisition and death at the stake.1038 Yea, those who were most flagrant in their attacks upon the ecclesiastics of their time often professed repentance for their writings in their last days, as Boccaccio and Bandello, and applied for extreme unction before death. So it was with Machiavelli, who died with the consolations of the Church which he undermined with his pen, with the half-Pagan Pomponius Laetus of Rome and the infamous Sigismondo Malatesta of Rimini, who joined to his patronage of culture the commission of every crime.
Dangerous as it may be to pronounce a final judgment upon the moral purity of a generation, even though, as in the case of the 15th century, it reveals itself clearly in its literature and in the lives of the upper classes, literary men, popes and princes, nevertheless this it is forced upon us to do. The Renaissance in Italy produced no Thomas à Kempis. No devout mystics show signs of a reform movement in her convents and among her clergy, though, it is true, there were earnest preachers who cried out for moral reform, as voices crying in the wilderness. Nor are we unmindful of the ethical disintegration of the Church and society at other periods and in other countries, as in France under Louis XIV., when we call attention to the failure of religion in the country of the popes and at a time of great literary and artistic activity to bear fruits in righteousness of life.
The Humanists were the natural enemies of the monks. For this they cannot be blamed. As a class, the monks hated learning, boasted of superior piety, made a display of their proud humility and yet were constantly quarrelling with each other. Boccaccio and the novelists would not have selected monks and nuns as heroes and heroines of their obscene tales if monastic life had not been in a degenerate state. Poggio, Filelfo, Valla, Bandello, Machiavelli, Ariosto, Aretino and Erasmus and the writers of the Epistolae virorum obscurorum chastised with caustic irony and satire the hypocrisy and vices of the monastic class, or turned its members into a butt of ridicule. To the charges of unchastity and general hypocrisy was added the imposition of false miracles upon the ignorant and credulous. It was common rumor that the nuns were the property of the monks.1039 The literature of the 15th century teems with such charges, and Savonarola was never more intense than when he attacked the clergy for their faithlessness and sins. Machiavelli openly declared "we Italians are of all most irreligious and corrupt," and he adds, "we are so because the representatives of the Church have shown us the worst example." Pastor has suggested that Humanists, who were themselves leading corrupt lives, were ill-fitted to sit in judgment upon the priesthood. This in a sense is true, and their representations, taken alone, would do no more than create an unfavorable presumption, but their statements are confirmed by the scandals of the papal court and the social conditions in Rome; and Rome was not worse than Venice, Florence and other Italian towns. The same distinguished historian seeks to parry the attacks of Humanistic writers and to offset the lives of the hierarchy by a long list of 89 saints of the calendar who lived 1400–1520.1040 The number is imposing, but outside of Bernardino da Siena, Fra Angelico, Jacopo della Marca and John of Capistrano, few of the names are known to general history, and the last two showed traits which the common judgment of mankind is not inclined to regard as saintly. Pastor also adduces the wills of the dying, in which provision was made for ecclesiastical objects, but these may indicate superstitious fear as well as intelligent piety. After all is said, it remains true that the responsibility and the guilt were with the clergy, who were rightly made the targets of the wits, satirists and philosophers of the time.
But while the Humanists were condemning the clerical class, many, yea, the most of them, lived in flagrant violation of the moral code themselves and inclined to scepticism or outright paganism. In their veneration of antiquity, they made the system of Plato of equal authority with the Christian system, or placed its authority above the Christian scheme. They advocated a return to the dictates of nature, which meant the impulses of the natural and sensuous man. The watchword, sequere naturam, "follow nature," was launched as a philosophical principle. The hard-fought controversy which raged over the relative merits of the two Greek thinkers, Aristotle and Plato, was opened by Plethon, who accused Aristotle of atheism. The battle was continued for many years, calling forth from contestants the bitterest personal assaults. In defending Plato, Ficino set the philosopher so high as to obscure the superior claims of the Christian religion, and it was seriously proposed to combine with the Scripture readings of the liturgy excerpts from Plato’s writings.1041
The immortality of the soul was formally questioned by Pietro Pomponazzi, a popular teacher of the Aristotelian philosophy in Padua and Bologna. His tract, published in 1516, was burnt by the Franciscans at Venice, but was saved from a like fate in Rome and Florence by the intervention of Bembo and Julius de’ Medici. So widespread was the philosophy of materialism that the Fifth Lateran three years before, Dec. 19, 1513, deemed it necessary to reaffirm the doctrine of the soul’s immortality and to instruct professors at the universities to answer the arguments of the materialists. In the age of Julius II. and Leo X., scepticism reigned universally in Rome, and the priests laughed among themselves over their religious functions as the augurs once did in the ancient city.1042
The chief indictment against Humanism is, that it lacked a serious moral sense, which is an essential element of the Christian system. Nor did it at any time show a purpose of morally redeeming itself or seek after a regenerative code of ethics. It declined into an intellectual and aesthetic luxury, a habit of self-indulgence for the few, with no provision for the betterment of society at large and apparently no concern for such betterment. The Humanists were addicted to arrogance, vanity, and lacked principle and manly dignity. They were full of envy and jealousy, engaged in disgraceful personal quarrels among themselves and stooped to sycophancy in the presence of the rich and powerful. Politian, Filelfo and Valla agreed in begging for presents and places in terms of abject flattery. While they poured contempt upon the functionaries of religion, they failed to imitate the self-denying virtues which monasticism enjoined and that regard for the rights of others which Christian teaching commands. Under the influence of the Renaissance was developed that delusive principle, called honor, which has played such an extensive rôle in parts of Europe and under which a polished culture may conceal the most refined selfishness.1043
No pugilistic encounter could be more brutal than the literary feuds between distinguished men of letters. Poggio and Filelfo fought with poisoned daggers. To sully these pages, says Symonds, "with Poggio’s rank abuse would be impossible." Poggio, not content with thrusts at Filelfo’s literary abilities, accused him of the worst vices, and poured out calumnies on Filelfo’s wife and mother. In Poggio’s contest with George of Trebizond, the two athletes boxed each other’s ears and tore one another’s hair. George had accused Poggio of taking credit for translations of Xenophon and Diodorus which did not belong to him. Between Valla and Fazio eight books of invectives were exchanged. Bezold is forced to say that such feuds revealed perhaps more than the cynicism of the Italian poetry the complete moral decay.1044
To the close of the period, the Renaissance literature abounds in offences against morality and decency. Poggio was already 70 years of age when he published his filthy Facetiae, Jest-book, which appeared 26 times in print before 1500 and in 3 Italian translations. Of Poggio’s works, Burckhardt says, "They contain dirt enough to create a prejudice against the whole class of Humanists." Filelfo’s epigrams, De jocis et seriis, are declared by his biographer, Rosmini, to contain "horrible obscenities and expressions from the streets and the brothels." Beccadelli and Aretino openly preached the emancipation of the flesh, and were not ashamed to embellish and glorify licentiousness in brilliant verses, for which they received the homage of princes and prelates. Beccadelli’s Hermaphroditus was furiously attacked by the monks in the pulpit, but applauded by the Humanists. Cosimo allowed the indecent work to be dedicated to himself, and the author was crowned by the Emperor Sigismund in Siena, 1433, and died old and popular at Naples, 1471. The critics of his obscenities, Beccadelli pointed to the ancient writers. Nicolas was loaned a copy of his notorious production, kept it for nine days and then returned the work without condemning it. Pietro Aretino, d. 1557, the most obscene of the Italian poets, was called il divino Aretino, honored by Charles V., Francis I. and Clement VII., and even dared to aspire to a cardinal’s hat, but found a miserable end. Bandello, d. 1562, in his Facetiae, paints society in dissolution. Moral badness taints every one’s lips. Debauchery in convents is depicted as though it were a common occurrence. And he was a bishop!1045
Machiavelli, the Florentine politician and historian, a worshipper of ability and power, and admirer of Caesar Borgia, built upon the basis of the Renaissance a political system of absolute egotism; yet he demands of the prince that he shall guard the appearance of five virtues to deceive the ignorant.1046 Under the cover of Stoicism, many Humanists indulged in a refined Epicureanism.
The writers of novels and plays not only portrayed social and domestic immorality without a blush, but purposely depicted it in a dress that would call forth merriment and laughter. Tragedy was never reached by the Renaissance writers. The kernel of this group of works was the faithlessness of married women, for the unmarried were kept under such close supervision that they were with difficulty reached. The skill is enlarged upon with which the paramour works out his plans and the outwitted husband is turned into an object of ridicule. Here we are introduced to courtesans and taken to brothels.1047
In the Mandragola by Machiavelli, Callimaco, who has been in Paris, returns to Florence determined to make Lucrezia, of whose charms he has heard, his mistress. Assuming the roll of a physician, he persuades her husband, who is anxious for an heir, to allow him to use a potion of mandragora, which will relieve his wife of sterility and at the same time kill the paramour. Working upon the husband’s mind through the mother-in-law and Lucrezia’s confessor, who consents to the plot for a bribe, he secures his end. Vice and adultery are glorified. And this was one of the plays on which Leo X. looked with pleasure! In 1513, in face of the age-long prohibition of the theatre by the Church, this pontiff opened the playhouse on the Capitol. A few years later he witnessed the performance of Ariosto’s comedy the Suppositi. The scenery had been painted by Raphael. The spectators numbered 2,000, Leo looking on from a box with an eye-glass in his hand. The plot centres around a girl’s seduction by her father’s servant. One of the first of the cardinals to open his palace to theatrical representations was Raffaele Riario.
Intellectual freedom in Italy assumed the form of unrestrained indulgence of the sensual nature. In condemning the virginity extolled by the Church, Beccadelli pronounced it a sin against nature. Nature is good, and he urged men to break down the law by mixing with nuns.1048 The hetaerae were of greater service to mankind than monastic recluses. Illegitimacy, as has already been said, was no bar to high position in the state or the Church. Aeneas Sylvius declared that most of the rulers in Italy had been born out of wedlock,1049 and when, as pope, he arrived in Ferrara, 1459, he was met by eight princes, not a single one of them the child of legitimate marriage. The appearance of the Gallic disease in Italy at the close of the 15th century may have made men cautious; the rumor went that Julius II., who did not cross his legs at public service on a certain festival, was one of its victims.1050 Aretino wrote that the times were so debauched that cousins and kinsfolk of both sexes, brothers and sisters, mingled together without number and without a shadow of conscientious scruple.1051
What else could be expected than the poisoning of all grades of society when, at the central court of Christendom, the fountain was so corrupt. The revels in the Vatican under Alexander VI. and the levity of the court of Leo X. furnished a spectacle which the most virtuous principles could scarcely be expected to resist. Did not a harlequin monk on one occasion furnish the mirth at Leo’s table by his extraordinary voracity in swallowing a pigeon whole, and consuming forty eggs and twenty capons in succession! Innocent VIII.’s son was married to a daughter of the house of the Medici, and Alexander’s son was married into the royal family of France and his daughter Lucrezia into the scarcely less proud family of Este. Sixtus IV. taxed and thereby legalized houses of prostitution for the increase of the revenues of the curia. The 6,800 public prostitutes in Rome in 1490, if we accept Infessura’s figures, were an enormous number in proportion to the population. This Roman diarist says that scarcely a priest was to be found in Rome who did not keep a concubine "for the glory of God and the Christian religion." All parts of Italy and Spain contributed to the number of courtesans. They lived in greater splendor in Rome than the hetaerae in Athens, and bore classical names, such as Diana, Lucrezia, Camilla, Giulia, Costanza, Imperia, Beatrice. They were accompanied on their promenades and walks to church by poets, counts and prelates, but usually concluded their gilded misery in hospitals after their beauty had faded away.1052
The almost nameless vice of the ancient world also found its way into Italy, and Humanists and sons of popes like the son of Paul III., Pierluigi Farnese, if not popes themselves, were charged with pederasty. In his 7th satire, Ariosto, d. 1533, went so far as to say it was the vice of almost all the Humanists. For being addicted to it, a Venetian ambassador lost his position, and the charge was brought against the Venetian annalist, Sanuto. Politian, Valla and Aretino and the academicians of Rome had the same accusation laid at their door. The worst cannot be told, so abhorrent to the prime instincts of humanity do the crimes against morality seem. No wonder that Symonds speaks of "an enervation of Italian society in worse than heathen vices."1053
To licentiousness were added luxury, gaming, the vendetta or the law of blood-revenge, and murder paid for by third parties. Life was cheap where revenge, a licentious end or the gain of power was a motive. Cardinals added benefice to benefice in order to secure the means of gratifying their luxurious tastes.1054 In the middle of the 16th century, Italy, says Burckhardt, was in a moral crisis, out of which the best men saw no escape. In the opinion of Symonds, who has written seven volumes on the Renaissance, it is "almost impossible to overestimate the moral corruption of Rome at the beginning of the 16th century. And Gregorovius adds that "the richest intellectual life blossomed in a swamp of vices."1055
Of open heresy and attacks upon the papal prerogatives, popes were intolerant enough, as was quickly proved, when Luther appeared and Savonarola preached, but not of open immorality and secret infidelity. In the hierarchical interest they maintained the laws of sacerdotal celibacy, but allowed them to be broken by prelates in their confidence and employ, and openly flaunted their own bastard children and concubines. And unfortunately, as has been said, not only did the Humanists, with some exceptions, fall in with the prevailing licentiousness: there even was nothing in their principles to prevent its practice. As a class, the artists were no better than the scholars and, if possible, even more lax in regard to sexual license. Such statements are made not in the spirit of bitterness toward the Church of the Middle Ages, but in deference to historic fact, which ought at once to furnish food for reflection upon the liability of an ecclesiastical organization to err and even to foster vice as well as superstition by its prelatical constitution and unscriptural canons, and also to afford a warning against the captivating but fallacious theory that literature and art, not permeated by the principles of the Christian faith, have the power to redeem themselves or purify society. They did not do it in the palmy days of Greece and Rome, nor did they accomplish any such end in Italy.
In comparing our present century with the period of the Renaissance, there is at least one ground for grateful acknowledgment.1056 The belief in astrology, due largely to the rise of astronomical science, has been renounced. Thomas Aquinas had decided that astrology was a legitimate art when it is used to forecast natural events, such as drought and rain, but when used to predict human actions and destiny it is a daemonic cult.1057 At an early period it came to be classed with heresy, and was made amenable to the Inquisition. In 1324, Cecco d’Ascoli, who had shown that the position of libra rendered the crucifixion of Christ inevitable, was obliged to abjure, and his astrolabe and other instruments were burnt, 1327, by the tribunal at Florence. In spite of Petrarca’s ridicule, the cult continued. The Chancellor D’Ailly gave it credit. Scarcely a pope or Italian prince or republic of the latter part of the Renaissance period who did not have his astrologer or yield to the delusion in a larger or smaller measure, as, for example, Sixtus IV., Julius II. and Leo X., as well as Paul III. at a period a little later. Julius II. delayed his coronation several weeks, to Nov. 26, 1503, the lucky day announced by the astrologer. Ludovico of Milan waited upon favorable signs in the heavens before taking an important step.1058
On the other hand, Savonarola condemned the belief, and was followed by Pico della Mirandola and Erasmus.1059 To the freedom of human action astrology opposed a fatalistic view of the world. This was felt at the time, and Matteo Villani said more than once that "no constellation is able to compel the free-will of man or thwart God’s decree." Before the 15th century had come to a close, the cult was condemned to extinction in France, 1494, but in Germany, in spite of the spread of the Copernican system, it continued to have its followers for more than a century. The great Catholic leader in the Thirty Years’ War, Wallenstein, continued, in the face of reverses, to follow the supposed indications of the heavenly bodies, and Schiller puts into his mouth the words:
The stars he not; what’s happened
Has turned out against the course of star and fate;
Art does not play us false. The false heart
’Tis, which drags falsehood into the truth-telling heavens.
The revolt against the ascendancy of mediaeval priestcraft and scholastic dialectic was a great and necessary movement demanded by the sane intents of mankind. The Italian Renaissance led the revolt. It gave liberty to the individual and so far its work was wholesome, but it was liberty not bound by proper restraints. It ran wild in an excess of indulgence, so that Machiavelli could say, "Italy is the corruption of the world." When the restraint came, it came from the North as it had come centuries before, in the days of the Ottos, in the 10th century. When studies in Italy set aside the ideals of Christianity, when religion seemed to be in danger of expiring and social virtue of altogether giving way, then the voice was raised in Wittenberg which broke with monastic asceticism and scholasticism and, at the same time, asserted an individualism under the control of conscience and reverence for God.
§ 68. Humanism in Germany.
Humanistic studies were late in finding entrance into Germany. They were opposed not so much by priestly ignorance and prejudice, as was the case in Italy, as by the scholastic theology which reigned at the universities. German Humanism may be dated from the invention of the printing-press about 1450. Its flourishing period began at the close of the 15th century and lasted only till about 1520, when it was absorbed by the more popular and powerful religious movement, the Reformation, as Italian Humanism was superseded by the papal counter-Reformation. Marked features distinguished the new culture north of the Alps from the culture of the Italians. The university and school played a much more important part than in the South. The representatives of the new scholarship were teachers, even Erasmus, who taught in Cambridge, and was on intimate terms with the professors at Basel. During the progress of the movement new universities sprang up, from Basel to Rostock. Again, in Germany, there were no princely patrons of arts and learning to be compared in intelligence and munificence to the Renaissance popes and the Medici. Nor was the new culture here exclusive and aristocratic. It sought the general spread of intelligence, and was active in the development of primary and grammar schools. In fact, when the currents of the Italian Renaissance began to set toward the North, a strong, independent, intellectual current was pushing down from the flourishing schools conducted by the Brothers of the Common Life. In the Humanistic movement, the German people was far from being a slavish imitator. It received an impulse from the South, but made its own path. Had Italy been careful to take lessons from the pedagogy of the North, it is probable her people would to-day be advanced far beyond what they are in intelligence and letters.
In the North, Humanism entered into the service of religious progress. German scholars were less brilliant and elegant, but more serious in their purpose and more exact in their scholarship than their Italian predecessors and contemporaries. In the South, the ancient classics absorbed the attention of the literati. It was not so in the North. There was no consuming passion to render the classics into German as there had been in Italy. Nor did Italian literature, with its loose moral teachings, find imitators in the North. Boccaccio’s Decameron was first translated into German by the physician, Henry Stainhöwel, who died in 1482. North of the Alps, the attention was chiefly centred on the Old and New Testaments. Greek and Hebrew were studied, not with the purpose of ministering to a cult of antiquity, but to more perfectly reach the fountains of the Christian system. In this way, preparation was made for the constructive work of the Protestant Reformation.
And what was true of the scholarship of Germany was also true of its art. The painters, Albrecht Dürer, who was born and died at Nürnberg, 1471–1528, Lukas Kranach, 1472–1553, and for the most part Hans Holbein, 1497–1543, were free from the pagan element and contributed to the spread of the Reformation. Kranach lived in Wittenberg after 1504 and painted portraits of Luther, Melanchthon and other leaders of the German Reformation. Holbein gave illustrations for some of the new writings and painted portraits of Erasmus and Melanchthon. His Madonna, now at Darmstadt, has a German face and wears a crown on her head, while the child in her arms reflects his concern for the world in the sadness of his countenance.
If any one individual more than another may be designated as the connecting link between the learning of Italy and Germany, it is Aeneas Sylvius. By his residence at the court of Frederick III. and at Basel, as one of the secretaries of the council, he became a well-known character north of the Alps long before he was chosen pope. The mediation, however, was not effected by any single individual. The fame of the Renaissance was carried over the pathways of trade which led from Northern Italy to Augsburg, Nürnberg, Constance and other German cities. The visits of Frederick III. and the campaigns of Charles VIII. and the ascent of the throne of Naples by the princes of Aragon carried Germans, Frenchmen and Spaniards to the greater centres of the peninsula. A constant stream of pilgrims itinerated to Rome and the Spanish popes drew to the city throngs of Spaniards. As the fame of Italian culture spread, scholars and artists began to travel to Venice, Florence and Rome, and caught the inspiration of the new era.
To the Italians Germany was a land of barbarians. They despised the German people for their ignorance, rudeness and intemperance in eating and drinking. Aeneas found that the German princes and nobles cared more for horses and dogs than for poets and scholars and loved their wine-cellars better than the muses. Campanus, a witty poet of the papal court, who was sent as legate to the Diet of Regensburg by Paul II., and afterwards was made a bishop by Pius II., abused Germany for its dirt, cold climate, poverty, sour wine and miserable fare. He lamented his unfortunate nose, which had to smell everything, and praised his ears, which understood nothing. Such impressions were soon offset by the sound scholarship which arose in Germany and Holland. And, if Italy contributed to Germany an intellectual impulse, Germany sent out to the world the printing-press, the most important agent in the history of intellectual culture since the invention of the alphabet.
Before the first swell of the new movement was felt, the older German universities were already established: Prag in 1347, Vienna 1365, Heidelberg 1386, Cologne 1388, Erfurt 1392, Würzburg 1402, Leipzig 1409 and Rostock 1419. During the last half of the 15th century, there were quickly added to this list universities at Greifswald and Freiburg 1456, Treves 1457, Basel 1459, Ingolstadt 1472, Tübingen and Mainz 1477, and Wittenberg 1502. Ingolstadt lost its distinct existence by incorporation in the University of Munich, 1826, and Wittenberg by removal to Halle. Most of these universities had the four faculties, although the popes were slow to give their assent to the sanction of the theological department, as in the case of Vienna and Rostock, where the charter of the secular prince authorized their establishment. Strong as the religious influences of the age were, the social and moral habits of the students were by no means such as to call for praise. Parents, Luther said, in sending their sons to the universities, were sending them to destruction, and an act of the Leipzig university, dating from the close of the 15th century, stated that students came forth from their homes obedient and pious, but "how they returned, God alone knew."1060 In 1510, the student-body at Erfurt were so turbulent that the citizens and the peasant-folk turned cannons upon the collegiate building and, after the students had fled, battered down its walls and did great damage to university archives and library.
The theological teaching was ruled by the Schoolmen, and the dialectic method prevailed in all departments. In clashing with the scholastic method and curricula, the new teaching met with many a repulse, and in no case was it thoroughly triumphant till the era of the Reformation opened. Erfurt may be regarded as having been the first to give the new culture a welcome. In 1466, it received Peter Luder of Kislau, who had visited Greece and Asia Minor, and had been previously appointed to a chair in Heidelberg, 1456. He read on Virgil, Jerome, Ovid and other Latin writers. There Agricola studied and there Greek was taught by Nicolas Marschalck, under whose supervision the first Greek book printed in Germany issued from the press, 1501. There John of Wesel taught. It was Luther’s alma mater and, among his professors, he singled out Trutvetter for special mention as the one who directed him to the study of the Scriptures.1061
Heidelberg, chartered by the elector Ruprecht I. and Pope Urban VI., showed scant sympathy with the new movement. However, the elector-palatine, Philip, 1476–1508, gathered at his court some of its representatives, among them Reuchlin. Ingolstadt for a time had Reuchlin as professor and, in 1492, Konrad Celtis was appointed professor of poetry and eloquence.
In 1474, a chair of poetry was established at Basel. Founded by Pius II., it had among its early teachers two Italians, Finariensis and Publicius. Sebastian Brant taught there at the close of the century and among its notable students were Reuchlin and the Reformers, Leo Jud and Zwingli. In 1481, Tübingen had a stipend of oratoria. Here Gabriel Biel taught till very near the close of the century. The year after Biel’s death, Heinrich Bebel was called to lecture on poetry. One of Bebel’s distinguished pupils was Philip Melanchthon, who studied and taught in the university, 1512–1518. Reuchlin was called from Ingolstadt to Tübingen, 1521, to teach Hebrew and Greek, but died a few months later.
Leipzig and Cologne remained inaccessible strongholds of scholasticism, till Luther appeared, when Leipzig changed front. The last German university of the Middle Ages, Wittenberg, founded by Frederick the Wise and placed under the patronage of the Virgin Mary and St. Augustine, acquired a world-wide influence through its professors, Luther and Melanchthon. Not till 1518, did it have instruction in Greek, when Melanchthon, soon to be the chief Greek scholar in Germany, was called to one of its chairs at the age of 21. According to Luther, his lecture-room was at once filled brimful, theologians high and low resorting to it.
As seats of the new culture, Nürnberg and Strassburg occupied, perhaps, even a more prominent place than any of the university towns. These two cities, with Basel and Augsburg, had the most prosperous German printing establishments. At the close of the 15th century, Nürnberg, the fountain of inventions, had four Latin schools and was the home of Albrecht Dürer the painter and Willibald Pirkheimer, a patron of learning.
Popular education, during the century before the Reformation, was far more advanced in Germany than in other nations. The chief schools, conducted by the Brothers of the Common Life, were located at Zwolle, Deventer, Herzogenbusch and Liége. All the leading towns had schools.1062 The attendance at Deventer ran as high as 2,200. Melanchthon attended the Latin school at Pforzheim, now in Baden. Here Reuchlin found his young grand-nephew and gave him a Greek grammar, promising him a Vocabulary, provided Melanchthon would have ready some verses in Latin on his return. It is needless to say that the boy was ready and received the book. The town of Schlettstadt in Alsace was noted as a classical centre. Here Platter found Sapidus teaching, and he regarded it as the best school he had found. In 1494, there were five pedagogues in Wesel, teaching reading, writing, arithmetic and singing. One Christmas the clergy of the place entertained the pupils, giving them each cloth for a new coat and a piece of money.1063 The primary or trivial schools, as they were called from teaching the trivium,—grammar, rhetoric and dialectic,—gradually extended their courses and, before the Reformation, such schools as Liége and Schlettstadt had eight classes.1064 Greek was begun with the 4th class.
Among the noted schoolmasters was Alexander Hegius, who taught at Deventer for nearly a quarter of a century, till his death in 1498. At the age of 40 he was not ashamed to sit at the feet of Agricola. He made the classics central in education and banished the old text-books. Trebonius, who taught Luther at Eisenach, belonged to a class of worthy men. The penitential books of the day called upon parents to be diligent in keeping their children off the streets and sending them to school.1065 It remained for Luther to issue a stirring appeal to the magistrates of the Saxon towns to establish schools for both girls and boys and he called for a curriculum, which included not only history and Latin but vocal and instrumental music.
The chief Humanists of Germany were Rudolph Agricola, Reuchlin and Erasmus. To the last two a separate treatment is given as the pathfinders of biblical learning, the venerabiles inceptores of modern biblical research.
Agricola, whose original name was Roelef Huisman, was born near Groningen, 1443, and died 1485. He enjoyed the highest reputation in his day as a scholar and received unstinted praise from Erasmus and Melanchthon. He has been regarded as doing for Humanism in Germany what was done for Italy by Petrarca, the first life of whom, in German, Agricola prepared. He was far in advance of the Italian poet in the purity of his life. After studying in Erfurt, Louvain and Cologne, Agricola went to Italy, spending some time at the universities in Pavia and Ferrara. He declined a professor’s chair in favor of an appointment at the court of Philip of the Palatinate in Heidelberg. He made Cicero and Quintilian his models. In his last years, he turned his attention to theology and studied Hebrew. Like Pico della Mirandola, he was buried in the cowl of a monastic order. The inscription on his tomb in Heidelberg stated that he had studied what is taught about God and the true faith of the Saviour in the books of Scripture.
Another Humanist was Jacob Wimpheling, 1450–1528, of Schlettstadt, who taught in Heidelberg. He was inclined to be severe on clerical abuses but, at the close of his career, wanted to substitute for the study of Virgil and Horace, Sedulius and Prudentius. The poetic Sebastian Brant, 1457–1521, the author of the Ship of Fools, began his career as a teacher of law in Basel. Mutianus Rufus, d. at Gotha 1526, in his correspondence, went so far as to declare that Christianity is as old as the world and that Jupiter, Apollo, Ceres and Christ are only different names of the one hidden God.1066
A name which deserves a high place in the German literature of the last years of the Middle Ages is John Trithemius, 1462–1505, abbot of a Benedictine convent at Sponheim, which, under his guidance, gained the reputation of a learned academy. He gathered a library of 2,000 volumes and wrote a patrology, or encyclopaedia of the Fathers, and a catalogue of the renowned men of Germany. Prelates and nobles visited him to consult and read the Latin and Greek authors he had collected. These men and others contributed their part to that movement of which Reuchlin and Erasmus were the chief lights and which led on easily to the Protestant Reformation.1067
§ 69. Reuchlin and Erasmus.
In his fresco of the Reformation on the walls of the Berlin museum, Kaulbach has given a place of great prominence to Reuchlin and Erasmus. They are represented in the group of the Humanists, standing side by side, with books under their arms and clad in scholar’s cap and gown, their faces not turned toward the central figure on the platform, Martin Luther. The artist has presented the truth of history. These two most noteworthy German scholars prepared the way for the Reformation and the modern study of the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures, but remained and died in the Roman Church in which they were born. Rightly did Ulrich von Hutten call them "the two eyes of Germany." To them, and more especially to Erasmus, did all the greater Reformers owe a debt, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Oecolampadius, Melanchthon and Beza.
John Reuchlin, 1455–1522, known also by the Latin name Capnion,1068 was born in Pforzheim and studied at Schlettstadt, Freiburg, Paris, Basel, Orleans, Poictiers, Florence and Rome. He learned Greek from native Greeks, Hebrew from John Wessel and from Jewish rabbis in Germany and Italy. He bought many Hebrew and rabbinical books, and marked down the time and place of purchase to remind him of the happiness their first acquaintance gave him. A lawyer by profession, he practised law in Stuttgart and always called himself legum doctor. He was first in the service of Eberhard, count of Würtemberg, whom he accompanied to Italy in 1482 as he later accompanied his son, 1490. He served on diplomatic missions and received from the Emperor Maximilian the rank of a count of the Palatinate. At Eberhard’s death he removed to Heidelberg, 1496, where he was appointed by the elector Philip chief tutor in his family. His third visit to Rome, 1498, was made in the elector’s interest. Again he returned to Stuttgart, from which he was called in 1520 to Ingolstadt as professor of Greek and Hebrew at a salary of 200 gulden. In 1521, he was driven from the city by the plague and was appointed lecturer in Tübingen. His death occurred the following spring at Liebenzell in the Black Forest.
Reuchlin recommended Melanchthon as professor of Greek in the University of Wittenberg, and thus unconsciously secured him for the Reformation. He was at home in almost all the branches of the learning of his age, but especially in Greek and Hebrew. He translated from Greek writings into Latin, and a part of the Iliad and two orations of Demosthenes into German. His first important work appeared at Basel when he was 20, the Vocabularius breviloquus, a Latin lexicon which went through 25 editions, 1475–1504. He also prepared a Greek Grammar. His chief distinction, however, is as the pioneer of Hebrew learning among Christians in Northern Europe. He gave a scientific basis for the study of this language in his Hebrew Grammar and Dictionary, the De rudimentis hebraicis, which he published in 1506 at his own cost at Pforzheim. Its circulation was slow and, in 1510, 750 copies of the edition of 1,000 still remained unsold. The second edition appeared in 1537. The author proudly concluded this work with the words of Horace, that he had reared a monument more enduring than brass.1069 In 1512, he issued the Penitential Psalms with a close Latin translation and grammatical notes, a work used by Luther. The printing of Hebrew books had begun in Italy in 1475.
Reuchlin pronounced Hebrew the oldest of the tongues—the one in which God and angels communicated with man. In spite of its antiquity it is the richest of the languages and from it other languages drew, as from a primal fountain. He complained of the neglect of the study of the Scriptures for the polite study of eloquence and poetry.1070 Reuchlin studied also the philosophy of the Greeks and the Neo-Platonic and Pythagorean mysticisms. He was profoundly convinced of the value of the Jewish Cabbala, which he found to be a well of hidden wisdom. In this rare branch of learning he acknowledged his debt to Pico della Mirandola, whom he called "the greatest scholar of the age." He published the results of his studies in two works—one, De verbo mirifico, which appeared at Basel in 1494, and passed through eight editions; and one, De arte cabbalistica, 1517. "The wonder-working word "is the Hebrew tetragrammaton Ihvh, the unpronounceable name of God, which is worshipped by the celestials, feared by the infernals and kissed by the soul of the universe. The word Jesu, Ihsvh, is only an enlargement of Ihvh by the letter s. The Jehovah- and Jesus-name is the connecting link between God and man, the infinite and the finite. Thus the mystic tradition of the Jews is a confirmation of the Christian doctrine of the trinity and the divinity of Christ. Reuchlin saw in every name, in every letter, in every number of the old Testament, a profound meaning. In the three letters of the word for create, bara, Gen. 1:1, he discerned the mystery of the Trinity; in one verse of Exodus, 72 inexpressible names of God; in Prov. 30:31, a prophecy that Frederick the Wise, of Saxony, would follow Maximilian as emperor of Germany, a prophecy which was not fulfilled. We may smile at these fantastic vagaries; but they stimulated and deepened the zeal for the hidden wisdom of the Orient, which Reuchlin called forth from the grave.
Through his interest in the Jews and in rabbinical literature, Reuchlin became involved in a controversy which spread over all Europe and called forth decrees from Cologne and other universities, the archbishop of Mainz, the inquisitor-general of Germany, Hoogstraten, the emperor, Maximilian, and Pope Leo X. The monks were his chief opponents, led by John Pfefferkorn, a baptized Jew of Cologne. The controversy was provoked by a tract on the misery of the Jews, written by Reuchlin, 1505—Missive warumb die Juden so lang im Elend sind. Here the author made the obstinacy of the Jews in crucifying Christ and their persistence in daily blaspheming him the just cause of their sorrows, but, instead of calling for their persecution, he urged a serious effort for their conversion. In a series of tracts, Pfefferkorn assaulted this position and demanded that his former coreligionists, as the sworn enemies of Christ, should be compelled to listen to Christian preaching, be forbidden to practise usury and that their false Jewish books should be destroyed.1071 The flaming anti-Semite prosecuted his case with the vigor with which a few years later Eck prosecuted the papal case against Luther. Maximilian, whose court he visited three times to present the matter, Hoogstraten and the University of Cologne took Pfefferkorn’s side, and the emperor gave him permission to burn all Jewish books except, of course, the Old Testament. Called upon to explain his position by the archbishop of Mainz, with whom Maximilian left the case, Reuchlin exempted from destruction the Talmud, the Cabbala and all other writings of the Jews except the Nizahon and the Toledoth Jeshu, which, after due examination and legal decision, might be destroyed, as they contained blasphemies against Christ, his mother and the Apostles. He advised the emperor to order every university in Germany to establish chairs of Hebrew for ten years.1072
Pfefferkorn, whom Reuchlin had called a "buffalo or an ass," replied in a violent attack, the Handmirror—Handspiegel wider und gegen die Juden — 1511. Both parties appeared before the emperor, and Reuchlin replied in the Spectacles—Augenspiegel,—which in its turn was answered by his antagonist in the Burning Glass—Brandspiegel. The sale of the Spectacles was forbidden in Frankfurt. Reuchlin followed in a Defense against all Calumniators, 1513, and after the manner of the age cudgelled them with such epithets as goats, biting dogs, raving wolves, foxes, hogs, sows, horses, asses and children of the devil.1073 An appeal he made to Frederick the Wise called forth words of support from Carlstadt and Luther. The future Reformer spoke of Reuchlin as a most innocent and learned man, and condemned the inquisitorial zeal of the Cologne theologians who "might have found worse occasions of offence on all the streets of Jerusalem than in the extraneous Jewish question." The theological faculty of Cologne, which consisted mostly of Dominicans, denounced 43 sentences taken from Reuchlin as heretical, 1514. The Paris university followed suit. Cited before the tribunal of the Inquisition by Hoogstraten, Reuchlin appealed to the pope. Hoogstraten had the satisfaction of seeing the Augenspiegel publicly burnt at Cologne, Feb. 10, 1514. The young bishop of Spires, whom Leo X. appointed to adjudicate the case, cleared Reuchlin and condemned Hoogstraten to silence and the payment of the costs, amounting to 111 gulden, April 24, 1514.1074 But the indomitable inquisitor took another appeal, and Leo appointed Cardinal Grimani and then a commission of 24 to settle the dispute. All the members of the commission but Sylvester Prierias favored Reuchlin, who was now supported by the court of Maximilian, by the German "poets" as a body and by Ulrich von Hutten, but opposed by the Dominican order. When a favorable decision was about to be rendered, Leo interposed, June 23, 1520, and condemned Reuchlin’s book, the Spectacles, as a work friendly to the Jews, and obligated the author to pay the costs of trial and thereafter to keep silence. The monks had won and Pfefferkorn, with papal authority on his side, could celebrate his triumph over scholarship and toleration in a special tract, 1521.
With the Reformation, which in the meantime had broken out at Wittenberg, the great Hebrew scholar showed no sympathy. He even turned away from Melanchthon and cancelled the bequest of his library, which he had made in his favor, and gave it to his native town, Pforzheim. He prevented, however, Dr. Eck, during his brief sojourn at Ingolstadt, from burning Luther’s writings. His controversy with Pfefferkorn had shown how strong in Germany the spirit of obscurantism was, but it had also called forth a large number of pamphlets and letters in favor of Reuchlin. The Hebrew pathfinder prepared a collection of such testimonies from Erasmus, Mutianus, Peutinger, Pirkheimer, Busch, Vadianus, Glareanus, Melanchthon, Æcolampadius, Hedio and others,—in all, 43 eminent scholars who were classed as Reuchlinists.
Among the writings of the Reuchlinists against the opponents of the new learning, the Letters of Unfamed Men—Epistolae virorum obscurorum — occupy the most prominent place. These epistles are a fictitious correspondence of Dominican monks who expose their own old-fogyism, ignorance and vulgarity to public ridicule in their barbarous German-Latin jargon, which is called kitchen-Latin, Küchenlatein, and which admits of no adequate translation. They appeared anonymously, but were chiefly written by Ulrich von Hutten and Crotus Rubeanus whose German name was Johannes Jaeger. The authors were friends of Luther, but Crotus afterwards fell out with the Reformation, like Erasmus and other Humanists.
Ulrich von Hutten, 1488–1523, after breaking away from the convent in which his father had placed him six years before, pursued desultory studies in the University of Cologne, developed a taste for the Humanistic culture and travelled in Italy. In 1517, he returned to Germany and had a position at the court of the pleasure-loving Albrecht, archbishop of Mainz, a patron of the new learning. He was crowned with the poet’s crown by Maximilian and was hailed as the future great epic poet of Germany by Erasmus, but later incurred the hostility of that scholar who, after Hutten’s death, directed against his memory the shafts of his satire. He joined Franz von Sickingen in standing ready to protect Luther at Worms. Placed under the ban, he spent most of his time after 1520, till his death, in semi-concealment at Schlettstadt, Basel and at Zürich under the protection of Zwingli.
Hutten’s life at Cologne and in Rome gave him opportunity enough to find out the obscurantism of the Dominicans and other foes of progress as well as the conditions prevailing at the papal court. In 1517, he edited Valla’s tract on the spurious Donation of Constantine and, with inimitable irony, dedicated it to Leo X. In ridicule and contempt it excelled everything, Janssen says, that had been written in Germany up to that time against the papacy. As early as 1513, Hutten issued epigrams from Italy, calling Julius II. "the corrupter of the earth, the plague of mankind."1075 His Latin poem, the Triumph of Reuchlin, 1518, defended the Hebrew scholar, and called for fierce punishment upon Pfefferkorn. It contained a curious woodcut, representing Reuchlin’s triumphal procession to his native Pforzheim, and his victory over Hoogstraten and Pfefferkorn with their four idols of superstition, barbarism, ignorance and envy.1076
The 10 Epistles of the Unfamed Men, written first in Latin and then translated by Hutten into German, with genial and not seldom coarse humor, demanded the restriction of the pope’s tyranny, the dissolution of the convents, the appropriation of annates and lands of abolished convents and benefices for the creation of a fund for the needy. The amorous propensities of the monks are not spared. The author called the holy coat of Treves a lousy old rag, and declared the relics of the three kings of Cologne to be the bodies of three Westphalian peasants. In the 4th letter, entitled the Roman trinity, things are set forth and commented upon which were found in three’s in Rome. Three things were considered ridiculous at Rome: the example of the ancients, the papacy of Peter and the last judgment. There were three things of which they had a superabundance in the holy city: antiquities, poison and ruins; three articles were kept on sale: Christ, ecclesiastical places and women; three things which gave the Romelings pain: the unity among the princes, the growing intelligence of the people and the revelation of their frauds; three things which they disliked most to hear about: a general council, a reformation of the clerical office and the opening of the eyes of the Germans; three things held as most precious: beautiful women, proud horses and papal bulls. These were some of the spectacles which Rome offered. Had not Hutten himself been in Rome, when the same archbishop’s pall was sold twice in a single day! The so-called "gracious expectations," which the pope distributed, were a special mark of his favor to the Germans.1077 Hutten’s wit reached the popular heart, drew laughter from the educated and stirred up the wrath of the self-satisfied advocates of the old ways. As a knight, he touched a new chord, the national German pride, a chord on which Luther played as a master.
What Reuchlin did for Hebrew learning, Erasmus, who was twelve years his junior, accomplished for Greek learning and more. He established the Greek pronunciation which goes by his name; he edited and translated Greek classics and Church Fathers and made them familiar to northern scholars, and he furnished the key to the critical study of the Greek Testament, the magna charta of Christianity. He was the contemporary of the Protestant Reformers and was an invaluable aid to the movement led by them through his edition of the New Testament, his renunciation of scholastic subtlety in its interpretation and his attacks on the ceremonial religiosity of his age. But, when the time came for him to take open sides, he protested his aversion to the course which the Reformers had taken as a course of violence and revolution. He died in isolation, without a party. The Catholics would not claim him; the Protestants could not.1078
Desiderius Erasmus, 1466–1536, was born at Rotterdam out of wedlock, his father probably a priest at the time.1079 His school life began at Deventer when he was nine years old, Hegius then being in charge. His parents died when he was 13 and, in 1481, he was in the school at Herzogenbusch where he spent three years, a period he speaks of as lost time. His letters of after years refer to his school experiences without enthusiasm or gratitude. After wandering about, he was persuaded against his will to enter a convent at Steyn. This step, in later years, he pronounced the most unfortunate calamity of his life. To his experience in the convent he ascribed the physical infirmity of his manhood. But he certainly went forth with the great advantage of having become acquainted with conventual life on its inside, and wholesome moral influence must have been exerted from some quarter in his early life to account for the moral discrimination of his later years. His ability secured for him the patronage of the bishop of Cambray, who intended taking him as his interpreter to Italy, where he hoped to receive the cardinal’s hat. So far as Italy went, the young scholar was disappointed, but the bishop sent him to Paris, without, however, providing him with much financial assistance. He was able to support himself from the proceeds of instruction he gave several young Englishmen and, through their mediation, Erasmus made his first visit to England, 1499. This visit seems to have lasted only two or three months.1080
At Oxford, the young scholar met Colet and Sir Thomas More and, through the influence of the former, was induced to give more attention to the Greek than he had been giving. The next years he spent in France and Holland writing his book of Proverbs,—Adagia,—issued 1500, and his Manual of the Christian soldier, —Enchiridion militis Christiani,—issued in 1502. In 1505, he was back in England, remaining there for three years. He then embraced an opportunity to travel in Italy with the two sons of Henry VII.’s Genoese physician, Battista Boerio. At Turin, he received the doctor’s degree, spent a number of months in Venice, turning out work for the Aldine presses, and visited Bologna, Rome and other cities. There is no indication in his correspondence that he was moved by the culture, art or natural scenery of Italy, nor does he make a single reference to the scenery of the Alps which he crossed.
Expecting lucrative appointment from Henry VIII., Erasmus returned to England, 1509, remaining there five years. On his way, he wrote for diversion his Praise of Folly,—Encomium moriae,—a book which received its title from the fact that he was thinking of Sir Thomas More when its conception took form in his mind. The book was completed in More’s house and was illustrated with life-like pictures by Holbein.1081 During part of this sojourn in England, Erasmus was entered as "Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity" at Cambridge and taught Greek. The salary was 65 dollars a year, which Emerton calls "a respectable sum." He was on intimate terms with Colet, now dean of St. Paul’s, More, Fisher, bishop of Rochester, Archbishop Warham and other Englishmen. Lord Mountjoy provided him with an annuity and Archbishop Warham with the living of Aldington in 1411, which Erasmus retained for a while and then exchanged for an annuity of £20 from the archbishop.1082
From 1515–1521, he had his residence in different cities in the Lowlands, and it was at this time he secured complete dispensation from the monastic vow which had been granted in part by Julius II. some years earlier.1083 Erasmus’ fame now exceeded the fame of any other scholar in Europe. Wherever he went, he was received with great honors. Princes joined scholars and prelates in doing him homage. Melanchthon addressed to him a poem, "Erasmus the best and greatest," Erasmum optimum, maximum. His edition of the Greek New Testament appeared in 1516, and in 1518 his Colloquies, a collection of familiar relations of his experiences with men and things.
When persecution broke out in the Netherlands after Leo’s issuance of his bull against Luther, Erasmus removed to Basel, where some of his works had already been printed on the Froben presses. At first be found the atmosphere of his new home congenial, and published one edition after the other of the Fathers,—Hilary 1523, Irenaeus 1526, Ambrose 1527, Augustine 1528, Epiphanius 1529, Chrysostom 1530. But when the city, under the influence of Oecolampadius, went Protestant and Erasmus was more closely pushed to take definite sides or was prodded with faithlessness to himself in not going with the Reformers, he withdrew to the Catholic town of Freiburg in Breisgau, 1529. The circulation of his Colloquies had been forbidden in France and burnt in Spain, and his writings were charged by the Sorbonne with containing 82 heretical teachings. On the other hand, he was offered the red hat by Paul III., 1535, but declined it on account of his age.
After the death of Oecolampadius, he returned to Basel, 1535, broken down with the stone and catarrh. The last work on which he was engaged was an edition of Origen. He died calling out, "Oh, Jesus Christ, thou Son of God, have mercy on me," but without priest or extreme unction,—sine lux, sine crux, sine Deus, as the Dominicans of Cologne in their joy and bad Latin expressed it. He was buried in the Protestant cathedral of Basel, carried to the grave, as his friend and admirer, Beatus Rhenanus, informs us, on the shoulders of students. The chief magistrate of the city and all the professors and students were present at the burial.
Erasmus was the prince of Humanists and the most influential and useful scholar of his age. He ruled with undisputed sway as monarch in the realm of letters. He combined brilliant genius with classical and biblical learning, keen wit and elegant taste. He rarely wrote a dull line. His extensive travels made him a man of the world, a genuine cosmopolitan, and he stood in correspondence with scholars of all countries who consulted him as an oracle. His books had the popularity and circulation of modern novels. When the rumor went abroad that his Colloquies were to be condemned by the Sorbonne, a Paris publisher hurried through the press an edition of 24,000 copies. To the income from his writings and an annuity of 400 gulden which he received as counsellor of Charles V.—a title given him in 1516—were added the constant gifts from patrons and admirers.1084
Had Erasmus confined himself to scholarly labors, though he secured eminence as the first classicist of his age, his influence might have been restricted to his time and his name to a place with the names of Politian of Italy and Budaeus of France, whose works are no longer read. But it was otherwise. His labors had a far-reaching bearing on the future. He was a leading factor in the emancipation of the mind of Europe from the bondage of ignorance and superstition, and he uncovered a lifeless formalism in religion. He unthawed the frost-bitten intellectual soil of Germany. The spirit of historical criticism which Laurentius Valla had shown in the South, he represented north of the Alps, and of Valla he spoke as "unrivalled both in the sharpness of his intelligence and the tenacity of his memory."1085 But the sweep of his influence is due to the mediation of his pupils and admirers, Zwingli, Oecolampadius and Luther.
Erasmus’ break with the old mediaeval ecclesiasticism was shown in a fourfold way. He scourged the monks for their ignorance, pride and unchastity, and condemned that ceremonialism in religion which is without heart; he practised the critical method in the treatment of Scripture; he issued the first Greek New Testament; be advocated the translation of the Bible into the languages spoken in his day.
In almost every work that he wrote, Erasmus, in a vein of satire or in serious statement, inveighed against the hypocritical pretension of the monkery of his time and against the uselessness of hollow religious rites. In his edition of the New Testament, he frequently returns to these subjects. For example, in a note on Matt. 19:12 he speaks of the priests "who are permitted to fornicate and may freely keep concubines but not have a wife."1086 Nowhere is his satire more keen on the clergy than in the Praise of Folly. In this most readable book, Folly represented as a female, delivers an oration to an audience of all classes and conditions and is most explicit and elaborate when she discourses on the priests, monks, theologians and the pope. After declaring with consummate irony that of all classes the theologians were the least dependent upon her, Folly proceeds to exhibit them as able to give the most exquisite solutions for the most perplexing questions, how in the wafer accidents may subsist without a subject, how long a time it required for the Saviour to be conceived in the Virgin’s womb, whether God might as easily have become a woman, a devil, a beast, an herb or a stone as a man. In view of such wonderful metaphysics, the Apostles themselves would have needed a new illuminating spirit could they have lived again.
As for the monks, whose name signifies solitude, they were to be found in every street and alley. They were most precise about their girdles and hoods and the cut of their crowns, yet they easily provoked quarrels, and at last they would have to search for a new heaven, for entrance would be barred them to the old heaven prepared for such as are true of heart. As for the pope, Luther’s language never pictured more distinctly the world-wide gulf between what the successor of St. Peter should be and really was, than did the biting sentences of Erasmus. Most liberal, he said, were the popes with the weapons of the Spirit,—interdicts, greater and lesser excommunications, roaring bulls and the like,—which they launch forth with unrestrained vehemence when the authority of St. Peter’s chair is attacked. These are they who by their lusts and wickedness grieve the Holy Spirit and make their Saviour’s wounds to bleed afresh.1087 In the Enchiridion, he says, "Apostle, pastor and bishop" are names of duties not of government, and papa, pope, and abbas, abbot, are titles of love. The sale of indulgences, saint worship and other mediaeval abuses came in for Erasmus’ poignant thrusts.
In addition to his own Annotations and Paraphrases of the New Testament, he edited the first printed edition of Valla’s Annotations, which appeared in Paris, 1505. It was his great merit to call attention to the plain meaning of Scripture and to urge men "to venerate the living and breathing picture of Christ in the sacred books, instead of falling down before statues of wood and stone of him, adorned though they were with gold. What were Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas and Ockam compared with him, whom the Father in heaven called His beloved Son!" As for the Schoolmen, he said, "I would rather be a pious divine with Jerome than invincible with Scotus. Was ever a heretic converted by their subtleties!"1088
The appearance of Erasmus’ edition of the Greek Testament at Basel, 1516, marked an epoch in the study and understanding of the Scriptures. It was worth more for the cause of religion than all the other literary works of Erasmus put together, yea, than all the translations and original writings of all the Renaissance writers. The work contained a dedication to Leo X., a man whom Erasmus continued to flatter, as in the epistle dedicating to him his edition of Jerome, but who of all men was destined to oppose the proclamation of the true Gospel. The volume, 672 pages in all, contained the Greek text in one column and Erasmus’ own Latin version in the other, together with his annotations. It was hurried through the press in order to anticipate the publication of the New Testament of the Complutensian Polyglot, which was actually printed in 1514, but was not given to the public till 1520. The editor used three manuscripts of the 12th century, which are still preserved in the university library of Basel and retain the marginal notes of Erasmus and the red lines of the printer to indicate the corresponding pages of the printed edition. Erasmus did not even take the trouble to copy the manuscripts, but sent them, with numerous marginal corrections, to the printer.1089 The manuscript of the Apocalypse was borrowed from Reuchlin, and disappeared, but was rediscovered, in 1861, by Dr. Delitzsch in the library of Oettingen-Wallerstein at Mayhingen, Bavaria. It was defective on the last leaf and supplemented by Erasmus, who translated the last six verses from the Vulgate into indifferent Greek, for he was a better Latinist than Hellenist.
In all, Erasmus published five editions of the Greek Testament-1516, 1519, 1522, 1527 and 1535. Besides, more than 30 unauthorized reprints appeared in Venice, Strassburg, Basel, Paris and other cities. He made several improvements, but his entire apparatus never exceeded eight MSS. The 4th and the 5th editions were the basis of the textus receptus, which ruled supreme till the time of Lachmann and Tregelles. His notes and paraphrases on the New Testament, the Apocalypse excepted, were translated into English, and a copy given to every parish in 1547. Zwingli copied the Pauline Epistles from the 1st Greek edition with his own hand in the convent at Einsiedeln, 1516. From the 2d edition of 1519, Luther prepared his German translation on the Wartburg, 1522, and Tyndale his English version, 1526.
Thus Erasmus directly contributed to the preparation of the vernacular versions which he so highly commended in his Preface to the 1st edition of his Greek Testament. He there expressed the hope that the Scriptures might be translated into every tongue and put into the hands of every reader, to give strength and comfort to the husbandman at his plough, to the weaver at his shuttle, to the traveller on his journey and to the woman at her distaff. He declared it a miserable thing that thousands of educated Christians had never read the New Testament. In editing the Greek original, it was his purpose, so he says, to enable the theologians to study Christianity at its fountain-head. It was high praise when Oecolampadius confessed he had learned from Erasmus that "in the Sacred Books nothing was to besought but Christ," nihil in sacris scripturis praeter Christum quaerendum.1090
It was a common saying, to which Erasmus himself refers, that he laid the egg which Luther hatched. His relations to the Wittenberg Reformer and to the movement of the Reformation is presented in the 6th volume of this series. Here it is enough to say that Erasmus desired a reformation by gradual education and gentle persuasion within the limits of the old Church system. He disapproved of the violent measures of Luther and Zwingli, and feared that they would do much harm to the cause of learning and refined culture, which he had more at heart than religion.
He and Luther never met, and he emphatically disavowed all responsibility for Luther’s course and declared he had had no time to read Luther’s books. And yet, in a letter to Zwingli, he confessed that most of the positions taken by Luther he had himself taken before Luther’s appearance. The truth is that Erasmus was a critical scholar and not a man of action or of deep fervor of conviction. At best, he was a moralist. He went through no such religious experiences as Luther, and Luther early wrote to Lange that he feared Erasmus knew little of the grace of God. The early part of the 16th century was a period when the critic needed to be supplemented. Erasmus had no mind for the fray of battle. His piety was not deep enough to brave a rupture with the old order. He courted the flattery of the pope, though his pen poured forth ridicule against him. And nowhere is the difference of the two men shown in clearer light than in their treatment of Leo X., whom, when it was to his advantage, Erasmus lauded as a paragon of culture.1091 He did not see that something more was needed than literature and satire to work a change. The times required the readiness for martyrdom, and Erasmus’ religious conviction was not sufficient to make him ready to suffer for principle. On most controverted points, Emerton well says he had one opinion for his friends and another for the world. He lacked both the candor and the courage to be a religious hero. "Erasmus is a man for himself" was the apt characterization often repeated in the Letters of Unfamed Men. Luther spoke to the German people and fought for them. Erasmus awakened the admiration of the polite by his scholarship and wit. The people knew him not. Luther spoke in German: Erasmus boasted that he knew as little Italian as Indian and that he was little conversant with German, French or English. He prided himself on his pure Latinity.
Erasmus never intended to separate from Rome any more than his English friends, John Colet and Thomas More. He declared he had never departed from the judgment of the Church, nor could he. "Her consent is so important to me that I would agree with the Arians and Pelagians if the Church should approve what they taught." This he wrote in 1526 after the open feud with Luther in the controversy over the freedom of the will. The Catholic Church, however, never forgave him. All his works were placed on the Index by two popes, Paul IV. in 1559 and Sixtus V., 1590, as intentionally heretical. In 1564, by the final action of the Council of Trent, this sweeping judgment was revoked and all the writings removed from the Index except the Colloquies, Praise of Folly, Christian Marriage and one or two others, a decision confirmed by Clement VIII., 1596. And there the matter has rested since.1092
The Catholic historian of the German people, Janssen, in a dark picture of Erasmus, presents him as vain and conceited, ungrateful to his benefactors, always ready to take a neutral attitude on disputed questions and, for the sake of presents, flattering to the great. Janssen calls attention to his delight over the gold and silver vessels and other valuables he had received in gifts. My drawers, Erasmus wrote, "are filled with presents, cups, bottles, spoons, watches, some of them of pure gold, and rings too numerous to count." In only one respect, says Janssen, did he go beyond his Italian predecessors in his attack upon the Church. The Italians sneered and ridiculed, but kept their statements free from hypocritical piety, which Erasmus often resorted to after be had driven his dagger into his opponent’s breast.1093 In England, the old Puritan, Tyndale, also gave Erasmus no quarter, but spoke of him as one "whose tongue maketh little gnats great elephants and lifteth up above the stars whosoever giveth him a little exhibition."1094 But no one has ever understood Erasmus and discerned what was his mission better than Luther. That Reformer, who had once called him "our ornament and hope—decus nostrum et spes,"—expressed the whole truth when, in a letter to Oecolampadius, 1523, he said: "Erasmus has done what he was ordained to do. He has introduced the ancient languages in place of the pernicious scholastic studies. He will probably die like Moses in the land of Moab .... He has done enough to overcome the evil, but to lead to the land of promise is not, in my judgment, his business."
§ 70. Humanism in France.
Humanism in France found its way from Italy, but did not become a distinct movement until the 16th century was well on its way. Budaeus, 1467–1540, was the chief representative of classical studies; Faber Stapulensis, or, to use his French name, Lefèvre d’Etaples, of Christian culture, 1469–1536, both of them living well into the period of the Reformation.1095 In France, as in Germany, the pursuit of the classics never went to the point of intoxication as it did in Italy. In France, the Renaissance did not reach its maturity till after the Reformation was well advanced in Germany, the time at which the springs of the movement in the Italian peninsula were dried up.
On the completion of the 100 years’ war between France and England, the intellectual currents began to start. In 1464, Peter Raoul composed for the duke of Bourgogne a history of Troy. At that time the French still regarded themselves as descendants of Hector. If we except Paris, none of the French universities took part in the movement. Individual writers and printing-presses at Paris, Lyons, Rouen and other cities became its centres and sources. William Fichet and Gaguin are usually looked upon as the first French Humanists. Fichet introduced "the eloquence of Rome" at Paris and set up a press at the Sorbonne. He corresponded with Bessarion and had in his library volumes of Petrarca, Guarino of Verona and other Italians. Gaguin copied and corrected Suetonius in 1468 and other Latin authors. Poggio’s Jest-book and some of Valla’s writings were translated into French. In the reign of Louis XI., who gloried in the title "the first Christian king," French poets celebrated his deeds. The homage of royalty took in part the place among the literary men of France that the cult of antiquity occupied in Italy.1096
Greek, which had been completely forgotten in France, had its first teachers in Gregory Tifernas, who reached Paris, 1458, John Lascaris, who returned with Charles VIII., and Hermonymus of Sparta, who had Reuchlin and Budaeus among his scholars. An impetus was given to the new studies by the Italian, Aleander, afterwards famous for his association with Luther at Worms. He lectured in Paris, 1509, on Plato and issued a Latino-Greek lexicon. In 1512 his pupil, Vatable, published the Greek grammar of Chrysoloras. William Budaeus, perhaps the foremost Greek scholar of his day, founded the Collège de France, 1530, and finally induced Francis I. to provide for instruction in Hebrew and Greek. The University of Paris at the close of the 14th century was sunk into a low condition and Erasmus bitterly complained of the food, the morals and the intellectual standards of the college of Montague which he attended. Budaeus urged the combination of the study of the Scriptures with the study of the classics and exclaimed of the Gospel of John, "What is it, if not the almost perfect sanctuary of the truth!"1097 He persisted in setting himself against the objection that the study of the languages of Scripture led on to Lutheranism.
Lefèvre studied in Paris, Pavia, Padua and Cologne and, for longer or shorter periods, tarried in the greater Italian cities. He knew Greek and some Hebrew. From 1492–1506 he was engaged in editing the works of Aristotle and Raymundus Lullus and then, under the protection of Briçonnet, bishop of Meaux, he turned his attention to theology. It was his purpose to offset the Sentences of Peter the Lombard by a system of theology giving only what the Scriptures teach. In 1509, he published the Psalterum quintuplex, a combination of five Latin versions of the Psalms, including a revision and a commentary by his own hand. In 1512, he issued a revised Latin translation of the Pauline Epistles with commentary. In this work, he asserted the authority of the Bible and the doctrine of justification by faith, without appreciating, however, the far-reaching significance of the latter opinion.1098 He also called in question the merit of good works and priestly celibacy. In his Preface to the Psalms Lefèvre said, "For a long time I followed Humanistic studies and I scarcely touched my books with things divine, but then these burnt upon me with such light, that profane studies seemed to be as darkness in comparison." Three years after the appearance of Luther’s New Testament, Lefèvre’s French translation appeared, 1523. It was made from the Vulgate, as was his translation of the Old Testament, 1528. In 1522 and 1525, appeared his commentaries on the four Gospels and the Catholic Epistles. The former was put on the Index by the Sorbonne. The opposition to the free spirit of inquiry and to the Reformation, which the Sorbonne stirred up and French royalty adopted, forced him to flee to Strassburg and then to the liberal court of Margaret of Angoulême.
Among those who came into contact with Lefèvre were Farel and Calvin, the Reformers of Geneva. In the meantime Clement Marot, 1495–1544, the first true poet of the French literary revival, was composing his French versification of the Psalms and of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The Psalms were sung for pleasure by French princes and later for worship in Geneva and by the Huguenots. When Calvin studied the humanities and law at Bourges, Orleans and Paris, about 1520, he had for teachers Cordier and L’Etoile, the canonists, and Melchior Wolmar, teacher of Greek, whose names the future Reformer records with gratitude and respect. He gave himself passionately to Humanistic studies and sent to Erasmus a copy of his work on Seneca’s Clemency, in which he quoted frequently from the ancient classics and the Fathers. Had he not adopted the new religious views, it is possible he would now be known as an eminent figure in the history of French Humanism.
§ 71. Humanism in England.
Use well temporal things: desire eternal things.
Humanism reached England directly from Italy, but was greatly advanced by Erasmus during his three sojourns at Oxford and Cambridge and by his close and abiding friendship with the leading English representatives of the movement. Its history carries us at once to the universities where the conflict between the new learning and the old learning was principally fought out and also to St. Paul’s school, London, founded by Colet. It was marked with the usual English characteristics of caution and reserve, and never manifested any of the brilliant or paganizing traits of the Italian literary movement, nor did it reach the more profound classical scholarship of the German Humanists. In the departments of the fine arts, if we except printing, it remained unresponsive to the Continental leadership. English Humanism, like the theology of the English Reformation, adopted the work of others. It was not creative. On the other hand, it laid more distinctive emphasis upon the religious and ethical elements than the Humanistic circles of Italy, though not of Germany. Its chief leaders were John Colet and Sir Thomas More, with whom Erasmus is also to be associated. It had patrons in high places in Archbishop Warham of Canterbury, Cardinal Wolsey and John Fisher, bishop of Rochester.1099
The English revival of letters was a direct precursor of the English Reformation, although its earliest leaders died in the Catholic Church. Its first distinct impetus was received in the last quarter of the 15th century through English students who visited Italy. It had been the custom for English archdeacons to go to Italy for the study of the canon law. Richard de Bury and Peter de Blois had shown interest in books and Latin profane authors. Italians, Poggio and Polidore Virgil1100 among them, tarried and some of them taught in England, but the first to introduce the new movement were William Sellyng, Thomas Linacre and William Grocyn.
Sellyng, of All Souls’ College, Oxford, and afterwards prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, 1471–1495, made a visit to Italy in 1464 and at Bologna was a pupil of Politian. From this tour, or from a later one, he brought back with him some Greek MSS. and he introduced the studying of Greek in Canterbury. Linacre, d. 1524, the most celebrated medical man of his day in England, studied under Sellyng at Christ Church and then in Oxford, where he took Greek under Cornelio Vitelli, the first to publicly teach that language in England in the later Middle Ages. He then went to Florence, Rome and Padua, where he graduated in medicine. On returning to England, he was ordained priest and later made physician to Henry VIII. He translated the works of Galen into English.1101
While Linacre was studying in Florence, Grocyn arrived in that city. He was teaching Greek in Oxford before 1488 and, on his return from the Continent, he began, 1491, to give Greek lectures in that university. With this date the historian, Green, regards the new period as opening. Grocyn lectured on pseudo-Dionysius and, following Laurentius Valla, abandoned the tradition that he was the Areopagite, the pupil of St. Paul. He and Linacre were close friends of Erasmus, and that scholar couples them with Colet and More as four representatives of profound and symmetrical learning.1102
At the close of the 15th century, the English were still a "barbarous" people in the eyes of the Italians.1103 According to Erasmus, who ought to have known what a good school was, the schoolteachers of England were "shabby and broken down and, in cases, hardly in their senses." At the universities, the study of Duns Scotus ruled and the old method and text-books were in use. The Schoolmen were destined, however, soon to be displaced and the leaves of the Subtle Doctor to be scattered in the quadrangles of Oxford and trodden under foot.
As for the study of Greek, there were those, as Wood says, who preached against it as "dangerous and damnable" and, long after the new century had dawned, Sir Thomas More wrote to the authorities at Oxford condemning them for opposition to Greek.1104 A course of sermons, to which More refers, had been preached in Lent not only against the study of the Greek classics but also the Latin classics. What right, he went on to say, "had a preacher to denounce Latin of which he knew so little and Greek of which he knew nothing? How can he know theology, if he is ignorant of Hebrew, Greek and Latin? "In closing the letter, More threatened the authorities with punishment from Warham, Wolsey and even the king himself, if they persisted in their course. Of the clergy’s alarm against the new learning, More took notice again and again. To Lily, the headmaster of St. Paul’s school, he wrote, "No wonder your school raises a storm; it is like the wooden horse for the ruin of barbarous Troy." But, if there were those who could see only danger from the new studies, there were also men like Fisher of Rochester who set about learning Greek when he was 60. For the venerable Sentences of the Lombard, the Scriptures were about to be instituted as the text-book of theology in the English universities.
The man who contributed most to this result was John Colet. Although his name is not even so much as mentioned in the pages of Lingard, he is now recognized, as he was by Tyndale, Latimer and other Reformers of the middle of the 16th century, as the chief pioneer of the new learning in England and as an exemplar of noble purposes in life and pure devotion to culture.
The son of Sir Henry Colet, several times lord mayor of London, the future dean of St. Paul’s was one of 22 children. He survived all the members of his family except his mother, to whom he referred, when he felt himself growing old, with admiration for her high spirits and happy old age. As we think of her, we may be inclined to recall the good mother of John Wesley. After spending 3 years at Oxford, 1493–1496,1105 young Colet, "like a merchantman seeking goodly wares," as Erasmus put it, went to Italy. For the places where he studied, we are left to conjecture, but Archbishop Parker two generations later said that he studied "a long time in foreign countries and especially the Sacred Scriptures." On his return to Oxford, although not yet ordained to the priesthood, he began expounding St. Paul’s Greek epistles in public, the lectures being given gratuitously. At this very moment the Lady Margaret professor of divinity was announcing for his subject the Quodlibets of Duns Scotus. Later, Colet expounded also the First Epistle to the Corinthians.
At this period, he was not wholly freed from the old academic canons and was inclined to reject the reading of classic authors whose writings did not contain a "salutatory flavor of Christ and in which Christ is not set forth .... Books, in which Christ is not found, are but a table of devils."1106 Of the impression made by his exposition, a proof is given in Colet’s own description of a visit he had from a priest. The priest, sitting in front of Colet’s fire, drew forth from his bosom a small copy of the Epistles, which he had transcribed with his own hand, and then, in answer to his request, his host proceeded to set forth the golden things of the 1st chapter of Romans.1107 His expositions abound in expressions of admiration for Paul.
At Oxford, in 1498, Colet met Erasmus, who was within a few months of being of the same age, and he also came into contact with More, whom he called "a rare genius." The fellowship with these men confirmed him in his modern leanings. He lectured on the Areopagite’s Hierarchies, but he soon came to adopt Grocyn’s view of their late date. The high estimate of Thomas Aquinas which prevailed, he abandoned and pronounced him "arrogant for attempting to define all things" and of "corrupting the whole teaching of Christ with his profane philosophy."1108 Some years later, writing to Erasmus, he disparaged the contemporary theologians as spending their lives in mere logical tricks and dialectic quibbles. Erasmus, replying to him, pronounced the theology which was once venerable "become, almost dumb, poor and in rags."
As dean of St. Paul’s, an appointment he received in 1504, Colet stands forth as a reformer of clerical abuses, a bold preacher and a liberal patron of education. The statutes he issued for the cathedral clergy laid stress upon the need of reformation "in every respect, both in life and religion." The old code, while it was particular to point out the exact plane the dean should occupy in processions and the choir, did not mention preaching as one of his duties. Colet had public lectures delivered on Paul’s Epistles, but it was not long till he was at odds with his chapter. The cathedral school did not meet his standard, and the funds he received on his father’s death he used to endow St. Paul’s school, 1509.1109 The original buildings were burnt down in the London fire, and new buildings reared in 1666. The statutes made the tuition free, and set the number of pupils at 153, since increased threefold. They provided for instruction in "good literature, both Latin and Greek," but especially for Christian authors that "wrote their wisdom with clean and chaste Latin." The founder’s high ideal of a teacher’s qualifications, moral as well as literary, set forth in his statutes for the old cathedral school, was "that he should be an upright and honorable man and of much and well-attested learning." Along with chaste literature, he was expected "to imbue the tender minds of his pupils with holy morals and be to them a master, not of grammar only, but of virtue."1110
St. Paul’s has the distinction of being the first grammar-school in England where Greek was taught. The list of its masters was opened by William Lily, one of the few Englishmen of his age capable of teaching Greek. After studying at Oxford, he made a journey to Jerusalem, and returned to England by way of Italy. He died in 1522. By his will, Colet left all his books, "imprinted and in paper," to poor students of the school.
As a preacher, the dean of St. Paul’s was both bold and Scriptural. Among his hearers were the Lollards. Colet himself seems to have read Wyclif’s writings as well as other heretical works.1111 Two of his famous sermons were delivered before convocation, 1511, and on Wolsey’s receiving the red hat. The convocation discourse, which has come down to us entire, is a vigorous appeal for clerical reform.1112 The text was taken from Rom. xii:2. "Be ye not conformed to this world but be ye reformed." The pride and ambition of the clergy were set forth and their quest of preferment in Church and state condemned. Some frequented feasts and banquetings and gave themselves to sports and plays, to hunting and hawking.1113 If priests themselves were good, the people in their turn would be good also. "Our goodness," exclaimed the preacher, "would urge them on in the right way far more efficaciously than all your suspensions and excommunications. They should live a good and holy life, be properly learned in the Scriptures and chiefly and above all be filled with the fear of God and the love of the heavenly life."
According to the canons of the age, the preacher went beyond the limits of prudence and Fitz-James, bishop of London, cited him for trial but the case was set aside by the archbishop. The charges were that Colet had condemned the worship of images and declared that Peter was a poor man and enjoyed no episcopal revenues and that, in condemning the reading of sermons, Colet had meant to give a thrust to Fitz-James himself, who was addicted to that habit. Latimer, who was at Cambridge about that time, said in a sermon some years later, that, in those days Doctor Colet was in trouble and should have been burned, if God had not turned the king’s heart to the contrary."
When Erasmus’ Greek Testament appeared, Colet gave it a hearty welcome. In a letter to the Dutch scholar acknowledging the receipt of a copy, he expressed his regret at not having a sufficient knowledge of Greek to read it and his desire to be his disciple in that tongue. It was here he made the prediction that "the name of Erasmus will never perish." Erasmus had written to Colet that he had dipped into Hebrew but gone no further, "frightened by the strangeness of the idiom and in view of the insufficiency of the human mind to master a multitude of subjects."1114 A much younger scholar at Tübingen, Philip Melanchthon, had put his tribute to the Novum instrumentum in Greek verse which was transmitted to Erasmus by Beatus Rhenanus. Fox, bishop of Winchester, pronounced the book more instructive to him than 10 commentaries.
Not long before his death, Colet determined to retire to a religious retreat at Shene, a resolution based upon his failing health and the troubles in which his freedom of utterance had involved him. He did not live to carry out his resolution. He was buried in St. Paul’s. It is noteworthy that his will contained no benefactions to the Church or provision for masses for his soul. Erasmus paid the high tribute to his friend, while living, that England had not "another more pious or one who more truly knew Christ." And, writing after Colet’s death to a correspondent, he exclaimed, "What a man has England and what a friend I have lost!" Colet had often hearkened to Erasmus’ appeals in times of stringency.1115 No description in the Colloquies has more interest for the Anglo-Saxon people than the description of the journey which the two friends made together to the shrines of Thomas à Becket and of Our Lady of Walsingham. And the best part of the description is the doubting humor with which they passed criticism upon Peter’s finger, the Virgin’s milk, one of St. Thomas’ shoes and other relics which were shown them.
Far as Colet went in demanding a reform of clerical habits, welcoming the revival of letters, condemning the old scholastic disputation and advocating the study of the Scriptures, it is quite probable he would not have fallen in with the Reformation.1116 He was fifty when it broke out. The best word that can be spoken of him is, that he seems to have conformed closely to the demand which he made of Christian men to live good and upright lives for, of a surety, he said, "to do mercy and justice is more pleasant to God, than to pray or do sacrifice to Him."1117 What higher tribute could be paid than the one paid by Donald Lupton in his History of Modern Protestant Divines, 1637, "This great dean of St. Paul’s taught and lived like St. Paul."1118
Sir Thomas More, 1478–1535, not only died in the Catholic Church, but died a martyr’s death, refusing to acknowledge the English king’s supremacy so far as to impugn the pope’s authority. After studying in Oxford, be practised law in London, rising to be chancellor of the realm. It is not for us here to follow his services in his profession and to the state, but to trace his connection with the revival of learning and the religious movement in England. More was a pattern of a devout and intelligent layman. He wore a hair shirt next to his skin and yet he laughed at the superstition of his age. On taking office, he stipulated that, he should first look to God and after God to the king." At the same time, he entered heartily with his close friends, Erasmus and Colet, into the construction of a new basis for education in the study of the classics, Latin and Greek. He was firmly bound to the Church, with the pope as its head, and yet in his Utopia he presented a picture of an ideal society in which religion was to be in large part a matter of the family, and confession was not made to the priest nor absolution given by the priest.
With the exception of the Utopia, all of More’s genuine works were religious and the most of them were controversial treatises, intended to confute the new doctrines of the Reformation which had found open advocates in England long before More’s death. More was beheaded in 1535 and, if we recall that Tyndale’s English New Testament was published in 1526, we shall have a standard for measuring the duration of More’s contact with the Protestant upheaval. Tyndale himself was strangled and burnt to death a year after More’s execution. In answer to Simon Fish’s work, The Supplication of Beggars, a bitter attack against purgatory, More sent forth the Supplication of Souls or Poor Seely (simple) Souls pewled out of Purgatory. Here souls are represented as crying out not to be left in their penal distress by the forgetfulness of the living. Fish was condemned to death and burnt, 1533. As the chief controversialist on the old side, More also wrote against John Fryth, who was condemned to the stake 1533, and against Tyndale, pronouncing his translation of the New Testament "a false English translation newly forged by Tyndale." He also made the strange declaration that "Wyclif, Tyndale and Friar Barnes and such others had been the original cause why the Scripture has been of necessity kept out of lay people’s hands."1119 More said heretical books were imported from the Continent to England, in vats full." He called Thomas Hylton, a priest of Kent, one of the heretics whom he condemned to the flames, "the devil’s stinking pot." Hylton’s crime was the denial of the five sacraments and he was burnt 1530.1120 As was the custom of the time, More’s controversial works abound in scurrilous epithets. His opponents he distinguishes by such terms as "swine," "hellhounds that the devil hath in his kennel," "apes that dance for the pleasure of Lucifer."1121 In his works against Tyndale and Fryth, he commended pilgrimages, image-worship and indulgences. He himself, so the chancellor wrote, had been present at Barking, 1498, when a number of relics were discovered which "must have been hidden since the time when the abbey was burnt by the infidels," and he declared that the main thing was that such relics were the remains of holy men, to be had in reverence, and it was a matter of inferior import whether the right names were attached to them or not."1122
And yet, More resisted certain superstitions, as of the Franciscan monk of Coventry who publicly preached, that "whoever prayed daily through the Psalter to the Blessed Virgin could not be damned." He denied the Augustinian teaching that infants dying without baptism were consigned to eternal punishment and he could write to Erasmus, that Hutten’s Epistolae obscurorum virorum delighted every one in England and that "under a rude scabbard the work concealed a most excellent blade."1123 His intimacy with Colet and Erasmus led to an attempt on the part of the monks, in 1519, to secure his conversion.
More was beatified by Leo XIII., 1886, and with St. Edmund, Bishop Fisher and Thomas à Becket is the chief English martyr whom English Catholics cultivate. He died "unwilling to jeopardize his soul to perpetual damnation" and expressing the hope that, "as St. Paul and St. Stephen met in heaven and were friends, so it might be with him and his judges." Gairdner is led to remark that "no man ever met an unjust doom in a more admirable spirit."1124 We may concur in this judgment and yet we will not overlook the fact that More, gentleman as he was in heart, seems to us to have been unrelenting to the men whom he convicted as heretics and, in his writings, piled upon them epithets as drastic as Luther himself used. Aside from this, he is to be accorded praise for his advocacy of the reform in education and his commendation of Erasmus’ Greek Testament. He wrote a special letter to the Louvain professor, Dorpius, upbraiding him for his attack upon the critical studies of Erasmus and upon the revision of the old Latin text as unwarranted.
More’s Utopia, written in Latin and published in 1516 with a preface by Budaeus, took Europe by storm. It was also called Nusquama or Nowhere. With Plato’s Republic as a precedent, the author intended to point out wherein European society and especially England was at fault. In More’s ideal commonwealth, which was set up on an island, treaties were observed and promises kept, and ploughmen, carpenters, wagoners, colliers and other artisans justly shared in the rewards of labor with noblemen, goldsmiths and usurers, who are called the unproductive classes. "The conspiracy of the rich procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the commonwealth" was not allowed. In Utopia, a proper education was given to every child, the hours of physical labor were reduced to six, the streets were 20 feet wide and the houses backed with gardens and supplied with freshwater. The slaughtering was done outside the towns. All punishment was for the purpose of reform and religion, largely a matter of family. The old religions continued to exist on the island, for Christianity had but recently been introduced, but More, apparently belying his later practice as judge, declared that "no man was punished for his religion." Its priests were of both sexes and "overseers and orderers of worship" rather than sacerdotal functionaries. Not to them but to the heads of families was confession made, the wife prostrate on the ground confessing to her husband, and the children to both parents. The priests were married.
Little did More suspect that, within ten years of the publication of his famous book, texts would be drawn from it to support the Peasants’ Revolt in Germany.1125 In it are stated some of the sociological hopes and dreams of this present age. The author was voicing the widespread feeling of his own generation which was harassed with laws restricting the wages of labor, with the enclosures of the commons by the rich, the conversion of arable lands into sheep farms and with the renewed warfare on the Continent into which England was drawn.1126
John Fisher, who suffered on the block a few months before More for refusing to take the oath of supremacy, and set aside the succession of Catherine of Aragon’s offspring, was 79 years old when he died. Dean Perry has pronounced him "the most learned, the most conscientious and the most devout of the bishops of his day." In 1511, he recommended Erasmus to Cambridge to teach Greek. On the way to the place of beheadal, this good man carried with him the New Testament, repeating again and again the words, "This is life eternal to know Thee and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." "That was learning enough for him," he said.
To Grocyn, Colet, More and Fisher the Protestant world gives its reverent regard. It is true, they did not fully apprehend the light which was spreading over Europe. Nevertheless, they went far as pioneers of a more rational system of education than the one built up by the scholastic method and they have a distinct place in the history of the progress of religious thought.1127
In Scotland, the Protestant Reformation took hold of the nation before the Renaissance had much chance to exercise an independent influence. John Major, who died about 1550, wrote a commentary on the Sentences of Peter the Lombard and is called "the last of the Schoolmen." He is, however, a connecting link with the new movement in literature through George Buchanan, his pupil at St Andrews. Major remained true to the Roman communion. Buchanan, after being held for six months in prison as a heretic in Portugal, returned to Scotland and adopted the Reformation. According to Professor Hume-Brown, his Latin paraphrase of the Psalms in metre "was, until recent years, read in Scotland in every school where Latin was taught."1128 Knox’s History of the Reformation was the earliest model of prose literature in Scotland.
* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.
984 Geiger-Burckhardt, I. 152.
985 "Along this line, see the strong remarks of Owen, pp. 72-96. This vigorous writer traces the roots of the Renaissance back to the liberating influence of the Crusades on the intelligence of Europe.
986 Burckhardt, I. 4. See vol. V., Pt I. 198 of this History.
987 Quoted by Burckhardt, I. 27. This author speaks of an Epidemie für kleine Dynastien in Italy.
988 Burckhardt, I. 145.
989 Vita Nuova, 10, 11. See Scartazzini, Handbuch, p. 193.
990 Vita Nuova, Norton’s trsl., p. 2.
991 Die Komödie ist der Schwanengesang des Mittelalters, zugleich aber auch das begeisterte Lied, welches die Herankunft einer neuen Zeit einleitet. Scartazzini, Dante Alighieri, etc., p. 530. See Geiger, II. 30 sq. Church, p. 2, calls it "the first Christian poem, the one which opens European literature as the Iliad did that of Greece and Rome." Dante knew scarcely more than a dozen Greek words, and, on account of its popular language, he called his great epic and didactic poem a comedy, or a village poem, deriving it from kwvmh, villa, without apparently being aware of the more probable derivation from kw'mo", merry-making.
992 Allen Schmerz, den ich gesungen, all die Qualen, Greu’l und Wunden
Hab’ ich schon auf dieser Erden, hab’ ich in Florenz gefunden.
—Geibel: Dante in Verona.
One of the finest poems on Dante is by Uhland, others by Tennyson, Longfellow, etc.
993 Strong, p. 142.
994 "There is in Dante no trace of doctrinal dissatisfaction. He respects every part of the teaching of the Church in matters of doctrine, authoritatively laid down ... He gives no evidence of free inquiry and private judgment."—Moore, Studies, II. 65, 66.
995 Engl. translation by A. G. F. Howell, London, 1890.
996 See Burckhardt-Geiger, I. 219.
997 Of his 317 sonnets and 29 canzoni all are erotic but 31. For the sake of euphony, the author changed his patronymic Petrarco into Petrarca. In the English form, Petrarch, the accent is changed from the second to the first syllable.
998 "The noble desire of fame,"Par. xi. 85-117. See, on the subject, Burckhardt-Geiger, I. 154 sq. Pastor, I. 4 sq., calls special attention to this pursuit of the phantom, fame, by the Humanists at courts and from the people.
999 Robinson, Life, p. 336, says, "Petrarch’s love for Cicero and Virgil springs from what one may call the fundamental Humanistic impulse, delight in the free play of mind among ideas that are stimulating and beautiful."
1000 See Burckhardt-Geiger, II., Excursus LXI.
1001 For Petrarca’s attachment to Laura, see Koerting, p. 686 sq., and Symonds, Ital. Lit., I. 92, and The Dantesque and Platonic Ideals of Love, in Contemp. Rev., Sept., 1890.
1002 Symonds, Ital. Lit., I. 99, says, "Boccaccio was the first to substitute a literature of the people for the literature of the learned classes and the aristocracy," etc.
1003 The best edition of his La Vita di Dante, with a critical text and introduction of 174 pages, is by Francesco Marci-Leone, Florence, 1888.
1004 In an attempt to break the force of the charge that in its beginnings the Renaissance was wholly an individualistic movement, independent of the Church, Pastor, I. 6 sqq., lays stress upon the gracious treatment Petrarca and Boccaccio received from popes and the repentance of their latter years.
1005 See Burckhardt-Geiger, II. 18 sqq.
1006 Burckhardt-Geiger, I. 277.
1007 I. 261 sq.
1008 Burckhardt-Geiger, I. 274; Symonds, II. 396 sqq.
1009 Gregorovius, VII, 539; Symonds, Rev. of Learning, II. 215.
1010 Burckhardt-Geiger, II. 21.
1011 See Pastor, II. 655 sqq., who dwells at length on this pope’s service to the library.
1012 R. Rocholl, D. Platonismus d. Renaissancezeit, in Brieger’s Zeitschr. für K.-gesch., Leipz., 1892, pp. 47-106.
1013 Cambr. Hist., I. 560.
1014 Bessarionis Opera in Migne’s Patrol. Graeca, vol. CLXI. Lives of Bessarion by Henri Vast, Paris, 1878, and H. Rocholl, Leip., 1904.
1015 Lionardo Bruni Aretini Epistolae, ed. Mehus, 2 vols., Flor., 1742.
1016 Opera Poggii, Basel, 1513, and other edds. Epistolae Poggii, ed. Tonelli, 3 vols., Flor., 1832, 1859, 1861. Shepherd: Life of Poggio. Pastor’s castigation of Poggio, I. 33 sqq., is in his most vigorous style.
1017 His life, Rosmini, 3 vols., Milan, 1808, Epistolae Filelfi, Venet., 1502.
1018 Sadoleti opp., Moguntiae, 1607; Verona, 1737, 4 vols. In his Concilium de emendanda Ecclesia, 1538, Sadoleto admitted many abuses and proposed a reformation of the Church, which he vainly hoped from the pope
1019 Valla’s Works, Basel, 1540, J. Vahlen; L. Valla, Vienna, 1864, 2d ed., 1870; Voigt, I. 464 sqq. See Benrath in Herzog, XX. 422 sqq.
1020 Cui nec Italia nec universa ecclesia multis seculis similem habuit non modo in omni disciplinarum genere sed ex constantia et zelo fide Christianorum non ficto. See his Respons. ad Lovan. et Colon theol. of March, 1520, Weimar ed., VI. 183. In this reply to the Louvain and Cologne theologians who had condemned his writings, Luther also speaks of the injustice of condemning Pico della Mirandola and Reuchlin.
1021 De falso credita et ementita Constantini donatione. A well-written MS. copy in the Vatican is dated 1451. The tract is printed in Valla’s Opera, 761-795, and in Brown’s Fasciculus rerum, Rome, 1690, pp. 132-157, French text, by A. Bonneau, Paris, 1879. Luther received a copy through a friend, Feb., 1520, and was strengthened by it in his opposition to popery, which he attacked unmercifully in the summer of that year in his Address to the German Nobility, and his Babyl. Captivity of the Church.
1022 The first issues were Invectivae in Vallam and Antidoti in Poggium. The coarse controversial language, common to many of the Humanists, unfortunately Luther and Luther’s Catholic assailants shared, and also Calvin.
1023 The Theses of Pico, Rome, 1486, and Cologne. His Opera, Bologna, 1496, and together with the works of his nephew, John F. Pico, Basel, 1572, and 1601.—G. Dreydorff: Das System des Joh. Pico von Mir., Marb., 1858.—Geiger, 204 sqq.—His Life, by his nephew, J. Fr. Pico. Trsl. from the Latin by Sir Thos. More, 1510. Ed., with Introd. and Notes, by J. M. Rigg, Lond., 1890.
1024 I. 217. See also II. 73, 306 sq.
1025 The discovery of the Laocoön in a vineyard in Rome was "like a Jubilee." Michelangelo was one of the first to see it. Sadoleto praised it in Latin verses. See description in Klaczko, W. 93-96.
1026 Taine, Lectures on Art, I. 16.—Lübke, Hist. of Art, II. 280 sq. says: Lionardo was one of those rare beings in whom nature loves to unite all conceivable human perfections,—strikingly handsome, and at the same time of a dignified presence and of an almost incredible degree of bodily strength; while mentally he possessed such various endowments as are rarely united in a single person,"etc. See also Symonds, III. 314.
1027 Julius ordered a colossal tomb wrought for himself, but he could not be depended upon as a paymaster, as Michelangelo complained. See Klaczko, p. 62.
1028 The Renaissance, III. 191.
1029 Seine Geschichte ist in den vier Begriffen enthalten: leben, lieben, arbeiten und jung sterben.
1030 Raphael, p. 428 sqq.
1031 Symonds, III. 516.
1032 See Grimm’s description, I. 186 sqq.
1033 Grimm, II. 224, speaks of the expression on Christ’s face as indescribably repelling, but says, if a last judgment has to be painted with Christ as the judge, such an aspect must be given him.
1034 Pastor, III. 54-9, following Redtenbacher, gives a list of the more important pieces of ecclesiastical architecture in Italy, 1401-1518.
1035 With these lines of Byron may be coupled those of Schiller:—
Und ein zweiter Himmel in den Himmel
Steigt Sanct Peter’s wundersamer Dom.
1036 See Burckhardt-Geiger, II. 178 sqq.
1037 VII. 536.
1038 Voigt, II. 213.
1039 Geiger, II. 182-4.
1040 · Pastor, I. 44 sqq., III. 66-8. It would be scarcely possible to furnish a more offensive portrait of a priest than the living person, Don Nicolo de Pelagait di Firarola. He had become the leader of a robber band and, in 1495, was confined in an iron cage in the open air in Ferrara. He had committed murder the day he celebrated his first mass and was absolved in Rome. Afterwards he killed four men and married two women who went about with him, violated women without number and led them captive, and carried on wholesale murder and pillage. But how much worse was this priest than John XXIII., charged by a Christian council with every crime, and Alexander VI., whose papal robes covered monstrous vice?
1041 See Pastor, III. 117; Symonds, II. 208, etc.
1042 Gregorovius, VIII. 300. For an excellent account of Pomponazzi and his views, see Owen: Skeptics, pp. 184-240.
1043 See Burckhardt-Geiger, II. 155 sqq. and his quotation from Rabelais.
1044 Bezold, p. 200, die vollendete sittliche Verkommenheit.
1045 He furnished the text to a series of obscene pictures by Giulio Romano. Symonds, Ital. Lit., II. 383 sqq. Reumont, Hist. of Rome, III., Part II. 367, calls Aretino "die Schandsäule der Literatur."
1046 The principles of his Principe an fully discussed by Villari in his Machiavelli, II. 403-473, and by Symonds, Age of the Despots, p. 306 sqq.
1047 See Symonds, Ital. Lit., II. 174 sqq.
1048 Non est nefas se virginibus sanctimonialibus immiscere. Pastor, I. 21.
1049 Frederick III., Ilgen’s trsl., II. 135 sqq.
1050 Burckhardt-Geiger, II. 161, 343 sqq. Symonds, II. 477. The mal franzese is said to have appeared in Naples in 1495. It spread like wildfire. During the Crusades the syphilitic disease, so ran the belief, was spread in the East through the French.
1051 Cortigiana, as quoted by Symonds, Ital. Lit., II. 191.
1052 Reumont, III., Pt. II. 461 sqq.; Gregorovius, viii, 306 sqq.; Burckhardt-Geiger, II. 331-336.
1053 Rev. of Learning, 407; Geiger, II. 176; Excursus II., 348 sqq.; Pastor, III. 101 sqq.; Voigt, II. 471; Gregorovius, viii, 308, says."we should inspire disgust did we attempt to depict the unbounded vice of Roman society in the corrupt times of Leo X. The moral corruption of an age, one of the best of whose productions has the title of Syphilis, is sufficiently known." Bandello, as quoted by Burckhardt, says: "Nowadays we see a woman poison her husband to gratify her lusts, thinking that a widow may do whatever she desires. Another, fearing the discovery of an illicit amour, has her husband murdered by her lover. And though fathers, brothers and husbands arise to extirpate the shame with poison, with the sword, and by every other means, women still continue to follow their passions, careless of their honor and their lives." Another time, in a milder strain, he exclaims: "Would that we were not daily forced to hear that one man has murdered his wife because he suspected her of infidelity; that another has killed his daughter, on account of a secret marriage; that a third has caused his sister to be murdered, because she would not marry as he wished! It is great cruelty that we claim the right to do whatever we list, and will not suffer women to do the same."
1054 Burckhardt-Geiger, II. 172 sqq.; Pastor, III. 128.
1055 Burckhardt-Geiger, II. 153; Symonds, Rev. of Learning, p. 406; Gregorovius, viii, 282.
1056 See Burckhardt-Geiger, II. 235 sqq.; Art. Astrologie in Wetzer-Welte, I. 1526 sqq., by Pastor; and Lea, Inquisition, III. 437 sqq.
1057 Summa, II. 2, 95; Migne’s ed., III. 729-731.
1058 Villari, Machiavelli, I. 275.
1059 Villari, Life and Times of Savonarola, p. 183. Savonarola, in a sermon, said: "Wouldst thou see how the Church is ruled by the hands of astrologers? There is no prelate or great lord that hath not intimate dealings with some astrologer, who fixeth the hour and the moment in which he is to ride out or undertake some piece of business. For these great lords venture not to stir a step save at their astrologer’s bidding." See the remarks of Baudrillart, p. 507, on the powerlessness of culture to restrain the delusion of astrology.
1060 Schmid, II. 83.
1061 Köstlin, Leben Luthers, I. 45. Rashdall, II., pp. 245, speaks of Erfurt as the first university formed after the model of Paris in which the organization by nations does not appear. It was abolished 1816. The endowments of the German universities came largely through the appropriation of prebends.
1062 Bezold, p. 204.
1063 Janssen, I. 27.
1064 Schmid, II. 112.
1065 It seems to have been the custom to apply the rod without mercy. Luther speaks of the number of floggings he got a day. No case is more famous than that of Hans Butzbach. As a little fellow he was accustomed to play truant. When the teacher, an Erfurt B. A., found it out, he took off the child’s clothes and, binding him to a post, flogged him till the blood covered his body. His mother, hearing the cries, hurried to the school, and bursting the door open and seeing her child, fell fainting to the floor. Schmid, II. 125.
1066 Bezold, p. 226.
1067 Among the other German Humanists were Crotus Rubeanus, 1480-1540, Georg Spalatin, 1484-1545, Beatus Rhenanus, 1485-1547, Eoban Hesse or Hessus, 1488-1540, Vadianus, 1484-1551, Glareanus or Loriti of Glarus, 1488-1563, and Bonifacius Amerbach, 1495-1562, the last three from German Switzerland.
1068 From kavpnion, i.e. little smoke, the Greek equivalent for Reuchlin, the diminutive of Rauch, smoke.
1069 "Stat [exegi] monumentum aere perennius." Reuchlin also explained the difficult theory of Hebrew accentuation, in De accentibus et orthographia lingum hebr., 1518. Comp. Geiger, Das Studium der hebr. Sprache in Deutschland v. Ende des 15ten bis zur Mitte des 16ten Jahrh., Breslau, 1870, and his Reuchlin, 161, etc.
1070 See quotation in Janssen, II. 40.
1071 Judenspiegel; Judenbeichte; Osternbuch; Judenfeind, 1507-’09.
1072 "Rathschlag, ob man den ruden alle ihre Bücher nehmen, abthun und verbrennen soll," Stuttgart, Nov. 6, 1510.
1073 Janssen, II. 51, in justifying the inquisitorial process and the action of the Un. of Cologne against Reuchlin, makes a great deal of these epithets.
1074 For an account of Hoogstraten, d. 1527, who came from Brabant, see Paulus: Die deutschen Dominikaner, etc., pp. 86-106. Among other writings, he wrote a book on witchcraft and two books, 1525, 1526, against Luther’s tracts, the Babylonian Captivity and Christian Freedom, Paulus, p. 105.
1075 Strauss, I. 99 sqq.
1076 Böcking, III. 413-448. Geiger: Reuchlin, p. 522, gives a facsimile of the picture.
1077 Strauss: Hutten’s Gespräche, pp. 121-3, etc., 143.
1078 Volume VI. of this History gives an extended survey of Erasmus’ career, writings and theological opinions. He belongs to the Middle Ages as much as to the modem period if not more, and the salient features of his life and historical position must be given here, even if there be a partial repetition of the treatment of vol. VI.
1079 In the compendium which he wrote of his life, Erasmus distinctly states that he was born out of wedlock and seems to imply that his father was a priest at the time. See Nichols, Letters, I. 14. The other view that the father became a priest later is taken by Froude, p. 2, and most writers.
1080 Nichols, 1. 224.
1081 Nichols, II. 2 sqq., 262.
1082 See Emerton’s remarks on this matter, p. 184 sqq.
1083 Nichols, II. 148 sq., 462.
1084 See Drummond, II. 268.
1085 Nichols, I. 64.
1086 For a number of quotations, see Froude, 123 sqq.
1087 Compare Erasmus’ disparaging remarks on the papacy on the occasion of the pageant of Julius II. at Bologna when an arch bore the inscription, "To Julius II, Conqueror of the Tyrant," Faulkner, p. 82 sqq.
1088 Paraclesis ad lectorem, prefixed to Erasmus’ New Testament.
1089 Praecipitatum fuit verius quam editum, says Erasmus himself in the Preface. The 2d edition also contains several pages of errors, some of which have affected Luther’s version. The 3d edition first inserts the spurious passage of the three heavenly witnesses, 1 John 5:7, to remove any occasion of offence, ne cui foret ansa calumniandi.
1090 Nichols, II. 535.
1091 Nichols, II. 198, 314, 522.
1092 See Emerton, pp. 454-5.
1093 Janssen, II. 9 sqq. The inventory of his goods contains a list of his furniture, wardrobe, napkins, nightcaps, cushions, goblets, silver vessels, gold rings and money (722 gold gulden, 900 gold crowns, etc.). See Sieber, Inventarium über die Hinterlassenschaft des Erasmus vom 22 Juli, 1536, Basel, 1889.
1094 Pref. to Pentateuch, Parker Soc. ed., p. 395.
1095 Imbart, II. 382. In his Skeptics of the French Renaissance, Lond., 1893, Owen treats of Montaigne, Peter Ramus, Pascal and other men who were imbued with the spirit of free inquiry and lived after the period included in this volume.
1096 Imbart, II. 364-372. Louis XI. was eulogized as being greater than Achilles, Alexander and Scipio, and the mightiest since Charlemagne.
1097 Imbart, II. 545.
1098 Imbart, II. 394, says, Il va donner un singulier éclat à la doctrine de la justification par la foi, sans, cependant, sacrifier les oeuvres. This author draws a comparison between Lefèvre and Erasmus. See, however, Lefèvre’s Preface itself, and Bonet-Maury in Herzog, V. 715.
1099 Wolsey applied the proceeds of 20 monasteries, which he closed, to the endowment of a school at Ipswich and of Cardinal College, Oxford. In 1516, Fox, bishop of Winchester, founded Corpus Christi College at the same university to teach the new learning.
1100 He wrote a History of England and revenged himself by disparaging Wolsey, who had refused to give him his favor.
1101 For his services to medicine, see W. Osler; Thos. Linacre, Cambr., 1908, pp. 23-27.
1102 Nichols: Erasmus’ Letters, I. 226. Sir Thomas More, writing to Colet, Nov., 1504, said: "I shall spend my time with Grocyn, Linacre and Lily. The first, as you know, is the director of my life in your absence, the second the master of my studies, the third my most dear companion."
1103 Seebohm, p. 283.
1104 See the letter. Froude: Erasmus, 139.
1105 Probably at Magdalen Hall. See Lupton, 23 sqq., and the same cautious author for Colet’s school life in London. For the facts of Colet’s career, our best authority is Erasmus’ letter to Justus Jonas.
1106 Quoted by Lupton, p. 76.
1107 For the letter to the abbot of Winchcombe, in which Colet describes the priest’s visit, see Lupton, p. 90 sqq., and Seebohm, p. 42 sqq.
1108 Seebohm, p. 107.
1109 Seebohm gives 1510. For date and the original name, see correspondence in London Times, July 7, 20, 1909, between M. E. J. McDonnell and Gardiner, surmaster and honorable librarian of St. Paul’s. The school was sometimes called Jesus’ School by Colet. The buildings were finished, August, 1510. The present location of the school is Hammersmith.
1110 The statutes are given by Lupton, Appendix A., p. 271 sqq. For the Accidence which Colet prepared for the school, see Lupton, Appendix B. In contrasting the recent Latin with the Latin of classic authors, profane and patristic, Colet called the former "blotterature rather than literature." One of the rules required the boys to furnish their own candles, stipulating they should be of wax and not of tallow. For the bishop who preached against St. Paul’s school as "a home of idolatry," see Colet’s letter to Erasmus, Nichols, II. 63.
1111 The former is an inference from Erasmus’ statement in his account of the visit to Walsingham, and the latter Erasmus’ plain statement in his letter to Jonas.
1112 The text in Lupton, Appendix C.
1113 Lupton, p. 183, says Colet might aptly have referred to the case of the archdeacon who, in the course of his visitation, went to Bridlington Priory with 97 horses, 21 dogs and 8 hawks. For Colet’s description in the Hierarchies of Dionysius of what a priest should be, see Lupton, p. 71; Seebohm, p. 76.
1114 Nichols, I. 376, II. 287. At a later time, to take More’s statement, Colet prosecuted the study, Nichols, II. 393.
1115 Nichols, H. 25, 35 sqq., 72, 258, etc.
1116 Gasquet: The Eve of the Reformation, p. 6, insists that the contrary view is "absolutely false and misleading."
1117 A Right Fruitful Admonition concerning the Order of a Good Christian Man’s Life. A tract by Colet reprinted in Lupton’s Life, p. 305 sqq., from an ed. of 1534.
1118 Lupton: Life of Colet, p. 143.
1119 See Gasquet: Eve of the Reform., p. 215 sqq.
1120 What estimate was put upon the life of a heretic in some quarters in England may be gathered from a letter written to Erasmus, 1511, by Ammonius, Latin secretary to Henry VIII. The writer said, he did "not wonder wood was so scarce and dear, the heretics necessitated so many holocausts." At the convocation of 1512, an old priest arguing for the burning of heretics repeated the passage louder and louder haereticum hominem devita (avoid) and explained it as if it were de vita tolli, to be removed from life, and thus turned the passage into a positive command to execute heretics. For Morels denial of having used cruelty towards heretics, see hisEngl. Works, p. 901 sqq. The martyrologist, Foxe, pronounced More "a bitter persecutor of good men and a wretched enemy against the truth of the Gospel."
1121 Dr. Lindsay in Cambr. Hist. of Engl. Lit., III. 19.
1122 Gasquet: The Eve of the Reformation, p. 378.
1123 · Nichols, II. 428. See also Seebohm, pp. 408, 416, 470.
1124 Hist. of the Engl. Church in the 16th Cent., etc., p. 160. Among the affecting scenes in the last experiences recorded of men devoted to martyrdom was the scene which occurred on Morels way to the Tower, reported by Morels first biographer, Roper (Lumby’s ed., p. liii). His favorite daughter, Margaret, longing once more to show her affection, pressed through the files of halberdiers and, embracing her father, kissed him and received his blessing. When she was again outside the ranks of the guards, she forced her way through a second time for a father’s embrace.
1125 Cambr. Hist. of Engl. Lit., p. 20. For an excellent summary of the Utopia, see Seebohm, pp. 346-365, and also W. B. Guthrie, in Socialism before the French Revol., pp. 54-132, N. Y., 1907. For the Latin edd. and Engl. transl., see Dict. of Natl. Biogr., p. 444. An excellent ed. of Robynson’s trsl., 2d ed., 1556, was furnished by Prof. Lumby, Cambr., 1879. The Life of More, by Roper, More’s son-in-law and a Protestant, is prefixed. Also Lupton: The Utopia, Oxf., 1895. A reprint of the Lat. ed., 1518, and the Engl. ed., 1551.
1126 See Lumby’s Introd., p. xiv, and Guthrie, p. 96 sq.
1127 There is, of course, no standing ground except that of generous toleration as between the view taken by the author and the view of Abbot Gasquet, who can find nothing praiseworthy in the Protestant Reformation and closes his chapter on the Revival of Letters in England, in The Eve of the Reform., p. 46, with the words, "What put a stop to the Humanist movement in England, as it certainly did in Germany, was the rise of the religious difficulties which were opposed by those most conspicuous for their championship of true learning, scholarship and education," meaning Colet, Erasmus, Fisher and More. For good remarks on the bearing of English Humanism on the Protestant movement, see Seebohm, pp. 494 sqq., 510.
1128 See chapter Reformation and Renascence in Scotl., by Hume-Brown in Cambr. Hist. of Eng. Lit., III. 156-186. For the gifted Alesius, who spent the best part of his life as a professor in Germany, see A. F. Mitchell: The Scottish Reformation, Edinb., 1900.
Back to BibleStudyGuide.org.
These files are public domain. This electronic edition was downloaded from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.