Front Page Titles (by Subject) 72.: The Third Council of Trent (1562–1563) - Judgments on History and Historians
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72.: The Third Council of Trent (1562–1563) - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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The Third Council of Trent (1562–1563)
(I) It may have been clear to only a few people, perhaps especially to Pius IV (he kept the council from screaming for a long time) and the real church politicians, how enormously important and urgent the goal was, namely, to create a harmonious formula for the reconquest of the world and put an end to the provisional situation behind which all enemies could hide. The seeming efforts to invite Protestant governments as well were not serious.
The major difficulty resulted from the facts that Paul IV had embittered all Catholic governments through his manners and that the papacy had to fight with their greedy special desires as well as their actual problems.
France was at the same time going through its first religious war, and its government, which had been pushed so far to the left even in 1560–1561, at the moment desired great concessions, especially in ritual, in order to impress its Huguenots, too. At the same time it had to maintain its sham glory that everybody at Trent had to dance to its tune; hence the behavior of the pompous Cardinal Guise. Bavaria and Ferdinand I were in a real predicament because Protestantism had penetrated, and Ferdinand was still soured because of Paul IV. Philip II, however, assumed a darkly threatening mien in order to blackmail the worried papacy into further confiscations of church property, a crusade bull, and other things. But then the Spanish bishops propounded the theory, about which the king, too, might possibly have had misgivings, that the episcopate derived directly from Christ and was a divine institution. Finally, there was in reserve the always irritating question as to whether the council was not higher than the pope. And the concrete Pius IV could die durante concilio [while the council was going on]!
But the big difference between the third Council of Trent and the first and second was that in the meantime the spirit of the Catholic reform had rapidly become stronger and no longer trembled before the velleities of a council, but dared to win through the council. The atrocious talk about the curia and the clergy had exhausted itself in the first and second councils; now people were no longer afraid of it.
(II) The result had thus been achieved through an understanding between the papacy and the great Catholic courts which had recognized the homogeneity of the papal power and their own as well as the partial identity of their interests, and, begrudging the council any embarrassing initiative independent of themselves, desired its shortening (could Philip II alone have wished for its prolongation?).
The most important thing was that now orthodox dynasties as well as the curia and the inquisition had a definite coercive formula by which the world could be bound. Only now were they able to pass from the long defensive to a regular offensive.
Church discipline was renewed; the power of excommunication was strengthened; seminaries were established and subjected to every strictness; the parishes were regulated. Regular diocesan and provincial synods were at least desired, as was the visitation of churches. Definite norms were set up for sacraments and sermons. The participation of monks in ecclesiastical life was regulated. The bishops were disciplined and had to sign and swear to a special document regarding the observation of the Tridentine Decrees and complete obedience to the pope. Then the bishops’ own authority to punish was defined. In addition to the bishop’s oath, every cleric now had to make a professio fidei Tridentina [Tridentine profession of faith].
The papal theory had hardly been touched at the council, and papal power had been expanded rather than limited. The authorization to interpret the Tridentine Decrees for all eternity became exceedingly important. The abuses lucrative for Rome had only been affected slightly, and the appeals and dispensations curtailed somewhat. On the other hand, the annates and the pope’s rights over the bishops remained unchanged.
And now there also came into being a new church architecture and a corresponding church style; for the entire ceremonial service had been retained.
Catholicism has since then been “stationary,” but certainly to its benefit; for now it was also secured against sinking still deeper into dull superstition and brutalization of the holiness of good works, the doctrine of indulgences, and so on. As for indulgences, trading in them at least was prohibited. To be sure, instead of scholasticism there soon appeared casuistry.
Lutheranism was also stationary, and Calvinism became so. All the religions of the time prohibited their own further development, their “progress.” Toward the outside, stationary Catholicism began to live all the more through its forces of the Counter Reformation, which were now tremendously disciplined and applied to definite purposes.
The effect of the Reformation upon the Catholic church had been a beneficial one. With the strict sifting of the doctrine at Trent (henceforth there are no more marginal doctrines and waverings) and the complete crystallization there takes place a rejuvenation in other ways as well.
The permission of the lay chalice had been left at the papacy’s discretion. In 1564 Emperor Ferdinand and Albrecht of Bavaria actually requested this permission from the pope, but no longer needed to make it an actuality. The Counter Reformation was marching rapidly.