History of the christian church

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Christianus sum. Christiani nihil a me alienum puto

From BONIFACE VIII., 1294 to the Protestant Reformation, 1517
This volume completes the history of the Church in the Middle Ages. Dr. Philip Schaff on one occasion spoke of the Middle Ages as a terra incognita in the United States,—a territory not adequately explored. These words would no longer be applicable, whether we have in mind the instruction given in our universities or theological seminaries. In Germany, during the last twenty years, the study of the period has been greatly developed, and no period at the present time, except the Apostolic age, attracts more scholarly and earnest attention and research.

The author has had no apologetic concern to contradict the old notion, perhaps still somewhat current in our Protestant circles, that the Middle Ages were a period of superstition and worthy of study as a curiosity rather than as a time directed and overruled by an all-seeing Providence. He has attempted to depict it as it was and to allow the picture of high religious purpose to reveal itself side by side with the picture of hierarchical assumption and scholastic misinterpretation. Without the mediaeval age, the Reformation would not have been possible. Nor is this statement to be understood in the sense in which we speak of reaching a land of sunshine and plenty after having traversed a desert. We do well to give to St. Bernard and Francis d’Assisi, St. Elizabeth and St. Catherine of Siena, Gerson, Tauler and Nicolas of Cusa a high place in our list of religious personalities, and to pray for men to speak to our generation as well as they spoke to the generations in which they lived.

Moreover, the author has been actuated by no purpose to disparage Christians who, in the alleged errors of Protestantism, find an insuperable barrier to Christian fellowship. Where he has passed condemnatory judgments on personalities, as on the popes of the last years of the 15th and the earlier years of the 16th century, it is not because they occupied the papal throne, but because they were personalities who in any walk of life would call for the severest reprobation. The unity of the Christian faith and the promotion of fellowship between Christians of all names and all ages are considerations which should make us careful with pen or spoken word lest we condemn, without properly taking into consideration that interior devotion to Christ and His kingdom -which seems to be quite compatible with divergencies in doctrinal statement or ceremonial habit.

On the pages of the volume, the author has expressed his indebtedness to the works of the eminent mediaeval historians and investigators of the day, Gregorovius, Pastor, Mandell Creighton, Lea, Ehrle, Denifle, Finke, Schwab, Haller, Carl Mirbt, R. Mueller Kirsch, Loserth, Janssen, Valois, Burckhardt-Geiger, Seebohm and others, Protestant and Roman Catholic, and some no more among the living.

It is a pleasure to be able again to express his indebtedness to the Rev. David E. Culley, his colleague in the Western Theological Seminary, whose studies in mediaeval history and accurate scholarship have been given to the volume in the reading of the manuscript, before it went to the printer, and of the printed pages before they received their final form.

Above all, the author feels it to be a great privilege that he has been able to realize the hope which Dr. Philip Schaff expressed in the last years of his life, that his History of the Christian Church which, in four volumes, had traversed the first ten centuries and, in the sixth and seventh, set forth the progress of the German and Swiss Reformations, might be carried through the fruitful period from 1050–1517.

David S. Schaff.

The Western Theological Seminary,


The Sixth Period of Church Histyry.
§ 1. Introductory Survey.

EXILE. A.D. 1294–1377.

§ 2. Sources and Literature.

§ 3. Pope Boniface VIII. 1294–1303.

§ 4. Boniface VIII. and Philip the Fair of France.

§ 5. Literary Attacks against the Papacy.

§ 6. The Transfer of the Papacy to Avignon.

§ 7. The Pontificate of John XXII 1316–1334.

§ 8. The Papal Office Assailed.

§ 9. The Financial Policy of the Avignon Popes.

§ 10. The Later Avignon Popes.

§ 11. The Re-establishment of the Papacy in Rome. 1377.


COUNCILS. 1378–1449.

§ 12. Sources and Literature.

§ 13. The Schism Begun. 1378.

§ 14. Further Progress of the Schism. 1378–1409.

§ 15. The Council of Pisa.

§ 16. The Council of Constance. 1414–1418.

§ 17. The council of Basel. 1431–1449.

§ 18. The Council of Ferrara-Florence. 1438–1445.
§ 19. Literature.

§ 20. Ockam and the Decay of Scholasticism.

§ 21. Catherine of Siena, the Saint.

§ 22. Peter d’Ailly, Ecclesiastical Statesman.

§ 23. John Gerson, Theologian and Church Leader.

§ 24. Nicolas of Clamanges, the Moralist.

§ 25. Nicolas of Cusa, Scholar and Churchman.

§ 26. Popular Preachers.

§ 27. Sources and Literature.

§ 28. The New Mysticism.

§ 29. Meister Eckart.

§ 30. John Tauler of Strassburg.

§ 31. Henry Suso.

§ 32. The Friends of God.

§ 33. John of Ruysbroeck.

§ 34. Gerrit de Groote and the Brothers of the Common Life.

§ 35. The Imitation of Christ. Thomas à Kempis.

§ 36. The German Theology.

§ 37. English Mystics.
§ 38. Sources and Literature.

§ 39. The Church in England in the Fourteenth Century.

§ 40. John Wyclif.

§ 41. Wyclif’s Teachings.

§ 42. Wyclif and the Scriptures.

§ 43. The Lollards.

§ 44. John Huss of Bohemia.

§ 45. Huss at Constance.

§ 46. Jerome of Prag.

§ 47. The Hussites.

§ 48. Literature and General Survey.

§ 49. Nicolas V. 1447–1455.

§ 50. Aeneas Sylvius de’ Piccolomini, Pius II.

§ 51. Paul II. 1464–1471.

§ 52. Sixtus IV. 1471–1484.

§ 53. Innocent VIII. 1484–1492.

§ 54. Pope Alexander VI—Borgia. 1492–1503.

§ 55. Julius II., the Warrior-Pope. 1503–1513.

§ 56. Leo X. 1513–1521.
§ 57. Literature.

§ 58. Heretical and Unchurchly Movements.

§ 59. Witchcraft and its Punishment.

§ 60. The Spanish Inquisition.

§ 61. Literature of the Renaissance.

§ 62. The Intellectual Awakening.

§ 63. Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio.

§ 64. Progress and Patrons of Classical Studies in the 15th Century.

§ 65. Greek Teachers and Italian Humanists.

§ 66. The Artists.

§ 67. The Revival of Paganism.

§ 68. Humanism in Germany.

§ 69. Reuchlin and Erasmus.

§ 70. Humanism in France.

§ 71. Humanism in England.
§ 72. Literature.

§ 73. The Clergy.

§ 74. Preaching.

§ 75. Doctrinal Reformers.

§ 76. Girolamo Savonarola.

§ 77. The Study and Circulation of the Bible.

§ 78. Popular Piety.

§ 79. Works of Charity.

§ 80. The Sale of Indulgences.
§ 81. The Close of the Middle Ages.




a.d. 1294-1517.
§ 1. Introductory Survey.
The two centuries intervening between 1294 and 1517, between the accession of Boniface VIII. and the nailing of Luther’s Ninety-five Theses against the church door in Wittenberg, mark the gradual transition from the Middle Ages to modern times, from the universal acceptance of the papal theocracy in Western Europe to the assertion of national independence, from the supreme authority of the priesthood to the intellectual and spiritual freedom of the individual. Old things are passing away; signs of a new order increase. Institutions are seen to be breaking up. The scholastic systems of theology lose their compulsive hold on men’s minds, and even become the subject of ridicule. The abuses of the earlier Middle Ages call forth voices demanding reform on the basis of the Scriptures and the common well-being of mankind. The inherent vital energies in the Church seek expression in new forms of piety and charitable deed.

The power of the papacy, which had asserted infallibility of judgment and dominion over all departments of human life, was undermined by the mistakes, pretensions, and worldliness of the papacy itself, as exhibited in the policy of Boniface VIII., the removal of the papal residence to Avignon, and the disastrous schism which, for nearly half a century, gave to Europe the spectacle of two, and at times three, popes reigning at the same time and all professing to be the vicegerents of God on earth.

The free spirit of nationality awakened during the crusades grew strong and successfully resisted the papal authority, first in France and then in other parts of Europe. Princes asserted supreme authority over the citizens within their dominions and insisted upon the obligations of churches to the state. The leadership of Europe passed from Germany to France, with England coming more and more into prominence.

The tractarian literature of the fourteenth century set forth the rights of man and the principles of common law in opposition to the pretensions of the papacy and the dogmatism of the scholastic systems. Lay writers made themselves heard as pioneers of thought, and a practical outlook upon the mission of the Church was cultivated. With unexampled audacity Dante assailed the lives of popes, putting some of St. Peter’s successors into the lowest rooms of hell.

The Reformatory councils of Pisa, Constance, and Basel turned Europe for nearly fifty years, 1409–1450, into a platform of ecclesiastical and religious discussion. Though they failed to provide a remedy for the disorders prevailing in the Church, they set an example of free debate, and gave the weight of their eminent constituency to the principle that not in a select group of hierarchs does supreme authority in the Church rest, but in the body of the Church.

The hopelessness of expecting any permanent reform from the papacy and the hierarchy was demonstrated in the last years of the period, 1460–1517, when ecclesiastical Rome offered a spectacle of moral corruption and spiritual fall which has been compared to the corrupt age of the Roman Empire.

The religious unrest and the passion for a better state of affairs found expression in Wyclif, Huss, and other leaders who, by their clear apprehension of truth and readiness to stand by their public utterances, even unto death, stood far above their own age and have shone in all the ages since.

While coarse ambition and nepotism, a total perversion of the ecclesiastical office and violation of the fundamental virtues of the Christian life held rule in the highest place of Christendom, a pure stream of piety was flowing in the Church of the North, and the mystics along the Rhine and in the Lowlands were unconsciously fertilizing the soil from which the Reformation was to spring forth.

The Renaissance, or the revival of classical culture, unshackled the minds of men. The classical works of antiquity were once more, after the churchly disparagement of a thousand years, held forth to admiration. The confines of geography were extended by the discoveries of the continent in the West.

The invention of the art of printing, about 1440, forms an epoch in human advancement, and made it possible for the products of human thought to be circulated widely among the people, and thus to train the different nations for the new age of religious enfranchisement about to come, and the sovereignty of the intellect.

To this generation, which looks back over the last four centuries, the discovery of America and the pathways to the Indies was one of the remarkable events in history, a surprise and a prophecy. In 1453, Constantinople easily passed into the hands of the Turk, and the Christian empire of the East fell apart. In the far West the beginnings of a new empire were made, just as the Middle Ages were drawing to a close.

At the same time, at the very close of the period, under the direction and protection of the Church, an institution was being prosecuted which has scarcely been equalled in the history of human cruelty, the Inquisition,—now papal, now Spanish,—which punished heretics unto death in Spain and witches in Germany.

Thus European society was shaking itself clear of long-established customs and dogmas based upon the infallibility of the Church visible, and at the same time it held fast to some of the most noxious beliefs and practices the Church had allowed herself to accept and propagate. It had not the original genius or the conviction to produce a new system of theology. The great Schoolmen continued to rule doctrinal thought. It established no new ecclesiastical institution of an abiding character like the canon law. It exhibited no consuming passion such as went out in the preceding period in the crusades and the activity of the Mendicant Orders. It had no transcendent ecclesiastical characters like St. Bernard and Innocent III. The last period of the Middle Ages was a period of intellectual discontent, of self-introspection, a period of intimation and of preparation for an order which it was itself not capable of begetting.

a.d. 1294–1377.
§ 2. Sources and Literature.
For works covering the entire period, see V. 1. 1–3, such as the collections of Mansi, Muratori, and the Rolls Series; Friedberg’s Decretum Gratiani, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1879–1881; Hefele-Knöpfler: Conciliengeschichte; Mirbt: Quellen zur Geschichte des Papstthums, 2d ed., 1901; the works of Gregorovius and Bryce, the General Church and Doctrinal Histories of Gieseler, Hefele, Funk, Hergenröther-Kirsch, Karl Müller, Harnack Loofs, and Seeberg; the Encyclopaedias of Herzog, Wetzer-Welte, Leslie Stephen, Potthast, and Chévalier; the Atlases of F. W. Putzger, Leipzig, Heussi and Mulert, Tübingen, 1905, and Labberton, New York. L. Pastor: Geschichte der Papste, etc., 4 vols., 4th ed., 1901–1906, and Mandell Creighton: History of the Papacy, etc., London, 1882–1894, also cover the entire period in the body of their works and their Introductory Chapters. There is no general collection of ecclesiastical author far this period corresponding to Migne’s Latin Patrology.

For §§ 3, 4. Boniface VIII. Regesta Bonifatii in Potthast: Regesta pontificum rom., II., 1923–2024, 2133 sq. – Les Registres de Boniface VIII., ed. Digard, Fauçon et Thomas, 7 Fasc., Paris, 1884–1903. – Hist. Eccles. of Ptolemaeus of Lucca, Vitae Pontif. of Bernardus Guidonis, Chron. Pontif. of Amalricus Augers Hist. rerum in Italia gestarum of Ferretus Vicentinus, and Chronica universale of Villani, all in Muratori: Rerum Ital. Scriptores, III. 670 sqq., X. 690 sqq., XI. 1202 sqq., XIIL 348 sqq. – Selections from Villani, trans. by Rose E. Selfe, ed. by P. H. Wicksteed, Westminster, 1897. – Finke: Aus den Tagen Bonifaz VIII., Münster, 1902. Prints valuable documents pp. i-ccxi. Also Acta Aragonensia. Quellen ... zur Kirchen und Kulturgeschichte aus der diplomatischen Korrespondenz Jayme II, 1291–1327, 2 vols., Berlin, 1908. – Döllinger: Beiträge zur politischen, kirchlichen und Culturgeschichte der letzten 6 Jahrh., 3 vols., Vienna, 1862–1882. Vol. III., pp. 347–353, contains a Life of Boniface drawn from the Chronicle of Orvieto by an eye-witness, and other documents. – Denifle: Die Denkschriften der Colonna gegen Bonifaz VIII., etc., in Archiv für Lit. und Kirchengeschichte des M. A., 1892, V. 493 sqq. – Dante: Inferno, XIX. 52 sqq., XXVII. 85 sqq.; Paradiso, IX. 132, XXVII. 22, XXX. 147. Modern Works. – J. Rubeus: Bonif. VIII. e familia Cajetanorum, Rome, 1651. Magnifies Boniface as an ideal pope. – P Dupuy: Hist. du différend entre le Pape Bon. et Philip le Bel, Paris, 1655. – Baillet (a Jansenist): Hist. des désmelez du Pape Bon. VIII. avec Philip le Bel, Paris, 1718. – L. Tosti: Storia di Bon. VIII. e de’suoi tempi, 2 vols., Rome, 1846. A glorification of Boniface. – W. Drumann: Gesch. Bonifatius VIII. 2 vols., Königsberg, 1862. – Cardinal Wiseman: Pope Bon. VIII. in his Essays, III. 161–222. Apologetic. – Boutaric: La France sous Philippe le Bel, Paris, 1861. – R. Holtzmann: W. von Nogaret, Freiburg, 1898. – E. Renan: Guil. de Nogaret, in Hist. Litt. de France, XXVII. 233 sq.; also Études sur la politique Rel. du règne de Phil. Ie Bel, Paris, 1899. – Döllinger: Anagni in Akad. Vorträge, III. 223–244. – Heinrich Finke (Prof. in Freiburg): as above. Also Papsttum und Untergang des Tempelordens, 2 vols., Münster, 1907. – J. Haller: Papsttum und Kirchenreform, Berlin, 1903. – Rich. Scholz: Die Publizistik zur Zeit Philipps des Schönen und Bonifaz VIII., Stuttgart, 1903. – The Ch. Histt. of Gieseler, Hergenröther-Kirsch 4th ed., 1904, II. 582–598, F. X. Funk, 4th ed., 1902, Hefele 3d ed., 1902, K. Müller, Hefele-Knöpfler: Conciliengeschichte, VI. 281–364. – Ranke: Univers. Hist., IX. – Gregorovius: History of the City of Rome, V. – Wattenbach: Gesch. des röm. Papstthums, 2d ED., Berlin, 1876, pp. 211–226. – G. B. Adams: Civilization during the Middle Ages, New York, 1894, ch. XIV. – Art. Bonifatius by Hauck in Herzog, III. 291–300.

For § 5. Literary Attacks upon the Papacy. Dante Allighiere: De monarchia, ed. by Witte, Vienna, 1874; Giuliani, Florence, 1878; Moore, Oxford, 1894. Eng. trans. by F. C. Church, together with the essay on Dante by his father, R. W. Church, London, 1878; P. H. Wicksteed, Hull, 1896; Aurelia Henry, Boston, 1904. – Dante’s De monarchia, Valla’s De falsa donatione Constantini, and other anti-papal documents are given in De jurisdictione, auctoritate et praeeminentia imperiali, Basel, 1566. Many of the tracts called forth by the struggle between Boniface VIII. and Philip IV. are found in Melchior Goldast: Monarchia S. Romani imperii, sive tractatus de jurisdictione imperiali seu regia et pontificia seu sacerdotali, etc., Hanover, 1610, pp. 756, Frankfurt, 1668. With a preface dedicated to the elector, John Sigismund of Brandenburg; in Dupuy: Hist. du Différend, etc., Paris, 1655, and in Finke and Scholz. See above. – E. Zeck: De recuperatione terrae Sanctae, Ein Traktat d. P. Dubois, Berlin, 1906. For summary and criticism, S. Riezler: Die literarischen Widersacher der Päpste zur Zeit Ludwig des Baiers, pp. 131–166. Leipzig, 1874. – R. L. Poole: Opposition to the Temporal Claims of the Papacy, in his Illustrations of the Hist. of Med. Thought, pp. 256–281, London, 1884. – Finke: Aus den Tagen Bonifaz VIII., pp. 169 sqq., etc. – Denifle: Chartularium Un. Parisiensis, 4 vols. – Haller: Papsttum. – Artt. in Wetzer-Welte, Colonna, III. 667–671, and Johann von Paris, VI. 1744–1746, etc. – Renan: Pierre Dubois in Hist. Litt. de France, XXVI. 471–536. – Hergenröther-Kirsch: Kirchengesch., II. 754 sqq.

For § 6. Transfer Of The Papacy To Avignon. Benedict XI.: Registre de Benoît XI., ed. C. Grandjean. – For Clement V., Clementis papae V. regestum ed. cura et studio monachorum ord. S. Benedicti, 9 vols., Rome, 1885–1892. – Etienne Baluze: Vitae paparum Avenoniensium 1305–1394, dedicated to Louis XIV. and placed on the Index, 2 vols., Paris, 1693. Raynaldus: ad annum, 1304 sqq., for original documents. – W. H. Bliss: Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registries relating to Great Britain and Ireland, I.-IV., London, 1896–1902. – Giovanni and Matteo Villani: Hist. of Florence sive Chronica universalis, bks. VIII. sq. – M. Tangl: Die päpstlichen Regesta von Benedict XII.-Gregor XI., Innsbruck, 1898. Mansi: Concil., XXV. 368 sqq., 389 sqq. – J. B. Christophe: Hist. de la papauté pendant le XIVe siècle, 2 vols., Paris, 1853. – C. von Höfler: Die avignonesischen Päpste, Vienna, 1871. – Fauçon: La Libraire Des Papes d’Avignon, 2 vols., Paris, 1886 sq. – M. Souchon: Die Papstwahlen von Bonifaz VIII.-Urban VI., Braunschweig, 1888. – A. Eitel: D. Kirchenstaat unter Klemens V., Berlin, 1905. – Clinton Locke: Age of the Great Western Schism, pp. 1–99, New York, 1896. – J. H. Robinson: Petrarch, New York, 1898. – Schwab: J. Gerson, pp. 1–7. – Döllinger-Friedrich: Das Papstthum, Munich, 1892. – Pastor: Geschichte der Papste seit dem Ausgang des M. A., 4 vols., 3d and 4th ed., 1901 sqq., I. 67–114. – Stubbs: Const. Hist. of England. – Capes: The English Church in the 14th and 15th Centuries, London, 1900. – Wattenbach: Röm. Papstthum, pp. 226–241. – Haller: Papsttum, etc. – Hefele-Knöpfler: VI. 378–936. – Ranke: Univers. Hist., IX. – Gregorovius: VI. – The Ch. Histt. of Gieseler, Hergenröther-Kirsch, II. 737–776, Müller, II. 16–42. – Ehrle: Der Nachlass Clemens V. in Archiv für Lit. u. Kirchengesch., V. 1–150. For the fall of the Templars, see for Lit. V. 1. p. 301 sqq., and especially the works of Boutaric, Prutz, Schottmüller, Döllinger. – Funk in Wetzer-Welte, XI. 1311–1345. – LEA: Inquisition, III. Finke: Papsttum und Untergang des Tempelordens, 2 vols., 1907. Vol. II. contains Spanish documents, hitherto unpublished, bearing on the fall of the Templars, especially letters to and from King Jayme of Aragon. They are confirmatory of former views.

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