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Title: A History of the Reformation (Vol. 1 of 2)
Author: Lindsay, Thomas M.
Language: English
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                    International Theological Library

                       A History of The Reformation


                      Thomas M. Lindsay, M.A., D.D.

            Principal, The United Free Church College, Glasgow

                              In Two Volumes

                                 Volume I

 The Reformation in Germany From Its Beginning to the Religious Peace of


                              T. & T. Clark



Series Advertisement.
Book I. On The Eve Of The Reformation.
   Chapter I. The Papacy.
      § 1. Claim to Universal Supremacy.
      § 2. The Temporal Supremacy.
      § 3. The Spiritual Supremacy.
   Chapter II. The Political Situation.
      § 1. The small extent of Christendom.
      § 2. Consolidation.
      § 3. England.
      § 4. France.
      § 5. Spain.
      § 6. Germany and Italy.
      § 7. Italy.
      § 8. Germany.
   Chapter III. The Renaissance.
      § 1. The Transition from the Mediæval to the Modern World.
      § 2. The Revival of Literature and Art.
      § 3. Its earlier relation to Christianity.
      § 4. The Brethren of the Common Lot.
      § 5. German Universities, Schools, and Scholarship.
      § 6. The earlier German Humanists.
      § 7. The Humanist Circles in the Cities.
      § 8. Humanism in the Universities.
      § 9. Reuchlin.
      § 10. The “Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum.”
      § 11. Ulrich von Hutten.
   Chapter IV. Social Conditions.
      § 1. Towns and Trade.
      § 2. Geographical Discoveries and the beginning of a World Trade.
      § 3. Increase in Wealth and luxurious Living.
      § 4. The Condition of the Peasantry.
      § 5. Earlier Social Revolts.
      § 6. The religious Socialism of Hans Böhm.
      § 7. Bundschuh Revolts.
      § 8. The Causes of the continuous Revolts.
   Chapter V. Family And Popular Religious Life in the Decades Before the
      § 1. Devotion of Germany to the Roman Church.
      § 2. Preaching.
      § 3. Church Festivals.
      § 4. The Family Religious Life.
      § 5. A superstitious Religion based on Fear.
      § 6. A non-Ecclesiastical Religion.
      § 7. The “Brethren.”
   Chapter VI. Humanism And Reformation.
      § 1. Savonarola.
      § 2. John Colet.
      § 3. Erasmus.
Book II. The Reformation.
   Chapter I. Luther to the Beginning of the Controversy About
      § 1. Why Luther was successful as the Leader in a Reformation.
      § 2. Luther’s Youth and Education.
      § 3. Luther in the Erfurt Convent.
      § 4. Luther’s early Life in Wittenberg.
      § 5. Luther’s early Lectures in Theology.
      § 6. The Indulgence-seller.
   Chapter II. From The Beginning of the Indulgence Controversy to the
   Diet of Worms.
      § 1. The Theory and Practice of Indulgences in the Sixteenth
      § 2. Luther’s Theses.
      § 3. The Leipzig Disputation.
      § 4. The Three Treatises.
      § 5. The Papal Bull.
      § 6. Luther the Representative of Germany.
   Chapter III. The Diet Of Worms.
      § 1. The Roman Nuncio Aleander.
      § 2. The Emperor Charles V.
      § 3. In the City of Worms.
      § 4. Luther in Worms.
      § 5. Luther’s first Appearance before the Diet of Worms.
      § 6. Luther’s Second Appearance before the Diet.
      § 7. The Conferences.
      § 8. The Ban.
      § 9. Popular Literature.
      § 10. The Spread of Luther’s Teaching.
      § 11. Andrew Bodenstein of Carlstadt.
      § 12. Luther back in Wittenberg.
   Chapter IV. From The Diet of Worms to the Close Of the Peasants’ War.
      § 1. The continued spread of Lutheran Teaching.
      § 2. The beginnings of Division in Germany.
      § 3. The Peasants’ War.
      § 4. The Twelve Articles.
      § 5. The Suppression of the Revolt.
      § 6. Luther and the Peasants’ War.
      § 7. Germany divided into two separate Camps.
   Chapter V. From The Diet Of Speyer, 1526, To The Religious Peace Of
   Augsburg, 1555.
      § 1. The Diet of Speyer, 1526.
      § 2. The Protest.
      § 3. Luther and Zwingli.
      § 4. The Marburg Colloquy.
      § 5. The Emperor in Germany.
      § 6. The Diet of Augsburg 1530.
      § 7. The Augsburg Confession.
      § 8. The Reformation to be crushed.
      § 9. The Schmalkald League.
      § 10. The Bigamy of Philip of Hesse.
      § 11. Maurice of Saxony.
      § 12. Luther’s Death.
      § 13. The Religious War.
      § 14. The Augsburg Interim.
      § 15. Religious Peace of Augsburg.
   Chapter VI. The Organisation Of Lutheran Churches.
   Chapter VII. The Lutheran Reformation Outside Germany.
   Chapter VIII. The Religious Principles Inspiring The Reformation.
      § 1. The Reformation did not take its rise from a Criticism of
      § 2. The universal Priesthood of Believers.
      § 3. Justification by Faith.
      § 4. Holy Scripture.
      § 5. The Person of Christ.
      § 6. The Church.

                               [Cover Art]

[Transcriber’s Note: The cover image was produced by the submitter at
Distributed Proofreading, and is being placed into the public domain.]


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This History of the Reformation has been written with the intention of
describing a great religious movement amid its social environment. The
times were heroic, and produced great men, with striking individualities
not easily weighed in modern balances. The age is sufficiently remote to
compel us to remember that while the morality of one century can be judged
by another, the men who belong to it must be judged by the standard of
their contemporaries, and not altogether by ours. The religious revival
was set in a framework of political, intellectual, and economic changes,
and cannot be disentangled from its surroundings without danger of
mutilation. All these things add to the difficulty of description.

My excuse, if excuse be needed, for venturing on the task is that the
period is one to which I have devoted special attention for many years,
and that I have read and re-read most of the original contemporary sources
of information. While full use has been made of the labours of
predecessors in the same field, no chapter in the volume, save that on the
political condition of Europe, has been written without constant reference
to contemporary evidence.

A History of the Reformation, it appears to me, must describe five
distinct but related things—the social and religious conditions of the age
out of which the great movement came; the Lutheran Reformation down to
1555, when it received legal recognition; the Reformation in countries
beyond Germany which did not submit to the guidance of Luther; the issue
of certain portions of the religious life of the Middle Ages in
Anabaptism, Socinianism, and Anti-Trinitarianism; and, finally, the

The second follows the first in natural succession; but the third was
almost contemporary with the second. If the Reformation won its way to
legal recognition earlier in Germany than in any other land, its
beginnings in France, England, and perhaps the Netherlands, had appeared
before Luther had published his _Theses_. I have not found it possible to
describe all the five in chronological order.

This volume describes the eve of the Reformation and the movement itself
under the guidance of Luther. In a second volume I hope to deal with the
Reformation beyond Germany, with Anabaptism, Socinianism, and kindred
matters which had their roots far back in the Middle Ages, and with the

The first part of this volume deals with the intellectual, social, and
religious life of the age which gave birth to the Reformation. The
intellectual life of the times has been frequently described, and its
economic conditions are beginning to attract attention. But few have cared
to investigate popular and family religious life in the decades before the
great revival. Yet for the history of the Reformation movement nothing can
be more important. When it is studied, it can be seen that the evangelical
revival was not a unique phenomenon, entirely unconnected with the
immediate past. There was a continuity in the religious life of the
period. The same hymns were sung in public and in private after the
Reformation which had been in use before Luther raised the standard of
revolt. Many of the prayers in the Reformation liturgies came from the
service-books of the mediæval Church. Much of the family instruction in
religious matters received by the Reformers when they were children was in
turn taught by them to the succeeding generation. The great Reformation
had its roots in the simple evangelical piety which had never entirely
disappeared in the mediæval Church. Luther’s teaching was recognised by
thousands to be no startling novelty, but something which they had always
at heart believed, though they might not have been able to formulate it.
It is true that Luther and his fellow-Reformers taught their generation
that Our Lord, Jesus Christ, filled the whole sphere of God, and that
other mediators and intercessors were superfluous, and that they also
delivered it from the fear of a priestly caste; but men did not receive
that teaching as entirely new; they rather accepted it as something they
had always felt, though they had not been able to give their feelings due
and complete expression. It is true that this simple piety had been set in
a framework of superstition, and that the Church had been generally looked
upon as an institution within which priests exercised a secret science of
redemption through their power over the sacraments; but the old
evangelical piety existed, and its traces can be found when sought for.

A portion of the chapter which describes the family and popular religious
life immediately preceding the Reformation has already appeared in the
_London Quarterly Review_ for October 1903.

In describing the beginnings of the Lutheran Reformation, I have had to go
over the same ground covered by my chapter on “Luther” contributed to the
second volume of the _Cambridge Modern History_, and have found it
impossible not to repeat myself. This is specially the case with the
account given of the theory and practice of Indulgences. It ought to be
said, however, that in view of certain strictures on the earlier work by
Roman Catholic reviewers, I have gone over again the statements made about
Indulgences by the great mediæval theologians of the thirteenth and
fifteenth centuries, and have not been able to change the opinions
previously expressed.

My thanks are due to my colleague, Dr. Denney, and to another friend for
the care they have taken in revising the proof-sheets, and for many
valuable suggestions which have been given effect to.

Thomas M. Lindsay.

_March, 1906._


Chapter I. The Papacy.(1)

§ 1. Claim to Universal Supremacy.

The long struggle between the Mediæval Church and the Mediæval Empire,
between the priest and the warrior,(2) ended, in the earlier half of the
thirteenth century, in the overthrow of the Hohenstaufens, and left the
Papacy sole inheritor of the claim of ancient Rome to be sovereign of the
civilised world.

    _Roma caput mundi regit orbis frena rotundi._

Strong and masterful Popes had for centuries insisted on exercising powers
which, they asserted, belonged to them as the successors of St. Peter and
the representatives of Christ upon earth. Ecclesiastical jurists had
translated their assertions into legal language, and had expressed them in
principles borrowed from the old imperial law. Precedents, needed by the
legal mind to unite the past with the present, had been found in a series
of imaginary papal judgments extending over past centuries. The forged
decretals of the pseudo-Isidor (used by Pope Nicholas I. in his letter of
866 A.D. to the bishops of Gaul), of the group of canonists who supported
the pretensions of Pope Gregory VII. (1073-1085),—Anselm of Lucca,
Deusdedit, Cardinal Bonzio, and Gregory of Pavia,—gave to the papal claims
the semblance of the sanction of antiquity. The Decretum of Gratian,
issued in 1150 from Bologna, then the most famous Law School in Europe,
incorporated all these earlier forgeries and added new ones. It displaced
the older collections of Canon Law and became the starting-point for
succeeding canonists. Its mosaic of facts and falsehoods formed the basis
for the theories of the imperial powers and of the universal jurisdiction
of the Bishops of Rome.(3)

The picturesque religious background of this conception of the Church of
Christ as a great temporal empire had been furnished by St. Augustine,
although probably he would have been the first to protest against the use
made of his vision of the City of God. His unfinished masterpiece, _De
Civitate Dei_, in which with a devout and glowing imagination he had
contrasted the _Civitas Terrena_, or the secular State founded on conquest
and maintained by fraud and violence, with the Kingdom of God, which he
identified with the visible ecclesiastical society, had filled the
imagination of all Christians in the days immediately preceding the
dissolution of the Roman Empire of the West, and had contributed in a
remarkable degree to the final overthrow of the last remains of a cultured
paganism. It became the sketch outline which the jurists of the Roman
Curia gradually filled in with details by their strictly defined and
legally expressed claim of the Roman Pontiff to a universal jurisdiction.
Its living but poetically indefinite ideas were transformed into clearly
defined legal principles found ready-made in the all-embracing
jurisprudence of the ancient empire, and were analysed and exhibited in
definite claims to rule and to judge in every department of human
activity. When poetic thoughts, which from their very nature stretch
forward towards and melt in the infinite, are imprisoned within legal
formulas and are changed into principles of practical jurisprudence, they
lose all their distinctive character, and the creation which embodies them
becomes very different from what it was meant to be. The mischievous
activity of the Roman canonists actually transformed the _Civitas Dei_ of
the glorious vision of St. Augustine into that _Civitas Terrena_ which he
reprobated, and the ideal Kingdom of God became a vulgar earthly monarchy,
with all the accompaniments of conquest, fraud, and violence which,
according to the great theologian of the West, naturally belonged to such
a society. But the glamour of the City of God long remained to dazzle the
eyes of gifted and pious men during the earlier Middle Ages, when they
contemplated the visible ecclesiastical empire ruled by the Bishop of

The requirements of the practical religion of everyday life were also
believed to be in the possession of this ecclesiastical monarchy to give
and to withhold. For it was the almost universal belief of mediæval piety
that the mediation of a priest was essential to salvation; and the
priesthood was an integral part of this monarchy, and did not exist
outside its boundaries. “No good Catholic Christian doubted that in
spiritual things the clergy were the divinely appointed superiors of the
laity, that this power proceeded from the right of the priests to
celebrate the sacraments, that the Pope was the real possessor of this
power, and was far superior to all secular authority.”(4) In the decades
immediately preceding the Reformation, many an educated man might have
doubts about this power of the clergy over the spiritual and eternal
welfare of men and women; but when it came to the point, almost no one
could venture to say that there was nothing in it. And so long as the
feeling remained that there might be something in it, the anxieties, to
say the least, which Christian men and women could not help having when
they looked forward to an unknown future, made kings and peoples hesitate
before they offered defiance to the Pope and the clergy. The spiritual
powers which were believed to come from the exclusive possession of
priesthood and sacraments went for much in increasing the authority of the
papal empire and in binding it together in one compact whole.

In the earlier Middle Ages the claims of the Papacy to universal supremacy
had been urged and defended by ecclesiastical jurists alone; but in the
thirteenth century theology also began to state them from its own point of
view. Thomas Aquinas set himself to prove that submission to the Roman
Pontiff was necessary for every human being. He declared that, under the
law of the New Testament, the king must be subject to the priest to the
extent that, if kings proved to be heretics or schismatics, the Bishop of
Rome was entitled to deprive them of all kingly authority by releasing
subjects from their ordinary obedience.(5)

The fullest expression of this temporal and spiritual supremacy claimed by
the Bishops of Rome is to be found in Pope Innocent IV.’s _Commentary on
the Decretals_(6) (1243-1254), and in the Bull, _Unam Sanctam_, published
by Pope Boniface VIII. in 1302. But succeeding Bishops of Rome in no way
abated their pretensions to universal sovereignty. The same claims were
made during the Exile at Avignon and in the days of the Great Schism. They
were asserted by Pope Pius II. in his Bull, _Execrabilis et pristinis_
(1459), and by Pope Leo X. on the very eve of the Reformation, in his
Bull, _Pastor Æternus_ (1516); while Pope Alexander VI. (Rodrigo Borgia),
acting as the lord of the universe, made over the New World to Isabella of
Castile and to Ferdinand of Aragon by legal deed of gift in his Bull,
_Inter cætera divinæ_ (May 4th, 1493).(7)

The power claimed in these documents was a twofold supremacy, temporal and

§ 2. The Temporal Supremacy.

The former, stated in its widest extent, was the right to depose kings,
free their subjects from their allegiance, and bestow their territories on
another. It could only be enforced when the Pope found a stronger
potentate willing to carry out his orders, and was naturally but rarely
exercised. Two instances, however, occurred not long before the
Reformation. George Podiebrod, the King of Bohemia, offended the Bishop of
Rome by insisting that the Roman See should keep the bargain made with his
Hussite subjects at the Council of Basel. He was summoned to Rome to be
tried as a heretic by Pope Pius II. in 1464, and by Pope Paul II. in 1465,
and was declared by the latter to be deposed; his subjects were released
from their allegiance, and his kingdom was offered to Matthias Corvinus,
the King of Hungary, who gladly accepted the offer, and a protracted and
bloody war was the consequence. Later still, in 1511, Pope Julius II.
excommunicated the King of Navarre, and empowered any neighbouring king to
seize his dominions—an offer readily accepted by Ferdinand of Aragon.(8)

It was generally, however, in more indirect ways that this claim to
temporal supremacy, _i.e._ to direct the policy, and to be the final
arbiter in the actions of temporal sovereigns, made itself felt. A great
potentate, placed over the loosely formed kingdoms of the Middle Ages,
hesitated to provoke a contest with an authority which was able to give
religious sanction to the rebellion of powerful feudal nobles seeking a
legitimate pretext for defying him, or which could deprive his subjects of
the external consolations of religion by laying the whole or part of his
dominions under an interdict. We are not to suppose that the exercise of
this claim of temporal supremacy was always an evil thing. Time after time
the actions and interference of right-minded Popes proved that the
temporal supremacy of the Bishop of Rome meant that moral considerations
must have due weight attached to them in the international affairs of
Europe; and this fact, recognised and felt, accounted largely for much of
the practical acquiescence in the papal claims. But from the time when the
Papacy became, on its temporal side, an Italian power, and when its
international policy had for its chief motive to increase the political
prestige of the Bishop of Rome within the Italian peninsula, the moral
standard of the papal court was hopelessly lowered, and it no longer had
even the semblance of representing morality in the international affairs
of Europe. The change may be roughly dated from the pontificate of Pope
Sixtus IV. (1471-1484), or from the birth of Luther (November 10th, 1483).
The possession of the Papacy gave this advantage to Sixtus over his
contemporaries in Italy, that he “was relieved of all ordinary
considerations of decency, consistency, or prudence, because his position
as Pope saved him from serious disaster.” The divine authority, assumed by
the Popes as the representatives of Christ upon earth, meant for Sixtus
and his immediate successors that they were above the requirements of
common morality, and had the right for themselves or for their allies to
break the most solemn treaties when it suited their shifting policy.

§ 3. The Spiritual Supremacy.

The ecclesiastical supremacy was gradually interpreted to mean that the
Bishop of Rome was the _one_ or universal bishop in whom all spiritual and
ecclesiastical powers were summed up, and that all other members of the
hierarchy were simply delegates selected by him for the purposes of
administration. On this interpretation, the Bishop of Rome was the
absolute monarch over a kingdom which was called spiritual, but which was
as thoroughly material as were those of France, Spain, or England. For,
according to mediæval ideas, men were spiritual if they had taken orders,
or were under monastic vows; fields, drains, and fences were spiritual
things if they were Church property; a house, a barn, or a byre was a
spiritual thing, if it stood on land belonging to the Church. This papal
kingdom, miscalled spiritual, lay scattered over Europe in diocesan lands,
convent estates, and parish glebes—interwoven in the web of the ordinary
kingdoms and principalities of Europe. It was part of the Pope’s claim to
_spiritual_ supremacy that his subjects (the clergy) owed no allegiance to
the monarch within whose territories they resided; that they lived outside
the sphere of civil legislation and taxation; and that they were under
special laws imposed on them by their supreme spiritual ruler, and paid
taxes to him and to him alone. The claim to spiritual supremacy therefore
involved endless interference with the rights of temporal sovereignty in
every country in Europe, and things civil and things sacred were so
inextricably mixed that it is quite impossible to speak of the Reformation
as a purely religious movement. It was also an endeavour to put an end to
the exemption of the Church and its possessions from all secular control,
and to her constant encroachment on secular territory.

To show how this claim for spiritual supremacy trespassed continually on
the domain of secular authority and created a spirit of unrest all over
Europe, we have only to look at its exercise in the matter of patronage to
benefices, to the way in which the common law of the Church interfered
with the special civil laws of European States, and to the increasing
burden of papal requisitions of money.

In the case of bishops, the theory was that the dean and chapter elected,
and that the bishop-elect had to be confirmed by the Pope. This procedure
provided for the selection locally of a suitable spiritual ruler, and also
for the supremacy of the head of the Church. The mediæval bishops,
however, were temporal lords of great influence in the civil affairs of
the kingdom or principality within which their dioceses were placed, and
it was naturally an object of interest to kings and princes to secure men
who would be faithful to themselves. Hence the tendency was for the civil
authorities to interfere more or less in episcopal appointments. This
frequently resulted in making these elections a matter of conflict between
the head of the Church in Rome and the head of the State in France,
England, or Germany; in which case the rights of the dean and chapter were
commonly of small account. The contest was in the nature of things almost
inevitable even when the civil and the ecclesiastical powers were actuated
by the best motives, and when both sought to appoint men competent to
discharge the duties of the position with ability. But the best motives
were not always active. Diocesan rents were large, and the incomes of
bishops made excellent provision for the favourite followers of kings and
of Popes, and if the revenues of one see failed to express royal or papal
favour adequately, the favourite could be appointed to several sees at
once. Papal nepotism became a byword; but it ought to be remembered that
kingly nepotism also existed. Pope Sixtus V. insisted on appointing a
retainer of his nephew, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, to the see of
Modrus in Hungary, and after a contest of three years carried his point in
1483; and Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, gave the archbishopric of
Gran to Ippolito d’Este, a youth under age, and after a two years’
struggle compelled the Pope to confirm the appointment in 1487.

During the fourteenth century the Papacy endeavoured to obtain a more
complete control over ecclesiastical appointments by means of the system
of _Reservations_ which figures so largely in local ecclesiastical affairs
to the discredit of the Papacy during the years before the Reformation.
For at least a century earlier, Popes had been accustomed to declare on
various pretexts that certain benefices were _vacantes apud Sedem
Apostolicam_, which meant that the Bishop of Rome reserved the appointment
for himself. Pope John XXII. (1316-1334), founding on such previous
practice, laid down a series of rules stating what benefices were to be
reserved for the papal patronage. The ostensible reason for this
legislation was to prevent the growing evil of pluralities; but, as in all
cases of papal lawmaking, these _Constitutiones Johanninæ_ had the effect
of binding ecclesiastically all patrons but the Popes themselves. For the
Popes always maintained that they alone were superior to the laws which
they made. They were _supra legem_ or _legibus absoluti_, and their
dispensations could always set aside their legislation when it suited
their purpose. Under these constitutions of Pope John XXII., when sees
were vacant owing to the invalidation of an election they were _reserved_
to the Pope. Thus we find that there was a disputed election to the see of
Dunkeld in 1337, and after some years’ litigation at Rome the election was
quashed, and Richard de Pilmor was appointed bishop _auctoritate
apostolica_. The see of Dunkeld was declared to be reserved to the Pope
for the appointment of the two succeeding bishops at least.(9) This system
of _Reservations_ was gradually extended under the successors of Pope John
XXII., and was applied to benefices of every kind all over Europe, until
it would be difficult to say what piece of ecclesiastical preferment
escaped the papal net. There exists in the town library in Trier a MS. of
the _Rules of the Roman Chancery_ on which someone has sketched the head
of a Pope, with the legend issuing from the mouth, _Reservamus omnia_,
which somewhat roughly represents the contents of the book. In the end,
the assertion was made that the Holy See owned all benefices, and, in the
universal secularisation of the Church which the half century before the
Reformation witnessed, the very Rules of the Roman Chancery contained the
lists of prices to be charged for various benefices, whether with or
without cure of souls; and in completing the bargain the purchaser could
always procure a clause setting aside the civil rights of patrons.

On the other hand, ecclesiastical preferments always implied the holders
being liferented in lands and in monies, and the right to bestow these
temporalities was protected by the laws of most European countries. Thus
the ever-extending papal _reservations_ of benefices led to continual
conflicts between the laws of the Church—in this case latterly the Rules
of the Roman Chancery—and the laws of the European States. Temporal rulers
sought to protect themselves and their subjects by statutes of _Præmunire_
and others of a like kind,(10) or else made bargains with the Popes, which
took the form of _Concordats_, like that of Bourges (1438) and that of
Vienna (1448). Neither statutes nor bargains were of much avail against
the superior diplomacy of the Papacy, and the dread which its supposed
possession of spiritual powers inspired in all classes of people. A
Concordat was always represented by papal lawyers to be binding only so
long as the goodwill of the Pope maintained it; and there was a
deep-seated feeling throughout the peoples of Europe that the Church was,
to use the language of the peasants of Germany, “the Pope’s House,” and
that he had a right to deal freely with its property. Pious and patriotic
men, like Gascoigne in England, deplored the evil effects of the papal
_reservations_; but they saw no remedy unless the Almighty changed the
heart of the Holy Father; and, after the failures of the Conciliar
attempts at reform, a sullen hopelessness seemed to have taken possession
of the minds of men, until Luther taught them that there was nothing in
the indefinable power that the Pope and the clergy claimed to possess over
the spiritual and eternal welfare of men and women.

To Pope John XXII. (1316-1334) belongs the credit or discredit of creating
for the Papacy a machinery for gathering in money for its support. His
situation rendered this almost inevitable. On his accession he found
himself with an empty treasury; he had to incur debts in order to live; he
had to provide for a costly war with the Visconti; and he had to leave
money to enable his successors to carry out his temporal policy. Few Popes
lived so plainly; his money-getting was not for personal luxury, but for
the supposed requirements of the papal policy. He was the first Pope who
systematically made the dispensation of grace, temporal and eternal, a
source of revenue. Hitherto the charges made by the papal Chancery had
been, ostensibly at least, for actual work done—fees for clerking and
registration, and so on. John made the fees proportionate to the grace
dispensed, or to the power of the recipient to pay. He and his successors
made the _Tithes_, the _Annates_, _Procurations_, Fees for the bestowment
of the _Pallium_, the _Medii Fructus_, _Subsidies_, and _Dispensations_,
regular sources of revenue.

The _Tithe_—a tenth of all ecclesiastical incomes for the service of the
Papacy—had been levied occasionally for extraordinary purposes, such as
crusades. It was still supposed to be levied for special purposes only,
but necessary occasions became almost continuous, and the exactions were
fiercely resented. When Alexander VI. levied the _Tithe_ in 1500, he was
allowed to do so in England. The French clergy, however, refused to pay;
they were excommunicated; the University of Paris declared the
excommunication unlawful, and the Pope had to withdraw.

The _Annates_ were an ancient charge. From the beginning of the twelfth
century the incoming incumbent of a benefice had to pay over his first
year’s income for local uses, such as the repairs on ecclesiastical
buildings, or as a solatium to the heirs of the deceased incumbent. From
the beginning of the thirteenth century prelates and princes were
sometimes permitted by the Popes to exact it of entrants into benefices.
One of the earliest recorded instances was when the Archbishop of
Canterbury was allowed to use the _Annates_ of his province for a period
of seven years from 1245, for the purpose of liquidating the debts on his
cathedral church. Pope John XXII. began to appropriate them for the
purposes of the Papacy. His predecessor Clement V. (1305-1314) had
demanded all the _Annates_ of England and Scotland for a period of three
years from 1316. In 1316 John made a much wider demand, and in terms which
showed that he was prepared to regard the _Annates_ as a permanent tax for
the general purposes of the Papacy. It is difficult to trace the stages of
the gradual universal enforcement of this tax; but in the decades before
the Reformation it was commonly imposed, and averages had been struck as
to its amount.(11) “They consisted of a portion, usually computed at
one-half, of the estimated revenue of all benefices worth more than 25
florins. Thus the archbishopric of Rouen was taxed at 12,000 florins, and
the little see of Grenoble at 300; the great abbacy of St. Denis at 6000,
and the little St. Ciprian Poictiers at 33; while all the parish cures in
France were uniformly rated at 24 ducats, equivalent to about 30 florins.”
Archbishoprics were subject to a special tax as the price of the
_Pallium_, and this was often very large.

The _Procurationes_ were the charges, commuted to money payments, which
bishops and archdeacons were authorised to make for their personal
expenses while on their tours of visitation throughout their dioceses. The
Popes began by demanding a share, and ended by often claiming the whole of
these sums.

Pope John XXII. was the first to require that the incomes of vacant
benefices (_medii fructus_) should be paid over to the papal treasury
during the vacancies. The earliest instance dates from 1331, when a demand
was made for the income of the vacant archbishopric of Gran in Hungary;
and it soon became the custom to insist that the stipends of all vacant
benefices should be paid into the papal treasury.

Finally, the Popes declared it to be their right to require special
_subsidies_ from ecclesiastical provinces, and great pressure was put on
the people to pay these so-called free-will offerings.

Besides the sums which poured into the papal treasury from these regular
sources of income, irregular sources afforded still larger amounts of
money. Countless dispensations were issued on payment of fees for all
manner of breaches of canonical and moral law—dispensations for marriages
within the prohibited degrees, for holding pluralities, for acquiring
unjust gains in trade or otherwise. This demoralising traffic made the
Roman treasury the partner in all kinds of iniquitous actions, and Luther,
in his address _To the Nobility of the German Nation respecting the
Reformation of the Christian Estate_, could fitly describe the Court of
the Roman Curia as a place “where vows were annulled, where the monk gets
leave to quit his Order, where priests can enter the married life for
money, where bastards can become legitimate, and dishonour and shame may
arrive at high honours; all evil repute and disgrace is knighted and
ennobled.” “There is,” he adds, “a buying and a selling, a changing,
blustering and bargaining, cheating and lying, robbing and stealing,
debauchery and villainy, and all kinds of contempt of God that Antichrist
could not reign worse.”

The vast sums of money obtained in these ways do not represent the whole
of the funds which flowed from all parts of Europe into the papal
treasury. The Roman Curia was the highest court of appeal for the whole
Church of the West. In any case this involved a large amount of law
business, with the inevitable legal expenses; but the Curia managed to
attract to itself a large amount of business which might have been easily
settled in the episcopal or metropolitan courts. This was done in
pursuance of a double policy—an ecclesiastical and a financial one. The
half century before the Reformation saw the overthrow of feudalism and the
consolidation of kingly absolutism, and something similar was to be seen
in the Papacy as well as among the principalities of Europe. Just as the
kingly absolutism triumphed when the hereditary feudal magnates lost their
power, so papal absolutism could only become an accomplished fact when it
could trample upon an episcopate deprived of its ecclesiastical
independence and inherent powers of ruling and judging. The Episcopate was
weakened in many ways,—by exempting abbacies from episcopal control, by
encouraging the mendicant monks to become the rivals of the parish clergy,
and so on,—but the most potent method of degrading it was by encouraging
people with ecclesiastical complaints to pass by the episcopal courts and
to carry their cases directly to the Pope. Nationalities, men were told,
had no place within the Catholic Church. Rome was the common fatherland,
and the Pope the universal bishop and judge ordinary. His judgment, which
was always final, could be had directly. In this way men were enticed to
take their pleas straight to the Pope. No doubt this involved sending a
messenger to Italy with a statement of the plea and a request for a
hearing; but it did not necessarily involve that the trial should take
place at Rome. The central power could delegate its authority, and the
trial could take place wherever the Pope might appoint. But the conception
undoubtedly did increase largely the business of the courts actually held
in Rome, and caused a flow of money to the imperial city. The Popes were
also ready to lend monies to impoverished litigants, for which, of course,
heavy interest was charged.

The immense amount of business which was thus directed into the papal
chancery from all parts of Europe required a horde of officials, whose
salaries were provided partly from the incomes of _reserved_ benefices all
over Europe, and partly from the fees and bribes of the litigants. The
papal law-courts were notoriously dilatory, rapacious, and venal. Every
document had to pass through an incredible number of hands, and pay a
corresponding number of fees; and the costs of suits, heavy enough
according to the prescribed rule of the chancery, were increased immensely
beyond the regular charges by others which did not appear on the official
tables. Cases are on record where the _briefs_ obtained cost from
twenty-four to forty-one times the amount of the legitimate official
charges. The Roman Church had become a law-court, not of the most
reputable kind,—an arena of rival litigants, a chancery of writers,
notaries, and tax-gatherers,—where transactions about privileges,
dispensations, buying of benefices, etc., were carried on, and where
suitors went wandering with their petitions from the door of one office to

During the half century which preceded the Reformation, things went from
bad to worse. The fears aroused by the attempts at a reform through
General Councils had died down, and the Curia had no desire to reform
itself. The venality and rapacity increased when Popes began to sell
offices in the papal court. Boniface IX. (1389-1404) was the first to
raise money by selling these official posts to the highest bidders. “In
1483, when Sixtus IV. (1471-1484) desired to redeem his tiara and jewels,
pledged for a loan of 100,000 ducats, he increased his secretaries from
six to twenty-four, and required each to pay 2600 florins for the office.
In 1503, to raise funds for Cæsar Borgia, Alexander VI. (1492-1503)
created eighty new offices, and sold them for 760 ducats apiece. Julius
II. formed a ‘college’ of one hundred and one scriveners of papal briefs,
in return for which they paid him 74,000 ducats. Leo X. (1513-1521)
appointed sixty chamberlains and a hundred and forty squires, with certain
perquisites, for which the former paid him 90,000 ducats and the latter
112,000. Places thus paid for were personal property, transferable on
sale. Burchard tells us that in 1483 he bought the mastership of
ceremonies from his predecessor Patrizzi for 450 ducats, which covered all
expenses; that in 1505 he vainly offered Julius II. (1503-1513) 2000
ducats for a vacant scrivenership, and that soon after he bought the
succession to an abbreviatorship for 2040.”(12) When Adrian VI.
(1522-1523) honestly tried to cleanse this Augean stable, he found himself
confronted with the fact that he would have to turn men adrift who had
spent their capital in buying the places which any reform must suppress.

The papal exactions needed to support this luxurious Roman Court,
especially those taken from the clergy of Europe, were so obnoxious that
it was often hard to collect them, and devices were used which in the end
increased the burdens of those who were required to provide the money. The
papal court made bargains with the temporal rulers to share the spoils if
they permitted the collection.(13) The Popes agreed that the kings or
princes could seize the _Tithes_ or _Annates_ for a prescribed time
provided the papal officials had their authority to collect them, as a
rule, for Roman use. In the decades before the Reformation it was the
common practice to collect these dues by means of agents, often bankers,
whose charges were enormous, amounting sometimes to fifty per cent. The
collection of such extraordinary sources of revenue as the Indulgences was
marked by even worse abuses, such as the employment of pardon-sellers, who
overran Europe, and whose lies and extortions were the common theme of the
denunciations of the greatest preachers and patriots of the times.

The unreformed Papacy of the closing decades of the fifteenth and of the
first quarter of the sixteenth century was the open sore of Europe, and
the object of execrations by almost all contemporary writers. Its abuses
found no defenders, and its partisans in attacking assailants contented
themselves with insisting upon the necessity for the spiritual supremacy
of the Bishops of Rome.

    “Sant Peters schifflin ist im schwangk
    Ich sorge fast den untergangk,
    Die wallen schlagen allsit dran,
    Es würt vil sturm und plagen han.”(14)

Chapter II. The Political Situation.(15)

§ 1. The small extent of Christendom.

During the period of the Reformation a small portion of the world belonged
to Christendom, and of that only a part was affected, either really or
nominally, by the movement. The Christians belonging to the Greek Church
were entirely outside its influence.

Christendom had shrunk greatly since the seventh century. The Saracens and
their successors in Moslem sovereignty had overrun and conquered many
lands which had formerly been inhabited by a Christian population and
governed by Christian rulers. Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Egypt, and
North Africa westwards to the Straits of Gibraltar, had once been
Christian, and had been lost to Christendom during the seventh and eighth
centuries. The Moslems had invaded Europe in the West, had conquered the
Spanish Peninsula, had passed the Pyrenees, and had invaded France. They
were met and defeated in a three days’ battle at Tours (732) by the Franks
under Charles the Hammer, the grandfather of Charles the Great. After they
had been thrust back beyond the Pyrenees, the Spanish Peninsula was the
scene of a struggle between Moslem and Christian which lasted for more
than seven hundred years, and Spain did not become wholly Christian until
the last decade of the fifteenth century.

If the tide of Moslem conquest had been early checked in the West, in the
East it had flowed steadily if slowly. In 1338, Orchan, Sultan of the
Ottoman Turks, seized on Gallipoli, the fortified town which guarded the
eastern entrance to the Dardanelles, and the Moslems won a footing on
European soil. A few years later the troops of his son Murad I. had seized
a portion of the Balkan peninsula, and had cut off Constantinople from the
rest of Christendom. A hundred years after, Constantinople (1453) had
fallen, the Christian population had been slain or enslaved, the great
church of the _Holy Wisdom_ (St. Sophia) had been made a Mohammedan
mosque, and the city had become the metropolis of the wide-spreading
empire of the Ottoman Turks. Servia, Bosnia, Herzogovina (the Duchy, from
_Herzog_, a Duke), Greece, the Peloponnesus, Roumania, Wallachia, and
Moldavia were incorporated in the Moslem Empire. Belgrade and the island
of Rhodes, the two bulwarks of Christendom, had fallen. Germany was
threatened by Turkish invasions, and for years the bells tolled in
hundreds of German parishes calling the people to pray against the coming
of the Turk. It was not until the heroic defence of Vienna, in 1529, that
the victorious advance of the Moslem was stayed. Only the Adriatic
separated Italy from the Ottoman Empire, and the great mountain wall with
the strip of Dalmatian coast which lies at its foot was the bulwark
between civilisation and barbarism.

§ 2. Consolidation.

In Western Europe, and within the limits affected directly or indirectly
by the Reformation, the distinctive political characteristic of the times
immediately preceding the movement was consolidation or coalescence.
Feudalism, with its liberties and its lawlessness, was disappearing, and
compact nations were being formed under monarchies which tended to become
absolute. If the Scandinavian North be excluded, five nations included
almost the whole field of Western European life, and in all of them the
principle of consolidation is to be seen at work. In three, England,
France, and Spain, there emerged great united kingdoms; and if in two,
Germany and Italy, there was no clustering of the people round one
dynasty, the same principle of coalescence showed itself in the formation
of permanent States which had all the appearance of modern kingdoms.

It is important for our purpose to glance at each and show the principle
at work.

§ 3. England.

By the time that the Duke of Richmond had ascended the English throne and
ruled with “politic governance” as Henry VII., the distinctively modern
history of England had begun. Feudalism had perished on the field of the
battle of Bosworth. The visitations of the Black Death, the gigantic
agricultural labour strike under Wat Tylor and priest Ball, and the
consequent transformation of peasant serfs into a free people working for
wages, had created a new England ready for the changes which were to
bridge the chasm between mediæval and modern history. The consolidation of
the people was favoured by the English custom that the younger sons of the
nobility ranked as commoners, and that the privileges as well as the
estates went to the eldest sons. This kept the various classes of the
population from becoming stereotyped into castes, as in Germany, France,
and Spain. It tended to create an ever-increasing middle class, which was
not confined to the towns, but permeated the country districts also. The
younger sons of the nobility descended into this middle class, and the
transformation of the serfs into a wage-earning class enabled some of them
to rise into it. England was the first land to become a compact

The earlier portion of the reign of Henry VII. was not free from attempts
which, if successful, would have thrown the country back into the old
condition of disintegration. Although the king claimed to unite the rival
lines of York and Lancaster, the Yorkists did not cease to raise
difficulties at home which were eagerly fostered from abroad. Ireland was
a Yorkist stronghold, and Margaret, the dowager Duchess of Burgundy, the
sister of Edward IV., exercised a sufficiently powerful influence in
Flanders to make that land a centre of Yorkist intrigue.

Lambert Simnel, a pretender who claimed to be either the son or the nephew
of Edward IV. (his account of himself varied), appeared in Ireland, and
the whole island gathered round him. He invaded England, drew to his
standard many of the old Yorkists, but was defeated at Stoke-on-Trent in
1487. This was really a formidable rebellion. The rising under Perkin
Warbeck, a young Burgundian from Tournay, though supported by Margaret of
Burgundy and James IV. of Scotland, was more easily suppressed. A popular
revolt against severe taxation was subdued in 1497, and it may be said
that Henry’s home difficulties were all over by the year 1500. England
entered the sixteenth century as a compact nation.

The foreign policy of Henry VII. was alliance with Spain and a
long-sighted attempt to secure Scotland by peaceful means. It had for
consequences two marriages which had far-reaching results. The marriage of
Henry’s daughter Margaret with James IV. of Scotland led to the union of
the two crowns three generations later; and that between Katharine, the
third daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, and the son of Henry
VII. came to be the occasion, if not the cause, of the revolt of England
from Rome. Katharine was married to Arthur, Prince of Wales, in 1501
(November 14th). Prince Arthur died on January 14th, 1502. After
protracted negotiation, lengthened by the unwillingness of the Pope (Pius
III.) to grant a dispensation, Katharine was contracted to Henry, and the
marriage took place in the year of Prince Henry’s accession to the crown.
Katharine and Henry were crowned together at Westminster on June 28th,

England had prospered during the reign of the first Tudor sovereign. The
steady increase in wool-growing and wool-exporting is in itself testimony
to the fact that the period of internal wars had ceased, for sheep
speedily become extinct when bands of raiders disturb the country. The
growth in the number of artisan capitalists shows that money had become
the possession of all classes in the community. The rise of the companies
of merchant adventurers proves that England was taking her share in the
world-trade of the new era. English scholars like Grocyn and Linacre
(tutor in Italy of Pope Leo X. and in England of the Prince of Wales) had
imbibed the New Learning in Italy, and had been followed there by John
Colet, who caught the spirit of the Renaissance from the Italian Humanists
and the fervour of a religious revival from Savonarola’s work in Florence.
The country had emerged from Mediævalism in almost everything when Henry
VIII., the hope of the English Humanists and reformers, ascended the
throne in 1509.

§ 4. France.

If England entered on the sixteenth century as the most compact kingdom in
Europe, in the sense that all classes of its society were welded together
more firmly than anywhere else, it may be said of France at the same date
that nowhere was the central authority of the sovereign more firmly
established. Many things had worked for this state of matters. The Hundred
Years’ War with England did for France what the wars against the Moors had
done for Spain. It had created a sense of nationality. It had also made
necessary national armies and the raising of national taxes. During the
weary period of anarchy under Charles VI. every local and provincial
institution of France had seemed to crumble or to display its inefficiency
to help the nation in its sorest need. The one thing which was able to
stand the storms and stress of the time was the kingly authority, and this
in spite of the incapacity of the man who possessed it. The reign of
Charles VII. had made it plain that England was not destined to remain in
possession of French territory; and the succeeding reigns had seen the
central authority slowly acquiring irresistible strength. Charles VII. by
his policy of yielding slightly to pressure and sitting still when he
could—by his inactivity, perhaps masterly,—Louis XI. by his restless,
unscrupulous craft, Anne of Beaujeu (his daughter) by her clear insight
and prompt decision, had not only laid the foundations, but built up and
consolidated the edifice of absolute monarchy in France. The kingly power
had subdued the great nobles and feudatories; it had to a large extent
mastered the Church; it had consolidated the towns and made them props to
its power; and it had made itself the direct lord of the peasants.

The work of consolidation had been as rapid as it was complete. In 1464,
three years after his succession, Louis XI. was confronted by a formidable
association of the great feudatories of France, which called itself the
_League of Public Weal_. Charles of Guyenne, the king’s brother, the Count
of Charolais (known as Charles the Bold of Burgundy), the Duke of
Brittany, the two great families of the Armagnacs, the elder represented
by the Count of Armagnac, and the younger by the Duke of Nemours, John of
Anjou, Duke of Calabria, and the Duke of Bourbon, were allied in arms
against the king. Yet by 1465 Normandy had been wrested from the Duke of
Guyenne; Guyenne itself had become the king’s in 1472; the Duke of Nemours
had been crushed and slain in 1476; the Count of Charolais, become Duke of
Burgundy, had been overthrown, his power shattered, and himself slain by
the Swiss peasant confederates, and almost all his French _fiefs_ had been
incorporated by 1480; and on the death of King René (1480) the provinces
of Anjou and Provence had been annexed to the Crown of France. The great
feudatories were so thoroughly broken that their attempt to revolt during
the earlier years of the reign of Charles VIII. was easily frustrated by
Anne of Beaujeu acting on behalf of the young king.

The efforts to secure hold on the Church date back from the days of the
Council of Basel, when Pope Eugenius was at hopeless issue with the
majority of its members. In 1438 a deputation from the Council waited upon
the king and laid before him the conciliar plans of reform. Charles VII.
summoned an assembly of the French clergy to meet at Bourges. He was
present himself with his principal nobles; and the meeting was also
attended by members of the Council and by papal delegates. There the
celebrated Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges was formally presented and agreed

This Pragmatic Sanction embodied most of the cherished conciliar plans of
reform. It asserted the ecclesiastical supremacy of Councils over Popes.
It demanded a meeting of a Council every ten years. It declared that the
selection of the higher ecclesiastics was to be left to the Chapters and
to the Convents. It denied the Pope’s general claim to the reservation of
benefices, and greatly limited its use in special cases. It did away with
the Pope’s right to act as Ordinary, and insisted that no ecclesiastical
cases should be appealed to Rome without first having exhausted the lower
courts of jurisdiction. It abolished the _Annates_, with some exceptions
in favour of the present Pope. It also made some attempts to provide the
churches with an educated ministry. All these declarations simply carried
out the proposals of the Council of Basel; but they had an important
influence on the position of the French clergy towards the king. The
Pragmatic Sanction, though issued by an assembly of the French clergy, was
nevertheless a royal ordinance, and thereby gave the king indefinite
rights over the Church within France. The right to elect bishops and
abbots was placed in the hands of Chapters and Convents, but the king and
nobles were expressly permitted to bring forward and recommend candidates,
and this might easily be extended to enforcing the election of those
recommended. Indefinite rights of patronage on the part of the king and of
the nobles over benefices in France could not fail to be the result, and
the French Church could scarcely avoid assuming the appearance of a
national Church controlled by the king as the head of the State. The
abolition of the Pragmatic Sanction was always a bait which the French
king could dangle before the eyes of the Pope, and the promise to maintain
the Pragmatic Sanction was always a bribe to secure the support of the
clergy and the _Parlements_ of France.

In 1516, Francis I. and Leo X. agreed on a Concordat, the practical effect
of which was that the king received the right to nominate to almost all
the higher vacant benefices in France, while the Popes received the
_Annates_. The results were not beneficial to the Church. It left the
clergy a prey to papal exactions, and it compelled them to seek for
promotion through subserviency to the king and the court; but it had the
effect of ranging the monarch on the side of the Papacy when the
Reformation came.

It can scarcely be said that France was a compact nation. The nobility
were separated from the middle and lower classes by the fact that all
younger sons retained the status and privileges of nobles. In ancient
times they had paid no share of the taxes raised for war, on the ground
that they rendered personal service, and the privilege of being free from
taxation was retained long after the services of a feudal militia had
disappeared. The nobility in France became a caste, numerous, poor in many
instances, and too proud to belittle themselves by entering any of the
professions or engaging in commerce.

Louis XI. had done his best to encourage trade, and had introduced the
silkworm industry into France. But as the whole weight of taxation fell
upon the rural districts, the middle classes took refuge in the towns, and
the peasantry, between the dues they had to pay to their lords and the
taxation for the king, were in an oppressed condition. Their grievances
were set forth in the petition they addressed, in the delusive hope of
amelioration, to the States-General which assembled on the accession of
Charles VIII. “During the past thirty-four years,” they say, “troops have
been ever passing through France and living on the poor people. When the
poor man has managed, by the sale of the coat on his back, and after hard
toil, to pay his _taille_, and hopes he may live out the year on the
little he has left, then come fresh troops to his cottage, eating him up.
In Normandy, multitudes have died of hunger. From want of cattle, men and
women have to yoke themselves to the carts; and others, fearing that if
seen in the daytime they will be seized for not having paid their
_taille_, are compelled to work at night. The king should have pity on his
poor people, and relieve them from the said _tailles_ and charges.” This
was in 1483, before the Italian wars had further increased the burdens
which the poorest class of the community had to pay.

The New Learning had begun to filter into France at a comparatively early
date. In 1458 an Italian of Greek descent had been appointed to teach
Greek by the University of Paris. But that University had been for long
the centre of mediæval scholastic study, and it was not until the Italian
campaigns of Charles VIII., who was in Italy when the Renaissance was at
its height, that France may be said to have welcomed the Humanist
movement. A Greek Press was established in Paris in 1507, a group of
French Humanists entered upon the study of the authors of classical
antiquity, and the new learning gradually displaced the old scholastic
disciplines. French Humanists were perhaps the earliest to make a special
study of Roman Law, and to win distinction as eminent jurists. Francis,
like Henry VIII. of England, was welcomed on his accession as a Humanist
king. Such was the condition of France in the beginning of the sixteenth

§ 5. Spain.

Spain had for centuries been under Mohammedan domination. The Moslems had
overrun almost the whole country, and throughout its most fertile
provinces the Christian peasantry lived under masters of an alien faith.
At the beginning of the tenth century the only independent Christian
principalities were small states lying along the southern shore of the Bay
of Biscay and the south-western slopes of the Pyrenees. The Gothic and
Vandal chiefs slowly recovered the northern districts, while the Moors
retained the more fertile provinces of the south. The political conditions
of the country at the close of the fifteenth century inevitably reflected
this gradual reconquest, which had brought the Christian principalities
into existence. In 1474, when Isabella (she had been married in 1469 to
Ferdinand, the heir to Aragon) succeeded her brother Henry IV. in the
sovereignty of Castile, Spain was divided into five separate
principalities: Castile, with Leon, containing 62 per cent.; Aragon, with
Valentia and Catalonia, containing 15 per cent.; Portugal, containing 20
per cent.; Navarre, containing 1 per cent.; and Granada, the only
remaining Moslem State, containing 2 per cent. of the entire surface of
the country.

Castile had grown by almost continuous conquest of lands from the Moslems,
and these additions were acquired in many ways. If they had been made in
what may be termed a national war, the lands seized became the property of
the king, and could be retained by him or granted to his lords spiritual
and temporal under varying conditions. In some cases these grants made the
possessors almost independent princes. On the other hand, lands might be
wrested from the aliens by private adventurers, and in such cases they
remained in possession of the conquerors, who formed municipalities which
had the right of choosing and of changing their overlords, and really
formed independent communities. Then there were, as was natural in a
period of continuous warfare, waste lands. These became the property of
those who settled on them. Lastly, there were the dangerous frontier
lands, which it was the policy of king or great lord who owned them to
people with settlers, who could only be induced to undertake the perilous
occupation provided they received charters (_fueros_), which guaranteed
their practical independence. In such a condition of things the central
authority could not be strong. It was further weakened by the fact that
the great feudatories claimed to have both civil administration and
military rule over their lands, and assumed an almost regal state.
Military religious orders abounded, and were possessed of great wealth.
Their Grand Masters, in virtue of their office, were independent military
commanders, and had great gifts, in the shape of rich commandries, to
bestow on their followers. Their power overshadowed that of the sovereign.
The great ecclesiastics, powerful feudal lords in virtue of their lands,
claimed the rights of civil administration and military rule like their
lay compeers, and, being personally protected by the indefinable sanctity
of the priestly character, were even more turbulent. Almost universal
anarchy had prevailed during the reigns of the two weak kings who preceded
Isabella on the throne of Castile, and the crown lands, the support and
special protection of the sovereign, had been alienated by lavish gifts to
the great nobles. This was the situation which faced the young queen when
she came into her inheritance. It was aggravated by a rebellion on behalf
of Juanna, the illegitimate daughter of Henry IV. The rebellion was
successfully crushed. The queen and her consort, who was not yet in
possession of the throne of Aragon, then tried to give the land security.
The previous anarchy had produced its usual results. The country was
infested with bands of brigands, and life was not safe outside the walls
of the towns. Isabella instituted, or rather revived, the Holy Brotherhood
(_Hermandad_), a force of cavalry raised by the whole country (each group
of one hundred houses was bound to provide one horseman). It was an army
of mounted police. It had its own judges, who tried criminals on the scene
of their crimes, and those convicted were punished by the troops according
to the sentences pronounced. Its avowed objects were to put down all
crimes of violence committed outside the cities, and to hunt criminals who
had fled from the towns’ justice. Its judges superseded the justiciary
powers of the nobles, who protested in vain. The Brotherhood did its work
very effectively, and the towns and the common people rallied round the
monarchy which had given them safety for limb and property.

The sovereigns next attacked the position of the nobles, whose mutual
feuds rendered them a comparatively easy foe to rulers who had proved
their strength of government. The royal domains, which had been alienated
during the previous reign, were restored to the sovereign, and many of the
most abused privileges of the nobility were curtailed.

One by one the Grand Masterships of the Crusading Orders were centred in
the person of the Crown, the Pope acquiescing and granting investiture.
The Church was stripped of some of its superfluous wealth, and the civil
powers of the higher ecclesiastics were abolished or curtailed. In the end
it may be said that the Spanish clergy were made almost as subservient to
the sovereign as were those of France.

The pacification and consolidation of Castile was followed by the conquest
of Granada. The Holy Brotherhood served the purpose of a standing army,
internal feuds among the Moors aided the Christians, and after a
protracted struggle (1481-1492) the city of Granada was taken, and the
Moorish rule in the Peninsula ceased. All Spain, save Portugal and Navarre
(seized by Ferdinand in 1512), was thus united under Ferdinand and
Isabella, the Catholic Sovereigns as they came to be called, and the civil
unity increased the desire for religious uniformity. The Jews in Spain
were numerous, wealthy, and influential. They had intermarried with many
noble families, and almost controlled the finance of the country. It was
resolved to compel them to become Christians, by force if necessary. In
1478 a Bull was obtained from Pope Sixtus IV. establishing the Inquisition
in Spain, it being provided that the inquisitors were to be appointed by
the sovereign. The Holy Office in this way became an instrument for
establishing a civil despotism, as well as a means for repressing heresy.
It did its work with a ruthless severity hitherto unexampled. Sixtus
himself and some of his successors, moved by repeated complaints,
endeavoured to restrain its savage energy; but the Inquisition was too
useful an instrument in the hands of a despotic sovereign, and the Popes
were forced to allow its proceedings, and to refuse all appeals to Rome
against its sentences. It was put in use against the Moorish subjects of
the Catholic kings, notwithstanding the terms of the capitulation of
Granada, which provided for the exercise of civil and religious liberty.
The result was that, in spite of fierce rebellions, all the Moors, save
small groups of families under the special protection of the Crown, had
become nominal Christians by 1502, although almost a century had to pass
before the Inquisition had rooted out the last traces of the Moslem faith
in the Spanish Peninsula.

The death of Isabella in 1504 roughly dates a formidable rising against
this process of repression and consolidation. The severities of the
Inquisition, the insistence of Ferdinand to govern personally the lands of
his deceased wife, and many local causes led to widespread conspiracies
and revolts against his rule. The years between 1504 and 1522 were a
period of revolutions and of lawlessness which was ended when Charles V.,
the grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella, overcame all resistance and
inaugurated a reign of personal despotism which long distinguished the
kingdom of Spain. Spanish troubles had something to do with preventing
Charles from putting into execution in Germany, as he wished to do, the
ban issued at Worms against Martin Luther.

§ 6. Germany and Italy.

Germany and Italy, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, had made
almost no progress in becoming united and compact nations. The process of
national consolidation, which was a feature of the times, displayed itself
in these lands in the creation of compact principalities rather than in a
great and effective national movement under one sovereign power. It is a
commonplace of history to say that the main reason for this was the
presence within these two lands of the Pope and the Emperor, the twin
powers of the earlier mediæval ideal of a dual government, at once civil
and ecclesiastical. Machiavelli expressed the common idea in his clear and
strenuous fashion. He says that the Italians owe it to Rome that they are
divided into factions and not united as were Spain and France. The Pope,
he explains, who claimed temporal as well as spiritual jurisdiction,
though not strong enough to rule all Italy by himself, was powerful enough
to prevent any other Italian dynasty from taking his place. Whenever he
saw any Italian power growing strong enough to have a future before it, he
invited the aid of some foreign potentate, thus making Italy a prey to
continual invasions. The shadowy lordship of the Pope was sufficient, in
the opinion of Machiavelli, to prevent any real lordship under a native
dynasty within the Italian peninsula. In Germany there was a similar
impotency. The German king was the Emperor, the mediæval head of the Holy
Roman Empire, the “king of the Romans.” Some idea of what underlay the
thought and its expression may be had when one reads across Albert Dürer’s
portrait of Maximilian, “Imperator Cæsar Divus Maximilianus Pius Felix
Augustus,” just as if he had been Trajan or Constantine. The phrase
carries us back to the times when the Teutonic tribes swept down on the
Roman possessions in Western Europe and took possession of them. They were
barbarians with an unalterable reverence for the wider civilisation of the
great Empire which they had conquered. They crept into the shell of the
great Empire and tried to assimilate its jurisprudence and its religion.
Hence it came to pass, in the earlier Middle Ages, as Mr. Freeman says,
“The two great powers in Western Europe were the Church and the Empire,
and the centre of each, in imagination at least, was Rome. Both of these
went on through the settlements of the German nations, and both in a
manner drew new powers from the change of things. Men believed more than
ever that Rome was the lawful and natural centre of the world. For it was
held that there were of divine right two Vicars of God upon earth, the
Roman Emperor, His Vicar in temporal things, and the Roman Bishop, His
Vicar in spiritual things. This belief did not interfere with the
existence either of separate commonwealths, principalities, or of national
Churches. But it was held that the Roman Emperor, who was the Lord of the
World, was of right the head of all temporal States, and the Roman Bishop,
the Pope, was the head of all the Churches.” This idea was a devout
imagination, and was never actually and fully expressed in fact. No
Eastern nation or Church ever agreed with it; and the temporal lordship of
the Emperors was never completely acknowledged even in the West. Still it
ruled in men’s minds with all the force of an ideal. As the modern nations
of Europe came gradually into being, the real headship of the Emperor
became more and more shadowy. But both headships could prevent the
national consolidation of the countries, Germany and Italy, in which the
possessors dwelt. All this is, as has been said, a commonplace of history,
and, like all commonplaces, it contains a great deal of truth. Still it
may be questioned whether the mediæval idea was solely responsible for the
disintegration of either Germany or Italy in the sixteenth century. A
careful study of the conditions of things in both countries makes us see
that many causes were at work besides the mediæval idea—conditions
geographical, social, and historical. Whatever the causes, the
disintegration of these two lands was in marked contrast to the
consolidation of the three other nations.

§ 7. Italy.

In the end of the fifteenth century, Italy contained a very great number
of petty principalities and five States which might be called the great
powers of Italy—Venice, Milan, and Florence in the north, Naples in the
south, and the States of the Church in the centre. Peace was kept by a
delicate and highly artificial balance of powers. Venice was a commercial
republic, ruled by an oligarchy of nobles. The city in the lagoons had
been founded by trembling fugitives fleeing before Attila’s Huns, and was
more than a thousand years old. It had large territories on the mainland
of Italy, and colonies extending down the east coast of the Adriatic and
among the Greek islands. It had the largest revenue of all the Italian
States, but its expenses were also much the heaviest. Milan came next in
wealth, with its yearly income of over 700,000 ducats. At the close of the
century it was in the possession of the Sforza family, whose founder had
been born a ploughman, and had risen to be a formidable commander of
mercenary soldiers. It was claimed by Maximilian as a fief of the Empire,
and by the Kings of France as a heritage of the Dukes of Orleans. The
disputed heritage was one of the causes of the invasion of Italy by
Charles VIII. Florence, the most cultured city in Italy, was, like Venice,
a commercial republic; but it was a democratic republic, wherein one
family, the Medici, had usurped almost despotic power while preserving all
the external marks of republican rule.

Naples was the portion of Italy where the feudal system of the Middle Ages
had lingered longest. The old kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Naples and
Sicily) had, since 1458, been divided, and Sicily had been politically
separated from the mainland. The island belonged to the King of Aragon;
while the mainland had for its ruler the illegitimate son of Alphonso of
Aragon, Ferdinand, or Ferrante, who proved a despotic and masterful ruler.
He had crushed his semi-independent feudal barons, had brought the towns
under his despotic rule, and was able to hand over a compact kingdom to
his son Alphonso in 1494.

The feature, however, in the political condition of Italy which
illustrated best the general tendency of the age towards coalescence, was
the growth of the States of the Church. The dominions which were directly
under the temporal power of the Pope had been the most disorganised in all
Italy. The vassal barons had been turbulently independent, and the Popes
had little power even within the city of Rome. The helplessness of the
Popes to control their vassals perhaps reached its lowest stage in the
days of Innocent VIII. His successors Alexander VI. (Rodrigo Borgia,
1492-1503), Julius II. (Cardinal della Rovere, 1503-1513), and Leo X.
(Giovanni de Medici, 1513-1521), strove to create, and partly succeeded in
forming, a strong central dominion, the States of the Church. The troubled
times of the French invasions, and the continual warfare among the more
powerful States of Italy, furnished them with the occasion. They pursued
their policy with a craft which brushed aside all moral obligations, and
with a ruthlessness which hesitated at no amount of bloodshed. In their
hands the Papacy appeared to be a merely temporal power, and was treated
as such by contemporary politicians. It was one of the political States of
Italy, and the Popes were distinguished from their contemporary Italian
rulers only by the facts that their spiritual position enabled them to
exercise a European influence which the others could not aspire to, and
that their sacred character placed them above the obligations of ordinary
morality in the matter of keeping solemn promises and maintaining treaty
obligations made binding by the most sacred oaths. In one sense their aim
was patriotic. They were Italian princes whose aim was to create a strong
Italian central power which might be able to maintain the independence of
Italy against the foreigner; and in this they were partially successful,
whatever judgment may require to be passed on the means taken to attain
their end. But the actions of the Italian prince placed the spiritual Head
of the Church outside all those influences, intellectual, artistic, and
religious (the revival under Savonarola in Florence), which were working
in Italy for the regeneration of European society. The Popes of the
Renaissance set the example, only too faithfully followed by almost every
prince of the age, of believing that political far outweighed all moral
and religious motives.

§ 8. Germany.

Germany, or the Empire, as it was called, included, in the days of the
Reformation, the Low Countries in the north-west and most of what are now
the Austro-Hungarian lands in the east. It was in a strange condition. On
the one hand a strong popular sentiment for unity had arisen in all the
German-speaking portions, and on the other the country was cut into
sections and slices, and was more hopelessly divided than was Italy

Nominally the Empire was ruled over by one supreme lord, with a great
feudal assembly, the Diet, under him.

The Empire was elective, though for generations the rulers chosen had
always been the heads of the House of Hapsburg, and since 1356 the
election had been in the hands of seven prince-electors—three on the Elbe
and four on the Rhine. On the Elbe were the King of Bohemia, the Elector
of Saxony, and the Elector of Brandenburg; on the Rhine, the Count
Palatine of the Rhine and the Archbishops of Mainz, Trier, and Köln.

This Empire, nominally one, and full of the strongest sentiments of unity,
was hopelessly divided, and—for this was the peculiarity of the
situation—all the elements making for peaceful government, which in
countries like France or England supported the central power, were on the
side of disunion.

A glance at the map of Germany in the times of the Reformation shows an
astonishing multiplicity of separate principalities, ecclesiastical and
secular, all the more bewildering that most of them appeared to be
composed of patches lying separate from each other. Almost every ruling
prince had to cross some neighbour’s land to visit the outlying portions
of his dominions. It must also be remembered that the divisions which can
be represented on a map but faintly express the real state of things. The
territories of the imperial cities—the lands outside the walls ruled by
the civic fathers—were for the most part too small to figure on any map,
and for the same reason the tiny principalities of the hordes of free
nobles are also invisible. So we have to imagine all those little mediæval
republics and those infinitesimal kingdoms camped on the territories of
the great princes, and taking from them even the small amount of unity
which the map shows.

The greater feudal States, Electoral and Ducal Saxony, Brandenburg,
Bavaria, the Palatinate, Hesse, and many others, had meetings of their own
Estates,—Councils of subservient nobles and lawyers,—their own Supreme
Courts of Justice, from which there was no appeal, their own fiscal
system, their own finance and coinage, and largely controlled their clergy
and their relations to powers outside Germany. Their princes, hampered as
they were by the great Churchmen, thwarted continually by the town
republics, defied by the free nobles, were nevertheless actual kings, and
profited by the centralising tendencies of the times. They alone in
Germany represented settled central government, and attracted to
themselves the smaller units lying outside and around them.

Yet with all these divisions, having their roots deep down in the past,
there was pervading all classes of society, from princes to peasants, the
sentiment of a united Germany, and no lack of schemes to convert the
feeling into fact. The earliest practical attempts began with the union of
German Churchmen at Constance and the scheme for a National Church of
Germany; and the dream of ecclesiastical unity brought in its train the
aspiration after political oneness.

The practical means proposed to create a German national unity over lands
which stretched from the Straits of Dover to the Vistula, and from the
Baltic to the Adriatic, were the proclamation of a universal Land’s Peace,
forbidding all internecine war between Germans; the establishment of a
Supreme Court of Justice to decide quarrels within the Empire; a common
coinage, and a common Customs Union. To bind all more firmly together
there was needed a Common Council or governing body, which, under the
Emperor, should determine the Home and Foreign Policy of the Empire. The
only authorities which could create a governmental unity of this kind were
the Emperor on the one hand and the great princes on the other, and the
two needed to be one in mutual confidence and in intention. But that is
what never happened, and all through the reign of Maximilian and in the
early years of Charles we find two different conceptions of what the
central government ought to be—the one oligarchic and the other
autocratic. The princes were resolved to keep their independence, and
their plans for unity always implied a governing oligarchy with serious
restraint placed on the power of the Emperor; while the Emperors, who
would never submit to be controlled by an oligarchy of German princes, and
who found that they could not carry out their schemes for an autocratic
unity, were at least able to wreck any other.

The German princes have been accused of preferring the security and
enlargement of their dynastic possessions to the unity of the Empire, but
it can be replied that in doing so they only followed the example set them
by their Emperors. Frederick III., Maximilian, and Charles V. invariably
neglected imperial interests when they clashed with the welfare of the
family possessions of the House of Hapsburg. When Maximilian inherited the
imperial Burgundian lands, a fief of the Empire, through his marriage with
Mary, the heiress of Charles the Bold, he treated the inheritance as part
of the family estates of his House. The Tyrol was absorbed by the House of
Hapsburg when the Swabian League prevented Bavaria seizing it (1487). The
same fate fell on the Duchy of Austria when Vienna was recovered, and on
Hungary and Bohemia; and when Charles V. got hold of Würtemberg on the
outlawry of Duke Ulrich, it, too, was detached from the Empire and
absorbed into the family possessions of the Hapsburgs. There was, in
short, a persistent policy pursued by three successive Emperors, of
despoiling the Empire in order to increase the family possessions of the
House to which they belonged.

The last attempt to give a constitutional unity to the German Empire was
made at the Diet of Worms (1521)—the Diet before which Luther appeared.
There the Emperor, Charles V., agreed to accept a _Reichsregiment_, which
was in all essential points, though differing in some details, the same as
his grandfather Maximilian had proposed to the Diet of 1495. The Central
Council was composed of a President and four members appointed by the
Emperor, six Electors (the King of Bohemia being excluded), who might sit
in person or by deputies, and twelve members appointed by the rest of the
Estates. The cities were not represented. This _Reichsregiment_ was to
govern all German lands, including Austria and the Netherlands, but
excluding Bohemia. Switzerland, hitherto nominally within the Empire,
formally withdrew and ceased to form part of Germany. The central
government needed funds to carry on its work, and especially to provide an
army to enforce its decisions; and various schemes for raising the money
required were discussed at its earlier meetings. It was resolved at last
to raise the necessary funds by imposing a tax of four per cent. on all
imports and exports, and to establish custom-houses on all the frontiers.
The practical effect of this was to lay the whole burden of taxation upon
the mercantile classes, or, in other words, to make the cities, who were
not represented in the _Reichsregiment_, pay for the whole of the central
government. This _Reichsregiment_ was to be simply a board of advice,
without any decisive control so long as the Emperor was in Germany. When
he was absent from the country it had an independent power of government.
But all important decisions had to be confirmed by the absent Emperor,
who, for his part, promised to form no foreign leagues involving Germany
without the consent of the Council.

As soon as the _Reichsregiment_ had settled its scheme of taxation, the
cities on which it was proposed to lay the whole burden of providing the
funds required very naturally objected. They met by representatives at
Speyer (1523), and sent delegates to Spain, to Valladolid, where Charles
happened to be, to protest against the scheme of taxation. They were
supported by the great German capitalists. The Emperor received them
graciously, and promised to take the government into his own hands. In
this way the last attempt to give a governmental unity to Germany was
destroyed by the joint action of the Emperor and of the cities. It is
unquestionable that the Reformation under Luther did seriously assist in
the disintegration of Germany, but it must be remembered that a movement
cannot become national where there is no nation, and that German
nationality had been hopelessly destroyed just at the time when it was
most needed to unify and moderate the great religious impulses which were
throbbing in the hearts of its citizens.

Maximilian had been elected King of the Romans in 1486, and had succeeded
to the Empire on the death of his father, Frederick III., in 1493. His was
a strongly fascinating personality—a man full of enthusiasms, never
lacking in ideas, but singularly destitute of the patient practical power
to make them workable. He may almost be called a type of that Germany over
which he was called to rule. No man was fuller of the longing for German
unity as an ideal; no man did more to perpetuate the very real divisions
of the land.

He was the patron of German learning and of German art, and won the
praises of the German Humanists: no ruler was more celebrated in
contemporary song. He protected and supported the German towns, encouraged
their industries, and fostered their culture. In almost everything ideal
he stood for German nationality and unity. He placed himself at the head
of all those intellectual and artistic forces from which spread the
thought of a united Germany for the Germans. On the other hand, his one
persistent practical policy, and the only one in which he was almost
uniformly successful, was to unify and consolidate the family possessions
of the House of Hapsburg. In this policy he was the leader of those who
broke up Germany into an aggregate of separate and independent
principalities. The greater German princes followed his example, and did
their best to transform themselves into the civilised rulers of modern

Maximilian died somewhat unexpectedly on January 12th, 1519, and five
months were spent in intrigues by the partisans of Francis of France and
young Charles, King of Spain, the grandson of Maximilian. The French party
believed that they had secured by bribery a majority of the Electors; and
when this was whispered about, the popular feeling in favour of Charles,
on account of his German blood, soon began to manifest itself. It was
naturally strongest in the Rhine provinces. Papal delegates could not get
the Rhine skippers to hire boats to them for their journey, as it was
believed that the Pope favoured the French king. The Imperial Cities
accused Francis of fomenting internecine war in Germany, and displayed
their hatred of his candidature. The very Landsknechten clamoured for the
grandson of their “Father” Maximilian. The eyes of all Germany were turned
anxiously enough to the venerable town of Frankfurt-on-the-Main, where,
according to ancient usage, the Electors met to select the ruler of the
Holy Roman Empire. On the 28th of June (1519) the alarm bell of the town
gave the signal, and the Electors assembled in their scarlet robes of
State in the dim little chapel of St. Bartholomew, where the conclave was
always held. The manifestation of popular feeling had done its work.
Charles was unanimously chosen, and all Germany rejoiced,—the good
burghers of Frankfurt declaring that if the Electors had chosen Francis
they would have been “playing with death.”

It was a wave of national excitement, the desire for a _German_ ruler,
that had brought about the unanimous election; and never were a people
more mistaken and, in the end, disappointed. Charles was the heir of the
House of Hapsburg, the grandson of Maximilian, his veins full of German
blood. But he was no German. Maximilian was the last of the real German
Hapsburgs. History scarcely shows another instance where the mother’s
blood has so completely changed the character of a race. Charles was his
mother’s son, and her Spanish characteristics showed themselves in him in
greater strength as the years went on. When he abdicated, he retired to
end his days in a Spanish convent. It was the Spaniard, not the German,
who faced Luther at Worms.

Chapter III. The Renaissance.(16)

§ 1. The Transition from the Mediæval to the Modern World.

The movement called the Renaissance, in its widest extent, may be
described as the transition from the mediæval to the modern world. All our
present conceptions of life and thought find their roots within this

It saw the beginnings of modern science and the application of true
scientific methods to the investigation of nature. It witnessed the
astronomical discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo, the foundation of
anatomy under Vessalius, and the discovery of the circulation of the blood
by Harvey.

It was the age of geographical explorations. The discoveries of the
telescope, the mariner’s compass, and gunpowder gave men mastery over
previously unknown natural forces, and multiplied their powers, their
daring, and their capacities for adventure. When these geographical
discoveries had made a world-trade a possible thing, there began that
change from mediæval to modern methods in trade and commerce which lasted
from the close of the fourteenth to the beginning of the seventeenth
century, when the modern commercial conditions were thoroughly
established. The transition period was marked by the widening area of
trade, which was no longer restricted to the Mediterranean, the Black and
the North Seas, to the Baltic, and to the east coasts of Africa. The rigid
groups of artisans and traders—the guild system of the Middle Ages—began
to dissolve, and to leave freer space for individual and new corporate
effort. Prices were gradually freed from official regulation, and became
subject to the natural effects of bargaining. Adventure companies were
started to share in the world-trade, and a beginning was made of dealing
on commissions. All these changes belong to the period of transition
between the mediæval and the modern world.

In the art of governing men the Renaissance was the age of political
concentration. In two realms—Germany and Italy—the mediæval conceptions of
Emperor and Pope, world-king and world-priest, were still strong enough to
prevent the union of national forces under one political head; but there,
also, the principle of coalescence may be found in partial operation,—in
Germany in the formation of great independent principalities, and in Italy
in the growth of the States of the Church,—and its partial failure
subjected both nationalities to foreign oppression. Everywhere there was
the attempt to assert the claims of the secular powers to emancipate
themselves from clerical tutelage and ecclesiastical usurpation. While,
underlying all, there was the beginning of the assertion of the supreme
right of individual revolt against every custom, law, or theory which
would subordinate the man to the caste or class. The Swiss peasantry began
it when they made pikes by tying their scythes to their alpenstocks, and,
standing shoulder to shoulder at Morgarten and Sempach, broke the fiercest
charges of mediæval knighthood. They proved that man for man the peasant
was as good as the noble, and individual manhood asserted in this rude and
bodily fashion soon began to express itself mentally and morally.

In jurisprudence the Renaissance may be described as the introduction of
historical and scientific methods, the abandonment of legal fictions based
upon collections of false decretals, the recovery of the true text of the
Roman code, and the substitution of civil for canon law as the basis of
legislation and government. There was a complete break with the past. The
substitution of civil law based upon the lawbooks of Justinian for the
canon law founded upon the Decretum of Gratian, involved such a breach in
continuity that it was the most momentous of all the changes of that
period of transition. For law enters into every human relation, and a
thorough change of legal principles must involve a revolution which is
none the less real that it works almost silently. The codes of Justinian
and of Theodosius completely reversed the teachings of the canonists, and
the civilian lawyers learned to look upon the Church as only a department
of the State.

In literature there was the discovery of classical manuscripts, the
introduction of the study of Greek, the perception of the beauties of
language in the choice and arrangement of words under the guidance of
classical models. The literary powers of modern languages were also
discovered,—Italian, English, French, and German,—and with the discovery
the national literatures of Europe came into being.

In art a complete revolution was effected in architecture, painting, and
sculpture by the recovery of ancient models and the study of the
principles of their construction.

The manufacture of paper, the discovery of the arts of printing and
engraving, multiplied the possession of the treasures of the intelligence
and of artistic genius, and combined to make art and literature
democratic. What was once confined to a favoured few became common
property. New thoughts could act on men in masses, and began to move the
multitude. The old mediæval barriers were broken down, and men came to see
that there was more in religion than the mediæval Church had taught, more
in social life than feudalism had manifested, and that knowledge was a
manifold unknown to their fathers.

If the Renaissance be the transition from the mediæval to the modern
world,—and it is scarcely possible to regard it otherwise,—then it is one
of those great movements of the mind of mankind that almost defy exact
description, and there is an elusiveness about it which confounds us when
we attempt definition. “It was the emancipation of the reason,” says
Symonds, “in a race of men, intolerant of control, ready to criticise
canons of conduct, enthusiastic of antique liberty, freshly awakened to
the sense of beauty, and anxious above all things to secure for themselves
free scope in spheres outside the region of authority. Men so vigorous and
independent felt the joy of exploration. There was no problem they feared
to face, no formula they were not eager to recast according to their new
conceptions.”(17) It was the blossoming and fructifying of the European
intellectual life; but perhaps it ought to be added that it contained a
new conception of the universe in which religion consisted less in a
feeling of dependence on God, and more in a faith on the possibilities
lying in mankind.

§ 2. The Revival of Literature and Art.

But the Renaissance has generally a more limited meaning, and one defined
by the most potent of the new forces which worked for the general
intellectual regeneration. It means the revival of learning and of art
consequent on the discovery and study of the literary and artistic
masterpieces of antiquity. It is perhaps in this more limited sense that
the movement more directly prepared the way for the Reformation and what
followed, and deserves more detailed examination. It was the discovery of
a lost means of culture and the consequent awakening and diffusion of a
literary, artistic, and critical spirit.

A knowledge of ancient Latin literature had not entirely perished during
the earlier Middle Ages. The Benedictine monasteries had preserved
classical manuscripts—especially the monastery of Monte Cassino for the
southern, and that of Fulda for the northern parts of Europe. These
monasteries and their sister establishments were schools of learning as
well as libraries, and we read of more than one where the study of some of
the classical authors was part of the regular training. Virgil, Horace,
Terence and Martial, Livy, Suetonius and Sallust, were known and studied.
Greek literature had not survived to anything like the same extent, but it
had never entirely disappeared from Southern Europe, and especially from
Southern Italy. Ever since the days of the Roman Republic in that part of
the Italian peninsula once called Magna Græcia, Greek had been the
language of many of the common people, as it is to this day, in districts
of Calabria and of Sicily; and the teachers and students of the mediæval
University of Salerno had never lost their taste for its study.(18) But
with all this, the fourteenth century, and notably the age of Petrarch,
saw the beginnings of new zeal for the literature of the past, and was
really the beginning of a new era.

Italy was the first land to become free from the conditions of mediæval
life, and ready to enter on the new life which was awaiting Europe. There
was an Italian language, the feeling of distinct nationality, a
considerable advance in civilisation, an accumulation of wealth, and,
during the age of the despots, a comparative freedom from constant changes
in political conditions.

Dante’s great poem, interweaving as it does the imagery and mysticism of
Giacchino di Fiore, the deepest spiritual and moral teaching of the
mediæval Church, and the insight and judgment on men and things of a great
poet, was the first sign that Italy had wakened from the sleep of the
Middle Ages. Petrarch came next, the passionate student of the lives, the
thoughts, and emotions of the great masters of classical Latin literature.
They were real men for him, his own Italian ancestors, and they as he had
felt the need of Hellenic culture to solace their souls, and serve for the
universal education of the human race. Boccaccio, the third leader in the
awakening, preached the joy of living, the universal capacity for
pleasure, and the sensuous beauty of the world. He too, like Petrarch,
felt the need of Hellenic culture. For both there was an awakening to the
beauty of literary form, and the conviction that a study of the ancient
classics would enable them to achieve it. Both valued the vision of a new
conception of life derived from the perusal of the classics, freer, more
enlarged and joyous, more rational than the Middle Ages had witnessed.
Petrarch and Boccaccio yearned after the life thus disclosed, which gave
unfettered scope to the play of the emotions, to the sense of beauty, and
to the manifold activity of the human intelligence.

Learned Greeks were induced to settle in Italy—men who were able to
interpret the ancient Greek poets and prose writers—Manuel Chrysoloras (at
Florence, 1397-1400), George of Trebizond, Theodore Gaza (whose Greek
_Grammar_ Erasmus taught from while in England), Gemistos Plethon, a
distinguished Platonist, under whom the Christian Platonism received its
impulse, and John Argyropoulos, who was the teacher of Reuchlin. The men
of the early Renaissance were their pupils.

§ 3. Its earlier relation to Christianity.

There was nothing hostile to Christianity or to the mediæval Church in the
earlier stages of this intellectual revival, and very little of the
neo-paganism which it developed afterwards. Many of the instincts of
mediæval piety remained, only the objects were changed. Petrarch revered
the MS. of Homer, which he could not read, as an ancestor of his might
have venerated the scapulary of a saint.(19) The men of the early
Renaissance made collections of MSS. and inscriptions, of cameos and of
coins, and worshipped them as if they had been relics. The Medicean
Library was formed about 1450, the Vatican Library in 1453, and the age of
passionate collection began.

The age of scholarship succeeded, and Italian students began to interpret
the ancient classical authors with a mysticism all their own. They sought
a means of reconciling Christian thought with ancient pagan philosophy,
and, like Clement of Alexandria and Origen, discovered it in Platonism.
Platonic academies were founded, and Cardinal Bessarion, Marsiglio Ficino,
and Pico della Mirandola became the Christian Platonists of Italy. Of
course, in their enthusiasm they went too far. They appropriated the whole
intellectual life of a pagan age, and adopted its ethical as well as its
intellectual perceptions, its basis of sensuous pleasures, and its joy in
sensuous living. Still their main thought was to show that Hellenism as
well as Judaism was a pathway to Christianity, and that the Sibyl as well
as David was a witness for Christ.

The Papacy lent its patronage to the revival of literature and art, and
put itself at the head of the movement of intellectual life. Pope Nicolas
V. (1447-1455) was the first Bishop of Rome who fostered the Renaissance,
and he himself may be taken as representing the sincerity, the simplicity,
and the lofty intellectual and artistic aims of its earliest period.
Sprung from an obscure family belonging to Saranza, a small town near
Spezzia, and cast on his own resources before he had fairly quitted
boyhood, he had risen by his talents and his character to the highest
position in the Church. He had been private tutor, secretary, librarian,
and through all a genuine lover of books. They were the only personal
luxury he indulged in, and perhaps no one in his days knew more about
them. He was the confidential adviser of Lorenzo de Medici when he founded
his great library in San Marco. He himself began the Vatican Library. He
had agents who ransacked the monasteries of Europe, and he collected the
literary relics which had escaped destruction in the sack of
Constantinople. Before his death his library in the Vatican contained more
than 5000 MSS. He gathered round him a band of illustrious artists and
scholars. He filled Rome with skilled and artistic artisans, with
decorators, jewellers, workers in painted glass and embroidery. The famous
Leo Alberti was one of his architects, and Fra Angelico one of his
artists. Laurentius Valla and Poggio Bracciolini, Cardinal Bessarion and
George of Trebizond, were among his scholars. He directed and inspired
their work. Valla’s critical attacks on the Donation of Constantine, and
on the tradition that the Twelve had dictated the Apostles’ Creed, did not
shake his confidence in the scholar. The principal Greek authors were
translated into Latin by his orders. Europe saw theology, learning, and
art lending each other mutual support under the leadership of the head of
the Church. Perhaps Julius II. (1503-1513) conceived more definitely than
even Nicolas had done that one duty of the head of the Church was to
assume the leadership of the intellectual and artistic movement which was
making wider the thought of Europe,—only his restless energy never
permitted him leisure to give effect to his conception. “The instruction
which Pope Julius II. gave to Michelangelo to represent him as Moses can
bear but one interpretation: that Julius set himself the mission of
leading forth Israel (the Church) from its state of degradation, and
showing it—though he could not grant possession—the Promised Land at least
from afar, that blessed land which consists in the enjoyment of the
highest intellectual benefits, and the training and consecration of all
the faculties of man’s mind to union with God.”(20)

The classical revival in Italy soon exhausted itself. Its sensuous
perceptions degenerated into sensuality, its instinct for the beauty of
expression into elegant trifling, and its enthusiasm for antiquity into
neo-paganism. It failed almost from the first in real moral earnestness;
scarcely saw, and still less understood, how to cure the deep-seated moral
evils of the age.

Italy had given birth to the Renaissance, but it soon spread to the more
northern lands. Perhaps France first felt the impulse, then Germany and
England last of all. In dealing with the Reformation, the movement in
Germany is the most important.

The Germans, throughout the Middle Ages, had continuous and intimate
relations with the southern peninsula, and in the fifteenth century these
were stronger than ever. German merchants had their factories in Venice
and Genoa; young German nobles destined for a legal or diplomatic career
studied law at Italian universities; students of medicine completed their
studies in the famous southern schools; and the German wandering student
frequently crossed the Alps to pick up additional knowledge. There was
such constant scholarly intercourse between Germany and Italy, that the
New Learning could not fail to spread among the men of the north.

§ 4. The Brethren of the Common Lot.

Germany and the Low Countries had been singularly prepared for that
revival of letters, art, and science which had come to Italy. One of the
greatest gifts bestowed by the Mystics of the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries on their native land had been an excellent system of school
education. Gerard Groot, a disciple of the Flemish mystic Jan van
Rysbroeck, had, after long consultations with his Master, founded a
brotherhood called the _Brethren of the Common Life_,(21) whose aim was to
better the religious condition of their fellow-men by the multiplication
of good books and by the careful training of the young. They were to
support themselves by copying and selling manuscripts. All the houses of
the Brethren had a large room, where a number of scribes sat at tables, a
reader repeated slowly the words of the manuscript, and books were
multiplied as rapidly as was possible before the invention of printing.
They filled their own libraries with the best books of Christian and pagan
antiquity. They multiplied small tracts containing the mystical and
practical theology of the _Friends of God_, and sent them into circulation
among the people. One of the intimate followers of Groot, Florentius
Radewynsohn, proved to be a distinguished educationalist, and the schools
of the Order soon became famous. The Brethren, to use the words of their
founder, employed education for the purpose of “raising spiritual pillars
in the Temple of the Lord.” They insisted on a study of the Vulgate in
their classes; they placed German translations of Christian authors in the
hands of their pupils; they took pains to give them a good knowledge of
Latin, and read with them selections from the best known ancient authors;
they even taught a little Greek; and their scholars learned to sing the
simpler, more evangelical Latin hymns.

The mother school was at Deventer, a town situated at the south-west
corner of the great episcopal territory of Utrecht, now the Dutch province
of Ober-Yessel. It lies on the bank of that branch of the Rhine (the
Yessel) which flowing northwards glides past Zutphen, Deventer, Zwolle,
and loses itself in the Zuyder Zee at Kampen. A large number of the more
distinguished leaders of the fifteenth century owed their early training
to this great school at Deventer. During the last decades of the fifteenth
century the headmaster was Alexander Hegius (1433-1498), who came to
Deventer in 1471 and remained there until his death.(22) The school
reached its height of fame under this renowned master, who gathered 2000
pupils around him,—among them Erasmus, Conrad Mutti (Mutianus Rufus),
Hermann von Busch, Johann Murmellius,—and, rejecting the older methods of
grammatical instruction, taught them to know the niceties of the Latin
tongue by leading them directly to the study of the great writers of
classical antiquity. He was such an indefatigable student that he kept
himself awake during the night-watches, it is said, by holding in his
hands the candle which lighted him, in order to be wakened by its fall
should slumber overtake him. The glory of Deventer perished with this
great teacher, who to the last maintained the ancient traditions of the
school by his maxim, that learning without piety was rather a curse than a

Other famous schools of the Brethren in the second half of the fifteenth
century were Schlettstadt,(23) in Elsass, some miles from the west bank of
the Rhine, and about half-way between Strassburg and Basel; Munster on the
Ems, the Monasterium of the earlier Middle Ages; Emmerich, a town on the
Rhine near the borders of Holland, and Altmarck, in the north-west.
Schlettstadt, under its master Ludwig Dringenberg, almost rivalled the
fame of Deventer, and many of the members of the well-known Strassburg
circle which gathered round Jacob Wimpheling, Sebastian Brand, and the
German Savonarola, John Geiler von Keysersberg, had been pupils in this
school. Besides these more famous establishments, the schools of the
Brethren spread all over Germany. The teachers were commonly called the
_Roll-Brueder_, and under this name they had a school in Magdeburg to
which probably Luther was sent when he spent a year in that town. Their
work was so pervading and their teaching so effectual, that we are
informed by chroniclers, who had nothing to do with the Brethren, that in
many German towns, girls could be heard singing the simpler Latin hymns,
and that the children of artisans could converse in Latin.

§ 5. German Universities, Schools, and Scholarship.

The desire for education spread all over Germany in the fifteenth century.
Princes and burghers vied with each other in erecting seats of learning.
Within one hundred and fifty years no fewer than seventeen new
universities were founded. Prag, a Bohemian foundation, came into
existence in 1348. Then followed four German foundations, Vienna, in 1365
or 1384; Heidelberg, in 1386; Köln, in 1388; and Erfurt, established by
the townspeople, in 1392. In the fifteenth century there were Leipzig, in
1409; Rostock, on the shore of what was called the East Sea, almost
opposite the south point of Sweden, in 1419; Cracow, a Polish foundation,
in 1420; Greifswald, in 1456; Freiburg and Trier, in 1457; Basel, in 1460;
Ingolstadt, founded with the special intention of training students in
obedience to the Pope, a task singularly well accomplished, in 1472;
Tübingen and Mainz, in 1477; Wittenberg, in 1502; and
Frankfurt-on-the-Oder, in 1507. Marburg, the first Reformation University,
was founded in 1527.

The craving for education laid hold on the burgher class, and towns vied
with each other in providing superior schools, with teachers paid out of
the town’s revenues. Some German towns had several such foundations.
Breslau, “the student’s paradise,” had seven. Nor was the education of
girls neglected. Frankfurt-on-the-Main founded a high school for girls
early in the fifteenth century, and insisted that the teachers were to be
learned ladies who were not nuns.(24) Besides the classrooms, the towns
usually provided hostels, where the boys got lodging and sometimes
firewood (they were expected to obtain food by begging through the streets
of the town), and frequently hospitals where the scholars could be tended
in illness.(25)

These possibilities of education attracted boys from all parts of the
country, and added a new class of vagrants to the tramps of all kinds who
infested the roads during the later Middle Ages. The wandering scholar,
with his yellow scarf, was a feature of the era, and frequently not a
reputable one. He was usually introduced as a character into the
_Fastnachtspiele_, or rude popular carnival comedies, and was almost
always a rogue and often a thief. Children of ten and twelve years of age
left their villages, in charge of an older student, to join some famous
school. But these older students were too often mere vagrants, with just
learning enough to impose upon the simple peasantry, to whom they sold
charms against toothache and other troubles. The young children entrusted
to them by confiding parents were often treated with the greatest cruelty,
employed by them to beg or steal food, and sent round to the public-houses
with cans to beg for beer. The small unfortunates were the prisoners, the
slaves, of their disreputable masters, and many of them died by the
roadside. We need not wonder that Luther, with his memory full of these
wandering students, in after days denounced the system by which men spent
sometimes “twenty and even forty years” in a so-called student life, which
was often one of the lowest vagrancy and debauchery, and in the end knew
neither German nor Latin, “to say nothing,” he adds with honest
indignation, “of the shameful and vicious life by which our worthy youth
have been so grievously corrupted.” Two or three of the autobiographies of
these wandering students have survived; and two of them, those of Thomas
Platter and of Johann Butzbach, belong to Luther’s time, and give a vivid
picture of their lives.(26)

Germany had no lack of schools and universities, but it can scarcely be
said that they did more than serve as a preparation for the entrance of
the Renaissance movement. During the fifteenth century all the
Universities were under the influence of the Church, and Scholasticism
prescribed the methods of study. Very little of the New Learning was
allowed to enter. It is true that if Köln and perhaps Ingolstadt be
excepted, the Scholastic which was taught represented what were supposed
to be the more advanced opinions—those of John Duns Scotus, William of
Occam, and Gabriel Biel, rather than the learning of Thomas Aquinas and
other great defenders of papal traditions; but it lent itself as
thoroughly as did the older Scholastic to the discussion of all kinds of
verbal and logical subtleties. Knowledge of every kind was discussed under
formulæ and phrases sanctioned by long scholastic use. It is impossible to
describe the minute distinctions and the intricate reasoning based upon
them without exceeding the space at our disposal. It is enough to say that
the prevailing course of study furnished an imposing framework without
much solid content, and provided an intellectual gymnastic without much
real knowledge. A survival can be seen in the Formal Logic still taught.
The quantity of misspent ingenuity called forth to produce the figures and
moods, and bestowed on discovering and arranging all possible moods under
each figure and in providing all with mnemonic names,—_Barbara, Celarent,
Darii, Ferioque prioris_, etc.,—affords some insight into the scholastic
methods in use in these universities of the fifteenth century.

Then it must be remembered that the scholarship took a
quasi-ecclesiastical form. The universities were all monastic
institutions, where the teachers were professional and the students
amateur celibates. The scholars were gathered into hostels in which they
lived with their teachers, and were taught to consider themselves very
superior persons. The statutes of mediæval Oxford declare that God created
“clerks” with gifts of intelligence denied to mere lay persons; that it
behoved “clerks” to exhibit this difference by their outward appearance;
and that the university tailors, whose duty it was to make men
_extrinsecus_ what God had made them _intrinsecus_, were to be reckoned as
members of the University. Those mediæval students sometimes assumed airs
which roused the passions of the laity, and frequently led to tremendous
riots. Thus in 1513 the townsfolk of Erfurt battered in the gates of the
University with cannon, and after the flight of the professors and
students destroyed almost all the archives and library. About the same
time some citizens of Vienna having jeered at the sacred student dress,
there ensued the “Latin war,” which literally devastated the town. This
pride of separation between “clerks” and laity culminated in the great
annual procession, when the newly capped graduates, clothed in all the
glory of new bachelors’ and masters’ gowns and hoods, marched through the
principal streets of the university town, in the midst of the university
dignitaries and frequently attended by the magistrates in their robes.
Young Luther confessed that when he first saw the procession at Erfurt he
thought that no position on earth was more enviable than that of a newly
capped graduate.

Mediæval ecclesiastical tradition brooded over all departments of
learning; and the philosophy and logic, or what were supposed to be the
philosophy and logic, of Aristotle ruled that tradition. The reverence for
the name of Aristotle almost took the form of a religious fervour. In a
curious mediæval _Life of Aristotle_ the ancient pagan thinker is declared
to be a forerunner of Christ. All who refused to accept his guidance were
heretics, and his formal scheme of thought was supposed to justify the
refined sophisms of mediæval dialectic. His system of thought was the
fortified defence which preserved the old and protected it from the
inroads of the New Learning. Hence the hatred which almost all the German
Humanists seem to have had for the name of Aristotle. The attitudes of the
partisans of the old and of the new towards the ancient Greek thinker are
represented in two pictures, each instinct with the feeling of the times.
In one, in the church of the Dominicans in Pisa, Aristotle is represented
standing on the right with Plato on the left of Thomas Aquinas, and rays
streaming from their opened books make a halo round the head of the great
mediæval theologian and thinker. In the other, a woodcut published by Hans
Holbein the younger in 1527, Aristotle with the mediæval doctors is
represented descending into the abodes of darkness, while Jesus Christ
stands in the foreground and points out the true light to a crowd of
people, among whom the artist has figured peasants with their flails.

§ 6. The earlier German Humanists.

When the beginnings of the New Learning made their appearance in Germany,
they did not bring with them any widespread revival of culture. There was
no outburst, as in Italy, of the artistic spirit, stamping itself upon
such arts as painting, sculpture, and architecture, which could appeal to
the whole public intelligence. The men who first felt the stirrings of the
new intellectual life were, for the most part, students who had been
trained in the more famous schools of the _Brethren of the Common Life_,
all of whom had a serious aim in life. The New Learning appealed to them
not so much a means of self-culture as an instrument to reform education,
to criticise antiquated methods of instruction, and, above all, to effect
reforms in the Church and to purify the social life. One of the most
conspicuous of such scholars was Cardinal Nicolas Cusanus(27) (1401-1464).
He was a man of singularly open mind, who, while he was saturated with the
old learning, was able to appreciate the new. He had studied the classics
in Italy. He was an expert mathematician and astronomer. Some have even
asserted that he anticipated the discoveries of Galileo. The instruments
with which he worked, roughly made by a village tinsmith, may still be
seen preserved in the Brother-house which he founded at his birthplace,
Cues, on the Mosel; and there, too, the sheets, covered with his long
calculations for the reform of the calendar, may still be studied.

Another scholar, sent out by the same schools, was John Wessel of
Gröningen (1420-1489), who wandered in search of learning from Köln to
Paris and from Paris to Italy. He finally settled down as a canon in the
Brotherhood of Mount St. Agnes. There he gathered round him a band of
young students, whom he encouraged to study Greek and Hebrew. He was a
theologian who delighted to criticise the current opinions on theological
doctrines. He denied that the fire of Purgatory could be material fire,
and he theorised about indulgences in such a way as to be a forerunner of
Luther.(28) “If I had read his books before,” said Luther, “my enemies
might have thought that Luther had borrowed everything from Wessel, so
great is the agreement between our spirits. I feel my joy and my strength
increase, I have no doubt that I have taught aright, when I find that one
who wrote at a different time, in another clime, and with a different
intention, agrees so entirely in my view and expresses it in almost the
same words.”

Other like-minded scholars might be mentioned, Rudolph Agricola(29)
(1442-1485), Jacob Wimpheling(30) (1450-1528), and Sebastian Brand
(1457-1521), who was town-clerk of Strassburg from 1500, and the author of
the celebrated _Ship of Fools_, which was translated into many languages,
and was used by his friend Geiler of Keysersberg as the text for one of
his courses of popular sermons.

All these men, and others like-minded and similarly gifted, are commonly
regarded as the precursors of the German Renaissance, and are classed
among the German Humanists. Yet it may be questioned whether they can be
taken as the representatives of that kind of Humanism which gathered round
Luther in his student days, and of which Ulrich von Hutten, the stormy
petrel of the times of the Reformation, was a notable example. Its
beginnings must be traced to other and less reputable pioneers. Numbers of
young German students, with the talent for wandering and for supporting
themselves by begging possessed by so many of them, had tramped down to
Italy, where they contrived to exist precariously while they attended,
with a genuine thirst for learning, the classes taught by Italian
Humanists. There they became infected with the spirit of the Italian
Renaissance, and learned also to despise the ordinary restraints of moral
living. There they imbibed a contempt for the Church and for all kinds of
theology, and acquired the genuine temperament of the later Italian
Humanists, which could be irreligious without being anti-religious, simply
because religion of any sort was something foreign to their nature.

Such a man was Peter Luders (1415-1474). He began life as an ecclesiastic,
wandered down into Italy, where he devoted himself to classical studies,
and where he acquired the irreligious disposition and the disregard for
ordinary moral living which disgraced a large part of the later Italian
Humanists. While living at Padua (1444), where he acted as private tutor
to some young Germans from the Palatinate, he was invited by the Elector
to teach Latin in the University of Heidelberg. The older professors were
jealous of him: they insisted on reading and revising his introductory
lecture: they refused him the use of the library; and in general made his
life a burden. He struggled on till 1460. Then he spent many years in
wandering from place to place, teaching the classics privately to such
scholars as he could find. He was not a man of reputable life, was greatly
given to drink, a free liver in every way, and thoroughly irreligious,
with a strong contempt for all theology. He seems to have contrived when
sober to keep his heretical opinions to himself, but to have betrayed
himself occasionally in his drinking bouts. When at Basel he was accused
of denying the doctrine of Three Persons in the Godhead, and told his
accusers that he would willingly confess to four if they would only let
him alone. He ended his days as a teacher of medicine in Vienna.

History has preserved the names of several of these wandering scholars who
sowed the seeds of classical studies in Germany, and there were,
doubtless, many who have been forgotten. Loose living, irreligious, their
one gift a genuine desire to know and impart a knowledge of the ancient
classical literature, careless how they fared provided only they could
study and teach Latin and Greek, they were the disreputable apostles of
the New Learning, and in their careless way scattered it over the northern

§ 7. The Humanist Circles in the Cities.

The seed-beds of the German Renaissance were at first not so much the
Universities, as associations of intimates in some of the cities. Three
were pre-eminent,—Strassburg, Augsburg, and Nürnberg,—all wealthy imperial
cities, having intimate relations with the imperial court on the one hand
and with Italy on the other.

The Humanist circle at Nürnberg was perhaps the most distinguished, and it
stood in closer relations than any other with the coming Reformation. Its
best known member was Willibald Pirkheimer(31) (1470-1528), whose training
had been more that of a young Florentine patrician than of the son of a
German burgher. His father, a wealthy Nürnberg merchant of great
intellectual gifts and attainments, a skilled diplomatist, and a
confidential friend of the Emperor Maximilian, superintended his son’s
education. He took the boy with him on the journeys which trade or the
diplomatic business of his city compelled him to make, and initiated him
into the mysteries of commerce and of German politics. The lad was also
trained in the knightly accomplishments of horsemanship and the skilful
use of weapons. He was sent, like many a young German patrician, to Padua
and Pavia (1490-1497) to study jurisprudence and the science of diplomacy,
and was advised not to neglect opportunities to acquire the New Learning.
When he returned, in his twenty-seventh year, he was appointed one of the
counsellors of the city, and was entrusted with an important share in the
management of its business. In this capacity it was necessary for him to
make many a journey to the Diet or to the imperial court, and he soon
became a favourite with the Emperor Maximilian, who rejoiced in converse
with a mind as versatile as his own. No German so nearly approached the
many-sided culture of the leading Italian Humanists as did this citizen of
Nürnberg. On the other hand, he possessed a fund of earnestness which no
Italian seems to have possessed. He was deeply anxious about reformation
in Church and State, and after the Leipzig disputation had shown that
Luther’s quarrel with the Pope was no mere monkish dispute, but went to
the roots of things, he was a sedate supporter of the Reformation in its
earlier stages. His sisters Charitas and Clara, both learned ladies, were
nuns in the Convent of St. Clara at Nürnberg. The elder, who was the
abbess of her convent, has left an interesting collection of letters, from
which it seems probable that she had great influence over her brother, and
prevented him from joining the Lutheran Church after it had finally
separated from the Roman obedience.

Pirkheimer gave the time which was not occupied with public affairs to
learning and intercourse with scholars. His house was a palace filled with
objects of art. His library, well stocked with MSS. and books, was open to
every student who came with an introduction to its owner. At his banquets,
which were famous, he delighted to assemble round his table the most
distinguished men of the day. He was quite at home in Greek, and made
translations from the works of Plato, Xenophon, Plutarch, and Lucian into
Latin or German. The description which he gives, in his familiar letters
to his sisters and intimate friends, of his life on his brother-in-law’s
country estate is like a picture of the habits of a Roman patrician of the
fifth century in Gaul. The morning was spent in study, in reading Plato or
Cicero; and in the afternoon, if the gout chanced to keep him indoors, he
watched from his windows the country people in the fields, or the
sportsman and the fisher at their occupations. He was fond of entertaining
visitors from the neighbourhood. Sometimes he gathered round him his upper
servants or his tenants, with their wives and families. The evening was
usually devoted to the study of history and archæology, in both of which
he was greatly interested. He was in the habit of sitting up late at
night, and when the sky was clear he followed the motions of the planets
with a telescope; for, like many others in that age, he had faith in
astrology, and believed that he could read future events and the destinies
of nations in the courses of the wandering stars.

In all those civic circles, poets and artists were found as members—Hans
Holbein at Augsburg; Albert Dürer, with Hans Sebaldus Beham, at Nürnberg.
The contemporary Italian painters, when they ceased to select their
subjects from Scripture or from the Lives of the Saints, turned
instinctively to depict scenes from the ancient pagan mythology. The
German artists strayed elsewhere. They turned for subjects to the common
life of the people. But the change was gradual. The Virgin ceased to be
the Queen of Heaven and became the purest type of homely human motherhood,
and the attendant angels, sportive children plucking flowers, fondling
animals, playing with fruit. In Lucas Cranach’s “Rest on the Flight to
Egypt” two cherubs have climbed a tree to rob a bird’s nest, and the
parent birds are screaming at them from the branches. In one of Albert
Dürer’s representations of the Holy Family, the Virgin and Child are
seated in the middle of a farmyard, surrounded by all kinds of rural
accessories. Then German art plunged boldly into the delineation of the
ordinary commonplace life—knights and tournaments, merchant trains, street
scenes, pictures of peasant life, and especially of peasant dances,
university and school scenes, pictures of the camp and of troops on the
march. The coming revolution in religion was already proclaiming that all
human life, even the most commonplace, could be sacred; and contemporary
art discovered the picturesque in the ordinary life of the people—in the
castles of the nobles, in the markets of the cities, and in the villages
of the peasants.

§ 8. Humanism in the Universities.

The New Learning made its way gradually into the Universities. Classical
scholars were invited to lecture or settle as private teachers in
university towns, and the students read Cicero and Virgil, Horace and
Propertius, Livy and Sallust, Plautus and Terence. One of the earliest
signs of the growing Humanist feeling appeared in changes in one of the
favourite diversions of German students. In all the mediæval Universities
at carnival time the students got up and performed plays. The subjects
were almost invariably taken from the Scriptures or from the Apocrypha.
Chaucer says of an Oxford student, that

    “Sometimes to shew his lightnesse and his mastereye
    He played Herod on a gallows high.”

At the end of the fifteenth century the subjects changed, and students’
plays were either reproductions from Plautus or Terence, or original
compositions representing the common life of the time.

The legal recognition of Humanism within a University commonly showed
itself in the institution of a lectureship of Poetry or Oratory—for the
German Humanists were commonly known as the “Poets.” Freiburg established
a chair of Poetry in 1471, and Basel in 1474; in Tübingen the stipend for
an Orator was legally sanctioned in 1481, and Conrad Celtis was appointed
to a chair of Poetry and Eloquence in 1492.

Erfurt, however, was generally regarded as the special nursery of German
university Humanism ever since Peter Luders had taught there in 1460. From
that date the University never lacked Humanist teachers, and a Humanist
circle had gradually grown up among the successive generations of
students. The permanent chief of this circle was a German scholar, whose
name was Conrad Mut (Mudt, Mutta, and Mutti are variations), who Latinised
his name into Mutianus, and added Rufus because he was red-haired. This
Mutianus Rufus was in many respects a typical German Humanist. He was born
in 1472 at Homburg in Hesse, had studied at Deventer under Alexander
Hegius, had attended the University of Erfurt, and had then gone to Italy
to study law and the New Learning. He became a Doctor of Laws of Bologna,
made friends among many of the distinguished Italian Humanists, and had
gained many patrons among the cardinals in Rome. He finally settled in
Gotha, where he had received a canonry in the Church. He did not win any
distinction as an author, but has left behind him an interesting
collection of letters. His great delight was to gather round him promising
young students belonging to the University of Erfurt, to superintend their
reading, and to advise them in all literary matters. While in Italy he had
become acquainted with Pico della Mirandola, and had adopted the
conception of combining Platonism and Christianity in an eclectic
mysticism, which was to be the esoteric Christianity for thinkers and
educated men, while the popular Christianity, with its superstitions, was
needed for the common herd. Christianity, he taught, had its beginnings
long before the historical advent of our Lord. “The true Christ,” he said,
“was not a man, but the Wisdom of God; He was the Son of God, and is
equally imparted to the Jews, the Greeks, and the Germans.”(32) “The true
Christ is not a man, but spirit and soul, which do not manifest themselves
in outward appearance, and are not to be touched or seized by the
hands.”(33) “The law of God,” he said in another place, “which enlightens
the soul, has two heads: to love God, and to love one’s neighbour as one’s
self. This law makes us partakers of Heaven. It is a natural law; not hewn
in stone, as was the law of Moses; not carved in bronze, as was that of
the Romans; not written on parchment or paper, but implanted in our hearts
by the highest Teacher.” “Whoever has eaten in pious manner this memorable
and saving Eucharist, has done something divine. For the true Body of
Christ is peace and concord, and there is no holier Host than neighbourly
love.”(34) He refused to believe in the miraculous, and held that the
Scriptures were full of fables, meant, like those of Æsop, to teach moral
truths. He asserted that he had devoted himself to “God, the saints, and
the study of all antiquity”; and the result was expressed in the following
quotation from a letter to Urban (1505), one of his friends and pupils at
Erfurt: “There is but one god and one goddess; but there are many forms
and many names—Jupiter, Sol, Apollo, Moses, Christ, Luna, Ceres,
Proserpina, Tellus, Mary. But do not spread it abroad; we must keep
silence on these Eleusinian mysteries. In religious matters we must employ
fables and enigmas as a veil. Thou who hast the grace of Jupiter, the best
and greatest God, shouldst in secret despise the little gods. When I say
Jupiter, I mean Christ and the true God. But enough of these things, which
are too high for us.”(35) Such a man looked with contempt on the Church of
his age, and lashed it with his scorn. “I do not revere the coat or the
beard of Christ; I revere the true and living God, who has neither beard
nor coat.”(36) In private he denounced the fasts of the Church,
confession, and masses for the dead, and called the begging friars “cowled
monsters.” He says sarcastically of the Christianity of his times: “We
mean by faith not the conformity of what we say with fact, but an opinion
about divine things founded on credulity and a persuasion which seeks
after profit. Such is its power that it is commonly believed that to us
were given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever, therefore, despises
our keys, shall feel our nails and our clubs (_quisquis claves contemserit
clavum et clavam sentiet_). We have taken from the breast of Serapis a
magical stamp to which Jesus of Galilee has given authority. With that
figure we put our foes to flight, we cozen money, we consecrate God, we
shake hell, and we work miracles; whether we be heavenly minded or earthly
minded makes no matter, provided we sit happily at the banquet of
Jupiter.”(37) But he did not wish to revolt from the external authority of
the Church of the day. “He is impious who wishes to know more than the
Church. We bear on our forehead,” he says, “the seal of the Cross, the
standard of our King. Let us not be deserters; let nothing base be found
in our camp.”(38) The authority which the Humanists revolted against was
merely intellectual, as was the freedom they fought for. It did not belong
to their mission to proclaim a spiritual freedom or to free the common man
from his slavish fear of the mediæval priesthood; and this made an
impassable gulf between their aspirations and those of Luther and the real
leaders of the Reformation movement.(39)

The Erfurt circle of Humanists had for members Heinrich Urban, to whom
many of the letters of Mutianus were addressed, Petreius Alperbach, who
won the title of “mocker of gods and men” (_derisor deorum et hominum_),
Johann Jaeger of Dornheim (Crotus Rubeanus), George Burkhardt from Spalt
(Spalatinus), Henry and Peter Eberach. Eoban of Hesse (Helius Eobanus
Hessus), the most gifted of them all, and the hardest drinker, joined the
circle in 1494.

Similar university circles were formed elsewhere: at Basel, where Heinrich
Loriti from Glarus (Glareanus), and afterwards Erasmus, were the
attractions; at Tübingen, where Heinrich Bebel, author of the _Facetiæ_,
encouraged his younger friends to study history; and even at Köln, where
Hermann von Busch, a pupil of Deventer, and Ortuin Gratius, afterwards the
butt of the authors of the _Epistolæ obscurorum virorum_, were looked upon
as leaders full of the New Learning.

As in Italy Popes and cardinals patronised the leaders of the Renaissance,
so in Germany the Emperor and some princes gave their protection to
Humanism. To German scholars, who were at the head of the new movement,
Maximilian seemed to be an ideal ruler. His coffers no doubt were almost
always empty, and he had not lucrative posts at his command to bestow upon
them; the position of court poet given to Conrad Celtes and afterwards to
Ulrich von Hutten brought little except coronation in presence of the
imperial court with a tastefully woven laurel crown;(40) but the character
of Maximilian attracted peasantry and scholars alike. His romanticism, his
abiding youthfulness, his amazing intellectual versatility, his
knight-errantry, and his sympathy fascinated them. Maximilian lives in the
folk-song of Germany as no other ruler does. The scheme of education sung
in the _Weisskunig_, and illustrated by Hans Burgmaier, entitled him to
the name “the Humanist Emperor.”

§ 9. Reuchlin.

The German Humanists, whether belonging to the learned societies of the
cities or to the groups in the Universities, were too full of
individuality to present the appearance of a body of men leagued together
under the impulse of a common aim. The Erfurt band of scholars was called
“the Mutianic Host”; but the partisans of the New Learning could scarcely
be said to form a solid phalanx. Something served, however, to bring them
all together. This was the persecution of Reuchlin.

Johann Reuchlin (1455-1522), like Erasmus after him, was very much a man
by himself. He entered history at first dramatically enough. A party of
Italian Humanists had met in the house of John Argyropoulos in Rome in
1483. Among them was a young unknown German, who had newly arrived with
letters of introduction to the host. He had come, he explained, to study
Greek. Argyropoulos gave him a Thucydides and asked him to construe a page
or two into Latin. Reuchlin construed with such ease and elegance, that
the company exclaimed that Greece had flown across the Alps to settle in
Germany. The young German spent some years in Italy, enjoying the
friendship of the foremost Italian scholars. He was an ardent student of
the New Learning, and on his return was the first to make Greek thoroughly
popular in Germany. But he was a still more ardent student of Hebrew, and
it may almost be said of him that he introduced that ancient language to
the peoples of Europe. His _De Rudimentis Hebraicis_ (1506), a grammar and
dictionary in one, was the first book of its kind. His interest in the
language was more than that of a student. He believed that Hebrew was not
only the most ancient, but the holiest of languages. God had spoken in it.
He had revealed Himself to men not merely in the Hebrew writings of the
Old Testament, but had also imparted, through angels and other divine
messengers, a hidden wisdom which has been preserved in ancient Hebrew
writings outside of the Scriptures,—a wisdom known to Adam, to Noah, and
to the Patriarchs. He expounded his strange mystical theosophy in a
curious little book, _De Verbo Mirifico_ (1494), full of out-of-the-way
learning, and finding sublime mysteries in the very points of the Hebrew
Scriptures. Perhaps his central thought is expressed in the sentence, “God
is love; man is hope; the bond between them is faith.... God and man may
be so combined in an indescribable union that the human God and the divine
man may be considered as one being.”(41) The book is a _Symposium_ where
Sidonius, Baruch, and Capnion (Reuchlin) hold prolonged discourse with
each other.

Reuchlin was fifty-four years of age when a controversy began which
gradually divided the scholars of Germany into two camps, and banded the
Humanists into one party fighting in defence of free inquiry.

John Pfefferkorn (1469-1522), born a Jew and converted to Christianity
(1505), animated with the zeal of a convert to bring the Jews wholesale to
Christianity, and perhaps stimulated by the Dominicans of Köln (Cologne),
with whom he was closely associated, conceived an idea that his former
co-religionists might be induced to accept Christianity if all their
peculiar books, the Old Testament excepted, were confiscated. During the
earlier Middle Ages the Jews had been continually persecuted, and their
persecution had always been popular; but the fifteenth century had been a
period of comparative rest for them; they had bought the imperial
protection, and their services as physicians had been gratefully
recognised in Frankfurt and many other cities.(42) Still the popular
hatred against them as usurers remained, and manifested itself in every
time of social upheaval. It was always easy to arouse the slumbering

Pfefferkorn had written four books against the Jews (_Judenspiegel_,
_Judenbeichte_, _Osternbuch_, _Jeudenfeind_) in the years 1507-1509, in
which he had suggested that the Jews should be forbidden to practise
usury, that they should be compelled to listen to sermons, and that their
Hebrew books should be confiscated. He actually got a mandate from the
Emperor Maximilian, probably through some corrupt secretary, empowering
him to seize upon all such books. He began his work in the Rhineland, and
had already confiscated the books of many Jews, when, in the summer of
1509, he came to Reuchlin and requested his aid. The scholar not only
refused, but pointed out some irregularities in the imperial mandate. The
doubtful legality of the imperial order had also attracted the attention
of Uriel, the Archbishop of Mainz, who forbade his clergy from rendering
Pfefferkorn any assistance.

Upon this Pfefferkorn and the Dominicans again applied to the Emperor, got
a second mandate, then a third, which was the important one. It left the
matter in the hands of the Archbishop of Mainz, who was to collect
evidence on the subject of Jewish books. He was to ask the opinions of
Reuchlin, of Victor von Karben (1422-1515), who had been a Jew but was
then a Christian priest, of James Hochstratten (1460-1527), a Dominican
and Inquisitor to the diocese of Köln, a strong foe to Humanism, and of
the Universities of Heidelberg, Erfurt, Köln, and Mainz. They were to
write out their opinions and send them to Pfefferkorn, who was to present
them to the Emperor. Reuchlin was accordingly asked by the Archbishop to
advise the Emperor “whether it would be praiseworthy and beneficial to our
holy religion to destroy such books as the Jews used, excepting only the
books of the Ten Commandments of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalter of
the Old Testament?” Reuchlin’s answer was ready by November 1510. He went
into the matter very thoroughly and impartially. He divided the books of
the Jews into several classes, and gave his opinion on each. It was out of
the question to destroy the Old Testament. The Talmud was a collection of
expositions of the Jewish law at various periods; no one could express an
opinion about it unless he had read it through; Reuchlin had only been
able to procure portions; judging from these, it was likely that the book
did contain many things contrary to Christianity, but that was the nature
of the Jewish religion which was protected by law; it did contain many
good things, and ought not to be destroyed. The Cabala was, according to
Reuchlin, a very precious book, which assured us as no other did of the
divinity of Christ, and ought to be carefully preserved. The Jews had
various commentaries on the books of the Old Testament which were very
useful to enable Christian scholars to understand them rightly, and they
ought not to be destroyed. They had also sermons and ceremonial books
belonging to their religion which had been guaranteed by imperial law.
They had books on arts and sciences which ought to be destroyed only in so
far as they taught such forbidden arts as magic. Lastly, there were books
of poetry and fables, and some of them might contain insults to Christ,
the Virgin, and the Apostles, and might deserve burning, but not without
careful and competent examination. He added that the best way to deal with
the Jews was not to burn their books, but to engage in reasonable, gentle,
and kindly discussion.

Reuchlin’s opinion stood alone: all the other authorities suggested the
burning of Jewish books, and the University of Mainz would not exempt the
Old Testament until it had been shown that it had not been tampered with
by Jewish zealots.

The temperate and scholarly answer of Reuchlin was made a charge against
him. The controversy which followed, and which lasted for six weary years,
was so managed by the Dominicans, that Reuchlin, a Humanist and a layman,
was made to appear as defying the theologians of the Church on a point of
theology. Like all mediæval controversies, it was conducted with great
bitterness and no lack of invective, frequently coarse enough. The
Humanists saw, however, that it was the case of a scholar defending
genuine scholarship against obscurantists, and, after a fruitless
endeavour to get Erasmus to lead them, they joined in a common attack.
Artists also lent their aid. In one contemporary engraving, Reuchlin is
seated in a car decked with laurels, and is in the act of entering his
native town of Pforzheim. The Köln theologians march in chains before the
car; Pfefferkorn lies on the ground with an executioner ready to
decapitate him; citizens and their wives in gala costume await the hero,
and the town’s musicians salute him with triumphant melody; while one
worthy burgher manifests his sympathy by throwing a monk out of a window.
The other side of the controversy is represented by a rough woodcut, in
which Pfefferkorn is seen breaking the chair of scholarship in which a
double-tongued Reuchlin is sitting.(43) The most notable contribution to
the dispute, however, was the publication of the famous _Epistolæ
Obscurorum Virorum_, inseparably connected with the name of Ulrich von

§ 10. The “Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum.”

While the controversy was raging (1514), Reuchlin had collected a series
of testimonies to his scholarship, and had published them under the title
of _Letters from Eminent Men_.(44) This suggested to some young Humanist
the idea of a collection of letters in which the obscurantists could be
seen exposing themselves and their unutterable folly under the parodied
title of _Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum_. The book bears the same relation
to the scholastic disputations of the later fifteenth century that _Don
Quixote_ does to the romances of mediæval chivalry. It is a farrago of
questions on grammar, etymology, graduation precedence, life in a country
parsonage, and scholastic casuistry. Magister Henricus Schaffsmulius
writes from Rome that he went one Friday morning to breakfast in the Campo
dei Fiori, ordered an egg, which on being opened contained a chicken.
“Quick,” said his companion, “swallow it, or the landlord will charge the
chicken in the bill.” He obeyed, forgetting that the day was Friday, on
which no flesh could be eaten lawfully. In his perplexity he consulted one
theologian, who told him to keep his mind at rest, for an embryo chicken
within an egg was like the worms or maggots in fruit and cheese, which men
can swallow without harm to their souls even in Lent. But another, equally
learned, had informed him that maggots in cheese and worms in fruit were
to be classed as fish, which everyone could eat lawfully on fast days, but
that an embryo chicken was quite another thing—it was flesh. Would the
learned Magister Ortuin, who knew everything, decide for him and relieve
his burdened conscience? The writers send to their dear Magister Ortuin
short Latin poems of which they are modestly proud. They confess that
their verses do not scan; but that matters little. The writers of secular
verse must be attentive to such things; but their poems, which relate the
lives and deeds of the saints, do not need such refinements. The writers
confess that at times their lives are not what they ought to be; but
Solomon and Samson were not perfect; and they have too much Christian
humility to wish to excel such honoured Christian saints. The letters
contain a good deal of gossip about the wickedness of the poets
(Humanists). These evil men have been speaking very disrespectfully about
the Holy Coat at Trier (Treves); they have said that the Blessed Relics of
the Three Kings at Köln are the bones of three Westphalian peasants. The
correspondents exchange confidences about sermons they dislike. One
preacher, who spoke with unseemly earnestness, had delivered a plain
sermon without any learned syllogisms or intricate theological reasoning;
he had spoken simply about Christ and His salvation, and the strange thing
was that the people seemed to listen to him eagerly: such preaching ought
to be forbidden. Allusions to Reuchlin and his trial are scattered all
through the letters, and the writers reveal artlessly their hopes and
fears about the result. It is possible, one laments, that the rascal may
get off after all: the writer hears that worthy Inquisitor Hochstratten’s
money is almost exhausted, and that he has scarcely enough left for the
necessary bribery at Rome; it is to be hoped that he will get a further
supply. It is quite impossible to translate the epistles and retain the
original flavour of the language,—a mixture of ecclesiastical phrases,
vernacular idioms and words, and the worst mediæval Latin. Of course, the
letters contain much that is very objectionable: they attack the character
of men, and even of women; but that was an ordinary feature of the
Humanism of the times. They were undoubtedly successful in covering the
opponents of Reuchlin with ridicule, more especially when some of the
obscurantists failed to see the satire, and looked upon the letters as
genuine accounts of the views they sympathised with. Some of the mendicant
friars in England welcomed a book against Reuchlin, and a Dominican prior
in Brabant bought several copies to send to his superiors.

The authorship of these famous letters is not thoroughly known; probably
several Humanist pens were at work. It is generally admitted that they
came from the Humanist circle at Erfurt, and that the man who planned the
book and wrote most of the letters was John Jaeger of Dornheim (Crotus
Rubeanus). They were long ascribed to Ulrich von Hutten; some of the
letters may have come from his pen—one did certainly. These _Epistolæ
Obscurorum Virorum_, when compared with the _Encomium Moriæ_ of Erasmus,
show how immeasurably inferior the ordinary German Humanist was to the
scholar of the Low Countries.(45)

§ 11. Ulrich von Hutten.

Ulrich von Hutten,(46) the stormy petrel of the Reformation period in
Germany, was a member of one of the oldest families of the Franconian
nobles—a fierce, lawless, turbulent nobility. The old hot family blood
coursed through his veins, and accounts for much in his adventurous
career. He was the eldest son, but his frail body and sickly disposition
marked him out in his father’s eyes for a clerical life. He was sent at
the age of eleven to the ancient monastery of Fulda, where his precocity
in all kinds of intellectual work seemed to presage a distinguished
position if he remained true to the calling to which his father had
destined him. The boy, however, soon found that he had no vocation for the
Church, and that, while he was keenly interested in all manner of studies,
he detested the scholastic theology. He appealed to his father, told him
how he hated the thought of a clerical life, and asked him to be permitted
to look forward to the career of a scholar and a man of letters. The old
Franconian knight was as hard as men of his class usually were. He
promised Ulrich that he could take as much time as he liked to educate
himself, but that in the end he was to enter the Church. Upon this,
Ulrich, an obstinate chip of an obstinate block, determined to make his
escape from the monastery and follow his own life. How he managed it is
unknown. He fell in with John Jaeger of Dornheim, and the two wandered,
German student fashion, from University to University; they were at Köln
together, then at Erfurt. The elder Hutten refused to assist his son in
any way. How the young student maintained himself no one knows. He had
wretched health; he was at least twice robbed and half-murdered by
ruffians as he tramped along the unsafe highways; but his indomitable
purpose to live the life of a literary man or to die sustained him. At
last family friends patched up a half-hearted reconciliation between
father and son. They pointed out that the young man’s abilities might find
scope in a diplomatic career since the Church was so distasteful to him,
and the father was induced to permit him to go to Italy, provided he
applied himself to the study of law. Ulrich went gladly to the land of the
New Learning, reached Pavia, struggled on to Bologna, found that he liked
law no better than theology, and began to write. It is needless to follow
his erratic career. He succeeded frequently in getting patrons; but he was
not the man to live comfortably in dependence; he always remembered that
he was a Franconian noble; he had an irritable temper,—his wretched health
furnishing a very adequate excuse.

It is probable that his sojourn in Italy did as much for him as for
Luther, though in a different way. The Reformer turned with loathing from
Italian, and especially from Roman wickedness. The Humanist meditated on
the greatness of the imperial idea, now, he thought, the birthright of his
Germany, which was being robbed of it by the Papacy. Henceforward he was
dominated by one persistent thought.

He was a Humanist and a poet, but a man apart, marked out from among his
fellows, destined to live in the memories of his nation when their names
had been forgotten. They might be better scholars, able to write a finer
Latinity, and pen trifles more elegantly; but he was a man with a purpose.
His erratic and by no means pure life was ennobled by his sincere, if
limited and unpractical, patriotism. He wrought, schemed, fought,
flattered, and apostrophised to create a united Germany under a reformed
Emperor. Whatever hindered this was to be attacked with what weapons of
sarcasm, invective, and scorn were at his command; and the _one_ enemy was
the Papacy of the close of the fifteenth century, and all that it implied.
It was the Papacy that drained Germany of gold, that kept the Emperor in
thraldom, that set one portion of the land against the other, that gave
the separatist designs of the princes their promise of success. The Papacy
was his Carthage, which must be destroyed.

Hutten was a master of invective, fearless, critically destructive; but he
had small constructive faculty. It is not easy to discover what he meant
by a reformation of the Empire—something loomed before him vague, grand, a
renewal of an imagined past. Germany might be great, it is suggested in
the _Inspicientes_ (written in 1520), if the Papacy were defied, if the
princes were kept in their proper place of subordination, if a great
imperial army were created and paid out of a common imperial fund,—an army
where the officers were the knights, and the privates a peasant infantry
(_landsknechts_). It is the passion for a German Imperial Unity which we
find in all Hutten’s writings, from the early _Epistola ad Maximilianum
Cæsarem Italiæ fictitia_, the _Vadiscus, or the Roman Triads_, down to the
_Inspicientes_—not the means whereby this is to be created. He was a born
foeman, one who loved battle for battle’s sake, who could never get enough
of fighting,—a man with the blood of his Franconian ancestors coursing
hotly through his veins. Like them, he loved freedom in all
things—personal, intellectual, and religious. Like them, he scorned ease
and luxury, and despised the burghers, with their love of comfort and
wealth. He thought much more highly of the robber-knights than of the
merchants they plundered. Germany, he believed, would come right if the
merchants and the priests could be got rid of. The robbers were even
German patriots who intercepted the introduction of foreign merchandise,
and protected the German producers in securing the profits due to them for
their labour.

Hutten is usually classed as an ally of Luther’s, and from the date of the
Leipzig Disputation (1519), when Luther first attacked the Roman Primacy,
he was an ardent admirer of the Reformer. But he had very little sympathy
with the deeper religious side of the Reformation movement. He regarded
Luther’s protest against Indulgences in very much the same way as did Pope
Leo X. It was a contemptible monkish dispute, and all sensible men, he
thought, ought to delight to see monks devour one another. “I lately said
to a friar, who was telling me about it,” he writes, “ ‘Devour one
another, that ye may be consumed one of another.’ It is my desire that our
enemies (the monks) may live in as much discord as possible, and may be
always quarrelling among themselves.” He attached himself vehemently to
Luther (and Hutten was always vehement) only when he found that the monk
stood for freedom of conscience (_The Liberty of a Christian Man_) and for
a united Germany against Rome (_To the Christian Nobility of the German
Nation respecting the Reformation of the Christian Estate_). As we study
his face in the engravings which have survived, mark his hollow cheeks,
high cheek-bones, long nose, heavy moustache, shaven chin, whiskers
straggling as if frayed by the helmet, and bold eyes, we can see the rude
Franconian noble, who by some strange freak of fortune became a scholar, a
Humanist, a patriot, and, in his own way, a reformer.

Chapter IV. Social Conditions.(47)

§ 1. Towns and Trade.

It has been already said that the times of the Renaissance were a period
of transition in the social as well as in the intellectual condition of
the peoples of Europe. The economic changes were so great, that no
description of the environment of the Reformation would be complete
without some account of the social revolution which was slowly
progressing. It must be remembered, however, that there is some danger in
making the merely general statements which alone are possible in this
chapter. The economic forces at work were modified and changed in
countries and in districts, and during decades, by local conditions. Any
general description is liable to be qualified by numerous exceptions.

Beneath the whole mediæval system lay the idea that the land was the only
economic basis of wealth. During the earlier Middle Ages this was largely
true everywhere, and was specially so in Germany. Each little district
produced almost all that it needed for its own wants; and the economic
value of the town consisted in its being a corporation of artisans
exchanging the fruits of their industries for the surplus of farm produce
which the peasants brought to their market-place. But the increasing trade
of the towns, developed at first along the greater rivers, the arteries of
the countries, gradually produced another source of wealth; and this
commerce made great strides after the Crusades had opened the Eastern
markets to European traders. Trade, commerce, and manufactures were the
life of the towns, and were rapidly increasing their importance.

In mediæval times each town was an independent economic centre, and the
regulation of industry and of trade was an exclusively municipal affair.
This state of matters had changed in some countries before the time of the
Reformation, and statesmen had begun to recognise the importance of a
national trade, and to take steps to further it; but in Germany, chiefly
owing to its hopeless divisions, the old state of matters remained, and
the municipalities continued to direct and control all commercial and
industrial affairs.

The towns had originally grown up under the protection of the Emperor, or
of some great lord of the soil, or of an ecclesiastical prince or
foundation, and the early officials were the representatives of these
fostering powers. The descendants of this early official class became
known as the “patricians” of the city, and they regarded all the official
positions as the hereditary privileges of their class. The town population
was thoroughly organised in associations of workmen, commonly called
“gilds,” which at first concerned themselves simply with the regulation
and improvement of the industry carried on, and with the education and
recreations of the workers. But these “gilds” soon assumed a political
character. The workmen belonging to them formed the fighting force needed
for the independence and protection of the city. Each “gild” had its
fighting organisation, its war banner, its armoury; and its members were
trained to the use of arms, and practised it in their hours of recreation.
The “gilds” therefore began to claim some share in the government of the
town, and in most German cities, in the decades before the Reformation,
the old aristocratic government of the “patricians” had given place to the
more democratic rule of the “gilds.” The chief offices connected with the
“gilds” insensibly tended to become hereditary in a few leading families,
and this created a second “patriciat,” whose control was resented by the
great mass of the workmen. Nürnberg was one of the few great German cities
where the old “patricians” continued to rule down to the times of the

These “gilds” were for the most part full of business energy, which showed
itself in the twofold way of making such regulations as they believed
would insure good workmanship, and of securing facilities for the sale of
their wares. All the workmen, it was believed, were interested in the
production of good articles, and the bad workmanship of one artisan was
regarded as bringing discredit upon all. Hence, as a rule, every article
was tested in private before it was exposed for public sale, and various
punishments were devised to check the production of inferior goods. Thus
in Bremen every badly made pair of shoes was publicly destroyed at the
pillory of the town. Such regulations belonged to the private
administration of the towns, and differed in different places. Indeed, the
whole municipal government of the German cities presents an endless
variety, due to the local history and other conditions affecting the
individual towns. While the production was a matter for private regulation
in each centre of industry, distribution involved the towns in something
like a common policy. It demanded safe means of communication between one
town and another, between the towns and the rural districts, and safe
outlets to foreign lands. It needed roads, bridges, and security of
travel. The towns banded themselves together, and made alliances with
powerful feudal nobles to secure these advantages. Such was the origin of
the great Hanseatic League, which had its beginnings in Flanders, spread
over North Germany, included the Scandinavian countries, and grew to be a
European power.(48) The less known leagues among the cities of South
Germany did equally good service, and they commonly secured outlets to
Venice, Florence, and Genoa, by alliances with the peasantry in whose
hands were the chief passes of the Alps. All this meant an opposition
between the burghers and the nobles—an opposition which was continuous,
which on occasion flamed out into great wars, and which compelled the
cities to maintain civic armies, composed partly of their citizens and
partly of hired troops. It was reckoned that Strassburg and Augsburg
together could send a fighting force of 40,000 men into the field.

The area of trade, though, according to modern ideas, restricted, was
fairly extensive. It included all the countries in modern Europe and the
adjacent seas. The sea-trade was carried on in the Mediterranean and Black
Seas, in the Baltic and North Seas, and down the western coasts of France
and Spain. The North Sea was the great fishing ground, and large
quantities of dried fish, necessary for the due keeping of Lent, were
despatched in coasting vessels, and by the overland routes to the southern
countries of Europe. Furs, skins, and corn came from Russia and the
northern countries. Spain, some parts of Germany, and above all England,
were the wool-exporting countries. The eastern counties of England, many
towns in Germany and France, and especially the Low Countries, were the
centres of the woollen manufactures. The north of France was the great
flax-growing country. In Italy, at Barcelona in Spain, and at Lyons in
France, silk was produced and manufactured. The spices and dried fruits of
the East, and its silks and costly brocades and feathers, came from the
Levant to Venice, and were carried north through the great passes which
pierce the range of the Alps.

Civic statesmen did their best, by mutual bargains and the establishment
of factories, to protect and extend trading facilities for their townsmen.
The German merchant had his magnificent _Fondaco dei Tedeschi_ in Venice,
his factories of the Hanseatic League in London, Bruges, Bergen, and even
in far-off Novgorod; and Englishmen had also their factories in foreign
parts, within which they could buy and sell in peace.

The perils of the German merchant, in spite of all civic leagues, were at
home rather than abroad. His country swarmed with Free Nobles, each of
whom looked upon himself as a sovereign power, with full right to do as he
pleased within his own dominions, whether these were an extensive
principality or a few hundred acres surrounding his castle. He could
impose what tolls or customs dues he pleased on the merchants whose
heavily-laden waggons entered his territories. He had customary rights
which made bad roads and the lack of bridges advantages to the lord of the
soil. If an axle or wheel broke, if a waggon upset in crossing a dangerous
ford, the bales thrown on the path or stranded on the banks of the stream
could be claimed by the proprietor of the land. Worse than all were the
perils from the robber-knights—men who insisted on their right to make
private war even when that took the form of highway robbery, and who
largely subsisted on the gains which came, as they said, from making their
“horses bite off the purses of travellers.”

In spite of all these hindrances, a capitalist class gradually arose in
Germany. Large profits, altogether apart from trade, could be made by
managing, collecting, and forwarding the money coming from the universal
system of Indulgences. It was in this way that the Fuggers of Augsburg
first rose to wealth. Money soon bred money. During the greater part of
the Middle Ages there was no such thing as lending out money on interest,
save among the Italian merchants of North Italy or among the Jews. The
Church had always prohibited what it called usury. But Churchmen were the
first to practise the sin they had condemned. The members of
ecclesiastical corporations began to make useful advances, charging an
interest of from 7 to 12 per cent.—moderate enough for the times.
Gradually the custom spread among the wealthy laity, who did not confine
themselves to these reasonable profits, and we find Sebastian Brand
inveighing against the “Christian Jews,” who had become worse oppressors
than the Israelite capitalists whom they copied.

But the great alteration in social conditions, following change in the
distribution of wealth, came when the age of geographical discovery had
made a world commerce a possible thing.

§ 2. Geographical Discoveries and the beginning of a World Trade.

The fifteenth century from its beginning had seen one geographical
discovery after another. Perhaps we may say that the sailors of Genoa had
begun the new era by reaching the Azores and Madeira. Then Dom Henrique of
Portugal, Governor of Ceuta, organised voyages of trade and discovery down
the coast of Africa. Portuguese, Venetian, and Genoese captains commanded
his vessels. From 1426, expedition after expedition was sent forth, and at
his death in 1460 the coast of Africa as far as Guinea had been explored.
His work was carried on by his countrymen. The Guinea trade in slaves,
gold, and ivory was established as early as 1480; the Congo was reached in
1484; and Portuguese ships, under Bartholomew Diaz, rounded the Cape of
Good Hope in 1486. During these later years a new motive had prompted the
voyages of exploration. The growth of the Turkish power in the east of
Europe had destroyed the commercial colonies and factories on the Black
Sea; the fall of Constantinople had blocked the route along the valley of
the Danube; and Venice had a monopoly of the trade with Egypt and Syria,
the only remaining channels by which the merchandise from the East reached
Europe. The great commercial problem of the times was how to get some hold
of the direct trade with the East. It was this that inspired Bristol
skippers, familiar with Iceland, with the idea that by following old Norse
traditions they might find a path by way of the North Atlantic; that sent
Columbus across the Mid-Atlantic to discover the Bahamas and the continent
of America; and that drove the more fortunate Portuguese round the Cape of
Good Hope. Young Vasco da Gama reached the goal first, when, after
doubling the Cape, he sailed up the eastern coast of Africa, reached
Mombasa, and then boldly crossed the Indian Ocean to Calicut, the Indian
emporium for that rich trade which all the European nations were anxious
to share. The possibilities of a world commerce led to the creation of
trading companies; for a larger capital was needed than individual
merchants possessed, and the formation of these companies overshadowed,
discredited, and finally destroyed the gild system of the mediæval trading
cities. Trade and industry became capitalised to a degree previously
unknown. One great family of capitalists, the Welser, had factories in
Rome, Milan, Genoa, and Lyons, and tapped the rich Eastern trade by their
houses in Antwerp, Lisbon, and Madeira. They even tried, unsuccessfully,
to establish a German colony on the new continent—in Venezuela. Another,
the Fuggers of Augsburg, were interested in all kinds of trade, but
especially in the mining industry. It is said that the mines of Thuringia,
Carinthia, and the Tyrol within Germany, and those of Hungary and Spain
outside it, were almost all in their hands. The capital of the family was
estimated in 1546 at sixty-three millions of gulden. This increase of
wealth does not seem to have been confined to a few favourites of fortune.
It belonged to the mass of the members of the great trading companies. Von
Bezold instances a “certain native of Augsburg” whose investment of 500
gulden in a merchant company brought him in seven years 24,500 gulden.
Merchant princes confronted the princes of the State and those of the
Church, and their presence and power dislocated the old social relations.
The towns, the abodes of these rich merchants, acquired a new and powerful
influence among the complex of national relations, until it is not too
much to say, that if the political future of Germany was in the hands of
the secular princes, its social condition came to be dominated by the
burgher class.

§ 3. Increase in Wealth and luxurious Living.

Culture, which had long abandoned the cloisters, came to settle in the
towns. We have already seen that they were the centres of German Humanism
and of the New Learning. The artists of the German Renaissance belonged to
the towns, and their principal patrons were the wealthy burghers. The rich
merchants displayed their civic patriotism in aiding to build great
churches; in erecting magnificent chambers of commerce, where merchandise
could be stored, with halls for buying and selling, and rooms where the
merchants of the town could consult about the interests of the civic
trade; in building _Artushöfe_ or assembly rooms, where the patrician
burghers had their public dances, dinners, and other kinds of social
entertainments; in raising great towers for the honour of the town. They
built magnificent private houses. Æneas Sylvius tells us that in Nürnberg
he saw many burgher houses that befitted kings, and that the King of
Scotland was not as nobly housed as a Nürnberg burgher of the second rank.
They filled these dwellings with gold and silver plate, and with costly
Venetian glass; their furniture was adorned with delicate wood-carving;
costly tapestries, paintings, and engravings decorated the walls; and the
reception-room or _stube_ was the place of greatest display. The towns in
which all this wealth was accumulated were neither populous nor powerful.
They cannot be compared with the city republics of Italy, where the town
ruled over a large territory: the lands belonging to the imperial cities
of Germany were comparatively of small extent. Nor could they boast of the
population of the great cities of the Netherlands. Nürnberg, it is said,
had a population of a little over 20,000 in the middle of the fifteenth
century. Strassburg, a somewhat smaller one. The population of
Frankfurt-on-the-Main was about 10,000 in 1440.(49) The number of
inhabitants had probably increased by one-half more in the decades
immediately preceding the Reformation. But all the great towns, with their
elaborate fortifications, handsome buildings, and massive towers, had a
very imposing appearance in the beginning of the sixteenth century.

There was, however, another side to all this. There was very little
personal “comfort” and very little personal refinement among the rich
burghers and nobles of Germany—much less than among the corresponding
classes in Italy, the Netherlands, and France. The towns were badly
drained, if drained at all; the streets were seldom paved, and mud and
filth accumulated in almost indescribable ways; the garbage was thrown out
of the windows; and troops of swine were the ordinary scavengers. The
increase of wealth showed itself chiefly in all kinds of sensual living.
Preachers, economists, and satirists denounce the luxury and immodesty of
the dress both of men and women, the gluttony and the drinking habits of
the rich burghers and of the nobility of Germany. We learn from Hans von
Schweinichen that noblemen prided themselves on having men among their
retainers who could drink all rivals beneath the table, and that noble
personages seldom met without such a drinking contest.(50) The wealthy,
learned, and artistic city of Nürnberg possessed a public waggon, which
every night was led through the streets to pick up and convey to their
homes drunken burghers found lying in the filth of the streets. The
_Chronicle of the Zimmer Family_ relates that at the castle of Count
Andrew of Sonnenberg, at the conclusion of a carnival dance and after the
usual “sleeping drink” had been served round, one of the company went to
the kennels and carried to the ball-room buckets of scraps and slops
gathered to feed the hounds, and that the lords and ladies amused
themselves by flinging the contents at each other, “to the great
detriment,” the chronicler adds, “of their clothes and of the room.”(51) A
like licence pervaded the relations between men and women, of which it
will perhaps suffice to say that the public baths, where, be it noted, the
bathing was often promiscuous, were such that they served Albert Dürer and
other contemporary painters the purpose of a “life school” to make
drawings of the nude.(52) The conversation and behaviour of the nobles and
wealthy burghers of Germany in the decades before the Reformation
displayed a coarseness which would now be held to disgrace the lowest
classes of the population in any country.(53)

The gradual capitalising of industry had been sapping the old “gild”
organisation within the cities; the extension of commerce, and especially
the shifting of the centre of external trade from Venice to Antwerp, in
consequence of the discovery of the new route to the Eastern markets, and
above all, the growth of the great merchant companies, whose world-trade
required enormous capital, overshadowed the “gilds” and destroyed their
influence. The rise and power of this capitalist order severed the poor
from the rich, and created, in a sense unknown before, a proletariat class
within the cities, which was liable to be swollen by the influx of
discontented and ruined peasants from the country districts. The
corruption of morals, which reached its height in the city life of the
first quarter of the sixteenth century, intensified the growing hatred
between the rich burgher and the poor workman. The ostentatious display of
burgher wealth heightened the natural antipathy between merchant and
noble. The universal hatred of the merchant class is a pronounced feature
of the times. “They increase prices, make hunger, and slay the poor folk,”
was a common saying. Men like Ulrich von Hutten were prepared to justify
the robber-knights because they attacked the merchants, who, he said, were
ruining Germany. Yet the merchant class increased and flourished, and with
them, the towns which they inhabited.

§ 4. The Condition of the Peasantry.

The condition of the peasantry in Germany has also to be described. The
folk who practise husbandry usually form the most stable element in any
community, but they could not avoid being touched by the economic
movements of the time. The seeds of revolution had long been sown among
the German peasantry, and peasant risings had taken place in different
districts of south-central Europe from the middle of the fourteenth down
to the opening years of the sixteenth centuries. It is difficult to
describe accurately the state of these German peasants. The social
condition of the nobles and the burghers has had many an historian, and
their modes of life have left abundant traces in literature and
archæology; but peasant houses and implements soon perished, and the
chronicles seldom refer to the world to which the “land-folk” belonged,
save when some local peasant rising or the tragedy of the Peasants’ War
thrust them into history. Our main difficulty, however, does not arise so
much from lack of descriptive material—for that can be found when
diligently sought for—as from the varying, almost contradictory statements
that are made. Some contemporary writers condescend to describe the
peasant class. A large number of collections of _Weisthümer_, the
consuetudinary laws which regulated the life of the village communities,
have been recovered and carefully edited;(54) folk-songs preserve the old
life and usages; many of the _Fastnachtspiele_ or rude carnival dramas
deal with peasant scenes; and Albert Dürer and other artists of the times
have sketched over and over again the peasant, his house and cot-yard, his
village and his daily life. We can, in part, reconstruct the old peasant
life and its surroundings. Only it must be remembered that the life varied
not only in different parts of Germany, but in the same districts and
decades under different rural proprietors; for the peasant was so
dependent on his over-lord that the character of the proprietor counted
for much in the condition of the people.

The village artisan did not exist. The peasants lived by themselves apart
from all other classes of the population. That is the universal statement.
They carried the produce of their land and their live-stock to the nearest
town, sold it in the market-place, and bought there what they needed for
their life and work.

They dwelt in villages fortified after a fashion; for the group of houses
was surrounded sometimes by a wall, but usually by a stout fence, made
with strong stakes and interleaved branches. This was entered by a gate
that could be locked. Outside the fence, circling the whole was a deep
ditch crossed by a “falling door” or drawbridge. Within the fence among
the houses there was usually a small church, a public-house, a house or
room (_Spielhaus_) where the village council met and where justice was
dispensed. In front stood a strong wooden stake, to which criminals were
tied for punishment, and near it always the stocks, sometimes a gallows,
and more rarely the pole and wheel for the barbarous mediæval punishment
“breaking on the wheel.”

The houses were wooden frames filled in with sun-dried bricks, and were
thatched with straw; the chimneys were of wood protected with clay. The
cattle, fuel, fodder, and family were sheltered under the one large roof.
The timber for building and repairs was got from the forest under
regulations set down in the _Weisthümer_, and the peasants had leave to
collect the fallen branches for firewood, the women gathering and
carrying, and the men cutting and stacking under the eaves. All breaches
of the forest laws were severely punished (in some of the _Weisthümer_ the
felling of a tree without leave was punished by beheading); so was the
moving of landmarks; for wood and soil were precious.

Most houses had a small fenced garden attached, in which were grown
cabbages, greens, and lettuce; small onions (cibölle, _Scotticé_ syboes),
parsley, and peas; poppies, garlic, and hemp; apples, plums, and, in South
Germany, grapes; as well as other things whose mediæval German names are
not translatable by me. Wooden beehives were placed in the garden, and a
pigeon-house usually stood in the yard.

The scanty underclothing of the peasants was of wool and the outer dress
of linen—the men’s, girt with a belt from which hung a sword, for they
always went armed. Their furniture consisted of a table, several
three-legged stools, and one or two chests. Rude cooking utensils hung on
the walls, and dried pork, fruits, and baskets of grain on the rafters.
The drinking-cups were of coarse clay; and we find regulations that the
table-cloth or covering ought to be washed at least once a year! Their
ordinary food was “some poor bread, oatmeal porridge, and cooked
vegetables; and their drink, water and whey.” The live-stock included
horses, cows, goats, sheep, pigs, and hens.(55)

The villagers elected from among themselves four men, the _Bauernmeister_,
who were the Fathers of the community. They were the arbiters in disputes,
settled quarrels, and arranged for an equitable distribution of the
various feudal assessments and services. They had no judicial or
administrative powers; these belonged to the over-lord, or a
representative appointed by him. This official sat in the justice room,
heard cases, issued sentences, and exercised all the mediæval powers of
“pit and gallows.” The whole list of mediæval punishments, ludicrous and
gruesome, were at his command. It was he who ordered the scolding wife to
be carried round the church three times while her neighbours jeered; who
set the unfortunate charcoal-burner, who had transgressed some forest law,
into the stocks, with his bare feet exposed to a slow fire till his soles
were thoroughly burnt; who beheaded men who cut down trees, and ordered
murderers to be broken on the wheel. He saw that the rents, paid in kind,
were duly gathered. He directed the forced services of ploughing, sowing,
and harvesting the over-lord’s fields, what wood was to be hewn for the
castle, what ditches dug, and what roads repaired. He saw that the
peasants drank no wine but what came from the proprietor’s vineyards, and
that they drank it in sufficient quantity; that they ground their grain at
the proprietor’s mill, and fired their bread at the estate bakehouse. He
exacted the two most valuable of the moveable goods of a dead peasant—the
hated “death-tax.” There was no end to his powers. Of course, according to
the _Weisthümer_, these powers were to be exercised in _customary_ ways;
and in some parts of Germany the indefinite “forced services” had been
commuted to twelve days’ service in the year, and in others to the payment
of a fixed rate in lieu of service.

This description of the peasant life has been taken entirely from the
_Weisthümer_, and, for reasons to be seen immediately, it perhaps
represents rather a “golden past” than the actual state of matters at the
beginning of the sixteenth century. It shows the peasants living in a
state of rude plenty, but for the endless exactions of their lords and the
continual robberies to which they were exposed from bands of sturdy rogues
which swarmed through the country, and from companies of soldiers, who
thought nothing of carrying off the peasant’s cows, slaying his swine,
maltreating his womenkind, and even firing his house.

The peasants had their diversions, not always too seemly. On the days of
Church festivals, and they were numerous, the peasantry went to church and
heard Mass in the morning, talked over the village business under the
lime-trees, or in some open space near the village, and spent the
afternoon in such amusements as they liked best—eating and drinking at the
public-house, and dancing on the village green. In one of his least known
poems, Hans Sachs describes the scene—the girls and the pipers waiting at
the dancing-place, and the men and lads in the public-house eating calf’s
head, tripe, liver, black puddings, and roast pork, and drinking whey and
the sour country wine, until some sank under the benches; and there was
such a jostling, scratching, shoving, bawling, and singing, that not a
word could be heard. Then three young men came to the dancing-place, his
sweetheart had a garland ready for one of them, and the dancing began;
other couples joined, and at last sixteen pairs of feet were in motion.
Rough jests, gestures, and caresses went round.

    “Nach dem der Messner von Hirschau,
    Der tanzet mit des Pfarrhaus Frau
    Von Budenheim, die hat er lieb,
    Viel Scherzens am Tanz mit ihr trieb.”

The men whirled their partners off their feet and spun them round and
round, or seized them by the waist and tossed them as high as they could;
while they themselves leaped and threw out their feet in such reckless
ways that Hans Sachs thought they would all fall down.

The winter amusements gathered round the spinning house. For it was the
custom in most German villages for the young women to resort to a large
room in the mill, or to the village tavern, or to a neighbour’s house,
with their wool and flax, their distaffs and spindles, some of them old
heirlooms and richly ornamented, to spin all evening. The lads came also
to pick the fluff off the lasses’ dresses, they said; to hold the small
beaker of water into which they dipped their fingers as they span; and to
cheer the spinsters with songs and recitations. After work came the
dancing. On festival evenings, and especially at carnival times, the lads
treated their sweethearts to a late supper and a dance; and escorted them
home, carrying their distaffs and spindles.(56) All the old German love
folk-songs are full of allusions to this peasant courtship, and it is not
too much to say that from the singing in the spinning house have come most
of the oldest folk-songs.

These descriptions apply to the German peasants of Central and South
Germany. In the north and north-east, the agricultural population, which
was for the most part of Slavonic descent, had been reduced by their
conquerors to a serfdom which had no parallel in the more favoured

§ 5. Earlier Social Revolts.

It was among the peasants of German descent that there had been risings,
successful and unsuccessful, for more than a century. The train for
revolution had been laid not where serfdom was at its worst, but where
there was ease enough in life to allow men to think, and where freedom was
nearest in sight. It may be well to refer to the earlier peasant revolts,
before attempting to investigate the causes of that permanent unrest which
was abundantly evident at the beginning of the sixteenth century.

The first great successful peasant rebellion was the fight for freedom
made by the people of the four forest cantons in Switzerland. The weapons
with which they overthrew the chivalry of Europe, rude pikes made by tying
their scythes to their alpenstocks, may still be seen in the historical
museums of Basel and Constance. They proved that man for man the peasant
was as good as the noble. The free peasant soldier had come into being.
These free peasants did not really secede from the Empire till 1499, and
were formally connected with it till 1648. The Emperor was still their
over-lord. But they were his free peasants, able to form leagues for their
mutual defence and for the protection of their rights. Other cantons and
some neighbouring cities joined them, and the Swiss Confederacy, with its
flag, a white cross on a red ground, and its motto, “Each for all and all
for each,” became a new nation in Europe. During the next century
(1424-1471) the peasants of the Rhætian Alps also won their freedom, and
formed a confederacy similar to the Swiss, though separate from it. It was
called the _Graubund_.

The example of these peasant republics, strong in the protection which
their mountains gave them, fired the imagination of the German peasantry
of the south and the south-west of the Empire, and the leaders of lost
popular causes found a refuge in the Alpine valleys while they meditated
on fresh schemes to emancipate their followers. We have evidence of the
popularity of the Swiss in the towns and country districts of Germany all
through the fifteenth and into the sixteenth century.(57)

But while the social tumults and popular uprisings against authority,
which are a feature of the close of the Middle Ages, are usually and
rightly enough called peasant insurrections, the name tends to obscure
their real character. They were rather the revolts of the poor against the
rich, of debtors against creditors, of men who had scanty legal rights or
none at all against those who had the protection of the existing laws, and
they were joined by the poor of the towns as well as by the peasantry of
the country districts. The peasants generally began the revolt and the
townsmen followed; but this was not always the case. Sometimes the mob of
the cities rose first and the peasants joined afterwards. In many cases,
too, the poorer nobles were in secret or open sympathy with the
insurrectionary movement. On more than one occasion they led the
insurgents and fought at their head. The union of poor nobles and peasants
had made the Bohemian revolt successful.

It must also be remembered that from the end of the fourteenth century on
to the beginning of the sixteenth, however varied the cries and watchwords
of the insurgents may be, one persistent note of detestation of the
priests (the _pfaffen_) is always heard; and, from the way in which Jews
and priests are continually linked together in one common denunciation, it
may be inferred that the hatred arose more from the intolerable pressure
of clerical extortion than from any feeling of irreligion. The tithes,
great and small, and the means taken to exact them, were a galling burden.
“The priests,” says an English writer, “have their tenth part of all the
corn, meadows, pasture, grass, wood, colts, lambs, geese, and chickens.
Over and besides the tenth part of every servant’s wages, wool, milk,
honey, wax, cheese, and butter; yea, and they look so narrowly after their
profits that the poor wife must be countable to them for every tenth egg,
or else she getteth not her rights at Easter, and shall be taken as a
heretic.” As matter of fact, many of these tithes, extorted in the name of
the Church, did not go into the pockets of the clergy at all, but were
seized by the feudal superior and went to increase his revenues. Popular
feeling, however, seldom discriminates, and feudal and clerical dues were
regarded as belonging to one system of intolerable oppression. Besides,
the rapacity of Churchmen went far beyond the exaction of the tithes. “I
see,” said a Spaniard, “that we can scarcely get anything from Christ’s
ministers but for money; at baptism money, at bishoping money, at marriage
money, for confession money—no, not extreme unction without money! They
will ring no bells without money, no burial in the church without money;
so that it seemeth that Paradise is shut up from them that have no money.
The rich is buried in the church, the poor in the churchyard. The rich man
may marry with his nearest kin, but the poor not so, albeit he be ready to
die for love of her. The rich may eat flesh in Lent, but the poor may not,
albeit fish perhaps be much dearer. The rich man may readily get large
Indulgences, but the poor none, because he wanteth money to pay for

In spite of this hatred of the priests, it will be found that almost every
insurrectionary movement was impregnated by some sentiment of enthusiastic
religion, with which was blended some confused dream that the kingdom of
God might be set up on earth, if only the priests were driven out of the
land. This religious element drew some of its strength from the Lollard
movement in England and from the Taborite in Bohemia, but after 1476 it
had a distinctly German character. Its connection with what may almost be
called the epidemic of pilgrimages, the strongly increased veneration for
the Blessed Virgin, and the injunctions laid upon the confederates in some
of the revolutionary movements to repeat so many _Pater Nosters_ and _Ave
Marias_, seem to lead to the conclusion that much of that revival of an
enthusiastic and superstitious religion which marked the last half of the
fifteenth century may be regarded as an attempt to create a popular
religion apart from priests and clergy of all kinds.

One of the earliest of these popular uprisings occurred at Gotha in 1391,
when the peasantry of the neighbourhood and many of the burghers of the
town rose against the exactions of the Jews, and demanded their expulsion.
It was an insurrection of debtors against usurers, and was in the end put
down by the majority of the citizens. From this date onwards to 1470
similar risings took place in many parts of Germany, prompted by the same
or like causes—the exactions of Jews, priests, or nobles. The years
1431-1432 saw a great Hussite propaganda carried on all over Europe.
Countries were flooded with Hussite proclamations, and traversed by
Hussite emissaries. Paul Crawar was sent to Scotland, and others like him
to Spain, to the Netherlands, and to East Prussia. They taught among other
things that the Old Testament law about tithes had no place within the
Christian Church, and that Christian tithes were originally free-will
offerings,—a statement peculiarly acceptable to the German peasantry. All
Germany had learnt by this time how Bohemian peasants, trained and led by
men belonging to the lesser nobility, had routed in two memorable
campaigns the imperial armies led by the Emperor himself, and how they had
begun even to invade Germany. The chroniclers speak of the anxiety of the
governing classes, civic and rural, when they recognised the strength of
the feelings excited by this propaganda. The Hussite doctrine of tithes
appears hereafter in most of the peasant programmes.

A still more powerful impulse to revolts was given by the tragic fate of
Charles the Bold of Burgundy. Charles was the ideal feudal autocrat. He
was looked up to and imitated by the feudal princes of Germany in the
fifteenth as was Louis XIV. by their descendants in the end of the
seventeenth century. The common people regarded him as the typical feudal
tyrant, and the hateful impression which his arrogance, his
vindictiveness, and his oppression of the poor made upon them comes out in
the folk-songs of the period:

    “Er schazt sich künig Alexander gleich;
    Er wolt bezwingen alle Reich,
    Das wante Got in kurzer stund.”

He even came to be considered by them as one of the Antichrists who were
to appear, and for years after his death at Nancy (1477) many believed
that he was alive, expiating his sins on a prolonged pilgrimage.

When this great potentate, who was believed to have boasted that there
were three rulers—God in heaven, Lucifer in hell, and himself on earth—was
defeated at Granson, routed at Morat, routed and slain at Nancy, and that
by Swiss peasants, the exultation was immense, and it was believed that
the peasantry might inherit the earth.(59)

§ 6. The religious Socialism of Hans Böhm.

During the last years of this memorable Burgundian war a strange movement
arose in the very centre of Germany, within the district which may be
roughly defined as the triangle whose points were the towns of
Aschaffenburg, Würzburg, and Crailsheim, in the secluded valleys of the
Spessart and the Taubergrund. A young man, Hans Böhm (Böheim, Böhaim),
belonging to the very lowest class of society, below the peasant, who
wandered from one country festival or church ale to another, and played on
the small drum or on the dudelsack (rude bagpipes), or sang songs for the
dancers, was suddenly awakened to a sense of spiritual things by the
discourse of a wandering Franciscan. He was utterly uneducated. He did not
even know the Creed. He had visions of the Blessed Virgin, who appeared to
him in the guise of a lady dressed in white, called him to be a preacher,
and promised him further revelations, which he received from time to time.
His home was the village of Helmstadt in the Tauber valley; and the most
sacred spot he knew was a chapel dedicated to the Virgin at the small
village of Niklashausen on the Tauber. The chapel had been granted an
indulgence, and was the scene of small pilgrimages. Hans Böhm appeared
suddenly on the Sunday in Mid-Lent (March 24th, 1476), solemnly burnt his
rude drum and bagpipes before the crowd of people, and declared that he
had hitherto ministered to the sins and vanities of the villagers, but
that henceforth he was going to be a preacher of grace. He had been a lad
of blameless life, and his character gave force to his words. He related
his visions, and the people believed him. It was a period when an epidemic
of pilgrimage was sweeping over Europe, and the pilgrims spread the news
of the prophet far and wide. Crowds came to hear him from the neighbouring
valleys. His fame spread to more distant parts, and chroniclers declare
that on some days he preached to audiences of from twenty to thirty
thousand persons. His pulpit was a barrel set on end, or the window of a
farmhouse, or the branch of a tree. He assured his hearers that the
holiest spot on earth, holier by far than Rome, was the chapel of Our Lady
at Niklashausen, and that true religion consisted in doing honour to the
Blessed Virgin. He denounced all priests in unmeasured terms: they were
worse than Jews; they might be converted for a while, but as soon as they
went back among their fellows they were sure to become backsliders. He
railed against the Emperor: he was a miscreant, who supported the whole
vile crew of princes, over-lords, tax-gatherers, and other oppressors of
the poor. He scoffed at the Pope. He denied the existence of Purgatory:
good men went directly to heaven and bad men went to hell. The day was
coming, he declared, when every prince, even the Emperor himself, must
work for his day’s wages like all poor people. He asserted that taxes of
all kinds were evil, and should not be paid; that fish, game, and meadow
lands were common property; that all men were brethren, and should share
alike. When his sermon was finished the crowd of devotees knelt round the
“holy youth,” and he, blessing them, pardoned their sins in God’s name.
Then the crowd surged round him, tearing at his clothes to get some scrap
of cloth to take home and worship as a relic; and the Niklashausen chapel
became rich with the offerings of the thousands of pilgrims.

The authorities, lay and clerical, paid little attention to him at first.
Some princes and some cities (Nürnberg, for example) prohibited their
subjects from going to Niklashausen; but the prophet was left untouched.
He came to believe that his words ought to be translated into actions. One
Sunday he asked his followers to meet him on the next Sunday, bringing
their swords and leaving their wives and children at home. The Bishop of
Würzburg, hearing this, sent a troop of thirty-four horsemen, who seized
the prophet, flung him on a horse, and carried him away to the bishop’s
fortress of Frauenberg near Würzburg. His followers had permitted his
capture, and seemed dazed by it. In a day or two they recovered their
courage, and, exhorted by an old peasant who had received a vision, and
headed by four Franconian knights, they marched against Frauenberg and
surrounded it. They expected its walls to fall like those of Jericho; and
when they were disappointed they lingered for some days, and then
gradually dispersed. Hans himself, after examination, was condemned to be
burnt as a heretic. He died singing a folk-hymn in praise of the Blessed

His death did not end the faith of his followers. In spite of severe
prohibitions, the pilgrimages went on and the gifts accumulated. A
neighbouring knight sacked the chapel and carried away the treasure, which
he was forced to share with his neighbours. Still the pilgrimages
continued, until at last the ecclesiastical authorities removed the priest
and tore down the building, hoping thereby to destroy the movement.

The memory of Hans Böhm lived among the common people, peasants and
artisans; for the lower classes of Würzburg and the neighbouring towns had
been followers of the movement. A religious social movement, purely
German, had come into being, and was not destined to die soon. The effects
of Hans Böhm’s teaching appear in almost all subsequent peasant and
artisan revolts.(60) Even Sebastian Brand takes the Niklashausen pilgrims
as his type of those enthusiasts who are not contented with the
revelations of the Old and New Testaments, but must seek a special prophet
of their own:

    “Man weis doch aus der Schrift so viel,
    Aus altem und aus neuem Bunde,
    Es braucht nicht wieder neuer Kunde.
    Dennoch wallfahrten sie zur Klausen
    Des Sackpfeifers von Nicklashausen.”(61)

And the Niklashausen pilgrimage was preserved in the memories of the
people by a lengthy folk-song which Liliencron has printed in his

From this time onwards there was always some tinge of religious enthusiasm
in the social revolts, where peasant and poor burghers stood shoulder to
shoulder against the ruling powers in country and in town.

The peasants within the lands of the Abbot of Kempten, north-east of the
Lake of Constance, had for two generations protested against the way in
which the authorities were treating them (1420-1490). They rose in open
revolt in 1491-1492. It was a purely agrarian rising to begin with, caused
by demands made on them by their over-lord not sanctioned by the old
customs expressed in the _Weisthümer_; but the lower classes of the town
of Kempten made common cause with the insurgents. Yet there are distinct
traces of impregnation with religious enthusiasm not unlike that which
inspired the Hans Böhm movement. The rising was crushed, and the leaders
who escaped took refuge in Switzerland.

§ 7. Bundschuh Revolts.

In the widespread social revolt which broke out in Elsass in 1493, the
peasants were supported by the towns; demands were made for the abolition
of the imperial and the ecclesiastical courts of justice, for the
reduction of ecclesiastical property, for the plundering of Jews who had
been fattening upon usury, and for the curbing of the power of the
priests. The Germans had a proverb, “The poor man must tie his shoes with
string,” and the “tied shoe” (_Bundschuh_), the poor man’s shoe, became
the emblem of this and subsequent social revolts, while their motto was,
“Only what is just before God.” This rebellion, which was prematurely
betrayed, did not lack prominent leaders. One of them was Hans Ulman, the
burgomeister of Schlettstadt, who died on the scaffold affirming the
justice of the demands which he and his companions had made, and
predicting their future triumph.

In 1501 the peasants of Kempten and the neighbouring districts again rose
in rebellion, and were again joined by the poorer townspeople. In the year
following, 1502, a revolt was planned having for its headquarters the
village of Untergrombach, near Speyer; it spread into Elsass, along the
Neckar and down the Rhine. The _Bundschuh_ banner was again unfurled. It
was made of blue silk, with a white cross, the emblem of Switzerland, in
the centre. It was adorned with a picture of the crucified Christ, a
_Bundschuh_ on the one side, and a kneeling peasant on the other. The
motto was again, “Only what is just before God.” Every associate promised
to repeat five times a day the Lord’s Prayer and the _Ave Maria_. The
patron saints were declared to be the Blessed Virgin and St. John. The
movement was strongly anti-clerical. The leaders taught that there could
be no deliverance from oppression until the priests were driven from the
land, and until the property of the nobles and the priests was confiscated
and their power broken. Tithes, feudal exactions of all kinds, and all
social inequalities were denounced; water, forest and pasture lands were
declared to be the common property of all. The leaders recognised the rule
of the Emperor as over-lord, but denounced all intermediate jurisdictions.
The plan was to raise the peasants and the townspeople throughout all
Germany, and to call upon the Swiss to aid them in winning their
deliverance from oppression. The revolt was put down with savage cruelty;
most of the leaders were quartered. Many escaped to Switzerland, and lay
hid among the Alpine valleys.

One of these was Joss Fritz, who had been a soldier (_landsknecht_)—a man
with many qualities of leadership. He had tenacity of purpose, great
powers of organisation, and gifts of persuasion. He vowed to restore the
_Bundschuh_ League. He remained years in hiding in Switzerland, maturing
his plans. Then he returned secretly to his own people. He seems to have
secured an appointment as forester to a nobleman whose lands lay near the
town of Freiburg in the Breisgau; and there, in the small village of
Lehen, he began to weave together again the broken threads of the
_Bundschuh_ League. He mingled with the poorer people in the taverns, at
church ales, on the village greens on festival days. He spoke of the
justice of God and the wickedness of the world. He expounded the old
principles of the _Bundschuh_ with some few variations. Indiscriminate
hatred of priests seems to have been abandoned. Most of the village
priests were peasants, and suffered, like them, from overbearing
superiors. The parish priest of Lehen became a strong supporter of the
_Bundschuh_, and told his parishioners that all its ideas could be proved
from the word of God. Joss Fritz won over to his side the “gilds” of
beggars, strolling musicians, all kinds of vagrants who could be useful.
They carried his messages, summoned the people to his meetings in quiet
spaces in the woods, and were active assistants. At these meetings Joss
Fritz and his lieutenant Jerome, a journeyman baker, expounded the
Scriptures “under the guidance of the Holy Spirit simply,” and proved all
the demands of the _Bundschuh_ from the word of God.

When the country seemed almost ripe for the rising, Joss Fritz resolved to
prepare the banner as secretly as possible. It was easy to get the blue
silk and sew the white cross on its ground; the difficulty was to find an
artist sympathetic enough to paint the emblems, and courageous enough to
keep the secret. The banner was at last painted. The crucified Christ in
the centre, a peasant kneeling in prayer on the one side and the
_Bundschuh_ on the other, the figures of the Virgin Mary and St. John, and
the pictures of the Pope and the Emperor. The motto, “O Lord, help the
righteous,” was added, and the banner with its striking symbolism was
complete. The League had the old programme with some alterations:—no
masters but God, the Pope, and the Emperor, no usury, all debts to be
cancelled, and the clauses mentioned above. The leaders boasted that their
league extended as far as the city of Köln (Cologne), and that the Swiss
would march at their head. But the secret leaked out before the date
planned for the general rising; and the revolt was mercilessly stamped out
(1512-1513). Its leader escaped with the _Bundschuh_ banner wound round
his body under his clothes. In four years he was back again at his work
(1517). In a very short time his agents, the “gild” of beggars, wandering
minstrels, poor priests, pilgrims to local shrines, pardon-sellers,
begging friars, and even lepers, had leagued the peasantry and the poorer
artisans in the towns in one vast conspiracy which permeated the entire
district between the Vosges and the Black Forest, including the whole of
Baden and Elsass. The plot was again betrayed before the plans of the
leaders were matured, and the partial risings were easily put down; but
when the authorities set themselves to make careful investigations, they
were aghast at the extent of the movement. The peasants of the country
districts and the populace of the towns had been bound together to avenge
common wrongs. The means of secret communication had been furnished by
country innkeepers, old _landsknechts_, pedlars, parish priests, as well
as by the vagrants above mentioned; and the names of some of the
subordinate leaders—“long” John, “crooked” Peter, “old” Kuntz—show the
classes from which they were drawn. It was discovered that the populace of
Weisenburg had come to an agreement with the people of Hagenau (both towns
were in Elsass) to slay the civic councillors and judges and all the
inhabitants of noble descent, to refuse payment of all imperial and
ecclesiastical dues, and that the Swiss had promised to come to their

One might almost say that between the years 1503 and 1517 the social
revolution was permanently established in the southern districts of the
Empire, from Elsass in the west to Carinthia and the Steiermarck in the
east. It is needless to describe the risings in detail. They were not
purely peasant rebellions, for the townspeople were almost always
involved; but they all displayed that mingling of communist ideas and
religious enthusiasm of which the _Bundschuh_ banner had become the
emblem, and which may be traced back to the movement under Hans Böhm as
its German source, and perhaps to the earlier propaganda of the Hussite
revolutionaries or Taborites. The later decades of the fifteenth and the
earlier years of the sixteenth century were a time of permanent social

§ 8. The Causes of the continuous Revolts.

If we ask why it was that the peasants, whose lot, according to the
information given in the _Weisthümer_, could not have been such a very
hard one, were so ready to rise in rebellion during the last quarter of
the fifteenth century, the answer seems to be that there must have been a
growing change in their circumstances. Some chroniclers have described the
condition of the peasants in the end of the fifteenth and in the beginning
of the sixteenth century, and they always dwell upon their misery. John
Böhm, who wrote in the beginning of the sixteenth century, says that
“their lot was hard and pitiable,” and calls them “slaves.”(63) Sebastian
Frank (1534), Sebastian Munster (1546), H. Pantaleone (1570), an Italian
who wrote a description of Germany, all agree with Böhm. Frank adds that
the peasants hate every kind of cleric, good or bad, and that their speech
is full of gibes against priests and monks; while Pantaleone observes that
many skilled workmen, artisans, artists, and men of learning have sprung
from this despised peasant class. There must have been a great change for
the worse in the condition of the poorer dwellers both in town and in

So far as the townsmen are concerned, nothing need be added to what has
already been said; but the causes of the growing depression of the
peasantry were more complicated. The universal testimony of contemporaries
is that the gradual introduction of Roman law brought the greatest change,
by placing a means of universal oppression in the hands of the over-lords.
There is no need to suppose that the lawyers who introduced the new
jurisprudence meant to use it to degrade and oppress the peasant class. A
slight study of the _Weisthümer_ shows how complicated and varied was this
consuetudinary law which regulated the relations between peasant and
over-lord. It was natural, when great estates grew to be principalities,
whether lay or clerical, that the over-lords should seek for some
principle of codification or reduction to uniformity. It had been the
custom for centuries to attempt to simplify the ruder and involved German
codes by bringing them into harmony with the principles of Roman law, and
this idea had received a powerful impetus from the Renaissance movement.
But when the bewildering multiplicity of customary usages which had
governed the relations of cultivators to over-lords was simplified
according to the ideas of Roman law, the result was in the highest degree
dangerous to the free peasantry of Germany. The conception of strict
individual proprietorship tended to displace the indefinite conception of
communal proprietorship, and the peasants could only appear in the guise
of tenants on long leases, or serfs who might have some personal rights
but no rights of property, or slaves who had no rights at all. The new
jurisprudence began by attacking the common lands, pastures, and forests.
The passion for the chase, which became the more engrossing as the right
to wage private war grew more and more dangerous, led to the nobles
insisting on the individual title to all forest lands, and to the
publication of such forest laws as we find made in Würtemberg, where
anyone found trespassing with gun or cross-bow was liable to lose one eye.
The attempt to reduce a free peasantry in possession of communal property
to tenants on long lease, then to serfs, and, lastly, to slaves, may be
seen in the seventy years’ struggle between the Abbots of Kempten and
their peasants. These spiritual lords carried on the contest with every
kind of force and chicanery they could command. They enlarged illegally
the jurisdiction of their spiritual courts; they prevented the poor people
who opposed them from coming to the Lord’s Table; they actually falsified
their title-deeds, inserting provisions which were not originally
contained in them.

The case of the Kempten lands was, no doubt, an extreme one, though it
could be matched by others. But the point to be noticed is the immense
opportunities for oppression which were placed in the hands of the
over-lords by the new jurisprudence, and the temptation to make use of
them when their interests seemed to require it, or when their peasantry
began to grow refractory or became too prosperous. The economic changes
which were at work throughout the fifteenth century gave occasion for the
use of the powers which the new jurisdiction had placed at the disposal of
landlords. The economic revolution from the first impoverished the nobles
of Germany; while, in its beginnings and until after the great rise in
prices, it rather helped the peasantry. They had a better market for their
produce, and they so profited by it that the burghers spoke of denying
them the right of free markets, on the ground that they had begun to usurp
the place of the merchants and were trafficking in gold by lending money
on interest. The competition in luxurious dress and living, which the
impoverished nobles carried on with the rich burghers, made the former
still poorer and more reckless. We read of a noble lady in Swabia who,
rather than be outshone at a tournament, sold a village and all her rights
over it in order to buy a blue velvet dress. The nobles, becoming poorer
and poorer, saw their own peasants making money to such an extent that
they were, comparatively speaking, much better off than themselves, so
that in Westphalia it was said that a peasant could get credit more easily
than five nobles.

Moreover, the peasants did not appear to be as submissive to their lords
as they once had been. Nor was it to be wondered at. The creation of the
_landsknechts_ had put new thoughts into their heads. The days of the old
fighting chivalry were over, and the strength of armies was measured by
the number and discipline of the infantry. The victories of the Swiss over
Charles the Bold had made the peasant or artisan soldier a power. Kings
and princes raised standing armies, recruited from the country districts
or from among the wilder and more restless of the town population. The
folk-songs are full of the doings of these plebeian soldiers. When the
_landsknecht_ visited his relations in village or in town, swaggered about
in his gorgeous parti-coloured clothes, his broad hat adorned with huge
feathers, his great gauntlets and his weapons; when he showed a gold chain
or his ducats, or a jewel he had won as his share of the booty; when his
old neighbours saw his dress and gait imitated by the young burghers,—he
became a centre of admiration, and his relations began to hold themselves
high on his account. They acquired a new independence of character, a new
impatience against all that prevented them from rising in the world. It
has scarcely been sufficiently noted how most of the leaders in the
plebeian risings were disbanded _landsknechts_.(64)

The new jurisprudence was a very effectual instrument in the hands of an
impoverished landlord class to ease the peasant of his superfluous wealth,
and to keep him in his proper place. It was used almost universally, and
the peasant rebellions were the natural consequences. But the more
determined peasant revolts, which began with the _Bundschuh_ League, arose
at a time when life was hard for peasant and artisan alike.

The last decade of the fifteenth century and the first of the sixteenth
contained a number of years in which the harvest failed almost entirely
over all or in parts of Germany. They began with 1490, and in that year
contemporary writers, like Trithemius, declare that the lot of the poor
was almost unbearable. The bad harvests of 1491 and 1492 made things
worse. In 1493, the year which saw the foundation of the _Bundschuh_, the
state of matters may be guessed from the fact that men came all the way
from the Tyrol to the upper reaches of the Main, where the harvest was
comparatively good, bought barley there for five times its usual price,
carried it on pack-horses by little frequented paths to their own country,
and sold it at a profit.

In 1499 the Swiss refused to submit to the imperial proposals for
consolidating the Empire. Maximilian or his government in the Tyrol
resolved to punish them, and the Swabian League were to be the
executioners. The Swiss, highly incensed, had declared that if they were
forced into war it would be a war of extermination. They were as bad as
their word. An eye-witness saw whole villages in the wasted districts
forsaken by the men, and the women gathered in troops, feeding on herbs
and roots, and seeing with the apathy of despair their ranks diminish clay
by day.(65) The Swiss war was worse than many bad harvests for the Hegau
and other districts in South Germany.

In 1500 the harvest failed over all Germany; 1501 and 1502 were years when
the crops failed in a number of districts; and in 1503 there was another
universally bad harvest. These years of scarcity pressed most heavily on
the peasant class. In some districts of Brandenburg, peasants were found
in the woods dead of starvation, with the grass which they had been trying
to eat still in their mouths. Cities like Augsburg and Strassburg bought
grain, stored it in magazines, and kept the poor alive by periodical
distributions. This cycle of famine years from 1490 to 1503 was the period
when the most determined and desperate social risings took place, and
largely explains them.(66)

Our description of the social conditions existing during the period which
ushered in the Reformation has been confined to Germany. The great
religious movement took its origin in that land, and it is of the utmost
importance to study the environment there. But the universal economic
changes were producing social disturbances everywhere, modified in
appearance and character by the special conditions of the various
countries of Europe. The popular risings in England, which began with the
gigantic labour strike under Wat Tyler and priest Ball, and ended with the
disturbances during the reign of Edward VI., were the counterpart of the
social revolt in Germany.

From all that has been said, it will be evident that on the eve of the
Reformation the condition of Europe, and of Germany in particular, was one
of seething discontent and full of bitter class hatreds,—the trading
companies and the great capitalists against the “gilds,” the poorer
classes against the wealthier, and the nobles against the towns. This
state of things is abundantly reflected in the folk-songs of the period,
which best reveal the intimate feelings of the people. For it was an age
of song everywhere, and especially in Germany. Nobles and knights,
burghers and peasants, _landsknechts_ and Swiss soldiers, priests and
clerks, lawyers and merchants—all expressed the feelings of their class
when they sang; and the folk-songs give us a wonderful picture of the
class hatreds which were rending asunder the old conditions of mediæval
life, and preparing the way for a new world.

This social ferment was increased by a sudden and mysterious rise in
prices, affecting first the articles of foreign produce, to which the
wealthier classes had become greatly addicted, and at last the ordinary
necessaries of life. The cause, it is now believed, was not the debasing
of the coinage, for that affected a narrow circle only; nor was it the
importation of precious metals from America, for that came later; it was
rather the increased output of the mines in Europe. Whatever the cause,
the thing was to contemporaries an irritating mystery, and each class in
society was disposed to blame the others for it. We have thus at the
beginning of the sixteenth century a restless social condition in Germany,
caused in great measure by economic causes which no one understood, but
whose results were painfully manifest in the crowds of sturdy beggars who
thronged the roads—the refuse of all classes in society, from the broken
noble and the disbanded mercenary soldier to the ruined peasant, the
workman out of employment, the begging friar, and the “wandering student.”
It was into this mass of seething discontent that the spark of religious
protest fell—the one thing needed to fire the train and kindle the social
conflagration. This was the society to which Luther spoke, and its
discontent was the sounding-board which made his words reverberate.

Chapter V. Family And Popular Religious Life in the Decades Before the

§ 1. Devotion of Germany to the Roman Church.

The real roots of the spiritual life of Luther and of the other Reformers
ought to be sought for in the family and in the popular religious life of
the times. It is the duty of the historian to discover, if possible, what
religious instruction was given by parents to children in the pious homes
out of which most of the Reformers came, and what religious influences
confronted and surrounded pious lads after they had left the family
circle. Few have cared to prosecute the difficult task; and it is only
within late years that the requisite material has been accumulated. It has
to be sought for in autobiographies, diaries, and private letters; in the
books of popular devotion which the patience of ecclesiastical
archæologists is exhuming and reprinting; in the references to the pious
confraternities of the later Middle Ages, and more especially to the
_Kalands_ among the artisans, which appear in town chronicles, and whose
constitutions are being slowly unearthed by local historical societies; in
the police regulations of towns and country districts which aim at curbing
the power of the clergy, and in the edicts of princes attempting to
enforce some of the recommendations of the Councils of Constance and
Basel; in the more popular hymns of the time, and in the sermons of the
more fervent preachers; in the pilgrim songs and the pilgrim guide-books;
and in a variety of other sources not commonly studied by Church

On the surface no land seemed more devoted to the mediæval Church and to
the Pope, its head, than did Germany in the half century before the
Reformation. A cultivated Italian, Aleander, papal nuncio at the Diet of
Worms, was astonished at the signs of disaffection he met with in
1520.(68) He had visited Germany frequently, and he was intimately
acquainted with many of the northern Humanists; and his opinion was that
down to 1510 (the date of his last visit) he had never been among a people
so devoted to the Bishop of Rome. No nation had exhibited such signs of
delight at the ending of the Schism and the re-establishment of the “Peace
of the Church.” The Italian Humanists continually express their wonder at
the strength of the religious susceptibilities of the Germans; and the
papal Curia looked upon German devotion as a never-failing source of Roman
revenue. The Germans displayed an almost feverish anxiety to profit by all
the ordinary and extraordinary means of grace. They built innumerable
churches; their towns were full of conventual foundations; they bought
Indulgences, went on pilgrimages, visited shrines, reverenced relics in a
way that no other nation did. The piety of the Germans was proverbial.

The number of churches was enormous for the population. Almost every tiny
village had its chapel, and every town of any size had several churches.
Church building and decoration was a feature of the age. In the town of
Dantzig 8 new churches had been founded or completed during the fifteenth
century. The “holy” city of Köln (Cologne) at the close of the fifteenth
century contained 11 great churches, 19 parish churches, 22 monasteries,
12 hospitals, and 76 convents; more than a thousand Masses were said at
its altars every day. It was exceptionally rich in ecclesiastical
buildings, no doubt; but the smaller town of Brunswick had 15 churches,
over 20 chapels, 5 monasteries, 6 hospitals, and 12 Beguine-houses, and
its great church, dedicated to St. Blasius, had 26 altars served by 60
ecclesiastics. So it was all over Germany.

Besides the large numbers of monks and nuns who peopled the innumerable
monasteries and convents, a large part of the population belonged to some
semi-ecclesiastical association. Many were tertiaries of St. Francis; many
were connected with the Beguines: Köln (Cologne) had 106 Beguine-houses;
Strassburg, over 60, and Basel, over 30.

The churches and chapels, monasteries and religious houses, received all
kinds of offerings from rich and poor alike. In those days of unexampled
burgher prosperity and wealth, the town churches became “museums and
treasure-houses.” The windows were filled with painted glass; weapons,
armour, jewels, pictures, tapestries were stored in the treasuries or
adorned the walls. Ancient inventories have been preserved of some of
these ecclesiastical accumulations of wealth. In the cathedral church in
Bern, to take one example, the head of St. Vincentius, the patron, was
adorned with a great quantity of gold, and with one jewel said to be
priceless; the treasury contained 70 gold and 50 silver cups, 2 silver
coffers, and 450 costly sacramental robes decked with jewels of great
value. The luxury, the artistic fancy, and the wealth which could minister
to both, all three were characteristic of the times, were lavished by the
Germans on their churches.

§ 2. Preaching.

On the other hand, preaching took a place it had never previously held in
the mediæval Church. Some distinguished Churchmen did not hesitate to say
that it was the most important duty the priest could perform—more
important than saying Mass. It was recognised that when the people began
to read the Bible and religious books in the vernacular, it became
necessary for the priests to be able to instruct their congregations
intelligently and sympathetically in sermons. Attempts were made to
provide the preachers with material for their sermon-making. The earliest
was the _Biblia Pauperum_ (the Bible for the _Pauperes Christi_, or the
preaching monks), which collects on one page pictures of Bible histories
fitted to explain each other, and adds short comments. Thus, on the
twenty-fifth leaf there are three pictures—in the centre the Crucifixion;
on the left Abraham about to slay Isaac, with the lamb in the foreground;
and on the left the Brazen Serpent and the healing of the Plague. More
scholarly preachers found a valuable commentary in the _Postilla_ of the
learned Franciscan Nicolas de Lyra (Lira or Lire, a village in Normandy),
who was the first real exegetical scholar, and to whom Luther was in later
days greatly indebted.(69)

Manuals of Pastoral Theology were also written and published for the
benefit of the parish priests,—the most famous, under the quaint title,
_Dormi Secure_ (sleep in safety). It describes the more important portions
of the service, and what makes a good sermon; it gives the Lessons for the
Sunday services, the chief articles of the Christian faith, find adds
directions for pastoral work and the cure of souls. It is somewhat
difficult to describe briefly the character of the preaching. Some of it
was very edifying and deservedly popular. The sermons of John Herolt were
printed, and attained a very wide circulation. No fewer than forty-one
editions appeared. Much of the preaching was the exposition of themes
taken from the Scholastic Theology treated in the most technical way. Many
of the preachers seem to have profaned their office in the search after
popularity, and mingled very questionable stories and coarse jokes with
their exhortations. The best known of the preachers who flourished at the
close of the fifteenth century was John Geiler of Keysersberg (in Elsass
near Colmar), the friend of Sebastian Brand, and a member of the Humanist
circle of Strassburg. The position he filled illustrates the eagerness of
men of the time to encourage preaching. A burgher of Strassburg, Peter
Schott, left a sum of money to endow a preacher, who was to be a doctor of
theology, one who had not taken monk’s vows, and who was to preach to the
people in the vernacular; a special pulpit was erected in the Strassburg
Minster for the preacher provided by this foundation, who was John Geiler.
His sermons are full of exhortations to piety and correct living. He
lashed the vices and superstitions of his time. He denounced relic
worship, pilgrimages, buying indulgences, and the corruptions in the
monasteries and convents. He spoke against the luxurious living of Popes
and prelates, and their trafficking in the sale of benefices. He made
sarcastic references to the papal decretals and to the quibblings of
Scholastic Theology. He paints the luxuries and vices he denounced so very
clearly, that his writings are a valuable mine for the historian of
popular morals. He was a stern preacher of morals, but his sermons contain
very little of the gospel message. As we read them we can understand
Luther’s complaint, that while he had listened to many a sermon on the
sins of the age, and to many a discourse expounding scholastic themes, he
had never heard one which declared the love of God to man in the mission
and work of Jesus Christ.

§ 3. Church Festivals.

The Church itself, recognising the fondness of the people for all kinds of
scenic display, delighted to gratify the prevailing taste by magnificent
processions, by gorgeous church ceremonial, by Passion and Miracle Plays.
Such scenes are continually described in contemporary chronicles. The
processions were arranged for Corpus Christi Day, for Christmas, for
Harvest Thanksgivings, when the civic fathers requested the clergy to pray
for rain, or when a great papal official visited the town. We hear of one
at Erfurt which began at five o’clock in the morning, and, with its visits
to the stations of the Cross and the services at each, did not end till
noon. The school children of the town, numbering 948, headed the
procession, then came 312 priests, then the whole University,—in all, 2141
persons,—and the monks belonging to the five monasteries followed. The
Holy Sacrament carried by the chief ecclesiastics, and preceded by a large
number of gigantic candles, occupied the middle of the procession. The
town council followed, then all the townsmen, then the women and maidens.
The troop of maidens was 2316 strong. They had garlands on their heads,
and their hair flowed down over their shoulders; they carried lighted
candles in their hands, and they marched modestly looking to the ground.
Two beautiful girls walked at their head with banners, followed by four
with lanterns. In the centre was the fairest, clad in black and barefoot,
carrying a large and splendid cross, and by her side one of the town
councillors chosen for his good looks. Everything was arranged with a view
to artistic effect.(70)

The Passion and Miracle Plays(71) were of great use in instructing the
people in the contents of Scripture, being almost always composed of
biblical scenes and histories. They were often very elaborate; sometimes
more than one hundred actors were needed to fill the parts; and the plays
were frequently so lengthy that they lasted for two or three days. The
ecclesiastical managers felt that the continuous presentation of grave and
lofty scenes and sentiments might weary their audiences, and they mixed
them with lighter ones, which frequently degenerated into buffoonery and
worse. The sacred and severe pathos of the Passion was interlarded with
coarse jokes about the devil; and the most solemn conceptions were
profaned. These Mysteries were generally performed in the great churches,
and the buildings dedicated to sacred things witnessed scenes of the
coarsest humour, to the detriment of all religious feeling. The more
serious Churchmen felt the profanation, and tried to prohibit the
performance of plays interlarded with rude and indecent scenes within the
churches and churchyards. Their interference came too late; the rough
popular taste demanded what it had been accustomed to; sacred histories
and customs coming down from a primitive heathenism were mixed together,
and the people lost the sense of sacredness which ought to attach itself
to the former. The Feast of the Ass, to mention one, was supposed to
commemorate the Flight to Egypt. A beautiful girl, holding a child in her
lap, was seated on an ass decked with splendid trappings of gold cloth,
and was led in procession by the clergy through the principal streets of
the town to the parish church. The girl on her ass was conducted into the
church and placed near the high altar, and the Mass and other services
were each concluded by the whole congregation braying. There is indeed an
old MS. extant with a rubric which orders the priest to bray thrice on
elevating the Host.(72) At other seasons of popular licence, all the parts
of the church service, even the most solemn, were parodied by the profane
youth of the towns.(73)

All this, however, tells us little about the intimate religious life and
feelings of the people, which is the important matter for the study of the
roots of the great ecclesiastical revolt.

When the evidence collected from the sources is sifted, it will be found
that the religious life of the people at the close of the fifteenth and
beginning of the sixteenth centuries is full of discordant elements, and
makes what must appear to us a very incongruous mosaic. If classification
be permissible, which it scarcely is (for religious types always refuse to
be kept distinct, and always tend to run into each other), one would be
disposed to speak of the simple homely piety of the family circle—the
religion taught at the mother’s knee, the _Kinderlehre_, as Luther called
it; of a certain flamboyant religion which inspired the crowds; of a calm
anti-clerical religion which grew and spread silently throughout Germany;
of the piety of the praying-circles, the descendants of the fourteenth
century Mystics.

§ 4. The Family Religious Life.

The biographies of some of the leaders of the Reformation, when they
relate the childish reminiscences of the writers, bear unconscious witness
to the kind of religion which was taught to the children in pious burgher
and peasant families. We know that Luther learned the Creed, the Ten
Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer. He knew such simple evangelical hymns
as “Ein kindelein so lobelich,”(74) “Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist,”
and “Crist ist erstanden.” Children were rocked to sleep while the mothers

    “Ach lieber Heere Jhesu Christ
    Sid Du ein Kind gewesen bist,
    So gib ouch disem Kindelin
    Din Gnod und ouch den Segen den.
        Ach Jhesu, Heere min,
        Behüt diz Kindelin.

    Nun sloff, nun sloff, min Kindelin,
    Jhesus der sol din bülli sin,
    Der well, daz dir getroume wol
    Und werdest aller Tugent vol.
        Ach Jhesus, Heere min,
        Behüt diz Kindelin.”(75)

These songs or hymns, common before the Reformation, were sung as
frequently after the break with Rome. The continuity in the private
devotional life before and after the advent of the Reformation is a thing
to be noted. Few hymns were more popular during the last decade of the
fifteenth century than the “In dulci Jubilo” in which Latin and German
mingled. The first and last verses were:

    “In dulci jubilo,
    Nun singet und seid froh!
    Unsers Herzens Wonne
    Leit in præsepio,
    Und leuchtet als die Sonne
    Matris in gremio.
    Alpha es et O,
    Alpha es et O!

    Ubi sunt gaudia?
    Nirgends mehr denn da,
    Da die Engel singen
    Nova cantica,
    Und die Schellen klingen
    In regis curia.
    Eya, wär’n wir da,
    Eya, wär’n wir da!”

This hymn continued to enjoy a wonderful popularity in the German
Protestant churches and families until quite recently, and during the
times of the Reformation it spread far beyond Germany.(76) In the
fifteenth-century version it contained one verse in praise of the Virgin:

    “Mater et filia
    Du bist, Jungfraw Maria.
    Wir weren all verloren
    Per nostra crimina,
    So hat sy uns erworben
    Celorum gaudia.
    Eya, wär’n wir da,
    Eya, wär’n wir da!”

which was either omitted in the post-Reformation versions, or there was

    “O Patris charitas,
    O Nati lenitas!
    Wir weren all verloren
    Per nostra crimina,
    So hat Er uns erworben
    Cœlorum gaudia.
    Eya, wär’n wir da,
    Eya, wär’n wir da.”(77)

Nor was direct simple evangelical instruction lacking. Friedrich Mecum
(known better by his Latinised name of Myconius), who was born in 1491,
relates how his father, a substantial burgher belonging to Lichtenfels in
Upper Franconia, instructed him in religion while he was a child. “My dear
father,” he says, “had taught me in my childhood the Ten Commandments, the
Lord’s Prayer, and the Creed, and constrained me to pray always. For, said
he, ‘Everything comes to us from God alone, and that _gratis_, free of
cost, and He will lead us and rule us, if we only diligently pray to
Him.’ ” We can trace this simple evangelical family religion away back
through the Middle Ages. In the wonderfully interesting Chronicle of
Brother Salimbene of the Franciscan Convent of Parma, which comes from the
thirteenth century, we are told how many of the better-disposed burghers
of the town came to the convent frequently to enjoy the religious
conversation of Brother Hugh. On one occasion the conversation turned upon
the mystical theology of Abbot Giaocchino di Fiore. The burghers professed
to be greatly edified, but said that they hoped that on the next evening
Brother Hugh would confine himself to telling them the _simple words of

The central thought in all evangelical religion is that the believer does
not owe his position before God, and his assurance of salvation, to the
good deeds which he really can do, but to the grace of God manifested in
the mission and the work of Christ; and the more we turn from the thought
of what we can do to the thought of what God has done for us, the stronger
will be the conviction that simple trust in God is that by which the
pardoning grace of God is appropriated. This double conception—God’s grace
coming down upon us from above, and the believer’s trust rising from
beneath to meet and appropriate it—was never absent from the simplest
religion of the Middle Ages. It did not find articulate expression in
mediæval theology, for, owing to its enforced connection with Aristotelian
philosophy, that theology was largely artificial; but the thought itself
had a continuous and constant existence in the public consciousness of
Christian men and women, and appeared in sermons, prayers, and hymns, and
in the other ways in which the devotional life manifested itself. It is
found in the sermons of the greatest of mediæval preachers, Bernard of
Clairvaux, and in the teaching of the most persuasive of religious guides,
Francis of Assisi. The one, Bernard, in spite of his theological training,
was able to rise above the thought of human merit recommending the sinner
to God; and the other, Francis, who had no theological training at all,
insisted that he was fitted to lead a life of imitation simply because he
had no personal merits whatsoever, and owed everything to the marvellous
mercy and grace of God given freely to him in the work of Christ. The
thought that all the good we can do comes from the wisdom and mercy of
God, and that without these gifts of grace we are sinful and worthless—the
feeling that all pardon and all holy living are free gifts of God’s grace,
was the central thought round which in mediæval, as in all times, the
faith of simple and pious people twined itself. It found expression in the
simpler mediæval hymns, Latin and German. The utter need for sin-pardoning
grace is expressed and taught in the prayer of the _Canon of the Mass_. It
found its way, in spite of the theology, even into the official agenda of
the Church, where the dying are told that they must repose their
confidence upon Christ and His Passion as the sole ground of confidence in
their salvation. If we take the fourth book of Thomas à Kempis’ _Imitatio
Christi_, it is impossible to avoid seeing that his ideas about the
sacrament of the Supper (in spite of the mistakes in them) kept alive in
his mind the thought of a free grace of God, and that he had a clear
conception that God’s grace was freely given, and not merited by what man
can do. For the main thought with pious mediæval Christians, however it
might be overlaid with superstitious conceptions, was that they received
in the sacrament a _gift_ of overwhelming greatness. Many a modern
Christian seems to think that the main idea is that in this sacrament one
_does_ something—makes a profession of Christianity. The old view went a
long way towards keeping people right in spite of errors, while the modern
view does a great deal towards leading them wrong in spite of truth.

All these things combine to show us how there was a simple evangelical
faith among pious mediæval Christians, and that their lives were fed upon
the same divine truths which lie at the basis of Reformation theology. The
truths were all there, as poetic thoughts, as earnest supplication and
confession, in fervent preaching or in fireside teaching. When mediæval
Christians knelt in prayer, stood to sing their Redeemer’s praises, spoke
as a dying man to dying men, or as a mother to the children about her
knees, the words and thoughts that came were what Luther and Zwingli and
Calvin wove into Reformation creeds, and expanded into that experimental
theology which was characteristic of the Reformation.

When the printing-press began in the last decades of the fifteenth century
to provide little books to aid private and family devotion, it is not
surprising, after what has been said, to find how full many of them were
of simple evangelical piety. Some contained the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten
Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and occasionally a translation or
paraphrase of some of the Psalms, notably the 51st Psalm. Popular
religious instructions and catechisms for family use were printed. The
Catechism of Dietrich Koelde (written in 1470) says: “Man must place his
faith and hope and love on God alone, and not in any creature; he must
trust in nothing but in the work of Jesus Christ.” The
_Seelenwurzgartlein_, a widely used book of devotion, instructs the
penitent: “Thou must place all thy hope and trust on nothing else than on
the work and death of Jesus Christ.” The _Geistliche Streit_ of Ulrich
Krafft (1503) teaches the dying man to place all his trust on the “mercy
and goodness of God, and not on his own good works.” Quotations might be
multiplied, all proving the existence of a simple evangelical piety, and
showing that the home experience of Friedrich Mecum (Myconius) was shared
in by thousands, and that there was a simple evangelical family religion
in numberless German homes in the end of the fifteenth century.

§ 5. A superstitious Religion based on Fear.

When sensitive, religiously disposed boys left pious homes, they could not
fail to come in contact with a very different kind of religion. Many did
not need to quit the family circle in order to meet it. Near Mansfeld,
Luther’s home, were noted pilgrimage places. Pilgrims, singly or in great
bands, passed to make their devotions before the wooden cross at
Kyffhäuser, which was supposed to effect miraculous cures. The Bruno
Quertfort Chapel and the old chapel at Welfesholz were pilgrimage places.
Sick people were carried to spots near the cloister church at Wimmelberg,
where they could best hear the sound of the cloister bells, which were
believed to have a healing virtue.

The latter half of the fifteenth century witnessed a great and
widespreading religious revival, which prolonged itself into the earlier
decades of the sixteenth, though the year 1475 may perhaps be taken as its
high-water mark. Its most characteristic feature was the impulse to make
pilgrimages to favoured shrines; and these pilgrimages were always
considered to be something in the nature of satisfactions made to God for
sins. With some of the earlier phenomena we have nothing here to do.

The impetus to pilgrimages given after the great Schism by the celebration
in 1456 of the first Jubilee “after healing the wounds of the Church”; the
relation of these pilgrimages to the doctrines of Indulgences which,
formulated by the great Schoolmen of the thirteenth century, had changed
the whole penitential system of the mediæval Church, must be passed over;
the curious socialist, anti-clerical, and yet deeply superstitious
movement led by the cowherd and village piper, Hans Böhm, has been
described. But one movement is so characteristic of the times, that it
must be noticed. In the years 1455-1459 all the chroniclers describe great
gatherings of children from every part of Germany, from town and village,
who, with crosses and banners, went on pilgrimage to St. Michael in
Normandy. The chronicler of Lübeck compares the spread of the movement to
the advance of the plague, and wonders whether the prompting arose from
the inspiration of God or from the instigation of the devil. When a band
of these child-pilgrims reached a town, carrying aloft crosses and banners
blazoned with a rude image of St. Michael, singing their special pilgrim
song,(78) the town’s children were impelled to join them. How this strange
epidemic arose, and what put an end to it, seems altogether doubtful; but
the chronicles of almost every important town in Germany attest the facts,
and the contemporary records of North France describe the bands of
youthful pilgrims who traversed the country to go to St. Michael’s Mount.

During these last decades of the fifteenth century, a great fear seems to
have brooded over Central Europe. The countries were scourged by incessant
visits of the plague; new diseases, never before heard of, came to swell
the terror of the people. The alarm of a Turkish invasion was always
before their eyes. Bells tolled at midday in hundreds of German parishes,
calling the parishioners together for prayer against the incoming of the
Turks, and served to keep the dread always present to their minds. Mothers
threatened their disobedient children by calling on the Turk to come and
take them. It was fear that lay at the basis of this crude revival of
religion which marks the closing decades of the fifteenth century. It gave
rise to an urgent restlessness. Prophecies of evil were easily believed
in. Astrologers assumed a place and wielded a power which was as new as it
was strange. The credulous people welcomed all kinds of revelations and
proclamations of miraculous signs. At Wilsnack, a village in one of the
divisions of Brandenburg (Priegnitz), it had been alleged since 1383 that
a consecrated wafer secreted the Blood of Christ. Suddenly, in 1475,
people were seized with a desire to make a pilgrimage to this shrine.
Swarms of child-pilgrims again filled the roads—boys and girls, from eight
to eighteen years of age, bareheaded, clad only in their shirts, shouting,
“O Lord, have mercy upon us”—going to Wilsnack. Sometimes schoolmasters
headed a crowd of pilgrims; mothers deserted their younger children;
country lads and maids left their work in the fields to join the
processions. These pilgrims came mostly from Central Germany (1100 from
Eisleben alone), but the contagion spread to Austria and Hungary, and
great bands of youthful pilgrims appeared from these countries. They
travelled without provisions, and depended on the charity of the peasants
for food. Large numbers of these child-pilgrims did not know why they had
joined the throng; they had never heard of the _Bleeding Host_ towards
which they were journeying; when asked why they had set out, they could
only answer that they could not help it, that they saw the red cross at
the head of their little band, and had to follow it. Many of them could
not speak, all went weeping and groaning, shivering as if they had a fit
of ague. An unnatural strength supported them. Little boys and girls, some
of them not eight years old, from a small village near Bamberg, were said
to have marched, on their first setting forth, all day and the first night
the incredible distance of not less than eighty miles! Some towns tried to
put a stop to these pilgrimages. Erfurt shut its gates against the
youthful companies. The pilgrimages ended as suddenly as they had

Succeeding years witnessed similar astonishing pilgrimages—in 1489, to the
“black Mother of God” in Altötting; in 1492, to the “Holy Blood” at
Sternberg; in the same year, to the “pitiful Bone” at Dornach; in 1499, to
the picture of the Blessed Virgin at Grimmenthal; in 1500, to the head of
St. Anna at Düren; and in 1519, to the “Beautiful Mary” at Regensburg.

Apart altogether from these sporadic movements, the last decades of the
fifteenth century were pre-eminently a time of pilgrimages. German princes
and wealthy merchants made pilgrimages to the Holy Land, visited the
sacred places there, and returned with numerous relics, which they stored
in favourite churches. Frederick the Wise, the Elector of Saxony, to be
known afterwards as the protector of Luther, made such a pilgrimage, and
placed the relics he had acquired in the Castle Church (the Church of All
Saints) in Wittenberg. He became an assiduous collector of relics, and had
commissioners on the Rhine, in the Netherlands, and at Venice, with orders
to procure him any sacred novelties they met with for sale.(80) He
procured from the Pope an Indulgence for all who visited the collection
and took part in the services of the church on All Saints’ Day; for it is
one of the ironies of history that the church on whose door Luther nailed
his theses against Indulgences was one of the sacred edifices on which an
Indulgence had been bestowed, and that the day selected by Luther was the
yearly anniversary, which drew crowds to benefit by it.(81)

A pilgrimage to the Holy Land was too costly and dangerous to be indulged
in by many. The richer Germans made pilgrimages to Rome, and the great
pilgrimage place for the middle-class or poorer Germans was Compostella in
Spain. Einsiedeln, in Switzerland, also attracted yearly swarms of

Guide-books were written for the benefit of these pious travellers, and
two of them, the most popular, have recently been reprinted. They are the
_Mirabilia Romæ_ for Roman pilgrims, and the _Walfart und Strasse zu Sant
Jacob_ for travellers to Compostella. These little books had a wonderful
popularity. The _Mirabilia Romæ_ went through nineteen Latin and at least
twelve German editions before the year 1500; it was also translated into
Italian and Dutch. It describes the various shrines at Rome where pilgrims
may win special gifts of grace by visiting and worshipping at them. Who
goes to the Lateran Church and worships there has “forgiveness of all
sins, both guilt and penalty.” There is “a lovely little chapel” (probably
what is now called the Lateran Baptistry) near the Lateran, where the same
privileges may be won. The pilgrim who goes with good intention to the
High Altar of St. Peter’s Church, “even if he has murdered his father or
his mother,” is freed from all sin, “guilt as well as penalty,” provided
he repents. The virtues of St. Croce seem to have been rated even higher.
If a man leaves his house with the intention of going to the shrine, even
if he die by the way, all his sins are forgiven him; and if he visits the
church he wins a thousand years’ relief from Purgatory.(82)

Compostella in Spain was the people’s pilgrimage place. Before the
invention of printing we find traces of manuscript guides to travellers,
which were no doubt circulated among intending pilgrims, and afterwards
the services of the printing-press were early called in to assist. In the
Spanish archives at Simancas there are two single sheets, one of which
states the numerous Indulgences for the benefit of visitors at the shrine
of St. James, while the other enumerates the relics which are to be seen
and visited there. It mentions thirty-nine great relics—from the bones of
St. James, which lay under the great altar of the cathedral, to those of
St. Susanna, which were interred in a church outside the walls of the
town.(83) These leaflets were sold to the pilgrims, and were carried back
by them to Germany, where they stimulated the zeal and devotion of those
who intended to make the pilgrimage. Our pilgrim’s guide-book, the
_Walfart und Strasse zu Sant Jacob_,(84) deals almost exclusively with the
road. The author was a certain Hermann Künig of Vach, who calls himself a
_Mergen-knecht_, or servant of the Virgin Mary. The well-known pilgrim
song, “Of Saint James” (_Von Sant Jacob_), told how those who reached the
end of their journey got, through the intercession of St. James,
forgiveness from the guilt and penalty (_von Pein und Schuldt_) of all
their sins; it tells the pilgrims to provide themselves with two pairs of
shoes, a water-bottle and spoon, a satchel and staff, a broad-brimmed hat
and a cloak, both trimmed with leather in the places likeliest to be
frayed, and both needed as a protection against wind and rain and
snow.(85) It charges them to take permits from their parish priests to
dispense with confession, for they were going to foreign lands where they
would not find priests who spoke German. It warns them that they might die
far from home and find a grave on the pilgrimage route. Our guide-book
omits all these things. It is written by a man who has made the pilgrimage
on foot; who had observed minutely all the turns of the road, and could
warn fellow-pilgrims of the difficulties of the way. He gives the
itinerary from town to town; where to turn to the right and where to the
left; what conspicuous buildings mark the proper path; where the traveller
will find people who are generous to poor pilgrims, and where the
inhabitants are uncharitable and food and drink must be paid for; where
hostels abound, and those parts of the road on which there are few, and
where the pilgrims must buy their provisions beforehand and carry them in
their satchels; where sick pilgrims can find hospitals on the way, and
what treatment they may expect there;(86) at what hostels they must change
their money into French and Spanish coin. In brief, the booklet is a
mediæval “Baedeker,” compiled with German accuracy for the benefit of
German pilgrims to the renowned shrine of St. James of Compostella. This
little book went through several editions between 1495 and 1521, and is of
itself a proof of the popularity of this pilgrimage place. In the last
decades of the fifteenth century there arose a body of men and women who
might be called professional pilgrims, and who were continually on the
road between Germany and Spain. A pilgrimage was one of the earliest
so-called “satisfactions” which might be done vicariously, and the
Brethren of St. James (_Jacobs-Brueder_) made the pilgrimage regularly,
either on behalf of themselves or of others.

Many of these pilgrims were men and women of indifferent character,(87)
who had been sent on a pilgrimage as an ecclesiastical punishment for
their sins. The _Chronicles of the Zimmer Family_(88) gives several cases
of criminals, who had committed murder or theft or other serious crimes
between 1490 and 1520, who were sent to Santiago as a punishment. Even in
the last decades of the fifteenth century, when the greater part of the
pilgrims were devout in their way, it was known only too well that
pilgrimages were not helpful to a moral life. Stern preachers of
righteousness like Geiler of Keysersberg and Berchtold of Regensburg
denounced pilgrimages, and said that they created more sins than they
yielded pardons.(89) Parish priests continually forbade their women
penitents, especially if they were unmarried, from going on a pilgrimage.
But these warnings and rebukes were in vain. The prevailing terror had
possessed the people, and they journeyed from shrine to shrine seeking
some relief for their stricken consciences.

A marked characteristic of this revival which found such striking outcome
in these pilgrimages was the thought that Jesus was to be looked upon as
the Judge who was to come to punish the wicked. His saving and
intercessory work was thrust into the background. Men forgot that He was
the Saviour and the Intercessor; and as the human heart craves for someone
to intercede for it, another intercessor had to be found. This gracious
personality was discovered in the Virgin Mother, who was to be entreated
to intercede with her Son on behalf of poor sinning human creatures. The
last half of the fifteenth century saw a deep-seated and widely-spread
craving to cling to the protection of the Virgin Mother with a strength
and intensity hitherto unknown in mediæval religion. It witnessed the
furthest advance that had yet been made towards what must be called
Mariolatry. This devotion expressed itself, as religious emotion
continually does, in hymns; a very large proportion of the mediæval hymns
in praise of the Virgin were written in the second half of the fifteenth
century—the period of this strange revival based upon fear. Dread of the
Son as Judge gave rise to the devotion to the Mother as the intercessor.
Little books for private and family devotion were printed, bearing such
titles as the _Pearl of the Passion_ and the _Little Gospel_, containing,
with long comments, the words of our Lord on the cross to John and to
Mary. She became the ideal woman, the ideal mother, the “Mother of God,”
the _mater dolorosa_, with her heart pierced by the sword, the sharer in
the redemptive sufferings of her Son, retaining her sensitive woman’s
heart, ready to listen to the appeals of a suffering, sorrowful humanity.
We can see this devotion to the Virgin Mother impregnating the social
revolts from Hans Böhm to Joss Fritz. The theology of the schools followed
in the wake of the popular sentiment, and the doctrine of the Immaculate
Conception was more strictly defined and found its most strenuous
supporters during the later decades of this fifteenth century.

The thought of motherly intercession went further; the Virgin herself had
to be interceded with to induce her to plead with her Son for men sunk in
sin, and _her_ mother (St. Anna) became the object of a cult which may
almost be said to be quite new. Hymns were written in her praise.(90)
Confraternities, modelled on the confraternities dedicated to the Blessed
Virgin, were formed in order to bring the power of the prayers of numbers
to bear upon her. These confraternities spread all over Germany and beyond
it.(91) It is almost possible to trace the widening area of the cult from
the chronicles of the period. The special cult of the Virgin seems to have
begun, at least in its extravagant popular form, in North France, and to
have spread from France through Germany and Spain; but so far as it can be
traced, this cult of St. Anna, “the Grandmother,” had a German origin, and
the devotion manifested itself most deeply on German soil. Even the
Humanist poets sang her praises with enthusiasm, and such collectors of
relics as Frederick of Saxony and the Cardinal Archbishop of Mainz
rejoiced when they were able to add a thumb of St. Anna to their store.
Luther himself tells us that “St. Anna was his idol”; and Calvin speaks of
his mother’s devotion to the saint. Her name was graven on many a parish
church bell, and every pull at the ropes and clang of the bell was
supposed to be a prayer to her to intercede. The Virgin and St. Anna
brought in their train other saints who were also believed to be the true
intercessors. The three bells of the church in which Luther was baptized
bore the following inscriptions carved deeply in the brass:—“God help us;
Mary have mercy. 1499.” “Help us Anna, also St. Peter, St. Paul. 1509.”
“Help us God, Mary, Anna, St. Peter, Paul, Arnold, Stephan, Simon. 1509.”
The popular religion always represented Jesus, Mecum (Myconius) tells us,
as the stern Judge who would convict and punish all those who had not
secured righteousness by the intercession of the saints or by their own
good works.

This revival of religion, crude as it was, and based on fear, had a
distinct effect for good on a portion of the clergy, and led to a great
reformation of morals among those who came under its influence. The papal
Schism, which had lasted till 1449, had for one of its results the
weakening of all ecclesiastical discipline, and its consequences were seen
in the growing immorality which pervaded all classes of the clergy. So far
as one can judge, the revival of religion described above had not very
much effect on the secular clergy. Whether we take the evidence from the
chronicles of the time or from visitations of the bishops, the morals of
the parish priests were extremely low, and the private lives of the higher
clergy in Germany notoriously corrupt. The occupants of episcopal sees
were for the most part the younger brothers of the great princes, and had
been placed in the religious life for the sake of the ecclesiastical
revenues. The author of the _Chronicles of the Zimmer Family_ tells us
that at the festive gatherings which accompanied the meetings of the Diet,
the young nobles, lay and clerical, spent most of their time at dice and
cards. As he passed through the halls, picking his way among groups of
young nobles lying on the floor (for tables and chairs were rare in these
days), he continually heard the young count call out to the young bishop,
“Play up, parson; it is your turn.” The same writer describes the retinue
of a great prelate, who was always accompanied to the Diet by a concubine
dressed in man’s clothes. Nor were the older Orders of monks, the
Benedictines and their offshoots, greatly influenced by the revival. It
was different, however, with those Orders of monks who came into close
contact with the people, and caught from them the new fervour. The
Dominicans, the great preaching Order, were permeated by reform. The
Franciscans, who had degenerated sadly from their earlier lives of
self-denial, partook of a new life. Convent after convent reformed itself,
and the inmates began to lead again the lives their founder had
contemplated. The fire of the revival, however, burnt brightest among the
Augustinian Eremites, the Order which Luther joined, and they represented,
as none of the others did, all the characteristics of the new movement.

These Augustinian Eremites had a somewhat curious history. They had
nothing in common with St. Augustine save the name, and the fact that a
Pope had given them the rule of St. Augustine as a basis for their
monastic constitution. They had originally been hermits, living solitary
lives in mountainous parts of Italy and of Germany. Many Popes had desired
to bring them under conventual rule, and this was at last successfully
done. They shared as no other Order had done in the revival of the second
half of the fifteenth century, and exhibited in their lives all its
religious characteristics. No Order of monks contained such devoted
servants of the Virgin Mother. She was the patron along with St.
Augustine. Her image stood in the chapter-house of every convent. The
theologians of the Augustinian Eremites vied with those of the Franciscans
in spreading the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. They did much to
spread the cult of the “Blessed Anna.” They were devoted to the Papacy.
One of their learned men, John of Palz, one of the two professors of
theology in the Erfurt Convent when Luther entered it as a novice, was the
most strenuous defender of the doctrine of Attrition and of the religious
value of Indulgences. With all this their lives were more self-denying
than those of most monks. They cultivated theological learning, and few
Universities in Germany were without an Augustinian Eremite who acted as
professor of philosophy or of theology. They also paid great attention to
the art of preaching, and every large monastery had a special preacher who
attracted crowds of the laity to the convent chapel. Their monasteries
were usually placed in large towns; and their devout lives, their
learning, and the popular gifts of their preachers, made them favourites
with the townspeople. They were the most esteemed Order in Germany.

These last decades of the fifteenth century were the days of the
resuscitation of the mendicant Orders and the revival of their power over
the people. The better disposed among the princes and among the wealthier
burghers invariably selected their confessors from the monks of the
mendicant Orders, and especially from the Augustinian Eremites. The
chapels of the Franciscans and of the Eremites were thronged, and those of
the parish clergy were deserted. The common people took for their
religious guides men who shared the new revival, and who proved their
sincerity by self-denying labours. It was in vain that the Roman Curia
published regulations insisting that every parishioner must confess to the
priest of the parish at least once a year, and that it explained again and
again that the personal character of the ministrant did not affect the
efficacy of the sacraments administered by him. So long as poorly clad,
emaciated, clean-living Franciscan or Eremite priests could be found to
act as confessors, priests, or preachers, the people deserted the parish
clergy, flocked to their confessionals, waited on their serving the Mass,
and thronged their chapels to listen to their sermons. These decades were
the time of the last revival of the mendicant monks, who were the
religious guides in this flamboyant popular religion which is so much in
evidence during our period.

§ 6. A non-Ecclesiastical Religion.

The third religious movement which belongs to the last decades of the
fifteenth and the earlier decades of the sixteenth century was of a kind
so different from, and even contrary to, what has just been described,
that it is with some surprise that the student finds he must recognise its
presence alongside of the other. It was the silent spread of a quiet,
sincere, but non-ecclesiastical religion. Historians usually say nothing
about this movement, and it is only a minute study of the town chronicles
and of the records of provincial and municipal legislation that reveals
its power and extent. It has always been recognised that Luther’s father
was a man of a deeply religious turn of mind, although he commonly
despised the clergy, and thought that most monks were rogues or fools; but
what is not recognised is that in this he represented thousands of quiet
and pious Germans in all classes of society. We find traces of the silent,
widespreading movement in the ecclesiastical legislation of German
princes, in the police regulations, and in the provisions for the support
of the poor among the burghers; in the constitutions and practices of the
confraternities among the lower classes, and especially among the artisans
in the towns; and in the numerous translations of the Vulgate into the

The reforms sketched by the Councils of Constance and of Basel had been
utterly neglected by the Roman Curia, and in consequence several German
princes, while they felt the hopelessness of insisting on a general
purification of the Church, resolved that these reforms should be carried
out within their own dominions. As early as 1446, Duke William of Saxony
had published decrees which interfered with the pretensions of the Church
to be quite independent of the State. His regulations about the observance
of the Sunday, his forbidding ecclesiastical courts to interfere with
Saxon laymen, his stern refusal to allow any Saxon to appeal to a foreign
jurisdiction, were all more or less instances of the interference of the
secular power within what had been supposed to be the exclusive province
of the ecclesiastical. He went much further, however. He enacted that it
belonged to the secular power to see that parish priests and their
superiors within his dominions lived lives befitting their vocation—a
conception which was entirely at variance with the ecclesiastical
pretensions of the Middle Ages. He also declared it to be within the
province of the secular power to visit officially and to reform all the
convents within his dominions. So far as proofs go, it is probable that
these declarations about the rights of the civil authorities to exercise
discipline over the parish priests and their superiors remained a dead
letter. We hear of no such reformation being carried out. But the
visitation of the Saxon monasteries was put in force in spite of the
protests of the ecclesiastical powers. Andreas Proles would never have
been able to carry out his proposals of reform in the convents of the
Augustinian Eremites but for the support he received from the secular
princes against his ecclesiastical superiors in Rome. The Dukes Ernest and
Albrecht carried out Duke William’s conceptions about the relation of the
civil to the ecclesiastical authorities in their ordinances of 1483, and
the Elector Frederick the Wise was heir to this ecclesiastical policy of
his family.

The records of the Electorate of Brandenburg, investigated by Priebatsch
and described by him in the _Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte_(92)
testify to the same ideas at work there. A pious prince like Frederick II.
of Brandenburg removed unworthy Church dignitaries and reinstituted them,
thus taking upon himself the oversight of the Church. Appeals to Rome were
forbidden under penalties. Gradually under Frederick and his successors
there arose what was practically a national Church of Brandenburg, which
was almost completely under the control of the civil power, and almost
entirely separated from Roman control.

The towns also interfered in what had hitherto been believed to be within
the exclusive domain of the ecclesiastical authorities. They recognised
the harm which the numerous Church festivals and saints’ days were doing
to the people, and passed regulations about their observance, all of them
tending to lessen the number of the days on which men were compelled by
ecclesiastical law to be idle. When Luther pleaded in his _Address to the
Nobility of the German Nation_ for the abolition of the ecclesiastical
laws enforcing idleness on the numerous ecclesiastical holy days, he only
suggested an extension and wider application of the police regulations
which were in force within his native district of Mansfeld.

This non-ecclesiastical feeling appears strongly in the change of view
about Christian charity which marks the close of the fifteenth century.

Nothing shows how the Church of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries
had instilled the mind of Jesus into the peoples of Europe like the zeal
with which they tried to do their duty by the poor, the sick, and the
helpless. Institutions, founded by individuals or by corporations, for the
purpose of housing the destitute abounded, and men and women willingly
dedicated themselves to the service of the unfortunate.

    “The Beguins crowned with flapping hats,
    O’er long-drawn bloodless faces blank,
    And gowns unwashed to wrap their lank
    Lean figures,”(93)

were sisters of mercy in every mediæval town. Unfortunately the lessons of
the Church included the thought that begging was a Christian virtue; while
the idea that because charity is taught by the law of Christ, its exercise
must be everywhere superintended by ecclesiastics, was elevated to a
definite principle of action, if not to something directly commanded by
the law of God. The Reformation protested against these two ideas, and the
silent anticipation of this protest is to be found in the
non-ecclesiastical piety of the close of the fifteenth century.

The practice of begging, its toleration and even encouragement, was almost
universal. In some of the benevolent institutions the sick and the
pensioners were provided from the endowment with all the necessaries of
life, but it was generally thought becoming that they should beg them from
the charitable. The very fact of begging seemed to raise those who shared
in it to the level of members of a religious association. St. Francis, the
“imitator of Christ,” had taught his followers to beg, and this great
example sanctified the practice. It is true that the begging friars were
always the butt of the satirists of the close of the fifteenth century.
They delighted to portray the mendicant monk, with his sack, into which he
seemed able to stuff everything: honey and spice, nutmegs, pepper, and
preserved ginger, cabbage and eggs, poultry, fish, and new clothes, milk,
butter, and cheese; cheese especially, and of all kinds—ewe’s milk and
goat’s milk, hard cheese and soft cheese, large cheeses and small
cheeses—were greedily demanded by these “cheese hunters,” as they were
satirically called. On their heels tramped a host of semi-ecclesiastical
beggars, all of them with professional names—men who begged for a church
that was building, or for an altar-cloth, or to hansel a young priest at
his first Mass; men who carried relics about for the charitable to
kiss—some straw from the manger of Bethlehem, or a feather from the wing
of the angel Gabriel; the Brethren of St. James, who performed continual
and vicarious pilgrimages to Compostella, and sometimes robbed and
murdered on the road; the Brethren of St. Anthony, who had the special
privilege of wearing a cross and carrying a bell on their begging visits.
These were all ecclesiastical beggars. The ordinary beggars did their best
to obtain some share of the sanctity which surrounded the profession; they
carried with them the picture of some saint, or placed the cockle-shell,
the badge of a pilgrim, in their hats, and secured a quasi-ecclesiastical
standing.(94) Luther expressed not merely his own opinion on this plague
of beggars in his _Address to the Nobility of the German Nation_, but what
had been thought and partially practised by quiet laymen for several
decades. Some towns began to make regulations against promiscuous begging
by able-bodied persons, provided work for them, seized their children, and
taught them trades—all of which sensible doings were against the spirit of
the mediæval Church.

The non-ecclesiastical religious feeling, however, appears much more
clearly when the history of the charitable foundations is examined. The
invariable custom during the earlier Middle Ages was that charitable
bequests were left to the management of the Church and the clergy. At the
close of the fifteenth century the custom began to alter. The change from
clerical to lay management was at first probably due mainly to the
degeneracy of the clergy, and to the belief that the funds set apart for
the poor were not properly administered. The evidences of this are to be
found in numerous instances of the civic authorities attempting, and
successfully, to take the management of charitable foundations out of the
hands of ecclesiastical authorities, and to vest them in lay management.
But this cannot have been the case always. We should rather say that it
began to dawn upon men that although charity was part of the law of
Christ, this did not necessarily mean that all charities must be placed
under the control of the clergy or other ecclesiastical administrators.
Hence we find during the later years of the fifteenth century continual
instances of bequests for the poor placed in the hands of the town council
or of boards of laymen. That this was done without any animus against the
Church is proved by the fact that the same testator is found giving
benefactions to foundations which are under clerical and to others under
lay management. Out of the funds thus accumulated the town councils began
a system of caring for the poor of the city, which consisted in giving
tokens which could be exchanged for so much bread or woollen cloth, or
shoes, or wood for firing, at the shops of dealers who were engaged for
the purpose. How far this new and previously unheard of lay management, in
what had hitherto been the peculiar possession of the clergy, had spread
before the close of the fifteenth century, it is impossible to say. No
archæologist has yet made an exhaustive study of the evidence lying buried
in archives of the mediæval towns of Germany; but enough has been
collected by Kriegk(95) and others to show that it had become very
extensive. The laity saw that they were quite able to perform this
peculiarly Christian work apart from any clerical direction.

Another interesting series of facts serves also to show the growth of a
non-ecclesiastical religious sentiment. The later decades of the fifteenth
century saw the rise of innumerable associations, some of them definitely
religious, and all of them with a religious side, which are unlike what we
meet with earlier. They did not aim to be, like the praying circles of the
Mystics or of the _Gottesfreunde, ecclesiolæ in ecclesia_, strictly
non-clerical or even anti-clerical. They had no difficulty in placing
themselves under the protection of the Church, in selecting the ordinary
ecclesiastical buildings for their special services, and in employing
priests to conduct their devotions; but they were distinctively lay
associations, and lived a religious life in their own way, without any
regard to the conceptions of the higher Christian life which the Church
was accustomed to present to its devout disciples. Some were associations
for prayer; others for the promotion of the “cult” of a special saint,
like the confraternities dedicated to the Virgin Mother or the
associations which spread the “cult” of the Blessed Anna; but by far the
largest number were combinations of artisans, and resembled the workmen’s
“gilds” of the Roman Empire.

Perhaps one of the best known of these associations formed for the purpose
of encouraging prayer was the “Brotherhood of the Eleven Thousand
Virgins,” commonly known under the quaint name of _St. Ursula’s Little
Ship_. The association was conceived by a Carthusian monk of Cologne, and
it speedily became popular. Frederick the Wise was one of its patrons, his
secretary, Dr. Pfeffinger, one of its supporters; it numbered its
associates by the thousand; its praises were sung in a quaint old German
hymn.(96) No money dues were exacted from its members. The only duty
exacted was to pray regularly, and to learn to better one’s life through
the power of prayer. This was one type of the pious brotherhoods of the
fifteenth century. It was the best known of its kind, and there were many
others. But among the brotherhoods which bear testimony to the spread of a
non-ecclesiastical piety none are more important than the confraternities
which went by the names of _Kalands_ or _Kalandsgilden_ in North Germany
and _Zechen_ in Austria. These associations were useful in a variety of
ways. They were unions for the practice of religion; for mutual aid in
times of sickness; for defence in attack; and they also served the purpose
of insurance societies and of burial clubs. It is with their religious
side that we have here to do. It was part of the bond of association that
all the brethren and sisters (for women were commonly admitted) should
meet together at stated times for a common religious service. The
brotherhood selected the church in which this was held, and so far as we
can see the chapels of the Franciscans or of the Augustinian Eremites were
generally chosen. Sometimes an altar was relegated to their exclusive use;
sometimes, if the church was a large one, a special chapel. The
interesting thing to be noticed is that the rules and the modes of
conducting the religious services of the association were entirely in the
hands of the brotherhood itself, and that these laymen insisted on
regulating them in their own way. Luther has a very interesting sermon,
entitled _Sermon upon the venerable Sacrament of the holy true Body of
Christ and of the Brotherhoods_, the latter half of which is devoted to a
contrast between good brotherhoods and evil ones. Those brotherhoods are
evil, says Luther, in which the religion of the brethren is expressed in
hearing a Mass on one or two days of the year, while by guzzling and
drinking continually at the meetings of the brotherhood, they contrive to
serve the devil the greater part of their time. A true brotherhood spreads
its table for its poorer members, it aids those who are sick or infirm, it
provides marriage portions for worthy young members of the association. He
ends with a comparison between the true brotherhood and the Church of
Christ. Theodore Kolde remarks that a careful monograph on the
brotherhoods of the end of the fifteenth century in the light of this
sermon of Luther’s would afford great information about the popular
religion of the period. Unfortunately, no one has yet attempted the task,
but German archæologists are slowly preparing the way by printing, chiefly
from MS. sources, accounts of the constitution and practices of many of
these Kalands.

From all this it may be seen that there was in these last decades of the
fifteenth and in the earlier of the sixteenth centuries the growth of what
may be called a non-ecclesiastical piety, which was quietly determined to
bring within the sphere of the laity very much that had been supposed to
belong exclusively to the clergy. The _jus episcopale_ which Luther
claimed for the civil authorities in his tract on the _Liberty of the
Christian Man_, had, in part at least, been claimed and exercised in
several of the German principalities and municipalities; the practice of
Christian charity and its management were being taken out of the hands of
the clergy and entrusted to the laity; and the brotherhoods were making it
apparent that men could mark out their religious duties in a way deemed
most suitable for themselves without asking any aid from the Church,
further than to engage a priest whom they trusted to conduct divine
service and say the Masses they had arranged for.

The appearance of numerous translations of the Scriptures into the
vernacular, unauthorised by the officials of the mediæval Church, and
jealously suspected by them, appears to confirm the growth and spread of
this non-ecclesiastical piety. The relation of the Church of the Middle
Ages, earlier and later, to vernacular translations of the Vulgate is a
complex question. The Scriptures were always declared to be the supreme
source and authority for all questions of doctrines and morals, and in the
earlier stages of the Reformation controversy the supreme authority of the
Holy Scriptures was not supposed to be one of the matters in dispute
between the contending parties. This is evident when we remember that the
_Augsburg __ Confession_, unlike the later confessions of the Reformed
Churches, does not contain any article affirming the supreme authority of
Scripture. That was not supposed to be a matter of debate. It was reserved
for the Council of Trent, for the first time, to place _traditiones sine
Scripto_ on the same level of authority with the Scriptures of the Old and
New Testaments. Hence, many of the small books, issued from convent
presses for the instruction of the people during the decades preceding the
Reformation, frequently declare that the whole teaching of the Church is
to be found within the books of the Holy Scriptures.

It is, of course, undoubted that the mediæval Church forbade over and over
again the reading of the Scriptures in the Vulgate and especially in the
vernacular, but it may be asserted that these prohibitions were almost
always connected with attempts to suppress heretical or schismatic

On the other hand, no official encouragement of the reading of the
Scriptures in the vernacular by the people can be found during the whole
of the Middle Ages, nor any official patronage of vernacular translations.
The utmost that was done in the way of tolerating, it can scarcely be said
of encouraging, a knowledge of the vernacular Scriptures was the issue of
Psalters in the vernacular, of Service-Books, and, in the fifteenth
century, of the _Plenaria_—little books which contained translations of
some of the paragraphs of the Gospels and Epistles read in the Church
service accompanied with legends and popular tales. Translations of the
Scriptures were continually reprobated by Popes and primates for various
reasons.(98) It is also unquestionable that a knowledge of the Scriptures
in the vernacular, especially by uneducated men and women, was almost
always deemed a sign of heretical tendency. “The third cause of heresy,”
says an Austrian inquisitor, writing about the end of the thirteenth
century, “is that they translate the Old and New Testaments into the
vulgar tongue; and so they learn and teach. I have heard and seen a
certain country clown who repeated the Book of Job word for word, and
several who knew the New Testament perfectly.”(99) A survey of the
evidence seems to lead to the conclusion that the rulers of the mediæval
Church regarded a knowledge of the vernacular Scriptures with grave
suspicion, but that they did not go the length of condemning entirely
their possession by persons esteemed trustworthy, whether clergy, monks,
nuns, or distinguished laymen.

Yet we have in the later Middle Ages, ever since Wiclif produced his
English version, the gradual publication of the Scriptures in the
vernaculars of Europe. This was specially so in Germany; and when the
invention of printing had made the diffusion of literature easy, it is
noteworthy that the earliest presses in Germany printed many more books
for family and private devotion, many more _Plenaria_, and many more
editions of the Bible than of the classics. Twenty-two editions of the
Psalter in German appeared before 1509, and twenty-five of the Gospels and
Epistles before 1518. No less than fourteen (some say seventeen) versions
of the whole Bible were printed in High-German and three in Low-German
during the last decades of the fifteenth and the earlier decades of the
sixteenth century—all translations from the Vulgate. The first was issued
by John Metzel in Strassburg in 1466. Then followed another Strassburg
edition in 1470, two Augsburg editions in 1473, one in the Swiss dialect
in 1474, two in Augsburg in 1477, one in Augsburg in 1480, one in Nürnberg
in 1483, one in Strassburg in 1485, and editions in Augsburg in 1487,
1490, 1507, and 1518. A careful comparison of these printed vernacular
Bibles proves that the earlier editions were independent productions; but
as edition succeeded edition the text became gradually assimilated until
there came into existence a German Vulgate, which was used
indiscriminately by those who adhered to the mediæval Church and those who
were dissenters from it. These German versions were largely, but by no
means completely, displaced by Luther’s translation. The Anabaptists, for
example, retained this German Vulgate long after the publication of
Luther’s version, and these pre-Reformation German Bibles were to be found
in use almost two hundred years after the Reformation.(100)

Whence sprang the demand for these vernacular versions of the Holy
Scriptures? That the leaders of the mediæval Church viewed their existence
with alarm is evident from the proclamation of the Primate of Germany,
Berthold of Mainz, issued in 1486, ordering a censorship of books with
special reference to vernacular translations of the Scriptures.(101) On
the other hand, there is no evidence that these versions were either
wholly or in great part the work of enemies of the mediæval Church. The
mediæval _Brethren_, as they called themselves (Waldenses, Picards,
Wiclifites, Hussites, etc., were names given to them very indiscriminately
by the ecclesiastical authorities), had translations of the Scriptures
both in the Romance and in the Teutonic languages as early as the close of
the thirteenth century. The records of inquisitors and of councils prove
it. But there is no evidence to connect any of these German versions,
save, perhaps, one at Augsburg, and that issued by the Koburgers in
Nürnberg, with these earlier translations. The growing spread of education
in the fifteenth century, and, above all, the growth of a
non-ecclesiastical piety which claimed to examine and to judge for itself,
demanded and received these numerous versions of the Holy Scriptures in
the vulgar tongue.(102) The “common man” had the word of God in his hands,
could read, meditate, and judge for himself. The effect of the presence of
these vernacular Scriptures is apt to be exaggerated.(103) The Humanist,
Conrad Celtes, might threaten the priests that the Bible would soon be
seen in every village tavern; but we know that in these days of early
printing a complete Bible must have been too expensive to be purchased by
a poor man. Still he could get the Gospels or the Epistles, or the
Psalter; and there is evidence, apart from the number of editions, that
the people were buying and were studying the Scriptures. Preachers were
exhorted to give the meaning of the passages of Scripture read in Church
to prevent the people being confused by the different ways in which the
text was translated in the Bibles in their possession. Stories were told
of peasants, like Hans Werner, who worsted their parish priests in
arguments drawn from Scripture. The ecclesiastical authorities were
undoubtedly anxious, and their anxiety was shared by many who desired a
reformation in life and manners, but dreaded any revolutionary movement.
It was right that the children should be fed with the Bread of Life, but
Mother Church ought to keep the bread-knife in her hands lest the children
cut their fingers. Some publishers of the translations inserted prefaces
saying that the contents of the volumes should be understood in the way
taught by the Church, as was done in the _Book of the Gospels_, published
at Basel in 1514. But in spite of all a lay religion had come into being,
and laymen were beginning to think for themselves in matters where
ecclesiastics had hitherto been considered the sole judges.

§ 7. The “Brethren.”

There was another type of religious life and pious association which
existed, and which seems in one form or other to have exercised a great
influence among the better class of artisans, and more especially among
the printers of Augsburg, Nürnberg, and Strassburg.

It is probable that this type of piety had at least three roots.

(_a_) We can trace as far back as the closing years of the thirteenth
century, in many parts of Germany, the existence of nonconformists who, on
the testimony of inquisitors, lived pious lives, acted righteously towards
their neighbours, and believed in all the articles of the Christian faith,
but repudiated the Roman Church and the clergy. Their persecutors gave
them a high character. “The heretics are known by their walk and
conversation: they live quietly and modestly; they have no pride in dress;
their learned men are tailors and weavers; they do not heap up riches, but
are content with what is necessary; they live chastely; they are temperate
in eating and drinking; they never go to taverns, nor to public dances,
nor to any such vanities; they refrain from all foul language, from
backbiting, from thoughtless speech, from lying and from swearing.” The
list of objections which they had to usages of the mediæval Church are
those which would occur to any evangelical Protestant of this century.
They professed a simple evangelical creed; they offered a passive
resistance to the hierarchical and priestly pretensions of the clergy;
they were careful to educate their children in schools which they
supported; they had vernacular translations of the Scriptures, and
committed large portions to memory; they conducted their religious service
in the vernacular, and it was one of the accusations made against them
that they alleged that the word of God was as profitable when read in the
vernacular as when studied in Latin. It is also interesting to know that
they were accused of visiting the leper-houses to pray with the inmates,
and that in some towns they had schools for the leper children.(104) They
called themselves the _Brethren_. The societies of the _Brethren_ had
never died out. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries they were
continually subject to local and somewhat spasmodic persecutions, when the
ecclesiastical could secure the aid of the secular authorities to their
schemes of repression, which was not always possible. They were strongly
represented among the artisans in the great cities, and there are
instances when the civic authorities gave them one of the churches of the
towns for their services. The liability to intermittent persecution led to
an organisation whereby the _Brethren_, who were for the time being living
in peace, made arrangements to receive and support those who were able to
escape from any district where the persecution raged. These societies were
in correspondence with their brethren all over Europe, and were never so
active as during the last decades of the fifteenth and the first quarter
of the sixteenth century.

(_b_) As early as the times of Meister Eckhart (d. 1327), of his disciples
Tauler (d. 1361) and Suso (d 1366), of the mysterious “Friend of God in
the Oberland” and his associates (among them the Strassburg merchant
Rulman Merswin (d. 1382)), and of the Brussels curate John Ruysbroeck (d.
1381), the leaders of the mediæval Mystics had been accustomed to gather
their followers together into praying circles; and the custom was
perpetuated long after their departure. How these pious associations
continued to exist in the half century before the Reformation, and what
forms their organisation took, it seems impossible to say with any
accuracy. The school system of the _Brethren __ of the Common Lot_, which
always had an intimate connection with the _Gottesfreunde_, in all
probability served to spread the praying circles which had come down from
the earlier Mystics. It seems to have been a custom among these _Brethren
of the Common Lot_ to invite their neighbours to meet in their schoolrooms
or in a hall to listen to religious discourses. There they read and
expounded the New Testament in the vernacular. They also read extracts
from books written to convey popular religious instruction. They
questioned their audience to find out how far their hearers understood
their teaching, and endeavoured by question and answer to discover and
solve religious difficulties. These schools and teachers had extended all
over Germany by the close of the fifteenth century, and their effect in
quickening and keeping alive personal religion must have been great.

(_c_) Then, altogether apart from the social and semi-political propaganda
of the Hussites, there is evidence that ever since the circulation of the
encyclic letter addressed by the Taborites in November 1431 to all
Christians in all lands, and more especially since the foundation of the
_Unitas Fratrum_ in 1452, there had been constant communication between
Bohemia and the scattered bodies of evangelical dissenters throughout
Germany. Probably historians have credited the Hussites with more than
their due influence over their German sympathisers. The latter had arrived
at the conclusion that tithes ought to be looked upon as free-will
offerings, that the cup should be given to the laity, etc., long before
the movements under the leadership of Wiclif and of Huss. But the
knowledge that they had sympathisers and brethren beyond their own land
must have been a source of strength to the German nonconformists.

Our knowledge of the times is still too obscure to warrant us in making
very definite statements about the proportionate effect of these three
religious sources of influence on the small communities of _Brethren_ or
evangelical dissenters from the mediæval Church which maintained a
precarious existence at the close of the Middle Ages. There is one curious
fact, however, which shows that there must have been an intimate
connection between the Waldenses of Savoy and France, the _Brethren_ of
Germany, and the _Unitas Fratrum_ of Bohemia. They all used the same
catechism for the instruction of their children in divine things. So far
as can be ascertained, this small catechism was first printed in 1498, and
editions can be traced down to 1530. It exists in French, Italian, German,
and Bohemian. The inspiration drawn from the earlier Mystics and
_Gottesfreunde_ is shown by the books circulated by the _Brethren_. They
made great use of the newly discovered art of printing to spread abroad
small mystical writings on personal religion, and translations of portions
of the Holy Scriptures. They printed and circulated books which had been
used in manuscript among the Mystics of the fourteenth century, such as
the celebrated _Masterbook_, single sermons by Tauler, Prayers and Rules
for holy living extracted from his writings, as well as short tracts taken
from the later Mystics, like the _Explanation of the Ten Commandments_. It
is also probable that some of the many translations of the whole or
portions of the Bible which were in circulation in Germany before the days
of Luther came from these praying circles. The celebrated firm of Nürnberg
printers, the Koburgers, who published so many Bibles, were the German
printers of the little catechism used by the _Brethren_; and, as has been
said, the Anabaptists, who were the successors of these associations, did
not use Luther’s version, but a much older one which had come down to them
from their ancestors.

The members of these praying circles welcomed the Lutheran Reformation
when it came, but they can scarcely be said to have belonged to it. Luther
has confessed how much he owed to one of their publications, _Die deutsche
Theologie_; and what helped him must have benefited others. The
organisation of a Lutheran Church, based on civil divisions of the Empire,
gave the signal for a thorough reorganisation of the members of these old
associations who refused to have anything to do with a State Church. They
formed the best side of the very mixed and very much misunderstood
movement which later was called Anabaptism, and thus remained outside of
the two great divisions into which the Church of the Reformation
separated. This religious type existed and showed itself more especially
among the artisans in the larger towns of Germany.

It must not be supposed that these four classes of religious sentiment
which have been found existing during the later decades of the fifteenth
and the early decades of the sixteenth centuries can always be clearly
distinguished from each other. Religious types cannot be kept distinct,
but continually blend with each other in the most unexpected way. Humanism
and Anabaptism seem as far apart as they can possibly be; yet some of the
most noted Anabaptist leaders were distinguished members of the Erasmus
circle at Basel. Humanism and delicate clinging to the simple faith of
childhood blended in the exquisite character of Melanchthon. Luther,
_after_ his stern wrestle with self-righteousness in the convent at
Erfurt, believed that, had his parents been dead, he could have delivered
their souls from purgatory by his visits to the shrines of the saints at
Rome. The boy Mecum (Myconius) retained only so much of his father’s
teaching about the _free_ Grace of God that he believed an Indulgence from
Tetzel would benefit him if he could obtain it without paying for it.
There is everywhere and at all times a blending of separate types of
religious faith, until a notable crisis brings men suddenly face to face
with the necessity of a choice. Such a crisis occurred during the period
we call the Reformation, with the result that the leaders in that great
religious revival found that the truest theology after all was what had
expressed itself in hymns and prayers, in revivalist sermons and in
fireside teaching, and that they felt it to be their duty as theologians
to give articulate dogmatic expression to what their fathers had been
content to find inarticulately in the devotional rather than in the
intellectual sphere of the mediæval religious life.

Such was the religious atmosphere into which Luther was born, and which he
breathed from his earliest days. Every element seems to have shared in
creating and shaping his religious history, and had similar effects
doubtless on his most distinguished and sympathetic followers.

Chapter VI. Humanism And Reformation.(105)

§ 1. Savonarola.

When the Italian Humanism seemed about to become a mere revival of ancient
Paganism, with its accompaniments of a cynical sensualism on the one hand,
and the blindest trust in the occult sciences on the other, a great
preacher arose in Florence who recalled men to Christianity and to
Christian virtue.

Girolamo Savonarola was an Italian, a countryman of Giaocchino di Fiore,
of Arnold of Brescia, of Francis of Assisi, of John of Parma, and, like
them, he believed himself to be favoured with visions apocalyptic and
other. He belonged to a land over which, all down through the Middle Ages,
had swept popular religious revivals, sudden, consuming, and transient as
prairie fires. When a boy, he had quivered at seeing the pain in the world
around him; he had shuddered as he passed the great grim palaces of the
Italian despots, where the banqueting hall was separated from the dungeon
by a floor so thin that the groans of the prisoners mingled with the
tinkle of the silver dishes and the wanton conversation of the guests. He
had been destined by his family for the medical profession, and the lad
was set to master the writings of Thomas Aquinas and the Arabian
commentaries on Aristotle—the gateway in those days to a knowledge of the
art of healing. The _Summa_ of the great Schoolman entranced him, and
insensibly drew him towards theology; but outwardly he did not rebel
against the lot in life marked out for him. A glimpse of a quiet
resting-place in this world of pain and evil had come to him, but it
vanished, swallowed up in the universal gloom, when Roberto Strozzi
refused to permit him to marry his daughter Laodamia. There remained only
rest on God, study of His word, and such slight solace as music and
sonnet-writing could bring. His devotion to Thomas Aquinas impelled him to
seek within a Dominican convent that refuge which he passionately yearned
for, from a corrupt world and a corrupt Church. There he remained buried
for long years, reading and re-reading the Scriptures, poring over the
_Summa_, drinking in the New Learning, almost unconsciously creating for
himself a philosophy which blended the teachings of Aquinas with the
Neo-Platonism of Marsiglio Ficino and of the Academy, and planning how he
could best represent the doctrines of the Christian religion in harmony
with the natural reason of man.

When at last he became a great preacher, able to sway heart and
conscience, it should not be forgotten that he was mediæval to the core.
His doctrinal teaching was based firmly on the theology of Thomas Aquinas.
His intellectual conception of faith, his strong belief in the divine
predestination and his way of expressing it, his view of Scripture as
possessing manifold meanings, were all defined for him by the great
Dominican Schoolman. He held strongly the mediæval idea that the Church
was an external political unity, ruled by the Bishop of Rome, to whom
every human soul must be subject, and whom everyone must obey save only
when commands were issued contrary to a plain statement of the evangelical
law. He expounded the fulness of and the slight limitations to the
authority of the Pope exactly as Thomas and the great Schoolmen of the
thirteenth century had done, though in terms very different from the
canonists of the Roman Curia at the close of the Middle Ages. Even his
appreciation of the Neo-Platonist side of Humanism could be traced back to
mediæval authorities; for at all times the writings of the
pseudo-Dionysius had been a source of inspiration to the greater

His scholarship brought him into relation with the Humanist leaders in
Florence, the earnest tone of his teaching and the saintliness of his
character attracted them, his deep personal piety made them feel that he
possessed something which they lacked; while no Neo-Platonist could be
repelled by his claim to be the recipient of visions from on high.

The celebrated Humanists of Florence became the disciples of the great
preacher. Marsiglio Ficino himself, the head of the Florentine Academy,
who kept one lamp burning before the bust of Plato and another before an
image of the Virgin, was for a time completely under his spell. Young
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s whole inner life was changed through his
conversations with the Prior of San Marco. He reformed his earlier
careless habits. He burnt five books of wanton love-songs which he had
composed before his conversion.(106) He prayed daily at fixed hours, and
he wrote earnestly to his nephew on the importance of prayer for a godly

    “ ‘I stir thee not,’ he says, ‘to that prayer that standeth in
    many words, but to that prayer which in the secret chamber of the
    mind, in the privy-closet of the soul, with every affect speaketh
    to God; which in the most lightsome darkness of contemplation not
    only presenteth the mind to the Father, but also uniteth it with
    Him by unspeakable ways which only they know who have assayed. Nor
    care I how long or how short thy prayer be; but how effectual, how
    ardent, and rather interrupted and broken between with sighs, than
    drawn on length with a number of words.... Let no day pass but
    thou once at the leastwise present thyself to God in prayer....
    What thou shalt in thy prayer ask of God, both the Holy Spirit
    which prayeth for us and also thine own necessity shall every hour
    put in thy mind.’ ”(107)

He studied the writings of Thomas Aquinas, which contained the favourite
theology of Savonarola, and spoke of the great Schoolman as a “pillar of
truth.”(108) He handed over the third part of his estates to his nephew,
and lived plainly on what remained, that he might give largely in
charity.(109) He made Savonarola his almoner, who on his behalf gave alms
to destitute people and marriage portions to poor maidens.(110) He had
frequent thoughts of entering the Dominican Order, and

    “On a time as he walked with his nephew, John Francis, in a garden
    at Ferrara, talking of the love of Christ, he broke out with these
    words: ‘Nephew,’ said he, ‘this will I show thee; I warn thee keep
    it secret; the substance I have left after certain books of mine
    are finished, I intend to give out to poor folk, and, fencing
    myself with the crucifix, barefoot, walking about the world, in
    every town and castle I purpose to preach Christ.’ ”(111)

It is also recorded that he made a practice of scourging himself;
especially “on those days which represent unto us the Passion and Death
that Christ suffered for our sake, he beat and scourged his own flesh in
remembrance of that great benefit, and for cleansing his old
offences.”(112) But above all things he devoted himself to a diligent
study of the Holy Scriptures, and commended the practice to his nephew:

    “ ‘Thou mayest do nothing more pleasing to God, nothing more
    profitable to thyself, than if thine hand cease not day and night
    to turn and read the volumes of Holy Scripture. There lieth
    privily in them a certain heavenly strength, quick and effectual,
    which, with a marvellous power, transformeth and changeth the
    readers’ mind into the love of God, if they be clean and lowly
    entreated.’ ”(113)

The great Platonist forsook Plato for St. Paul, whom he called the
“glorious Apostle.”(114) When he died he left his lands to one of the
hospitals in Florence, and desired to be buried in the hood of the
Dominican monks and within the Convent of San Marco.

Another distinguished member of the Florentine Academy, Angelo Poliziano,
was also one of Savonarola’s converts. We find him exchanging confidences
with Pico, both declaring that love and not knowledge is the faculty by
which we learn to know God:

    “ ‘But now behold, my well-beloved Angelo,’ writes Pico, ‘what
    madness holdeth us. Love God (while we be in this body) we rather
    may, than either know Him, or by speech utter Him. In loving Him
    also we more profit ourselves; we labour less and serve Him more.
    And yet had we rather always by knowledge never find that thing we
    seek, than by love possess that thing which also without love were
    in vain found.’ ”(115)

Poliziano, like Pico, had at one time some thoughts of joining the
Dominican Order. He too was buried at his own request in the cowl of the
Dominican monk in the Convent of San Marco.

Lorenzo de Medici, who during his life had made many attempts to win the
support of Savonarola, and had always been repulsed, could not die without
entreating the great preacher to visit him on his deathbed and grant him

Italian Humanism was for the moment won over to Christianity by the Prior
of San Marco. Had the poets and the scholars, the politicians and the
ecclesiastics, the State and the Church, not been so hopelessly corrupt,
there might have been a great renovation of mankind, under the leadership
of men who had no desire to break the political unity of the mediæval
Church. For it can scarcely be too strongly insisted that Savonarola was
no Reformation leader in the more limited sense of the phrase. The
movement he headed has much more affinity with the crude revival of
religion in Germany in the end of the fifteenth century, than with the
Reformation itself; and the aim of the reorganisation of the Tuscan
congregation of the Dominicans under Savonarola has an almost exact
parallel in the creation of the congregation of the Augustinian Eremites
under Andreas Proles and Johann Staupitz. The whole Italian movement, as
might be expected, was conducted by men of greater intelligence and
refinement. It had therefore less sympathy than the German with
pilgrimages, relics, the niceties of ceremonial worship, and the cult of
the vulgarly miraculous; but it was not the less mediæval on these
accounts. It was the death rather than the life and lifework of Savonarola
that was destined to have direct effect on the Reformation soon to come
beyond the Alps; for his martyrdom was a crowning evidence of the
impossibility of reforming the Church of the Middle Ages apart from the
shock of a great convulsion. “Luther himself,” says Professor Villari,
“could scarcely have been so successful in inaugurating his Reform, had
not the sacrifice of Savonarola given a final proof that it was hopeless
to hope in the purification of Rome.”(116)

§ 2. John Colet.

While Savonarola was at the height of his influence in Florence, there
chanced to be in Italy a young Englishman, John Colet, son of a wealthy
London merchant who had been several times Lord Mayor. He had gone there,
we may presume, like his countrymen Grocyn and Linacre, to make himself
acquainted with the New Learning at its fountainhead. There is no proof
that he went to Florence or ever saw the great Italian preacher; but no
stranger could have visited Northern Italy in 1495 without hearing much of
him and of his work. Colet’s whole future life in England bears evidence
that he did receive a new impulse while he was in Italy, and that of such
a kind as could have come only from Savonarola. What Erasmus tells us of
his sojourn there amply confirms this. Colet gave himself up to the study
of the Holy Scriptures; he read carefully those theologians of the ancient
Church specially acceptable to the Neo-Platonist Christian Humanists; he
studied the pseudo-Dionysius, Origen, and Jerome. What is more remarkable
still in a foreign Humanist come to study in Italy, he read diligently
such English classics as he could find in order to prepare himself for the
work of preaching when he returned to England. The words of Erasmus imply
that the impulse to do all this came to him when he was in Italy, and
there was no one to impart it to him but the great Florentine.

When Colet returned to England in 1496, he began to lecture at Oxford on
the Epistles of St. Paul. His method of exposition, familiar enough after
Calvin had introduced it into the Reformed Church, was then absolutely
new, and proves that he was an original and independent thinker. His aim
was to find out the _personal_ message which the writer (St. Paul) had
sent to the Christians at Rome; and this led him to seek for every trace
which revealed the personality of the Apostle to the Gentiles. It was
equally imperative to know what were the surroundings of the men to whom
the Epistle was addressed, and Colet studied Suetonius to find some
indications of the environment of the Roman Christians. He had thus
completely freed himself from the Scholastic habit of using the Scriptures
as a mere collection of isolated texts to be employed in proving doctrines
or moral rules constructed or imposed by the Church, and it is therefore
not surprising to find that he never lards his expositions with quotations
from the Fathers. It is a still greater proof of his daring that he set
aside the allegorising methods of the Schoolmen,—methods abundantly used
by Savonarola,—and that he did so in spite of his devotion to the writings
of the pseudo-Dionysius. He was the first to apply the critical methods of
the New Learning to discover the exact meaning of the books of the Holy
Scriptures. His treatment of the Scriptures shows that however he may have
been influenced by Savonarola and by the Christian Humanists of Italy, he
had advanced far beyond them, and had seen, what no mediæval theologian
head been able to perceive, that the Bible is a personal and not a
dogmatic revelation. They were mediæval: he belongs to the Reformation
circle of thinkers. Luther, Calvin, and Colet, whatever else separates
them, have this one deeply important thought in common. Further, Colet
discarded the mediæval conception of a mechanical inspiration of the text
of Scripture, in this also agreeing with Luther and Calvin. The
inspiration of the Holy Scriptures was something mysterious to him. “The
Spirit seemed to him by reason of its majesty to have a peculiar method of
its own, singularly, absolutely free, blowing where it lists, making
prophets of whom it will, yet so that the spirit of the prophets is
subject to the prophets.”(117)

Colet saw clearly, and denounced the abounding evils which were ruining
the Church of his day. The Convocation of the English Church never
listened to a bolder sermon than that preached to them by the Dean of St.
Paul’s in 1512—the same year that Luther addressed an assembly of clergy
at Leitzkau. The two addresses should be compared. The same fundamental
thought is contained in both—that every true reformation must begin with
the individual man. Colet declared that reform must begin with the
bishops, and that once begun it would spread to the clergy and thence to
the laity; “for the body follows the soul; and as are the rulers in a
State, such will the people be.” He urged that what was wanted was the
enforcement of ecclesiastical laws which were already in existence.
Ignorant and wicked men were admitted to holy orders, and there were laws
prohibiting this. Simony was creeping “like a cancer through the minds of
priests, so that most are not ashamed in these days to get for themselves
great dignities by petitions and suits at court, rewards and promises”;
and yet strict laws against the evil were in existence. He proceeded to
enumerate the other flagrant abuses—the non-residence of clergy, the
worldly pursuits and indulgences of the clergy; the scandals and vices of
the ecclesiastical law-courts; the infrequency of provincial councils to
discuss and remedy existing evils; the wasting of the patrimony of the
Church on sumptuous buildings, on banquets, on enriching kinsfolk, or on
keeping hounds. The Church had laws against all these abuses, but they
were not enforced, and could not be until the bishops amended their ways.
His scheme of reform was to put in operation the existing regulations of
Canon Law. “The diseases which are now in the Church were the same in
former ages, and there is no evil for which the holy fathers did not
provide excellent remedies; there are no crimes in prohibition of which
there are not laws in the body of Canon Law.” Such was his definite idea
of reform in this famous Convocation sermon.

But he had wider views. He desired the diffusion of a sound Christian
education, and did the best that could be done by one man to promote it,
by spending his private fortune in founding St. Paul’s school, which he
characteristically left in charge of a body of laymen. He longed to see a
widespread preaching in the vernacular, and believed that the bishops
should show an example in this clerical duty. It is probable that he
wished the whole service to be in the vernacular, for it was made a charge
against him that he taught his congregation to repeat the Lord’s Prayer in
English. Besides, he had clearly grasped the thought, too often forgotten
by theologians of all schools, that the spiritual facts and forces which
lie at the roots of the Christian life are one thing, and the intellectual
conceptions which men make to explain these facts and forces are another,
and a much less important thing; that men are able to be Christians and to
live the Christian life because of the former and not because of the
latter. He saw that, while dogma has its place, it is at best the alliance
of an immortal with a mortal, the union between that which is unchangeably
divine and the fashions of human thought which change from one age to
another. For this reason he thought little of the Scholastic Theology of
his days, with its forty-three propositions about the nature of God and
its forty-five about the nature of man before and after the Fall, each of
which had to be assented to at the risk of a charge of heresy. “Why do you
extol to me such a man as Aquinas? If he had not been so very arrogant,
indeed, he would not surely so rashly and proudly have taken upon himself
to define all things. And unless his spirit had been somewhat worldly, he
would not surely have corrupted the whole teaching of Christ by mixing it
with his profane philosophy.” The Scholastic Theology might have been
scientific in the thirteenth century, but the “scientific” is the human
and changing element in dogma, and the old theology had become clearly
unscientific in the sixteenth. Therefore he was accustomed to advise young
theological students to keep to the Bible and the Apostles’ Creed, and let
divines, if they liked, dispute about the rest; and he taught Erasmus to
look askance at Luther’s reconstruction of the Augustinian theology.

But no thinking man, however he may flout at philosophy and dogma, can do
without either; and Colet was no exception to the general rule. He has
placed on record his detestation of Aquinas and his dislike of Augustine,
and we may perhaps see in this a lack of sympathy with a prominent
characteristic of the theology of Latin Christianity from Tertullian to
Aquinas and Occam, to say nothing of developments since the Reformation.
The great men who built up the Western Church were almost all trained
Roman lawyers. Tertullian, Cyprian, Augustine, Gregory the Great (whose
writings form the bridge between the Latin Fathers and the Schoolmen) were
all men whose early training had been that of a Roman lawyer,—a training
which moulded and shaped all their thinking, whether theological or
ecclesiastical. They instinctively regarded all questions as a great Roman
lawyer would. They had the lawyer’s craving for exact definitions. They
had the lawyer’s idea that the primary duty laid upon them was to enforce
obedience to authority, whether that authority expressed itself in
external institutions or in the precise definitions of the correct ways of
thinking about spiritual truths. No branch of Western Christendom has been
able to free itself from the spell cast upon it by these Roman lawyers of
the early centuries of the Christian Church.

If the ideas of Christian Roman lawyers, filtering slowly down through the
centuries, had made the Bishops of Rome dream that they were the
successors of Augustus, at once Emperor and Pontifex Maximus, master of
the bodies and of the souls of mankind, they had also inspired the
theologians of the Mediæval Church with the conception of an intellectual
imperialism, where a system of Christian thought, expressed with legal
precision, could bind into a comprehensive unity the active intelligence
of mankind. Dogmas thus expressed can become the instruments of a tyranny
much more penetrating than that of an institution, and so Colet found. In
his revolt he turned from the Latins to the Greeks, and to that thinker
who was furthest removed from the legal precision of statement which was
characteristic of Western theology.

It is probable that his intercourse with the Christian Humanists of Italy,
and his introduction to Platonists and to Neo-Platonism, made him turn to
the writings of the pseudo-Dionysius; but it is certain that he believed
at first that the author of these quaint mystical tracts was the Dionysius
who was one of the converts of St. Paul at Athens, and that these writings
embodied much of the teaching of the Apostle to the Gentiles, and took the
reader back to the first generation of the Christian Church. After he had
learned from Grocyn that the author of the _Celestial_ and the
_Terrestrial Hierarchies_ could not have been the convert of St. Paul, and
that the writings could not be earlier than the sixth century, he still
regarded them as evidence of the way in which a Christian philosopher
could express the thoughts which were current in Christianity one thousand
years before Colet’s time. The writings could be used as a touchstone to
test usages and opinions prevalent at the close of the Middle Ages, when
men were still subject to the domination of the Scholastic Theology, and
as justification for rejecting them.

They taught him two things which he was very willing to learn: that the
human mind, however it may be able to feel after God, can never comprehend
Him, nor imprison His character and attributes in propositions—stereotyped
aspects of thoughts—which can be fitted into syllogisms; and that such
things as hierarchy and sacraments are to be prized not because they are
in themselves the active sources and centres of mysterious powers, but
because they faintly symbolise the spiritual forces by which God works for
the salvation of His people. Colet applied to the study of the writings of
the pseudo-Dionysius a mind saturated with simple Christian truth gained
from a study of the Holy Scriptures, and especially of the Epistles of St.
Paul; and the very luxuriance of imagination and bewildering confusion of
symbolism in these writings, their elusiveness as opposed to the precision
of Thomas Aquinas or of John Duns the Scot, enabled him the more easily to
find in them the germs of his own more definite opinions.

When one studies the abstracts of the _Hierarchies_(118)—which Colet wrote
out from memory—with the actual text of the books themselves, it is
scarcely surprising to find how much there is of Colet and how little of

While it is impossible to say how far Colet, and the Christian Humanists
who agreed with him, would have welcomed the principles of a Reformation
yet to come, it can be affirmed that he held the same views on two very
important points. He did not believe in a priesthood in the mediæval nor
in the modern Roman sense of the word, and his theory of the efficacy and
meaning of the sacraments of the Christian Church was essentially

According to Colet, there was no such thing as a mediatorial priesthood
whose essential function it was to approach God on men’s behalf and
present their offerings to Him. The duty of the Christian priesthood was
ministerial; it was to declare the love and mercy of God to their
fellow-men, and to strive for the purification, illumination, and
salvation of mankind by constant preaching of the truth and diffusion of
gospel light, even as Christ strove. He did not believe that priests had
received from God the power of absolving from sins. “It must be needfully
remarked,” he says, “lest bishops be presumptuous, that it is not the part
of men to loose the bonds of sins; nor does the power belong to them of
loosing or binding anything,”—the truth Luther set forth in his Theses
against Indulgences.

Colet is even more decided in his repudiation of the sacramental theories
of the mediæval Church. The Eucharist is not a sacrifice, but a
commemoration of the death of our Lord, and a symbol of the union and
communion which believers have with Him, and with their fellow-men through
Him. Baptism is a ceremony which symbolises the believer’s change of heart
and his vow of service to his Master, and signifies “the more excellent
baptism of the inner man”; and the duty of sponsors is to train children
in the knowledge and fear of God.(120)

We are told that the Lollards delighted in Colet’s preaching; that they
advised each other to go to hear him; and that attendance at the Dean’s
sermons was actually made a charge against them. Colet was no Lollard
himself; indeed, he seems to have once sat among ecclesiastical judges who
condemned Lollards to death;(121) but the preacher who taught that tithes
were voluntary offerings, who denounced the evil lives of the monks and
the secular clergy; who hated war, and did not scruple to say so; whose
sermons were full of simple Bible instruction, must have recalled many
memories of the old Lollard doctrines. For Lollardy had never died out in
England: it was active in Colet’s days, leavening the country for the
Reformation which was to come.

Nor should it be forgotten, in measuring the influence of Colet on the
coming Reformation, that Latimer was a friend of his, that William Tyndale
was one of his favourite pupils, and that he persuaded Erasmus to turn
from purely classical studies to edit the New Testament and the early
Christian Fathers.

§ 3. Erasmus.

Erasmus, as has often been said, was a “man by himself;” yet he may be
regarded as representing one, and perhaps the most frequent, type of
Christian Humanism. His character will always be matter of controversy;
and his motives may, without unfairness, be represented in an unfavourable
light,—a “great scholar but a petty-minded man,” is a verdict for which
there is abundant evidence. Such was the final judgment of his
contemporaries, mainly because he refused to take a definite side in the
age when the greatest controversy which has convulsed Western Europe since
the downfall of the old Empire seemed to call on every man to range
himself with one party or other. Our modern judgment must rest on a
different basis. In calmer days, when the din of battle has almost died
away, it is possible to recognise that to refuse to be a partisan _may_
indicate greatness instead of littleness of soul, a keener vision, and a
calmer courage. We cannot judge the man as hastily as his contemporaries
did. Still there is evidence enough and to spare to back their verdict.
Every biographer has admitted that it is hopeless to look for truth in his
voluminous correspondence. His feelings, hopes, intentions, and actual
circumstances are described to different correspondents at the same time
in utterly different ways. He was always writing for effect, and often for
effect of a rather sordid kind. He seldom gave a definite opinion on any
important question without attempting to qualify it in such a manner that
he might be able, if need arose, to deny that he had given it. No man knew
better how to use “if” and “but” so as to shelter himself from all
responsibility. He had the ingenuity of the cuttle-fish to conceal himself
and his real opinions, and it was commonly used to protect his own skin.
All this may be admitted; it can scarcely be denied.

Yet from his first visit to England (1498) down to his practical refusal
of a Cardinal’s Hat from Pope Adrian VI., on condition that he would
reside at Rome and assist in fighting the Reformation, Erasmus had his own
conception of what a reformation of Christianity really meant, and what
share in it it was possible for him to take. It must be admitted that he
held to this idea and kept to the path he had marked out for himself with
a tenacity of purpose which did him honour. It was by no means always that
of personal safety, still less the road to personal aggrandisement. It led
him in the end where he had never expected to stand. It made him a man
despised by both sides in the great controversy; it left him absolutely
alone, friendless, and without influence. He frequently used very
contemptible means to ward off attempts to make him diverge to the right
or left; he abandoned many of his earlier principles, or so modified them
that they were no longer recognisable. But he was always true to his own
idea of a reformation and of his life-work as a reformer.

Erasmus was firmly convinced that Christianity was above all things
something practical. It had to do with the ordinary life of mankind. It
meant love, humility, purity, reverence,—every virtue which the Saviour
had made manifest in His life on earth. This early “Christian philosophy”
had been buried out of sight under a Scholastic Theology full of
sophistical subtleties, and had been lost in the mingled Judaism and
Paganism of the popular religious life, with its weary ceremonies and
barbarous usages. A true reformation, he believed, was the moral
renovation of mankind, and the one need of the age was to return to that
earlier purer religion based on a real inward reverence for and imitation
of Christ. The man of letters, like himself, he conceived could play the
part of a reformer, and that manfully, in two ways. He could try, by the
use of wit and satire, to make contemptible the follies of the Schoolmen
and the vulgar travesty of religion which was in vogue among the people.
He could also bring before the eyes of all men that earlier and purer
religion which was true Christianity. He could edit the New Testament, and
enable men to read the very words which Jesus spoke and Paul preached,
make them see the deeds of Jesus and hear the apostolic explanations of
their meaning. He could say:

    “Only be teachable, and you have already made much way in this
    (the Christian) Philosophy. It supplies a spirit for a teacher,
    imparted to none more readily than to the simple-minded. Other
    philosophies, by the very difficulty of their precepts, are
    removed out of the range of most minds. No age, no sex, no
    condition of life is excluded from this. The sun itself is not
    more common and open to all than the teaching of Christ. For I
    utterly dissent from those who are unwilling that the Sacred
    Scriptures should be read by the unlearned translated into their
    vulgar tongue, as though Christ had taught such subtleties that
    they can scarcely be understood even by a few theologians, or as
    though the strength of the Christian religion consisted in men’s
    ignorance of it. The mysteries of kings it may be safer to
    conceal, but Christ wished His mysteries to be published as openly
    as possible. I wish that even the weakest woman should read the
    Gospel—should read the Epistles of Paul. And I wish these were
    translated into all languages, so that they might be read and
    understood, not only by Scots and Irishmen, but also by Turks and
    Saracens. To make them understood is surely the first step. It may
    be that they might be ridiculed by many, but some would take them
    to heart. I long that the husbandman should sing portions of them
    to himself as he follows the plough, that the weaver should hum
    them to the tune of his shuttle, that the traveller should beguile
    with their stories the tedium of his journey.”(122)

The scholar who became a reformer could further make plain, by editing and
publishing the writings of the earlier Christian Fathers, what the oldest
Christian Theology had been before the Schoolmen spoiled it.

The conception that a reformation of Christianity was mainly a renovation
of morals, enabled the Christian Humanist to keep true to the Renaissance
idea that the writers of classical antiquity were to be used to aid the
work of ameliorating the lot of mankind. The Florentine circle spoke of
the inspiration of Homer, of Plato, and of Cicero, and saw them labouring
as our Lord had done to teach men how to live better lives. Pico and
Reuchlin had gone further afield, and had found illuminating anticipations
of Christianity, in this sense and in others, among the Hebrews, the
Egyptians, and perhaps the Brahmins. Erasmus was too clear-sighted to be
drawn into any alliance with Oriental mysticism or cabalistic
speculations; but he insisted on the aid which would come from the
Christian reformer making full use of the ethical teaching of the wise men
of Greece and Rome in his attempt to produce a moral renovation in the
lives of his fellows. Socrates and Cicero, each in his own day and within
his own sphere, had striven for the same moral renovation that
Christianity promised, and, in this sense at least, might be called
Christians before Christ. So persuaded was Erasmus of their affinity with
the true spirit of Christianity, that he declared that Cicero had as much
right to a high place in heaven as many a Christian saint, and that when
he thought of the Athenian martyr he could scarcely refrain from saying,
_Sancte Socrates, Ora pro nobis_.

It must be remembered also that Erasmus had a genuine and noble horror of
war, which was by no means the mere shrinking of a man whose nerves were
always quivering. He preached peace as boldly and in as disinterested a
fashion as did his friend John Colet. He could not bear the thought of a
religious war. This must not be forgotten in any estimate of his conduct
and of his relation to the Reformation. No man, not even Luther, scattered
the seeds of revolution with a more reckless hand, and yet a thorough and
steadfast dislike to all movements which could be called revolutionary was
one of the most abiding elements in his character. He hated what he called
the “tumult.” He had an honest belief that all public evils in State and
Church must be endured until they dissolve away quietly under the
influence of sarcasm and common sense, or until they are removed by the
action of the responsible authorities. He was clear-sighted enough to see
that an open and avowed attack on the papal supremacy, or on any of the
more cherished doctrines and usages of the mediæval Church, must end in
strife and in bloodshed, and he therefore honestly believed that no such
attack ought to be made.

When all these things are kept in view, it is possible to see what
conception Erasmus had about his work as a reformer, with its
possibilities and its limitations. He adhered to it tenaciously all his
life. He held it in the days of his earlier comparative obscurity. He
maintained it when he had been enthroned as the prince of the realm of
learning. He clung to it in his discredited old age. No one can justify
the means he sometimes took to prevent being drawn from the path he had
marked out for himself; but there is something to be said for the man who,
through good report and evil, stuck resolutely to his view of what a
reformation ought to be, and what were the functions of a man of letters
who felt himself called to be a reformer. Had Luther been gifted with that
keen sense of prevision with which Erasmus was so fatally endowed, would
he have stood forward to attack Indulgences in the way he did? It is
probable that it would have made no difference in his action; but he did
not think so himself. He said once, “No good work comes about by our own
wisdom; it begins in dire necessity. I was forced into mine; but had I
known then what I know now, ten wild horses would not have drawn me into
it.” The man who leads a great movement of reform may see the distant, but
has seldom a clear vision of the nearer future. He is one who feels the
slow pressure of an imperious spiritual power, who is content with one
step at a time, and who does not ask to see the whole path stretching out
before him.

Erasmus lost both his parents while he was a child, and never enjoyed the
advantages of a home training. He was driven by deceit or by
self-deception into a monastery when he was a lad. He escaped from the
clutches of the monastic life when he was twenty years of age, broken in
health, and having learned to know human nature on its bad side and to
trade on that knowledge. He was one of the loneliest of mortals, and
trusted in no one but himself. With one great exception, he had no
friendship which left an enduring influence on his character. From
childhood he taught himself in his own way; when he grew to manhood he
planned and schemed for himself; he steadfastly refused to be drawn into
any kind of work which he did not like for its own sake; he persistently
shunned every entanglement which might have controlled his action or
weighted him with any responsibility. He stands almost alone among the
Humanists in this. All the others were officials, or professors, or
private teachers, or jurists, or ecclesiastics. Erasmus was nothing, and
would be nothing, but a simple man of letters.

Holbein has painted him so often that his features are familiar. Every
line of the clearly cut face suggests demure sarcasm—the thin lips closely
pressed together, the half-closed eyelids, and the keen glance of the
scarcely seen blue eyes. The head is intellectual, but there is nothing
masculine about the portrait—nothing suggesting the massiveness of the
learned burgher Pirkheimer; or the jovial strength of the Humanist
_landsknecht_ Eobanus Hessus; or the lean wolf-like tenacity of Hutten,
the descendant of robber-knights; or the steadfast homely courage of
Martin Luther. The dainty hands, which Holbein drew so often, and the
general primness of his appearance, suggest a descent from a long line of
maiden aunts. The keen intelligence was enclosed in a sickly body, whose
frailty made continuous demands on the soul it imprisoned. It needed warm
rooms with stoves that sent forth no smell, the best wines, an easy-going
horse, and a deft servant; and to procure all these comforts Erasmus wrote
the sturdiest of begging letters and stooped to all kinds of flatteries.

The visit which Erasmus paid to England in 1498 was the turning-point in
his life. He found himself, for the first time, among men who were his
equals in learning and his superiors in many things. “When I listen to my
friend Colet,” he says, “it seems to me like listening to Plato himself.
Who does not marvel at the complete mastery of the sciences in Grocyn?
What could be keener, more profound, and more searching than the judgment
of Linacre? Has Nature ever made a more gentle, a sweeter, or a happier
disposition than Thomas More’s?” He made the acquaintance of men as full
of the New Learning as he was himself, who hated the Scotist theology more
bitterly than he did, and who nevertheless believed in a pure, simple
Christian philosophy, and were earnest Christians. They urged him to join
them in their work, and we can trace in the correspondence of Erasmus the
growing influence of Colet. The Dean of St. Paul’s made Erasmus the
decidedly Christian Humanist he became, and impressed on him that
conception of a reformation which, leaving external things very much as
they were, undertook a renovation of morals. He never lost the impress of
Colet’s stamp.

It would appear from one of Erasmus’ letters that Colet urged him to write
commentaries on some portions of the New Testament; but Erasmus would only
work in his own way; and it is probable that his thoughts were soon turned
to preparing an edition of the New Testament in Greek. The task was long
brooded over; and he had to perfect himself in his knowledge of the

This determination to undertake no work for which he was not supremely
fitted, together with his powers of application and acquisition, gave
Erasmus the reputation of being a strong man. He was seen to be unlike any
other Humanist, whether Italian or German. He had no desire merely to
reproduce the antique, or to confine himself within the narrow circle in
which the “Poets” of the Renaissance worked. He put ancient culture to
modern uses. Erasmus was no arm-chair student. He was one of the keenest
observers of everything human—the Lucian or the Voltaire of the sixteenth
century. From under his half-closed eyelids his quick glance seized and
retained the salient characteristics of all sorts and conditions of men
and women. He described theologians, jurists and philosophers, monks and
parish priests, merchants and soldiers, husbands and wives, women good and
bad, dancers and diners, pilgrims, pardon-sellers, and keepers of relics;
the peasant in the field, the artisan in the workshop, and the vagrant on
the highway. He had studied all, and could describe them with a few deft
phrases, as incisive as Dürer’s strokes, with an almost perfect style, and
with easy sarcasm.

This application of the New Learning to portray the common life, combined
with his profound learning, made Erasmus the idol of the young German
Humanists. They said that he was more than mortal, that his judgment was
infallible, and that his work was perfect. They made pilgrimages to visit
him. An interview was an event to be talked about for years; a letter, a
precious treasure to be bequeathed as an heirloom. Some men refused to
render the universal homage accorded by scholars and statesmen, by princes
lay and clerical. Luther scented Pelagian theology in his annotations; he
scorned Erasmus’ wilful playing with truth; he said that the great
Humanist was a mocker who poured ridicule upon everything, even on Christ
and religion. There was some ground for the charge. His sarcasm was not
confined to his _Praise of Folly_ or to his _Colloquies_. It appears in
almost everything that he wrote—even in his Paraphrases of the New

That such a man should have felt himself called upon to be a reformer,
that this Saul should have appeared among the prophets, is in itself
testimony that he lived during a great religious crisis, and that the
religious question was the most important one in his days.

The principal literary works of Erasmus meant to serve the reformation he
desired to see are:—two small books, _Enchiridion militis christiani_ (_A
Handbook of the Christian Soldier_, or _A Pocket Dagger for the Christian
Soldier_—it may be translated either way), first printed in 1503, and
_Institutio Principis Christiani_ (1518); his _Encomium Moriæ_ (_Praise of
Folly_, 1511); his edition of the _New Testament_, or _Novum Instrumentum_
(1516), with prefaces and paraphrases; and perhaps many of the dialogues
in his _Colloquia_ (1519).

Erasmus himself explains that in the _Enchiridion_ he wrote to counteract
the vulgar error of those who think that religion consists in ceremonies
and in more than Jewish observances, while they neglect what really
belongs to piety. The whole aim of the book is to assert the individual
responsibility of man to God apart from any intermediate human agency.
Erasmus ignores as completely as Luther would have done the whole mediæval
thought of the mediatorial function of the Church and its priestly order.
In this respect the book is essentially Protestant and thoroughly
revolutionary. It asserts in so many words that much of the popular
religion is pure paganism:

    “One worships a certain Rochus, and why? because he fancies he
    will drive away the plague from his body. Another mumbles prayers
    to Barbara or George, lest he fall into the hands of his enemy.
    This man fasts to Apollonia to prevent the toothache. That one
    gazes upon an image of the divine Job, that he may be free from
    the itch.... In short, whatever our fears and our desires, we set
    so many gods over them, and these are different in different
    nations.... This is not far removed from the superstition of those
    who used to vow tithes to Hercules in order to get rich, or a cock
    to Æsculapius to recover from an illness, or who slew a bull to
    Neptune for a favourable voyage. The names are changed, but the
    object is the same.”(123)

In speaking of the monastic life, he says:

    “ ‘Love,’ says Paul, ‘is to edify your neighbour,’ ... and if this
    only were done, nothing could be more joyous or more easy than the
    life of the ‘religious’; but now this life seems gloomy, full of
    Jewish superstitions, not in any way free from the vices of laymen
    and in some ways more corrupt. If Augustine, whom they boast of as
    the founder of their order, came to life again, he would not
    recognise them; he would exclaim that he had never approved of
    this sort of life, but had organised a way of living according to
    the rule of the Apostles, not according to the superstition of the

The more one studies the _Praise of Folly_, the more evident it becomes
that Erasmus did not intend to write a satire on human weakness in
general: the book is the most severe attack on the mediæval Church that
had, up to that time, been made; and it was meant to be so. The author
wanders from his main theme occasionally, but always to return to the
insane follies of the religious life sanctioned by the highest authorities
of the mediæval Church. Popes, bishops, theologians, monks, and the
ordinary lay Christians, are all unmitigated fools in their ordinary
religious life. The style is vivid, the author has seen what he describes,
and he makes his readers see it also. He writes with a mixture of light
mockery and bitter earnestness. He exposes the foolish questions of the
theologians; the vices and temporal ambitions of the Popes, bishops, and
monks; the stupid trust in festivals, pilgrimages, indulgences, and
relics. The theologians, the author says, are rather dangerous people to
attack, for they come down on one with their six hundred conclusions and
command him to recant, and if he does not they declare him a heretic
forthwith. The problems which interest them are:

    “Whether there was any instant of time in the divine generation?
    ... Could God have taken the form of a woman, a devil, an ass, a
    gourd, or a stone? How the gourd could have preached, wrought
    miracles, hung on the cross?”(125)

He jeers at the Popes and higher ecclesiastics:

    “Those supreme Pontiffs who stand in the place of Christ, if they
    should try to imitate His life, that is, His poverty, His toil,
    His teaching, His cross, and His scorn of this world ... what
    could be more dreadful!... We ought not to forget that such a mass
    of scribes, copyists, notaries, advocates, secretaries,
    mule-drivers, grooms, money-changers, procurers, and gayer persons
    yet I might mention, did I not respect your ears,—that this whole
    swarm which now burdens—I beg your pardon, honours—the Roman See
    would be driven to starvation.”(126)

As for the monks:

    “The greater part of them have such faith in their ceremonies and
    human traditions, that they think one heaven is not reward enough
    for such great doings.... One will show his belly stuffed with
    every kind of fish; another will pour out a hundred bushels of
    psalms; another will count up myriads of fasts, and make up for
    them all again by almost bursting himself at a single dinner.
    Another will bring forward such a heap of ceremonies that seven
    ships would hardly hold them; another boast that for sixty years
    he has never touched a penny except with double gloves on his
    hands.... But Christ will interrupt their endless bragging, and
    will demand—‘Whence this new kind of Judaism?’

    “They do all things by rule, by a kind of sacred mathematics; as,
    for instance, how many knots their shoes must be tied with, of
    what colour everything must be, what variety in their garb, of
    what material, how many straws’-breadth to their girdle, of what
    form and of how many bushels’ capacity their cowl, how many
    fingers broad their hair, and how many hours they sleep....”(127)

He ridicules men who go running about to Rome, Compostella, or Jerusalem,
wasting on long and dangerous journeys money which might be better spent
in feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. He scoffs at those who buy
Indulgences, who sweetly flatter themselves with counterfeit pardons, and
who have measured off the duration of Purgatory without error, as if by a
water-clock, into ages, years, months, and days, like the multiplication
table.(128) Is it religion to believe that if any one pays a penny out of
what he has stolen, he can have the whole slough of his life cleaned out
at once, and all his perjuries, lusts, drunkennesses, all his quarrels,
murders, cheats, treacheries, falsehoods, bought off in such a way that he
may begin over again with a new circle of crimes? The reverence for relics
was perhaps never so cruelly satirised as in the Colloquy, _Peregrinatio
Religionis Ergo_.

It must be remembered that this bitter satire was written some years
before Luther began the Reformation by an attack on Indulgences. It may
seem surprising how much liberty the satirist allowed himself, and how
much was permitted to him. But Erasmus knew very well how to protect
himself. He was very careful to make no definite attack, and to make no
mention of names. He was always ready to explain that he did not mean to
attack the Papacy, but only bad Popes; that he had the highest respect for
the monastic life, and only satirised evil-minded monks; or that he
reverenced the saints, but thought that reverence ought to be shown by
imitating them in their lives of piety. He could say all this with perfect
truth. Indeed, it is likely that with all his scorn against the monks,
Erasmus, in his heart, believed that a devout Capuchin or Franciscan monk
lived the ideal Christian life. He seems to say so in his Colloquy,
_Militis et Carthusiani_. He wrote, moreover, before the dignitaries of
the mediæval Church had begun to take alarm. Liberal Churchmen who were
the patrons of the New Learning had no objection to see the vices of the
times and the Church life of the day satirised by one who wrote such
exquisite latinity. In all his more serious work Erasmus was careful to
shelter himself under the protection of great ecclesiastics.

Erasmus was not the only scholar who had proposed to publish a correct
edition of the Holy Scriptures. The great Spaniard, Cardinal Ximenes, had
announced that he meant to bring out an edition of the Holy Scriptures in
which the text of the Vulgate would appear in parallel columns along with
the Hebrew and the Greek. The prospectus of this Complutensian Polyglot
was issued as early as 1502; the work was finished in 1517, and was
published in Spain in 1520 and in other lands in 1522. Erasmus was careful
to dedicate the first edition of his _Novum Instrumentum_, (1516) to Pope
Leo X., who graciously received it. He sent the second edition to the same
Pope in 1519, accompanied by a letter in which he says:

    “I have striven with all my might to kindle men from those
    chilling argumentations in which they had been so long frozen up,
    to a zeal for theology which should be at once more pure and more
    serious. And that this labour has so far not been in vain I
    perceive from this, that certain persons are furious against me,
    who cannot value anything they are unable to teach and are ashamed
    to learn. But, trusting to Christ as my witness, whom my writings
    above all would guard, to the judgment of your Holiness, to my own
    sense of right and the approval of so many distinguished men, I
    have always disregarded the yelpings of these people. Whatever
    little talent I have, it has been, once for all, dedicated to
    Christ: it shall serve His glory alone; it shall serve the Roman
    Church, the prince of that Church, but especially your Holiness,
    to whom I owe more than my whole duty.”

He dedicated the various parts of the _Paraphrases_ of the New Testament
to Cardinal Campeggio, to Cardinal Wolsey, to Henry VIII., to Charles V.,
and to Francis I. of France. He deliberately placed himself under the
protection of those princes, ecclesiastical and secular, who could not be
suspected of having any revolutionary designs against the existing state
of things in Church or in State.

In all this he was followed for the time being by the most distinguished
Christian Humanists in England, France, and Germany. They were full of the
brightest hopes. A Humanist Pope sat on the throne of St. Peter, young
Humanist kings ruled France and England, the Emperor Maximilian had long
been the patron of German Humanism, and much was expected from his
grandson Charles, the young King of Spain. Erasmus, the acknowledged
prince of Christian learning, was enthusiastically supported by Colet and
More in England, by Buddæus and Lefèvre in France, by Johann Staupitz,
Cochlæus, Thomas Murner, Jerome Emser, Conrad Mutianus, and George
Spalatin in Germany. They all believed that the golden age was
approaching, when the secular princes would forbid wars, and the
ecclesiastical lay aside their rapacity, and when both would lead the
peoples of Europe in a reformation of morals and in a re-establishment of
pure religion. Their hopes were high that all would be effected without
the “tumult” which they all dreaded, and when the storm burst, many of
them became bitter opponents of Luther and his action. Luther found no
deadlier enemies than Thomas Murner and Jerome Emser. Others, like George
Spalatin, became his warmest supporters. Erasmus maintained to the end his
attitude of cautious neutrality. In a long letter to Marlianus, Bishop of
Tuy in Spain, he says that he does not like Luther’s writings, that he
feared from the first that they would create a “tumult,” but that he dare
not altogether oppose the reformer, “because he feared that he might be
fighting against God.” The utmost that he could be brought to do after the
strongest persuasions, was to attack Luther’s Augustinian theology in his
_De Libero Arbitrio_, and to insinuate a defence of the principle of
ecclesiastical authority in the interpretation of Scripture, and a proof
that Luther had laid too much stress on the element of “grace” in human
actions. He turned away from the whole movement as far as he possibly
could, protesting that for himself he would ever cling to the Roman See.

The last years of his life were spent in excessive literary work—in
editing the earlier Christian Fathers; he completed his edition of Origen
in 1536, the year of his death. He settled at Louvain, and found it too
hotly theological for his comfort; went to Basel; wandered off to
Freiburg; then went back to Basel to die. After his death he was compelled
to take the side he had so long shrunk from. Pope Paul IV. classed him as
a notorious heretic, and placed on the first papal “Index” “all his
commentaries, notes, scholia, dialogues, letters, translations, books, and
writings, even when they contain nothing against religion or about

We look in vain for any indication that those Christian Humanists
perceived that they were actually living in a time of revolution, and were
really standing on the edge of a crater which was about to change European
history by its eruption. Sir Thomas More’s instincts of religious life
were all mediæval. Colet had persuaded him to abandon his earlier impulse
to enter a monastic order, but More wore a hair shirt next his skin till
the day of his death. Yet in his sketch of an ideal commonwealth, he
expanded St. Paul’s thought of the equality of all men before Christ into
the conception that no man was to be asked to work more than six hours a
day, and showed that religious freedom could only flourish where there was
nothing in the form of the mediæval Church. The lovable and pious young
Englishman never imagined that his academic dream would be translated into
rude practical thoughts and ruder actions by leaders of peasant and
artisan insurgents, and that his _Utopia_ (1515), within ten years after
its publication, and ten years before his own death (1535), would furnish
texts for communist sermons, preached in obscure public-houses or to
excited audiences on village greens. The satirical criticisms of the
hierarchy, the monastic orders, and the popular religious life, which
Erasmus flung broadcast so recklessly in his lighter and more serious
writings, furnished the weapons for the leaders in that “tumult” which he
had dreaded all his days; and when he complained that few seemed to care
for the picture of a truly pious life, given in his _Enchiridion_, he did
not foresee that it would become a wonderfully popular book among those
who renounced all connection with the See of Rome to which the author had
promised a life-long obedience. The Christian Humanists, one and all, were
strangely blind to the signs of the times in which they lived.

No one can fail to appreciate the nobility of the purpose to work for a
great moral renovation of mankind which the Christian Humanists ever kept
before them, or refuse to see that they were always and everywhere
preachers of righteousness. When we remember the century and a half of
wars, so largely excited by ecclesiastical motives, which desolated Europe
during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, few can withhold their
sympathy from the Christian Humanist idea that the path of reformation lay
through a great readjustment of the existing conditions of the religious
life, rather than through ecclesiastical revolution to a thorough-going
reconstruction; although we may sadly recognise that the dynastic
struggles of secular princes, the rapacity and religious impotence of
Popes and ecclesiastical authorities, and the imperious pressure of social
and industrial discontent, made the path of peace impossible. But what
must fill us with surprise is that the Christian Humanists seemed to
believe with a childlike innocence that the constituted authorities,
secular and ecclesiastical, would lead the way in this peaceful reform,
mainly because they were tinged with Humanist culture, and were the
patrons of artists and men of learning. Humanism meant to Pope Leo X. and
to the young Archbishop of Mainz additional sources of enjoyment,
represented by costly pictures, collections of MSS., and rare books, the
gratification of their taste for jewels and cameos, to say nothing of less
harmless indulgences, and the adulation of the circle of scholars whom
they had attracted to their courts; and it meant little more to the
younger secular princes.

It is also to be feared that the Christian Humanists had no real sense of
what was needed for that renovation of morals, public and private, which
they ardently desired to see. Pictures of a Christian life lived according
to the principles of reason, sharp polemic against the hierarchy, and
biting mockery of the stupidity of the popular religion, did not help the
masses of the people. The multitude in those early decades of the
sixteenth century were scourged by constant visitations of the plague and
other new and strange diseases, and they lived in perpetual dread of a
Turkish invasion. The fear of death and the judgment thereafter was always
before their eyes. What they wanted was a sense of God’s forgiveness for
their sins, and they greedily seized on Indulgences, pilgrimages to holy
places, and relic-worship to secure the pardon they longed for. The
aristocratic and intellectual reform, contemplated by the Christian
Humanists, scarcely appealed to them. Their longing for a certainty of
salvation could not be satisfied with recommendations to virtuous living
according to the rules of Neo-Platonic ethics. It is pathetic to listen to
the appeals made to Erasmus for something more than he could ever give:

    “ ‘Oh! Erasmus of Rotterdam, where art thou?’ said Albert Dürer.
    ‘See what the unjust tyranny of earthly power, the power of
    darkness, can do. Hear, thou knight of Christ! Ride forth by the
    side of the Lord Christ; defend the truth, gain the martyr’s
    crown! As it is, thou art but an old man. I have heard thee say
    that thou hast given thyself but a couple more years of active
    service; spend them, I pray, to the profit of the gospel and the
    true Christian faith, and believe me the gates of Hell, the See of
    Rome, as Christ has said, will not prevail against thee.’ ”(129)

The Reformation needed a man who had himself felt that commanding need of
pardon which was sending his fellows travelling from shrine to shrine, who
could tell them in plain homely words, which the common man could
understand, how each one of them could win that pardon for himself, who
could deliver them from the fear of the priest, and show them the way to
the peace of God. The Reformation needed Luther.


Chapter I. Luther to the Beginning of the Controversy About

§ 1. Why Luther was successful as the Leader in a Reformation.

Reformation had been attempted in various ways. Learned ecclesiastical
Jurists had sought to bring it about in the fifteenth century by what was
called _Conciliar Reform_. The sincerity and ability of the leaders of the
movement are unquestioned; but they had failed ignominiously, and the
Papacy with all its abuses had never been so powerful ecclesiastically as
when its superior diplomacy had vanquished the endeavour to hold it in
tutelage to a council.

The Christian Humanists had made their attempt—preaching a moral
renovation and the application of the existing laws of the Church to
punish ecclesiastical wrong-doers. Colet eloquently assured the Anglican
Convocation that the Church possessed laws which, if only enforced,
contained provisions ample enough to curb and master the ills which all
felt to be rampant. Erasmus had held up to scorn the debased religious
life of the times, and had denounced its Judaism and Paganism. Both were
men of scholarship and genius; but they had never been able to move
society to its depths, and awaken a new religious life, which was the one
thing needful.

History knows nothing of revivals of moral living apart from some new
religious impulse. The motive power needed has always come through leaders
who have had communion with the unseen. Humanism had supplied a
superfluity of teachers; the times needed a prophet. They received one; a
man of the people; bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh; one who
had himself lived that popular religious life with all the thoroughness of
a strong, earnest nature, who had sounded all its depths and tested its
capacities, and gained in the end no relief for his burdened conscience;
who had at last found his way into the presence of God, and who knew, by
his own personal experience, that the living God was accessible to every
Christian. He had won the freedom of a Christian man, and had reached
through faith a joy in living far deeper than that which Humanism boasted.
He became a leader of men, because his joyous faith made him a hero by
delivering him from all fear of Church or of clergy—the fear which had
weighed down the consciences of men for generations. Men could _see_ what
faith was when they looked at Luther.

It must never be forgotten that to his contemporaries Luther was the
embodiment of personal piety. All spoke of his sensitiveness to religious
impressions of all kinds in his early years. While he was inside the
convent, whether before or after he had found deliverance for his troubles
of soul, his fellows regarded him as a model of piety. In later days, when
he stood forth as a Reformer, he became such a power in the hearts of men
of all sorts and ranks, because he was seen to be a thoroughly pious man.
Albert Dürer may be taken as a type. In the great painter’s diary of the
journey he made with his wife and her maid Susanna to the Netherlands
(1520),—a mere summary of the places he visited and the persons he saw, of
what he paid for food and lodging and travel, of the prices he got for his
pictures, and what he paid for his purchases, literary and artistic,—he
tells how he heard of Luther’s condemnation at Worms, of the Reformer’s
disappearance, of his supposed murder by Popish emissaries (for so the
report went through Germany), and the news compelled him to that pouring
forth of prayers, of exclamations, of fervent appeals, and of bitter
regrets, which fills three out of the whole forty-six pages. The Luther he
almost worships is the “pious man,” the “follower of the Lord and of the
true Christian faith,” the “man enlightened by the Holy Spirit,” the man
who had been done to death by the Pope and the priests of his day, as the
Son of God had been murdered by the priests of Jerusalem. The one thing
which fills the great painter’s mind is the personal religious life of the
man Martin Luther.(131)

Another source of Luther’s power was that he had been led step by step,
and that his countrymen could follow him deliberately without being
startled by any too sudden changes. He was one of themselves; he took them
into his confidence at every stage of his public career; they knew him
thoroughly. He had been a monk, and that was natural for a youth of his
exemplary piety. He had lived a model monastic life; his companions and
his superiors were unwearied in commending him. He had spoken openly what
almost all good men had been feeling privately about Indulgences in plain
language which all could understand; and he had gradually taught himself
and his countrymen, who were following his career breathlessly, that the
man who trusted in God did not need to fear the censures of Pope or of the
clergy. He emancipated not merely the learned and cultivated classes, but
the common people, from the fear of the Church; and this was the one thing
needful for a true reformation. So long as the people of Europe believed
that the priesthood had some mysterious powers, no matter how vague or
indefinite, over the spiritual and eternal welfare of men and women,
freedom of conscience and a renovation of the public and private moral
life was impossible. The spiritual world will always have its anxieties
and terrors for every Christian soul, and the greatest achievement of
Luther was that by teaching and, above all, by example, he showed the
common man that he was in God’s hands, and not dependent on the blessing
or banning of a clerical caste. For Luther’s doctrine of Justification by
Faith, as he himself showed in his tract on the _Liberty of a Christian
Man_ (1520), was simply that there was nothing in the indefinite claim
which the mediæval Church had always made. From the moment the common
people, simple men and women, knew and felt this, they were freed from the
mysterious dread of Church and priesthood; they could look the clergy
fairly in the face, and could care little for their threats. It was
because Luther had freed himself from this dread, because the people, who
knew him to be a deeply pious man, saw that he was free from it, and
therefore that they need be in no concern about it, that he became the
great reformer and the popular leader in an age which was compelled to
revise its thoughts about spiritual things.

Hence it is that we may say without exaggeration that the Reformation was
embodied in Martin Luther, that it lived in him as in no one else, and
that its inner religious history may be best studied in the record of his
spiritual experiences and in the growth of his religious convictions.

§ 2. Luther’s Youth and Education.

Martin Luther was born in 1483 (Nov. 10th) at Eisleben, and spent his
childhood in the small mining town of Mansfeld. His father, Hans Luther,
had belonged to Möhra (Moortown), a small peasant township lying in the
north-east corner of the Thuringian Wald, and his mother, Margarethe
Ziegler, had come from a burgher family in Eisenach. It was a custom among
these Thuringian peasants that only one son, and that usually the
youngest, inherited the family house and the croft. The others were sent
out one by one, furnished with a small store of money from the family
strong-box, to make their way in the world. Hans Luther had determined to
become a miner in the Mansfeld district, where the policy of the Counts of
Mansfeld, of building and letting out on hire small smelting furnaces,
enabled thrifty and skilled workmen to rise in the world. The father soon
made his way. He leased one and then three of these furnaces. He won the
respect of his neighbours, for he became, in 1491, one of the four members
of the village council, and we are told that the Counts of Mansfeld held
him in esteem.

In the earlier years, when Luther was a child, the family life was one of
grinding poverty, and Luther often recalled the hard struggles of his
parents. He had often seen his mother carrying the wood for the family
fire from the forest on her poor shoulders. The child grew up among the
hard, grimy, coarse surroundings of the German working-class life,
protected from much that was evil by the wise severity of his parents. He
imbibed its simple political and ecclesiastical ideas. He learned that the
Emperor was God’s ruler on earth, who would protect poor people against
the Turk, and that the Church was the “Pope’s House,” in which the Bishop
of Rome was the house-father. He was taught the Creed, the Ten
Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer. He sang such simple evangelical hymns
as “Ein Kindelein so lobelich,” “Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist,” and
“Crist ist erstanden.” He was a dreamy, contemplative child; and the
unseen world was never out of his thoughts. He knew that some of the
miners practised sorcery in dark corners below the earth. He feared an old
woman who lived near; she was a witch, and the priest himself was afraid
of her. He was taught about Hell and Purgatory and the Judgment to come.
He shivered whenever he looked at the stained-glass window in the parish
church and saw the frowning face of Jesus, who, seated on a rainbow and
with a flaming sword in His hand, was coming to judge him, he knew not
when. He saw the crowds of pilgrims who streamed past Mansfeld, carrying
their crucifixes high, and chanting their pilgrim songs, going to the
Bruno Quertfort chapel or to the old church at Wimmelberg. He saw
paralytics and maimed folk carried along the roads, going to embrace the
wooden cross at Kyffhaüser, and find a miraculous cure; and sick people on
their way to the cloister church at Wimmelberg to be cured by the sound of
the blessed bells.

The boy Luther went to the village school in Mansfeld, and endured the
cruelties of a merciless pedagogue. He was sent for a year, in 1497, to a
school of the Brethren of the Common Lot in Magdeburg. Then he went to St.
George’s school in Eisenach, where he remained three years. He was a “poor
scholar,” which meant a boy who received his lodging and education free,
was obliged to sing in the church choir, and was allowed to sing in the
streets, begging for food. The whole town was under the spell of St.
Elizabeth, the pious landgravine, who had given up family life and all
earthly comforts to earn a mediæval saintship. It contained nine
monasteries and nunneries, many of them dating back to the days of St.
Elizabeth; her good deeds were emblazoned on the windows of the church in
which Luther sang as choir-boy; he had long conversations with the monks
who belonged to her foundations. The boy was being almost insensibly
attracted to that revival of the mediæval religious life which was the
popular religious force of these days. He had glimpses of the old homely
evangelical piety, this time accompanied by a refinement of manners Luther
had hitherto been unacquainted with, in the house of a lady who is
identified by biographers with a certain Frau Cotta. The boy enjoyed it
intensely, and his naturally sunny nature expanded under its influence.
But it did not touch him religiously. He has recorded that it was with
incredulous surprise that he heard his hostess say that there was nothing
on earth more lovely than the love of husband and wife, when it is in the
fear of the Lord.

After three years’ stay at Eisenach, Luther entered the University of
Erfurt (1501), then the most famous in Germany. It had been founded in
1392 by the burghers of the town, who were intensely proud of their own
University, and especially of the fact that it had far surpassed other
seats of learning which owed their origin to princes. The academic and
burgher life were allied at Erfurt as they were in no other University
town. The days of graduation were always town holidays, and at the
graduation processions the officials of the city walked with the
University authorities. Luther tells us that when he first saw the newly
made graduates marching in their new graduation robes in the middle of the
procession, he thought that they had attained to the summit of earthly
felicity. The University of Erfurt was also strictly allied to the Church.
Different Popes had enriched it with privileges; the Primate of Germany,
the Archbishop of Mainz, was its Chancellor: many of its professors held
ecclesiastical prebends, or were monks; each faculty was under the
protection of a tutelary saint; the teachers had to swear to teach nothing
opposed to the doctrines of the Roman Church; and special pains were taken
to prevent the rise and spread of heresy.

Its students were exposed to a greater variety of influences than those of
any other seat of learning in Germany. Its theology represented the more
modern type of scholastic, the Scotist; its philosophy was the nominalist
teaching of William of Occam, whose great disciple, Gabriel Biel (d.
1495), had been one of its most celebrated professors; the system of
biblical interpretation, first introduced by Nicholas de Lyra(132) (d.
1340), had been long taught at Erfurt by a succession of able masters;
Humanism had won an early entrance, and in Luther’s time the Erfurt circle
of “Poets” was already famous. The strongly anti-clerical teaching of John
of Wessel, who had lectured in Erfurt for fifteen years (1445-1460), had
left its mark on the University, and was not forgotten. Hussite
propagandists, Luther tells us, appeared from time to time, whispering
among the students their strange, anti-clerical Christian socialism.
While, as if by way of antidote, there came Papal Legates, whose
magnificence bore witness to the might of the Roman Church.

Luther had been sent to Erfurt to learn Law, and the Faculty of Philosophy
gave the preliminary training required. The young student worked hard at
the prescribed tasks. The Scholastic Philosophy, he said, left him little
time for classical studies, and he attended none of the Humanist lectures.
He found time, however, to read a good many Latin authors privately, and
also to learn something of Greek. Virgil and Plautus were his favourite
authors; Cicero also charmed him; he read Livy, Terence, and Horace. He
seems also to have read a volume of selections from Propertius, Persius,
Lucretius, Tibullus, Silvius Italicus, Statius, and Claudian. But he was
never a member of the Humanist circle; he was too much in earnest about
religious questions, and of too practical a turn of mind.

The scanty accounts of Luther’s student days show that he was a
hardworking, bright, sociable youth, and musical to the core. His
companions called him “the Philosopher,” “the Musician,” and spoke of his
lute-playing, of his singing, and of his ready power in debate. He took
his various degrees in unusually short time. He was Bachelor in 1502, and
Master in 1505. His father, proud of his son’s success, had sent him the
costly present of a _Corpus Juris_. He may have begun to attend the
lectures in the Faculty of Law, when he suddenly plunged into the Erfurt
Convent of the Augustinian Eremites.

The action was so sudden and unexpected, that contemporaries felt bound to
give all manner of explanations, and these have been woven together into
accounts which are legendary.(133) Luther himself has told us that he
entered the monastery because he _doubted of himself_; that in his case
the proverb was true, “Doubt makes a monk.” He also said that his resolve
was a sudden one, because he knew that his decision would grieve his
father and his mother.

What was the doubting? We are tempted in these days to think of
intellectual difficulties, and Luther’s doubting is frequently attributed
to the self-questioning which his contact with Humanism at Erfurt had
engendered. But this idea, if not foreign to the age, was strange to
Luther. His was a simple pious nature, practical rather than speculative,
sensitive and imaginative. He could play with abstract questions; but it
was pictures that compelled him to action. He has left on record a series
of pictures which were making deeper and more permanent impression on him
as the years passed; they go far to reveal the history of his struggles,
and to tell us what the doubts were which drove him into the convent. The
picture on the window in Mansfeld church of Jesus sitting on a rainbow,
with frowning countenance and drawn sword in His hand, coming to judge the
wicked; the altar-piece at Magdeburg representing a great ship sailing
heavenwards, no one within the ship but priests or monks, and in the sea
laymen drowning, or saved by ropes thrown to them by the priests and monks
who were safe on board; the living picture of the prince of Anhalt, who to
save his soul had become a friar, and carried the begging sack on his bent
shoulders through the streets of Magdeburg; the history of St. Elizabeth
blazoned on the windows of the church at Eisenach; the young Carthusian at
Eisenach, who the boy thought was the holiest man he had ever talked to,
and who had so mortified his body that he had come to look like a very old
man; the terrible deathbed scene of the Erfurt ecclesiastical dignitary, a
man who held twenty-two benefices, and whom Luther had often seen riding
in state in the great processions, who was known to be an evil-liver, and
who when he came to die filled the room with his frantic cries. Luther
doubted whether he could ever do what he believed had to be done by him to
save his soul if he remained in the world. That was what compelled him to
become a monk, and bury himself in the convent. The lurid fires of Hell
and the pale shades of Purgatory, which are the permanent background to
Dante’s Paradise, were present to Luther’s mind from childhood. Could he
escape the one and gain entrance to the other if he remained in the world?
He doubted it, and entered the convent.

§ 3. Luther in the Erfurt Convent.

It was a convent of the Augustinian Eremites, perhaps the most highly
esteemed of monastic orders by the common people of Germany during the
earlier decades of the sixteenth century. They represented the very best
type of that superstitious mediæval revival which has been already
described.(134) It is a mistake to suppose that because they bore the name
of Augustine, the evangelical theology of the great Western Father was
known to them. Their leading theologians belonged to another and very
different school. The two teachers of theology in the Erfurt convent, when
Luther entered in 1505, were John Genser of Paltz, and John Nathin of
Neuenkirchen. The former was widely known from his writings in favour of
the strictest form of papal absolutism, of the doctrine of _Attrition_,
and of the efficacy of papal _Indulgences_. It is not probable that Luther
was one of his pupils; for he retired broken in health and burdened with
old age in 1507.(135) The latter, though unknown beyond the walls of the
convent, was an able and severe master. He was an ardent admirer of
Gabriel Biel, of Peter d’Ailly, and of William of Occam their common
master. He thought little of any independent study of the Holy Scriptures.
“Brother Martin,” he once said to Luther, “let the Bible alone; read the
old teachers; they give you the whole marrow of the Bible; reading the
Bible simply breeds unrest.”(136) Afterwards he commanded Luther on his
canonical obedience to refrain from Bible study.(137) It was he who made
Luther read and re-read the writings of Biel, d’Ailly, and Occam, until he
had committed to memory long passages; and who taught the Reformer to
consider Occam “his dear Master.” Nathin was a determined opponent of the
Reformation until his death in 1529; but Luther always spoke of him with
respect, and said that he was “a Christian man in spite of his monk’s

Luther had not come to the convent to study theology; he had entered it to
save his soul. These studies were part of the convent discipline; to
engage in them, part of his vow of obedience. He worked hard at them, and
pleased his superiors greatly; worked because he was a submissive monk.
They left a deeper impress on him than most of his biographers have cared
to acknowledge. He had more of the Schoolman in him and less of the
Humanist than any other of the men who stood in the first line of leaders
in the Reformation movement. Some of his later doctrines, and especially
his theory of the Sacrament of the Supper, came to him from these convent
studies in d’Ailly and Occam. But in his one great quest—how to save his
soul, how to win the sense of God’s pardon—they were more a hindrance than
a help. His teachers might be Augustinian Eremites, but they had not the
faintest knowledge of Augustinian experimental theology. They belonged to
the most pelagianising school of mediæval Scholastic; and their last word
always was that man must work out his own salvation. Luther tried to work
it out in the most approved later mediæval fashion, by the strictest
asceticism. He fasted and scourged himself; he practised all the ordinary
forms of maceration, and invented new ones; but all to no purpose. For
when an awakened soul, as he said long afterwards, seeks to find rest in
work-righteousness, it stands on a foundation of loose sand which it feels
running and travelling beneath it; and it must go from one good work to
another and to another, and so on without end. Luther was undergoing all
unconsciously the experience of Augustine, and what tortured and terrified
the great African was torturing him. He had learned that man’s goodness is
not to be measured by his neighbour’s but by God’s, and that man’s sin is
not to be weighed against the sins of his neighbours, but against the
righteousness of God. His theological studies told him that God’s pardon
could be had through the Sacrament of Penance, and that the first part of
that sacrament was sorrow for sin. But then came a difficulty. The older,
and surely the better theology, explained that this godly sorrow
(_contritio_) must be based on love to God. Had he this love? God always
appeared to him as an implacable Judge, inexorably threatening punishment
for the breaking of a law which it seemed impossible to keep. He had to
confess to himself that he sometimes almost hated this arbitrary Will
which the nominalist Schoolmen called God. The more modern theology, that
taught by the chief convent theologian, John of Paltz, asserted that the
sorrow might be based on meaner motives (_attritio_), and that this
attrition was changed into contrition in the Sacrament of Penance itself.
So Luther wearied his superiors by his continual use of this sacrament.
The slightest breach of the most trifling conventual regulation was looked
on as a sin, and had to be confessed at once and absolution for it
received, until the perplexed lad was ordered to cease confession until he
had committed some sin worth confessing. His brethren believed him to be a
miracle of piety. They boasted about him in their monkish fashion, and in
all the monasteries around, and as far away as Grimma, the monks and nuns
talked about the young saint in the Erfurt convent. Meanwhile the “young
saint” himself lived a life of mental anguish, whispering to himself that
he was “gallows-ripe.” Writing in 1518, years after the conflict was over,
Luther tells us that no pen could describe the mental anguish he
endured.(138) Gleams of comfort came to him, but they were transient. The
Master of the Novices gave him salutary advice; an aged brother gave him
momentary comfort. John Staupitz, the Vicar-General of the Congregation,
during his visits to the convent was attracted by the traces of hidden
conflicts and sincere endeavour of the young monk, with his high
cheek-bones, emaciated frame, gleaming eyes, and looks of settled despair.
He tried to find out his difficulties. He revoked Nathin’s order that
Luther should not read the Scriptures. He encouraged him to read the
Bible; he gave him a _Glossa Ordinaria_ or conventual ecclesiastical
commentary, where passages were explained by quotations from eminent
Church Fathers, and difficulties were got over by much pious allegorising;
above all, he urged him to become a good _localis_ and _textualis_ in the
Bible, _i.e._ one who, when he met with difficulties, did not content
himself with commentaries, but made collections of parallel passages for
himself, and found explanations of one in the others. Still this brought
at first little help. At last Staupitz saw the young man’s real
difficulty, and gave him real and lasting assistance. He showed Luther
that he had been rightly enough contrasting man’s sin and God’s holiness,
and measuring the depth of the one by the height of the other; that he had
been following the truest instincts of the deepest piety when he had set
over-against each other the righteousness of God and the sin and
helplessness of man; but that he had gone wrong when he kept these two
thoughts in a _permanent_ opposition. He then explained that, according to
God’s promise, the righteousness of God might become man’s own possession
in and through Christ Jesus. God had promised that man could have
fellowship with Him; all fellowship is founded on personal trust; and
trust, the personal trust of the believing man on a personal God who has
promised, gives man that fellowship with God through which all things that
belong to God can become his. Without this personal trust or faith, all
divine things, the Incarnation and Passion of the Saviour, the Word and
the Sacraments, however true as matters of fact, are outside man and
cannot be truly possessed. But when man trusts God and His promises, and
when the fellowship, which trust or faith always creates, is once
established, then they can be truly possessed by the man who trusts. The
just live by their faith. These thoughts, acted upon, helped Luther
gradually to win his way to peace, and he told Staupitz long afterwards
that it was he who had made him see the rays of light which dispelled the
darkness of his soul.(139) In the end, the vision of the true relation of
the believing man to God came to him suddenly with all the force of a
personal revelation, and the storm-tossed soul was at rest. The sudden
enlightenment, the personal revelation which was to change his whole life,
came to him when he was reading the _Epistle to the Romans_ in his cell.
It came to Paul when he was riding on the road to Damascus; to Augustine
as he was lying under a fig-tree in the Milan garden; to Francis as he
paced anxiously the flag-stones of the Portiuncula chapel on the plain
beneath Assisi; to Suso as he sat at table in the morning. It spoke
through different words:—to Paul, “Why persecutest thou Me?”;(140) to
Augustine, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for
the flesh”;(141) to Francis, “Get you no gold, nor silver, nor brass in
your purses, no wallet for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor
staff”;(142) to Suso, “My son, if thou wilt hear My words.”(143) But
though the words were different, the personal revelation, which mastered
the men, was the same: That trust in the All-merciful God, who has
revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, creates companionship with God, and that
all other things are nothing in comparison with this fellowship. It was
this contact with the Unseen which fitted Luther for his task as the
leader of men in an age which was longing for a revival of moral living
inspired by a fresh religious impulse.(144)

It is not certain how long Luther’s protracted struggle lasted. There are
indications that it went on for two years, and that he did not attain to
inward peace until shortly before he was sent to Wittenberg in 1508. The
intensity and sincerity of the conflict marked him for life. The
conviction that he, weak and sinful as he was, nevertheless lived in
personal fellowship with the God whose love he was experiencing, became
the one fundamental fact of life on which he, a human personality, could
take his stand as on a foundation of rock; and standing on it, feeling his
own strength, he could also be a source of strength to others. Everything
else, however venerable and sacred it might once have seemed, might prove
untrustworthy without hereafter disturbing Luther’s religious life,
provided only this one thing remained to him. For the moment, however,
nothing seemed questionable. The inward change altered nothing external.
He still believed that the Church was the “Pope’s House”; he accepted all
its usages and institutions—its Masses and its relics, its indulgences and
its pilgrimages, its hierarchy and its monastic life. He was still a monk
and believed in his vocation.

Luther’s theological studies were continued. He devoted himself especially
to Bernard, in whose sermons on the _Song of Solomon_ he found the same
thoughts of the relation of the believing soul to God which had given him
comfort. He began to show himself a good man of business with an eye to
the heart of things. Staupitz and his chiefs entrusted him with some
delicate commissions on behalf of the Order, and made quiet preparations
for his advancement. In 1508 he, with a few other monks, was sent from
Erfurt to the smaller convent at Wittenberg, to assist the small
University there.

§ 4. Luther’s early Life in Wittenberg.

About the beginning of the century, Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony
and head of the Ernestine branch of his family, had resolved to establish
a University for his dominions. Frederick had maintained close relations
with the Augustinian Eremites ever since he had made acquaintance with
them when a schoolboy at Grimma, and the Vicar-General, John Staupitz,
along with Dr. Pollich of Mellerstadt, were his chief advisers. It might
almost be said that the new University was, from the beginning, an
educational establishment belonging to the Order of monks which Luther had
joined. Staupitz himself was one of the professors, and Dean of the
Faculty of Theology; another Augustinian Eremite was Dean of the Faculty
of Arts; the Patron Saints of the Order of the Blessed Virgin and St.
Augustine were the Patron Saints of the University; St. Paul was the
Patron Saint of the Faculty of Theology, and on the day of his conversion
there was a special celebration of the Mass with a sermon, at which the
Rector (Dr. Pollich) and the whole teaching staff were present.

The University was poorly endowed. Electoral Saxony was not a rich
principality; some mining industry did exist in the south end, and Zwickau
was the centre of a great weaving trade; but the great proportion of the
inhabitants, whether of villages or towns, subsisted on agriculture of a
poor kind. There was not much money at the Electoral court. A sum got from
the sale of Indulgences some years before, which Frederick had not allowed
to leave the country, served to make a beginning. The prebends attached to
the Church of All Saints (the Castle Church) supplied the salaries of some
professors; the others were Augustinian Eremites, who gave their services

The town of Wittenberg was more like a large village than the capital of a
principality. In 1513 it only contained 3000 inhabitants and 356 rateable
houses. The houses were for the most part mean wooden dwellings, roughly
plastered with clay. The town lay in the very centre of Germany, but it
was far from any of the great trade routes; the inhabitants had a good
deal of Wendish blood in their veins, and were inclined to be sluggish and
intemperate. The environs were not picturesque, and the surrounding
country had a poor soil. Altogether it was scarcely the place for a
University. Imperial privileges were obtained from the Emperor Maximilian,
and the University was opened on the 18th of October 1502.

One or two eminent teachers had been induced to come to the new
University. Staupitz collected promising young monks from many convents of
his Order and enrolled them as students, and the University entered 416
names on its books during its first year. This success seems to have been
somewhat artificial, for the numbers gradually declined to 56 in the
summer session of 1505. Staupitz, however, encouraged Frederick to

It was in the interests of the young University that Luther and a band of
brother monks were sent from Erfurt to the Wittenberg convent. There he
was set to teach the Dialectic and Physics of Aristotle,—a hateful
task,—but whether to the monks in the convent or in the University it is
impossible to say. All the while Staupitz urged him to study theology in
order to teach it. It was then that Luther began his systematic study of
Augustine. He also began to preach. His first sermons were delivered in an
old chapel, 30 feet long and 20 feet wide, built of wood plastered over
with clay. He preached to the monks. Dr. Pollich, the Rector, went
sometimes to hear him, and spoke to the Elector of the young monk with
piercing eyes and strange fancies in his head.

His work was interrupted by a command to go to Rome on business of his
Order (autumn 1511). His selection was a great honour, and Luther felt it
to be so; but it may be questioned whether he did not think more of the
fact that he would visit the Holy City as a devout pilgrim, and be able to
avail himself of the spiritual privileges which he believed were to be
found there. When he got to the end of his journey and first caught a
glimpse of the city, he raised his hands in an ecstasy, exclaiming, “I
greet thee, thou Holy Rome, thrice holy from the blood of the martyrs.”

When his official work was done he set about seeing the Holy City with the
devotion of a pilgrim. He visited all the famous shrines, especially those
to which Indulgences were attached. He listened reverently to all the
accounts given of the relics which were exhibited to the pilgrims, and
believed in all the tales told him. He thought that if his parents had
been dead he could have assured them against Purgatory by saying Masses in
certain chapels. Only once, it is said, his soul showed revolt. He was
slowly climbing on his knees the _Scala Santa_ (really a mediæval
staircase), said to have been the stone steps leading up to Pilate’s house
in Jerusalem, once trodden by the feet of our Lord; when half-way up the
thought came into his mind, _The just shall live by his faith_; he stood
upright and walked slowly down. He saw, as thousands of pious German
pilgrims had done before his time, the moral corruptions which disgraced
the Holy City—infidel priests who scoffed at the sacred mysteries they
performed, and princes of the Church who lived in open sin. He saw and
loathed the moral degradation, and the scenes imprinted themselves on his
memory; but his home and cloister training enabled him, for the time
being, in spite of the loathing, to revel in the memorials of the old
heroic martyrs, and to look on their relics as storehouses of divine
grace. In later days it was the memories of the vices of the Roman Court
that helped him to harden his heart against the sentiment which surrounded
the Holy City.

When Luther returned to Wittenberg in the early summer of 1512, his
Vicar-General sent him to Erfurt to complete his training for the
doctorate in theology. He graduated as Doctor of the Holy Scripture, took
the Wittenberg Doctor’s oath to defend the evangelical truth vigorously
(_viriliter_), was made a member of the Wittenberg Senate, and three weeks
later succeeded Staupitz as Professor of Theology.

Luther was still a genuine monk, with no doubt of his vocation. He became
sub-prior of the Wittenberg convent in 1512, and was made the District
Vicar over the eleven convents in Meissen and Thuringia in 1515. But that
side of his life may be passed over. It is his theological work as
professor in Wittenberg University that is important for his career as a

§ 5. Luther’s early Lectures in Theology.

From the beginning his lectures on theology differed from those ordinarily
given, but not because he had any theological opinions at variance with
those of his old teachers at Erfurt. No one attributed any sort of
heretical views to the young Wittenberg professor. His mind was intensely
practical, and he believed that theology might be made useful to guide men
to find the grace of God and to tell them how, having acquired through
trust a sense of fellowship with God, they could persevere in a life of
joyous obedience to God and His commandments. The Scholastic theologians
of Erfurt and elsewhere did not look on theology as a practical discipline
of this kind. Luther thought that theology ought to discuss such matters,
and he knew that his main interest in theology lay on this practical side.
Besides, as he has told us, he regarded himself as specially set apart to
lecture on the Holy Scriptures. So, like John Colet, he began by
expounding the Epistles of St. Paul and the Psalms.

Luther never knew much Hebrew, and he used the Vulgate in his prelections.
He had a huge widely printed volume on his desk, and wrote out the heads
of his lectures between the printed lines. Some of the pages still survive
in the Wolfenbüttel Library, and can be studied.(145)

He made some use of the commentaries of Nicholas de Lyra, but got most
assistance from passages in Augustine, Bernard, and Gerson,(146) which
dealt with practical religion,(147) His lectures were experimental. He
started with the fact of man’s sin, the possibility of reaching a sense of
pardon and of fellowship with God through trust in His promises. From the
beginning we find in the germ what grew to be the main thoughts in the
later Lutheran theology. Men are redeemed apart from any merits of their
own; God’s grace is really His mercy revealed in the mission and work of
Christ; it has to do with the forgiveness of sins, and is the fulfilment
of His promises; man’s faith is trust in the historical work of Christ and
in the verity of God. These thoughts were for the most part all expressed
in the formal language of the Scholastic Theology of the day. They grew in
clearness, and took shape in a series of propositions which formed the
common basis of his teaching: man wins pardon through the free grace of
God: when man lays hold on God’s promise of pardon he becomes a new
creature; this sense of pardon is the beginning of a new life of
sanctification; the life of faith is Christianity on its inward side; the
contrast between the law and the gospel is something fundamental: there is
a real distinction between the outward and visible Church and the ideal
Church, which latter is to be described by its spiritual and moral
relations to God after the manner of Augustine. All these thoughts simply
pushed aside the ordinary theology as taught in the schools without
staying to criticise it.

In the years 1515 and 1516, which bear traces of a more thoroughgoing
study of Augustine and of the German mediæval Mystics, Luther began to
find that he could not express the thoughts he desired to convey in the
ordinary language of Scholastic Theology, and that its phrases suggested
ideas other than those he wished to set forth. He tried to find another
set of expressions. It is characteristic of Luther’s conservatism, that in
theological phraseology, as afterwards in ecclesiastical institutions and
ceremonies, he preferred to retain what had been in use provided only he
could put his own evangelical meaning into it in a not too arbitrary
way.(148) Having found that the Scholastic phraseology did not always suit
his purpose, he turned to the popular mystical authors, and discovered
there a rich store of phrases in which he could express his ideas of the
imperfection of man towards what is good. Along with this change in
language, and related to it, we find evidence that Luther was beginning to
think less highly of the monastic life with its _external_ renunciations.
The thought of predestination, meaning by that not an abstract
metaphysical category, but the conception that the whole believer’s life,
and what it involved, depended in the last resort on God and not on man,
came more and more into the foreground. Still there does not seem any
disposition to criticise or to repudiate the current theology of the day.

The earliest traces of _conscious_ opposition appeared about the middle of
1516, and characteristically on the practical and not on the speculative
side of theology. They began in a sermon on Indulgences, preached in July
1516. Once begun, the breach widened until Luther could contrast “our
theology”(149) (the theology taught by Luther and his colleagues at
Wittenberg) with what was taught elsewhere, and notably at Erfurt. The
former represented Augustine and the Holy Scriptures, and the latter was
founded on Aristotle. In September 1517 he raised the standard of
theological revolt, and wrote directly against the “Scholastic Theology”;
he declared that it was Pelagian at heart, and buried out of sight the
Augustinian doctrines of grace; he lamented the fact that it neglected to
teach the supreme value of faith and of inward righteousness; that it
encouraged men to seek escape from what was due for sin by means of
Indulgences, instead of exhorting them to practise the inward repentance
which belongs to every genuine Christian life.

It was at this interesting stage of his own religious development that
Luther felt himself forced to oppose publicly the sale of Indulgences in

By the year 1517, Luther had become a power in Wittenberg both as a
preacher and as a teacher. He had become the preacher in the town church,
from whose pulpit he delivered many sermons every week, taking infinite
pains to make himself understood by the “raw Saxons.” He became a great
preacher, and, like all great preachers, he denounced prevalent sins, and
bewailed the low standard of morals set before the people by the higher
ecclesiastical authorities; he said that religion was not an easy thing;
that it did not consist in the decent performance of external ceremonies;
that the sense of sin, the experience of the grace of God, and the fear of
God and the overcoming of that fear through the love of God, were all
continuous experiences.

His exegetical lectures seemed like a rediscovery of the Holy Scriptures.
Grave burghers of Wittenberg matriculated as students in order to hear
them. The fame of the lecturer spread, and students from all parts of
Germany crowded to the small remote University, until the Elector became
proud of his seat of learning and of the man who had made it prosper.

Such a man could not keep silent when he saw what he believed to be a
grave source of moral evil approaching the people whose souls God had
given him in charge; and this is how Luther came to be a Reformer.

Up to this time he had been an obedient monk, doing diligently the work
given him, highly esteemed by his superiors, fulfilling the expectations
of his Vicar-General, and recognised by all as a quiet and eminently pious
man. He had a strong, simple character, with nothing of the quixotic about
him. Of course he saw the degradation of much of the religious life of the
times, and had attended at least one meeting where those present discussed
plans of reformation. He had then (at Leitzkau in 1512) declared that
every true reformation must begin with individual men, that it must reveal
itself in a regenerate heart aflame with faith kindled by the preaching of
a pure gospel.

§ 6. The Indulgence-seller.

What drew Luther from his retirement was an Indulgence proclaimed by Pope
Leo X., farmed by Albert of Brandenburg, the Archbishop of Mainz, and
preached by John Tetzel, a Dominican monk, who had been commissioned by
Albert to sell for him the _Papal Letters_, as the Indulgence tickets were
called. It had been announced that the money raised by the sales would be
used to build the Basilica of St. Peter to be a tomb worthy of the great
Apostle, who rested, it was said, in a Roman grave.

The Indulgence-seller had usually a magnificent reception when he entered
a German town. Frederick Mecum (Myconius), who was an eye-witness, thus
describes the entrance of Tetzel into the town of Annaberg in Ducal

    “When the Commissary or Indulgence-seller approached the town, the
    Bull (proclaiming the Indulgence) was carried before him on a
    cloth of velvet and gold, and all the priests and monks, the town
    council, the schoolmasters and their scholars, and all the men and
    women went out to meet him with banners and candles and songs,
    forming a great procession; then all the bells ringing and all the
    organs playing, they accompanied him to the principal church; a
    red cross was set up in the midst of the church, and the Pope’s
    banner was displayed; in short, one might think they were
    receiving God Himself.”

The Commissary then preached a sermon extolling the Indulgence, declaring
that “the gate of heaven was open,” and that the sales would begin.

Many German princes had no great love for the Indulgence-sellers, and
Frederick, the Elector of Saxony, had prohibited Tetzel from entering his
territories. But the lands of Ernestine (Electoral) and Albertine (Ducal)
Saxony were so mixed up that it was easy for the Commissary to command the
whole population of Electoral Saxony without actually crossing the
frontier. The “Red Cross” had been set up in Zerbst in Ducal Saxony a few
miles to the west, and at Jüterbogk in the territory of Magdeburg a few
miles to the east of Wittenberg, and people had gone from the town to buy
the Indulgence. Luther believed that the sales were injurious to the moral
and religious life of his townsmen; the reports of the sermons and
addresses of the Indulgence-seller which reached him appeared to contain
what he believed to be both lies and blasphemies. He secured a copy of the
letter of recommendation given by the Archbishop to his Commissary, and
his indignation grew stronger. Still it was only after much hesitation,
after many of his friends had urged him to interfere, and in deep distress
of mind, that he resolved to protest. When he had determined to do
something he went about the matter with a mixture of caution and courage
which were characteristic of the man.

The Church of All Saints (the Castle Church) in Wittenberg had always been
intimately connected with the University; its prebendaries were
professors; its doors were used as a board on which to publish important
academic documents; and notices of public academic “disputations,” common
enough at the time, had frequently appeared there. The day of the year
which drew the largest concourse of townsmen and strangers to the church
was All Saints’ Day, the first of November. It was the anniversary of the
consecration of the building, and was commemorated by a prolonged series
of services. The Elector Frederick was a great collector of relics, and
had stored his collection in the church.(150) He had also procured an
Indulgence to benefit all who came to attend the anniversary services and
look at the relics.

On All Saints’ Day, Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of
the church. It was a strictly academic proceeding. The Professor of
Theology in Wittenberg, wishing to elucidate the truth, offered to
discuss, either by speech or by writing, the matter of Indulgences.(151)
He put forth ninety-five propositions or heads of discussion which he
proposed to maintain. Academic etiquette was strictly preserved; the
subject, judged by the numberless books which had been written on it, and
the variety of opinions expressed, was eminently suitable for debate; the
Theses were offered as subjects of debate; and the author, according to
the usage of the time in such cases, was not supposed to be definitely
committed to the opinions expressed.

The Theses, however, differed from most programmes of academic discussions
in this, that everyone wanted to read them. A duplicate was made in
German. Copies of the Latin original and the translation were sent to the
University printing-house, and the presses could not throw them off fast
enough to meet the demand which came from all parts of Germany.

Chapter II. From The Beginning of the Indulgence Controversy to the Diet
of Worms.(152)

§ 1. The Theory and Practice of Indulgences in the Sixteenth Century.

The practice of _Indulgences_ pervaded the whole penitential system of the
later mediæval Church, and had done so from the beginning of the
thirteenth century. Its beginnings go back a thousand years before
Luther’s time.

In the ancient Church, lapse into serious sin involved separation from the
Christian fellowship, and readmission to communion was only to be had by
public confession made in presence of the whole congregation, and by the
manifestation of a true repentance in performing certain
_satisfactions_,(153) such as the manumission of slaves, prolonged
fasting, extensive almsgiving, etc. These _satisfactions_ were the open
signs of heartfelt sorrow, and were regarded as at once well-pleasing to
God and evidence to the Christian community that the penitent had true
repentance, and might be received back again into their midst. The
confession was made to the whole congregation; the amount of
_satisfaction_ deemed necessary was estimated by the congregation, and
readmission was also dependent on the will of the whole congregation. It
often happened that these _satisfactions_ were mitigated or exchanged for
others. The penitent might fall sick, and the fasting which had been
prescribed could not be insisted upon without danger of death; in such a
case the external sign of sorrow which had been demanded might be
exchanged for another. Or it might happen that the community became
convinced of the sincerity of the repentance without insisting that the
whole of the prescribed _satisfaction_ need be performed.(154) These
exchanges and mitigations of _satisfactions_ were the small beginnings of
the later system of Indulgences.

In course of time the public confession of sins made to the whole
congregation was exchanged for a private confession made to the priest,
and instead of the public _satisfaction_ imposed by the whole
congregation, it was left to the priest to enjoin a _satisfaction_ or
external sign of sorrow which he believed was appropriate to the sin
committed and confessed. The substitution of a private confession to the
priest for a public confession made to the whole congregation, enlarged
the circle of sins confessed. The _secret_ sins of the heart whose
presence could be elicited by the questions of the confessor were added to
the open sins seen of men. The circle of _satisfactions_ was also widened
in a corresponding fashion.

When the imposition of _satisfactions_ was left in the hands of the
priest, it was felt necessary to provide some check against the
arbitrariness which could not fail to result. So books were published
containing lists of sins with the corresponding appropriate
_satisfactions_ which ought to be demanded from the penitents. If it be
remembered that some of the sins mentioned were very heinous (murders,
incests, outrages of all kinds), it is not surprising that the appropriate
_satisfactions_ or _penances_, as they came to be called, were very severe
in some cases, and extended over a course of years. From the seventh
century there arose a practice of commuting _satisfactions_ or penances. A
penance of several years’ practice of fasting might be commuted into
saying so many prayers or psalms, into giving a definite amount of alms,
or even into a money fine—and in this last case the analogy of the
_Wehrgeld_ of the Germanic tribal codes was frequently followed.(155)
These customary commutations were frequently inserted in the
_Penitentiaries_ or books of discipline. This new custom commonly took the
form that the penitent, who visited a certain church on a prescribed day
and gave a contribution to its funds, had the penance, which had been
imposed upon him by the priest in the ordinary course of discipline,
shortened by one-seventh, one-third, one-half, as the case might be. This
was in every case the commutation or relaxation of the penance or outward
sign of sorrow which had been imposed according to the regulations of the
Church, laid down in the _Penitentiaries (relaxatio de injuncta
pœnitentia)._ This was the real origin of Indulgences, and these earliest
examples were invariably a relaxation of ecclesiastical penalties which
had been imposed according to the regular custom in cases of discipline.
It will be seen that Luther expressly excluded this kind of Indulgence
from his attack. He declared that what the Church had a right to impose,
it had a right to relax. It was at first believed that this right to relax
or commute imposed penances was in the hands of the priests who had charge
of the discipline of the members of the Church; but the abuses of the
system by the priests ended by placing the power to grant Indulgences in
the hands of the bishops, and they used the money procured in building
many of the great mediæval cathedrals. Episcopal abuse of Indulgences led
to their being reserved for the Popes.

Three conceptions, all of which belong to the beginning of the thirteenth
century, combined to effect a great change on this old and simple idea of
Indulgences. These were—(1) the formulation of the thought of a _treasury
of merits_ (_thesaurus meritorum_); (2) the change of the _institution_
into the _Sacrament_ of Penance; and (3) the distinction between
_attrition_ and _contrition_ in the thought of the kind of sorrow God
demands from a real penitent.

The conception of a storehouse of merits (_thesaurus meritorum_ or
_indulgentiarum_) was first formulated by Alexander of Hales(156) in the
thirteenth century, and his ideas were accepted, enlarged, and made more
precise by succeeding theologians.(157) Starting with the existing
practice in the Church that some penances (such as pilgrimages) might be
vicariously performed, and bringing together the several thoughts that the
faithful are members of one body, that the good deeds of each of the
members are the common property of all, and therefore that the more sinful
can benefit by the good deeds of their more saintly brethren, and that the
sacrifice of Christ was sufficient to wipe out the sins of all,
theologians gradually formulated the doctrine that there was a common
storehouse which contained the good deeds of living men and women, of the
saints in heaven and the inexhaustible merits of Christ, and that all
these merits accumulated there had been placed under the charge of the
Pope, and could be dispensed by him to the faithful. The doctrine was not
very precisely defined by the beginning of the sixteenth century, but it
was generally believed in, taught, and accepted. It went to increase the
vague sense of supernatural, spiritual powers attached to the person of
the Bishop of Rome. It had one important consequence on the doctrine of
Indulgences. They might be the payment out of this treasury of an absolute
equivalent for the _satisfaction_ due by the penitent for his sins; they
were no longer merely the substitution of one form of penance for another,
or the relaxation of a penance enjoined.

The _institution_ of Penance contained within it the four practices of
_Sorrow_ for the sins committed (_contritio_); the _Confession_ of these
sins to the priest; _Satisfaction_, or the due manifestation of sorrow in
the ways prescribed by the Church through the command of the confessor;
and the _Pardon_ (_absolutio_) pronounced by the priest in God’s name. The
pardon followed the _satisfaction_. But when the _institution_ became the
_Sacrament of Penance_, the order was changed: absolution followed
confession and came before satisfaction, which it had formerly followed.
Satisfaction lost its old meaning. It was no longer the outward sign of
sorrow and the necessary precedent of pardon or absolution. According to
the new theory, the absolution which immediately followed confession had
the effect of removing the whole guilt of the sins confessed, and with the
guilt the whole of the eternal punishment due. This cancelling of guilt
and of eternal punishment did not, however, forthwith open the gates of
heaven to the pardoned sinner. It was felt that the justice of God could
not permit the baptized sinner to escape from all punishment whatever.
Hence it was said that although eternal punishment had disappeared with
the absolution, there remained temporal punishment due for the sins, and
that heaven could not be entered until this temporal punishment had been
endured.(158) Temporal punishments might be of two kinds—those endured in
this life, or those suffered in a place of punishment after death. The
penance imposed by the priest, the satisfaction, now became the temporal
punishment due for sins committed. If the priest had imposed the due
amount, and if the penitent was able to perform all that had been imposed,
the sins were expiated. But if the priest had imposed less than the
justice of God actually demanded, then these temporal pains had to be
completed in Purgatory. This gave rise to great uncertainty; for who could
feel assured that the priest had calculated rightly, and had imposed
satisfactions or temporal penalties which were of the precise amount
demanded by the justice of God? Hence the pains of Purgatory threatened
every man. It was here that the new idea of Indulgences came in to aid the
faithful by securing him against the pains of Purgatory, which were not
included in the absolution obtained in the _Sacrament of Penance_.
Indulgences in the sense of relaxations of imposed penances went into the
background, and the really valuable Indulgence was one which, because of
the merits transferred from the storehouse of merits, was an equivalent in
God’s sight for the temporal punishments due for sins. Thus, in the
opinion of Alexander of Hales, of Bonaventura,(159) and, above all, of
Thomas Aquinas, the real value of Indulgences was that they procured the
remission of penalties due after absolution, whether these penalties were
penances imposed by the priest or not; and when the uncertainty of the
imposed penalties is remembered, the most valuable of all Indulgences were
those which had regard to the unimposed penalties; the priest might make a
mistake, but God did not blunder.

While Indulgences were always connected with satisfactions, and changed
with the changes in the meaning of the latter term, they were not the less
influenced by a distinction which came to be drawn between _attrition_ and
_contrition_, and by the application of the distinction to the theory of
the Sacrament of Penance. During the earlier Middle Ages and down to the
thirteenth century, it was always held that _contrition_ (sorrow prompted
by love) was the one thing taken into account by God in pardoning the
sinner. The theologians of the thirteenth century, however, began to draw
a distinction between this godly sorrow and a certain amount of sorrow
which might arise from a variety of causes of a less worthy nature, and
especially from servile fear. This was called _attrition_; and it was held
that this _attrition_, though of itself too imperfect to win the pardon of
God, might become perfected through the confession heard by the priest,
and in the sacramental absolution pronounced by him. Very naturally,
though perhaps illogically, it was believed that an imperfect sorrow,
though sufficient to procure absolution, and, therefore, the blotting out
of eternal punishment, merited more temporal punishment than if it had
been sorrow of a godly sort. But it was these temporal penalties
(including the pains of Purgatory) that Indulgences provided for. Hence,
Indulgences appealed more strongly to the indifferent Christian, who knew
that he had sinned, and at the same time felt that his sorrow was not the
effect of his love to God. He knew that his sins deserved _some_
punishment. His conscience, however weak, told him that he could not sin
with perfect impunity, and that something more was needed than his
perfunctory confession to a priest. He felt that he must do
_something_—fast, or go on a pilgrimage, or purchase an Indulgence. It was
at this point that the Church intervened to show him how his poor
performance could be transformed by the power of the Church and its
treasury of merits into something so great that the penalties of Purgatory
could be actually evaded. His cheap sorrow, his careless confession, need
not trouble him. Hence, for the ordinary indifferent Christian,
_Attrition_, _Confession_, and _Indulgence_ became the three heads of the
scheme of the Church for his salvation. The one thing that satisfied his
conscience was the burdensome thing he had to do, and that was to procure
an Indulgence—a matter made increasingly easy for him as time went on.

It must not be supposed that this doctrine of _Attrition_, and its evident
effect in deadening the conscience and in lowering the standard of
morality, had the undivided support of the theologians of the later Middle
Ages, but it was the doctrine taught by most of the Scotist theologians,
who took the lead in theological thinking during these times. It was set
forth in its most extravagant form by such a representative man as John of
Paltz in Erfurt; it was preached by the pardon-sellers; it was eagerly
welcomed by _indifferent_ Christians, who desired to escape the penalties
of sin without abandoning its enjoyments; it exalted the power of the
priesthood; and it was specially valuable in securing good sales of
Indulgences, and therefore in increasing the papal revenues. It lay at the
basis of the whole theory and practice of Indulgences, which confronted
Luther when he issued his _Theses_.

History shows us that gross abuses had always gathered round the practice
of Indulgences, even in their earlier and simpler forms. The priests had
abused the system, and the power of issuing Indulgences had been taken
from them and confined to the bishops. The bishops, in turn, had abused
the privilege, and the Popes had gradually assumed that the power to grant
an Indulgence belonged to the Bishop of Rome exclusively, or to those to
whom he might delegate it; and this assumption seemed both reasonable and
salutary. The power was at first sparingly used. It is true that Pope
Urban II., in 1095, promised to the Crusaders an Indulgence such as had
never before been heard of—a complete remission of all imposed canonical
penances; but it was not until the thirteenth and fourteen centuries that
Indulgences, now doubly dangerous to the moral life from the new theories
which had arisen, were lavished even more unsparingly than in the days
when any bishop had power to grant them. From the beginning of the
fourteenth century they were given to raise recruits for papal wars. They
were lavished on the religious Orders, either for the benefit of the
members or for the purpose of attracting strangers and their gifts to
their churches. They were bestowed on cathedrals and other churches, or on
individual altars in churches, and had the effect of endowments. They were
joined to special collections of relics, to be earned by the faithful who
visited the shrines. They were given to hospitals, and for the upkeep of
bridges and of roads. Wherever they are met with in the later Middle Ages,
and it would be difficult to say where they are not to be found, they are
seen to be associated with sordid money-getting, and, as Luther remarked
in an early sermon on the subject, they were a very grievous instrument
placed in the hand of avarice.

The practice of granting Indulgences was universally prevalent and was
universally accepted; but it was not easy to give an explanation of the
system, in the sense of showing that it was an essential element in
Christian discipline. No mediæval theologian attempted to do any such
thing. Bonaventura and Thomas Aquinas, the two great Schoolmen who did
more than any others to provide a theological basis for the system, tell
us quite frankly that it is their business to accept the fact that
Indulgences do exist as part of the penitentiary discipline of the Church,
and, accepting it, they thought themselves bound to construct a reasonable
theory.(160) The practice altered, and new theories were needed to explain
the variations. It is needless to say that these explanations did not
always agree; and that there were very great differences of opinion about
what an Indulgence really effected for the man who bought it.

Of all these disputed questions the most important was: Did an Indulgence
give remission for the guilt of sin, or only for certain penalties which
followed the sinful deed? This is a question about which modern Romanists
are extremely sensitive.

The universal answer given by all defenders of Indulgences who have
written on the subject since the Council of Trent, is that guilt (_culpa_)
and eternal punishment (_pœnæ eternæ_) are dealt with in the Sacrament of
Penance, and that Indulgences relate only to temporal punishments,
including under that designation the pains of Purgatory. This modern
opinion is confirmed by the most eminent authorities of the mediæval
Church. It has been accepted in the description of the theory of
Indulgences given above, since it has been said that the principal use of
Indulgences was to secure against Purgatory. But these statements do not
exhaust the question. Mediæval theology did not create Indulgences, it
only followed and tried to justify the practices of the Pope and of the
Roman Curia,—a rather difficult task. The question still remains whether
some of the Papal Bulls promulgating Indulgences did not promise the
removal of guilt as well as security against temporal punishments. If
these be examined, spurious Bulls being set aside, it will be found that
many of them make no mention of the need of previous confession and of
priestly absolution; that one or two expressly make mention of a remission
of guilt as well as of penalty; and that many (especially those which
proclaim a Jubilee Indulgence) use language which inevitably led
intelligent laymen like Dante to believe that the Popes did proclaim the
remission of guilt as well as of penalty. Of course, it may be said that
in those days the distinction between guilt (_culpa_) and penalty (_pœna_)
had not been very exactly defined, and that the phrase _remission of sins_
was used to denote both remission of guilt and remission of penalty; still
it is difficult to withstand the conclusion that, even in theory,
Indulgences had been declared to be efficacious for the removal of the
guilt of sin in the presence of God.

These questions of the theological meaning of an Indulgence, though
necessary to understand the whole situation, had after all little to do
with Luther’s action. He approached the whole matter from the side of the
practical effect of the proclamation of an Indulgence on the minds of
common men who knew nothing of refined theological distinctions; and the
evidence that the common people did generally believe that an Indulgence
did remove the guilt of sin is overwhelming. Contemporary chroniclers are
to be found who declare that Indulgences given to Crusaders remit the
guilt as well as the punishment; contemporary preachers assert that
plenary Indulgences remit guilt, and justify their opinion by declaring
that such Indulgences were supposed to contain within them the Sacrament
of Penance. The popular guide-books written for pilgrims to Rome and
Compostella spread the popular idea that Indulgences acquired by such
pilgrimages do remit guilt as well as penalty. The popular belief was so
thoroughly acknowledged, that even Councils had to throw the blame for it
on the pardon-sellers, or, like the Council of Constance, impeached the
Pope and compelled him to confess that he had granted Indulgences for the
remission of guilt as well as of penalty. This widespread popular belief
of itself justified Luther in calling attention to this side of the

Moreover, it is well to see what the theory of the most respected
theologians actually meant when looked at practically. Since the
formulation of the Sacrament of Penance, the theory had been that all
guilt of sin and all eternal punishment were remitted in the priestly
absolution which followed the confession of the penitent. The Sacrament of
Penance had abolished guilt and Hell. But there remained the actual sins
to be punished, because the justice of God demanded it, and this was done
in the temporal pains of Purgatory. The “common man,” if he thought at all
about it, may be excused if he considered that guilt and Hell, taken away
by the one hand, were restored by the other. There remained for him the
sense that God’s justice demanded _some_ punishment for the sins he had
committed; and if this was not guilt according to theological definition,
it was probably all that he could attain to. He was taught and believed
that punishment awaited him for these actual sins of his; and a punishment
which might last thousands of years in Purgatory was not very different
from an eternal punishment in his eyes. The Indulgence came to him filled
as he was with these vague thoughts, and offered him a sure way of easing
his conscience and avoiding the punishment he knew he deserved. He had
only to pay the price of a _Papal Ticket_, perform the canonical good deed
required, whatever it might be, and he was assured that his punishment was
remitted, and God’s justice satisfied. This may not involve the thought of
the remission of guilt in the theological sense of the word, but it
certainly misled the moral instincts of the “common man” about as much as
if it did. It is not surprising that the common people made the
theological mistake, if mistake it was, and saw in every plenary
Indulgence the promise of the remission of guilt as well as of
penalty,(161) for with them remission of guilt and quieting of conscience
were one and the same thing. It was this practical moral effect of
Indulgences, and not the theological explanation of the theory, which
stirred Luther to make his protest.

§ 2. Luther’s Theses.(162)

Luther’s _Theses_ are singularly unlike what might have been expected from
a Professor of Theology. They lack theological definition, and contain
many repetitions which might have been easily avoided. They are simply
ninety-five sturdy strokes struck at a great ecclesiastical abuse which
was searing the consciences of many. They look like the utterances of a
man who was in close touch with the people; who had been greatly shocked
at reports brought to him of what the pardon-sellers had said; who had
read a good many of the theological explanations of the practice of
Indulgence, and had noted down a few things which he desired to
contradict. They read as if they were meant for laymen, and were addressed
to their common sense of spiritual things. They are plain and easily
understood, and keep within the field of simple religion and plain moral

The _Theses_ appealed irresistibly to all those who had been brought up in
the simple evangelical faith which distinguished the quiet home life of so
many German families, and who had not forsaken it. They also appealed to
all who had begun to adopt that secular or non-ecclesiastical piety which,
we have seen, had been spreading quietly but rapidly throughout Germany at
the close of the Middle Ages. These two forces, both religious, gathered
round Luther. The effect of the _Theses_ was almost immediate: the desire
to purchase Indulgences cooled, and the sales almost stopped.

The Ninety-five _Theses_ made six different assertions about Indulgences
and their efficacy:

i. An Indulgence is and can only be the remission of a merely
ecclesiastical penalty; the Church can remit what the Church has imposed;
it cannot remit what God has imposed.

ii. An Indulgence can never remit guilt; the Pope himself cannot do such a
thing; God has kept that in His own hand.

iii. It cannot remit the divine punishment for sin; that also is in the
hands of God alone.

iv. It can have no efficacy for souls in Purgatory; penalties imposed by
the Church can only refer to the living; death dissolves them; what the
Pope can do for souls in Purgatory is by prayer, not by jurisdiction or
the power of the keys.

v. The Christian who has true repentance has already received pardon from
God altogether apart from an Indulgence, and does not need one; Christ
demands this true repentance from every one.

vi. The Treasury of Merits has never been properly defined, it is hard to
say what it is, and it is not properly understood by the people; it cannot
be the merits of Christ and of His saints, because these act of themselves
and quite apart from the intervention of the Pope; it can mean nothing
more than that the Pope, having the power of the keys, can remit
ecclesiastical penalties imposed by the Church; the true Treasure-house of
merits is the Holy Gospel of the grace and glory of God.

The Archbishop of Mainz, finding that the publication of the _Theses_
interfered with the sale of the Indulgences, sent a copy to Rome. Pope
Leo, thinking that the whole thing was a monkish quarrel, contented
himself with asking the General of the Augustinian Eremites to keep his
monks quiet. Tetzel, in conjunction with a friend, Conrad Wimpina,
published a set of counter-theses. John Mayr of Eck, professor at
Ingolstadt, by far the ablest opponent Luther ever had, wrote an answer to
the _Theses_ which he entitled _Obelisks_;(163) and Luther replied in a
tract with the title _Asterisks_. At Rome, Silvester Mazzolini (1460-?) of
Prierio, a Dominican monk, papal censor for the Roman Province and an
Inquisitor, was profoundly dissatisfied with the _Ninety-five Theses_, and
proceeded to criticise them severely in a _Dialogue about the Power of the
Pope; against the Presumptuous Conclusions of Martin Luther_. The book
reached Germany by the middle of January 1518. The Augustinian Eremites
held their usual annual chapter at Heidelberg in April 1518, and Luther
heard his _Theses_ temperately discussed by his brother monks. He found
the opposition to his views much stronger than he had expected; but the
discussion was fair and honest, and Luther enjoyed it after the ominous
silence kept by most of his friends, who had thought his action rash. When
he returned from Heidelberg he began a general answer to his opponents.
The book, _Resolutiones_, was probably the most carefully written of all
Luther’s writings. He thought long over it, weighed every statement
carefully, and rewrote portions several times. The preface, addressed to
his Vicar-General, Staupitz, contains some interesting autobiographical
material; it was addressed to the Pope; it was a detailed defence of his

The _Ninety-five Theses_ had a circulation which was, for the time,
unprecedented. They were known throughout Germany in a little over a
fortnight; they were read over Western Europe within four weeks “as if
they had been circulated by angelic messengers,” says Myconius
enthusiastically. Luther was staggered at the way they were received; he
said that he had not meant to determine, but to debate. The controversy
they awakened increased their popularity. In the _Theses_, and especially
in the _Resolutiones_, Luther had practically discarded all the practices
which the Pope and the Roman Curia had introduced in the matter of
Indulgences from the beginning of the thirteenth century, and all the
ingenious explanations Scholastic theologians had brought forward to
justify these practices. The readiest way to refute him was to assert the
power of the Roman Bishop; and this was the line taken by his critics.
Their arguments amount to this: the power to issue an Indulgence is simply
a particular instance of the power of papal jurisdiction, and Indulgences
are simply what the Pope proclaims them to be. Therefore, to attack
Indulgences is to attack the power of the Pope, and that cannot be
tolerated. The Roman Church is virtually the Universal Church, and the
Pope is practically the Roman Church. Hence, as the representative of the
Roman Church, which in turn represents the Church Universal, the Pope,
when he acts officially, cannot err. Official decisions are given in
actions as well as in words, custom has the force of law. Therefore,
whoever objects to such a long-established system as Indulgences is a
heretic, and does not deserve to be heard.(165)

But the argument which appealed most powerfully to the Roman Curia was the
fact that the sales of the _Papal Tickets_ had been declining since the
publication of the _Theses_. Indulgences were the source of an enormous
revenue, and anything which checked their sale would cause financial
embarrassment. Pope Leo X. in his “enjoyment of the Papacy” lived
lavishly. He had a huge income, much greater than that of any European
monarch, but he lived beyond it. His income amounted to between four and
five hundred thousand ducats; but he had spent seven hundred thousand on
his war about the Duchy of Urbino; the magnificent reception of his
brother Julian and his bride in Rome (1514) had cost him fifty thousand
ducats; and he had spent over three hundred thousand on the marriage of
his nephew Lorenzo (1518). Voices had been heard in Rome as well as in
Germany protesting against this extravagance. The Pope was in desperate
need of money. It is scarcely to be wondered that Luther was summoned to
Rome (summons dated July 1518, and received by Luther on August 7th) to
answer for his attack on the Indulgence system. To have obeyed would have
meant death.

The peremptory summons could be construed as an affront to the University
of Wittenberg, on whose boards the _Ninety-five Theses_ had been posted.
Luther wrote to his friend Spalatin (George Burkhardt of Spalt,
1484-1545), who was chaplain and private secretary to the Elector
Frederick, suggesting that the prince ought to defend the rights of his
University. Spalatin wrote at once to the Elector and also to the Emperor
Maximilian, and the result was that the summons to Rome was cancelled, and
it was arranged that the matter was to be left in the hands of the Papal
Legate in Germany, Thomas de Vio, Cardinal Cajetan(166) (1470-1553), and
Luther was ordered to present himself before that official at Augsburg.
The interview (October 1518) was not very satisfactory. The cardinal
demanded that Luther should recant his heresies without any argument. When
pressed to say what the heresies were, he named the statement in the 58th
Thesis that the merits of Christ work effectually without the intervention
of the Pope, and that in the _Resolutiones_ which said that the sacraments
are not efficacious apart from faith in the recipient. There was some
discussion notwithstanding the Legate’s declaration; but in the end Luther
was ordered to recant or depart. He wrote out an appeal from the Pope
ill-informed to the Pope well-informed, also an appeal to a General
Council, and returned to Wittenberg.

When Luther had posted his _Theses_ on the doors of the Church of All
Saints, he had been a solitary monk with nothing but his manhood to back
him; but nine months had made a wonderful difference in the situation. He
now knew that he was a representative man, with supporters to be numbered
by the thousand. His colleagues at Wittenberg were with him; his students
demonstratively loyal (they had been burning the Wimpina-Tetzel
counter-theses); his theology was spreading among all the cloisters of his
Order in Germany, and even in the Netherlands; and the rapid circulation
of his _Theses_ had shown him that he had the ear of Germany. His first
task, on his return to Wittenberg, was to prepare for the press an account
of his interview with Cardinal Cajetan at Augsburg, and this was published
under the title, _Acta Augustana_.

Luther was at pains to take the people of Germany into his confidence; he
published an account of every important interview he had; the people were
able to follow him step by step, and he was never so far in advance that
they were unable to see his footprints. The immediate effect of the _Acta
Augustana_ was an immense amount of public sympathy for Luther. The
people, even the Humanists who had cared little for the controversy, saw
that an eminently pious man, an esteemed teacher who was making his
obscure University famous, who had done nothing but propose a discussion
on the notoriously intricate question of Indulgences, was peremptorily
ordered to recant and remain silent. They could only infer that the
Italians treated the Germans contemptuously, and wished simply to drain
the country of money to be spent in the luxuries of the papal court. The
Elector Frederick shared the common opinion, and was, besides, keenly
alive to anything which touched his University and its prosperity. There
is no evidence to show that he had much sympathy with Luther’s views. But
the University of Wittenberg, the seat of learning he had founded, so long
languishing with a very precarious life and now flourishing, was the apple
of his eye; and he resolved to defend it, and to protect the teacher who
had won renown for it.

The political situation in Germany was too delicate, and the personal
political influence of Frederick too great, for the Pope to act rashly in
any matter in which that prince took a deep interest. The country was on
the eve of an election of a King of the Romans; Maximilian was old, and an
imperial election might occur at any time; and Frederick was one of the
most important factors in either case. So the Pope resolved to act
cautiously. The condemnation of Luther by the Cardinal-Legate was held
over, and a special papal delegate was sent down to Germany to make
inquiries. Every care was taken to select a man who would be likely to be
acceptable to the Elector. Charles von Miltitz, a Saxon nobleman belonging
to the Meisen district, a canon of Mainz, Trier, and Meissen, a papal
chamberlain, an acquaintance of Spalatin’s, the Elector’s own agent at the
Court of Rome, was sent to Germany. He took with him the “Golden Rose” as
a token of the Pope’s personal admiration for the Elector. He was
furnished with numerous letters from His Holiness to the Elector, to some
of the Saxon councillors, to the magistrates of Wittenberg, in all of
which Luther figured as a child of the Devil. The phrase was probably
forgotten when Leo wrote to Luther some time afterwards and called him his
dear son.

When Miltitz got among German speaking people he found that the state of
matters was undreamt of at the papal court. He was a German, and knew the
Germans. He could see, what the Cardinal-Legate had never perceived, that
he had to deal not with the stubbornness of a recalcitrant monk, but with
the slow movement of a nation. When he visited his friends and relations
in Augsburg and Nürnberg, he found that three out of five were on Luther’s
side. He came to the wise resolution that he would see both Luther and
Tetzel privately before producing his credentials. Tetzel he could not
see. The unhappy man wrote to Miltitz that he dared not stir from his
convent, so greatly was he in danger from the violence of the people.
Miltitz met Luther in the house of Spalatin; he at once disowned the
speeches of the pardon-sellers; he let it be seen that he did not think
much of the Cardinal-Legate’s methods of action; he so prevailed on Luther
that the latter promised to write a submissive letter to the Pope, to
advise people to reverence the Roman See, to say that Indulgences were
useful in the remission of canonical penances. Luther did all this; and if
the Roman Curia had supported Miltitz there is no saying how far the
reconciliation would have gone. But the Roman Curia did not support the
papal chamberlain, and Miltitz had also to reckon with John Eck, who was
burning to extinguish Luther in a public discussion.

The months between his interview at Augsburg (October 1518) and the
Disputation with John Eck at Leipzig (June 1519) had been spent by Luther
in hard and disquieting studies. His opponents had confronted him with the
Pope’s absolute supremacy in all ecclesiastical matters. This was one of
Luther’s oldest inherited beliefs. The Church had been for him “the Pope’s
House,” in which the Pope was the house-father, to whom all obedience was
due. It was hard for him to think otherwise. He had been re-examining his
convictions about justifying faith and attempting to trace clearly their
consequences, and whether they did lead to his declarations about the
efficacy of Indulgences. He could come to no other conclusion. It became
necessary to investigate the evidence for the papal claim to absolute
authority. He began to study the Decretals, and found, to his amazement
and indignation, that they were full of frauds; and that the papal
supremacy had been forced on Germany on the strength of a collection of
Decretals many of which were plainly forgeries. It is difficult to say
whether the discovery brought more joy or more grief to Luther. Under the
combined influences of historical study, of the opinions of the early
Church Fathers, and of the Holy Scriptures, one of his oldest landmarks
was crumbling to pieces. His mind was in a whirl of doubt. He was
half-exultant and half-terrified at the result of his studies; and his
correspondence reveals how his mood of mind changed from week to week. It
was while he was thus “on the swither,” tremulously on the balance, that
John Eck challenged him to dispute at Leipzig on the primacy and supremacy
of the Roman Pontiff. The discussion might clear the air, might make
himself see where he stood. He accepted the challenge almost feverishly.

§ 3. The Leipzig Disputation.(167)

Leipzig was an enemies’ country, and his Wittenberg friends would not
allow Luther to go there unaccompanied. The young Duke Barnim, who was
Rector of the University of Wittenberg, accompanied Carlstadt and Luther,
to give them the protection of his presence. Melanchthon, who had been a
member of the teaching staff of Wittenberg since August 1518, Justus
Jonas, and Nicholas Amsdorf went along with them. Two hundred Wittenberg
students in helmets and halberts formed a guard, and walked beside the two
country carts which carried their professors. An eye-witness of the scenes
at Leipzig has left us sketches of what he saw:

    “In the inns where the Wittenberg students lodged, the landlord
    kept a man standing with a halbert near the table to keep the
    peace while the Leipzig and the Wittenberg students disputed with
    each other. I have seen the same myself in the house of
    Herbipolis, a bookseller, where I went to dine ... for there was
    at table a Master Baumgarten ... who was so hot against the
    Wittenbergers that the host had to restrain him with a halbert to
    make him keep the peace so long as the Wittenbergers were in the
    house and sat and ate at the table with him.”

The University buildings at Leipzig did not contain any hall large enough
for the audience, and Duke George lent the use of his great
banqueting-room for the occasion. The discussions were preceded by a
service in the church.

    “When we got to the church ... they sang a Mass with twelve voices
    which had never been heard before. After Mass we went to the
    Castle, where we found a great guard of burghers in their armour
    with their best weapons and their banners; they were ordered to be
    there twice a day, from seven to nine in the morning and from two
    to five in the afternoon, to keep the peace while the Disputation

First, there was a Disputation between Carlstadt and Eck, and then, on the
fourth of July, Eck and Luther faced each other—both sons of peasants, met
to protect the old or cleave a way for the new.

It was the first time that Luther had ever met a controversialist of
European fame. John Eck came to Leipzig fresh from his triumphs at the
great debates in Vienna and Bologna, and was and felt himself to be the
hero of the occasion.

    “He had a huge square body, a full strong voice coming from his
    chest, fit for a tragic actor or a town crier, more harsh than
    distinct; his mouth, eyes, and whole aspect gave one the idea of a
    butcher or a soldier rather than of a theologian. He gave one the
    idea of a man striving to overcome his opponent rather than of one
    striving to win a victory for the truth. There was as much
    sophistry as good reasoning in his arguments; he was continually
    misquoting his opponents’ words or trying to give them a meaning
    they were not intended to convey.”

“Martin,” says the same eye-witness,

    “is of middle height; his body is slender, emaciated by study and
    by cares; one can count almost all the bones; he stands in the
    prime of his age; his voice sounds clear and distinct ... however
    hard his opponent pressed him he maintained his calmness and his
    good nature, though in debate he sometimes used bitter words....
    He carried a bunch of flowers in his hand, and when the discussion
    became hot he looked at it and smelt it.”(169)

Eck’s intention was to force his opponent to make some declaration which
would justify him in charging Luther with being a partisan of the mediæval
heretics, and especially of the Hussites. He continually led the debate
away to the Waldensians, the followers of Wiclif, and the Bohemians. The
audience swayed with a wave of excitement when Luther was gradually forced
to admit that there might be some truth in some of the Hussite opinions:

    “One thing I must tell which I myself heard in the Disputation,
    and which took place in the presence of Duke George, who came
    often to the Disputation and listened most attentively; once Dr.
    Martin spoke these words to Dr. Eck when hard pressed about John
    Huss: ‘Dear Doctor, the Hussite opinions are not all wrong.’
    Thereupon said Duke George, so loudly that the whole audience
    heard, ‘God help us, the pestilence!’ (Das walt, die Sucht), and
    he wagged his head and placed his arms akimbo. That I myself heard
    and saw, for I sat almost between his feet and those of Duke
    Barnim of Pomerania, who was then the Rector of Wittenberg.”(170)

So far as the dialectic battle was concerned, Eck had been victorious. He
had done what he had meant to do. He had made Luther declare himself. All
that was now needed was a Papal Bull against Luther, and the world would
be rid of another pestilent heretic. He had done what the more politic
Miltitz had wished to avoid. He had concentrated the attention of Germany
on Luther, and had made him the central figure round which all the
smouldering discontent could gather. As for Luther, he returned to
Wittenberg full of melancholy forebodings. They did not prevent him
preparing and publishing for the German people an account of the
Disputation, which was eagerly read. His arguments had been historical
rather than theological. He tried to show that the acknowledgment of the
supremacy of the Bishop of Rome was barely four hundred years old in
Western Europe, and that it did not exist in the East. The Greek Church,
he said, was part of the Church of Christ, and it would have nothing to do
with the Pope; the great Councils of the Early Christian centuries knew
nothing about papal supremacy. Athanasius, Basil, the Gregories, Cyprian
himself, had all taken Luther’s own position, and were heretics, according
to Eck. Luther’s speeches at Leipzig laid the foundation of that modern
historical criticism of institutions which has gone so far in our own

In some respects the Leipzig Disputation was the most important point in
the career of Luther. It made him see for the first time what lay in his
opposition to Indulgences. It made the people see it also. His attack was
no criticism, as he had at first thought, of a mere excrescence on the
mediæval ecclesiastical system. He had struck at its centre; at its ideas
of a priestly mediation which denied the right of every believer to
immediate entrance into the very presence of God. It was after the
Disputation at Leipzig that the younger German Humanists rallied round
Luther to a man; that the burghers saw that religion and opposition to
priestly tyranny were not opposite things; and that there was room for an
honest attempt to create a Germany for the Germans independent of Rome.
Luther found himself a new man after Leipzig, with a new freedom and wider
sympathies. His depression fled. Sermons, pamphlets, letters from his
tireless pen flooded the land, and were read eagerly by all classes of the

§ 4. The Three Treatises.(171)

Three of these writings stand forth so pre-eminently that they deserve
special notice: _The Liberty of a Christian Man_, _To the Christian
Nobility of the German Nation_, and _On the Babylonian Captivity of the
Church_. These three books are commonly called in Germany the _Three Great
Reformation Treatises_, and the title befits them well. They were all
written during the year 1520, after three years spent in controversy, at a
time when Luther felt that he had completely broken from Rome, and when he
knew that he had nothing to expect from Rome but a sentence of
excommunication. His teaching may have varied in details afterwards, but
in all essential positions it remained what is to be found in these books.

The tract on _The Liberty of a Christian Man_, “a very small book so far
as the paper is concerned,” said Luther, “but one containing the whole sum
of the Christian life,” had a somewhat pathetic history. Miltitz, hoping
against hope that the Pope would not push things to extremities, had asked
Luther to write out a short summary of his inmost beliefs and send it to
His Holiness. Luther consented, and this little volume was the result. It
has for preface Luther’s letter to Pope Leo X., which concludes thus: “I,
in my poverty, have no other present to make you, nor do you need to be
enriched by anything but a spiritual gift.” It was probably the last of
the three published (Oct. 1520), but it contains the principles which
underlie the other two.

The booklet is a brief statement, free from all theological subtleties, of
the priesthood of all believers which is a consequence of the fact of
justification by faith alone. Its note of warning to Rome, and its
educational value for pious people in the sixteenth century, consisted in
its showing that the man who fears God and trusts in Him need not fear the
priests nor the Church. The first part proves that every spiritual
possession which a man has or can have must be traced back to his faith;
if he has faith, he has all; if he has not faith, he has nothing. It is
the possession of faith which gives liberty to a Christian man; God is
with him, who can be against him?

    “Here you will ask, ‘If all who are in the Church are priests, by
    what character are those whom we now call priests to be
    distinguished from the laity?’ I reply, By the use of those words
    _priests_, _clergy_, _spiritual person_, _ecclesiastic_, an
    injustice has been done, since they have been transferred from the
    remaining body of Christians to those few who are now, by a
    hurtful custom, called ecclesiastics. For the Holy Scripture makes
    no distinction between them, except that those who are now
    boastfully called Popes, Bishops, and Lords, it calls ministers,
    servants, and stewards, who are to serve the rest in the ministry
    of the Word, for teaching the faith of Christ and the liberty of
    believers. For though it is true that we are all equally priests,
    yet cannot we, nor ought we if we could, all to minister and teach

The second part shows that everything that a Christian man does must come
from his faith. It may be necessary to use all the ceremonies of divine
service which past generations have found useful to promote the religious
life; perhaps to fast and practise mortifications of the flesh; but if
such things are to be really profitable, they must be kept in their proper
place. They are good deeds not in the sense of making a man good, but as
the signs of his faith; they are to be practised with joy because they are
done for the sake of the God who has united Himself with man through Jesus

Nothing that Luther has written more clearly manifests that combination of
revolutionary daring and wise conservatism which was characteristic of the
man. There is no attempt to sweep away any ecclesiastical machinery,
provided only it be kept in its proper place as a means to an end. But
religious ceremonies are not an end in themselves; and if through human
corruption and neglect of the plain precepts of God’s word they hinder
instead of help the true growth of the soul, they ought to be swept away;
and the fact that the soul of man needs absolutely nothing in the last
resort but the word of God dwelling in him, gives men courage and calmness
in demanding their reformation.

Luther applied those principles to the reformation of the Church in his
book on the _Babylonian Captivity of the Church_ (Sept.-Oct. 1520). He
subjected the elaborate sacramental system of the Church to a searching
criticism, and concluded that there are only two, or perhaps three,
scriptural sacraments—the Eucharist, Baptism, and Penance. He denounced
the doctrine of Transubstantiation as a “monstrous phantom” which the
Church of the first twelve centuries knew nothing about, and said that any
endeavour to define the precise manner of Christ’s Presence in the
sacrament is simply indecent curiosity. Perhaps the most important
practical portion of the book deals with the topic of Christian marriage.
In no sphere of human life has the Roman Church done more harm by
interfering with simple scriptural directions:

    “What shall we say of those impious human laws by which this
    divinely appointed manner of life has been entangled and tossed up
    and down? Good God! it is horrible to look upon the temerity of
    the tyrants of Rome, who thus, according to their caprices, at one
    time annul marriages and at another time enforce them. Is the
    human race given over to their caprice for nothing but to be
    mocked and abused in every way, that these men may do what they
    please with it for the sake of their own fatal gains? ... And what
    do they sell? The shame of men and women, a merchandise worthy of
    these traffickers, who surpass all that is most sordid and most
    disgusting in their avarice and impiety.”

Luther points out that there is a clear scriptural law on the degrees
within which marriage is unlawful, and says that no human regulations
ought to forbid marriages outside these degrees or permit them within. He
also comes to the conclusion that divorce _a mensa et thoro_ is clearly
permitted in Scripture; though he says that personally he hates divorce,
and “prefers bigamy to it.”

The appeal _To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation_ made the
greatest immediate impression. It was written in haste, but must have been
long thought over. Luther began the introduction on June 23rd (1520); the
book was ready by the middle of August; and by the 18th, four thousand
copies were in circulation throughout Germany, and the presses could not
print fast enough for the demand. It was a call to all Germany to unite
against Rome.

It was nobly comprehensive: it grasped the whole situation, and summed up
with vigour and clearness all the German grievances which had hitherto
been stated separately and weakly; it brought forward every partial
proposal of reform, however incomplete, and quickened it by setting it in
its proper place in one combined scheme. All the parts were welded
together by a simple and courageous faith, and made living by the moral
earnestness which pervaded the whole.

Luther struck directly at the imaginary mysterious semi-supernatural power
supposed to belong to the Church and the priesthood which had held Europe
in awed submission for so many centuries. Reform had been impossible, the
appeal said, because the walls behind which Rome lay entrenched had been
left standing—walls of straw and paper, but in appearance formidable.
These sham fortifications are: the _Spiritual Power_ which is believed to
be superior to the temporal power of kings and princes, the conception
that _no one can interpret Scripture but the Pope_, the idea that _no one
can summon a General Council but the Bishop of Rome_. These are the
threefold lines of fortification behind which the Roman Curia has
entrenched itself, and the German people has long believed that they are
impregnable. Luther sets to work to demolish them.

The Romanists assert that the Pope, bishops, priests, and monks belong to
and constitute the _spiritual estate_, while princes, lords, artisans, and
peasants are the _temporal estate_, which is subject to the spiritual. But
this _spiritual estate_ is a mere delusion. The real _spiritual estate_ is
the whole body of believers in Jesus Christ, and they are spiritual
because Jesus has made all His followers priests to God and to His Christ.
A cobbler belongs to the _spiritual estate_ as truly as a bishop. The
clergy are distinguished from the laity not by an indelible character
imposed upon them in a divine mystery called ordination, but because they
have been set apart to do a particular kind of work in the commonwealth.
If a Pope, bishop, priest, or monk neglects to do the work he is there to
do, he deserves to be punished as much as a careless mason or tailor, and
is as accountable to the civil authorities. The _spiritual priesthood of
all believers_, the gift of the faith which justifies, has shattered the
first and most formidable of these papal fortifications.

It is foolish to say that the _Pope alone can interpret Scripture_. If
that were true, where is the need of Holy Scriptures at all?

    “Let us burn them, and content ourselves with the unlearned
    gentlemen at Rome, in whom the Holy Ghost alone dwells, who,
    however, can dwell in pious souls only. If I had not read it, I
    could never have believed that the devil should have put forth
    such follies at Rome and find a following.”

The Holy Scripture is open to all, and can be interpreted by all true
believers who have the mind of Christ and approach the word of God humbly
seeking enlightenment.

The third wall falls with the other two. It is nonsense to say that _the
Pope alone can call a Council_. We are plainly taught in Scripture that if
our brother offends we are to tell it to the Church; and if the Pope
offends, and he often does, we can only obey Scripture by calling a
Council. Every individual Christian has a right to do his best to have it
summoned; the temporal powers are there to enforce his wishes; Emperors
called General Councils in the earlier ages of the Church.

The straw and paper walls having been thus cleared away, Luther proceeds
to state his indictment. There is in Rome one who calls himself the Vicar
of Christ, and who lives in a state of singular resemblance to our Lord
and to St. Peter, His apostle. For this man wears a triple crown (a single
one does not content him), and keeps up such a state that he needs a
larger personal revenue than the Emperor. He has surrounding him a number
of men, called cardinals, whose only apparent use is that they serve to
draw to themselves the revenues of the richest convents, endowments, and
benefices in Europe, and spend the money thus obtained in keeping up the
state of a great monarch in Rome. When it is impossible to seize the whole
revenue of an ecclesiastical benefice, the Curia joins some ten or twenty
together, and mulcts each in a good round sum for the benefit of the
cardinal. Thus the priory of Würzburg gives one thousand gulden yearly,
and Bamberg, Mainz, and Trier pay their quotas. The papal court is
enormous,—three thousand papal secretaries, and hangers-on innumerable;
and all are waiting for German benefices, whose duties they never fulfil,
as wolves wait for a flock of sheep. Germany pays more to the Curia than
it gives to its own Emperor. Then look at the way Rome robs the whole
German land. Long ago the Emperor permitted the Pope to take the half of
the first year’s income from every benefice—the _Annates_—to provide for a
war against the Turks. The money was never spent for the purpose destined;
yet it has been regularly paid for a hundred years, and the Pope demands
it as a regular and legitimate tax, and uses it to pay posts and offices
at Rome.

    “Whenever there is any pretence of fighting the Turk, they send
    out commissions for collecting money, and often proclaim
    Indulgences under the same pretext.... They think that we,
    Germans, will always remain such great fools, and that we will go
    on giving money to satisfy their unspeakable greed, though we see
    plainly that neither _Annates_ nor _Indulgence-money_ nor
    anything—not one farthing—goes against the Turks, but all goes
    into their bottomless sack, ... and all this is done in the name
    of Christ and of St. Peter.”

The chicanery used to get possession of German benefices for officials of
the Curia, the exactions on the bestowal of the _pallium_, the trafficking
in exemptions and permissions to evade laws ecclesiastical and moral, are
all trenchantly described. The most shameless are those connected with
marriage. The Curial Court is described as a place

    “where vows are annulled; where a monk gets leave to quit his
    cloister; where priests can enter the married life for money;
    where bastards can become legitimate, and dishonour and shame may
    arrive at high honours, and all evil repute and disgrace is
    knighted and ennobled; where a marriage is suffered that is in a
    forbidden degree, or has some other defect.... There is a buying
    and selling, a changing, blustering, and bargaining, cheating and
    lying, robbing and stealing, debauchery and villainy, and all
    kinds of contempt of God, that Antichrist himself could not reign

The plan of reform sketched includes—the complete abolition of the power
of the Pope over the State; the creation of a national German Church, with
an ecclesiastical Council of its own to be the final court of appeal for
Germany, and to represent the German Church as the Diet did the German
State; some internal religious reforms, such as the limitation of the
number of pilgrimages, which were destroying morality and creating a
distaste for honest work; reductions in the mendicant orders and in the
number of vagrants who thronged the roads, and were a scandal in the

    “It is of much more importance to consider what is necessary for
    the salvation of the common people than what St. Francis, or St.
    Dominic, or St. Augustine, or any other man laid down, especially
    as things have not turned out as they expected.”

He proposes the inspection of all convents and nunneries, and permission
given to those who are dissatisfied with their monastic lives to return to
the world; the limitation of ecclesiastical holy days, which are too often
nothing but scenes of drunkenness, gluttony, and debauchery; a married
priesthood, and an end put to the degrading concubinage of the German

    “We see how the priesthood is fallen, and how many a poor priest
    is encumbered with a woman and children, and burdened in his
    conscience, and no one does anything to help him, though he might
    very well be helped.... I will not conceal my honest counsel, nor
    withhold comfort from that unhappy crowd who now live in trouble
    with wife and children, and remain in shame with a heavy
    conscience, hearing their wife called a priest’s harlot, and their
    children bastards.... I say that these two (who are minded in
    their hearts to live together in conjugal fidelity) are surely
    married before God.”

The appeal concludes with some solemn words addressed to the luxury and
licensed immorality of the German towns.

None of Luther’s writings produced such an instantaneous effect as this.
It was not the first programme urging common action in the interests of a
united Germany, but it was the most complete, and was recognised to be so
by all who were working for a Germany for the Germans.

The three “Reformation treatises” were the statement of Luther’s case laid
before the people of the Fatherland, and were a very effectual antidote to
the Papal Bull excommunicating him, which was ready for publication in

§ 5. The Papal Bull.

The Bull, _Exurge Domine_, was scarcely worthy of the occasion. The Pope
seems to have left its construction in the hands of Prierias, Cajetan, and
Eck, and the contents seem to show that Eck had the largest share in
framing it. Much of it reads like an echo of Eck’s statements at Leipzig a
year before. It began pathetically: “Arise, O Lord, plead Thine own cause;
remember how the foolish man reproacheth Thee daily; the foxes are wasting
Thy vineyard, which Thou hast given to Thy Vicar Peter; the boar out of
the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.”
St. Peter is invoked, and the Pope’s distress at the news of Luther’s
misdeeds is described at length. The most disturbing thing is that the
errors of the Greeks and of the Bohemians were being revived, and that in
Germany, which had hitherto been so faithful to the Holy See. Then came
forty-one propositions, said to be Luther’s, which are condemned as
“heretical or scandalous, or false or offensive to pious ears, or seducing
to simple minds, and standing in the way of the Catholic faith.”(172) All
faithful people were ordered to burn Luther’s books wherever they could
find them. Luther himself had refused to come to Rome and submit to
instruction; he had even appealed to a General Council, contrary to the
decrees of Julius II. and Pius II.; he was therefore inhibited from
preaching; he and all who followed him were ordered to make public
recantation within sixty days; if they did not, they were to be treated as
heretics, were to be seized and imprisoned by the magistrates, and all
towns or districts which sheltered them were to be placed under an

Among the forty-one propositions condemned was one—that the burning of
heretics was a sin against the Spirit of Christ—to which the Pope seemed
to attach special significance, so often did he repeat it in letters to
the Elector Frederick and other authorities in Germany. The others may be
arranged in four classes—against Luther’s opinions about Indulgences; his
statements about Purgatory; his declarations that the efficacy of the
sacraments depended upon the spiritual condition of those who received
them; that penance was an outward sign of sorrow, and that good works
(ecclesiastical and moral) were to be regarded as the signs of faith
rather than as making men actually righteous; his denial of the later
_curial_ assertions of the nature of the papal monarchy over the Church.
Luther’s opinions on all these points could be supported by abundant
testimony from the earlier ages of the Church, and most of his criticisms
were directed against theories which had not been introduced before the
middle of the thirteenth century. The Bull made no attempt to argue about
the truth of the positions taken in its sentences. There was nothing done
to show that Luther’s opinions were wrong. The one dominant note running
all through the papal deliverance was the simple assertion of the Pope’s
right to order any discussion to cease at his command.

This did not help to commend the Bull to the people of Germany, and was
specially unsuited to an age of restless mental activity. The method
adopted for publishing it in Germany was still less calculated to win
respect for its decisions. The publication was entrusted to John Eck of
Ingolstadt, who was universally recognised as Luther’s personal enemy; and
the hitherto unheard of liberty was granted to him to insert at his
pleasure the names of a certain number of persons, and to summon them to
appear before the Roman Curia. He showed how unfit he was for this
responsible task by inserting the names of men who had criticised or
satirised him—Adelmann, Pirkheimer, Carlstadt, and three others.(173)

Eck discovered that it was an easier matter to get permission from the
Roman Curia to frame a Bull against the man who had stopped the sale of
Indulgences, and was drying up a great source of revenue, than to publish
the Bull in Germany. It was thought at Rome that no man had more influence
among the bishops and Universities, but the Curia soon learnt that it had
made a mistake. The Universities stood upon their privileges, and would
have nothing to do with John Eck. The bishops made all manner of technical
objections. Many persons affected to believe that the Bull was not
authentic; and Luther himself did not disdain to take this line in his
tract, _Against the Execrable Bull of Antichrist_. Eck, who had come down
to Germany inflated with vanity, found himself mocked and scorned.
Pirkheimer dubbed him _gehobelter Eck_, Eck with the swelled head, and the
epithet stuck. Nor was the publication any easier when the pretence of
unauthenticity could be maintained no longer. The University of Wittenberg
refused to publish the Bull, on the ground that the Pope would not have
permitted its issue had he known the true state of matters, and they
blamed Eck for misinforming His Holiness: the Council of Electoral Saxony
agreed with the Senate; and their action was generally commended. Spalatin
said that he had seen at least thirty letters from great princes and
learned men of all districts in Germany, from Pomerania to Switzerland,
and from the Breisgau to Bohemia, encouraging Luther to stand firm. Eck
implored the bishops of the dioceses surrounding Wittenberg—Merseburg,
Meissen, and Brandenburg—to publish the Bull. They were either unwilling
or powerless.

Luther had been expecting a Bull against him ever since the Leipzig
Disputation. His correspondence reveals that he met it undismayed. What
harm could a papal Bull do to a man whose faith had given him fellowship
with God? What truth could there be in a Bull which clearly contradicted
the Holy Scriptures? St. Paul has warned us against believing an angel
from heaven if he uttered words different from the Scriptures, which are
our strength and our consolation; why should we pin our faith to a Pope or
a Council? The Bull had done one thing for him, it had made him an
excommunicated man, and therefore had freed him from his monastic vows. He
could leave the convent when he liked, only he did not choose to do so.
When he heard that his writings had been burnt as heretical by order of
the Papal Legates, he resolved to retaliate. It was no sudden decision.
Eleven months previously he had assured Spalatin (January 1520) that if
Rome condemned and burnt his writings he would condemn and burn the papal
Decretal Laws. On December 10th (1520) he posted a notice inviting the
Wittenberg students to witness the burning of the papal Constitutions and
the books of Scholastic Theology at nine o’clock in the morning.(174) A
multitude of students, burghers, and professors met in the open space
outside the Elster Gate between the walls and the river Elbe. A great
bonfire had been built. An oak tree planted long ago still marks the spot.
One of the professors kindled the pile; Luther laid the books of the
Decretals on the glowing mass, and they caught the flames; then amid
solemn silence he placed a copy of the Bull on the fire, saying in Latin:
_As thou hast wasted with anxiety the Holy One of God, so may the eternal
flames waste thee_ (_Quia tu conturbasti Sanctum Domini, ideoque te
conturbet ignis eternus_). He waited till the paper was consumed, and then
with his friends and fellow-professors he went back to the town. Some
hundreds of students remained standing round the fire. For a while they
were sobered by the solemnity of the occasion and sang the _Te Deum_. Then
a spirit of mischief seized them, and they began singing funeral dirges in
honour of the burnt Decretals. They got a peasant’s cart, fixed in it a
pole on which they hung a six-foot-long banner emblazoned with the Bull,
piled the small cart with the books of Eck, Emser, and other Romish
controversialists, hauled it along the streets and out through the Elster
Gate, and, throwing books and Bull on the glowing embers of the bonfire,
they burnt them. Sobered again, they sang the _Te Deum_ and finally

It is scarcely possible for us in the twentieth century to imagine the
thrill that went through Germany, and indeed through all Europe, when the
news sped that a poor monk had burnt the Pope’s Bull. Papal Bulls had been
burnt before Luther’s days, but the burners had been for the most part
powerful monarchs. This tune it was done by a monk, with nothing but his
courageous faith to back him. It meant that the individual soul had
discovered its true value. If eras can be dated, modern history began on
December 10th, 1520.

§ 6. Luther the Representative of Germany.

Hitherto we have followed Luther’s personal career exclusively. It may be
well to turn aside for a little to see how the sympathy of many classes of
the people was gathering round him.

The representatives of foreign States who were present at the Diet of
Worms, of England, Spain, and Venice, all wrote home to their respective
governments about the extraordinary popularity which Luther enjoyed among
almost every class of his fellow-countrymen; and, as we shall see, the
despatches of Aleander, the papal nuncio at the Diet, are full of
statements and complaints which confirm these reports. This popularity had
been growing since 1517, and there are traces that many thoughtful men had
been attracted to Luther some years earlier. The accounts of Luther’s
interview with Cardinal Cajetan at Augsburg, and his attitude at the
Leipzig Disputation, had given a great impulse to the veneration with
which people regarded him; but the veneration itself had been quietly
growing, apart from any striking incidents in his career. The evidence for
what follows has been collected chiefly from such private correspondence
as has descended to us; and most stress has been laid on letters which
were not addressed to Luther, and which were never meant to be seen by
him. Men wrote to each other about him, and described the impression he
was making on themselves and on the immediate circle of their
acquaintances. We learn from such letters not merely the fact of the
esteem, but what were the characteristics in the man which called it

A large part of the evidence comes from the correspondence of educated
men, who, if they were not all Humanists strictly so called, belonged to
that increasing class on whom the New Learning had made a great
impression, and had produced the characteristic habit of mind which
belonged to its possessors. The attitude and work of Erasmus had prepared
them to appreciate Luther. The monkish opponents of the great Humanist had
been thoroughly in the right when they feared the effects of his
revolutionary ways of thinking, however they might be accompanied with
appeals against all revolutionary action. He had exhibited his idea of
what a life of personal religion ought to be in his _Enchiridion_; he had
exposed the mingled Judaism and paganism of a great part of the popular
religion; he had poured scorn on the trifling subtleties of scholastic
theology, and had asked men to return to a simple “Christian Philosophy”;
above all, he had insisted that Christianity could only renew its youth by
going back to the study of the Holy Scriptures, and especially of the New
Testament; and he had aided his contemporaries to make this return by his
edition of the New Testament, and by his efforts to bring within their
reach the writings of the earlier Church Fathers. His Humanist followers
in Germany believed that they saw in Luther a man who was doing what their
leader urged all men to do. They saw in Luther an Erasmus, who was going
to the root of things. He was rejecting with increasing determination the
bewildering sophistries of Scholasticism, and, what was more, he was
showing how many of these had arisen by exalting the authority of the
pagan Aristotle over that of St. Paul and St. Augustine. He had painfully
studied these Schoolmen, and could speak with an authority on this matter;
for he was a learned theologian. The reports of his lectures, which were
spreading throughout Germany, informed them that he based his teaching on
a simple exposition of the Holy Scriptures in the Vulgate version, which
was sanctioned by the mediæval Church. He had revolted, and was
increasingly in revolt, against those abuses in the ordinary religious
life which were encouraged from sordid motives by the Roman Curia,—abuses
which Erasmus had pierced through and through with the light darts of his
sarcasm; and Luther knew, as Erasmus did not, what he was speaking about,
for he had surrendered himself to that popular religion, and had sought in
it desperately for a means of reconciliation with God without succeeding
in his quest. They saw him insisting, with a strenuousness no Humanist had
exhibited, on the Humanist demand that every man had a right to stand true
to his own personal conscientious convictions. If some of them, like
Erasmus, in spite of their scorn of monkery, still believed that the
highest type of the religious life was a sincere self-sacrificing
Franciscan monk, they saw their ideal in the Augustinian Eremite, whose
life had never been stained by any monkish scandal, and who had been
proclaimed by his brother monks to be a model of personal holiness. They
were sure that when he pled heroically for the freedom of the religious
life, his courage, which they could not emulate, rested on a depth and
strength of personal piety which they sadly confessed they themselves did
not possess. If they complained at times that Luther spoke too strongly
against the Pope, they admitted that he was going to the root of things in
his attack. All clear-sighted men perceived that the _one_ obstacle to
reform was the theory of the papal monarchy, which had been laboriously
constructed by Italian canonists after the failure of Conciliar reform,—a
theory which defied the old mediæval ecclesiastical tradition, and
contradicted the solemn decisions of the great German Councils of
Constance and Basel. Luther’s attacks on the Papacy were not stronger than
those of Gerson and d’Ailly, and his language was not more unmeasured than
that of their common master, William of Occam. There was nothing in these
early days to prevent men who were genuinely attached to the mediæval
Church, its older theology and its ancient rites, from rallying round
Luther. When the marches began to be redd, and the beginnings of a
Protestant Church confronted the mediæval, the situation was changed. Many
who had enthusiastically supported Luther left him.

Conrad Mutianus, canon of Gotha, and the veteran leader of the Erfurt
circle of Humanists, wrote admiringly of the originality of Luther’s
sermons as early as 1515. He applauded the stand he took at Leipzig, and
spoke of him as _Martinum, Deo devotissimum doctorem_. His followers were
no longer contented with a study of the classical authors. Eobanus Hessus,
crowned “poet-king” of Germany, abandoned his _Horace_ for the
_Enchiridion_ of Erasmus and the Holy Scriptures. Justus Jonas (Jodocus
Koch of Nordlingen) forsook classical Greek to busy himself with the
Epistles to the Corinthians. The wicked satirist, Curicius Cordus, betook
himself to the New Testament. They did this out of admiration for Erasmus,
“their father in Christ.” But when Luther appeared, when they read his
pamphlets circulating through Germany, when they followed, step by step,
his career, they came under the influence of a new spell. The _Erasmici_,
to use the phrases of the times, diminished, and the _Martiniani_
increased in numbers. One of the old Erfurt circle, Johannes Crotus
Rubeanus, was in Rome. His letters, passed round among his friends, made
no small impression upon them. He told them that he was living in the
centre of the plague-spot of Europe. He reviled the Curia as devoid of all
moral conscience. “The Pope and his carrion-crows” were sitting content,
gorged on the miseries of the Church. When Crotus received from Germany
copies of Luther’s writings, he distributed them secretly to his Italian
friends, and collected their opinions to transmit to Germany. They were
all sympathetically impressed with what Luther said, but they pitied him
as a man travelling along a very dangerous road; no real reform was
possible without the destruction of the whole curial system, and that was
too powerful for any man to combat. Yet Luther was a hero; he was the
_Pater Patriæ_ of Germany; his countrymen ought to erect a golden statue
in his honour; they wished him God-speed. When Crotus returned to Germany
and got more in touch with Luther’s work, he felt more drawn to the
Reformer, and wrote enthusiastically to his friends that Luther was the
personal revelation of Christ in modern times. So we find these Humanists
declaring that Luther was the St. Paul of the age, the modern Hercules,
the Achilles of the sixteenth century.

No Humanist circle gave Luther more enthusiastic support than that of
Nürnberg. The soil had been prepared by a few ardent admirers of Staupitz,
at the head of whom was Wenceslas Link, prior of the Augustinian-Eremites
in Nürnberg, and a celebrated preacher. They had learned from Staupitz
that blending of the theology of Augustine with the later German mysticism
which was characteristic of the man, and it prepared them to appreciate
the deeper experimental teaching of Luther. Among these Nürnberg Humanists
was Christopher Scheurl, a jurist, personally acquainted with Luther and
with Eck. The shortlived friendship between the two antagonists had been
brought about by Scheurl, whose correspondence with Luther began in 1516.
Scheurl was convinced that Luther’s cause was the “cause of God.” He told
Eck this. He wrote to him (February 18th, 1519) that all the most
spiritually minded clergymen that he knew were devoted to Luther; that
“they flew to him in dense troops, like starlings”; that their deepest
sympathies were with him; and that they confessed that their holiest
desires were prompted by his writings. Albert Dürer expressed his
admiration by painting Luther as St. John, the beloved disciple of the
Lord. Caspar Nützel, one of the most dignified officials of the town,
thought it an honour to translate Luther’s _Ninety-five Theses_ into
German. Lazarus Sprengel delighted to tell his friends how Luther’s tracts
and sermons were bringing back to a living Christianity numbers of his
acquaintances who had been perplexed and driven from the faith by the
trivialities common in ordinary sermons. Similar enthusiasm showed itself
in Augsburg and other towns. After the Leipzig Disputation, the great
printer of Basel, Frobenius, became an ardent admirer of Luther; reprinted
most of his writings, and despatched them to Switzerland, France, the
Netherlands, Italy, England, and Spain. He delighted to tell of the
favourable reception they met with in these foreign countries,—how they
had been welcomed by Lefèvre in France, and how the Swiss Cardinal von
Sitten had said that Luther deserved all honour, for he spoke the truth,
which no special pleading of an Eck could overthrow. The distinguished
jurist Ulrich Zasius of Freiburg said that Luther was an “angel
incarnate,” and while he deprecated his strong language against the Pope,
he called him the “Phœnix among Christian theologians,” the “flower of the
Christian world,” and the “instrument of God.” Zasius was a man whose
whole religious sympathies belonged to the mediæval conception of the
Church, yet he spoke of Luther in this way.

It is perhaps difficult for us now to comprehend the state of mind which
longed for the new and yet clung to the old, which made the two Nürnberg
families, the Ebners and the Nützlers, season the ceremonies at their
family gathering to celebrate their daughters taking the veil with
speeches in praise of Luther and of his writings. Yet this was the
dominant note in the vast majority of the supporters of Luther in these
earlier years.

Men who had no great admiration for Luther personally had no wish to see
him crushed by the Roman Curia by mere weight of authority. Even Duke
George of Saxony, who had called Luther a pestilent fellow at the Leipzig
Disputation, had been stirred into momentary admiration by the _Address to
the Christian Nobility of the German Nation_, and had no great desire to
publish the Bull within his dominions; and his private secretary and
chaplain, Jerome Emser, although a personal enemy who never lost an
opportunity of controverting Luther, nevertheless hoped that he might be
the instrument of effecting a reformation in the Church. Jacob Wimpheling
of Strassburg, a thoroughgoing mediævalist who had manifested no sympathy
for Reuchlin, and his friend Christopher of Utenheim, Bishop of Basel,
hoped that the movement begun by Luther might lead to that reformation of
the Church on mediæval lines which they both earnestly desired.

Perhaps no one represented better the attitude of the large majority of
Luther’s supporters, in the years between 1517 and 1521, than did the
Prince, who is rightly called Luther’s protector, Frederick the Elector of
Saxony. It is a great though common mistake to suppose that Frederick
shared those opinions of Luther which afterwards grew to be the Lutheran
theology. His brother John, and in a still higher degree his nephew John
Frederick, were devoted Lutherans in the theological sense; but there is
no evidence to show that Frederick ever was.

Frederick never had any intimate personal relations with Luther. At
Spalatin’s request, he had paid the expenses of Luther’s _promotion_ to
the degree of Doctor of the Holy Scriptures; he had, of course, acquiesced
in his appointment to succeed Spalatin as Professor of Theology; and he
must have appreciated keenly the way in which Luther’s work had gradually
raised the small and declining University to the position it held in 1517.
A few letters were exchanged between Luther and Frederick, but there is no
evidence that they ever met in conversation; nor is there any that
Frederick had ever heard Luther preach. When he lay dying he asked Luther
to come and see him; but the Reformer was far distant, trying to dissuade
the peasants from rising in rebellion, and when he reached the palace his
old protector had breathed his last.

The Elector was a pious man according to mediæval standards. He had
received his earliest lasting religious impressions from intercourse with
Augustinian Eremite monks when he was a boy at school at Grimma, and he
maintained the closest relations with the Order all his life. He valued
highly all the external aids to a religious life which the mediæval Church
had provided. He believed in the virtue of pilgrimages and relics. He had
made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and had brought back a great many
relics, which he had placed in the Church of All Saints in Wittenberg, and
he had agents at Venice and other Mediterranean ports commissioned to
secure other relics for his collection. He continued to purchase them as
late as the year 1523. He believed in Indulgences of the older
type,—Indulgences which remitted in whole or in part ecclesiastically
imposed _satisfactions_,—and he had procured two for use in Saxony. One
served as an endowment for the upkeep of his bridge at Torgau, and he had
once commissioned Tetzel to preach its virtues; the other was to benefit
pilgrims who visited and venerated his collection of relics on All Saints’
Day. But it is clear that he disliked Indulgences of the kind Luther had
challenged, and had small belief in the good faith of the Roman Curia. He
had prevented money collected for one plenary Indulgence leaving the
country, and he had forbidden Tetzel to preach the last Indulgence within
his territories. His sympathies were all with Luther on this question. He
was an esteemed patron of the pious society called _St. Ursula’s
Schifflein_. He went to Mass regularly, and his attendances became
frequent when he was in a state of hesitation or perplexity. When he was
at Köln (November 1520), besieged by the papal nuncios to induce him to
permit the publication of the Bull against Luther within his lands,
Spalatin noted that he went to Mass three times in one day. His reverence
for the Holy Scriptures must have created a bond of sympathy between
Luther and himself. He talked with his private secretary about the
incomparable majesty and power of the word of God, and contrasted its
sublimities with the sophistries and trivialities of the theology of the
day. He maintained firmly the traditional policy of his House to make the
decisions of the Councils of Constance and of Basel effective within
Electoral Saxony, in spite of protests from the Curia and the higher
ecclesiastics, and was accustomed to consider himself responsible for the
ecclesiastical as well as for the civil good government of his lands.
Aleander had considered it a master-stroke of policy to procure the
burning of Luther’s books at Köln while the Elector was in the city.
Frederick only regarded the deed as a petty insult to himself. He was a
staunch upholder of the rights and liberties of the German nation, and
remembered that by an old concordat, which every Emperor had sworn to
maintain, every German had the right to appeal to a General Council, and
could not be condemned without a fair trial; and this Bull had made
Luther’s appeal to a Council one of the reasons for his condemnation. So,
in spite of the “golden rose” and other blandishments, in spite of threats
that he might be included in the excommunication of his subject and that
the privileges of his University might be taken away, he stood firm, and
would not withdraw his protection from Luther. He was a pious German
prince of the old-fashioned type, with no great love for Italians, and was
not going to be browbeaten by papal nuncios. His attitude towards Luther
represents very fairly that of the great mass of the German people on the
eve of the Diet of Worms.

Chapter III. The Diet Of Worms.(176)

§ 1. The Roman Nuncio Aleander.

Rome had done its utmost to get rid of Luther by ecclesiastical measures,
and had failed. If he was to be overthrown, if the new religious movement
and the national uprising which enclosed it were to be stifled, this could
only be done by the aid of the supreme secular authority. The Curia turned
to the Emperor.

Maximilian had died suddenly on the 12th of January 1519. After some
mouths of intriguing, the papal diplomacy being very tortuous, his
grandson Charles, the young King of Spain, was unanimously chosen to be
his successor (June 28th, 1519). Troubles in Spain prevented him leaving
that country at once to take possession of his new dignities. He was
crowned at Aachen on the 23rd of October 1520, and opened his first German
Diet on January 22nd, 1521, at Worms.

The Pope had selected two envoys to wait on the young Emperor, the
Protonotary Marino Caraccioli (1469-1530), who was charged with the
ordinary diplomatic business, and Jerome Aleander, the Director of the
Vatican Library, who was appointed to secure the outlawry of Luther.

The Roman Curia had in Aleander one of the most clear-sighted, courageous,
and indefatigable of diplomatists. He was an Italian, born of a burgher
family in the little Venetian town of Motta (1480-1542), educated at Padua
and Venice; he had begun life as a Humanist, had lectured on Greek with
distinction in Paris, and had been personally acquainted with many of the
German Humanists, who could not forgive the “traitor” who had deserted
their ranks to serve an obscurantist party. His graphic letters, full of
minute details, throb with the hopes and fears of the papal diplomacy. The
reader has his fingers on the pulse of those momentous mouths. The Legate
was in a land where “every stone and every tree cried out, ‘Luther.’ ”
Landlords refused him lodging. He had to shiver during these winter months
in an attic without a stove. The stench and dirt of the house were worse
than the cold. When he appeared on the streets he saw scowling faces,
hands suddenly carried to the hilts of swords, heard curses shrieked after
him. He was struck on the breast by a Lutheran doorkeeper when he tried to
get audience of the Elector of Saxony, and no one in the crowd interfered
to protect him. He saw caricatures of himself hanging head downwards from
a gibbet. He received the old deadly German feud-letters from Ulrich von
Hutten, safe in the neighbouring castle of Ebernberg, about a day’s ride
distant.(177) The imperial Councillors to whom he complained had neither
the men nor the means to protect him. When he tried to publish answers to
the attacks on the Papacy which the Lutheran presses poured forth, he
could scarcely find a printer; and when he did, syndicates bought up his
pamphlets and destroyed them. As the weeks passed he came to understand
that there was only one man on whom he could rely—the young Emperor,
believed by all but himself to be a puppet in the hands of his
Councillors, whom Pope Leo had called a “good child,” but whom Aleander
from his first interview at Antwerp had felt to be endowed with “a
prudence far beyond his years,” and to “have much more at the back of his
head than he carried on his face.” He also came to believe that the one
man to be feared was the old Elector of Saxony, “that basilisk,” that
“German fox,” that “marmot with the eyes of a dog, who glanced obliquely
at his questioners.”

Aleander was a pure worldling, a man of indifferent morals, showing traces
of cold-blooded cruelty (as when he slew five peasants for the loss of one
of his dogs, or tried to get Erasmus poisoned). He believed that every man
had his price, and that low and selfish motives were alone to be reckoned
with. But he did the work of the Curia at Worms with a thoroughness which
merited the rewards he obtained afterwards.(178) He had spies
everywhere—in the households of the Emperor and of the leading princes,
and among the population of Worms. He had no hesitation in lying when he
thought it useful for the “faith,” as he frankly relates.(179) The Curia
had laid a difficult task upon him. He was to see that Luther was put
under the ban of the Empire at once and unheard. The Bull had condemned
him: the secular power had nothing to do but execute the sentence.
Aleander had little difficulty in persuading the Emperor to this course
within his hereditary dominions. An edict was issued ordering Luther’s
books to be burnt, and the Legate had the satisfaction of presiding at
several literary _auto-da-fés_ in Antwerp and elsewhere. He was also
successful with some of the ecclesiastical princes of Germany.(180) But it
was impossible to get this done at Worms. Failing this, it was Aleander’s
business to see that Luther’s case was kept separate from the question of
German national grievances against the Papacy, and that, if it proved to
be impossible to prevent Luther appearing before the Diet, he was to be
summoned there simply for the purpose of making public recantation. With
the assistance of the Emperor he was largely successful.(181)

§ 2. The Emperor Charles V.

Aleander was not the real antagonist of Luther at Worms; he was not worthy
of the name. The German Diet was the scene of a fight of faiths; and the
man of faith on the mediæval side was the young Emperor. He represented
the believing past as Luther represented the believing future.(182) “What
my forefathers established at Constance and other Councils,” he said, “it
is my privilege to uphold. A single monk, led astray by private judgment,
has set himself against the faith held by all Christians for a thousand
years and more, and impudently concludes that all Christians up till now
have erred. I have therefore resolved to stake upon this cause all my
dominions, my friends, my body and my blood, my life and soul.”(183) The
crisis had not come suddenly on him. As early as May 12th, 1520, Juan
Manuel, his ambassador at Rome, had written to him asking him to pay some
attention to “a certain Martin Luther, who belongs to the following of the
Elector of Saxony,” and whose preaching was causing some discontent at the
Roman Curia. Manuel thought that Luther might prove useful in a diplomatic
dispute with the Curia.(184) Charles had had time to think over the matter
in his serious, reserved way; and this was the decision he had come to.
The declaration was all the more memorable when it is remembered that
Charles owed his election to that rising feeling of nationality which
supported Luther,(185) and that he had to make sure of German assistance
in his coming struggle with Francis I. A certain grim reality lurked in
the words, that he was ready to stake his dominions on the cause he
adopted. There is much to be said for the opinion that “the Lutheran
question made a man of the boy-ruler.”(186)

On the other hand, it is well to remember that the young Emperor did not
take the side of the Pope nor commit himself to the Curial ideas of the
absolute character of papal supremacy. He laid stress on the unity of the
Catholic (mediæval) Church, on the continuity of its rites, and on the
need of maintaining its authority; but the seat of that authority was for
him a General Council. The declaration in no way conflicts with the
changes in imperial policy which may be traced during the opening weeks of
the Diet, nor with that future action which led to the Sack of Rome and to
the Augsburg Interim (1548). It is possible that the young ruler had read
and admired Luther’s earlier writings, and that he had counted on him as
an aid in bringing the Church to a better condition. It is more than
probable that he already believed that it was his duty to free the Church
from the abuses which abounded;(187) but Luther’s fierce attack on the
Pope disgusted him, and a reformation which came from the people
threatened secular as well as ecclesiastical authority. He had made up his
mind that Luther must be condemned, and told the German princes that he
would not change one iota of his determination. But this did not prevent
him making use of Luther to further his diplomatic dealings with the Pope
and wring concessions from the Curia. For one thing, the Pope had been
interfering with the Inquisition in Spain, trying to mitigate its
severity; and Charles, like his maternal grandfather, Ferdinand of Aragon,
believed that the Holy Office was a help in curbing the freedom-loving
people of Spain, and had no wish to see his instrument of punishment made
less effectual. For another, it was evident that Francis I. was about to
invade Italy, and Charles wished the Pope to take his side. If the Pope
gave way to him on both of these points, he was ready to carry out his
wishes about Luther as far as that was possible.(188)

§ 3. In the City of Worms.

The city of Worms was crowded with men of diverse opinions and of many
different nationalities. The first Diet of the youthful Emperor (Charles
was barely one and twenty), from whom men of all parties expected so much,
had attracted much larger numbers than usually attended these assemblies.
Weighty matters affecting all Germany were down on the _agenda_. There was
the old constitutional question of monarchy or oligarchy bequeathed from
the Diets of Maximilian; curiosity to see whether the new ruler would
place before the Estates a truly imperial policy, or whether, like his
predecessors, he would subordinate national to dynastic considerations;
the deputies from the cities were eager to get some sure provisions made
for ending the private wars which disturbed trade; all classes were
anxious to provide for an effective central government when the Emperor
was absent from Germany; local statesmen felt the need of putting an end
to the constant disputes between the ecclesiastical and secular powers
within Germany; but the hardest problem of all, and the one which every
man was thinking, talking, disputing about, was: “To take notice of the
books and descriptions made by Friar Martin Luther against the Court of
Rome.”(189) Other exciting questions were stirring the crowds met at Worms
besides those mentioned on the _agenda_ of the Diet. Men were talking
about the need of making an end of the papal exactions which were draining
Germany of money, and the air was full of rumours of what Sickingen and
the knights might attempt, and whether there was going to be another
peasant revolt. These questions were instinctively felt to hang together,
and each had an importance because of the way in which it was connected
with the religious and social problems of the day. For the people of
Germany and for the foreign representatives who were gathered together at
Worms, it is unquestionable that the Lutheran movement, and how it was to
be dealt with, was the supreme problem of the moment. All these various
things combined to bring together at Worms a larger concourse of people
than had been collected in any German town since the meeting of the
General Council at Constance in 1414.

Worms was one of the oldest towns in Germany. Its people were turbulent,
asserting their rights as the inhabitants of a free imperial city, and in
constant feud with their bishop. They had endured many an interdict, were
fiercely anti-clerical, and were to a man on Luther’s side. The crowded
streets were thronged with princes, their councillors and their retinues;
with high ecclesiastical dignitaries and their attendant clergy; with
nobles and their “riders”; with landsknechts, artisans, and peasants.
Spanish, French, and Italian merchants, on their way home-wards from the
Frankfurt fair, could be seen discussing the last phase of the Lutheran
question, and Spanish nobles and Spanish merchants more than once came to
blows in the narrow thoroughfares. The foreign merchants, especially the
Spaniards, all appeared to take the Lutheran side; not because they took
much interest in doctrines, but because they felt bound to stand up for
the man who had dared to say that no one should be burned for his
opinions. These Spanish merchants made themselves very prominent. They
joined in syndicates with the more fervent German partisans of Luther to
buy up and destroy papal pamphlets; they bought Luther’s writings to carry
home. Aleander curses these _marrani_,(190) as he calls them, and relates
that they are getting Luther’s works translated into Spanish. It is
probable that many of them had Moorish blood in them, and knew the horrors
of the Inquisition. Aleander’s spies told him that caricatures of himself
and other prominent papalists were hawked about, and that pictures of
Luther with the Dove hovering over his head, Luther with his head crowned
with a halo of rays, Luther and Hutten,(191) the one with a Bible and the
other with a sword, were eagerly bought in the streets. These pictures
were actually sold in the courts and rooms of the episcopal palace where
the Emperor was lodged. On the steps of the churches, at the doors of
public buildings, colporteurs offered to eager buyers the tracts of Luther
against the Pope, and the satires of Ulrich von Hutten in Latin and in
German. On the streets and in open spaces like the Market, crowds of keen
disputants argued about the teaching of Luther, and praised him in the
most exaggerated ways.

Inside the Electoral College opinion was divided. The Archbishop of Köln,
the Elector of Brandenburg, and his brother the Archbishop of Mainz, were
for Luther’s condemnation, while the Elector of Saxony had great influence
over the Archbishop of Trier and the Count Palatine of the Rhine. The
latter, says Aleander, scarcely opened his mouth during the year, but now
“roared like ten bulls” on Luther’s behalf. Aleander had his first
opportunity of addressing the Diet on February 13th. He spoke for three
hours, and made a strong impression. He dwelt on Luther’s doctrinal
errors, which he said were those of the Waldenses, of Wiclif, and of the
Hussites. He said that Luther denied the Presence of Christ in the Holy
Supper, and that he was a second Arius.(192) During the days that followed
the members of the Diet came to a common understanding. They presented a
memorial in German (February 19th) to the Emperor, in which they reminded
him that no imperial edict could be published against Luther without their
consent, and that to do so before Luther had a hearing would lead to
bloodshed; they proposed that Luther should be invited to come to Worms
under a safe conduct, and in the presence of the Diet be asked whether he
was the author of the books that were attributed to him, and whether he
could clear himself of the accusation of denying fundamental articles of
the faith; that he should also be heard upon the papal claims, and the
Diet would judge upon them; and, finally, they prayed the Emperor to
deliver Germany from the papal tyranny.(193) The Emperor agreed that
Luther should be summoned under a safe conduct and interrogated about his
books, and whether he had denied any fundamental doctrines. But he utterly
refused to permit any discussion on the authority of the Pope, and
declared that he would himself communicate with His Holiness about the
complaints of Germany.(194)

The documents in the _Reichstagsakten_ reveal not only that there was a
decided difference of opinion between the Emperor and the majority of the
Estates about the way in which Luther ought to be treated, but that the
policy of the Emperor and his advisers had changed between November 1520
and February 1521. Aleander had found no difficulty in persuading Charles
and his Flemish councillors that, so far as the Emperor’s hereditary
dominions were concerned, the only thing that the civil power had to do
was to issue an edict homologating the Papal Bull banning Luther and his
adherents, and ordering his books to be burnt. This had been done in the
Netherlands. They had made difficulties, however, about such summary
action within the German Empire. Aleander was told that the Emperor could
do nothing until after the coronation at Aachen (October 1520);(195) and
in November, much to the nuncio’s disgust, the Emperor had written to the
Elector of Saxony (November 28th, 1520) from Oppenheim asking him to bring
Luther with him to the Diet.(196) At that time Luther had no great wish to
go to the Diet, unless it was clearly understood that he was summoned not
for the purpose of merely making a recantation, but in order that he might
defend his views with full liberty of speech. He was not going to recant,
and he could say so as easily and clearly at Wittenberg as at Worms. The
situation had changed at Worms. The Emperor had come over to the nuncio’s
side completely. He now saw no need for Luther’s appearance. The Diet had
nothing to do but to place Luther under the ban of the Empire, because he
had been declared to be a heretic by the Roman Pontiff. Aleander claimed
all the credit for this change; but it is more than probable that the
explanation lies in the shifting imperial and papal policy. In the end of
1520 the policy of the Roman Curia was strongly anti-imperialist. The
Emperor’s ambassador at Rome, Don Manuel, had been warning his master of
the papal intrigues against him, and suggesting that Charles might show
some favour to a “certain Martin Luther”; and this advice might easily
have inspired the letter of the 28th of November. At all events the papal
policy had been changing, and showing signs of becoming less hostile to
the Emperor. However the matter be accounted for, Aleander found that
after the Emperor’s presence within Worms it was much more easy for him to
press the papal view about Luther upon Charles and his advisers.(197)

On the other hand, the Germans in the Diet held stoutly to the opinion
that no countryman of theirs should be placed under the ban of the Empire
without being heard in his defence, and that they and not the Bishop of
Rome were to be the judges in the matter.

The two months before Luther’s appearance saw open opposition between the
Emperor and the Diet, and abundant secret intrigue—an edict proposed
against Luther,(198) which the Diet refused to accept;(199) an edict
proposed to order the burning of Luther’s books, which the Diet also
objected to;(200) this edict revised and limited to the seizure of
Luther’s writings, which was also found fault with by the Diet; and,
finally, the Emperor issuing this revised edict on his own authority and
without the consent of the Diet.(201)

The command to appear before the Diet on April 16th, 1521, and the
imperial safe conduct were entrusted to the imperial herald, Caspar Strum,
who delivered them at Wittenberg on the 26th of March.(202) Luther calmly
finished some literary work, and left for the Diet on April 2nd. He
believed that he was going to his death. “My dear brother,” he said to
Melanchthon at parting, “if I do not come back, if my enemies put me to
death, you will go on teaching and standing fast in the truth; if you
live, my death will matter little.” The journey seemed to the indignant
Papists like a royal progress; crowds came to bless the man who had stood
up for Germany against the Pope, and who was going to his death for his
courage; they pressed into the inns where he rested, and often found him
solacing himself with music. His lute was always comforting to him in
times of excitement. Justus Jonas, the famous German Humanist, who had
turned theologian much to Erasmus’ disgust, joined him at Erfurt. The
nearer he came to Worms, the sharper became the disputes there. Friends
and foes feared that his presence would prove oil thrown on the flames.
The Emperor began to wish he had not sent the summons. Messengers were
despatched secretly to Sickingen, and a pension promised to Hutten to see
whether they could not prevent Luther’s appearance.(203) Might he not take
refuge in the Ebernberg, scarcely a day’s journey from Worms? Was it not
possible to arrange matters in a private conference with Glapion, the
Emperor’s confessor? Bucer was sent to persuade him. The herald
significantly called his attention to the imperial edict ordering
magistrates to seize his writings. But nothing daunted Luther. He would
not go to the Ebernberg; he could see Glapion at Worms, if the confessor
wished an interview; what he had to say would be said publicly at Worms.

Luther had reached Oppenheim, a town on the Rhine about fifteen miles
north from Worms, and about twenty east from the Ebernberg, on April 14th.
There he for the last time rejected the insidious temptations of his
enemies and the distracted counsels of his friends, that he should turn
aside and seek shelter with Francis von Sickingen. There he penned his
famous letter to Spalatin, that he would come to Worms if there were as
many devils as tiles on the house roofs to prevent him, and at the same
time asked where he was to lodge.(204)

The question was important. The Romanists had wished that Luther should be
placed under the Emperor’s charge as a prisoner of State, or else lodged
in the Convent of the Augustinian Eremites, where he could be under
ecclesiastical surveillance. But the Saxon nobles and their Elector had
resolved to trust no one with the custody of their countryman. The Elector
Frederick and part of his suite had found accommodation at an inn called
_The Swan_, and the rest of his following were in the House of the Knights
of St. John. Both houses were full; but it was arranged that Luther was to
share the room of two Saxon gentlemen, v. Hirschfeld and v. Schott, in the
latter building.(205) Next morning, Justus Jonas, who had reached Worms
before Luther, after consultation with Luther’s friends, left the town
early on Tuesday morning (April 16th) to meet the Reformer, and tell him
the arrangements made. With him went the two gentlemen with whom Luther
was to lodge.(206) A large number of Saxon noblemen with their attendants
accompanied them. When it was known that they had set out to meet Luther,
a great crowd of people (nearly two thousand, says Secretary Vogler), some
on horseback and some on foot, followed to welcome Luther, and did meet
him about two and a half miles from the town.(207)

§ 4. Luther in Worms.

A little before eleven o’clock the watcher on tower by the Mainz Gate blew
his horn to announce that the procession was in sight, and soon afterwards
Luther entered the town. The people of Worms were at their _Morgenimbiss_
or _Frühmahl_, but all rushed to the windows or out into the streets to
see the arrival.(208) Caspar Sturm, the herald, rode first, accompanied by
his attendant, the square yellow banner, emblazoned with the black
two-headed eagle, attached to his bridle arm. Then came the cart,—a
genuine Saxon _Rollwegelin_,—Luther and three companions sitting in the
straw which half filled it. The waggon had been provided by the good town
of Wittenberg, which had also hired Christian Goldschmidt and his three
horses at three gulden a day.(209) Luther’s companions were his _socius
itinerarius_, Brother Petzensteiner of Nürnberg;(210) his colleague
Nicholas Amsdorf; and a student of Wittenberg, a young Pomeranian noble,
Peter Swaven, who had been one of the Wittenberg students who had
accompanied Luther with halbert and helmet to the Leipzig Disputation
(July 1519). Justus Jonas rode immediately behind the waggon, and then
followed the crowd of nobles and people who had gone out to meet the

Aleander in his attic room heard the shouts and the trampling in the
streets, and sent out one of his people to find out the cause, guessing
that it was occasioned by Luther’s arrival. The messenger reported that
the procession had made its way through dense crowds of people, and that
the waggon had stopped at the door of the House of the Knights of St.
John. He also informed the nuncio that Luther had got out, saying, as he
looked round with his piercing eyes, _Deus erit pro me_, and that a priest
had stepped forward, received him in his arms, then touched or kissed his
robe thrice with as much reverence as if he were handling the relics of a
saint. “They will say next,” says Aleander in his wrath, “that the
scoundrel works miracles.”(211)

After travel-stains were removed, Luther dined with ten or twelve friends.
The early afternoon brought crowds of visitors, some of whom had come
great distances to see him. Then came long discussions about how he was to
act on the morrow before the Diet. The Saxon councillors v. Feilitzsch and
v. Thun were in the same house with him: the Saxon Chancellor, v. Brück,
and Luther’s friend Spalatin, were at _The Swan_, a few doors away. Jerome
Schurf, the Professor of Law in Wittenberg, had been summoned to Worms by
the Elector to act as Luther’s legal adviser, and had reached the town
some days before the Reformer.

How much Luther knew of the secret intrigues that had been going on at
Worms about his affairs it is impossible to say. He probably was aware
that the Estates had demanded that he should have a hearing, and should be
confronted by impartial theologians, and that the complaints of the German
nation against Rome should be taken up at the same time; also that the
Emperor had refused to allow any theological discussion, or that the
grievances against Rome should be part of the proceedings. All that was
public property. The imperial summons and safe conduct had not treated him
as a condemned heretic.(212) He had been addressed in it as _Ehrsamer_,
_lieber_, _andächtiger_—terms which would not have been used to a heretic,
and which were ostentatiously omitted from the safe conduct sent him by
Duke George of Saxony.(213) He knew also that the Emperor had nevertheless
published an edict ordering the civil authorities to seize his books, and
to prevent more from being printed, published, or sold, and that such an
edict threw doubts upon the value of the safe conduct.(214) But he
probably did not know that this edict was a third draft issued by the
Emperor without consulting the Diet. Nor is it likely that he knew how
Aleander had been working day and night to prevent his appearance at the
Diet from being more than a mere formality, nor how far the nuncio had
prevailed with the Emperor and with his councillors. His friends could
tell him all this—though even they were not aware until next morning how
resolved the Emperor was that Luther should not be permitted to make a
speech.(215) They knew enough, however, to be able to impress on Luther
that he must restrain himself, and act in such a way as to force the hands
of his opponents, and gain permission to speak at length in a second
audience. The Estates wished to hear him if the Emperor and his entourage
had resolved to prevent him from speaking. These consultations probably
settled the tactics which Luther followed on his first appearance before
the Diet.(216)

Next morning (Wednesday, April 17th), Ulrich von Pappenheim, the marshal
of ceremonies, came to Luther’s room before ten o’clock, and, greeting him
courteously and with all respect, informed him that he was to appear
before the Emperor and the Diet that day at four o’clock, when he would be
informed why he had been summoned.(217) Immediately after the marshal had
left, there came an urgent summons from a Saxon noble, Hans von Minkwitz,
who was dying in his lodgings, that Luther would come to hear his
confession and administer the sacrament to him. Luther instantly went to
soothe and comfort the dying man, notwithstanding his own troubles.(218)
We have no information how the hours between twelve and four were spent.
It is almost certain that there must have been another consultation.
Spalatin and Brück had discovered that the conduct of the audience was not
to be in the hands of Glapion, the confessor of the Emperor, as they had
up to that time supposed, but in those of John Eck, the Orator or Official
of the Archbishop of Trier.(219) This looked badly for Luther. Eck had
been officiously busy in burning Luther’s books at Trier; he lodged in the
same house and in the room next to the papal nuncio.(220) Aleander,
indeed, boasts that Eck was entirely devoted to him, and that he had been
able to draft the question which Eck put to Luther during the first

§ 5. Luther’s first Appearance before the Diet of Worms.(222)

A little before four o’clock, the marshal and Caspar Sturm, the herald,
came to Luther’s lodging to escort him to the audience hall. They led the
Reformer into the street to conduct him to the Bishop’s Palace, where the
Emperor was living along with his younger brother Ferdinand, afterwards
King of the Romans and Emperor, and where the Diet met.(223) The streets
were thronged; faces looked down from every window; men and women had
crowded the roofs to catch a glimpse of Luther as he passed. It was
difficult to force a way through the crowd, and, besides, Sturm, who was
responsible for Luther’s safety, feared that some Spaniard might deal the
Reformer a blow with a dagger in the crowd. So the three turned into the
court of the Swan Hotel; from it they got into the garden of the House of
the Knights of St. John; and, as most of the courts and gardens of the
houses communicated with each other, they were able to get into the court
of the Bishop’s Palace without again appearing on the street.(224)

The court of the Palace was full of people eager to see Luther, most of
them evidently friendly. It was here that old General Frundsberg, the most
illustrious soldier in Germany, who was to be the conqueror in the famous
fight at Pavia, clapped Luther kindly on the shoulder, and said words
which have been variously reported. “My poor monk! my little monk! thou
art on thy way to make a stand as I and many of my knights have never done
in our toughest battles. If thou art sure of the justice of thy cause,
then forward in the name of God, and be of good courage: God will not
forsake thee.” From out the crowd, “here and there and from every corner,
came voices saying, ‘Play the man! Fear not death; it can but slay the
body: there is a life beyond.’ ”(225) They went up the stair and entered
the audience hall, which was crammed. While the marshal and the herald
forced a way for Luther, he passed an old acquaintance, the deputy from
Augsburg. “Ah, Doctor Peutinger,” said Luther, “are you here too?”(226)
Then he was led to where he was to stand before the Emperor; and these two
lifelong opponents saw each other for the first time. “The fool entered
smiling,” says Aleander (perhaps the lingering of the smile with which he
had just greeted Dr. Peutinger): “he looked slowly round, and his face
sobered.” “When he faced the Emperor,” Aleander goes on to say, “he could
not hold his head still, but moved it up and down and from side to
side.”(227) All eyes were fixed on Luther, and many an account was written
describing his appearance. “A man of middle height,” says an unsigned
Spanish paper preserved in the British Museum, “with a strong face, a
sturdy build of body, with eyes that scintillated and were never still. He
was clad in the robe of the Augustinian Order, but with a belt of hide,
with a large tonsure, newly shaven, and a coronal of short thick
hair.”(228) All noticed his gleaming eyes; and it was remarked that when
his glance fell on an Italian, the man moved uneasily in his seat, as if
“the evil eye was upon him.” Meanwhile, in the seconds before the silence
was broken, Luther was making _his_ observations. He noticed the swarthy
Jewish-looking face of Aleander, with its gleam of hateful triumph. “So
the Jews must have looked at Christ,” he thought.(229) He saw the young
Emperor, and near him the papal nuncios and the great ecclesiastics of the
Empire. A wave of pity passed through him as he looked. “He seemed to me,”
he said, “like some poor lamb among swine and hounds.”(230) There was a
table or bench with some books upon it. When Luther’s glance fell on them,
he saw that they were his own writings, and could not help wondering how
they had got there.(231) He did not know that Aleander had been collecting
them for some weeks, and that, at command of the Emperor, he had handed
them over to John Eck, the Official of Trier, for the purposes of the
audience.(232) Jerome Schurf made his way to Luther’s side, and stood
ready to assist in legal difficulties.

The past and the future faced each other—the young Emperor in his rich
robes of State, with his pale, vacant-looking face, but “carrying more at
the back of his head than his countenance showed,” the descendant of long
lines of kings, determined to maintain the beliefs, rites, and rules of
that Mediæval Church which his ancestors had upheld; and the monk, with
his wan face seamed with the traces of spiritual conflict and victory, in
the poor dress of his Order, a peasant’s son, resolute to cleave a way for
the new faith of evangelical freedom, the spiritual birthright of all men.

The strained silence(233) was broken by the Official of Trier, a man of
lofty presence, saying, in a clear, ringing voice so that all could hear
distinctly, first in Latin and then in German:

    “ ‘Martin Luther, His Imperial Majesty, Sacred and Victorious
    (_sacra et invicta_), on the advice of all the Estates of the Holy
    Roman Empire, has ordered you to be summoned here to the throne of
    His Majesty, in order that you may recant and recall, according to
    the force, form, and meaning of the citation-mandate decreed
    against you by His Majesty and communicated legally to you, the
    books, both in Latin and in German, published by you and spread
    abroad, along with their contents: Wherefore I, in the name of His
    Imperial Majesty and of the Princes of the Empire, ask you: First,
    Do you confess that these books exhibited in your presence (I show
    him a bundle of books written in Latin and in German) and now
    named one by one, which have been circulated with your name on the
    title-page, are yours, and do you acknowledge them to be yours?
    Secondly, Do you wish to retract and recall them and their
    contents, or do you mean to adhere to them and to reassert
    them?’ ”(234)

The books were not named; so Jerome Schurf called out, “Let the titles be
read.”(235) Then the notary, Maximilian Siebenberger (called
Transilvanus),(236) stepped forward and, taking up the books one by one,
read their titles and briefly described their contents.(237) Then Luther,
having briefly and precisely repeated the two questions put to him, said:

    “ ‘To which I answer as shortly and correctly as I am able. I
    cannot deny that the books named are mine, and I will never deny
    any of them:(238) they are all my offspring; and I have written
    some others which have not been named.(239) But as to what
    follows, whether I shall reaffirm in the same terms all, or shall
    retract what I may have uttered beyond the authority of
    Scripture,—because the matter involves a question of faith and of
    the salvation of souls, and because it concerns the Word of God,
    which is the greatest thing in heaven and on earth, and which we
    all must reverence,—it would be dangerous and rash in me to make
    any unpremeditated declaration, because in unpremeditated speech I
    might say something less than the fact and something more than the
    truth; besides, I remember the saying of Christ when He declared,
    “Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before
    My Father which is in heaven, and before His angels.” For these
    reasons I beg, with all respect, that your Imperial Majesty give
    me time to deliberate, that I may answer the question without
    injury to the Word of God and without peril to my own
    soul.’ ”(240)

Luther made his answer in a low voice—so low that the deputies from
Strassburg, who were sitting not far from him, said that they could not
hear him distinctly.(241) Many present inferred from the low voice that
Luther’s spirit was broken, and that he was beginning to be afraid. But
from what followed it is evident that Luther’s whole procedure on this
first appearance before the Diet was intended to defeat the intrigues of
Aleander, which had for their aim to prevent the Reformer addressing the
Diet in a long speech; and in this he succeeded, as Brück and Spalatin
hoped he would.

The Estates then proceeded to deliberate on Luther’s request. Aleander
says that the Emperor called his councillors about him; that the Electors
talked with each other; and that the separate Estates deliberated
separately.(242) We are informed by the report of the Venetian ambassadors
that there was some difficulty among some of them in acceding to Luther’s
request. But at length the Official of Trier again addressed Luther:

    “ ‘Martin, you were able to know from the imperial mandate why you
    were summoned here, and therefore you do not really require any
    time for further deliberation, nor is there any reason why it
    should be granted. Yet His Imperial Majesty, moved by his natural
    clemency, grants you one day for deliberation, and you will appear
    here tomorrow at the same hour,—but on the understanding that you
    do not give your answer in writing, but by word of mouth.’ ”(243)

The sitting, which, so far as Luther was concerned, had occupied about an
hour, was then declared to be ended, and he was conducted back to his room
by the herald. There he sat down and wrote to his friend Cuspinian in
Vienna “from the midst of the tumult”:

    “This hour I have been before the Emperor and his brother, and
    have been asked whether I would recant my books. I have said that
    the books were really mine, and have asked for some delay about
    recantation. They have given me no longer space and time than till
    to-morrow for deliberation. Christ helping me, I do not mean to
    recant one jot or tittle.”(244)

§ 6. Luther’s Second Appearance before the Diet.

The next day, Thursday, April 18th, did not afford much time for
deliberation. Luther was besieged by visitors. Familiar friends came to
see him in the morning; German nobles thronged his hostel at midday; Bucer
rode over from the Ebernberg in the afternoon with congratulations on the
way that the first audience had been got through, and bringing letters
from Ulrich von Hutten. His friends were almost astonished at his
cheerfulness. “He greeted me and others,” said Dr. Peutinger, who was an
early caller, “quite cheerfully—‘Dear Doctor,’ he said, ‘how is your wife
and child?’ I have never found or seen him other than the right good
fellow he is.”(245) George Vogler and others had “much pious conversation”
with him, and wrote, praising his thorough heroism.(246) The German nobles
greeted Luther with a bluff heartiness—“Herr Doctor, How are you? People
say you are to be burnt; that will never do; that would ruin

The marshal and the herald came for Luther a little after four o’clock,
and led him by the same private devious ways to the Bishop’s Palace. The
crowds on the streets were even larger than on the day before. It was said
that more than five thousand people, Germans and foreigners, were crushed
together in the street before the Palace. The throng was so dense that
some of the delegates, like Oelhafen from Nürnberg, could not get through
it.(248) It was six o’clock before the Emperor, accompanied by the
Electors and princes, entered the hall. Luther and the herald had been
kept waiting in the court of the Palace for more than an hour and a half,
bruised by the dense moving crowd. In the hall the throng was so great
that the princes had some difficulty in getting to their seats, and found
themselves uncomfortably crowded when they reached them.(249) Two notable
men were absent. The papal nuncios refused to be present when a heretic
was permitted to speak. Such proceedings were the merest tomfoolery
(_ribaldaria_), Aleander said. When Luther reached the door, he had still
to wait; the princes were occupied in reaching their places, and it was
not etiquette for him to appear until they were seated.(250) The day was
darkening, and the gloomy hall flamed with torches.(251) Observers
remarked Luther’s wonderful cheerful countenance as he made his way to his

The Emperor had intrusted the procedure to Aleander, to his confessor
Glapion, and to John Eck, who had conducted the audience on the previous
day.(253) The Official was again to have the conduct of matters in his
hands. As soon as Luther was in his place, Eck “rushed into words”
(_prorupit in verba_)(254) He began by recapitulating what had taken place
at the first audience; and in saying that Luther had asked time for
consideration, he insinuated that every Christian ought to be ready at all
times to give a reason for the faith that is in him, much more a learned
theologian like Luther. He declared that it was now time for Luther to
answer plainly whether he adhered to the contents of the books he had
acknowledged to be his, or whether he was prepared to recant them. He
spoke first in Latin and then in German, and it was noticed that his
speech in Latin was very bitter.(255)

Then Luther delivered his famous speech before the Diet. He had freed
himself from the web of intrigue that Aleander had been at such pains to
weave round him to compel him to silence, and stood forth a free German to
plead his cause before the most illustrious audience the Fatherland could
offer to any of its sons.

Before him was the Emperor and his brother Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria,
destined to be King of the Romans and Emperor in days to come, and beside
them, seated, all the Electors and the great Princes of the Empire, lay
and ecclesiastical, among them four Cardinals. All round him standing, for
there was no space for seats, the Counts, Free Nobles and Knights of the
Empire, and the delegates of the great cities, were closely packed
together.(256) Ambassadors and the political agents of almost all the
countries in Europe were there to swell the crowd—ready to report the
issue of this momentous day. For all believed that whatever weighty
business for Germany was discussed at this Diet, the question raised by
Luther was one of European importance, and affected the countries which
they represented. The rumour had gone about, founded mainly on the serene
appearance of Luther, that the monk was about to recant;(257) and most of
the political agents earnestly hoped it might be true. That and that only
would end, they believed, the symptoms of disquiet which the governments
of every land were anxiously watching.

The diligence of Wrede has collected and printed in the
_Reichstagsakten_(258) several papers, all of which profess to give
Luther’s speech; but they are mere summaries, some longer and some
shorter, and give no indication of the power which thrilled the audience.
Its effect must be sought for in the descriptions of the hearers.

The specimens of his books which had been collected by Aleander were so
representative that Luther could speak of all his writings. He divided
them into three classes. He had written books for edification which he
could truly say had been approved by all men, friends and foes alike, and
it was scarcely to be expected that he, the author, should be the only man
to recant the contents of such writings as even the Papal Bull had
commended. In a second class of writings he had attacked the papal tyranny
which all Germany was groaning under; to recant the contents of these
books would be to make stronger and less endurable the monstrous evil he
had protested against; he therefore refused to recall such writings; no
loyal German could do so. He had also written against individual persons
who had supported the Papacy; it was possible that he had written too
strongly in some places and against some men; he was only a man and not
God, and was liable to make mistakes; he remembered how Christ, who could
not err, had acted when He was accused, and imitating Him, he was quite
ready, if shown to be wrong, by evangelical or prophetic witnesses, to
renounce his errors, and if he were convinced, he assured the Emperor and
princes assembled that he would be the first to throw his books into the
fire. He dwelt upon the power of the word of God which must prevail over
everything, and showed that many calamities in times past had fallen upon
nations who had neglected its teachings and warnings. He concluded as

    “I do not say that there is any need for my teaching or warning
    the many princes before me, but the duty I owe to _my_ Germany
    will not allow me to recant. With these words I commend myself to
    your most serene Majesty and to your principalities, and humbly
    beg that you will not permit my accusers to triumph over me
    causelessly. I have spoken (_Dixi_).”

Luther had spoken in Latin; he was asked to repeat what he had said in
German. The Hall had been packed; the torches gave forth warmth as well as
light. Luther steamed with perspiration, and looked wan and overpowered;
the heat was intense. Friends thought that the further effort would be too
much for his strength. The Saxon councillor, Frederick von Thun,
regardless of etiquette, called out loudly, “If you cannot do it you have
done enough, Herr Doctor.”(259) But Luther went on and finished his
address in German. His last words were. “Here I stand (_Hic bin Ich_).”

Aleander, the papal nuncio, who was not present, relates that while Luther
was speaking of the books in which he had attacked the Papacy, and was
proceeding “with great venom” to denounce the Pope,(260) the Emperor
ordered him to pass from that subject and to proceed with his other
matters. The Emperor had certainly told the Estates that he would not
allow the question of Luther’s orthodoxy and complaints against the Holy
See to be discussed together; and that lends some support to Aleander’s
statement.(261) But when it is seen that not one of the dozen deputies
present who write accounts of the scene mentions the interruption; when it
is not found in the official report; when it is remembered that Charles
could not understand either German or Latin, the story of the interruption
is a very unlikely one. Aleander was not remarkable for his veracity—“a
man, to say the least, not bigotedly truthful (_non superstitiose verax_)”
says Erasmus;(262) and the nuncio on one occasion boasted to his masters
in Rome that he could lie well when occasion required it.(263)

Several letters descriptive of the scene, written by men who were present
in the Diet, reveal the intense interest taken by the great majority of
the audience in the appearance and speech of Luther. His looks, his
language, the attitude in which he stood, are all described. When artists
portray the scene, either on canvas or in bronze, Luther is invariably
represented standing upright, his shoulders squared, and his head thrown
back. That was not how he stood before Charles and the Diet. He was a
monk, trained in the conventional habits of monkish humility. He stood
with a stoop of the head and shoulders, with the knees slightly bent, and
without gestures. The only trace of bodily emotion was betrayed by bending
and straightening his knees.(264) He addressed the Emperor and the Estates
with all respect,—“Most serene Lord and Emperor, most illustrious Princes,
most clement Lords,”—and apologised for any lack of etiquette on the
ground that he was convent-bred and knew nothing of the ways of Courts;
but it was noticed by more than one observer that he did not address the
spiritual princes present.(265) Many a witness describes the charm of his
cheerful, modest, but undaunted bearing.(266) The Saxon official account
says, “Luther spoke simply, quietly, modestly, yet not without Christian
courage and fidelity—in such a way, too, that his enemies would have
doubtless preferred a more abject spirit and speech”; and it goes on to
relate that his adversaries had confidently counted on a recantation, and
that they were correspondingly disappointed.(267) Many expected that, as
he had never before been in such presence, the strange audience would have
disconcerted him; but, to their surprise and delight, he spoke
“confidently, reasonably, and prudently, as if he were in his own
lecture-room.”(268) Luther himself was surprised that the unaccustomed
surroundings affected him so little. “When it came to my turn,” he says,
“I just went on.”(269) The beauty of his diction pleased his
audience—“many fair and happy words,” say Dr. Peutinger and others.(270)

When Luther had finished, the Official, mindful that it was his duty to
extract from Luther a distinct recantation, addressed him in a threatening
manner (_increpabundo similis_), and told him that his answer had not been
to the point. The question was that Luther, in some of his books, denied
decisions of Councils: Would he reaffirm or recant what he had said about
these decisions? the Emperor demanded a plain (_non cornutum_) answer. “If
His Imperial Majesty desires a plain answer,” said Luther, “I will give it
to him, _neque cornutum neque dentatum_, and it is this: It is impossible
for me to recant unless I am proved to be in the wrong by the testimony of
Scripture or by evident reasoning; I cannot trust either the decisions of
Councils or of Popes, for it is plain that they have not only erred, but
have contradicted each other. My conscience is thirled to the word of God,
and it is neither safe nor honest to act against one’s conscience. God
help me! Amen!”(271)

When he had finished, the Emperor and the princes consulted together; then
at a sign from Charles,(272) the Official addressed Luther at some length.
He told him that in his speech he had abused the clemency of the Emperor,
and had added to his evil deeds by attacking the Pope and Papists
(_papistæ_) before the Diet. He briefly recapitulated Luther’s speech, and
said that he had not sufficiently distinguished between his books and his
opinions; there might be room for discussion had Luther brought forward
anything new, but his errors were old—the errors of the Poor Men of Lyons,
Wiclif, of John and Jerome Huss (the learned Official gave Huss a brother
unknown to history),(273) which were decided upon at the Council of
Constance, where the whole German nation had been gathered together; he
again asked him to retract such opinions. To this Luther replied as
before, that General Councils had erred, and that his conscience did not
allow him to retract. By this time the torches had burnt to their sockets,
and the hall was growing dark.(274) Wearied with the crowd and the heat,
numbers were preparing to leave. The Official, making a last effort,
called out loudly, “Martin, let your conscience alone; recant your errors
and you will be safe and sound; you can never show that a Council has
erred.” Luther declared that Councils had erred, and that he could prove
it.(275) Upon this the Emperor made a sign to end the matter.(276) The
last words Luther was heard to say were, “God come to my help” (_Got kum
mir zu hilf_).(277)

It is evident from almost all the reports that from the time that Luther
had finished his great speech there was a good deal of confusion, and
probably of conversation, among the audience. All that the greater portion
of those present heard was an altercation between Luther and the Official,
due, most of the Germans thought, to the overbearing conduct of Eck, and
which the Italians and Spaniards attributed to the pertinacity of
Luther.(278) “Luther asserted that Councils had erred several times, and
had given decisions against the law of God. The Official said No; Luther
said Yes, and that he could prove it. So the matter came to an end for
that time.”(279) But all understood that there was a good deal said about
the Council of Constance.

The Emperor left his throne to go to his private rooms; the Electors and
the princes sought their hotels. A number of Spaniards, perceiving that
Luther turned to leave the tribunal, broke out into hootings, and followed
“the man of God with prolonged howlings.”(280) Then the Germans, nobles
and delegates from the towns, ringed him round to protect him, and as they
passed from the hall they all at once, and Luther in the midst of them,
thrust forward arms and raised hands high above their heads, in the way
that a German knight was accustomed to do when he had unhorsed his
antagonist in the tourney, or that a German landsknecht did when he had
struck a victorious blow. The Spaniards rushed to the door shouting after
Luther, “To the fire with him, to the fire!”(281) The crowd on the street
thought that Luther was being sent to prison, and thought of a
rescue.(282) Luther calmed them by saying that the company were escorting
him home. Thus, with hands held high in stern challenge to Holy Roman
Empire and mediæval Church, they accompanied Luther to his lodging.

Friends had got there before him—Spalatin, ever faithful; Oelhafen, who
had not been able to reach his place in the Diet because of the throng.
Luther, with beaming face, stretched out both his hands, exclaiming, “I am
through, I am through!”(283) In a few minutes Spalatin was called away. He
soon returned. The old Elector had summoned him only to say, “How well,
father, Dr. Luther spoke this day before the Emperor and the Estates; but
he is too bold for me.” The sturdy old German prince wrote to his brother
John, “From what I have heard this day, I will never believe that Luther
is a heretic”; and a few days later, “At this Diet, not only Annas and
Caiaphas, but also Pilate and Herod, have conspired against Luther.”
Frederick of Saxony was no Lutheran, like his brother John and his nephew
John Frederick; and he was the better able to express what most German
princes were thinking about Luther and his appearance before the Diet.
Even Duke George was stirred to a momentary admiration; and Duke Eric of
Brunswick, who had taken the papal side, could not sit down to supper
without sending Luther a can of Einbecker beer from his own table.(284) As
for the commonalty, there was a wild uproar in the streets of Worms that
night—men cursing the Spaniards and Italians, and praising Luther, who had
compelled the Emperor and the prelates to hear what he had to say, and who
had voiced the complaints of the Fatherland against the Roman Curia at the
risk of his life. The voice of the people found utterance in a placard,
which next morning was seen posted up on the street corners of the town,
“Woe to the land whose king is a child.” It was the beginning of the
disillusion of Germany. The people had believed that they were securing a
German Emperor when, in a fit of enthusiasm, they had called upon the
Electors to choose the grandson of Maximilian. They were beginning to find
that they had selected a Spaniard.

§ 7. The Conferences.

Next day (April 19th) the Emperor proposed that Luther should be placed
under the ban of the Empire. The Estates were not satisfied, and insisted
that something should be done to effect a compromise. Luther had not been
treated as they had proposed in their memorandum of the 19th February. He
had been peremptorily ordered to retract. The Emperor had permitted
Aleander to regulate the order of procedure on the day previous (April
18th), and the result had not been satisfactory. Even the Elector of
Brandenburg and his brother, the hesitating Archbishop of Mainz, did not
wish matters to remain as they were. They knew the feelings of the German
people, if they were ignorant of the Emperor’s diplomatic dealings with
the Pope. The Emperor gave way, but told them that he would let them hear
his own view of the matter. He produced a sheet of paper, and read a short
statement prepared by himself in the French tongue—the language with which
Charles was most familiar. It was the memorable declaration of his own
religious position, which has been referred to already.(285) Aleander
reports that several of the princes became pale as death when they heard
it.(286) In later discussions the Emperor asserted with warmth that he
would never change one iota of his declaration.

Nevertheless, the Diet appointed a Commission (April 22nd) to confer with
Luther, and at its head was placed the Archbishop of Trier, who was
perhaps the only one among the higher ecclesiastics of Germany whom Luther
thoroughly trusted. They had several meetings with the Reformer, the first
being on the 24th of April. All the members of the Commission were
sincerely anxious to arrange a compromise; but after the Emperor’s
declaration that was impossible, as Luther himself clearly saw. No set of
resolutions, however skilfully framed, could reconcile the Emperor’s
belief that a General Council was infallible and Luther’s phrase, “a
conscience bound to the Holy Scriptures.” No proposals to leave the final
decision to the Emperor and the Pope, to the Emperor alone, to the Emperor
and the Estates, to a future General Council (all of which were made),
could patch up a compromise between two such contradictory standpoints.
Compromise must fail in a fight of faiths, and that was the nature of the
opposition between Charles V. and Luther throughout their lives. What
divided them was no subordinate question about doctrine or ritual; it was
fundamental, amounting to an entirely different conception of the whole
round of religion. The moral authority of the individual conscience
confronted the legal authority of an ecclesiastical assembly. In after
days the monk regretted that he had not spoken out more boldly before the
Diet. Shortly before his death, the Emperor expressed his regret that he
had not burned the obstinate heretic. When the Commission had failed,
Luther asked leave to reveal his whole innermost thoughts to the
Archbishop of Trier, under the seal of confession, and the two had a
memorable private interview. Aleander fiercely attacked the Archbishop for
refusing to disclose what passed between them; but the prelate was a
German bishop with a conscience, and not an unscrupulous dependant on a
shameless Curia. No one knew what Luther’s confession was. The Commission
had to report that its efforts had proved useless. Luther was ordered to
leave Worms and return to Wittenberg, without preaching on the journey;
his safe conduct was to expire in twenty-one days after the 26th of April.
At their expiry he was liable to be seized and put to death as a pestilent
heretic. There remained only to draft and publish the edict containing the
ban. The days passed, and it did not appear.

Suddenly the startling news reached Worms that Luther had disappeared, no
one knew where. Aleander, as usual, had the most exact information, and
gives the fullest account of the rumours which were flying about.
Cochlæus, who was at Frankfurt, sent him a man who had been at Eisenach,
had seen Luther’s uncle, and had been told by him about the capture. Five
horsemen had dashed at the travelling waggon, had seized Luther, and had
ridden off with him. Who the captors were or by whose authority they had
acted, no one could tell. “Some blame me,” says Aleander, “others the
Archbishop of Mainz: would God it were true!” Some thought that Sickingen
had carried him off to protect him; others, the Elector of Saxony; others,
the Count of Mansfeld. One persistent rumour declared that a personal
enemy of the Elector of Saxony, one Hans Beheim, had been the captor; and
the Emperor rather believed it. On May 14th a letter reached Worms saying
that Luther’s body had been found in a silver-mine pierced with a dagger.
The news flew over Germany and beyond it that Luther had been done to
death by emissaries of the Roman Curia; and so persistent was the belief,
that Aleander prepared to justify the deed by alleging that the Reformer
had broken the imperial safe conduct by preaching at Eisenach and by
addressing a concourse of people at Frankfurt.(287) Albert Dürer, in
Ghent, noted down in his private diary that Luther, “the God-inspired
man,” had been slain by the Pope and his priests as our Lord had been put
to death by the priests in Jerusalem. “O God, if Luther is dead, who else
can expound the Holy Gospel to us!”(288) Friends wrote distracted letters
to Wittenberg imploring Luther to tell them whether he was alive or
imprisoned.(289) The news created the greatest consternation and
indignation in Worms. The Emperor’s decision had been little liked even by
the princes most incensed against Luther. Aleander could not get even the
Archbishop of Mainz to promise that he would publish it. When the
Commission of the Diet had failed to effect a compromise, the doors of the
Rathhaus and of other public buildings in Worms had been placarded with an
intimation that four hundred knights had sworn that they would not leave
Luther unavenged, and the ominous words _Bundschuh_, _Bundschuh_,
_Bundschuh_ had appeared on it. The Emperor had treated the matter
lightly; but the German Romanist princes had been greatly alarmed.(290)
They knew, if he did not, that the union of peasants with the lower
nobility had been a possible source of danger to Germany for nearly a
century; they remembered that it was this combination which had made the
great Bohemian rising successful. Months after the Diet had risen,
Romanist partisans in Germany sent anxious communications to the Pope
about the dangers of a combination of the lesser nobility with the
peasants.(291) The condition of Worms had been bad enough before, and when
the news of Luther’s murder reached the town the excitement passed all
bounds. The whole of the Imperial Court was in an uproar. When Aleander
was in the royal apartments the highest nobles in Germany pressed round
him, telling him that he would be murdered even if he were “clinging to
the Emperor’s bosom.” Men crowded his room to give him information of
conspiracies to slay both himself and the senior Legate Caraccioli.(292)
The excitement abated somewhat, but the wiser German princes recognised
the abiding gravity of the situation, and how little the Emperor’s
decision had done to end the Lutheran movement. The true story of Luther’s
disappearance was not known until long afterwards. After the failure of
the conferences, the Elector of Saxony summoned two of his councillors and
his chaplain and private secretary, Spalatin, and asked them to see that
Luther was safely hidden until the immediate danger was past. They were to
do what they pleased and inform him of nothing. Many weeks passed before
the Elector and his brother John knew that Luther was safe, living in
their own castle on the Wartburg. This was his “Patmos,” where he doffed
his monkish robes, let the hair grow over his tonsure, was clad as a
knight, and went by the name of Junker Georg. His disappearance did not
mean that he ceased to be a great leader of men; but it dates the
beginning of the national opposition to Rome.

§ 8. The Ban.

After long delay, the imperial mandate against Luther was prepared. It was
presented (May 25th) to an informal meeting of some members of the Diet
after the Elector of Saxony and many of Luther’s staunchest supporters had
left Worms.(293) Aleander, who had a large share in drafting it, brought
two copies, one in Latin and the other in German, and presented them to
Charles on a Sunday (May 26th) after service. The Emperor signed them
before leaving the church. “Are you contented now?” said Charles, with a
smile to the Legate; and Aleander overflowed with thanks. Few State
documents, won by so much struggling and scheming, have proved so futile.
The uproar in Germany at the report of Luther’s death had warned the
German princes to be chary of putting the edict into execution.

The imperial edict against Luther threatened all his sympathisers with
extermination. It practically proclaimed an Albigensian war in Germany.
Charles had handed it to Aleander with a smile. Aleander despatched the
document to Rome with an exultation which could only find due expression
in a quotation from Ovid’s _Art of Love_. Pope Leo celebrated the arrival
of the news by comedies and musical entertainments. But calm observers,
foreigners in Germany, saw little cause for congratulation and less for
mirth. Henry VIII. wrote to the Archbishop of Mainz congratulating him on
the overthrow of the “rebel against Christ”; but Wolsey’s agent at the
Diet informed his master that he believed there were one hundred thousand
Germans who were still ready to lay down their lives in Luther’s
defence.(294) Velasco, who had struck down the Spanish rebels in the
battle of Villalar, wrote to the Emperor that the victory was God’s
gratitude for his dealings with the heretic monk; but Alfonso de Valdès,
the Emperor’s secretary, said in a letter to a Spanish correspondent:

    “Here you have, as some imagine, the end of this tragedy; but I am
    persuaded it is not the end, but the beginning of it. For I see
    that the minds of the Germans are greatly exasperated against the
    Roman See, and they do not seem to attach great importance to the
    Emperor’s edicts; for since their publication, Luther’s books are
    sold with impunity at every step and corner of the streets and
    market-places. From this you will easily guess what will happen
    when the Emperor leaves. This evil might have been cured with the
    greatest advantage to the Christian commonwealth, had not the Pope
    refused a General Council, had he preferred the public weal to his
    own private interests. But while he insists that Luther shall be
    condemned and burnt, I see the whole Christian commonwealth
    hurried to destruction unless God Himself help us.”

Valdès, like Gattinara and other councillors of Charles, was a follower of
Erasmus. He lays the blame of all on the Pope. But what a disillusion this
Diet of Worms ought to have been to the Erasmians! The Humanist young
sovereigns and the Humanist Pope, from whom so much had been expected,
congratulating each other on Luther’s condemnation to the stake!

The foreboding of Alfonso de Valdès was amply justified. Luther’s books
became more popular than ever, and the imperial edict did nothing to
prevent their sale either within Germany or beyond it. Aleander was soon
to learn this. He had retired to the Netherlands, and busied himself with
_auto-da-fés_ of the prohibited writings; but he had to confess that they
were powerless to prevent the spread of Luther’s opinions, and he declared
that the only remedy would be if the Emperor seized and burnt half a dozen
Lutherans, and confiscated all their property.(295) The edict had been
published or repeated in lands outside Germany and in the family
possessions of the House of Hapsburg. Henry VIII. ordered Luther’s books
to be burnt in England;(296) the Estates of Scotland prohibited their
introduction into the realm under the severest penalties in 1525.(297) But
such edicts were easily evaded, and the prohibited writings found their
way into Spain, Italy, France, Flanders, and elsewhere, concealed in bales
of merchandise. In Germany there was no need for concealment; the imperial
edict was not merely disregarded, but was openly scouted. The great
Strassburg publisher, Gruniger, apologised to his customers, not for
publishing Luther’s books, but for sending forth a book against him; and
Cochlæus declared that printers gladly accepted any MS. against the
Papacy, printed it _gratis_, and spent pains in issuing it with taste,
while every defender of the established order had to pay heavily to get
his book printed, and sometimes could not secure a printer at any cost.

§ 9. Popular Literature.

The Reformation movement may almost be said to have created the German
book trade. The earliest German printed books or rather booklets were few
in number, and of no great importance—little books of private devotion, of
popular medicine, herbals, almanacs, travels, or public proclamations. Up
to 1518 they barely exceeded fifty a year. But in the years 1518-1523 they
increased enormously, and four-fifths of the increase were controversial
writings prompted by the national antagonism to the Roman Curia. This
increase was at first due to Luther alone;(298) but from 1521 onwards he
had disciples, fellow-workers, opponents, all using in a popular way the
German language, the effective literary power of which had been discovered
by the Reformer.(299) These writers spread the new ideas among the people,
high and low, throughout Germany.(300)

There are few traces of combined action in the anti-Romanist writings in
the earlier stages of the controversy; it needed literary opposition to
give them a semblance of unity. Each writer looks at the general question
from his own individual point of view. Luther is the hero with nearly all,
and is spoken about in almost extravagant terms. He is the prophet of
Germany, the Elias that was to come, the Angel of the Revelation “flying
through the mid-heaven with the everlasting Gospel in his hands,” the
national champion who was brought to Worms to be silenced, and yet was
heard by Emperor, princes, and papal nuncios. Some of the authors were
still inclined to make Erasmus their leader, and declared that they were
fighting under the banner of that “Knight of Christ”; others looked on
Erasmus and Luther as fellow-workers, and one homely pamphlet compares
Erasmus to the miller who grinds the flour, and Luther to the baker who
bakes it into bread to feed the people. Perhaps the most striking feature
of the times was the appearance of numberless anonymous pamphlets,
purporting to be written by the unlearned for the unlearned. They are
mostly in the form of dialogues, and the scene of the conversations
recorded was often the village alehouse, where burghers, peasants,
weavers, tailors, and shoemakers attack and vanquish in argument priests,
monks, and even bishops. One striking feature of this new popular
literature is the glorification of the German peasant. He is always
represented as an upright, simple-minded, reflective, and intelligent
person skilled in Bible lore, and even in Church history, and knowing as
much of Christian doctrine “as three priests and more.” He may be compared
with the idealised peasant of the pre-revolution literature in France,
although he lacks the refinement, and knows nothing of high-flown moral
sentiment; but he is much liker the Jak Upland or Piers Plowman of the
days of the English Lollards. Jak Upland and Hans Mattock (_Karsthans_),
both hate the clergy and abominate the monks and the begging friars, but
the German exhibits much more ferocity than the Englishman. The Lollard
describes the fat friar of the earlier English days with his swollen
dewlap wagging under his chin “like a great goose-egg,” and contrasts him
with the pale, poverty-stricken peasant and his wife, going shoeless to
work over ice-bound roads, their steps marked with the blood which oozed
from the cut feet; the German pamphleteer pours out an endless variety of
savage nicknames—cheese-hunters, sausage-villains, begging-sacks, sourmilk
crocks, the devil’s fat pigs, etc. etc. It is interesting to note that
most of this coarse controversial literature, which appeared between 1518
and 1523, came from those regions in South Germany where the social
revolution had found an almost permanent establishment from the year 1503.
It was the sign that the old spirit of communist and religious enthusiasm,
which had shown itself spasmodically since the movement under Hans Böhm,
had never been extinguished, and it was a symptom that a peasants’ war
might not be far off. Very little was needed to kindle afresh the
smouldering hatred of the peasant against the priests. When German
patriots declaimed against the exactions of the Roman Curia, the peasant
thought of the great and lesser tithes, of the marriage, baptismal, and
burial fees demanded from him by his own parish priest. When Reformers and
popular preachers denounced the scandals and corruptions in the Church,
the peasant applied them to some drunken, evil-living, careless priest
whom he knew. It should be remembered that the character _Karsthans_ was
invented in 1520, not by a Lutheran sympathiser, but by Thomas Murner, one
of Luther’s most determined opponents,(301) when he was still engaged in
writing against the clerical disorders of the times. This virulent attack
on priests and monks had other sources than the sympathy for Luther.(302)
It was the awakening of old memories, prompted partly by an underground
ceaseless Hussite propaganda, and partly, no doubt, by the new ideas so
universally prevalent.

Some of this coarse popular literature had a more direct connection with
the Lutheran movement. A booklet which appeared in 1521, entitled _The New
and the Old God_, and which had an immense circulation, may be taken as an
example. Like many of its kind, it had an illustrated title-page, which
was a graphic summary of its contents. There appeared as the
representatives of the New God, the Pope, some Church Fathers, and beneath
them, Cajetan, Silvester Prierias, Eck, and Faber; over-against them were
the Old God as the Trinity, the four Evangelists, St. Paul with a sword,
and behind him Luther. It attacked the ceremonies, the elaborate services,
the obscure doctrines which had been thrust on the Church by bloody
persecutions, and had changed Christianity into Judaism, and contrasted
them with the unchanging Word of the Old God, with its simple story of
salvation and its simple doctrines of faith, hope, and love. To the same
class belong the writings of the voluminous controversialist, John Eberlin
of Günzburg, whom his opponents accused of seducing whole provinces, so
effective were his appeals to the “common” man. He began by a pamphlet
addressed to the young Emperor, and published, either immediately before
or during the earlier sitting of the Diet of Worms in 1521, a daring
appeal, in which Luther and Ulrich von Hutten are called the messengers of
God to their generation. It was the first of a series of fifteen, all of
which were in circulation before the beginning of November of the same
year.(303) They were called the “Confederates” (_Bundsgenossen_). The
contents of these and other pamphlets by Eberlin may be guessed from their
titles—_Of the forty days’ fast before Easter and others which pitifully
oppress Christian folk._ _An exhortation to all Christians that they take
pity on Nuns._ _How very dangerous it is that priests have not wives_ (the
frontispiece represents the marriage of a priest by a bishop, in the
background the marriage of two monks, and two musicians on a raised seat).
_Why there is no money in the country._ _Against the false clergy,
bare-footed monks, and Franciscans_, etc., etc. He exposes as trenchantly
as Luther did the systematic robbery of Germany to benefit the Roman
Curia—300,000 gulden sent out of the country every year, and a million
more given to the begging friars. He wrote fiercely against the monks who
take to this life, because they were too lazy to work like honest people,
and called them all sorts of nicknames—_cloister swine_, _the Devil’s
landsknechts_, etc., twenty-four thousand of them sponge on Germany and
four hundred thousand on the rest of Europe. He tells of a parish priest
who thought that he must really begin to read the Scriptures: his
parishioners are reading it, the mothers to the children and the
house-fathers to the household; they trouble him with questions taken from
it, and he is often at his wit’s end to answer; he asked a friend where he
ought to begin, and was told that there was a good deal about priests and
their duties in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus; he read, and was
horrified to find that bishops and priests ought to be “husbands of one
wife,” etc. Eberlin had been a Franciscan monk, and was true to the
revolutionary traditions of his Order. He preached a social as well as an
evangelical reformation. The Franciscan Order sent forth a good many
Reformers: men like Stephen Kampen, who had come to adopt views like those
of Eberlin without any teaching but the leadings of his heart; or John
Brissmann, a learned student of the Scholastic Theology, who like Luther
had found that it did not satisfy the yearnings of his soul; or like
Frederick Mecum (Myconius), whose whole spiritual development was very
similar to that of Luther. Pamphlets like those of Eberlin, and preaching
like that of Kampen, had doubtless some influence in causing popular
risings against the priests that were not uncommon throughout Germany in
1521, after the Diet of Worms had ended its sittings—the Erfurt tumult,
which lasted during the months of April, May, June, and July, may be
instanced as an example.

§ 10. The Spread of Luther’s Teaching.

It may be said that the very year in which the imperial edict against
Luther was published (1521) gave evidence that a silent movement towards
the adoption of the principles for which Luther was testifying had begun
among monks of almost all the different Orders. The Augustinian Eremites,
Luther’s own Order, had been largely influenced by him. Whole communities,
with the prior at their head, had declared for the Reformation both in
Germany and in the Low Countries. No other monastic Order was so decidedly
upon the side of the Reformer, but monks of all kinds joined in preaching
and teaching the new doctrines. Martin Bucer had been a Dominican, Otto
Braunfells a Carthusian, Ambrose Blauer a Benedictine. The case of
Oecolampadius (John Hussgen (?) Hausschein) was peculiar. He had been a
distinguished Humanist, had come under serious religious impressions, and
had entered the Order of St. Bridget; but he was not long there when he
joined the ranks of the Reformers, and was sheltered by Franz von
Sickingen in his castle at Ebernberg.(304) Urban Rhegius, John Eck’s most
trusted and most talented student at Ingolstadt, had become a Carmelite,
and had quitted his monastery to preach the doctrines of Luther. John
Bugenhagen belonged to the Order of the Præmonstratenses. He was a learned
theologian. Luther’s struggle against Indulgences had displeased him. He
got hold of _The Babylonian Captivity of the Christian Church_, and
studied it for the purpose of refuting it. The study so changed him that
he felt that “the whole world may be wrong, but Luther is right”; he won
over his prior and most of his companions, and became the Reformer of

Secular priests all over Germany declared for the new evangelical
doctrines. The Bishop of Samlund in East Prussia boldly avowed himself to
be on Luther’s side, and was careful to have the Lutheran doctrines
preached throughout his diocese; and other bishops showed themselves
favourable to the new evangelical faith. Many of the most influential
parish priests did the like, and their congregations followed them.
Sometimes the superior clergy forbade the use of the church, and the
people followed their pastor while he preached to them in the fields.
Sometimes (as in the case of Hermann Tast) the priest preached under the
lime trees in the churchyard, and his parishioners came armed to protect
him. If priests were lacking to preach the Lutheran doctrines, laymen came
forward. If they could not preach, they could sing hymns. Witness the poor
weaver of Magdeburg, who took his stand near the statue of Kaiser Otto in
the market-place, and sang two of Luther’s hymns, “Aus tiefer Not schrei
Ich zu dir,” and “Es woll’ uns Gott gnädig sein,” while the people crowded
round him on the morning of May 6th, 1524. The Burgermeister coming from
early Mass heard him, and ordered him to be imprisoned, but the crowd
rescued him. Such was the beginning of the Reformation in Magdeburg.(305)
When men dared not, women took their place. Argula Grunbach, a student of
the Scriptures and of Luther’s writings, challenged the University of
Ingolstadt, under the eyes of the great Dr. Eck himself, to a public
disputation upon the truth of Luther’s position.

Artists lent their aid to spread the new ideas, and many cartoons made the
doctrines and the aims of the Reformers plain to the common people. These
pictures were sometimes used to illustrate the title-pages of the
controversial literature, and were sometimes published as separate
broadsides. In one, Christ is portrayed standing at the _door_ of a house,
which represents His Church. He invites the people to enter by the door;
and Popes, cardinals, and monks are shown climbing the walls to get
entrance in a clandestine fashion.(306) In another, entitled the _Triumph
of Truth_, the common folk of a German town are represented singing songs
of welcome to honour an approaching procession. Moses, the patriarchs, the
prophets, and the apostles, carry on their shoulders the Ark of the Holy
Scriptures. Hutten comes riding on his warhorse, and to the tail of the
horse is attached a chain which encloses a crowd of ecclesiastics—an
archbishop with his mitre fallen off, the Pope with his tiara in the act
of tumbling and his pontifical staff broken; after them, cardinals, then
monks figured with the heads of cats, pigs, calves, etc. Then comes a
triumphal car drawn by the four living creatures, who represent the four
evangelists, on one of which rides an angel. Carlstadt stands upright in
the front of the car; Luther strides alongside. In the car, Jesus sits
saying, _I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life_. Holy martyrs follow,
singing songs of praise. German burghers are spreading their garments on
the road, and boys and girls are strewing the path with flowers.(307)
Perhaps the most important work of this kind was the _Passional Christi et
Antichristi_.(308) Luther planned the book, Luke Cranach designed the
pictures, and Melanchthon furnished the texts from Scripture and the
quotations from Canon Law. It is a series of pairs of engravings
representing the lives of our Lord and of the Pope, so arranged that
wherever the book opened two contrasting pictures could be seen at the
same time. The contrasts were such as these:—Jesus washing the disciples’
feet; the Pope holding out his toe to be kissed: Jesus healing the wounded
and the sick; the Pope presiding at a tournament: Jesus bending under His
Cross; the Pope carried in state on men’s shoulders: Jesus driving the
money-changers out of the Temple; the Pope and his servants turning a
church into a market for Indulgences, and sitting surrounded with strong
boxes and piles of coin. It was a “good book for the laity,” Luther said.

One of the signs of the times was the enthusiasm displayed in the imperial
cities for the cause of Luther. The way had been prepared. Burgher songs
had for long described the ecclesiastical abuses, and had borne witness to
the widespread hatred of the clergy shared in by the townsfolk. Wolfgang
Capito and Frederick Mecum (Myconius), both sons of burghers, inform us
that their fathers taught them when they were boys that Indulgences were
nothing but a speculation on the part of cunning priests to get their
hands into the pockets of simple-minded laity. Keen observers of the trend
of public feeling like Wimpheling and Pirkheimer had noticed with some
alarm the gradual spread of the Hussite propaganda in the towns, and had
made the fact one of their reasons for desiring and insisting on a
reformation of the Church. The growing sympathy for the Hussite opinions
in the cities is abundantly apparent. Some leading Reformers, Capito for
instance, told their contemporaries that they had frequently listened to
Hussite discourses when they were boys; and the libraries of burghers not
infrequently contained Hussite pamphlets. Men in the towns had been
reading, thinking, and speaking in private to their familiar friends about
the disorders in the life and doctrine of the Church of their days, and
were eager to welcome the first symptoms of a genuine attempt at reform.

The number of editions of the German Vulgate, rude as many of these
versions were, shows what a Bible-reading people the German burghers had
become, enables us to wonder less at the way in which the controversial
writers assume that the laity knew as much of the Scriptures as the
clergy, and lends credibility to contemporary assertions that women and
artisans knew their Bibles better than learned men at the Universities.

These things make us understand how the townsmen were prepared to welcome
Luther’s simple scriptural teaching, how his writings found such a sale
all over Germany, how they could say that he taught what all men had been
thinking, and said out boldly what all men had been whispering in private.
They explain how the burghers of Strassburg nailed Luther’s Ninety-five
Theses to the doors of every church and parsonage in the city in 1518; how
the citizens of Constance drove away with threats the imperial messenger
who came to publish the Edict of Worms in their town; how the people of
Basel applauded their pastor when he carried a copy of the Scriptures
instead of the Host in the procession on Corpus Christi Day; how the
higher clergy of Strassburg could not expel the nephew and successor of
the famed Geiler of Keysersberg although he was accused of being a
follower of Luther; and how his friend Matthew Zell, when he was
prohibited from preaching in the pulpit from which Geiler had thundered,
was able to get carpenters to erect another in a corner of the great
cathedral, from which he spoke to the people who crowded to hear him. When
the clergy persuaded the authorities in many towns (Goslar, Danzig, Worms,
etc.) to close the churches against the evangelical preachers, the
townspeople listened to their sermons in the open air; but generally from
the first the civic authorities sided with the people in welcoming a
powerful evangelical preacher. Matthew Zell and, after him, Martin Bucer
became the Reformers of Strassburg; Kettenbach and Eberlin, of Ulm;
Oecolampadius and Urbanus Rhegius, of Augsburg; Andrew Osiander, of
Nürnberg; John Brenz, of Hall, in Swabia; Theobald Pellicanus (Pellicanus,
_i.e._ of Villigheim), of Nördlingen; Matthew Alber, of Reutlingen; John
Lachmann, of Heilbron; John Wanner, of Constance; and so on. The gilds of
_Mastersingers_ welcomed the Reformation. The greatest of the civic poets,
Hans Sachs of Nürnberg, was a diligent collector and reader of Luther’s
books. He published in 1523 his famous poem, “The Wittenberg Nightingale”
(_Die Wittembergisch Nachtigall, Die man jetz höret überall_). The
nightingale was Luther, and its song told that the moonlight with its pale
deceptive gleams and its deep shadows was passing away, and the glorious
sun was rising. The author praises the utter simplicity of Luther’s
scriptural teaching, and contrasts it with the quirks and subtleties of
Romish doctrine. Even a peasant, he says, can understand and know that
Luther’s teaching is good and sound. In a later short poem he contrasts
evangelical and Romish preaching. The original edition was illustrated by
a woodcut showing two preachers addressing their respective audiences. The
one is saying, _Thus saith the Lord_; and the other, _Thus saith the

§ 11. Andrew Bodenstein of Carlstadt.(309)

Every great movement for reform bears within it the seeds of revolution,
of the “tumult,” as Erasmus called it, and Luther’s was no exception to
the general rule. Every Reformer who would carry through his reforming
ideas successfully has to struggle against men and circumstances making
for the “tumult,” almost as strenuously as against the abuses he seeks to
overcome. We have already seen how these germs of revolution abounded in
Germany, and how the revolutionists naturally allied themselves with the
Reformer, and the cause he sought to promote.

While Luther was hidden away in the Wartburg, the revolution seized on
Wittenberg. At first his absence did not seem to make any difference. The
number of students had increased until it was over a thousand, and the
town itself surprised eye-witnesses who were acquainted with other
University towns in Germany. The students went about unarmed; they mostly
carried Bibles under their arms; they saluted each other as “brothers at
one in Christ.” No rift had yet appeared among the band of leaders,
although his disappointment in not obtaining the Provostship of All Saints
had begun to isolate Andrew Bodenstein of Carlstadt. Unanimity did not
mean dulness; Wittenberg was seething with intellectual life. Since its
foundation the University had been distinguished for weekly Public
Disputations in which students and professors took part. In the earlier
years of its existence the theses discussed had been suggested by the
Scholastic Theology and Philosophy in vogue; but since 1518 the new
questions which were stirring Germany had been the subjects of debate, and
this had given a life and eagerness to the University exercises. When
Justus Jonas came to Wittenberg from Erfurt, he wrote enthusiastically to
a friend about the “unbelievable wealth of spiritual interests in the
little town of Wittenberg.” None of the professors took a keener interest
in these Public Discussions than Andrew Bodenstein of Carlstadt. He had
been a very successful teacher; had come under Luther’s magnetic
influence; and had accepted the main ideas of the new doctrines. He had
not the full-blooded humanity of Luther, nor his sympathetic tact, nor his
practical insight into how things would work. He lacked altogether
Luther’s solid basis of conservative feeling, which made him know by
instinct that new ideas and new things could only flourish and grow if
they were securely rooted in what was old. It was enough for Carlstadt
that his own ideas, however hastily evolved, were clear, and his aims
beneficent, to make him eager to see them at once reduced to practice. He
had the temperament of a revolutionary rather than that of a Reformer.

He was strongly impressed with the fundamental contradictions which he
believed to exist between the new evangelical doctrines preached by Luther
and the theories and practices of the mediæval religious life and worship.
This led him to attack earnestly and bitterly monastic vows, celibacy, a
distinctive dress for the clergy, the idea of a propitiatory sacrifice in
the Mass, and the presence and use of images and pictures in the churches.
He introduced all these questions of practical interest into the
University weekly Public Discussions; he published theses upon them; he
printed two books—one on monastic vows and the other on the Mass—which had
an extensive circulation both in German and in Latin (four editions were
speedily exhausted). The prevailing idea in all these publications,
perhaps implied rather than expressed, was that the new evangelical
liberty could only be exercised when everything which suggested the
ceremonies and usages of the mediæval religious life was swept away. His
strongest denunciations were reserved for the practice of celibacy; he
dwelt on the divine institution of marriage, its moral and spiritual
necessity, and taught that the compulsory marriage of the clergy was
better than the enforced celibacy of the mediæval Church. Zwilling, a
young Augustinian Eremite, whose preaching gifts had been praised by
Luther, went even further than Carlstadt in his fiery denunciation of the
Mass as an idolatrous practice.

The movement to put these exhortations in practice began first among the
clergy. Two priests in parishes near Wittenberg married; several monks
left their cloisters and donned lay garments; Melanchthon and several of
his students, in semi-public fashion, communicated in both kinds in the
parish church on Michaelmas Day (Sept. 29th), 1521, and his example seems
to have been followed by other companies.

Zwilling’s fiery denunciations of the idolatry of the Mass stirred the
commonalty of the town. On Christmas Eve (Dec. 24-25), 1521, a turbulent
crowd invaded the parish church and the Church of All Saints. In the
former they broke the lamps, threatened the priests, and in mockery of the
worship of praise they sang folk-songs, one of which began: “There was a
maid who lost a shoe”—so the indignant clergy complained to the

Next day, Christmas, Carlstadt, who was archdeacon, conducted the service
in All Saints’ Church. He had doffed his clerical robes, and wore the
ordinary dress of a layman. He preached and then dispensed the Lord’s
Supper in an “evangelical fashion.” He read the usual service, but omitted
everything which taught a propitiatory sacrifice; he did not elevate the
Host; and he placed the Bread in the hands of every communicant, and gave
the Cup into their hands. On the following Sundays and festival days the
Sacrament of the Supper was dispensed in the same manner, and we are told
that “hic pæne urbs et cuncta civitas communicavit sub utraque specie.”

During the closing days of the year 1521, so full of excitement for the
people of Wittenberg, three men, known in history as the _Zwickau
Prophets_, came to the town (Dec. 27th). Zwickau, lying about sixty-four
miles south of Wittenberg, was the centre of the weaving trade of Saxony,
and contained a large artisan population. We have seen that movements of a
religious-communistic kind had from time to time appeared among the German
artisans and peasants since 1476. Nicolaus Storch, a weaver in Zwickau,
proclaimed that he had visions of the Angel Gabriel, who had revealed to
him: “Thou shalt sit with me on my throne.” He began to preach. Thomas
Münzer, who had been appointed by the magistrates to be town preacher in
St. Mary’s, the principal church in Zwickau, praised his discourses,
declaring that Storch expounded the Scriptures better than any priest.
Some writers have traced the origin of this Zwickau movement to Hussite
teachings. Münzer allied himself with the extreme Hussites _after_ the
movement had begun, and paid a visit to Bohemia, taking with him some of
his intimates; but our sources of information, which are scanty, do not
warrant any decided opinion about the origin of the outbreak in Zwickau.
After some time Storch and others were forced to leave the town. Three of
them went to Wittenberg—Storch himself, the seer of heavenly visions,
another weaver, and Marcus Thomä Stubner, who had once been a pupil of
Melanchthon, and was therefore able to introduce his companions to the
Wittenberg circle of Reformers. Their arrival and addresses increased the
excitement both in the town and in the University. Melanchthon welcomed
his old pupil, and was impressed by the presence of a certain spiritual
power in Stubner and in his companions. Some of their doctrines, however,
especially their rejection of infant baptism, repelled him, and he
gradually withdrew from their companionship.

Carlstadt took advantage of the strong excitement in Wittenberg to press
on the townspeople and on the magistrates his scheme of reformation; and
on Jan. 24th, 1522, the authorities of the town of Wittenberg published
their famous ordinance.

This document, the first of numerous civic and territorial attempts to
express the new evangelical ideas in legislation, deserves careful
study.(311) It concerns itself almost exclusively with the reform of
social life and of public worship. It enjoins the institution of a common
chest to be under the charge of two of the magistrates, two of the
townsmen, and a public notary. Into this the revenues from ecclesiastical
foundations were to be placed, the annual revenues of the guilds of
workmen, and other specified monies. Definite salaries were to be paid to
the priests, and support for the poor and for the monks was to be taken
from this common fund. Begging, whether by ordinary beggars, monks, or
poor students, was strictly prohibited. If the common chest was not able
to afford sufficient for the support of the helpless and orphans, the
townsfolk had to provide what was needed. No houses of ill-fame were
allowed within the town. Churches were places for preaching; the town
contained enough for the population; and the building of small chapels was
prohibited. The service of the Mass was shortened, and made to express the
evangelical meaning of the sacrament, and the elements were to be placed
in the hands of the communicants. All this was made law within the town of
Wittenberg; and the reformation was to be enforced. Not content with these
regulations, Carlstadt engaged in a crusade against the use of pictures
and images in the churches (the regulations had permitted three altars in
every church and one picture for each altar). Everything which recalled
the older religious usages was to be done away with, and flesh was to be
eaten on fast days.

This excitement bred fanaticism. Voices were raised declaring that, as all
true Christians were taught by the Spirit of God, there was no need either
for civil rulers or for carnal learning. It is believed by many that
Carlstadt shared these fancies, and it has been said that in his desire to
“simplify” himself, he dressed as a peasant and worked as a labourer (he
had married) on his father-in-law’s farm. It is more probable that he
found himself unable to rule the storm his hasty measures had raised, and
that he saw many things proposed with which he had no sympathy.

§ 12. Luther back in Wittenberg.

Melanchthon felt himself helpless in presence of the “tumult,” declared
that no one save Luther himself could quell the excitement, and eagerly
pressed his return. The revolutionary movement was extending beyond
Wittenberg, in other towns in Electoral Saxony such as Grimma and
Altenberg. Duke George of Saxony, the strenuous defender of the old faith,
had been watching the proceedings from the beginning. As early as Nov.
21st, 1521, he had written to John Duke of Saxony, the brother of the
Elector, warning him that, against ecclesiastical usage, the Sacrament of
the Supper was being dispensed in both kinds in Wittenberg; he had
informed him (Dec. 26th) that priests were threatened while saying the
Mass; he had brought the “tumultuous deeds” in Electoral Saxony before the
_Reichsregiment_ in January, with the result that imperial mandates were
sent to the Elector Frederick and to the Bishops of Meissen, Merseburg,
and Naumburg, requiring them to take measures to end the disturbances. The
Elector was seriously disquieted. His anxieties were increased by a letter
from Duke George (Feb. 2nd, 1522), declaring that Carlstadt and Zwilling
were the instigators of all the riotous proceedings. He had commissioned
one of his councillors, Hugold of Einsiedel, to try to put matters right;
but the result had been small. It was probably in these circumstances that
he wrote his _Instruction_ to Oswald, a burgher of Eisenach, with the
intention that the contents should be communicated to Luther in the
Wartburg. The _Instruction_ may have been the reason why Luther suddenly
left the asylum where he had remained since his appearance at Worms by the
command and under the protection of his prince.(312)

If this _Instruction_ did finally determine him, it was only one of many
things urging Luther to leave his solitude. He cared little for the
influence of the Zwickau Prophets,(313) estimating them at their true
value, but the weakness of Melanchthon, the destructive and dangerous
impetuosity of Carlstadt, the spread of the tumult beyond Wittenberg, the
determination of Duke George to make use of these outbursts to destroy the
whole movement for reformation, and the interference of the
_Reichsregiment_ with its mandates, made him feel that the decisive moment
had come when he must be again among his own people.

He started on his lonely journey, most of it through an enemy’s country,
going by Erfurt, Jena, Borna, and Leipzig. He was dressed as “Junker
Georg,” with beard on his chin and sword by his side. At Erfurt he had a
good-humoured discussion with a priest in the inn; and Kessler, the Swiss
student, tells how he met a stranger sitting in the parlour of the “Bear”
at Jena with his hand on the hilt of his sword, and reading a small Hebrew
Psalter. He got to Wittenberg on Friday, March 7th; spent that afternoon
and the next day in discussing the situation with his friends Amsdorf,
Melanchthon, and Jerome Schurf.(314)

On Sunday he appeared in the pulpit, and for eight successive days he
preached to the people, and the plague was stayed. Many things in the
movement set agoing by Carlstadt met with his approval. He had come to
believe in the marriage of the clergy; he disapproved strongly of private
Masses; he had grave doubts on the subject of monastic vows; but he
disapproved of the violence, of the importance attached to outward
details, and of the use of force to advance the Reformation movement:

    “The Word created heaven and earth and all things; the same Word
    will also create now, and not we poor sinners. _Summa summarum_, I
    will preach it, I will talk about it, I will write about it, but I
    will not use force or compulsion with anyone; for faith must be of
    freewill and unconstrained, and must be accepted without
    compulsion. To marry, to do away with images, to become monks or
    nuns, or for monks and nuns to leave their convents, to eat meat
    on Friday or not to eat it, and other like things—all these are
    open questions, and should not be forbidden by any man. If I
    employ force, what do I gain? Changes in demeanour, outward shows,
    grimaces, shams, hypocrisies. But what becomes of the sincerity of
    the heart, of faith, of Christian love? All is wanting where these
    are lacking; and for the rest I would not give the stalk of a
    pear. What we want is the heart, and to win that we must preach
    the gospel. Then the word will drop into one heart to-day, and
    to-morrow into another, and so will work that each will forsake
    the Mass.”

He made no personal references; he blamed no individuals; and in the end
he was master of the situation.

When he had won back Wittenberg he made a tour of those places in
Electoral Saxony where the Wittenberg example had been followed. He went
to Zwickau, to Altenberg, and to Grimma—preaching to thousands of people,
calming them, and bringing them back to a conservative reformation.

Chapter IV. From The Diet of Worms to the Close Of the Peasants’ War.

§ 1. The continued spread of Lutheran Teaching.

The imperial edict issued against Luther at the Diet of Worms could
scarcely have been stronger than it was,(315) and yet, like many another
edict of Emperor and Diet, it was wholly ineffective. It could only be
enforced by the individual Estates, who for the most part showed great
reluctance to put it into operation. It was published in the territories
of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, of the Elector of Brandenburg, of Duke
George of Saxony, and of the Dukes of Bavaria; but none of these princes,
except the Archduke and Duke George, seemed to care much for the old
religion. In most of the ecclesiastical States the authorities were afraid
of riots following the publication, and did nothing. Thus, in Bremen, we
are told that as late as December 1522 the people had never seen the
edict. The cities treated it as carelessly. The authorities in Nürnberg,
Ulm, Augsburg, and Strassburg posted it up publicly as an official
document, and took no further trouble. In Strassburg the printers went on
issuing Luther’s books and tracts as fast as their printing-presses could
produce them; and at Constance the populace drove the imperial
commissioners from the town when they came to publish the edict.

The action of the newly constituted _Reichsregiment_ was as indecisive.
When the disturbances broke out at Wittenberg, under Carlstadt and the
Zwickau Prophets, Duke George, by playing on the fears of a spread of
Hussitism, could get mandates issued to the Elector of Saxony and
neighbouring bishops to inquire into and crush the disorders; but after
Luther’s return and the restoration of tranquillity his pleadings were
ineffectual. It was in vain that he insisted that Luther’s presence in
Wittenberg was an insult to the Empire. He was told that the
_Reichsregiment_ was able to judge for itself what were insults, and that
when they saw them they would punish. Archduke Ferdinand, the President,
doubtless sympathised with Duke George, but he was powerless; the Elector
of Saxony had the greatest influence, and it was always exerted on the
side of Luther.

In January 1522 a new Pope had been chosen, who took the title of Adrian
VI. His election was a triumph for the party that confessed the urgent
need of reforms, and thought that they ought to be effected by the
hierarchy and from within the Church. Adrian was a pious man according to
his lights, one who felt deeply the corruption which was degrading the
Church. He believed that the revolt of Luther was a punishment sent by God
for the sins of the generation. He had been the tutor of Charles V., and
ascended the papal throne with the determination to reform corruptions,
and to begin his reforms by attacking the source of all—the Roman Curia.
But he was a Dominican monk, and had all the Dominican ideas about the
need of maintaining mediæval theology intact, and about the strict
maintenance of ecclesiastical discipline. He was as ignorant as his
predecessor of the state of matters in Germany, and regarded Luther as
another Mahomet, who was seducing men from the higher Christian life by
pandering to their fleshly appetites.

The _Reichsregiment_ met with the Diet at Nürnberg in 1522-1523, and to
this Diet the Pope sent, as nuncio, Francesco Chieregati, Bishop of
Terramo, in the kingdom of Naples. The nuncio was given lengthy
instructions, which set forth the Pope’s opinion of the corruptions in the
Church and his intention to cure them, but which demanded the delivery of
Luther into the hands of the Roman Curia, and the punishment of priests,
monks, and nuns who had broken their vows of celibacy.(316) Chieregati was
no sooner in Germany than he understood that it would be impossible for
him to get the Pope’s demand carried out, and he informed his master of
the state of matters. When he met the Diet and presented the papal
requests, he was practically answered that Germany had grievances against
Rome, and that they would need to be set right ere the Curia could expect
to get its behests fulfilled. They intimated that since the Pope had
admitted the corruptions in the Church, it was scarcely to be expected
that they should blame Luther for having pointed them out. They presented
the nuncio with a list of one hundred German grievances against the Roman
Curia;(317) and suggested that the most convenient way of settling them
would be for the Pope to make over immediately, for the public use of
Germany, the German _annates_,(318) and that a German Council should be
held on German soil, and within one of the larger German cities.

The practical result of this fencing at the Diet of 1522, repeated in
1523, was that the progress of the Lutheran movement was not checked. How
deeply the people of Germany had drunk in the teaching of Luther may be
learnt from the letters of the nuncio to the Curia, and from those of the
Archduke Ferdinand to the Emperor. Both use the same expression, that
“among a thousand men scarcely one could be found untainted by Lutheran

Adrian VI. died suddenly after a few months’ reign, and the next Pope,
Clement VII., a Medici and completely under the influence of the French
king, belonged to the old unreforming party, whose only desire was to
maintain all the corrupting privileges of the Roman Curia. He selected and
sent to Germany, as his nuncio, Lorenzo Campeggio, one of the ablest of
Italian diplomatists, to negotiate with the _Reichsregiment_ and the Diet
which met at Speyer in 1524.

Campeggio, like his predecessor, found that the German Nation was
determinedly hostile to Rome. When he made his official entry into
Augsburg, and raised his hands to give the usual benediction to the crowds
of people, they received the blessing with open derision. He was so
impressed with their attitude, that when he reached Nürnberg he doffed his
official robes and entered the town as quietly as possible; indeed he
received a message from the authorities asking him “to avoid making the
sign of the cross, or using the benediction, seeing how matters then
stood.” The presence of the Legate seemed to increase the anti-papal zeal
of the people. The Pope was openly spoken of as Antichrist. Planitz, the
energetic commissary of the Elector of Saxony, reckoned that nearly four
thousand people in the city partook of the Sacrament of the Supper in both
kinds, and informs us that among them were members of the
_Reichsregiment_, and Isabella, Queen of Sweden, the sister of the

Yet the experienced Italian diplomatist thought that he could discern
signs more favourable to his master than the previous Diet had exhibited.
The _Reichsregiment_, which had hitherto shielded the Lutheran movement,
had lost the confidence of many classes of people, and was tottering to
its fall. It had showed itself unable to enforce the Lands-Peace. It was
the princes who had defeated the rising of the Free Nobles under Franz von
Sickingen; it was the Swabian League, an association always devoted to the
House of Austria, that had crushed the Franconian robber nobles; and both
princes and League were irritated at the attempts of the _Reichsregiment_,
which had endeavoured to rob them of the fruits of their successes. The
cities had been made to bear all the taxation needed to support the
central government, and the system of monopolies arising from combinations
among the great commercial houses had been threatened. The cities and the
capitalists had made a secret agreement with the Emperor, and von Hannart
had been sent by the Emperor from Spain to the Diet of 1524 to work along
with the towns for the overthrow of the central government. The Diet
itself had passed a vote of no confidence in the government. In these
troubled waters a crafty fisher might win some success.

His success was more apparent than real. The Diet of 1524 did not
absolutely refuse to enforce the Edict of Worms against Luther and his
followers; they promised to execute it “as well as they were able, and as
far as was possible,” and the cities had made it plain that the
enforcement was impossible. They renewed their demand for a General
Council to meet in a suitable German town to settle the affairs of the
Church in Germany, and again declared that meanwhile nothing should be
preached contrary to the Word of God and the Holy Gospel. They went
further, and practically resolved that a National Council, to deliberate
on the condition of the Church in Germany, should meet at Speyer in
November and make an interim settlement of its ecclesiastical affairs, to
last until the meeting of a General Council. It is true that, owing to the
exertions of the nuncio and of von Hannart, the phrase National Synod was
omitted, and the meeting was to be one of the Estates of Germany at which
the councillors and learned divines of the various princes were to
formulate all the disputed points, and to consider anew the grievances of
the German nation against the Papacy; but neither the nuncio nor von
Hannart deceived themselves as to the real meaning of the resolution. “It
will be a National Council for Germany,” said Hannart in his report.
Nothing could be more alarming to the Pope. There was always a possibility
of managing a General Council; but a German National Synod, including a
large number of lay representatives, meeting in a German town,
foreshadowed an independent National German Church which would insist on
separation from the Roman See. The Pope wrote to Henry VIII. of England
asking him to harass the German merchants; he induced the Emperor to
forbid the proposed meeting of the German States; and, what was more
important, he instructed his nuncio to take steps secretly to form a
league of German princes who were still favourable to maintaining the
mediæval Church with its doctrines, ceremonies, and usages. This
inaugurated the religious divisions of Germany.

§ 2. The beginnings of Division in Germany.

The Diet of Speyer (1524) may perhaps be taken as the beginning of the
separation of Germany into two opposite camps of Protestant and Roman
Catholic, although the real parting of the ways actually occurred after
the Peasants’ War. The overthrow, or at least discrediting of the
_Reichsregiment_, placed the management of everything, including the
settlement of the religious question, in the hands of the princes, none of
whom, with the exception of the Elector of Saxony, cared much for the idea
of nationality; while some of them, however anxious they were, or once had
been, for ecclesiastical reforms, were genuinely afraid of the “tumult”
which they believed might lurk behind any conspicuous changes in religious
usages. Duke George of Saxony, who was keenly alive to the corruptions in
the Church, dreaded above all things the beginnings of a Hussite movement
in Germany. He knew that an assiduous, penetrating, secret Hussite, or
rather Taborite propaganda had been going on in Germany for long. As early
as the Leipzig Disputation (1519), when John Eck had skilfully forced
Luther into the avowal that he approved of some things in the Hussite
revolt, Duke George was seen to put his arms akimbo, to wag his long
beard, and was heard to ejaculate, “God help us! The plague!” A fear of
Hussite revolution displays itself in his correspondence, and very notably
in his letters to Duke John of Saxony and to the Elector about the
disturbances in Wittenberg. It was a triumph for the Roman Curia when its
partisans, from Eck onwards, were able to fix the stigma of Hussitism on
the Lutheran movement; and the career of the Zwickau Prophets,
notwithstanding their suppression by Luther, was, to many, an indication
of what might lie behind the new preaching. When the Peasants’ War came in
1525, many of the earlier sympathisers with Luther saw in it an indication
of the dangers into which they fancied that Luther was leading Germany. It
is also to be noticed that many of the Humanists now began to desert the
Lutheran cause; his Augustinian theology made them think that he was bent
on creating a new Scholastic which seemed to them almost as bad as the
old, which they had been delighted to see him attack.

The Roman Curia was quick to take advantage of all these alarms. Its
efforts were so successful, that it was soon able to create a Roman
Catholic Party among the South German princes, and to secure its
steadfastness by promising a few concessions, and by permitting the
authorities to retain for the secular uses of their States about one-fifth
of the ecclesiastical revenues in each State. The leading States in this
Roman Catholic federation were Austria and Bavaria, and so long as Duke
George lived, Ducal Saxony in middle Germany. This naturally called forth
a distinctly Lutheran party, no longer national, which included the
Elector of Saxony, the Landgrave of Hesse, the Margraf of Brandenburg, his
brother Albert, and many others. Albert was at the head of the Teutonic
Order in East Prussia. He secularised his semi-ecclesiastical
principality, became the first Duke of Prussia, and his State from the
beginning adopted the evangelical faith.

It was not until the Peasants’ War was over that this division was clearly
manifested. The Reformation had spread in simple natural fashion, without
any attempt at concerted action, or any design to impose a new and uniform
order of public worship, or to make changes in ecclesiastical government.
Luther himself was not without hopes that the great ecclesiastical
principalities might become secular lordships, that the bishops would
assume the lead in ecclesiastical reform, and that there would be a great
National Church in Germany, with little external change—enough only to
permit the evangelical preaching and teaching. It is true that the Emperor
had shown clearly his position by sending martyrs to the stake in the
Netherlands, and that symptoms of division had begun to manifest
themselves during 1524, as we have seen. Still these things did not
prevent such an experienced statesman as the Elector of Saxony from
confidently expecting a peaceful and, so far as Germany was concerned, a
unanimous and hearty solution of the religious difficulties. The storm
burst suddenly which was to shatter these optimistic expectations, and to
change fundamentally the whole course of the Lutheran Reformation. This
was the Peasants’ War.

§ 3. The Peasants’ War.(319)

From one point of view this insurrection was simply the last, the most
extensive, and the most disastrous of those revolts which, we have already
seen, had been almost chronic in Germany during the later decades of the
fifteenth and in the beginning of the sixteenth century. All the social
and economic causes which produced them(320) were increasingly active in
1524-1525. It is easy to show, as many Lutheran Church historians have
done with elaborate care, that the Reformation under Luther had nothing in
common with the sudden and unexpected revolt,—as easy as to prove that
there was little in common between the “Spiritual Poverty” of Francis of
Assisi and the vulgar communism of the _Brethren and Sisters of the Free
Spirit_, between the doctrines of Wiclif and the gigantic labour strike
headed by Wat Tyler and Priest Ball, between the teaching of Huss and the
extreme Taborite fanatics. But the fact remains that the voice of Luther
awoke echoes whereof he never dreamt, and that its effects cannot be
measured by some changes in doctrine, or by a reformation in
ecclesiastical organisation. The times of the Reformation were ripe for
revolution, and the words of the bold preacher, coming when all men were
restless and most men were oppressed, appealing especially to those who
felt the burden heavy and the yoke galling, were followed by
far-resounding reverberations. Besides, Luther’s message was democratic.
It destroyed the aristocracy of the saints, it levelled the barriers
between the layman and the priest, it taught the equality of all men
before God, and the right of every man of faith to stand in God’s presence
whatever be his rank and condition of life. He had not confined himself to
preaching a new theology. His message was eminently practical. In his
_Appeal to __ the Nobility of the German Nation_, Luther had voiced all
the grievances of Germany, had touched upon almost all the open sores of
the time, and had foretold disasters not very far off.

Nor must it be forgotten that no great leader ever flung about wild words
in such a reckless way. Luther had the gift of strong smiting phrases, of
words which seemed to cleave to the very heart of things, of images which
lit up a subject with the vividness of a flash of lightning. He launched
tracts and pamphlets from the press about almost everything,—written for
the most part on the spur of the moment, and when the fire burned. His
words fell into souls full of the fermenting passions of the times. They
drank in with eagerness the thoughts that all men were equal before God,
and that there are divine commands about the brotherhood of mankind of
more importance than all human legislation. They refused to believe that
such golden ideas belonged to the realm of spiritual life alone, or that
the only prescriptions which denied the rights of the common man were the
decrees of the Roman Curia. The successful revolts of the Swiss peasants,
the wonderful victories of Zisca, the people’s leader, in the near
Bohemian lands, were illustrations, they thought, of how Luther’s
sledge-hammer words could be translated into corresponding deeds.

Other teachings besides Luther’s were listened to. Many of the Humanists,
professed disciples of Plato, expounded to friends or in their class-rooms
the communistic dreams of the _Republic_, and published _Utopias_ like the
brilliant sketch of the ideal commonwealth which came from the pen of
Thomas More. These speculations “of the Chair” were listened to by the
“wandering students,” and were retailed, with forcible illustrations, in a
way undreamt of by their scholarly authors, to audiences of artisans and
peasants who were more than ready to give them unexpected

The influence of popular astrology must not be forgotten; for the
astrologists were powerful among all classes of society, in the palaces of
the princes, in the houses of the burghers, and at the peasant market
gatherings and church ales. In these days they were busy pointing out
heavenly portents, and foretelling calamities and popular risings.(322)

The missionaries of the movement belonged to all sorts and conditions of
men—poor priests sympathising with the grievances of their parishioners;
wandering monks who had deserted their convents, especially those
belonging to the Franciscan Order; poor students on their way from
University to University; artisans, travelling in German fashion from one
centre of their trade to another. They found their audiences on the
village greens under the lime trees, or in the public-houses in the lower
parts of the towns. They talked the rude language of the people, and
garnished their discourse with many a scriptural quotation. They read to
excited audiences small pamphlets and broadsides, printed in thick letters
on coarse paper, which discussed the burning questions of the day.

The revolt began unexpectedly, and without any pre-concerted preparation
or formulation of demands, in June 1524, when a thousand peasants
belonging to the estate of Count Sigismund of Lupfen rose in rebellion
against their lord at Stühlingen, a few miles to the north-west of
Schaffhausen, and put themselves under the leadership of Hans Müller, an
old landsknecht. Müller led his peasants, one of them carrying a flag
blazoned with the imperial colours of red, black, and yellow, to the
little town of Waldshut, about half-way between Schaffhausen and Basel.
The people of the town fraternised with the peasants, and the formidable
“Evangelical Brotherhood” was either formed then or the roots of it were
planted. The news spread fast, east and west. The peasants of the
districts round about the Lake of Constance—in the Allgau, the Klettgau,
the Hegau, and Villingen—rose in rebellion. The revolt spread northwards
into Lower Swabia, and the peasants of Leiphen, led by Jacob Wehe, were
joined by some of the troops of Truchsess, the general of the Swabian
League. The peasants of Salzburg, Styria, and the Tyrol rose. These three
eastern risings had most staying power in them. The Salzburg peasants
besieged the Cardinal Archbishop in his castle; they were not reduced till
the spring of 1526, and only after having extorted concessions from their
over-lords. The Tyrolese peasants, under their wise leader, Michael
Gaismeyer, shut up Archduke Ferdinand in Innsbruck, and in the end gained
substantial concessions. The rising in Styria was a very strong one; it
lasted till 1526, and was eventually put down by bringing Bohemian troops
into the country. From Swabia the flames of insurrection spread into
Franconia, where a portion of the insurgents were led by an escaped
criminal, the notorious Jäklein Rohrbach. It was this band which
perpetrated the wanton massacre of Weinsberg, the one outstanding atrocity
of the insurrection. The band and the deed were repudiated by the rest of
the insurgents. Thomas Münzer, who, banished from Zwickau and then from
Alstedt, had settled in Mühlhausen, his heart aflame with the wrongs of
the commonalty, preached insurrection to the peasants in Thüringen. He
issued fiery proclamations:

    “Arise! Fight the battle of the Lord! On! On! On! The wicked
    tremble when they hear of you. On! On! On! Be pitiless although
    Esau gives you fair words (Gen. xxxiii.). Heed not the groans of
    the godless; they will beg, weep, and entreat you for pity like
    children. Show them no mercy, as God commanded to Moses (Deut.
    vii.), and as He has revealed the same to us. Rouse up the towns
    and the villages; above all, rouse the miners.... On! On! On!
    while the fire is burning let not the blood cool on your swords!
    Smite pinke-pank on the anvil of Nimrod! Overturn their towers to
    the foundation: while one of them lives you will not be free from
    the fear of man. While they reign over you it is of no use to
    speak of the fear of God. On! while it is day! God is with you.”

The words were meant to rouse the miners of Mansfeld. They failed in their
original intention, but they sent bands of armed insurgents through
Thüringen and the Harz, and within fourteen days about forty convents and
monasteries were destroyed, and the inmates (many of them poor women with
no homes to return to) were sent adrift.

The revolt spread like a conflagration, one province catching fire from
another, until in the early spring months of 1525 almost all Germany was
in uproar. The only districts which escaped were Bavaria in the south,
Hesse, and the north and north-east provinces. The insurgents were not
peasants only. The poorer population of many of the towns fraternised with
the insurgents, and compelled the civic authorities to admit them within
their walls.

§ 4. The Twelve Articles.

Statements of grievances were published which, naturally, bore a strong
resemblance to those issued in the earlier social uprisings. The
countrymen complained of the continuous appropriation of the woodlands by
the proprietors, and that they were not allowed to fish in the streams or
to kill game in their fields. They denounced the proprietors’ practice of
compelling his peasants to do all manner of unstipulated service for him
without payment—to repair his roads, to assist at his hunts, to draw his
fish-ponds. They said that their crops were ruined by game which they were
not allowed to kill, and by hunters in pursuit of game; that the landlord
led his streams across their meadow land, and deprived them of water for
irrigation. They protested against arbitrary punishments, unknown to the
old consuetudinary village law-courts (_Haingerichte_).

They formulated their demands for justice in various series of articles,
all of which had common features, but contained some striking differences.
Some dwelt more on the grievances of the peasants, others voiced the
demands of the working classes of the towns, others again contained traces
of the political aspirations of the more educated leaders of the movement.
Almost all protest that they ask for nothing contrary to the requirements
of just authority, whether civil or ecclesiastical, nor to the gospel of
Christ. The peasants declared that each village community should be at
liberty to choose its own pastor, and to dismiss him if he proved to be
unsatisfactory; that while they were willing to pay the great tithes
(_i.e._ a tenth of the produce of the crops), the lesser tithes (_i.e._ a
tenth of the eggs, lambs, foals, etc.) should no longer be exacted; that
these great tithes should be reserved to pay the village priest’s stipend,
and that what remained over should go to support the poor; that, since God
had made all men free, serfdom should be abolished; and that, while they
were willing to obey lawful authority, peasants ought not to be called on
to submit to the arbitrary commands of their landlords. They insisted that
they had a right to fish in the streams (not in fish-ponds), to kill game
and wild birds, for these were public property. They demanded that the
woodlands, meadows, and ploughlands which had once belonged to the village
community, but which had been appropriated by the landlords, should be
restored. They insisted that arbitrary services of every kind should be
abolished, and that whatever services, beyond the old feudal dues, were
demanded, should be paid for in wages. They called for the abolition of
the usage whereby the landlord was permitted, in the name of death-duty,
to seize on the most valuable chattel of the deceased tenant; and for the
creation of impartial courts of justice in the country districts. They
concluded by asking that all their demands should be tested by the word of
God, and that if any of them should be found to be opposed to its
teaching, it should be rejected.(323)

The townspeople asked that all class privileges should be abolished in
civic and ecclesiastical appointments; that the administration of justice
in the town’s courts should be improved; that the local taxation should be
readjusted; that all the inhabitants should be permitted to vote for the
election of the councillors; and that better provision should be made for
the care of the poor. Some of the more ambitious manifestoes contained
demands for a thorough reconstruction of the entire administration of the
Empire, on a scheme which involved the overthrow of all feudal courts of
justice, and contemplated a series of imperial judicatories, rising from
revived Communal Courts to a central Imperial Court of Appeal for the
whole Empire. Some manifestoes demanded a unification of the coinage,
weights, and measures throughout the Empire; a confiscation of
ecclesiastical endowments for the purpose of lessening taxation, and for
the redemption of feudal dues; a uniform rate of taxes and customs duties;
restraint to be placed on the operations of the great capitalists; the
regulation of commerce and trade by law; and the admission of
representatives from all classes in the community into the public
administration. In every case the Emperor was regarded as the Lord
Paramount. There were also declarations of the sovereignty of the people,
made in such a way as to suggest that the writings of Marsilius of Padua
had been studied by some of the leaders among the insurgents. The most
famous of all these declarations was the Twelve Articles. The document was
adopted by delegates from several of the insurrectionary bands, which met
at Memmingen in Upper Swabia, to unite upon a common basis of action. If
not actually drafted by Schappeler, a friend of Zwingli, the articles were
probably inspired by him. These Twelve Articles gave something like unity
to the movement; although it must be remembered that documents bearing the
title do not always agree. The main thought with the peasant was to secure
a fair share of the land, security of tenure, and diminution of feudal
servitudes; and the idea of the artisan was to obtain full civic
privileges and an adequate representation of his class on the city

§ 5. The Suppression of the Revolt.

During the earlier months of 1525 the rising carried everything before it.
Many of the smaller towns made common cause with the peasants; indeed, it
was feared that all the towns of Swabia might unite in supporting the
movement. Prominent nobles were forced to join the “Evangelical
Brotherhood” which had been formally constituted at Memmingen (March 7th).
Princes, like the Cardinal Elector of Mainz and the Bishop of Würzburg,
had to come to terms with the insurgents. Germany had been denuded of
soldiers, drafted to take part in the Italian wars of Charles V. The
ruling powers engaged the insurgents in negotiations simply for the
purpose of gaining time, as was afterwards seen. But the rising had no
solidity in it, nor did it produce, save in the Tyrol, any leader capable
of effectually controlling his followers and of giving practical result to
their efforts. The insurgents became demoralised after their first
successes, and the whole movement had begun to show signs of dissolution
before the princes had recovered from their terror. Philip of Hesse aided
the Elector of Saxony (John, for Frederick had died during the
insurrection) to crush Münzer at Frankenhausen (May 15th, 1525), the town
of Mühlhausen was taken, and deprived of its privileges as an imperial
city, and the revolt was crushed in North Germany.

George Truchsess, the general of the Swabian League, his army strengthened
by mercenaries returning to Germany after the battle of Pavia, mastered
the bands in Swabia and in Franconia. The Elsass revolt was suppressed
with great ferocity by Duke Anthony of Lorraine. None of the German
princes showed any consideration or mercy to their revolting subjects save
the old Elector Frederick and Philip of Hesse. The former, on his
death-bed, besought his brother to deal leniently with the misguided
people; Philip’s peasantry had fewer matters to complain of than had those
of any other province, the Landgrave discussed their grievances with them,
and made concessions which effectually prevented any revolt. Everywhere
else, save in the Tyrol, the revolt was crushed with merciless severity,
and between 100,000 and 150,000 of the insurgents perished on the field or
elsewhere. The insurrection maintained itself in the Tyrol, in Salzburg,
and in Styria until the spring of 1526; in all other districts of Germany
the insurgents were crushed before the close of 1525. No attempt was made
to cure the ills which led to the rising. The oppression of the peasantry
was intensified. The last vestiges of local self-government were
destroyed, and the unfortunate people were doomed for generations to exist
in the lowest degradation. The year 1525 was one of the saddest in the
annals of the German Fatherland.

The Peasants’ War had a profound, lasting, and disastrous effect on the
Reformation movement in Germany. It affected Luther personally, and that
in a way which could not fail to react upon the cause which he
conspicuously led. It checked the spread of the Reformation throughout the
whole of Germany. It threw the guidance of the movement into the hands of
the evangelical princes, and destroyed the hope that it might give birth
to a reformed National German Church.

§ 6. Luther and the Peasants’ War.

The effect of the rising upon Luther’s own character and future conduct
was too important for us to entirely pass over his personal relations to
the peasants and their revolt. He was a peasant’s son. “My father, my
grandfather, my forebears, were all genuine peasants,” he was accustomed
to say. He had seen and pitied the oppression of the peasant class, and
had denounced it in his own trenchant fashion. He had reproved the greed
of the landlords, when he said that if the peasant’s land produced as many
coins as ears of corn, the profit would go to the landlord only. He had
publicly expressed his approval of many of the proposals in the Twelve
Articles long before they had been formulated and adopted at Memmingen in
March 1525, and had advocated a return to the old communal laws or usages
of Germany. He formally declared his agreement with the substance of the
Twelve Articles after they had become the “charter” of the revolt. But
Luther, rightly or wrongly, held that no real good could come from armed
insurrection. He believed with all the tenacity of his nature, that while
there might be two roads to reform, the way of peace, and the way of war,
the pathway of peace was the only one which would lead to lasting benefit.
After the storm burst he risked his life over and over again in visits he
paid to the disaffected districts, to warn the people of the dangers they
were running. After Münzer’s attempt to rouse the miners of Mansfeld, and
carry fire and sword into the district where his parents were living,
Luther made one last attempt to bring the misguided people to a more
reasonable course. He made a preaching tour through the disaffected
districts. He went west from Eisleben to Stolberg (April 21st, 1525);
thence to Nordhausen, where Münzer’s sympathisers rang the bells to drown
his voice; south to Erfurt (April 28th); north again to the fertile valley
of the Golden Aue and to Wallhausen (May 1st); south again to Weimar (May
3rd), where news reached him that his Elector was dying, and that he had
expressed the wish to see him,—a message which reached him too late. It
was on this journey, or shortly after his return to Wittenberg (May 6th),
that Luther wrote his vehement tract, _Against the murdering, thieving
hordes of Peasants_. He wrote it while his mind was full of Münzer’s calls
to slaughter, when the danger was at its height, with all the sights and
sounds of destruction and turmoil in eye and ear, while it still hung in
the balance whether the insurgent bands might not carry all before them.
In this terrible pamphlet Luther hounded on the princes to crush the
rising. It is this pamphlet, all extenuating circumstances being taken
into account, which must ever remain an ineffaceable stain on his noble
life and career.(324)

As for himself, the Peasants’ War imprinted in him a deep distrust of all
who had any connection with the rising. He had not forgotten Carlstadt’s
action at Wittenberg in 1521-1522, and when Carlstadt was found attempting
to preach the insurrection in Franconia and Swabia, Luther never forgave
him. His deep-rooted and unquenchable suspicion of Zwingli may be traced
back to his discovery that friends of the Zurich Reformer had been at
Memmingen, had aided the revolutionary delegates to draft the Twelve
Articles, and had induced them to shelter themselves under the shield of a
religious Reformation. What is perhaps more important, the Peasants’ War
gave to Luther a deep and abiding distrust of the “common man” which was
altogether lacking in the earlier stages of his career, which made him
prevent every effort to give anything like a democratic ecclesiastical
organisation to the Evangelical Church, and which led him to bind his
Reformation in the chains of secular control to the extent of regarding
the secular authority as possessing a quasi-episcopal function.(325) It is
probably true that he saved the Reformation in Germany by cutting it loose
from the revolutionary movement; but the wrench left marks on his own
character as well as on that of the movement he headed. Luther’s enemies
were quick to make capital out of his relations with the peasants, and
Einser compared him to Pilate, who washed his hands after betraying Jesus
to the Jews.

§ 7. Germany divided into two separate Camps.

The insurrection, altogether apart from its personal effects on Luther,
had a profound influence on the whole of the German Reformation. Some
princes who had hitherto favoured the Romanist side were confirmed in
their opposition; others who had hesitated, definitely abandoned the cause
of Reform. For both, it seemed that a social revolution of a desperate
kind lay behind the Protestant Reformation. Many an innocent preacher of
the new faith perished in the disturbances—sought out and slain by the
princes as an instigator of the rebellion. Duke Anthony of Lorraine, for
example, in his suppression of the revolt in Elsass, made no concealment
of his belief that evangelical preachers were the cause of the rising, and
butchered them without mercy when he could discover them. The Curia found
that the Peasants’ War was an admirable text to preach from when they
insisted that Luther was another Huss, and that the movement which he led
was a revival of the ecclesiastical and social communism of the extreme
Hussites (Taborites); that all who attacked the Church of Rome were
engaged in attempting to destroy the bases of society. It was after the
Peasants’ War that the Roman Catholic League of princes grew strong in
numbers and in cohesion.

The result of the war also showed that the one strong political element in
Germany was the princedom. The _Reichsregiment_, which still preserved a
precarious existence, had shown that it had no power to cope with the
disturbances, and its attempts at mediation had been treated with
contempt. From this year, 1525, the political destiny of the land was
distinctly seen to be definitely shaping for territorial centralisation
round the greater princes and nobles. It was inevitable that the
conservative religious Reformation should follow the lines of political
growth, with the result that there could not be a National Evangelical
Church of Germany. It could only find outcome in territorial Churches
under the rule and protection of those princes who from motives of
religion and conscience had adopted the principles which Luther preached.

The more radical religious movement broke up into fragments, and
reappeared in the guise of the maligned and persecuted Anabaptists,—a name
which embraced a very wide variety of religious opinions,—some of whom
appropriated to themselves the aspirations of the social revolution which
had been crushed by the princes. The conservative and Lutheran Reformation
found its main elements of strength in the middle classes of Germany;
while the Anabaptists had their largest following among the artisans and
working men of the towns.

The terrors of the time separated Germany into two hostile camps—the one
accepting and the other rejecting the ecclesiastical Reformation, which
ceased to be a national movement in any real sense of the word.

Chapter V. From The Diet Of Speyer, 1526, To The Religious Peace Of
Augsburg, 1555.

§ 1. The Diet of Speyer, 1526.(326)

When Germany emerged from the social revolution in the end of 1525, it
soon became apparent that the religious question remained unsettled, and
was dividing the country into two parties whose differences had become
visibly accentuated, and that both held as strongly as ever to their
distinctive principles. Perhaps one of the reasons for the increased
strain was the conduct of many of the Romanist princes in suppressing the
rebellion. The victories of the Swabian League in South Germany were
everywhere followed by religious persecution. Men were condemned to
confiscation of goods or to death, not for rebellion, for they had never
taken part in the rising, but for their confessed attachment to Lutheran
teaching. The Lutheran preachers were special objects of attack. Aichili,
who acted as a provost-marshal to the Swabian League, made himself
conspicuous by plundering, mulcting, and putting them to death. It is said
that he hung forty Lutheran pastors on the trees by the roadside in one
small district. The Roman Catholic princes had banded themselves together
for mutual defence as early as July 1525. The more influential members of
this league were Duke George of Saxony, the Electors of Brandenburg and
Mainz, and Duke Henry of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Duke Henry was selected
to inform the Emperor of what they had done, and to secure his sympathy
and support. He told Charles V. that the league had been formed “against
the Lutherans in case they should attempt by force or cunning to gain them
over to their unbelief.”

On the other hand, the Protestant princes had a mutual understanding—it
does not seem to have been a definite league—to defend one another against
any attack upon their faith. The leaders were John of Saxony, Philip of
Hesse, Dukes Otto, Ernest, and Francis of Brunswick-Lüneberg, and the
Counts of Mansfeld. Philip of Hesse was the soul of the union. They could
count on the support of many of the imperial cities, some of them, such as
Nürnberg, being in districts where the country lying around was ruled by
Romanist princes.

The Diet, which met at Augsburg in 1525, was very thinly attended, and
both parties waited for the Diet which was to be held at Speyer in the
following year.

There never had been any doubt about the position and opinions of the
Emperor on the religious question. He had stated them emphatically at the
Diet of Worms. He had been educated in the beliefs of mediæval
Catholicism: he valued the ceremonies and usages of the mediæval worship;
he understood no other ecclesiastical polity; he believed that the Bishop
of Rome was the head of the Church on earth; he had consistently
persecuted Protestants in his hereditary dominions from the beginning; he
desired the execution of the Edict of Worms against Luther. If he had
remained in Germany, all his personal and official influence would have
been thrown into the scale against the evangelical faith. Troubles in
Spain, and the prosecution of the war against Francis of France had
prevented his presence in Germany after his first brief visit. He had now
conquered and taken Francis prisoner at the battle of Pavia. The terms of
the Treaty of Madrid bound Francis to assist Charles in suppressing
Lutheranism and other pernicious sects in Germany, and when it was signed
the Emperor seemed free to crush the German Protestants. But his very
success was against him; papal diplomacy wove another web around him; he
was still unable to visit the Fatherland, and the religious question had
to be discussed at Speyer in his absence.

When the Diet met, the national hostility to Rome showed no signs of
abatement. The subject of German grievances against the Curia was again
revived, and it was alleged that the chief causes of the Peasants’ War
were the merciless exactions of clerical landholders. Perhaps this opinion
was justified by the fact that the condition of the peasantry on the lands
of monasteries and of bishops was notoriously worse than that of those
under secular proprietors; and that, while the clerical landholders had
done little to subdue the rebels, they had been merciless after the
insurgents had been subdued. There was truth enough in the charge to make
it a sufficient answer to the accusation that the social revolution had
been the outcome of Luther’s teaching.

Ferdinand of Austria presided in his brother’s absence, and, acting on the
Emperor’s instructions, he demanded the enforcement of the Edict of Worms
and a decree of the Diet to forbid all innovations in worship and in
doctrine. He promised that if these imperial demands were granted, the
Emperor would induce the Pope to call a General Council for the definite
settlement of the religious difficulties. But the Diet was not inclined to
adopt the suggestions. The Emperor was at war with the Pope. Many of the
clerical members felt themselves to be in a delicate position, and did not
attend. The Lutheran sympathisers were in a majority, and the delegates
from the cities insisted that it was impossible to enforce the Edict of
Worms. The Committee of Princes(327) proposed to settle the religious
question by a compromise which was almost wholly favourable to the
Reformation. They suggested that the marriage of priests, giving the cup
to the laity, the use of German as well as Latin in the baptismal and
communion services, should be recognised; that all private Masses should
be abolished; that the number of ecclesiastical holy days should be
largely reduced; and that in the exposition of Holy Writ the rule ought to
be that scripture should be interpreted by scripture. After a good deal of
fencing, the Diet finally resolved on a deliverance which provided that
the word of God should be preached without disturbance, that indemnity
should be granted for past offences against the Edict of Worms, and that,
until the meeting of a General Council to be held in a German city, each
State should so live as it hoped to answer for its conduct to God and to
the Emperor.

The decision was a triumph for the territorial system as well as for the
Reformation, and foreshadowed the permanent religious peace of Augsburg
(1555). It is difficult to see how either Charles or Ferdinand could have
accepted it. Their acquiescence was probably due to the fact that the
Emperor was then at war with the Pope (the sack of Rome under the
Constable Bourbon took place on May 6th, 1527), and that the threat of a
German ecclesiastical revolt was a good weapon to use against His
Holiness. Ferdinand was negotiating for election to the crowns of Hungary
and Bohemia, and dared not offend his German subjects. Both brothers
looked on any concessions to the German Lutherans as temporary compromises
to be withdrawn as soon as they were able to enforce their own views.

The Protestant States and cities at once interpreted this decision of the
Diet to mean that they had the legal right to organise territorial
Churches and to introduce such changes into public worship as would bring
it into harmony with their evangelical beliefs.(328) The latent
evangelical feeling at once manifested itself. Almost all North Germany,
except Brandenburg, Ducal Saxony, and Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, became
Lutheran within three years. Still it has to be noticed that the legal
recognition was accorded to the secular authorities, and that a ruling
prince, who had no very settled religious convictions, might change the
religion of his principality from political or selfish motives. It became
evident in 1529 that political feeling or fear of the Emperor was much
stronger than resolutions to support the evangelical Reformation.

Soon after the Diet, Philip of Hesse committed a political blunder which,
in the opinion of many of his evangelical friends, involved disloyalty to
the Fatherland, made them chary of associating themselves with him, and
greatly weakened the Protestant party. For most of these North German
princes, in spite of their clinging to the disruptive territorial
principle, had a rugged conscientious patriotism which made them feel that
no good German should seek the aid of France or make alliance with a
Czech. Many of the Roman Catholic princes, irritated at the spread and
organisation of Lutheranism which followed the decision of the Diet of
1526, had been persecuting by confiscation of goods and by death their
Lutheran subjects. The Landgrave had married the daughter of Duke George
of Saxony, and he knew that his father-in-law was continually uttering
threats against the Elector of Saxony. Brooding over these things, Philip
became gradually convinced that the Romanist princes were planning a
deadly assault on the Lutherans, and that first the Elector and then he
himself would be attacked and their territories partitioned among the
conquerors. He had no proof, but his suspicions were strong. Chance
brought him in contact with Otto von Pack, the steward of the Chancery of
Ducal Saxony, who, on being questioned, admitted that the suspicions of
Philip were correct, and promised to procure a copy of the treaty. Pack
was a scoundrel. No such treaty existed. He forged a document which he
declared to be a copy of a genuine treaty, and got 4000 gulden for his
pains. Philip took the forgery to the Elector of Saxony and to Luther,
both of whom had no doubt of its genuine character. They both, however,
refused to agree to Philip’s plan of seeking assistance outside the
Empire. The Landgrave believed the situation too dangerous to be faced
passively. He tried to secure the assistance of Francis of France and of
Zapolya, the determined opponent of the House of Austria in Bohemia. It
was not until he had fully committed himself that the discovery was made
that the document he had trusted in was nothing but a forgery. His hasty
action in appealing to France and Bohemia to interfere in the domestic
concerns of the Empire was resented by his co-religionists. When the Diet
met at Speyer, the Lutherans were divided and discredited. On the other
hand, the Pope and the Emperor were no longer at war, and the clerical
members flocked to the Diet in large numbers.

At this memorable Diet of Speyer (1529), a compact Roman Catholic majority
faced a weak Lutheran minority. The Emperor, through his commissioners,
declared at the outset that he abolished, “by his imperial and absolute
authority (_Machtvollkommenheit_),” the clause in the ordinance of 1526 on
which the Lutherans had relied when they founded their territorial
Churches; it had been the cause, he said, “of much ill counsel and
misunderstanding.” The majority of the Diet upheld the Emperor’s decision,
and the practical effect of the ordinance which was voted was to rescind
that of 1526. It declared that the German States which had accepted the
Edict of Worms should continue to do so; which meant that there was to be
no toleration for Lutherans in Romanist districts. It said that in
districts which had departed from the Edict no further innovations were to
be made, save that no one was to be prevented from hearing Mass; that
sects which denied the sacrament of the true Body and Blood of Christ
(Zwinglians) should no more be tolerated than Anabaptists. What was most
important, it declared that no ecclesiastical body should be deprived of
its authority or revenues. It was this last clause which destroyed all
possibility of creating Lutheran Churches; for it meant that the mediæval
ecclesiastical rule was everywhere to be restored, and with it the right
of bishops to deal with all preachers within their dioceses.

§ 2. The Protest.(329)

It was this ordinance which called forth the celebrated PROTEST, from
which comes the name _Protestant_. The Protest was read in the Diet on the
day (April 19th, 1529) when all concessions to the Lutherans had been
refused. Ferdinand and the other imperial commissioners would not permit
its publication in the “recess,” and the protesters had a legal instrument
drafted and published, in which they embodied the Protest, with all the
necessary documents annexed. The legal position taken was that the
unanimous decision of one Diet (1526) could not be rescinded by a majority
in a second Diet (1529). The Protesters declared that they meant to abide
by the “recess” of 1526; that the “recess” of 1529 was not to be held
binding on them, because they were not consenting parties. When forced to
make their choice between obedience to God and obedience to the Emperor,
they were compelled to choose the former; and they appealed, from the
wrongs done to them at the Diet, to the Emperor, to the next free General
Council of Holy Christendom, or to an ecclesiastical congress of the
German nation. The document was signed by the Elector John of Saxony,
Margrave George of Brandenburg, Dukes Ernest and Francis of
Brunswick-Lüneburg, Landgrave Philip of Hesse, and Prince Wolfgang of
Anhalt. The fourteen cities which adhered were Strassburg, Nürnberg, Ulm,
Constance, Lindau, Memmingen, Kempten, Nördlingen, Heilbronn, Reutlingen,
Isny, St. Gallen, Wissenberg, and Windsheim. Many of these cities were
Zwinglian rather than Lutheran; but all united in face of the common

The Protest at Speyer embodied the principle, not a new one, that a
minority of German States, when they felt themselves oppressed by a
majority, could entrench themselves behind the laws of the Empire; and the
idea is seen at work onward to the Diet of 1555, when it was definitely
recognised. Such a minority, to maintain a successful defence, had to be
united and able to protect itself by force if necessary. This was at once
felt; and three days after the Protest had been read in the Diet (April,
22nd), Electoral Saxony, Hesse, and the cities of Strassburg, Ulm, and
Nürnberg had concluded a “secret and particular treaty.” They pledged
themselves to mutual defence if attacked on account of God’s word, whether
the onslaught came from the Swabian League, from the _Reichsregiment_, or
from the Emperor himself. Soon after the Diet, proposals were brought
forward to make the compact effective and extensive,—one drafted by
representatives of the cities and the other by the Elector of
Saxony,—which provided very thoroughly for mutual support; but neither
took into account the differences which lay behind the Protest. These
divergences were strong enough to wreck the union.

The differences which separated the German Protestants were not wholly
theological, although their doctrinal disputes were most in evidence.

§ 3. Luther and Zwingli.

A movement for reformation, which owed little or nothing to Wittenberg,
had been making rapid progress in Switzerland, and two of the strongest
cantons, Zurich and Bern, had revolted from the Roman Church. Its leader,
Huldreich Zwingli, was utterly unlike Luther in temperament, training, and

He had never gone through the terrible spiritual conflicts which had
marked Luther for life, and had made him the man that he was. No deep
sense of personal sin had ever haunted him, to make his early manhood a
burden to him. Long after he had become known as a Reformer, he was able
to combine a strong sense of moral responsibility with some laxity in
private life. Unlike both Luther and Calvin, he was not the type of man to
be leader in a deeply spiritual revival.

He had been subjected to the influences of Humanism from his childhood.
His uncle, Bartholomew Zwingli, parish priest at Wildhaus, and the dean of
Wesen, under whose charge the boy was placed, had a strong sympathy for
the New Learning, and the boy imbibed it. His young intellect was fed on
Homer and Pindar and Cicero; and all his life he esteemed the great pagans
of antiquity as highly as he did any Christian saint. If it can be said
that he bent before the dominating influence of any one man, it was
Erasmus and not Luther who compelled him to admiration. He had for a
teacher Thomas Wyttenbach, who was half Reformer and half disciple of
Erasmus; and learned from him to study the Scriptures and the writings of
such earlier Church Fathers as Origen, Jerome, and Chrysostom. Like many
another Humanist north of the Alps, the mystical Christian Platonism of
Pico della Mirandola had some influence on him. He had never studied the
Scholastic Theology, and knew nothing of the spell it cast over men who
had been trained in it. Of all the Reformers, Luther was the least removed
from the mediæval way of looking at religion, and Zwingli had wandered
farthest from it.

His earliest ecclesiastical surroundings were also different from
Luther’s. He had never been taught in childhood to consider the Church to
be the Pope’s House, in which the Bishop of Rome was entitled to the
reverence and obedience due to the house-father. In his land the people
had been long accustomed to manage their own ecclesiastical affairs. The
greater portion of Switzerland had known but little either of the benefits
or disadvantages of mediæval episcopal rule. Church property paid its
share of the communal taxes, and even the monasteries and convents were
liable to civil inspection. If a stray tourist at the present day wanders
into the church which is called the Cathedral in that survival of ancient
mediæval republics, San Marino, he will find that the seats of the
“consuls” of the little republic occupy the place where he expects to find
the bishop’s chair. The civil power asserted its supremacy over the
ecclesiastical in most things in these small mediæval republics. The Popes
needed San Marino to be a thorn in the side of the Malatesta of Rimini,
they hired most of their soldiers from the Swiss cantons, and therefore
tolerated many things which they would not have permitted elsewhere.

The social environment of the Swiss Reformer was very different from that
of Luther. He was a free Swiss who had listened in childhood to tales of
the heroic fights of Morgarten, Sempach, Morat, and Nancy, and had imbibed
the hereditary hatred of the House of Hapsburg. He had no fear of the
“common man,” Luther’s bugbear after the Peasants’ War. Orderly democratic
life was the air he breathed, and what reverence Luther had for the
Emperor “who protected poor people against the Turk,” and for the lords of
the soil, Zwingli paid to the civic fathers elected by a popular vote.
When the German Reformer thought of Zwingli he was always muttering what
Archbishop Parker said of John Knox—“God keep us from such visitations as
Knockes hath attempted in Scotland; the people to be orderers of

Owing doubtless to this republican training, Zwingli had none of that
aloofness from political affairs which was a marked characteristic of
Luther. He believed that his mission had as much to do with politics as
with religion, and that religious reformation was to be worked out by
political forces, whether in the more limited sphere of Switzerland or in
larger Germany. He had never taken a step forward until he had carried
along with him the civic authorities of Zurich. His advance had always
been calculated. Luther’s _Theses_ (November 1517) had been the volcanic
outburst of a conscience troubled by the sight of a great religious
scandal, and their author had no intention of doing more than protesting
against the one great evil; he had no idea at the time where his protest
was leading him. Zwingli’s _Theses_ (January 1523) were the carefully
drafted programme of a Reformation which he meant to accomplish by
degrees, and through the assistance of the Council of Zurich. His mind was
full of political combinations for the purpose of carrying out his plans
of reformation. As early as 1524 he was in correspondence with Pirkheimer
about the possibility of a league between Nürnberg and Zurich—two powerful
Protestant towns. This league did not take shape. But in 1527 a religious
and political league (_das christliche Bürgerrecht_) was concluded between
Zurich and Constance, an imperial German town; St. Gallen joined in 1528;
Biel, Mühlhausen, and Basel in 1529; even Strassburg, afraid of the
growing power of the House of Hapsburg, was included in 1530. The feverish
political activity of Zwingli commended him to Philip of Hesse almost as
strongly as it made him disliked, and even feared, by Ferdinand of
Austria. The Elector of Saxony and Luther dreaded his influence over “the
young man of Hesse.”

Melanchthon was the first to insist on the evil influences of Zwingli’s
activity for the peace of the Empire. He persuaded himself that had the
Lutherans stood alone at Speyer, the Romanists would have been prepared to
make concessions which would have made the Protest needless. He returned
to Wittenberg full of misgivings. The Protest might lead to a defiance of
the Emperor, and to a subversion of the Empire. Was it right for subjects
to defend themselves by war against the civil power which was ordained of
God? “My conscience,” he wrote, “is disquieted because of this thing; I am
half dead with thinking about it.”

He found Luther only too sympathetic; resolute to maintain that if the
prince commanded anything which was contrary to the word of God, it was
the duty of the subject to offer what passive resistance he was able, but
that it was never right to oppose him actively by force of arms. Still
less was it the duty of a Christian man to ally himself for such
resistance with those who did not hold “the whole truth of God.” Luther
would therefore have nothing to do with an alliance offensive and
defensive against the Emperor with cities who shared in what he believed
to be the errors of Zwingli.

This meant a great deal more than a break with the Swiss. The south German
towns of Strassburg, Memmingen, Constance, Lindau, and others were more
Zwinglian than Lutheran. It was not only that they were inclined to the
more radical theology of the Swiss Reformer; they found that his method of
organising a reformed Church, drafted for the needs of Zurich, suited
their municipal institutions better than the territorial organisations
being adopted by the Lutheran Churches of North Germany. To Luther, whose
views of the place of the “common man” in the Church had been changed by
the Peasants’ War, this was of itself a danger which threatened the
welfare of the infant Churches. It made ecclesiastical government too
democratic; and it did this in the very centres where the democracy was
most dangerous. He could not forget that the mob of these German towns had
taken part in the recently suppressed social revolution, that their
working-class population was still the recruiting ground of the Anabaptist
sectaries, and that at Memmingen itself Zwinglian partisans had helped to
organise the revolution, and to link it on to the religious awakening.
Besides, the attraction which drew these German cities to the Swiss might
lead to larger political consequences which seemed to threaten what unity
remained to the German Empire. It might result in the detachment of towns
from the German Fatherland, and in the formation of new cantons cut adrift
from Germany to increase the strength of the Swiss Confederation.

§ 4. The Marburg Colloquy.(331)

All these thoughts were in the minds of Luther and of his fellow
theologians, and had their weight with the Elector of Saxony, when their
refusal to join rendered the proposed defensive league impossible. No one
was more disappointed than the Landgrave of Hesse, the ablest political
leader whom the German Reformation produced. He knew more about Zwingli
than his fellow princes in North Germany; he had a keen interest in
theological questions; he sympathised to some extent with the special
opinions of Zwingli; and he had not the dread of democracy which possessed
Luther and his Elector. He believed, rightly as events showed, that
differences or suspected differences in theology were the strongest causes
of separation; he was correct in supposing that the Lutheran divines
through ignorance magnified those points of difference; and he hoped that
if the Lutherans and the Swiss could be brought together, they would learn
to know each other better. So he tried to arrange for a religious
conference in his castle at Marburg. He had many a difficulty to overcome
so far as the Lutherans were concerned. Neither Luther nor Melanchthon
desired to meet Zwingli. Melanchthon thought that if a conference was to
be held, it would be much better to meet Oecolampadius and perhaps some
learned Romanists. Zwingli, on the other hand, was eager to meet Luther.
He responded at once. He came, without waiting for leave to be given by
the Zurich Council, across a country full of enemies. The conference met
from October 30th to November 5th, 1529. Luther was accompanied by
Melanchthon, Justus Jonas, and Cruciger, Frederick Mecum from Gotha,
Osiander from Nürnberg, Brenz from Hall, Stephan Agricola from Augsburg,
and others. With Zwingli came Oecolampadius, Bucer, and Hedio from
Strassburg, Rudolph Collin (who has left the fullest account of the
discussion), two councillors from Basel and from Zurich, and Jacob Sturm
from Strassburg. After a preliminary conference between Zwingli and
Melanchthon on the one hand, and Luther and Oecolampadius on the other,
the real discussion took place in the great hall of the Castle. The
tourist is still shown the exact spot where the table which separated the
disputants was placed.

This _Marburg Colloquy_, as the conference was called, had important
results for good, although it was unsuccessful in fulfilling the
expectations of the Landgrave. It showed a real and substantial harmony
between the two sets of theologians on all points save one. Fifteen
theological articles (_The Marburg Articles_) stated the chief heads of
the Christian faith, and fourteen were signed by Luther and by Zwingli.
The one subject on which they could not come to an agreement was the
relation of the Body of Christ to the elements Bread and Wine in the
Sacrament of the Supper. It was scarcely to be expected that there could
be harmony on a doctrinal matter on which there had been such a long and
embittered controversy.

Both theologians found in the mediæval doctrine of the Sacrament of the
Supper what they believed to be an overwhelming error destructive to the
spiritual life. It presupposed that a priest, in virtue of mysterious
powers conferred in ordination, could give or withhold from the Christian
people the benefits conveyed in the Sacrament. It asserted that the priest
could change the elements Bread and Wine into the very Body and Blood of
Christ, and that unless this change was made there was no presence of
Christ in the sacrament, and no possibility of sacramental grace for the
communicant. Luther attacked the problem as a mediæval Christian, content,
if he was able to purge the ordinance of this one fault, to leave all else
as he found it. Zwingli came as a Humanist, whose fundamental rule was to
get beyond the mediæval theology altogether, and attempt to discover how
the earlier Church Fathers could aid him to solve the problem. This
difference in mental attitude led them to approach the subject from
separate sides; and the mediæval way of looking at the whole subject
rendered difference of approach very easy. The mediæval Church had divided
the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper into two distinct parts—the Mass and
the Eucharist.(332) The Mass was inseparably connected with the thought of
the great Sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross, and the Eucharist with the
thought of the believer’s communion with the Risen Living Christ. Zwingli
attacked the Romanist doctrine of the Mass, and Luther sought to give an
evangelical meaning to the mediæval conception of the Eucharist. Hence the
two Protestant antagonists were never exactly facing each other.

Luther’s convent studies in D’Ailly, Biel, and their common master,
William of Occam, enabled him to show that there might be the presence of
the Glorified Body of Christ, extended in space, in the elements Bread and
Wine in a natural way, and without any priestly miracle: and that
satisfied him; it enabled him to deny the priestly miracle and keep true
in the most literal way to the words of the institution, “This is My

Zwingli, on the other hand, insisted that the primary reference in the
Lord’s Supper was to the death of Christ, and that it was above all things
a commemorative rite. He transformed the mediæval Mass into an evangelical
sacrament, by placing the idea of commemoration where the mediæval
theologian had put that of repetition, and held that the means of
appropriation was faith and not eating with the mouth. This he held to be
a return to the belief of the early centuries, before the conception of
the sacrament had been corrupted by pagan ideas.

Like Luther, he served himself heir to the work of earlier theologians;
but he did not go to Occam, Biel, or D’Ailly, as the German Reformer had
done. Erasmus, who had no liking for the priestly miracle in the Mass, and
cared little for a rigid literal interpretation of the words of the
institution, had declared that the Sacrament of the Supper was the symbol
of commemoration, of a covenant with God, and of the fellowship of all
believers in Christ, and this commended itself to Zwingli’s conception of
the social character of Christianity; but he was too much a Christian
theologian to be contented with such a vague idea of the rite. Many
theologians of the later Middle Ages, when speculation was more free than
it could be after the stricter definitions of the Council of Trent, had
tried to purify and spiritualise the beliefs of the Church about the
meaning of the central Christian rite. Foremost among them was John Wessel
(_c._ 1420-1489), with his long and elaborate treatise, _De Sacramento
Eucharistiæ_. He had taught that the Lord’s Supper is the rite in which
the death of Christ is presented to and appropriated by the believer; that
it is above all things a commemoration of that death and a communion or
participation in the benefits which followed; that communion with the
spiritual presence of Jesus is of far more importance than any corporeal
contact with the Body of Christ; and that this communion is shared in
through faith. These thoughts had been taken over by Christopher Honius, a
divine of the Netherlands, who had enforced them by insisting that our
Lord’s discourse in the 6th chapter of St. John’s Gospel had reproved any
materialistic conception of the Lord’s Supper; and that _therefore_ the
words of the institution must not be taken in their rigid literal meaning.
He had been the first to suggest that the word _is_ in “This is My Body”
must mean _signifies_. Wessel and Honius were the predecessors of Zwingli,
and he wove their thoughts into his doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. It
should be remembered that Luther had also been acquainted with the labours
of Wessel and of Honius, and that so far from attracting they had repelled
him, simply because he thought they failed to give the respect due to the
literal meaning of the words of the institution.

It must not be forgotten that Luther knew Zwingli only as in some way
connected with Andrew Bodenstein of Carlstadt. Carlstadt had professed to
accept the theory of Honius about the nature of the relation of the
Presence of Christ to the elements of Bread and Wine—saying that the
latter were _signs_, and nothing more, of the former. A controversy soon
raged in Wittenberg to the scandal of German Protestantism. Luther
insisted more and more on the necessity of the Presence in the elements of
the Body of Christ “corporeally extended in space”; while Carlstadt denied
that Presence in any sense whatsoever. Luther insisted with all the
strength of language at his command that the literal sense of the words of
the institution must be preserved, and that the words “This is My Body”
must refer to the Bread and to the Wine; while Carlstadt thought it was
more likely that while using the words our Lord pointed to His own Body,
or if not, that religious conviction compelled another interpretation than
the one on which Luther insisted.

The dust of all this controversy was in the eyes of the theologians when
they met at Marburg, and prevented them carefully examining each other’s
doctrinal position. In all essential matters Luther and Zwingli were not
so far apart as each supposed the other to be. Their respective theories,
put very shortly, may be thus summed up.

Zwingli, looking mainly at the mediæval doctrine of the Mass, taught: (1)
The Lord’s Supper is not a _repetition_ of the sacrifice of Christ on the
Cross, but a _commemoration_ of that sacrifice once offered up; and the
elements are not a newly offered Christ, but the _signs_ of the Body and
Blood of the Christ who was once for all offered on Calvary. (2) That
forgiveness for sin is not won by _partaking_ in a newly offered Christ,
but by _believing_ in a Christ once offered up. (3) That the benefits of
the work of Christ are always appropriated by faith, and that the
atonement is so appropriated in the sacrament, whereby Christ becomes our
food; but the food, being neither carnal nor corporeal, is not
appropriated by the mouth, but by faith indwelling in the soul. Therefore
there is a Real Presence of Christ in the sacrament, but it is a spiritual
Presence, not a corporeal one. A real and living faith always involves the
union of the believer with Christ, and therefore the Real Presence of
Christ; and the Presence of Christ, which is in every act of faith, is in
the sacrament to the faithful partaker. (4) That while the Lord’s Supper
primarily refers to the sacrifice of Christ, and while the elements, Bread
and Wine, are the symbols of the crucified Body of Christ, the partaking
of the elements is also a symbol and pledge of an ever-renewed living
union with the Risen Christ. (5) That as our Lord Himself has specially
warned His followers against thinking of feeding on Him in any corporeal
or carnal manner (John vi.), the words of the institution cannot be taken
in a strictly literal fashion, and the phrase “This is My Body” means
“This signifies My Body.” The fourth position had been rather implicitly
held than explicitly stated.

Luther, looking mainly at the mediæval doctrine of the Eucharist, taught:
(1) That the primary use of the sacrament was to bring believing
communicants into direct touch with the Living Risen Christ. (2) That to
this end there must be in the Bread and Wine the local Presence of the
Glorified Body of Christ, which he always conceived as “body extended in
space”; the communicants, coming into touch with this Body of Christ, have
communion with Him, such as His disciples had on earth and as His saints
now have in heaven. (3) That this local Presence of Christ does not
presuppose any special priestly miracle, for, in virtue of its _ubiquity_,
the Glorified Body of Christ is _everywhere_ naturally, and therefore is
in the Bread and in the Wine: this natural Presence becomes a sacramental
Presence because of the promise of God attached to the reverent and
believing partaking of the sacrament. (4) That communion with the Living
Risen Christ implies the appropriation of the Death of Christ, and of the
Atonement won by this death; but this last thought of Luther’s, which is
Zwingli’s first thought, lies implicitly in his teaching without being
dwelt upon.

The two theories, so far as doctrinal teaching goes, are supplementary to
each other rather than antagonists. Each has a weak point. Luther’s
depends on a questionable mediæval idea of _ubiquity_, and Zwingli’s on a
somewhat shallow exegesis. It was unfortunate, but only natural, that when
the two theological leaders were brought together at Marburg, instead of
seeking the mutual points of agreement, each should attack the weak point
in the other’s theory. Luther began by chalking the words _Hoc est Corpus
Meum_ on the table before him, and by saying, “I take these words
literally; if anyone does not, I shall not argue but contradict”; and
Zwingli spent all his argumentative powers in disputing the doctrine of
_ubiquity_. The long debate went circling round these two points and could
never be got away from them. Zwingli maintained that the Body of Christ
was at the Right Hand of God, and could not be present, extended in space,
in the elements, which were signs representing what was absent. Luther
argued that the Body of Christ was in the elements, as, to use his own
illustration, the sword is present in the sheath. As a soldier could
present his sheathed sword and say, truly and literally, _This is my
sword_, although nothing but the sheath was visible; so, although nothing
could be seen or felt but Bread and Wine, these elements in the Holy
Supper could be literally and truly called the Body and Blood of Christ.

The substantial harmony revealed in the fourteen articles which they all
could sign showed that the Germans and the Swiss had one faith. But Luther
insisted that their difference on the Sacrament of the Supper prevented
them becoming one visible brotherhood, and the immediate purpose of the
Landgrave of Hesse was not fulfilled.

Undaunted by his defeat, Philip next attempted a less comprehensive union.
If Luther and Zwingli could not be included within the one brotherhood,
might not the German cities of the south and the Lutheran princes be
brought together? Another conference was arranged at Schwabach (October
1529), when a series of theological articles were to be presented for
agreement. Luther prepared seventeen articles to be set before the
conference. They were based on the Marburg Articles; but as Luther had
stated his own doctrine of the Holy Supper in its most uncompromising
form, it is not to be wondered at that the delegates from the southern
cities hesitated to sign. They said that the confession (for the articles
took that form) was not in conformity with the doctrines preached among
them, and that they would need to consult their fellow-citizens before
committing them to it. Thus Philip’s attempts to unite the Protestants of
Germany failed a second time, and a divided Protestantism awaited the
coming of the Emperor, who had resolved to solve the religious difficulty
in person.

§ 5. The Emperor in Germany.

Charles V. was at the zenith of his power. The sickly looking youth of
Worms had become a grave man of thirty, whose nine years of unbroken
success had made him the most commanding figure in Europe. He had quelled
the turbulent Spaniards; he had crushed his brilliant rival of France at
the battle of Pavia; he had humbled the Pope, and had taught His Holiness
in the Sack of Rome the danger of defying the Head of the Holy Roman
Empire; and he had compelled the reluctant Pontiff to invest him with the
imperial crown. He had added to and consolidated the family possessions of
the House of Hapsburg, and but lately his brother Ferdinand had won, in
name at least, the crowns of Bohemia and Hungary. He was now determined to
visit Germany, and by his personal presence and influence to end the
religious difficulty which was distracting that portion of his vast
dominions. He also meant to secure the succession to the Empire for his
brother Ferdinand, by procuring his election as King of the Romans.

Charles came from Italy over the Brenner Pass in the spring time, and was
magnificently received by the Tyrolese, eager to do all honour to the
grandson of their beloved Kaiser Max. His letters to his brother, written
on the stages of the journey, reveal as fully as that reserved soul could
unbosom itself, his plans for the pacification of Germany. He meant to use
every persuasion possible, to make what compromises his conscience
permitted (for Catholicism was a faith with Charles), to effect a peaceful
settlement. But if these failed, he was determined to crush the
Reformation by force. He never seems to have doubted that he would
succeed. Never a thought crossed his mind that he was about to encounter a
great spiritual force whose depth and intensity he was unable to measure,
and which was slowly creating a new world unknown to himself and to his
contemporaries. While at Innsbruck he invited the Elector of Saxony to
visit him, and was somewhat disappointed that the Lutheran prince did not
accept; but this foretaste of trouble did not give him any uneasiness.

The summons to the Diet, commanding the Electors, princes, and all the
Estates of the Empire to meet at Augsburg on the 8th of April 1530, had
been issued when Charles was at Bologna. No threats marred the invitation.
The Emperor announced that he meant to leave all past errors to the
judgment of the Saviour; that he wished to give a charitable hearing to
every man’s opinions, thoughts, and ideas; and that his only desire was to
secure that all might live under the one Christ, in one Commonwealth, one
Church, and one Unity.(333) He left Innsbruck on the 6th of June, and,
travelling slowly, reached the bridge on the Lech, a little distance from
Augsburg, on the evening of the 15th. There he found the great princes of
the Empire, who had been waiting his arrival from two o’clock in the
afternoon. They alighted to do him reverence, and he graciously dismounted
also, and greeted them with all courtesy. Charles had brought the papal
nuncio, Cardinal Campeggio, in his train. Most of the Electors knelt to
receive the cardinal’s blessing; but John of Saxony stood bolt upright,
and refused the proffered benediction.

The procession—one of the most gorgeous Germany had ever seen—was
marshalled for the ceremonial entry into the town. The retinues of the
Electors were all in their appropriate colours and arms—Saxony, by ancient
prescriptive right, leading the van. Then came the Emperor alone, a
baldachino carried over his head. He had wished the nuncio and his brother
to ride beside him under the canopy; but the Germans would not suffer it;
no Pope’s representative was to be permitted to ride shoulder to shoulder
with the head of the German Empire entering the most important of his
imperial cities.(334)

Augsburg was then at the height of its prosperity. It was the great
trading centre between Italy and the Levant and the towns of Northern
Europe. It was the home of the Welsers and of the Fuggers, the great
capitalists of the later mediæval Europe. It boasted that its citizens
were the equals of princes, and that its daughters, in that age of deeply
rooted class distinctions, had married into princely houses. To this day
the name of one of its streets—Philippine Welser Strasse—commemorates the
wedding of an heiress of the Welsers with an archduke of Austria; and the
wall decorations of the old houses attest the ancient magnificence of the

At the gates of the town, the clergy, singing _Advenisti __
desiderabilis_, met the procession. All, Emperor, clergy, princes, and
their retinues, entered the cathedral. The _Te Deum_ was sung, and the
Emperor received the benediction. Then the procession was re-formed, and
accompanied Charles to his lodgings in the Bishop’s Palace.

There the Emperor made his first attempt on his Lutheran subjects. He
invited the Elector of Saxony, George of Brandenburg, Philip of Hesse, and
Francis of Lüneburg to accompany him to his private apartments. He told
them that he had been informed that they had brought their Lutheran
preachers with them to Augsburg, and that he would expect them to keep
them silent during the sittings of the Diet. They refused. Then Charles
asked them to prohibit controversial sermons. This request was also
refused. In the end Charles reminded them that his demand was strictly
within the decision of 1526; that the Emperor was lord over the imperial
cities; and he promised them that he would appoint the preachers himself,
and that there would be no sermons—only the reading of Scripture without
comment. This was agreed to. He next asked them to join him in the Corpus
Christi procession on the following day. They refused—Philip of Hesse with
arguments listened to by Ferdinand with indignation, and by Charles with
indifference, probably because he did not understand German. The Emperor
insisted. Then old George of Brandenburg stood forth, and told His Majesty
that he could not, and would not obey. It was a short, rugged speech,
though eminently respectful, and ended with these words, which flew over
Germany, kindling hearts as fire lights flax: “Before I would deny my God
and His Evangel, I would rather kneel down here before your Majesty and
have my head struck off,”—and the old man hit the side of his neck with
the edge of his hand. Charles did not need to know German to understand.
“Not head off, dear prince, not head off,” he said kindly in his
Flemish-German (_Nit Kop ab, löver Först, nit Kop ab_). Charles walked in
procession through the streets of Augsburg on a blazing hot day, stooping
under a heavy purple mantle, with a superfluous candle sputtering in his
hand; but the evangelical princes remained in their lodgings.(336)

§ 6. The Diet of Augsburg 1530.(337)

The Diet was formally opened on June 20th (1530), and in the _Proposition_
or Speech from the Throne it was announced that the Assembly would be
invited to discuss armament against the Turk, and that His Majesty was
anxious, “by fair and gentle means,” to end the religious differences
which were distracting Germany. The Protestants were again invited to give
the Emperor in writing their opinions and difficulties. It was resolved to
take the religious question first. On June 24th the Lutherans were ready
with their “statement of their grievances and opinions relating to the
faith.” Next day (June 25th) the Diet met in the hall of the Episcopal
Palace, and what is known as the _Augsburg Confession_ was read by the
Saxon Chancellor, Dr. Christian Bayer, in such a clear resonant voice that
it was heard not only by the audience within the chamber, but also by the
crowd which thronged the court outside.(338) When the reading was ended,
Chancellor Brück handed the document and a duplicate in Latin to the
Emperor. They were signed by the Elector of Saxony and his son John
Frederick, by George, Margrave of Brandenburg, the Dukes Ernest and
Francis of Lüneburg, the Landgrave of Hesse, Prince Wolfgang of Anhalt,
and the delegates of the cities of Nürnberg and Reutlingen. These princes
knew the danger which threatened them in putting their names to the
Confession. The theologians of Saxony besought their Elector to permit
their names to stand alone; but he answered calmly, _I, too, will confess
my Christ_. He was not a brilliant man like Philip of Hesse. He was
unpretentious, peace-loving, and retiring by nature—John the Steadfast,
his people called him. Recent historians have dwelt on the conciliatory
attitude and judicial spirit manifested by the Emperor at this Diet, and
they are justified in doing so; but the mailed hand sometimes showed
itself. Charles refused to invest John with his Electoral dignities in the
usual feudal fashion, and his entourage whispered that if the Elector was
not amenable to the Emperor’s arguments, he might find the electorate
taken from him and bestowed on the kindred House of Ducal Saxony, which in
the person of Duke George so stoutly supported the old religion.(339)
While possessing that “laudable, if crabbed constitutionalism which was
the hereditary quality of the Ernestine line of Saxony,”(340) he had a
genuine affection for the Emperor. Both recognised that this Diet of
Augsburg had separated them irrevocably. “Uncle, Uncle,” said Charles to
Elector John at their parting interview, “I did not expect this from you.”
The Elector’s eyes filled with tears; he could not speak; he turned away
in silence and left the city soon afterwards.(341)

§ 7. The Augsburg Confession.(342)

The Augsburg Confession (_Confessio Augustana_) was what it claimed to be,
a statement of “opinion and grievances,” and does not pretend to be a full
exposition of doctrinal tenets. The men who wrote it (Melanchthon was
responsible for the phraseology) and presented it to the Diet, claimed to
belong to the ancient and visible Catholic Church, and to believe in all
the articles of faith set forth by the Universal Church, and particularly
in the _Apostles’_ and _Nicene Creeds_; but they maintained that abuses
had crept in which obscured the ancient doctrines. The Confession showed
why they could not remain in connection with an unreformed Church. Their
position is exactly defined in the opening sentence of the second part of
the Confession. “Inasmuch as the Churches among us dissent in no articles
of faith from the Holy Scriptures nor the Church Catholic, and only omit a
few of certain abuses, which are novel, and have crept in with time partly
and in part have been introduced by violence, and contrary to the purport
of the canons, we beg that your Imperial Majesty would clemently hear both
what ought to be changed, and what are the reasons why people ought not to
be forced against their conscience to observe these abuses.”

The Confession is often represented as an attempt to minimise the
differences between Lutherans and Romanists and exaggerate those between
Lutherans and Zwinglians, and there are some grounds for the statement.
Melanchthon had come back from the Diet of Speyer (1529) convinced that if
the Lutherans had separated themselves more thoroughly from the cities of
South Germany there would have been more chance of a working compromise,
and it is only natural to expect that the idea should colour his sketch of
the Lutheran position at Augsburg. Yet in the main the assertion is wrong.
The distinctively Protestant conception of the spiritual priesthood of all
believers inspires the whole document; and this can never be brought into
real harmony with the Romanist position and claims. It is not difficult to
state Romanist and Protestant doctrine in almost identical phrases,
provided this one great dogmatic difference be for the moment set on one
side. The conferences at Regensburg in 1541 (April 27-May 22) proved as
much. No one will believe that Calvin would be inclined to minimise the
differences between Protestants and Romanists, yet he voluntarily signed
the Augsburg Confession, and did so, he says, in the sense in which the
author (Melanchthon) understood it. This Augsburg Confession and Luther’s
Short Catechism are the symbolical books still in use in all Lutheran

The _Augsburg Confession_ (_Confessio Augustana_) is divided into two
parts, the first expressing the views held by those who signed it, and the
second stating the errors they protested against. The form and language
alike show that the authors had no intention of framing an exhaustive
syllabus of theological opinions or of imposing its articles as a
changeless system of dogmatic truth. They simply meant to express what
they united in believing. Such phrases as _our Churches teach_, _it is
taught_, _such and such opinions are falsely attributed to us_, make that
plain. In the first part the authors show how much they hold in common
with the mediæval Church; how they abide by the teaching of St. Augustine,
the great theologian of the West; how they differ from more radical
Protestants like the Zwinglians, and repudiate the teachings of the
Anabaptists. The Lutheran doctrine of Justification by Faith is given very
clearly and briefly in a section by itself, but it is continually referred
to and shown to be the basis of many portions of their common system of
belief. In the second part they state what things compel them to dissent
from the views and practices of the mediæval Church—the enforced celibacy
of the clergy, the sacrificial character of the Mass, the necessity of
auricular confession, monastic vows, and the confusion of spiritual and
secular authority exhibited in the German episcopate.

The origin of the document was this. When the Emperor’s proclamation
summoning the Diet reached Saxony, Chancellor Gregory Brück suggested that
the Saxon theologians should prepare a statement of their opinions which
might be presented to the Emperor if called for.(343) This was done. The
theologians went to the Schwabach Articles, and Melanchthon revised them,
restated them, and made them as inoffensive as he could. The document was
meant to give the minimum for which the Protestants contended, and
Melanchthon’s conciliatory spirit shows itself throughout. It embalms at
the same time some of Luther’s trenchant phrases: “Christian perfection is
this, to fear God sincerely; and again, to conceive great faith, and to
trust assuredly that God is pacified towards us for Christ’s sake; to ask,
and certainly to look for, help from God in all our affairs according to
our calling; and outwardly to do good works diligently, and to attend to
our vocation. In these things doth true perfection and the true worship of
God consist: it doth not consist in being unmarried, in going about
begging, nor in wearing dirty clothes.” His indifference to forms of
Church government and his readiness to conserve the old appears in the
sentence: “Now our meaning is not to have rule taken from the bishops; but
this one thing only is requested at their hands, that they would suffer
the gospel to be purely taught, and that they would relax a few
observances, which cannot be observed without sin.”

When the Romanist theologians presented their Confutation of this
Confession to the Emperor, it was again left to Melanchthon to draft an
answer—the _Apology of the Augsburg Confession_. The _Apology_ is about
seven times longer than the _Confession_, and is a noble and learned
document. The Emperor refused to receive it, and Melanchthon spent a long
time over it before it was allowed to be seen.

After taking counsel with the Romanist princes (_die Chur und Fursten so
bepstisch gewesen_),(344) it was resolved to hand the Confession to a
committee of Romanist theologians whom the cardinal nuncio(345) undertook
to bring together, to examine and answer it. Among them were John Eck of
Ingolstadt, Faber, and Cochlæus. There was little hope of arriving at a
compromise with such champions on the papal side; and Charles was soon to
discover that his strongest opponents in effecting a peaceful solution
were the nuncio and his committee of theologians. Five times they produced
a confutation, and five times the Emperor and the Diet returned their
work, asking them to redraft it in milder and in less uncompromising
terms.(346) The sixth draft went far beyond the wishes of Charles, but the
Emperor had to accept it and let it appear as the statement of his
beliefs. It made reconciliation hopeless.

§ 8. The Reformation to be crushed.

The religious difficulty had not been removed by compromise. There
remained force—the other alternative foreshadowed by the Emperor. The time
seemed to be opportune. Protestantism was divided, and had flaunted its
differences in the Emperor’s presence. Philip of Hesse had signed the
Augsburg Confession with hesitation, not because he did not believe its
statements, but because it seemed to shut the door on a complete union
among all the parties who had joined in the Protest of 1529. The four
cities of Strassburg, Constance, Lindau, and Memmingen had submitted a
separate Confession (the _Confessio Tetrapolitana_) to the Emperor; and
the Romanist theologians had written a confutation of it also. Zwingli had
sent a third.

Luther was not among the theologians present at the Diet of Augsburg.
Technically he was still an outlaw, for the ban of the Diet of Worms had
never been legally removed. The Elector had asked him to stay at his
Castle of Coburg. There he remained, worried and anxious, chafing like a
caged eagle. He feared that Melanchthon’s conciliatory spirit might make
him barter away some indispensable parts of evangelical truth; he feared
the impetuosity of the Landgrave of Hesse and his known Zwinglian
sympathies. His secretary wrote to Wittenberg that he was fretting himself
ill; he was longing to get back to Wittenberg, where he could at least
teach his students. It was then that Catharine got their friend Lucas
Cranach to paint their little daughter Magdalena, just twelve months old,
and sent it to her husband that he might have a small bit of home to cheer
him. Luther hung the picture up where he could always see it from his
chair, and he tells us that the sweet little face looking down upon him
gave him courage during his dreary months of waiting. Posts brought him
news from the Diet: that the Confession had been read to the Estates; that
the Romanists were preparing a Confutation; that their reply was ready on
August 3rd; that Philip of Hesse had left the Diet abruptly on the 6th, to
raise troops to fight the Emperor, it was reported; that Melanchthon was
being entangled in conferences, and was giving up everything. His strong
ardent nature pours itself forth in his letters from Coburg (April
18th-Oct. 4th)—urging his friends to tell him how matters are going;
warning Melanchthon to stand firm; taking comfort in the text, “Be ye
angry, and sin not”; comparing the Diet to the rooks and the rookery in
the trees below his window.(347) It was from Coburg that he wrote his
charming letter to his small son.(348) It was there that he penned the
letter of encouragement to the tried and loyal Chancellor Brück:

    “I have lately seen two wonders: the first as I was looking out of
    my window and saw the stars in heaven and all that beautiful vault
    of God, and yet I saw no pillars on which the Master-Builder had
    fixed this vault; yet the heavens fell not, and the great vault
    stood fast. Now there are some who search for the pillars, and
    want to touch and to grasp them; and when they cannot, they wonder
    and tremble as if the heaven must certainly fall, just because
    they cannot grasp its pillars. If they could only lay their hands
    on them, they think that the heaven would stand firm!

    “The second wonder was: I saw great clouds rolling over us with
    such a ponderous weight that they seemed like a great ocean, and
    yet I saw no foundation on which they rested or were based, and no
    shore which bounded them; yet they fell not, but frowned on us and
    flowed on. But when they had passed by, then there shone forth
    both their floor and our roof, which had kept them back—a rainbow!
    A frail, thin floor and roof which soon melted into the clouds,
    and was more like a shadowy prism, such as we see through coloured
    glass, than a strong, firm foundation, and we might well distrust
    the feeble rampart which kept back that fearful weight of waters.
    Yet we found that this unsubstantial prism was able to bear up the
    weight of waters, and that it guarded us safely! But there are
    some who look more to the thickness and massive weight of the
    waters and the clouds than at this thin, light, narrow bow of
    promise. They would like to feel the strength of that shadowy
    vanishing arch, and because they cannot do this, they are always
    fearing that the clouds will bring back the flood.”(349)

The Protestants never seemed to be in a worse plight; but, as Luther
wrote, the threatened troubles passed away—for this time at least.

Campeggio was keen to crush the Reformation at once. His letters to the
Curia insist that the policy of the strong arm is the only effectual way
of dealing with the Lutheran princes. But Charles found that some of the
South German princes who were eager that no compromise should be made with
the Lutherans, were very unwilling to coerce them by force of arms. They
had no wish to see the Emperor all-powerful in Germany. The Romanist Dukes
of Bavaria (the Wittelsbachs) were as strongly anti-Hapsburg as Philip of
Hesse himself; and Charles had no desire to stir the anti-Hapsburg
feeling. Instead, conferences(350) were proposed to see whether some
mutual understanding might not after all be reached; and the Diet was
careful to introduce laymen, in the hope that they would be less
uncompromising than the Romanist theologians. The meetings ended without
any definite result. The Protestant princes refused to make the needful
concessions, and Charles found his plans thwarted on every side. Whereupon
the Romanist majority of the Diet framed a “recess,” which declared that
the Protestants were to be allowed to exist unmolested until April 15th,
1531; and were then to be put down by force. Meanwhile they were ordered
to make no more innovations in worship or in doctrine; they were to
refrain from molesting the Romanists within their territories; and they
were to aid the Emperor and the Romanist princes in stamping out the
partisans of Zwingli and the Anabaptists. This resolution gave rise to a
second Protest, signed by the Lutheran princes and by the fourteen cities.

Nothing had stirred the wrath of Charles so much as the determined stand
taken by the cities. He conceived that he, the Emperor, was the supreme
Lord within an imperial city; and he employed persuasion and threats to
make their delegates accept the “recess.” Even Augsburg refused.

Having made their Protest, the Lutheran princes and the delegates from the
protesting towns left the Diet, careless of what the Romanist majority
might further do. In their absence an important ordinance was passed. The
Diet decided that the Edict of Worms was to be executed; that the
ecclesiastical jurisdictions were to be preserved, and all Church property
to be restored; and, what was most important, that the Imperial Court of
Appeals for all disputed legal cases within the Empire (the
_Reichskammersgericht_) should be restored. The last provision indicated a
new way of fighting the extending Protestantism by harassing legal
prosecutions, which, from the nature of the court, were always to be
decided against the dissenters from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the
mediæval Empire.(351) All instances of seizure of ecclesiastical
benefices, all defiances of episcopal decisions, could be appealed against
to this central court; and as the legal principles on which it gave its
decisions and the controlling authorities which it recognised were
mediæval, the Protestants could never hope for a decision in their favour.
The Lutheran Church in Saxony, for example, with its pastors and
schoolmasters, was supported by moneys taken from the old ecclesiastical
foundations. According to this decision of the Diet, every case of such
transfer of property could be appealed to this central court, which from
its constitution was bound to decide against the transfer. If the
Protestant princes disregarded the decisions of the central court, the
Emperor was within his rights in treating them as men who had outraged the
constitution of the Empire.(352)

Charles met at Augsburg the first great check in his hitherto successful
career, but he was tenacious of purpose, and never cared to hurry matters
to an irrevocable conclusion. He carefully studied the problem, and three
ways of dealing with the religious difficulty shaped themselves in his
mind at Augsburg—by compromise, by letting the Protestants alone for a
period longer or shorter, and by a General Council which would be free. It
would seem that at Augsburg he first seriously resolved that the condition
of Europe was such that the Pope must be _compelled_ to summon a Council,
and to allow it freedom of debate and action. Charles tried all three
plans in Germany during the fifteen years that followed.

§ 9. The Schmalkald League.(353)

The Emperor published the decision of the Diet on the 19th of November,
and the Protestants had to arrange some common plan of facing the
situation. They met, princes and delegates of cities, in the little upland
town of Schmalkalden, lying on the south-west frontier of Electoral
Saxony, circled by low hills which were white with snow (December 22-31).
They had to face at once harassing litigation, and, after the 15th of
April, the threat that they would be stamped out by force of arms. Were
they still to maintain their doctrine of passive resistance? The question
was earnestly debated. Think of these earnest German princes and burghers,
their lives and property at stake, debating this abstract question day
after day, resolute to set their own consciences right before coming to
any resolution to defend themselves! The lawyers were all on the side of
active defence. The terms of the bond were drafted. The Emperor’s name was
carefully omitted; and the causes which compelled them to take action were
rather alluded to vaguely than stated with precision. The Elector of
Saxony, the Landgrave of Hesse, the Duke of Lüneburg, the Prince of
Anhalt, the two Counts of Mansfeld, and the delegates from Magdeburg and
Bremen signed. Pious old George of Brandenburg was not convinced that it
was lawful to resist the Emperor; the deputies of Nürnberg had grave
doubts also. Many others who were present felt that they must have time to
make up their minds. But the league was started, and was soon to assume
huge proportions.

The confederates had confessed the new doctrines, and had published their
Confession. They now resolved that they would defend themselves if
attacked by litigation or otherwise. There was no attempt to exclude the
South German cities; and Charles’ expectations that theological
differences would prevent Protestant union within Germany were frustrated.
Zwingli’s heroic death at Cappel (October 11th, 1531) softened all
Protestant hearts towards his followers. The South German cities followed
the lead of Bucer, who was anxious for union. Many of these towns now
joined the Schmalkald League. Brunswick joined. Hamburg and Rostock in the
far north, Goslar and Göttingen in the centre, joined. Almost all North
Germany and the more important imperial towns in the South were united in
one strong confederacy by this Schmalkald League. It became one of the
European Powers. Denmark wished to join. Thomas Cromwell was anxious that
England should join. The league was necessarily anti-Hapsburg, and the
Emperor had to reckon with it.

Its power appeared at the Diet of Nürnberg in 1532. The dreaded day (April
15th, 1531) on which the Protestants were to be reduced by fire and sword
passed quietly by. Charles was surrounded with difficulties which made it
impossible for him to carry out the threats he had published on November
19th, 1530. The Turks were menacing Vienna and the Duchy of Austria; the
Pope was ready to take advantage of any signs of imperial weakness; France
was irreconcilable; England was hostile; and the Bavarian dukes were doing
what they could to lessen the Hapsburg power in Germany.

When the Diet met at Nürnberg in 1532, the Emperor knew that he was unable
to coerce the Lutherans, and returned to his earlier courteous way of
treating them. They were more patriotic than the German Romanists for whom
he had done so much. Luther declared roundly that the Turks must be met
and driven back, and that all Germans must support the Emperor in
repelling the invasion. At the Diet a “recess” was proposed, in which the
religious truce was indefinitely extended; the processes against the
Protestants in the _Reichskammersgericht_ were to be quashed, and no State
was to be proceeded against in matters arising out of religious
differences. The Romanist members refused to accept it; the “recess” was
never published. But the Protestant States declared that they would trust
in the imperial word of honour, and furnished the Emperor with troops for
the defence of Vienna, and the invasion was repelled.

The history of the struggle in Germany between the Diet of 1532 and the
outbreak of war in 1546 is very intricate, and cannot be told as a simple
contest between Reformation and anti-Reformation.

In the sixteenth century, almost all thoughtful and earnest-minded men
desired a Reformation of the Church. The Roman Curia was the only opponent
to all reforms of any kind. But two different ideas of what Reformation
ought to be, divided the men who longed for reforms. The one desired to
see the benumbed and formalist mediæval Church filled with a new religious
life, while it retained its notable characteristics of a sacerdotal
ministry and a visible external unity under a uniform hierarchy
culminating in the Papacy. The other wished to free the human spirit from
the fetters of a merely ecclesiastical authority, and to rebuild the
Church on the principle of the spiritual priesthood of all believing men
and women. In the struggle in Germany the Emperor Charles may be taken as
the embodiment of the first, as Luther represented the second. To the one
it seemed essential to maintain the external unity and authority of the
Church according to the mediæval ideal; the other could content himself
with seeing the Church of the Middle Ages broken up into territorial
Churches, each of which he contended was a portion of the one visible
Catholic Church. Charles had no difficulty in accepting many changes in
doctrine and usages, provided a genuine and lasting compromise could be
arrived at which would retain all within the one ecclesiastical
organisation. He consented once and again to suspend the struggle; but he
would never have made himself responsible for a permanent religious
settlement which recognised the Lutheran Churches. He had no objection to
a truce, but would never accept a lasting peace. If the Lutherans could
not be brought back within the mediæval Church by compromise, then he was
prepared to go to all extremes to compel them to return. Of course, he was
the ruler over many lands; he was keen to extend and consolidate the
family possessions of his House,—as keen as the most grasping of the petty
territorial princes,—and he had to be an opportunist. But he never
deviated in the main from his idea of how the religious difficulty should
be solved.

But all manner of political and personal motives were at work on both
sides in Germany (as elsewhere). Philip of Hesse combined a strenuous
acceptance of the principles of the Lutheran Reformation with as thorough
a hatred of the House of Hapsburg and of its supremacy in Germany. The
Dukes of Bavaria, who were the strongest partisans of the Romanist Church
in Germany, were the hereditary enemies of the House of Austria. The
religious pacification of the Fatherland was made impossible to Charles,
not merely by his insistence on maintaining the conceptions of the
mediæval Church, but also by open and secret reluctance to see the
imperial authority increased, and by jealousies aroused by the territorial
aggrandisement of the House of Hapsburg. The incompatibility between the
aims of the Emperor and those of his indispensable ally, the Pope, added
to the difficulties of the situation.

In 1534, Philip of Hesse persuaded the Schmalkald League to espouse the
cause of the banished Duke of Würtemberg. His territories had been
incorporated into the family possessions of the Hapsburgs, and the people
groaned under the imperial administration. The Swabian League, which had
been the mainstay of the Imperialist and Romanist cause in South Germany,
was persuaded to remain neutral by the Dukes of Bavaria, and Philip had
little difficulty in defeating Ferdinand, and driving the Imperialists out
of the Duchy. Ulrich was restored, declared in favour of the Lutheran
Reformation, and Würtemberg was added to the list of Protestant States. By
the terms of the Peace of Cadan (June 1534), Ferdinand publicly engaged to
carry out Charles’ private assurance that no Protestant was to be dragged
before the _Reichskammersgericht_ for anything connected with
religion.(354) Another important consequence followed. The Swabian League
was dissolved in 1536. This left the Schmalkald League of Protestant
States and cities the only formidable confederation in Germany.

The political union among the Protestants suggested a closer
approximation. The South German pastors asked to meet Luther and discuss
their theological differences. They met at Wittenberg, and after prolonged
discussion it was found that all were agreed save on one small point—the
presence, _extended in space_, of the Body of Christ in the elements in
the Holy Supper. It was agreed that this might be left an open question;
and what was called the _Wittenberg Concord_ was signed, which united all
German Protestants (May and June 1536).(355)

Three years later (1539), Duke George of Saxony died, the most honest and
disinterested of the Romanist princes. His brother Henry, who succeeded
him, with the joyful consent of his subjects, pronounced for the
Evangelical faith. Nothing would content him but that Luther should come
to Leipzig to preside clerically on so auspicious an occasion. Luther
preached in the great hall of the Castle, where twenty years earlier he
had confronted Eck, and had heard Duke George declare that his opinions
were pestilential.

In the same year the new Elector of Brandenburg also came over to the
Evangelical side amid the rejoicings of his people; and the two great
Romanist States of North Germany, Electoral Brandenburg and Ducal Saxony,
became Protestant.

The tide flowed so strongly that the three clerical Electors, the
Archbishops of Mainz, Köln, and Trier, and some of the bishops,
contemplated secularising their principalities, and becoming Protestants.
This alarmed Charles thoroughly. If the proposed secularisation took
place, there would be a large Protestant majority in the Electoral
College, and the next Emperor would be a Protestant.

Charles had been anxiously watching the gradual decadence of the power of
the Romanist princes in Germany; and reports convinced him that the
advance of the Reformation among the people was still more marked. The
Roman Catholic Church seemed to be in the agonies of dissolution even in
places where it had hitherto been strong. Breslau, once strongly Romanist,
was now almost fanatically Lutheran; in Vienna, Bishop Faber wrote, the
population was entirely Lutheran, save himself and the Archduke. The
Romanist Universities were almost devoid of students. In Bavaria, it was
said that there were more monasteries than monks. Candidates for the
priesthood had diminished in a very startling way: the nuncio Vergerio
reported that he could find none in Bohemia except a few paupers who could
not pay their ordination fees.

The policy of the Pope (Paul III., 1534-1549) had disgusted the German
Romanist princes. He subordinated the welfare of the Church in their
dominions to his anti-Hapsburg Italian schemes, and had actually allied
himself with Francis of France, who was intriguing with the Turks, in
order to thwart the Emperor! The action and speeches of Henry VIII. had
been watched and studied by the German Romanist leaders. Could they not
imitate him in Germany, and create a Nationalist Church true to mediæval
doctrine, hierarchy, and ritual, and yet independent of the Pope, who
cared so little for them?

All these things made Charles and Ferdinand revise their policy. The
Emperor began to consider seriously whether the way out of the religious
difficulty might not be, either to grant a prolonged truce to the
Lutherans (which might, though he hoped not, become permanent), or to work
energetically for the creation of a German National Church, which, by
means of some working compromise in doctrines and ceremonies, might be
called into existence by a German National Council assembled in defiance
of the Pope.

It was with these thoughts in his mind that he sent his Chancellor Held
into Germany to strengthen the Romanist cause there. His agent soon
abandoned the larger ideas of his master, if he ever comprehended them,
and contented himself with announcing publicly that the private promise
given by Charles at Nürnberg, and confirmed by Ferdinand at the Peace of
Cadan, was withdrawn. The lawsuits brought against the Protestants in the
_Reichskammersgericht_ were not to be quashed, but were to be prosecuted
to the bitter end. He also contrived at Nürnberg (June 1538) to form a
league of Romanist princes, ostensibly for defence, but really to force
the Protestants to submit to the decisions of the _Reichskammersgericht_.
These measures did not make for peace; they almost produced a civil war,
which was only avoided by the direct interposition of the Emperor.

Chancellor Held was recalled, and the Emperor sent the Archbishop of Lund
to find out what terms the Protestants would accept. These proved larger
than the Emperor could grant, but the result of the intercourse was that
the Protestants were granted a truce which was to last for ten years.

The proposed secularisation of the ecclesiastical Electorates made Charles
see that he dared not wait for the conclusion of this truce. He set
himself earnestly to discover whether compromises in doctrine and
ceremonies were not possible. Conferences were held between Lutheran and
Romanist theologians and laymen, at Hagenau (June 1540), at Worms
(November 1540), and at Regensburg (Ratisbon, April 1541).(356) The last
was the most important. The discussions showed that it was possible to
state Romanist and Lutheran doctrine in ambiguous propositions which could
be accepted by the theologians of both Confessions; but that there was a
great gulf between them which the Evangelicals would never re-cross. The
spiritual priesthood of all believers could never be reconciled with the
special priesthood of the mediæval clergy. This was Charles’ last attempt
at a compromise which would unite of their own free will the German
Lutherans with the German Romanists. He saw that the Lutherans would never
return to the mediæval Church unless compelled by force, and it was
impossible to use force unless the Schmalkald League was broken up
altogether or seamed with divisions.

§ 10. The Bigamy of Philip of Hesse.(357)

The opportunity arrived. The triumphant Protestantism received its
severest blow in the bigamy of Philip of Hesse, which involved the
reputations of Bucer, Luther, and Melanchthon, as well as of the

Philip had married when barely nineteen a daughter of Duke George of
Saxony. Latterly, he declared that it was impossible to maintain conjugal
relations with her; that continence was impossible for him; that the
condition in which he found himself harassed his whole life, and prevented
him coming to the Lord’s Table. In a case like his, Pope Clement VII. only
a few years previously had permitted the husband to take a second wife,
and why should not the Protestant divines permit him? He prepared a case
for himself which he submitted to the theologians, and got a reply signed
by Bucer, Melanchthon, and Luther, which may be thus summarised:—

    According to the original commandment of God, marriage is between
    one man and one woman, and the twain shall become one flesh, and
    this original precept has been confirmed by our Lord; but sin
    brought it about that first Lamech, then the heathen, and then
    Abraham, took more than one wife, and this was permitted by the
    law. We are now living under the gospel, which does not give
    prescribed rules for the regulation of the external life, and it
    has not expressly prohibited bigamy. The existing law of the land
    has gone back to the original requirement of God, and the plain
    duty of the pastorate is to insist on that original requirement of
    God, and to denounce bigamy in every way. Nevertheless the
    pastorate, in individual cases of the direst need, and to prevent
    worse, may sanction bigamy in a purely exceptional way; such a
    bigamous marriage is a true marriage (the necessity being proved)
    in the sight of God and of conscience; but it is not a true
    marriage with reference to public law or custom. Therefore such a
    marriage ought to be kept secret, and the dispensation which is
    given for it ought to be kept under the seal of confession. If it
    be made known, the dispensation becomes _eo ipso_ invalid, and the
    marriage becomes mere concubinage.

Such was the strange and scandalous document to which Luther, Melanchthon,
and Bucer appended their names.

Of course the thing could not be kept secret, and the moral effect of the
revelation was disastrous among friends and foes. The Evangelical princes
were especially aggrieved; and it was proposed that the Landgrave should
be tried for bigamy and punished according to the laws of the Empire. When
the matter was brought before the Emperor, he decided that no marriage had
taken place, and the sole effect of the decision of the theologians was to
deceive a poor maiden.(358)

Philip, humiliated and sore, isolated from his friends, was an instrument
ready to the Emperor’s hand in his plan to weaken and, if possible,
destroy the Schmalkald League. The opportunity soon arrived. The father of
William Duke of Cleves Juliers and Berg had been elected by the Estates of
Guelders to be their sovereign, in defiance of a treaty which had secured
the succession to Charles. The father died, and the son succeeded almost
immediately after the treaty had been signed. This created a powerful
anti-Hapsburg State in close proximity to the Emperor’s possessions in the
Netherlands. William of Cleves had married his sister Sibylla to John
Frederick, the Elector of Saxony, and naturally gravitated towards the
Schmalkald League. In 1541 an arrangement was come to between the Emperor
and Philip, according to which Philip guaranteed to prevent the Duke of
Cleves from joining the League, or at least from being supported by it
against the Emperor, and in return Philip was promised indemnity for all
past deeds, and advancement in the Emperor’s service. Young Maurice of
Ducal Saxony, who had succeeded his father in the Duchy (August 18th,
1541), and had married Philip’s daughter, also joined in this bargain. The
Emperor had thus divided the great Protestant League; for the Elector of
Saxony refused to desert his brother-in-law. In 1543 the Emperor fell upon
the unbefriended Duke, totally defeated him, and took Guelders from him,
while the German Protestants, hindered by Philip, saw one of their most
important allies overthrown. This gave rise to recriminations, which
effectually weakened the Protestant cause.

In 1544, Charles concluded a peace with France (the Peace of Crépy,
November 19th), and was free to turn his attention to affairs in Germany.
He forced the Pope in the same month to give way about a General Council,
which was fixed to meet in March 1545. The Emperor meant this Council to
be an instrument in his hands to subdue both the Protestants and the Pope.
He meant it to reform the Church in the sense of freeing it from many of
the corruptions which had found their way into it, and especially in
diminishing the power of the Roman Curia; and in this he was supported by
the Spanish bishops and by the greater part of Latin Christendom. But the
Pope was the more skilful diplomatist, and out-generalled the Emperor. The
Council was summoned to meet at Trent, a purely Italian town, though
nominally within Germany. It was arranged that all its members must be
present personally and not by deputies, which meant that the Italian
bishops had a permanent majority; and the choice of Dominicans and Jesuits
as the leading theologians made it plain that no doctrinal concessions
would be made to the Protestants. From the first the Protestants refused
to be bound in any way by its decisions, and Charles soon perceived that
the instrument he had counted on had broken in his hands. If
ecclesiastical unity was to be maintained in Germany, it could only be by
the use of force. There is no doubt that the Emperor was loath to proceed
to this last extremity; but his correspondence with his sister Mary and
with his brother Ferdinand shows that he had come to regard it as a
necessity by the middle of 1545.

His first endeavour was to break up the Protestant League, which was once
more united. He attempted again to detach Philip of Hesse, but without
success. He was able, however, to induce the Elector of Brandenburg and
the Margrave of Brandenburg-Culmbach and some others to remain neutral—the
Elector by promising in any event that the religious settlement which had
been effected in Brandenburg (1541) should remain unaltered; and, what
served him best, he persuaded young Maurice of Ducal Saxony to become his
active ally.

§ 11. Maurice of Saxony.

Maurice of Saxony was one of the most interesting, because one of the most
perplexing personalities of his time, which was rich in interesting
personalities. He was a Protestant from conviction, and never wavered from
his faith; yet in the conflict between the Romanist Emperor and the
Protestant princes he took the Emperor’s side, and contributed more than
any one else to the overthrow of his fellow Protestants. His bargain with
Charles was that the Electorate should be transferred from the Ernestine
Saxon family to his own, the Albertine, that he should get Magdeburg and
Halberstadt, and that neither he nor his people should be subject to the
decrees of the Council of Trent. Then, when he had despoiled the rival
family of the Electorate, he planned and carried through the successful
revolt of the Protestant princes against the Emperor, and was mainly
instrumental in securing the public recognition of Lutheranism in Germany
and in gaining the permanent Religious Peace of 1555.(359)

§ 12. Luther’s Death.

It was in these months, while the alarms of war were threatening Germany,
that Luther passed away. He had been growing weaker year by year, and had
never spared himself for the cause he had at heart. One last bit of work
he thought he must do. The Counts of Mansfeld had quarrelled over some
trifling things in the division of their property, and had consented to
accept Luther’s mediation. This obliged him to journey to Eisleben in
bitterly cold weather (January 1546). “I would cheerfully lay down my
bones in the grave if I could only reconcile my dear Lords,” he said; and
that was what was required from him. He finished the arbitration to the
satisfaction of both brothers, and received by way of fee endowments for
village schools in the Mansfeld region. The deeds were all signed by the
17th of February (1546), and Luther’s work was done at Mansfeld—and for
his generation. He became alarmingly ill that night, and died on the
following morning, long before dawn. “Reverend Father,” said Justus Jonas,
who was with him, “wilt thou stand by Christ and the doctrine thou hast
preached?” The dying man roused himself to say “Yes.” It was his last
word. Twenty minutes later he passed away with a deep sigh.

Luther died in his sixty-third year—twenty-eight and a half years after he
had, greatly daring, nailed his Theses to the door of All Saints’ in
Wittenberg, twenty-seven after he had discovered the meaning of his Theses
during the memorable days when he faced Eck at Leipzig, and twenty-five
after he had stood before the Emperor and Diet at Worms, while all Germany
had hailed him as its champion against the Pope and the Spaniard. The
years between 1519 and 1524 were, from an external point of view, the most
glorious of Luther’s life. He dominated and led his nation, and gave a
unity to that distracted and divided country which it had never enjoyed
until then. He spoke and felt like a prophet. “I have the gospel, not from
men, but from heaven through our Lord Jesus Christ, so that I might have
described myself and have glorified in being a minister and an
evangelist.” The position had come to him in no sudden visionary way. He
had been led into it step by step, forced forward slowly by a power
stronger than his own; and the knowledge had kept him humble before his
God. During these years it seemed as if his dream—an expectation shared by
his wise Elector, the most experienced statesman in Germany—of a Germany
united under one National Church, separated from the bondage of Rome,
repudiating her blasphemies, rejecting her traditions which had corrupted
the religion of the ancient and purer days, and disowning her presumptuous
encroachments on the domain of the civil power ordained of God, was about
to come true.

Then came the disillusionment of the Peasants’ War, when the dragon’s
teeth were sown broadcast over Germany, and produced their crop of gloomy
suspicions and black fears. After the insurrection had spent itself, and
in spite of the almost irretrievable damage which it, and the use made of
it by papal diplomatists, did to the Reformation movement, Luther regained
his serene courage, and recovered much of the ground which had been lost.
But the crushing blow had left its mark upon him. He had the same trust in
God, but much more distrust of man, fearing the “tumult,” resolute to have
nothing to do with anyone who had any connection, however slight, with
those who had instigated the misguided peasants. He rallied the forces of
the Reformation, and brought them back to discipline by the faith they had
in himself as their leader. His personality dominated those kinglets of
Germany, possessed with as strong a sense of their dignity and autocratic
rights as any Tudor or Valois, and they submitted to be led by him.
Electoral Saxony, Hesse, Lüneburg, Anhalt, East Prussia, and Mansfeld, and
some score of imperial cities, had followed him loyally from the first;
and as the years passed, Ducal Saxony and Würtemberg in the centre and
south, and Brandenburg in the north, had declared themselves Protestant
States. These larger principalities brought in their train all the smaller
satellite States which clustered round them. It may be said that before
Luther’s death the much larger portion of the German Empire had been won
for evangelical religion,—a territory to be roughly described as a great
triangle, whose base was the shores of the Baltic Sea from the Netherlands
on the west to the eastern limits of East Prussia, and whose apex was
Switzerland. Part of this land was occupied by ecclesiastical
principalities which had remained Roman Catholic,—the districts
surrounding Köln on the west, and the territories of Paderborn, Fulda, and
many others in the centre,—but, on the other hand, many stoutly Protestant
cities, like Nürnberg, Constance, and Augsburg, were planted on
territories which were outside these limits. The extent and power of this
Protestant Germany was sufficient to resist any attempt on the part of the
Emperor and the Catholic princes to overcome it by force of arms, provided
only its rulers remained true to each other.

Over this wide extent of country Evangelical Churches had been
established, and provisions had been made for the education of children
and for the support of the poor in ordinances issued by the supreme
secular authorities who ruled over its multitudinous divisions. The Mass,
with its supposed substitutionary sacrifice and a mediatorial priesthood,
had been abolished. The German tongue had displaced mediæval Latin in
public worship, and the worshippers could take part in the services with
full understanding of the solemn acts in which they were engaged. A German
Bible lay on every pulpit, and the people had their copies in the pews.
Translations of the Psalms and German evangelical hymns were sung, and
sermons in German were preached. Pains were taken to provide an educated
evangelical ministry who would preach the gospel faithfully, and
conscientiously fulfil all the duties connected with the “cure of souls.”
The ecclesiastical property of the mediæval Church was largely used for
evangelical purposes. There was no mechanical uniformity in these new
arrangements. Luther refused to act the part of an ecclesiastical
autocrat: he advised when called upon to give advice, he never commanded.
No Wittenberg “use” was to confront the Roman “use” and be the only mode
of service and ecclesiastical organisation.

The movement Luther had inaugurated had gone far beyond Germany before
1546. Every country in Europe had felt its pulsations. As early as 1519
(April), learned men in Paris had been almost feverishly studying his
writings.(360) They were eagerly read in England before 1521.(361)
Aleander, writing from Worms to the Curia, complains that Spanish
merchants were getting translations of Luther’s books made for circulation
in Spain.(362) They were being studied with admiration in Italy even
earlier. The Scottish Parliament was vainly endeavouring to prevent their
entrance into that country by 1525.(363) The Lutheran Reformation had been
legally established in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden long before Luther
passed away.

Luther was the one great man of his generation, standing head and
shoulders above everyone else. This does not mean that he absorbed in his
individual personality everything that the age produced for the
furtherance of humanity. Many impulses for good existed in that sixteenth
century which Luther never recognised; for an age is always richer than
any one man belonging to it. He stood outside the great artistic movement.
He might have learned much from Erasmus on the one hand, and from the
leaders of the Peasants’ War on the other, which remained hidden from him.
He is greatest in the one sphere of religion only—in the greatest of all
spheres. His conduct towards Zwingli and the strong language he used in
speaking of opponents make our generation discover a strain of intolerance
we would fain not see in so great a man; but his contemporaries did not
and could not pass the same judgment upon him. In such a divided Germany
none but a man of the widest tolerance could have held together the
Protestant forces as Luther did; and we can see what he was when we
remember the sad effects of the petty orthodoxies of the Amsdorfs and the
Osianders who came after him.

It is the fate of most authors of revolutions to be devoured by the
movement which they have called into being. Luther occasioned the greatest
revolution which Western Europe has ever seen, and he ruled it till his
death. History shows no kinglier man than this Thuringian miner’s son.

§ 13. The Religious War.(364)

The war began soon after Luther’s death. The Emperor brought into Germany
his Spanish infantry, the beginning of what was to be a curse to that
country for many generations, and various manœuvrings and skirmishes took
place, the most important of which was Maurice of Saxony’s invasion of the
Electorate. At last the Emperor met the Elector in battle at Mühlberg
(April 24th, 1547), where John Frederick was completely defeated and taken
prisoner. Wittenberg, stoutly defended by Sibylla, soon after surrendered.
This was the end. Philip was induced to surrender on promise of favourable
treatment, made by the Electors who had remained on the Emperor’s side.
Charles refused to be bound by the promise made in his name, and the
Landgrave was also held captive. All Germany, save Constance in the south
and some of the Baltic lands, lay prostrate at the Emperor’s feet. It
remained to be seen what use he would make of his victory.

In due time he set himself to bring about what he conceived to be a
reasonable compromise which would enable all Germany to remain within one
National Church. He tried at first to induce the separate parties to work
it out among themselves; and, when this was found to be hopeless, he, like
a second Justinian, resolved to construct a creed and to impose it by
force upon all, especially upon the Lutherans. To begin with, he had to
defy the Pope and slight the General Council for which he had been mainly
responsible. He formally demanded that the Council should return to German
soil (it had been transferred to Bologna), and, when this was refused, he
protested against its existence and, like the German Protestants he was
coercing, declared that he would not submit to its decrees. He next
selected three theologians, Michael Helding, Julius von Pflug, and
Agricola,—a mediævalist, an Erasmian, and a very conservative Lutheran—to
construct what was called the _Augsburg Interim_.

§ 14. The Augsburg Interim.(365)

This document taught the dogma of Transubstantiation, the seven
Sacraments, adoration of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, retained most
of the mediæval ceremonies and usages, and declared the Pope to be the
Head of the Church. This was to please the Romanists. It appealed to the
Lutherans by adopting the doctrine of Justification by Faith in a modified
form, the marriage of priests with some reservations, the use of the Cup
by the laity in the Holy Supper, and by considerably modifying the
doctrine of the sacrificial character of the Mass. Of course all its
propositions were ambiguous, and could be read in two ways. This was
probably the intention of the framers; if so, they were highly successful.

Nothing that Charles ever undertook proved such a dismal failure as this
patchwork creed made from snippets from two Confessions. However lifeless
creeds may become, they all—real ones—have grown out of the living
Christian experience of their framers, and have contained the very
life-blood of their hearts as well as of their brains. It is a hopeless
task to construct creeds as a tailor shapes and stitches coats.

Charles, however, was proud of his creed, and did his best to enforce it.
The Diet of 1548 showed him his difficulties. The _Interim_ was accepted
and proclaimed as an edict by this Diet (May 15), but only after the
Emperor, very unwillingly, declared practically that it was meant for the
Protestants alone. “The Emperor,” said a member of the Diet, “is fighting
for religion against the Pope, whom he acknowledges to be its head, and
against the two parts of Christendom in Germany—the mass of the
Protestants and the ecclesiastical princes.” Thus from the beginning what
was to be an instrument to unite German Christendom was transformed into a
“strait-waistcoat for the Lutherans”; and this did not make it more
palatable for them. At first the strong measures taken by the Emperor
compelled its nominal acceptance by many of the Protestant princes.(366)
The cities which seemed to be most refractory had their Councils purged of
their democratic members, and their Lutheran preachers sent into
banishment—Matthew Alber from Reutlingen, Wolfgang Musculus from Augsburg,
Brenz from Hall, Osiander from Nürnberg, Schnepf from Tübingen. Bucer and
Fagius had to flee from Strassburg and take refuge in England. The city of
Constance was besieged and fell after a heroic defence; it was deprived of
its privileges as an imperial city, and was added to the family
possessions of the House of Austria. Its pastor, Blarer, was sent into
banishment. Four hundred Lutheran divines were driven from their homes.

If Charles, backed by his Spanish and Italian troops, could secure a
nominal submission to his _Interim_, he could not coerce the people into
accepting it. The churches stood empty in Augsburg, in Ulm, and in other
cities. The people met it by an almost universal passive resistance—if
singing doggerel verses in mockery of the _Interim_ may be called passive.
When the Emperor ordered Duke Christopher of Würtemberg to drive Brenz out
of his refuge in his State, the Duke answered him that he could not banish
his whole population. The popular feeling, as is usual in such cases,
found vent in all manner of satirical songs, pamphlets, and even
catechisms. As in the times before the Peasants’ War, this coarse popular
literature had an immense circulation. Much of it took the form of rude
broadsides with a picture, generally satirical, at the top, and the song,
sometimes with the music score, printed below.(367) Wandering preachers,
whom no amount of police supervision could check, went inveighing against
the _Interim_, distributing the rude literature through the villages and
among the democracy in the towns. Soon the creed and the edict which
enforced it became practically a dead letter throughout the greater part
of Germany.

The presence of the Emperor’s Spanish troops on the soil of the Fatherland
irritated the feelings of Germans, whether Romanists or Protestants; the
insolence and excesses of these soldiers stung the common people; and
their employment to enforce the hated _Interim_ on the Protestants was an
additional insult. The citizens of one imperial city were told that if
they did not accept the _Interim_ they must be taught theology by Spanish
troops, and of another that they would yet learn to speak the language of
Spain. While the popular odium against Charles was slowly growing in
intensity, he contrived to increase it by a proposal that his son Philip
should have the imperial crown after his brother Ferdinand. Charles’ own
election had been caused by a patriotic sentiment. The people thought that
a German was better than a Frenchman, and they had found out too late that
they had not got a German but a Spaniard. Ferdinand had lived in Germany
long enough to know its wants, and his son Maximilian had shown that he
possessed many qualities which appealed to the German character. The
proposal to substitute Philip, however natural from Charles’ point of
view, and consistent with his earlier idea that the House of Hapsburg
should have one head, meant to the Germans to still further “hispaniolate”
Germany. This unpopularity of Charles among all ranks and classes of
Germans grew rapidly between 1548 and 1552; and during the same years his
foreign prestige was fast waning. He remained in Germany, with the
exception of a short visit to the Netherlands; but in spite of his
presence the anarchy grew worse and worse. The revolt which came might
have arisen much sooner had the Protestants been able to overcome their
hatred and suspicion of Maurice of Saxony, whose co-operation was almost
essential. It is unnecessary to describe the intrigues which went on
around the Emperor, careless though not unforewarned.

Maurice had completed his arrangements with his German allies and with
France early in 1552. The Emperor had retired from Augsburg to Innsbruck.
Maurice seized the Pass of Ehrenberg on the nights of May 18th, 19th, and
pressed on to Innsbruck, hoping to “run the old fox to earth.” Charles
escaped by a few hours, and, accompanied by his brother Ferdinand, fled
over the Brenner Pass amid a storm of snow and rain. It was the road by
which he had entered Germany in fair spring weather when he came in 1530,
in the zenith of his power, to settle, as he had confidently expected, the
religious difficulties in Germany. He reached Villach in Carinthia in
safety, and there waited the issue of events.

The German princes gathered in great numbers at Passau (Aug. 1552) to
discuss the position and arrive at a settlement. Maurice was ostensibly
the master of the situation, for his troops and those of his wild ally
Albert Alcibiades of Brandenburg-Culmbach were in the town, and many a
prince felt “as if they had a hare in their breast.” His demands for the
public good were moderate and statesmanlike. He asked for the immediate
release of his father-in-law the Landgrave of Hesse; for a settlement of
the religious question on a basis that would be permanent, at a meeting of
German princes fairly representative of the two parties—no Council
summoned and directed by the Pope would ever give fair-play to the
Protestants, he said, nor could they expect to get it from the Diet where
the large number of ecclesiastical members gave an undue preponderance to
the Romanist side; and for a settlement of some constitutional questions.
The princes present, and with them Ferdinand, King of the Romans, were
inclined to accept these demands. But when they were referred to Charles
at Villach, he absolutely refused to permit the religious or the
constitutional question to be settled by any assembly but the Diet of the
Empire. Nothing would move him from his opinion, neither the entreaties of
his brother nor his own personal danger. He still counted on the divisions
among the Protestants, and believed that he had only to support the “born
Elector” of Saxony against the one of his own creation to deprive Maurice
of his strength. It may be that Maurice had his own fears, it may be that
he was glad to have the opportunity of showing that the “Spaniard” was the
one enemy to a lasting peace in Germany. He contented himself with the
acquiescence of John Frederick in the permanent loss of the Electorate as
arranged at the Peace of Wittenberg (1547).

Charles was then free to come back to Augsburg, where he had the petty
satisfaction of threatening the Lutheran preachers who had returned, and
of again overthrowing the democratic government of the city. He then went
to assume the command of the German army which was opposing the French.
His failure to take the city of Metz was followed by his practical
abandonment of the direction of the affairs of Germany, which were left in
the hands of Ferdinand. The disorders of the time delayed the meeting of
the Diet until 1555 (opened Feb. 5th). The Elector and the “born Elector”
of Saxony were both dead—John Frederick, worn out by misfortune and
imprisonment (March 3rd, 1554), and sympathised with by friends and foes
alike; and Maurice, only thirty-two years of age, killed in the moment of
victory at Sievershausen (July 9th, 1553).

It was in the summer of 1554 that the Emperor had handed over, in a
carefully limited manner, the management of German affairs to his brother
Ferdinand, the King of the Romans. The terms of devolution of authority
imply that this was done by Charles to avoid the humiliation of being
personally responsible for acquiescence in what was to him a hateful
necessity, and the confession of failure in his management of Germany from
1530. Everyone recognised that peace was necessary at almost any price,
but Ferdinand and the higher ecclesiastical princes shrunk from facing the
inevitable. The King of the Romans still cherished some vague hopes of a
compromise which would preserve the unity of the mediæval German Church,
and the selfish policy of many of the Protestant princes encouraged him.
Elector Joachim of Brandenburg wished the archbishopric of Magdeburg and
the bishopric of Halberstadt for his son Sigismund, and declared that he
would be content with the _Interim_! Christopher of Würtemberg cherished
similar designs on ecclesiastical properties. Augustus of Saxony,
Maurice’s brother and successor, wished the bishopric of Meissen. All
these designs could be more easily fulfilled if the external unity of the
mediæval Church remained unbroken.

§ 15. Religious Peace of Augsburg.(368)

The Diet had been summoned for Nov. 13th (1554), but when Ferdinand
reached Augsburg about the end of the year, the Estates had not gathered.
He was able to open the Diet formally on Feb. 5th (1555), but none of the
Electors, and only two of the great ecclesiastical princes, the Cardinal
Bishop of Augsburg and the Bishop of Eichstadt, were present in person.
While the Diet dragged on aimlessly, the Protestant princes gathered to a
great Council of their own at Naumburg (March 3rd, 1555) to concert a
common policy. Among those present were the Electors of Brandenburg and
Saxony, the sons of John Frederick, the ill-fated “born Elector,” and the
Landgrave of Hesse—sixteen princes and a great number of magnates. After
long debates, the assembly decided (March 13th) that they would stand by
the Augsburg Confession of 1530, and that the minority would unite with
the majority in carrying out one common policy. Even “fat old Interim,” as
Elector Joachim of Brandenburg had been nicknamed, was compelled to
submit; and the Protestants stood on a firm basis with a definite
programme, and pledged to support each other.

This memorable meeting at Naumburg forced the hands of the members of the
Diet. Every member, save the Cardinal Bishop of Augsburg, desired a
_permanent_ settlement of the religious question, and their zeal appeared
in the multiplicity of adjectives used to express the predominant
thought—“_beständiger, beharrlicher, unbedingter, für und für ewig
währender_” was the phrase. The meeting at Naumburg showed them that this
could not be secured without the recognition of Lutheranism as a legal
religion within the German Empire.

When the Protestant demands were formally placed before the Diet, they
were found to include—security under the Public Law of the Empire for all
who professed the Augsburg Confession, and for all who in future might
make the same profession; liberty to hold legally all the ecclesiastical
property which had been or might in the future be secularised; complete
toleration for all Lutherans who were resident in Romanist States without
corresponding toleration for Romanists in Lutheran States. These demands
went much further than any which Luther himself had formulated, and really
applied to Romanists some of the provisions of the “recess” of Speyer
(1529) which, when applied to Lutherans, had called forth the Protest.
They were vehemently objected to by the Romanist members of the Diet; and,
as both parties seemed unwilling to yield anything to the other, there was
some danger of the religious war breaking out again. The mediation of
Ferdinand for the Romanists and Frederick of Saxony for the Protestants
brought a compromise after months of debate. It was agreed that the
Lutheran religion should be legalised within the Empire, and that all
Lutheran princes should have full security for the practice of their
faith; that the mediæval episcopal jurisdiction should cease within their
lands; and that they were to retain all ecclesiastical possessions which
had been secularised before the passing of the Treaty of Passau (1552).
Future changes of faith were to be determined by the principle _cujus
regio ejus religio_. The secular territorial ruler might choose between
the Romanist or the Lutheran faith, and his decision was to bind all his
subjects. If a subject professed another religion from his prince, he was
to be allowed to emigrate without molestation. These provisions were
agreed upon by all, and embodied in the “recess.” Two very important
matters remained unsettled. The Romanists demanded that any ecclesiastical
prince who changed his faith should thereby forfeit lands and
dignities—the “ecclesiastical reservation.” This was embodied in the
“recess,” but the Protestants declared that they would not be bound by it.
On the other hand, the Protestants demanded toleration for all Lutherans
living within the territories of Romanist princes. This was not embodied
in the “recess,” though Ferdinand promised that he would see it carried
out in practice.(369) Such was the famous Peace of Augsburg. There was no
reason why it should not have come years earlier and without the wild
war-storm which preceded it, save the fact that, in an unfortunate fit of
enthusiasm, the Germans had elected the young King of Spain to be their
Emperor. They had chosen the grandson of the genial Maxmilian, believing
him to be a real German, and they got a man whose attitude to religion
“was half-way between the genial orthodoxy of his grandfather Maxmilian
and the gloomy fanaticism of his son Philip II.,” and whose “mind was
always travelling away from the former and towards the latter
position.”(370) The longer he lived the more Spanish he became, and the
less capable of understanding Germany, either on its secular or religious
side. His whole public life, so far as that country was concerned, was one
disastrous failure. He succeeded only when he used his imperial position
to increase and consolidate the territorial possessions of the House of
Hapsburg; for the charge of dismembering the Empire can be brought home to
Charles as effectually as to the most selfish of the princes of Germany.

The Religious Peace of Augsburg was contained in the decisions of Speyer
in 1526, and it was repeated in every one of the truces which the Emperor
made with his Lutheran subjects from 1530 to 1544.(371) Had any one of
these been made permanent, the religious war, with its outcome in wild
anarchy, in embittered religious antagonisms, and its seed of internecine
strife, to be reaped in the Thirty Years’ War, would never have occurred.
But Charles, whose mission, he fancied, was to preserve the unity “of the
seamless robe of Christ,” as he phrased it, could only make the attempt by
drenching the fields of Germany with blood, and perpetuating and
accentuating the religious antagonisms of the country which had chosen him
for its Protector.

This Religious Peace of Augsburg has been claimed, and rightly, as a
victory for religious liberty.

From one point of view the victory was not a great one. The only
Confession tolerated was the Augsburg. The Swiss Reformation and its
adherents were outside the scope of the religious peace. What grew to be
the Reformed or Calvinistic Church was also outside. It was limited solely
to the Lutheran, or, as it was called, the Evangelical creed. Nor was
there much gain to the personal liberty of conscience. It may be said with
truth that there was less freedom of conscience under the Lutheran
territorial system of Churches, and also under the Roman Catholic Church
reorganised under the canons and decrees of Trent, than there was in the
mediæval Church.

The victory lay in this, that the first blow had been struck to free
mankind from the fetters of Romanist absolutism; that the first faltering
step had been taken on the road to religious liberty; and the first is
valuable not for what it is in itself, but for what it represents and for
what comes after it. The Religious Peace of Augsburg did not concede much
according to modern standards; but it contained the potency and promise of
the future. It is always the first step which counts.

Chapter VI. The Organisation Of Lutheran Churches.(372)

Two conceptions, the second being derived from the first, lay at the basis
of everything which Luther said or did about the organisation of the
Christian fellowship into churches.

The primary and cardinal doctrine, which was the foundation of everything,
was the spiritual priesthood of all believers. This, he believed, implied
that preaching, dispensing the sacraments, ecclesiastical discipline, and
so forth were not the exclusive possession of a special caste of men to
whom they had been committed by God, and who therefore were mediators
between God and man. These divine duties belonged to the whole community
as a fellowship of believing men and women; but as a division of labour
was necessary, and as each individual Christian cannot undertake such
duties without disorder ensuing, the community must seek out and set apart
certain of its members to perform them in its name.

The second conception was that secular government is an ordinance ordained
of God, and that the special rule claimed by the Roman Pontiff over things
secular and sacred was a usurpation of the powers committed by God to the
secular authority. This Luther understood to mean that the Christian
magistracy might well represent the Christian community of believers, and,
in its name or associated with it, undertake the organisation and
superintendence of the Church civic or territorial.

In his earlier writings, penned before the outbreak of the Peasants’ War,
Luther dwells most on the thought of the community of believers, their
rights and powers; in the later ones, when the fear of the common man had
taken possession of him, the secular authority occupies his whole field of
thought. But although, before the Peasants’ War, Luther does not give such
a fixed place to the secular magistracy as the one source of authority or
supervision over the Church, the conception was in his mind from the

Among the various duties which belong to the company of believers, Luther
selected three as the most outstanding,—those connected with the
pastorate, including preaching, dispensing the sacraments, and so forth;
the service of Christian charity; and the duty of seeing that the children
belonging to the community, and especially “poor, miserable, and deserted
children,” were properly educated and trained to become useful members of
the commonwealth.

In the few instances of attempts made before the Peasants’ War to
formulate those conceptions into regulations for communities organised
according to evangelical principles, we find the community and the
magistracy combining to look after the public worship, the poor, and
education. Illustrations may be seen in the Wittenberg ordinance of 1522
(Carlstadt), and the ordinances of Leisnig (1523) and Magdeburg
(1524).(373) All three are examples of the local authority within a small
community endeavouring, at the prompting of preachers and people, to
express in definite regulations some of the demands of the new evangelical

Luther himself thought these earlier regulations premature, and insisted
that the Wittenberg ordinance should be cancelled. He knew that changes
must come; but he hoped to see them make their way gradually, almost
imperceptibly, commending themselves to everyone without special enactment
prescribed by external authority. He published suggestions for the
dispensation of the Lord’s Supper and of Baptism in the churches in
Wittenberg as early as 1523; he collected and issued a small selection of
evangelical hymns which _might_ be sung in Public Worship (1524); during
the same year he addressed the burgomasters and councillors of all German
towns on the erection and maintenance of Christian schools; and he
congratulated more than one municipality on provisions made for the care
of the poor.(374) Above all, he had, while in Wartburg, completed a
translation of the New Testament which, after revision by Melanchthon and
other friends, was published in 1522 (Sept. 21st), and went through
sixteen revised editions and more than fifty reimpressions before 1534.
The translation of the Old Testament was made by a band of scholars at
Wittenberg, published in instalments, and finally in complete form in

He always cherished the hope that the evangelical faith would spread
quietly all over his dear Fatherland if only room were made for the
preaching of the gospel. This of itself, he thought, would in due time
effect a peaceful transformation of the ecclesiastical life and worship.
The Diets of Nürnberg and Speyer had provided a field, always growing
wider, for this quiet transformation. Luther was as indifferent to forms
of Church government as John Wesley, and, like Wesley, every step he took
in providing for a separate organisation was forced upon him as a
practical necessity. To the very last he cherished the hope that there
might be no need for any great change in the external government of the
Church. The Augsburg Confession itself (1530) concludes with the words.
“Our meaning is not to have rule taken from the bishops; but this one
thing only is requested at their hands, that they would suffer the gospel
to be purely taught, and that they would relax a few observances, which
cannot be held without sin. But if they will remit none, let them look how
they will give account to God for this, that by their obstinacy they
afford cause of division and schism, which it were yet fit they should aid
in avoiding.”(375) It was not that he believed that the existence of the
visible Catholic Church depended on what has been ambiguously called an
apostolic succession of bishops, who, through gifts conferred in
ordination, create priests, who in turn make Christians out of natural
heathen by the sacraments. He did not believe that ordination needed a
bishop to confer it; he made his position clear upon this point as early
as 1525, and ordination was practised without bishops from that date. But
he had no desire to make changes for the sake of change. The Danish Church
is at once episcopal and Lutheran to this day.

It ought also to be remembered that Luther and all the Reformers believed
and held firmly the doctrine of a visible Catholic Church of Christ, and
that the evangelical movement which they headed was the outcome of the
centuries of saintly life _within_ that visible Catholic Church. They
never for a moment supposed that in withdrawing themselves from the
authority of the Bishop of Rome they were separating themselves from the
visible Church. Nor did they imagine that in making provision, temporary
or permanent, for preaching the word, the dispensation of the sacraments,
the exercise of discipline, and so forth, they were founding a new Church,
or severing themselves from that visible Church within which they had been
baptized. They refused to concede the term _Catholic_ to their opponents,
and in the various conferences which they had with them, the Roman
Catholics were always _officially_ designated “the adherents of the old
religion,” while they were termed “the associates of the Augsburg

Luther cherished the hope, as late as 1545, that there might not need to
be a permanent change in the external form of the Church in Germany; and
this gives all the earlier schemes for the organisation of communities
professing the evangelical faith somewhat of a makeshift and temporary
appearance, which they in truth possessed.

The Diet of Speyer of 1526 gave the evangelical princes and towns the
right, they believed, to reorganise public worship and ecclesiastical
organisation within their dominions, and this right was largely taken
advantage of. Correspondents from all quarters asked Luther’s advice and
co-operation, and we can learn from his answers that he was anxious there
should be as much local freedom as possible,—that communities should try
to find out what suited them best, and that the “use” of Wittenberg should
not be held to regulate the custom of all other places.

It was less difficult for the authorities in the towns to take over the
charge of the ecclesiastical arrangements. They had during mediæval times
some experience in the matter; and city life was so compact that it was
easy to regulate the ecclesiastical portion. The prevailing type exhibited
in the number of “ordinances” which have come down to us, collected by
Richter and Sehling, is that a superintendent, one of the city clergy, was
placed over the city churches, and that he was more or less responsible to
the city fathers for the ecclesiastical life and rule within the domains
of the city.

The ecclesiastical organisation of the territories of the princes was a
much more difficult task. Luther proposed to the Elector of Saxony that a
careful visitation of his principality should be made, district by
district, in order to find out the state of matters and what required to
be done.

The correspondence of Luther during the years 1525-1527 shows how urgent
the need of such a visitation appeared to him. He had been through the
country several times. Parish priests had laid their difficulties before
him and had asked his advice. His letters describe graphically their
abounding poverty, a poverty increased by the fact that the only
application of the new evangelical liberty made by many of the people was
to refuse to pay all clerical dues. He came to the conclusion that the
“common man” respected neither priest nor preacher, that there was no
ecclesiastical supervision in the country districts, and no exercise of
authority to maintain even the necessary ecclesiastical buildings. He
expressed the fear that if things were allowed to go on as they were
doing, there would be soon neither priest’s house nor schools nor scholars
in many a parish. The reports of the first Saxon Visitation showed that
Luther had not exaggerated matters.(376) The district about Wittenberg was
in much better order than the others; but in the outlying portions a very
bad state of things was disclosed. In a village near Torgau the Visitors
discovered an old priest who was hardly able to repeat the Creed or the
Lord’s Prayer,(377) but who was held in high esteem as an exorcist, and
who derived a good income from the exercise of his skill in combating the
evil influences of witches. Priests had to be evicted for gross
immoralities. Some were tavern-keepers or practised other worldly
callings. Village schools were rarely to be found. Some of the peasants
complained that the Lord’s Prayer was so long that they could not learn
it; and in one place the Visitors found that not a single peasant knew any
prayer whatsoever.

This Saxon Visitation was the model for similar ones made in almost every
evangelical principality, and its reports serve to show what need there
was for inquiry and reorganisation. The lands of Electoral Saxony were
divided into four “circles,” and a commission of theologians and lawyers
was appointed to undertake the duties in each circle. The Visitation of
the one “circle” of Wittenberg, with its thirty-eight parishes, may be
taken as an example of how the work was done, and what kinds of
alterations were suggested. The commissioners or Visitors were Martin
Luther and Justus Jonas, theologians, with Hans Metzsch, Benedict Pauli,
and Johann v. Taubenheim, jurists. They began in October 1528, and spent
two months over their task. It was a strictly business proceeding. There
is no account of either Luther or Jonas preaching while on tour. The
Visitors went about their work with great energy, holding conferences with
the parish priests and with the representatives of the community. They
questioned the priests about the religious condition of the people—whether
there was any gross and open immorality, whether the people were regular
in their attendance at church and in coining to the communion. They asked
the people how the priests did their work among them—in the towns their
conferences were with the _Rath_, and in the country districts and
villages with the male heads of families. Their common work was to find
out what was being done for the “cure of souls,” the instruction of the
youth, and the care of the poor. By “cure of souls” (_Seelsorge_) they
meant preaching, dispensation of the sacraments, catechetical instruction,
and the pastoral visitation of the sick. It belonged to the theologians to
estimate the capacities of the pastors, and to the jurists to estimate the
available income, to look into all legal difficulties that might arise,
and especially to clear the entanglements caused by the supposed
jurisdiction of convents over many of the parishes.

This small district was made up of three outlying portions of the three
dioceses of Brandenburg, Magdeburg, and Meissen. It had not been inspected
within the memory of man, and the results of episcopal negligence were
manifest. At Klebitz the peasants had driven away the parish clerk and put
the village herd in his house. At Bülzig there was neither parsonage nor
house for parish clerk, and the priest was non-resident. So at Danna;
where the priest held a benefice at Coswig, and was, besides, a chaplain
at Wittenberg, while the clerk lived at Zahna. The parsonages were all in
a bad state of repair, and the local authorities could not be got to do
anything. Roofs were leaking, walls were crumbling, it was believed that
the next winter’s frost would bring some down bodily. At Pratau the priest
had built all himself—parsonage, out-houses, stable, and byre. All these
things were duly noted to be reported upon. As for the priests, the
complaints made against them were very few indeed. In one case the people
said that their priest drank, and was continually seen in the
public-house. Generally, however, the complaints, when there were any,
were that the priest was too old for his work, or was so utterly
uneducated that he could do little more than mumble the Mass. There was
scanty evidence that the people understood very clearly the evangelical
theology. Partaking the Lord’s Supper in both “kinds,” or in one only, was
the distinction recognised and appreciated between the new and the old
teaching; and when they had the choice the people universally preferred
the new. In one case the parishioners complained that their priest
insisted on saying the Mass in Latin and not in German. In one case only
did the Visitors find any objection taken to the evangelical service. This
was at Meure, where the parish clerk’s wife was reported to be an enemy of
the new pastor because he recited the service in German. It turned out,
however, that her real objection was that the pastor had displaced her
husband. At Bleddin the peasants told the Visitors that their pastor,
Christopher Richter, was a learned and pious man, who preached regularly
on all the Sundays and festival days, and generally four times a week in
various parts of the parish. It appeared, however, that their admiration
for him did not compel them to attend his ministrations with very great
regularity. The energetic pastors were all young men trained at
Wittenberg. The older men, peasants’ sons all of them, were scarcely
better educated than their parishioners, and were quite unable to preach
to them. The Visitors found very few parishes indeed where three, four,
five or more persons were not named to them who never attended church or
came to the Lord’s Table; in some parishes men came regularly to the
preaching who never would come to the Sacrament. What impressed the
Visitors most was the ignorance, the besotted ignorance, of the people.
They questioned them directly; found out whether they knew the Apostles’
Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer; and then questioned
them about the meanings of the words; and the answers were disappointing.

Luther came back from the Visitation in greatly depressed spirits, and
expressed his feelings in his usual energetic language. He says in his
introduction to his _Small Catechism_, a work he began as soon as he
returned from the Visitation:

    “In setting forth this Catechism or Christian doctrine in such a
    simple, concise, and easy form, I have been compelled and driven
    by the wretched and lamentable state of affairs which I discovered
    lately when I acted as a Visitor. Merciful God, what misery have I
    seen, the common people knowing nothing at all of Christian
    doctrine, especially in the villages! and unfortunately many
    pastors are well-nigh unskilled and incapable of teaching; and
    although all are called Christians and partake of the Holy
    Sacrament, they know neither the Lord’s Prayer, nor the Creed, nor
    the Ten Commandments, but live like poor cattle and senseless
    swine, though, now that the gospel is come, they have learnt well
    enough how they may abuse their liberty. Oh, ye bishops, how will
    ye ever answer for it to Christ that ye have so shamefully
    neglected the people, and have not attended for an instant to your
    office? May all evil be averted from you! (_Das euch alles unglück
    fliche_). Ye forbid the taking of the Sacrament in one kind, and
    insist on your human laws, but never inquire whether they know the
    Lord’s Prayer, the Belief, the Ten Commandments, or any of the
    words of God. Oh, woe be upon you for evermore!”

The Visitors found that few books were to be seen in the parsonages. They
record one notable exception, the parsonage of Schmiedeberg, where the
priest had a library of twelve volumes. It could not be expected that such
uneducated men could preach to much edification; and one of the
recommendations of the Visitors was that copies of Luther’s _Postils_ or
short sermons on the Lessons for the Day should be sent to all the
parishes, with orders that they should be read by the pastors to their

They did not find a trace anywhere of systematic pastoral visitation or

In their practical suggestions for ending the priestly inefficiency, the
Visitors made simple and homely arrangements. To take one example,—at
Liessnitz, the aged pastor Conrad was quite unable from age and ignorance
to perform his duties; but he was a good, inoffensive old man. It was
arranged that he was to have a coadjutor, who was to be boarded by the
rich man of the parish and get the fees, while the old pastor kept the
parsonage and the stipend, out of which he was to pay fourteen gulden
annually to his coadjutor.

The Visitors found that schools did not exist in most of the villages, and
they were disappointed with the condition of the schools they found in the
smaller towns. It was proposed to make the parish clerks the village
schoolmasters; but they were wholly incompetent, and the Visitors saw
nothing for it but to suggest that the pastors must become the village
schoolmasters. The parish clerks were ordered to teach the children to
repeat the _Small Catechism_ by rote, and the pastors to test them at a
catechising on Sunday afternoons. In the towns, where the churches usually
had a _cantor_ or precentor, this official was asked to train the children
to sing evangelical hymns.

In their inquiries about the care of the poor, the Visitors found that
there was not much need for anything to be done in the villages; but the
case was different in the towns. They found that in most of them there
existed old foundations meant to benefit the poor, and they discovered all
manner of misuses and misappropriations of the funds. Suggestions were
made for the restoration of these funds to their destined uses.

This very condensed account of what took place in the Wittenberg “circle”
shows how the work of the Visitors was done; a second and a third
Visitation were needed in Electoral Saxony ere things were properly
arranged; but in the end good work was accomplished. The Elector refused
to take any of the confiscated convent lands and possessions for civil
purposes, and these, together with the Church endowments, provided
stipends for the pastors, salaries for the schoolmasters, and a settled
provision for the poor.

When the Visitation was completed and the reports presented, the Visitors
were asked to draft and issue an _Instruction_ or lengthy advice to the
clergy and people of the “circle” they had inspected. This _Instruction_
was not considered a regular legal document, but its contents were
expected to be acted upon.

These Visitations and Instructions were the earliest attempts at the
reorganisation of the evangelical Church in Electoral Saxony. The Visitors
remained as a “primitive evangelical consistory” to supervise their

The Saxon Visitations became a model for most of the North German
evangelical territorial Churches, and the Instructions form the earliest
collection of requirements set forth for the guidance of pastors and
Christian people. The directions are very minute. The pastors are told how
to preach, how to conduct pastoral visitations, what sins they must
specially warn their people against, and what example they must show them.
The care of schools and of the poor was not forgotten.(378)

The fact that matrimonial cases were during the Middle Ages almost
invariably tried in ecclesiastical courts, made it necessary to provide
some legal authority to adjudicate upon such cases when the mediæval
episcopal courts had either temporarily or permanently lost their
authority. This led to a provisional arrangement for the government of the
Church in Electoral Saxony, which took a regular legal form. A pastor,
called a superintendent, was appointed in each of the four “circles” into
which the territory had been divided for the purpose of Visitation, to act
along with the ordinary magistracy in all ecclesiastical matters,
including the judging in matrimonial cases.(379) This Saxon arrangement
also spread largely through the northern German evangelical States.

A third Visitation of Electoral Saxony was made in 1532, and led to
important ecclesiastical changes which formed the basis of all that came
afterwards. As a result of the reports of the Visitors, of whom Justus
Jonas seems to have been the most energetic, the parishes were rearranged,
the incomes of parish priests readjusted, and the whole ecclesiastical
revenues of the mediæval Church within Electoral Saxony appropriated for
the threefold evangelical uses of supporting the ministry, providing for
schools, and caring for the poor. The doctrine, ceremonies, and worship of
the evangelical Church were also settled on a definite basis.(380)

The Visitors pointed out that hitherto no arrangement had been made to
give the whole ecclesiastical administration one central authority. The
Electoral Prince had always been regarded as the supreme ruler of the
Church within his dominions, but as he could not personally superintend
everything, there was needed some supreme court which could act in all
ecclesiastical cases as his representative or instrument. The Visitors
suggested the revival of the mediæval episcopal consistorial courts
modified to suit the new circumstances. Bishops in the mediæval sense of
the word might be and were believed to be superfluous, but their true
function, the _jus episcopale_, the right of oversight, was indispensable.
According to Luther’s ideas—ideas which had been gaining ground in Germany
from the last quarter of the fifteenth century—this _jus episcopale_
belonged to the supreme secular authority. The mediæval bishop had
exercised his right of oversight through a _consistorial court_ composed
of theologians and canon lawyers appointed by himself. These mediæval
courts, it was suggested, might be transformed into Lutheran
ecclesiastical courts if the prince formed a permanent council composed of
lawyers and divines to act for him and in his name in all ecclesiastical
matters, including matrimonial cases. The Visitors sketched their plan; it
was submitted for revision to Luther and to Chancellor Brück, and the
result was the Wittenberg Ecclesiastical Consistory established in
1542.(381) That the arrangement was still somewhat provisional appears
from the fact that the court had not jurisdiction over the whole of the
Electoral dominions, and that other two Consistories, one at Zeitz and the
other at Zwickau, were established with similar powers. But the thing to
be observed is that these courts were modelled on the old mediæval
consistorial episcopal courts, and that, like them, they were composed of
lawyers and of theologians. The essential difference was that these
Lutheran courts were appointed by and acted in the name of the supreme
secular authority. In Electoral Saxony their local bounds of jurisdiction
did not correspond to those of the mediæval courts. It was impossible that
they should. Electoral Saxony, the ordinance erecting the Consistory
itself says, consisted of portions of “ten or twelve” mediæval dioceses.
The courts had different districts assigned to them; but in all other
things they reproduced the mediæval consistorial courts.

The constitutions of these courts provided for the assembling and holding
of Synods to deliberate on the affairs of the Church. The General Synod
consisted of the Consistory and the superintendents of the various
“circles”; and particular Synods, which had to do with the Church affairs
of the “circle,” of the superintendent, and of all the clergy of the

Such were the beginnings of the consistorial system of Church government,
which is a distinctive mark of the Lutheran Church, and which exhibits
some of the individual traits of Luther’s personality. We can see in it
his desire to make full use of whatever portions of the mediæval Church
usages could be pressed into the service of his evangelical Church; his
conception that the one supreme authority on earth was that of the secular
government; his suspicion of the “common” man, and his resolve to prevent
the people exercising any control over the arrangements of the Church.

Gradually all the Lutheran Churches have adopted, in general outline at
least, this consistorial system; but it would be a mistake to think that
the Wittenberg “use” was adopted in all its details. Luther himself, as
has been said, had no desire for anything like uniformity, and there was
none in the beginning. All the schemes of ecclesiastical government
proceed on the idea that the _jus episcopale_ or right of ecclesiastical
oversight belongs to the supreme territorial secular authority. All of
them include within the one set of ordinances, provisions for the support
of the ministry, for the maintenance of schools, and for the care of the
poor—the last generally expressed by regulations about the “common chest.”
The great variety of forms of ecclesiastical government drafted and
adopted may be studied in Richter’s collection, which includes one hundred
and seventy-two separate ecclesiastical constitutions, and which is
confessedly very imperfect. The gradual growth of the organisation finally
adopted in each city and State can be traced for a portion of Germany in
Sehling’s unfinished work.(382)

The number of these ecclesiastical ordinances is enormous, and the
quantity is to be accounted for partly by the way in which Germany was
split up into numerous small States in the sixteenth century, and also
partly by the fact that Luther pled strongly for diversity.

The ordinances were promulgated in many different ways. Most frequently,
perhaps, the prince published and enacted them on his own authority like
any other piece of territorial legislation. Sometimes he commissioned a
committee acting in his name to frame and publish. In other cases they
resulted from a consultation between the prince and the magistrates of one
of the towns within his dominions. Sometimes they came from the councils
and the pastors of the towns to which they applied. In other instances
they were issued by an evangelical bishop. And in a few cases they are
simply the regulations issued by a single pastor for his own parish, which
the secular authorities did not think of altering.

Although they are independent one from another, they may be grouped in
families which resemble each other closely.(383)

Some of the territories reached the consistorial system much sooner than
others. If a principality consisted in whole or in part of a secularised
ecclesiastical State, the machinery of the consistorial court lay ready to
the hand of the prince, and was at once adapted to the use of the
evangelical Church. The system was naturally slowest to develop in the
imperial cities, most of which at first preferred an organisation whose
outlines were borrowed from the constitution drafted by Zwingli for

Once only do we find an attempt to give an evangelical Church occupying a
large territory a democratic constitution. It was made by Philip,
Landgrave of Hesse, who was never afraid of the democracy. No German
prince had so thoroughly won the confidence of his commonalty. The
Peasants’ War never devastated his dominions. He did not join in the
virulent persecution of the Anabaptists which disgraced the Lutheran as
well as the Roman Catholic States during the latter half of the sixteenth
century. It was natural that Luther’s earlier ideas about the rights of
the Christian community (_Gemeinde_) should appeal to him. In 1526 (Oct.
6th), when the Diet of Speyer had permitted the organisation of
evangelical Churches, Philip summoned a Synod at Homberg, and invited not
merely pastors and ecclesiastical lawyers, but representatives from the
nobles and from the towns. A scheme for ecclesiastical government, which
had been drafted by Francis Lambert, formerly a Franciscan monk, was laid
before the assembly and adopted. It was based on the idea that the word of
God is the only supreme rule to guide and govern His Church, and that
Canon Law has no place whatsoever within an evangelical Church. Scripture
teaches, the document explains, that it belongs to the Christian community
itself to select and dismiss pastors and to exercise discipline by means
of excommunication. The latter right ought to be used in a weekly meeting
(on Sundays) of the congregation and pastor. For the purposes of orderly
rule the Church must have office-bearers, who ought to conform as nearly
as possible to those mentioned in the New Testament Scriptures. They are
bishops (pastors), elders, and deacons; and the deacons are the guardians
of the poor as well as ecclesiastical officials. All these office-bearers
must remember that their function is that of servants, and in no sense
lordly or magisterial. They ought to be chosen by the congregation, and
set apart by the laying on of hands according to apostolic practice. A
bishop (pastor) must be ordained by at least three pastors, and a deacon
by the pastor or by two elders. The government of the whole Church ought
to be in the hands of a Synod, to consist of all the pastors and a
delegate from every parish. Such in outline was the democratic
ecclesiastical government proposed for the territory of Hesse and accepted
by the Landgrave.(384) He was persuaded, however, by Luther’s strong
remonstrances to abandon it. There is no place for the democratic or
representative element in the organisation of the Lutheran Churches.

Chapter VII. The Lutheran Reformation Outside Germany.(385)

The influence of Luther went far beyond Germany. It was felt in England,
France, Scotland, Holland, Poland, and Scandinavia. England went her own
peculiar way; France, Holland, and Scotland, in the end, accepted the
leadership of Calvin; the Lutheran Reformation, outside Germany, was
really confined to Scandinavia alone.

In these Scandinavian lands the religious awakening was bound up with
political and social movements more than in any other countries. The
reformation in the Church was, indeed, begun by men who had studied under
Luther at Wittenberg, or who had received their first promptings from his
writings; but it was carried on and brought to a successful issue by
statesmen who saw in it the means to deliver their land from political
anarchy, caused by the overweening independence and turbulence of the
great ecclesiastical lords, and who were almost compelled to look to the
large possessions of the Church as a means to replenish their exhausted
treasuries without ruining the overburdened taxpayers.

When Eric was crowned King of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway in 1397, the
assembled nobles, representative of the three kingdoms, agreed to the
celebrated Union of Kalmar, which declared that the three lands were to be
for ever united under one sovereign. The treaty was purely dynastic, its
terms were vague, and it was never very effective. Without going into
details, it may be said that the king lived in Denmark, and ruled in the
interests of that country; that he also may be said to have ruled in
Norway; but that in Sweden his authority was merely nominal, and sometimes
not even that. In Denmark itself, monarchical government was difficult.
The Scandinavian kingship was elective, and every election was an
opportunity for reducing the privileges, authority, and wealth of the
sovereign, and for increasing those of the nobles and of the great
ecclesiastics, who, being privileged classes, were freed from contributing
to the taxation.

In 1513, Christian II., the nephew of the Elector of Saxony, and the
brother-in-law of the Emperor Charles V. (1515), came to the throne, and
his accession marks the beginning of the new era which was to end with the
triumph of the Reformation in all three countries. Christian was a man of
great natural abilities, with a profound sense of the miserable condition
of the common people within his realms, caused by the petty tyrannies of
the nobles, ecclesiastical and secular. No reigning prince, save perhaps
George, Duke of Saxony, could compete with him in learning; but he was
cruel, partly from nature and partly from policy. He had determined to
establish his rule over the three kingdoms whose nominal king he was, and
to free the commonalty from their oppression by breaking the power of the
nobles and of the great Churchmen. The task was one of extreme difficulty,
and he was personally unsuccessful; but his efforts laid the foundation on
which successors were able to build securely.

He began by conquering rebellious Sweden, and disgraced his victory by a
treacherous massacre of Swedish notables at Stockholm (1520),—a deed
which, in the end, led to the complete separation of Sweden from Denmark.
After having thus, as he imagined, consolidated his power, he pressed
forward his schemes for reform. He took pains to encourage the trade and
agriculture of Denmark; he patronised learning. He wrote to his uncle
(1519), Frederick, the Elector of Saxony, to send him preachers trained by
Luther; and, in response to his appeal, received first Martin Reinhard,
and then Andrew Bodenstein of Carlstadt. These foreigners, who could only
address the people through interpreters, did not make much impression; but
reformation was pushed forward by the king. He published, on his own
authority, two sets of laws dealing with the nobles and the Church, and
subjecting both to the sovereign. He enacted that all convents were to be
under episcopal inspection. Non-resident and unlettered clergy were
legally abolished. A species of kingly consistorial court was set up in
Copenhagen, and declared to be the supreme ecclesiastical judicature for
the country; and appeals to Rome were forbidden. It can scarcely be said
that these laws were ever in operation. A revolt by the Jutlanders gave a
rallying point to the disaffection caused by the proposed reforms.
Christian fled from Denmark (1523), and spent the rest of his life in
exile or in prison. His law-books were burnt.

The Jutlanders had called Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein, Christian’s
uncle, to the throne, and he was recognised King of Denmark and of Norway
in 1523. He had come to the kingdom owing to the reaction against the
reforms of his nephew, but in his heart he knew that they were necessary.
He promised to protect the interests of the nobles, and to defend the
Church against the advance of Lutheran opinions; but he soon endeavoured
to find a means of evading his pledges. He found it when he pitted the
nobles against the higher clergy, and announced that he had never promised
to support the errors of the Church of Rome. At the National Assembly
(_Herredag_) at Odense he was able to get the marriage of priests
permitted, and a decree that bishops were in the future to apply to the
king and not to the Pope for their Pallium. The Reformation had now native
preachers to support it, especially Hans Tausen, who was called the Danish
Luther, and they were encouraged by the king. At the _Herredag_ at
Copenhagen in 1530, twenty-one of these Lutheran preachers were summoned,
at the instigation of the bishops, and formal accusations were made
against them for preaching heresy. Tausen and his fellows produced a
confession of faith in forty-three articles, all of which he and his
companions offered to defend. A public disputation was proposed, which did
not take place because the Romanist party refused to plead in the Danish
language. This refusal was interpreted by the people to mean that they
were afraid to discuss in a language which everyone understood.
Lutheranism made rapid progress among all classes of the population.

On Frederick’s death there was a disputed succession, which resulted in
civil war. In the end Frederick’s son ascended the throne as Christian
III., King of Denmark and Norway (1536). The king, who had been present at
the Diet of Worms, and who had learned there to esteem Luther highly, was
a strong Lutheran, and determined to end the authority of the Romish
bishops. He proposed to his council that bishops should no longer have any
share in the government, and that their possessions should be forfeited to
the Crown. This was approved of not merely by the council, but also at a
National Assembly which met at Copenhagen (Oct. 30th, 1536), where it was
further declared that the people desired the holy gospel to be preached,
and the whole episcopal authority done away with. The king asked Luther to
send him some one to guide his people in their ecclesiastical matters.
Bugenhagen was despatched, came to Copenhagen (1537), and took the chief
ecclesiastical part in crowning the king. Seven superintendents (who
afterwards took the title of bishops) were appointed and consecrated. The
Reformation was carried out on conservative Lutheran lines, and the old
ritual was largely preserved. Tausen’s Confession was set aside in favour
of the Augsburg Confession and Luther’s Small Catechism, and the Lutheran
Reformation was thoroughly and legally established.

The Reformation also became an accomplished fact in Norway and Iceland,
but its introduction into these lands was much more an act of kingly

After the massacre of Swedish notables in Stockholm (Nov. 1520), young
Gustaf Ericsson, commonly known as Gustaf Vasa, from the _vasa_ or sheaf
which was on his coat of arms, raised the standard of revolt against
Denmark. He was gradually able to rally the whole of the people around
him, and the Danes were expelled from the kingdom. In 1521, Gustaf had
been declared regent of Sweden, and in 1523 he was called by the voice of
the people to the throne. He found himself surrounded by almost
insuperable difficulties. There had been practically no settled government
in Sweden for nearly a century, and every great landholder was virtually
an independent sovereign. The country had been impoverished by long wars.
Two-thirds of the land was owned by the Church, and the remaining third
was almost entirely in the hands of the secular nobles. Both Church and
nobles claimed exemption from taxation. The trade of the country was in
the hands of foreigners—of the Danes or of the Hanse Towns. Gustaf had
borrowed money from the town of Lübeck for his work of liberation. The
city was pressing for repayment, and its commissioners followed the
embarrassed monarch wherever he went. It was hopeless to expect to raise
money by further taxation of the already depressed and impoverished

In these circumstances the king turned to the Church. He compelled the
bishops to give him more than one subsidy (1522, 1523); but this was
inadequate for his needs. The Church property was large, and the king
planned to overthrow the ecclesiastical aristocracy by the help of the
Lutheran Reformation.

Lutheranism had been making progress in Sweden. Two brothers, Olaus and
Laurentius Petri, sons of a blacksmith at Orebro, had been sent by their
father to study in Germany. They had meant to attend the University of
Leipzig; but, attracted by the growing fame of Luther, they had gone to
Wittenberg, and had become enthusiastic disciples of the Reformer. On
their return to Sweden (1519) they had preached Lutheran doctrine, and had
made many converts—among others, Laurentius Andreæ, Archdeacon at
Strengnäs. In spite of protests from the bishops, these three men were
protected by the king. Olaus Petri was especially active, and made long
preaching tours, declaring that he taught the pure gospel which “Ansgar,
the apostle of the North, had preached seven hundred years before in

Gustaf brought Olaus to Stockholm (1524), and made him town-clerk of the
city; his brother Laurentius was appointed professor of theology at
Upsala; Laurentius Andrew was made Archdeacon of Upsala and Chancellor of
Sweden. When the bishops demanded that the Reformers should be silenced,
Olaus challenged them to a public disputation. The challenge was refused;
but in 1524 a disputation was arranged in the king’s palace in Stockholm
between Olaus and Dr. Galle, who supported the old religion. The
conference, which included discussion of the doctrines of Justification by
Faith, Indulgences, the Mass, Purgatory, and the Temporal Power of the
Pope, had the effect of strengthening the cause of the Reformation. In
1525, Olaus defied the rules of the mediæval Church by publicly marrying a
wife. The same year the king called for a translation of the Scriptures
into Swedish, and in 1526 Laurentius Petri published his New Testament. A
translation of the whole Bible was edited by the same scholar, and
published 1540-1541. These translations, especially that of the New
Testament, became very popular, and the people with the Scripture in their
hands were able to see whether the teaching of the preachers or of the
bishops was most in accordance with the Holy Scriptures.

There is no reason to believe that the king did not take the side of the
Lutheran Reformation from genuine conviction. He had made the acquaintance
of the brothers Petri before he was called to be the deliverer of his
country. But it is unquestionable that his financial embarrassment whetted
his zeal for the reformation of the Church in Sweden. Matters were coming
to a crisis, which was reached in 1527. At the Diet in that year, the
Chancellor, in the name of the king, explained the need for an increased
revenue, and suggested that ecclesiastical property was the only source
from which it could be obtained. The bishops, Johan Brask, Bishop of
Linkoeping, at their head, replied that they had the Pope’s orders to
defend the property of the Church. The nobles supported them. Then Gustaf
presented his ultimatum. He told the Diet plainly that they must submit to
the proposals of the Chancellor or accept his resignation, pay him for his
property, return him the money he had spent in defence of the kingdom, and
permit him to leave the country never to return. The Diet spent three days
in wrangling, and then submitted to his wishes. The whole of the
ecclesiastical property—episcopal, capitular, and monastic—which was not
absolutely needed for the support of the Church was to be placed in the
hands of the king. Preachers were meanwhile to set forth the pure gospel,
until a conference held in presence of the Diet would enable that assembly
to come to a decision concerning matters of religion. The Diet went on,
without waiting for the conference, to pass the twenty-four regulations
which made the famous Ordinances of Vesteräs, and embodied the legal
Reformation. They contained provisions for secularising the ecclesiastical
property in accordance with the previous decision of the Diet; declared
that the king had the right of vetoing the decisions of the higher
ecclesiastics; that the appointment of the parish clergy was in the hands
of the bishops, but that the king could remove them for inefficiency; that
the pure gospel was to be taught in every school; and that auricular
confession was no longer compulsory.

While the Ordinances stripped the Swedish Church of a large amount of its
property and made it subject to the king, they did not destroy its
episcopal organisation, nor entirely impoverish it. Most of the
monasteries were deserted when their property was taken away. The king
knew that the peasantry scarcely understood the Reformed doctrines, and
had no wish to press them unduly on his people. For the same reason the
old ceremonies and usages which did not flagrantly contradict the new
doctrines were suffered to remain, and given an evangelical meaning. The
first evangelical Hymn-book was published in 1530, and the Swedish “Mass”
in 1531, both drafted on Lutheran models. Laurentius Andreæ was made
Archbishop of Upsala (1527), and a National Synod was held under his
presidency at Orebro (1528), which guided the Reformation according to
strictly conservative Lutheran ideals. Thus before the death of Gustaf
Vasa, Sweden had joined the circle of Lutheran Churches, and its people
were slowly coming to understand the principles of the Reformation. The
Reformation was a very peaceful one. No one suffered death for his
religious opinions.

The fortunes of the Swedish Church were somewhat varied under the
immediate successors of Gustavus. His ill-fated son showed signs of
preferring Calvinism, and insisted on the suppression of some of the
ecclesiastical festivals and some of the old rites which had been
retained; but these attempts ended with his reign. His brother and
successor, Johan III., took the opposite extreme, and coquetted long with
Rome, and with proposals for reunion,—proposals which had no serious
result. When Johan died in 1592, his son and successor, who had been
elected King of Poland, and had become a Roman Catholic, aroused the fears
of his Swedish subjects that he might go much further than his father. The
people resolved to make sure of their Protestantism before their new
sovereign arrived in the country. A Synod was convened at which both lay
and ecclesiastical deputies were present. The members first laid down the
general rule that the Holy Scriptures were their supreme doctrinal
standard, and then selected the Augsburg Confession as the Confession of
the Swedish Church. Luther’s Small Catechism, which had been removed from
the schools by King Johan III., was restored. This meeting at Upsala
settled for the future the ecclesiastical polity of Sweden. The country
showed its attachment to the stricter Lutheranism by adopting the Formula
of Concord in 1664.

Chapter VIII. The Religious Principles Inspiring The Reformation.(386)

§ 1. The Reformation did not take its rise from a Criticism of Doctrines.

The whole of Luther’s religious history, from his entrance into the
convent at Erfurt to the publication of the Augsburg Confession, shows
that the movement of which he was the soul and centre did not arise from
any merely intellectual criticism of the doctrines of the mediæval church,
and that it resulted in a great deal more than a revision or
reconstruction of a system of doctrinal conceptions.(387) There is no
trace of any intellectual difficulties about doctrines or statement of
doctrines in Luther’s mind during the supreme crisis of his history. He
was driven out of the world of human life and hope, where he was well
fitted to do a man’s work, by the overwhelming pressure of a great
practical religious need—anxiety to save his soul. He has himself said
that the proverb that doubt makes a monk was true in his case. He doubted
whether he could save his soul in the world, and was therefore forced to
leave it and enter the convent.

He had lost whatever evangelical teaching he had learnt in childhood or in
Frau Cotta’s household at Eisenach. He had surrendered himself to the
popular belief, fostered by the whole penitential system of the mediæval
Church, that man could and must make himself fit to receive the grace of
God which procures salvation. The self-torturing cry, “Oh, when wilt thou
become holy and fit to obtain the grace of God?” (_O wenn will tu einmal
fromm werden und genug thun du einen gnädigen Gott kriegest?_), drove him
into the convent. He believed, and the almost unanimous opinion of his age
agreed with him, that there, if anywhere, he could find the peace he was
seeking with such desperation.

Inside the convent he applied himself with all the force of a strong
nature, using every means that the complicated penitential system of the
Church had provided to help him, to make himself pious and fit to be the
receptacle of the grace of God. He submitted to the orders of his
superiors with the blind obedience which the most rigorous ecclesiastical
statutes demanded; he sought the comforting consolations which confession
was declared to give; he underwent every part of the complex system of
expiations which the mediæval Church recommended; he made full use of the
sacraments, and waited in vain for the mysterious, inexplicable experience
of the grace which was said to accompany and flow from them. He persevered
in spite of the feeling of continuous failure. “If a monk ever reached
heaven by monkery,” he has said, “I would have found my way there also;
all my convent comrades will bear witness to that.”(388) He gave a still
stronger proof of his loyalty to the mediæval Church and its advice to men
in his mood of mind; he persevered in spite of the knowledge that his
comrades and his religious superiors believed him to be a young saint,
while he knew that he was far otherwise, and that he was no nearer God
than he had been before he entered the monastery, or had begun his quest
after the sense of pardon of sin. The contrast between what his brethren
thought he must be and what his own experience told him that he was, must
have added bitterness to the cup he had to drink during these terrible
months in the Erfurt convent. He says himself:

    “After I had made the profession, I was congratulated by the
    prior, the convent, and the father-confessor, because I was now an
    innocent child coming pure from baptism. Assuredly, I would
    willingly have delighted in the glorious fact that I was such a
    good man, who by his own deeds and without the merits of Christ’s
    blood had made himself so fair and holy, and so easily too, and in
    so short a time. But although I listened readily to the sweet
    praise and glowing language about myself and my doings, and
    allowed myself to be described as a wonder-worker, who could make
    himself holy in such an easy way, and could swallow up death, and
    the devil also, yet there was no power in it all to maintain me.
    When even a small temptation came from sin or death I fell at
    once, and found that neither baptism nor monkery could assist me;
    I felt that I had long lost Christ and His baptism. I was the most
    miserable man on earth; day and night there was only wailing and
    despair, and no one could restrain me.”(389)

He adds that all he knew of Christ at this time was that He was “a stern
judge from whom I would fain have fled and yet could not escape.”

During these two years of anguish, Luther believed that he was battling
with himself and with his sin; he was really struggling with the religion
of his times and Church. He was probing it, testing it, examining all its
depths, wrestling with all its means of grace, and finding that what were
meant to be sources of comfort and consolation were simply additional
springs of terror. He was too clear-sighted, his spiritual senses were too
acute, he was too much in deadly earnest, not to see that none of these
aids were leading him to a solid ground of certainty on which he could
base his hopes for time and for eternity; and he was too honest with
himself to be persuaded that he was otherwise than his despair told

At length, guided in very faltering fashion by the Scriptures, especially
by the Psalms and the Epistle to the Romans, by the Apostles’ Creed, and
by fellow monks, he (to use his own words) came to see that the
righteousness of God (Rom. i. 17) is not the righteousness by which a
righteous God punishes the unrighteous and sinners, but that by which a
merciful God justifies us through faith (not _justitia, qua dens justus
est et peccatores injustosque punit_, but that _qua nos deus misericors
justificat per fidem_).(391) By _faith_, he says. What, then, did he mean
by “faith”?

He replies:

    “There are two kinds of believing: first, a believing about God
    which means that I believe that what is said of God is true. This
    faith is rather a form of knowledge than a faith. There is,
    secondly, a believing in God which means that I put my trust in
    Him, give myself up to thinking that I can have dealings with Him,
    and believe without any doubt that He will be and do to me
    according to the things said of Him. Such faith, _which throws
    itself upon God_, whether in life or in death, alone makes a
    Christian man.”(392)

The faith which he prized is that religious faculty which “throws itself
upon God”; and from the first Luther recognised that faith of this kind
was a direct gift from God. Having it we have everything; without it we
have nothing. Here we find something entirely new, or at least hitherto
unexpressed, so far as mediæval theology was concerned. Mediæval
theologians had recognised faith in the sense of what Luther called
_frigida opinio_, and it is difficult to conceive that they did not also
indirectly acknowledge that there must be something like trust or
_fiducia_; but faith with them was simply one among many human efforts all
equally necessary in order to see and know God. Luther recognised that
there was this kind of faith, which a man begets and brings to pass in
himself by assent to doctrines of some sort. But he did not think much of
it. He calls it worthless because it gives us nothing.

    “They think that faith is a thing which they may have or not have
    at will, like any other natural human thing; so when they arrive
    at a conclusion and say, ‘Truly the doctrine is correct, and
    therefore I believe it,’ then they think that this is faith. Now,
    when they see and feel that no change has been wrought in
    themselves and in others, and that works do not follow, and they
    remain as before in the old nature, then they think that the faith
    is not good enough, but that there must be something more and

The real faith, the faith which is trust, the divine gift which impels us
to throw ourselves upon God, gives us the living assurance of a living
God, who has revealed Himself, made us see His loving Fatherly heart in
Christ Jesus; and that is the Christian religion in its very core and
centre. The sum of Christianity is—(1) God manifest in Christ, the God of
grace, accessible by every Christian man and woman; and (2) unwavering
trust in Him who has given Himself to us in Christ Jesus,—unwavering,
because Christ with His work has undertaken our cause and made it His.

The God we have access to and Whom we can trust because we have thrown
ourselves upon Him and have found that He sustains us, is no philosophical
abstraction, to be described in definitions and argued about in
syllogisms. He is seen and known, because we see and know Christ Jesus.
“He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” For with Luther and all the
Reformers, Christ fills the whole sphere of God; and they do not recognise
any theology which is not a Christology.

The faith which makes us throw ourselves upon God is no mood of mere
mystical abandonment. It is our very life, as Luther was never tired of
saying. It is God within us, and wells forth in all kinds of activities.

    “It is a living, busy, active, powerful thing, faith; it is
    impossible for it not to do us good continually. It never asks
    whether good works are to be done; it has done them before there
    is time to ask the question, and it is always doing them.”(394)

Christianity is therefore an interwoven tissue of promises and prayers of
faith. On the one side there is the Father, revealing Himself, sending
down to us His promises which are yea and amen in Christ Jesus; and on the
other side there are the hearts of men ascending in faith to God,
receiving, accepting, and resting on the promises of God, and on God who
always gives Himself in His promises.

This is what came to Luther and ended his long and terrible struggle. He
is unwearied in describing it. The descriptions are very varied, so far as
external form and expression go,—now texts from the Psalms, the Prophets,
or the New Testament most aptly quoted; now phrases borrowed from the
picturesque language of the mediæval mystics; now sentences of striking,
even rugged, originality; sometimes propositions taken from the mediæval
scholastic. But whatever the words, the meaning is always the same.

This conception of what is meant by Christianity is the religious soul of
the Reformation. It contains within it all the distinctively religious
principles which inspired it. It can scarcely be called a dogma. It is an
experience, and the phrases which set it forth are the descriptions of an
experience which a human soul has gone through. The thing itself is beyond
exact definition—as all deep experiences are. It must be felt and gone
through to be known. The Reformation started from this personal experience
of the believing Christian, which it declared to be the one elemental fact
in Christianity which could never be proved by argument and could never be
dissolved away by speculation. It proclaimed the great truth, which had
been universally neglected throughout the whole period of mediæval
theology by everyone except the Mystics, that in order to know God man
must be in living touch with God Himself. Therein lay its originality and
its power. Luther rediscovered religion when he declared that the truly
Christian man must cling directly and with a living faith to the God Who
speaks to him in Christ, saying, “I am thy salvation.” The earlier
Reformers never forgot this. Luther proclaimed his discovery, he never
attempted to prove it by argument; it was something self-evident—seen and
known when experienced.

This is always the way with great religious pioneers and leaders. They
have all had the prophetic gift of spiritual vision, and the magnetic
speech to proclaim what they have seen, felt, and known. They have all
had, in a far-off way, the insight and manner of Jesus.

When our Lord appeared among men claiming to be more than a wise man or a
prophet, declaring that He was the Messiah, the Son of Man and the Son of
God, when He announced that all men had need of Him, and that He alone
could save and redeem, He set forth His claims in a manner unique among
founders of religions. He made them calmly and as a matter of course. He
never explained elaborately why He assumed the titles He took. He never
reasoned about His position as the only Saviour. He simply announced it,
letting the conviction of the truth steal almost insensibly into the minds
and hearts of His followers as they saw His deeds and heard His words. He
assumed that they must interpret His death in one way only. This was
always His manner. It was not His way to explain mysteries our curiosity
would fain penetrate. He quietly took for granted many things we would
like to argue about. His sayings came from One who lived in perpetual
communion with the Unseen Father, and He uttered them quietly and
assuredly, confident that they carried with them their own self-evidencing

So it was with St. Paul. His letters and sermons are full of arguments, no
doubt, full of pleadings and persuasion, but they all start from and rest
upon his vision of the living, risen Saviour. His last word is always,
“When it pleased God to reveal His Son in me”; that was the elemental fact
which he proclaimed and which summed up everything, the personal
experience from which he started on his career as an apostle. The place of
Athanasius as a great religious leader has been obscured by his position
as a theologian; but when we turn to his writings, where do we find less
of what is commonly called dogmatic theology? There is argument,
reasoning, searching for proofs and their statement; but all that belongs
to the outworks in his teaching. The central citadel is a spiritual
intuition—I _know_ that _my_ Saviour is the God Who made heaven and earth.
He took his stand firmly and unflinchingly on that personal experience,
and all else mattered little compared with the fundamental spiritual fact.
It was not his arguments, but his unflinching faith that convinced his

So it was with Augustine, Bernard,(395) Francis—so it has been with every
great religious leader of the Christian people. His strength, whether of
knowledge, or conviction, or sympathy,—his driving power, if the phrase
may be used,—has always come from direct communion with the unseen, and
rests upon the fact, felt and known by himself and communicated to others
by a mysterious sympathy, that it has pleased God to reveal Christ in him
in some way or other.

So it was with Luther and the Reformation in which he was the leader. Its
driving power was a great religious experience, old, for it has come to
the people of God in all generations, and yet new and fresh as it is the
nature of all such experiences to be. He _knew_ that his life was hid with
Christ in God in spite of all evil, in spite of sin and sense of guilt.
His old dread of God had vanished, and instead of it there had arisen in
his heart a love to God in answer to the love which came from the vision
of the Father revealing Himself. He had experienced this, and he had
proclaimed what he had gone through; and the experience and its
proclamation were the foundation on which the Reformation was built. Its
beginnings were not doctrinal but experimental.

Doctrines, indeed, are not the beginnings of things; they are, at the
best, storehouses of past and blessed experiences. This is true of most
knowledge in all departments of research. We may recognise that there is
some practical use in the rules of logic, ancient and modern, but we know
that they are but the uncouth and inadequate symbols of the ways in which
an indefinable mental tact, whose delicacy varies with the mind that uses
it, perceives divergences and affinities, and weaves its web of knowledge
in ways that are past finding out. We know that logical argument is a good
shield but a bad sword, and that while syllogisms may silence, they seldom
convince; that persuasion arises from a subtle sympathy of soul with soul,
which is as indefinable as the personalities which exhale it. There is
always at the basis of knowledge of men and things this delicate contact
of personality with personality, whether we think of the gathering, or
assorting, or exchanging the wisdom we possess. If this be true of our
knowledge of common things, it is overwhelmingly so of all knowledge of
God and of things divine. We must be in touch with God to know Him in the
true sense of knowledge. At the basis of every real advance in religion
there must be an intimate vision of God impressed upon us as a religious
experience which we know to be true because we have felt it; and what one
has, another receives by a species of spiritual contagion. The revival
under Francis of Assisi spread as it did because the fire flaming in the
heart of the preacher was also kindled in the hearts of his hearers.
Luther headed a Reformation because men felt and knew that he had, as he
said, found a gracious God by trusting in the grace of God revealed to him
in Christ Jesus. It was not the Augsburg Confession that made the
Reformation; it was the expansion of that religious experience which finds
very inadequate description in that or in any other statement of

§ 2. The universal Priesthood of Believers.

Luther’s religious experience, that he, a sinner, received forgiveness by
simply throwing himself on God revealed in Christ Jesus the Saviour, came
to him as an astounding revelation which was almost too great to be put
into words. He tried to express it in varying ways, all of which he felt
too utterly inadequate to describe it. We can see how he laboured at it
from 1512 to 1517. It lay hidden in his discourse to the assembly of
clergy in the episcopal palace at Ziesar (June 5th, 1512), when he
declared that all reform must begin in the hearts of individual men. We
can see it growing more and more articulate in his annotations, notes, and
heads of lectures on the Psalms, delivered in the years 1513-1516,
struggling to free itself from the phrases of the Scholastic Theology
which could not really express it. His private letters, in which he was
less hampered by the phraseology which he still believed appropriate to
theology, are full of happier expressions.(396) _Justificatio_ is
_vivificatio_, and means to redeem from sins without any merit in the
person redeemed; it takes place when sin is not imputed, but the penitents
are reputed righteous. Grace is the pity (_misericordia_) of God; it
manifests itself in the remission of sins; it is the truth of God seen in
the fulfilment of His promises in the historical work of Christ; Jesus
Christ Himself is grace, is the way, is life and salvation. Faith is trust
in the truth of God as manifested in the life and work of Jesus Christ; it
is to believe in God; it is a knowledge of the Cross of Christ; it is to
understand that the Son of God became incarnate, was crucified, and raised
again for our salvation. The three central thoughts—_justification_,
_grace_, _faith_—expressed in these inadequate phrases, are always looked
upon and used to regulate that estimate of ourselves which forms the basis
of piety. It is needless to trace the growing adequacy of the description.
Luther at last found words to say that the central thought in Christianity
is that the believer in possession of faith, which is itself the gift of
God, is able to throw himself on God in Christ Who is his salvation and
Who has mirrored Himself for us in Christ Jesus. He had trod the weary
round that Augustine had gone before him; he had tried _to help himself_
in every possible way; he had found that with all his striving he could do
nothing. Then, strange and mysterious as it was, the discovery had not
brought despair, but rejoicing and comfort; for since there was no help
whatever in man, his soul had been forced to find _all_—not part, but
all—help in God. When he was able to express his experience he could say
that the faith which throws itself on God, which is God’s own gift, is the
certainty of the forgiveness of sins. It was no adherence to doctrines
more or less clearly comprehended; it was no act of initiation to be
followed by a nearer approach to God and a larger measure of His grace; it
was the power which gives life, certainty, peace, continuous
self-surrender to God as the Father, and which transforms and renews the
whole man. It was the life of the soul; it was Christianity within the
believer—as Jesus Christ and His work is Christianity outside the

It is manifest that as soon as this experience attained articulate
statement, it was bound to discredit much that was in mediæval theology
and religious usage. Yet the striking thing about Luther was that he never
sought to employ it in this way until one great abuse forced itself upon
him and compelled him to test it by this touchstone of what true
Christianity was. This reserve not only shows that there was nothing
revolutionary in the character of Luther, nothing romantic or quixotic, it
also manifests the quiet greatness of the man. Nor was there anything in
the fundamental religious experience of Luther which necessarily
conflicted with the contents of the old ecclesiastical doctrines, or even
with the common usages of the religious life. There was a change in the
attitude towards both, and an entirely new estimate of their religious
value, but nothing which called for their immediate criticism, still less
for their destruction. Faith, which was the Christian life, could no
longer be based upon them; they were not the essential things that they
had been supposed to be; but they might have their uses if kept in their
proper places—aids to all holy living, but not that from which the life
sprang. The thought that the entire sum of religion consists in
“unwavering trust of the heart in Him Who has given Himself to us in
Christ as our Father, personal assurance of faith, because Christ with His
work undertakes our cause,” simplified religion marvellously, and made
many things which had been regarded as essential mere outside auxiliaries.
But it did not necessarily sweep them away. Though the acceptance of
certain forms of doctrine, auricular confession, the monastic life,
communion by the laity in one “kind” only in the Sacrament of the Supper,
a celibate priesthood, fasting, going on pilgrimages, not to eat meat on
Friday, had nothing to do with the essentials of the Christian life; still
it was not necessary to insist on eating meat on Friday, on abstaining
from fasting, and so on. The great matter was the spirit in which such
things were performed or left undone. What the fundamental religious
experience had done was to show the liberty of the Christian man to trust
courageously in God and count all things of little moment compared with
this which was the one thing needful.

    “Out of a complex system of expiations, good deeds, and
    comfortings, of strict statutes and uncertain apportionments of
    grace, out of magic and blind obedience, Luther led religion forth
    and gave it a strenuously concentrated form. The Christian
    religion is the living assurance of the living God Who has
    revealed Himself and opened His heart in Christ—nothing

It was a vital part of this fundamental experience that the living God Who
had manifested Himself in Christ was accessible to every Christian. To
quote Harnack again:

    “Rising above all anxieties and terrors, above all ascetic
    devices, above all directions of theology, above all interventions
    of hierarchy and Sacraments, Luther ventured to lay hold of God
    Himself in Christ, and in this act of faith, which he recognised
    as God’s work, his whole being obtained stability and firmness,
    nay, even a personal joy and certainty, which no mediæval
    Christian had ever possessed.”(398)

God Himself gave the believer the power to throw himself directly on God.
But this contradicted one of the most widely diffused and most strongly
held religious beliefs of the mediæval Church, and was bound to come in
collision with it whenever the two were confronted with each other. It was
the universal conception of mediæval piety that the mediation of a priest
was essential to salvation. Mediæval Christians believed with more or less
distinctness that the supernatural life of the soul was _created_,
nourished, and perfected through the sacraments, and that the priests
administering them possessed, in virtue of their ordination, miraculous
powers whereby they daily offered the true sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon
the altar, forgave the sins of men, and taught the truths of salvation
with divine authority. It was this universally accepted power of a
mediatorial priesthood which had enslaved Europe, and which had rendered
the liberty of a Christian man an impossible thing. Everywhere the
priesthood barred, or was supposed to be able to bar, the way to God. The
Church, which ought to have shown how God Who had revealed Himself in
Christ was accessible to every believer, had surrounded the inner shrine
of the sanctuary of His Presence with a triple wall of defence which
prevented entrance. When man or woman felt sorrow for sin, they were
instructed to go, not to God, but to a man, often of immoral life, and
confess their sins to him because he was a priest. When they wished to
hear the comforting words of pardon spoken, it was not from God, but from
a priest that the assurance was supposed to come. God’s grace, to help to
holy living and to bring comfort in dying, was given, it was said, only
through a series of sacraments which fenced man’s life round, and priests
could give or withhold these sacraments. Man was born again in baptism; he
came of age spiritually in confirmation; his marriage was cleansed from
the sin of lust in the sacrament of matrimony; penance brought back his
spiritual life slain by deadly sin; the Eucharist gave him with his voyage
victual as he journeyed through life; and deathbed grace was imparted in
extreme unction. These ceremonies were not the signs and promises of the
free grace of God, under whose wide canopy, as under that of heaven, man
lived his spiritual life. They were jealously guarded doors from out of
which grudgingly, and commonly not without fees, the priests dispensed the
free grace of God.

During the later Middle Ages a gross abuse made the evils of this
conception of a mediating priesthood emphatic. The practical evil lying in
the whole thought was not so very apparent when the matter was regarded
from the side of giving out the grace of God; but when it came to
withholding it, then it was seen what the whole conception meant. The
Bishops of Rome gave the peoples of Europe many an object lesson on this.
If a town, or a district, or a whole country had offended the Pope and the
Curia, it was placed under an _interdict_, and the priests were commanded
to refuse the sacraments to the people. They stood between the newborn
babe and the initial grace supposed to be bestowed in baptism, and to be
absolutely withheld if baptism was not administered; between the dying man
and the deathbed grace which was received in extreme unction; between
young men and women and legal marriage blessed by God; between the people
and daily worship and the bestowal of grace in the Eucharist. The God of
grace could not be approached, the blessings of pardon and strength for
holy living could not be procured, because the magistrates of a town or
the king and councillors of a nation had offended the Bishop of Rome on an
affair of worldly policy. The Church, _i.e._ the clergy, who were by the
theory enabled to refuse to communicate the grace of God, barred all
access to the God who had revealed Himself in Christ Jesus. The Pope by a
stroke of the pen could prevent a whole nation, so it was believed, from
approaching God, because he could prohibit priests from performing the
usual sacramental acts which alone brought Him near. An _interdict_ meant
spiritual death to the district on which it fell, and on the mediæval
theory it was more deadly to the spiritual life than the worst of plagues,
the Black Death itself, was to the body. An _interdict_ made the plainest
intellect see, understand, and shudder at the awful and mysterious powers
which a mediatorial priesthood was said to possess.

The fundamental religious experience of Luther had made him know that the
Father, who has revealed Himself in His Son, is accessible to every humble
penitent and faithful seeker after God. He proclaimed aloud the spiritual
priesthood of all believers. He stated it with his usual graphic emphasis
in that tract of his, which he always said contained the marrow of his
message—_Concerning Christian Liberty_. He begins by an antithesis: “A
Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none: a
Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to
everyone”; or, as St. Paul puts it, “Though I be free from all men, yet
have I made myself servant of all.” He expounds this by showing that no
outward things have any influence in producing Christian righteousness or
liberty; neither eating, drinking, nor anything of the kind, neither
hunger nor thirst have to do with the liberty or the slavery of the soul.
It does not profit the soul to wear sacred vestments or to dwell in sacred
places; nor does it harm the soul to be clothed in worldly raiment, and to
eat and drink in the ordinary fashion. The soul can do without everything
except the word of God, and this word of God is the gospel of God
concerning His Son, incarnate, suffering, risen, and glorified through the
Spirit the Sanctifier. “To preach Christ is to feed the soul, to justify
it, to set it free, to save it, if it believes the preaching; for faith
alone and the efficacious use of the word of God bring salvation.” It is
faith that incorporates Christ with the believer, and in this way “the
soul through faith alone, without works, is, from the word of God,
justified, sanctified, endued with truth, peace, liberty, and filled full
with every good thing, and is truly made the child of God.” For faith
brings the soul and the word together, and the soul is acted upon by the
word, as iron exposed to fire glows like fire because of its union with
the fire. Faith honours and reveres Him in Whom it trusts, and cleaves to
His promises, never doubting but that He overrules all for the best. Faith
unites the soul to Christ, so that “Christ and the soul become one flesh.”
“Thus the believing soul, by the pledge of its faith in Christ, becomes
free from all sin, fearless of death, safe from hell, and endowed with the
eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of its husband Christ.” This
gives the liberty of the Christian man; no dangers can really harm him, no
sorrows utterly overwhelm him: for he is always accompanied by the Christ
to whom he is united by his faith.

“Here you will ask,” says Luther, “ ‘If all who are in the Church are
priests, by what character are those whom we now call priests to be
distinguished from the laity?’ I reply, By the use of these words
‘priest,’ ‘clergy,’ ‘spiritual person,’ ‘ecclesiastic,’ an injustice has
been done, since they have been transferred from the remaining body of
Christians to those few who are now, by a hurtful custom, called
ecclesiastics. For Holy Scripture makes no distinction between them,
except that those who are now boastfully called Popes, bishops, and lords,
it calls ministers, servants, and stewards, who are to serve the rest in
the ministry of the word, for teaching the faith of Christ and the liberty
of believers. For though it is true that we are all equally priests, yet
we cannot, nor ought we if we could, all to minister and teach publicly.”

The first part of the treatise shows that everything which a Christian man
has goes back in the end to his faith; if he has this he has all; if he
has it not, nothing else suffices him. In the same way the second part
shows that everything that a Christian man does must come from his faith.
It may be necessary to fast and keep the body under; it will be necessary
to make use of all the ceremonies of divine service which have been found
effectual for the spiritual education of man. The thing to remember is
that these are not good works in themselves in the sense of making a man
good; they are all rather the signs of his faith, and are to be done with
joy, because they are done to the God to whom faith unites us. So
ecclesiastical ceremonies, or what may be called the machinery of Church
life, are valuable, and indeed indispensable to the life of the soul,
provided only they are regarded in the proper way and kept in their proper
place; but they may become harmful and most destructive of the true
religious life if they are considered in any other light than that of
means to an end. “We do not condemn works,” says Luther, “nay we attach
the highest value to them. We only condemn that opinion of works which
regards them as constituting true righteousness.” They are, he explains,
like the scaffolding of a building, eminently useful so long as they
assist the builder; harmful if they obstruct; and at the best of temporary
value. They are destructive to the spiritual life when they come between
the soul and God. It follows, therefore, that if through human corruption
and neglect of the plain precepts of the word of God these ecclesiastical
usages hinder instead of aid the true growth of the soul, they ought to be
changed or done away with; and the fact that the soul of man, in the last
resort, needs absolutely nothing but the word of God dwelling within it,
gives men courage and tranquillity in demanding their reformation.

In the same way fellow-men are not to be allowed to come between God and
the human soul; and there is no need that they should. So far as spiritual
position and privileges go, the laity are on the very same level as the
clergy, for laity and clergy alike have immediate access to God through
faith, and both are obliged to do what lies in them to further the advance
of the kingdom of God among their fellow-men. All believing laymen “are
worthy to appear before God, to pray for others, to teach each other
mutually the things that are of God ... and as our heavenly Father has
freely helped us in Christ, so we ought freely to help our neighbours by
our body and our works, and each should become to the other a sort of
Christ, so that we may be mutually Christs, and that the same Christ may
be in all of us; that we may be truly Christians.” Luther asserted that
men and women living their lives in the family, in the workshop, in the
civic world, held their position there, not by a kind of indirect
permission wrung from God out of His compassion for human frailties, but
by as direct a vocation as called a man to what by mistake had been deemed
the only “religious life.” The difference between clergy and laity did not
consist in the supposed fact that the former were a spiritual order of a
superior rank in the religious life, while the latter belonged to a lower
condition. The clergy differed from the laity simply in this, that they
had been selected to perform certain definite duties; but the function did
not make him who performed it a holier man intrinsically. If the clergy
misused their position and did not do the work they were set apart to
perform, there was no reason why they should not be compelled by the laity
to amend their ways. Even in the celebration of the holiest rites there
was no distinction between clergy and laity save that to prevent disorder
the former presided over the rites in which all engaged. At the Eucharist

    “our priest or minister stands before the altar, having been
    publicly called to his priestly function; he repeats publicly and
    distinctly Christ’s words of the institution; he takes the Bread
    and the Wine, and distributes it according to Christ’s words; and
    we all kneel beside him and around him, men and women, young and
    old, master and servant, mistress and maid, all holy priests
    together, sanctified by the blood of Christ. We are there in our
    priestly dignity.... We do not let the priest proclaim for himself
    the ordinance of Christ; but he is the mouthpiece of us all, and
    we all say it with him in our hearts with true faith in the Lamb
    of God Who feeds us with His Body and Blood.”

It was this principle of the Priesthood of all Believers which delivered
men from the vague fear of the clergy, and which was a spur to incite them
to undertake the reformation of the Church which was so much needed. It is
the one great religious principle which lies at the basis of the whole
Reformation movement. It was the rock on which all attempts at reunion
with an unreformed Christendom were wrecked. It is the one outstanding
difference between the followers of the reformed and the mediæval

Almost all the distinctive principles of the Reformation group themselves
round this one thought of the Priesthood of all Believers. It is
sufficient for our purpose to look at Justification by Faith, the
conceptions of the Holy Scriptures, of the Person of Christ, and of the

§ 3. Justification by Faith.

When Luther, oppressed with a sense of sin, entered the convent, he was
burdened by the ideas of traditional religion, that the penitent must
prepare himself in some way so as to render himself fit to experience that
sense of the grace of God which gives the certainty of pardon. It was not
until he had thoroughly freed himself from that weight that he experienced
the sense of pardon he sought. This practical experience of his must
always be kept in view when we try to conceive what he meant by
Justification by Faith.

As has been already said, Luther recognised that there were two kinds of
faith,—one which man himself begot and through which he was able to give
assent to doctrines of some sort; and another which Luther vehemently
asserted was the pure gift of God. The first he thought comparatively
unimportant; the latter was all in all to him. Faith is always used in the
latter sense when the Reformers speak about _Justification by Faith_; and
the sharp distinction which Luther draws between the two is a very
important element in determining what he meant when he said that we are
justified by faith alone.

This faith of the highest kind, the true faith, has its beginning by God
working on us and in us. It is continually fed and kept strong by the word
of God. The promise of God on God’s side and faith on man’s side are two
correlative things; “for where there is no promise, there is no faith.”
Luther brings out what this true faith is by contrasting it with the other
kind of faith in two very instructive and trenchant passages:

    “When faith is of the kind that God awakens and creates in the
    heart, then a man trusts in Christ. He is then so securely founded
    on Christ that he can hurl defiance at sin, death, hell, the
    devil, and all God’s enemies. He fears no ill, however hard and
    cruel it may prove to be. Such is the nature of true faith, which
    is utterly different from the faith of the sophists (the
    Schoolmen), Jews, and Turks. Their faith, produced by their
    thoughts, simply lights upon a thing, accepts it, believes that it
    is this or that. God has no dealings with such delusion; it is the
    work of man, and comes from nature, from the free will of man; and
    men possessing it can say, repeating what others have said: I
    believe that there is a God. I believe that Christ was born, died,
    rose again for me. But what the real faith is, and how powerful a
    thing it is, of this they know nothing.”(399)

He says again:

    “Wherefore, beware of that faith which is manufactured or
    imagined; for the true faith is not the work of man, and therefore
    the faith which is manufactured or imagined will not avail in
    death, but will be overcome and utterly overthrown by sin, by the
    devil, and by the pains of hell. The true faith is the heart’s
    utter trust in Christ, and God alone awakens this in us. He who
    has it is blessed, he who has it not is cursed.”(400)

This faith has an outside fact to rest upon—the historical Christ. It is
neither helped nor hindered by a doctrine of the Person of Christ, nor by
a minute and elaborate knowledge of the details of our Lord’s earthly
ministry. The man who has the faith may know a great deal about the
doctrine of the Person of Christ: that will do his faith no harm but good,
provided only he does not make the mistake of thinking that doctrines
about Christ, ways by which the human understanding tries to conceive the
fact, are either the fact itself or something better than the fact. He may
know a great deal about the history of Jesus, and it is well to know as
much as possible; but the amount of knowledge scarcely affects the faith.
Wayfaring men, though fools, need not err in the pathway of faith.

The faith which is the gift of God makes us see the practical meaning in
the fact of the historic Christ—this, namely, that Jesus Christ is there
before us the manifestation of the Fatherly love of God, revealing to us
our own forgiveness, and with it the possibilities of the Kingdom of God
and of our place therein. The fact of the historic Christ is there, seen
by men in a natural way; but it is the power of God lying in the faith
which He has given us that makes us see with full certainty the meaning of
the fact of the historic Christ for us and for our salvation. Moreover,
this vision of God in the historic Christ, which is the deepest of all
personal things, always involves something social. It brings us within the
family of the faithful, within the Christian fellowship with its
confirming evidences of faith and love. The power of faith comes to us
singly, but seldom solitarily; the trust we have in God in Christ is
faintly mirrored in the faith we learn to have in the members of the
household of faith, and in their manifestations of faith and the love
which faith begets.

What has been called the doctrine of Justification by Faith is therefore
rather the description of a religious experience within the believer; and
the meaning of the experience is simply this. The believer, who because he
has faith—the faith which is the gift of God, which is our life and which
regenerates—is regenerate and a member of the Christian fellowship, and is
able to do good works and actually does them, does not find his standing
as a person justified in the sight of God, his righteousness, his
assurance of pardon and salvation, in those good works which he really can
do, but only in the mediatorial and perfectly righteous work of Christ
which he has learned to appropriate in faith. His good works, however
really good, are necessarily imperfect, and in this experience which we
call Justification by Faith the believer compares his own imperfect good
works with the perfect work of Christ, and recognises that his pardon and
salvation depends on that alone. This comparison quiets souls anxious
about their salvation, and soothes pious consciences; and the sense of
forgiveness which comes in this way is always experienced as a revelation
of wonderful love. This justification is called an act, and is contrasted
with a work; but the contrast, though true, is apt to mislead through
human analogies which will intrude. It is an act, but an act of God; and
divine acts are never done and done with, they are always continuous.
Luther rings the changes upon this. He warns us against thinking that the
act of forgiveness is all done in a single moment. The priestly absolution
was the work of a moment, and had to be done over and over again; but the
divine pronouncement of pardon is continuous simply because it is God who
makes it. He says:

    “For just as the sun shines and enlightens none the less brightly
    when I close my eyes, so this throne of grace, this forgiveness of
    sins, is always there, even though I fall. Just as I see the sun
    again when I open my eyes, so I have forgiveness and the sense of
    it once more when I look up and return to Christ. We are not to
    measure forgiveness as narrowly as fools dream.”(401)

In the Protestant polemic with Roman Catholic doctrine, the conception of
Justification by Faith is contrasted with that of Justification by Works;
but the contrast is somewhat misleading. For the word justification is
used in different meanings in the two phrases. The direct counterpart in
Roman Catholic usage to the Reformation thought of Justification by Faith
is the absolution pronounced by a priest; and here as always the Reformer
appeals from man to God. The two conceptions belong to separate spheres of

    “The justification of which the mediæval Christian had experience
    was the descending of an outward stream of forces upon him from
    the supersensible world, through the Incarnation, in the channels
    of ecclesiastical institutions, priestly consecration, sacraments,
    confession, and good works; it was something which came from his
    connection with a supersensible organisation which surrounded him.
    The justification by faith which Luther experienced within his
    soul was the personal experience of the believer standing in the
    continuous line of the Christian fellowship, who receives the
    assurance of the grace of God in his exercise of a personal
    faith,—an experience which comes from appropriating the work of
    Christ which he is able to do by that faith which is the gift of

In the one case, the Protestant, justification is a personal experience
which is complete in itself, and does not depend on any external
machinery; in the other, the Mediæval, it is a prolonged action of usages,
sacraments, external machinery of all kinds, which by their combined
effect are supposed to change a sinner gradually into a saint, righteous
in the eyes of God. With the former, it is a continuous experience; with
the latter, it cannot fail to be intermittent as the external means are
actually employed or for a time laid aside.

The meaning of the Reformation doctrine of Justification by Faith may be
further brought out by contrasting it with the theory which was taught by
that later school of Scholastic theology which was all-powerful at the
beginning of the sixteenth century. The more evangelical theory of Thomas
Aquinas was largely neglected, and the Nominalist Schoolmen based their
expositions of the doctrine on the teaching of John Duns Scotus.

It must be remembered that mediæval theology never repudiated the theology
of Augustine, and admitted in theory at least that man’s salvation, and
justification as part of it, always depended in the last resort on the
prevenient grace of God; in their reverence for the teaching of Aristotle,
they believed that they had also to make room for the action of the free
will of man which they always looked on as the pure capacity of choice
between two alternatives. John Duns Scotus got rid of a certain confusion
which existed between the _gratia operans_ and _gratia co-operans_ of
Augustine by speaking of the grace of God, which lay at the basis of man’s
justification, as a _gratia habitualis_, or an operation of the grace of
God which gave to the will of man an habitual tendency to love towards God
and man. He alleged that when conduct is considered, an act of the will is
more important than any habitual tendency, for it is the act which makes
use of the habit, and apart from the act, the habit is a mere inert
passivity. Therefore, he held that the chief thing in meritorious conduct
is not so much the habit which has been created by God’s grace, as the act
of will which makes use of the habit. In this way the grace of God is
looked upon as simply the general basis of meritorious conduct, or a mere
_conditio sine qua non_, and the important thing is the act of will which
can make use of the otherwise passive habit. The process of
justification—and it is to be remembered that the Schoolmen invariably
looked upon justification as a process by which a sinner was gradually
made into a righteous man and thoroughly and substantially changed—may
therefore be described as an infusion of divine grace which creates a
habit of the will towards love to God and to man; this is laid hold on by
acts of the will, and there result positive acts of love towards God and
man which are meritorious, and which gradually change a sinner into a
righteous person. This is the theory; but the theory is changed into
practice by being exhibited in the framework of the Church provided to aid
men to appropriate the grace of God which is the basis for all. The
obvious and easiest way to obtain that initial grace which is the
starting-point is by the sacraments, which are said to infuse grace—the
grace which is needed to make the start on the process of justification.
Grace is infused to begin with in Baptism; and it is also infused from
time to tune in the Eucharist. If a man has been baptized, he has the
initial grace to start with; and he can get additions in the Eucharist.
That, according to the theory, is all that is needed to start the will on
its path of meritorious conduct. But while this exhibits the ideal process
of justification according to mediæval theology, it must be remembered
that there is mortal sin—sin which slays the new life begun in baptism—and
the sacrament which renews the life slain will be practically more
important than the sacrament which first creates it. Hence practically the
whole process of the mediæval justification is best seen in the sacrament
which renews the life slain by deadly sins. That sacrament is Penance; and
the theory and practice of justification is best exhibited in the
Sacrament of Penance. The good disposition of the will towards God is seen
in confession; this movement towards God is complete when confession
stimulated by the priest is finished; the performance of the meritorious
good works is seen in the penitent performing the “satisfactions,” or
tasks imposed by the priest, of prayer, of almsgiving, of maceration;
while the absolution announces that the process is complete, and that the
sinner has become a righteous man and is in “a state of grace.”

In opposition to all this, Luther asserted that it was possible to go
through all that process prescribed by the mediæval Church, embodying the
Scholastic theory of justification, without ever having the real sense of
pardon, or ever being comforted by the sense of the love of God. The
faith, however, which is the gift of God makes the believer see in the
Christ Who is there before him a revelation of God’s Fatherly love which
gives him the sense of pardon, and at the same time excites in him the
desire to do all manner of loving service. He is like the forgiven child
who is met with tenderness when punishment was expected, and in glad
wonder resolves never to be naughty again—so natural and simple is the
Reformation thought. That thought, however, can be put much more formally.
Chemnitz expresses it thus:

    “The main point of controversy at present agitated between us and
    the Papists relates to the good works or new obedience of the
    _regenerate_. They hold that the regenerate are justified through
    that renewal which the Holy Spirit works _in_ them, and by means
    of the _good works which proceed_ from that renewal. They hold
    that the good works of the regenerate are the things on which they
    can trust, when the hard question comes to be answered, whether we
    be children of God and have been accepted to everlasting life. We
    hold, on the other hand, that in true repentance faith lays hold
    on and appropriates to itself _Christ’s satisfaction_, and in so
    doing has something which it can oppose to the law’s accusations
    at the bar of God, and thus bring it to pass that we should be
    declared righteous.... It is indeed true that believers have
    actual righteousness through their renewal by the Holy Spirit, but
    inasmuch as that righteousness is imperfect and still impure by
    reason of the flesh, all men cannot stand in God’s judgment with
    it, nor on its account does God pronounce us righteous.”(403)

Hence we may say that the difference in the two ways of looking at the
matter may be exhibited in the answer to the question, What does faith lay
hold on in true repentance? The Reformation answer is—(1) not on a
mechanically complete confession made to a priest, nor on a due
performance of what the priest enjoins by way of satisfaction; but (2)
only on what God in Christ has done for us, which is seen in the life,
death, and rising again of the Saviour.

The most striking differences between the Reformation and the mediæval
conception of justification are:

(1) The Reformation thought always looks at the comparative _imperfection_
of the works of believers, while admitting that they are good works; the
mediæval theologian, even when bidding men disregard the intrinsic value
of their good works, always looks at the relative _perfection_ of these

(2) The Reformer had a much more concrete idea of God’s grace—it was
something special, particular, unique—because he invariably regarded the
really good works which men can do from their relative imperfection; the
mediæval theologian looked at the relative perfection of good works, and
so could represent them as something congruous to the grace of God which
was not sharply distinguished from them.

(3) These views led Luther and the Reformers to represent faith as not
merely the receptive organ for the reception and appropriation of
justification through Christ, but, and in addition, as the active
instrument in all Christian life and work—faith is our life; while the
mediæval theologians never attained this view of faith.

(4) The Reformer believes that the act of faith in his justification
through Christ is the basis of the believer’s assurance of his pardon and
salvation in spite of the painful and abiding sense of sin; while the
mediæval theologian held that the divine sentence of acquittal which
restored a sinner to a state of grace resulted from the joint action of
the priest and the penitent in the Sacrament of Penance, and had to be
repeated intermittently.

§ 4. Holy Scripture.

All the Reformers of the sixteenth century, whether Luther, Zwingli, or
Calvin, believed that in the Scriptures God spoke to them in the same way
as He had done in earlier days to His prophets and Apostles. They believed
that if the common people had the Scriptures in a language which they
could understand, they could hear God speaking to them directly, and could
go to Him for comfort, warning, or instruction; and their description of
what they meant by the Holy Scriptures is simply another way of saying
that all believers can have access to the very presence of God. The
Scriptures were therefore for them a personal rather than a dogmatic
revelation. They record the experience of a fellowship with God enjoyed by
His saints in past ages, which may still be shared in by the faithful. In
Bible history as the Reformers conceived it, we hear two voices—the voice
of God speaking love to man, and the voice of the renewed man answering in
faith to God. This communion is no dead thing belonging to a bygone past;
it may be shared here and now.

But the Reformation conception of Scripture is continually stated in such
a way as to deprive it of the eminently religious aspect that it had for
men of the sixteenth century. It is continually said that the Reformers
placed the Bible, an infallible Book, over-against an infallible Church;
and transferred the _same kind_ of infallibility which had been supposed
to belong to the Church to this book. In mediæval times, men accepted the
decisions of Popes and Councils as the last decisive utterance on all
matters of controversy in doctrine and morals; at the Reformation, the
Reformers, it is said, placed the Bible where these Popes and Councils had
been, and declared that the last and final appeal was to be made to its
pages. This mode of stating the question has found its most concise
expression in the saying of Chillingworth, that “the Bible and the Bible
alone is the religion of Protestants.” It is quite true that the Reformers
did set the authority of the Scriptures over against that of Popes and
Councils, and that Luther declared that “the common man,” “miller’s maid,”
or “boy of nine” with the Bible knew more about divine truth than the Pope
without the Bible; but this is not the whole truth, and is therefore
misleading. For Romanists and Protestants do not mean the same thing by
_Scripture_, nor do they mean the same thing by _Infallibility_, and their
different use of the words is a most important part of the Reformation
conception of Scripture.

This difference in the meaning of _Scripture_ is partly external and
partly internal; and the latter is the more important of the two.

The _Scriptures_ to which the Romanist appeals include the Apocryphal
Books of the Old Testament; and the _Scriptures_ which are authoritative
are not the books of the Old and New Testament in the original tongues,
but a translation into Latin known as the Vulgate of Pope Sixtus V. They
are therefore a book to a large extent different from the one to which
Protestants appeal.

However important this external difference may be, it is nothing in
comparison with the internal difference; and yet the latter is continually
forgotten by Protestants as well as by Roman Catholics in their arguments.

To understand it, one must remember that every mediæval theologian
declared that the whole doctrinal system of his Church was based upon the
Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The Reformers did nothing
unusual, nothing which was in opposition to the common practice of the
mediæval Church in which they had been born, educated, and lived, when
they appealed to Scripture. Luther made his appeal with the same serene
unconsciousness that anyone could gainsay him, as he did when he set the
believer’s spiritual experience of the fact that he rested on Christ alone
for salvation against the proposal to sell pardon for money. His opponents
never attempted to challenge his right to make this appeal to Scripture—at
least at first. They made the same appeal themselves; they believed that
they were able to meet Scripture with Scripture. They were confident that
the authority appealed to—Scripture—would decide against Luther. It soon
became apparent, however, that Luther had an unexpectedly firmer grasp of
Scripture than they had. This did not mean that he had a better memory for
texts. It was seen that Luther somehow was able to look at and use
Scripture as one transparent whole; while they looked on it as a
collection of fragmentary texts. This gave him and other Reformers a skill
in the use of Scripture which their opponents began to feel that they were
deficient in. They felt that if they were to meet their opponents on equal
terms they too must recognise a unity in Scripture. They did so by
creating an external and arbitrary unity by means of the dogmatic
tradition of the mediæval Church. Hence the decree of the Council of
Trent, which manufactured an artificial unity for Scripture by placing the
dogmatic tradition of the Church alongside Scripture as an equal source of
authority. The reason why the Reformers found a natural unity in the
Bible, and why the Romanists had to construct an artificial one, lay, as
we shall see, in their different conceptions of what was meant by saving

Mediæval theologians looked at the Bible as a sort of spiritual law-book,
a storehouse of divinely communicated knowledge of doctrinal truths and
rules for moral conduct—and nothing more.

The Reformers saw in it a new home for a new life within which they could
have intimate fellowship with God Himself—not merely knowledge about God,
but actual communion with Him.

There is one great difficulty attending the mediæval conception of the
Scriptures, that it does not seem applicable to a large part of them.
There is abundant material provided for the construction of doctrines and
moral rules; but that is only a portion of what is contained in the
Scriptures. The Bible contains long lists of genealogies, chapters which
contain little else than a description of temple furniture, stories of
simple human life, and details of national history. The mediæval
theologian had either to discard altogether a large part of the Bible or
to transform it somehow into doctrinal and moral teaching. The latter
alternative was chosen, and the instrument of transformation was the
thought of the various senses in Scripture which plays such a prominent
part in every mediæval statement of the nature and uses of the revelation
of God contained in the Bible.(404) No one can deny that a book, where
instruction is frequently given in parables, or by means of aphorisms and
proverbial sayings, must contain many passages which have different
senses. It may be admitted, to use Origen’s illustrations, that the grain
of mustard seed is, _literally_, an actual seed; _morally_, faith in the
individual believer; and, _allegorically_, the kingdom of God;(405) or,
though this is more doubtful, that the little foxes are, literally, cubs;
morally, sins in the individual heart; and, allegorically, heresies which
distract and spoil the Church.(406) But to say that every detail of
personal or national life in the Old Testament or New is merely dead
history, of no spiritual value until it has been transformed into a
doctrinal truth or a moral rule by the application of the theory of the
fourfold sense in Scripture, is to destroy the historical character of
revelation altogether, and, besides, to introduce complete uncertainty
about what any passage was really meant to declare. The use of a fourfold
sense—_literal_, _moral_, _allegorical_, and _anagogic_—enables the reader
to draw any meaning he pleases from any portion of Scripture.

While mediæval theologians, by their bewildering fourfold sense, made it
almost hopeless to know precisely what the Bible actually taught, another
idea of theirs made it essential to salvation that men should attain to an
absolutely correct statement of what the Scriptures did reveal about God
and man and the relation between them. They held that faith—the faith
which saves—was not trust in a person, but assent to correct propositions
about God, the universe, and the soul of man; and the saving character of
the assent depended on the correctness of the propositions assented to. It
is the submission of the intellect to certain propositional statements
which are either seen to be correct or are accepted as being so because
guaranteed in some supernatural way. Infallibility is looked upon as that
which can guarantee the perfect correctness of propositions about God and
man in their relations to each other.

_If_ it be necessary to employ the fourfold sense to confuse the plain
meaning of the greater portion of Scripture, and _if_ salvation depends on
arriving at a perfectly correct intellectual apprehension of abstract
truths contained somewhere in the Bible, then Lacordaire’s sarcastic
reference to the Protestant conception of Scripture is not out of place.
He says: “What kind of a religion is that which saves men by aid of a
book? God has given the book, but He has not guaranteed your private
interpretation of it. What guarantee have you that your thoughts do not
shove aside God’s ideas? The heathen carves himself a god out of wood or
marble; the Protestant carves his out of the Bible. If there be a true
religion on earth, it must be of the most _serene_ and unmistakable
authority.”(407) We need not wonder at John Nathin saying to his perplexed
pupil in the Erfurt Convent: “Brother Martin, let the Bible alone; read
the old teachers; reading the Bible simply breeds unrest.”(408) We can
sympathise with some of the earlier printers of the German Vulgate when
they inserted in their prefaces that readers must be careful to understand
the contents of the volume in the way declared by the Church.(409) Men who
went to the Bible might go wrong, and it was spiritual death to make any
mistake; but all who simply assented to the interpretation of the Bible
given in the Church’s theology were kept right and had the true or saving
faith. Such was the mediæval idea.

But all this made it impossible to find in the Bible a means of communion
with God. Between the God Who had revealed Himself there and man, the
mediæval theologian, perhaps unconsciously at first, had placed what he
called the “Church,” but what really was the opinions of accredited
theologians confirmed by decisions of Councils or Popes. The “Church” had
barred the way of access to the mind and heart of God in the Scriptures by
interposing its authoritative method of interpretation between the
believer and the Bible, as it had interposed the priesthood between the
sinner and the redeeming Saviour.

Just as the Reformers had opposed their personal experience of pardon won
by throwing themselves on the mercy of God revealed in Christ to the
intervention of the Church between them and God, so they controverted this
idea of the Scriptures by the personal experience of what the Bible had
been to them. They had felt and known that the personal God, Who had made
them and redeemed them, was speaking to them in this Book, and was there
making manifest familiarly His power and His willingness to save. The
speech was sometimes obscure, but they read on and lighted on other
passages which were plainer, and they made the easier explain the more
difficult. The “common” man perhaps could not understand it all, nor fit
all the sayings of Scripture into a connected whole of intellectual truth;
but all, plain men and theologians alike, could hear their Father’s voice,
learn their Redeemer’s purpose, and have faith in their Lord’s promises.
It was a good thing to put text to text and build a system of Protestant
divinity to which their intellects could assent; but it was not essential.
Saving faith was not intellectual assent at all. It was simple trust—the
trust of a child—in their Father’s promises, which were Yea and Amen in
Christ Jesus. The one essential thing was to hear and obey the personal
God speaking to them as He had spoken all down through the ages to His
people, promising His salvation now in direct words, now in pictures of
His dealings with a favoured man or a chosen people. No detail of life was
dead history; for it helped to fill the picture of communion between God
and His people. The picture was itself a promise that what had been in the
past would be renewed in their own experience of fellowship with a
gracious God, if only they had the same faith which these saints of the
Old and New Testaments enjoyed.

With these thoughts burning in their hearts, the Bible could not be to the
Reformers what it had been to the mediæval theologians. God was speaking
to them in it as a man speaks to his fellows. The simple historical sense
was the important one in the great majority of passages. The Scripture was
more than a storehouse of doctrines and moral rules. It was over and above
the record and picture of the blessed experience which God’s saints have
had in fellowship with their covenant God since the first revelation of
the Promise. So they made haste to translate the Bible into all languages
in order to place it in the hands of every man, and said that the “common
man” with the Bible in his hands (with God speaking to him) could know
more about the way of salvation than Pope or Councils without the

The change of view which separated the Reformers from mediæval theologians
almost amounted to a rediscovery of Scripture; and it was effected by
their conception of faith. Saving faith was for them _personal trust_ in a
_personal Saviour_ Who had manifested in His life and work the Fatherly
mercy of God. This was not a mere theological definition; it was a
description of an experience which they knew that they had lived. It made
them see that the word of God was a personal and not a dogmatic
revelation; that the real meaning in it was that God Himself was there
behind every word of it,—not an abstract truth, but a personal Father. On
the one side, on the divine, there was God pouring out His whole heart and
revealing the inmost treasures of His righteousness and love in Christ the
Incarnate Word; on the other side, on the human, there was the believing
soul looking straight through all works and all symbols and all words to
Christ Himself, united to Him by faith in the closest personal union. Such
a blessed experience—the feeling of direct fellowship between the believer
and God Incarnate, of a communion such as exists between two loving human
souls, brought about by the twofold stream of God’s personal word coming
down, and man’s personal faith going up to God—could not fail to give an
entirely new conception of Scripture. The mediæval Church looked on the
Jesus Christ revealed in Scripture as a Teacher sent from God; and
revelation was for them above all things an imparting of speculative
truth. To the Reformers the chief function of Scripture was to bring Jesus
Christ near us; and as Jesus always fills the full sphere of God to them,
the chief end of Scripture is to bring God near _me_. It is the direct
message of God’s love to _me_,—not doctrine, but promise (for apart from
promise, as Luther said unweariedly, faith does not exist); not display of
God’s thoughts, but of God Himself as _my_ God. This manifestation of God,
which is recorded for us in the Scriptures, took place in an historical
process coming to its fullest and highest in the incarnation and
historical work of Christ, and the record of the manifestation has been
framed so as to include everything necessary to enable us to understand
the declaration of God’s will in its historical context and in its
historical manifestation. “Let no pious Christian,” says Luther, “stumble
at the simple word and story that meet him so often in Scripture.” These
are never the dead histories of the mediæval theologian,—events which have
simply taken place and concern men no more. They tell how God dealt with
His faithful people in ages past, and they are promises of how He will act
towards us now. “Abraham’s history is precious,” he says, “because it is
filled so full of God’s Word, with which all that befell him is so adorned
and so fair, and because God goes everywhere before him with His Word,
promising, commanding, comforting, warning, that we may verily see that
Abraham was God’s special trusty friend. Let us mirror ourselves, then, in
this holy father Abraham, who walks not in gold and velvet, but girded,
crowned, and clothed with divine light, that is, with God’s Word.” The
simplest Bible stories, even geographical and architectural details, may
and do give us the sidelights necessary to complete the manifestation of
God to His people.

The question now arises, Where and in what are we to recognise the
infallibility and authoritative character of Scripture? It is manifest
that the ideas attaching to these words must change with the changed
conception of the essential character of that Scripture to which they
belong. Nor can the question be discussed apart from the Reformation idea
of saving faith; for the two thoughts of Scripture and saving faith always
correspond. In mediæval theology they are always primarily intellectual
and prepositional; in Reformation thinking, they are always in the first
instance experimental and personal. In describing the authoritative
character of Scripture, the Reformers always insisted that its recognition
was awakened in believers by that operation which they called the witness
of the Holy Spirit (_Testimonium Spiritus Sancti_). Just as God Himself
makes us know and feel the sense of pardon in an inward experience by a
faith which is His own work, so they believed that by an operation of the
same Spirit, believers were enabled to recognise that God Himself is
speaking to us authoritatively in and through the words of Scripture.

Their view of what is meant by the authority and infallibility of
Scripture cannot be seen apart from what they taught about the relation
between Scripture and the word of God. They have all the same general
conception, however they may differ in details in their statement. If
Luther, as his wont was, speaks more trenchantly, and Calvin writes with a
clearer vision of the consequences which must follow from his assertions,
both have the same great thought before them.

The Reformers drew a distinction between the word of God and the Scripture
which contains or presents that word. This distinction was real and not
merely formal; it was more than the difference between the word of God and
the word of God written; and important consequences were founded upon it.
If the use of metaphor be allowed, the word of God is to the Scripture as
the soul is to the body. Luther believed that while the word of God was
presented in every part of Scripture, some portions make it much more
evident. He instances the Gospel and First Epistle of St. John, the
Epistles of St. Paul, especially those to the Romans, to the Galatians,
and to the Ephesians, and the First Epistle of St. Peter.(410) He declares
that if Christians possessed no other books besides those, the way of
salvation would be perfectly clear. He adds elsewhere that the word of God
shines forth with special clearness in the Psalms, which he called the
Bible within the Bible.

Luther says that the word of God may be described in the phrase of St.
Paul, “the Gospel of God, which He promised afore by His Prophets in the
Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of the seed of David
according to the flesh, who was declared to be the Son of God with power,
according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the
dead.”(411) Calvin calls it “the spiritual teaching, the gate, as it were,
by which we enter into His heavenly kingdom,” “a mirror in which faith
beholds God,” and “that wherein He utters unto us His mercy in Christ, and
assureth us of His love toward us.”(412) The Scots Confession calls it the
revelation of the Promise “quhilk as it was repeated and made mair clear
from time to time; so was it imbraced with joy, and maist constantlie
received of al the faithful.”(413) And Zwingli declares it to be “that our
Lord Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, has revealed to us the will of the
Heavenly Father, and, with His innocence, has redeemed us from
death.”(414) It is the sum of God’s commands, threatenings, and promises,
addressed to our faith, and above all the gospel offer of Christ to us.
This word of God need not take the form of direct exhortation; it may be
recognised in the simple histories of men or of nations recorded in the

This true and real distinction between the word of God and Scripture may
easily be perverted to something which all the Reformers would have
repudiated. It must not be explained by the common mystical illustration
of kernel and husk, which husk (the record) may be thrown away when the
kernel (the word) has been once reached and laid hold of. Nor can it be
used to mean that one part of the Bible is the word of God and that
another is not. The Reformers uniformly teach that the substance of _all_
Scripture is the word of God, and that what is no part of the record of
the word of God is not Scripture. Finally, the distinction between the two
need not prevent us saying that the Scripture is the word of God. Luther
is very peremptory about this. He says that he is ready to discuss
differences with any opponent who admits that the evangelical writings are
the word of God; but that if this be denied he will refuse to argue; for
where is the good of reasoning with anyone who denies first principles?
(_prima principia_)(415) Only it must be clearly understood that the
copula _is_ does not express logical identity, but some such relation as
can be more exactly rendered by _contains_, _presents_, _conveys_,
_records_,—all of which phrases are used in the writings of Reformers or
in the creeds of the Reformation Churches. The main thing to remember is
that the distinction is not to be made use of to deny to the substance of
Scripture those attributes of authority and infallibility which belong to
the word of God.

On the other hand, there is a vital religious interest in the distinction.
In the first place it indicates what is meant by the infallibility of
Scripture, and in the second it enables us to distinguish between the
divine and the human elements in the Bible.

The authoritative character and infallibility belong really and primarily
to the word of God, and only secondarily to the Scriptures,—to Scripture
only because it is the record which contains, presents, or conveys the
word of God. It is this word of God, this personal manifestation to us for
our salvation of God in His promises, which is authoritative and
infallible; and Scripture shares these attributes only in so far as it is
a vehicle of spiritual truth. It is the unanimous declaration of the
Reformers that Scripture is Scripture because it gives us that knowledge
of God and of His will which is necessary for salvation; because it
presents to the eye of faith God Himself personally manifesting Himself in
Christ. It is this presentation of God Himself and of His will for our
salvation which is infallible and authoritative. But this manifestation of
God Himself is something spiritual, and is to be apprehended by a
spiritual faculty which is faith, and the Reformers and the Confessions of
the Reformation do not recognise any infallibility or divine authority
which is otherwise apprehended than by faith. If this be so, the
infallibility is of quite another kind from that described by mediæval
theologians or modern Roman Catholics, and it is also very different from
what many modern Protestants attribute to the Scriptures when they do not
distinguish them from the word of God. With the mediæval theologian
infallibility was something which guaranteed the perfect correctness of
abstract propositions; with some modern Protestants it consists in the
conception that the record contains not even the smallest error in word or
description of fact—in its inerrancy. But neither inerrancy nor the
correctness of abstract propositions is apprehended by faith in the
Reformers’ sense of that word; they are matters of fact, to be accepted or
rejected by the ordinary faculties of man. The infallibility and authority
which need faith to perceive them are, and must be, something very
different; they produce the conviction that in the manifestation of God in
His word there lies infallible power to save. This is given, all the
Reformers say, by the Witness of the Spirit; “the true kirk alwaies heares
and obeyis the voice of her awin spouse and pastor.”(416) Calvin discusses
the authority and credibility of Scripture in his _Institutio_, and says:
“Let it be considered, then, as an undeniable truth that they who have
been inwardly taught of the Spirit feel an entire acquiescence in the
Scripture, and that it is self-authenticated, carrying with it its own
evidence, and ought not to be made the subject of demonstration and
arguments from reason; but that it obtains the credit which it deserves
with us by the testimony of the Spirit.”(417) This is a religious
conception of infallibility very different from the mediæval or the modern

The distinction between the word of God and Scripture also serves to
distinguish between the divine and the human elements in Scripture, and to
give each its proper place.

Infallibility and divine authority belong to the sphere of faith and of
the witness of the Spirit, and, therefore, to that personal manifestation
of God and of His will toward us which is conveyed or presented to us in
every part of Scripture. But this manifestation is given in a course of
events which are part of human history, in lives of men and peoples, in a
record which in outward form is like other human writings. If every part
of Scripture is divine, every part of it is also human. The supernatural
reality is incased in human realities. To apprehend the former, faith
illumined by the Holy Spirit is necessary; but it is sufficient to use the
ordinary methods of research to learn the credibility of the history in
Scripture. When the Reformers distinguished between the word of God and
Scripture which conveys or presents it, and when they declared that the
authority and infallibility of that word belonged to the region of faith,
they made that authority and infallibility altogether independent of
questions that might be raised about the human agencies through which the
book came into its present shape. It is not a matter belonging to the
region of faith when the books which record the word of God were written,
or by whom, or in what style, or how often they were edited or re-edited.
It is not a matter for faith whether incidents happened in one country or
in another; whether the account of Job be literal history, or a poem based
on old traditions in which the author has used the faculty of imagination
to illustrate the problems of God’s providence and man’s probation;
whether genealogical tables give the names of men or of countries and
peoples. All these and the like matters belong to the human side of the
record. No special illumination of faith is needed to apprehend and
understand them. They are matters for the ordinary faculties of man, and
subject to ordinary human investigation. Luther availed himself freely of
the liberty thus given. He never felt himself bound to accept the
traditional ideas about the extent of the canon, the authorship of the
books of the Bible, or even about the credibility of some of the things
recorded. He said, speaking about Genesis, “What though Moses never wrote
it?”(418) It was enough for him that the book was there and that he could
read it. He thought that the Books of Kings were more worthy of credit
than the Books of Chronicles;(419) and he believed that the prophets had
not always given the kings of Israel the best political advice.(420)

But while the Bible is human literature, and as such may be and must be
subjected to the same tests which are applied to ordinary literature, it
is the record of the revelation of God, and has been carefully guarded and
protected by God. This thought always enters into the conception which the
Reformers had of Scripture. They speak of the singular care and providence
of God which has preserved the Scriptures in such a way that His people
always have a full and unmistakable declaration in them of His mind and
will for their salvation. This idea for ever forbids a careless or
irreverent biblical criticism, sheltering itself under the liberty of
dealing with the records of revelation. No one can say beforehand how much
or how little of the historic record is essential to preserve the faith of
the Church; but every devout Christian desires to have it in large
abundance. No one can plead the liberty which the principles of the
Reformers secure for dealing with the record of Scripture as a
justification in taking a delight in reducing to a minimum the historical
basis of the Christian faith. Careless or irreverent handling of the text
of Holy Scripture is what all the Reformers abhorred.(421)

§ 5. The Person of Christ.

“No one can deny,” said Luther, “that we hold, believe, sing, and confess
all things in correspondence with the Apostles’ Creed, the faith of the
old Church, that we make nothing new therein nor add anything thereto, and
in this way we belong to the old Church and are one with it.” Both the
Augsburg Confession and the Schmalkald Articles begin with restating the
doctrines of the old Catholic Church as these are given in the Apostles’,
Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds, the two latter being always regarded by
Luther as explanatory of the Apostles’ Creed. His criticism of theological
doctrines was always confined to the theories introduced by the Schoolmen,
and to the perversion of the old doctrines of the Church introduced in
mediæval times mainly to bring these doctrines into conformity with the
principles of the philosophy of Aristotle. He brought two charges against
the Scholastic Theology. It was, he insisted, committed to the idea of
work-righteousness; whatever occasional protest might be made against the
conception, he maintained that this thought of work-righteousness was so
interwoven with its warp and woof that the whole must be swept away ere
the old and true Christian Theology could be rediscovered. He also
declared it was sophistry; and by that he meant that it played with the
outsides of doctrine, asked and solved questions which had nothing to do
with real Christian theology, that the imposing intellectual edifice was
hollow within, that its deity was not the God and Father revealed in Jesus
Christ, but the unknown God, the God who could never be revealed by
metaphysics larded with detached texts of Scripture, the abstract entity
of pagan philosophy. With an unerring instinct he fastened on the
Scholastic devotion to Aristotle as the reason why what professed to be
Christian theology had been changed into something else. Scholastic
Philosophy or Theology (for the two are practically the same) defined
itself as the attempt to reconcile _faith_ and _reason_, and the
definition has been generally accepted. Verbally it is correct; really it
is very misleading from the meanings attached to the words faith and
reason. With the Schoolmen, faith in this contrast between faith and
reason meant the sum of patristic teaching about the verities of the
Christian religion extracted by the Fathers from the Holy Scriptures; and
reason meant the sum of philosophical principles extracted from the
writings of ancient philosophers, and especially from Aristotle. The great
Schoolmen conceived it to be their task to construct a system of Christian
Philosophy by combining patristic doctrinal conclusions with the
conclusions of human reasoning which they believed to be given in their
highest form in the writings of the ancient Grecian sages. They actually
used the conceptions of the Fathers as material to give body to the forms
of thought found ready made for them in the speculations of Aristotle and
Plato. The Christian material was moulded to fit the pagan forms, and in
consequence lost its most essentially Christian characteristics. One can
see how the most evangelical of the Schoolmen, Thomas Aquinas, tries in
vain to break through the meshes of the Aristotelian net in his
discussions on merit and satisfaction in his _Summa Theologiæ_.(422) He
had to start from the thought of God as (1) the Absolute, and (2) as the
_Primum Movens_, the _Causa efficiens prima_, the _Intelligens a quo omnes
res naturales ordinantur in finem_—conceptions which can never imprison
without practically destroying the vision of the Father who has revealed
Himself in the Saviour Jesus Christ. His other starting-point, that man is
to be described as the possessor of free will in the Aristotelian sense of
the term, will never contain the Christian doctrine of man’s complete
dependence on God in his salvation. It inevitably led to
work-righteousness. This was the “sophistry” Luther protested against and
which he swept away.

He then claimed that he stood where the old Catholic Church had taken
stand, that his theology like its was rooted in the faith of God as
Trinity and in the belief in the Person of Christ, the Revealer of God.
The old theology had nothing to do with Mariolatry or saint worship; it
revered the triune God, and Jesus Christ His Son and man’s Saviour. Luther
could join hands with Athanasius across twelve centuries. He had done a
work not unlike that of the great Alexandrian. His rejection of the
Scholastic Aristotelianism may be compared with Athanasius’ refusal to
allow the Logos theology any longer to confuse the Christian doctrines of
God and the Person of Christ. Both believed that in all thinking about God
they ought to keep their eyes fixed upon His redemptive work manifested in
the historical Christ. Athanasius, like Luther, brought theology back to
religion from “sophistry,” and had for his starting-point an inward
religious experience that his Redeemer was the God who made heaven and
earth. The great leaders in the ancient Church, Luther believed, held as
he did that to have conceptions about God, to construct a real Christian
theology, it was necessary first of all to know God Himself, and that He
was only to be known through the Lord Jesus Christ. He had gone through
the same experience as they had done; he could fully sympathise with them,
and could appropriate the expressions in which they had described and
crystallised what they had felt and known, and that without paying much
attention to the niceties of technical language. These doctrines had not
been dead formulas to them, but the expression of a living faith. He could
therefore take the old dogmas and make them live again in an age in which
it seemed as if they had lost all their vitality.

    “From the time of Athanasius,” says Harnack, “there had been no
    theologian who had given so much living power for faith to the
    doctrine of the Godhead of Christ as Luther did; since the time of
    Cyril, no teacher had arisen in the Church for whom the mystery of
    the union of the two natures in Christ was so full of comfort as
    for Luther—‘I have a better provider than all angels are: he lies
    in the cradle and hangs on the breast of a virgin, but sits,
    nevertheless, at the right hand of the almighty father’; no mystic
    philosopher of antiquity spoke with greater conviction and delight
    of the sacred nourishment in the Eucharist. The German reformer
    restored life to the formulas of Greek Christianity: he gave them
    back to faith.”(423)

But if Luther accepted the old formulas describing the Nature of God and
the Person of Christ, he did so in a thoroughly characteristic way. He had
no liking for theological technical terms, though he confessed that it was
necessary to use them. He disliked the old term _homoousios_ to describe
the relation between the Persons in the Trinity, and preferred the word
“oneness”;(424) he even disliked the term Trinity, or at least its German
equivalents, Dreifaltigkeit or Dreiheit—they were not good German words,
he said;(425) he called the technical terms used in the old creeds
_vocabula mathematica_;(426) he was careful to avoid using them in his
Short and even in his Long Catechism. But Jesus Christ was for him the
mirror of the Fatherly heart of God, and therefore was God; God Himself
was the only Comforter to bring rest to the human soul, and the Holy
Spirit was God; and the old creeds confessed One God, Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost, and the confession contented him whatever words were used.
Besides, he rejoiced to place himself side by side with the Christians of
ancient days, who trusted God in Christ and were free from the
“sophistries” of the Schoolmen.

Although Luther accepted, honestly and joyfully, the old theology about
God and the Person of Christ, he put a new and richer meaning into it.
Luther lets us see over and over again that he believed that the only
thing worth considering in theology was the divine work of Christ and the
experience that we have of it through faith. He did not believe that we
have any real knowledge of God outside these limits. Beyond them there is
the unknown God of philosophical paganism, the God whom Jews, Turks,
pagans, and nominal Christians ignorantly worship. In order to know God it
is necessary to know Him through the Jesus Christ of history. Hence with
Luther, Christ fills the whole sphere of God: “He that hath seen Me hath
seen the Father,” and conversely: “He that hath not seen Me hath not seen
the Father.” The historical Jesus Christ is for Luther the revealer and
the only revealer of the Father. The revelation is given in the wonderful
experience of faith in which Jesus compels us to see God in Him—the whole
of God, Who has kept nothing back which He could have given us. It is very
doubtful whether the framers of the old creeds ever grasped this thought.
The great expounder of the old theology, Augustine, certainly did not. The
failure to enter into it showed itself not merely in the doctrine of God,
but also in the theories of grace. With Luther all theology is really
Christology; he knew no other God than the God Who had manifested Himself
in the historical Christ, and made us see in the miracle of faith that He
is our salvation. This at once simplifies all Christian theology and cuts
it clearly away from that Scholastic which Luther called “sophistry.” Why
need Christians puzzle themselves over the Eternal Something which is not
the world when they have the Father? On the old theology the work of
Christ was practically limited to procuring the forgiveness of sins. There
it ended and other gracious operations of God began—operations of grace.
So there grew the complex system of expiations, and satisfactions, of
magical sacraments and saints’ intercessions. These were all at once swept
away when the whole God was seen revealed in Christ in the vision of faith
and nowhere else.

Like Athanasius, Luther found his salvation in the Deity of Christ.

    “We must have a Saviour Who is more than a saint or an angel; for
    if He were no more, better and greater than these, there were no
    helping us. But if he be God, then the treasure is so ponderous
    that it outweighs and lifts away sin and death; and not only so,
    but also gives eternal life. This is our Christian faith, and
    therefore we rightly confess: ‘I believe in Jesus Christ His only
    Son, our Lord, Who was born of Mary, suffered and died.’ By this
    faith hold fast, and though heathen and heretic are ever so wise
    thou shalt be blessed.”(427)

He repeats this over and over again. If we cannot say God died for us, if
it was only a man who suffered on the cross, then we are lost, was
Luther’s firmest conviction; and the thought of the Divinity of Christ
meant more to Luther than it did to previous theologians. The old theology
had described the two Natures in the One Person of the God-man in such a
way as to suggest that the only function of the Divine was to give to the
human work of Christ the importance necessary to effect salvation. Luther
always refused to adopt this limited way of regarding the Divinity of the
Saviour. He did not refuse to adopt and use the _phraseology_ of his
predecessors. Like them, he spoke of the two Natures in the One Person of
Christ. But it is plain from his expositions of the Creed, and from his
criticisms of the current theological terminology, that he did not like
the expression. He thought that it suggested an idea that was wrong, and
that had to be guarded against. He says that we must beware of thinking as
if the deity and humanity in Christ are so externally united that we may
look at the one apart from the other.

    “This is the first principle and most excellent article how Christ
    is the Father: that we are not to doubt that whatsoever the man
    says and does is reckoned and must be reckoned as said and done in
    heaven for all angels; in the world for all rulers; in hell for
    all devils; in the heart for every evil conscience and all secret
    thoughts. For if we are certain of this: that what Jesus thinks,
    speaks, and wills the Father also wills, then I defy all that may
    fight against me. For here in Christ have I the Father’s heart and

He brings the thought of the Person of Christ into the closest relation to
our personal experience. It is not simply a doctrine—an intellectual
something outside us. It is part of that blessed experience which is
called Justification by Faith. It is inseparably connected with the
recognition that we are not saved by means of the good deeds which we can
do, but solely by the work of Christ. It is what makes us cease all
work-righteousness and trust in God alone as He has revealed Himself in
Christ. When we know and feel that it is God who is working for us, then
we instinctively cease trying to think that we can work out our own
salvation.(429) Hence the Person of Christ can never be a mere doctrine
for the true Christian to be inquired about by the intellect. It is
something which we carry about with us as part of our lives.

    “To know Christ in the true way means to know that He died for us,
    that He piled our sins upon Himself, so that we hold all our own
    affairs as nothing and let them all go, and cling only to the
    faith that Christ has given Himself for us, and that His
    sufferings and piety and virtues are all mine. When I know this I
    must hold Him dear in return, for I must be loving to such a man.”

He insists on the human interest that the Man Jesus Christ has for us, and
declares that we must take as much interest in His whole life on earth as
in that of our closest friend.

Perhaps it ought to be added, although what has been said implies it, that
Luther always approached the Person of Christ from his mediatorial work,
and not from any previously thought out ideas of what Godhead must be, and
what manhood must be, and how they can be united. He begins with the
mediatorial and saving work of Christ as that is revealed in the blessed
experience which faith, the gift of God, creates. He rises from, the
office to the Person, and does not descend from the Person to the office.
“Christ is not called Christ because He has the two Natures. What does
that matter to me? He bears this glorious and comforting name because of
His Office and Work which He has undertaken.”(430) It is in this way that
He becomes the Saviour and the Redeemer.

It can scarcely be said that all the Reformers worked out the conception
of the Person of Christ in the same way as Luther, although almost all
these thoughts can be found in Calvin, but the overshadowing conception is
always present to their mind—Christ fills the full sphere of God. That is
the characteristic of Reformation thought and of Reformation piety, and
appears everywhere in the writings of the Reformers and in the worship and
rites of the Reformed Church. To go into the matter exhaustively would
necessitate more space than can be given; but the following instances may
be taken as indicating the universal thought.

1. The Reformers swept away every contemplation of intercessors who were
supposed to share with our Lord the procuring of pardon and salvation, and
they declared against all attempts to distinguish between various kinds of
worship which could only lead pious souls astray from the one worship due
to God in Christ. Such subtle distinctions, says Calvin, as _latria_,
_doulia_, and _hyperdoulia_ are neither known nor present to the minds of
those who prostrate themselves before images until the world has become
full of idolatry as crude and plain as that of the ancient Egyptians,
which all the prophets continuously denounced: they can only mislead, and
ought to be discarded. They actually suggest to worshippers to pass by
Jesus Christ, the only Mediator, and betake themselves to some patron who
has struck their fancy. They bring it about that the Divine Offices are
distributed among the saints as if they had been appointed colleagues to
our Lord Jesus Christ; and they are made to do His work, while He Himself
is kept in the background like some ordinary person in a crowd. They are
responsible for the fact that hymns are sung in public worship in which
the saints are lauded with every blessing just as if they were colleagues
of God.(431)

In conformity with these thoughts, the Confessions of the Reformation all
agree in reprobating prayers to the saints. The Augsburg Confession says:

    “The Scripture teacheth not to invoke saints, nor to ask the help
    of saints, because it propoundeth to us one Christ, the Mediator,
    Propitiatory, High Priest, and Intercessor. This Christ is to be
    invocated, and He hath promised that He will hear our prayers, and
    liketh this worship, to wit, that He be invocated in all
    afflictions. ‘If any man sin, we have an advocate with God, Jesus
    Christ the righteous’ (1 John ii. 1).”(432)

The Second Helvetic Confession, in its fifth chapter, entitled, _Regarding
the adoration, worship, and invocation of God through the One Mediator,
Jesus Christ_, lays down the rule that prayer is to be through Christ
alone, and the saints and relics are not to be worshipped. And no
prayer-book or liturgy in any branch of the Reformed Church contains
prayers addressed to any of the saints or to the Blessed Virgin.

2. The Reformers insist on the necessity of Christ and of Christ alone for
all believers. Their Confessions abound in expressions which are meant to
magnify the Person and Work of Christ, and to show that He fills the whole
field of believing thought and worship. The brief Netherlands Confession
of 1566 has no less than three separate sections on _Christ the only
Mediator and Reconciler_, on _Christ the only Teacher,_ and on _Christ the
only High Priest and Sacrifice_.(433) The _Heidelberg_ or _Palatine
Catechism_ calls Christ _my faithful Saviour_, and says that we can call
ourselves Christians “because by faith we are members of Jesus Christ and
partakers of His anointing, so that we both confess His Holy Name and
present ourselves unto Him a lively offering of thanksgiving, and in this
life may with free conscience fight against sin and Satan, and afterwards
possess with Christ an everlasting kingdom over all creatures.” The Scots
Confession abounds in phrases intended to honour our Lord Jesus Christ. It
calls Him _Messiah_, _Eternal Wisdom_, _Emmanuel_, _our Head_, _Our
Brother_, _our Pastor and great Bishop of our souls_, the _Author of
Life_, the _Lamb of God_, the _Advocate and Mediator_, and the _Only High
Priest_. All the Confessions of the Churches of the Reformation contain
the same or similar expressions. The liturgies of the Churches also abound
in similar terms of adoration.

3. The Reformers declare that Christ is the _only_ Revealer of God. “We
would never recognise the Father’s grace and mercy,” says Luther in his
Large Catechism, “were it not for our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the mirror
of the Father’s heart.” “We are not affrayed to cal God our Father,” says
the Scots Confession, “not sa meikle because He has created us, quhilk we
have in common with the reprobate, as for that He has given us His onely
Son.” The instructions issued by the Synod which met at Bern in 1532 are
very emphatic upon this thought, as may be seen from the headings of the
various articles: (Art. 2) That the whole doctrine is the unique Christ
(_Das die gantze leer der eynig Christus sye_); (Art. 3) That God is
revealed to the people in Christ alone; (Art. 5) That the gracious God is
perceived through Christ alone without any mediation; (Art. 6) A Christian
sermon is entirely about and from Christ. It is said under the third
article: “His Son in Whom we see the work of God and His Fatherly heart
toward us ... which is not the case where the preacher talks much about
God in the heathen manner, and does not exhibit the same God in the face
of Christ.”(434) The Confessions also unite in declaring that the gift of
the Holy Spirit comes from Christ.

4. The conception that Christ filled the whole sphere of God, which was
for the Reformers a fundamental and experimental fact, enabled them to
construct a spiritual doctrine of the sacraments which they opposed to
that held in the mediæval Church. Of course, it was various theories about
the sacraments which caused the chief differences among the Reformers
themselves; but apart from all varying ideas—consubstantiation, ubiquity,
signs exhibiting and signs representing—the Reformers united on the
thoughts that the efficacy in the sacraments depended entirely on the
promises of Christ contained in His word, and that the virtue in the
sacraments consisted in the presence of Christ to the believing
communicant. What was received in the sacraments was not a vague,
mysterious, not to say magical, grace, but Christ Jesus Himself. He gave
Himself in the sacraments in whatever way His presence might be explained.

They all taught that the efficacy of the sacraments depends upon the
promise of Christ contained in their institution, and they insisted that
word and sacrament must always be taken together. Thus Luther points out
in the _Babylonish Captivity of the Church_ that one objection to the
Roman practice is that the recipients “never hear the words of the promise
which are secretly mumbled by the priest,” and exhorts his readers never
to lose sight of the all-important connection between the word of promise
and the sacraments; and in his Large Catechism he declares that the
sacraments include the Word. “I exhort you,” he says, “never to sunder the
Word and the water, or to separate them. For where the Word is withheld we
have only such water as the maid uses to cook with.” Non-Lutheran
Confessions are equally decided on the necessity of connecting the promise
and the words of Christ with the sacraments. The Thirty-nine Articles
declare that the sacraments are effectual because of “Christ’s institution
and promise.” The Heidelberg or Palatine Catechism (1563) says that the
sacraments “are holy and visible signs ordained of God, to the end that He
might thereby the more fully declare and seal unto us the _promise_ of the
Holy Gospel.”

Similarly the Reformers unanimously declared that the virtue in the
sacraments consisted in no mysterious grace, but in the fact that in them
believing partakers met and received Christ Himself. In the articles of
the Bern Synod (1532) we are told that the sacraments are mysteries of
God, “through which from without Christ is proffered to believers.” The
First Helvetic Confession (1536) says, concerning the Holy Supper, “we
hold that in the same the Lord truly offers His Body and His Blood, that
is, Himself, to His own.” The Second Helvetic Confession (1562) declares
that “the Body of Christ is in heaven at the right hand of the Father,”
and enjoins communicants “to lift up their hearts and not to direct them
downwards to the bread. For as the sun, though absent from us in the
heaven, is none the less efficaciously present ... so much more the Sun of
righteousness absent from us in the heavens in His Body, is present to us
not indeed corporeally, but spiritually by a life-giving activity.” The
French Confession of 1557 says that the sacraments are pledges and seals,
and adds, “Yet we hold that their substance and truth is in Jesus Christ.”
So the Scots Confession of 1560 declares that “we assuredlie beleeve that
be Baptisme we ar ingrafted in Christ Jesus to be made partakers of His
justice, be quhilk our sinnes ar covered and remitted. And alswa, that in
the Supper richtlie used, Christ Jesus is so joined with us, that Hee
becummis very nurishment and fude of our saules.” In the _Manner of the
Administration of the Lord’s Supper_ the Scottish Reformation Church
directed the minister in his exhortation to say to the people: “The end of
our coming to the Lord’s Table ... is to seek our life and perfection in
Jesus Christ, acknowledging ourselves at the same time to be children of
wrath and condemnation. Let us consider then that this sacrament is a
singular medicine for all poor sick creatures, a comfortable help to weak
souls, and that our Lord requireth no other worthiness on our part, but
that we unfeignedly acknowledge our naughtiness and imperfection.”

Everywhere in prayer, worship, and teaching the Reformers see Christ
filling the whole sphere of God. Jesus was God appearing in history and
addressing man.

§ 6. The Church.

In the Epistles of St. Paul, the Church of Christ stands forth as a
_fellowship_ which is both divine and human. On the side of the divine it
is a fellowship with Jesus, its crucified, risen, and ascended Lord; on
the human, it is a fellowship among men who stand in the same relation to
Jesus. This fellowship with Jesus and with the brethren is the secret of
the Church—what expresses it, what makes it different from all other
fellowships. Every other characteristic which belongs to it must be
coloured by this thought of a double fellowship. It is the double relation
which makes it difficult to construct a conception of the Church. It is
easy to feel it as an experience, but it has always been found hard to
express it in propositions.

It does not require much elaborate thinking to construct a theory of the
Church which will be true to all that is said about the fellowship on its
divine side; nor is it very difficult to think of a great visible and
historical organisation which in some external aspects represents the
Christian fellowship, provided the hidden union with Christ, so prominent
in St. Paul’s descriptions, be either entirely neglected or explained in
external and material ways. The difficulty arises when both the divine and
the human sides of the fellowship are persistently and earnestly kept in

It is always hard to explain the unseen by the seen, the eternal by the
temporal, and the divine by the human; and the task is almost greater than
usual when the union of these two elements in the Church of Christ is the
theme of discussion. It need not surprise us, therefore, that all down
through the Middle Ages there appear, not one, but two conceptions of the
Christian Church which never harmonised. On the one side, the Church was
thought of as a fellowship of God with man, depending on the inscrutable
purpose of God, and independent of all visible outward organisation; on
the other, it was a great society which existed in the world of history,
and was held together by visible political ties like other societies.
Augustine had both conceptions, and the dialectical skill of the great
theologian of the West was unable to fuse them into one harmonious whole.

These two separate, almost mutually exclusive, ideas of what the Church of
Christ was, lived side by side during the Middle Ages in the same
unconnected fashion. The former, the spiritual Church with its real but
unseen fellowship with Christ, was the pre-eminently religious thought. It
was the ground on which the most conspicuous mediæval piety rested. It was
the garden in which bloomed the flowers of mediæval mystical devotion. The
latter was built up by the juristic dialectic of Roman canonists into the
conception that the Church was a visible hierarchical State having a
strictly monarchical constitution—its king being the Bishop of Rome, who
was the visible representative of Christ. This conception became almost
purely political. It was the active force in all ecclesiastical struggles
with princes and peoples, with Reformers, and with so-called heretics and
schismatics. It reduced the Church to the level of the State, and
contained little to stimulate to piety or to holy living.

The labours of the great Schoolmen of the thirteenth century did try to
transform this political Church into what might represent the double
fellowship with Christ and with fellow-believers which is so prominent a
thought in the New Testament. They did so by attempting to show that the
great political Church was an enclosure containing certain indefinite
mysterious powers of redemption which saved men who willingly placed
themselves within the sphere of their operation. They maintained that the
core of the hierarchical constitution of the Church was the priesthood,
and that this priesthood was a species of plastic medium through which,
and through which alone, God worked in dispensing, by means of the
sacraments entrusted to the priesthood, His saving grace. It may be
questioned whether the thought of the Church as an institution, possessing
within itself certain mysterious redemptive powers which are to be found
nowhere else, was ever thoroughly harmonised with that which regarded it
as a mass of legal statutes embodied in canon law and dominated by papal
absolutism. The two conceptions remained distinct, mutually aiding each
other, but never exactly coalescing. Thus in the sixteenth century no less
than three separate ideas of the Church of Christ were present to fill the
minds and imaginations of men; but the dominant idea for the practical
religious life was certainly that which represented the Church as an
institution which, because it possessed the priesthood, was the society
within which salvation was to be found.

Luther had enjoyed to the full the benefits of this society, and had with
ardour and earnestness sought to make use of all its redemptive powers. He
had felt, simply because he was so honest with himself, that it had not
made him a real Christian, and that its mysterious powers had worked on
him in vain. His living Christian experience made him know and feel that
whatever the Church of Christ was, it was not a society within which
priests exercised their secret science of redemption. It was and must be a
fellowship of holy and Christlike people; but he felt it very difficult to
express his experience in phrases that could satisfy him. It was hard to
get rid of thoughts which he had cherished from childhood, and none of
these inherited beliefs had more power over him than the idea that the
Church, however described, was the Pope’s House in which the Bishop of
Rome ruled, and ought to rule, as house-father. It is interesting to study
by what devious paths he arrived at a clear view of what the Church of
Christ really is;(435) to notice how shreds of the old opinions which had
lain dormant in his mind every now and then start afresh into life; and
how, while he had learnt to know the uselessness of many institutions of
the mediæval Church, he could not easily divest his mind of the thought
that they naturally belonged to a Church Visible. Monastic vows, the
celibacy of the clergy, fasting, the hierarchy, the supremacy of the Pope,
the power of excommunication with all its dreaded consequences, were all
the natural accompaniments of a Visible Church according to mediæval
ideas, and Luther relinquished them with difficulty. From the first,
Augustine’s thought of the Church, which consists of the elect, helped
him; he found that Huss held the same idea, and he wrote to a friend that
“we have been all Hussites without knowing it.”(436) But while Luther and
all the Reformers held strongly by this conception of Augustine, it was
not of very much service in determining the conception of the Visible
Church which was the more important practically; and although the
definition of the Catholic Church Invisible has found its way into most
Protestant Confessions, and has been used by Protestants polemically, it
has always remained something of a background, making clearer the
conception of the Church in general, but has been of little service in
giving clear views of what the Church Visible is. From the very first,
however, Luther saw in a certain indefinite way that there was a real
connection between the conception of the Visible Church and the
proclamation of the Word of God—a thought which was destined to grow more
and more definite till it completely possessed him. As early as October
1518, he could inform Cajetan that the Pope must be under the rule of the
Word of God and not superior to it.(437) His discovery that the communion
of the saints (_communio sanctorum_) was not necessarily a hierarchy
(_ecclesia prælatorum_),(438) was made soon afterwards. After the Leipzig
Disputation his views became clearer, and by 1520 they stood revealed in
the three great Reformation treatises.

Luther’s doctrine of the Church is extremely simple. The Church is, as the
Creed defines it to be, the _Communion of the Saints_, which has come into
existence through the proclamation of the Word of God heard and received
by faith. He simplified this fundamental Christian conception in a
wonderful way. The Church rests on the sure and stable foundation of the
Word of God; and this Word of God is not a weary round of statutes issued
blasphemously by the Bishops of Rome in God’s name. It is not the
invitations of a priesthood to come and share mysterious and indefinite
powers of salvation given to them in their command over the sacraments. It
is not a lengthy doctrinal system constructed out of detached texts of
Holy Scripture by the application of a fourfold sense used under the
guidance of a dogmatic tradition or a rule of faith. It is the substance
of the Scriptures. It is the “gospel according to a pure understanding.”
It is the “promises of God”; “the testimony of Jesus, Who is the Saviour
of souls”; it is the “consolations offered in Christ.” It is, as Calvin
said, “the spiritual gate whereby we enter into God’s heavenly kingdom”;
the “mirror in which faith beholds God.” It is, according to the
Westminster Confession, the sum of God’s commands, threatenings, promises,
and, above all, the offer of Christ Jesus. All these things are
apprehended by faith. The Church comes into existence by faith responding
to the proclamation of the Word of God. This is the sure and stable thing
upon which the Church of Christ is founded.

The Church of Christ, therefore, is a body of which the Spirit of Jesus is
the soul. It is a company of Christlike men and women, whom the Holy
Spirit has called, enlightened, and sanctified through the preaching of
the word; who are encouraged to look forward to a glorious future prepared
for the people of God; and who, meanwhile, manifest their faith in all
manner of loving services done to their fellow-believers.

The Church is therefore in some sense invisible. Its secret is its hidden
fellowship with Jesus. Its roots penetrate the unseen, and draw from
thence the nourishment needed to sustain its life. But it is a visible
society, and can be seen wherever the Word of God is faithfully
proclaimed, and wherever faith is manifested in testimony and in bringing
forth the fruits of the Spirit.

This is the essential mode of describing the Church which has found place
in the Reformation creeds. Some vary in the ways in which they express the
thought; some do not sufficiently distinguish, in words at least, between
what the Church is and what it has, between what makes its being and what
is included in its well-being. But in all there are the two thoughts that
the Church is made visible by the two fundamental things—the proclamation
of the word and the manifestation of faith.

This mode of describing the Church of Christ defines it by that element
which separates it from all other forms of human association—its special
relation to the divine; and it is shown to be visible at the place where
that divine element can and does manifest itself. It defines the Church by
its most essential element, and sets aside all that is accidental. It
concerns itself with what the Church is, and does not include what the
Church has. It therefore provides room for all things which belong to the
well-being of the Church—only it relegates them to their proper

If the proclamation of the Word of God, and the manifestation of the faith
which answers, be the essence of the Church, all that tends to aid both is
to be included in the thought. There must be a ministry of some sort in
word and sacrament instituted within the Church of Christ in order to lead
the individual to faith. God has created this ministry, and all the
Reformed Churches were careful to declare that no one should seek entrance
into office unless he was assured that he had been called of God thereto;
and as his function is to be a minister of the Church and a servant of the
faithful, no one “should publicly teach or administer the sacraments
unless he be duly called (_nisi rite vocatus_).” Such a ministry has its
field simply in ministering the means of grace. “The Church of Christ,”
says Luther, “requires an honest ministry diligently and loyally
instructed in the holy Word of God after a pure Christian understanding,
and without the addition of any false traditions. In and through such a
ministry it will be made plain what are Christ and His Evangel, how to
attain to the forgiveness of sins, and the properties and power of the
_keys_ in the Church.”

All this is matter of administration. Some societies of believers may have
different ideas about the precise form that this ministry ought to take;
but such differences, while they may lead to separate administrations, do
not imply any separation from the one Catholic Church of Christ to which
they all belong. However outwardly they differ, all retain the essential
things—the preaching and teaching of the Word of God and the due
administration of the sacraments. Some may prefer to set forth a creed of
one kind and others may prefer another. The French, the Scottish, and the
Dutch Churches had all their own creeds, and all believed each other to be
parts of the same One Catholic Church of Christ.

    “When we affirm,” says Calvin, “the pure ministry of the Word, and
    our order in the celebration of the Sacraments, to be a sufficient
    pledge and earnest that we may safely embrace the society in which
    both these are found as a true Church, we carry the observation to
    this point, that such a society should never be rejected as long
    as it continues in these things, although it may be chargeable in
    other respects with many errors.”(440)

Within this Christian fellowship, which is the Church of Christ, the sense
by which we see God is awakened and our faith is nourished and quickened.
The Word of God speaks to us not merely in the public worship of the
faithful, but in and through the lives of the brethren; their deeds act on
us as the simple stories of experience and providence which the Scriptures
contain. God’s Word speaks to us in a thousand ways in the lives and
sympathies of the brethren. The Christian “receives the revelation of God
in the living relationships of the Christian brotherhood, and its
essential contents are that personal life of Jesus which is visible in the
gospel and which is expounded by the lives of the redeemed.”(441)

    “The Christian Church,” says Luther, “keeps all words of God in
    its heart, and turns them round and round, and keeps their
    connection with one another and with Scripture! Therefore, anyone
    who is to find Christ must first find the Church. How could anyone
    know where Christ is and faith in Him is, unless he knew where His
    believers are? Whoever wishes to know something about Christ must
    not trust to himself, nor by the help of his own reason build a
    bridge of his own to heaven, but must go to the Church, must visit
    it and make inquiry. Now the Church is not wood and stone, but the
    company of people who believe in Christ. With these he must unite
    and see how they believe, live, and teach, who assuredly have
    Christ among them. For outside the Christian Church there is no
    truth, no Christ, no blessedness.”(442)

For these reasons the Church deserves to be called, and is, the Mother of
all Christians.


Abbots, election of, 24.

Absolutism, papal, 14, 265.

_Acta Augustana_, 233.

_Address to the Nobility of the German Nation_, 141, 143, 242 _f._, 257.

Adelmann, Bernard, named in the first Bull against Luther, 249 and _n._

Adriatic, the, the boundary between Christian and Moslem, 19.

Æneas Sylvius, on the wealth of German burghers, 86.

Africa, North, 18; 85.

_Against the execrable Bull of Antichrist_, 249.

_Against the thieving, murdering hordes of Peasants_, 336.

Agricola, John, 390.

Agricola, Rudolph, 58.

Agricola, Stephan, 353.

Aichili, provost-marshal of the Swabian League, murders Lutheran pastors,

D’Ailly, Peter, 199 _f._, 254.

Alber, Matthew, 310, 391.

Aleander, Jerome (Roman nuncio),—
  on the devotion of Germany to Rome, 115;
  at the Diet of Worms, 261 _ff._;
  his education, 262;
  his letters to Rome, 262. _ff_.;
  his estimate of Charles V., 263;
  his task at the Diet of Worms, 263;
  his address to the Diet, 270;
  drafted the Ban against Luther, 298; 259, 267 _n._, 269, 271, 275 _f._,
              279, 282, 283 and _n._, 285, 288, 291 _n._, 293, 295, 386.

Alexander of Hales on Indulgences, 219, 221 _f._

Alpersbach, Petreius, 66.

Alstedt, 330.

Altenberg, 318.

Amsdorf, Nicholas, 211 _n._, 275, 317.

Anabaptists, 339, 366;
  and Humanists, 156.

Andreæ, Laurentius, 422, 424.

Angelico, Fra, 49.

Anhalt, Prince of, 346, 363, 373.

Anjou, province of, 23.

Anna, Saint, “the Grandmother,” cult of, 135 _f._, 138.

Annaberg, town of, Indulgence-seller at, 213.

_Annates_, 12, 17, 24 _f._, 245, 321.

Anne of Beaujeu, 23.

Anselm of Lucca, 2.

Anthony, Duke of Lorraine, 334, 338.

Anti-Hapsburg feeling in Germany, 350, 370, 374, 376.

_Apology for the Augsburg Confession, The_, 367.

_Apostles’ Creed_, 365, 468, 484.

Apostolic Succession, 403.

Aquinas. See _Thomas_.

Aragon, 27.

Argyropoulos, John, 48, 68.

Aristotle, a forerunner of Christ, 56;
  influence on mediæval thinking, 449;
  disliked by the Humanists, 57;
  disliked by Luther, 206, 469.

Armstrong, Edward, quoted, 264 n.

Art, German, and popular life, 62.

Arthur, Prince of Wales, 21.

  _the Twelve_, 331 _ff_., 336, 337;
  _the Marburg_, 353, 359;
  _the Swabach_, 359, 367;
  _the Schmalkald_, 374, 467 _n._, 468;
  _the Bern_, 478.

Artisan life, 80 _ff._; artisan capitalists in England, 21.

Artists, German, and the Reformation, 307;
  belonged to the burgher class, 86.

_Artushöfe_, 86.

Asia Minor, 18.

_Ass, Feast of the_, 120.

Astrologists in the beginning of the sixteenth century, 129.

Athanasius and Luther, 433, 470, 471 and _n._, 473.

_Attrition_, the doctrine of, 201, 219, 222 _f._;
  taught by John of Palz, an Augustinian Eremite theologian, 138, 199,

Augsburg, city of, 234, 320, 322, 353, 391;
  the Humanist circle of, 60 _f._;
  the _Brethren_ in, 152.
  See _Diet_.

_Augsburg Confession (Augustana)_, 147 _f._, 363, 365 _ff._, 396, 399,

_Augsburg Interim_, 266, 390 ff.

_Augsburg Religious Peace,_, 395 _ff._;
  international consequences of, 398 _n._

Augustine, the papal claim to universal supremacy and, 3;
  influence on mediæval theology, 449;
  disliked by the Humanists, 167, 185;
  his influence on Luther, 203, 207, 211, 433, 436.

Augustinian Eremites, 137 _ff._, 146;
  their theology not Augustine’s, 138, 199 _f._, 229;
  their chapter at Heidelberg, 230;
  most of them accept Luther’s teaching, 305.

Augustus, Elector of Saxony, 395.

Avignon, the Popes at, 5.

_Babylonian Captivity of the Church_,  241 _f._, 266 _n._, 282 _n._, 306.

_Ban, the_, against Luther, 297 _ff._
  See _Worms, Edict of_.

Barclay, Alexander, the _Ship of Fools_,  17 _n._

Basel, city of, 310;
  Council of, see _Councils_.

Baths in the Middle Ages served as a life-school for artists, 88.

_Bauernmeister_, the, 92.

Bavaria, the Dukes of, 319, 325, 370, 376.

Bebel, Heinrich, 67.

Beer, Einbecker, 277 _n._, 293.

Beggars, ecclesiastical, 142.

Begging, a Christian virtue, 142.

Beguines and Beguine-houses, 116, 142.

Beham, Hans Sebaldus, artist, 62.

Beheim, Hans, supposed to have abducted Luther, 295.

Belgrade, 19.

Bernard of Clairvaux, 125, 205, 209, 433 and _n._

Bessarion, Cardinal, 48 _f._

Bible, translations of the, into the vernacular, 149 _f._, 174, 387, 402.
  See _Scripture_.

_Biblia Pauperum_, 117.

Biel, Gabriel, 55, 196, 199.

Bigamy of Philip of Hesse, 380 _ff._

Bishops, modes of electing, 8, 24.

Black Death, the, in England, 20, 440.

Boccaccio, 47.

Böhm, Hans, and the socialist revolts, 99 _ff._, 135.

Bologna, University of, 64;
  a great Law School, 2;
  city of, 360.

Bonaventura on Indulgences, 221, 224.

Bonzio, Cardinal, 2.

Books in the German language due to the Reformation, 300.

Bosnia, 19.

Bourges, Concordat of, 11.

Brand, Sebastian, author of _Narrenschiff_, quoted, 17;
  on usury, 84;
  on the Niklashausen pilgrims, 102;
  on the diffusion of Scripture, 151 _n._; 52, 58, 118.

Brandenburg, the Elector of, Joachim I. (1499-1535), 341;
  Joachim II. (1535-1571),
  _Fat old Interim_, 377, 383, 395, 396;
  Margrave of, George, 326, 346, 362, 373;
  Margrave of Brandenburg-Culmbach, Albert Alcibiades, 383, 393;
  Albert of (brother of Joachim I.), Archbishop of Mainz, see _Mainz_;
  Albert of (brother of Margrave George), secularises his principality,
              becomes Duke of East Prussia and a Protestant, 326;
  province of, peasants die of starvation, 111;
  secular administration of the Church in fifteenth century, 140.

Brask, Johan, Bishop of Linkoeping, 423.

Braunfells, Otto, 306.

Bremen, an episcopal State, 81, 320, 373.

Brenz, John, 353, 391, 392.

Breslau, _the students’ paradise_, 53, 378.

_Brethren of the Common Lot_, the, 51 _ff._;
  their relation to the praying circles of the German Mystics, 154.

_Brethren, the_, mediæval evangelical nonconformists, 150, 152 _ff._;
  distributed devotional literature, 155.

_Brethren of St. Anthony_, 143.

_Brethren of St. James (Jacobs-Brüder)_, 134.

Brissmann, John, 305.

_Brotherhood, the Evangelical_, 329, 334.

_Brotherhoods_ in the fifteenth century, the Blessed Virgin, 135;
  of St. Anna, the Grandmother, 136;
  of the Eleven Thousand Virgins (_St. Ursula’s Schifflein_), 145;
  among the artisans, 146;
  the Holy Brotherhood (_Hermandad_) of Spain, 28.

Brück, Dr. Gregory, Chancellor of Electoral Saxony, 266 _n._, 276, 278,
            363, 366, 369.

Brunswick, the city of, churches in, 116.

Bucer, Martin, the Reformer of Strassburg, 284, 306, 310, 353, 374, 380,

Bugenhagen, John, 306.

Bulls, papal, _Execrabilis et pristinis_,  5;
  _Pastor Æternus_, 5;
  _Inter cetera divinæ_, 5;
  this Bull bestowed the continent of America upon Ferdinand and Isabella,
              5 _n._;
  _Unam Sanctam_, 1 _n._, 4;
  _Exurge Domine_, the first Bull against Luther, 247 _f._;
  _Decet Romanum_, the second Bull against Luther, 267 _n._

_Bundschuh League, the_, peasant risings under, 103 _ff._, 110;
  the banner, 103, 105;
  the watchword of revolt, 296.

Burchard, John, 16.

_Bürgerrecht, Das christliche_, 350.

Burgmaier, Hans, artist, 67.

Burgundy, the district of, 21;
  the Duke of, see _Charles the Bold_.

Burkhardt, George, of Spelt. See _Spalatinus_.

Burning the Pope’s Bull, 251.

Burning heretics, 248;
  heretical books, 259, 264, 299.

Busch, Hermann von, 52, 67.

Butzbach, Johann (a wandering student), 55.

Cadan, peace of, 377, 379.

Cajetan, Thomas de Vio, Cardinal, 232, 247, 252, 303.

Calabria, Greek spoken in, 46.

Calvin, John, and St. Anna, 136;
  and Dean Colet, 165;
  and the Augsburg Confession, 365;
  on the doctrine of Scripture, 462, 465, 467 _n._;
  _the impious mysteries of Calvin_, 398 _n._; 475, 476.

Campeggio, Lorenzo, papal nuncio, 184, 322, 361, 370.

Canon Law, based on the _Decretum_ of Gratian, 2.

Canterbury, Archbishop of, 12, 349.

Capitalist class, rise of a, 83.

Capito, Wolfgang, 309.

Cappel, battle of (Zwingli slain), 374.

Caraccioli, Marino, papal nuncio, 262, 297.

Carlstadt, Andrew Bodenstein of, 211 _n._, 237, 249, 308;
  and the Wittenberg “tumult,” 311 _ff._;
  dispenses the Lord’s Supper in evangelical fashion, 313;
  responsible for the "_Wittenberg Ordinance_," 314, 316, 320, 337;
  on the Lord’s Supper, 356, cf. 313;
  in Denmark, 419.

Castile, consolidation of, 27 _f._

Catalonia, 27.

Catechism of Dietrich Kolde, 126.

Catechism of the _Brethren_, 155.

Catechisms of the Reformation:
  Luther’s Small Catechism, 408, 472;
  adopted in Denmark, 421;
  Luther’s Large Catechism, 472;
  the Heidelberg, 477, 479.

_Catholic Church_, term not conceded to Romanists, 404.

Celibacy of the clergy, 312, 343.

Celtes, Conrad, Humanist, 67;
  on the diffusion of Scripture, 151.

Chancery, rules of the Roman (contain lists of prices of benefices), 10.

Charitable foundations placed under lay management, 143.

Charity in the Middle Ages, 141 _ff._

Charles V., Emperor, 37, 184, 334, 341;
  elected to the Empire, 40;
  crowned at Aachen, 262;
  held his first Diet at Worms, 262 _ff._;
  the real antagonist of Luther, 264;
  _a good child_, 263;
  his confession of faith, 264 _f._, 293 _f._;
  his conception of the Church, 265;
  differences between himself and the Diet about Luther, 267 _n._, 270
              _f._, 272, 276 _ff._;
  asks for Luther’s condemnation, 293;
  regrets that he did not burn Luther, 295;
  his views of the religious question in Germany, 360, 389;
  at the Diet of Augsburg (1530), 359 _ff._;
  resolves to crush the Reformation by force, 360;
  finds it difficult to do so, 370;
  his idea of a true reformation, 375;
  conquers the Duke of Cleves, 382;
  makes peace with France, 383;
  forces the Pope to convoke a Council, 383;
  defeats the German Protestants, 389 _f._;
  his religious compromise, the _Augsburg Interim_, 390;
  forced to flee from Germany, 393;
  abdicates, 395.

Charles VI. of France, 22.

Charles VII. of France, 22.

Charles VIII. of France, 26.

Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy 23, 37, 98 _f._, 109.

_Cheese-hunters_, 143 _f._, 302.

Chieregati, Francesco, Papal Nuncio, 321.

CHRIST, THE PERSON OF, Luther adopted the doctrinal definitions of the old
            Catholic Church, 468, 470, 472 _f._;
  did not like the terminology, 471;
  the two Natures in, 474;
  Luther put new meaning into the old definitions, 472, 474;
  with the Reformers, Christ fills the whole sphere of God, 460, 472
              _ff._, 478, 480;
  He is the _only_ Mediator, 476;
  He is the efficacy and the virtue in the sacraments, 478;
  His divinity to be reached from His work, 475;
  a part of the religious experience, 474 _f._, 478.

Christian II., King of Denmark, 418.

Christian III., King of Denmark, 420.

Christendom, small extent at the time of the Reformation, 18 _f._

Christianity, the sum of, 430;
  how to express it, 431.

Christopher of Utenheim, Bishop of Basel, 257.

Chrysoloras, Manuel, 47.

CHURCH OF CHRIST, _doctrine of the_, a double fellowship, 480;
  three conceptions of, in the mediæval Church, 481, 482;
  and priesthood with the sacraments, 482, cf. 438 _f._;
  Luther’s difficulties in conceiving a, 483;
  his final conception of, 484;
  both Visible and Invisible, 485;
  made Visible by the proclamation of the Word and the manifestation of
              Faith, 485 _ff._;
  ministry in the, 486.
    Mediæval, 1 _ff._, 31.
    _The Pope’s House_, 11, 194, 205, 235, 483.
    States of the, 32 _f._
  A national German, 36, 324.

Churches (buildings), innumerable in Germany, 115;
  full of treasures, 116.

  principles according to which they were organised, 400 _ff._;
  duties belonging to the Christian fellowship, 401;
  attempted organisations before the Peasants’ War, 401 _f._;
  Saxon Visitations, 405 _ff._;
  _Consistorial Courts_, 410, 412, 413, 415;
  ecclesiastical _circles_, 411;
  _Superintendents_, 404, 411;
  _Synods_, 413.

_Civitas Dei_ of Augustine, 2 _f._

Claims of the Mediæval Papacy, 1 _f._

Clergy and laity, 243, 443 _f._

Cleves, Duke of, 382.

Coburg, Luther at, 369.

Cochlæus, Johannes, R.C. theologian († 1552), 185, 368.

Colet, John, Dean of St. Paul’s, 22, 163 _ff._;
  travels in Italy, 164;
  lectures at Oxford on St. Paul’s Epistles, 164, 209;
  rejected the allegorical interpretation of Scripture, 165;
  sermon before Convocation, 165 _f._;
  his idea of a true reformation, 166;
  dislike to the Scholastic Theology, 167;
  studies Dionysius the Areopagite, 169;
  his views on the priesthood and the sacraments, 170 _f._

Collin, Rudolph (at the Marburg Colloquy), 353.

Cologne, the city of, its churches and ecclesiastical buildings, 116;
  Luther’s books burnt at, 259.

Columbus, Christopher, 85.

_Concord, the Wittenberg_, 377.

Concordats, 11, 24.

Concubinage of priests, 246.

Confession, auricular, 218, 220.

_Confessions_ of the Reformation, Confessio Augustana (1530) or Augsburg
            Confession, 364 _f._, 435, 467 _n._, 468, 476;
  adopted in Denmark, 420;
  Confession Tetrapolitana (1530), 368;
  Zurich Articles (1523), 468 _n._;
  Scots Confession (1560), 465, 468 _n._, 477, 478, 480;
  First Helvetic Confession (1536), 467 _n._, 479;
  Geneva Confession (1536), 468 _n._;
  Second Helvetic Confession (1562), 468 _n._, 477, 479;
  French Confession (1539), 468, 479;
  Belgic Confession (1561), 468 _n._;
  Netherlands Confession (1566), 477;
  the Instruction of Bern (1532), 478;
  the Thirty-nine Articles (1563, 1571), 468 _n._, 479;
  Formula Concordiæ, 425.

_Confraternities_. See _Brotherhoods_.

_Consistorial Courts_, mediæval, 412.

_Consistories_ in the Lutheran Church,
  their beginnings, 410;
  of Wittenberg, 412-415.

Consolidation, the political idea of the Renaissance, 19, 43.

Constance, the city, 309, 346, 368;
  Council of. See _Council_.

Constantinople, 19.

_Constitutiones Johanninæ_, 9.

Continuity of the religious life during the Reformation period, 122.

_Contritio_, 201, 222 _f._

Copernicus, 42.

Cordus, Curicius, Humanist, 255.

_Corpus Christi Processions_, 119, 362.

Cotta, Frau, 195, 427.

COUNCIL, A GENERAL, the seat of authority in the Church, 265;
  demanded, 342;
  Charles V. resolves upon a, 372, 383;
  of Basel, 6, 23, 140, 254, 259;
  of Constance, 140, 226, 254, 259, 268, 290;
  of Trent, 148, 225, 383, 455.

Council, a German, 321, 323 _f._, 379.

Cradle hymn, a, 121.

Cranach, Lucas, 63, 308, 369.

Cromwell, Thomas, 374.

Crotus Rubeanus (Johann Jaeger of Dornheim), a Humanist, 66, 75, 255.

_Cujus regio ejus religio_, 397.

_Cup, the_, for the laity, 343, 437.

Curia, the Roman, the universal court of ecclesiastical appeal, 14 _f._;
  sale of offices in, 15;
  counted on the devotion of the Germans, 115; 245, 255, 265 _f._, 321,
              332 _n._

Cusanus, Cardinal Nicholas, 57 _f._

Cuspinian of Vienna, Luther writes to him from Worms, 283.

Dalmatia, 19.

Dante and the Renaissance, 47.

Dantzig, churches in, 116.

_Decretals_, forged, 2; Luther studies the, 235.

_Decretum_ of Gratian, 2, 44.

Denmark, Reformation in, 388, 418, 420.

Deusdedit, a canonist, 2.

_Deutsche Theologie_, 155.

Deventer, the school at, 51, 64.

Devotional literature circulated by the _Brethren_, 155.

DIET, the feudal Council of the German Empire, of Worms (1521), 262 _ff._,
            267, 278, 284 _ff._, 296 _f._, 304, 341;
  of Nürnberg (1522-23), 321, 403;
  of Speyer (1524), 324, 403;
  of Augsburg (1525), 341;
  of Speyer (1526), 341, 398, 403, 404, 415;
  of Speyer (1529), 345, 396;
  of Augsburg (1530), 360, 363 _ff._;
  of Nürnberg (1532), 374 _f._;
  of Augsburg (1555), 395 _ff._

Dionysius the Areopagite, 169.

_Dispensations_, fees for, 13, 382 _n._

Disputations, university, 311 _f._

Dominican Order, 70, 137, 306, 321.

Dominicans demand the destruction of Hebrew literature, 70 _f._

_Donation of Constantine_, 49.

_Dormi secure_, 117.

Dringenberg, Ludwig, 52.

Drinking habits of the Germans, 87 _f._

Dunkeld, disputed succession in the See of, 10.

Dürer, Albert, 31, 62, 63, 88, 90;
  appeals to Erasmus, 188;
  on Luther’s piety, 191;
  his admiration for Luther, 256;
  grief at report of Luther’s death, 296.

Eberlin of Gunzberg, John, controversial writer, 304 _f._, 310.

Ebernberg, the, castle of Francis V., Sickingen, 262, 273.

_Eccius dedolatus_, 249 _n._

Eck, John, Official of the Archbishop of Trier, 278, 280, 281, 283, 285,

Eck, John Mayr of, professor at Ingolstadt, 235 _f._, 247, 303, 368.

Economic changes at the close of the Middle Ages, 43, 80 _f._, 108 _f._

Egypt, 18.

Ehrenberg, the Pass of, 393.

Eisenach, 193, 198.

Eisleben, 193, 385.

Electors, the German, 35, 270;
  accustomed to exercise the _jus episcopale_, 140.

Elizabeth, Queen of England, 6 _n._, 398 _n._

Elizabeth, St., 195, 198.

Elsass and the Peasants’ War, 334, 338.

Emmerich, school at, 52.

Emser, Jerome, 185, 337.

Emperor, the Vicar of God, 31.

Empire, German, elective, 35;
  attempts to frame a Common Council (_Reichsregiment_), 36 _f._;
  extent of the, 36.

England, consolidation of, under the Tudors, 7, 20.

Eoban of Hesse (Helius Eobanus Hessus), 66, 255.

Episcopate weakened by the Papacy, 14.

_Epistolæ obscurorum virorum_, 67, 72 _f._, 74.

_Erasmici_, 255.

Erasmus, 52, 67, 71, 74, 156, 164, 171, 266 _n._, 273, 288, 299;
  a typical Christian Humanist, 172; visit to England, 172, 177;
  his conception of a reformation, 172 _ff._;
  his _Christian Philosophy_, 173;
  desire for the Scriptures in the vernacular, 174;
  _Sancte Socrates, ora pro nobis_, 175, 253;
  dislike to Augustinian theology, 167, 185;
  writings in aid of the Reformation, 179;
  on saint worship, 180;
  on the monastic life, 180 _f._,
  estimate of Luther, 185, 253, 301.

Erfurt, University of, 56, 64;
  its foundation, 195;
  theology, 196.

_Erfurt Tumult, the_, 305.

Eric, King of Denmark, 417.

_Evangelical Brotherhood_, 329, 334.

Evangelical life at the close of the Middle Ages, 124.

Excommunication of princes and its consequences, 6 and _n._, 398 _n._

Exile at Avignon, papal, 5.

Fagius, Paul, 391.

FAITH, the religious faculty which throws itself upon God, 429, 436, 438,
  an active and living thing, 431;
  rests on the historic Christ, 446;
  good works are the sign of, 431;
  is the gift of God, 429, 430;
  depends on promise, 441, 460;
  enables us to see the meaning of the historic work of Christ, 446;
  what it lays hold of in repentance, 452;
  is personal trust in a personal Saviour, 203, 459;
  the conceptions of Faith and of Scripture always correspond, 461;
  is needed to apprehend infallibility, 464, 465, 466;
  creates a natural unity in Scripture, 455, 459;
  two kinds of, 429, 445;
  mediæval conception of, _a frigida opinio_, 429;
  is intellectual, 430, 461;
  and reason in the Scholastic Theology, 469.
  See _Justification_.

Family religion at the close of the Middle Ages, 121 _ff._

Famine years in Germany, 110 _ff._

_Fastnachtspiele_, 54, 90.

Ferdinand of Aragon, 5, 6, 27, 29, 30.

Ferdinand of Austria, 278, 319, 322, 342, 360, 394.

Festivals, Church, 119 _ff._, 141, 246.

Feudalism in England, 20.

Five Nations, the, 19 _ff._

Five powers of Italy, 31 _f._

Florence, 32 _f._

Florentius Radewynsohn, 51.

Folk-songs of Germany, 67, 90, 94, 99, 109.

_Fondaco dei Tedeschi_ at Venice, 83.

Forest laws, severity of, 108.

Forgeries, papal, 2, 235.

France, 7, 18, 19, 20, 22 _ff._, 31;
  not a compact nation, 25;
  trade in, 25.

Francis of Assisi, 125, 142, 158, 203, 433, 435.

Francis I. of France, 25, 184, 265, 342, 345.

Frank, Sebastian, his chronicle, 107.

Frankfurt-on-the-Main, 40, 87.

Frederick, Elector of Saxony. See _Saxony_.

Frederick III., Emperor, 37.

Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein, King of Denmark, 419.

Free Nobles of Germany, 83.

Frundsberg, General, 279.

_Friends of God (Gottesfreunde)_, 51, 154.

_Frigida opinio_, 429.

Fritz, Joss, founder of the Bundschuh League, 104, 135.

Froben, the Basel printer; printed Luther’s works, 256;
  printed the copies of Luther’s works produced at the Diet of Worms, 281

Froscher, M. Sebastian, at the Leipzig Disputation, 237, 238.

Fugger, the, family, 84, 361;
  in possession of mines, 85.

Fulda, monastery of, 46, 75.

Gaismeyer, Michael, leader in the Peasants’ War, 330.

Galileo, 42.

Gascoigne, George, 11.

Geiler of Keysersberg, 53, 59, 118, 134, 310.

Geographical discoveries, 43, 84 _f._

George of Trebizond, 47 _f._

George, Duke of Saxony. See _Saxony_.

Germany, political condition at the close of the Middle Ages, 30;
  divided condition and desire for unity, 35;
  attempts at unity, 36 _ff._;
  connections with Italy, 50;
  devotion to the Roman See, 115 _ff._;
  multitude of ecclesiastical buildings in, 115 _f._;
  grievances against Rome, 233, 243, 245, 270, 288, 21, 342;
  divided into two separate camps, 338;
  a national Church for, 324, 335; 321, 323 _f._, 379.

Gerson, Jean, Luther’s debt to, 209 and _n._, 254.

_Gilds_ in mediæval towns, 43, 81.

Ginocchino di Fiore, 47, 158.

Glapion, Jean, confessor to Charles V., 266 _n._, 273, 285.

_Glossa ordinaria_, 202.

_Golden Rose, the_, 234, 260.

Goslar, 374.

_Gospel, the Little_, 135.

Gotha, 353.

_Gottesfreunde_, 51, 154.

Göttingen, 374.

Græcia Magna, 46.

Gran in Hungary, 9.

Granada, 27, 29.

Gratian’s _Decretum_, 2, 44.

Gratius, Ortuin, 67.

_Graubund, the_, 95.

Greece, 19.

Greek, the knowledge of Greek in the Middle Ages, 46;
  spoken in Sicily and Calabria, 46;
  printing press in Paris, 26.

Greeks, learned, in Italy, 47.

Gregory. See _Popes_.

Gregory of Pavia, a canonist, 2.

Grimma, town in Electoral Saxony, 201, 205, 316, 318.

Grocyn, 22, 164.

Groot, Gerard, 51.

Grunbach, Argula, a learned Lutheran lady, 307.

Gruniger, a Strassburg publisher, 300.

_Gude and godlie Ballates, the_, 123 _n_.

Guelderland, 382.

Gustaf Ericsson, King of Sweden, 421;
  adopts the Reformation, 422 _f._

_Haingerichte_, 331 _ff._

Hall, a town in Swabia, 353, 391.

Hamburg, 374.

_Hanseatic League_, 82 _f._

Hapsburg, House of, 35, 37, 345, 350, 359, 370, 376, 398.

Hebrew, the study of, 68.

Hebrew books to be destroyed, 69 _f._

Hedio, Caspar, 353.

Hegenau, Conference at, 379.

Hegius, Alexander, 52, 64.

Heilbronn, 347.

Held, Chancellor, 379.

Helding, Michael, 390.

Henrique, Don, of Portugal, 84.

Henry IV. of Castile, 28.

Henry VII., King of England, 20 _f._

Henry VIII., King of England, 21 _f._, 26, 184, 324, 378, 388;
  on Luther’s condemnation, 298;
  orders Luther’s books to be burnt, 299.

Henry, Duke of Saxony. See _Saxony_.

_Hermandad, the_, in Spain, 28 _f._

_Herredag_, 419.

Herzegovina, 19.

Hesse, the district, 347, 386, 415.

_Hierarchies, celestial and terrestrial_, 169.

_Hoc est Corpus Meum_, 358.

Hochstratten, Jacob, 70 _f._

Hohenstaufen Emperors, the, 1.

Holbein, Hans, artist, portrait of Erasmus, 177; 57, 62.

Holy days, ecclesiastical, 141, 246, 343.

Holy Roman Empire, 31 f.

Homberg, Synod at, 415.

_Homoousius_, word not liked by Luther, 471.

Honius, Christopher, theory of the Lord’s Supper, 355.

Humanists, the Christian, 158 _ff._;
  weakness of their position, 186 _ff._, 299;
  their ideas of a reformation, 190.

Humanists in France, 26.

Humanists, German, 39, 57;
  called Poets or Orators, 64;
  hatred of Aristotle, 57;
  band together to defend Reuchlin, 68, 71 _f._;
  societies of, in German cities, 60 _f._;
  write in praise of St. Anna, 136;
  in the German universities, 63 _f._, 196;
  religious eclecticism among, 65;
  with Luther after the Leipzig Disputation, 239, 254 _f._;
  disliked Augustinian theology, 325;
  how far responsible for the Peasants’ War, 328.

Humanists, Italian, 22, 115;
  relations with Savonarola, 160.

Hundred Years’ War, 22.

Hussite propaganda, 98, 196, 238, 309, 325.

Hutten, Ulrich V., 59, 67, 267 _n._, 269, 273, 284;
  youth and education, 75 _f._;
  passion for German unity, 76;
  admiration for Luther, 77;
  at the Ebernberg, 262.

Hymns, evangelical, in the Mediæval Church, 121 _f._, 125;
  Reformation collections of, 387, 402;
  in praise of the Blessed Virgin, 135;
  of St. Anna, 135;
  of St. Ursula, 145;
  pilgrimage, 128, 132.

Images in churches, 312.

_Immaculate Conception, the_, 135, 138.

Imperialism, intellectual, 168.

_Index expurgatorius_, 185.

_In dulci jubilo_, 122 _f._

Indulgence, an, for the Niklashausen chapel, 100;
  for the church of All Saints at Wittenberg, 130;
  for a bridge at Torgau, 259.

Indulgence money went to found Wittenberg University, 206;
  had the effect of an endowment, 224; 245, 259.

Indulgence-sellers, 213, 226.

_Indulgences_, helped to create a capitalist class, 83;
  fostered pilgrimages, 128;
  the theory and practice of, 216 _ff._;
  earlier abuses of, 219, 223;
  did they give a remission of _guilt_, 225; 248, 306.

Industry and trade in France, 25;
  in England, 21;
  in Germany, 81 _ff._

Innsbruck, 393.

Inquisition in Spain, 29 _f._, 266, 267 _n._

_Instruction_, the, of Frederick of Saxony, 316.

_Instruction_ of the Synod at Bern, 478.

_Instruction_ drafted by the Saxon Visitors, 410.

Insurrections, in England, 20, 21;
  in France, 23;
  in Spain, 28, 30.

_Interdict_, 439 _f._

Interest on money, 84.

_Interim, the Augsburg_, 390 _ff._,
  the _Leipzig_, 391 _n._

_Interim, Fat Old,_ 396.

Isabella of Castile, 5, 27 _ff._

Isidorian (pseudo-) Decretals, 2.

Isny, 347.

Italy, political condition of, 32 _f._, 30.

_Jacobs-Brüder_, 134.

Jaeger of Dornheim, Johann (Crotus Rubeanus), 66, 75, 255.

_Jak Upland_, 302.

James IV. of Scotland, 21.

Jesus the Judge, not the Mediator, 134. See _Christ_.

Jews, in Spain, 29;
  persecuted, 69;
  their literature to be destroyed, 70 _f._

John, Elector of Saxony. See _Saxony_.

John Frederick, Elector of Saxony. See _Saxony_.

Jonas, Justus (Jodocus Koch of Nordlingen), 255, 273 _f._, 275, 312, 385,

Joss Fritz, leader in the Bundschuh League, 104, 135.

_Junker Georg_, 297, 317.

Jurisprudence of the Renaissance, 44.

Jurists, French, of the Renaissance, 26.

_Jus episcopale_, exercised by secular rulers in the fifteenth century,
            140 _f._, 147, 412;
  lies in the Christian magistracy, 401, 412, 413.

JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH, a divine act and therefore continuous, 447;
  corresponds to the absolution by the priest, 448;
  word used with different meanings, 448;
  mediæval theory of, depends on initial grace, 450;
  is seen in the action of the sacraments, and especially in penance, 450;
  Reformation doctrine of, 447, 451;
  Chemnitz on the, 451;
  reformation and mediæval theories contrasted, 452.

Justinian, Code of, 44; 390.

Jüterbogk, 214.

_Kalands_, the, 146.

Kampen, Stephen, 305.

Karben, Victor V., 70.

_Karsthans_, 302.

Katharine of Aragon, 21.

Kempton, Abbey lands of, 102, 103.

Kessler, Johann, of St. Gallen, 317.

_Knight of Christ_ (Erasmus), 301.

Knox, John, 349.

Koburgers, the, printers in Augsburg, 151, 155.

Lachmann, Johann, 310.

Lacordaire on Protestant idea of Scripture, 457.

Laity and clergy, 243, 443.

Lambert, Francis, 337 _n._, 415.

Landsknechts, 40, 77, 106, 109, 110 _n._

Latin, in the Middle Ages, 46, 51;
  hymns sung in school, 51, 53;
  Luther’s studies in, 197.

_Latin War, the_, 56.

League of the Public Weal (France), 23.

League, the Schmalkald, 373 _ff._, 376, 380.

League, the Swabian, 323, 330, 334, 377.

Leagues of Protestants in Germany, 325, 347, 350, 373.

Leagues of Romanists in Germany, 324, 325, 341.

Learning, the New, 22, 76, 159, 165;
  in France, 26;
  in Germany, 50, 57, 67, 68;
  how used by Erasmus, 179.

_Leipzig, The Disputation at_, 61, 77, 236 _ff._, 252, 275, 325, 385;
  beginning of historical criticism of institutions, 239;
  made the German Humanists support Luther, 239.

_Leisnig Ordinance_, 401.

Leitzkau, Luther at, 166, 213.

Leo Alberti, architect, 49.

Leon, 27.

_Liberty of a Christian Man_, 192, 240 _f._

Libraries, the Vatican, 49;
  of San Marco, Florence, 49;
  of Cardinal Cusanus, 58;
  of a parish priest, 409.

Lindau, 346, 368.

Link, Wenceslas, of Nürnberg, 256.

Literature. See _Popular Literature_.

_Localis_, 202.

Lollards, 97, 171, 302.

Loriti, Heinrich (Glareanus), 67.

Louis XI. of France, 23, 25.

Louvain, 185.

Lund, Archbishop of, 379.

Luneberg, Dukes of, 341, 346, 362, 363, 373, 386.

Luther, Hans, 193.

Luther, Magdalena, 369.

Luther, Margarethe, 193.

Luther, Martin, on _wandering students_, 54;
  on John Wessel, 58;
  the society to which he spoke, 113;
  criticism of prevalent preaching, 118;
  fondness for St. Anna, 136;
  on _Brotherhoods_, 146;
  on begging, 143;
  debt to the Mystics, 155;
  religious atmosphere in which he was reared, 157;
  and Savonarola, 163;
  and Dean Colet, 165, 170;
  and Erasmus, 167, 175 _f._, 179;
  why he succeeded as a Reformer, 189 _ff._;
  an embodiment of personal piety, 191;
  his slow advance, 192;
  embodied the Reformation, 193;
  youth and education, 193 _ff._;
  a _Poor Scholar_, 195;
  at Erfurt University, 195 _ff._;
  influenced by pictures, 198;
  in the convent, 199 _ff._, 426 _f._;
  his teachers in theology, 199 _f._, 223;
  conversion, 203;
  at Wittenberg, 205 _f._;
  sent to Rome, 207;
  early lectures on theology, 208;
  teaches Aristotle’s Dialectic, 206;
  becomes a great preacher, 207, 212;
  issues his _Theses_, 215 _ff._;
  his _Resolutiones_, 230 _f._;
  summoned to Rome, 232;
  appears before Cardinal Cajetan, 232;
  interview with Miltitz, 235;
  at the Leipzig Disputation, 236 _ff._;
  burns the Pope’s Bull, 250 _ff._;
  the representative of Germany, 252 _ff._;
  writings translated into Spanish, 269, 388;
  writings in Great Britain, 388;
  writings burnt in the Netherlands, 271,
    and at Cologne, 259;
  at Oppenheim, 274;
  at Worms, 275 _ff._;
  first appearance before the Diet of Worms, 278;
  description of his person, 279 _f._;
  second appearance before the Diet, 284 _ff._;
  rumours that he would recant, 286;
  attitude in speaking, 288;
  last words at the Diet, 291 _n._;
  last scene in the Diet, 291 _f._;
  conferences after the Diet, 294;
  report that he had been murdered, 295;
  Ban against, 297 _f._;
  in the Wartburg, 297;
  the hero of the popular literature, 301;
  his teaching spreads, 305 _ff._, 322;
  back in Wittenberg, 316 _ff._;
  hopes of a National Church of Germany, 326;
  how far responsible for the Peasants’ War, 327 _f._;
  how the war affected him, 337, 338;
  and Zwingli, 347 _ff._;
  at Marburg, 352 _ff._;
  his doctrine of the Sacrament of the Supper, 357;
  his letters from Coburg, 369;
  declared that the Turks must be driven back, 374;
  his idea of a reformation, 275;
  and the bigamy of Philip of Hesse, 380;
  his death, 384 _ff._;
  ideas of ecclesiastical organisation, 400 _ff._;
  suggested did not prescribe, 402;
  proposed the visitations, 405 _ff._;
  preface to the Small Catechism, 408;
  influence in Denmark, 419;
  in Sweden, 422, 424;
  his Reformation based not on doctrine, but on religious experience, 426
  on the two kinds of faith, 429, 430 f., 445;
  at Ziesar, 435;
  on the priesthood of believers, 440;
  on clergy and laity, 240, 441;
  on _Simple Stories_ in the Bible, 460;
  and the _Epistle of James_, 462 _n._;
  on theological terminology, 471;
  his doctrine of the Church, 484.

Lyra, Nicholas de, 117, 196, 209, 456 _n._

Machiavelli on the condition of Italy, 31.

Magdeburg, school at, 53; _Ordinance_, 401;
  beginning of the Reformation in, 307; 194, 198, 384.

Magistry, the Christian, possess the _jus episcopale_, 147, 401.

_Maid who lost her shoe, There was a_, 313.

Mainz, Albert, Archbishop of, 187, 213, 229, 270, 293, 295, 296, 334, 341,

Mansfeld, Counts of, 193, 295, 341, 373, 385, 386.

Mansfeld, district of, 193, 198.

Manuel, Juan, Spanish ambassador at Rome, 265, 272.

_Marburg Articles_, 353.

_Marburg Colloquy_, 352 _ff._

Margaret Tudor, 21.

Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, 21.

_Mariolatry_, 135.

Marlianus, Bishop of Puy, 185.

_Marrani_, 269.

Marriage of ecclesiastics, 343.

Marsiglio Ficino, 48, 158;
  a disciple of Savonarola, 160.

_Martiniani_, 255.

Mary of Burgundy, 37.

_Mass, the_, propitiatory sacrifice in the, 312, 354.

_Mastersingers_, the, and the Reformation, 310.

Matthias Corvinus, 6, 9.

Maurice of Saxony, 382, 384 and _n._, 389, 393, 394.

Maximilian, Emperor, 31, 37, 39, 206, 232;
  the Humanist Emperor, 39, 67, 184;
  death, 40, 261;
  in folk-song, 67;
  and the Swiss, 111;
  and the Landsknechts, 40, 110 _n._

Mediæval Church, struggle with the Empire, 1 _ff._

Mediæval Empire, 30 _f._

Mediæval learning, 55,

Medici, the, rulers in Florence, 32;
  Lorenzo de, 49;
  relations with Savonarola, 162.

_Medii fructus_, 12 f.

Melanchthon, 156, 273, 308, 313 _ff._, 316, 350, 353, 364, 380, 402.

Memmingen, 333 _f._, 337, 346, 351, 368.

Marsilius of Padua, 306 _n._, 333.

Meissen, 208, 234.

Michelangelo, 50.

Middle class in England, 20.

Milan, 32 _f._

Miltitz, Charles V., 234.

Minkwitz, Hans von, 277.

_Mirabilia Romæ_, 131.

Miracle Plays, 119.

Modrus in Hungary, 9.

Moldavia, 19.

Monasteries under secular control in Switzerland, 349.

Monastic life, Erasmus on the, 180 _f._;
  Luther on the, 211;
  Eberlin on the, 304.

Money exactions by the Papacy, 11, 244 _f._, 268, 304.

Monks join the Lutheran movement, 305 _f._

Monte Cassino, the Abbey of, 46.

Morals, clerical, at the close of the Middle Ages, 137 _f._, 190, 246.

More, Sir Thomas, 178, 186, 328.

Mosellanus, Peter, at the Leipzig Disputation, 237 _f._

Moslems, 18 _f._, 26.

Mühlberg, battle of, 389.

Mühlhausen, battle of, 330, 334.

Municipal interference in ecclesiastical affairs, 141, 414.

Munster, Sebastian, chronicler, 170.

Munster, town on the Ems, 52.

Münzer, Thomas, people’s priest at Zwickau, 314, 330, 334, 336.

Murad I., 19.

Murmellius, Johann, 52.

Murner, Thomas, 185, 303.

Musculus, Wolfgang, 391.

_Mutianic Host_, 68.

Mutianus (Mut, Mutti, Mudt, Mutta), Conrad, 52, 64, 185, 255.

Myconius (Mecum), Frederick, on family religion, 124, 127, 156;
  on the Indulgence-seller, 213;
  on the _Theses_, 230;
  at Worms, 289 _n._; 305, 309, 353.

Mystics, prayer circles among the, 153;
  Luther’s debt to the, 209 _n._; 256.

Naples, 32 _f._

_Narrenschiff_, 17, 102.

Nathin, John, Luther’s teacher, 199 _f._, 457.

National Church for Germany, 36, 338, 389.

National literature, 44.

Naumberg, conference of German Protestants at (1555), 396.

Navarre, seized by Ferdinand of Aragon in consequence of a papal
            excommunication, 6 and _n._, 29.

Neopaganism, 48.

Nepotism, papal and kingly, 9.

_Neukarsthans_, 306 n.

_New and Old God, the_, 303.

_Nicene Creed_, 365, 468.

Niklashausen, a pilgrimage chapel, 100.

Nobility, position of, in England, 20;
  in France, 25;
  in Spain, 29.

_Nobility of the German Nation, Address to the_, 14, 242.

Nordlingen, 347.

Normandy, 26.

Nürnberg, 88, 234, 320, 346, 347, 353, 363, 373, 391;
  Humanists in, 60, 256;
  the _Brethren_ in, 152;
  population of, 87;
  retained its patrician constitution, 81.

Nützel, Caspar, 256.

Occam, William of, 55, 196, 199, 254.

Odense, Danish National Assembly at, 419.

Œcolampadius (Johann Hussgen), 306, 310, 353.

Œlhafen, Sixtus, deputy from Nürnberg to Worms, 284, 292.

Oppenheim, Charles V. at, 271;
  Luther at, 274.

Orchan seizes Gallipoli, 19.

Ordinances for regulating public worship, 404, 414;
  Wittenberg Ordinance, 315 _f._, 401;
  Leisnig, 401;
  Magdeburg, 401.

_Ordinary_, the Pope’s right to act as, 24.

Osiander, Andrew, 310, 353, 391.

Ottoman Turks, 19.

Pack, Otto von, 344.

Palz, John of, a defender of Indulgences, 138, 223.

Pantaleone, H., on the state of the peasants, 107.

Papacy, its claim to universal supremacy, 1;
  an Italian power, 7;
  superior to common morality, 7.

_Papal Tickets_, 227, 231.

Paper, effects of the invention of, 45.

Pappenheim, Ulrich von, 277.

Paris, University of, 12;
  Luther’s writings in, 388.

Passau, conference of German princes at, 393.

Passion Plays, 119.

_Passional Christi et Anti-Christi_, 308.

Pastoral theology, manual of, 117.

Pastors, Lutheran, hung, 341.

_Pater Patriæ_, title given to Luther, 255.

_Patricians_ in towns, 80.

Patrizzi, master of ceremonies in Rome, 16.

_Pearl of the Passion, the_, 135.

Peasantry, the, in England, 21;
  in France, 25; in Germany, 89 _ff._;
  their condition of life, 90 _ff._;
  their diversions, 93;
  revolts by the, 95 _ff._;
  causes of their revolts, 106 _ff._;
  Swiss, free themselves, 44; 103, 105, 106, 109, 111.

Peasants’ War, 296, 325, 326 _ff._, 342, 386;
  how far was Luther responsible for the, 327, 335 _ff._;
  how far Humanist Utopias, 328;
  began at Stühlingen, 329.

Pellicanus, Theobold, 310.

Peloponnese, 19.

Penance, sacrament of, 201, 219, 220.

Penances, 218.

_Penitentiaries_, 218 _f._

Petrarch and the Renaissance, 46 _f._

Petri, Olaus and Laurentius, the Reformers of Sweden, 421 _ff._

Petzensteiner, Brother, 275.

Peutinger, Dr., Deputy from Augsburg to Worms, 279, 284, 289, 291 _n._

Pfefferkorn, John, 69 _f._

Pflug, Julius von, 390.

Philip, Landgrave of Hesse, his peasants did not revolt, 331;
  helps John of Saxony, 334;
  proposed a democratic constitution for the Church of Hesse, 337 _n._,
              415 _f._;
  a leader among the Protestant princes, 325, 341;
  deceived by Pack, 344;
  signed the _Protests_, 346, 371;
  arranges for the _Marburg Colloquy_, 352;
  admires Zwingli, 350;
  further attempts to unite the Protestants, 359;
  signs the _Augsburg_ Confession, 363, 368;
  supposed to be ready for war, 369;
  at Schmalkalden, 373;
  aids Duke of Würtemburg, 376;
  his bigamy, 380 _ff._;
  tempted by Charles V., 383;
  surrenders and is imprisoned, 389;
  liberated, 394;
  at Naumberg, 396.

Pico della Mirandolo, 48, 64;
  a disciple of Savonarola, 160;
  proposed to become a Dominican, 161;
  buried in San Marco, Florence, 162.

Pictures, the, which influenced Luther, 198.

Pictures in churches, 312.

Pilgrim guide-books, 131 _ff._, 226.

Pilgrim songs, 128 _n._, 132 f. and _n._, 194.

Pilgrimage places, 194;
  Niklashausen, 100 _ff._;
  near Mansfeld, 127;
  St. Michael’s Mount, 128;
  Wilsnack, 129;
  the Holy Land, 130;
  Rome, 131 _f._;
  Compostella, 131 _ff._

Pilgrimages, epidemic of, 100, 128;
  of children, 128, 129.

Pirkheimer, Willibald, 60 _ff._, 249 and _n._, 309.

Platonic Academies, 48.

Platonism, Christian, 48, 64.

Platter, Thomas, a wandering student, 55.

_Plenaria_, 149.

Plethon, Gemistos, 48.

Podiebrod, George, 6.

_Pœnæ eternæ et temporales,_ 221 _f._, 225.

Poggio Bracciolini, 49.

Poliziano, Angelo, a disciple of Savonarola, 162.

Pollich, Dr., 205, 207.

  Nicholas I. (858-867), 2;
  Gregory VII. (1073-1085), 2;
  Innocent IV. (1243-1254), 4;
  Urban II. (1088-1099), 224;
  Boniface VIII. (1294-1303), 4;
  Clement V. (1305-1314), 12;
  John XXII. (1316-1334), 9, 10, 11, 12, 13;
  Nicholas V (1447-1455), 49;
  Boniface IX. (1389-1404), 16;
  Eugenius IV. (1431-1447), 23;
  Pius II. (1458-1464), 5, 6;
  Paul II. (1464-1471), 6;
  Sixtus IV. (1471-1484), 7, 29;
  Innocent VIII. (1484-1492), 34;
  Alexander VI. (1492-1503), 5, 12, 16, 34;
  Julius II. (1503-1513), 6, 34, 49;
  Leo X. (1513-1521), 5, 16, 22, 25, 34, 187, 229, 231, 240;
  Adrian VI. (1522-1523), 16, 320, 322;
  Clement VII. (1523-1534), 322, 380;
  Paul III. (1534-1549), 378;
  Paul IV. (1555-1559), 185.

_Pope’s House_, the Church is, 11, 194, 205, 235, 483.

Popular literature, on the Lutheran controversy, 300 _ff._;
  on the Augsburg _Interim_, 392.

Portugal, 29.

_Postilla_, the, of Nicholas de Lyra, 117.

_Postills_, Luther’s, 409.

_Præmunire_, statutes of, 11.

_Pragmatic Sanction_ of Bourges, 24.

Preachers and towns, 310.

Preaching in the later Middle Ages, 117 _ff._

Prices, rise in, at close of Middle Ages, 112.

Prierias, Silvester Mazzolini of Prierio, 230, 247, 303.

Priesthood, conception of, in the mediæval Church, 3, 438;
  made clear by an _interdict_, 439;
  Colet refused to accept it, 170;
  Luther emancipated men from, 193, 444;
  the, of all believers, 240, 244, 380, 435 _ff._

Priests disliked, 96.

Princes, the, of Germany represented settled government, 36.

Printing made art and literature democratic, 45;
  in Germany used from the beginning to spread devotional literature, 126.

Processions, ecclesiastical, 119, 362.

_Procurationes_, 13.

Proles, Andreas, 140, 163.

_Protest, the_, at Speyer, 346;
  the second, 371.

Prussia, East, 326, 386.

_Rechtern, non fechten sondern_, 372 _n._

_Red Cross, the_, 214.

Regensburg (Ratisbon), conference at, 363, 379 f.

_Reichskammersgericht_, 372, 375, 377, 379.

_Reichsregiment, the_, 36, 38, 317, 320, 322, 323, 324, 338.

_Relaxatio de injuncta pœnitentia_, 219.

Religious background of the claim for papal universal supremacy, 2.

Religious life at the close of the Middle Ages, 131;
  a non-ecclesiastical religion, 139 _ff._

Religious pioneers have one method, 432.

Religious War, the, in Germany, 389 _f._

Renaissance, the, period of transition from the mediæval to the modern
            world, 42;
  beginning of science, 42 _f._;
  geographical exploration, 43;
  a revolution in art, 44;
  religion of the, 45;
  revival of letters, 46 _ff._

René of Provence, 23.

_Reservations_, papal, 9, 24.

_Resolutiones_ of Luther, 230 f.

Reuchlin, 67 _ff._

Reutlingen, 347, 363, 391.

Revival of religion in the fifteenth century, 127 _ff._

Revolts. See _Social revolts_.

Rhegius, Urban, 306, 310.

Rhodes, 19.

Robber-knights, 83.

Rohrbach, Jäklein, a leader in the Peasants’ War, 330.

_Roll-Brüder_, 53.

Roman Empire, Holy, 31 _f._

Roman Law and the peasants of Germany, 107.

Roman lawyers and their influence on theology, 168.

Romans, King of the, 31, 39, 360, 394.

Rome, ancient, the Papacy claims to succeed, 1 _f._

Rome, Luther in, 207; sack of, 266, 343.

Rostock, 374.

Roumania, 19.

Sachs, Hans, 93, 307 _n._, 310.

Sacrament of the Supper, 353 _ff._, 377;
  Zwingli on the, 355, 357;
  Wessel on the, 355;
  Honius on the, 355;
  Luther on the, 358, _f._;
  Carlstadt on the, 356.

Sacramental efficacy, 232, 248, 478, _f._

Sacraments, Colet on the, 171.

Sacraments, the number of the, 242.

Safe-conducts for Luther, 267 _n._, 273 and _n._, 276.

St. Gallen, 347.

Salerno, University of, 46.

Salzburg, Peasants’ War in, 330.

Samlund, the Bishop of, a Lutheran, 306.

San Marino, 349.

Saracens, 18.

_Satisfactions_, 216 _f._, 447.

Savonarola, 22;
  youth and education, 158;
  sympathy with the New Learning, 159;
  disciples among the Italian Humanists, 161 _f._;
  a mediæval thinker, 163.

_Saxon Visitations_, 405 _f._

Saxony. Ernestine (_Electoral_ till 1547, then Ducal), secular
            superintendence of the Church in the fifteenth century, 140,
            259; 206, 214, 250, 316, 318, 347, 386, 407.

Saxony, Elector of, _Frederick_, makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, 130,
  collects relics, 214, 258;
  obtains an Indulgence for his church, 130, 214;
  for a bridge, 259;
  his family policy of controlling the Church, 141;
  founds the University of Wittenberg, 205 _ff._;
  forbids Tetzel to enter his territories, 213;
  protects Luther, 232 _f._, 297;
  his religious position, 258 _f._, 292;
  at the Diet of Worms, 263, 292;
  provides for Luther’s safety, 297;
  troubled at the disturbances at Wittenberg, 316 _f._, 334;
  death, 336.
  _John_, brother of Frederick, 292, 316, 334, 341, 345;
    signs the _Protests_, 346, 371;
    refuses the nuncio’s benediction, 360, 361;
    signs the _Augsburg Confession,_ 363 _f._;
    joins the Schmalkald League, 373.
  _John Frederick,_ son of John, signs the _Augsburg Confession_, 363;
    marries Sibylla of Cleves, 382;
    “the born Elector,” 394;
    deprived of the Electorate and imprisoned, 384, 389;
    death, 394;
    _Frederick_ (Duke, not Elector), son of John Frederick, 397.

Saxony, Albertine (_Ducal_ till 1547, then Electoral), 214.

Saxony, Albertine, Duke of, _George_, at _Leipzig Disputation_, 237 _f._;
  desires a Reformation, 257, 203, 325;
  gives a safe-conduct for Luther, 273 _n._, 276;
  interferes in the affairs of Wittenberg, 316;
  published Edict of Worms, 319;
  feared the Hussites, 238, 324;
  member of the Roman Catholic League, 341;
  his daughter married Philip of Hesse, 344, 380;
  death, 377.
  _Henry_, brother of George, 377.
  _Maurice_ (Elector from 1547), son of Henry, married a daughter of
              Philip of Hesse, 382;
    received the Electorate, 384 and _n._;
    took the Emperor’s side in the Religious War, 389;
    the _Leipzig Interim_, 391 _n._;
    attacked the Emperor, 393;
    at the Conference at Passau, 393;
    death, 395.
  _Augustus_ (Elector), 395.

_Scala sancta_ at Rome, 207.

Scandinavia, 19;
the Reformation in, 417 _ff._

Schappeller and the Twelve Articles of the Peasants, 333.

Scheurl, Christopher, of Nürnberg, 256.

Schism, the Great, 5, 136.

Schlettstadt in Elsass, school at, 52.

_Schmalkald Articles_, 374, 467 _n._, 468.

_Schmalkald League_, 373 _ff._, 380, 382, 383.

Schmalkalden, 373.

Schnepf, Erhard, Reformer of Tübingen, 391.

Scholastic, the New, 325.

_Scholastic Theology_, 55, 118, 125, 159, 161, 167, 169, 173, 181, 199
            _ff._, 210, 219, 221, 223 _f._, 253;
  condemned by Luther, 211;
  teaches work-righteousness, 211, 450, 469;
  is _sophistry_, 469;
  _faith_ and _reason_ in, 469.

Schools in Germany, 51 _ff._

Schott, Peter, endows a people’s preacher for Strassburg, 118.

Schurf, Jerome, professor of Law at Wittenberg, 276, 280, 281, 317.

_Schwabach Articles_, 359.

Scientific, the scientific element in theology is the fleeting, 167.

Scotland, 21;
  Luther’s books prohibited in, 299, 388.

Scotus, John Duns, 55, 169, 178, 196, 223, 449.

_Scripture, the doctrine of_;
  Scripture, a personal rather than a dogmatic revelation, 165, 453;
  mis-statement of the Reformation view, 453;
  differences in meaning of word, 454;
  unity in, natural and arbitrary, 455; theory of various senses, 165, 196
              _n._, 456;
  faith and, 459, 461;
  Lacordaire on the Protestant doctrine of, 457;
  gives direct communion with God, 460;
  what is the infallibility of, 461 _ff._, 464;
  Scripture and the word of God, 461 _f._;
  human and divine elements in, 464, 465;
  inerrancy, 464;
  Calvin on the authority of, 465;
  place for the Higher Criticism, 466 _f._;
  in the Reformation Creeds, 467 _n._

Scriptures in the mediæval Church, 147 _f._, 454 _ff._;
  reading the, a mark of heresy, 149.

Secular supervision of religious affairs in the fifteenth century, 140.

Servia, 19.

Sibylla of Cleves, wife of John Frederick of Saxony, 382, 389.

Sicily, part of Naples, 33;
  Greek spoken in, 46.

Sickingen, Francis von, 268, 273, 295, 306 and _n._, 323.

Siebenberger, Maximilian, 281.

Simnel, Lambert, 21.

Sitten, Cardinal von, admires Luther, 257.

Social conditions at the close of the Middle Ages, 79 _ff._

Social revolts in the later Middle Ages, 95 _ff._;
  not exclusively of peasants, 96;
  detestation of priests, 96;
  impregnated by religious sentiment, 97;
  Hans Böhm, 99;
  Bundschuh revolts, 103;
  causes of the revolts, 106 _ff._

_Socius itinerarius_, 275.

Spain, 7, 18, 19, 20, 21;
  divisions of, 29;
  Inquisition in, 266.

Spalatin (George Burkhardt from Spelt), 66, 185, 232, 250, 274, 276, 278,
            291 _n._, 292.

Spaniards at the Diet of Worms, 292.

Spanish merchants at Worms, 269.

Spanish troops in Germany, 389, 392.

Speyer, delegates from the German towns meet at, 38;
  a National Council for Germany to meet at, 323.
  See _Diet_.

_Spinning-room, the_, 94.

_Spiritual_, meaning of the word in the Middle Ages, 7.

_Spiritual Estate_, the false and the true, 243, 441.

Sprengel, Lazarus, of Nürnberg, 256.

State and Church, in France, 23 _f._;
  in Spain, 29;
  in Brandenburg, 141;
  in Saxony, 140.

States of the Church, 32 _f._

States-General of France, 25.

Staupitz, Johann, 163, 185, 202, 205 _f._, 256.

Stoke-on-Trent, battle of, 21.

Stolle, Konrad, author of the _Thuringian Chronicle_, 99 _n._

Storch, Nicholas, one of the Zwickau prophets, 314.

Strassburg, Humanists in, 60;
  population of, 87;
  the _Brethren_ in, 152;
  deputies from, at Worms, 282; 111, 309 _f._, 346, 347, 368.

Stubner, Marcus Thomä, 314.

Student-hostels, 54, 56;
  dress, 56.

Students, wandering, 50, 54;
  Breslau, the paradise of, 53;
  burn Tetzel’s _Theses_, 233; 251.

Sturm, Caspar, the herald who conveyed Luther to Worms, 275 _f._

Styria, peasant revolts in, 330.

_Subsidies_, ecclesiastical, 13.

Sum of Christianity, the, 430.

_Superintendents_ in the Lutheran Churches, 404, 411.

Supremacy claimed by the Popes,
  temporal, 5 _f._;
  spiritual, 7 _f._;
  Luther begins to doubt the, 235.

Suso, Heinrich, 203.

Swabia, the Peasants’ War in, 330, 333, 334.

_Swabian League_, 323, 340, 376, 377.

_Swan, the_, hotel in Worms, 274, 276.

Swaven, Peter, at Worms, 275.

Swiss, the, popular in Germany, 95 _f._

Synods in the Lutheran Churches, 413, 415.

Syria, 18.

Taborites (extreme Hussites), 97, 338.

_Taille_, the, 25.

Tausen, Hans, the Danish Luther, 420.

Temporal supremacy of the Pope, 5 _ff._

_Tertiaries_ of St. Francis, 116.

Tertullian on mitigation of ecclesiastical sentences, 217 _n._

Tetzel, John, an Indulgence-seller, 213, 229, 235.

_Textualis_, 202.

Theodore of Gaza, 47.

Theodosius, Code of, 44.

Theological proof of universal papal supremacy, 4.

Theological phraseology, Luther and technical, 210, 471.

Theology, Luther’s lectures on, 208.
  See _Scholastic Theology._

_Thesaurus meritorum sire indulgentiarum_, 219, 229.

_Theses_, Luther’s, against Indulgences, 215 _ff._, 350;
  make six assertions, 229;
  wide circulation, 230;
  Zwingli’s, 350.

_This is My Body_, 355.

Thomas Aquinas, on universal papal supremacy, 4;
  his knowledge of Greek, 46 _n._;
  studied by Savonarola, 159, 161;
  on Indulgences, 221, 224; 55, 57, 167 _ff._, 449.

Thomas à Kempis, 126.

Thun, Frederick von, 287.

Thüringia, Peasants’ War in, 331; 193, 208.

Tithes, ecclesiastical, 12, 97 _f._, 104.

Tolomeo of Lucca, a canonist and theologian, 4 _n._

Tournaments, 371 _n._

Tours, 18.

Trade in England, 22;
  in France, 25;
  in Europe, 43 _f._, 83 _f._;
  perils of, 83;
  routes to the East, 85;
  more a municipal thing than a national affair, 80.

Trading companies, English, 22;
  German, 85 _ff._

_Treatises, the three Reformation_, 239 _ff._

Trent. See _Council_.

Trier, Archbishop of, 35, 270;
  head of the commission to confer with Luther at the Diet of Worms, 294;
  heard a statement from Luther under seal of confession, 295.

_Triumph of Truth, the_, 307.

Truchsess, general of the Swabian League, 330, 334.

Tübingen, 391.

Turkish invasions dreaded in Germany, 19, 129, 374.

Tunstall, Wolsey’s agent at Worms, 298 and _n._

_Twelve Articles_ in the Peasants’ War, 331, 336, 337.

Tyler, Wat, 20.

_Ubiquity_, doctrine of, 357, 478.

Ulm, 320, 346, 347, 391.

Ulrich, Duke of Würtemburg, 37, 376.

_Unitas Fratrum_ (1452), 154 _f._

Universities, of Paris, 12;
  of Germany, 53.

Upsala, 422.

Urban, Heinrich, 66.

_Ursula’s, St., Little Ship_, 145.

_Utopia_ of Sir Thomas More, 186, 328.

Valdès, Alfonso de, on the Edict of Worms, 298 _f._

Valentia, 27.

Valla, Laurentius, 49.

_Valor ecclesiasticus_ of commuted _Annates_, 13 and _n._

Vasco da Gama, 85.

Vatican Library, 49, 262.

Venezuela, German colony in, 85.

Venice, 32 _f._;
  Germans in, 50, 83.

_Vicars of God_, the Emperor and the Pope, 31.

Vienna, Concordat of, 11;
  defence of, 19, 37, 374;
  the _Latin War_ in, 56; 378.

Village, life in a, 90 _ff._;
  government, 92;
  a, sold to buy a velvet robe, 109.

Virgin, the Blessed, 123;
  the Intercessor, 135;
  confraternities of the, 135;
  hymns in honour of, 135;
  patroness of the Augustinian Eremites, 138;
  of the University of Wittenberg, 205;
  venerated in the social revolts, 97, 100, 135;
  _Immaculate Conception_ of the, 135, 138.

_Visitations_, ecclesiastical, 405 _ff._;
  Saxon, 405 _ff._

Vogler, Georg, at Worms, 274, 284.

_Vulgate, the_, studied in schools, 51;
  its use in the mediæval Church, 147 _f._;
  editions in the vernacular, 147, 149 _f._;
  the _German_, 150, 309.

Waldenses, 238.

_Walfart und Strasse zu Sant Jacob_, 132, 226.

Wallachia, 19.

_Wandering Students_, 54.

Wanner, Johann, 310.

Warbeck, Perkin, 21.

Wartburg, the, 297, 402.

Wealth, based on possession of land, 80;
  new sources of, in trade, 84 _ff._;
  from farming Indulgences, 83.

Wehe, Jacob, a peasant leader, 330.

Weinsburg, the massacre at, 330.

_Weisthümer_, collections of village consuetudinary law, 90 _ff._, 103,

Welser, the, family of capitalists, 85, 361.

Wesley, John, and Luther, 403.

Wessel, John, 58, 196.

Wiclif, John, 149, 238, 290.

_Wiclifites_, 150.

Wimpheling, Jacob, 52, 58, 257, 309.

Wimpina, Conrad, wrote counter-theses, 229.

Windsheim, 347.

Wissenberg, 347.

Wittenberg, town of, 204, 206, 234, 238, 389.

Wittenberg, the “tumult” in, 313, 320.

Wittenberg, University of, 205, 208, 232, 250, 311 _ff._

_Wittenberg Concord_, 377.

_Wittenberg Nightingale_, 310.

_Wittenberg Ordinance_ (1522), 315, 401.

Wolfenbüttel Library, Luther’s MSS. in the, 209.

Wolsey, Cardinal, 184, 298.

Worms, Edict of, 297, 298, 310, 319 and _n._, 342 _f._, 369, 345;
  conference with Luther at, 293.
  See _Diet_.

Würtemburg, Duchy of, seized by the House of Hapsburg, 37;
  recovered by its Duke, 376 _f._, 392, 395.

Würzburg, the Bishop of, 334.

Zasius, Ulrich of Freiburg, 257.

Zell, Matthew, 350.

Zerbst, 214.

_Zimmerische Chronik_, 88, 134.

Zurich, 350.

Zwickau, 206, 314, 318.

_Zwickau Prophets, the_, 314, 320, 325.

Zwilling an Augustinian Eremite preacher, 313, 316.

Zwingli, relations with Luther, 347 _ff._;
  influenced by Humanism, 348;
  social environment, 348;
  South German towns under his influence, 351;
  at Marburg, 352 _ff._;
  his doctrine of the Sacrament of the Supper, 356;
  his death, 374; 333, 337, 352, 353, 388, 463, 467 _n._


    1 SOURCES: _Apparatus super quinque libris decretalium_ (Strassburg,
      1488); Burchard, _Diarium_ (ed. by Thuasne, Paris, 1883-1885), in 3
      vols.; Brand, _Narrenschiff_ (ed. by Simrock, Berlin, 1872);
      Denzinger, _Enchiridion Symbolorum et Definitionum, quæ de rebus
      fidei et morum a conciliis æcumenicis et summis pontificibus,
      emanarunt_ (Würzburg, 1900), 9th ed.; Erler, _Der Liber Cancellariæ
      Apostolicæ vom Jahre 1480_ (Leipzig, 1888); Faber, _Tractatus de
      Ruine Ecclesie Planctu_ (Memmingen); Murner, _Schelmenzunft_ and
      _Narrenbeschwörung_ (Nos. 85, 119-124 of _Neudrucke deutschen
      Litteraturwerke_); Mirbt, _Quellen zur Geschichte des Papsttums_
      (Freiburg i. B. 1895); Tangl, _Die päpstlichen Kanzleiordnungen von
      1200-1500_ (Innsbruck, 1894); and _Das Taxwesen der päpstlichen
      Kirche_ (_Mitt. des Instituts für österreichische
      Geschichtsforschung_, xiii. 1892).

      LATER BOOKS: “Janus,” _The Pope and the Council_ (London, 1869);
      Harnack, _History of Dogma_ (London, 1899), vols. vi. vii.;
      Thudichen, _Papsitum und Reformation_ (Leipzig, 1903); Haller,
      _Papsitum und Kirchen-Reform_ (1903); Lea, _Cambridge Modern
      History_ (Cambridge, 1902), vol. I. xix.

    2 “In hac (_sc._ ecclesia) ejusque potestate duos esse gladios,
      spiritualem videlicet et temporalem, evangelicis dictis
      instruimur.... Ille _sacerdotis_, is manu regum et _militum_, sed ad
      nutum et patienciam _sacerdotis_”; Boniface VIII. in the Bull, _Unam

    3 A succinct account of these forgeries will be found in “Janus,” _The
      Pope and the Council_ (London, 1869), p. 94.

    4 Harnack, _History of Dogma_, vi. 132 n. (Eng. trans.).

    5 Compare his _Opuscula contra errores Græcorum; De regimine
      principum_. (The first two books were written by Thomas and the
      other two probably by Tolomeo (Ptolomæus) of Lucca.)

_    6 Apparatus super quinque libris Decretalium_ (Strassburg, 1488).

    7 Full quotations from the Bulls, _Unam Sanctam_ and _Inter cætera
      divinæ_, are to be found in Mirbt’s _Quellen zur Geschichte des
      Papsttums_ (Leipzig, 1895), pp. 88, 107. The Bulls, _Execrabilis_
      and _Pastor Æternus_, are in Denzinger, _Enchiridion_ (Würzburg,
      1900), 9th ed. pp. 172, 174.

      The Deed of Gift of the American Continent to Isabella and Ferdinand
      is in the 6th section of the Bull, _Inter cætera divinæ_. It is as
      follows:—“Motu proprio ... de nostra mera liberalitate et ex certa
      scientia ac de apostolicæ potestatis plenitudine omnes insulas et
      terras firmas inventas et inveniendas, detectas et detegendas versus
      Occidentem et Meridiem fabricando et construendo unam lineam a Polo
      Artico scilicet Septentrione ad Polum Antarticum scilicet Meridiem,
      sive terræ firmæ et insulæ inventæ et inveniendæ sint versus Indiam
      aut versus aliam quamcumque partem, quæ linea distet a qualibet
      insularum, quæ vulgariter nuncupantur de los Azores y cabo vierde,
      centum leucis versus Occidentem et Meridiem; ita quod omnes insulæ
      et terræ firmæ, repertæ et reperiendæ, detectæ et detegendæ, a
      præfata linea versus Occidentem et Meridiem per alium Regem aut
      Principem Christianum non fuerint actualiter possesse usque ad diem
      nativitatis Domini Nostri Jesu Christi proximi præteritum ...
      auctoritate omnipotentis Dei nobis in Beato Petro concessa, ac
      vicarius Jesu Christi, qua fungimur in terris, cum omnibus illarum
      dominiis, civitatibus, castris, locis et villis, juribusque et
      jurisdictionibus ac pertinentiis univeris, vobis hæredibusque et
      successoribus vestris in perpetuum tenore præsentium donamus....
      Vosque et hæredes ac successores præfatos illarum dominos cum plena,
      libera et omnimoda potestate, auctoritate et jurisdictione facimus,
      constituimus et deputamus.”

    8 The excommunication, with its consequences, was used to threaten
      Queen Elizabeth by the Ambassador of Philip II. in 1559 (_Calendar
      of Letters and State Papers relating to English affairs preserved
      principally in the Archives of Simancas_, i. 62, London, 1892).

_    9 Scottish Historical Review_, i. 318-320.

   10 The two English statutes of _Præmunire_ are printed in Gee and
      Hardy, _Documents illustrative of English Church History_ (London,
      1896), pp. 103, 122.

   11 For information about the English _annates_ and the _valor
      ecclesiasticus_, cf. Bird, _Handbook to the Public Records_, pp.
      100, 106.

   12 H. C. Lea, _Cambridge Modern History_, i. 670.

   13 J. Haller, _Papsttum und Kirchen-Reform_ (1903), i. 116, 117.

   14 Sebastian Brand, _Das Narrenschiff_, cap. ciii. l. 63-66. Barclay
      paraphrases these lines:

      “Suche counterfayte the kayes that Jesu dyd commyt
      Unto Peter: brekynge his Shyppis takelynge,
      Subvertynge the fayth, beleuynge theyr owne wyt
      Against our perfyte fayth in euery thynge,
      _So is our Shyp without gyde wanderynge,_
      _ By tempest dryuen, and the mayne sayle of torne,_
      _ That without gyde the Shyp about is borne_.”

      —_The Ship of Fools_, translated by Alexander Barclay, ii. 225
      (Edinburgh, 1874).

_   15 Cambridge Modern History_, I. iii, vii, viii, ix, xi, xii, xiv;
      Lavisse, _Histoire de France depuis les Origines jusqu’ à la
      Révolution_. IV. i, ii.

   16 SOURCES: Boccaccio, _Lettere edite e inedite, tradotte et commentate
      con nuovi documenti da Corrazzini_ (Florence, 1877); _Francisci
      Petrarchæ, Epistolæ familiares et variæ_ (Florence, 1859); Cusani,
      _Opera_ (Basel, 1565); Böcking, _Ulrici Hutteni Opera_, 5 vols.
      (Leipzig, 1871); Supplement containing _Epistolæ Obscurorum
      Virorum_, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1864, 1869); Gillert, _Der Briefwechsel
      des Konrad Mutianus_ (Halle, 1890); Reuchlin, _De Verbo Mirifico_

      LATER BOOKS: Jacob Burckhardt, _The Civilisation of the Period of
      the Renaissance_ (Eng. trans., London, 1892); Geiger, _Humanismus
      und Renaissance in Italien und Deutschland_ (Berlin, 1882);
      Michelet, _Histoire de France_, vol. vii., _Renaissance_ (Paris,
      1855); Lavisse, _Histoire de France_, v. i. p. 287 ff.; Symonds,
      _The Renaissance in Italy_ (London, 1877); H. Hallam, _Introduction
      to the Literature of Europe during the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and
      Seventeenth Centuries_, 6th ed. (London, 1860); Kamptschulte, _Die
      Universität Erfurt in ihrem Verhältniss zu dem Humanismus und der
      Reformation_, 2 vols. (Trier, 1856, 1860); Krause, _Helius Eobanus
      Hessus, sein Leben und seine Werke_, 2 vols. (Gotha, 1879); Geiger,
      _Johann Reuchlin_ (Leipzig, 1871); Binder, _Charitas Pirkheimer,
      Aebtissin von St. Clara zu Nürnberg_ (Freiburg i. B., 1893); Höfler,
      _Denkwürdigkeiten der Charitas Pirkheimer_ (_Quellensamml. z. fränk.
      Gesch._ iv., 1858); Roth, _Willibald Pirkheimer_ (Halle, 1874);
      Scott, _Albert Dürer, his Life and Works_ (London, 1869); Thausing,
      _Dürer’s Briefe, Tagebücher, Reime_ (Vienna, 1884); _Cambridge
      Modern History_, I. xvi, xvii; II. i.

   17 Symonds, _Renaissance in Italy, Revival of Letters_ (London, 1877),
      p. 13.

   18 There is evidence that Thomas Aquinas was not dependent, as is
      commonly supposed, for his acquaintance with Greek philosophy on
      translations into Latin of the Arabic translations of portions of
      Aristotle, but that he procured Latin versions made directly from
      the original Greek.

   19 He embraced it, sighed over it, and told it how he longed to hear it
      speak: Fracassetti, _Francisci Petrarchæ, Epistolæ familiares et
      variæ_, ii. 472-475.

   20 Professor Krauss, _Cambridge Modern History_, ii. 6.

   21 C. H. Delprot, _Verhandeling over de Brœderschap van Gerard Groote_
      (Arnheim, 1856).

   22 H. Hartfelder, _Der Zustand der deutschen Hochschulen am Ende des
      Mittelalters. Hist. Zeitschr._ lxiv. 50-107, 1890.

   23 Struver, _Die Schule von Schlettstadt_ (Leipzig, 1880).

   24 Kriegk, _Deutsches Bürgerthum im Mittelalter_, neue Folge (Frankfurt
      a. M. 1868), pp. 77 ff.

   25 Boos, _Thomas und Felix Platter_ (Leipzig, 1878), pp. 20 ff.

   26 H. Boos, _Thomas und Felix Platter_ (Leipzig, 1876); Becker,
      _Chronica des fahrenden Schulers_ oder _Wanderbüchlein des Johannes
      Butzbach_ (Ratisbon, 1869).

   27 Scharpff, _Der Cardinal und Bischof Nicolaus von Cusa als Reformator
      in Kirche, Reich und Philosophie_ (Tübingen, 1871).

   28 Wessel’s most important Theses on Indulgences are given in Ullmann,
      _Reformers before the Reformation_ (Edinburgh, 1855), ii. 546 f.

   29 Tresling, _Vita et Merita Rudolphi Agricola_ (Gröningen, 1830).

   30 Wiskowatoff, _Jacob Wimpheling, sein Leben und seine Schriften _
      (Berlin, 1867).

   31 Roth, _Willibald Pirkheimer_ (Halle, 1887).

   32 Krause, _Briefwechsel des Mutianus Rufus_ (Cassel, 1855), p. 32.

_   33 Ibid._ p. 94.

_   34 Ibid._ p. 93.

_   35 Ibid._ p. 28.

_   36 Ibid._ p. 427.

   37 Krause, _Briefwechsel des Mutianus Rufus_ (Cassel, 1855), p. 79.

_   38 Ibid._ p. 175: “Non sit vobiscum in castris (nostris) ulla

_   39 Ibid._; cf. especially Letter to Urban, pp. 352, 353, and pp. 153,

   40 Geiger in his _Renaissance und Humanismus in Italien und
      Deutschland_ (Berlin, 1882, Oncken’s Series) has given a picture of
      the insignia of the poet laureate on p. 457, and one of Conrad
      Celtes crowned on p. 459.

_   41 De Verbo Mirifico_ (ed. 1552), p. 71.

   42 Kriegk, _Deutsches Bürgerthum im Mittelalter_, pp. 1 ff., 38-53.

   43 A chronicle and the details of the Reuchlin controversy are to be
      found in the second volume of the supplement to Böcking’s edition of
      the works of Ulrich von Hutten. Good accounts are to be found in
      Geiger’s _Renaissanc und Humanismus in Italien und Deutschland_, pp.
      510 ff. (Berlin, 1882, Oncken’s Series); in Strauss’ _Ulrich von
      Hutten: His Life and Times_, pp. 100-140 (English translation by
      Mrs. Sturge, London, 1874); and in Creighton’s _History of the
      Papacy from the Great Schism to the Sack of Rome_, vol. vi. pp. 37
      ff. (London, 1897).

   44 The second edition is entitled _Illustrium Virorum Epistolæ
      Hebraicæ, Grecæ, et Latinæ ad Jo. Reuchlinum_; the first edition was
      entitled _Clarorum Virorum_, etc. The letters are forty-three in
      number—the first being from Erasmus, “the most learned man of the

   45 The best edition of the _Epistolæ Obscurorum Vivorum_ is to be found
      in vol. i. of the Supplement to Böcking’s _Ulrici Hutteni Opera_, 5
      vols., with 2 vols. of Supplement (Leipzig, 1864, 1869). The first
      edition was published in 1515, and consisted of forty-one letters;
      the second, in 1516, contained the same number; in the third edition
      an appendix of seven additional letters was added. In 1517 a second
      part appeared containing sixty-two letters, and an appendix of eight
      letters was added to the second edition of the second part.

   46 Strauss, _Ulrich von Hutten_, 2 vols. (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1874),
      translated and slightly abridged by Mrs. George Sturge (London,

   47 SOURCES: Barack, _Zimmerische Chronik_, 4 vols. (2nd ed., Freiburg
      i. B. 1881-1882); _Chroniken der deutschen Städte_, 29 vols. (in
      progress); Grimm, _Weisthümer_, 7 vols. (Göttingen, 1840-1878);
      Haetzerlin, _Liederbuch_ (Quedlinburg, 1840); Liliencron, _Die
      historischen Volkslieder der Deutschen vom dreizehnten bis zum
      sechzehnten Jahrhundert_ (Leipzig, 1865-1869); Sebastian Brand’s
      _Narrenschiff_ (Leipzig, 1854); Geiler von Keysersberg’s
      _Ausgewählte Schriften_ (Trier, 1881); Hans Sachs, _Fastnachspiele
      (Neudrucke deutschen Litteraturwerke_, Nos. 26, 27, 31, 32, 39, 40,
      42, 43, 51, 52, 60, 63, 64); Hans von Schweinichen, _Leben und
      Abenteuer des schlessischen Ritters, Hans v. Schweinichen_ (Breslau,
      1820-1823); Vandam, _Social Life in Luther’s Time_ (Westminster,
      1902); Trithemius, _Annales Hirsaugienses_ (St. Gallen, 1590).

      LATER BOOKS: Alwyn Schulz, _Deutsches Leben im 14ten und 15ten
      Jahrhundert_ (Prague, 1892); Kriegk, _Deutsches Bürgerthum im
      Mittelalter_ (Frankfurt, 1868, 1871); Freytag, _Bilder aus der
      deutschen Vergangenheit_, II. ii. (Leipzig, 1899—translation by Mrs.
      Malcolm of an earlier edition, London, 1862); the series of
      _Monographien zur deutschen Kulturgeschichte_ edited by Steinhausen
      (Leipzig, 1899-1905), are full of valuable information and
      illustrations; Aloys Schulte, _Die Fugger in Rom_ (Leipzig, 1904);
      Gothein, _Politische und religiöse Volksbewegungen vor der
      Reformation_ (Breslau, 1878); _Cambridge Modern History_, I. i. xv;
      v. Bezold, _Geschichte der deutschen Reformation_ (Berlin, 1890);
      Genée, _Hans Sachs und seine Zeit_ (Leipzig, 1902); Janssen,
      _Geschichte des deutschen Volkes, seil dem Ausgang des
      Mittelalters_, i. (1897); Roth v. Schreckenstein, _Das Patriziat in
      den deutschen Städten_ (Freiburg i. B., no date).

   48 Daenell, _Geschichte der deutschen Hanse in der zweiten Hälfte des
      14 Jahrhunderts_ (Leipzig, 1897).

   49 These figures have been taken from Dr. F. von Bezold (_Geschichte
      der deutschen Reformation_, Berlin, 1890, p. 36). When the _Chron.
      Episc. Hildesheim._ says that during a visitation of the plague
      10,000 persons died in Nürnberg alone, the territory as well as the
      city must be included.

_   50 Hans von Schweinichen_, i. 185.

_   51 Zimmerische Chronik_, ii. 68, 69.

   52 Ephrussi, _Les Bains des Femmes d’Albert Dürer_ (Nurnberg, no date).

   53 It has recently become a fashion among some Anglican and Roman
      Catholic writers to dwell on the “coarseness” of Luther displayed in
      his writings. One is tempted to ask whether these writers have ever
      read the _Zimmer Chronicle_, if they know anything about the
      _Fastnachtspiele_ in the beginning of the sixteenth century, of the
      _Rollwagen_, of Thomas Murner and Bebel, Humanists; above all, if
      they have ever heard of the parable of the mote and the beam?

   54 The most complete collection of the _Weisthümer_ is in seven
      volumes. Volumes i.-iv. edited by J. Grimm, and volumes v.-vii.
      edited by R. Schroeder, Göttingen, 1840-1842, 1866, 1869, 1878.
      Important extracts are given by Alwin Schultz in his _Deutsches
      Leben im 14 und 15 Jahrhundert_, Vienna, 1892, pp. 145-178 (Grosse

   55 In the interesting collection of mediæval songs, of date 1470 or
      1471, _Liederbuch der Clara Hätzlerin_ (Quedlinburg and Leipzig,
      1840), No. 67 (p. 259), entitled _Von Mair Betzen_, describes a
      peasant wedding, and tells us what each of the pair contributed to
      the “plenishing.” The bridegroom, Betze or Bartholomew Mair, gave to
      his bride an acre (_juchart_) of land well sown with flax, eight
      bushels of oats, two sheep, a cock and fourteen hens, and a small
      sum of money (_fünff pfunt pfenning_); while Metze Nodung, the
      bride, brought to the common stock two wooden beehives, a mare, a
      goat, a calf, a dun cow, and a young pig. It is perhaps worth
      remarking that, according to the almost universal custom in mediæval
      Germany, and in spite of ecclesiastical commands and threats, the
      actual marriage ceremony consisted in the father of the bride
      demanding from the young people whether they took each other for man
      and wife, and in their promising themselves to each other before
      witnesses. It was not until the morning after the marriage had been
      consummated that the wedded pair went to church to get the priest’s
      blessing on a marriage that had taken place.

   56 Barack, _Zeitschrift für deutsche Culturgeschichte_, iv. (1859) 36

   57 Droysen, _Geschichte der preussischen Politik_, II. i. p. 309 ff. (5
      vols., Berlin, 1855-1886); Boos, _Thomas und Felix Platter_
      (Leipsic, 1876), p. 21.

   58 These quotations have been taken from Seebohm, _The Era of the
      Protestant Revolution_, pp. 57, 58 (London, 1875).

   59 Liliencron, _Die historischen Volkslieder der Deutschen vom
      dreizchuten bis zum sechzehnten Jahrhundert_, ii. No. 146 (Leipzig,
      1865-1869); cf. also 131, 132, 133, 136, 137, 138-147. Konrad
      Stolle, pastor at Erfurt, collected all the information he could
      from “priests, clerical and lay students, merchants, burghers,
      peasants, pilgrims, knights and other good people,” and wove it all
      into a _Thuringian Chronicle_ which forms the 33rd volume of the
      _Bibliothek des literarischen Vereins in Stuttgart_. It reflects the
      opinions of the time almost as faithfully as the folk-songs do, and
      contains the above quoted saying of Charles; cf. pp. 61 ff.

   60 The best account of this movement is to be found in an article
      contributed to the _Archiv des historischen Vereins von Unterfranken
      und Aschaffenburg,_ XIV. iii. 1, where Hans Böhm’s sayings have been
      carefully collected. Pastor Konrad Stolle’s _Chronicle_, published
      in the library of the Stuttgart Literary Society (_Bibliothek des
      literarischen Vereins in Stuttgart_, xxxiii.), is also valuable. A
      list of authorities may also be found in Ullmann’s _Reformers before
      the Reformation_ (Eng. trans.), i. 377 ff.

_   61 Narrenschiff_, c. xi. l. 14-18.

_   62 Die historischen Volkslieder der Deutschen vom 13 bis 16
      Jahrhundert_, ii. No. 148.

_   63 Omnium Gentium Mores_, III, xii. (first printed in 1576).

_   64 Landsknecht_ or _lanzknecht_ (for the words are the same) is often
      transliterated _lance-knight_ in English State Papers of the
      sixteenth century. The English word, suggesting as it does cavalry
      armed with lances, is very misleading. The victories of the Swiss
      peasants, and their reputation as soldiers, suggested to the Emperor
      Frederick, and especially to his son, the Emperor Maximilian, the
      formation of troops of infantry recruited from the peasantry and
      from the lower classes of townsmen. Troops of cavalry of a like
      origin were also formed, and they were called _reiters_ or
      _reisiger_. These mercenaries frequently gained much money both from
      pay and from plunder, and were regarded as heroes by the members of
      the classes from whom they had sprung. Liliencron’s _Die
      historischen Volkslieder vom 13ten bis zum 16ten Jahrhundert_
      contains many folk-songs celebrating their prowess. The history of
      the gradual rise and growing importance of these peasant soldiers is
      given in Schultz, _Deutsches Leben im 14ten und 15ten Jahrhundert_,
      pp. 589 f. (Grosse Ausgabe), and in the authorities there quoted.

   65 Willibald Pirkheimer in his book on the Swiss war, chap. ii. (German
      ed., Basel, 1826).

   66 Gothein, _Politische und religiöse Volksbewegungen vor der
      Reformation_ (Breslau, 1878), p. 78.

   67 To Sources given to Chapter IV. add: Wackernagel, _Das deutsche
      Kirchenlied von der ältesten Zeit bis zum Anfang des 17
      Jahrhunderts_ (Leipzig, 1864-1877) vols. i. ii.; “Rainerii Sachoni
      Summa de Catharis et Leonistis” in _the Magna Bibliotheca Patrum_,
      vol. xiii. (Col. Agrip. 1618), cf. “Comm. Crit. de Rainerii Sachoni
      Summa” (_Göttingen Osterprogramm_ of 1834); Habler, _Das
      Wallfahrtbuch des Hermann von Vach, und die Pilgerreisen der
      Deutschen nach Santiago de Compostella_ (Strassburg, 1899);
      _Mirabilia Romæ_ (reprint by Parthey, Berlin, 1869); Munzenberger,
      _Frankfurter und Magdeburger Beichtbuchlein_ (Mainz, 1883); Hasak,
      _Die letzte Rose_, etc. (Ratisbon, 1883); Hasak, _Der christliche
      Glaube des deutschen Volkes beim Schluss des Mittelalters_
      (Ratisbon, 1868); Höfler, _Denkwürdigkeiten der Charitas Pirckheimer
      (Quellensamml. z. fränk. Gesch._ iv., 1858); Konrad Stolle,
      _Thüringische Chronik_ (in _Bibliothek d. lit. Vereins_
      (Stuttgardt), xxxiii.).

      LATER BOOKS: v. Bezold, _Geschichte der deutschen Reformation_
      (Berlin, 1890); Janssen, _Geschichte des deutschen Volkesseit dem
      Ausgang des Mittelalters_ (17th ed., 1897), vol. i.; Brück, _Der
      religiöse Unterricht für Jugend und Volk in Deutschland in der
      zweiten Hälfte des fünfzehnten Jahrhunderts_; Cruel, _Geschichte der
      deutschen Predigt im Mittelalter_ (Detwold, 1879); Dacheux, _Jean
      Geiler de Keysersberg_ (Paris, 1876); Walther, _Die deutsche
      Bibelübersetzung des Mittelalters_ (Brunswick, 1889); Uhlhorn, _Die
      christliche Liebesthätigkeit im Mittelalter_ (Stuttgart, 1887);
      Wilken, _Geschichte der geistlichen Spiele in Deutschland_
      (Göttingen, 1872).

   68 Kalkoff, _Die Depeschen des Nuntius Aleander_, etc. (Halle a. S.
      1897), pp. 26, 45-48.

   69 No fewer than six editions of his _Postilla_ were published between
      1471 and 1508.

   70 v. Bezold, _Geschichte der deutschen Reformation_, p. 91 f.

   71 Heinzel, _Beschreibung des geistlichen Schauspiels im deutschen
      Mittelalter_ (Hamburg and Leipzig, 1898); F. J. Mone, _Schauspiele
      des Mittelalters_, 2 vols. (Karlsruhe, 1846).

   72 Hampsen, _Medii Ævi Kalendarium_ (London, 1841), i. 140 f.

   73 Tilliot, _Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire de la fête dts fous_
      (Lausanne, 1751); cf. Floegel’s _Geschichte des Grotesk-Komischen_
      (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1886), pp. 199-242.

   74 The old Scottish version is, “To us is borne a barne of bliss,”
      _Gude and Godlie Ballates_ (Scot. Text Society, Edinburgh, 1897),
      pp. 51, 250.

   75 This may be translated:

      “Oh Jesus, Master, meek and mild,
      Since Thou wast once a little child,
      Wilt Thou not give this baby mine
      Thy Grace and every blessing thine?
      Oh Jesus, Master mild,
      Protect my little child.

      Now sleep, now sleep, my little child,
      He loves thee, Jesus, meek and mild:
      He’ll never leave thee nor forsake,
      He’ll make thee wise and good and great.
      Oh Jesus, Master mild,
      Protect my little child.”

   76 The old Scotch version was:

      “In dulci jubilo,
      Now let us sing with mirth and jo!
      Our hartis consolation
      Lies in præsepio;
      And schynis as the Sonne
      Matris in gremio.
      Alpha es et O,
      Alpha es et O!

      O Jesu parvule,
      I thirst sair after Thee;
      Comfort my hart and mind,
      O Puer optime!
      God of all grace so kind,
      Et Princeps Gloriæ,
      Trahe me post Te,
      Trahe me post Te!

      Ubi sunt gaudia
      In any place but there,
      Where that the angels sing
      Nova cantica,
      But and the bellis ring
      In Regis curia!
      God gif I were there,
      God gif I were there!”

      —(_Gude and Godlie Ballates_ (Scot. Text Society, Edinburgh, 1897),
      pp. 53. 250.)

      There is a variety of English versions: “Let Jubil trumpets blow,
      and hearts in rapture flow”; “In dulci jubilo, to the House of God
      we’ll go”; “In dulci jubilo, sing and shout all below.” Cf. Julian,
      _Dictionary of Hymnology_, p. 564.

   77 Wackernagel, _Das deutsche Kirchenlied_, etc., ii. 483 ff.

   78 The song began:

      “Wöllent ir geren hören
      Von sant Michel’s wunn;
      In Gargau ist er gsessen
      Drei mil im meresgrund.

      ‘O heilger man, sant Michel,
      Wie hastu dass gesundt,
      Dass du so tief hast buwen
      Wol in des meres grund?’ ”

      —(Wackernagel, _Das deutsche Kirchenlied_, etc. ii. 1003.)

   79 Konrad Stolle, _Thüringische Chronik_, pp. 128-131 (_Bibliothek des
      literarischen Vereins in Stuttgart_, xxxiii.).

   80 Kolde, _Friedrich der Weise und die Anfänge der Reformation_, p. 14.

   81 Lucas Cranach, _Wittenberger Heiligenthumsbuch vom Jahre 1509_, in
      Hirth’s _Liebhaber-Bibliothek alter Illustratoren in
      Facsimilien-Reproduktion_, No. vii. (Munich, 1896).

_   82 Mirabilia Romæ_, ed. by G. Parthey: the quotations are from an old
      German translation.

   83 The title is _Hæ sunt reliquiæ quæ habentur in hac sanctissima
      ecclesia Compostellana in qua corpus Beati Jacobi Zebedei in

   84 No. i. of _Drucke und Holzschnitte des 15 und 16 Jahrhunderts_
      (Strassburg, 1899).

   85 “Zway par schuech der darff er wol,
      Ein schüssel bei der flaschen;
      Ein breiten huet den sol er han,
      Und an mantel sol er nit gan
      Myt leder wol besezet;
      Es schnei oder regn oder wehe der wint,
      Dass in die lufft nicht nezet;
      Sagkh und stab ist auch dar bey.”

      —(Wackernagel, _Das deutsche Kirchenlied von der aeltesten Zeit bis
      zu Anfang des 17 Jahrhunderts_, ii. 1009.)

   86 The hospital at Romans is much praised:

      “Da selbst eyn gutter spital ist,
      Dar inne gybt mann brot und wyn
      Auch synt die bett hubsch und fyn.”

      On the other hand, although the hospital at Montpelier was good
      enough, its superintendent was a sworn enemy to Germans, and the
      pilgrims of that nation suffered much at his hands. These hospitals
      occupy a good deal of space in the pilgrimage song, and the woes of
      the Germans are duly set forth. If the pilgrim asks politely for
      more bread:

      “Spitelmeister, lieber spitelmeister meyn,
      Die brot sein vil zu kleine”;

      or suggests that the beds are not very clean:

      “Spitelmeister, lieber spitelmeister meyn,
      Die bet sein nit gar reine,”

      the superintendent and his daughter (der spitelmeister het eyn
      tochterlein es mocht recht vol eyn schelckin seyn) declared that
      they were not going to be troubled with “German dogs.”—Wackernagel,
      _Das deutsche Kirchenlied_, etc., ii. 1009-1010.

_   87 Zimmerische Chronik_ (Freiburg i. B. 1881-1882), ii. 314.

_   88 Ibid._ iii. 474-475 iv. 201.

_   89 Predigten_, i. 448.

   90 Wackernagel, _Das deutsche Kirchenlied_, etc., ii. 554, 1016-1022.

   91 Schwaumkell, _Der Cultus der heiligen Anna am Ausgange des
      Mittelalters_ (Freiburg, 1893).

   92 xix. p. 397 ff., xx. p. 159 ff., 329 ff., xxi. p. 43 ff.

_   93 The Romance of the Rose_, ii. p. 168 (Temple Classics edition).

   94 v. Bezold, _Geschichte der deutschen Reformation_, pp. 95 f.

   95 Kriegk, _Deutsches Bürgerthum im Mittelalter. Nach urkundlichen
      Forschungen und mit besonderer Bezichung auf Frankfurt a. M._, pp.
      161 ff. (Frankfurt, 1868). Uhlhorn, _Die christliche
      Liebesthätigkeit im Mittelalter_, pp. 431 ff. (Stuttgart, 1854).

   96 Wackernagel, _Das deutsche Kirchenlied_, ii. 768-769; it began:

      “Ein zeyt hort ich mit gütter mer
      von einem schyfflin sagen,
      Wie es mit tugenden also gar
      kostlichen war beladen:
      Zu dem schyfflin gewan ich ein hertz,
      Ich fand dar yn vil güter gemertz
      in mancher hande gaden.”

   97 The strongest prohibition of the vernacular Scriptures comes from
      the time of the Albigenses: “Prohibemus etiam, ne libros veteris
      Testamenti aut novi permittantur habere; nisi forte psalterium, vel
      brevarium pro divinis officiis, aut horas B. Mariæ aliquis ex
      devotione habere velit. Sed ne præmissos libros habeant in vulgari
      translatos, arctissime inhibemus” (_Conc. of Toulouse_ of 1229, c.
      xiv.). The _Constitutiones Thomæ Arundel_, for the mediæval Church
      of England, declared: “Ordinamus ut nemo deinceps aliquem textum S.
      Scripturæ auctoritate sua in linguam Anglicanam vel aliam transferat
      per viam libri, libelii aut tractatus” (Art. VII., 1408 A.D.).

   98 Pope Innocent III. reprobated the translation of the Scriptures into
      the vernacular, because ordinary laymen, and especially women, had
      not sufficient intelligence to understand them (_Epistolæ_, ii.
      141); and Berthold, Archbishop of Mainz, in his diocesan edict of
      1486, asserted that vernaculars were unable to express the
      profundity of the thoughts contained in the original languages of
      the Scriptures or in the Latin of the Vulgate.

_   99 Maima Bibliotheca Patrum_ (Coloniæ Agrippinæ, 1618), xiii. 299.

  100 Walther, _Die deutsche Bibelübersetzung des Mittelalters_
      (Brunswick, 1889).

  101 Gudenaus, _Codex Diplomatic. Anecdota_, iv. 469-475 (1758).

  102 Walther, _Die deutsche Bibelübersetzungen des Mittelalters_
      (Brunswick, 1889).

  103 Sebastian Brand, _Narrenschiff_, Preface, lines 1-4:

      “Alle Land ist jetz voll heilger Schrift,
      Und was der seelen Heil betrifft
      Bibel und heilger Vater Lehr
      Und andrer frommen Bücher mehr.”

_  104 Magna Bibliotheca Patrum_ (Coloniæ Agrippinæ, 1618), vol. xiii. pp.

  105 SOURCES: Casanova and Guasti, _Poesie di G. Savonarola_ (Florence,
      1862); _Scella di Prediche e Scritti di Frà G. Savonarola, con nuovi
      Documenti intorno alla sua Vita_, by Villari and Casanova (Florence,
      1898); Bayonne, _Œuvres Spirituelles choisies de Jerome Savonarola_
      (Paris, 1879); _The Workes of Sir Thomas More ... written by him in
      the Englyshe tonge_ (London, 1557); Erasmus, _Opera Omnia_, ed. Le
      Clerc (Leyden, 1703-1706); Nichols, _The Epistles of Erasmus from
      his earliest letters to his fifty-first year, arranged in order of
      time_ (London, 1901); _Enchiridion Militis Christiani_ (Cambridge,
      1685); _The whole Familiar Colloquies of Erasmus_ (London, 1877);
      Sir Thomas More, _Utopia_ (Temple Classics Series).

      LATER WORKS: Villari, _Girolamo Savonarola_, 2 vols. (Florence,
      1887-1888; Eng. trans., London, 1890); Seebohm, _The Oxford
      Reformers: John Colet, Erasmus, and Thomas More_, etc. (London,
      1887); Drummond, _Erasmus, his life and character_ (London, 1873);
      Woltmann, _Holbein and his Time_ (London, 1872); Fronde, _Life and
      Letters of Erasmus_ (London, 1894); Amiel, _Un libre penseur du 16
      siècle: Érasme_ (Paris, 1889); Emmerton, _Desiderius Erasmus of