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V.: THE CHURCH FROM 1250 TO 1500 - Oliver J. Thatcher, A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age 
A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age, ed. Oliver J. Thatcher and Edgar Holmes McNeal (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905).
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THE CHURCH FROM 1250 TO 1500
Bull of Nicholas III Condemning all Heretics, 1280.
In spite of the vigorous efforts of the popes to destroy heresy (see nos. 116-118) and all that the inquisitors could do, heresies increased. This bull of Nicholas III shows that more vigorous measures were being used.
Nicholas, etc. We hereby excommunicate and anathematize all heretics, the Cathari, Patareni, the Poor Men of Lyon, Passageni, Josepheni, the Arnoldists, Speronists, and all others by whatever name they may be called. (1) When condemned by the church, they shall be given over to the secular judge to be punished. Clergymen shall be degraded before being punished. (2) If any, after being seized, repent and wish to do proper penance, they shall be imprisoned for life. (3) We condemn as heretics all who believe the errors of heretics. (4) We decree that all who receive, defend, or aid heretics, shall be excommunicated. If anyone remains under excommunication a year and a day, he shall be proscribed. (5) He shall not be eligible to hold a public office, or to vote in the election of officials. (6) His word shall not be accepted. (7) He can not serve as a witness nor can he make a will. (8) He shall not succeed to an inheritance. (9) He cannot bring suit against anyone, but suit may be brought against him. (10) If he is a judge, his sentences shall be invalid, and he shall not be permitted to hear cases. (11) If he is an advocate, he shall not be permitted to perform the duties of his office. (12) If he is a notary, the documents which he draws up shall be invalid and condemned with him. (13) If he is a clergyman, he shall be deposed from his office and deprived of every benefice. (14) Those who associate with the excommunicated shall themselves be excommunicated and properly punished. (15) If those who are suspected of heresy can not prove their innocence, they shall be excommunicated. If they remain under the ban of excommunication a year, they shall be condemned as heretics. (16) They shall have no right of appeal. (17) If judges, advocates, or notaries serve them in an official way, they shall be deprived of their office. (18) The clergy shall not administer to them the sacraments, nor give them a part of the alms. If they do, they shall be deprived of their office and they can never be restored to it without the special permission of the pope. Whoever grants them Christian burial shall be excommunicated until he makes proper satisfaction. He shall not be absolved until he has with his own hands publicly dug up their bodies and cast them forth, and no one shall ever be buried in the same place. (19) We prohibit all laymen to discuss matters of the catholic faith. If anyone does so, he shall be excommunicated. (20) Whoever knows of heretics, or those who are holding secret meetings, or those who do not conform in all respects to the orthodox faith, shall make it known to his confessor, or to someone else who will bring it to the knowledge of the bishop or the inquisitor. If he does not do so, he shall be excommunicated. (21) Heretics and all who receive, support, or aid them, and all their children to the second generation, shall not be admitted to an ecclesiastical office or benefice. If any such have been admitted, their admission is illegal and invalid. For we now deprive all such of their benefices forever, and they shall never be admitted to others. If parents with their children have been freed [from excommunication], and their parents afterwards return to the heresy, their children are, by their parents’ act, again brought under excommunication.
The Bull “Clericis Laicos” of Boniface VIII, 1298.
In theory all ecclesiastical persons and possessions were immune from secular taxation, but the pope frequently permitted temporal rulers to levy a tax on them for the aid of the state in times of public necessity. At the command of the pope such taxes had been assessed (1) to carry on the crusades (the Saladin tithe), (2) to make war on Frederick II, (3) to put down the heresy of the Albigenses, (4) to resist Peter of Aragon when he attacked Sicily, etc. It frequently happened that the large sums raised for the crusades went into the king’s treasury, and were spent for other things. The kings, especially of England and France, found this a very convenient way of raising money. The immediate cause of the publication of this bull was the heavy assessments which the kings of England and France had just made on their clergy. Boniface recognized that the immunities and liberties of the church were thereby being destroyed. In spite of the protests of both pope and clergy, neither king restored the money or ceased to levy taxes. New names for them were so skilfully invented, and such arguments were used, that the clergy could not refuse to pay without seeming to be disloyal and unpatriotic. Boniface VIII issued this bull to put a stop to the taxation which he regarded as the pillaging of the churches. It must be observed that the pope does not prohibit such taxes altogether. He preserves his authority and the immunities of the church by retaining the right to sanction whatever taxes may be assessed on the clergy and the possessions of the church.
The kings of both England and France were engaged in policies which necessitated large expenditures, and hence they were in need of money. Besides, they were trying to centralize all authority in their hands and consequently found these ecclesiastical immunities a great obstacle in their way. We have here an evidence that the national governments had begun their long struggle against the temporal authority of the pope, for the question as to whether the king may tax the church and clergy was one phase of this struggle.
It is said that in times past laymen practiced great violence against the clergy, and our experience clearly shows that they are doing so at present, since they are not content to keep within the limits prescribed for them, but strive to do that which is prohibited and illegal. And they pay no attention to the fact that they are forbidden to exercise authority over the clergy and ecclesiastical persons and their possessions. But they are laying heavy burdens on bishops, churches, and clergy, both regular and secular, by taxing them, levying contributions on them, and extorting the half, or the tenth, or the twentieth, or some other part of their income and possessions. They are striving in many ways to reduce the clergy to servitude and to subject them to their own sway. And we grieve to say it, but some bishops and clergy, fearing where they should not, and seeking a temporary peace, and fearing more to offend man than God, submit, improvidently rather than rashly, to these abuses [and pay the sums demanded], without receiving the papal permission. Wishing to prevent these evils, with the counsel of our brethren, and by our apostolic authority, we decree that if any bishops or clergy, regular or secular, of any grade, condition, or rank, shall pay, or promise, or consent to pay to laymen any contributions, or taxes, or the tenth, or the twentieth, or the hundredth, or any other part of their income or of their possessions, or of their value, real or estimated, under the name of aid, or loan, or subvention, or subsidy, or gift, or under any other name or pretext, without the permission of the pope, they shall, by the very act, incur the sentence of excommunication. And we also decree that emperors, kings, princes, dukes, counts, barons, podestà, capitanei, and governors of cities, fortresses, and of all other places everywhere, by whatever names such governors may be called, and all other persons of whatever power, condition, or rank, who shall impose, demand, or receive such taxes, or shall seize, or cause to be seized, the property of churches or of the clergy, which has been deposited in sacred buildings, or shall receive such property after it has been seized, or shall give aid, counsel, or support in such things either openly or secretly, shall by that very act incur the sentence of excommunication. We also put under the interdict all communities which shall be culpable in such matters. And under the threat of deposition we strictly command all bishops and clergy, in accordance with their oath of obedience, not to submit to such taxes without the express permission of the pope. They shall not pay anything under the pretext that they had already promised or agreed to do so before the prohibition came to their knowledge. They shall not pay, nor shall the above-named laymen receive anything in any way. And if the ones shall pay, or the others receive anything, they shall by that very act fall under the sentence of excommunication. From this sentence of excommunication and interdict no one can be absolved except in the moment of death, without the authority and special permission of the pope. . . .
Boniface VIII Announces the Jubilee Year, 1300.
Boniface, bishop, etc. We know that in times past generous indulgences and remissions of sins have been granted those who should come to the illustrious churches of the prince of the apostles [St. Peter’s in Rome]. Our office requires us to desire and most gladly to procure the salvation of all, and so, regarding all such remissions and indulgences as valid, by our apostolic authority we confirm, approve, and renew them, and reinforce them with this present writing. In order therefore that the most blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, may be more highly honored in that the faithful devoutly visit their churches, and that those who do so may feel that they are filled with spiritual gifts, we, through the mercy of omnipotent God and trusting in the merits and authority of his apostles [Peter and Paul], at the advice of our brethren and in the fulness of our apostolic power, grant the fullest and broadest forgiveness of all their sins to all who, during the whole of this 1300th year, and to all who, in every hundredth year to come, shall reverently come to these churches and truly repent and confess. We decree that those Romans who wish to participate in this indulgence shall visit these churches at least once a day for thirty days, either consecutively or at intervals, and all who are not Romans shall visit them in the same way for fifteen days. But the more devoutly and frequently anyone visits them, the more surely will he deserve and obtain the indulgence.
The Bull “Unam Sanctam” of Boniface VIII, 1302.
Boniface VIII had become involved in a bitter struggle with Philip IV of France over the question of sovereignty. Boniface went so far as to summon the French clergy to a council at Rome for the purpose of dictating a settlement of all the disorders in France. In reply to this, Philip IV assembled his states-general and assured himself of the almost unanimous support of his people against the pope, and sent him an embassy with a refusal and a warning. The pope was not disconcerted by this, but plied the ambassadors with the most extravagant statements of his secular power. On the heels of this he published this famous bull, Unam sanctam, which is the classic mediæval expression of the papal claims to universal temporal sovereignty. It is an excellent example of mediæval reasoning.
The true faith compels us to believe that there is one holy catholic apostolic church, and this we firmly believe and plainly confess. And outside of her there is no salvation or remission of sins, as the Bridegroom says in the Song of Solomon: “My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her” [Song of Sol. 6:9]; which represents the one mystical body, whose head is Christ, but the head of Christ is God [1 Cor. 11.3]. In this church there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” [Eph. 4:5]. For in the time of the flood there was only one ark, that of Noah, prefiguring the one church, and it was “finished above in one cubit” [Gen. 6:16], and had but one helmsman and master, namely, Noah. And we read that all things on the earth outside of this ark were destroyed. This church we venerate as the only one, since the Lord said by the prophet: “Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog” [Ps. 22:20]. He prayed for his soul, that is, for himself, the head; and at the same time for the body; and he named his body, that is, the one church, because there is but one Bridegroom [cf. John 3:29], and because of the unity of the faith, of the sacraments, and of his love for the church. This is the seamless robe of the Lord which was not rent but parted by lot [John 19:23]. Therefore there is one body of the one and only church, and one head, not two heads, as if the church were a monster. And this head is Christ and his vicar, Peter and his successor; for the Lord himself said to Peter: “Feed my sheep” [John 21:16]. And he said “my sheep,” in general, not these or those sheep in particular; from which it is clear that all were committed to him. If therefore Greeks or anyone else say that they are not subject to Peter and his successors, they thereby necessarily confess that they are not of the sheep of Christ. For the Lord says in the Gospel of John, that there is one fold and only one shepherd [John 10:16]. By the words of the gospel we are taught that the two swords, namely, the spiritual authorrity and the temporal are in the power of the church. For when the apostles said “Here are two swords” [Luke 22:38]—that is, in the church, since it was the apostles who were speaking—the Lord did not answer, “It is too much,” but “It is enough.” Whoever denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter does not properly understand the word of the Lord when he said: “Put up thy sword into the sheath” [John 18:11]. Both swords, therefore, the spiritual and the temporal, are in the power of the church. The former is to be used by the church, the latter for the church; the one by the hand of the priest, the other by the hand of kings and knights, but at the command and permission of the priest. Moreover, it is necessary for one sword to be under the other, and the temporal authority to be subjected to the spiritual; for the apostle says, “For there is no power but of God: and the powers that are ordained of God” [Rom. 13:1]; but they would not be ordained [i.e., arranged or set in order; note the play on the words] unless one were subjected to the other, and, as it were, the lower made the higher by the other. For, according to St. Dionysius, it is a law of divinity that the lowest is made the highest through the intermediate. According to the law of the universe all things are not equally and directly reduced to order, but the lowest are fitted into their order through the intermediate, and the lower through the higher.1 And we must necessarily admit that the spiritual power surpasses any earthly power in dignity and honor, because spiritual things surpass temporal things. We clearly see that this is true from the paying of tithes, from the benediction, from the sanctification, from the receiving of the power, and from the governing of these things. For the truth itself declares that the spiritual power must establish the temporal power and pass judgment on it if it is not good. Thus the prophecy of Jeremiah concerning the church and the ecclesiastical power is fulfilled: “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” [Jer. 1:10]. Therefore if the temporal power errs, it will be judged by the spiritual power, and if the lower spiritual power errs, it will be judged by its superior. But if the highest spiritual power errs, it can not be judged by men, but by God alone. For the apostle says: “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” [1 Cor. 2:15]. Now this authority, although it is given to man and exercised through man, is not human, but divine. For it was given by the word of the Lord to Peter, and the rock was made firm to him and his successors, in Christ himself, whom he had confessed. For the Lord said to Peter: “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” [Matt. 16:19]. Therefore whosoever resisteth this power thus ordained of God, resisteth the ordinance of God [Rom. 13:2], unless there are two principles (beginnings), as Manichæus pretends there are. But this we judge to be false and heretical. For Moses says that, not in the beginnings, but in the beginning [note the play on words], God created the heaven and the earth [Gen. 1:1]. We therefore declare, say, and affirm that submission on the part of every man to the bishop of Rome is altogether necessary for his salvation.
Conclusions Drawn by Marsilius of Padua from his “Defensor Pacis.”
The Defensor Pacis is a treatise on politics written by Marsilius, or Marsiglio, a canon of the church of Padua, in 1324. His authority is the Politics of Aristotle, which Marsilius knew from a Latin summary current in the Middle Age. From this as a basis he constructs a political theory and tests the existing institutions by it. The work is divided into three parts; the first two form a diffuse essay, and the last is a summary of his arguments in the form of forty-two conclusiones, which are translated here, because they give in a concise form the essential points of his theory. As regards the political situation of his own time, the general tendency of the treatise is imperial and anti-papal; it was used by Ludwig IV [the Bavarian] in his conflict with the Avignon popes. Hence it was regarded by the papal party as unorthodox and heretical. In the bull of John XXII, 1327, five statements were selected and condemned as heresies (see no. 166). His views on the origin and nature of the state are Aristotelian: the state is a perfected community existing for the good of the people; the supreme power resides in the body of the citizens, who make the laws, and choose the form of government, etc. The prince rules by the authority of the whole body of citizens. To this body Marsilius gives the name legislator. The elective monarchy is the form of government preferred by Marsilius, whose ideal state thus corresponds in theory with the holy Roman empire. His views on the relation of the state and the church are very different from the views common in the Middle Age. The supreme institution is the state which has established the priesthood or the church to look after the spiritual welfare of its citizens. Hence the state has the right to control the church, but the church has not the corresponding right to control the state. The treatment of the church in itself is also interesting. Marsilius attacks the Petrine theory and the whole papal structure. All bishops are equal in religious authority, deriving their power immediately from Christ. If one priest or bishop is placed over another it is for the purpose of organization, and the authority of the superior is derived from the state. He also asserts that within the church the supreme authority is not the pope, but the general council of Christians.
Conclusion 1. The one divine canonical Scripture, the conclusions that necessarily follow from it, and the interpretation placed upon it by the common consent of Christians, are true, and belief in them is necessary to the salvation of those to whom they are made known.
2. The general council of Christians or its majority alone has the authority to define doubtful passages of the divine law, and to determine those that are to be regarded as articles of the Christian faith, belief in which is essential to salvation; and no partial council or single person of any position has the authority to decide these questions.
3. The gospels teach that no temporal punishment or penalty should be used to compel observance of divine commandments.
4. It is necessary to salvation to obey the commandments of the new divine law [the New Testament] and the conclusions that follow necessarily from it and the precepts of reason; but it is not necessary to salvation to obey all the commandments of the ancient law [the Old Testament].
5. No mortal has the right to dispense with the commands or prohibitions of the new divine law; but the general council and the Christian “legislator”1 alone have the right to prohibit things which are permitted by the new law, under penalties in this world or the next and no partial council or single person of any position has that right.
6. The whole body of citizens or its majority alone is the human “legislator.”
7. Decretals and decrees of the bishop of Rome, or of any other bishops or body of bishops, have no power to coerce anyone by secular penalties or punishments, except by the authorization of the human “legislator.”
8. The “legislator” alone or the one who rules by its authority has the power to dispense with human laws.
9. The elective principality or other office derives its authority from the election of the body having the right to elect, and not from the confirmation or approval of any other power.
10. The election of any prince or other official, especially one who has the coercive power,2 is determined solely by the expressed will of the “legislator.”
11. There can be only one supreme ruling power in a state or kingdom.
12. The number and the qualifications of persons who hold state offices and all civil matters are to be determined solely by the Christian ruler according to the law or approved custom [of the state].
13. No prince, still more, no partial council or single person of any position, has full authority and control over other persons, laymen or clergy, without the authorization of the “legislator.”
14. No bishop or priest has coercive authority or jurisdiction over any layman or clergyman, even if he is a heretic.
15. The prince who rules by the authority of the “legislator” has jurisdiction over the persons and possessions of every single mortal of every station, whether lay or clerical, and over every body of laymen or clergy.
16. No bishop or priest or body of bishops or priests has the authority to excommunicate anyone or to interdict the performance of divine services, without the authorization of the “legislator.”
17. All bishops derive their authority in equal measure immediately from Christ, and it cannot be proved from the divine law that one bishop should be over or under another, in temporal or spiritual matters.
18. The other bishops, singly or in a body, have the same right by divine authority to excommunicate or otherwise exercise authority over the bishop of Rome, having obtained the consent of the “legislator,” as the bishop of Rome has to excommunicate or control them.
19. No mortal has the authority to permit marriages that are prohibited by the divine law, especially by the New Testament. The right to permit marriages which are prohibited by human law belongs solely to the “legislator” or to the one who rules by its authority.
20. The right to legitimatize children born of illegitimate union so that they may receive inheritances, or other civil or ecclesiastical offices or benefits, belongs solely to the “legislator.”
21. The “legislator” alone has the right to promote to ecclesiastical orders, and to judge of the qualifications of persons for these offices, by a coercive decision, and no priest or bishop has the right to promote anyone without its authority.
22. The prince who rules by the authority of the laws of Christians, has the right to determine the number of churches and temples, and the number of priests, deacons, and other clergy who shall serve in them.
23. “Separable”3 ecclesiastical offices may be conferred or taken away only by the authority of the “legislator”; the same is true of ecclesiastical benefices and other property devoted to pious purposes.
24. No bishop or body of bishops has the right to establish notaries or other civil officials.
25. No bishop or body of bishops may give permission to teach or practice in any profession or occupation, but this right belongs to the Christian “legislator” or to the one who rules by its authority.
26. In ecclesiastical offices and benefices those who have received consecration as deacons or priests, or have been otherwise irrevocably dedicated to God, should be preferred to those who have not been thus consecrated.
27. The human “legislator” has the right to use ecclesiastical temporalities for the common public good and defence, after the needs of the priests and clergy, the expenses of divine worship, and the necessities of the poor have been satisfied.
28. All properties established for pious purposes or for works of mercy, such as those that are left by will for the making of a crusade, the redeeming of captives, or the support of the poor, and similar purposes, may be disposed of by the prince alone according to the decision of the “legislator” and the purpose of the testator or giver.
29. The Christian “legislator” alone has the right to forbid or permit the establishment of religious orders or houses.
30. The prince alone, acting in accordance with the laws of the “legislator,” has the authority to condemn heretics, delinquents, and all others who should endure temporal punishment, to inflict bodily punishment upon them, and to exact fines from them.
31. No subject who is bound to another by a legal oath may be released from his obligation by any bishop or priest, unless the “legislator” has decided by a coercive decision that there is just cause for it.
32. The general council of all Christians alone has the authority to create a metropolitan bishop or church, and to reduce him or it from that position.
33. The Christian “legislator” or the one who rules by its authority over Christian states, alone has the right to convoke either a general or local council of priests, bishops, and other Christians, by coercive power; and no man may be compelled by threats of temporal or spiritual punishment to obey the decrees of a council convoked in any other way.
34. The general council of Christians or the Christian “legislator” alone has the authority to ordain fasts and other prohibitions of the use of food; the council or “legislator” alone may prohibit the practice of mechanical arts or teaching which divine law permits to be practiced on any day, and the “legislator” or the one who rules by its authority alone may constrain men to obey the prohibition by temporal penalties.
35. The general council of Christians alone has the authority to canonize anyone or to order anyone to be adored as a saint.
36. The general council of Christians alone has the authority to forbid the marriage of priests, bishops, and other clergy, and to make other laws concerning ecclesiastical discipline, and that council or the one to whom it delegates its authority alone may dispense with these laws.
37. It is always permitted to appeal to the “legislator” from a coercive decision rendered by a bishop or priest with the authorization of the “legislator.”
38. Those who are pledged to observe complete poverty may not have in their possession any immovable property, unless it be with the fixed intention of selling it as soon as possible and giving the money to the poor; they may not have such rights in either movable or immovable property as would enable them, for example, to recover them by a coercive decision from any person who should take or try to take them away.
39. The people as a community and as individuals, according to their several means, are required by divine law to support the bishops and other clergy authorized by the gospel, so that they may have food and clothing and the other necessaries of life; but the people are not required to pay tithes or other taxes beyond the amount necessary for such support.
40. The Christian “legislator” or the one who rules by its authority has the right to compel bishops and other clergy who live in the province under its control and whom it supplies with the necessities of life, to perform divine services and administer the sacrament.
41. The bishop of Rome and any other ecclesiastical or spiritual minister may be advanced to a “separable” ecclesiastical office only by the Christian “legislator” or the one who rules by its authority, or by the general council of Christians; and they may be suspended from or deprived of office by the same authority.
Condemnation of Marsilius of Padua. 1327.
The following sentences taken from Marsilius of Padua and John of Jandun were condemned by John XXII, 1327. See introductory note to no. 165.
(1) When Christ ordered the coin which was taken from the fish’s mouth to be paid to the tax collector, he paid tribute to Cæsar; and he did this not out of condescension or kindness, but because he had to pay it. From this it is clear that all temporal powers and possessions of the church are subject to the emperor, and he may take them as his own.
(2) That St. Peter had no more authority than the other apostles, and was not the head over the other apostles; and that Christ left behind no head of the church, and did not appoint anyone as his vicar.
(3) That the emperor has the right to make and depose popes and to punish them.
(4) That all priests, whether pope or archbishop or simple priest, are, in accordance with the appointment of Christ, of equal authority and jurisdiction.
(6) That the whole church together can not punish any man with coactive punishment, without the permission of the emperor.
The above articles are contrary to the holy scriptures and hostile to the catholic faith and we [John XXII] declare them to be heretical and erroneous, and the aforesaid Marsilius and John [of Jandun] to be open and notorious heretics, or rather heresiarchs.
The Beginning of the Schism. The Manifesto of the Revolting Cardinals. Aug. 5, 1378.
At the death of Gregory XI in 1378, the cardinals elected Bartholomew, archbishop of Bari, who took the title Urban VI. He soon announced that he would not remove his court to Avignon, as many of the cardinals wished him to do, but would remain in Rome. For various reasons the cardinals of the French party became more and more displeased with Urban and soon rebelled against him and deposed him. After publishing a manifesto, in which they defended their action, they elected Robert of Geneva, who called himself Clement VII. The manifesto is long and full of invective and generalities, but contains very little argument and few facts. We give only the essential part of it.
. . . After the apostolic seat was made vacant by the death of our lord, pope Gregory XI, who died in March, we assembled in conclave for the election of a pope, as is the law and custom, in the papal palace, in which Gregory had died. . . . Officials of the city with a great multitude of the people, for the most part armed and called together for this purpose by the ringing of bells, surrounded the palace in a threatening manner and even entered it and almost filled it. To the terror caused by their presence they added threats that unless we should at once elect a Roman or an Italian they would kill us. They gave us no time to deliberate but compelled us unwillingly, through violence and fear, to elect an Italian without delay. In order to escape the danger which threatened us from such a mob, we elected Bartholomew, archbishop of Bari, thinking that he would have enough conscience not to accept the election, since every one knew that it was made under such wicked threats. But he was unmindful of his own salvation and burning with ambition, and so, to the great scandal of the clergy and of the Christian people, and contrary to the laws of the church, he accepted this election which was offered him, although not all the cardinals were present at the election, and it was extorted from us by the threats and demands of the officials and people of the city. And although such an election is null and void, and the danger from the people still threatened us, he was enthroned and crowned, and called himself pope and apostolic. But according to the holy fathers and to the law of the church, he should be called apostate, anathema, Antichrist, and the mocker and destroyer of Christianity. . . .
The University of Paris and the Schism, 1393.
In 1393 the king of France asked the University of Paris to devise a way of ending the schism. In response to this request, each member of the faculty was asked to propose in writing the way which seemed best to him, and to advance all the possible arguments in its favor. A commission of fifty-four professors, masters, and doctors was then appointed to examine all the proposed ways and means. After mature deliberation this commission proposed three possible ways of ending the schism and drew them up in writing and forwarded them to the king. They discussed at some length the relative advantages and disadvantages of each way. Their letter to the king is a long one. We give only three brief extracts from it, to show the three ways which they proposed.
The first way. Now the first way to end the schism is that both parties should entirely renounce and resign all rights which they may have or claim to have to the papal office. . . .
The second way. But if both cling tenaciously to their rights and refuse to resign, as they have done up to now, we would propose the way of arbitration. That is, that they should together choose worthy and suitable men, or permit such to be chosen in a regular and canonical way, and these shall have the full power and authority to discuss the case and decide it, and if necessary and expedient, and approved by those who according to the canon law have the authority [that is, the cardinals], they may also have the right to proceed to the election of a pope.
The third way. If the rival popes, after being urged in a brotherly and friendly manner, will not accept either of the above ways, there is a third way which we propose as an excellent remedy for this sacrilegious schism. We mean that the matter shall be left to a general council. This general council might be composed, according to canon law, only of prelates, or, since many of them are very illiterate, and many of them are bitter partisans of one or the other pope, there might be joined with the prelates an equal number of masters and doctors of theology and law from the faculties of approved universities. Or if this does not seem sufficient to anyone, there might be added besides one or more representatives from cathedral chapters and the chief monastic orders, in order that all decisions might be rendered only after most careful examination and mature deliberation.
The Council of Pisa Declares it is Competent to Try the Popes. 1409.
There was no recognized legal machinery in the church by which the schism could be ended, and there was no emperor, as in the days of Innocent II, who was willing to end it by force. It was decided to leave the matter to a general council, but there was some doubt as to (1) whether a council could be legally called by anyone except a pope, and (2) whether the council was legally empowered to cite the two papal claimants before it and decide the case between them. Finally a council was called by the cardinals; it met at Pisa and proceeded first to assert its legality and authority. The conciliar movement, begun by this council, was foreshadowed in earlier documents. See nos. 165 and 168.
This holy and general council, representing the universal church, decrees and declares that the united college of cardinals was empowered to call the council, and that the power to call such a council belongs of right to the aforesaid holy college of cardinals, especially now when there is a detestable schism. The council further declared that this holy council, representing the universal church, caused both claimants of the papal throne to be cited in the gates and doors of the churches of Pisa to come and hear the final decision [in the matter of the schism] pronounced, or to give a good and sufficient reason why such sentence should not be rendered.
An Oath of the Cardinals to Reform the Church. Council of Pisa, 1409.
In the great councils of Pisa and Constance there were two parties, the one in favor of reforming the church at once and ending the schism afterwards (that is, by electing another pope), and the other in favor of first electing the pope and then carrying out the reform under his direction. The latter party was victorious, but before proceeding to the election, each cardinal was compelled to take an oath that, if elected, he would not dissolve the council until a thorough reform of the church was brought about.
We, each and all, bishops, priests, and deacons of the holy Roman church, congregated in the city of Pisa for the purpose of ending the schism and of restoring the unity of the church, on our word of honor promise God, the holy Roman church, and this holy council now collected here for the aforesaid purpose, that, if any one of us is elected pope, he shall continue the present council and not dissolve it, nor, so far as is in his power, permit it to be dissolved until, through it and with its advice, a proper, reasonable, and sufficient reformation of the universal church in its head and in its members shall have been accomplished.
The Council of Constance Claims Supreme Authority, 1415.
See introductory note to nos. 168, 169.
This holy synod of Constance, being a general council, and legally assembled in the Holy Spirit for the praise of God and for ending the present schism, and for the union and reformation of the church of God in its head and in its members, in order more easily, more securely, more completely, and more fully to bring about the union and reformation of the church of God, ordains, declares, and decrees as follows: And first it declares that this synod, legally assembled, is a general council, and represents the catholic church militant and has its authority directly from Christ; and everybody, of whatever rank or dignity, including also the pope, is bound to obey this council in those things which pertain to the faith, to the ending of this schism, and to a general reformation of the church in its head and members. Likewise it declares that if anyone, of whatever rank, condition, or dignity, including also the pope, shall refuse to obey the commands, statutes, ordinances, or orders of this holy council, or of any other holy council properly assembled, in regard to the ending of the schism and to the reformation of the church, he shall be subject to the proper punishment; and unless he repents, he shall be duly punished; and if necessary, recourse shall be had to other aids of justice.
Reforms Demanded by the Council of Constance, 1417.
The reforming party in the council of Constance had been defeated in its attempt to fix the order of business which the council should follow. As in the council at Pisa, it had been determined that the pope should be elected first and then the reform be worked out. The leaders of the reform party were fearful that no reform would be accomplished, and so as a kind of compromise and as a last desperate effort they succeeded in having the council enact that reforms should be made in the following eighteen points.
The holy council at Constance determined and decreed that before this holy council shall be dissolved, the future pope, by the grace of God soon to be elected, with the aid of this holy council, or of men appointed by each nation, shall reform the church in its head and in the Roman curia, in conformity to the right standard and good government of the church. And reforms shall be made in the following matters: 1. In the number, character, and nationality of the cardinals. 2. In papal reservations. 3. In annates, and in common services and little services. 4. In the granting of benefices and expectancies. 5. In determining what cases may be tried in the papal court. 6. In appeals to the papal court. 7. In the offices of the cancellaria, and of the penitentiary. 8. In the exemptions and incorporations made during the schism. 9. In the matter of commends. 10. In the confirmation of elections. 11. In the disposition of the income of churches, monasteries, and benefices during the time when they are vacant. 12. That no ecclesiastical property be alienated. 13. It shall be determined for what causes and how a pope may be disciplined and deposed. 14. A plan shall be devised for putting an end to simony. 15. In the matter of dispensations. 16. In the provision for the pope and cardinals. 17. In indulgences. 18. In assessing tithes.
The following notes explain the various points of the reform program: 1. Various cardinals were frequently charged with luxurious living and even with grave immorality. For some time French cardinals had been in the majority. The demand was now made that all nations should have an equal representation in the college of cardinals. 2. The popes arbitrarily reserved the right to appoint to the richest livings, and their appointees had to pay well for their appointments. 3. Annates were (1) the income for a year, collected from every living or benefice when it became vacant by the death of the holder; (2) the income of a bishopric for a year, paid by the newly elected bishop. Under “common services and little services” were included various other payments, in addition to the annates, which every newly elected bishop was expected to pay the pope. 4. The pope strove to increase the number of benefices and livings to which he might appoint. It was not uncommon to sell the “expectation” to a benefice; that is, while the holder of a benefice was still alive the right or expectation of succeeding him in his benefice at his death was sold to some one. 5. The popes wished to increase the number of cases or trials that could be tried only in the papal court. There was no clear principle to determine which cases must be tried in the papal court, and which not. There were certain costs connected with every trial, and hence such trials were a source of income to the papal court. 6. So many appeals were made to Rome by those who had lost their cases at home or who feared they would lose them, that the papal court was overwhelmed with work and could not try them promptly. Appeals to Rome were often made to gain time and to defeat justice. 7. The “cancellaria” was the office in which the papal secretaries wrote the bulls, letters, etc., of the pope. The penitentiary was the office “in which are examined and delivered out the secret bulls, graces, and dispensations relating to cases of conscience, confession, and the like.” 8. By exemptions is meant the freeing of a monastery from the jurisdiction of the bishop in whose diocese the monastery is situated. “Incorporation” is the depriving a parish church of its income and giving it to another church. 9. A “commend” is the granting of a benefice temporarily on the condition that a certain sum be paid for it annually. 10. The pope must confirm the election of all bishops, abbots, etc. 11. At the death of a bishop the pope claimed the income of his bishopric until his successor was elected. The same is true of monasteries and many ecclesiastical benefices.
Concerning General Councils. The Council of Constance, 39th Session, October 9, 1417.
The conciliar idea was that a general council, since it represented the whole church, was the highest authority in the church, to which even the pope must submit. The promoters of this idea planned to have a general council meet at regular intervals.
A good way to till the field of the Lord is to hold general councils frequently, because by them the briers, thorns, and thistles of heresies, errors, and schisms are rooted out, abuses reformed, and the way of the Lord made more fruitful. But if general councils are not held, all these evils spread and flourish. We therefore decree by this perpetual edict that general councils shall be held as follows: The first one shall be held five years after the close of this council, the second one seven years after the close of the first, and forever thereafter one shall be held every ten years. One month before the close of each council the pope, with the approval and consent of the council, shall fix the place for holding the next council. If the pope fails to name the place the council must do so.
Pius II, by the Bull “Execrabilis,” Condemns Appeals to a General Council, 1459.
In the great struggle with the councils the pope had come out victorious. He had successfully resisted all attempts to make any important changes in the administration of the church, or to introduce the reforms which were so loudly called for. Although the council at Basel had brought the conciliar idea into disrepute, there were many who still called for a general council as the only means of securing the reforms which were demanded. Pius II condemned and prohibited all such appeals.
The execrable and hitherto unknown abuse has grown up in our day, that certain persons, imbued with the spirit of rebellion, and not from a desire to secure a better judgment, but to escape the punishment of some offence which they have committed, presume to appeal from the pope to a future council, in spite of the fact that the pope is the vicar of Jesus Christ and to him, in the person of St. Peter, the following was said: “Feed my sheep” [John 21:16] and “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” [Matt. 16:18]. Wishing therefore to expel this pestiferous poison from the church of Christ and to care for the salvation of the flock entrusted to us, and to remove every cause of offence from the fold of our Saviour, with the advice and consent of our brothers, the cardinals of the holy Roman church, and of all the prelates, and of those who have been trained in the canon and civil law, who are at our court, and with our own sure knowledge, we condemn all such appeals and prohibit them as erroneous and detestable.
William III of Saxony Forbids Appeals to Foreign Courts, 1446.
At this time secular rulers were everywhere growing in power, and centralizing the authority in their own hands, which led them to try to diminish the power of the clergy. This document shows the legal confusion which then existed, caused in part by the usurpations which the ecclesiastical courts practiced. Following the examples of the kings of England and France, William III, duke of Saxony, limited ecclesiastical courts to their proper jurisdiction and forbade the clergy to try secular cases. As a sovereign power he also forbade all appeals to foreign courts, which of course included the pope.
My country suffers dishonor, and great loss and injury, in that many of its inhabitants resort to foreign courts. Be it known that we have decreed that hereafter no inhabitant of our country shall summon or sue another before any foreign court, ecclesiastical or secular, for any matter whatsoever. If the case is ecclesiastical and legally comes under the jurisdiction of an ecclesiastical court, the plaintiff shall bring it before some ecclesiastical court in our country, and be content with the decision rendered there. There shall be no appeal to a foreign court. If the case is secular, it shall be brought and pleaded before the secular court where the defendant belongs. It shall be tried before that court under whose jurisdiction the case falls, and the plaintiff shall be content with the decision rendered. If any inhabitant of our land is not content with the decision, but appeals to a foreign court in any way, he shall be held to be an outlaw. He shall be banished for life and never be permitted to return to this country; and anyone may attack him and his property without any hindrance, because he is an outlaw. . . . We and our subjects have for a long time been annoyed and troubled beyond measure by the ecclesiastical judges who hear cases which do not belong under their jurisdiction. For although they are only ecclesiastical judges, they hear ecclesiastical and secular cases. And very often they render unjust decisions. The effect of this is the spread of unbelief among the people, who neglect and dishonor God and the holy church. The glory of God and the honor of the church demand that this abuse be stopped. We will therefore do all we can to have the princes and prelates who have jurisdiction in our land reform their ecclesiastical courts. For these ecclesiastical courts shall refuse to hear secular cases and try only ecclesiastical cases. We forbid all persons in our land to summon, sue, or denounce another on a secular charge before an ecclesiastical court. . . .
Papal Charter for the Establishment of the University of Avignon, 1303.
It was regarded as the exclusive right of the pope to establish a university, or studium generale, as it was called. We give the document by which he established the University of Avignon as a sample of these numerous papal establishments. It contains a clear and interesting account of the examinations and the conferring of the Master’s degree.
The city of Avignon for many reasons is eminently suited and fitted to become the seat of a university. Believing that it would be for the public good if those who cultivate wisdom were introduced into the city, and that they would in time bear rich fruit, by this document we grant that a university may be established there, in which Masters [magistri] may teach, and scholars freely study and hear lectures, in all faculties. And when those who study in the university attain a high degree of knowledge, and ask for the permission to teach others, we grant that they may be examined in the canon and civil law, and in medicine, and in the liberal arts, and that they may be decorated with the title of Master in those faculties. All who are to be promoted to this honor shall be presented to the bishop of Avignon. He shall call together all the Masters in the faculty concerned, and without any charge he shall examine the candidates to discover their learning, eloquence, manner of reading [lecturing], and the other things which are required in those who are to be made Doctors or Masters. He shall then consult the Masters about the examination and they shall vote on the question of granting the degree [that is, decide whether the candidate passed the examination or not]. But their vote shall be kept secret, and the bishop shall never tell how they voted on the question. Those whom he finds fit, he shall approve, and grant them the permission to teach others. But those whom he finds are not fit, he shall refuse without fear or favor. If the bishopric of Avignon is vacant, the candidates shall present themselves to the præpositus of the church, who shall examine them and approve them in the way prescribed for the bishop.
Those who are examined and approved in Avignon and receive the license to teach, shall thereafter have the full and free right to read and teach everywhere, in that faculty in which they have been approved, without further examination or approval by anyone else.
In order that such examinations may be properly held, we command that all Masters who wish to read in the University of Avignon shall, before beginning their work there as teachers, take a public oath that they will come in person to all the examinations whenever called, and that they will, gratis and without fear or favor, faithfully give the bishop their judgment about the examination, in order that those who are worthy may be approved, and those who are unworthy may be rejected. Those who refuse to take this oath shall not be permitted to read in the university, or to be present at the examinations, or to share in any of the advantages or benefits of the university.
In order that the Doctors [teachers] and scholars of the university may be able to devote themselves freely to their studies, and to make good progress in them, we grant that all who are in the university, whether teachers or scholars, shall have all the privileges, liberties, and immunities which are generally granted to teachers and scholars of other universities.
Popular Dissatisfaction that the Church had so much Wealth,ca. 1480.
We give a brief passage from an unknown author to illustrate the growing dissatisfaction of the common people that the church had so much wealth. It betrays a dangerous temper of mind. In the light of this the suppression of monasteries and the seizure of ecclesiastical property which was carried out on so large a scale in the sixteenth century does not seem strange.
It is as clear as day that by means of smooth and crafty words the clergy have deprived us of our rightful possessions. For they blinded the eyes of our forefathers, and persuaded them to buy the kingdom of heaven with their lands and possessions. If you priests give the poor and the chosen children of God their paternal inheritance, which before God you owe them, God will perhaps grant you such grace that you will know yourselves. But so long as you spend your money on your dear harlots and profligates, instead of upon the children of God, you may be sure that God will reward you according to your merits. For you have angered and overburdened all the people of the empire. The time is coming when your possessions will be seized and divided as if they were the possessions of an enemy. As you have oppressed the people, they will rise up against you so that you will not know where to find a place to stay.
Complaints of the Germans against the Pope, 1510.
This is a brief list of the complaints made by the Germans in 1510 and presented to Julius II. Most of them, it will be observed, are concerned with the financial burdens with which the Germans felt that they were overwhelmed.
(1) That popes do not feel bound to observe the bulls, agreements, privileges, and letters which have been issued by their predecessors, but often dispense with, suspend, and revoke them at the request of people even of low birth. (2) That the pope sometimes refuses to confirm the canonical election of bishops. (3) That the pope sometimes rejects the election of præpositi [provosts], although made by chapters which have paid a high price for the right to elect. . . . (4) That the better benefices and higher offices are reserved for the cardinals and the chief officials of the papal court. (5) That an unlimited number of expectancies are granted, and many are given for the same office to different persons. And many expectancies are sold to one and the same person. From this practice, lawsuits arise daily, which cause all concerned to incur heavy expenses. For if a man buys an expectancy, he will probably never get the office, but he will surely become involved in a lawsuit about it which will cost him a great deal of money. On this account the proverbial saying has arisen: “If anyone obtains an expectancy from Rome, let him lay aside one or two hundred gold coins, for he will need them in his lawsuit about it.” (6) Even when a bishopric is several times within a few years made vacant by death, the pope without any mercy demands the prompt and full payment of the annates. And sometimes when the pope creates new offices and enlarges his court, more is demanded as annates than is just. . . . (7) Churches are given to members of the papal court, some of whom are better fitted to be mule drivers than pastors. (8) Old indulgences are revoked and new ones sold, merely to raise money, although the laymen are thereby made to murmur against their clergy. (9) Tithes are collected under the pretext that a war is to be made against the Turks, but nothing of the kind is ever done. (10) Cases which could easily be settled in Germany, since there are good and just judges there, are indiscriminately called before the papal court at Rome. St. Bernard, in writing to Eugene III, severely criticised this practice.
Abuses in the Sale of Indulgences, 1512.
Several references have been made to the need of a reform in the matter of indulgences. Cardinal Raymond, papal legate in 1503, complained that the agents who sold indulgences were actuated only by the basest motives of gain and were thoroughly dishonest. Myconius (his German name was Mecum) was a Franciscan monk who became a Protestant.
We have thought it best to give first a statement of the doctrine of indulgences in order that the abuses in their sale may be more clearly apparent.
“It is the catholic doctrine that when a sin is forgiven its punishment is not necessarily at the same time remitted. Through the power of the keys the eternal punishment is remitted, but generally there remain temporal punishments which must be satisfied either in this world by means of good works, or in the next by enduring punishment in purgatory. The Bible, by examples as well as by statements, teaches that with the removal of the eternal guilt and punishment, the temporal punishment is not always remitted. Adam and Eve, after committing sin, repented and were justified by God, but they were driven out of Paradise and compelled to endure infinite misfortunes, and even death itself, as a punishment of their sin. We are taught the same by the example of the Israelites who were pardoned for their sin of murmuring through the prayers of Moses, but, as a punishment for their sin, were excluded from the promised land and perished in the wilderness. . . . From this it is seen that the Bible demands not only the conversion of the heart, but also that we render satisfaction by enduring temporal punishment for the sin. . . .
“This satisfaction which we must render [i.e., this temporal punishment which we must endure] is a part of the sacrament of penance, and must be imposed on us by the minister of penance [i.e., the priest]. The doctrine of indulgences is inseparably connected with that of satisfaction. By indulgence is meant a remission of the temporal punishment made by a priest by means of the application of the treasure of the church. The treasure of the church is the whole sum of the merits of Jesus Christ . . . in addition to all the good works or merits of all the saints. . . . In the church, as St. Thomas Aquinas well says, some have done greater penance than the measure of their sins demanded. Others have suffered with patience many unjust tribulations, with which they would have expiated the temporal punishments of many more sins than they have committed. [All such good works in excess of what they needed to make satisfaction for their own sins are called works of supererogation, and being meritorious, their merit is added to the treasure of the church and may, at the discretion of the church, be applied to the benefit of others who are lacking in such good works.] One of the ways in which the church distributes this common possession (treasure of merits) is by means of indulgences.”—From the Theologia Dommatica of Prof. Dati, vol. iii, Chap. XXIX, Florence, 1893.
Anno 1512. Tetzel gained by his preaching in Germany an immense sum of money which he sent to Rome. A very large sum was collected at the new mining works at St. Annaberg, where I heard him for two years. It is incredible what this ignorant and impudent monk used to say. . . . He declared that if they contributed readily and bought grace and indulgence, all the hills of St. Annaberg would become pure massive silver. Also, that, as soon as the coin clinked in the chest, the soul for whom the money was paid would go straight to heaven. . . . The indulgence was so highly prized that when the agent came to a city the bull was carried on a satin or gold cloth, and all the priests and monks, the town council, schoolmaster, scholars, men, women, girls, and children went out in procession to meet it with banners, candles, and songs. All the bells were rung and organs played. He was conducted into the church, a red cross was erected in the centre of the church, and the pope’s banner displayed. . . .
Anno 1517. It is incredible what this ignorant monk said and preached. He gave sealed letters stating that even the sins which a man was intending to commit would be forgiven. He said the pope had more power than all the apostles, all the angels and saints, even than the Virgin Mary herself. For these were all subject to Christ, but the pope was equal to Christ. After his ascension into heaven Christ had nothing more to do with the management of the church until the judgment day, but had committed all that to the pope as his vicar and vicegerent.
[1 ] This is an example of scholastic reasoning. While obscure, it seems to be a general argument for, or explanation of, the existence of order in the universe.
[1 ] In regard to the “legislator,” Marsilius cites Aristotle as follows: “The legislator or the effective cause of the law is the people, the whole body of the citizens, or the majority of that body, expressing its will and choice in a general meeting of the citizens, and commanding or deciding that certain things shall be done or left undone, under threat of temporal penalty or punishment.”
[2 ] “Coercive” or “coactive” power is the power, residing in the ruler or the officials of the state and derived from the “legislator,” to compel observance of the laws or decrees of the state by force or threat of penalty. A coercive judgment is a judgment given by an official who has the power to enforce his decisions. Marsilius maintains that coercive power and coercive judgments are the prerogatives of the state and cannot be exercised by the church.
[3 ] “Separable” offices of the clergy, according to Marsilius, are those functions commonly exercised by the clergy, which are not essentially bound up with their spiritual character. The terms essential and non-essential are used as synonymous respectively with inseparable and separable. The essential or inseparable powers of the clergy are “the power to bless the bread and wine, and turn them into the blessed body and blood of Christ, to administer the other sacraments of the church, and to bind and to loose men from their sins.” Non-essential or separable functions are the government or control of one priest over others (i.e., the offices of bishop, archbishop, etc.), the administration of the sacraments, etc., in a certain place and to a certain people, and the administration of temporal possessions of the church. In respect to their separable functions the clergy are under the control of the state.