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spirit of the plution which he complished, at the power of hould
ceived in his solitude at Clugni, the plan of revolution by which 'he proposed to himself the subjugation of the world to the sa'cerdotal power. In the universe he saw but God, the priest his
sole minister, and mankind obedient. He designed that the whole priesthood should be moved by one single will, should • know only one passion,—that of establishing the power of Hea'ven. ..... Hildebrand accomplished, at least for a time, the 'immense revolution which he had undertaken: he changed the
spirit of the popedom, of the clergy, and the people; and he • enslaved kings—This is the very poetry of biography, and soars far above the sobriety of narrative. Too much is referred to the individual, too little to the circumstances upon which he was thrown, and the chain of causes in which he was but a link; and religion, which was but the accident, is made to appear as the mainspring of conduct, dictated by an ambition purely secular.
The long contest between the emperors and the popes was, in great measure, a national quarrel. Occasionally it assumed the form of a personal struggle for empire, as between Hildebrand and Henry; but its original and permanent character was that of a war between nations,-Germany and Lombardy against Italy and Rome. In seeking to free spiritual offices from lay influence, the Popes were, in other words, striving to emancipate domestic institutions from foreign influence,—the Italian Church from German supremacy; and not only so, but, whether designedly or not, they were maintaining the cause of municipal freedom against the Gothic feudalism.
• The pope and the clergy', Sir Roger Greisley remarks, · being considered as the source and support of the Roman institutions, acquired thereby a great ascendancy in those cities where popular governments prevailed; and when the emperor became opposed to the pope, he was of course supported by the Lombard counts and marquesses. Such, in my opinion, were the causes which prolonged the struggle between the empire and the papacy, and which have been hitherto but superficially considered. p. xiii.
This statement is quite correct; and we only regret that our Author has not made more use of that which he acknowledges to be the true key to the history of this period. Strangely will it sound to Protestant ears, to hear the Papal theocrasy spoken of as the ally of civil liberty. No two characters may seem more incompatible, than the Pope and the Patriot. And yet, how often has the champion of public liberty proved to be the domestic oppressor! It is, however, undeniable, that the Romish Church, with all its corruptions and iniquities, was, at one time, the only power that could counterbalance the despotism of the sword; the only check upon the tyranny of kings and nobles; the only bulwark against the tide of barbarism that was constantly flowing in from the north. The cause of the Church was, under such circumstances, the cause of the people. Coleridge has justly remarked, that 'under the fostering wings of the Church, the class
of free citizens and burghers were reared ; and that to the feudal system we owe the forms, to the Church the substance of our liberty." * The feudal barons of King John, to whom we are indebted for Magna Charta, were as great tyrants in their petty spheres, as the prelates and pontiffs who extorted concessions equally favourable to municipal rights from barbarian kings and emperors; and if to the former we owe the limitation of monarchical prerogative, to the latter we are not less indebted for the mitigation of the feudal yoke. In those dark times, as the present Writer acknowledges, • The supreme secular authority was certainly, in some manner, so tempered by the ecclesiastical as to interfere between the oppressor and his victim ; and religion became the refuge of the disconsolate and afflicted, who groaned under the insupportable yoke of tyrants: and if Gregory had been contented with endeavouring to extend the blessings of spiritual Christianity to the world, his memory would have been blessed by countless generations, and his immoderate ambition would in great part have been forgiven.' p. 240.
The historian of those times, (and the remark will almost apply to the reader of its history,) ought to be neither a Papist nor a Protestant, or (rare attainment !) an enlightened believer superior to the prejudices of either party. Gibbon possessed the inferior qualification of neutral belief; and it has rendered his work, upon the whole, the most impartial account of the dark ages, perhaps, that exists. In identifying Christianity with its corruptions, he fell into a common error; but, hating priestcraft, he was not solicitous to vindicate the honour of religion by palliating the enormities committed in its name; nor was he influenced by that Protestant zeal which has led many pious persons to resolve all forms of tyranny, civil and ecclesiastical, into one, and to call the hieroglyphic Popery. The fact is, that the idolatrous Church had bowed down at the altars of the Romish superstition, ages before the yoke of the papal power was fastened upon her neck. Popery is an enormous spiritual crime: it has been too exclusively regarded as a political tyrant or-bugbear. We are taught to shudder less at its corruptions than at its cruelties, and to rest our Protestant faith upon the book of martyrs. Nay, our feelings are led to take part with tyrants and barbarians, when we read of their being made to succumb to the power of the Church; and the Teutonic Emperor doing penance barefoot for
* Constitution of Church and State, p. 74.
three days in the open court of a castle, in the depth of winter, before he was admitted into the presence of the haughty pontiff, obtains honourable mention in the records of the martyrologist ! Yet, Henry rendered himself deserving of contempt, rather than of pity, by thus exposing himself to the insults of an ungenerous enemy; and in the end, that proud Monk was shorn of his power, and died in exile. It is a notable mistake that identifies or confounds the Romish superstition with the secular power of the Papacy, which was but as it were the accident of Popery, and, in comparison of its spiritual usurpation, harmless. True it is, that • the Catholic religion, as it exists in Italy, is nothing more than
the triumph of fraud over ignorance and blindness'; and that ignorance and blindness, the Romish Church has been guilty of fostering in order to perpetuate its triumph. But it was originally a fraud practised, not upon mere passive ignorance, but upon savage ignorance and Gothic barbarism ; it was a spell of thraldom cast upon unbridled power, a fraud upon a maniac, a chain upon a beast of the forest; the only expedient left for the safety of society, after the religion of Christ had with its purity lost its pristine energy, and the sword of the Spirit had fallen from the hands of the Church.
In fixing upon the pontificate of Gregory VII. as the era of the papal power, we must recollect that a thousand years had rolled away from the birth of Christianity, when Hildebrand first conceived the bold project ascribed to him, of establishing a sacerdotal monarchy. What then was the previous state of the civilized world, and what causes had brought it into a condition which made that monstrous evil, sacerdotal power, a temporary and partial good, as the antagonist of greater evils ? The power of the Popes could not be the cause of a state of things that preceded its own existence, and out of which it sprang. If we trace back its origin to the grant of the Carlovingian princes, or even to the edict of Justinian, we have still to push back the inquiry into antecedent history, in order to judge of the real character of those transactions; and we have only gained an earlier date, without arriving at any thing that can be called à cause of the papal usurpation. We can trace, with tolerable distinctness, the stages of declension in the history of the great Christian apostacy, and can assign the causes of the corruption of Christianity ; but the temporal monarchy of the Popes, is little more than an historic phantom, which scarcely appears on the contracted stage of Western empire, than it vanishes again with equal suddenness. The date of its rise and its true origin rank among the most debateable and warmly contested points of history. The Romanists are solicitous to antedate it, in order to magnify the prescriptive claims and honours of their Church ; and the Protestants have credulously adopted their representations, because they seemed
to tally with their own schemes of interpreting prophecy. But historic fact will not bear out the hypotheses of either. Up to the eleventh century, the papal supremacy was purely ecclesiastical, as well as confined within very narrow boundaries; and the Romish bishop was, at most, only the lord mayor of the city of Rome, which had sunk into the capital of a duchy of the Byzantine empire. Hildebrand, who seemed to have succeeded, at one time, in establishing the sovereignty of Rome, and in converting the German kingdom into a fief of the Church, lived to see his excommunications despised and his throne subverted. His successors, availing themselves of the weakness and embarrassments of the Saxon emperors of Germany, prosecuted the schemes of sacerdotal ambition; and towards the close of the twelfth century, the execrable Innocent III. raised the papal power to a height scarcely dreamed of by his predecessors. But in the following century, the Popes again appear as exiles and fugitives, driven from the throne by their Roman subjects, the victims of imperial persecution or popular insurrection, their authority disputed, their persons often endangered. For more than seventy years, Avignon offered an asylum to the expatriated heads of the Western Church. Thus, the ideal monarchy projected by Gregory VII. in the eleventh century, and, after a period of conflict and vicissitude, in some measure realized by Innocent III. in the twelfth, had ceased to exist in the fourteenth ; and it was not till after a long interval, that Martin V., early in the fifteenth, again gave to Rome a pontifical sovereign. But already their spiritual power was beginning to decline, by the time they bad made themselves absolute masters of the city of Rome; and the dream of universal empire melted away, as successive pontiffs turned their ambition to building mountains of marble and amassing the treasures of art. By degrees, the papal power has dwindled down to a small Italian lordship, comprising little more than two millions and a half of subjects, with a revenue of £1,200,000, and an army of 6000. And yet, we still talk of the throne of the popes! And Sir Roger Greisley has written his life of Pope Hildebrand, in the hope that it may confirm ' the British public in that Protestant belief which our en• lightened fathers established to the happiness and glory of this • kingdom'!
Although unable to perceive the direct tendency and adaptation of the volume to subserve this excellent purpose, we readily admit that the portion of history which it illustrates, is replete with important instruction; and we shall attempt a brief outline of the leading events.
Hildebrand, the son of a citizen of Orvieto, was born in the city of Soana about the year 1020. Being destined, contrary to his own inclination, for the Church, he was sent, when still young, to the monastery of Saint Mark on Mount Aventine, of which his uncle is stated to have been abbot. At the age of sixteen, he was removed from Rome to the then celebrated monastery of Clugni, over which St. Odilo presided; where he passed seven years in the study of moral philosophy and the canon law, and established a high reputation for severe morals and great ecclesiastical learning. He was only 24 years of age, when Saint Odilo sent him to Rome, to reform the monks of St. Paul (without the walls). There he formed a close intimacy with Gratian, Archpriest of St. John (ante Portam Latinam), who afterwards bought the popedom, and reigned for a short time under the title of Gregory VI. Of this intrusive and simoniacal Pope,' Hildebrand became the secretary and attached partizan; and upon the deposition of his patron by the Emperor (Henry II.), he accompanied him into exile. Of the monastery of Clugni, their chosen asylum, Hildebrand subsequently obtained the priorship; and the deposed Pope died shortly afterwards in this retreat, leaving Hildebrand “the heir to his resentment and his wealth.' Clement II., who was raised to the papal chair by the Emperor in the place of Gregory VI., was carried off by poison in the following year. Damasus II., his successor, shared the same fate. And the death of each is attributed to an ex-pope of the Tusculan family, Benedict IX., the predecessor of Gratian, and who had been driven from the throne by the indignant Romans on account of his unbridled licentiousness and cruelty. Such were the supreme Pastors of the Latin Church in the eleventh century!
Of 'this same Benedict, Hildebrand was the friend and colleague; and we find him at a subsequent period entering into secret correspondence with the holy Poisoner, for the purpose of getting rid of a third Pope, Leo IX., by instigating him to undertake a military expedition against the Normans in the South of Italy, with whom they in the mean time entered into a secret treaty. The poor old Pontiff, deserted by his own troops, was beaten in the first encounter, and taken prisoner. His Roman subjects appear to have taken no steps to procure his liberty; and Hildebrand, who had been raised to the dignity of Cardinal by the man he had thus betrayed, is represented as affecting to disapprove of his warlike proceedings. The Normans,, however, having made terms with their prisoner, escorted him back to Rome, where he died 'overwhelmed with sorrow and affliction,' -if, indeed, he escaped the fate of his predecessors. Benedict now for the third or fourth time reascended the pontifical throne from which he had been driven; but Hildebrand, whether disgusted with his vindictive and reckless proceedings, or deeming it impolitic to identify himself with a man obnoxious alike to the Emperor and to the Roman people, repaired to Germany, to