* A Distributed Proofreaders Canada eBook *

This eBook is made available at no cost and with very few restrictions. These restrictions apply only if (1) you make a change in the eBook (other than alteration for different display devices), or (2) you are making commercial use of the eBook. If either of these conditions applies, please check with an FP administrator before proceeding.

This work is in the Canadian public domain, but may be under copyright in some countries. If you live outside Canada, check your country's copyright laws. If the book is under copyright in your country, do not download or redistribute this file.

Title: Some Lies and Errors of History

Date of first publication: 1893

Author: Reuben Parsons (1841-1906)

Date first posted: April 28, 2014

Date last updated: April 28, 2014

Faded Page eBook #20140456

This eBook was produced by: Delphine Lettau, Ron Tolkien & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net






Author of “Studies in Church History.”

L’homme est de glace aux vérités,
Il est de feu pour le mensonge.


Reprinted from the “AVE MARIA.”

Second and Enlarged Edition.



Copyright. 1893.


Becktold & Co., Printers and Binders,
St. Louis, Mo.



The following essays, selected from among those contributed by the author to the “Ave Maria” during the last few years, include some subjects which, though important, are seldom brought to the attention of any but the lovers of the recondite. For the presentation of these no explanation need be tendered; but others are introduced, the themes of which have become trite, even to persons of no extraordinary erudition. Perhaps, therefore, indulgence should be asked for an apparently reckless augmentation of the mass of polemics already superfluous and tiresome. Nevertheless, such an apology shall not be made. The fact that the indicated errors are constantly being advanced, despite the multifarious refutations which are at the command of the sincere investigator; the fact that these errors too often meet with silence on the part of those whose highest interests demand their exposition;[iv] these strange and saddening considerations justify our action, and preclude any fear of its being ascribed to a cacoethes scribendi. Again, while in some instances the reader may find nothing new presented for his reflections, the subject-matter may stand forth in a new light, owing to the method of its treatment; and thus the author may gain his object—the elucidation of a knotty question, or the manifestation of a hideous lie, in a mind which other writers have not influenced.

In choosing his subjects, the author has suffered from an embarrassment of riches, and he has fancied that he was about to imitate the child who tried to clear away the ocean with a spoon. Several volumes would be required for an exposition of merely the most prominent of the Lies and Errors of History. We do not threaten the libraries with any polemical avalanche, but we do propose soon to put forth another effort in the good cause. An endeavor to dislodge the spirit of falsehood from the position to which it has been elevated by those writers whom De Maistre, with but little exaggeration, charges with having entered into a deliberate conspiracy against truth, may be an attempt to emulate the labors of Sisyphus. But some measure of success is attainable. “That error which precedes truth is[v] only an ignorance of it; that which follows is a hatred of truth.” They who form the first class of the two into which Valery would thus properly divide the victims of historical heterodoxy, are amenable to conviction, and to their assistance this volume is dedicated.

R. P.

New York, Jan. 18, 1892.



Pope Alexander VI. 1
The Alleged Ante-Mortem Funeral of Charles V. 21
Bruno and Campanella 33
St. Cyril of Alexandria and the Murder of Hypatia 44
The Divorce of Napoleon and Josephine 54
Fénelon and Voltaire 68
Galileo 80
The Grey Cardinal 104
I am the State!”—Did Louis XIV. Ever Say So? 113
The Truth About the Inquisition 121
Louis XI.; The Travestied and the Real 159
Richelieu as an Ecclesiastic 170
Louis XIII. as He Was 184
The Nature of Tasso’s Imprisonment 197
Wicked Venice 207
The Last Word on the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day 221
The Middle Age Not a Starless Night 249
The Man With the Iron Mask 271
The Holy Wars: Their Object and Results 286
The “Orthodox” Russian, and the Schismatic Greek Churches 304
Columbus and His Alleged Crimes 320
Appendix 335




According to the majority of authors, Pope Alexander VI. had neither the virtues which befit the Supreme Pontificate of Christendom, nor those of any ordinary man. His name appears synonymous with simony, treachery, cruelty, lust, avarice, and sacrilege. Other memories, long contemned and even accursed, have been rehabilitated; but that of Alexander VI. remains, to most men, foul and detestable. Are we, therefore, to take for granted all that has been alleged against this Pontiff? Even Roscoe contends that “whatever have been his crimes, there can be no doubt but they have been highly overcharged. . . . The vices of Alexander were accompanied, although, not compensated, by many great qualities which, in the consideration of his character, ought not to be passed over in silence. Nor, if this were not the fact, would it be possible to account for the peculiar good fortune which attended him to the latest period of his life; or for the singular circumstance recorded of him: that during the[2] whole term of his pontificate no popular tumult ever endangered his authority or disturbed his repose?”

To Burkhard, master of ceremonies in the court of Alexander VI., we are indebted for most of the information which blackens the character of the Pontiff. But, granting that we possess the authentic work of Burkhard, which is very uncertain,[1] of what weight is his authority? A master of ceremonies in a royal court does not fill a position which would of itself imply a possession of accurate knowledge of the court’s secrets. He may, at times, come into some kind of contact with great personages. His master, with that shadow of intimacy often affected with a superior servant, may condescend, now and then, to display good-humor in his presence. A foreign ambassador, during the[3] intervals of a tedious levee, may deign to gossip with him about unimportant matters. He may even be a great dignitary in the eyes of the lackeys on the staircase, or in the estimation of the dawdlers in the antechamber, and thus he may pick up a deal of tavern statecraft. His authority may be overwhelming when he decides on the proper color of a ribband, or even in a question of precedency. But his “Diary” can scarcely be regarded as testimony concerning the secrets of the court.

Gregorovius,[2] the latest Protestant historian to attack the memory of Alexander VI., has the assurance to say that the “Diary” of Burkhard “is, with the exception of the journal of Infessura, which ends at the commencement of 1494, the only work concerning the court of Alexander composed at Rome; and it has even an official (!)[4] character. . . . He never repeats mere rumors.” The “Diary” is before us, and there is scarcely a page where we do not read: “If I remember aright (si recte memini)”; or “If the truth has been told me (si vera sunt mihi relata)”; or “It is said (fertur).” Gregorovius opines that the apologists of the Holy See would feel less contempt for Burkhard if they would consult the “Relations” of the Venetian ambassadors to their government.[3] He presents the “Relation” of Polo Capello (ambassador at Rome from April, 1499, to September, 1500) as manifesting “the intrigues of the court of Alexander VI., the long series of crimes perpetrated therein, its exactions, the traffic in cardinals’ hats, etc.”[4] But, setting aside the numerous inexactnesses of this “Relation” of Capello, and not a few gross errors,[5] we must regard it as of little value in the premises; since it was writen, not by Capello, but by the Senator[5] Marino Sanuto,[6] who, while often furnishing us valuable historical documents, causes one to smile at his frequent credulity, and to hesitate to accept him as an authority.[7]

After Burkhard, the great historian Guicciardini is the chief source of the accusations against Alexander VI.; Guicciardini, of whom even the arch-sceptic Bayle says that “he merits hatred” because of his partiality,—“a fault of gazetteers,” but one[6] “inexcusable in a historian”; whom even Voltaire regards as mendacious; and whose own conscience caused him, when asked on his death-bed what disposition should be made of his “History,” then still in manuscript, to reply: “Burn it.” Cantù says of this author: “He regards the success, not the justice, of a cause. . . . He not only examines and judges the Pontiffs as he does other rulers, but he always finds them in the wrong.”[8] Capefigue[9] regards Guicciardini as “an impassioned colorist,” who ever “breathes hatred of the Pope, the French, the Milanese, and Sforza. Florence, a city of pleasure, of libels, and of dissipation, loved the licentious tales of Boccaccio, the policy of Machiavelli, and the stories of poison and treason unfolded in the books of Guicciardini.” This historian was devoted to the Colonna and the Orsini families, and was also a partisan of Savonarola; quite naturally, therefore, he was a foe to the Borgias. Add to this that his hatred served his interests; for by exercising it he pleased the Florentines, the Venetians, and all who were then in opposition to the court of Rome.

The authority of Paul Jovius, Bishop of Nocera, is of much less value than that of Guicciardini; for, being most venal, he is always either panegyrizing or calumniating. One day he was reproved for[7] having narrated falsely, and he rejoined: “No matter; three hundred years hence it will be true.”[10] Cantù styles Jovius the “lying gazetteer of that epoch.”[11] Audin says that no historian ever “cared so little for his reputation as Paul Jovius. He represents himself as languishing with inertness, because no one comes to purchase him.”[12] Jerome Muzio asserted that Jovius showed diligence “only in obtaining the favors of the great, and he who gave the most was the principal hero of his works.”[13] Vossius says that “for money Jovius would furnish posterity with a good character for any child of earth, but that he would calumniate all who did not pay for his services.”[14]

Very little need be said of Tomaso Tomasi, another of the sources used by the defamers of Alexander VI. In his “Life” of Cæsar Borgia he had two objects in view: one was the favor of a princess of the Rovere family, which favor he thought to secure by decrying the Pontiff whom the Cardinal of St. Peter’s ad Vincula her brother, had antagonized; the other was to exhibit in Cæsar a type of monstrosity which would exceed the efforts of the most rampant imagination. Even Gordon, to whom Roscoe attributes the reduction of history to below the level of romance, distrusts the authority of Tomasi.


As for the manuscript notices upon which many modern authors rely, they are of little or no value. Very few of them bear the names of their authors, and, therefore, they are unguaranteed. Most of them are diatribes, not narratives. They are positive where matters are at least doubtful, and they carefully avoid everything creditable to our Pontiff. Many of them are needlessly prodigal with their venom. Casting aside, therefore, all such alleged authorities, and recurring only to facts and acts, we find that Alexander VI. had many virtues of a Pope and a sovereign; that, especially as king, he was more than ordinarily active and prudent, and nearly always successful in his enterprises; that his people loved him, and his reign was profoundly tranquil. One great fault he had, and perhaps this one was the source of all the others: he was passionately attached to the children—four sons and a daughter—who are generally supposed to have been born to him, but before he received Holy Orders;[15] and to aggrandize his family he made too [9] much use of his son Cæsar; and thus, in the eyes of posterity, he has shared the odium of that son’s crimes.

Roderick Llançol was born on January 1, 1431, at Xativa, in the diocese of Valencia, in Spain. When his maternal uncle, Alfonso Borgia, was elevated to the papacy under the name of Calixtus III. in 1455, the Llançol family assumed the name and arms of the Borgias, and only as such are they known in history. The young Roderick was noted for talent, and his first choice of profession was the bar, but he soon entered on the career of arms. Called to Rome by his uncle, and having evinced great aptitude for the business of a court, Roderick accepted offers of preferment, and was made successively commendatory Archbishop of Valencia, Cardinal-Deacon, and Vice-Chancellor of the Roman Church. At this period, at least, his conduct must have been exemplary; for a contemporary writes that his fellow cardinals were “much pleased to have in their midst one who surpassed all in an abundance of gifts.”[16] And Duboulai,[10] who says that “if the memory of Borgia had perished we would not know how corrupt a man can be,” admits that during his long cardinalate of thirty-five years Roderick never gave any public scandal.[17] The rigid Sixtus IV. (1471-84) appointed him legate in Spain and Portugal; and the Cardinal of Pavia, a man of recognized sanctity, wrote to him during this legation: “I advise you to return  . . . your influence here is sovereign . . . by your persuasion and wise opposition you can render great service to the Holy See.” This same Cardinal of Pavia slightly blamed Roderick for his ambition and a love of pomp, but he predicted that he would become Pope.[18]

The manners of Borgia were grand and fascinating,[19] and even Guicciardini credits him with rare powers of penetration, great tact and diplomatic talent. Raphael and James of Volterra, and Peter Martyr of Anghiera,[20] waste no praise on Roderick, but they find in him vast genius and profundity of thought. Egidius of Viterbo admires his eloquence as natural and irresistible, his activity as indefatigable, and his sobriety as exemplary.[21] Tomasi declares that whoever observed the Cardinal could see that his genius marked him for empire. In 1476,[11] having been appointed Cardinal-Bishop of Albano, Roderick received Holy Orders.

And here we must observe that if the reader has imagined that the offspring born to Roderick before this date (and there was none after it) was necessarily sacrilegious, he has been deceived by the title of cardinal, which the Pope now confers, in accordance with the present discipline of the Church, only upon persons in at least deacon’s Orders. At the time of which we are treating the cardinalitial scarlet did not always presuppose sacred Orders; Mazarin and many other cardinals never received them. Nor did Roderick’s archiepiscopate of Valencia, conferred on him in his youth, entail upon him the necessity of taking Orders. His prelacy was merely “commendatory,”—that is according to a detestable custom of the day, he enjoyed the emoluments of the benefice.[22]

After the obsequies of Pope Innocent VIII. twenty-three cardinals entered into conclave, and after five days of deliberation raised Roderick Borgia to the Chair of Peter, on August 11, 1492. As the foes of Borgia have tried to fasten the stigma of simony on this conclave, it is well to note[12] its members. The cardinal-bishops were: Roderick Borgia, then Bishop of Porto; Oliver Caraffa, Archbishop of Naples, whom even Roscoe styles a man of great integrity; Julian della Rovere, the future “Moses of Italy,” as Julius II.; Baptist Zeno, Bishop of Tusculum, whose piety and independence, according to Ciacconius, was remarkable; John Michiele, Bishop of Palestrina and Verona, who, says the Cardinal of Pavia, was learned, pious, and the friend of the poor; George d’Acosta, Archbishop of Lisbon, and therefore, by national rivalry, a political enemy of Borgia. The cardinal-priests were: John dei Conti, venerated by all Rome;[23] Paul Fregoso, Archbishop of Genoa, and thrice doge; Lawrence Cibo and Anthony Pallavicini, Genoese; Scalefetano, Bishop of Parma; Ardicino della Porta, whose virtues even Infessura praises; Gherardo, Patriarch of Venice,—a holy Camaldolese monk, who died at Terni on his way home, but whom Infessura represents as having sold his vote to Borgia for five thousand ducats, and as therefore deprived, on his return to Venice, of all his benefices. The cardinal-deacons were: Francis Piccolomidi, afterward Pope Pius III., lauded by Roscoe; Raphael Riario, leader of the Rovere party; Ascinao Sforza, brother of the Moro, Duke of Milan, and excessively praised by Paul Jovius; Frederick da San Severino; Colonna; Orsini; Savelli, and John dei Medici, afterward Pope Leo X.


The new Pontiff assumed the name of Alexander VI.,—a name famous, thought Roscoe, as “a scourge of Christendom, and the approbrium of the human race.” Probably no new Pontiff ever received so much flattery as that accorded to Alexander VI., at his coronation; probably such wonderful deeds were never expected from any Pope as those princes and peoples awaited from him. The orators of the Italian States all vied in their congratulations with Tigrini of Lucca, who said that Christendom had a guarantee of its hopes in the Pontiff’s many virtues and profound learning; and Nardi, a famous Florentine historian, wrote shortly afterward that everywhere it was thought “that God had chosen this prince as His peculiar instrument to effect something wonderful in His Church, so great were the expectations universally conceived.” And yet Roscoe asserts that “when the intelligence of this event was dispersed through Italy, where the character of Roderick Borgia was well known, a general dissatisfaction took place.”

We cannot enter into the details of this eventful pontificate, but we shall touch briefly on the reputed simoniacal nature of Roderick’s election, and on the charge that he met his death by poison—his own weapon turned by Providence against himself. Rinaldi, the continuator of Barinio, is chiefly responsible for the opinion prevalent, until very recent times, concerning the purity of the conclave of 1492. If, instead of blindly relying on Infessura and his copyist Mariana, this annalist had consulted contemporary testimony less suspicious than that of[14] Infessura, he would have been less severe toward this conclave. Michael Fernus, whom Gregorovius calls “by no means a fanatical Papist,” says that “in electing this Pontiff the cardinals showed that they had realized the appropriateness of the advice given them by Leonetti” in his funeral sermon on Innocent VIII.[24] It was Borgia’s merit, therefore, and not simoniacal practices, that procured, through Fernus, his elevation.

Sigismund dei Conti di Foligno tells us that “the qualities of Cardinal Roderick caused his brethren to esteem him as worthy of the Supreme Pontificate.” Hartmann Schedel, author of the “Nuremberg Chronicle,” published in 1493, ascribes the election of Roderick to his “learning, excellent conduct, and great piety.” Porcius, a contemporary Auditor of the Rota, says: “He was unanimously elected, unanimously confirmed. Concerning this election I shall say only this: its principal authors were those same cardinals who had hitherto resisted all of Roderick’s undertakings, both public and private.”[25] Some of[15] these cardinals were devoted to Julian della Rovere, Roderick’s competitor in the conclave; others were on the brink of the grave; but, with the exception of five—who, according to Burkhard, had declared that “votes should not be purchased,”—none denounced the alleged simony. And even these five voted for Borgia. But Infessura tells us that “it is said” that, in order to secure the votes of Ascanio Sforza and his friends, Roderick sent, during the conclave, four mules, laden with treasure to Sforza’s palace. It is strange, remarks Clement, that the indiscretion which revealed this transaction did not betray it to the brigands who were, just then, in possession of the streets of Rome. But Manfredo Manfredi, ambassador of Ferrara to the court of Florence, writes to the Duchess Eleonora that it can not be supposed that Cardinals Colonna, Savelli, and Orsini, would have voted for Borgia unless seduced by money; and Manfredi supports his charge by detailing the benefices given to these cardinals by Alexander the very moment of his enthronization. Well, where is the indication of simony in these appointments? The positions were necessarily to be filled. The chancery, the abbey of Subiaco, given respectively to Sforza and Colonna, had lost, the first its titular, the second its commendatory; and we do not hear that the other benefices and fiefs were not vacant. Before dismissing this charge of simony we must allude to a discovery made by some Protestant polemics, and lately revived by a ministerial ranter of some notoriety, to the effect that since the death of Innocent VIII. there have been no legitimate[16] Popes, even according to Roman principles. A papal decree nullifies any election procured by simony; therefore, all appointments of cardinals made by a simonical Pope are null; therefore, there has been no legitimate conclave since Alexander’s delinquency. A mare’s-nest indeed; for the adduced decree was issued by Julius II. on January 19, 1505, thirteen years after Alexander’s alleged simony.

It has been asserted that both Alexander VI. and Cæsar Borgia were poisoned, the former fatally; that, through either error or treachery, they partook of a deadly drug, which they had prepared for certain cardinals who were hostile to their projects. Ranke, whom it is the fashion to praise as a wise investigator, gives credence to this fable; Roscoe rejects it. Now, in the Ducal Library of Ferrara there is a manuscript history by Sardi, a contemporary of Guicciardini and Paul Jovius, wherein the author speaks of ten letters written by their agents to Duke Hercules of Ferrara and the Cardinal d’Este, in which it is shown that our Pontiff died of tertian fever, then rampant in Rome. “Attacked by this fever on August 10 [1503], he was relieved neither by bleeding nor by use of manna, and he expired on the night we mentioned [August 18]. After death the body became swollen and blackened, owing to the putrefaction of the blood; and hence there originated, among such as knew not the cause of these appearances, a rumor that the Pope had been poisoned.”

In a manuscript “Diary” of Burkhard, preserved in the Corsini Library, may be read the following:[17] “On Saturday, August 12, 1503, the Pope fell ill; and in the evening, about the twenty-first or twenty-second hour, there came a fever which continually remained. On Tuesday, August 15, thirteen ounces of blood were drawn from him, and there supervened a tertian fever. On Thursday, August 17, at the twelfth hour, he took some medicine; and on Friday, August 18, he confessed to the Lord Peter, Bishop of Culm, who then celebrated Mass in his presence, and after his own Communion gave the Holy Eucharist to the Pope, who sat up in bed. There were present five cardinals. . . . At the vesper hour, having received Extreme Unction from the Bishop of Culm, he expired.”

And, strange to say, Voltaire is very firm in ascribing Alexander’s death to natural causes. Speaking of the report of poison,[26] the cynic says: “All the enemies of the Holy See have believed this horrible tale; I do not, and my chief reason is that it is not at all probable. The Pope and his son may have been wicked, but they were not fools. It is certain that the poisoning of a dozen cardinals would have rendered father and son so execrable that nothing could have saved them from the fury of the Romans and all Italy. The crime, too, was directly contrary to the views of Cæsar. The Pope was on the verge of the grave, and Borgia could cause the election of one of his own creatures; would he gain[18] the Sacred College by murdering a dozen of its members?”

Again, contends Voltaire—on whom, for rarity’s sake, it is a pleasure to reply;—if after Alexander’s death the cause of the catastrophe had transpired, surely it would have been learned by those whom he had tried to murder. Would they have allowed Cæsar to enter peaceably into possession of his father’s wealth? And how could Cæsar, almost dying, according to the story, go to the Vatican to secure the hundred thousand ducats? They say that Cæsar, after the accident, shut himself in the stomach of a mule; for what poison is that a remedy? Finally, Pope Julius II., an unrelenting foe of the Borgias, held Cæsar in his power for a long time, and he never charged him with the supposed crime. Well, therefore, did Voltaire exclaim: “I dare to say to Guicciardini: Europe has been deceived by you, as you were deceived by your passion. You were an enemy of the Pope, and you believed your hatred too readily.”

And now a word on Alexander VI. as Pontiff. The assassination of the Duke of Gandia (1497) produced a profoundly religious impression on his mind; he even thought of abdicating the Pontificate in order to conciliate the divine mercy. Deterred by Ferdinand the Catholic, he resolved to become a more worthy Pope, and as a first step he began to correct many abuses which had crept into the ecclesiastical administration. Among the abuses brought to light by an opposite commission was a[19] systematic series of forgeries, or rather of supposititious issue of dispensations in which rascality the chief offender was found to have been Archbishop of Cosenza, Bartholomew Florida, the Secretary of Briefs.[27] Much good was effected by this commission, as Paul III. afterward indicated. Upon one point the zeal of Alexander was worthy of his position. As a defender of the faith he was never remiss. One of his first efforts was for the pacification of Bohemia, then ravaged by the Hussites; and it was owing to the kindness which he substituted for the harshness of his predecessors that soon the scourge vanished.

In 1501 Alexander issued his Bull, “Inter Multiplices,” against the printing and reading of bad books. One of the most important Bulls issued by this Pontiff was the “Inter Cœtera” in 1493, whereby he drew a line of demarcation, which was to form, from pole to pole, the limit of the Spanish and Portuguese possessions in the lately discovered New World. It required no small amount of daring to proclaim, as he thereby equivalently did, the rotundity of the earth,—a truth which then, and for centuries afterward, no scientific academy would have unhesitatingly patronized. The enemies of the Holy See have affected to regard this partition as a crime; indeed, Marmontel termed it “the greatest of all the crimes of Borgia.” But[20] Alexander simply exercised that right of arbitration which at that time all Christendom admitted as resident in the incumbent of the papal throne.[28]



The thought of abdication first took possession of the mind of Charles V. in 1535, after the successful issue of his expedition against Tunis, and not, as is generally asserted, at a time when reverses had disgusted him with human ambitions. This is shown by his own remarks to Lourenço Pires de Tavora, Portuguese envoy at his court,[29] and to the monks of San Yuste.[30] He was then only forty years of age, and at the height of his power. But not until 1542 did he manifest his design to the Cortes of Aragon,[31] and not before 1553 did he begin the necessary preparations. From among many places which seemed fitted, naturally, spiritually, and artistically, to furnish his tired and then ascetically inclined mind a soothing and profitable retreat, he selected the Hieronymite Monastery of San Yuste in Estremadura;[32] and as he did not propose to become a monk, or even to follow the[22] community life, as is generally believed, and as he could not expect the religious to associate familiarly with his retainers, he gave orders, in 1553, for the construction of a becoming habitation contiguous to the monastery. In this edifice he could preserve his own independence, and, while respecting that of the monks, he could occasionally enjoy their companionship; while his proximity to the church enabled him, when so disposed, to join in the offices of the choir.

On October 25, 1555, Charles resigned his crowns of Naples, Sicily, and Milan in favor of his son Philip. On January 17, 1556, he ceded to the same Philip the crown of Spain, and all his other dominions in the Old and the New World; and on September 7 of the same year he resigned the imperial sceptre, presuming, in defiance of the rights of the Holy See, to do so in favor of his brother, Ferdinand of Austria.[33] On February 3, 1557, Charles arrived at San Yuste, accompanied by only twelve domestics, and here he constantly resided during the remaining nineteen months of his life. He generally assisted at the Office, and at the High[23] Mass which was celebrated every morning in the church. He frequently communicated, and on the Fridays of Lent he joined the monks in taking the discipline. Much of his time was spent in the study of mechanics and in clockmaking; and it is narrated that one day, when he had failed to make two clocks agree, he moralized: “And how foolish it was in me to think that I could produce uniformity in so many nations, differing so much in race, language and character!”

During the early summer of 1558 the health of the Emperor caused disquiet to his attendants. According to two Hieronymite chronicles, which have been followed by most historians, and highly embellished by Robertson, the last illness of Charles V. was preceded, if not caused, by one of the most extraordinary ceremonies which any mind, sane or insane, could conceive. The Prior Martin de Angulo narrates that the monarch observed one day to an attendant that he could not devote two thousand crowns, which he had saved, to a more worthy object than his own funeral; he added: “In traveling it is better to have light in front of rather than[24] behind one’s self.” It was then, says the Prior, that the Emperor gave orders for the obsequies of his wife, his parents, and himself. Here we must note that Sandoval, whom historians generally cite in proof of this strange event, does indeed report the above remarks as made by Charles V.;[34] but as he says nothing about the anticipatory obsequies of the Emperor having been celebrated, we may safely conclude that he gave no credit to the tale. In fact, Sandoval tells us that part of these same two thousand crowns saved by the monarch were ultimately used to defray the expenses of the real funeral. But there is another testimony which enters more into details.

An anonymous Hieronymite, whose manuscript was probably copied by Siguenza[35] (another authority adduced in favor of the truth of the story in question), and published also by Gachard,[36] narrates that while Charles was still in perfect health he caused Requiems to be offered in his presence on three successive days—August 29, 30, and 31,—for the souls of his father, mother, and wife; and that on the last day he called for his confessor, Juan de Regola, and asked him: “Do you not think, Father, it would be well, now that I have done my duty by my relatives, if I were to cause my own funeral to be celebrated, and thus contemplate what will soon[25] be my own condition?” Father Juan replied in an evasive manner; but, continues the anonymous monk, the Emperor pressed his confessor as to whether the proposed obsequies would profit him, even though still on earth. “Certainly, sire,” Father Juan is represented as answering; “for the good works which one performs in life are of more merit and much more satisfactory than those done for him after his death. Would to God all of us had such excellent intentions as those announced by your Majesty!”

Thereupon, continues the chronicler, “the Emperor commanded that everything should be made ready to celebrate his obsequies that evening. A catafalque, surrounded by torches, was arranged in the church. All the attendants of his Majesty, in full mourning, and the pious monarch himself, also in mourning garments and with a candle in his hand, came to celebrate his funeral and to see him buried. The spectacle brought tears to the eyes of all, and they could not have cried more if the Emperor had really died. As for his Majesty, after his funeral Mass he made the offering of his candle in the hands of the celebrant, as though he had already resigned his soul into the hands of God. Such symbolical actions were customary among the early Christians. Then, without waiting for the afternoon of August 31 to pass, the Emperor called his confessor, and told him how happy he felt now that he had celebrated his funeral.” The anonymous monk then tells us how the imperial physician, Mathys, discouraged the continuation of the medi[26]tation in which Charles was buried, and how his Majesty suddenly experienced a chill. “This was on the last day of August, at about four of the night. Mathys felt the Emperor’s pulse, and discovered some change. Charles was therefore borne to his chamber, and from that time his malady rapidly gained force.”

When a Hieronymite monk expects us to credit this fantastical story, we need not wonder that Robertson (a Protestant of more than ordinary prejudices, and, what is more derogatory from any claim to impartiality, a royal historiographer in England,) repeats, colors, and renders it more acceptable to the credulous yearners for papistical absurdities, by his own exaggerations and even unwarranted additions. “The English do not love Charles V.,” remarks Barthélemy; “Protestants love him less; and finally, a writer is not a historiographer with impunity. Independence and impartiality can scarcely be found in one who fills that position.” Again, Robertson is too apt to deduce conclusions such as are formed by the Voltairian school; though he does not betray the Satanic spirit of these gentry, “he has all their coldness,” observes Cantù, “and he reflects in the same manner.”[37] As to the reliability of his “His[27]tory of Charles V.,” one of the most impartial historical writers our country has yet produced—Henry Wheaton, a Protestant—pronounces that it is full of errors.[38]

According to Robertson, the Emperor suffered from gout so intensely about six months before his death, that from that time there appeared scarcely any traces of that healthy and masculine reasoning power which had distinguished him; a timid and servile superstition took possession of his mind, and he passed nearly all the time in chanting hymns with the monks. Restlessness, diffidence, and that fear which ever accompanies superstition, continues Robertson, diminished in his eyes the merit of all the good he had performed, and induced him to devise some new and extraordinary act of piety, which would draw upon him the favor of Heaven. He resolved to celebrate his funeral before his death, and caused a catafalque to be erected in the church. His domestics repaired thither, carrying black candles in their hands, and he himself, wrapped in a shroud, was laid in the coffin. The Office for the Dead was chanted by both Charles and the assemblage, as well as the plentiful tears of all would allow. At the end of the ceremony all, save the chief participant in the coffin, left the church, and the doors were closed. Then the poor victim of superstition emerged from his coffin and returned to[28] his apartments. Probably on account of the impression produced on his mind by the fancied contact with death, he was seized, concludes Robertson, with his fatal illness on the following day.

Were it not for the too pronounced pathos of this Robertsonian climax of Charles coming out of his coffin, climbing down the catafalque, and creeping home stealthily, lest his too lively appearance should dispel the impression supposed to have been produced, this scene would furnish elements most attractive for some ambitious playwright and enterprising manager. As for historical value, the picture of Charles in his shroud and coffin, as well as that of his being left alone in the church after the ceremony, has none; the Hieronymite chronicles, the only sources on which Robertson can draw, are precise in representing Charles as assisting at the ceremony, candle in hand, and as giving his candle to the celebrant at the close.

We shall merely allude to the assertion that during the last six months of his life the Emperor had lost his wonted mental acumen; that, in fact, he was little better than insane. Authentic documents are adduced by Mignet[39] to show that, to the very last, Charles took an active and directive interest in the affairs of his late Empire; and that he was frequently consulted, especially as to Spanish matters, by Philip II. Let us rather see whether[29] there is any truth in the presumed Hieronymite narration. We say “presumed”; for it seems incredible that any Catholic writer could have penned the tale. Protestant polemics regale us, even unto nausea, with arguments against the reliability of “monkish chronicles”; but if ever any such chronicle merited distrust, nay, to be despised—and there are such,—these by the Prior Angulo and his anonymous Brother are in that category; and if they are authentic, their authors deserved whatever severe punishment monastic discipline and the proper tribunals—ecclesiastical and lay—could inflict on religious who elaborated a baseless charge of sacrilege against an entire community.

To have sung the Office of the Dead for the benefit of a living person would have been a solemn mockery, profanation; but we are told that the monks of San Yuste offered a Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of, and in the presence of, the living Emperor.[40] However, this reflection on the nature of the ceremony alleged to have been per[30]formed would not, of itself, compel us to reject the tale as a fabrication. But there are many good reasons why this course should be taken. The anonymous monk states that the Emperor caused Requiems to be sung on August 29, 30, and 31, for the souls of his father, mother, and wife; that after the last function he ordered everything to be prepared for his own funeral service on that evening; and he expressly states that not only the Office was chanted, but Mass was celebrated at that service. Here, then, we have Mass celebrated, in the Western Church in the sixteenth century, in the evening! This is an absurdity. Nor can it be alleged that probably the Office alone was recited at that time, and that the Requiem was celebrated on the following morning, September 1; for the writer says that after the Mass the monarch experienced a chill, and was removed to his apartments; adding also that “this happened on the last day of August, at about four of the night.”[41]

Another intrinsic evidence of falsity is furnished by the magnitude of the sum—two thousand crowns,—which the anonymous chronicler assigns for the[31] expenses of the service in question. If we consider the metallic value of the Spanish crown of that day—eleven francs,—and then note its relative buying capability, we must conclude that the alleged funeral cost more than twelve thousand dollars,[42] which is incredible. The only real expenses, since there was no royal pomp, etc., would have been that of candles and the honorarium. Sandoval says that these “two thousand crowns, saved by the Emperor,” were afterward drawn upon for the real funeral; and that six hundred of them were sent, just before the monarch’s death and by his order, to Barbara Blomberg, the mother of Don John of Austria.[43]

A third reason for rejecting the fable of the mock funeral is found by Mignet in the physical condition of Charles V. at the time when it is alleged to have been held. The letters of his physician and his secretary all show that he could not have withstood the fatigue of four consecutive functions. On the 15th of August, wishing to communicate, he had to be carried to the church, and he received the Blessed Sacrament in a sitting posture. On the 24th the gout temporarily ceased from troubling him; but an eruption in the legs ensued, and he would scarcely have been able to participate in the supposed services of the 29th, 30th, and 31st. Charles V. was not of such calibre, spiritually[32] speaking, that he would have forced weak nature to obey his pious will, having himself carried to ceremonies at which his presence would have been superfluous. He was far removed from those saints who have asked to be laid on ashes to meet their deaths. And his occupations just at this time, as shown by his intimate attendants, manifest no extraordinary detachment from the affairs of earth; still less do they indicate any of that semi-insane religiousness by which Robertson would account for the commission of the freak under consideration. Down to the very day before the fatal attack (September 1) he was engaged in business of state and in matters of family interest. Finally, neither the imperial physician nor the secretary, whose letters enter into the most trivial details of their master’s life at San Yuste, especially where his health or religious dispositions are concerned, say anything about this ante-mortem funeral.



The Italian Government has permitted the erection of a monument to Giordano Bruno in the capital of the Christian world. We understand that the work is sufficiently artistic to bring no great discredit on the mistress of the fine arts; but, since its sole reason for existence is based on an insecure foundation, we are not surprised that the details of its design are not all true to history. It has been erected only because of the presumed fact that Bruno was done to death by the Papal authorities. To render it more impressive, and to illustrate the eventful career of its subject, it presents to our contemplation some bas-reliefs of other alleged “martyrs to truth,” such as Huss, Servetus, Arnold of Brescia, and Campanella.

Now it is by no means certain that Bruno was put to death. We know that in 1592 he was arrested by the State Inquisitors of Venice on the charge of heresy;[44] that after six years of imprisonment he[34] was delivered to the Holy Office, or Roman Inquisition, tried, (and perhaps) condemned to the stake on February 9, 1600. But was the sentence executed, or, as frequently happened in similar cases, was Bruno burnt merely in effigy? A letter purporting to be from an erudite German then in Rome, Gaspar Schopp,[45] describes the execution, but many good critics have denied the authenticity of this epistle. Again, Schopp is alone in his assertion. The Vatican Archives contain documents of the trial, but not of the condemnation, nor is there any account of the execution; whereas, in every similar case, both of these are detailed. Again, the “Relations” of the foreign ambassadors resident at the Holy See, which never omitted any such items, say nothing of this event. Not even in the correspondence of the Venetian Ambassador, the agent of that Government which must have felt[35] an especial interest in the fate of Bruno, since it had initiated his downfall, do we find any allusion to the alleged catastrophe.[46]

Cantù cites a MS. of the Medicean Archives (No. 1608), dated at Rome on the very day of Bruno’s trial, which narrates the burning of an apostate friar a few days before. Here some mention of Bruno’s condemnation would naturally occur, but there is not a word. Finally, the celebrated Servite, Friar Paul Sarpi, who never missed an opportunity of attacking what he feigned to regard as Roman intolerance, Roman treachery, etc., although he continued this course for many years after the trial of Bruno,[47] and although his own position of antagonism with the Roman Curia perforce kept him on the lookout for instances which might inculpate Rome and justify the recent rebellious conduct of Venice toward the Holy See, never alludes to the alleged fate of Bruno. The same silence is found in Ciacconio, Sandrini, Alfani, Manno, and Ossat, all of whom would scarcely have omitted to notice[36] so important an event, had it really occurred. And how is it that the “Martyrology” of the Protestants is also silent on this matter? Truly, Bruno was less a Protestant Christian than he was a Buddhist; but in those days, as in our own, any person of Christian ancestry who antagonized Rome, and did not avow himself a Jew or a pagan, was claimed for their own by the Protestants.[48]

The Bruno monument places Huss, Arnold of Brescia, Servetus, and Campanella, in the same category with the Philosopher of Nola. There may be some general reason for so treating the Bohemian fanatic and the cut-throat of Brescia. The comparison of Bruno with Servetus, the victim of Calvin, may be tolerated, with a smile at the designer’s ungrateful disregard of the feelings of Protestants. But Campanella and Bruno! “Hyperion to a satyr!” Bruno was a Christian only by baptism; Campanella was ever a devout Catholic. Campanella, a martyr to science! His devotion to science caused him no trouble more annoying than some cloister squabbles; politics, mere politics, involved him in serious difficulty. As well ascribe the fate of Savonarola to his zeal for morals. Campanella, a victim of the Inquisition! His only relations with that tribunal came from its interposition to save him from the Neapolitan courts, which would have consigned him to the scaffold for high treason to the Spanish crown.


Campanella was born at Stilo, in the kingdom of Naples, in 1568. At the age of fourteen he entered the Dominican Order, and in the course of time became very distinguished in the public disputes on philosophical questions, which were then the fashion of the day in Italy. But his attacks on the peripatetics[49] procured him many enemies in his own Order, and in 1590 he sought the protection of the Marquis Lavello, one of his Neapolitan admirers. During the next eight years we find him disputing at Rome and Florence, and teaching in the Universities of Pisa and Padua. In 1598 he returned to Stilo, and it was soon rumored that he was occupied in projects for the subversion of the Spanish domination. He frequently preached, and wrote that the year 1600 would unfold great changes in the kingdom; that recent extraordinary inundations, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, prognosticated a coming reformation in both civil and ecclesiastical matters; that he was to be an instrument of Providence in all this, for he “was born to abolish three great evils—tyranny, sophism, and hypocrisy; everything was in darkness when[38] he struck the light.”[50] He reasoned on several recent astronomical discoveries, and announced that his studies showed him the near advent of the reign of eternal reason in the life of humanity.[51] Great revolutions, he said, occur every eight centuries, the latest previous one having been the Incarnation of the World.

Whether Campanella was the instigator or a tool was never made known; but a conspiracy was formed against Spanish rule, and four bishops and three hundred friars of various orders were the leading spirits. Of the three processes of the trial now extant, one tends to show that the design was to establish a republic in Calabria; the second insists that the kingdom was to be given to the Holy See; and the third indicates a wish to hand the country over to the Turks; but it is noteworthy that in the process finally extended in the Holy Office at Rome nearly all the previous witnesses retracted. When the conspiracy was discovered the viceroy’s forces captured nearly all the leaders. The laics were hung, and the “privilegium fori” consigned the ecclesiastics, Campanella excepted, to the Inquisition;[52] the viceroy insisting on this exception, probably at the instigation of Campa[39]nella’s private enemies. Confined in Castel Sant’Elmo for twenty-seven years, the Holy See again and again vainly endeavored to procure his release; but Pope Paul V., who sent Schopp to Naples for that purpose, succeeded in obtaining permission for him to correspond with his friends, and to receive every convenience for literary work. Finally, Pope Urban VIII. availed himself of the accusation of magical practices made against the philosopher, insisting that such a charge placed the case within the sole jurisdiction of the Inquisition; and he succeeded in obtaining the friar’s extradition.

Campanella was at once enrolled in the Papal household, and an annual pension was assigned to him. Caressed by all that was learned in Rome, he passed several years in happy study; but in 1634 the Spanish residents, who continued to detest his name, made an open attack on the French Embassy where he was visiting, and tried to obtain possession of his person. He was saved by the Papal police, but by the advice of the Pontiff he at once betook himself to France. Cardinal Richelieu received him with open arms, and made him a counsellor of state. He was also elected president of the French Academy, lately founded by Richelieu. To the day of his death, on May 21, 1639, he continually corresponded with Pope Urban VIII. What is there in this career to indicate the martyr to science, the victim of papal tyranny; in fine, the fit companion of Bruno as that unfortunate receives the ignorant or diabolic homage of so-called liberalism?


We have said that Bruno is wrongly styled a Protestant. We never find him representing himself as either Calvinist, Anglican, or Lutheran. While he resided in Geneva, the headquarters of Calvinism, he attended, he says, “the sermons of the Italian and French religionists. But when I was warned that I could not remain there long if I did not adopt the creed of the Genevans, I went to Toulouse.” He stayed but a short time in Toulouse, “the Rome of the Garronne,” only long enough to receive the doctor’s cap, and to surprise both the Catholics and the Calvinists by his teachings. The year 1579 found him at Paris, satisfying Henry III. that his phenomenal memory was not the effect of magic, and lecturing at the Sorbonne. As yet no sign of Calvinism. During the three years that he spent in England he greatly lauded Queen Elizabeth, “the unique Diana, who is to us all what the sun is to the stars,” but he manifested no leaning to Anglicanism. At Oxford he taught the movement of the earth; and was obliged to depart. Arriving in Germany, he was well received at Wittenberg, and he highly appreciated the toleration accorded by the Lutheran professors to him, “although of a different faith.”[53] In fact, Bruno taught everywhere the Pythagorean system of the world, and an Eleatic pantheism dressed in Neo-Platonic forms, advancing both with a pride, or rather a vanity, which must have appeared ridiculous.


He announced himself to the Oxford dons as “doctor of the most elaborate philosophy; professor of the purest and most harmless wisdom; recognized by all the principal Academies of Europe; unknown only to barbarians; the weakener of sleeping geniuses; the tamer of presumptious and recalcitrant ignorance; a universal philanthropist, as all his actions proclaim. One who loves an Italian no more than an Englishman, a man no more than a woman, a mitre no more than a crown, a lawyer no more than a soldier, the hooded no more than the hoodless; but who loves him the most whose conversation is the most peaceful, civil, and useful; one who cares not for an anointed head, or marked forehead, or clean hands, but only for the mind and for the cultured intellect; one who is detested by hypocrites and by the propagators of insanity, but who is revered by the upright, and applauded by every noble genius.” Could Cagliostro have excelled this as an advertisement?

But if Bruno was neither Catholic nor Protestant, his forced associate in the Roman monument was a profound Catholic, albeit an exceedingly intolerant one. He would have no dispute with an innovator. He would ask: “Who sent you to preach, God or the devil? If God, prove it by miracles.” And if he fails, said Campanella, “burn him if you can. . . . The first error committed (during the Lutheran movement) was in allowing Luther to live after the Diets of Worms and Augsburg; and if Charles V. did so, as they[42] say, in order to keep the Pope in apprehension, and thus oblige him to succor Charles in his aspirations to universal monarchy, he acted against every reason of state policy; for to weaken the Pontiff is to weaken all Christianity, the people soon revolting under pretext of freedom of conscience.”[54] He counselled the King of Spain to have always two or three religions—Dominicans, Jesuits, or Franciscans,—in his supreme council; and every commanding general, he said, should have a religious adviser.[55] Such sentiments must sound strange to the Italianissimi of to-day; but they came naturally from Campanella, who thought that “the same constellation which drew fetid effluvia from the cadaverous minds of heretics, brought forth balsamic exhalations from the exact minds of the founders of the Minims, Jesuits, Capuchins, etc.”[56] He advises all Governments to allow no Lutherans within their limits; because, he contends, these sectarians deny the free-will of man, and can excuse crime by the plea that they are fated to sin.[57] As for the Calvinist dogma of predestination, “it renders all princes wicked, the people seditious, and theologians traitors.”[58]

The following passage,[59] if read by the committee before it accepted Ferrari’s design for Bruno’s[43] statue, would probably have caused its rejection: “The Papacy belongs to no one in particular, but to all Christendom, and whatever the Church possesses is common to all. The Italians ought to encourage the wealth of religious corporations, because it belongs to them all, and lessens the strength of Italy’s rivals. . . . No Italian sovereign should aspire to a rule over the others, but all, whenever the direct line of succession becomes extinct, should proclaim the Roman Church heir to their dominions. Thus in course of time an Italian monarchy would be established. The Italian republics ought to make a law that whenever they fall under the rule of tyrants their government devolves on the Roman Church.”

In reality, Campanella aimed at a reformation of the world, and by means of Catholicism. His enthusiasm descried a near conversion of the nations, as prophesied by St. Bridget of Sweden, the Abbot Joachim, Dionysius the Carthusian, St. Vincent Ferrer, and St. Catherine of Siena, the last of whom had predicted that the sons of St. Dominic would carry the olive of peace to the Turks.[60] He declared that the day of Antichrist was near, if not already come,—“it is now here, or will come in 1630”; and he “was born to combat the schools of Antichrist,” which schools were everywhere active; for “where Mohammed and Luther do not rule, there dominate Machiavelli and politicians.”[61]



A few years ago the Rev. Charles Kingsley, an English writer of some reputation, saw fit to revive an ancient but often exploded calumny against one of God’s saints. This author is a clergyman of the English Establishment, and being presumably as well as pretendedly a man of education, one would have expected from his pen at least a moderately appreciative treatment of the grand characters whom he selected to illustrate an important, though little understood, period of history. But, according to him, the great Patriarch of Alexandria “has gone to his own place. What that place is in history, is but too well known; what it is in the sight of Him unto whom all live forever, is no concern of ours. May He whose mercy is over all His works have mercy upon all, whether orthodox or unorthodox, Papist or Protestant, who, like Cyril, begin by lying for the cause of truth; and, setting off upon that evil road, arrive surely, with the Scribes and Pharisees of old, sooner or later, at their own place. True, he and his monks had conquered; but Hypatia did not die unavenged. In the hour of that unrighteous victory the Church of Alexandria received a deadly wound. It had admitted and sanctioned those habits of doing evil that good may[45] come, of pious intrigue, and at last of open persecution, which are certain to creep in wheresoever men attempt to set up a merely religious empire, independent of human relationships and civil laws; to establish, in short, a ‘theocracy,’ and by that very act confess a secret disbelief that God is ruling already.”

Such was not the judgment of Kingsley’s fellow-sectarian, Cave,[62] nor of the Lutheran, John Albert Fabricius,[63] than whom Protestants have produced no critics more erudite. But it is the opinion expressed by many Protestant polemics; for St. Cyril presided, in the name of the Roman Pontiff, at the Council of Ephesus (431), which confirmed to the Blessed Virgin the title of Mother of God.[64] It is also the judgment of Voltaire and the entire school of incredulists; for St. Cyril triumphantly refuted the work of the Emperor Julian against Christianity.


In the early part of the fifth century the great city of Alexandria in Egypt was still nearly one half pagan, and the Jewish population also was very large. No populace in the Empire was so turbulent and seditious, and therefore the emperors had invested the patriarchs with extensive civil authority, although the force at the prelates’ disposal was not always sufficient to repress the disorders of the mob. In the year 413 St. Cyril was raised to the patriarchate, and was almost immediately involved in difficulty with Orestes, the imperial prefect. Often he conjured this officer on the Gospels to put an end to this enmity for the good of the city.

At this time the chief school of pagan philosophy in Alexandria was taught by Hypatia, a beautiful woman, and of irreproachable morals. Among her hearers were many of the élite of paganism. The celebrated Synesius had been her pupil, and his letters show that, although he had become a Christian bishop in 410 he still gloried in her friendship. But her most important scholar was the prefect[47] Orestes. It is difficult to determine what was the religion of this man. He himself, on the occasion of an attack on his life by some monks from Mt. Nitria, had proclaimed his Christianity, but his general conduct would inspire doubt of his sincerity; and we may safely accept as probable the conjecture of the English novelist, that he was ready to renew the attempt of Julian the Apostate. The obstinacy of Orestes in refusing a reconciliation with their patriarch was ascribed by the whole Christian community to the influence of Hypatia; and one day in the Lent of 415 a number of parabolani[65] and laics, led by one Peter the Reader and some Nitrian monks, fell upon the unfortunate philosopher as she was proceeding to her lecture hall, dragged her from her litter, hurried her to the great church of the Cæsareum, and there literally tore her to pieces.

Such, in a few words, is the substance of the account of this horrible event as given by the historian Socrates,[66] a writer contemporary with the great St. Cyril, and whom Kingsley professes to have scrupulously followed. But Socrates, hostile though he[48] ever shows himself to the holy patriarch, does not once insinuate that this prelate was the instigator of the crime; while the Anglican minister does imply that charge, and openly lays all responsibility for the foul deed on St. Cyril.

Voltaire, the prince of incredulists, naturally gloats over one of the most delicious morsels ever furnished to his school. Having compared Hypatia to Madame Dacier, a learned classicist of his day, he asks us to imagine the French Carmelites contending that the poem of “Magdalen,” composed in 1668 by Peter de Saint-Louis, one of their Order, was superior to “Iliad” of Homer, and insisting that it is impious to prefer the work of a pagan to that of a religious. Let us fancy, then, continues the Sage of Ferney, that the Archbishop of Paris takes the part of the Carmelites against the governor of the city, a partisan of Madame Dacier, who prefers Homer to F. Peter. Finally, let us suppose the Archbishop inciting the Carmelites to slaughter this talented woman in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. “Such precisely,” concludes Voltaire, “is the history of Hypatia. She taught Homer and Plato in Alexandria during the reign of Theodosius II. St. Cyril unleashed the Christian populace against her, as we are told by Damascius and Suidas, and as is satisfactorily proved by the most learned moderns, such as Brucker, La Croze, Basnage, etc.”[67] And in another place[68] Voltaire[49] dares to ask: “Can anything be more horrible or more cowardly than the conduct of the priests of this Bishop Cyril, whom Christians style St. Cyril? . . . His tonsured hounds, followed by a mob of fanatics, attack Hypatia in the street, drag her by the hair, stone and burn her, and Cyril the Holy utters not the slightest reprimand.” Again:[69] “This Cyril was ambitious, factious, turbulent, knavish and cruel. . . . He caused his priests and diocesans to massacre the young Hypatia, so well known in the world of letters. . . . Cyril was jealous because of the prodigious attendance at the lectures of Hypatia, and he incited against her the murderers who assassinated her. . . . Such was Cyril of whom they have made a saint.” And as late as 1777, when the octogenarian cynic was already in the shadow of death, he wrote: “We know that St. Cyril caused the murder of Hypatia, the heroine of philosophy.”[70]

Since such is the judgment expressed by Voltaire, at once the most shallow and most influential of all modern writers on historical matters, it is not strange that the masses have accepted the romance of Hypatia as recounted by most of those fosterers of shallowness, the encyclopædias and dictionaries of the day. Even in some of the least superficial of these presumed authorities, such as the “Nouvelle Bi[50]ographie Générale” (Didot, 1858), and the “Grand Dictionnaire Encyclopédique du Dix-Neuvième Siècle” (1873), the accusation against St. Cyril is clearly put forth. In the former work we read the following from the pen of a celebrated writer:[71] “It is hard to believe that the hands of St. Cyril were not stained in this bloody tragedy. The historian Socrates, who gives its details, adds that the deed covered with infamy not only Cyril but the whole Church of Alexandria.” In the latter we are told: “Hypatia was massacred by the Christian populace, at the instigation of St. Cyril. . . . According to Damascius, St. Cyril, passing one day before the residence of Hypatia, noted the crowd who were waiting to hear the daughter of Theon, and he thereupon conceived such jealousy of her fame that he resolved to procure the death of the noble and learned girl.”[72]


Voltaire tells us that the guilt of St. Cyril has been proved by the most learned men of the eighteenth century, “such as Brucker, La Croze, Basnage, etc., etc.” Let us pass, with a doubting smile, this extravagant encomium on writers of very ordinary calibre, and see how these Protestant authorities arrive at their horrible conclusion. It is by adducing the testimony of Socrates, Suidas, Damascius, and Nicephorus Callixtus. But in vain do they call on Socrates. This historian, although very hostile to St. Cyril, as he constantly shows himself, and although his Novatianism[73] would render him very willing to incriminate an orthodox prelate, does not charge the holy patriarch with either the instigation or an approval of the murder. And, let it be noted, Philostorgius, also contemporary with Hypatia, and an historian of as much reliability as Socrates, narrates her death, but does not even mention the name of St. Cyril in connection with it, although, indeed, he inculpates the Catholics. The same may be said of Suidas. As[52] for Nicephorus Callixtus, this schismatic author should not be brought forward in the matter, as he lived nine centuries after the event, and could know nothing whatever concerning it, unless from Socrates and Philostorgius. Furthermore, the best critics of every school tax this writer with a fondness for fables.

There remains, then, only Damascius, on whom Voltaire and his latest copyist, Kingsley, can rely for justification in their ghoulish task. But Damascius was a pagan, a declared enemy of Christianity, and it was the interest of his cause to besmirch the fair fame of Alexandria’s patriarch. And of what value is his assertion, made a century and a half after the death of Hypatia, when compared with the silence of her contemporaries, Socrates and Philostorgius? Again, the very passage of Damascius adduced by the foes of St. Cyril betrays the shallowness of this author’s information. He represents the patriarch as surprised at the numbers awaiting the coming forth of Hypatia, and as asking who it was that could attract such a concourse. Is it possible that St. Cyril, the best informed man in Alexandria concerning even its most trivial affairs, the all-powerful patriarch whose spies were everywhere (according to Kingsley), did not know the residence of the woman who disputed with him the intellectual empire of the city? And Damascius makes still more exorbitant demands on our credulity; for he gives us to understand that until St. Cyril saw that crowd of her enthusiastic disciples, he had[53] not even heard a name which for years had been renowned in Egypt.

We are not writing a life of St. Cyril, still less a hagiological essay; but we must remark that the general tenor of this prelate’s career, his exhibition of constant zeal and virtue of a strikingly heroic character, which caused his enrollment among the canonized saints, would prevent us from supposing that he could ever have been a murderer. Of course, absolutely speaking, no metaphysical impossibility is involved in the supposition of Voltaire, Kingsley, etc.; but if it were accepted, we should expect to discover some trace of heroic repentance in the after-life of the patriarch. Now, in the remaining thirty years of his career, active and open to inspection though it was, we can find neither the slightest trace of such repentance nor even any avowal of the crime. But we need say no more. The charge is as gratuitous as it is malicious, and will thus be considered by all fair minds until at least one contemporary or quasi-contemporary authority can be adduced in its support.



In a brochure entitled “Napoleon and His Detractors,” Prince Jerome Napoleon found fault, in 1887, with Prince Metternich for having contended that the Emperor Napoleon had never been sacramentally united to Josephine. The Austrian diplomat went so far as to declare that he had heard from the lips of Cardinal Consalvi that Pius VII., by conferring the imperial consecration on Josephine, an unmarried wife, had sanctioned, as it were, her concubinary status. It was quite natural that Metternich should wish such to have been the case; under no other supposition could he uphold the honor of Maria Louisa and of her family. If Josephine was ever sacramentally united to Napoleon, the proud Hapsburgs had simply handed over one of themselves to be the concubine of the Corsican adventurer; as Catholics, the imperial family of Austria were compelled to acknowledge this degradation of their escutcheon. Now, says Prince Napoleon, the Emperor and Josephine, “who had been only civilly married in the time of the Directory, were united religiously by Cardinal Fesch, in order to satisfy the scruples of Josephine, in the evening preceding the consecration, and in the presence of Talleyrand and[55] Berthier, in the chapel of the Tuileries. I know this from the traditions of my family.”

Whether because they really ignored the circumstances of Napoleon’s marriage and divorce, or because they dared not reveal displeasing details, the memoirists of the First Empire—such as Bourrienne, Marco Saint-Hilaire, Loriquet, Gallois, the Continuator of Anquetil—have given us either travestied information or none at all. Thiers and d’Haussonville afterward narrated a part of the story. But in 1839 M. d’Avannes, vice-president of the tribunal of Evreux, while preparing his “Sketches of Navarre,” and wishing to give some place to Josephine, who had received the ancient kingdom as a kind of appanage, asked permission to consult the documents concerning our subject which were guarded in the archives of the Ministry of Justice. He was allowed to investigate, but not to copy them. In this emergency he had recourse to the friendly offices of the Abbé Rudemare, who had been promoter of the diocese of Paris under the Empire; and who, more liberal than the state authorities, was able to furnish the investigator with even more information than that hidden in the archives. Add to this source the narration of Rudemare himself, as given among the “justificative pieces” in the “History of Cardinal Fesch,” by the Abbé Lyonnet, and you have the means whereby to construct the entire history of the Napoleonic matrimonial complication.


When Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnais, on March 9, 1796, it was a purely civil ceremony which, in accordance with the spirit and law of the Revolution, united the pair. At that time the most hellish spirit of the Revolution had subsided, and it would not have been difficult to find a priest to bless their nuptials; indeed, during the worst days of the Terror few good Catholics entered the matrimonial life under the sole auspices of the State, dangerous though their fidelity generally proved. Josephine passed for a virtuous woman, and even showed a certain amount of religious devotion; on her part, therefore, this neglect may have been a mere worldly weakness. But there is good reason for supposing that Bonaparte was actuated, if not from the very day of his betrothal, at least from a period shortly posterior to it, by a design to provide himself with a loophole for escape from what might possibly become an inconvenient burden. In vain did Josephine beg for a religious authorization of their union; this proved to be one of the few matters in which her influence over Napoleon was null. Eight years passed, and the time came for the coronation of Bonaparte as Emperor of the French. Pope Pius VII. came to Paris for the great ceremony, and Josephine succumbed to the influence of that mysterious prestige which ever surrounds the Vicar of Christ. Her soul was in agony. Could she bear to submit her head to the blessing of the Supreme Pontiff of that Church whose laws she was defying? Could she dare to receive an[57] almost sacramental consecration while living in the bonds of sin? And then there flashed into her mind the prospect of being able to finally dissipate the cloud which had so long hung over her otherwise happy life. Her purely civil marriage might be annulled by the powerful wish of that ambitious husband, whose dearest hopes her continued childlessness so terribly thwarted; but would even Bonaparte succeed, where Philip Augustus had failed, in procuring the dissolution of a Christian matrimony? She had already told Bourrienne that from the day when Napoleon commenced to plot for the imperial crown, she had felt herself lost; but now she could put an end to this anguish. She would avow her trouble to the Pontiff himself.

Trembling with emotion and shame, she made her avowal on December 1, the day before that appointed for the coronation. The Pontiff was thunderstruck. In common with all of Josephine’s friends—nay, with all France—he had believed her marriage to have been sanctioned by the Church. His answer, says M. d’Haussonville, was full of tenderness for the weeping woman, and of consideration for the unscrupulous man who would have deceived him, while it manifested the tact of the priest and the Pontiff. “Canonically, the situation of the Emperor did not concern him; that was an affair to be arranged between the potentate’s conscience and himself. But now that he, the Pontiff, knew the true state of affairs, he could not, much as he lamented the fact, admit the Empress to a share[58] in the consecration, unless she were first united to Napoleon before a priest.” When Napoleon was informed of Josephine’s action and of the Pontifical decision, his rage was terrific; but what could he do? Proceed with his own consecration, and ignore the rights of Josephine? The scandal was not to be thought of; and the displeasure of the Pontiff, whose friendship he sadly needed, was not to be unnecessarily incurred. But one course was open to the schemer: to consent to the proposed nuptial benediction, and to devise some means for its nullification. According to the Canon Law, no Christian matrimony was valid unless performed in the presence of the pastor of one of the contracting parties; clandestine matrimony, such as, although illicit, is valid in most of the States of the American Union, and in those lands where the Tridentine decree on matrimony was never promulgated, was not recognized by the Church in France. Here, then, the astute Bonaparte imagined that his security was found. His union with Josephine should be contracted without the presence of the parish-priest or of witnesses; there was no time for the one, and necessary secrecy precluded the attendance of the others, as he told his uncle, Cardinal Fesch, on whose assistance and devotion he relied in his dilemma. At first Fesch refused to countenance what he rightly asserted would be a mere mockery of a religious solemnization, and of no validity; but he yielded sufficiently to propose recurring to[59] the Pope for the powers necessary for his own assumption of the office of the curé of the Tuileries, and for the dispensation with witnesses. Can it be possible that Napoleon did not perceive that this action of his uncle promised to destroy his own hopes? Did he not realize that by recurring to the Pontiff, the source of Canon Law, for a dispensation from the provisions of that Law, he was cutting from under his feet the only ground on which he could securely stand, and on occupying which he had just resolved? The comedy which he had been enacting from the day of his marriage, which he was now developing for the illusion of Josephine, of the Church of France, of his future Empress, of the august house of Hapsburg, was certainly threatened with collapse. At any rate, the Cardinal proceeded to the apartments of Pius VII., and at once broached the subject of his quandary. “Most Holy Father, it may be that in the exercise of my duties in this matter, I shall need all the powers of your Holiness.” “Very well,” replied the Pontiff; “I accord them all.”

Here, then, is the solution of the entire question as to the religious marriage of Napoleon and Josephine, and consequently of the question of the validity of the pretended divorce by an incompetent ecclesiastical tribunal. With the action of the civil tribunals we, of course, have nothing to do. The sole ground for the acquiescence of the diocesan tribunal of Paris in the imperial demands[60] was the non-fulfillment, at the religious marriage, of the conditions prescribed as essential by the Canon Law. But the Roman Pontiff had dispensed with these conditions in this particular case; he had derogated, in favor of Napoleon and Josephine, from the obligatory force of those conditions, just as he does in every case of clandestine matrimony, not otherwise illegitimate, celebrated in these United States and in other countries where the Tridentine decree was not promulgated.

As soon as he had received full power to act in the premises, Cardinal Fesch betook himself to the apartments of the Empress, and there married the imperial couple. Whether there were any witnesses or not to the ceremony appears to be doubtful. Capefigue, following Portalis, names that personage and Duroc. Thiers at first mentioned Talleyrand and Berthier; and then, on the testimony of certain original documents, denied their presence. The depositions of Talleyrand and Berthier before the “officiality” say nothing of their presence; but of course it was to the interest of their master that they should hide whatever would strengthen the validity of the religious ceremony. Just before the coronation Pope Pius asked Cardinal Fesch whether he had conferred the nuptial benediction. “Yes,” was the laconic reply. Two days afterward Josephine asked the Cardinal to give her a certificate of the marriage; and although he at first demurred, for fear of offending the Emperor, he yielded to her entreaties so far as to hand her a[61] paper, the exact contents of which have never been made known.

It was in 1809, after the treaty of Vienna, that Napoleon first opened his mind clearly to Cambacérès, arch-chancellor of the Empire, on the matter of the divorce. A senatus-consultus was immediately promulgated (December 16) proclaiming the dissolution of the Emperor’s civil marriage. Napoleon had flattered himself that the religious marriage would give him no trouble whatever; it was a secret among the Cardinal his uncle, Josephine, and himself. But when he learned that Fesch had indiscreetly mentioned the ceremony to Cambacérès, and that he had even given a certificate to Josephine, he found himself compelled to seek from the ecclesiastical authorities a declaration of the nullity of his union. Ignoring the existence of the Pope, the proper judge in the matrimonial causes of sovereigns, recourse was had to the diocesan tribunal of Paris (not to a reunion of bishops, as Thiers says),—a body established to judge of similar causes between private individuals, and one composed of the appellant’s subjects. On December 22, 1809, the Abbé Rudemare, diocesan promoter of Paris; his colleague, M. Corpet; and the two officials, MM. Lejeas and Boisleve, were summoned to a conference with Cambacérès, in the presence of the Minister of Worship.

“The Emperor,” said Cambacérès, “can not abandon the hope of leaving behind him an heir who will assure the tranquility, glory, and integrity[62] of the Empire which he has founded. He intends to marry again, and he desires to espouse a Catholic. Hence his union with the Empress Josephine must be annulled, and he wishes to submit the case to the diocesan tribunal.”

“But, my lord,” returned the Abbé Rudemare, “such a cause as this is reserved, if not by law, at least by custom, to the Sovereign Pontiff.”

“I am not authorized to recur to Rome,” replied the arch-chancellor.

“You need not go to Rome; the Pope is at Savona,” said the promoter.

“I am not told to treat with him,” answered Cambacérès; “and it is impossible to do so under present circumstances.”

“There are several cardinals, my lord, in Paris; why not submit this affair to them?”

“They have no jurisdiction, M. l’Abbé,” returned the imperial confidant.

“But at least,” insisted the promoter, “we have here a commission of cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, assembled for affairs of the Church.”

“They do not constitute a tribunal,” said Cambacérès; “whereas the ‘officiality’ is one formed for the cognizance of these very causes.”

“Yes, prince,” returned the Abbé; “but only for those of private individuals. The dignity of the parties here concerned prevents our tribunal from regarding itself as competent in the premises.”

“What!” exclaimed the arch-chancellor. “Do you mean to say that his Majesty has no right to pre[63]sent himself before a tribunal established for his subjects, and composed of his subjects? Who contests his right?”

“He may present himself,” acknowledged the promoter; “but such a course would be so contrary to custom that we could not assume the responsibility of acting as his judges unless the episcopal commission decided in favor of our competency. Although disposed to prove our devotion to his Majesty in every possible way, we must take every means to shield our own responsibility, and to insure the repose of our consciences. In undertaking this case we become a spectacle for angels and men.”

“But this affair must remain secret,” said Cambacérès; “all the documents shall be deposited in the cabinet of the Emperor. At any rate, the Minister of Worship will see that you receive the approbation that you desire.”

The motives for the nullification of the religious marriage having been submitted to the diocesan tribunal, the promoter exclaimed: “But we all thought, as did indeed the whole Empire, that the marriage of their Majesties had been celebrated in 1796 with all the canonical forms.”

“That is a mistake,” observed Cambacérès. “Foreseeing what has now happened, his Majesty would never receive the nuptial benediction. But on Saturday, December 1, 1804, tired of the entreaties of the Empress, he told Cardinal Fesch to give the nuptial blessing; and he did so in the apart[64]ments of the Empress, without any witnesses, and without the presence of the curé.”

“Prince,” asked the Abbé, “where is the record of this marriage?”

“There is none,” replied the arch-chancellor, who knew that Josephine had a certificate of the marriage, if indeed the imperial familiars had not found means to destroy it.

“This affair,” remarked the promoter, “providing, of course, that our competence is assured, must be conducted precisely as though it were the case of one of his Majesty’s subjects.”

“What! Follow mere forms? They take too much time. I have been a lawyer, and I know.”

“That may be,” returned Rudemare; “but forms often lead us to a knowledge of the truth; and, besides, we can not ignore them without risk of nullifying our proceedings. However, there is no reason why this second question should not also be submitted to the episcopal commission.”

On January 1, Napoleon obtained from seven prelates, who had no authority whatever in the premises, a declaration that the diocesan tribunal was competent to decide his matrimonial cause. These prelates were the very same who afterward pronounced the excommunication of Bonaparte null, “because it had been launched in defence of temporal interests”; and who added to the sufferings of the august prisoner of Savona by threatening, in the name of the church of France, to provide for its necessities if he did not yield to[65] the schismatic demands of Bonaparte. They were the Cardinal Maury; the Cardinal Caselli, bishop of Parma; de Barral, archbishop of Tours; Canaveri, bishop of Vercelli; Bourlier of Evreux, Manet of Treves, and Duvoisin of Nantes. In accordance with the views of this declaration, the tribunal of Paris listened, on January 6, to the attestations, signed and sealed, of Cardinal Fesch, Talleyrand, Berthier, and Duroc, to the effect that the canonical conditions had not been observed in the religious marriage of the Emperor, and that his Majesty had intentionally arranged this neglect; for he could not dream, they said, of binding himself irrevocably in this matter at the moment when he was founding a new empire. On January 9, the tribunal heard a development of the further motive for dissolution which had been hinted in this last clause. Napoleon, the master of Europe, had been constrained in the exercise of his free will. He had not consented to the marriage. The official Peter Boisleve then delivered judgment in favor of the imperial postulant, but with the important reservation that the decision was pronounced by him because of the difficulty of recurring to the Supreme Pontiff, to whom such a case should by right have been referred. The promoter having appealed to the metropolitan “officiality,” its members confirmed the decision already given, but referred the affair for final adjudication to the primatial tribunal of Lyons. However, it was an easy matter to ignore the responsibility thus thrust[66] upon this higher court. The Archbishop of Lyons was Cardinal Fesch.

Such is the history of one of the most solemn burlesques of justice ever perpetrated by a human tribunal. An incompetent court, listening to testimony evidently false as well as interested, and ignoring the manifest suppression of what would have given another aspect to the cause, slavishly bent to the will of an autocrat, and passed over as never having occurred a marriage sanctioned by the Vicar of Christ; and, turning to the civil union which the church had never recognized, pronounced the contracting parties free to enter upon new nuptials. Had Josephine resisted the imperial will—had she performed her duty as wife and woman, and carried her case before its proper judge,—her rights would have been proclaimed, even though the brute force of her husband might have forced her to yield her place to another. But she never appealed; sure of her husband’s invincible determination to repudiate her, she perforce found consolation in an empty title and in a magnificent establishment. It has been asserted that Josephine was cognizant of reasons for preservation of silence; it has been declared that there was a real, though secret, impediment, which invalidated her union with Napoleon, and of which the Viennese court was informed during the negotiations for the hand of Maria Louisa. So say Thiers and Rohrbacher. But this impediment could not have subsisted. The existence of Eugene and Hortense, taken in con[67]junction with Josephine’s own frequent anticipations, as evidenced by her letters to her husband and her friends, forbid such a supposition.

We would remark in conclusion that the term “divorce” should not be used in treating of this case. When concubinaries are separated, they are not divorced; they are simply declared not bound to each other. Here a sycophant tribunal denied the existence of the religious marriage, and of course it could not recognize the civil union. In this state of affairs it pronounced the parties free from matrimonial obligations. A divorce properly so called—that is, the dissolution of an existing tie (quoad vinculum)—can not and never has been granted by the Catholic Church in the case of consummated Christian matrimony; and we know of no tribunal calling itself Catholic, in the Western Patriarchate, whether competent or incompetent, legitimate or illegitimate, ever having pretended to accord such a separation. As to the contrary course of the Oriental Uniates, even the judicious Perrone can only remark, “ipsi viderint.” For an instance of the inflexibility of the Holy See in this regard, even in the case of the mighty ones of the earth, the mind of Josephine had not to travel back many centuries, or to search outside the annals of her husband’s family. The case of Jerome Bonaparte and his Baltimorean Protestant spouse was of a recent date.



Few modern critics will refuse to Voltaire the title of champion historical liar of the world. He has had hundreds of competitors, and perhaps scores of them have surpassed him in barefacedly gratuitous assertion; but for a “thumping” lie, so well concocted, so attractively dressed, as to be greedily swallowed and easily digested by even the few fastidious among the mob who yearn for pungent historical titbits, the “Sage of Ferney” need fear no rival. Nearly all of his lies were exposed during his life-time or soon after;[74] but so true is his own cynical remark as to the sticking qualities of plentifully-thrown mud, that even in our day many of his inventions are unwittingly credited by thousands who know little or nothing about Voltaire himself; for, almost without exception, writers of the heterodox and freethinking schools have transmitted his fictions from generation to generation as universally admitted—nay, indisputable—facts.


“The Age of Louis XIV.” is, among all the works of Voltaire, probably the most prolific of falsehood; scarcely one of the truly great personages of that period is not covered with the cynic’s venomous slime. One is not thunderstruck when he reads the worse than insinuations as to the sincerity of Turenne’s conversion to Catholicism; but one is dazed when he beholds Fénelon, the dove of simplicity, presented to a hitherto venerating world as a probable hypocrite, a freethinker, and a philosophist. Such is the guise in which we are invited to regard the angelic Archbishop of Cambrai, when his defamer tells us that Ramsay, a pupil of our prelate, wrote to him (Voltaire) that “if Fénelon had been born in a free country, he would have displayed his whole genius, and given a full career to his own principles, never known” (sic.)[75]

Ramsay had been intimate with Fénelon, and when, despite the efforts of the best theologians of that communion, he had become convinced of the baselessness of Anglicanism, in which system he had been bred, he was saved by his friend from the shoals of incredulity, and drawn into the haven of Catholicity (1709). Such being the case, is it likely that Ramsay would have proclaimed his religious mentor as a mere time-server, a devotee of policy, a man ready to abandon his convictions for petty interest? Ramsay could not refute Voltaire’s asser[70]tion; for he had died in 1743, and the allegation was not made until 1752. It is the opinion of Chaudon that if Ramsay ever wrote the adduced letter, the quoted passage alluded, not to Fénelon’s religious principles, but to those “of the author of ‘Telemachus’ on the authority of kings.” At any rate, Ramsay’s Life of Fénelon[76] shows that, to use the words of Sainte-Beuve, Mgr. de Cambray “was not of the ordination of d’Alembert and Voltaire.”[77] Barthélemy, the latest author, we believe, to touch on this particular audacity of Voltaire, draws extensively on the work of Chaudon, who himself appeals to Ramsay’s acknowledged judgment on Fénelon, as portrayed in his detailed account of his own argumentation with that prelate. We submit to the reader’s attention a few passages of this interesting conversation, which certainly indicates none of those principles which Voltaire would attribute to Fénelon.

Having detailed certain objections concerning the Natural Law and toleration which he had adduced to the Archbishop, Ramsay gives the prelate’s reply: “If you would persist in your philosophical independence, and if you would tolerate in some sort all kinds of sects, you must necessarily regard Christianity as an imposture; for there is no medium between Deism and Catholicism.” As this seemed a paradox to Ramsay, the Archbishop explained: “In[71] renouncing all supernatural and revealed law, you must limit yourself to Natural Religion, founded on the idea of God; but if you admit a revelation, you must recognize some supreme authority ever prompt and able to interpret it. Without such established visible authority, the Christian Church would be like a republic having wise laws, but no magistrates to enforce them. What a source of confusion! Each citizen, a copy of the law in hand, disputing its meaning! . . . Has not our Sovereign Legislator provided better than this for the peace of His republic and the preservation of His law? Again, if there is no infallible authority to say to all, ‘Behold the real meaning of Holy Writ,’ how are the ignorant peasant and the untutored artisan to decide where even the most learned can not agree? In giving a written law, God would have ignored the needs of the immense majority of mankind, had He not also furnished an interpreter to spare them a task the performance of which would be impossible. You must reject the Bible as a fiction, or submit to the Church.”

Ramsay impetuously rejoined: “Monseigneur, you want me to recognize an earthly tribunal as infallible? I have gone through most of the sects, and permit me to say, with all due respect, that the priests of all religions are frequently more corrupt and more ignorant than other men.” Fénelon sweetly replied: “If we do not rise above what is human in the most numerous assemblies of the[72] Church, we shall find there only what will revolt us and nourish our incredulity; we shall see only passions, prejudices, human imbecility, political scheming, cabals. But we must the more admire the divine omnipotence and wisdom, since they accomplish their designs by means which appear apt only to frustrate those designs.” Ramsay yielded to the necessity of a living interpreter for a revealed law, but still clung to his idea of Natural Religion, and asserted that one need only to enter into one’s self to feel the truth of that religion. Fénelon inquired: “And how many men are capable of so entering into themselves as to consult pure reason? Granted that some, here and there, may enter on this purely intellectual road, the rank and file can not, and they need external aid.” But hearken to the prelate’s résumé of the fall of man and the economy of the Redemption:

“Our first parents having abused their liberty in a paradise of immortality and pleasure, God changed their probationary state for a mortal one—one of mixed good and evil,—in order that an experience of the nothingness of creatures might prompt us to constantly yearn for a better life. From that time all men were born with an inclination to evil. . . . We are born sick, but a cure is ever ready at hand. The light which enlightens every one who comes into the world is never wanting to any individual. Sovereign Wisdom has spoken differently, according to time and place; to some by the supernatural[73] law and by the miracles of the Prophets, and to others by the natural law and the wonders of creation. Every person is judged by the law he knows, and not by that he ignores. At length God himself assumed flesh like our own, that He might satisfy for sin, and to furnish us an example of the worship due Him. God can not pardon a criminal without also manifesting His horror for crime; that manifestation He owes to justice, and it can be given only by Jesus Christ. . . . The religion of this Eternal Pontiff consists of charity alone; the Sacraments, the priesthood, and ceremonies, are only aids to our weakness,—only sensible signs to nourish in ourselves and others the knowledge and love of our common Father; in fine, they are means necessary to keep us in order, in unity, and in obedience. One day these means will cease, the figures will vanish, the true temple will be opened; our bodies will arise glorious, and God will communicate eternally with His creatures. Behold the general plan of Providence; behold, so to say, the philosophy of the Bible. Suppose that its truth could not be demonstrated. Would you not wish it to be true?”

In three different places[78] Voltaire descants upon the scepticism of Fénelon, as manifested by certain[74] lines[79] written by him, says the “Sage,” toward the end of his life. Here the prelate declares that he has “arrived at old age, and foresees nothing”; therefore, concludes Voltaire, he was a sceptic. Now, it is by no means certain that these verses were composed by the Archbishop of Cambrai, although Voltaire “swears before God,” in letters to Formey and to Courtivron, that the prelate’s nephew, the Marquis de Fénelon, sang them as his uncle’s production. The Marquis could not deny this; for he had been killed at the battle of Rocoux in 1746, and the assertion was made in 1752 and 1755. Voltaire himself admits that the verses are not to be found in the published editions of Fénelon’s works, because, he says, it was not deemed desirable that the Jansenists should have an opportunity to accuse their great adversary of scepticism; but he does not indicate the libraries where may be found any of the suppressed fifty copies of “Telemaque” which, as he insists, do contain them. But since Voltaire adduces the authority of the Marquis de Fénelon, let us, with Barthélemy, quote another nephew of the Archbishop, the pious Abbé de Fénelon, the intimate companion of a great part of his life.

The Abbé seems to admit his uncle’s composition of the verses, but interprets them in a way that would[75] not please Voltaire. “An historian, a bel esprit, but not very accurate, has made it to appear that Fénelon died like a ‘philosopher,’ yielding blindly to destiny, with neither fear nor hope. He quotes in proof certain verses which he presents Monseigneur de Cambrai as repeating during his last illness; but he takes good care not to observe that these verses are part of a canticle by M. de Fénelon, treating of the simplicity of a holy and divine childlikeness, which ignores human prudence and all inquietude for the future, in order to abandon itself, without any useless and often harmless surmises, to a trust in the mercy of God and in the merits of Jesus Christ.”[80] And Lepan,[81] finding fault with Voltaire as a falsifier of other men’s literary productions, adduces these verses as an instance; showing that in this very poem, Fénelon, if its author, gave good proof of being actuated by most Christian sentiments. Voltaire shamelessly omitted to notice the stanza preceding the proffered lines, and there it is proclaimed that “human prudence is vain, that ignorance is the writer’s science, that Jesus and His simplicity are his all.”[82] In fact, the very title of this poem is[76] opposed to the “philosophy” of Voltaire: “A farewell to human wisdom in order to live like a child.”

The reader is probably familiar with Fénelon’s history, and therefore we shall spare him the particulars of the saintly prelate’s quasi-exile from the court of the great monarch. That he experienced grief because of his separation from the Duke of Burgundy—whom he had so carefully formed for the throne, and who, had death not intervened, would have proved a more than ordinarily worthy successor of St. Louis,—no one can doubt; but his regrets were not, as Voltaire would regard them, founded on a chagrin at being debarred from domination over his quondam pupil, or on a hankering after the allurements of a court; but rather on pure affection, which naturally yearns for the society of the beloved objects, and for opportunity to benefit it. Yet, our cynic says: “In his philosophical and honorable retreat, Fénelon learned how difficult it is to detach one’s self from a court. He always manifested an interest in the court, and a taste for it which betrays itself amid all his resignation.”

This charge is baseless; in not a line of the prelate’s correspondence can be found a single expression which would give even coloring to it. Ramsay says that Louis XIV., having overcome the prejudice against Fénelon with which he had been inspired, “thought seriously of recalling the Archbishop; he wished his aid in terminating an affair (Jansenism) which agitated the church of[77] his kingdom. The Archbishop of Cambrai saw matters shaping themselves for his return, but with sentiments very different from those an ordinary man would have felt. He cherished only a desire for retirement. Had he been compelled to return to the court, he would have appeared there only to manifest his views concerning the best way to give peace to the Church, and would have retired immediately on perceiving that union had been effected.”

But listen to Fénelon in reply to those who, afflicted by the prospect of schism in France, would have called on his virtue, his sweetness, and his genius, to banish the spectre. Had he been animated by a desire to play a prominent part on the stage of affairs, he would scarcely have answered: “I admit that your propositions would be more readily entertained by one possessing a taste for affairs. But my opinion of myself is not sufficiently exalted to warrant me in supposing that I can restore peace to the Church. I wish not to assume the grand rôle which you design for me; it is the Cardinal de Noailles who can give peace to the Church. I know no secrets, but I dare to assert that he can effect union when he wishes to do so; the matter is entirely in his hands. I wish for him all the glory, all the merit before God and men; and I would die content if, from a distance, I could hear of his having perfected the great work.”[83]


But there is one fact that eloquently shows how little rancor Fénelon’s dismissal must have caused in his gentle breast. When named for the archiepiscopal see of Cambrai, he could have enjoyed, in accordance with a detestable and too prevalent custom of the time, the emoluments of his see, and could have performed his duties by substitute, continuing to reside nearly always at court. He accepted his promotion, much as he loved his royal pupils, only on condition that he might reside in his diocese at least nine months of the year.[84]

Nor does the life led by Fénelon at Cambrai, as depicted by himself in a letter to one of his nephews—the Abbé de Beaumont,—indicate any discontent with his lot. His gentleness as a man, his watchfulness as a bishop, had plentiful scope in a district constantly harassed by contending armies, and all,—English, Germans, Hollanders,—rivalled his own diocesans in veneration for the saintly shepherd. His recreation, whenever duty allowed any, was a visit to the cabin of some peasant, where he would console and instruct, and often join in the simple feasts and meals of the poor. Well could he write in 1710: “I have no desire to change my situation. I never sought the court; I was forced to it. I resided there for ten years without concerning myself about it—not taking one step for my own interest, not ask[79]ing one favor, intervening in no schemes, and restricting myself to conscientious replies when my opinion was asked. I have been dismissed, and it is my duty to fill my present position in peace. The best of the King’s servants who know me are well acquainted with my principles as to honor, religion, the King, and my country; they know my profound gratitude for all the King’s favors. Other persons may easily be more capable than I am, none can be more truly zealous.”[85]




School-children are frequently told that in a time of most dense ignorance, Galileo, an Italian astronomer, discovered that the earth moves around the sun; that this doctrine was contrary to that of the Catholic Church, and that therefore the unfortunate scientist was seized by the Inquisition, thrown into a dungeon, and tortured; that finally he retracted his teaching, but that, nevertheless, even while ostensibly yielding, he muttered: “And yet the earth does move.” Very few Protestants even suspect any exaggeration in these assertions; still fewer appear to know that Galileo did not discover that the earth moves around the sun; that this doctrine was not contrary to that of the Catholic Church; that the imprisonment of Galileo was merely nominal, and that he was subjected to no torture whatever; that the famous remark “E pur si muove” is a work of imagination.

Galileo did not discover that the earth moves around the sun. The ancient Greeks certainly knew that the earth is round, that it is isolated in space, and that it moves. Aristotle and Ptolemy undertook to refute the last theory. According to Cicero, Nicetas asserted the motion of the earth. Philolaus,[81] says Eusebius, thought that the earth moved around the region of fire, in an oblique circle. Aristarchus of Samos, says Archimedes, sustained the immobility of the sun, and that the earth turned around it as around a centre. Seneca thinks it “well to inquire whether the rest of the universe moves around a stationary earth, or whether the earth moves in a stationary universe.”[86] The Irish Ferghil (Virgilius), Bishop of Salzburg in the eighth century, taught the existence of the antipodes. Dante certainly believed in the antipodes and in central attraction.[87] Copernicus himself never pretended to be the author of the system which bears his name, although to this humble Polish priest belongs the glory of having precisely formulated that system, and at a time when a knowledge of it had almost vanished from among men. Galileo needs not to be regarded as a prince among astronomers in order to merit the homage of the scientific; his greatest glory is that of a mechanician.

The heliocentric system was not contrary to the doctrine of the Catholic Church. She never has proposed and she can not propose to her children any system of merely physical science as a matter of faith. Certainly, if any system contradicts her teachings she exercises her right to condemn it. Most churchmen of the early seventeenth century,[82] quite naturally followers of the generally received scientific theories of their day, rejected the idea of a motion of the earth around the sun; but the Church did not force them to such rejection. Had such been the mind of the Church, Copernicus and his many forerunners would not have been regarded as good Catholics; and Copernicus himself would not have dedicated his “Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs” to Pope Paul III., saying: “If men who are ignorant in mathematics pretend to condemn my book, because of certain passages of Scripture which they distort to suit themselves, I despise their vain attacks.” Calcagnini, who died in 1540, would not have publicly taught at Ferrara that “the heavens stand, but the earth moves.”

But if the Church was not hostile to purely scientific innovations, Luther and Melancthon were not so liberal. In his “Table Talk” Luther says: “Men pay heed to an astrologer who contends that it is the earth that moves, and not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. If a man yearns for a reputation as a profound scientist, he should invent some new system. This madman would subvert the whole science of astronomy; but Scripture tells us that Joshua bade the sun, and not the earth, to stand still.” In his “Principles of the Science of Physics,” Melancthon says: “The eyes testify that the heavens revolve every twenty-four hours; and nevertheless some men, either from love of novelty or to parade their genius, insist that the[83] earth moves, and that the eighth sphere and the sun do not revolve. Every true believer is obliged to accept the truth as revealed by God, and to be contented with it.”

It is certain that for many years Galileo was admired and cherished by the most learned ecclesiastics of Rome; that three successive Pontiffs gave him many tokens of esteem; that he was one of the most honored members of the celebrated Academy of the Lincei. The Cardinal del Monte, writing to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, says: “During his sojourn at Rome Galileo has given much satisfaction, and I believe that he has received the same; for he has enjoyed good opportunities to exhibit his inventions, and the best-informed men of the Eternal City regard them as most wonderful and accurate. If we were living in the olden days of Rome, the worth of Galileo, I think, would be recognized by a statue on the Capitoline.”

A famous scientist, the Carmelite Foscarini, published in 1615—only a year before Galileo’s first trouble with the Inquisition—a theological apology for the philosopher and the Copernican system, which was dedicated to Fantoni, General of the Carmelites, and approved by the ecclesiastical authorities of Naples. On May 15 of the same year Mgr. Dini, a Roman prelate and an old pupil of Galileo, writes that there is no fear that the Copernican system will be condemned; and that as to Galileo himself, “he should fortify his position with arguments well-founded both in Scripture and[84] mathematics”; and that in the meantime he may be assured of the writer’s own influence with the Sacred College in his favor, and of the protection of Prince Cesi, the founder and president of the Lincei. Indeed, as late as February 16, 1616, Galileo wrote to Picchena that he found among the highest ecclesiastical dignitaries much displeasure because of “the diabolic opposition of his persecutors.”

Before approaching the main object of our article we must reply to a question which naturally occurs to one who observes that the Church of the seventeenth century was not hostile to the Copernican system, and that so many churchmen were favorable to Galileo. How happened it that Galileo found himself cited before an ecclesiastical tribunal? In accounting for this fact little weight need be attached to the sentiments and conduct of those who, in his day as at all times, appear to be tolerated by God for the trial of genius. Men who argued against the movement of the earth because the earth has no limbs, muscles, and sinews;[88] men who would decry the heliocentric system with the words, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking up to heaven?”[89]—such persons could have had no influ[85]ence upon the Roman Congregations. Nor would these tribunals have exercised their power merely because Galileo was contradicted by Tassoni, Vieta, Montaigne, Bacon, Pascal, and other great thinkers of the time.[90] The fault of Galileo consisted in his confusing revealed truths with physical discoveries, and in teaching in what sense Scripture passages were to be taken, explaining them by demonstrations of calculation and experience. Every one admits with Dante[91] that the Scriptures adopt popular ideas for the sake of perspicuity. But Galileo said that in the Scriptures “are found propositions which, taken literally, are false; that Holy Writ out of regard for the incapacity of the people, expresses itself inexactly, even when treating of solemn dogmas; that in questions concerning natural things, philosophical argument should avail more than sacred.”

These assertions unsettled all science, founded as it then was on revelation; “the earth,” says Cantù,[86] “ceased to be regarded as the largest, warmest, and most illuminated of the planetary bodies. It no longer enjoyed a pre-eminence in creation as the home of a privileged being, but became one of many in the group of unexplored planets and in no way distinguished from the others. Fearing that science was aggrandizing itself only to war on God, the timid repudiated it. Only later did the better minds understand that the faith fears no learning; that historic criticism can be independent and impartial without becoming irreligious. Then good sense estimated at their true value the accusations launched against the Church because of the affair of Galileo; it distinguished simple assertions from articles of faith, positive and necessary prohibitions from prudential and disciplinary provisions, the oracles of the Church from the deliberations of a particular tribunal. To such a tribunal a denunciation was made that Galileo or his disciples had asserted that God is an accident and not a substance, a personal being; that miracles are not miracles at all. Then the Pontiff declared that, for the termination of scandal, Galileo should be cited and admonished by the Sacred Congregation.”[92]

In endeavoring to discover what followed on Galileo’s second summons before the Inquisition (concerning his first trial in 1615 there is no question as to either imprisonment or torture), it would[87] appear to us that no better source of information can be desired than the original “Process.” But since Libri,[93] Perchappe,[94] Bertrand,[95] and others insinuate—according to what principles of criticism the reader must judge—that as this record has been nearly always in the hands of ecclesiastics, they may have destroyed evidence of their own cruelty, we will here adduce the testimony of the Tuscan Ambassador, Niccolini. This evidence ought to be acceptable to our adversaries; for the writer was an intense partisan of Galileo, and would not have hidden anything likely to excite sympathy for his hero. Add to this the fact that these dispatches are directed to Galileo’s own sovereign, himself a warm admirer of the philosopher. Galileo arrived in Rome on February 13, 1633, and under date of March 13 Niccolini writes:

“The Pope told me that he had shown to Galileo a favor never accorded to another, in allowing him to reside in my house instead of in the Holy Office. . . . His Holiness said that he could not avoid having Galileo brought to the Holy Office for the examination; and I replied that my gratitude would be doubled if he would exempt Galileo from this appearance, but he answered that he could not do[88] so. . . . He concluded with the promise to assign Galileo certain rooms which are the most convenient in the Holy Office.” On April 16 the Ambassador says: “He has a servant and every convenience. The reverend commissary assigned him the apartments of the judge of the tribunal. My own servants carry his meals from my house.” . . .

About two months later (June 18) Niccolini continues: “I have again besought for a termination of the cause of Galileo, and His Holiness replied that the affair is ended, and that Galileo will be summoned some morning of next week to the Holy Office, to hear the decision. . . . In regard to the person of Galileo, he ought to be imprisoned for some time, because he disobeyed the orders of 1616; but the Pope says that after the publication of the sentence he will consider with me as to what can be done to afflict him as little as possible.” On June 26: “Monday evening Galileo was summoned to the Holy Office, and on Tuesday morning he proceeded thither to learn what was required of him. He was detained, and on Wednesday he was taken[89] to the Minerva, before the lords-cardinals and the prelates of the Congregation, where the sentence was read, and he was forced to abjure his opinion. The sentence includes the prohibition of his book, and his condemnation to the prison of the Holy Office during the pleasure of His Holiness, because, as they declare, he disobeyed the order given him sixteen years ago in this matter.[96] But his condemnation was commuted by His Holiness to a residence in the gardens of the Trinità dei Monti.” On July 3: “His Holiness told me that although it was rather early to diminish the penance of Galileo, he had been content to allow him to reside at first in the gardens of the Grand Duke, and that now he could proceed to Sienna, there to reside in a convent or with my lord the Archbishop.”[97]

According, therefore, to Niccolini, the imprisonment of Galileo was merely nominal, and there is no mention of any infliction of torture. But let us examine further this question of torture. It is said that the Process itself furnishes an indication of the[90] infliction of torture; that in the fourth interrogatory, on June 21, torture was menaced; that in the sentence the judges declared that they had “deemed it necessary to proceed to a rigorous examination” of the accused. It is true that torture was threatened, but the menace was not executed. In a decree issued by Urban VIII. on June 16, 1633, and first published by L’Epinois, it was ordered that Galileo “should be questioned as to his intention [in publishing the ‘Dialogue’], and that he should be menaced with torture. If he does not yield to the threat, he must be made to pronounce, in full session of the Holy Office, an abjuration for strong suspicion of heresy.”

On June 21, in the fourth and last interrogatory, but without any mention of the above decree, Galileo was questioned as to his intention in the “Dialogue” in regard to the Copernican system. In reply he would only admit that, cherishing his hypothesis, and feeling proud of the arguments adduced for it before 1616, he had given in the “Dialogue” more strength to the Copernican than to the other opinion. Refusing, therefore, to avow the imputed intention, he was threatened with torture. Then he replied—with what truth let his ultra-admirers imagine: “I have not held the Copernican system since I was ordered to abandon it [seventeen years before]. But I am in your hands. Do with me what you will.” This refusal to acknowledge the imputed intention had been fore[91]seen by Pope Urban, and, as he had provided for the contingency, the tribunal did not fulfill the threat of torture, but proceeded to the act of abjuration. As for the words “rigorous examination” used in the sentence, they do not necessarily imply that torture had been inflicted; they can easily refer to the threat pronounced in the fourth interrogatory.

But, according to the code of laws binding upon the inquisitors, which are fully given in the “Directory” of Eymeric,[98] the official guide of the Holy Office, torture could not have been inflicted on Galileo. It is prescribed that when the accused denies the charges, and they have not been substantiated, and he has not yet furnished a good defence, he shall “be put to the question, in order that the truth may be reached,”—provided, however, that the consulters so advise. Now, Galileo was not obstinate; he had no inclination to become a martyr for science. In his sentence the judges say: “We deemed it necessary to proceed to a rigorous examination, and thou didst reply like a Catholic—respondisti Catholicè.” Having thus answered, he could not be tortured. It is sad to hear him uttering what his judges must have known to be a lie: “For some time before the determination of the[92] Holy Office, and before I received that command [the order of 1616], I had been indifferent as to the two opinions of Ptolemy and Copernicus, and had held that both were disputable and that both could be true in nature. But after the above mentioned determination, being assured by the prudence of my superiors, all my doubts ceased, and I held, as I now hold, the theory of Ptolemy as true,—that is, that the earth does not, and the sun does move.” If Galileo had undergone torture, he would scarcely have omitted to mention it among his many grievances, when, a few days after his departure from Rome, on July 23, he wrote from Sienna to Gioli, minister of the Grand Duke: “I address you, prompted by a desire to escape from the long weariness of a more than six months’ imprisonment, and from the trouble and affliction of mind of a whole year, coupled with many inconveniences and bodily dangers.”

And now a few words as to the authenticity of the “E pur si muove.” In the formula of abjuration, after having avowed that his “Dialogue” favors the “false” doctrine of the movement of the earth around the sun, and having admitted his violation of the prohibition of 1616, Galileo “affirms and swears, with his hand on the holy Gospels,” that “with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith he abjures, anathematizes and detests the aforesaid errors and heresies,” for which he has been justly condemned as “strongly suspected of heresy.” And he promises not only to abstain hereafter from all heretical[93] doctrine, but also to denounce all heretics to the Inquisition or to the ordinary of the locality. Motives of both personal and general interest certainly decided an act of apparent submission; but in performing it Galileo could not, without risk of destroying himself, have given himself the questionable satisfaction of a merely childish contradiction. Undoubtedly he thought that the earth moved, and probably the inquisitors knew that he so thought. But had he made the famous remark, he would not have been dismissed two days afterward.

If Galileo risked so much by the quoted ebullition at so fatally decisive a moment, how comes it that never after, either by speech or in writing, did he expressly contradict his abjuration by openly professing his system? Certainly, when writing in confidence to some intimates, he would insist upon his innocence from a religious point of view; but in all other instances his reticence was persistent. Every opportunity and temptation to break this imposed silence was presented when he wrote to Diodati, then in Paris, on July 25, 1634, complaining of the violence of his enemies toward himself and his teachings,—a violence which he would answer only by silence. Nor does he contradict his abjuration in his letter written in 1637 to King Ladislaus of Poland, whom he asks to compare his “Dialogue” with the sentence pronounced against its author, and to see if its doctrine is more pernicious than that of Luther and Calvin, as Urban VIII. was said to believe. Nor, again, does he[94] advocate his system in his letter to Pierese on February 21, 1636, in which he insists on the injustice of his condemnation. When he writes to Rinuccini on March 29, 1641, he evades a direct answer to an attempt to obtain an avowal of his real mind.


Having shown in the previous pages that the imprisonment of Galileo was merely nominal, and that no torture was inflicted upon him, we must now briefly examine the decisions of the Roman Congregations in his case, with a view to their doctrinal consequences. Protestant polemics gladly proclaim these decisions as destructive of the Catholic doctrine of Infallibility. Certain Catholic writers have enunciated views on the matter which can serve only to confirm the opinion that the Church and science are implacable foes. For instance, the Viscount de Bonald, with that severity which is generally characteristic of lay theologians, insists that the double movement of the earth has never been and never can be proved; that even to-day he who defends the Copernican system is “guilty of rashness” in contradicting the natural sense of the Scriptures; that if the old system was an illusion, the Bible favors said illusion.[99] This author would advise, therefore,[95] if he were logical, the Pope and the Roman Inquisition to revoke the decree of toleration issued in favor of the Galilean theory on September 17, 1822, and would have them condemn the many scientific ecclesiastics, like Secchi and Matignon, who “rashly oppose the natural sense” of the Scriptures.[100]

Again, there are other Catholic critics whose views, though far more moderate than those of De Bonald, are almost equally untenable. Thus it is quite common to hear that Galileo was always allowed to teach his system “as an astronomical supposition”; whereas the official documents show that our philosopher was prohibited, in 1616, to uphold “said opinion in any way whatsoever”; and that in 1633 he was punished for having disobeyed this injunction by publishing a work in which there were no interpretations of sacred texts. Among the critics of this class the most eminent are the astronomer Lalande,[101] the Abbé Berault-Bercastel,[102] Bergier,[103] and Feller,[104]—all of whom copy the Protestant Mallet du Pan, whose errors are carefully noted by Theodore Martin.[105]


Other Catholic polemics, such as Alzog[106] and Höffler,[107] hold that the Copernican system, having been advanced too soon, was dangerous to both science and religion, and that this pretended fact justifies the action of the Inquisition. But the official records evince that the new system was condemned as “false and altogether contrary to Scripture,” and not as a mere matter imprudently or prematurely advanced. Nay, more: the sentence of 1633 expressly states that even though Galileo had presented his system only as probably true, still he would have offended; for, in the words of the decree, “an opinion cannot be probable when it has been declared and defined to be contrary to Sacred Scripture.”

M. Adolphe Valson[108] contends that the Copernican proposition concerning the movement of the earth was not condemned as “heretical,” if taken by itself; and that in condemning the other Copernican[97] theory on the non-movement of the sun, the Inquisition was right, since the sun has a movement of its own. As to the first assertion, it is true that the theory of the earth’s movement was not condemned as “heretical,” but it was declared “false and altogether contrary to Scripture.” As to Valson’s second remark, there was no question of this special movement of the sun; this movement, toward the constellation of Hercules, was utterly unknown at that time; but what the Inquisition forbade Galileo to deny was the movement of the sun around the earth.

Very different from the opinions of the above critics is that of Tiraboschi,[109] who admits that vulgar prejudices caused the prohibition of 1616, and the condemnation of 1633, and declares that these decisions were pronounced by a fallible tribunal, and not by the Church. He shows that at first Galileo found his discoveries favorably received in Rome, but that the angry Peripatetics soon adopted the Bible as a weapon against him. However, being ignorant of the fact that the Preface to the condemned “Dialogue” had been written, not by Galileo, but by the examiner Riccardi, Tiraboschi accuses the scientist of bad faith. He declares that the Congregations erred because of a too great devotion to Peripateticism.


About the year 1825 Olivieri, General of the Dominicans and commissary of the Holy Office, wrote a dissertation on the affair of Galileo,[110] in which he gave a very curious apology for the Congregations. The teachings of Copernicus and Galileo, said Olivieri, were not condemned because they did not agree with the Bible, but because these two scientists upheld them with bad arguments, which, being contrary to sound philosophy, seemed therefore opposed to Scripture. If Galileo, continued Olivieri, had known the gravity of the air, and had not obstinately attributed the tides to a combination of the diurnal and annual revolutions of the earth, things would have gone differently; for the Church has ever encouraged any real progress—one which is free from errors. Olivieri also contended that the real cause of all the misfortunes of Galileo was his having provoked the “vengeance” of Urban VIII.[111][99] A decisive refutation of all these assertions has been given by Govi.[112]

From the beginning of the affair of Galileo, remarks Theodore Martin, five courses were open to the ecclesiastical authorities. The philosopher and his friends would have been satisfied if, firstly, it were acknowledged that the new system was not contrary to Catholic faith; secondly, if liberty of discussion were allowed in its regard; and, thirdly, if both the Copernicians and Peripatetics were forbidden to adduce Biblical texts in their debates. Certainly ecclesiastical tradition as well as prudence, both ever favorable to toleration in such matters, would seem to have counselled one of these three courses. Cardinal Matthew Barberini, afterward Pope Urban VIII., Cardinal Bellarmine, and other moderate Peripatetics, preferred a fourth course,—namely, to leave liberty only to the Peripatetics, and, while not deciding against the new system, to interdict it as rash and dangerous under the circumstances. In 1632 Urban VIII. adopted a[100] fifth course,—namely, to procure the condemnation of the Copernican system as false in philosophy, erroneous in theology, and contrary to Sacred Scripture.

Now arises the question: By whom was the doctrine of the movement of the earth thus condemned? Certainly, it was through the influence of Paul V. and of Urban VIII., respectively, that the decisions of 1616 and 1633 were rendered; but neither their authority as Pontiffs nor that of the Church was implicated. As men these Popes were opposed to the system of Galileo, but as Popes their names are not signed in the famous decisions. Both are published only in the name of the Congregations. This absence of the Pontifical ratification is remarked by Descartes in three letters to Mersenne, and by Gassendi.[113] The Jesuit Riccioli[114] invokes against the teachings of Galileo the authority of “the Congregations delegated by the Pope,” but he does not contend that the Pope can delegate his infallibility. The absence of the Pontifical ratification in the decisions against Galileo is noted by the Benedictine Caramuel,[115] who, after declaring that the new system is absurd, asks himself what the Church would do if, “which is impossible,” the movement of the earth were ever demonstrated. He replies that the Church would declare that “the Roman[101] Congregations, having decided without the Papal ratification, were mistaken.”

In fine, let it be remembered that neither in 1616 nor in 1633 did the supreme authority of the Church pronounce a decision concerning the Copernican system. Muratori, writing in Italy a century before the works of Galileo were removed from the Index, says that the Copernican system was condemned “not by an edict of the Supreme Pontiff, but by the Congregation of the Holy Office. . . . To-day this system is everywhere in vogue, and Catholics are not forbidden to hold it.”[116] Tiraboschi specially insists on our admiring the “Providence of God in favor of His Church; since, at a time when the majority of theologians firmly believed that the Copernican system was contrary to the Sacred Scriptures, the Church was not permitted to give a solemn decision on the matter.”[117] No Catholic will assert that the Roman Inquisition has never committed any errors; and in the case of Galileo it was the Inquisition that erred, and not the Pontiff; and even though the Pontiff had erred, the decision was not one concerning faith or morals,—one, that is, which can form the object matter of Infallibility.

“Whenever,” says Cantù, “there is opened a new scientific, or philosophical horizon, even the most elevated intellects are stricken with fright, as when America was discovered, and when steam and elec[102]tricity were first applied. What wonder if contradiction befell the Copernican system, which appeared to subvert the order not only of the physical but of the moral world; which seemed to threaten faith and morals, just as it changed the reciprocal position of the heavenly bodies? What wonder if it seemed impious and scandalous to subject man and his habitation to the same laws which regulate the other phenomena of nature? Was it not for this reason that, quite recently, Hegel denied the movement of the earth? When the Reformation had spread, and men were substituting their individual for the canonical interpretation of the Scriptures, churchmen were frightened on seeing certain verses interpreted in a new manner, and they went so far as to condemn Galileo. Nor should we forget that until Faucolt furnished it, in our own days, there was no physical proof of the movement of the earth. Faucolt gave it in the progressive deviation of the oscillating plane of a pendulum suspended from a fixed point. But no serious person will repeat the absurdities of Libri,[118] of Arduini,[119] and of similar writers, confuted by Biot,[120] Alberi, Martin, and by common-sense.”

He who would understand the great catastrophe in the life of Galileo must consult the writings of the[103] scientist, and the invaluable documents published by Alberi in his great edition of the “Works.”[121] It is not true, as Libri and, after him, many Protestants insist, that the officers of the Inquisition destroyed or secreted nearly all the papers of Galileo. All his principal works remain, and nearly all the minor ones. A few of his MSS. were destroyed by one of his grandsons, who felt some scruples about preserving any writings of one condemned by the Holy Office. Most of the important works and of the correspondence were collected by Galileo’s disciple, Viviani, who bequeathed them to a nephew, Panzanini; the heirs of this nephew sold some of them as waste-paper, but nearly all were recovered by Giambattista Nelli, whose son Clement used them and part of Viviani’s collection in his “Life of Galileo,” published in 1793. When publishing his edition of the “Works,” Alberi promised to give to the world a Life based upon documents in his hands, but he failed to do so. However, this Life would not have been complete, as there were many documents which he could not procure. Thanks to Father Theiner, Prefect of the Vatican Archives, who communicated these papers to M. Henri de l’Epinois, the world received, in 1867, much light on the affairs of the great scientist, in the valuable work of L’Epinois.[122]



As has been the case with nearly all great men, Cardinal Richelieu had his alter ego, to whom he perhaps owed much of his success and celebrity, and to whom he was certainly indebted for aid in bearing burdens such as probably have fallen to the lot of no other Minister of State. During the greater part of his official career, wherever was discerned the sheen of the great Minister’s cardinalitial red, not far off, although generally in the background, was the ashen hued tunic of Friar Joseph. “I have lost my consolation and my support,” moaned Richelieu when death laid his hand on the Capuchin.

Few historians have given much time to Friar Joseph. His constant devotion to the great Minister, his invariable connection with every political act of that prelate, gave him the designation of the Grey Cardinal—“son Eminence grise,”—and he was the red cardinal’s familiar demon. This is about all which is told us by Bazin[123] and by Henri Martin,[124] who have dwelt more on this subject than other writers. The impressive play of Bulwer is the source of the ideas that most people have concerning both Richelieu and his Capuchin secretary, and these[105] ideas are as just as would be an estimate of Joan of Arc derived from the absurd play of Schiller or the obscene poem of Voltaire. According to Bulwer, the friar-secretary was a man of low cunning—a sneak, but at the same time ambitious, and he was as ready to betray the secrets of the confessional as his master was to use them.

In a future article we shall have occasion to speak of the morality of Richelieu, but at present we would ask the reader’s attention to a brief sketch of the career of the humble Capuchin, who may well be numbered among the many celebrated statesmen that have been found in the cloister. Although less famous, because the subject of less attention, than the two Abbots Suger, than St. John Capistrano, than the Franciscans Calatagirone and Ximenes, his career must be interesting, if only because of its connection with that of the great Richelieu.

François le Clere du Tremblay was born of noble parents in 1577. From his sixteenth year he desired to become a religious, but to please his family he entered the army, and at the siege of Amiens was noticed for his bravery by the Constable de Montmorency. When his relative, M. de Mesle de Berzean, was sent as extraordinary ambassador to Elizabeth of England, the young François accompanied him, and the woes of the English Catholics and the many devastations of heresy so excited the zeal of the apostolate in his heart, that on his return to France in 1599 he joined the Capuchin branch of the Franciscan Order. He soon acquired fame as[106] a preacher and controversialist, and it was while engaged in a mission at Poitou, in 1619, that he formed his first relations with Armand du Plessis de Richelieu, then Bishop of Luçon.

Friar Joseph (for such was the name adopted by Du Tremblay in religion) soon became cognizant of the sublime genius and extraordinary administrative talent of the provincial prelate, and he drew the attention of the Queen, Marie de Medici, to his discovery. This was the starting point of Richelieu’s glorious career. But Friar Joseph had been known as a zealous churchman and as an accomplished diplomatist several years before he became connected with Richelieu. In 1615 Rome had appreciated his apostolic spirit, when, bearing letters of approbation from Louis XIII., he laid before the Holy See three grand projects—viz., the establishment of permanent missions to combat heresy in France; a new crusade against the Crescent; and the foundation of the Daughters of Calvary, a society destined to perpetual meditation on the woes of Mary at the feet of her crucified Son.[125]

Joseph’s first diplomatic achievement was the effecting of the Treaty of Loudun, in 1615, between the court and the faction of the Prince du Condé, with[107]out that schismatic clause which the Third Estate—then composed chiefly of heretics and bad Catholics—wished to insert: i. e., that the King, being sovereign in his realm, could recognize in it no superior, spiritual or temporal.[126] To compass the withdrawal of this clause, the royal Minister Villeroi sought the aid of our friar, then making his provincial visitation to the houses of his order in Poitou. The Nuncio Ubadani also added his entreaties, and Joseph, who had long ago gained the esteem of Condé, began a series of negotiations which finally succeeded; and thus was obviated a danger which threatened France with the same horrors as those experienced by England at the hands of Henry VIII. That this blessing was due to the exertions of the Capuchin Provincial, was openly acknowledged by Villeroi, who, entering Tours after the signature of the treaty, cried out to the applauding citizens: “Thank not me, but Friar Joseph!”

Marie de Medici did not forget the warm recommendation of the Bishop of Luçon proffered by the humble Capuchin. It was through her influence that Richelieu was raised to the cardinalate in 1622, and two years afterward was made Prime Minister of France. One of his first acts was to send the following letter to Friar Joseph:


As you have been the chief agent used by God in according me my present honors, I feel it a duty to inform you, before all others, that the King has hearkened to the Queen’s prayer to appoint me his Prime Minister. I also beg you to make all possible haste to come and share with me the management of affairs, some of which are of such a nature that I can confide them to no other person. Come, then, at once to receive the proof of the esteem in which you are held by the

Cardinal de Richelieu.

Joseph obeyed the summons, but as he never, amid all his occupations, forgot his duty to his Order, he prepared to journey to Rome to attend the approaching General Chapter of the Franciscans. The Cardinal Minister made no objections, but availed himself of the opportunity to entrust his secretary with the settlement of many difficulties then troubling his Italian policy, notably the question of the Valteline—a knotty dispute between the Grisons and Valtelins, principally owing to religious differences. In this controversy were involved the King of France and the House of Austria-Spain, the Duke of Savoy and the Holy See. So well did Joseph acquit himself of his difficult task that he merited the encomiums of all the disputants, and strengthened his influence for evermore with Richelieu.

We can not, of course, follow the details of Friar Joseph’s political career, but we must not omit to notice one of his most brilliant strokes of statesmanship—the reduction of La Rochelle. This bulwark of Calvinism in France, this centre of rebellion and constant menace against the integrity of French nationality, had defied the crown for two hundred[109] years. From the day of its revolt against Louis XI. in favor of his brother, the Duke of Guyenne, down to the capture of Amiens by Henry IV., devotion to France had been an unknown quantity to the Rochellois; and as soon as the latter event ceased to impress their minds, they made war on Louis XIII. Many good patriots deemed the reduction of La Rochelle impossible; many also thought that Louis would do better by aiding Mantua and Montferrat against Spain than by warring against his own subjects, rebels though they were. But Friar Joseph realized, and he forced the King, Richelieu, and the great Cardinal de Bérulle to realize, that La Rochelle was a hot-bed of discord for France, that it was a port of entry for hostile foreigners, especially for the English, whose Queen had been convinced by Blancard, the Rochellois deputy, that it was better for her to lose Ireland than to permit the surrender of La Rochelle to King Louis; that Huguenot rebellion and Protestant arrogance would continue to torment France so long as the formidable rock remained the arsenal of treason.

The celebrated siege of La Rochelle was undertaken, and Friar Joseph—present to the end—was its moving spirit: advising with the engineers whom he had employed to construct the famous dike; animating the spirits of the soldiers, and working as indefatigable as did Angoulême or Bassompierre. Of course Richelieu was also on the spot, and had been intrusted by Louis XIII. with absolute command; but so great was the part of the Capuchin[110] secretary in the siege, that after it had been brought to a successful issue, the King publicly avowed that, like Abraham, the friar had hoped against hope, that God had rewarded his faith, and that history would accord to him an equal share with the Cardinal de Bérulle of the glory attending the enterprise.

Friar Joseph has been called ambitious, and yet he constantly refused many dignities offered him. The See of Albi was tendered him in vain, as well as the projected diocese of La Rochelle. Certainly King Louis XIII. again and again named him to the Holy See (firstly in 1635) for a cardinal’s hat,[127] but we know not whether, if accorded him, he would have accepted the honor voluntarily; he always protested to Richelieu that the habit of St. Francis was the dearest thing to him on earth. In view of the prevalent idea that the friar-secretary was an unscrupulous intriguer and an associate of roysterers, it is curious to note that, according to the records of the time, he was as faithful to his monastic duties as any friar in the cloister.

We take from Barthélemy[128] a summary of our friar’s daily life at court. He arose at four, prayed for an hour, and then recited the Office as far as Sext with his constant companion, Father Ange. Then he labored at his multifarious correspondence[111] with the French agents at foreign courts, generally conducted in cipher; and this work must have been immense, for he received a duplicate of every dispatch sent to the King. At nine he gave audience to ambassadors and to the secretaries of state, conducting them, when necessary, to Richelieu. Only at midday did he celebrate Mass, the Cardinal generally assisting. After breakfast—which, like all his meals, was taken with Father Ange, and during which some pious book was always read,—audiences occupied him until four, when he finished the Office and made a meditation. From five until eight he shut himself in his library. At eight he supped or dined, and the rest of the day was spent in the cabinet of Richelieu; and probably these final hours were the most laborious of all.

Friar Joseph was sixty-one years of age when, a stroke of apoplexy warning him to prepare for death, he retired to a house of his Order in the Rue Saint-Honoré, despite the solicitations of Richelieu. But the Cardinal availed himself of an important business conference with the Cardinal de Bichi to insist on Joseph’s return. The friar acquiesced, attended the conference, but was seized the same day by a second stroke, and died three days afterward, December 18, 1638. He was buried with all the honors due to a cardinal, and was followed to the tomb by the Parliament and all that was noble in Paris. Richelieu composed the following epitaph, which was engraved on the tomb:


“In everlasting memory of the Rev. Father Joseph le Clerc, Capuchin.—Here lies one whose virtues will never be forgotten; one who, in order to bear the yoke of the Lord, abandoned in his youth parents, titles, and wealth, and lived very poor in a very poor Order. Made Provincial in that Order, he benefited the Church by his writings and his discourses. He filled many public offices, to which he was providentially called by the Most Christian King Louis, in a holy and a prudent manner; carefully serving God, his prince, and his country, with seraphic devotion and wonderful tranquillity of spirit. He observed, to the last day of his life, the entire rule to which he had dedicated himself; although, for the good of the Church, he had been dispensed from it by three successive Pontiffs. By his missions and his advice he resisted heresy in France and in England, and he sustained the courage of the Christians in the East. Amid the wealth and the allurements of the court he led a life of poverty and austerity, and before his death had been named to the cardinalate.”



“The Guard dies, it never surrenders!” Many of us, in the days of our youth, have cherished this saying; and when cold investigation proved that Cambronne gave a much less theatrical, although more military, reply to the English summons, we felt something like real grief on our disenchantment. And such has been the fate of many other wordy sparks which served to shed a deceitful light on our boyish conceptions of history. Now that we are more ready to doubt, now that we realize that the reality generally differs from the ideal, we hesitate to accept as authentic many of the verbal scintillations which some would-be historians ascribe to their heroes. Of course, the world’s greatest ones must necessarily let fall some observations which are really indicative of their rôle on the stage of life; but, alas! too many of their imputed sayings have no foundation better than the imagination of a biographer; or, at best, no better than that furnished by the theories of partisans, who have fancied that, in similar circumstances, they themselves would have so spoken.

Take, for instance, the “L’État—c’est moi” ascribed to Louis XIV. So firmly are most moderns[114] convinced that the great monarch was guilty of this arrogance, that they adduce it as a verbal picture of his entire reign; and if perchance any one doubts that the very words were uttered, they are at least accepted, in accordance with the Italian proverb, as “if not true, certainly well invented.” But did Louis XIV. ever use this phrase? Did the self-contained, dignified, and gentlemanly sovereign of then polite France descend so low as to use such language, and in circumstances and with adjuncts befitting a guard-room, perhaps, but assuredly not appropriate in the presence of a parliament? Voltaire tells us that in 1655 the seventeen-year-old King rushed into the parliament chamber, “in top-boots, and whip in hand,” and ordered the president to put an end to such assemblages.[129] But Voltaire gives no authority for this assertion, and, as has been well observed, his own age renders it improbable that he had heard of the event from an eyewitness.[130] If he did, it is strange that not one contemporary author mentions the supposed fact. The younger Lacretelle, writing in 1820 in the “Biographie Michaud” (vol. xxv), repeats the story of Voltaire, and so does Sismondi in his “History of the French” (vol. xxiv).

Henri Martin carefully notes the King’s whip and top-boots; but it is strange that so grave an author[115] should confound the “bed of justice”—a solemn session of Parliament, during which the King sat on a pile of cushions—with a piece of bedroom furniture, and that he should find fault with the royal uncouthness in going to bed with boots and spurs unremoved.[131] Then Martin informs us that Louis prohibited all self-initiated meetings of Parliament, in “four words”; that is, this author insinuates that the monarch cried, “I am the State,” when the president pleaded that the good of the country might require such meetings. Lavalée[132] and Bonnechose[133] also harp on the boots, spurs, and whip of the young King, “who could well say, ‘L’État—c’est moi;’” that is, according to these writers, if he did not use these very words, he might well have done so; “for they were the sincere expression of a belief, and even the simple expression of a fact.”

Dareste observes (“Histoire de France,” vol. v, p. 353), that the first writer to mention the whip in the hand of Louis on this occasion was the Abbé Choisy, who wrote about the year 1700; but who, admits Dareste (who believes in the boots and spurs), was by no means a reliable authority. But Barthélemy says that he read and re-read the “Memoirs” of the Abbé, published in the “Collection Petitot” (series ii, vol. lxiii), without finding any mention of the whip. As for the top-boots[116] which displeases so many, and which Voltaire puts on the King during his supposed outburst against the Parliament in April, 1655, one of the most impartial writers of modern France, A. Chéruel, draws our attention to the fact that the King was hunting when he suddenly resolved on facing his Parliament; and that, at any rate, if he had not gone in his carriage, he would necessarily have been in top-boots, for these were then the habitual foot gear of three-fourths of the population. And, after reminding us that Paris still deserved its ancient name, Lutetiæ, this author cites the commissary La-Mare, who says that “those of us who saw the commencement of the reign of his Majesty Louis XIV., remember how the streets of Paris were so muddy that it was necessary to wear top-boots.”[134]

Now, there is no good foundation for this story of whip, boots, and spurs; nor is there any at all for its adorning phrase, “I am the State.” The Duke de Noailles, who was the first to draw attention to this matter,[135] says: “Louis XIV., resolute in abolishing the political pretensions advanced by the Parliament after the Fronde, and in restricting that body to its judiciary functions, may have shown some passion in the execution of his task, but he[117] never acted in the cavalier fashion attributed to him—a fashion so little consistent with his ideas of the royal dignity, and with his respect for the great bodies of the State. He executed his design, firstly, in the session of December 22, 1665, with all the solemnity of a ‘bed of justice;’ and, secondly, without that solemnity, in the session of April 20, 1667. . . . These were the only sessions at which Louis XIV. assisted, and the ‘Journal’ of Olivier d’Ormesson, which enters into minute details of them, makes no mention of the arrogant speech which has been so much censured.” And it is to be noted that the “Journal” cited by De Noailles is most favorable to the parliamentary cause, and therefore it would not have omitted to record any arrogance on the part of the monarch.

Nothing can be more absurd than the supposition fostered by our modern doctrinaires, and almost universally accepted, that all France was submissive to the nod of Louis XIV. “When we see the royal power so extensive and so effective,” says De-Tocqueville, “we might be led to believe that all independence of spirit had disappeared with public liberty, and that the French had become used to subjection; if so, we would be greatly mistaken, for the old régime was not one of servility. Amid many institutions already prepared for absolute power, liberty survived.”[136] Louis XIV. well knew, re[118]marks De Carné,[137] “how to direct reform without unchaining revolution; and he was always influenced by the truly liberal ideas which had slowly but surely made their way from the time of St. Louis to that of Richelieu.”

No ruler has ever been so much and perhaps so extravagantly praised by the literary men of his day as Louis XIV.; but, to use the words of De Noailles, the universal hymn was sincere, and it contained many daring expressions which excluded all servility. The duties of a sovereign have seldom been more clearly enunciated than they were by Racine, in his great play of “Athalie” (act 4, scene 3), which was first presented, before the grand monarch’s whole court, in 1691; that is, at a period when he was in the very zenith of his glory, and therefore, as is presumed, at the culmination of his arrogance. The same may be said of the address of Boileau to the King, in 1669, one year after the taking of Aix-la-Chapelle; and of many sentiments in the “Characters” of La Bruyère. Let the reader examine these passages, and then decide whether it is at all probable that the monarch who permitted, nay gladly acclaimed, such sentiments, would have exclaimed: “L’État—c’est moi.”

While Louis XIV. was yet a boy, Cardinal Mazarin said of him that “he had in him the material[119] for four kings and an honest man”;[138] and if we read the “Memoirs” which the King prepared for the guidance of his heir, we shall not only find much truth in the saying of the Cardinal-Minister, but we will agree with the not too partial Sismondi when he says that “these ‘Memoirs’ give an exalted idea of the extent and accuracy of the King’s views, and show us how hard he labored to perform his duty as a ruler, and also how profound was the moral sentiment which animated him.”[139] In these “Memoirs,” remarks Barthélemy, Louis shows us the sense in which he would have used the famous phrase, if it ever could have been uttered by him. He would simply have meant to express the idea of a community of interest subsisting between king and country: “My son, we must think much more of the welfare of our subjects than of our own. It would seem that they are a part of ourselves, for they are the members of a body of which we are the head. It is only for their advantage that we should make laws for them, and our power over them should be exercised solely for their well being.  . . . The position of a king is great, noble, and flattering, when the king feels that he can fulfill all the engagements into which he has entered. . . . When the king has the State before his mind, he labors for himself: the welfare of one is the glory[120] of the other. When the State is prosperous and powerful, he who is the cause of all this is glorious, and he consequently enjoys, even more than his subjects, the agreeable side of life.”

And Henri Martin admits that in these “Memoirs,” “Louis reveals himself entirely, as he was during the first and best part of his reign. He shows great good sense, an honesty which fails only in some thorny paths of diplomacy, very religious sentiments, and ideas as clear as his views are firm. We realize that the man was truly born for empire who could write such words concerning the severe enjoyments of labor and of duty, and on the noble pleasure of governing. He seemed to thoroughly understand the obligations of the head of the State, and that the national unity was personified in himself. He feared flatterers, and tried to avoid them. The pride which sometimes manifests itself in his grave and haughty language may be accounted for by the testimony of his satisfied conscience.”[140]




Since the Church is the sole depositary and interpreter of revealed divine truth on earth, ought she not use every legitimate means to prevent the propagation of error? This is the most available argument wherewith to defend the Inquisition; and its force can be diminished only by insisting on the illegitimacy of the tribunal, and of its methods, as means to preserve the integrity of the Christian body. In the Middle Age every person who impeded the progress of religion, or who placed an obstacle in his neighbor’s path to heaven, was regarded as an enemy to society. The civil law was supposed to protect the faith as much as, if not more than, life or property. The use of force to prevent a heretic from sowing the seeds of religious dissension in a united community, seemed to be no less legitimate than resistance to a foreign invader or a domestic highwayman. Nor did this idea first manifest itself in the so-called Dark Ages: from the day when Constantine gave liberty to the Church, we hear the Fathers insisting that repression of error is a proper defence against persecution and seduction. This repression was not always exercised in the same manner: it varied according to the exigencies of[122] the public weal. We find instances of “contentious” and coercive jurisdiction enforced by the ecclesiastical authorities in the very first days of Christianity. The lying Ananias and Saphira fall dead at the imperious voice of St. Peter; an incestuous man is consigned to the vexations of the demon; St. Polycarp styles Marcion, who seeks his friendship, the first-born of Satan;[141] and St. Ignatius commends the zeal of those Corinthians who so detested heresy that they would not allow its professors to pass through their territories.[142] In the Code of Justinian we read many decrees of the early Christian emperors in defence of the integrity of the faith; Constantine issued two, Valentinian I. one, Gratian two, Theodosius I. fifteen, Valentinian II. three. Constantine pursued the Donatists with fines and confiscations,[143] and burned the books of the Arians. Theodosius banished heretics,[144] and Honorius ordered the scourging and imprisonment of Jovinian and his followers, after their condemnation by Pope Siricius.[145] St. Augustine speaks of having received from the deacon Quod Vult Deus a copy of the proceedings of an inquisition held at Carthage against certain Manicheans;[146] and he himself proceeded against the subdeacon Victorinus, a Manichean, and after a formal trial degraded him[123] and procured his banishment from Hippo.[147] St. Epiphanius gives an account of the process instituted by the Patriarch of Alexandria against Arius, which is interesting because of the close resemblance of its forms to those used by the modern Inquisition.[148] The same Saint tells us that he endeavored to discover Gnostics, and that hence “fifty were exiled, leaving the city free from their thorns.”[149] In fact, there occur, during the first centuries of Christianity, so many instances of inquisitorial action against heretics, that the Franciscan De Castro, writing at the time of the Reformation, could well say that the system “was not introduced only three hundred years ago, as Luther asserts: it originated a thousand years ago, and we may infer that it came down from apostolic times.”[150]

The Inquisition never attempted to force a profession of Christianity on infidels or Jews; in order that heresy should be punishable, it was necessary that a sufficiently instructed Christian should persevere in error, and manifest in action his opposition to the authority of the Church. St. Thomas of Aquin, asking whether infidels can be compelled to accept the faith, replies that “they are in no way to be forced to believe, for belief is from the will”;[151] and he contends that the worship of heretics is to[124] be tolerated, just as God tolerates certain evils, that man may not lose his liberty. Suarez gives as the common teaching of theologians the doctrine that “infidels who are not apostates ought not to be compelled to embrace the faith, even though they have acquired a sufficient knowledge of it.” The Council of Trent declares that “the Church judges no one who has not entered her fold by Baptism.”[152]

In the early ages of the Church the penalty of death was seldom inflicted upon heretics. The Emperor Maximus was the first Christian prince to adopt this questionable method of preserving religious unity. In 385 he put to death Priscillian, Bishop of Avila, two priests, two deacons, the poet Latronianus, and Eucrosia, a matron; and it is to be noted that the bishops who took part in this condemnation were reproved by their colleagues. Again, when the tribune Marcellinus was about to condemn certain Donatists who had shed Catholic blood, St. Augustine interceded for them; and when Honorius published a bloody law against Donatists and Jews, the same Saint wrote to the proconsul that if any death sentences were executed no ecclesiastic would ever again denounce heretics.[153] However, this holy Doctor afterward approved of the imperial rigor,[154] and in his “Retractations” he wrote: “I composed two books against the Donatists, in which I said that I did not like to see[125] secular force used to compel schismatics to communion; for I had not yet discovered how impunity adds to the audacity of evil, and how quickness of punishment helps to ameliorate.”[155] And elsewhere: “See what they do, and what they suffer. They kill souls, and suffer in their bodies; they produce eternal death, and complain of a temporal one. . . . If thou hast suffered affliction from the Catholic Church, oh, faction of Donatus! thou hast suffered like Hagar from Sarah. Return to thy mistress!”[156]

The first modern law decreeing death as penalty for heresy was promulgated by the Emperor Frederick II., who, strange to say, was himself strongly suspected of infidelity, and is lauded by our contemporary liberals as a model for anti-clericals. In 1220, at the time of his coronation, this monarch declared that he “would use the sword received by him from God against the enemies of the faith”; and he ordered that all heretics in Lombardy should be burned, or deprived of their tongues. In 1231, publishing his “Constitutions for the Kingdom of Sicily,” the same Frederick placed heresy “among other public crimes,” and ranked it as more grievous than high-treason.

It has been asserted that Pope Innocent III. founded the Inquisition; that he received the idea from St. Dominic, and that this holy man was the first inquisitor. Innocent III. certainly appointed[126] Rainer and Guy as inquisitors of the faith during the Albigensian troubles; but the Inquisition does not appear as a recognized tribunal before the pontificate of Gregory IX., and in the year 1229. As for St. Dominic, he died in 1221, and the Preaching Friars were not entrusted with the Inquisition until 1233. Again, Theodoric of Apolda tells us that the Saint opposed the Albigensians with “words, example, and miracles”; and, finally, these heretics then needed no Inquisition; they were not occult, but declaimed their errors in public. The origin of the Inquisition is found in the synod held at Toulouse in 1229, under the presidency of the Cardinal Romano di Sant’Angelo, who had accompanied the reconciled Count Raymond VII. to his restored capital, in order to see that he fulfilled his promises. The Cardinal ordained that the bishops should appoint, in each parish, a priest and two or three laymen of good standing, who would swear to “inquire for” heretics, and to make them known to the magistrates; the harborers of heretics were to be punished, and the houses in which they were voluntarily received were to be destroyed. The institution of this tribunal was certainly an improvement on the previous system; for thenceforth an inquiry was conducted by ecclesiastics, more learned and less harsh than the civil authorities. The inquisitors admonished twice before they proceeded to arrests. Whoever abjured was pardoned; frequently moral punishment only was inflicted, whereas the secular tribunals would inevitably have imposed[127] corporal chastisement. At the instance of St. Raymond of Pennafort, Pope Gregory IX. deprived the bishops of the right of inquisition, and conferred it on the friars, whose power was felt not only by every layman, but by all the clergy. When the inquisitor arrived in a town, he convoked the magistrates and caused them to swear to execute the decrees against heresy; in case of refusal, suspension from office was the lot of the recalcitrant; and if the people interfered, an interdict was launched against the place. The denunciations could not be anonymous, and a period was accorded to the accused within which to present himself at the tribunal; if he did not, he was cited. In the preparatory examination, the witnesses were heard before a notary and two ecclesiastics; if the accused appeared guilty, he was arrested, his residence was searched, and his property sequestrated.

In the “Maestruzza”—a summary on the Sacraments and Commandments, written in 1338 for the use of the inquisitors, by the Dominican Bartholomew da San Concordio—we read: “According to the civil law, soothsayers and witches should be burned; but according to the Church, they should be deprived of Communion, if their crime be notorious; if it is secret, they should receive a penance of forty days (c. 42). The inquisitors can not interfere with soothsayers and sorcerers, unless heresy is plainly to be feared. Those who relapse into heresy after having abjured it, should be delivered to the[128] secular power (c. 91).” The crime, therefore, was a civil one. The Church mitigated its punishment; for she absolved the penitent, and even tried to regain the relapse. The inquisitor had to declare that the accused was really a heretic, and therefore separated from the Church; from that moment he was a criminal before the State; and, as Cantù remarks, the State did not execute the sentences of the Inquisition, but applied the penalties established by the law.

In 1255 Pope Alexander III. established the Inquisition in France, with the consent, or rather at the request, of St. Louis; and the office of grand-inquisitor was conferred on the Dominican provincial and on the guardian of the Franciscans of Paris. According to the Bull of their institution, these inquisitors were independent of the bishops; but so displeasing was the new jurisdiction to both the ecclesiastical and civil authorities, that the friars soon found themselves adorned with a useless title.[157] In Venice the Inquisition was introduced in 1289; but it should not be confounded with the Venetian Inquisition of State, a purely political institution, founded in 1454. The Inquisition in Venice was, from its very commencement, dependent upon the[129] civil authorities; and in the sixteenth century it was prevented from undertaking any process whatever without the assistance of three senators. In English history this tribunal does not figure, although the English bishops, like all the other ordinaries of Christendom, frequently exercised inquisitorial power. In Germany it never obtained a foothold, and consequently heresy was left to the rigors of the imperial laws in those regions.

The “Supreme Roman Inquisition,” or tribunal of the “Holy Office,” was created on July 21, 1542, by a Bull, “Licet ab initio,” of Pope Paul III., and at the suggestion of Cardinal Caraffa, afterward Pope Paul IV. At Rome it was composed of Dominicans; but in some countries, of Franciscans. Paul IV. decreed that the Inquisition should hereafter depend, not from each bishop, but from this Congregation, which was authorized to judge definitively in all matters of heresy on both sides of the Alps. Sixtus V. reorganized the Holy Office, constituting twelve cardinals as its members, under the presidency of the Pontiff. It received faculties to inquire for heretics, or those suspected of heresy, and their abettors; to prosecute magicians, astrologers, etc.; also to prosecute all abusers of the Sacraments, all writers or possessors of prohibited books, all who abstained from confession or who ate[130] forbidden food, polygamists, and many other offenders. That the methods of the Holy Office were only the customary ones of the time, and by no means secret, is evident from its Code. We have the “Directory for Inquisitors,” by the Dominican Eymeric (Rome, 1587); the “Duty of the Holy Inquisition, and its Mode of Proceeding in Causes of Faith” (Cremona, 1641), by Carena Cesare; and the “Compendium of the Art of Exorcism,” by Mengius. The “Directory” was translated in 1762, by Morellet, with intent to injure the Church; but the celebrated Malesherbes said to him: “You think that you have collected extraordinary facts, unheard of proceedings. Know, then, that this jurisprudence of Eymeric and of the Inquisition is very nearly our own.”[158] From these documents we learn that the Holy Office allowed to each of the accused a “procurator,” who had full liberty to communicate with his client, and to conduct his defence; but we must admit that sometimes the inquisitors did “not allow the notaries to give copies of the Acts of the Holy Office, unless to the accused; and then without the names of the witnesses, and without any particulars which might indicate the names to the accused.”[159] How[131]ever, this now reprehensible secrecy was common to all the tribunals of those days; and the Protestant Jeremy Bentham admits that, in many cases, such secrecy may be absolutely necessary to public security.[160] The Inquisition was extended also to the Jews, not to persecute them, but to prevent them from propagating their errors, and from committing the alleged crimes against which the credulous then raged, just as to-day the credulous fume on recalling the “atrocities” of the Holy Office.[161]

There is a great diversity of opinion, even among Catholic authors, as to the severity or mildness of the Roman Inquisition. Bergier says that “no instance is known of an execution (for heresy) at Rome.” The late Archbishop Spalding, in an admirable refutation of Prescott’s allegations against the Spanish Inquisition, says that “though three hundred years have elapsed since the establishment of this court (the Holy Office), it would be difficult to point to an instance in which it ever pronounced sentence of capital punishment.” De Maistre tells us that “it is impossible to ascertain precisely at what epoch the inquisitorial tribunal first pronounced a capital condemnation. It is fully sufficient for our purpose, however, to be convinced of an incontestable fact: that it never could have acquired this[132] right until it became exclusively a royal or political institution; and that every judgment which affects life in any degree was, is, and must ever be, most conscientiously discountenanced by the Church. . . . The Inquisition never condemns to death.” But Cantù gives many instances of capital punishment awarded by the Roman Inquisition. Tiepolo, Venetian ambassador at Rome, describes an “Act of Faith” (auto da fe, atto di fede) performed in that city on September 27, 1567, when the famous Mgr. Carnesecchi, together with a friar of Belluno, having persisted in heresy, were decapitated and their bodies burned. Averardo Serristori, Florentine ambassador, writes that the sentence of Carnesecchi was pronounced by the Cardinals of Trani and of Pisa, Paceco and Gambura.[162] Cantù cites another dispatch of Tiepolo, describing an Act of May 28, 1569, when, in presence of twenty-two cardinals, four impenitents were given to the flames. In a dispatch of February 24, 1585, the Venetian resident at Rome speaks of a “publication” of seventeen inquisiti by the Holy Office in presence of many[133] Cardinals; three of the accused were condemned to the stake. In fine, although many letters of the time narrate alleged atrocities of the Holy Office which are merely founded on the exaggerations of the mob,[163] there seems to be no doubt that the Roman tribunal condemned many heretics to death. It is certain, however, that mildness was the general characteristic of the Holy Office. Cousin, in his “Mémoire on Vanini,” shows that the friends of this wretched hypocrite[164] tried to have his case transferred to the Roman Inquisition, feeling that thus he would escape capital punishment. And history furnishes many instances of criminals feigning guilt of heresy, sorcery, or similar crimes, in order to pass under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition. The case of Campanella is celebrated. His clerical comrades in the Calabrian conspiracy against the Spanish crown escaped death by pleading guilty of heresy, and being therefore consigned to the Inquisition; while he himself, after twenty-seven years of confinement, was saved by Pope Urban VIII. having insisted on his trial on the charge of sorcery.[165]

The word “inquisition,” as met in history, has three very different significations. It may mean[134] either a religious, a political, or a mixed tribunal. All bishops, as inquirers into the purity of faith in their respective dioceses, exercise a religious inquisition. The political inquisition can meet with no opposition, unless from those who decry every species of government, even such as obtains among savages; for all governments employ some sort of police. But when there is question of the mixed inquisition, such as Rome sanctioned from the beginning of the 13th century, our ears are deafened with clamor. When the Inquisition is condemned by a Catholic, contending that the Gospel of love should have prevented violent proceedings, the idea may not be utterly unreasonable; but we must remember that intolerance seems to be inseparable from profound belief. In the Middle Age faith was the very life of society, the necessary and only tie which constituted it; it is not strange, therefore, that the guardians of society proceeded to the last extremity against the violators of the faith. Such is the explanation which we tender to the Catholic who condemns the Inquisition. But when a Protestant attacks this tribunal, he betrays either ignorance and misplaced complacency in his religious predecessors, or a desire to prescribe one code of morality for his own and another for the Catholic Church.[135] Luther, according to his enthusiastic apologist, Seckendorf, would have imprisoned, banished, and despoiled all the Jews, and would even have deprived them of the Bible. Calvin banished the Carmelite apostate, Bolsec, because this unfortunate proved that the heresiarch’s doctrines made God the author of sin; and it was not Calvin’s fault that the daring man was not capitally punished as a Pelagian. The death of Servetus at the stake; the condemnation of Gentile to death, which he avoided for a time by recantation; the banishment of Ochino; the persecutions of Biandrata; and Calvin’s own book on the errors of Servetus, in which, according to the title-page, “it is taught that heretics are to be coerced by the sword,”—all these facts should cause the Protestant polemic to be less bitter in his diatribes against the Inquisition.[166] The “gentle” Melancthon hoped that some brave man would merit glory by assassinating Henry VIII., and he himself approved the execution of Servetus: “The magistracy of the republic of Geneva gave, by putting Servetus out of the way, a pious and memorable[136] example to all posterity.”[167] Beza wrote a book in defence of the thesis that “liberty of conscience is a doctrine of the devil”; and article 36 of the “Helvetic Confession” reads: “Let the magistrates draw the sword against all blasphemers, and coerce the heretics.”[168] But we do not wish, in this matter, to reprove Protestants or to excuse Catholics; we rather say with Cantù: “We seek and explain the truth; and, reflecting that persecution was peculiar to that time, as toleration is said to be peculiar to ours, and that the fury of the persecutors attests their sincerity, we lament the facts, and recur to that principle which is infallible. The Council of Trent speaks not of Inquisition or of stakes, though it pronounces anathema on the unbeliever; but whenever humanity carries out a great design, it becomes prodigal of blood.”


We now approach the subject of the Spanish Inquisition, a tribunal which is often, and wrongly, confounded with the Roman, and about which, reprehensible though it was, there are probably as[137] many popular misconceptions as upon any matter of history. The misstatements of all modern enemies of the Church concerning this tribunal are traceable either to Mme. d’Aunoy’s Hispanophobic book, or to Philip Limborch, or to John Anthony Llorente. The falsehoods of Mme. d’Aunoy and of Limborch were admirably refuted by De Vayrac,[169] and his work is one of the most valuable ever written on the subject. Hefele’s book on “Cardinal Ximenes,” etc., can not be too warmly recommended to the student. Cantù is by no means sparing of the Spanish tribunal; but the thoroughly Catholic tone of his philosophical reflections, and his evident impartiality, render an attentive study of his views on this subject more satisfactory, at least to our mind, than that of any other author.

After 780 years of combat, the Spaniards had saved their Catholicism and nationality—with them the two were thoroughly identified—from the Moors. At first the free exercise of their religion was allowed to the conquered; but after they had repeatedly revolted, and had made many attempts to procure another Mohammedan invasion from Africa, the Spanish sovereigns ordered, in 1501, that all the Moors should leave Castile and Granada, saving those who would embrace Christianity. Most of the Moors received baptism, but many secretly apostatized, while others adulterated their Christian[138] rites with Mohammedan practices. At this time the Spanish government, which for more than a century had resisted the popular demands for the banishment of the Jews, resolved to acquiesce, alleging as a reason a league of all the foes of Christianity against the freedom of Spain. All good Spaniards yearned for a means of cementing the religious and political unity of the nation; and that means seemed to be offered by the Inquisition, which had been introduced into Spain in 1480 in the following manner: The island of Sicily having been added to the Spanish dominions in 1479, the Sicilian inquisitor, De Barbaris, asked Ferdinand and Isabella for a confirmation of the right, granted by Frederick II. to the Inquisition, to appropriate a third of all the property confiscated from heretics. While urging his demand, De Barbaris advised the sovereigns to introduce the Inquisition into Spain, as a measure against the Moorish and Jewish apostates, who, even at this time, long before the decree of banishment, were numerous, and about whom every infamy was narrated. Isabella opposed the project until she was persuaded that it would further the salvation of souls; Ferdinand saw in it a means to replenish his treasury, and immediately consented. When Pope Sixtus IV. heard of Ferdinand’s action, he was so displeased that he placed the Spanish ambassador under arrest; in retaliation, Ferdinand arrested the papal envoy, and recalled all his subjects from the Roman States.


The Pontiff afterward yielded, and allowed the Inquisition to be introduced into Castile and Aragon (1480); later on, however, touched by the complaints that reached him concerning the rigor of the tribunal, he declared that the Bull of institution was surreptitious. He admonished the inquisitors, ordering them to proceed only in accord with the bishops, and not to extend their inquiries into the other provinces; he also instituted a papal judge to hear all appeals from the Spanish tribunal, and he quashed many of its indictments. Ferdinand and Isabella, as well as their successor, Charles V., constantly endeavored to elude these provisions of the Holy See; but even Llorente admits that the papal appellate judges often restored property and civil rights to those whom the Inquisition had condemned; and that they often compelled the inquisitor, to absolve the accused privately, in order to save them from legal punishment and public ignominy.

The Dominican friar Thomas de Torquemada,[170] of Valladolid, was chosen to preside over the Supreme or Royal Council of the Inquisition of Castile and Aragon, the members of which had a deliberative voice in all matters of civil law, and a consultative one in affairs of canon law. Seville, Cordova, Jaen, and Toledo had dependent tribunals; and the inquisitors, with two royal assessors, published a code[140] of procedure.[171] From this time the cloak of religion covered many acts of tyranny in Spain. The Roman Pontiffs frequently interfered; indeed as far back as the pontificate of Nicholas V. (1447-55) all distinction between new and old Christians had been condemned. Sixtus IV., Innocent VIII., and Leo X. received appeals from the decisions of the inquisitors, and reminded them of the prodigal son. Julius II. and Leo X. dispensed many from the obligation of wearing the sambenito, or penitential sack, which the tribunal imposed on all the reconciled; and these Pontiffs, in several cases, ordered the signs of reprobation to be removed from the tombs of the condemned. Leo X., in[141] spite of Charles V., excommunicated the inquisitor of Toledo in 1519. Paul III. encouraged the Neapolitans to resist Charles V. when he wished to introduce the tribunal among them; and when the learned Vives was condemned as suspected of Lutheranism, the same Pontiff declared him innocent. Mureto, the great Latinist whom the Spanish Inquisition would have sent to the stake, was called to Rome, and made a professor in the University.

Diego Deza, successor to Torquemada, persuaded the Spanish sovereigns to establish the tribunal also[142] in Granada, but Isabella insisted that it should be confined to Cordova; afterward, following the advice of Ximenes, the sovereigns bought and emancipated all Moorish slaves who would become Christians, and thus were obtained fifty thousand “new Christians.” Under Charles V. the Inquisition increased in activity, but under Philip II. it attained its greatest development. When dying, Charles V. had earnestly impressed upon the mind of his heir the necessity of preserving the tribunal; and so well did Philip fulfill his father’s desire that the power of the Inquisition became so great as to overshadow, in some respects, that of Rome. This antagonism is illustrated by the celebrated process of Carranza. Carranza was a Dominican, and had greatly distinguished himself in the Council of Trent. His merit caused him to be promoted to the see of Toledo in 1557: but his genius drew upon him the jealousy of many, and he was accused of heresy. For this reason Charles V. received him rather coldly when he approached the monarch’s death-bed to administer the last Sacraments. The accusers of Carranza insisted that after the death of the Emperor the Archbishop lifted a crucifix and exclaimed: “Behold Him who has saved us all! Everything is forgiven through his merits; there is no longer any sin.” For such expressions, as though he excluded the cooperation of man in the work of justification, he was arrested on August 22, 1559, and confined in the inquisitorial prison of Valladolid. The Holy Office had already placed on the Index his “Comments on the Christian Catechism,” although the book was[143] dedicated to Philip II., and had been approved by a commission of the Council of Trent. Pius IV., rigorous though he was, disapproved of the conduct of the Inquisition, and called the case to Rome. Philip, however, declared that the first prelate of Spain should be tried only in Spain, and the Pontiff compromised by sending a legate and two other judges to conduct the examination. But the inquisitors contrived to prolong the investigation until St. Pius V. ascended the papal throne. This Pontiff repeatedly complained to Philip that he was not kept informed of the progress of the cause; and finally, by threatening the monarch with excommunication, succeeded in having Carranza sent to Rome. This was in May, 1567, after nearly eight years of imprisonment under the Spanish inquisitors.[172]


Since the work of Llorente is generally adduced as an authority in all matters concerning the Spanish Inquisition, it is well to give some account of this famous writer. Born of a noble family of Aragon in 1756, he entered the priesthood in 1779, became vicar-general of the diocese of Calahorra in 1782, and was appointed secretary-general of the Inquisition at Madrid in 1789. From his early manhood he was a Freemason, and, of course, a “Liberal,” which term was then—as even now it sometimes is—synonymous with anti-Catholic. When Napoleon commenced his experiment of planting his own dynasty on the throne of Spain, Llorente became an enthusiastic Afrancesado, as all patriotic Spaniards styled the adherents of the Josephine administration. It has always been a favorite trick with usurpers to ransack the archives of dispossessed princes, and to publish to the world whatever might turn, or might be twisted, to the discredit of the latter. In accordance with this idea, the intruding Joseph Bonaparte in 1809 commissioned Llorente, the ex-secretary (he had been dismissed for sundry irregularities) to show up the secrets of the Inquisition, that the Spaniards might learn to love the tyranny-crushing rule of a foreigner. When the venal Afrancesado’s work appeared, it was found to be an insult to Rome, to Spain, and to the Spanish Church. Hefele proffers the following judgment on Llorente: “A prominent feature in his writings is their great bitterness toward the Church, and this sentiment impels him[145] to many inexact and even false assertions. The shallowness and inaccuracy of Llorente, as a historian, are no less evident than his hatred of the Church. In his ‘Portraits’ he informs us that Paul of Samosata embraced the heresy of Sabellius: an assertion the absurdity of which brings a smile to the face of the veriest tyro in ecclesiastical history. He also tells us that St. Justin (d. 167) wrote his works before the time of St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107 or 116); that Apollonius of Tyana was a heretic, etc. No less full of errors is his ‘History of the Inquisition.’ However, this work is valuable, inasmuch as it furnishes us with numerous extracts of original documents of the Inquisition; and they enable us to form, concerning the Spanish tribunal, a more exact judgment than one could have formed before Llorente wrote.” The Protestant Ranke says that Llorente “gave us a famous book on this subject; and if I may presume to say anything that contravenes the opinion of such a predecessor, let my excuse be that this well-informed author wrote in the interest of the Afrancesados of the Josephine administration. In that interest . . . he looks on the Inquisition as a usurpation of the spiritual over the secular authority. Nevertheless, if I am not altogether in error, it appears, even from his own facts, that the Inquisition was a royal court of judicature, although armed with ecclesiastical weapons.”

Relying implicitly on the authority of the salaried sycophant of Joseph Bonaparte, many later writers[146] regard the establishment of the Spanish Inquisition as due to the influence of the court of Rome. They assert that the severities of this tribunal were but consequences of Catholic intolerance and of the Roman mania for persecution; they depict the Inquisition in such lurid colors as to lead the reader to believe it the monster, without a rival in cruelty, among all tribunals, ancient or modern, civilized or barbarous,—Christian, Mussulman, or pagan. Llorente is a great favorite with Prescott; consequently when the latter treats of the Inquisition, many of his facts are miscolored, and not a few perverted. Now, nothing is more certain than that the Spanish tribunal was mainly a political institution. The king appointed the grand-inquisitor; he confirmed the nomination of the assessors, two of whom were always taken from the supreme council of Castile; the tribunal depended from the sovereign, who thus became master of the lives and property of his subjects;[173] the king reserved to himself a share of the funds of the Inquisition, and often the inquisitors had not enough for their expenses. The Protestant Schröck, in his “Universal History,” admits that this tribunal was secular, and wonders that the[147] Pontiff allowed it to become such. But let us hear Ranke on this matter: “In the first place, the inquisitors were royal officers. The kings appointed and dismissed them; among the various councils at their court the kings had likewise one of the Inquisition; the courts of the Inquisition, like other magistracies, were subject to royal visitation; the same men who sat in the supreme Court of Castile were often accessories of the Inquisition. To no purpose did Ximenes scruple to admit into the council of the Inquisition a layman nominated by Ferdinand the Catholic. ‘Do you not know,’ said the king, ‘that if the tribunal possesses jurisdiction, it derives it from the king?’ . . . In the second place, all the profit of the confiscations by this court accrued to the king. . . . It was even believed and asserted from the beginning that the kings had been moved to establish this tribunal more by a hankering after the wealth it confiscated than by motives of piety.  . . . Segni says that the Inquisition was invented to rob the wealthy of their property, and the powerful of their influence.[174] As Charles V. knew[148] no other means of bringing certain punishment on the bishops who had taken part in the insurrection of the Communidades,[175] he chose to have them judged by the Inquisition. . . . Under Philip it interfered in matters of trade and of the arts, of customs and marine. How much further could it go, when it pronounced it heresy to sell horses or munitions to France? . . . In spirit, and above all in tendency, it was a political institution. The Pope had an interest in thwarting it, and he did so as often as he could.”[176]

In 1812 the Spanish Cortes, having assembled to arrange a new constitution for the kingdom, appointed a committee to report on the Inquisition. This document shows that its authors were no friends of the tribunal, but it asserts that the Inquisition “was an institution demanded and established by the Spanish monarchs in difficult circumstances”; and that, furthermore, the tribunal “could decree nothing without the consent of the king.” Nay, according to the committee, “the Inquisition is a royal authority, the inquisitor is a royal agent, and all his ordinances are null and void unless they have the royal sanction. The[149] king’s power suspends and revokes at will every member of the tribunal; and the very moment royal authority would disappear, the tribunal would accompany it.” The Calvinist Limborch, who is, after Llorente, the most bitter of all polemics who have written on the Inquisition, narrates a fact which also proves that the Spanish tribunal was a local political institution. When Philip II. sought to establish it in Milan, the people revolted, declaring that “in a Christian city it would be tyranny to establish a form of Inquisition designed for Moors and Jews.” The conduct of the Neapolitans, ever averse to the introduction of the Spanish Inquisition, though they willingly received the Roman, as well as the ordinary Inquisition of their own bishops, also proves that the Spanish tribunal was regarded as a royal one. Many attempts, met by insurrection and bloodshed, had been made by the viceroys of Charles V. and Philip II. to introduce it; and in 1564, when several of the friends of Victoria Colonna and Julia Gonzaga[177] had been cited by the archiepiscopal vicar, and when two others had been beheaded, the citizens demanded of the viceroy, the Duke of Alcala, whether he intended to force the obnoxious tribunal upon them. A negative answer reassured[150] them; and a few years afterward the citizens sent deputies, “with orders to thank the illustrious Archbishop for his many demonstrations against heretics and Jews, and to request him to inform his Holiness that the entire city is well pleased with the chastisement and extirpation of such persons by the hand of our own ordinary, as is quite proper; this we have always prayed for: that the canons should be observed, and that there should be no interference of a secular court.”


We must now say a few words in conclusion upon the severity of the Spanish Inquisition. Many of the apologists of this tribunal point to the words “Mercy and Justice” emblazoned on its banner, and insist on the fact that the consignment of a culprit to the secular arm was always accompanied by a strong recommendation to mercy. There is no doubt that mercy was generally shown to the repentant, and that in their case the auto da fé consisted in the burning of the candles which they held in their hands. But we lay no stress on the recommendation to mercy; we agree with those who regard[151] this phrase as a mere form. The inquisitors well knew that their condemnation and their abandonment of the accused to the civil power was equivalent to a sentence of death; that all hope of mercy rested with themselves alone. We prefer to confine ourselves to an inquiry into the truth of the popular estimate of the cruelties of the tribunal.

The reader may rest assured that in this exhibition, with which popular prejudice has long been regaled, there is nothing behind the curtain that might further satisfy the morbid; everything that could contribute to render the scene more impressive has been artistically presented. Outside of Spain, few authors, Catholic or Protestant, have attempted to explain, still fewer to defend, the Spanish Inquisition. In France, for a long time after the days of Philip II., it was the fashion to ridicule everything pertaining to Spain. In England, commercial rivalry and religious rancor, aided by a consciousness of England’s own superior cruelty in religious persecution, caused those writers on whom moderns have relied for information to misrepresent everything emanating from his Catholic Majesty. In Germany, until very recent times, the calumnies of the first “reformers” had so firm a hold on the popular and even on the cultivated mind, that no horror narrated of a Catholic people or of a Catholic ruler appeared incredible. But even Voltaire, of course an implacable foe of the Inquisition, admits that “without doubt this justly detested tribunal has been charged with horrible excesses that it did not always commit;[152] it is foolish to clamor against the Inquisition because of doubtful facts, and still more foolish to search for lies with which to render it hateful.”[178] And hearken to the opinion of Bourgoing, Minister of the first French Republic to Spain, and, from the very nature of his associations, an opponent of the Inquisition: “I publicly avow, in order to pay homage to truth, that the Inquisition might be cited, in our days, as a model of equity.”[179] Even Limborch admits that during a very long period only fifteen men and four women were executed, and most of these for treason, witchcraft, sacrilege, or other crimes different from heresy.[180] Llorente cites an auto da fé of 1486 at Toledo, when seven hundred and fifty were condemned, but not one to capital punishment; another of nine hundred, also without a death; another where three thousand three hundred were condemned, but only twenty-seven suffered death. And we must remember that, beside heresy, the Inquisition had jurisdiction over sins against nature, solicitation in tribunale, blasphemy, robbery of churches, and even over the furnishing of contraband goods to the enemy.

Let us examine the mode of procedure adopted and constantly followed by the Spanish Inquisition. According to Simancas,[181] one of the first lawyers of the sixteenth century, no one was arrested until[153] accused by three different witnesses, each of whom swore that he was not acting in collusion with any other, and that he was not actuated by malice.[182] So careful was the tribunal to exclude malice, that both witnesses and inquisitors were subject to excommunication if they yielded to it. When the accused appeared, if he could disprove the charges, he was released; if he could not disprove them, but avowed his repentance, he was, even then, released. Even if he relapsed, and being again committed, repented, he was again released.[183] Only on the third conviction, and by three different sets of witnesses, each generally consisting of three (sometimes only two were required), the accused was finally consigned to the civil court for judgment. Much fault has been found with the Inquisition for sometimes admitting the evidence of disreputable persons, such as courtesans, etc.; but all tribunals do so to this day; and Simancas says that such testimony was received only “for what it was worth,” and that, to condemn the accused, evidence “clearer than light” was required.[184]

So far, we think, the reader will find no fault with the proceedings of the Inquisition, unless he is violently affected by the fact of the crime being a religious one, and therefore—as he may have been accustomed to think—one beyond the cognizance of a human tribunal. Let him remember, however,[154] that positive law is conventional; that “to-day different crimes are punished, but this proves only that social interests are not always the same; those of to-day have the advantage of being actual, while those of the olden time have the disadvantage of having passed away.”[185] But the reader will probably condemn the practice of torturing the convicted who would not confess their guilt. The more enlightened jurisprudence of our day recognizes the foolishness, as well as the cruelty, of such practice; but at the time of the Inquisition the custom of applying the “question”[186] at the trial of imputed criminals was universal, and had been recognized from the days of Justinian. Men seem not to have perceived its absurdity and inhumanity until a very modern period; most of the European States continued its use until the end of the last century. But there are two points concerning the use of torture by the Spanish Inquisition which are too frequently ignored. Torture was applied by the civil, not by the ecclesiastical court; and if, as we learn from Art. 18 of the code established by Torquemada, one or two ecclesiastics were always present at the question, they were there merely to witness the avowals, and not—as popular fancy has pictured them—to gloat over the agonies of their victims. Again, a[155] confession extorted by torture was of no avail to the prosecution, unless it was voluntarily confirmed three days afterward.

Concerning the number of the victims, whether by death or by exile, of the Spanish Inquisition, Balmes says that he defies England or France—the two nations who now claim to be at the head of civilization—to show, and to compare with the Spanish, their statistics on the subject of religious persecution: “We do not fear the parallel.” The Continuator of Fleury gives us a discourse of the celebrated Chancellor de l’Hôpital, who was strongly suspected of Calvinism, which indicates that in the sixteenth century the dreaded tribunal was not painted in colors so sombre as it wears at present. At the Colloquy of Poissy there was a debate on the propriety of establishing the Inquisition in France; and the Chancellor avowed that he would vote for it, “had not the evil of religious dissension already taken so deep a root in his country, and were it likely that France would secure that benefit of unity of faith which Philip had secured for Spain at the cost (during his reign) of forty-eight capital executions.” Llorente contends that, during its career of three hundred and thirty years, the Spanish tribunal put more than thirty thousand persons to death; but when we analyze his details, we find that his figures are not to be trusted. Take, for instance, the assertion that during the first year of its existence (1481) the sole tribunal of Seville burned two thousand, all of whom, he[156] says, belonged to the dioceses of Seville and Cadiz. In support of this charge he cites Mariana; but a consultation of that historian will reveal that the number of two thousand includes all the persons executed under Torquemada, and throughout his entire jurisdiction—that is, in the whole of Castile and Leon during his fifteen years of inquisitorship. After narrating how Torquemada founded inquisitorial tribunals in Castile, Aragon, Valencia, and Catalonia, Pulgar, a contemporary historian, justifies the remarks of Mariana: “These tribunals summoned all heretics to present themselves; and fifteen thousand having obeyed, they were reconciled to the Church by penance. As for those who waited for prosecution, the convicted were consigned to the secular authority, and about two thousand of them were burned at different times in various districts.”

Llorente himself shows, in another passage, that his figures concerning the victims of the year 1481 are falsified; for there he states that in that very year the new tribunal executed two hundred and ninety-eight persons. He perceived the contradiction, and tried to escape by remarking that seventeen hundred and two other victims belonged to other places than Seville—”to the surrounding districts and the diocese of Cadiz.” But the forgetful historian had already told us, and rightly, that before 1483 there was but one inquisitorial tribunal in all Andalusia, and that it was at Seville, whither the accused were sent from all parts. So[157] much for Llorente’s statistics of the first year of the Spanish Inquisition, and nearly all his other calculations are made with similar disregard for truth. Listen to the following argument: “When the number of tribunals was increased from three to eleven, the number of executions must have increased in the same proportion”; and then he builds up his figures. Must we suppose that eleven tribunals necessarily have eleven times the number of capital sentences hitherto pronounced by one?

Again, the bad faith of Llorente is plain when he says that his thirty thousand victims were all heretics,—“unfortunates, who had committed, perhaps, no other crime than that of better interpreting the Bible, and of having a faith more enlightened than that of their judges.” According to his own admission, the Spanish tribunal took cognizance of many crimes besides heresy: of sins against nature; of ecclesiastical and monastic immoralities; of blasphemy, usury, and sacrilegious theft; of all crimes connected with the employees or affairs of the tribunal; of traffic in contraband of war; and of every kind of sorcery and superstition—which last crimes, thanks to the Moors and Jews, caused more trouble in Spain than all the others produced. Finally, Hefele shows that at Nordlingen—a Protestant town of Germany, having then a population of six thousand—the Protestant authorities burned in four years (1590-94) thirty-five sorcerers. Applying these proportions to Spain, where sorcery was then at least as prevalent, there should have[158] been, in four years, fifty thousand sorcerers executed in that country; that is, twenty thousand more than Llorente assigns as victims of every kind to the Spanish Inquisition during its career of three hundred and thirty years. Let the reader reflect as to the probable proportion of heretics in Llorente’s thirty thousand victims.[187]



Among the great calumniated of history a place in the very front rank must be assigned to King Louis XI., of France. Not only has he been visited with what Macaulay would style historical decapitation, but he has been utterly travestied until he excites ridicule in schoolboy and philosopher alike. One of the most salient characteristics of this monarch was religious devotion, and it actuated itself especially in regard to the Mother of God. Protestant and freethinking writers have therefore endeavored to render his memory odious. With the exception of his contemporary Commines, all historians, down to our own day, have sinned in their treatment of Louis XI.; some have yielded to blind hatred, others being victims of ignorance or of superficiality. Claude de Seyssel, who has been justly styled the mitred valet of Louis XII., but obeyed the will of his master in decrying the reign of that master’s enemy. Peter Mathieu thought that he could best write for Henry IV. by writing against Louis XI. That writers of the calibre of Mezéray and Garnier should blindly follow the crowd is to be expected; but one is pained on seeing Bossuet compromising his great name by crediting the hideous story which will form the main object of this article. When so[160] great an aberration is encountered, no wonder that the gentle author of “Quentin Durward” should feel justified in exhibiting the enormities of Louis XI. by the light of the burning human torches at Plessis, and that Casimir Delavigne and Boucicault should have transferred the bloody shower of the scaffold of Nemours to the stage. But had Scott written his entrancing novel some years later, we doubt whether he would have represented Louis XI. mocking Tiberius and a bloody Rabelais, as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and as a superstitious driveller. For the nineteenth century, redolent of humbug as it is, has witnessed the revelation of many historical shams, and, e converso, a number of wonderful rehabilitations, among which not the least striking is that of the man of Montlhéry.

During the reign of Louis Philippe there appeared a History of Louis XI., which would have been expected, because of its solidity, rather from the pen of a Benedictine than from that of a professor of the modern University of Paris. Its author, Urban Legeay, had spent ten years in its composition; and his aim was to conduct his work just as Louis XI. presided over, nay made his monarchy,—seeing nothing but its interest; so true is it that there are often similarities between the subject and the worthy writer of a history. M. Barbey d’Aurevilly, one of the most judicious of modern critics, drawing attention lately to this unfortunately neglected work, sees in the qualities of Louis XI., one of the most sensible of men, the most sure of his own actions,[161] the “most desirous of the one thing,” an attraction “for all the faculties of this Urban Legeay, who was also sensible, who also applied himself to his task, never turning off to side-issues; and resembling Louis XI. also by that which was wanting in that great man—for the grandeur of Louis XI., equal, for him who knows how to measure it, to that of Charlemagne, seems inferior to the greatness of Charlemagne only in that which captivates the imagination at a distance—external éclat and poetry.”[188] The work of Legeay has yet to be appreciated; he was no eagle, and his style was ordinary. But the future historian of Louis XI. will find in his book the material for a successful one. It is something more than a history of Louis XI.: it is a history of the histories of the monarch, and his criticism of these confirms the judgments emitted in his own. He presents to us a Louis XI. of whom we have not even dreamt, and sets forth in all its merited grandeur a reign the glory of which could not be, after all, entirely abolished, since it left France prosperous and aggrandized; whereas monarchs like Louis XIV. and Napoleon,[162] whose greatness is not contested, left her bleeding and diminished.

To proclaim the greatness of Louis XI., in face of the universal contempt shown for him, as at least equal to that of Charlemagne, was to declare one’s fitness for a lunatic asylum; but Legeay, very unlike a modern universitarian, thought of nothing but truth. He realized that Charlemagne had to do with barbarians, whom he defeated and baptized; Louis XI. had to do with civilized lords, many of whom were as powerful as himself. The glories of Charlemagne had been prepared by Charles Martel and Pepin, and above all by the Papacy, then all-powerful and unresisted, even in whispers; Louis XI. followed immediately upon imbeciles, and was forced to contend with memories of Crécy Poitiers, Azincourt, and of the murdered Maid of Orleans. During his entire reign the great lords, no longer loyal chevaliers after the fashion of the Paladins, were allied with the English and Burgundians, and leagued in revolt against the crown; but he defeated their projects as Charlemagne never defeated his barbarians, by force of intellect. But although intellectuality was the special characteristic of the greatness of Louis XI., he did not confine his sword to its scabbard; he was a thorough soldier, and he would not have his sword forgotten when designing his statue for his tomb in Notre-Dame de Cléry. That he could be brave even to audacity is shown by the interview of Péronne. Nor was Louis XI. the monster of duplicity which history has depicted him as[163] being; Legeay proves that among the rulers of his time this sovereign was perhaps the only just one, and the only one faithful to his word. Louis XI. was every inch a king; a greater one than Louis XIV., who was more of a sultan, and more “the sun,” but, to use the words of D’Aurevilly, less a king in permanent action and incessancy of function. Charlemagne in his old age cried at the window from which he gazed on the river by which he expected the Norman ships to arrive; but when dying, Louis XI. wept not at the thought of the coming of those Valois who were worse than Normans for France, but counselled his son in regard to the evils he foresaw. Charlemagne was the Empire, Louis XI. was France. The grand monarque Louis XIV. had many mistresses, and the most costly of all, Versailles; Louis XI. had no mistress but France; he was without love, save for his state, remarked Commines, who knew him well. Legeay finds, and D’Aurevilly agrees with him, in Charlemagne, St. Louis, Louis XIV., and Napoleon, an imagination which frequently carries them away; but Louis XI. was always master of himself.

We have been led to these reflections while making some researches in reference to an almost universally credited charge against Louis XI., to the effect that the children of the Duke of Nemours were placed under the scaffold of their father, there to receive on their white robes the trickling blood of the victim. Michelet admits that the historians contemporary with Louis XI., even the most hostile, do[164] not allude to such a horror. But such silence does not prevent the champion liar of the universe, Voltaire, from accrediting the accusation. He says that “all the grace accorded to this unfortunate prince was that he might be buried in the habit of a Franciscan,—a grace which was worthy of these atrocious times, and which equalled their barbarity. But what was not usual, and was introduced by Louis XI., was the placing of the young children of the Duke under the scaffold, to be covered there with their father’s blood. . . . The unheard-of torments suffered by the princes of Nemours-Armagnac would be incredible, if they were not attested by the request presented by the unfortunate princes to the Estates, after the death of Louis XI., in 1483.”[189] And Duclos says: “The children of the culprit were placed under the scaffold, in order that the blood of their father should fall upon them.”[190] One would have expected better things of Garnier, but he says: “By a barbarity hitherto unexampled in our history, the unfortunate children of the Duke of Nemours were placed under the scaffold, that the blood of their father might flow on their heads.”[191]

Before we refute this allegation, let us consult Duclos, an historian not suspected of devotion to[165] Louis XI., in order to learn the crime, the expiation of which has furnished material to novelist and dramatist for a superlatively harrowing scene. The Duke of Nemours, in spite of the obligations binding him to Louis XI., entered into nearly all the plots against that monarch, and finally joined the faction of the Count d’Armagnac, head of his house. “Armagnac was one of those who prove that tyranny is sustained by baseness, and that legitimate power, when its possessor does not abuse it, is favorable to the happiness of the people.” The King, informed of the excesses of the Count, and suspecting him of relations with the English, entrusted the Count de Dammartin with full powers for investigation. The result was a declaration, on the part of the royal council, that the Duke of Nemours having obtained his duchy from the King, and having been loaded with favors, had been one of the chief inciters of civil war; and that having received pardon, and having sworn to serve his Majesty against all persons, he had again excited insurrection and had joined the Count d’Armagnac. Consequently Nemours was declared guilty of high-treason. But Nemours begged the intercession of Dammartin; and Louis again pardoned the rebel Duke, “on condition that if he again swerved in his fidelity he should be punished for the crimes already committed. . . . He was ungrateful, and was one of the first to declare himself in the war of the ‘Public Weal.’” He even sought the assassination of his sovereign. Finally, Louis caused his arrest; he was condemned to de[166]capitation, and executed in the Halles de Paris on August 4, 1477.

“Lie, lie bravely: something will always remain. Fling mud: some of it will stick.” Voltaire was never more fully actuated by his cynically daring axiom than when, in his anxiety to asperse the memory of Louis XI., he said that “the unheard-of torments suffered by the princes of Nemours-Armagnac would be incredible, if they were not attested by the request presented by the unfortunate princes to the Estates after the death of Louis XI., in 1483.” The request to which the Sage of Ferney alludes was presented by the lawyer Masselin, and in the time of Duclos and Garnier it was preserved in the Royal Library at Paris; these authors knew it well, and the latter made a long extract from it in the nineteenth volume of his work. Now, in the pleading of Masselin there is not a word such as Voltaire insinuates as existing, and which Duclos and Garnier implicitly recognize as existent; even the rhetorical figures employed by the interested advocate to excite sympathy for his unfortunate clients can not be twisted so as to justify the anecdote so eagerly used by the romancists. Hence it is that Henri Martin, the pet historian of modern freethinkers, whose writings are marked by error, hatred, and prejudice, in things both little and great, is compelled to reject it. “It is a fable invented by the reaction against the memory of Louis XI.”[192] And Fournier admits:[167] “the execution of Nemours was very different from that which is generally described; the frightful details, the children kneeling under the scaffold, the shocking deluge of blood, as Casimir Delavigne represents it, form a mass of melodramatic paraphernalia which must now be relegated to the ‘Crimes Célèbres.’”[193]

As to the crimes so freely ascribed to Louis XI., for which he is said to have begged pardon in advance from the saints whose leaden images he carried on his hatband, many of them are either without any historical foundation, or, when properly investigated, prove to have been not crimes, but justifiable actions on the part of a monarch. Duclos did not err on the side of devotion or in appreciation of true devotional character; but he had enough good sense to remark: “I need not allude to the monstrous alliance of cruelty and superstition which is ascribed to Louis XI. in the charge that he was wont to ask permission from the Blessed Virgin for his assassinations; those nonsensical tales merit no refutation.”[194] If there was one quality which supereminently shone in Louis XI., one which stamped him as a born ruler of men, it was that of knowing how to choose his instruments. All those whom he raised to eminent positions of trust were men of great capacity. Some, like Cardinal Balue, were traitors—for the fifteenth century, the moral[168] decadence and vital end of the Middle Age, was the period of traitors,—but he who sought only the good of France was never deceived as to their fitness for their positions. Romancists like Scott may be prodigal of sneers for Tristan l’Hermite, “the executioner.” We are not astounded when we hear the American journalist vituperate a President of the United States as an “ex-hangman,” on account of his having been a sheriff of his county. But when grave historians hold up Louis XI. to ridicule for his confidence in Tristan, they betray their own unfitness to lift the torch of investigation. This “hangman” was a brave officer, a master of artillery, a tried servant of the crown, who had subdued the men of Liege in 1457, and who, as the executor of the high justice of the King, deserved as much respect as any Minister of the Interior who is responsible for the internal order of a nation.

Much has been said of the absolutism of Louis XI., but the truth would be better consulted if we were to say that for the mixture of feudality and government by Estates, which had obtained in France since the reign of Philip the Fair, he substituted a new form of government which may be called a limited monarchy;[195] a form which is as essentially different from the absolute as from the constitutional. The limited monarchy is different[169] from the constitutional, inasmuch as in the latter the national assemblies, periodically gathered, enjoy political rights, the exercise of which gives to the nation a share in the conduct of public affairs. The limited differs from the absolute monarchy, because it respects the organic laws already issued by the various powers of the state, because it tolerates local liberties, such as provincial and municipal privileges, etc. A few of the acts of Louis XI. were violently despotic; but he cannot be said to have established a despotic monarchy, for he found in the prerogatives of parliament and in the national customs an impediment to the erection of the royal will into a supreme law. His excesses remained excesses, and not until the reign of Francis I. (1515-47) did France see the royal will become legality. During the reign of Louis XI. the progress of the Third Estate was constant, and that by the very nature of events. According as a greater number of capable men were formed in its bosom, its influence became more considerable, and the administration passed, to a great extent, into its hands. The policy of Louis XI. contributed greatly to this result: he diminished the power of the nobles, whom he did not love, and proportionably elevated the others. He augmented the liberties of the communes, and was the real King of the people.



Few of the world’s great ones have been subjected to such contrary judgments as those passed on the character of the Minister of Louis XIII. In his own day the flattery and hatred he experienced were equally blind and equally interested; many declared that he was the visible hand of Providence exalting France, while many others saw in him only an intriguer, a debauchee, and the evil genius of Europe. He was an ecclesiastic as well as a statesman; and in its criticism of churchmen the world readily verifies that saying which Lafontaine applied to the generality of its judgments. It pays but little attention to favorable truth, but eagerly credits any disparaging lie:

“L’homme est de glace aux vérités,
Il est de feu pour le mensonge.”

But upon whose authority do they rely who decry the private character of Richelieu? Chiefly on that of Henri de Loménie, Comte de Brienne, a writer who was not born at the time of the supposed events he narrates, who adduces no proofs whatever, and who, remarks the most painstaking of all Richelieu’s modern critics, probably wrote his anecdotes in the prison of St. Lazare, in which his other insane ebullitions had caused him to be[171] immured.[196] Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de Retz, the Jansenistic coadjutor of Paris, is also brought forward; but the historical authority of this too famous “Frondeur” must be regarded as nil. In his “Mémoires,” observes Sainte-Beuve, “where he speaks so candidly of himself, he continually uses such expressions as ‘theatre’ and ‘comedy;’ he regards everything simply as a play; and frequently, when speaking of the principal personages with whom he has to deal, he treats them exactly as a stage-manager would his actors. . . . He openly presents himself as an able impressario, arranging his work. . . . There are some passages in his ‘Mémoires’ where he seems to try to rival Molière rather than to combat Mazarin.”[197] In Book I. he tells us that when made coadjutor to his uncle, he “ceased to frequent the pit, and went on the stage.” When this work—which so many regard as an arsenal of weapons against Richelieu and his policy—was read by the poet J. B. Rousseau, he declared that it was “a salmagundi of good and bad, written sometimes well and sometimes miserably and very tedious. . . . I am astonished when I see a priest, an Archbishop, a Cardinal, a gentleman, a man of mature age, describing himself, as he does, as a duellist, a concubinary, and, what is worse, a deliberate hypocrite,—one who,[172] during a retreat made in the seminary, took a resolution to be wicked before God and good before the world.” In 1675 the Duke de la Rochefoucauld, in his “Maximes,” said of De Retz: “His imagination, rather than his memory, supplies him with facts.” Mme. de Sévigné, writing to her daughter concerning her correspondence with De Retz, said: “If anything foolish drops from your pen, he will be as much charmed as if it were serious.” One or two exquisite morsels of this famous authority will illustrate his honesty: “Scruples and greatness have always been incompatible.” “The crime of usurping a crown is so grand that it may pass for a virtue.” Speaking of his conspiracy against the life of Richelieu (1636), he said: “The crime appeared to me to be consecrated by grand examples, and justified and honored by great risks.” Truly did De Retz say of himself (B. I.) that he possessed “l’âme peut-être la moins ecclésiastique qui fût dans l’univers.” And let us not forget that this precious intriguer was a youthful abbé at the time, and that it is very unlikely that such secrets would have been confided to him during the lifetime of Richelieu; while if he knew of them only after the great Minister’s death, the escapades in question could not have been so “notorious” as Voltaire would have us believe. Again, De Retz himself tells us that Richelieu preserved appearances—“Il avait assez de religion pour le monde.


Griffet, in his refutation of Voltaire’s reasons for denying the authenticity of Richelieu’s “Political Testament” (addressed to Louis XIII., and a monumental proof of the Cardinal’s sincerity and wisdom), speaks of authentic records which detail the complaints concerning Richelieu often made by Louis XIII. to his confessor, F. Caussin.[198] The King blamed the Cardinal for prodigality and love of display, and was scandalized because his Eminence had procured from the Holy See a dispensation from the recitation of the Office; but not a word did his Majesty drop in derogation from the moral character of his Minister. Griffet quotes the “Mémoires” of the contemporary Montchal, Archbishop of Toulouse, who says that Richelieu “asked the Holy See for a Brief authorizing him to prosecute some dissolute bishops.” Now, is it likely that the Cardinal would have so acted if his own guilt was “notorious?” And it is to be noted that Montchal shows great hostility to Richelieu; nevertheless, he fails to remark any such inconsistency. Voltaire affected to disbelieve in the authenticity of Richelieu’s magnificent “Political Testament” to Louis XIII., because of its eloquent exhortations to virtue, “ostensibly” written by one who was “notoriously” delinquent;[199] and, notwithstanding this assertion,[174] the Sage of Ferney says elsewhere[200] that our Cardinal’s errors were “hidden weaknesses, which, in spite of all the care taken to cover them, show the littleness of greatness.” We are, therefore, justified in concluding that Richelieu was not an immoral man. But we should like to draw the attention of the reader to a point which is seldom or never noticed—his character as a bishop.

Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu was born in Paris on September 9, 1585. Like nearly all persons whose mature age showed them to be truly great, his childhood exhibited no precocity; he was an ordinarily gifted boy. His first lessons were received, under the eyes of his mother, from the Prior of St. Florent de Saumur; and at the age of twelve he was sent to the College of Navarre, then one of the most famous in Paris. Having completed the ordinary course, he entered the “Academy,” or military school. Avenel speculates as to the future of young Richelieu had he followed the[175] career for which he seemed destined. “He admired the military profession, and in certain circumstances he bore arms; he always superintended the direction of the army, its organization, its commissariat, etc. Frequently he laid aside the red cassock and donned the surcoat of the soldier; often he commanded in person; and we constantly find, in his papers, plans of battles and of fortifications designed by him. In councils of war his opinion often prevailed over that of experienced generals,—not because of any deference to his rank, but because of the conviction that his perceptions were just and his judgment solid.”[201]

However, the young cadet left the Academy when eighteen years of age, and entered the theological schools of the Sorbonne. In 1606 Henry IV. named him for the bishopric of Luçon, although he was then only a deacon; “and since the said Du Plessis,” wrote the King to d’Halincourt, his ambassador to the Holy See, “has not yet reached the age required by the canons, and since I am quite sure that his merit and ability supply this defect, you will beg his Holiness to grant the necessary dis[176]pensation; for the said Du Plessis is in every way capable of serving the Church of God.”[202] The royal request was granted, and the young abbé was consecrated at Rome on April 17, 1607, and immediately returned to the Sorbonne to take his degrees. His assiduity in study had told on his health, and he was unable to make the journey to his diocese until December, 1608. Received as was customary by the chapter and magistracy, he alluded to the Huguenots of Luçon in these words: “Many there are who differ with us in belief; I trust that we shall all be united in affection.” And while ever firm in insisting on the rights of Holy Mother Church, his entire career at Luçon showed him the defender of those of Protestants;[203] although, as he was once forced to lament to a Huguenot friend, his sentiments were seldom reciprocated.

The diocese of Luçon was one of the poorest in France, and it is interesting to read Richelieu’s own description of some of his privations. Noblesse oblige, and the new prelate, a member of one of the first families in France, was expected to make an appropriate entry into his episcopal city. But he had no carriage, and it would have been in[177]decorous to use a hired one; he therefore borrowed an equipage from a friend. On arriving at the episcopal palace, he found it uninhabitable and almost beyond repair, and he was compelled to hire apartments and buy all necessary furniture. Even the vestments of his pontifical office were wanting, and he thought himself fortunate, after a time, in procuring them in two colors. “Certainly,” he wrote to a friend, “this is the most wretched bishopric in France; but, then, you know what kind of man the Bishop is.” Richelieu could rely on little or no revenue in a diocese poor at all times, and then impoverished by war; and his own means were small, for he was a younger son. He therefore, as he said, was as poor as a monk, though without any vow of poverty; and on one occasion he was compelled by need to sell a valuable tapestry, a family heirloom. But, despite his small resources, he was a father to the poor, and did all he could to relieve their necessities.

Scarcely had he settled down in his new home when he made an episcopal visitation of the whole diocese; and he wrote to the Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld, one of the most zealous bishops of the time, that he found “ecclesiastical discipline and authority everywhere weakened.” To remedy the evil he called on the Capuchins (whom the famous Friar Joseph, the future “Grey Cardinal,” was then exciting to renewed zeal) for missions; and he immediately established, with his own money, a new seminary, saying to its president that “no[178] act of his life had afforded him so much pleasure.” The first establishment, after the mother-house, possessed by the famous Oratorians founded by De-Bérulle, was given them in his diocese by Richelieu, and he justly prided himself on this fact in his “Mémoires.” When a parish became vacant, he invariably conferred it by concursus; but if, as was often the case, some powerful laic held the right of presentation, he insisted on a proper nomination. A certain Madame de Sainte-Croix having presented an unworthy candidate, he wrote to her: “I beg you to properly regard my fulfillment of duty when I refuse to entrust to this person the care of souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. By making another selection, you will also set a good example to others who enjoy the right of presentation.”

Work was always a passion with Richelieu, and, as the documents published by Avenel prove, when he was not occupied in the public affairs of his diocese, he was engaged in the direction of souls, in settling quarrels and preventing duels, in consoling the afflicted, and in study. Those who have never regarded him in any other light than that of a courtier may smile at the idea of Richelieu the student, and yet the future Minister’s studious habits were well known to his compeers. The famous Gabriel de l’Aubespine (Albaspinæus), Bishop of Orleans, certainly a competent judge,[204][179] wrote to him on one occasion: “I have always counted much on your talent for ecclesiastical and spiritual matters; and now that you study so unintermittingly, my estimation is increased, and I feel that you would not take such pains if you were not meditating some great design.”

Even the illustrious theologian, Cardinal Duperron, admired the zeal of the Bishop of Luçon. In a letter written to Richelieu in 1610, when the prelate was but twenty-five years of age, a mutual friend said: “The Cardinal seizes every occasion to manifest his esteem for you. A certain person having praised you as eminent among young prelates, his Eminence declared that you ought not be mentioned among young prelates, for the oldest might well yield you precedence; and, for his part, he wished to set the example.” Praise from Sir Hubert is praise indeed.

During his seven years’ charge at Luçon, Richelieu made several trips to Paris; but on all these occasions he kept his episcopal position ever in mind, and frequently he preached in the principal pulpits of the capital. Aubery, who drew his information from the family of Richelieu, says that the King and Queen often attended these sermons, and that “they nearly always declared that no preacher ever made more impression on their hearts.” The sermons of Cardinal Richelieu have not come down to us, but we must suppose that, whatever may have been his merits as a poet and playwright, they were good ones. He certainly[180] possessed, remarks a judicious critic,[205] the chief requisites of a fine preacher—force of logic, elevation of thought, and energy of expression.

The assiduity displayed by Richelieu in his studies while Bishop of Luçon was the more admirable because much of the time left him by the cares of his diocese had to be given to an extensive correspondence with many Roman cardinals and with the Papal Nuncio at Paris. Again—and this fact is worthy of note by those who believe him to have been a debauchee,—from his twenty-third year until his death in 1642, Richelieu was nearly always in physical pain. The first letter (1605) published by Avenel shows him in a painful convalescence after a long illness; and so on through the entire series we find him generally a victim to bodily suffering; his last attack continued more than a year.

Richelieu resigned his diocese in 1616 to become Prime Minister of France; and he himself, toward the close of his life, well epitomized his later career when he said to the King: “I promised your Majesty that I would use all my ability, and all the power you would give me, to crush the Huguenot party, to lay low the pride of the nobles, to force all your subjects to do their duty, and to cause foreign nations to properly respect your Majesty’s name; and to effect these ends I insisted that I[181] should have your entire confidence.”[206] Concerning this better known portion of the life of Richelieu, we would merely remark that few French historians have avoided either blind hatred or blind praise in treating of it; and foreigners, especially Englishmen and Germans, can not allude to it with equanimity; for, as Malherbe said in 1627, “the space between the Rhine and the Pyrenees appeared to Richelieu as a field too small for the lilies of France; he wanted them to wave on both shores of the Mediterranean, and wished their odor to be wafted even to the farthest Orient.”

From the “Mémoires” of Richelieu, published in the collection of Petitot (Series II., vol. x), Paris, 1823, we take the following particulars of the Cardinal’s daily life while Minister: He retired at eleven o’clock, and, having slept three or four hours, called for his dispatches, and then wrote or dictated the replies. At six he slept again, and at eight arose. After prayers his secretaries came for instructions; then he received the Ministers of State until eleven. At midday he heard Mass, celebrated by Friar Joseph. Then he took a short walk, giving audience to special and important parties. Then he lunched—fourteen covers being laid at his own table, thirty for invited guests at another, and a larger number at a third for his pages and the officers of his household. After lunch he conversed for a couple of hours with his[182] familiars and with literary men, and the remainder of the day he worked at affairs of state. In the early evening he took a walk, meanwhile again giving audiences. The evening hours were passed with music, reading, or general talk, as the Cardinal thought that sleep was better wooed by previous conversation of a character neither sad nor rollicking. He seldom said Mass, but he confessed every week, receiving Holy Communion from his chaplain.

We may not dwell on the great Cardinal’s career as statesman, but we close our article with a picture of his final hours as man.[207] When it became evident that Richelieu had but a short time to live, the King paid him a farewell visit, and was thus addressed by the dying man: “Sire, in taking farewell of your Majesty I have the consolation of knowing that I leave your kingdom in a more glorious condition, and with a greater reputation than it ever hitherto enjoyed. All your enemies are humiliated. Only one reward for all my services do I ask from your Majesty, and that is your good-will and protection for my nephews; and I give them my blessing only on condition that they are ever your faithful subjects.” He[183] then conjured his physician to tell him frankly how long he might expect to live, and hearing that in twenty-four hours he would be dead or well, he demanded Extreme Unction. When the parish priest of Saint-Eustache, approaching with the holy oils, remarked that his high ecclesiastical rank dispensed him from answering the customary questions, Richelieu insisted on being treated “like an ordinary Christian.” The priest then recited the principal articles of faith, and asked him if he believed in them all. “Absolutely,” he replied; “and would that I had a thousand lives to give for the faith and the Church!”—“Do you forgive all your enemies?” asked the priest. “With all my heart,” he answered; “and I call God to witness that I have ever intended only the good of religion and of the State.” Being requested to pray to God for his recovery, he protested: “God forbid! I pray only to do his will.” In a few hours the King heard of his bereavement, and exclaimed: “The enemies of France will not profit by the death of Richelieu. I shall go on with all he has begun.”



History has involved the characters of some persons in an obscurity as impenetrable to our inspection as that mask with which the famous prisoner of Pignerol and the Bastile was made to hide his identity from not only his contemporaries, but, it would seem, from all future investigators. One of these subjects is Louis XIII. But critics have succeeded in showing at least whom the iron mask did not conceal, though they have failed in determining whom it did; and just so we of the present—provided, of course, that we wish to see—can unmask the countenance of Louis XIII., and regard him, not as the puppet of Richelieu, not as a mere non-entity among kings, but as a monarch worthy of serious consideration.

Louis XIII. had the misfortune of being born between two consummately great sovereigns: he was the son of Henry IV. and the father of Louis XIV.; and we are tempted to discern, in all the grandeur of his reign, either a continuation of the work of the Bearnais or a preparation for the glories of the grand monarque. At most, we echo the mass of historians, and regard him as a Roi Fainéant, dropped out of the eighth century, obeying a red-cassocked Master of the Palace with all the nonchalance of a true Merovingian—albeit, not lolling in an oxen [185]drawn car; for his warlike qualities are never denied. Again, while Henry IV., in comparison with Sully, can hold his own in our estimation, the personality of Louis XIII. is nearly obliterated by that of Richelieu; and we forget that just as we think no less of Sully because of the greatness of Henry IV., so the greatness of Richelieu should not lessen that of Louis XIII.; for in the case of each pair the two chief constituents of true greatness were allies, not rivals. Henry IV. was a man of genius, Sully one of common-sense; Louis XIII. possessed common-sense, Richelieu genius.

Louis XIII. has been well styled the Just, and he would have merited the title had he been known for nothing else than his steadfast confidence in his Cardinal-Minister. But his contemporaries inform us that the monarch chafed under the yoke of the great statesman whom he could not but admire. We are told that he both envied and feared him, without whom, to use the words of Mme. de Motteville (the first to affirm this aversion), “he could not live, nor with him.” La Rochefoucauld, another contemporary, says that the King “bore the yoke impatiently”; and that “he hated Richelieu,” though “he never ceased to bend to the Cardinal’s will.” Montglat is illogical enough to insist that although Louis, after the death of his minister, assured the mourning relatives that he could never forget the prelate’s great services, nevertheless “he was very[186] glad to be rid of him.”[208] Omer Talon tells us that “master and valet worried each other to death.” Pontis makes of Louis a man without gratitude; for he describes the King as coolly remarking, when he heard of the Cardinal’s demise, “A great politician has gone”;[209] and nearly all writers from Pontis to Bulwer have consecrated the phrase as an illustration of the King’s real appreciation of Richelieu. Bazin goes so far as to proclaim that Louis XIII. entertained no friendship whatever for the Cardinal.[210] Guizot would have us believe that “Louis experienced an instinctive repugnance for his Minister, and he never showed more than a reasonable fidelity toward a servant whom he did not love.”

Well, if Louis XIII. felt all the jealousy for Richelieu that these authors discern, if he was merely what most small-minded men are in the face of the great, then he exercised a magnanimity toward his bête noir which ought to excite our veneration. By keeping power in the hands of one who dwarfed him, when by a word he could have relegated him into obscurity; by sacrificing his jealousy to the glory of France, he gained a victory over self such as we may seldom find in the annals of monarchy. But alas! this picture is imaginary. Louis XIII. was simply the friend of Richelieu.


In 1875 M. Marius Topin published two hundred and fifty-eight letters of Louis XIII. to Richelieu, which he had dug out of the archives of the Foreign Office at Paris, that immense sleeping chamber of history. These letters are authentic in style, orthography, and signature; and they completely destroy the common idea concerning the relations of Louis with his great Minister, while they furnish a view of the King’s character which differs much from that obtained, for instance, from the impressive drama of Bulwer. They show us that Louis never ceased to love the Cardinal, or to confide entirely in him. Every line manifests the fact that, while their minds were of very unequal calibre, they were equally devoted to the welfare of their country. And what was the secret, demands M. Topin, by which Richelieu ever preserved the full confidence of his sovereign? He never acted but for the good of the State, and he never kept the King in ignorance of his projects. This is proved also by the seven enormous volumes of the Cardinal’s letters, published by Avenel.

The most ambitious and able intriguer could scarcely hope to supplant Richelieu in the heart of him who was informed of every project immediately on its conception. When separated far from each other, even though, as was generally the case, the Cardinal enjoyed unlimited powers, couriers were constantly bearing from Richelieu to the King detailed accounts of the public business. And we[188] notice that generally it was Louis who formed the decisive resolution, even though the genius of his Minister may have prepared the royal mind for such action. In fact, many reports of the Cardinal bear marginal notes which indicate that Louis frequently resolved on a course diametrically opposite to that advised by the former. When the King was not with the army, he assisted at every meeting of his council, and clearly asserted his will.

“Richelieu,” says Topin, after having carefully examined these letters of both Cardinal and King, “while charging himself with the execution of the royal will, of course gave to it the imprint of his own strength; and hence he appeared as its originator to the governors, intendants, generals, ambassadors, etc., to whom he communicated his development of the royal opinion. Doubtless the salient trait of the royal policy were the Cardinal’s own insinuation, and it was nearly always his genius which discerned the means most adapted to secure the end in view. But for persistence in following the path once chosen, for firmness and energy in maintaining their common system, we must place Louis XIII. alongside his Eminence.”

It might interest the reader were we to quote extensively from the correspondence so fortunately rescued from oblivion by the researches of M. Topin, but our space confines us to one letter. In 1626 the French court was divided as to the feasibility of a marriage which had been projected by Henry IV.[189] between Gaston d’Orléans, the brother of Louis, and Mlle. de Montpensier. Richelieu and the King favored this union, while the Cardinal’s foes persuaded Gaston that his own treacherous ambition would be better advanced by an alliance with some foreign princess. As a coup de main, Richelieu tendered his resignation, whereupon Louis wrote thus: “My cousin,[211] I have read your reasons for seeking repose. I desire your comfort and health more than even you can desire them, provided that you find them in the guidance of my affairs. Since you have been with me all has gone well, under the divine blessing, and I have full confidence in you. Never have I been served so well as by you. Therefore I beg of you not to retire. . . . Be assured that I shall protect you against all persons whomsoever.” Nor was his promise mere empty words; Louis XIII. could enforce respect to his will. “It is enough that it is I who wish it,” he once said to the Cardinal, when making a similar promise. We shall give another instance of the King’s solicitous affection for Richelieu.

The war for the Mantuan succession, begun in 1629, was at its height when the King was seized by a dangerous illness. During the crisis of the malady all the anxiety of Louis was for his Minister. The enemies of Richelieu, headed by the queen-mother, Marie dei Medici, were making every effort[190] to unseat him; but Louis was indomitably faithful to the interest which he felt to be that of France. On the decisive day of his illness he sent for the Duke of Montmorency and said to him: “I have two favors to ask of you. One is that you continue to show your wonted interest in the State; the other, that for love of me you love the Cardinal Richelieu.”[212] And the affection of Louis XIII. for his Minister survived the life of its object. Witness the following letter written by the monarch on the day after the Cardinal’s death (1642), and compare the impression produced by it to that conveyed concerning the shallowness of Louis by the drama of Bulwer.

“M. the Marquis de Fontenay: As everyone knows the signal services rendered me by my cousin the Cardinal-Duke de Richelieu, and the many advantages which, by God’s blessing, I have obtained through his counsels, no one can doubt that I grieve as I ought for the loss of so good and faithful a Minister. But I wish the world to know, by means of my own testimony on every possible occasion, how dear his memory is to me. . . . I have resolved to retain in office all the persons who have served me under the administration of my cousin the Cardinal de Richelieu, and to call to my assistance my cousin the Cardinal Mazarin, who has given me so many proofs of his capacity and fidelity[191] on the many occasions when I have employed him,—proofs of a devotion as great as though he had been born my subject. . . . You will communicate all the foregoing to our Holy Father the Pope, that he may know that the affairs of this kingdom will continue in the same course they have so long followed.”

And this devotion to the memory of Richelieu was proved not only by the appointment of Mazarin, whom he had desired as a successor, but was evinced by Louis XIII. when death called upon him. When he found that his life was drawing to a close, he actuated the design of Richelieu, by appointing the Queen, Anne of Austria, regent indeed of the kingdom, but with Mazarin as guide, that the policy of the great Minister might continue in force.

Besides the letters of Louis XIII. to Richelieu, the French archives disgorged, a few years ago, another important historical monument which administrative imbecility had hitherto hidden from the student. M. Paul Faugères, like a Benedictine in miniature, disinterred from the dust of centuries and published an unedited work of the Duke de Saint-Simon, nothing less than a “Comparison between the First Three Bourbon Kings.” Saint-Simon was seventy-two years old when he began this work; age had somewhat mollified the irritated passions of the “great disdained” of Louis XIV., but had not lessened the talent of probably the most accomplished delineator who ever came to the[192] aid of history. He had not been personally acquainted with Louis XIII., as he was with the more glorified son; but his own father, who owed everything to the former monarch, had imbued his young mind with sentiments of ardent admiration for one whom he rightly regarded as pre-eminent among the misunderstood of history.

Saint-Simon saw Henry IV. and Louis XIV. resplendent with a glory which was undeniable, even in the face of hatred, while Louis XIII. was almost effaced by the proximity of his father and his son. To draw his own father’s benefactor forth from an unmerited obscurity became the ambition of the great portrayer; and they who have been accustomed to recur to his “Memoirs” for most of their knowledge of the period in which he lived, have now the opportunity of contemplating a restored Louis XIII.,—a figure, strange to say, even more resplendent than those which have hitherto attracted exclusive admiration. A contemporary critic of great acumen, M. Barbey d’Aurevilly, is enthusiastic in his praise of the manner in which Saint-Simon fulfilled his task:

“The part of genius in history is to discover. In history, where nothing is created (for otherwise it would not be history); in history, where the imagination has the right only to depict, but not to invent, as it may in many other spheres of human activity,—genius can only play the part of a superior faculty in discovering, in men and things as they were, new but real points of view until then[193] unknown and even unsuspected. The more of these points of view that are discovered, the greater is the genius. It is this power of genius, equal in history to the power of creation in the other domains of thought, which shines in all its fullness and strength in this parallel of the first three Bourbon kings, as it is styled by Saint-Simon, in his special and singular language. In this long comparison he speaks admirably of the two whom we knew; but he has discovered the third, of whom we knew nothing, at least in his complete and sublime entireness. . . . The violent and irritated soul of this man baffled in his ambition, of this ‘despised one’ of Louis XIV., this soul whose rage may have produced its genius, promised itself, as a supreme duty and a last satisfaction, to some day narrate that life of Louis XIII. which he knew from his father, and to compare it with those of the two glorified kings between whom his favorite had been buried in insignificance. Such was to be the swan’s song of that man who was anything rather than a swan; who was rather an eagle,—the cruel eagle of history, which in his ‘Memoirs’ he so often lacerated.

“And this tardy justice, rendered to the memory of a man who had disappeared behind the intersecting rays of his father’s and his son’s glory, produces two novelties. It gives us a Louis XIII., we must admit, greater than the man who caused him to be forgotten; and a Saint-Simon whose genius attains its fullness in an emotion of the heart, and who reaches, for the first time, to the divine in[194] tenderness. . . . Of course the crushing club of Hercules, used of old in the ‘Memoirs,’ falls as furiously as ever on all that Saint-Simon hates; but it is rather for their qualities than their faults that he compares the three kings whom he judges; and it is his serene manner of comparison which endows his book with an imposing sweetness of impartiality. . . “[213]

After a study of the parallel by Saint-Simon and of the correspondence unearthed by M. Topin, one finds that our pleasing dramatist, Bulwer, is guilty of gross injustice to the moral character of Louis XIII. The whole underplot of his play, some of its most impressive situations, and many of its most elevated sentiments, turn on the supposed libertinism of the monarch. Now, he was pre-eminently a chaste man; so much so that he excited ridicule in a court too often the resort of mauvais sujets. One of the chief reasons for the extravagant admiration felt for Henry IV. by Frenchmen is the fact that he was a lady’s man, the vert galant. A people overgiven to gallantry and raillery may admire the virtue of a St. Louis or a St. Edward the Confessor—a virtue which is the development of religious heroism in conflict with passion—but they will scarcely respect mere frigidity of temperament, which, according to common report, was the source of the virtue of Louis XIII.

Behold, then, one reason for the relegation of this monarch to obscurity. As the idea is expressed by[195] Aurevilly, Louis XIV. could say to La Vallière, like Hamlet to Ophelia, “Get thee to a nunnery”; but it was when too late. Louis XIII. might have said so to Mlle. La Fayette, but before the catastrophe. As for the assertions concerning the morality of Louis XIII., they are perverse even unto indecency; but at most they assign to Louis accomplices who are very uncertain.

We have shown that we are not obliged to accept our view of the character of Louis XIII., or of his relations with Richelieu, from the olden historians or from modern romancists and playwrights. To obtain a view of Louis it is not necessary to peer over the shoulders of his Minister. Richelieu did not absorb in his own the very personality of his sovereign, but rather, to use his own language, was the most passionately devoted of subjects and servants. In fine, Richelieu existed as Minister only by the will of Louis; and it is to the glory of that monarch that he never dismissed him whom a recalcitrant and jealous nobility, a cowardly and treacherous brother, and an unscrupulous and soulless mother, united in opposing even to the death. Each was the complement of the other; and the reign of Louis XIII. may well be called that of Richelieu, the ministry of Richelieu that of Louis XIII.

The death of this so long misunderstood monarch occurred on May 14, 1643, and it was one befitting a sovereign whose devotion to Our Lady had caused him to institute as the national feast of France the[196] festival of her glorious Assumption.[214] The great Protestant jurisconsult, Grotius, then Swedish ambassador to the French court, wrote of the edifying scene: “I do not believe that we can find an instance of any king—nay, of any Christian—disposing himself for death with greater piety.” Well may Cardinal Mazarin have written, during the King’s illness, to the Cardinal-Archbishop of Lyons, a brother of the great Minister, his predecessor:

“I would be wanting in gratitude were I wanting in sadness. The beautiful and wonderful circumstances attending the King’s illness increase this sentiment, although in some sense they lessen it; and I can not contemplate them without a kind of pleasure, seeing as I do that they must add to his glory. Nor can I behold them without a fuller realization of the extent of our imminent loss. In fact, it is impossible to imagine a greater force of soul in so much weakness of body than his Majesty has shown. No one in his condition could have arranged his affairs more clearly or more judiciously. No one could regard death more calmly, or show more resignation to the will of God. In a word, if Providence has decreed that this malady shall take the King from us, we shall be able to say that no career was ever more Christianly, more charitably or more bravely fulfilled.”



That Torquato Tasso was insane during a long period of his life, and that he was subjected to restraint, although with all due consideration, is evident from his own letters. But that he was a victim of unfortunate love and of princely tyranny, and imprisoned in the ordinary sense of the term, is untrue.[215] Credulous and perhaps sympathetic travellers yet continue to fee the lachrymose cicerone who shows them the Ferrarese dungeon, in which the poet is said to have alternately raved and languished. Byron, Lamartine, and many other romanticists—sincere and affected,—have fixed their autographs on the walls of the cell, in sign of fraternal commiseration. The municipal authorities, with a prudent desire to add to the attractions of their city, yet allowed the inscription “Entrance to the Prison of Torquato Tasso” to entice the open-mouthed tourist of average calibre. Nevertheless, the confinement of Tasso was scarcely more of an imprisonment than that of Galileo, and one can account for the obstinate hold of the tradition only[198] in the words of the poet—that man is ice for truth, but fire for lies.[216]

None of the educated inhabitants of Ferrara believe the aforesaid prison to have been occupied by Tasso during his confinement in their city. How would it have been possible, they ask, for a man of gigantic stature, such as Tasso was, to have dwelt for several years in quarters so restricted, and yet to have been able to engage successfully in literary labor? The dungeon in question is only six feet high, and yet it is certain that during his restraint the poet revised his great work, and composed, among others, his several philosophical Dialogues. Madame de Staël, so given to commiserating illustrious misfortune, remarks Barthélemy, did not credit the story. Goethe, says Ampère,[217] made many careful researches on this subject, and concluded that the alleged dungeon of the poet is not authentic. Again, none of the important personages, notably Scipio Gonzaga, who visited Tasso in his time of trouble, allude to any physical inconvenience entailed or aggravated by the condition of his domicile. As to the poet’s treatment by his custodians, it could not have been very severe, since his only important complaint was that he did[199] “not have sufficient fine sugar for the morrow’s salad”; and that his nightcaps were less elegant and dainty than those he had hitherto worn.[218]

At the age of twenty-two Tasso was received into the magnificent court of Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, to whose brother, the Cardinal Louis, he had already dedicated his “Rinaldo.” He soon rose to great favor. The Duke appointed him to the chair of geometry in the University, and entrusted him with the continuation of the “History of the House of Este,” begun by the famous Pigna, his late secretary. It is said that he was beloved by Eleonora, the Duke’s sister. “Is it possible,” asks Cantù, “that envy should not pursue him, and therefore also calumny? More than alive to his own merits, he fancied that the lackeys insulted him, and that he was opposed in his affections. Mistrust became habitual to him. He imagined that his letters were intercepted and that his desk was rifled. Scipio Gonzaga holds reunions of his friends, and he suspects that they meet in order to ridicule his poetry; he distrusts Count Tassoni, who welcomes him to Modena; he doubts the sincerity of Cardinal dei Medici, who offers him protection if the Duke should ever abandon him. The servants laugh at his absurdities, while the courtiers take pleasure in compassionating one whose genius mor[200]tifies themselves. Then he cuffs them all, even uses his dagger, and bursts into tirades against the Duke.”[219]

Convinced of the poet’s insanity, Alfonso placed him under medical care, and forbade him to write. But Tasso imagined all sorts of dangers, and fled in disguise to Naples, then to Venice, Padua,[220] and other places. Finally worse befell him. Some time before he had applied to the Inquisitor at Bologna, and accused himself of doubts concerning the Incarnation; and the reply had been: “Sick man, go in peace.” Now he again felt these scruples, and having once more applied to the Holy Office, was dismissed with encouragement. But the unfortunate continued to be a burden to himself and his friends; and at length the Duke, regarding his reason as irretrievably lost, consigned him to the Hospital of St Anna, in March, 1579.

Few men have talked more about themselves than Tasso; but he does not reveal the real secret of his troubles, although he plainly admits that[201] he was at one time crazy. Writing on December 25, 1581, to Cattaneo, he says: “One of my letters has disappeared, and I think that a goblin has taken it; . . . and this is one of the wonders that I have seen in this hospital. . . . But amid all these terrors I have seen in the air the image of the glorious Virgin with her Son in her arms. . . . And although these may be fancies—for I am a lunatic, and am troubled nearly always by infinite melancholy and by various phantasms,—by the grace of God I yield no consent to these things. . . . If I mistake not, my lunacy was caused about three years ago, by certain sweets I had eaten. . . . My disease is so strange that it might deceive a physician, and hence I deem it the work of a magician; and it would be a mercy to take me from this place, in which enchanters are allowed to exercise such power over me. . . . I must tell you something more about this goblin. The little thief has stolen from me I know not how much money. . . . He upsets my books, opens my boxes, and steals my keys.”

The unfortunate tried many remedies. Endeavoring to discover why he was so “persecuted,” he examines every accusation which could, rightly or wrongly, be brought against him, and then he turns to God and excuses himself for infidelity. “Both within and without I am infected with the vices of the flesh and the darkness of the world; and I have thought of Thee in the same way in which I used to think of the ideas of Plato or of[202] the atoms of Democritus, and such like matters of the philosophers, which are rather creatures of their fancy than of Thy hands. . . . I have doubted whether Thou didst create the world, or whether it was independent of Thee from all eternity; whether Thou hast given to man an immortal soul, and whether Thou didst descend to earth in order to put on our humanity. . . . And yet it pained me to doubt, and I would have compelled my intellect to believe of Thee what our Holy Church believes. . . . I confessed and communicated as Thy Roman Church commands. . . . and I consoled myself with the belief that Thou wouldst pardon the unbelief of those whose deficiency was not encouraged by obstinacy or malignity. . . . Thou knowest how I have ever abhorred the name of Lutheran or heretic as a pestiferous thing.”

It was while he was thus afflicted that Tasso received a shock which none but an author can appreciate. He was just about to revise and give the finishing touches to his “Jerusalem Delivered” when he learned that the poem had appeared in Venice (1580), and that it was by no means what he had intended it should be ere it should be given to the public. The negligence of a friend had permitted a speculator to obtain an original draft of the work; and now the world was criticising, as by the author of the admired “Rinaldo,” a poem filled with merely tentative and temporary expressions, and distorted, perhaps, by innumerable lacunæ. To make the mat[203]ter worse, the presses of all Italy and of France soon multiplied editions of this imperfect publication; for the impatience to read anything new by Tasso was universal. The famous Academy of the Crusca, which then, as for a long time since, exercised an almost tyrannical influence in literary matters, and which, Cantù somewhat bitterly says, “like all Acadamies, availed itself of the dead, who inspire no jealousy to mortify the living,” was very severe on the new poem. This and other criticisms, especially one by Leonardo Salviati, of course irritated the unsettled mind of Tasso; but a visit to Marfisia d’Este, Princess of Massa, which the Duke allowed him to make during the summer, greatly restored him.

Manfredi, another famous poet, visited Tasso in 1583, and submitted for his judgment his own tragedy of “Semiramis.” He found the invalid in fair mental condition. Many other persons of note also visited our poet, among whom the most acceptable appears to have been the Benedictine lyric writer, Angelo Grillo, who returned again and again to pass entire days with his friend. Meanwhile all Europe was compassionating Tasso’s misfortune; from all quarters he received verbal encouragement, and in many instances substantial tokens of sympathy in the shape of valuable presents. Many believed that freedom would contribute to his restoration more than confinement; and hence we find requests to Duke Alfonso from Popes Gregory XIII. and Six[204]tus V., from the Cardinal Albert of Austria, the Emperor Rudolph, the Grand-Duke of Tuscany and his consort, the Duke of Urbino, the Duchess of Mantua, and the municipality of Bergamo, for his release. On July 6, 1586, Alfonso delivered him to the care of the Prince of Mantua, and he was once again a free man. Cardinal di Gonzaga gave him hospitality in his own palace at Rome, and the Pope assigned him a yearly revenue of two hundred golden scudi. Genoa invited him to explain Aristotle in her University, assigning him four hundred scudi as regular salary, and as much more in perquisites. But nothing could induce Tasso to lead a regular life: he wandered here and there, until finally he sought an asylum in the hospital of the Bergamaschi in Rome. Often he suffered from want of ready money, and frequent were his applications to the pawnshops.[221]

In 1594 our poet learned that Pope Clement VIII., at the instance of his nephew, the Cardinal Aldobrandini, had decreed him the honors of a triumph at the Capitol. “They are preparing my coffin,” he replied; but as no poet would dream of declining the laureate, he set out for the Eternal City. On the way from Naples, where he had been[205] residing for some time, he stopped three days with his beloved Benedictines of Montecasino. “If misfortune come to you,” said the abbot, “come to us. This monastery is used to giving hospitality to the unhappy.” Tasso answered: “I go to Rome to be crowned laureate on the Capitol, taking as companions of my triumph sickness and poverty. However, I go willingly; for I love the Eternal City as the centre of the faith. My refuge has always been the Church,—the Church, my mother, more tender than any mother.”

Arriving at the gates of the Catholic metropolis, Tasso found an immense multitude—prelates, nobles, knights, and citizens—waiting to salute him and to escort him to the Vatican. The Cardinal Aldobrandini took him in his own carriage to the palace, where the Pontiff welcomed him, saying, “We are about to confer upon you the crown of laurel, which you will honor, whereas hitherto it has honored those who have worn it.” His reception over, his cardinal protector would have taken Tasso to his own palace to wait for the coronation ceremonies; but the poet felt that his end was drawing near, and begged to be allowed to lodge in the Hieronymite convent of Sant’Onofrio on the Janiculum.

In this home of peace, and often reposing under the branches of the oak which, only a few days before,[222] had sheltered St. Philip Neri and his class of little Romans, the wearied genius hearkened to[206] the gentle Hieronymites as they prepared him for his last journey. Toward the end he wrote to a friend: “The world has so far conquered as to lead me, a beggar, to the grave; whereas I had thought to have had some profit from that glory which, in spite of those who wish it not, will attend my writings.” He made a holy death, in his fifty-second year, on April 25, 1595. During his magnificent funeral ceremonies, which were attended by the entire pontifical court, the laurel crown was placed on his brow. The monument which Cardinal Aldobrandini had designed to erect over the remains of his protégé was, for some reason, never undertaken; but Cardinal Bevilacqua, of Ferrara, disinterred them, and placed them in a small mausoleum in Sant’Onofrio. Afterward the late Pontiff, Pius IX., at his private expense, erected a magnificent monument, and placed the remains therein (1857), in a beautifully renovated chapel of the same church.



To the average mind the history of Venice is a bloody and lurid melodrama. Dungeons under the canals, cells exposed to the fury of an almost torrid sun, hidden doors ever menacing an egress of spies and assassins, virtue and valor ever succumbing to dagger or to poison; and all these under the ægis of a Government proclaiming itself Christian and popular.

Such is the picture arising before him who reads the current tales of Venice, or who gazes on a stage representation of Venetian story. Until the nineteenth century had dawned, this idea of Venice was mainly one of English and Protestant creation. Heretical hatred and commercial rivalry had combined to foster prejudice against that Catholic republic, which had been for centuries the wealthiest among the great states of Europe. But with our century came the necessity, on the part of France, of justifying a great national crime. Fair Venice lay a corpse at the feet of the French revolutionary tiger, and it was but natural that her murderers should insist that she had merited her fate. Behold, then, French writers of serious calibre heaping obloquy on the memory of the Queen of the Adriatic! Of course German authors swelled the chorus, for a German power had profited by the crime[208] of France; and a trade in peoples had to be justified, if nothing else would do it, by the supposed vileness of the bartered. Nearly universal, therefore, has been the cry against Venetian cruelty, dishonesty, tyranny, and malignant cunning.

One of the most noted illustrations of the mysteries of Venice is the drama of “Angelo,” by M. Victor Hugo. The poet had used the poison and daggers of the Ten, the secret passages, loathsome dungeons, etc., to the utmost; and certain critics ventured to challenge the probability of his mise en scène. In one of the notes of his published drama, Hugo appealed to the authority of Count Daru, the historian of the First Empire, and to the “Statutes of the State Inquisition”[223] of Venice, furnished by that[209] writer. We give a synopsis of these statutes, which, according to Daru, bear the date of June 12, 1454:

In the sixteenth it is decreed that when the tribunal deems it necessary to put any one to death, the execution must not be public; the condemned must, if possible, be drowned in the Canal of the Orphans (Canal Orfano). The twenty-eighth establishes that if any Venetian noble reveals that he has been corruptly approached by a foreign ambassador, he shall be authorized to enter into the proposed relations; when the affair has culminated, the intermediary agent is to be drowned, providing, however, that he be not the ambassador himself or some person generally known. The fortieth provides for the institution of spies, not only in the capital, but in all the principal cities of the republic. These agents will report in person to the tribunal, twice a year, as to the conduct of the officers in their respective districts. In a supplement to the statutes, provision is made to the effect that any one who so talks as to promise public disturbance, shall be warned; if he continues the practice, he may be drowned. The twenty-eighth provision is for ridding the state of any prisoner whom it may be impolitic to punish openly. A jailer is to feign to sympathize with him, and, having previously administered to him a slow and untraceable poison, he must allow the victim to escape.


Daru tells us that he found these statutes, hitherto unknown,[224] in the Royal Library of Paris. They were bound in a quarto volume, together with another work which bore the title, “Opinion of Father Paul, Servite, Councillor of State, as to the best manner of governing the Venetian Republic, both as to internal and external affairs, that it may enjoy perpetual prosperity.” The Servite priest was no other than Paul Sarpi, the celebrated adversary of the Holy See whenever its temporal claims came into collision with the pretensions of Venice; and Daru, who was naturally of the opinion that Sarpi was to be revered as an authority, gladly embraced the idea that the juxtaposition of the statutes, in one volume, with the advice on Venetian government, was a proof that the Servite had also published the statutes.

We would be willing to accept the authority of Sarpi in this matter, but we are forced to yield to the arguments which show that he was the author of neither one of the works enclosed in Daru’s treasure-trove.[225] But, granting the value of Sarpi in the premises, there are several good reasons for rejecting these statutes as unauthentic. In the first place, how is it that no investigator has ever found[211] any allusion to these provisions in any document of an age anterior to Daru’s manuscript? According to the very constitution of the Venetian Government, such measures could not have been decreed without the sanction of the Great Council, and after having passed through all the formalities of registration in the archives of the Ten. And no search has yet discovered them.

Again, the alleged statutes are full of errors such as no Venetian jurisconsult of the fifteenth century could have committed. Thus, at that period all the judicial and official documents of the republic were drawn up in Latin, whereas these alleged statutes are couched in the Venetian dialect, which did not come into vogue until a century afterward. Again, these decrees are pronounced in the name of the “State Inquisitors,” a title not given to these magistrates before 1610. Finally, in these ordinances the Inquisitors assert jurisdiction over the prisoners in the Piombi, whereas these apartments were not used as prisons until 1594. These statutes, therefore, are apocryphal; and, so far as they are the foundation of the accusations against Venice, we must banish from our minds all the pictures which have been designed to represent the Venetian legislature as a congregation of demons, rather than an assembly of grave and reverend lords.

How do the calumniators of Venice wish us to account for the internal peace which reigned in[212] the republic for so many centuries? We find no rebellions either at home or in the colonies; and this in spite of frequent famines, plagues, wars, and excommunications. Had such a cancer as the foes of Venice suppose existed, and in the very heart of the nation, devouring by degrees every vestige of liberty and destroying all sense of security, would the republic have remained so uniformly contented and prosperous? It was in 1468, fifteen years after the supposed statutes had been put in force, that the illustrious Cardinal Bessarion, Patriarch of Constantinople, when presenting his valuable library to the republic, thus expressed himself: “What country offers one so sure a refuge as yours, governed by equity, integrity, and wisdom? Here virtue, moderation, gravity, justice and good faith have fixed their abode. Here power, even though great and extensive, is as just as gentle. Here the wise govern, the good command the perverse, and particular interests are ever sacrificed to the general welfare.”

Such reflections as these caused Valery (one of the most noted of French travellers, and better acquainted with Italy than most foreigners are) to write in 1838: “I have abandoned my prejudices concerning the Venetian Inquisitors, and I did so with great satisfaction; for it is refreshing to find at least fewer oppressors in history. It is to be regretted that an enlightened historian like Daru should have believed in the pretended statutes of[213] the ‘State Inquisition,’ which he found in manuscript in the Royal Library, and which are regarded by all educated Venetians as apocryphal and as fabricated by an ignorant enemy of the republic. The State Inquisitors were guardians of the laws, and silent tribunes dear to the people. The Inquisitors defended the people against the excesses of aristocratic power.”[226]

It has been remarked that modern Venetians seem to have no fear of any thorough investigations into the early history of their country. They rather court it, as is evidenced by the zeal with which they began, immediately after the close of the Austrian domination, to publish the most important treasures of their hitherto impenetrable archives. Among these is a collection of documents referring to the history of the palace of the doge. It contains the minutes of the sittings of the Council of Ten from 1254 to 1600; and we can not find in it the least trace of, for instance, the drownings said to have been decreed in the alleged statutes. As well look for indication of some burning at the stake in Venice—in that country which, alone among all European lands, never witnessed that horror. As to the name of the Canal Orfano, in which so many victims of a wicked statecraft are said to have been remorselessly drowned, that designation is not necessarily derived from the fact of so many[214] orphans having been made in it by order of the Inquisitors; for modern Venetians believe that this canal was so called centuries before the State Inquisition came into existence.

Much has been said about the convenient opportunity afforded to malignity by the provision of a receptacle for anonymous denunciations to the Inquisitors. Certainly there was no more connection between this “Lion’s Mouth” and tyranny, than there is between tyranny and the P. O. boxes hanging from our lamp-posts. And as to the anonymous letters addressed to the Inquisitors, a law of 1387 decreed that they should be immediately burned. And when, toward the end of the sixteenth century, such demonstrations were sometimes admitted, no proceedings could be taken against the accused without a vote of four-fifths of the Council. And it is to be noted that the precautions taken against false testimony and false accusations were greater in Venice than in any other land.

It has been said that the main reservoir was so situated in the precincts of the ducal palace that the authorities could at once quell a rebellion by shutting off the supply of water. But besides the two magnificent reservoirs in the palace court, there were many others in other places, and nearly every private house had its own well or cistern. Documents as old as 1303 speak of a board of magistrates similar to our aqueduct commissioners, whose first duty was to see that every new house was supplied with a well.


And now a word on the Piombi, those cells of alleged torture in the uppermost story of the ducal palace, immediately under the leaden roof. It will be interesting to quote the testimony of Daniel Manin, the patriotic dictator during the Venetian revolution of 1848, concerning these supposed inventions of human malignity. A Parisian critic having occasion to review a work which bemoaned the “mysteries of Venice,” and dilated pitifully on the “Bridge of Sighs,” on the “horrible Piombi,” etc., he showed his article to the patriot. Having read it, Manin thus addressed him: “Can it be possible that you, an educated and serious man, believe these nonsensical yarns? Do you still credit the tales of your nursery days? I know these Piombi and these Pozzi; I have been confined therein, and I can assure you that they are by no means uncomfortable lodgings. Believe me when I say that all this talk about the cruelties of Venice is an old wife’s tale.”

Then Manin showed his astonished friend how the Most Serene Republic could not have survived so gloriously for so many centuries had its government not been indulgent and popular.[227] In fact, to this day the Venetians preserve an affectionate remembrance of that government; and hence it was that they so gladly proclaimed and sustained their republic of 1848, whereas elsewhere the Italian movement was merely the work of a revolutionary[216] faction. These Piombi could not have been glaciers in winter and furnaces in summer, when Howard, the great English prison reformer, avowed their healthfulness.[228] Again, it is not true that they were located immediately under the roof of the palace. Ruskin carefully measured the space between the prison cells and the roof, and he found it was in some places nine metres high, and in others never less than five.[229]

Twelve years before the fall of the Venetian Republic the celebrated astronomer Lalande said of the State Inquisitors: “They are distinguished more for their wisdom than for talent. They are chosen from among men whose age guarantees freedom from passion and from the dangers of prejudice or of corruption. Rarely indeed is there any abuse of the absolute powers confided to them.”[230] The reader will remember that this praise comes from a “philosopher.” The eminent historian Botta says: “Venice was without serious trouble for many centuries. She was the object of attack for the most powerful nations—the Turks, the Germans, and the French. She was in the road of barbarous conquerors, and in the midst of revolutions of the[217] peoples. Yet she came safe and sound from every political tempest; and such was the perfection of her ancient laws, so deep had struck the roots given them by time, that she never needed to change their character. It is my firm conviction that there has never existed a wiser government than that of Venice, whether we consider its own preservation or the happiness of its subjects. For this reason Venice never had any dangerous factions in her bosom, and for the same reason she never entertained any fear of new ideas. . . . I do not know whether pity or indignation should be felt for those who declaim so fiercely against the Inquisition of Venice, and who affect to regard the existence of that tribunal as a justification for the death inflicted on the ancient and sacred republic.”[231]

The chief reason for the hostility displayed by so many moderns toward the memory of the Venetian Republic is the fact that it was pre-eminently “clerical,” as it is the “liberal” fashion nowadays to style everything not positively hostile to the Catholic Church. According to the clamorous philosophists of the liberal school, “clericalism” is a scoffing at reason, a denial of the sun’s light, a cursing of liberty, an exaltation of despotism, a subordination of all civil power to a theocracy, an ignoring of all the conquests of modern science, a trampling on human dignity; in fine—and this sums up all the iniquities of “clericalism”—it is a return to the Cimmerian[218] darkness of the Middle Age. Melancholy indeed to a radical is the spectacle furnished by a capital city panting under the incubus of two hundred churches, thirty religious establishments for men, thirty-five nunneries, and confraternities innumerable. And, sadder still to relate, every one of these monuments of Venetian religious devotion owed its origin to some vow in recognition of a favor obtained from God.

Well did the republic merit the title of Very Christian, given to it by Pope Honorius in the seventh century, the third of its existence. Thirty-nine times in the year the capital beheld the doge and senate proceeding in full state, gran gala, to some church,[232] in accordance with some vow made on an occasion of peril to the state. Foreign observers were always edified by the piety manifested in the accomplishment of this duty. Commines wrote in 1494: “Venice is the most glorious city I have ever seen, and it is the most wisely governed. The worship of God is conducted here more worthily than elsewhere; and although the Venetians may have their faults, I believe that God helps them on account of their reverence for the Church.”[233]

And when the republic was twelve centuries old, this spirit was as strong as when the dubious pros[219]perity of its infancy drew it to the altars of God. Albrizzi wrote in 1771: “The most noteworthy characteristic of this august republic is its firm and inviolable attachment to the Catholic Church. The commanders of her armies, the governors of her fortresses, in their wars with the Turks, have defended the faith with their blood, and often amid most cruel tortures. In most critical times this wise government has paid the greatest attention to a preservation of the faith of Jesus Christ in its purity. . . . The same zeal is shown to-day.  . . . The most conspicuous monuments of Venice prove the piety of its government at every period of its existence. The souvenir of the many victories of Venice is renewed every year by some religious ceremony, performed with as much majesty as appropriateness. The doge, at the head of the senate, fulfills this pious duty. . . . Hence we may say that the Venetians are very assiduous in the practice of their religious duties; for on every feast-day, and especially on the festivals of the Holy Virgin, their protectress,[234] the churches are filled with people of every class and condition, all wrapped in recollection.”[235]

Like other countries, Venice passed through many struggles with the Holy See, but these were never concerning matters of faith. Even during[220] her terrible alienation from Rome in the pontificate of Paul V., the interdict launched by that Pontiff did not throw her, as the Reformers predicted, into the ranks of Protestantism. How could such a defection have been possible, demands Cantù, “when Venice was thoroughly Catholic? Her origin, her patrons, her national festivals, the fine arts, all proclaimed her such. . . . And,” he continues, “let any person of judgment tell us whether that religion was likely to perish which was just then erecting so many sumptuous churches. When the public spirit was so identified with Catholicism, could an eminently conservative government have dreamed of so radical a revolution? We have studied many documents concerning the interdict of Venice, and while we have found much boldness and much discontent, we have always discerned Christian submission and a desire for reconciliation.”[236]

But this Christian spirit is displeasing to the liberals of our day, and hence they have re-echoed the accusations made against Venice by Bonaparte, the chief author of that great crime by which the ancient republic was obliterated from the list of nationalities. Let the reader judge whether these charges were true; whether among all governments, that one in which equality before the law most flourished, that one which was the most patriotic in all Christendom, and that one which lived the longest, was precisely the one which all good people should the most detest.



Excidat illa dies ævo, nec postera credant sæcula.—Let this day be lost from time, and posterity ignore the event.” Whether these words of Statius were applied to this fatal day by the Chancellor de l’Hôpital, as Voltaire asserts, or by the President de Thou, as some contend, no Catholic will refuse to re-echo them; but, if well informed, he will not deem himself obliged to add with the poet, “Nos certe taceamus.” And nevertheless, it is comparatively but a short time since Catholic polemics essayed to answer the allegations of Protestant writers concerning this event, so fearful were they lest they might be suspected of a wish to apologize for a horrible crime. We hear much of La Barthélemy, but nothing of La Michelade, that frightful massacre at Nîmes on St. Michael’s Day of 1567, when the Protestants anticipated by more than two centuries the horrors of the Carmes of the Abbaye (September 2, 1792). Now we propose to demonstrate, firstly, that religion had nothing to do with this massacre; secondly, that it was a matter of mere worldly policy; thirdly, that it was not intended that it should extend beyond Paris; fourthly, that it was not long premeditated, but[222] was the effect of impulse; and fifthly, that the number of its victims has been enormously exaggerated.


Religion had nothing to do with this massacre. In this matter historians have erred in espousing the cause of either Protestants or Catholics; to use the words of Cantù, “Varillas and Voltaire, equally unjust, have provoked the judgment of impartial posterity, which weighs them in the same scale, and which sees on both sides swords dripping with blood, recognizing in this deadly struggle not the crimes of a sect or the follies of a court or the instigations of fanaticism, but the constant passions of humanity.” In the first place, one would be led to suspect that zeal for the Catholic faith was not the motive for the Barthélemy, from the fact that many Catholics were numbered among the victims, having succumbed to personal hate or to avarice. “The possession of wealth,” says Mézeray, “an envied position, or the existence of greedy heirs, stamped a man as a Huguenot.” The governor of Bordeaux systematically ransomed wealthy Catholics as well as Protestants. At Bourges a priest was murdered; at La Charité, the wife of a Captain Landas; at Vie, the governor; at Paris, Bertrand de Villemer, maître des requêtes, and John Rouillard, a canon of Notre-Dame. Again,[223] the characters of Catherine dei Medici and her son, Charles IX., were not those of zealots for the faith; a critical and impartial historian[237] has been obliged to admit that if it had become necessary for the recovery of power, they would have declared themselves Protestants. But there is more than mere suspicion to justify our assertion. We know, from the very “Martyrology” of the Calvinists, what motive actuated the murderers. They would show the corpses of their victims, saying, “These are they who would have killed the king.” And “the courtiers laughed exultantly, saying that at length the war was ended, and they could live in peace.” The same author tells us that after the massacre, “the parliament of Toulouse published the will of the king that no one should molest those of the religion, but should rather favor them”;[224] and we know that on August 26 a similar edict was issued in Paris. Again, Charles IX. needed no religious motive to render him furious against the Huguenots. They had plotted to kidnap him; they had drawn entire provinces into rebellion, and they had introduced foreign troops into France.

But it is said that Roman cardinals prepared the massacre; the names of Birague and De Retz are mentioned. The Roman purple is easily cleared of this stain. The former prelate was made a cardinal six, and the latter fifteen years after the Barthélemy. The poet Chenier, of the school of Voltaire, represents, on the operatic stage, the Cardinal of Lorraine as blessing the poniards destined for the massacre; but at that time this prelate was in Rome, having been one of the conclave which had chosen a successor to St. Pius V. Again, much stress is[225] laid upon the conduct of the Roman court when it heard of the catastrophe. Gregory XIII. proceeded processionally to the church of St. Louis, and rendered thanks to Heaven; he proclaimed a Jubilee, and struck medals commemorative of the event. The famous Latinist, Mureto, pronounced an encomium on the slaughter before the Sovereign Pontiff. But the words of Pope Gregory writing to the king in congratulation for his escape, the words of Mureto also, show that the Roman court thanked Almighty God merely for the escape of the royal family from a Huguenot conspiracy.

Finally, throughout France, in Paris itself, the Catholic masses acted on this occasion in a manner which showed that their religion was not a prime agent in the affair. On the very night of the massacre, Charles IX. sent orders to all the governors of provinces and of cities, to take measures to prevent any occurrences like those which had just stained the capital. At Lyons, as even the Calvinist Martyrology informs us, many of the Huguenots were sent for safety to the archiepiscopal prison and to the Celestine and Franciscan convents. And if we are told that some of those who were consigned to the archiepiscopal prison fell victims to their enemies, we reply, with the same Calvinist author, that this outrage was committed during the absence and without the knowledge of the governor; that on his return he put a stop to it, and offered a reward of a hundred scudi for the names[226] of the criminals. This author also tells us that “the Calvinists of Toulouse found safety in the convents.” At Lisieux the bishop saved many, as the martyrologist admits;[238] and he also says that “the more peaceable Catholics saved forty out of sixty who had been seized at the town of Romans; of the twenty others, thirteen were afterward freed, and only seven perished, they having many enemies, and having borne arms.” Even at Nîmes, where the Huguenots had twice massacred the Catholics in cold blood (in 1567 and 1569), the latter abstained from revenge.[239] Paris also furnished many examples of compassion. The Calvinist historian, La Popelinière, a contemporary author, records that “among the French nobles who distinguished themselves in saving the lives of many of the confederates, the greatest good was effected by the dukes of Guise, Aumale, Biron, Bellièvre. . . . When the people had been told that the Huguenots, in order to kill the king, had attacked his body-guards and killed over twenty, a further slaughter would have been perpetrated, had not many nobles, content with the death of the leaders, prevented it; even many Italians, armed and mounted, scoured the city and suburbs, and gathered many fortunates[227] into the security of their own houses.”[240] In fine, instead of religion having caused this massacre, we may conclude with Count Alfred de Falloux that, considering the state of men’s minds at that time, religion alone could have prevented it. “Instead of a court full of intrigues and adulteries, suppose that then there was one influenced by the Gospel; that the law of God guided the powerful; that instead of a Catharine and a Charles IX., there had reigned a Blanche and a St. Louis; in such a case let us ask our consciences whether this slaughter would have been possible.”[241]


The massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day was an affair of worldly policy. The Huguenots had certainly been guilty of high-treason. As to Coligny, the journal of his receipts and expenses, laid before the royal Council and the Parliament, and his other papers seized after his death, revealed deeds and projects which would have insured his capital condemnation in any country of Christendom. Concerning these papers Bellièvre said to the deputies of the Thirteen Cantons: “The king learned from them that the admiral had established, in sixteen[228] provinces, governors, military commanders, and a number of counsellors charged with the task of keeping the people armed, and of assembling them together at his first sign.” Charles IX. wrote to Schomberg, his ambassador to Germany, that Coligny had more power, “and was better obeyed by those of the new religion than I was. By the great authority he had usurped over them, he could raise them in arms against me whenever he wished, as indeed he often proved. Recently he ordered the new religionists to meet in arms at Melun, near Fontainbleau, where I was to be at that time, the third of August. He had arrogated so much power to himself that I could not call myself a king, but merely a ruler of part of my dominions. Therefore, since it has pleased God to deliver me from him, I may well thank Him for the just punishment He has inflicted upon the admiral and his accomplices. I could not tolerate him any longer, and I determined to give rein to a justice which was indeed extraordinary, and other than I would have wished, but which was necessary in the case of such a man.”[242] Brantôme, Tavannes, and Montluc, all courtiers of Charles, speak of his fear of Coligny; and Bellièvre says that “his Majesty told some of his servants, myself among the number, that when he found himself so threatened, his hair stood on end.” Is[229] it likely that any monarch would tamely submit to such dictation as Coligny uttered? “Make war on Spain, sire, or we wage war against you.”[243] Tavannes informs us that the king, speaking one day concerning the means at his disposal for a campaign in the Netherlands, said that one of his subjects (Coligny) had offered him ten thousand men for that purpose. Then Tavannes replied: “Sire, you ought to cut off the head of any subject who would use such language. How dare he offer you what is your own? This is a sign that he has corrupted these men; that he has gained them over to use them, one day, against your Majesty.”

Many Protestant writers are prone to dilate on the virtues of Coligny, but they have not freed him from the imputation of having directed the assassin’s blow against Duke Francis of Guise. Not merely by the deposition of the wretched Poltrot, but by the very avowals of the admiral, we are led to regard the latter as the instigator of the crime. In a letter to the queen-mother, he admitted that “for the last five or six months he did not strongly” oppose those who showed a wish to kill the Duke; and he gave as a reason for his non-opposition, that certain persons had tried to kill himself. He did[230] not name these persons in the course of his justification, but said that he “would indicate them at a fitting time.” In his answers he admitted that “Poltrot told him that it would be easy to kill the Duke of Guise, but that he (Coligny) made no remark, because he deemed the matter frivolous”; in fact, he “said nothing as to whether he regarded the design as good or evil.” In another letter to Catharine, he spoke of the death of the Duke as “the greatest benefit that could accrue to the kingdom and to the Church of God, and a personal advantage to the king and to the whole family of Coligny.” And finally, his course in claiming the right of prescription, when he fell back on the privileges of the Edict of Pacification, would not indicate a consciousness of innocence.


It was not intended that the massacre should extend beyond Paris. We learn from Tavannes that the popular fury rendered the massacre general, “to the great regret of its advisers, they having resolved on the death of only the leaders and the factious.” They who hold that orders to slaughter the Huguenots had been sent into the provinces, adduce in proof only two letters: one from the Viscount d’Orthez, governor of Bayonne, to Charles IX.; and one from Catharine to Strozzi, who was watching for an opportunity to surprise La Rochelle, one of the four[231] cities accorded to the Calvinists. Now, there is very good reason for regarding both these letters as unauthentic, and no argument can be urged in their favor. The first letter, whatever some authors may say, is not found in De Thou, not even in the Geneva edition of 1620; and this writer’s Huguenot proclivities and his aversion to Charles IX. would not have allowed him to overlook it, had he deemed it authentic. It is given only by the malevolent D’Aubigné in these words: “I commence with Bayonne, where a courier arrived with orders to cut in pieces the men, women, and children of Dax, who had sought refuge in the prison. The Viscount d’Orthez, governor of the frontier, thus replied to the king: ‘Sire, I have communicated the order of your Majesty to the inhabitants and soldiers of the garrison; and have found them to be good citizens and brave warriors, but not executioners. Therefore they and I supplicate your Majesty to employ them in any possible, even though hazardous, matters,’” etc. But the Calvinist martyrologist furnishes us with reasons for supposing that no such orders as the above were expedited, either to d’Orthez or to any other governors in the provinces. This author, whose work is a veritable “Lives of the Saints” for French Protestants, says nothing, save in one case, of such instructions; and certainly he was interested in chronicling them, had he known of them. But, on the contrary, he tells us that the murderers “at Orleans resolved to put their hands[232] to the work without any orders from the governor, D’Entragues”; that those of Bourges “sent Marueil in haste to the court, but he returned bearing no commands”; that Charles IX. wrote many letters to Bordeaux to the effect that he “had not intended that execution to extend beyond Paris.” The exception to which we have alluded is that of Rouen, the Governor of which city, says the martyrologist, received orders “to exterminate those of the religion”; but this assertion is contradicted, observes Barthélemy,[244] by the inactivity of the governor, and by the date of the Rouen murders, which occurred nearly a month after those of Paris.

As for the second letter, that of Catharine to Strozzi, no French contemporary or quasi-contemporary historian speaks of it; not even Brantôme, who was then at Brouage with Strozzi; and there are intrinsic arguments for its rejection. It is supposed that six months before the massacre, the queen-mother wrote to Strozzi, enclosed in another to be read at once, a letter which was not to be opened until August 24, the fatal day. In this reserved document Catharine is said to have written: “Strozzi, I inform you that to-day, August 24, the admiral and all the Huguenots here present were killed. I earnestly request you to make yourself master of La Rochelle, and to do as we have done to all the Huguenots who fall into your hands.[233] Beware of backwardness, as you fear to displease the king, my son, and me.” Now, he who would regard this letter as genuine must ascribe to Catharine a gift of prophecy such as few of the saints have received. She must have foreseen that Jane d’Albret,[245] Queen of Navarre, an ardent Huguenot, would consent to the marriage of her son, Henry de Bourbon, with Margaret de Valois. She must have known that Pope St. Pius V., who would not grant the necessary dispensation, would soon die, and that Gregory XIII. would concede it. She must also have seen Coligny and his followers madly confiding in the affectionate disposition of Charles IX.; the admiral ignoring the warnings of the Rochellois and other Huguenots; the crime of Maurevert failing to cause the flight of the future victims; and, finally, the certainty of no imprudence on the part of Strozzi, or perhaps his death, revealing her letter to the Calvinists. We decline, therefore, to accept as authentic either the letter from d’Orthez or that to Strozzi.



The massacre was not the result of long premeditation. The rejection of the aforesaid letters does away with one of the strongest arguments which militate against this position. The contemporary historians, Capilupi, Masson, Tavannes, Castelnau, and others, are said to declare that the massacre was planned at the conference held at Bayonne in 1565, between Catharine and the Duke of Alva. But these authors speak only of a general agreement as to mutual aid in extirpating heresy; when any of them mention any sanguinary advice on the part of Alva, it is to be noted that they do not say that he counselled a massacre, but that the Huguenot leaders should be “arrested and executed.” Now listen to the testimony of Queen Margaret, sister of Charles IX. In her “Mémoires” she says that the massacre was designed because of the Huguenot resolution to avenge the wounding of Coligny; and that her brother was with difficulty persuaded to consent to it, and only when “he had been made to realize that otherwise his crown and life were lost.” Then we have the testimony of the Duke d’Anjou, the king’s brother, drawn from a MS. of the Royal Library by Cavairac. This prince had been elected King of Poland in 1573, and while on his way thither he was often insulted by Huguenot refugees. He was so affected by their curses that he could not sleep, and on one occasion the horrors of St. Bartholomew’s[235] Day so oppressed him that he summoned his physician and favorite, Miron, that he might relieve his mind. Then the duke detailed all the circumstances of the massacre, and plainly showed that it was a sudden conception. We give a synopsis of this testimony. “I have called you,” said the prince to Miron, “to share my restlessness, which is caused by my remembrance of the Barthélemy, concerning which event perhaps you have never heard the truth.” Then the duke narrated how he and the queen-mother had observed that Coligny had prejudiced the king’s mind against them; that when, after any audience accorded to the admiral, they approached his Majesty, “to speak of business or even of his own pleasures, they would find him with a forbidding countenance,” and he would show no respect to his mother and no kindness to Anjou. One day the prince approached the monarch just as Coligny had withdrawn; and Charles would not speak to him, but walked furiously up and down with his hand upon his dagger, looking askance at the prince, so that the latter feared for his life, “and deemed himself lucky to get safely out of the room.” Anjou now consulted Catharine, and “they resolved to rid themselves of the admiral.” They took Mme. de Nemours into their confidence, “on account of her hatred for Coligny”; and they sent at once for a certain Gascon captain, but did not make use of him, because he assured them too readily of his good-will, “and without any reservation of persons.” Then they thought of Maure[236]vert, as “one experienced in assassination”; but they could influence him only by representing that the admiral was bent on avenging the death of Moul, whom Maurevert had lately murdered. Mme. de Nemours put one of her houses at their disposal; and when the attempt failed, “they were compelled to look to their own safety.” When Charles wished to see the admiral, they determined to be present at the interview; and the wounded man having been admitted to a private conference with the king, “they retired to a distance, and became very suspicious, especially since they saw themselves in the midst of over two hundred of the admiral’s followers, who, with ferocious countenances, constantly passed them with little show of respect.” Catharine soon put an end to the colloquy under the specious pretext of care for Coligny’s health, and then tried to learn from her son the purport of the admiral’s remarks. At first Charles refused; but, being pressed, he swore “by death,” and brusquely declared that “all Coligny had said was true,” and that he had reproached the king with being a mere cipher in the hands of his mother. “This touched them to the quick,” and the queen-mother “feared some change in the government of the kingdom”; but “for some hours they could come to no determination.” The next day Anjou and his mother deliberated “as to the means of getting rid of the admiral.” After dinner they waited on Charles, and Catharine “told the king that the Huguenots were rising in arms; that the leaders were enrolling[237] troops in the provinces; that Coligny had procured ten thousand cavalry from Germany and as many Swiss; that these dangers could be obviated only by the death of the admiral and of the chief leaders of the Huguenot faction.” Tavannes, Birague, and De Nevers corroborated these assertions; and the king “became furious, but nevertheless would not at first hear of any injury to Coligny.” He asked each one for his individual opinion; and all agreed with Catharine “except the Marshal de Retz, who deceived our hopes,” saying that “if any one ought to hate the admiral, he was one, since Coligny had defamed his race throughout Europe; but that he would not revenge himself by means dishonorable to the king and country.” But no one seconded De Retz, and “we soon observed a sudden change in the king.” The rest of the day was devoted to the details of the terrible enterprise. The Duke of Guise was entrusted with the death of Coligny. Toward the dawn of day, the king, Catharine, and Anjou were standing at a window, when they heard the report of a pistol, and fell back in horror. They sent to revoke the order given to Guise, but it was too late.[246]

Such, according to the Duke of Anjou, is the inner history of the Barthélemy; and although the prince was brother to Charles IX., we hold that his[238] testimony is valuable. No one will deny that he knew all the circumstances of the massacre; and what had he to gain by deceiving Miron? Certainly not self-justification; for he painted himself in the darkest colors. And he could not have wished to conciliate the Poles, his future subjects; for Miron could not effect such conciliation; and, again, the Polish representatives had already shown by their unanimous vote that such a course was superfluous. And now to the testimonies of Margaret and Henry de Valois add those of three celebrated contemporary historians—the hostile Brantôme, the Protestant La Popelinière, and Mathieu. Brantôme, when treating of Catherine dei Medici, says of Coligny’s aspersions against that queen: “Behold the cause of his death, and of that of his followers, as I learned it from those who knew it well; although many believe that the fuse was laid sometime previous.” La Popelinière gives the arguments for and against the supposition of premeditation, and inclines to the latter view. Mathieu says that he understood from Henry IV. that Catherine informed Villeroy, her confidant, that the massacre was unpremeditated. Finally, it may be observed with Cavairac that, if long prepared, this tragedy would have been executed simultaneously, or nearly so, throughout France; and most Protestants believe that it was so effected. But at Meaux the slaughter happened on August 25, at La Charité on the 26th, at Orleans on the 27th, at Saumur and Angers on the 29th, at[239] Lyons on the 30th, at Troyes on September 2, at Bruges on the 14th, at Rouen on the 17th, at Romans on the 20th, at Toulouse on the 25th, at Bordeaux not until October 23.

But in reply to all the above proofs of the non-premeditation of the massacre, it has been alleged that Sir Henry Austin Layard, President of the London Huguenot Society, discovered facts which caused him to come to the conclusion that “there can not be a doubt that Pius V. had instigated Charles and the queen-mother to exterminate the Huguenots, and that Salviati had been instructed to press the matter upon them.” Thus the Hon. John Jay, addressing the American Huguenot Society in its annual meeting on April 13, 1888. But long before Layard was heard of, Lingard had investigated the real connection of the nuncio Salviati with the massacre, and had judged that the event was not premeditated. While Chateaubriand was ambassador at the papal court (1828-30) he procured a copy of the correspondence of Pope Gregory XIII. with his nuncio Salviati, and sent it to Mackintosh, who used it in his “History of England.” This correspondence proves that at the time of the massacre Salviati knew nothing of the designs of the French court. We transcribe Lingard’s synopsis of these letters: “On August 24 he (Salviati) wrote an account of the occurrence in ordinary characters (evidently under the notion that in such circumstances his dispatch would probably be inter[240]cepted and opened on the road); but to this he added another and real statement of the case in cipher: that the queen-regent, in consequence of the ascendency which gave to Coligny in a manner the government of the kingdom (quasi governava), consulted with the Duchess of Nemours, and resolved to rid herself of his control by the assassination of the admiral. The Duke of Guise provided the assassin; the Duke of Anjou, but not the king, was privy to the attempt. The queen, however, when she saw that the admiral would not die of his wound, and considered the danger to which she was now exposed, alarmed also by her own consciousness, and by the threatening speeches of the whole body of the Huguenots, who would not believe that the arquebuse had been discharged by an assassin employed by the Duke of Alva, as she had persuaded herself that she could make them believe, had recourse to the king, and exhorted him to adopt the plan of the general[247] massacre which followed. It appears that the cardinal-secretary, in his answer to this dispatch, probably on account of the different reports current in Rome, put to the nuncio several questions respecting the cause, the authors, and the circumstances of the massacre. Salviati, in reply, wrote two notes on September 22. In the first he says: ‘With regard to the three points: (1) who[241] it was that caused, and for what reason that person caused, the arquebuse to be discharged at the admiral; (2) and who it was to whom the subsequent resolution of so numerous a massacre must be ascribed; (3) and who were the executors of the massacre, with the names of the principal leaders; I know that I have already sent you an account, and that in that account I have not fallen into the least error. If I have omitted to mention some other particulars, the chief reason is the difficulty of coming at the truth in this country.’ This passage was written in ordinary characters; but he wrote the same day in cipher the following repetition of his former statement: ‘Time will show whether there be any truth in all the other accounts which you may have read, of the wounding and death of the admiral, that differ from what I wrote to you. The queen-regent, having grown jealous of him, came to a resolution a few days before, and caused the arquebuse to be discharged at him without the knowledge of the king, but with the participation of the Duke of Anjou, of the Duchess of Nemours and of her son, the Duke of Guise. Had he died immediately, no one else would have perished. But he did not die, and they began to expect some great evil; wherefore, closeting themselves in consultation with the king, they determined to throw shame aside, and to cause him (Coligny) to be assassinated with the others; a determination which was carried into execution that very night.’ Evidence more satisfactory than this we can not desire, if we consider[242] the situation of the writer, the object for which he wrote, and the time and opportunity which he possessed of correcting any error which might have crept into his previous communication; and from this evidence it plainly follows that the general massacre was not originally contemplated, but grew out of the unexpected failure of the attempt already made on the life of the admiral.”

Mr. Jay introduces his arguments under the auspices of Baron Acton, whom he carefully notes as “a very distinguished Roman Catholic historian, who so admirably represents the honorable members of that faith who reject the doctrines and methods of the Jesuits.”[248] He tells us that Acton furnished the London Times of November 26, 1874, with a translation of some Italian letters from Salviati to his Roman superiors, which prove that religion had very much to do with the massacre. On September 22, 1572, a month after the tragedy, the nuncio is represented as communicating to the king the desire of his Holiness,[243] “for the great glory of God, and the greatest welfare of France, to see all the heretics of the kingdom exterminated.” And on October 11 the same Salviati is said to have declared that the Pope had experienced “an infinite joy and great consolation in learning that his Majesty had commanded him (Salviati) to write that he hoped that in a little while France would have no more Huguenots.” Well, what does all this prove? One who is acquainted with the epistolary style of the Roman Curia will not be frightened at the use, in the first dispatch, of a word which Acton translated into “exterminated.” Every bishop is sworn to “extirpate heresy”; but who believes that the American hierarchy is ready, if it had the power, to inaugurate another Barthélemy? We, too, sincerely pray that the day will soon come when this Republic will have no more Protestants; but is not the American priesthood full of that material out of which the Catholic Church forms a St. Vincent de Paul, a St. Philip Neri, and a Don Bosco?


The number of the victims of the massacre has been greatly exaggerated. It is remarkable that in proportion to their distance in time from this event, authors increase the number of the slaughtered. Thus, Masson gives it as 10,000; the Calvinist martyrologist as about 15,000; the Calvinist, La[244] Popelinière, as more than 20,000; De Thou, the apologist of the Huguenots, as 30,000 “or a little less”; the Huguenot Sully as 70,000; Péréfixe, a Catholic bishop, as 100,000. From this last number to 2,000, the figures established by Cavairac, the difference is immense. Now, if we will compare the authority, in this particular matter, of Masson with that of Péréfixe, we shall opine that the former’s estimate is the correct one. Masson did not wish to hide from posterity the true number of the slain; he openly laments that Calvinism was not destroyed by this great blow; he labors much in gathering apparent proofs that the massacre was long premeditated. Therefore he would have cheerfully recorded a larger number of victims, if truth had allowed him. Péréfixe, however, had an interest in exaggerating the effects of a policy of cruelty; preceptor to the young Louis XIV., he might, remarks Barthélemy, have too readily accorded credence to the largest estimate of the victims of an event which he offered to the execration of his pupil. But our attention is principally claimed by the calculations of the Calvinist martyrologist. When this interested author speaks in general terms, he puts the victims at 30,000; when he goes into details, he presents us 15,168; when he gives their names, he can furnish only 786. Now, we must suppose that this writer, engaged upon the pious work of perpetuating the memory of those whom he regarded as martyrs[245] for “the religion,” as his title-page announces, took every care to discover their names; and the zeal and vanity of their friends would have helped him. Nevertheless, he could name only 786. We do not believe that this number includes all the victims of the massacre; but we do contend that the martyrologist’s estimate by cities and villages, 15,168, is an exaggeration. He designates the victims in Paris as 10,000, but his details show only 468; it is not unlikely therefore, conjectures Barthélemy, that a zero slipped into his Paris total, and that it should be made 1,000. This, indeed, is the opinion of the Calvinist La Popelinière, and it is confirmed by a bill at the Hôtel de Ville of Paris, which indicates that 1,100 were buried in the suburbs. We regard, therefore, as nearly correct the assertion of La Popelinière that the victims in Paris were about 1,000 in number; and since it is generally conceded that the slain in all the other parts of France together were less numerous than in Paris, it would appear that Cavairac did not err when he declared that all the victims of St. Bartholomew’s Day amounted to about 2,000 persons. The reader will doubtless expect us to allude to the charge made against Charles IX., of having taken an actively personal part in the massacre. Voltaire makes much of the accusation that the monarch fired on the Huguenots from a balcony in the Louvre.[249] Prudhomme represents Charles[246] as leaving a game of billiards for this purpose.[250] This charge is founded only on the assertions of Brantôme, who, according to his own admission, was a hundred leagues from Paris on the day of the massacre;[251] and of D’Aubigné, who says that he left the capital three days before the event.[252] Sully, a Calvinist who was present and barely saved his life, says nothing in his “Mémoires” of the king’s intervention. Again, that part of the Louvre from which Charles is said to have fired an arquebuse, and to mark which with infamy the Commune of 1793 erected “un poteau infamant,” was not built until nearly the end of the reign of Henry IV., over thirty years after the Barthélemy. Finally, the accusation against Charles IX. is refuted by a Huguenot pamphlet of 1579—that is, written twenty-five years before the narrative of Brantôme, and thirty-seven before that of D’Aubigné. In this work, entitled “A Tocsin against the Murderers and the Authors of Discord in France,”[253] we read: “Although one might suppose that so great a carnage would have satiated the cruelty of the young king, of a woman, and of many of their courtiers, they seem to have grown more savage as the work approached their own eyes. The[247] king showed no diminution of zeal; for although he did not use his own hands in the massacre, nevertheless, being at the Louvre, he ordered that according as the work advanced in the city, the names of the killed and of the prisoners should be brought to him, that he might decide as to whom to spare.” And Brantôme himself shows the small value of his assertions concerning the massacre, when he tells us that the king “wished only Master Ambrose Paré, his chief surgeon, to be spared.”[254] We know from the “Mémoires” of Margaret de Valois that Charles wished to spare La Noue, Teligny, La Rochefoucauld, and even Coligny; and the writings of Paré show that this surgeon was a devout Catholic, and that, therefore, there was no need for anxiety in his regard on the part of the king. The Catholicism of Paré is also proved by the fact of the interment of his body in the church of St. André-des-Arts, of which the famous leaguer Aubry was pastor.[255]

In conclusion, we would say with Louis Veuillot that Catholics generally adduce the extenuating circumstances of the Barthélemy with too great timidity. Catharine dei Medici was a freethinker of the Macchiavellian school, provoked by Calvinist[248] sedition; and since she could not otherwise preserve her power or even save her head, she adopted the policy of assassination. In the whole affair the Catholic faith was conspicuous for its absence; the executioners were no more influenced by it than the victims. God, says Bossuet, often chastises crimes by other crimes. The ninth Thermidor, says M. de Maistre, witnessed the slaughter of certain monsters by others of the same sort. Just like the ninth Thermidor, the Barthélemy was a human wickedness and a divine justice.



We frequently hear that in the Middle Age the clergy systematically kept the laity in ignorance; that even the nobility were so uncultivated, that in the public records of those times it is quite common to meet the clause: “And the said lord declares that he knows not how to sign [his name], because of his condition of gentleman.” Charlemagne himself, it is said, could not write. But are these allegations true? In the early period of the Middle Age, ignorance was undoubtedly the lot of the warriors who became the progenitors of most of the European nobles; but when these barbarians had become Christians and members of civilized society, is it true that they generally remained in that ignorance?

The learned Benedictine, Cardinal Pitra,[256] has proved that in nearly all monasteries there were two kinds of schools—the internal, for the youth who wished to become religious; and the external, for the children who showed no such vocation. And do we not know how Abélard’s retreat, the Paraclete, was filled with hundreds of young laymen, zealous for knowledge? Vincent of Beauvais[250] (y. 1250) writes that “the sons of the nobility need to acquire expensive learning”; and Giles of Rome (1290) says that “the children of kings and of great lords must have masters to teach them all science, and especially a knowledge of Latin.” The nobles are said to have despised learning, but we know that they were very zealous in founding schools. Thus at Paris alone six colleges were established by noble laymen; that of Laon, in 1313, by Guy of Laon and Raoul de Presles; that of Presles, in 1313, by this Raoul; that of Boncourt, in 1357, by Peter de Fléchinel; that of the Ave Maria, in 1336, by John of Hubaut; that of La Marche, in 1362, by William de la Marche; that of the Grassins, in 1369, by Peter d’Ablon. The researches of Du Boulai, of Crevier, and in our own day, of Beaurepaire, show how untrue is the assertion that the mediæval laity were plunged in woful ignorance. In the thirteenth century, at least, all the peasants of Normandy could read and write, carried writing materials at their girdles, and many of them were no strangers to Latin. Bertrand de Born, William of Aquitaine, and Bernard of Ventadour, bear witness that then at least the nobles of France were no more hostile to letters than the peasants were, and that they shared in the poetical movement of the South. The first chroniclers who wrote in French were nobles and laymen—Villehardouin and Joinville. In 1337 we find the scions of the first families[251] following the courses of the University of Orleans. As to the documents which they are said to have been unable to sign, “because of their condition of gentlemen,” such papers do not exist, and no paleographer has yet unearthed one containing the alleged formula. Certainly, in order to obtain some proof of this mediæval ignorance, some have had recourse to the crosses traced at the foot of documents of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and to the absence of signatures in those of the thirteenth. “But this pretended proof can not stand the tests of diplomatic science,” remarks M. Louandre. “In those days deeds were not authenticated by written names, but by crosses and seals. The most ancient royal signatures are of no earlier date than that of Charles V. (of France),” who died in 1380.[257]

Even in the early Middle Age every cathedral, and nearly every monastery, had its school and library, in accordance with canonical enactments. Hallam admits that “the praise of having originally established schools belongs to some bishops and abbots of the sixth century”; but—at least so far as Ireland is concerned—it is certain that her schools were celebrated throughout Europe in the fifth century. As to the Continent, we find the Council of Vaison recommending, in 529, the institution of free parochial schools. To mention[252] only a few of similar decrees, there is a canon of the Third General Council of Constantinople, in 680, commanding priests to have free schools in all country places; one of a Synod of Orleans, in 800, ordering the parochial clergy “to teach little children with the greatest kindness, receiving no compensation, save the voluntary offerings of parents”; one of Mentz, in 813, commanding parents to send their children “to the schools in the monasteries or in the houses of the parish clergy”; one of Rome, in 826, prescribing schools in every suitable place.

As to higher education, not only was it not neglected, but the most celebrated universities were founded and perfected in the “dark” ages. Most renowned was the Irish school of Benchor (Bangor) with its thousands of scholars, and the other Irish establishments at Lindisfarne in England, at Bobbio in Italy, at Verdun in France, and at Würzburg, Ratisbon, Erfurt, Cologne, and Vienna, in Germany. The great University of Bologna, an outgrowth of the school for law there established by Theodosius II. in the fifth century, became so famous under Irnerius (d. 1140) that of foreigners alone more than ten thousand thronged its halls.[258] The Univer[253]sity of Padua frequently numbered eighteen thousand students. Famous also were the Universities of Rome, Pavia, Naples, and Perugia; of Paris; of Alcala, Salamanca, and Valladolid; of Oxford and Cambridge. In Germany the thirteenth century was an unfortunate one for letters. Leibnitz says that the tenth was golden compared with the thirteenth; Heeren calls it most unfruitful; Meiners constantly deplores it; Eichorn designates it as “wisdom degenerated into barbarism.” But the fourteenth century brought a change to the Germans. The University of Vienna was founded in 1364; that of Heidelberg in 1386; of Erfurt, 1392; of Leipsic, 1409; of Würzburg, 1410; of Rostock, 1419; of Louvain, 1425; of Treves, 1454; of Freiburg, 1456; of Basel, 1459; of Ingolstadt, 1472; Tübingen and Metz, 1477; Cologne, 1483. Gerard Groot, a student of Paris, founded in 1376, at Deventer, his birthplace, an order whose members were sworn to help the poor, either by their manual labor or by gratuitous instruction. “Very soon this order,” says Cantù, “associating thus the two passions of that time—piety and study,—taught trades and writing in those monasteries which were called of St. Jerome, or of the Good Brethren, or of the Common Life; while in other places it kept schools of writing and of mechanics for poor chil[254]dren. To others it taught Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Mathematics, and Fine Arts. In 1433 it had forty-five houses, and in 1460 thrice that number. Thomas à Kempis transported the system to St. Agnes, near Zwolle, where were formed the apostles of classic literature in Germany: Maurice, Count of Spiegelberg, and Rudolph Langius, afterward prelates; Anthony Liber, Louis Dringenberg, Alexander Hagius, and Rudolph Agricola.”

As to the pretended ignorance of Charlemagne, we prefer more ancient and more reliable authority than that of Voltaire, the author of this assertion.[259] In the “Acts” of the Council of Fisme, held in 881, we read that the members exhorted King Louis III. “to imitate Charlemagne, who used to place tablets under his pillow, that he might take note of whatever came to his mind during the night which would profit the Church, or conduce to the prosperity of his kingdom.” It was the celebrated Hincmar who, in the name of the Council, drew up these “Acts” of Fisme; and certainly he is good authority in this matter, for he had passed much of his life in the society of Louis the Compliant, a son of Charlemagne. But is not[255] the testimony of Eginhard, son-in-law of Charlemagne, to be preferred to that of the prelates of Fisme? Sismondi, who admits the extraordinary learning of the great Emperor, is so impressed by the words of Eginhard, that he concludes that the monarch acquired his knowledge by means of oral teaching. We would prefer the authority of the bishops of France headed by Hincmar, to that of Eginhard; but the two testimonies do not conflict. Eginhard says: “He tried to write, and he used to keep tablets under the pillows of his bed, so that, when time permitted, he could accustom his hand to the forming of letters; but he had little success in a task difficult in itself, and assumed so late in life.”[260] Eginhard admits, then, that Charlemagne had some success in his endeavors. We know, too, that he could form his monogram;[261][256] and Lambecius, the erudite secretary of Christina of Sweden, speaks of a manuscript of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans “corrected by the Emperor’s own hand.”[262] We are therefore led to accept that interpretation of Eginhard’s remark which is given by Lambecius, and since that critic’s time by the best commentators, such as Michelet,[263] Henri Martin,[264] and Guizot;[265] to the effect that there is therein no question of writing in general, but merely of a running hand. In fine, Charlemagne could write by means of what we style square or printed characters; he found it difficult to write a running hand; in other words, he could write, but he was not a calligrapher. Ampère opines that the monarch tried to excel in the art of illuminating manuscripts,—that is, of painting the majuscule letters which so excite the admiration of moderns.


Since Eginhard is adduced to prove the ignorance of Charlemagne, it is well to note what this chronicler tells us, in the same chapter, about the Emperor’s learning. Charlemagne spoke Latin fluently and with elegance; Greek was familiar to him, although his pronunciation of it was defective. He was passionately food of the fine arts. He drew to his court the wisest men of the day—e. g., Peter of Pisa and Alcuin, and very soon he nearly equalled his masters in their respective branches. He began the composition of a Teutonic grammar, and he undertook a version of the New Testament based on the Greek and Syriac texts. He understood perfectly the intricacies of liturgy, psalmody, the Gregorian Chant, etc. During his meals he listened to the reading of histories; he was especially fond of St. Augustine’s “City of God.” He preferred to attend the schools he had founded, rather than any kind of amusement. Furthermore and finally, he compelled his daughters, as well as his sons, to cultivate the fine arts.

In this so badly understood epoch, flourished Abélard, Dante, Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas. It is true that the hunting and soldiering barbarians at first disdained the peaceful triumphs of letters, and regarded the fine arts as a disgraceful inheritance of the people they had conquered; that for a time even the olden subjects—of the secular order—of Rome lost taste for the sublime and the beautiful. But then science found friends in the sanctuary and in the cloister; and the clergy preserved,[258] as a sacred deposit, the traditions of literature and art. As for moral science, have modern times surpassed SS. Anselm and Peter Damain, Lanfranc or Peter Lombard? As for practical science and the arts, are we much more advanced than our mediæval ancestors? We will here mention a few of the inventions and improvements which we owe to these compassionated men:

I.—The paper on which we write (linen) is, according to Hallam, an invention of the year 1100; and cotton paper was used in Italy in the tenth century. Casiri, drawing up a catalogue of the Escurial Library, says that most of its mediæval manuscripts are of rag-paper, or chartaceos, as he styles them in contradistinction to the membraneous and cotton ones. He cites the “Aphorisms” of Hippocrates in a paper codex of the year 1100, but does not deem it remarkable. Venerable Peter of Cluny, in a treatise against the Jews, speaks of books made from the shreds of old clothes.

II.—The art of printing, or rather the press, was invented in 1436, either by Lawrence Coster, a priest of the Cathedral of Harlem and a xylograph printer, or by the artist Gänsfleish, called Gutenberg;[266] but printing by hand was done in the[259] tenth century. The “Chronicles of Feltre” tell us that Panfilio Castaldi, a humanist of that city, taught his disciple Faust, in 1436, the use of movable types. Stereotyping, now the perfection of printing, was practised by Coster; though of course he knew of no way of casting the plates.

III.—That music may now be called a science is due to an Italian monk, Guido of Arezzo, who determined the scale, hitherto uncertain, in 1124. His “solmization”—-or the use of the ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la—was signified by means of the words of the first verses of the Vesper hymn for the Feast of St. John the Baptist. Before the time of Pope Gregory the Great (el. 590), the Italians used an alphabetical notation composed of the first fifteen letters; but that Pontiff reduced them to the first seven for the diatonic scale, distinguishing the octaves by capitals for the lower, and small letters for the upper. Ughelli proves, in his “Sacred Italy,” that the Italians used pneumatic organs in the ninth century.

IV.—In the twelfth century, the mariners of Amalfi first applied the knowledge of the loadstone to navigation, thus enabling subsequent Italian navigators to prosecute geographical discovery.


V.—It is amusing to learn that in those days of alleged ignorance, and hence of presumed neglect of study, one of the most important aids to study should have been invented. To enable persons of defective eyesight to read, the ancients used a sphere filled with water; but about 1285 a monk of Pisa, named Salvino d’Armato, invented spectacles. In a sermon preached in Florence on February 23, 1305, the celebrated friar, Giordano di Rivalta, said: “Only twenty years ago were spectacles invented; I knew and conversed with the inventor.”

VI.—By a people’s language we can surely judge of their refinement and intellectual calibre. Humboldt may have erred when he pronounced that grammatical forms are not the fruit of the progress made by a nation in the analysis of thought; but he was right in saying that these forms “are results of the manner in which a nation considers and treats its language.” And we are asked to believe that the densest ignorance and the grossest sentiments were the portion of those times which produced the sweet and philosophic Italian, the majestic Spanish, the graceful French, and the forcible English and German tongues. When the decay of the Roman Empire and of Roman civilization had entailed that of the Latin language, the succeeding jargons could not be termed languages; but Christianity took hold of the raw material, and, to use the words of Gioberti, “placed therein the embryonic principles[261] of new organizations, and fecundated them with the hieratic word, performing the two duties symbolized by the Oriental myths of the cosmic egg and androgynism. Thus the modern idioms were born from the material of the old, informed and organized by the religious idea and by the sacerdotal word. At first each of these idioms was a mere dialect,—that is, a vulgar speech, rude, ignoble, private, unfit for public use and for writing; not yet possessed of a life of its own, independent of the mother’s. And just as the fetus becomes a man, the human animal an infant, coming out into the light, and entirely separating from the maternal body, so a dialect is transformed into an illustrious language, fit to signify ideal things through the work of noble writers, who divert it from popular usage, and introduce it into the forum, the temple, the schools, and the conversation of the learned.”[267]

VII.—Have the modern times rivalled the Middle Ages in architectural skill and taste? With the exception of St. Peter’s at Rome—itself a result of the spirit of that despised period,—all the most magnificent structures of Europe, all the real triumphs of architecture, are of mediæval conception and execution. Glass windows, too, introduced in the fourth century, commenced to present beautiful colors in the early Middle Age; and in the twelfth century the Church, by means of those wonderful window-pictures, developed her plan, begun in the[262] Catacombs of Rome, of reaching the hearts and intellects of such of her children as, perchance, were not penetrated by the words of her preachers.

VIII.—In 650 windmills were invented; in 657, organs; Greek fire in 670; carpet-weaving in 720; clocks in 760; in 790 the Arabic numerals were introduced; in 1130 the silkworm was first cultivated in Europe; in 1278 gunpowder was invented; engraving in 1410; oil-painting, though many ascribe it to Van Eyck, was in use in 1415.

As for the science of criticism, which many regard as a peculiar pride of our century, it is generally supposed to have been so little understood as to indicate by its absence the intellectual inferiority of the Middle Ages. And yet modern critics can point to very few questions, agitated by themselves, which were not raised during that period. It is a remarkable fact that while the critics of the Golden Age of Leo X. credited the tales of Annio of Viterbo (the Chatterton of the fifteenth century), and while even the skeptics of the “Encyclopedia” believed in Ossian, the darkest century of the Middle Ages—the eleventh—disputed the authenticity of the false “Decretals” of Isidore Mercator. Centuries before the Protestants of England and America gave up their persecution of witches, Bishop Agobard and King Luitprand had condemned such absurdity (ninth century); and the former had protested against trials by combat, and against ordeals by fire and water. Nor can modern times claim the credit[263] of having discovered what is called the Copernican system; for Bishop John of Salisbury (d. 1180), and four centuries before him the Irish monk, Virgilius (Ferghil), had taught the correct mundane system and the existence of the antipodes.

Never in modern days have the pretensions of sovereigns been more jealously watched and more heartily resisted by the peoples than in the days so generally supposed to have been a period of prostration before royal caprice. Whereas the legislation of ancient Rome had established the sole will of the prince as the reason of all law, the Canon Law of the Church, a crowning glory of the Middle Ages, taught that law supposes the consent of the people, and has for its end only the good of the community. As far back as the eighth century Rattier, Bishop of Verona, proclaimed that human nature is ever equal to itself, and that therefore no man has received from God the right to command his neighbor. The science of government has never been laid down better than by the Angelic Doctor, that light sufficient of itself to dissipate the darkness of an entire epoch.[268]

No modern abolitionist has more earnestly pleaded in favor of universal freedom than did the monk[264] Smaragdus in the eighth century. The masses were no more content in those days than they are now to quietly accept whatever they found at hand. “Every dogma, rite, and system,” observes Cantù, “found champions and opponents; and the political heresies of Arnold of Brescia and of Friar Dolcino, the philosophical ones of Origen and of Abélard, the religious ones of Photius and of the Albigenses, left nothing new for Luther and Socinus to pronounce. And what if we reflect that these rude ancestors of ours civilized half the world; that by the translation of the Bible modern languages were formed; that hymns were composed which were sung by the most refined centuries; that entire nations were withdrawn from licentious and ferocious superstition? Undoubtedly, much was wanting; but deny, if you can, to Alexander the title of consummate general because he would not have been able to conquer at Leipsic or to reduce Antwerp; or the title of poet to Homer because he was ignorant of geography and astronomy.”

In the Middle Ages the science of government had already been able to abolish that system of centralization which in later times became, and is yet,[265] the curse of modern Europe. In England, then perfectly Catholic, parliamentary government was developed, at least as to its essentials; for the English liberties date from the Charter of Henry I. in 1103; and above all from the great Charter of John Lackland in 1215; and the Provisions of Oxford in 1258, the source of the House of Commons. Spain had her liberties developed in her cortes, and Germany in her diets. In France political life was nourished by the Champs de Mars and of May, and then by the Estates. And in Italy, where the influence of the Papacy was the most immediately exercised, the most favorable ground for republican institutions was found and cultivated; the glories of the mediæval republics of Genoa, Pisa, Sienna, Florence and Venice, need no description. This last point is beyond contestation; political liberty existed in the “dark” ages, and under the full domination of the Catholic Church.[269]


Well might Augustine Thierry call the Middle Ages the real epoch of liberty. Even in the Papal States, the government of which at this period might naturally be supposed to have been redolent of absolutism, the Popes of those days carried on their government in union with their people,—that is, with the “Roman Republic.” It was not until 1353 that Cardinal Albornoz, legate of Pope Innocent VI. (residing at Avignon), tried to introduce a sovereignty like that in other monarchies by destroying the petty lords; but even he guaranteed many of the ancient privileges by his “Egidian Constitutions,” which for centuries remained the real public law of the Romagna; and down to the revolution of 1797 the pontifical sovereignty remained rather nominal than despotic. In fact, not before the Congress of Vienna, in 1815—the royal members of which, says Cantù, wished that all mediate jurisdiction should cease, and that, especially in Italy, no written rights of the people should exist,—did absolutism in any sense prevail in the Papal States.[270]

Nor was the will of a nation, as to its choice of a ruler, a thing generally ignored in the Middle Ages. In England the early kings mounted the throne only with the consent of the “witans,” or great ones;[267] and the olden writers ordinarily speak of election as the title to reign of their sovereigns. Even after the Norman Conquest, William and his first successors rested their claims on the national will. After the death of the Lion Heart, it was the great council of England, assembled at Northampton, which definitely settled the crown on John Lackland; and at the coronation at Westminster the primate justified the exclusion of Arthur by alleging the right of the nation to choose, from among the royal princes, him who seemed to be most worthy of the sceptre. In Germany, after the death of the last descendant of the German branch of Charlemagne, an assembly of the lords placed Conrad I. on the throne,—subject, of course, as was ever the case, to confirmation by the Roman Pontiff. This right to choose the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire afterward passed to the ten, and then to the seven Electors. In France, from the very origin of the monarchy, the nation participated in the inauguration of the supreme power. Under the Carlovingian dynasty the sovereign was proclaimed in a general assembly, and then raised on a buckler supported by the chiefs of the nation. And these notables exercised, down to the fall of the Merovingian dynasty, the right to depose unworthy kings; thus, Childeric I. was deposed[268] because of his oppressions, and Childeric III. on account of imbecility.

When Charlemagne divided his states among his three sons, he decreed that “if one of the three brothers should have a son whom the people would be willing to elect to the kingdom of his father, his uncles should consent.” Similar dispositions were made by Louis le Debonnaire in his two successive divisions of the empire. When Louis le Bégue was crowned at Compiégne, he styled himself “King, by the mercy of God and the choice of the people.” On the death of Louis V., his successor by heredity should have been his uncle, Charles of Lorraine; but as that prince had alienated the hearts of the people, the prelates and lords met at Senlis in 987, and gave the crown of Charlemagne to Hugh Capet. Nor can it be said that the people were ignored in all this development of the exercise of political right; for the Third Estate—all of the nation that was not clergy or nobility[271]—shows itself during the Middle Ages ever vigorous and aggressive. In France, at least, the political life of the Third Estate began with the monarchy. After the king came his[269] “leudes,” or great vassals, who were the source of the nobility, or “grande noblesse”; then came the people, composed of freemen (“ingenui”) and serfs. The freemen, possessors of their own lands (called “allodiales”), were obliged to military service. These men voted in the general assemblies of the nation or the Champs de Mars or of May. Behold the origin of the Third Estate. But with the twelfth century began the great influence of this body. Louis le Gros emancipated the Communes, gave liberty to the cities, and thus started municipal life. The Benedictine Abbot Suger—the greatest statesman of his age, who ruled France under Louis le Jeune,—developed these liberties, and very soon serfdom disappeared in the greater part of the kingdom. Under the Capetian kings, the Estates General, properly so called, succeeded the old assemblies of the nation, the first solemn reunion being held under the arches of Notre Dame de Paris in 1302, and the people having their votes and cahiers equally with the clergy and nobility. And the resolutions of this assembly surpass, in some respects, the modern guarantees of constitutional government.[272]

Montesquieu, that genius whom Cantù appropriately characterizes as “imprisoned in his own century,” was constrained, despite his prejudice as to the “barbarism” of mediæval law, to avow that government was then “well moderated”; and precisely[270] because “the civil liberties of the people, the prerogatives of the nobility and clergy, and the power of the sovereign, moved in concert.” When even the positivist Augustin Thierry declares that the Middle Ages formed “the true epoch of freedom,” one is prepared to hear Montalembert—who, with the sole exception of Cantù, penetrated the spirit of this calumniated period better than any other modern publicist—announcing his conviction that “the Middle Ages were the era of really representative government, of institutions more sincerely and efficaciously representative than any which have been imagined since that time. Yes, representative government was born in the Middle Ages, and belongs to them. It was born of a natural combination of the elements which then constituted society; it came from the common action of the Church, Catholic royalty, the owners of the land, and the emancipated municipalities.”



Among the many romances which contributed, more than any real historical merit, to the vogue of Voltaire’s “Age of Louis XIV.,” one of the most famous is that of the Man with the Iron Mask. But in 1745, seven years before the publication of the cynic’s much-vaunted travesty on the history of a great period, there had appeared at Amsterdam a fantastic description of the court of France, in which, under imaginary names, were represented the chief celebrities of that brilliant galaxy, a gloomy prominence being given to the mysterious man of the hidden face. This work, styled “Secret Memoirs in Illustration of the History of Persia,” had been issued anonymously; but there are not wanting arguments to show that Voltaire, jealous of the fame accruing to Montesquieu from his “Persian Letters,” was its author. Be this as it may, the Sage of Ferney adopted the clandestine writer’s version of the story which then, and for many years afterward, agitated the curious throughout Europe. In his first edition of the “Age of Louis XIV.” (two volumes in 12mo), Voltaire gave no details concerning the Iron Mask; but in the enlarged editions, issued in and after 1753, he spoke more explicitly than any other writer had hitherto done, even drawing the portrait of the victim,[272] describing his mask with hinges at the mouth, and assigning the date of his first imprisonment and of his death.

According to the fantastic “Persian Memoirs,” Shah Abas (Louis XIV.) had two sons: one legitimate, named Sephi Mirza (Louis, dauphin of France); and one illegitimate, Giafer (Count de Vermandois, by Mlle. de la Vallière). These two princes hated each other, and one day Giafer struck his brother in the face. Shah Abas informed his council of this outrage, which, according to the Persian law, was punishable with death; but it was resolved to send Giafer to the army, then acting on the frontiers of Feldran (Flandre), and to represent him as killed; then he was to be secretly transferred to the citadel of the island of Ormus (Isles Sainte-Marguerite), and there perpetually confined. Only one of Giafer’s servants was intrusted with this state secret, and he was killed by the escort during the journey to Ormus. The commander of Ormus treated his prisoner with great respect, himself bringing his meals and waiting at his table, and no other person was ever allowed to see his face. One day the prince scratched his name on a plate, and when the dish was handed to the commander by the slave who had observed the writing, the unfortunate discoverer was put to death. After many years of confinement at Ormus, the prisoner was transported to the citadel of Ispahan (the Bastile), remaining in charge of the same commander, now promoted to the governorship of the latter fortress. Throughout[273] his entire imprisonment, which lasted until his death, Giafer was forced to wear a mask whenever sickness or any other important reason compelled him to be seen by others than his jailer. Such persons reported that the governor always treated his mysterious charge with scrupulous respect, and that the prisoner showed great familiarity with the commander, always addressing him as “thou.” The author of the “Persian Memoirs” represents Giafer as yet living in 1723; for he states that Ali-Homajou (the Duke of Orleans) died shortly after a visit to the prince, and we know that Orleans died in 1723, eight years after the death of Louis XIV.

Such, then, is the substance of all the legends concerning the Iron Mask, which have appeared from the “Persian Memoirs” to the famous novel of the elder Dumas. Louis XV. once said, when pressed, as he often was concerning this strange episode in the reign of the grand monarch: “Let people dispute about it; as yet no one has told the truth concerning it.” And once, in a moment of confidence, he said to Laborde, his first valet de chambre: “You wish me to tell you something about the Iron Mask? Well, this much more than any one else you may learn: the imprisonment of that unfortunate hurt no one but himself.”

For many years seven theories were presented as to the identity of this personage. Various investigators or romancists discerned him in the Count de Vermandois, a natural son of Louis XIV. by Mlle. de La Vallière; in a son of Anne of Austria by De[274] Richelieu; in the Duke of Beaufort, high-admiral of France, confined, it is supposed, lest he might have interfered with the projects of Colbert, then Minister of Marine; in Arwedicks, schismatic patriarch, captured and imprisoned, it was said, at the instigation of the Jesuits; in the Duke of Monmouth, not executed therefore by James II.; in Henry Cromwell, second son of the Protector; and finally in Mattioli, secretary of the Duke of Mantua, whose political influence Louis XIV. feared. Let us briefly examine the arguments adduced for each of these parties.

The theory that the Count de Vermandois was the Man with the Iron Mask was patronized not only by Voltaire, but by Griffet,[273] a Jesuit writer who had been confessor at the Bastile for nine years, and had enjoyed exceptional advantages as an investigator of this question. He cites the manuscript Journal of du Junca, governor of the Bastile in 1698, and the mortuary registers of the parish of St. Paul in Paris; and from these documents he proves that the masked prisoner arrived at the Bastile from Pignerol on September 18, 1698, and that he died on November 19, 1703. He leans toward the supposition that the prisoner was Vermandois,[274] merely because the date of the pre[275]sumed death of that prince on the Flemish frontier coincides with the one which he fixes for the commencement of the masked person’s captivity,—that is, 1683. But Griffet gives no reason for assigning this year rather than the one preferred by Voltaire, 1661; or rather than 1669, the one adopted by Lagrange Chancel;[275] or rather than 1685, the one selected by Saint-Foix.[276]

However, Griffet was refuted by Saint-Foix, who found proof in the registers of the cathedral chapter of Arras, that Louis XIV. had buried his son in the vault of Elizabeth de Vermandois (wife of Philippe d’Alsace, Count of France), who died in 1182; while the registers of St. Paul’s state that the masked prisoner was interred in the cemetery of that parish. The registers of the chapter of Arras show that great respect was paid to the remains of Vermandois, whereas M. de Palteau, a descendant of Saint-Mars (the custodian of our prisoner), informed Saint-Foix that it was a tradition in his family that chemicals had been placed in the coffin of the unknown, for the quicker destruction of the body.[277] And, what is more conclusive of all, there exists a letter of Barbezieux to Saint-Mars, written on August 13, 1691, in which the masked individual is described as having been already in the officer’s custody “for twenty years”; whereas it is certain that the Count de Vermandois[276] died, or (according to Voltaire and Griffet) disappeared, as lately as 1683.[278]

As to the theory that the mysterious personage was an illegitimate[279] son of Anne of Austria, Queen of Louis XIII., by the Cardinal de Richelieu, there is no need to soil these pages with any detailed refutation. Elsewhere we have dwelt at some length on the character of the great statesman, and conclusively shown that no valid charges have been brought against his morality; while as to the inculpated Queen, not one argument has ever been adduced to prove either her guilt in this particular case, or any departure whatever from conjugal duty. One observation alone will suffice to relegate the present charge to oblivion. On November 17, 1697, Barbezieux wrote to Saint-Mars that he should “never inform any person whomsoever as to what the prisoner had done.” He would not have used such language, had the only fault of the masked one been that of his birth.

In 1758, M. Lagrange-Chancel, who had been confined in the citadel of Sainte-Marguerite in 1718, and who had collected there much traditionary evi[277]dence concerning the masked prisoner detained in the citadel not many years before, published a refutation of the lies and errors in the “Age of Louis XIV.”; and among other things bearing on the Iron Mask, declared that M. de Lamotte-Guérin, governor of the Isles, had assured him that the prisoner was the Duke of Beaufort, admiral of France, generally supposed to have been killed at Candia, but confined by Colbert as a precautionary measure. But, as Griffet observed, Beaufort was incapable of interfering with the projects of Colbert for the good of his country, and even had he been so disposed, he had not the power, since his functions were limited to those of “grand master, and superintendent of navigation and commerce,” the post of high-admiral having been suppressed by Richelieu. And modern historians are well satisfied that Beaufort was killed at Candia.

In 1825 M. de Taules published a pamphlet in which he accused the Jesuits of having caused the abduction and imprisonment, first at the Isles Sainte-Marguerite, and then in the Bastile, of Arwedicks, a schismatic patriarch, who was, he says, “a mortal enemy of our religion, and a cruel persecutor of the Armenian Catholics.” De Taules identified Arwedicks with the Iron Mask, and says that he died in the Bastile.[280] But documents in the Foreign Office[278] at Paris prove that Arwedicks was removed from Turkey, “during the embassy of M. Feriol at Constantinople,”[281] which began in 1699. Now, Saint-Mars brought his masked prisoner to the Bastile in 1698, and he had already been in captivity many years. Again, Arwedicks joined the Roman communion, was liberated, and died in freedom.[282]

The theory of Saint-Foix, identifying the mask with the Duke of Monmouth, a natural son of Charles II., decapitated for repeated rebellions, on July 15, 1685, obtained great favor among lovers of the marvellous. But how could a substitution have been effected successfully in the case of one condemned to public execution, and whose appearance was so familiar to the officers and guards of the Tower, and to the whole people of London? Again, granting this to have been possible, would not the existence of Monmouth, in French custody, have transpired after the English revolution of 1688? But the letter of Barbezieux to Saint-Mars in 1691, speaking of the latter officer’s prisoner as having been already in his custody for twenty years, destroys the hypothesis of Saint-Foix.

As to Henry Cromwell, second son of the Protector, there is not a shadow of probability in favor of his having been the mysterious prisoner. Why[279] should the French Government have disturbed his repose, while allowing his brother Richard, the quondam successor of Oliver, perfect freedom in France?

Nor can Mattioli, secretary of the Duke of Mantua, have been the disputed individual; for he certainly died in 1681. Again, all authors agree in accepting the abundant and indisputable evidence that the famous prisoner was always treated with the greatest respect compatible with his isolation from the outside world, while the correspondence of the royal ministers and officers concerning Mattioli, is redolent of contempt for that person. Thus Catinat writes to Louvois about “that knave”; and Louvois admires the patience of Saint-Mars in not treating “that rogue as he merits, when he is wanting in respect to the governor.”

Who, then, was this man with the Iron Mask? Very strong, if not most conclusive, arguments are adduced by M. Paul Lacroix in his apposite work, and strengthened by Barthélemy, to show that he was no other than the celebrated Fouquet, superintendent of finance under Louis XIV., who was condemned in 1664 to perpetual imprisonment for malfeasance in office, peculation, and projected high-treason.

Firstly, the precautions taken in guarding Fouquet, while at Pignerol, were very like those used in regard to the masked prisoner of Sainte-Marguerite and the Bastile. When the Chamber of Justice had condemned Fouquet to perpetual exile, the King, we[280] read in the “Défenses de M. Fouquet,” judging that there “was great danger in allowing the said Fouquet to leave the kingdom, because of his intimate knowledge of many affairs of state,” deemed it prudent to change the punishment to perpetual imprisonment. The culprit was placed in a carriage with four guards, and in custody of M. de Saint-Mars, and escorted by one hundred musketeers, was conducted to the castle of Pignerol. His physician and valet were subjected to the same confinement as their master, “lest they might be a means of communication between him and his friends.” And in the “Instruction” given to Saint-Mars for his guidance in the care of Fouquet, which paper was signed by Louis XIV., he is forbidden to allow Fouquet to have any communication with any living person other than Saint-Mars himself, “either by speech, writing, or visit”; and the culprit must never leave his apartment, “even for a walk.” Saint-Mars can furnish him with books, but “only one at a time; and he must carefully examine each book when he removes it, lest any writing or cipher be therein hidden.” The prisoner, of course, was to have no paper, ink, etc. He could have a confessor when he so desired; but “the priest must be notified only the moment before hearing the said Fouquet, and he must always have a different confessor.” And Saint-Mars was to “keep his Majesty informed as to what the prisoner did.” Now, all these exceptional precautions, and those indicated in the numerous letters of Louvois to Saint-Mars, exactly corres[281]pond with those adopted in the case of the Iron Mask.

Secondly, most of the traditions concerning this individual can easily be accommodated to Fouquet. Take, for instance, that of the plate with writing scratched on it, flung from a window and found by a slave. According to Papon,[283] who heard this from the son of one of the guards of the mask, it was not a plate, but a shirt, on which the prisoner had written “from one end to the other.” Now, this story reminds us of two passages concerning Fouquet in letters from Louvois to Saint-Mars—“I have received your letter, as well as the napkin on which M. Fouquet wrote”; and, “You may tell him that if he turns his table linen into writing-paper, he need not be surprised if you give him no more.” Again, all the tokens of respect, the many courtesies of refinement, the elegant furniture, etc., accorded to the mysterious man of Sainte-Marguerite and the Bastile were extended to Fouquet at Pignerol.

Thirdly, it is far from certain that Fouquet died in 1680, as was reported. The contradictions of his contemporaries on this subject are strange, and there is an almost entire absence of documentary evidence.

Fourthly, political reasons might have easily induced Louis XIV. to cause the spread of a report of the death of Fouquet. It has been the[282] fashion among most modern historians to sympathize with, if not to laud, Fouquet as much as they have decried his successor, Colbert. The modern “liberal” school could not be expected to see willingly any good in him who was bequeathed to his sovereign by the dying Mazarin, any more than they do in the latter, recommended as his own successor by the moribund Richelieu. But an inspection of the report of Fouquet’s trial must satisfy any impartial mind that the famous superintendent merited the extreme displeasure of Louis XIV. as a reckless prodigal of the public money, and an arch-conspirator against the crown.

Another reason for the monarch’s aversion is sometimes found in the supposed audacity of Fouquet in pretending to rival Louis in the affections of Mlle. de La Vallière; but that view of the character of the grand monarch, which ever espies the lover behind the king, is essentially absurd. One need only read that criminating document, written entirely by the hand of Fouquet, and found hidden at the back of a mirror in his apartment, to become convinced of his transcendent guilt. “In reading this paper,” says the impartial Peter Clement,[284] “one can not tell whether he should be more astonished at the extraordinary levity of the writer, or at his seemingly ingenuous confidence in the devotion to himself of those men[283] whom he had deluged in money, or at the crazy notion he had conceived as to his own importance in the state. . . . In every line is evidence of his malfeasance, of his abuse of the public treasury in order to attach creatures to himself to the injury of the state, and of his programme of civil war.”[285] In consigning Fouquet to perpetual imprisonment, Louis XIV. executed a judicious stroke of statesmanship; and if, as we suppose, he gave out that the still influential criminal had died, he deprived the opposition cliques of their most powerful pretext.

Fifthly, Saint-Mars and Louvois, whenever writing about Fouquet before the date of his alleged death, always use the same significant phrase, “my”[284] or “your prisoner,” although the former had many other prisoners in charge; and after the first apparition of the mask, both Louvois and Barbezieux adopt this phrase.

As to the death of the mysterious prisoner, we learn from the diary of M. du Junca that it occurred on November 19, 1703, and that he was buried on November 20, in the cemetery of St. Paul’s. The parochial register states that “on November 19, 1703, Marchialy, aged about forty-five years, died in the Bastile, and his body was interred in the cemetery of St. Paul’s, his parish.” Marchialy is the name by which tradition has nearly always described this personage, but why we can not discover. It is certain, however, that in those days, as in ours, prisoners were generally called by other names than their own, and that these pseudonyms were frequently changed, in the case of state offenders, to baffle the schemes of their friends.

When the Bastile fell into the hands of the raging mob, on July 14, 1789, search was made at once for some evidence as to the identity of the masked charge of Saint-Mars. A periodical of the day informs us that there was found a paper marked 61,389,000, and the words, “Foucquet,[286] coming from the Isles Sainte-Marguerite, with an iron mask.” Then followed, X. X. X., and underneath, “Kersadion.” When this discovery was made known, people recalled to mind a saying in the supplement to the “Age[285] of Louis XIV.,” to the effect that Chamillart, Minister of State, had said that the Iron Mask “was a man who possessed all the secrets of Fouquet.” Unfortunately, however, for any prospect of certainty in the question we have been examining, the interesting paper just mentioned no longer exists.[287]



During the first years of Islamism the Christian nations felt little reason for concern as to their own future. Regarding the new religionists as a mere horde of children of the desert, they could not realize that their own peace, still less their independence in the political order, would ever be seriously threatened from that quarter. And even if they had foreseen the great spread of Mohammedanism, and all the baneful consequences thence, of necessity, to ensue, they were just then in no condition to forestall the enemy’s attack. As yet Christendom was not united in the Western Empire, and when, in time, that effort of pontifical statesmanship opened a new era of strength and prosperity to Europe, the arrogance, and afterward the schism, of the Greeks prevented any unanimous action against the enemies of the Christian name. But in the eleventh century, the invasion of the Seljuk Turks, who had abandoned the religion of Zoroaster for Islamism, infused a northern ferocity into the comparatively soft nature of the Arabs, and during the pontificate of St. Gregory VII. the Crescent was frequently seen from the towers of Constantinople. From time to time Europe was horrified by accounts of the fearful[287] oppression endured by the Christians of Palestine; of bishops and priests being dragged from the altar to prison; of brutal outrages upon persons of both sexes and of every age.

The schismatic arrogance of the Greeks was compelled to yield, and the Emperor Michael Ducas (Parapinax) begged for aid from the detested Latins. St. Gregory VII. heeded the cry, and, although he knew that the promise was extorted by dire temporal necessity, and not by regard for religious unity, he was disposed to believe that Ducas was sincere in the avowed intention to put an end to the schism. All Christendom was invited to raise an army for the service of God, and the Pontiff declared in a letter to King Henry IV. of Germany that he hoped, “having pacified the Normans, to himself proceed to Constantinople, in aid of the Christians.” Fifty thousand warriors promised to follow him, but other interests prevailed, and the great enterprise was postponed, until Pope Victor III. had the satisfaction, in 1088, of seeing the Genoese, Pisans, and other Italians, receive from his hands the standard of St. Peter, and set out to fight for the Cross and for civilization. This first expedition to check the inroads of Mohammedanism was comparatively successful. Landing in Africa, it destroyed or disabled more than a hundred thousand Saracens, burned a city, imposed tribute on a Moorish king, and returned to Italy with many rich spoils, which were used to decorate the churches of the victors.[288] But this inroad into the domains of[288] Islam was merely a prelude to the great Crusades.

The impulse to the first Crusade (1096-1100) was given by an obscure individual, rude in feature and in manner, but who had been raised by solitude and prayer to such sanctity, that he was popularly supposed to enjoy direct communication with Heaven. Known only as Peter the Hermit, he left his native Amiens in 1093, and made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Touched to the quick by the melancholy condition of the holy places, he seemed to hear, while prostrate before the Holy Sepulchre, the voice of Jesus commanding: “Arise, Peter; go and announce to My people the end of their oppression. Let My servants come, and the Holy Land shall be freed.” He returned to Europe, and falling at the feet of Pope Urban II., he urged that Pontiff to carry out the design of his predecessors. The Pope blessed him, and commissioned him to preach a Crusade; he did so throughout Europe, travelling barefooted and bareheaded, clothed in sackcloth, crucifix in hand, and mounted on a mule. William of Tyre (ob. about 1180) tells us that Peter was “insignificant in person, but his eye was keen and pleasing, and he possessed an easy flow of eloquence.” Everywhere he astonished people by his austerities, and moved their sympathies by his graphic picture of the woes of Palestine. He cried to sinners: “Soldiers of the demon, become warriors of Christ”; and all who had crimes to expiate or injuries to[289] repair seized on this means of reconciling themselves with God. The feudatories, the younger sons of reigning families (all trained to war, and having scarcely any other means of occupying their time), joyfully volunteered.

While Peter was thus engaged, there came from Constantinople letters from the Greek Emperor, Alexis Comnenus, begging aid from the Latins, as the “new Rome” was in imminent danger of falling into the hands of its enemies. In 1095 Urban II. convoked a council at Piacenza to devise ways and means. Over 200 bishops, 4,000 priests, and 30,000 laymen, listened to the Pontiff’s discourse, which was delivered in the open air. Another assembly was ordered to convene at Clermont in Auvergne, and on November 18 of the same year, 238 bishops obeyed the summons. Here the Pontiff made use of every argument, religious and political, to further the cause. From his discourse, not as embellished by Michaud, but as it was recorded in its simplicity by William of Malmesbury,[289] who was present at its delivery, we take the following passages:

“Go, my brothers, go with confidence to attack the enemies of God, who—oh, shame to Christians!—are so long in possession of Syria and Armenia. Long since they mastered all Asia Minor; and now they have insulted us in Illyria and all the neighboring regions, even so far as the Straits of St. George. And they have done worse: they have robbed us of[290] the tomb of Jesus Christ, that wonderful monument of our faith; they sell to our pilgrims permission to enter a city which would be open to Christians alone, if we had only a little of our ancient valor. Ought not our faces to be suffused with blushes of shame? Who, unless they who envy the Christian glory, can suffer the indignity of not being able to share with the infidels at least a half of the world? Christians, put an end to your own misdeeds, and let concord reign among you while in these distant lands. Go, then, and in this most noble enterprise show the valor and prudence you now display in your intestine contests. Go, ye warriors, and your praises will everywhere be heard. Let the well-known bravery of the French be shown in the van; followed by the allies, their very name will terrify the enemy. . . . If necessary, your bodies will redeem your souls.

“Do you, men of courage and of exemplary intrepidity, fear death? Human wickedness can invent nothing to injure you which is to be compared with celestial glory. Do you not know that life is a misery to man, and that happiness is in death? The sermons of priests have caused us to receive this doctrine with our mother’s milk; and the martyrs, our ancestors, sustained this doctrine with their example. . . . The sanctuary of God repels the spoiler and the ribald, and welcomes the pious man. Let not the love of your relatives impede you; principally to God does man owe his love. Let not your progress be arrested by your affection for your native[291] land; for the entire world may be regarded as a place of exile for Christians, and their country as the entire world. Let no one remain at home because of his riches; for greater wealth is promised him—a wealth composed, not of those things which soften our misery only with vain expectation, but of those which perpetual and daily instances show us are the only true riches. . . . These things I publish and command, and for their execution I appoint the end of the coming spring.”

Throughout the assembly was then heard the cry which the Crusaders were to render famous, “God wills it!” A cardinal recited the formula of general confession; all repeated it, and received absolution. Admar de Monteil, Bishop of Puy, received the cross as Papal Legate, and this emblem of the Crusade was then given to nearly all the barons and even to many bishops.

The first Crusade lasted from 1096 to 1100; the second, from 1147 to 1149; the third, from 1189 to 1193; the fourth, from 1202 to 1204; the fifth and sixth, from 1218 to 1239; the seventh and eighth, from 1248 to 1270. Frequent attempts were afterwards made to renew these holy wars, and many isolated expeditions were undertaken; but, as Pomponne, Minister of Louis XIV., remarked to Leibnitz, “since the time of St. Louis, such things have been out of fashion.” Bacon wrote a dialogue on the Holy War. Mazarin left 600,000 livres to help a Crusade. The famous Friar Joseph, the Francis[292]can counsellor of Richelieu, composed on this subject a Latin poem which Pope Urban VIII. called the Christian Æneid. In 1670 Leibnitz tried to induce Louis XIV. to conquer Egypt, and in his design, reduced to writing, he said:

“Then Europe will rest, will cease to tear her own bowels, and will fix her attention where she may find honor, victory, advantage, and wealth, with a good conscience, and in a manner pleasing to God. Then men will not rival one another in robbery, but in reducing the power of the hereditary foe; each one will strive to extend, not his own kingdom, but that of Christ. . . . Let us suppose that the Emperor, Poland, and Sweden, proceed together against the barbarians, and seek to widen the limits of Christendom, having no other designs, and fearing no enemies in their rear: how the blessing of God would show itself in favor of so just a cause! On the other hand, England and Denmark would find themselves in front of North America; Spain, before South; Holland, before the West Indies. France is destined by Providence to be the guide to Christian armies in the East, to give to Christendom her Godfreys, her Baldwins, and especially her SS. Louis, who will invade that Africa just opposite her shores, to destroy a nest of pirates and to conquer Egypt—she wants neither the soldiers nor the money necessary to become the mistress of that land. . . . Behold a way to acquire a lasting glory, a tranquil conscience, universal applause, certain victory, immense advantages. Then will[293] be attained that hope of the philosopher, that men will make war only on wolves and other wild beasts, to which the barbarians and infidels may now be compared.”[290]

Those who desire, in the matter of the Crusades, details of fact, causes, and effects, should consult the “Deeds of God through the Franks,” by William of Tyre; and the history written by the Imperial Anna Comnena. Among moderns we may read with profit the “Spirit of the Crusades,” by De-Maillet; and the “History of the Crusades,” by Michaud, which, although full of prejudice, is the most complete of all works on this subject. Much information may also be gained from the “Life of[294] Innocent III.,” by Hurter; and from Prat’s “Peter the Hermit and the First Crusade.” The French Academy of Inscriptions published, in 1841, a collection of all the Latin, Greek, and Oriental historians of the Crusades; the Greek portion being composed of fragments of Nicephorus Briennius, Anna Comnena, Nicetas Coniates, John Phocas, and Michael Attaliates. As for the modern English authors who have written on the Crusades, some are pretentious, few recommendable. Of all who, in any language, have treated this subject, Cantù is the most impartial, and the most appreciative of the spirit which prompted and sustained one of the most salient features of the Middle Age; he will also fully satisfy the reader’s curiosity as to chivalry, tournaments, “courts of love,” the oaths customary at the time, the military religious orders, the trova tori—an acquaintance with all of which matters will greatly facilitate a comprehension of the events of the Crusades.

Many causes have contributed to an unjust appreciation of the value of the Crusades, but they may be all referred to the difficulty experienced by the average modern mind in understanding the spirit of the Middle Age. Add to this the fact that these Holy Wars were pre-eminently the work of the Roman Pontiffs, and, therefore, a natural object of carping criticism to all the foes of Catholicism, and you will be surprised when you find, now and then, a Protestant or an infidel writer who can see in them aught else but cruel injustice to both Christian[295] and Islamite; or, at best, anything better than sublime folly. In defending the policy that prompted these Crusades, in upholding their justice, in contending that they were necessary, humanly speaking, to the very existence of Christianity, we do not apologize for each and every action of their leaders, or of the rank and file of their participants; it is but too true that, as in other noble designs, many of the instruments were found to be full of flaws. We must distinguish the motives of the Crusaders.

The Popes, most of the kings and princes, and nearly all the leaders, who took part in these expeditions, were impelled by the desire of banishing the infidel from the places sanctified by the life and death of the God-Man—by the desire of freeing a Christian people from a slavery that was cruel to the body and threatening to the soul. They felt the necessity of arresting the progress of an inexorable and barbarous enemy, who was menacing that Christian civilization which the Catholic Church had developed in nearly the whole, and was then planting in the rest, of Europe; they knew that the most efficacious means of doing this was by carrying war into Asia and Africa, by convincing Islam that Christendom could fight as well as pray. These motives were certainly noble. But among the masses, while the religious motive undoubtedly predominated with the immense majority, so that it may truly be said to have furnished the life and soul of the expeditions, other motives were sometimes mingled—[296]some of them base, some indifferent. Many who groaned at home under the feudal system hoped to find another lot awaiting them in the East; some were impelled by a curiosity to see those lands about which pilgrims had told such wonderful stories; some, undoubtedly, were incited by mere love of adventure. If these latter classes were guilty of excesses—nay, if even some of the leaders acted more like condottieri than like soldiers of Christ—the good name of the cause should not suffer.

Those who affect horror at the sacrifice of two millions of Christian lives during the two centuries of the Crusades, do not, as a general thing, descant upon the great loss of life that purely secular wars have entailed, and yet entail, upon mankind. And how great is the difference between these and the Holy Wars, both as to causes and effects! In the former, in nearly every case, men are taken from their firesides to kill and be killed without knowing the reason for it; in the latter, they knew, thoroughly appreciated, and heartily applauded the reason. But, we are told, this knowledge, this appreciation, was that of superstition, and the hope of success was a folly. The Crusaders were certainly guilty of superstition, if a vivid and life-sacrificing devotion to our faith, if a hearty reverence for everything connected with that faith, be superstition. We need not pause here to show that Christianity, felt and outwardly professed, is not superstition.

But what about the folly of these wars? Not that supernatural effervescence which is known as[297] the folly of the Cross—for if that be understood, the Crusades were a folly—but a sheer absurdity is here intended. Well, now that the holy fever is at an end, and we can calmly criticise each and every one of its symptoms and consequences, many errors of management are discoverable; but at the time the attack on the strongholds of Islam was decreed, every reason, military and political, could be adduced for the success of the project. Common sense assured the Western nations that the Byzantine Emperor, bearing, as he did, the first brunt of the Mussulman attack, would cordially and gratefully assist the enterprise; who could have foreseen the insane treachery of the entire schismatic tribe?

But what of the justice of the Crusades? The Islamites were pronounced religious and political enemies of the European nations. It was of the very essence of their religion—and too well did they practise it—to spread their faith by fire and sword, to enjoy the earth and its fullness. They had already subjugated the once flourishing Christian states of the East, and in many of them had almost destroyed every vestige of the Christian religion; they had conquered a great part of the Iberian Peninsula; they had devastated a large portion of Italy, and, for a time, had even threatened France; in fine, to the Mussulman every war against a Christian state or community was holy. Where was the injustice of warring against such a race of men? Consider also that war, and war[298] à l’outrance, was the only means by which Europe could save herself from barbarism, her women from degradation, her children from slavery.

Our age affects to detest mere sentiment, and is pre-eminently utilitarian. For this very reason it should admire the Crusades. The first great advantage they brought to Europe was frequent internal peace where intestine war had been the order of the day; the Christian swords that had so often crossed one another in unworthy strife were now turned against the common enemy of the Christian altar and of every Christian government. The Normans and other ferocious Northerners, who would have impeded the progress of civilization along the shores of the Baltic and the German Ocean, found an outlet for their warlike enthusiasm in distant Asia; and “this expedition” (the second Crusade) says Krantz (“Sax.,” c. 13) “at least effected the freeing of Germany from a set of men who lived by robbing others.” Many a district hitherto living in awe of some petty tyrant, who, like an eagle from his eyry, had been wont to pounce down upon it on an errand of rapine, thanked the campaigns of Asia and Africa for affording such men an opportunity of satisfying their tastes away from home. Thousands of serfs, by taking the Cross, threw off the yoke of what was little less than slavery; for the Crusader became a servant of God and of the Church, and a freeman. Strangers who took up their abode in[299] the domains of some petty lord, used to become his serfs: now the pilgrim was sacred.

Industry was advanced by means of the Crusades. The silks of Damascus were coveted by the Westerns, and Palermo, Lucca, Modena, and Milan became noted for the fabrics they wove for the lords and ladies who were no longer satisfied with the skins of beasts for clothing. The glassware of Tyre was introduced by the Venetians, and soon the ingenious sons of the Republic manufactured the beautiful and delicate crystals which have given its artisans celebrity to our own day. Windmills, till then not used, if at all known, in Europe, were copied from those in Asia Minor, where they were necessary, owing to the want of running waters. The goldsmith’s art received an impetus from the numerous relics and gems brought from the Orient, and which had to be richly set and mounted.

Another advantage of the Crusades was the better administration of justice; when intestine war had become rare, order reappeared; the great ones of the earth commenced to consider their followers as their poor ones—pauperes nostri,—for these inferiors were now freed from local servitude, and began to unlearn the customs of hereditary serfdom. Government was better developed; communes and republics came into existence, and gave equal laws even to the lands of the absent barons, elevating public over private power. The common[300] people, during the long absences of the lords, depended upon the superior power of the kings; and thus was prepared, for the ultimate good of the nation, the fall of feudalism. The royal authority was constantly being increased by the acquisition of fiefs, either made vacant by death, or sold to the crown that their lords might obtain money for the Holy Wars.

Still another advantage of the Crusades is thus described by Cantù: “In the fragmentary society of feudalism, each one’s country was bounded by the hedge that inclosed his field; it was expensive and dangerous to cross the bridge that spanned the neighboring little torrent, in sight of the castle of the next proprietor. But suddenly the barriers fall, and whole nations enter on roads hitherto closed. Then the Northerners beheld in Italy, the relics of ancient, and the commencement of a new, civilization; at Bologna, they heard lectures on the Pandects; at Salerno and Monte Cassino, they attended medical academies; at Thessalonica, they visited schools of fine art; at Constantinople, they inspected libraries and museums. James de Vitry expresses his wonder at finding the Italians ‘secret in counsel, diligent, studious, of public utility, careful for the future, detesting the yoke of another, ardent defenders of their liberties.’ In Sicily and in Venice, whither they came to embark, they found more regular forms of government, and their astonishment on seeing[301] all the citizens of Venice convoked to give assent to the decree of the doge, inspired ideas of a liberty very different from the German. When they were established on the new soil, they gave attention to a proper jurisprudence, which should not be imposed by force, but should be discussed by the reason of nations who deemed themselves equal, and who desired their own real advancement. The ‘Assizes’ that were then compiled became models for princes and communes; St. Louis profited by them for his ‘Establishments,’ and perhaps the English found in them the idea of their boasted jury. From the method of gathering tithes, then imposed by the Church, kings learned a regular system of taxes, which, if they became perpetual, at least ceased to be arbitrary and multifold.”

With reference to the effects which the Crusades produced on the arts and letters of Europe, the same author says: “Since it is certain that the Crusades retarded the fall of Constantinople, I believe that literature profited by them: for Europe was not yet sufficiently mature to receive the classics there preserved, as she did in the fifteenth century. In fact, of two rich libraries which then perished, no chronicler makes any mention, of so little account were they deemed; masterpieces of art were brutally ruined, unless when the Italians, especially the Venetians, preserved them to decorate their own cities. Look at Pisa, Genoa, and[302] the Norman edifices in Italy, and you will find them rich in columns and statues transferred from the East,—a fact which reveals a resurrection of the sentiment of the beautiful, and explains the sudden development of the arts among us. Literature came forth from the sanctuary when all took part in universal enterprises; style was elevated when history passed from municipal events to prodigies of valor; poetry found in reality that at which, by mere imagination, it would never have arrived.”[291]

The Crusades were also of great benefit to commerce. The commercial cities of Italy made immense profits by transporting warriors and pilgrims; and they obtained great privileges in the conquered lands, establishing banks in Syria and along the Ionian and the Black Sea. Then began the commercial prosperity of what are now Belgium and Holland, of the south of France, of Bremen and Lubeck. Citizens became wealthy, and were soon so powerful that they were able to exact rights and privileges. The sugar cane used by the Crusaders at Lebanon to assuage their terrible thirst, was transplanted to Sicily, thence carried by the Saracens to Granada, and from there taken by the Spaniards to America. Europe became acquainted with alum, indigo, and many other valuable drugs and spices; afterwards, while engaged in a search for a quick passage to the land that produced them, an Italian navigator discovered a new world.


The Crusades failed of their main object—the freedom of the Holy Land,—but they checked the progress of Mohammedanism, and permitted the continuance of the work of civilization in Europe. They need no apology; had they fully succeeded, Europe, Asia, and Africa would now, in all probability, be entirely Christian. Their main idea was both politic and just. It was certainly good policy to give rest to a state by transporting its disturbers beyond the seas; to turn this fury against the barbarians. It was certainly just to combat a ferocious people, an article of whose religion was to exterminate Christians, and who had already ravaged all Southern Europe.[292]



The Atlantic cable informs us that “the Pope and the Czar are negotiating with a view to the reunion of the Greek and Latin Churches; and that, as the Pope is willing to let the Greek Church retain its own manner of worship, it is expected that the negotiations will be successful.”[293] Good news certainly, and most consoling, if the history of past “negotiations” did not warn us not to be over sanguine as to the result of future ones.

In many minds the Russian, or, as it styles itself, the “orthodox” Church, is synonymous with the schismatic Greek Church; but it is not schismatic Greek in origin, nor is it Greek in language, polity, or government. The schismatic Greek Church is composed of those Christians who recognize the spiritual jurisdiction of the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, and is confined to the territories once embraced in the Byzantine (now known as the Ottoman) Empire,[294] with its vassal (now only quasi vassal) States—Egypt, Nubia, etc. The Russian Church communicates with the schismatic Greek[305] and, in spite of its own liturgy, which stoutly asserts the primacy of the Roman See,[295] agrees with the schismatic Greeks in rejecting the authority of the Roman Pontiff; but it is, in every respect, a national church. It recognizes no earthly authority over itself but that of the “Holy Synod,” a body entirely dependent on the Czar. Originally, the metropolitan of Russia was nominated by the sovereign, and consecrated by the Constantinopolitan patriarch; but after the schism the czars began to act, more and more, as heads of the Church. In 1589, the Patriarch Jeremiah II. recognized Job, metropolitan of Moscow, as Patriarch of Russia, and as next in rank to him of Alexandria. In the reign of Alexis Michaelovitch, father of Peter the Great, Nikon of Moscow rejected the authority of Constantinople; and in 1667, Nikon having offended Alexis, he was deposed, and the power of his successors became nominal. Peter the Great finally, in 1721, placed the government of the Russian Church in a “Holy Synod,” every member of which swears obedience to the Czar as “supreme judge in this spiritual assembly.”


The language of the Russian Church is not the Greek, but the Slavonic; and not the vernacular, but the Old Slavonic, with which the people are not familiar. Protestants are much mistaken when, reading that the Greeks, Syrians, Copts, etc., celebrate their services in Greek, Syriac, Coptic, etc., they imagine they discover an example for their own use of the vernacular. The languages used in the rituals of these peoples are very different from those in daily use. Nor do the Russians owe their conversion to the Greek schismatic Church. This conversion was effected by the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church; for whether, as we learn from Constantine Porphyrogenitus, the first missionaries to Russia were sent by the Catholic Patriarch Ignatius (867), or, as Nestor asserts, they were sent by the schismatic Photius (866), it is certain that no real impression was made upon the Russian masses until toward the end of the tenth century,[296] when the Grand Duke Vladimir, called “the Apostolic,” embraced Christianity; and at that time the Greeks were in communion with Rome. The revival of the schism, by Michael Cerularius, did not much[307] affect the Russians. Not until the twelfth century were they entirely seduced from the Roman obedience. Then, with the exception of the Church of Galicia,[297] most of the Russians ceased to be Catholics. However, at the time of the Council of Florence (1439) there were as many Catholics as schismatics in Russia. (Bollandists: “September,” v. 41.) About the middle of the fifteenth century, a second Photius, Archbishop of Kiev, extended the schism throughout the land.

Some authors opine that the schism of Cerularius did not affect even the entire Greek Empire in the eleventh century. Certainly, Pope Alexander II. sent Peter, Bishop of Anagni, as apocrisiarius (agent, not legate) to the Emperor Michael Ducas in 1071, and he continued as such for a whole year. When, in 1078, St. Gregory VII. excommunicated Nicephorus Botoniates, it was only because of his having dethroned Ducas, who was in communion with the Holy See. Pope Paschal II. sent Chrysolanus (or, as some write the name, Grosolanus, or Proculanus) as legate to Alexis Comnenus. Alexandre and Mansi hold that there was communion between the West and East for some time after the excommunication of Cerularius and his pretended retaliation of the same. It is noteworthy that[308] Euthymus Zygabenus, who, by order of Alexis Comnenus, collected the sayings of the Fathers against each and every heresy, makes no mention of the Latins as heretics. Even in the twelfth century there were many Greeks in communion with Rome, as we learn from the many narratives of the Crusades, from the “Alexias” of Anna Comnena, from the “Life of Manuel” by Nicetas Choniates, and from the letters (B. IV., Nos. 39, 40) of the Venerable Peter of Cluny to the Emperor John Comnenus and to the Patriarch of Constantinople.

The following remarks of Father Gagarin, than whom the reader will find no better authority on matters concerning the Russian Church, are worthy of attention: “It was only in a very indirect manner that the Russian Church was drawn into schism. The metropolitans of Kiev depended, in the hierarchical order, upon Constantinople. When the rupture between Rome and Byzantium took place, Kiev found itself separated from the centre of unity; but for a long time the Russians did not share the passions of the Greeks, and it may be said that, for a long period, merely a material schism subsisted between Rome and the Russian Church. But the clergy of Constantinople endeavored to imbue the Russians with their own prejudices and with their hatred of the Latins. They succeeded, and when the princes of Moscow manifested a design of attacking the independence of the Russian Church, this body could rely on itself alone.


“As yet no one has written the sad and touching history of the struggle which this Church, isolated from the West, and betrayed by the East, sustained against the growing ambition of the grand dukes and czars of Moscow. And, nevertheless, that history has some beautiful pages. If the Russian Church succumbed, it was not without combat or without glory. Ivan III., if not from conviction, at least ostensibly, belonged to a sect which designed to substitute Judaism for Christianity. The metropolitan of Moscow had been seduced, but the Russian Church preserved sufficient strength and independence to condemn the impure doctrines. When Ivan IV., who much resembled Henry VIII. of England, shed the blood of his subjects in torrents, and trampled on the authority of the Church to gratify his passions, Philip, metropolitan of Moscow, spoke to him with apostolic liberty, and sealed his remonstrances with his blood. But the Church continued to lose ground, and when Boris Godounov transformed the metropolitan of Moscow into a patriarch (1588), that elevation was, in his mind, for the purpose of furnishing the Czar with a willing tool.”[298]

Although the “orthodox” Russians and schismatic Greeks, like the Nestorians and Jacobites, are witnesses to the antiquity of many dogmas which Protestants regard as modern human innovations,[310] Protestant polemics ever show much sympathy for the aversion cherished by these schismatics toward the Holy See. The children of the Reformation have often endeavored to enter into communion with these separatists, but their efforts have resulted, each time, only in a formal condemnation of Protestant tenets by the progeny of Photius and Cerularius. Two of these attempts at union between the Eastern and Western opponents of Rome merit attention.

In 1574 Stephen Gerlach, a Lutheran, and preacher to the imperial embassy at Constantinople, was urged by many of his co-religionists to obtain from Jeremiah II., Patriarch of Constantinople, an endorsement of the “Confession of Augsburg” as consonant with the faith of the schismatics. But Jeremiah combatted the “Confession” as heretical, with tongue and pen. In 1672 Dositheus, schismatic Patriarch of Jerusalem, convoked a synod to consider the doctrines of Calvin, and the synodals said of the Lutheran overtures to Jeremiah: “Martin Crugius, and others well versed in the new doctrines of Luther, sent the articles of their ‘Confession’ to him who then sat on the throne of the Catholic Constantinopolitan Church, that they might learn whether they agreed in doctrine with the Oriental churches. But that great Patriarch wrote to them—yea, against them—three learned discourses, or replies, wherein he theologically and Catholicly refuted their entire heresy, and taught them the[311] orthodox doctrines which the Oriental Church received from the beginning. However, they paid no attention; for they had bidden farewell to all piety. The patriarch’s book was issued, in Greek and Latin, at Wittemberg in Germany, in the year of salvation 1584; but before the time of Jeremiah, the entire doctrine of the Oriental Church had been more fully set forth by the priest John Nathaniel, procurator of Constantinople, in his ‘Treatise on the Sacred Liturgy;’ and after the said Jeremiah, this was also done by Gabriel Severus Moreanus, Archbishop of our brethren of Crete, in his book on ‘The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church.’”[299]

Another and more celebrated attempt to unite the Western innovators and the Eastern schismatics was made in the seventeenth century. Cyril Lucar, a Candiot, was sent to the University of Padua when a youth, where he studied under the famous Margunius, Bishop of Cythera. After his graduation he travelled in Germany, and became infected with the new doctrines. Nevertheless, on his return among the Greeks he received the priesthood, and in time became Patriarch of Alexandria. In 1621, having bribed the Grand Vizier, with money furnished by the Calvinists of Holland, he was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople. He began immediately to teach Calvinism; the clergy revolted; Cyril was exiled to Rhodes, and Anthimius[312] of Adrianople was placed on the patriarchal throne. However, the intrigues of the English ambassador caused the Porte to recall Cyril, and he soon published a “Confession of Faith” of the most Calvinistic type. In 1636 the indignation of the Greeks compelled the Porte to again banish the innovator, but after three months he was once more recalled—only to be bow-stringed, by order of the Porte, in 1638.[300]

Lucar’s “Confession of Faith” appeared in Holland in 1645, and was gladly welcomed by Protestants as a harbinger of their recognition by the historically venerable churches of the East; but the consequent publication of the justly celebrated “Perpetuity of the Faith of the Catholic Church concerning the Eucharist” demonstrated the fallaciousness of their hopes.[301] They soon found that the Greeks admitted their agreement with Rome concerning most of the Catholic dogmas. Indeed,[313] as soon as Lucar’s “Confession” appeared in Constantinople, the author was synodically deposed, and Cyril of Berea was made patriarch. This prelate convoked a synod in 1638, and a condemnation of Lucar’s “Confession” was signed by the three schismatic patriarchs (of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem), and by twenty-three bishops. Soon after, bribery and intrigue procured the patriarchal chair for Parthenius of Adrianople, who in 1642 held another synod, which again reprobated Lucar’s teachings. In 1672 Dositheus of Jerusalem celebrated the synod already mentioned, which confirmed the decisions of the other assemblies.

In the “Acts” of this assembly we read that the Greek schismatics accused the Calvinists (whom they styled “liars, innovators, heretics, mendacious architects, apostates, who, like all heretics, are artificial explainers of Scripture and of the Fathers,”) of calumniating the Orientals by the assertion that the said Orientals held Calvinistic doctrine. And this assertion was made, say the bishops, in spite[314] of so many declarations of Greek patriarchs; in spite of the publication of the “orthodox” belief; in spite of the lucid treatises of many Greek doctors. Then follow eighteen chapters, in which the synodals declare that man’s free-will was not destroyed by the fall of Adam; that faith alone will not justify; that there are seven sacraments; that Baptism cleanses from original sin; that in the Eucharist the substance of the bread and wine is really changed into the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ; that the saints are to be invoked as friends of God; that their images are to be venerated; that we must receive all traditions given us by the Church, which, being taught by the Holy Ghost, can not err.

Disappointed in their hopes of union with some ecclesiastical body of comparative antiquity, the Calvinists accounted for the adverse action of the schismatic synods by the supposition of Latin bribery. Thus, in 1722, appeared the book of Cowell, an Englishman, who tried to prove that fraud was behind the apparent agreement of the Roman and schismatic doctrines. Mosheim affects to discover, in the history of the Lucar affair, that Catholic polemics do not scruple at dishonesty when disputing with heretics. Now, it is false that the Greek bishops who condemned the Western “reformers” were partial to the Latins. Cyril of Berea, like many other schismatic prelates and[315] priests of his time, may have died, as Mosheim asserts, in the Roman communion, but the dominant spirits of the synods in question would have rivalled a Scotch covenanter in hatred of Rome. Nectarius, an ex-patriarch of Jerusalem, composed an energetic diatribe “Against the Primacy of the Pope.” Dositheus, the president of the Synod of Jerusalem, published, in 1683, many works of Simeon of Thessalonica, in which this writer severely upbraids the Latins. Again, if these Greek adversaries of the “Reformation” were actuated by a desire of pleasing Rome, why did they, in these very synods, so strenuously assert their peculiar dogma concerning the Procession of the Holy Ghost? Finally, how is it that the Greeks, so bitter against the Holy See, so tenacious of their own distinctive doctrines, did not depose Dositheus, Nectarius, Parthenius, etc.?

From the day of her separation from Rome, the Greek Church, once so active, has been in a state of lethargy, displaying none of that fecundity which Christ promised to His own spouse. “The prodigious ignorance and stupid superstition,” says Feller, “in which the priests and people of this isolated Church are involved, necessarily entail the great abuses and enormous disorders with which they are reproached. For centuries the Greeks can show no celebrated doctor, no council worthy of attention. Their latest sages—Bessarion, Al[316]latius, Arcudius, etc.,—all belonged to the Church of Rome.”[302]

And now a few words as to the probability of a submission of the Russian “orthodox” Church to the Roman jurisdiction. The Czar may devoutly wish for union with Rome. If he is a statesman, he must realize that the activity and zeal of a Papal clergy would be a great check to the growth of Nihilism. The more learned and more pious of the “orthodox” clergy—too few, alas! in number—may yearn for unity. But there is one obstacle, which apparently, neither the once power[317]ful inclinations of a Czar nor the fast-decreasing influence of a corrupt clergy can overcome. When England shall have learned the wisdom of doing justice to Ireland, there may be hope that Russia will commence to doubt the wisdom of her policy toward her Ireland—unfortunate, noble, and exhausted Poland. But as yet, to the average Russian mind, Poland is a subject only for the iron heel; and Catholicism, to this mind, means Latinism,—i. e., Polanism. The Russian “patriot,” therefore, regards any progress of Catholicism in “Holy Russia” as a progress of Polish nationality.

Again, the Russian clergy have always systematically inculcated the idea that a reunion with Rome means the abolition of several institutions dear to the Russian heart—viz., Communion under both species, the use of fermented bread in the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Old Slavonic liturgy, and the marriage of the secular clergy. And here we must note that nothing can be more false than the idea entertained by most of the Eastern schismatics that whenever there has been a question of reunion with Rome, the Holy See has designed to force them to adopt the Latin rite and discipline. While it is true that in the Ottoman Empire all of the United or Catholic Greeks, excepting the Syrian Melchites; and that in Poland, very many members of the Greek rite have passed over to the Latin rite; the Holy See can not be justly blamed for these facts, since they are to be ascribed to causes[318] completely foreign to the actions of the Catholic missionaries.[303] In refutation of this idea of the Papal intentions, Benedict XIV., in his Bull Allatæ sunt, quotes the words of Pope Innocent IV., who cited two Constitutions of Pope Leo X. and Clement VII., in which these Pontiffs vehemently reproved those Latins who blamed the Greeks for their observance of certain customs approved by the Council of Florence. The same Benedict XIV., speaking of those who were laboring for reunion, resumes their obligations as follows: (1.) They should disabuse the schismatics of those errors which their ancestors introduced in order that they[319] might have a pretext for withdrawing from the obedience of the Sovereign Pontiff. As an easier method of converting said schismatics, the greatest stress should be laid upon the writings of the early Fathers of the Greek Church, who are in perfect accord with the Latin Fathers. (2.) To bring the Eastern schismatics into the fold of the true Church, it is not necessary to attack their rites. On the contrary, as the Apostolic See has always insisted, they must not be urged to follow the Latin rite. And in our own day Pope Pius IX., in an Encyclical address to the Orientals, under date of January 6, 1848, uttered the same sentiments. Nevertheless, the idea is firmly fixed in most Russian minds that union with Rome means the loss of their loved rite. This, added to their present sentiments as to the burning question of Poland, would seem to indicate that there is little probability of a speedy submission of the Russian Church to the Holy See.



Christopher Columbus, insists Count Roselly de Lorgues, one of the only two authors of satisfactory biographies of the hero-navigator, does not belong exclusively to Italy, where he was born; nor to Spain, which he served; but rather to Catholicity, from which he received inspiration, and which, reciprocating, surrounds him with incomparable splendor. This is well said; but we would take issue with the illustrious author when he adds that “to France, after Rome, it belongs, as the eldest daughter of the Church, to celebrate religiously” the fourth centenary of the discovery of America.[304] In the generous rivalry as to who will be foremost in proclaiming the glories of Columbus, no people have a better right to be in the van than the Catholics of the United States. It needs not that we join in that absurd spread-eagleism which would insinuate that the Church never found a proper field for her labors until this Republic came into existence; there is sufficient reason for congratulation in the past of the American Church, sufficient grounds for hope as to its future, to induce the American Catholic to enter, with more heart and soul than[321] any other, into the joys of the coming celebration. And when the spirit of Columbus shall look down upon that recognition of his transcendent merits, it will approve of the American Catholic’s part with more zest than it will feel for any other’s share; for the great event of the hero’s life was not so much a voyage of discovery as a missionary enterprise. “The man who bore Christ in his heart,” says Roselly de Lorgues, “as he did in his name, raised His image also on his ship; he had the representation of the Crucified on the royal standard. In the name of Jesus Christ he issued his official order for departure; with that name he began the diary of his voyage; with that name he braved the horrors of the ‘tenebrous’ sea, and subjugated his mutinous crew; in that name he took possession of the first island to which the Divine Goodness led him. There he planted the Cross, and dedicated the land to the Saviour, imposing upon it the blessed name of San Salvador.”[305]

It is a remarkable fact that while most of the contemporaries of Columbus seem to have been indifferent as to his glory, the Holy See was ever prodigal with its sympathy for his work. Three successive Popes manifested their affection for him; and at the time when he suffered so much from detraction, he was honored by the friendship of many members of the Sacred College. Pope Leo X. used to listen, during the winter evenings, to read[322]ings of his adventures as narrated by Peter Martyr of Anghiera. It was under the auspices of Pope Innocent XI. that the learned Oratorian, Bozius, published his “Signs of the Church of God,” in which he applied many of the olden prophecies to Columbus. Cardinal Bernardine Carvajal held a correspondence with Peter Martyr of Anghiera in reference to the navigator; and Cardinal Louis of Aragon sent one of his secretaries to that littérateur to record what he had learned from the lips of the navigator himself. Cardinal Bembo devoted a chapter of his “History of Venice” to the voyages of our hero. It was by invitation of several cardinals that Julius Cæsar Stella undertook his Latin epic on the New World, which Cardinal Alexander Farnese caused to be read to his colleagues assembled for recreation in his villa. Cardinal Sforza-Pallavicino gave much space of his “Fasti Sacri” to Columbus. Cardinal Valerio, in his work on the “Consolations of the Church,” glorifies the navigator, and applies some of the prophecies of Isaias to his mission. The poet Gambara sang of the wonderful voyages on the invitation of the famous statesman, Cardinal Granvelle. It was Cardinal Mendoza, Archbishop of Toledo, known as the “third King of Spain,” who first presented Columbus to Ferdinand and Isabella. Among the first to applaud the design of the Italian sailor was Mgr. Geraldini, the papal nuncio at the Spanish court. The nuncio took up the cause of Columbus against certain theologians, who imagined that he implied the existence of other[323] worlds not mentioned in Genesis; and he convinced Cardinal Mendoza that the Columbian theory did not contradict St. Augustine or Nicholas of Lyra, who, for that matter, he observed, were not cosmographers or navigators.[306] And while the Papacy was thus preventing even Italy, his native land, from forgetting the honor due to her illustrious son, perhaps the only circumstance that kept his memory alive in the rest of the world was that stupid story of the egg with the broken end.[307] “The story pleased children, and the first German narrative on the subject of Columbus was designed for their amusement.”[308]

Until very late years, strange to say, few writers treated at all extensively of Columbus; indeed, only[324] two such, Humboldt and Irving, were well known to English readers. Both of these being Protestants, it is not surprising that the religious aspect of the life of the hero was presented in a distorted fashion, or, at best, in a very inadequate manner. Nor did the scientific side of the navigator’s career receive a strictly just treatment from the school represented by these two authors. For instance, Robertson consoles his insular jealousy with the assurance that if the sagacity of Columbus had not made America known to us, some happy accident would have done so at some other time. Otto contended that the Genoese discovered nothing, since America had been visited by Europeans long before his day. It was reserved to our times to produce two really satisfactory narratives of this wonderful and edifying life: one by the Frenchman, Roselly de Lorgues; the other by the Italian, Tarducci. These authors alone seem to have been willing, and, being willing, to have been able, to properly delineate the not easily appreciated career of him who, when presenting his gift of a new world to their Spanish Majesties, conjured them “to allow no foreigner to establish himself therein for commercial purposes, unless he were a Catholic; to permit entrance even to no Spaniard, unless he were a true Christian; for the design and execution of this enterprise have had no other object than the growth and glory of the Christian religion.”[309] The Protestant and[325] philosophistic school could not be expected to readily abandon the field which it had been used to regard as its own. It is not unnatural that a Harvard professor should have volunteered to restore the lagunes which De Lorgues and Tarducci had filled up, and to re-envelop the life of Columbus in the haze which they had dissipated. But the work of Justin Winsor is of too flimsy a nature to be welcomed by the scientific; indeed, one can discover no reason for its appearance, save that implied by the zeal with which the writer has endeavored to show that our hero was a very ordinary man, and the almost ghoulish appetite which he displays for the imperfections which his school has ever pretended to discern in an almost perfect character.

The faults of Irving in his treatment of Columbus are mostly of a negative kind. The deliberate calumniator is absent in his lucubrations; most of his sins are those of omission; and probably they would not have to be deplored, had his religious and political environment permitted him to see the appropriateness, if not the necessity, of avoiding them. Thus, it was a grave historical fault for him to commit when, treating of the landing at San Salvador, he said nothing of the erection by Columbus of an immense cross, in sign of his having taken possession of that territory in the name of our Lord[326] Jesus Christ.[310] However, most of his school can not be so leniently treated by the Catholic critic. Humboldt charges Columbus with inflexible severity and cruelty; with the violation of the personal liberty of the Indians, and with administrative incapacity. We shall briefly examine these charges, and thus see whether there is any justification for the sole raison d’être of Winsor’s diatribe.

The charge of inflexible severity is based principally upon the Admiral’s treatment of Bernal Diaz, who had formed a conspiracy, a plan of which was found upon his person, and which he did not disavow. But Irving finds that the course of Columbus was quite moderate, inasmuch as he abstained from exercising his undoubted vice-regal prerogative of inflicting condign punishment upon a confessed traitor; simply confining him to one of the ships until he could be forwarded to Spain for trial. His accomplices of inferior rank, adds Irving, were punished according to their degree of guilt, but not with the rigor it deserved.[311] From this moment, says Charlevoix,[312] this act of necessary justice, in which all formalities were exactly observed, began to entail consequences fatal to Columbus and his whole family. His enemies charged him with[327] capriciously outraging Castilian gentlemen; but, remarks Irving, they took good care to be silent concerning the crimes and debaucheries of these gentlemen, and the seditious cabals which the Admiral had so often forgiven.[313] Modern philanthropists, Humboldt at their head, have affected horror at the punishment which Columbus, in his instructions, recommended as befitting robbers. But punishments vary with times and places. Oviedo, an eye-witness, tells us that among the Indians first found by Columbus, “the sin most abominated was theft.”[314] The native code “prescribed impalement as its penalty.” Charlevoix corroborates this account. When the Admiral found himself obliged, in time, to punish theft among the Indians, he substituted for their own penalty one which spared life, while marking the culprits as warnings to others. He cut off the end of the ear or of the nose; as was prescribed in those days by the Code of Valencia,[315] and by that of the Hermandad.[316]

The charge of cruelty to the Indians is persistently brought against Columbus by English and American writers, and by the entire Protestant school. The picture of only a pitiful remnant of aborigines surviving contact with the Anglo-Saxon[328] in North America, while seven-eighths of the population of Spanish and Portuguese America are of pure or mixed Indian blood, is too eloquent a commentary on the respective civilizing capabilities of Protestant and Catholic nations, and on the philanthropic tendencies of the two pioneer white races which disputed the possession of the New World, to allow of any equanimity of temper, or any judicial impartiality, on the part of these gentlemen when treating of this and kindred subjects. In the specification to the effect that Columbus reduced the Indians to slavery, it should be remembered that he never counselled the enslaving of the pacific and mild-mannered savages: it was the ferocious, man-eating, and otherwise indomitable race of the Caribs, whom no kindness or other rule could affect, that he proposed to enslave, for the well-being of the settlers and their own. To the peaceable Indians he was a defender: he caused their persons, families, and property to be respected. It was because of this distinction that the depraved and rapacious among the adventurers of Hispaniola, while the hero’s foes at Seville were accusing him of maltreating the natives, wrote to the sovereigns that the Admiral would not countenance the subjection of the Indians to Christians. Even Humboldt recognizes this contradiction. Certainly the Spanish court never reproached the Admiral for severity in administration; nay, when his successor received his final instructions, in the presence of the sovereigns,[329] the Counsellor of State, Fonseca, advised him to avoid the troubles of Columbus by being, from the beginning of his administration, implacable in face of any attempt at revolt.[317]

As to the charge of administrative incapacity, why, asks Roselly de Lorgues, should we discuss the governmental acts of Columbus, when facts are more eloquent than any interpretation? “When, after his discovery of the New Continent, he returned sick to Hispaniola, to find insurrection rife among the natives, the Spaniards in rebellion, his own orders contemned, and his subordinates traitors, his position seemed hopeless; for he was without troops, money, or moral aid. Nevertheless, by adroit concessions and able temporizations, he subdued violence, disarmed crime, re-established authority, organized production, and initiated the prosperity of Hispaniola. If that is not administrative ability, explain the prodigy. How can we doubt the administrative talents of Columbus, when we behold this seaman become suddenly, according to necessity, agriculturist, architect, military engineer, constructor of roads and bridges, economist, and a specially able magistrate?” Envy invented this fancied incapacity of the Admiral, in order to mask its own hideously ungrateful designs. It succeeded only too well; but it is certain that even at the time when the person of Columbus was the object of persecution, his colonial regulations, abrogated under[330] the influence of his successors, were soon restored by order of the monarchs.

We have said that the philosophistic, Protestant, and freethinking schools affect to regard Columbus as a very ordinary man. It is not surprising, therefore, that they should gleefully seize upon any chance of showing that our hero sometimes yielded to the grosser frailties of human nature. One instance they have thought to advance, and only one. They tell us that when he lay upon his death-bed, on the very eve of his dissolution, the Admiral was seized with remorse for his conduct toward Doña Beatrice Enriquez, the mother of his natural son, Don Ferdinand. In his last will and testament, therefore, they say, he recommended Beatrice to the care of his son Diego, adding concerning the impelling reason for such recommendation, that it was not proper that he should specify it.[318] From this ambiguous remark alone, Napione, Spotorno, Navarrete, Humboldt, Irving, and, of course, all the minor fry, of whom Prof. Winsor is the latest spokesman, conclude that Columbus had not married the Lady Enriquez. But if the dying Admiral was so anxious to preserve the fair fame of Beatrice Enriquez as to deem it improper to assign the reason for his recommendation, how came he, in the same[331] document, to allude to her as the mother of Don Ferdinand? In the supposition that a marriage had taken place, such mention would have been natural, and would have accorded well with the enigmatic words, though we may not grasp their real significance. In the supposition of a culpable relation, Columbus would have defeated his own purpose. Nor can the defamers of the Admiral take any comfort from the fact that he styles Beatrice by the (to us) rather discourteous term of woman, muger. To this day what Frenchman speaks of his wife in any other way than as sa femme? To what British or Irish peasant are husband and wife other than each other’s “man” and “woman?” And that in the days of Columbus muger was used by the Spaniards in the sense of “wife,” we know from incontestably authentic documents. Thus, Queen Jane, widow of Henry IV., of Spain, in her holographic will of April, 1475, calls herself, “Muger del Rey Don Enrique, que Dios haya.” Ferdinand styled the great Isabella, “La Serenissima Reina, Doña Isabel mi muger”; and he spoke of his second wife, Germaine de Foix, as “Serenissima Reina, nuestra muy cara y muy amada muger.”[319]

Again, the facts in this case have been falsified. The regret of Columbus on his death-bed for any injustice to the Lady Enriquez is purely imaginary; nor did he make any will on the eve of his death.[332] The codicil which is said to have been drawn up on May 19, 1506, was already more than four years old.[320] Beatrice Enriquez had married Columbus at Cordova, while she was in the flower of her youth and beauty, and her lover was struggling to obtain a recognition from the Spanish court, a poor, white-headed, and unknown foreigner. When he was about to start on his last and most dangerous voyage, the Admiral remembered that in his “act of majoratus,” whereby he had long ago arranged the temporal future of his heirs, he had made for Beatrice no provision of dowry. This act, known to the sovereigns and the Holy See, could not readily be nullified or changed; hence he satisfied his conscience by recommending his wife to the care of his son, and he did not deem it obligatory to inform the world of his reasons. “They who discern in these words,” says Roselly de Lorgues, “an avowal wrenched from the remorse of Columbus at the terrible moment of his farewell to life, forget the date of this will. They have confused the drawing up of this holographic document with its presentation, which was effected four years later, on the eve of the Admiral’s death. From certain words, the import of which their misconception of this grand character prevented their grasping, they have evolved a theory of an illicit relationship, and of a sterile remorse at the supreme moment. The difference of the dates did not strike them. . . .[333] The marriage of Columbus with the Lady Beatrice Enriquez, demonstrated by so many logical inductions, by various documents and other proofs, and recognized by his descendants, was acknowledged by him under his own hand, five years, four months, and eighteen days, before the act of deposit effected on the eve of his death, in an autographic document which has happily come down to us.”[321]

The class of writers to which Prof. Winsor belongs can find no other passages in the career of Columbus which ask for defensive explanation. It is not strange that they should make the most of this one; for Columbus was a fervent, practical, and uncompromising Catholic. No one can uphold the Catholic standard as he did without becoming a target for the arrows of that school which, until late years, almost monopolized the historical field in English-speaking lands, and in all where the spirit of the world had, through noise and imperturbable effrontery, become the moulder of modern historical opinion. Columbus could not be spared by the calumniators who respected not even the canonized saints of God. Did they not charge St. Cyril of Alexandria with deliberate murder? Had they not presented St. Clothilde as fuming with blind and implacable vindictiveness? Was not the Blessed Robert d’Arbrissel, according to their account, a culpable victim of crazy hallucinations in matters of morality? And had they not dragged[334] the sweet Maid of Orleans from her pedestal of glory, and besmirched her virgin-crown with the mud of fallen womanhood? No genius, they said, could be a practical Catholic. The gentle Fénelon, the sublime Mozart, Fontenelle, Cervantes, Montesquieu, and Montaigne, though passing as Catholics, were in reality freethinkers. As to the most universal of all geniuses, Dante, was he not a heretic and a revolutionist? And the grand Savonarola! Even the merely artistic, if they were truly artistic, have to shake off the trammels of Catholic practice. Did not Raphael die of amorous excesses?

Such were some of the calumnies with which the modern dominant historical school was wont to illustrate its theory that true greatness and Catholicity were incompatible. But they are losing much of their force in our day, unless with the wilfully obtuse; and similar charges will not avail much to dim the glory of Columbus the Catholic.



When our essay on Bruno and Campanella was written (1889), the only argument which could be adduced for a belief in the apostate’s execution, was found in the letter of Schopp to Rittershausen; and so many and so convincing were the reasons alleged for the non-authenticity of this document, that we felt compelled to believe that the unfortunate friar was burnt merely in effigy. Two years afterward, however, a document was unearthed, which renders it indubitable that Bruno perished at the stake. Among the many institutions of mercy which have been the glory of the Eternal City for centuries, one of the most famous is that of the Confraternity of San Giovanni Decollato, the members of which devote themselves to the preparation of the capitally condemned for a happy death. For centuries this society kept an exact record of all its unfortunate clients. Now, in the “Journal” of the Provisor of the Community, which contains an account of the executions attended by the brethren from May 14, 1598, to September 1, 1602, the investigators appointed by the Crispi administration found, after the fifteenth line of page 87, the following narrative: “On Thursday, February 16, 1600, at two hours of the night, it was intimated to our[336] Company that in the morning justice was to be visited upon an impenitent friar. Therefore, at six hours of the night the Chaplain and the Consolers, having assembled in Sant’Orsola, and having gone to the prison of Torre del Nona, and entered our chapel, and having made the accustomed prayers, the condemned apostate friar, Giordano Bruni (sic), a native of Nola in Naples, an impenitent heretic, was introduced. He having been exhorted by our brethren with all charity, we having also called to the work two Dominican priests, two from the Gesù, two Oratorians, and a Hieronymite. With every mark of affection and with much erudition, these priests showed the miserable man his many errors, but he remained fixed in his accursed obstinacy, confusing his intellect with a thousand perversities. His determination proving invincible, he was led by the Officers of Justice to the Campo di Fiori, and there having been stripped and bound to a stake, he was burned alive, our Company constantly chanting the Litanies, and the Comforters exhorting him to the very last moment to abandon his obstinacy. But he finished his miserable life in it.”

Thus is finally settled the question of the fate of the Philosopher of Nola. There need be no suspicion cast, great though be the temptation to do so, upon the authenticity of the decisive document; for although the unscrupulous Crispi presided at its delivery from the bowels of oblivion, the members of the Confraternity of San Giovanni Decollato admitted that it was transcribed from their records.


[1] Until 1696 the “Diary” was known only by a fragment given by Godefroy, in his “History of Charles VIII.,” published in 1684; and by some vague citations of Rinaldi in his continuation of Baronio. But in 1696 Leibnitz published at Hanover a quarto volume, entitled: “A Specimen of Secret History; or, Anecdotes of the Life of Alexander VI.; Extracts from the Diary of John Burkhard.” In his preface Leibnitz regrets that he could not find the text of Burkhard; but a few years afterward he thought that he had found the true text in a MS. given him by Lacroze, and would have published it had not death intervened. Eccard published the “Diary” at Leipzic in 1732, in his “Writers of the Middle Age,” following a Berlin MS., which may have been the one handed by Lacroze to Leibnitz. According to Eccard’s own admission, this MS. was very defective, and the editor had frequent recourse to the extract of Leibnitz that order might be established. In Leibnitz there are articles which are wanting in Eccard, and toward the end the two become so dissimilar as to appear utterly different works. Eccard wished that some one would discover a good copy of the “Diary”; and finally Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye found in the library of Prince Chigi at Rome a MS. in five quarto volumes, which seemed to contain the entire work,—beginning December 1, 1483 (the date of Burkhard’s appointment as master of ceremonies), and ending May 31, 1506, a year after his death,—which fact demonstrates that the diarist had a continuator. In our day a third editor has appeared. Achille Gennarelli (Florence, 1855,) has thought to produce the true text by uniting the dubious ones of Leibnitz and Eccard, and some other MSS. He admits, and most ingeniously, that he has filled up hiatuses with quotations from Summonte, Infessura, etc., etc. It is the opinion of the Abbé Clement (de Vebron) that all the weight of erudition displayed by Gennarelli does not add one particle more of authenticity to the “Diary.” See “Les Borgia,” Paris, 1882.

[2] “Lucretia Borgia, according to Original Documents and Contemporary Correspondence,” 1876.

[3] Pasquale Villari, an editor of these “Relations,” is not such an apologist, and yet he says: “Doubts have been raised as to the authenticity of the ‘Diary’ of Burkhard. New publications have lessened, but have not put an end to, these doubts.” See Villari’s “Dispatches of Giustiniani,” vol. i, in preface. Florence, 1876.

[4] Loc. cit., vol. i, p. 326.

[5] For instance, it gives to Alexander a brother named Louis del Mila, while no such brother, but a cousin—John del Mila,—existed. It narrates that Capello, before his departure from Rome on September 19, 1500, went to the Vatican to inform the Pontiff of the surrender of Rimini and Faenza; but Rimini did not fall until the end of October, while Faenza held out until the following April. It makes Sanseverino, instead of Ascanio Sforza, vice-chancellor of the Roman Church.

[6] An old law of Venice had obliged her ambassadors, after their term of office, to deposit in the Venetian chancery a “Relation” of all they had learned; but toward the end of the fifteenth century this law was almost entirely ignored, and was enforced again only in 1538. Marino Sanuto, in his “Diaries” embracing the period from 1496 to 1533, filled the hiatuses.

[7] The Venetian Senator Malipiero, in his “Chronicle,” tells us that Sanuto informed the Venetian Senate of the finding in the Tiber, in January, 1496, of a monstrosity having the head of an ass, a right arm like an elephant’s trunk, a left arm like that of a man, one foot like that of an ox, the other like that of a griffin, a woman’s bosom, and the lower part of the body like that of a dragon. The creature emitted fire from its mouth. The Abbé Clement thinks that these details came direct from Germany, where, in 1524, Luther published his caricature of the “Pope-Ass.” Rawdon Brown, in his “Information on the Life and Works of Marino Sanuto,” Venice, 1837, says that it would seem that such tales “were written for the Lutherans; but for historians, they failed in their object.” Nevertheless, says Clement, “certain candid minds believe the narrations of these pamphletary chroniclers; just as in Germany some persons, full of faith in Luther and his works, believe in the finding of the Pope-Ass in the Tiber. But one would suppose that Sanuto would not be so excessively credulous. Read the ‘Diaries’ now made public, and you will find the contrary.”

[8] “Heretics of Italy,” Discourse IX. Turin, 1865.

[9] “History of the Church during the Last Four Centuries.” Paris, 1855.

[10] The Emperor Charles V. used to call Jovius and Sleidan “his two liars,” one of whom spoke too well of him, and the other too ill.

[11] Loc. cit., Discourse XIII.

[12] “Leo X.”

[13] Tiraboschi, “Ital. Lit.,” vol. vii, p. 2.

[14] “Art of History,” c. 9.

[15] While yet following the profession of arms, according to most authorities, he fell in love with a girl whom some called Catharine, others Rose, but who is generally known as Vanozza. Tomasi says that Roderick “regarded her as a legitimate wife”; but if any espousals were effected—which seems probable from the fact of her being identified by Ribadeneira (“Life of F. Francis Borgia,” Madrid, 1605,) as a Princess Farnese, one of a family not likely to brook an insult even from a Borgia,—they were certainly kept secret. In 1880 Leonetti, a religious of the Pious Schools, published at Bologna an exhaustive work, highly commended by Leo XIII., contending that Cæsar, Lucretia, etc., were not children of Cardinal Roderick Borgia, but either of some Borgia especially loved by him, or of a brother who remained in Spain, no proof can be given that Vanozza ever appeared in Rome during Roderick’s career there, whether as Cardinal or as Pope.

[16] “MS. Life of Roderick Borgia, under the name of Alexander VI.,” in the Casanatensian (Minerva) Library at Rome.

[17] “Life of Alexander VI.”

[18] Epist. 514, 670, 678, and in “Additions to Aldoin.”

[19] Philip of Bergamo says that in him “there was a celestial appearance very becoming to his name and office.”

[20] Not to be confounded with Peter Martyr (Vermiglio) of Lucca, the Augustinian apostate who lectured at Oxford, 1547-53.

[21] This sobriety is admitted by Roscoe, loc. cit. See also Paris, “Diary,” at year 1506.

[22] The acting beneficiary was supposed, of course, to be above reproach; the commendatory, especially in cases of royal patronage, was too often a scandal. The title of abbé, abbate, now given on the European Continent to all secular priests, was in those days adopted by a horde of perfumed gallants, who hung around the court in the enjoyment or expectancy of some abbacy “in commandam.” One must therefore be careful not to credit the priesthood with every curled darling of an abbé of whom he reads in works of that time.

[23] Garimbertus, b. iv, ch. 3.

[24] Leonetti, Bishop of Concordia, had thus counselled the Sacred College: “As yet we know not whom God calls to succeed Innocent VIII.; what man is destined to avert the dangers menacing us. . . . Elect a man whose past life is a guarantee; one who, according to the advice of St. Leo, has spent his days in the practice of virtue, and who merits the elevation because of his labors and the integrity of his morals; one without ambition, wise and holy; in a word, one worthy of being the Vicar of Jesus Christ.” If it was following this advice to elect Borgia, then the Borgia whom Fernus knew was not the acquaintance of Roscoe, Gregorovius, etc.

[25] “Commentary of Jerome Porcius, Roman Patrician and Auditor of the Rota,” 1493.

[26] “Complete Works,” vol. xx (“Hist. Miscel.,” vol. 1), p. 241; edit. Paris, 1818.—“Customs and Spirit of Nations,” ib. p. 445.—“Dissertation on the Death of Henry IV.”

[27] Florida confessed his guilt, was deposed, degraded, and imprisoned for life, on a diet of bread and water, in Castle San Angelo.

[28] Many authors illustrate their theory of Pope Alexander’s immorality by alleging the revolting orgy said to have been celebrated in honor of the prospective marriage of Lucretia with the Duke of Ferrara—a banquet, etc., at which we are asked to fancy as participants the aged Pontiff, Cæsar, Lucretia, and fifty respectable (honestae) prostitutes. Gordon quotes from the true or false Burkhard as follows: “Dominica ultima mensis Octobris in sero fecerunt coenam cum duce Valentinensi in camera sua in palatio Apostolico, quinquaginta meretrices honestae, cortegianae nuncupatae. . . . Papa, duce, et Lucretia sorore sua, praesentibus et aspicientibus.” . . . Truly these females were honestae beyond the want of that ilk, and the favored servants were gems indeed, when all Rome did not ring, the next day, with the echoes of such bacchanalia. Excepting Burkhard, if indeed, he speaks in the cited quotation, not one contemporary, not one of those chroniclers who dilate so circumstantially on all the festivities given at the Vatican in honor of Lucretia’s espousals, says a word of what would have been a mine of wealth to a gossiper. And why such silence on the part of the Ferrarese envoys who were then residing in the Vatican, awaiting the convenience of Lucretia, to conduct her to their royal master as a bride? They wrote every day to their sovereign, and we have their dispatches. Why, again, silence on the part of the secret agent sent by the Marchioness of Mantua, sister of the future bridegroom, who kept his mistress informed as to the most trivial incidents of the papal court?

[29] Mignet, “Charles-Quint, son Abdication, et son Séjour au Monastère de Yuste,” p. 6, n. 1; Paris, 1854.

[30] Sepulveda, “Opera,” vol. ii, b. 30; Madrid, 1740.

[31] Ribadeneyra, “Vida del Padre Francisco de Borja,” c. 13; Madrid, 1605.

[32] This Spanish congregation was approved by Pope Gregory XI. in 1374. Its first members had belonged to the Third Order of St. Francis, and they now adopted the rule of St. Augustine. Their chief houses are those of St. Lawrence at the Escurial, St. Isidore in Seville, and this of St. Justus. Another congregation of Hieronymites was founded in Italy in 1377 by the Blessed Peter Gambacorti of Pisa.

[33] Pope Paul IV. refused to acknowledge Ferdinand’s claim to the crown of the Holy Roman Empire; for the consent of the Pontiff, the suzerain of that Empire, had not been obtained by Charles V. for his action. Ferdinand, like all presumptive heirs to the Empire, had been elected “King of the Romans” (1532), and had been confirmed by Pope Clement VII.; but Paul IV. declared that a “King of the Romans” could succeed, ordinarily, to the Empire only by the death of its incumbent. The cases of resignation or deprivation, insisted the Pontiff, had always depended on the will of the Holy See, and only the Pontiff could, in such cases, name the new Emperor. Again, the resignation of Charles was null, it not having been made in the hands of the Pope. However, Pope Pius IV. deemed it prudent, in 1560, to recognize Ferdinand as Emperor.

[34] “Vida del Emperador Carlos V. en Yuste,” vol. ii, §3.

[35] “Historia del Orden de San Geronimo,” p. 3, b. i, c. 308.

[36] “Retraite et Mort de Charles-Quint,” vol. i, Appendix C.

[37] “Storia Universale,” b. xvii, c. 20.—We are surprised on finding that Cantù receives this story as truth, comparing the fantasy of Charles with the “melancholy” freak of the Emperor Maximilian I., who, disgusted with his newly-built palace at Innsbruck, resolved on providing a better one; and accordingly sent for a coffin and all the paraphernalia of a funeral, and kept them always with him.

[38] See his letter to the Secretary of the National Institute at Washington (1843).

[39] Loc. cit.—See also Stirling’s “Cloister Life of Charles V.,” 1852.

[40] “How can we admit that this service was performed? The Church reserves it for the dead, never applying it to the living. Celebrated without an object, it would lose its efficacy with its only motive, and would become a kind of profanation. The Church prays for those who cannot any longer pray for themselves; she offers for their intention that Sacrifice in which their condition will not allow them to take part. This pious and solemn association with the soul in its passage from transient to eternal life has its merit and grandeur only when it is real. Moreover, Charles V. well knew that it is much better for one’s self to pray than to be the object of another’s prayers; much better to appropriate to one’s self the Holy Sacrifice by Eucharistic Communion than to be indirectly associated with it by a merciful attention of the Church. He had done so a fortnight before, and he did so again very soon.” (Mignet, loc. cit., p. 414.)

[41] “Four of the night” (that is, four hours after the evening Angelus) would be, as moderns measure time, about eleven in Spain, during August and September.

[42] Barthélemy, “Erreurs et Mensonges,” vol. iii, p. 142.

[43] Loc. cit., vol. ii, §3. Letter of Quijada to Philip II., October 12, 1558.

[44] His denouncer, Giovanni Mocenigo, to whom he had taught his system of artificial memory, accused Bruno of styling the Trinity an absurdity; of calling Transubstantiation a blasphemy, and of finding truth in no religious system. He had said that Christ seduced the Jews, that he died unwillingly, and that the apostles worked no miracles. According to him, there is no distinction of Persons in God. The words are infinite and eternal. There is no punishment for sin; the soul, produced by nature, passes to another creature. This world shows no true religion; the Catholic is the best, but it needs a reformation; and he (Bruno) will effect this with the aid of the King of Navarre, (Henry IV.)

[45] Convinced of his errors by the study of Baronio’s “Annals,” this Lutheran scholar became a Catholic. Invited to Rome by Clement VIII., he wrote many pamphlets in defence of Catholicism, the Papacy, etc. But he was very litigious, and was given to paradoxes. In his presumed letter he says of Bruno’s errors: “The Inquisition did not impute Lutheran doctrines to him. He was charged with having compared the Holy Ghost to the soul of the world; Moses, the prophets, the apostles, and even Christ, to the pagan hierophants. He admitted many Adams and many Hercules. He believed in magic, or at least he upheld it, and taught that Moses and Christ practised it. Whatever errors have been taught by the ancient pagans or by the most recent heretics were all advanced by this Bruno.” (Cantù, “Illustri Italiani,” art. “Bruno.”)

[46] The “Relations” of the Venetian ambassadors to the home government are rightly regarded by historians as the most precious, both for detail and accuracy, of all available sources for a knowledge of the events of the time.

[47] As late as December 6, 1611, we find Sarpi describing the execution at Rome (by strangling) of the French Abbé Dubois, for libels against the Jesuits, and claiming that the unfortunate had received a safe-conduct before journeying to Rome. At the same time he greatly decries Schopp, whom he describes as “meriting a greater punishment than burning in effigy.”

[48] See Appendix for later information on Bruno’s execution.

[49] “Italy produced the first school of philosophy of a modern character; for the school of Telesius soon followed that of the platonist Marsilio Ficino, and that of the peripatetic Pomponazzi. . . . How is it that the names of Campanella and Bacon are so diversely regarded: the latter as of one who opened the modern era, and the former scarcely remembered? Campanella devoted himself to all the knowable; Bacon confined himself to the natural sciences.” Cantù, “Filosofia Moderna,” §i.

[50] “Poesie Filosofiche.”

[51] “De Sensu Rerum et Magia,” iv, 20.

[52] Writing to Cardinal Farnese, Campanella says that his clerical comrades pleaded guilty to the charge of “rebelling in order to be free to become heretics.” Had they answered only to the charge of treason, he says, “all would have been executed, without any appeal to the Pope.”

[53] “Non vestræ religionis dogmate probatum.” Thus in his work, “De lampade combinatoria.”

[54] “Civitas Solis,” c. 27.—“Della Monarchia Spagnuola,” c. 27.

[55] “Aforismi Politici,” passim.

[56] Idem, 70.

[57] Idem, 84, 87.

[58] “Lettere,” passim.

[59] “Discorso II. sul Papato.”

[60] Campanella’s words as given in a contemporary account of the Calabrese conspiracy, published in 1845 by Capialbi.—Cantù, “Illustri Italiani,” art. “Campanella.”

[61] “Letter to the Pope and Cardinals.”

[62] “Lit. Hist.,” article “Cyrillus.”

[63] “Bibl. Græca,” pt. iv, b. 5.

[64] Writing to the clergy and people of Constantinople, Pope St. Celestine said: “We have deemed it proper that in so important a matter we ourselves should be in some sort present among you, and therefore we have appointed our brother Cyril as our representative.” And, writing to St. Cyril, the Pontiff says: “You will proclaim this sentence by our authority, acting in our place by virtue of our power; so that if Nestorius, within ten days after his admonition, does not anathematize his impious doctrine, you will declare him deprived of communion with us, and you will at once provide for the needs of the Constantinopolitan Church.” It is quite natural that Protestant polemics should be hostile to the memory of the great “Doctor of the Incarnation,” who thus apostrophized the Blessed Virgin in the Council of Ephesus: “I salute thee, Mother of God, venerable treasure of the entire universe! I salute thee, who didst enclose the Immense, the Incomprehensible, in thy virginal womb! I salute thee, by whose means heaven triumphs, angels rejoice, demons are put to flight, the tempter is vanquished, the culpable creature is raised to heaven, a knowledge of truth is based on the ruins of idolatry! I salute thee, through whom all the churches of the earth have been founded, and all nations led to penance! I salute thee, in fine, by whom the only Son of God, the Light of the world, has enlightened those who were seated in the shadow of death! Can any man worthily laud the incomparable Mary?”

[65] These were an order of minor clerics, probably only tonsured, who were deputed to the service of the sick both in hospitals and at home. Their name was derived from their constant exposure to danger. The first mention of them in a public document occurs in an ordinance of Theodosius II., in 416; but they are here spoken of as having been in existence many years, and probably they were instituted in the time of Constantine. In course of time they became arrogant and seditious, and were finally abolished. At Alexandria they numbered six hundred, and were all appointed by the patriarch.

[66] “Hist. Eccl.,” b. vii, §15.

[67] In his “Dictionnaire Philosophique”; article, “Hypatia.”

[68] “Examen Important de Milord Bolingbroke,” chap. 34, “Des Chrétiens jusqu’à Theodose.”

[69] “Discours de Julien contre la Secte des Galiléens.”

[70] “L’Etablissement du Christianisme,” chap. 24, “Excés de Fanatisme.”

[71] M. Aubé in vol. xxv, p. 712.

[72] Vol. ix, p. 505—Cantù does not touch the question of St. Cyril’s responsibility for this crime. This is all that the great historian says concerning Hypatia: “Theon, a professor in Alexandria, commentated on Euclid and Ptolemy, but became more famous on account of his beautiful daughter Hypatia. Taught mathematics by him, and perfected at Athens, she was invited to teach philosophy in her native city. She followed the eclectics, but based her system on the exact sciences, and introduced demonstrations into the speculative, thus reducing them to a more rigorous method than they had hitherto known. Bishop Synesius was her scholar, and always venerated her. Orestes, Prefect of Egypt, admired and loved her, and followed her counsels in his contest with the fiery Archbishop, St. Cyril. It was said that it was owing to Hypatia’s enthusiasm for paganism that Orestes became unfavorable to the Christians. Hence certain imprudent persons so excited the people against her that one day, while she was going to her school, she was dragged from her litter, stripped and killed, and her members thrown into the flames.” (“Storia Universale,” b. vii, c. 23. Edit. Ital. 10; Turin, 1862.)

[73] This heresy was an outgrowth of the schism of Novatian, who, instigated by Novatus, a Carthaginian priest, tried to usurp the pontifical throne of St. Cornelius in 251. Its cardinal doctrine was that there were some sins which the Church can not forgive. It subsisted in the East until the seventh century, and in the West until the eighth.

[74] Prominent among the vindicators of truth were Nonotte, in “Les Erreurs de Voltaire,” 1762; Foncemagne, in his “Lettre sur le Testament Politique du Card. de Richelieu,” 1750; the “Dictionnaire Historique, Littéraire, et Critique,” by the Abbé Barral and the Oratorians Guibaud and Valla, 1758; and Chaudon, in his “Les Grands Hommes Vengés,” 1769.

[75] In Preface, Voltaire himself quotes Ramsay’s alleged original English.

[76] “Histoire de la Vie et des Ouvrages de Messire F. de S. Fénelon.” La Haye, 1723.

[77] “Causeries du Lundi” (1 Avril, 1850).

[78] In the “Siècle de Louis XIV.,” in 1752; in the “Examen du Tableau Historique,” in 1763; and in a letter to Formey, perpetual secretary of the Academy of Berlin, in 1752.


Jeune, j’étais trop sage
Et voulais trop savoir;
Je ne veux en partage
Que badinage
Et touche au dernier âge
Sans rien prévoir.

[80] “La Vie de Fénelon, écrite par l’Abbé, son neveu,” prefixed to the works, edit. 1787, vol. i, p. 749.

[81] See Lepan’s “Vie Politique, Littéraire, et Morale, de Voltaire,” 1817.


Adieu, vaine prudence,
Je ne te dois plus rien;
Une heureuse ignorance
Est ma science:
Jésus et son enfance
Est tout mon bien.

[83] When the dying Fénelon had received Extreme Unction, he wrote to the royal confessor, saying: “I beg of his Majesty two favors, which regard neither myself nor mine. The first is that the King will give me a successor who is pious, and firm against Jansenism, now so prevalent in these parts.” (See Bausset, “Histoire de Fénelon.” 1817).

[84] Bausset, loc. cit., vol. i, p. 318.

[85] Ib., vol. iii, p. 40.—According to Voltaire, the object of Fénelon in writing his charming classic, “Telemachus,” was to satirize his sovereign, benefactor, and then friend, Louis XIV. But when was “Telemachus” composed? If Fénelon’s intention was to satirize his king, the work must have been produced when he was suffering from some real or fancied injury at the hands of Louis. Certainly he would not have risked the royal resentment when he was in full favor, and had everything to lose by such action. But Fénelon himself tells us that this work was written while he was in charge of the education of the king’s grandson, the Duc de Bourgogne; and during the entire period of his tutorship the prelate was in the highest favor of his Majesty, as indeed the very nature of his office would indicate. Again, the testimony of Bossuet shows that Fénelon composed “Telemachus” in 1693 or ’94, that is, when the two bishops were on terms of the most intimate confidence. Bossuet says that Fénelon communicated to him the first part of his MS., and it is scarcely to be supposed that he would have done so, had he wished to attack the king in any manner. At least this participation indicates that “Telemachus” was written before any coolness had arisen between the two prelates; that is, before the period (1699) when, and after which only, Fénelon could have felt any chagrin toward Louis XIV., and when he might have acted as a man of less noble spirit than his own would have naturally done, if opportunity permitted. Therefore Fénelon shall still remain for us the “dove of Cambray”; and the school of Voltaire shall not be gratified by seeing the hawk assigned as his emblem.

[86] “Nat. Questions,” vii, 2.

[87] “Hell,” canto 34.

[88] Thus Chiaramonti of Cesena.

[89] Thus the Dominican Caccini, preaching the Advent course in S. Maria Novella in Florence. But Maraffi, General of the Dominicans, writing to Galileo on January 10, 1615, deplored the extravagance of Caccini, who, he said, had previously been forced to apologize in Bologna for other absurdities in the pulpit.

[90] Tassoni, a very independent thinker, thus reasoned: “Stand still in the middle of a room, and look at the sun through a window opening toward the south. Now, if the sun stands still and the window moves so quickly, the sun will instantly disappear from your vision.” Vieta, a consummate algebraist, thought the Copernican system derived from a fallacious geometry. Montaigne said that probably before a thousand years a third system would supplant the two others. Descartes sometimes denied the Copernican theory. Bacon derided it as repugnant to natural philosophy. Pascal, in his “Thoughts,” deemed it “wise not to sound the depths of the Copernican opinion.” As late as 1806 the Milanese Pini, in his “Incredibility of the Movement of the Earth,” sustained the Ptolemaic idea.

[91] “Paradise,” iv, 43-45.

[92] “Illustrious Italians,” Milan, 1879.

[93] “History of Mathematical Science in Italy,” Paris, 1841; vol. iv, pp. 155-294.

[94] “Galileo: His Life and Discoveries,” Paris, 1866.

[95] “Founders of Modern Astronomy,” Paris, 1865.—When Napoleon invaded Rome in 1809, among the literary and historical monuments which he stole was the original Process of Galileo. The Holy See vainly demanded it from the government of the Restoration. While it was yet in France the astronomer Delambre consulted it, but very negligently, as is evinced by the inexactness of his quotations when writing to Venturi the letter published in 1821 by the latter. Delambre did not appreciate the Process very highly, probably because, like Barbier (“Critical Examination of Historical Dictionaries,” Paris, 1820), he could find no proof of his own assertion that Galileo had been tortured. The volume was finally consigned to Count Rossi, to be restored to the Vatican in 1846, and there it still remains.

[96] Of the ten cardinals forming the tribunal, and all of whose names are at the head of the preamble, three did not sign the document. These were Gaspar Borgia, Zacchia, and Francis Barberini, nephew of Urban VIII. One of the signers, Anthony Barberini, a brother of the Pontiff and a Capuchin friar, tried hard to obtain a remission of the entire penance.

[97] July 6 found Galileo at Sienna, dwelling with his old friend and disciple, the Archbishop Ascanio Piccolomini. On December 16, the Cardinal Francis Barberini having obtained this favor, he arrived at his own villa of Arcetri, and here he resided almost constantly until his death on January 8, 1642.

[98] “Directory for Inquisitors, by Friar Nicholas Eymeric, of the Order of Preachers; Commentated by Francis Pegna, S. T. D. and J. U. D., Auditor of Causes in the Apostolic Palace.” Part III., on the “Practice of the Inquisitorial Office,” chapter on the “Third Way of Ending a Trial for Faith.” Venice, 1595.

[99] “Galileo, the Holy Office, and the System of the World,” in the Correspondent of Dec. 25, 1854. See also this author’s “Moses and Modern Geologists,” Avignon, 1835.

[100] In 1842 a certain Abbé Matalène published in Paris a book entitled “Anti-Copernicus, a New Astronomy”; but his ecclesiastical superiors sharply reminded him that he had no right to compromise the clergy by such extravagancies.

[101] “Voyage in Italy,” 1786.

[102] Eccl. Hist., 1778-85.

[103] Dict. Theol.

[104] Dict. Hist., art. “Galileo.”

[105] “Galileo and the Rights of Science,” Paris, 1868.—Among the errors of Mallet du Pan, which Martin with undue severity stigmatizes as “lies,” are to be noted his pretence that Bellarmine did not, in 1616, interdict any astronomical hypothesis; the assertion that Galileo caused his apologetic letter to Christendom to be printed before his condemnation; the declaration that no imprimatur was really given for the publication of Galileo’s “Dialogue.” Pretending to give extracts from a certain dispatch of Guicciardini, Mallet du Pan asserts that they show that Galileo wished to force the Pontiff to make a religious dogma of his system; whereas the reading of the dispatch causes one to almost justify Martin when he says that Mallet “not only mistakes, but is an imposter.”

[106] Church Hist., Fr. transl., Paris, 1855, vol. iii, p. 249.

[107] Encyc. Dict. Theol. Cath., art. “Galileo.”

[108] In the “Review of Christian Economy” for Dec., 1865, and Jan. and Feb., 1866.

[109] “First Historical Memoir, on the First Advocates of the Copernican System,” read in the Modenese Academy dei dissonanti in 1792, inserted in the Venetian edition of the “Hist. Ital. Litt.,” 1796. “Second Memoir, on the condemnation of Galileo and the Copernican System,” read in 1793.

[110] Not edited until 1855, in the “Universite Catholique.”

[111] In his “Dialogue on the Two Principal Mondial Systems,” published in 1632 with the approbation of the Master of the Apostolic Palace, Galileo assigns the exposition of his opinions to his friend and pupil, Salviati of Florence, then some time dead. Galileo himself is not named, but he is often indicated by the title of Linceo. The part of an investigator, impartial and judicious, is filled by the Venetian senator, Sagredo, another deceased friend of the author. The defence of the Peripatetic system is confided to one Simplicius, who uses absurd arguments and will yield to none; who is, in fine, a fair representative of many of Galileo’s opponents. Whether or not Urban VIII. credited the assertion of Galileo’s enemies, that under the guise of Simplicius he himself was held up to ridicule, it is certain that now he manifested less sympathy for the philosopher. Just previous to this period the Pontiff had declared to the Benedictine Castelli that if it had depended on him, the decree of 1616 would not have been issued. On March 16, 1630, Castelli wrote to Galileo that in an interview with the celebrated Campanella, “his Holiness used these very words: ‘We never desired that decree; and had it depended on us it would not have been issued.’” This letter is found in Alberi’s edition of the “Works of Galileo,” vol. ix, p. 196.

[112] “The Holy Office, Copernicus, and Galileo, considered in reference to a posthumous dissertation of Father Olivieri,” Turin, 1872.

[113] “Impressed Motion,” Lyons, 1658, vol. iii, epist. 2.

[114] “Almagestum Novum,” Bologna, 1651, vol. i, pt. 2, p. 489.

[115] “Fundamental Theology,” Lyons, 1676. The passages are cited by Bouix, in his “Condemnation of Galileo,” Arras, 1866, pp. 25-29.

[116] “Annals of Italy,” at year 1633.

[117] “Memoir II.,” loc. cit.

[118] Loc. cit.

[119] “The first Born of Galileo,” Florence, 1864.

[120] In Michaud’s “Universal Biography,” and in two dissertations in the Journal des Savants for March, July and October, 1858.

[121] In sixteen large volumes, Florence, 1842-56.

[122] “Galileo: His Process and Condemnation. According to Unedited Documents.”

[123] “Histoire de France sous de Louis XIII,” vol. iv, p. 115.

[124] “Histoire de France,” 4me edit., vol. xi, p. 491.

[125] The Holy See accorded Friar Joseph full powers for the establishment of missions in France. As for the crusade, the Pontiff gave him briefs ad hoc for the Kings of France and Spain, and undertook to influence the Emperor, the Italian princes, and the King of Poland, in the scheme. The crusade was a failure, but the missions and the foundation of the Daughters of Calvary succeeded. The name of one of the Boulevards of Paris perpetuates to this day the memory of this pious foundation.

[126] Against this proposition Cardinal du Perron delivered one of his most powerful discourses.

[127] “Memorie Recondite dall’ Anno 1601 fino al 1610,” in the “Négociations du Maréchal d’Estrées et Siri,” Paris, 1677.

[128] “Mensonges et Erreurs Historiques,” 6me edit., Paris, 1880.

[129] “Siècle de Louis XIV.,” chap. 25.

[130] Barthélemy: “Erreurs et Mensonges Historiques,” vol. ii; Paris, 1886, 5th edit.

[131] “Histoire de France,” vol. xii, p. 467; Paris, 1858, 4th edit.

[132] “Histoire des Français,” vol. iii, p. 197; Paris, 1847.

[133] In the “Biographie Didot,” article “Louis XIV.”

[134] “Traité de la Police.” Chéruel: “Histoire de l’Administration Monarchique en France depuis l’Avénement de Phillippe Auguste jusqu’à la Mort de Louis XIV.,” vol. ii, p. 32; Paris, 1855.

[135] “Histoire de Mme. de Maintenon,” vol. iii, p. 667; Paris, 1848-58.

[136] “Ancien Régime et la Révolution,” chap. xi; Paris, 1856.

[137] “L’Ecole Administrative de Louis XIV.,” in the Revue des Deux Mondes, July, 1857.

[138] Saint-Simon: “Mémoires,” vol. xxiv, p. 84, edit. 1840. See “Letters of Guy Patin,” vol. ii, cited by Barthélemy, loc. cit.

[139] Loc. cit., p. 3.

[140] “I have almost had to wait—J’ai failli attendre,” is another phrase which is often ascribed to the exquisitely polite Louis XIV. Such a petitesse would not have escaped the notice of the crotchety Duke de Saint-Simon, but he tells us, on the contrary, in his “Mémoires,” vol. xii, that “the king never allowed an uncomplaisant word to escape him, and if he had to reprimand or correct, which rarely happened, he always did so with more or less of kindness, never with anger, and seldom with asperity.”

[141] Irenæus, b. iii, c. 3.

[142] Epist. to Ephes.

[143] Optatus of Milevi, b. iii.

[144] Baronio, y. 383, no. 34.

[145] Idem, y. 390, no. 47.

[146] “Heresies,” to Quod Vult Deus, c. 46.

[147] Epist. 236 alias 74.

[148] “Heresies,” 69.

[149] Ibid., 26, no. 17.

[150] “Just Punishment of Heretics,” Paris, 1565.

[151] Summa Theol., q. 10, art. 8.

[152] Sess. 4, c. 2.

[153] Epist. 100.

[154] Epist. 93.

[155] B. ii, c. 5.

[156] Tract on John, no. 15.

[157] Bergier, art. “Inquisition.”—Bergier complacently congratulates his countrymen upon their freedom from the obnoxious tribunal, but he omits to state that the civil authorities of France furnished the world with spectacular “acts of faith” in quite modern times. Thus, on Feb. 17, 1525, in the Place Maubert at Paris, the licentiate, Master William Joubert, after having made a public recantation in the Church of St. Genevieve, was given to the flames because of his former Lutheranism. Vanini suffered at Toulouse on Feb. 19, 1618.

[158] Morellet says, in his “Memoirs,” vol. i, 59: “I was confounded at this assertion, but afterward I found that he was right.”

[159] “Short Account of the Manner of Prosecuting the Causes of the Holy Office, by the Rev. Vicars of the Holy Inquisition of Modena,” cited by Cantù, in his “Heretics of Italy,” disc. 32, note 63.

[160] “Works,” vol. ii, p. 191; and passim.

[161] The good Sadoleto, called the Italian Fénelon, in a letter to Cardinal Farnese, laments that the Jews were treated too kindly at Rome, and protected by Paul III.

[162] “Embassy of Averardo Serristori, ambassador of Cosimo I. to Charles V. and at the Court of Rome,” 1537-1568; Florence, 1853—Carnesecchi had been excommunicated as contumacious by Paul IV.; under Pius IV. he defended himself so well that he was absolved and acknowledged as a good Catholic. But he soon became notorious as a teacher of the Reformed doctrines, and Pius V. obtained his extradition from the Grand-Duke Cosimo I., whose subject he was. His process is very interesting, as furnishing many particulars concerning Cardinal Pole, Victoria Colonna, and others of the same school.

[163] De Thou writes that during the reign of Sixtus V. Mureto told him: “Whenever I awake I dread lest I shall hear that such a one is no more.” The assertion is false; for Mureto died in 1585, shortly after the election of Sixtus V., and De Thou was then residing in France.

[164] Leibnitz deemed him insane.

[165] The great mathematician was acquitted; he was enrolled in the Papal household, and an annual pension assigned him. But the Spanish residents having mobbed him several times, he repaired to France, where he was received with open arms by Cardinal Richelieu, and made a counsellor of state. He became president of the newly founded Royal Academy of France.

[166] The reforming princes of Germany and Sweden were foes to toleration; they had arrogated to themselves all power in religious matters, and would have but one religion in their dominions. Their motto was Ejus religio cujus regio. Calvin, most stubborn of foes to a separation of Church and state, invoked against dissenters the penalty of death, because, as he asserted, no one can refuse to acknowledge the authority of princes over the Church without injury to the governments established by God. Those Protestants who would claim Savonarola as one of the precursors of the Lutheran revolt should know that the friar was no friend to toleration. Disputing against astrologists, he exclaimed: “Oh, ye foolish and insensate astrologists! the only way to argue with you is the use of fire.” (“Tract against Astrologers,” c. 3.)

[167] “On Servetus,” 1555.—“Corpus Reform,” viii, 523; ix, 133.

[168] At this day, says Cantù, they show at Dresden the axe which the Lutherans used against dissenters, and on it is inscribed: “Hüt’ dich, Calvinist!”

[169] “Present State of Spain,” Amsterdam, 1719.

[170] Not to be confounded with his uncle, the great theologian, John, Cardinal Torquemada, who died in 1468.

[171] The first three articles treated of the composition of the tribunal in cities; the publication of censures against heretics and apostates, who did not voluntarily denounce themselves; and prescribed a further term of grace by which confiscation might be avoided. IV. Voluntary confessions, made within the term of grace, were to be written in answer to questions of the inquisitors. V. Absolution could not be given in secret, unless the crime was secret. VI. A reconciled person was deprived of every office of honor, and could not use gold, silver, pearls, silk, or fine wool. VII. Pecuniary penances were given to those who voluntarily confessed. VIII. A voluntary penitent, presenting himself after the term of grace, could not be exempted from the confiscation incurred on the day of his apostasy or heresy. IX. Only a light penance was given to voluntary penitents who were not yet 20 years of age. X. The time of a penitent’s first fall was to be particularized, that it might be ascertained what proportion of his goods should be confiscated. XI. If a heretic, confined by the Inquisition, should demand absolution, being touched by sincere repentance, it was to be granted; but his penance should be imprisonment for life. XII. The inquisitors were allowed to use torture in the case of a reconciled person whose confession they deemed imperfect, and whose penitence they deemed it necessary to stimulate. XIII. Torture was also permitted in the case of one who had boasted of having concealed crimes in his confession. XIV. A convicted person, persisting in a denial of guilt, was to be condemned as impenitent. XV. If a person under torture confessed, and afterward confirmed his avowal, he was to be condemned as one convicted; if he retracted, he was to be again interrogated. XVI. It was prohibited to furnish the accused an entire copy of the testimony against him. XVII. The witnesses were to be questioned by the inquisitors themselves. XVIII. One or two inquisitors were to be present at every examination. XIX. An accused who did not obey a formal citation was to be condemned as a convicted heretic. XX. If his conduct, while living, showed that any person, now dead, was a heretic, he was to be condemned as such; his body, if in consecrated ground, was to be disinterred, and his property confiscated. XXI. The inquisitors were ordered to exercise their powers over the vassals of the lords, and to censure the latter if they resisted. XXII. A portion of all confiscated property was to be given, as alms, to the heirs of the condemned. The remaining six articles regarded the conduct of the inquisitors among themselves and toward their subordinates.

[172] Carranza was honorably lodged in Castel San Angelo. Four cardinals, four bishops, and twelve theological doctors were deputed for his trial. The Pope plainly manifested his indignation at the conduct of the Inquisition; he declared that far from prohibiting the “Comments” of the Archbishop, he was much inclined to approve of the work by a motu-proprio. But it appears certain that Carranza had at least rendered himself liable to suspicion. In 1539 he had assisted, as “qualificator” of the Inquisition, at a general chapter of the Dominican Order at Rome, and had become very intimate with Flaminius and other suspects, and even with the noted heretic, Carnesecchi. The process at Rome lasted three years; three more were spent in the law’s delays, and only in 1576 was definitive sentence pronounced by Gregory XIII. On his knees before the Pope, Carranza made an abjuration of all heretical doctrine, and withdrew fourteen “evil-sounding” propositions taken from his writings. He was suspended from episcopal functions, and ordered to reside in a house of his Order at Orvieto for five years, after having visited the seven basilicas of Rome. However, he died a few days afterward, and the Pope gave him a splendid funeral.

[173] Anthony Perez, pursued for his life by Philip II., and escaping to France, published some “Relations,” in which he tells how the papal nuncio disapproved of this notion of the royal power, and adds: “While I was at Madrid a certain party, whom I need not name, preaching before the Catholic King, asserted that ‘kings have absolute power over the persons and goods of their subjects.’ This proposition was condemned by the Inquisition; and the preacher was compelled, in the same place, and with all the juridical formalities, to retract it. He did so in the same pulpit, adding, ‘Kings possess over their subjects only that authority which is accorded them by divine and human law, and not any derived from their own absolute will.’ The delinquent was made to repeat these words by order of Master Fernan del Castillo, consultor of the Holy Office.”

[174] Ranke might have stated that the Florentine historian adds: “It was based on the omnipotence of the king, and it worked everything to the profit of the royal power, to the detriment of the spiritual. In its first idea and in its object it is a political institution. It is the interest of the Pope to put obstacles in its way, and he does so whenever he can; but it is the interest of the king to maintain it in continual progress.”

[175] Alluding to the struggle of the Communes for their fueros, or privileges, a struggle in which the clergy sided with the people.

[176] Loc. cit.

[177] The Princess Victoria Colonna, born 1490, at Marino, a fief of her family, was one of the most distinguished women of her day. Loved, after the manner of Petrarch, by Michael Angelo, and intimate with Pole, Morone, Flaminio, and other great spirits of the time, she exercised more influence than any other one person of her circle. Her correspondence, redolent of mysticism, is orthodox; but she did not escape the suspicion of heresy. Julia Gonzaga, Countess of Fonda, another famous princess of the day, had to bear the same accusation; but, as Pompeo Litta says (“Celebrated Italian Families,” no. 33), this was common to all the learned personages who then contended for a reform of ecclesiastical discipline.

[178] In the French, “Dictionary of Sciences.”

[179] “A Voyage in Spain,” by M. Bourgoing, reviewed in the “Journal of the Empire,” Sep. 17, 1805.

[180] Spalding, loc. cit.

[181] “Catholic Institutions against Heresy,” 1552.

[182] Ibi. tit. xliv.

[183] Limborch admits these two consecutive pardons.

[184] Loc. cit., tit. li.

[185] Cantù, “Heretics of Italy,” disc. 5.

[186] There were two kinds of “question,” the ordinary and extraordinary; the former being a mild use of the instruments employed “to elicit the truth,” while the latter involved the utmost extreme of torment.

[187] Voltaire says of the Spanish Inquisition:

Ce sanglant tribunal,
Ce monument affreux du pouvoir monacal,
Que l’Espagne a reçu, mais qu’elle-meme abhorre
Qui venge les autels, mais qui les déshonore;
Qui, tout couvert de sang, de flammes entouré,
Egorge les mortels avec un fer sacré.

And yet, this same Voltaire, becoming, to use the words of M. de Maistre, “a remarkable monument of that good sense which perceives facts, and of that passion which is blind to their causes,” does not hesitate to admit, in his “Essai sur l’Histoire Générale,” vol. iv, ch. 177, that “In Spain, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there were none of those bloody revolutions, those conspiracies and cruel visitations which were seen in the other countries of Europe. In fact, were it not for the horrors of the Inquisition, we could not reproach the Spain of that day with anything.” That is, observes M. de Maistre, the Sage avows that, were it not for the horrors of the Inquisition, we could not reprove that nation which, only by means of the Inquisition, escaped those horrors which dishonor all the others. At the commencement of the sixteenth century, adds the Catholic publicist, the Spaniards saw the rest of Europe in flames because of the wars of religion. They sustained the Inquisition as a political means to prevent those wars.

[188] M. d’Aurevilly says: “It is said that Montesquieu, at the time of his death, had the intention of writing the Life of Louis XI. Certainly it would have been more brilliant than the work of M. Legeay; it would have shown more style, and even of perception. It would have presented Montesquieu; but would it have better presented Louis XI? Would it have shown more historic reality? That is doubtful.” Cf. “Œuvres et Hommes,” vol. viii.

[189] “Essai sur les Mœurs,” etc. See also letter to Linguet, June, 1776.

[190] “Histoire de Louis XI.,” vol. ii, p. 297.

[191] “Histoire de France,” ed. 1768, vol. xviii, p. 339.

[192] “Histoire de France,” 4th ed., vol. vii, p. 135.

[193] “L’Esprit dans l’Histoire,” 2d ed., p. 113.

[194] Loc. cit., vol. ii, p. 514.

[195] “By a limited monarchy we understand one in which the national assemblies, convoked at long intervals, have neither their own will nor action, and meet only to sanction the projects of the ruler; one in which the head of the state possesses all the legislative and executive power, disposes of the public revenue without rendering any account, and can levy taxes at his own will.” Poirson: “Précis de l’Histoire de France pendant les Temps Modernes.” Paris, 1840.

[196] Avenel: “Lettres, Instructions Diplomatiques, et Papiers d’Etat., du Cardinal de Richelieu”; p. xcvii. Paris, 1853.

[197] “Causeries du Lundi,” vol. v.

[198] “Traité des différentes sortes de preuves qui servent a établir la vérité de l’Histoire.” Liege, 1770.

[199] “Doutes nouveaux sur le testament attribué au Card. de Richelieu, et Arbitrage entre M. Voltaire et M. de Foncemagne.”

[200] “Histoire Universelle,” vol. iv, p. 89.—The “Political Testament,” one of the most solid instructions ever addressed to royalty, was drawn up by Richelieu in duplicate,—one copy going to his Majesty, the other to the Cardinal’s niece, the Duchess d’Aiguillon, who, dying in 1675, left it to her confidante, Mme. du Vigean. It was published in 1688, went through many editions, and finally, in 1749, Voltaire attacked its authenticity in a dissertation subjoined—why, he alone knew—to his tragedy of “Semiramis.” He afterward republished this dissertation, “Des Mensonges Imprimés,” in his “Essai sur l’Histoire Générale.” Of the fifteen objections of which it consists, the one noticed above is probably the strongest; but all were triumphantly refuted by Foncemagne in 1750. The latest author of note to treat of the “Political Testament” was La Bruyère, and he declared that “the man who performed such wonders (as Richelieu did) either never wrote at all, or he must have written this document.” Montesquieu agreed with La Bruyère. In fine, this work will bear comparison with the similar ones composed by Fénelon and Bossuet for the guidance of their royal pupils.

[201] “La Jeunesse de Richelieu,” in the “Revue des Quest. Hist.,” 1869, vol. vi, p. 164.

[202] Berger de Xivrey, “Lettres de Henri IV.,” vol. vii, p. 53.

[203] Cardinal Richelieu’s impartiality was especially manifested in his letters to Pontchartrain, secretary of state for Protestant affairs, guaranteeing the fidelity of the famous ministers du Plessy-Mornay and Chamier.

[204] De l’Aubespine was, according to “Gallia Christiana,” “vir totius antiquitatis ecclesiasticæ peritissimus.”

[205] Barthélemy, “Caractère de Richelieu.”

[206] “Testament Politique.”

[207]”Récit de ce qui s’est passé un peu avant la mort de M. le Cardinal de Richelieu, arrivée le jeudi, 4 Dec., 1642, sur le midi” (Bibl. Nat. MSS. Fonds Dupuy, vol. DXC, fol. 298, recto); Griffet, “Histoire de Louis XIII.,” vol. III, p. 576; Lettre d’Henri Arnauld, Abbé de Saint-Nicolas, au president Barillon, Dec. 6, 1642 (Bibl. Nat. Fonds Français, vol. XX, DCXXXV); cited by Barthélemy, loc. cit.

[208] “Mémoires de Montglat,” idem.—Brienne uses almost the same terms: “Le roi fût tout ravi d’en être défait.”

[209] “Mémoires de Pontis,” idem, vol. ii.

[210] “Histoire de France sous Louis XIII.,” in preface, and in vol. ii, p. 456. Paris, 1842.

[211] This was the style in which the kings of France always wrote to cardinals, as well as to marshals.

[212] Ducros, “Histoire du Duc de Montmorency,” vol. i, ch. 22.

[213] “Les Œuvres et Les Hommes du XIXme Siècle: Sensations d’Histoire,” vol. viii, p. 60. Paris, 1887.

[214] “L’idée d’une belle mort ou d’une mort Chrétienne dans le récit de la fin heureuse de Louis XIII., surnommé le Juste, roi de France et de Navarre, tiré des Mémoires de feu Jacques Dinet, son confesseur, etc.,” in the Lib. Nat., cited by Barthélemy, loc. cit.

[215] Cf. Valery, “Curiosités et Anecdotes Italiennes,” Paris, 1842.


“L’homme est de glace aux vérités,
Il est de feu pour le mensonge.”

[217] In a letter from Weimar, May 9, 1827.

[218] Unedited Letters, Nos. 79 and 83.

[219] “Illustri Italiani,” vol. i, p. 414. Milan, 1879.

[220] The famous General, Sforza Pallavicino, happened to be in Padua during Tasso’s visit, and expressed a desire to meet him. When Tasso waited upon him, accompanied by four friends, Pallavicino drew a chair near to himself (he was suffering from gout), and begged the poet to be seated. Tasso ran out of the room, and afterward excused himself to his companions, saying, “We must sometimes teach politeness to these people. Why did the man show that attention only to me?”

[221] There is yet extant a receipt as follows: “I the undersigned declare that I have received from Abraham Levi the sum of twenty-five lire, for which he holds in pledge one of my father’s swords, six shirts, four bed-sheets, and two towels. March 2, 1570. Torquato Tasso.”

[222] St. Philip died just one month before Tasso.

[223] The “Inquisizione di Stato” of Venice must not be confounded with either the Roman (Holy Office) or the Spanish Inquisition. The Roman was an ecclesiastical tribunal, the Spanish a royal one; but both took cognizance of heresies and similar crimes. The Venetian tribunal, made permanent in 1454, was purely political, and was composed of three persons—two chosen from the Ten, and one from the council of the doge. Its jurisdiction was universal, not even the doge being excepted. Originally it was called the “Inquisizione dei Dieci,” but in 1610 the style was changed to that of “Inquisizione di Stato.” Its power was unlimited in all affairs of state and of police. It disposed of the treasury, gave instruction to ambassadors, etc., and on occasion deposed the doge. When, however, it undertook to judge the Doge Marino Faliero, it called a giunta of twenty nobles, which body remained permanent until 1582.

[224] “I know of no writer,” says Daru, “even among the Venetians, who has spoken of these statutes.” See “Histoire de la République de Venice,” edit. 1821, vol. vi, p. 385.

[225] See an excellent article in the British Review for October, 1877, p. 337. The falsity of these statutes, and of many of Daru’s assertions concerning Venice, was perfectly demonstrated by Count Tiepolo in his “Discorsi sulla Storia Veneta,” Udine, 1828.

[226] “Voyage en Italie,” vol. i, p. 314.

[227] J. Morey, in the “Illustrations et Célébrités du XIXe Siècle,” vol. v, Paris, 1884.

[228] “State of the prisons in England and Wales, with preliminary observations and an account of some foreign prisons.” London, 1777.

[229] “Stones of Venice,” vol. ii, p. 293; note. London, 1852.

[230] “Voyage en Italie, Contenant l’Histoire et les Anecdotes les plus Singulières de l’Italie.” Paris, 1786.

[231] “Storia d’Italia da 1789 a 1814.” Florence, 1816.

[232] The ceremonies of Holy Week were especially splendid. Saint-Didier, in his “La Ville et République de Venice,” written in 1679, says of the illuminations in Venice on Good Friday night that then the city was wont to consume more white wax than was used in all the rest of Italy in a year.

[233] “Mémoires,” b. vii, ch. 8, at year 1494.

[234] The Feast of the Annunciation is the anniversary of the birth of the capital city. Hence on the pavement of the Church of Santa Maria della Santà we read: “Unde origo, inde salus.”

[235] “Il Forestiere Illuminato della Città di Venezia.” Venice, 1771.

[236] “Gli Eretici d’Italia,” vol. iii, p. 188. Turin, 1866.

[237] Cantù, “Storia Universale,” b. xv, Note O. “Catherine dei Medici, a woman on whom weighs all the hatred of the French, who saw incarnated in her Italian cunning and ferocity, calculated corruption, cold cruelty, and an egotistic policy, had been raised among the factions of Tuscany; married for policy, unloved by a husband who preferred his mistress to her; suddenly exalted above her long debasement; beautiful, majestic, in the vigor of life; instructed by misfortune, irritated by humiliation; absolutely ruling, yet loved by her children; unequalled in the art of fascinating the souls of men. She did not study the good of a kingdom to which she was foreign, nor the preservation of a faith which she had not in her heart, but only her own power. Nevertheless, she preserved France from falling to pieces, or from succumbing to a tyranny which afflicted Spain. She always wore the widow’s weeds; and although she tolerated immorality in others, not even the calumnious Brantôme ever reproaches her on this score. She was so little hostile to the reformed doctrines that during her meals she often listened to Calvinist sermons. (See Letter of the Nuncio Santa Croce, November 13, 1561.) But since Philip II., the great enemy of France, was head of the Catholic party, France should be allied with the Protestants—a policy adopted, in fact, by the last few French monarchs. But the Calvinists ceased to be a school, and became a dangerous faction; hence Catherine felt that she could save the country only by siding with the Catholic majority. Although she hated the Guises, she joined hands with them to supplant the constable Anne and Diana. The latter was banished; Anne went over to the Bourbons; the King of Navarre received a cool treatment which his weakness deserved, and the Guises obtained the highest posts.” Ib., c. 24.

[238] Cf. also M. de Falloux, in the Correspondant of 1843, pp. 166-168.

[239] Menard: “Histoire Civile, Eccl., et Lit., de Nîmes”; vol. v, p. 9.

[240] “Histoire de France de 1550 jusqu’à 1557”; edit. 1581; b. xxix, p. 67.

[241] Discourse at a scientific congress held at Angers in 1843.

[242] Villeroy: “Mémoires Servant a l’Histoire de Notre Temps”; vol. iv. The letter to Schomberg is of September 13, 1572.

[243] Tavannes: “Mémoires dépuis l’an 1530 jusqu’à Sa Mort en 1573, Dressés par Son Fils”; Paris, 1574.—The quotations that follow are taken from the “Mémoires de Condé, dépuis la Mort de Henri II., jusqu’au Commencement des Troubles en 1565”; vol. iv, p. 303; Paris, 1741.

[244] “La Saint-Barthélemy,” in his “Erreurs,” vol. i.; Paris, 1865.

[245] Jane d’Albret, Queen of Navarre, married in 1548 Anthony de Bourbon, Duke of Vendôme, a lineal descendant of Robert, Count of Clermont, son of St. Louis; this latter having married Beatrice, daughter of Archambault de Bourbon. On the death of Anthony, in 1562, Jane embraced Calvinism. Her son, the great Henry of Navarre, becoming Henry IV. of France in 1589, definitively united France and Navarre.

[246] Cavairac: “Dissertation sur la Journée de la Saint-Barthélemy”; 1758.

[247] The words of Salviati do not necessarily imply, as Lingard would infer, that the slaughter was to be “general.”

[248] Since many very good Catholics have rejected certain teachings of certain Jesuits, just as other good Catholics have rejected certain teachings of other schools, this remark might be allowed to pass. But coming from Mr. Jay, this sentence would indicate, even to those who are unacquainted with Acton’s career, that his “liberal Catholicism” was impatient of all control. And at the time of his letter to the London paper, the quondam Catholic editor had thrown off his allegiance to the centre of unity, had joined the “Old Catholic” heresy, and was no more of a Catholic than is Mr. Jay himself.

[249] “Essay on the Civil Wars”—“Henriade,” in the Notes.

[250] “Revolutions de Paris.”

[251] “Œuvres,” edit. 1779, vol. i, p. 62.

[252] “Mémoires,” edit. Lalanne, p. 23.

[253] Published in the “Archives” of Cimber & Danjou.

[254] “Hommes Illustres,” in the Discourses on “Coligny” and “Charles IX.”

[255] See the introduction of Malgaigne to the “Œuvres” of Paré.

[256] In his “Histoire de St. Leger.”

[257] In the “Revue des Deux Mondes” for Jan. 15, 1877, p. 452.

[258] The University of Bologna was a corporation of scholars who were divided into two great “nations”—Cismontanes (Italians), and Ultramontanes (foreigners)—each having its own rector, who must have taught law for five years and have been a student of the University, and could not be a monk or friar. The students elected this rector, and none of the professors had a voice in the assembly unless they had previously been rectors. However, in the faculty of theology the professors governed. Popes Gregory IX., Boniface VIII., Clement V., and John XXII., addressed their Decretals “to the doctors and scholars of Bologna.”

[259] Voltaire makes this charge four different times, but in contradictory terms. In his “Essai sur les Mœurs,” in the Introduction, he says that Charlemagne “did not know how to write his name.” In chapter six he adduces Eginhard to this effect. In the “Annales de l’Empire” he says that “it is not likely that this Frankish King, who could not write a running hand, could compose Latin verses”; and in another place of the same work he says that the monarch “could not write his name well.”

[260] “Tentabat et scribere, tabellasque et codicillos ad hoc in lecticulo sub cervicalibus circumferre solebat, ut cum vacuum tempus esset, manum effigiandis litteris assuefaceret; sed parum prospere successit labor præposterus ac sero inchoatus.”

[261] In the space occupied by a K he put the other letters of his name, “Karolus:”

In Papal letters of the Middle Ages we often meet the monogram of “Bene valete:”

[262] “Commentaria in Bibl. Cæs. Vindob.,” b. ii, c. 5. Vienna, 1655.

[263] “Histoire de France,” edit. 1835, vol. i, p. 332.

[264] “Histoire de France,” edit. 1855, vol. ii, p. 292.—“It would be strange indeed if this great man, who was versed in astronomy and in Greek, and who labored to correct the text of the Four Gospels, was unable to write.”

[265] “Histoire de France, Racontée à Mes Petits-Enfants,” vol. i, p. 228. Paris, 1872.—“It has been doubted whether he could write, and a passage of Eginhard might authorize the doubt; but when I consider other testimonies, and even this very remark of Eginhard, I incline to the belief that Charlemagne wrote with difficulty and not very well.”

[266] The Abbé le Noir, in his re-arrangement of Bergier’s “Dictionary,” analyzes the known facts concerning this invention, and thus concludes: “Coster, we believe, invented and first employed movable types. Gutenberg came across Coster’s plans, perfected them, and with invincible patience tried to execute them on a grand scale. But, constantly needing funds, he was forced to put himself into the hands of an adroit banker, Faust, who played upon him the trick he himself had played upon Coster: appropriated the invention and gathered the profits.”

[267] “Primato Civile e Morale degli Italiani,” Capolago, 1846, vol. ii, p. 275.

[268] “Two things are necessary to found a durable order of things in the state. All must be participants in the general government, so that all may have an interest in maintaining the public peace. That form must be adopted which combines all powers most happily. The happiest combination is that which places at the head a virtuous ruler, who will surround himself with a number of notables who will rule according to equity; and who, being taken from every class by means of a universal suffrage, will thus associate the entire people in the cares of government. In its beneficent organization such a state would combine royalty, represented by its one head; aristocracy, in its magistrates chosen from among the best citizens; and democracy, manifested in the election of the magistrates, effected in the ranks and by the voice of the people.” (See Ch. Jourdain’s “La Philosophie de St. Thomas d’Aquin,” vol. i, p. 407.—“Summa Theol.,” p. 1, 2, q. 2, c. 8, a. 7.)

[269] Balmes says: “The greatest development of the royal power in Spain occurred on the appearance of Protestantism. In England, commencing with Henry VIII., it was not monarchy that prevailed, but a cruel despotism, the excesses of which could not be disguised by a vain shadow of representative forms. In France, after the wars of the Huguenots, the royal power was more absolute than ever. In Sweden, Gustavus mounts the throne, and from that moment the kings exercise almost unlimited power. In Denmark, the monarchy perpetuates and strengthens itself. In Germany, the kingdom of Prussia is formed, and absolutism generally prevails. In Austria, the empire of Charlemagne retains all its power and splendor. In Italy, the little republics disappear, and the peoples recur to the domination of princes. In Spain, the ancient cortes of Castile, Aragon, Valencia, and Catalonia, fall into abeyance.”

[270] “Absolutism was an entirely new thing in the Papal States,” says Cantù; “and when Pius IX. initiated and blessed the Italian movement, he protested, in his Constitution of March 14, 1848, that he did nothing but ‘restore some ancient institutions which were for a long time the mirror of the wisdom of our august predecessors;’ and that ‘in the olden time our Communes had the privilege of governing themselves, under laws chosen by themselves, with the sovereign sanction.’ Behold one of the thousand proofs that liberty is old and despotism new. But to-day, all moral and political sense being lost, the name of one is bestowed on the other.” (“Heretics of Italy,” dis. viii.)

[271] Some have held that the Third Estate comprised only the middle class, what we now call the bourgeoisie; but this opinion is historically false. The ordinance of Louis XVI., convoking the Estates of 1789, speaks of the immemorial right of attending the Third possessed by “all the inhabitants who are French by birth or naturalization, of twenty-five years of age, domiciled, and subject to taxation.”

[272] See Augustin Thierry’s “Essai sur l’Histoire de la Formation du Tiers-Etat,” ch. 2, Paris, 1853.

[273] “Traité des différentes sortes de preuves qui servent à établir la vérité dans l’histoire.” Liège, 1769.

[274] Griffet does not wish “to come to a decision,” because of his uncertainty as to the date of the prisoner’s arrival at Pignerol. In his day this date was unknown, but it is now certain that it was previous to September, 1681.

[275] “Année Littéraire.” Paris, 1758.

[276] Idem, 1768.

[277] Ib.

[278] Mlle. de Montpensier, a well-informed contemporary, narrates that the prince arrived at the camp before Courtray in the beginning of November, 1683; that on the 12th he was attacked by fever, and died on the 19th.

[279] Some have made the Iron Mask a legitimate son of the Queen. Thus, in 1790, Soulavie published an account of two shepherds announcing to Louis XIII. that Anne would give birth to twins, whose rivalry would cause great harm to France; and he added that Louis imprisoned the second son.

[280] “L’Homme au Masque de Fer, mémoire historique où l’on réfute les différentes opinions relatives à ce personage mysterieux et où l’on démontre que ce prisonnier fut une des victimes des Jésuites.”

[281] “Mémoire manuscrit de M. de Bonac, ambassadeur de France à Constantinople, 1724.”

[282] Thus says the official report of his death in the archives of the Foreign Office.

[283] “Voyage en Provence.”

[284] “Histoire de Colbert.”

[285] Among the papers of Fouquet was found the following document: “I promise to give my loyalty to Monseigneur the Procurator-General, Superintendent of Finances, and Minister of State; to belong to no person but himself, giving myself and attaching myself to him with my utmost zeal, and promising to serve him in all things, against every person without exception; and to obey no person but him; and to hold no relations with any whom he may prohibit to me, and to resign the post of Concarneau, which he has given to me, whenever he may demand it. I promise to sacrifice my life for him, against all whom he may name, be they of any quality or condition whatever, without excepting any person in the world. As assurance of this I give these presents, written and signed by my hand. Done at Paris, June 2, 1658, Deslandes.” Deslandes was commander of the citadel of Concarneau, which belonged to Fouquet. But the document which ruined Fouquet was nothing less than a detailed plan of rebellion, addressed to his friends, and to be actuated in case Cardinal Mazarin, then become suspicious of Fouquet’s honesty, and designing to substitute Colbert in his place, should order his arrest.

[286] So the name was written in those days.

[287] Drawing attention to the contradictions of contemporaries concerning the death of Fouquet, and commenting on Louvois’ acknowledgment, only on April 3, of Saint-Mars’ letter of information, whereas Mme. de Sévigné knew of the event several days before, Paul Lacroix asks how the special despatches of the state were over fourteen days on the road, while the postal courier of Pignerol covered the route in less than eight days. And how can we explain the silence of the “Mercure Galant,” a journal most precise in recording the principal deaths of every month? A strange death, says Lacroix, which occurred at Pignerol on March 23, and was known at Paris on the 25th. “And not an authentic document to establish the death of a man whose fortune and disgrace had caused such wonder! Nothing to impose silence on the rumors ever insinuating crime when death in a state-prison is mysterious! Only an enigmatical despatch of the Minister of War, the transmission of a coffin, and an extract from a convent register showing a burial a year afterward!” Is it not strange that Lafontaine, who could so plaintively lament the fall of “Oronte,” had no regrets for his Mæcenas? asks Barthélemy. And Gourville, who kept up a correspondence with his friend Fouquet to the very last, makes no mention of the time or place of his death. Even the family of Fouquet were uncertain as to his end. Nor can we forget that the diary of M. du Junca informs us that “the olden prisoner whom Saint-Mars had guarded at Pignerol” was yet in that fortress at the end of August, 1681, when Saint-Mars passed as governor to Exiles, seventeen months after the presumed death of Fouquet, taking with him the Iron Mask and one other prisoner, whose name we ignore. Nor is it insignificant that whereas Louvois uses the phrase “the deceased M. Fouquet,” when writing to Saint-Mars during the month after the alleged death, he ever after omits that qualification.

[288] Leo of Ostia (Marsicanus): in Baronio.

[289] “Deeds of the English Kings,” b. 4, y. 1095.

[290] Dissertation by Guhrauer, in “Mémoires of the Institute of France,” Vol. I.—Cantù agrees with Leibnitz: “Suppose that the lion of St. Mark and the dragon of St. George had made a permanent home on the banks of the Bosphorus, the Jordan, and the Tigris. A civilized population would now enjoy that beauty which of old made them envied centres of culture; Seleucia, Antioch, Bagdad, would be the London and Paris of Asia; where now a pasha, with flail and scimitar, bends the peoples before the caprices of a despot, and where the Bedouins practise robbery and piracy with impunity, would now flourish governments founded in order and liberty; from the most beautiful city under the sun would flow streams of culture and of love over Asia and Europe, united in affection and in progress, to improve the North, and spread the light of truth in the heart of Africa and in the farthest regions of the East. If a hermit had not raised that cry, if the Popes had not taken it up, the growing civilization of Europe would have succumbed to the Arabs; the religion of love and of liberty would have yielded up our countries to one of blood and of slavery, and over the beautiful lands of Italy and France would reign a brutal domestic and political tyranny, a haughty immobility, a fatal indifference, a systematic ignorance.”

[291] “Storia Univ.,” b. xii, c. 18.

[292] Was not that system of solidarity, which in the Middle Age bound the Catholic nations together by the principles of a common faith, at least as just and respectable as that modern international solidarity, styled European balance of power, which is based on a shifting policy, and on merely earthly interests? Ottoman barbarism everywhere rampant under the Crescent; Christian civilization on the defensive under the Cross; Islamism menacing the world with its impure torrents, and Christianity striking home at its implacable enemy—behold, in its most natural and philosophical aspect, the entire history of the Crusades. (Berault: “Hist. Gen. de l’Eglise,” vol. xii, p. 596.)

[293] June, 1887.

[294] In 1833 the hierarchy of the new Kingdom of Greece declared its independence of the patriarch, and in 1868 that prelate recognized its autonomy.

[295] The Russian liturgical books, written in Old Slavonic, are full of such testimonies. Thus, Pope St. Sylvester is called “the divine head of the holy bishops.” Pope St. Leo I. is styled “the successor of St. Peter on the highest throne, the heir of the impregnable rock.” To Pope St. Martin is said: “Thou didst adorn the divine throne of Peter, and, holding the church upright on this rock which cannot be shaken, thou didst honor thy name.” Pope St. Leo III. is thus addressed: “Chief pastor of the Church, fill the place of Jesus Christ.” St. Peter is called the sovereign pastor of all the Apostles—“pastyr vladytchnyi vsich Apostolov.

[296] About the year 945 Olha, Olga, or Elga, widow of a grand duke (or king) of Russia, made a journey to Constantinople, and was there baptized. Returning to Russia, she vainly endeavored to convert her countrymen. But her grandson, Vladimir, having married Anna, sister of the Greek Emperor Basil II., was baptized in 988, and in a few years nearly all the Russians received the Faith. Those authors who assign the conversion of Russia to the ninth century, remarks Bergier, confuse the reign of Basil II. with that of Basil the Macedonian.

[297] The Catholics of Galicia, or Red Russia, who number two millions of Ruthenians, as they are called, use the Slavonic liturgy, and their secular clergy may marry before receiving Holy Orders.

[298] “La Russie, Sera-t-elle Catholique?” Paris, 1856.

[299] We have followed the Latin version of this Synod of Jerusalem (or of Bethlehem), made by an anonymous Benedictine of St. Maur, and first published at Paris, in 1676.

[300] Spondanus: y. 1627, no. 9; y. 1638, no. 14; y. 1639, no. 12.—Claude: “Réponse à La Perpétuité de la Foi,” La Havre, 1670.—Hottinger: “Analecta. Hist. Theol.”—Du Pin: “Bibliothèque des Auteurs Ecclesiastiques.”—Thos. Smith: “Life of Cyril Lucar.”

[301] In the five quarto volumes of which this work consists, are collected testimonies of all the Greek ecclesiastical authors who wrote after the schism of Photius; the professions of faith of many patriarchs and bishops; declarations of many synods; the liturgies, etc., of the East. It is proved that in all ages, just as to-day, the Orientals admitted seven Sacraments, and held that these produce (?) grace; that, as now, they believed in Transubstantiation; that, as now, they prayed to the saints, prayed for the dead. It is also shown that Lucar manifested, not the sentiments of his Church, but his own opinions—a fact proved by himself when he proposed his doctrine as one he would like to introduce among the Greeks. In the last two volumes of the “Perpetuity,” the doctrine of the Catholic and schismatic Greek Churches is compared with that of the Nestorians, who separated from Rome in the fifth century, and with that of the Eutychians, or Jacobites, who became schismatics in the sixth. Then follows an exposition of the belief and of the discipline of the Ethiopians, Egyptian Copts, Maronites, and of the Nestorians scattered throughout Persia and India.

[302] Again we call the reader’s attention to some reflections of Gagarin: “Bizantism pretended to have for its object the exaltation and triumph of the Greek Church, Empire, and nationality. It sacrificed the unity and independence of the Church to that object, and what has been the result of the conflict which it provoked? The ruin of the Greek Church, and consequently of the Greek Empire and nationality. But God did not wish that this ancient and glorious Church should perish. He raised up a new people, who seem to have the mission of re-establishing her in her pristine splendor. That people is the Slavic, and three-fourths of them belong to the Oriental rite, with this difference, that their liturgical language is the (Old) Slavonic. One can not avoid being struck by the contrast between the Slavonic and Greek branches of the Oriental rite. The former possesses numbers, force, vigor, while the latter exhibits only feebleness and decrepitude. Laying aside every other argument, the figures will make this difference palpable. It is estimated that all the Oriental Christians—Slavs, Greeks, Moldo-Wallachians, or Roumanians, Georgians, etc.,—number about seventy million souls, of whom nearly sixty millions are Slavs. If from the ten or twelve remaining millions we deduct those who are not Greeks, we see to how small a number the Greeks are reduced. Now, the Slavs of the Oriental rite are nearly all subjects of the Russian Empire.”

[303] “In Turkey,” says Gagarin, “until the hatti-houmayoum of Feb. 18, 1856, all the Christians of the Greek rite were placed under the (civil) authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople; and when one of them renounced that prelate’s communion to enter that of the Pope, it is evident that he was exposed to vexation by the former personage, who, though no longer his spiritual, was still his temporal ruler. He had only one way of escaping persecution, and that was a withdrawal from the patriarch’s civil jurisdiction when he left the schismatic communion. To effect this withdrawal, he had to join the Latin rite. These few words ought to explain how, in Greece and the Archipelago, all the Catholic Greeks have been led to abandon the Greek rite. The concessions made by the Sultan Abdul-Mejid, on Feb. 18, 1856, deprived the patriarch of his civil authority over his co-nationals; but it has not yet been shown that the Greeks who were desirous of joining the Roman communion, and who still preferred to cling to their old rite, could do so with impunity. Let us judge, then, whether they could have done so a century or two ago. In Poland the circumstances were different, but the united Russians passed to the Latin rite because of similar influences. In the Republic of Poland there were two rites, two languages, and two nationalities. The superiority was with the Poles; and when the convert adopted the Latin rite, he assumed Polish nationality, and entered the ranks of the dominant people. Does not this state of things explain the facts opposed to us?”

[304] In a late letter to the Committee of the International Federation of the Sacred Heart for the Religious Celebration of the Fourth Centenary of the Discovery of America.

[305] Idem.

[306] Cantù: “Illustri Italiani,” art. “Colombo.”

[307] Lamartine, in his imaginative biography of Columbus, locates the scene of this exhibition in the banquet-hall of King Ferdinand. Others describe it as occurring at the feast given in honor of the Grand Admiral by Cardinal Mendoza. None of the Spanish historians speak of it; the first to do so was the Milanese Benzoni; and he, thinks De Lorgues, must have confused some of his childish recollections. The story of the egg is, in all likelihood, of Italian origin. “It is attributed with much probability to Brunnelleschi, the architect of the cupola of Sta. Maria del Fiore. In this supposition, the idea, inept as it is, is not impossible. At a table where are assembled a lot of Florentine artists, free-and-easy banterers and scoffers, such frivolity is comprehensible; but nowhere else.” Nearly all smart sayings, observed Voltaire, recalling the application of this tale to Brunnelleschi, are repetitions. (“Essai sur les Mœurs,” ch. 145.)

[308] De Lorgues, vol. i, b. 2.

[309] “Y digo que Vuestras Altezas no deben consentir que aqui trate ni haga pié ninguno extrangero, salvo catolicos cristianos, pues este fué el fin y el comienzo del proposito que fuese par acrecentamiento y gloria de la religion cristiana.”

[310] “Per lasciare un segno d’haver preso la possessione in nome del Signore Jesu Cristo.” Ramusio: “Delle Navigazioni e Viaggi,” vol. iii, fol. 2.

[311] B. vi, ch. 8.

[312] “Histoire de St.-Domingue,” b. 2.

[313] B. viii, ch. 8.

[314] “Hist. Nat. de las Indias,” b. v, ch. 3.

[315] Tarazona: “Instituciones del Fuero, y Privilegios del Reino de Valencia,” vol. viii.

[316] Saint-Hilaire: “Histoire d’Espagne,” b. xviii.

[317] Herrera: “Hist. Gen. des Conquêtes et Voyages des Castillans dans les Indes Occidentals,” b. iv, ch. 13.

[318] “La razon de ello no es lecito de escriberla aqui.” See the last article in the “Holographic Testament, Written and Recopied by Columbus, on Aug. 25, 1505,” in the “Coleccion Diplomatica,” docum. 158.

[319] “Documentos Ineditos para la Historia de Espana,” por Don Mig. Salva.

[320] “Col. Dipl.,” no. 158.

[321] In Introduction, and in vol. ii, p. 382, 3d edit., 1869.

[The end of Some Lies and Errors of History by Reuben Parsons]